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Meet the maker – Mikaela Puranen

Uppdaterat: 14 aug. 2020

Social media tends to be a place where we find inspiration nowadays, and one of the people we follow on Instagram is Mikaela. She makes beautiful ceramics and we get to follow along on her creative journey. But we wanted to know more, so we asked for an interview. Enjoy!

Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do.

My name is Mikaela Puranen and I’m a 30-year-old potter and marine biologist from Stockholm. I mostly make functional pottery, such as mugs, bowls, vases, plates, etc. I’m really fascinated by the relationship we have with ceramics, and how we interact with ceramic tableware. I’m also excited by the endless possibilities with clay. It will probably take a lifetime to explore all the techniques and materials I’m interested in, just in the field of ceramics.

How did you come to the creative place you are at today? What´s your creative history?

I’ve always created in some way, although the techniques and materials have varied over the years. My family and my cousin’s family used to have craft nights when growing up where we did something creative together and had pizza. During my teenage years, I stopped creating almost altogether, mostly due to performance anxiety and not thinking that what I made was good enough.

In my early 20’s, I read a lot of craft blogs and that kind of got me started again. First I just made super simple crafts, but the joy it gave me got me wanting more. I got back into drawing and painting, I started to cast concrete (and even taught classes in concrete later on), and I started too long for clay. I had done a pottery class with my mom when I was about 12, but that was about the only experience I had.

Ceramics is not the easiest craft to get started with since you need an expensive kiln, so I signed up for an evening class. And then another one straight after. And another one. I just couldn’t get enough, there were so many ideas and techniques I wanted to try. I kept thinking about clay all the time between classes. 

After finishing my master’s degree in marine biology, I found myself without a job, a broken heart and nowhere to live after the summer. The one thing that had made me happy during that chaotic spring finishing my degree and dealing with heartbreak was clay. So I applied for full-time education in ceramics at Vårdinge by folkhögskola, and got in. The plan was to do that for a year and then get back into marine biology, but I still couldn’t get enough. Now I don’t think I ever will. I finished my second year of education this summer and now I’m excited about growing my pottery business and hopefully opening my own studio with a friend next year.

What do you try to achieve with the work you create?

I guess form, functionality, sustainability, and feelings are keywords in my ceramics. When I make tableware I want to create things that can be used over generations and that feel good in your hands. When form and function are united and the objects just feel right. My more sculptural or “artistic” work is more about communicating a feeling or opinion. 

I’m also really fascinated about wood firing, which is a traditional way of firing before we had electric kilns. It is a mostly male-dominated field in ceramics (something about men and fire, right?), which I want to change, so there are plans of building a wood-fired kiln next year! 

I guess form, functionality, sustainability, and feelings are keywords in my ceramics.

How do you get in the right “creative mode” – what does your happy place look like?

I’m not super inspired and loving everything about ceramics every day. Some days I just don’t feel like creating, so either I just don’t do it and find myself some admin work to do instead, or I make something I’m super comfortable with and don’t really have to think about what my hands are doing. That way I’d feel that I at least accomplished something that day, although I’m trying to not let performance determine if it was a good day or not. 

My desk might look messy, but I know exactly where everything is. When I don’t, I know it’s time to clean haha. When working with clay I usually have at least two projects going on simultaneously. When one of them needs to dry before I can continue, I move on to the other one. This usually ends in me having projects all over the room, so good storage possibilities are key in a studio for me. 

If I would like to get going with my creativity, what’s your advice?

Just do it, just make something. It doesn’t have to be pretty, functional or of any other use than that it got you started. One project often leads to another one and new ideas, for me at least. So just start with anything! 

Please share your top sources of inspiration (3 or more…)

When I was still in school my classmates were a top inspiration for sure. Being surrounded by other creatives that get what you’re doing is great for inspiration and bouncing ideas off each other. I wish I went to more exhibits and such for inspiration as well, but the truth is that most of my inspiration is from the internet. Mostly Instagram nowadays, but Pinterest and other social media as well. I love the feeling of discovering a new artist whose work you love (doesn’t matter if its’s on Instagram or in a fancy art gallery), the rush, raise in your pulse and thousands of ideas that run through your head, that’s when I feel the most inspired. 

What do you have planned for the future?

I just opened my webbshop this summer where I currently sell ceramics I made over the last two years. Since I left school in June I haven’t had anywhere to fire my work but the good news is that I’m renting a studio from the middle of October, and I am so excited to be able to make things again. My hands are itching to get muddy and my head exploding with ideas I’d like to try. Other than that I’m looking at fairs and retailers to show my work. Next year I hope I and a friend will be able to open our own pottery studio in Stockholm where we can sell our work and offer classes. 

Being surrounded by other creatives that get what you’re doing is great for inspiration and bouncing ideas off each other.

Where can I follow you and find your work I post mostly on Instagram @mikaelapuranen but you can also find (and shop!) my ceramics at my website

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