Q&A with Lauren Shin of Norae Ceramics

Meet Lauren Shin, ceramic artist and owner of Norae Ceramics. A graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s College of Natural Sciences, Lauren created Norae Ceramics after discovering her love for ceramics and wanting to share that love with others.

We asked Lauren more about her ceramics journey, her time at UH and what she loves most about her work.

How did you become interested in ceramics?

I was always interested in ceramics but never had the opportunity to try it until I was a student at UH. I majored in Biology and took ceramics as my art elective during the Summer of 2014 – I fell in love immediately. I remember staying in the studio until late at night, practicing and losing track of time. Since then, it’s always been an outlet for me until I decided to pursue it full time this past year.

Where do you draw inspiration for your pieces?

Most of my inspiration comes from nature. I enjoy playing with symmetry, repetitive patterns, and fluid strokes and seeing how they manifest on the forms I create.

I’ve also come to realize that a lot of my designs come from just winging it. For example, my palm design was born when I started carving some cups with no real vision and when I was finished, it looked like palm fronds all over them. I was living in Boston at the time, and it was in this moment I realized how home sick I was.

We imagine you’ve created a lot of special pieces over the years. Of everything you’ve created, is there a piece in particular that stands out to you?

One evening, I sat down at one of the wheels in the community studio I used to work out of with a plan to make a perfectly symmetrical vase. It ended up twisting and collapsing on itself. I decided to just go with it and created more grooves and dimples, and I ended up with something completely different than what I had imagined it to be. I glazed and fired it, and it turned out to be my favorite piece. Now, when I look back at all of the pieces over the years, this one still stands out because it taught me that things don’t always turn out as planned; sometimes you just have to go with it, and it just might turn out to be far greater than what you could have imagined. 

What do you love most about your work?

There’s so much I love about my work! But what I love most is being able to share my pottery with others and bringing a little magic to their everyday moments. 

In addition to creating your own pieces, you also offer classes via your studio. What’s the most rewarding aspect of teaching?

Ceramics has brought me so much peace and joy, and it’s been such an honor to be able to share it with my students. Most of my students are completely new to ceramics, so I love being able to witness their progress and growth throughout the class. Many also join my studio membership, and I get to continue to witness the evolution of their creativity.

Tell us a little about your time at UH. What did you study? How has your UH education translated into your career?

I studied Biology at UH and Gerontology at USC. Although my educational background is completely different than what I do today, my time at UH was invaluable. It was during this time that I developed a deeper curiosity for life and learning in general as well as a desire to continue to learn and grow each day.

For more on Norae Ceramics, visit https://noraeceramics.com

University of Hawai‘i Alumni