This monthly blog from The Maker City features a look at some of the Knoxville area’s outstanding makers – artists, crafters and custom builders. This month’s blog introduces three area makers who excel at the art of ceramics -- one of whom also operates a Maker Space for his fellow clay artists.​

Bug Pottery Bug Pottery

Ellie Kotsianas-Christner, Bug Pottery

Ellie Kotsianas-Christner Bug Pottery

How did you get started as a ceramicist/clay artist?
My minor in college was art so I took a pottery class and fell in love. Once I came back to Knoxville I found a place to rent and have been doing it ever since.

What do you make, and how?
I make wheel thrown functional ware that people can choose a glaze that suits them. and decorative vases inspired by natures and the Arts & Craft esthetic.

Where are your products offered for sale?
You can find my work at, Mighty Mud gallery, various craft Shows. Facebook & Instagram @bugpottery.

Knoxville native Ellie Kotsianas-Christner has been creating and making things with her hands for as long as she can remember. Her father worked for Stickley Furniture and she has always been surrounded by the Arts and Crafts aesthetic, from which she derives her love of simple designs and strong attention to details. She studied advertising and fine arts at East Tennessee State University before she discovered her true passion in the ceramic arts. “As a child I was always playing outside and interacting with nature, so I draw most of my inspirations from things you might find in your backyard.”

Diahn Ott Diahn Ott

Diahn Ott, Diahn Ott Studio

Diahn OttHow did you get started as a ceramicist/clay artist?
I have been a maker of one variety or another for most of my life and had focused on drawing and painting prior to my first pottery class. When my father passed away in March of 2015, I found it very difficult to find the joy I'd had in creative work and knew I needed to shift my thinking in order to find it again. A friend invited me to go with her to a beginning throwing class at Mighty Mud. I immediately found the process of putting my hands in the clay and shaping it on the wheel to be exactly what I needed. I bought a pottery wheel within a few months of starting that class and got a kiln a couple of years later.

What do you make, and how?
I make functional pottery primarily, although I also play with the sculptural aspects of clay. The majority of my work is made on a pottery wheel. I often use slip, a thick liquid clay, to decorate the outsides of the vessels I make in order to add texture and pattern to individual pieces. My recent work has focused on the juxtaposition of life and death, using slip-trailed floral designs alongside three-dimensional attachments of skulls.

The sculptures I make use discarded plaster molds intended for doll-making. I pour slip into the molds and then attach the various pieces in slightly unusual and macabre ways to form when I've termed "Deerfants" -- a kind of jackalope-esque creature with a baby head and antlers fashioned from the doll arms.

Where are your products offered for sale? and

Former Air Force brat and Knoxville resident Diahn Ott holds a Master of Science degree in structural geology from the University of Alabama. While her formal education focused on science, she has always been a maker of things, from drawings and paintings to hand-knitted scarves.

Since 2015 she’s been focused solely on ceramics. “I feel like I've been looking for this my whole life, and now that I've found it, I can't imagine ever doing anything else. I love that I am able to incorporate my love of drawing and painting into the surface of the pots -- it allows me the opportunity to do something new while practicing the skills I've already developed. I've come to the point where I dream about the clay and forms that I want to try."

Barron Hall Barron Hall Mighty Mud

Barron Hall, Mighty Mud

Barron Hall Mighty Mud

How did Mighty Mud get started as a Maker Space?
From the beginning Mighty Mud was a planned maker space, especially with ceramic work it is much more financially feasible to work as a group. Large monetary items like kilns, pottery wheels, slab rollers, etc... make it very difficult for a single individual to get started by yourself.

What do you offer, and how?
That's a big question. We offer small single-night events on weekends, like a date night; we have full-blown six-week classes that teach you all the things you need to learn about ceramics. We offer individual studio spaces for artists -- not just ceramic artists -- that rent monthly with 24 hour access, high speed internet, power, etc. We have a retail space that sells ceramic supplies and an everyday art gallery, plus a First Friday gallery space that turns over monthly and hosts First Friday receptions. We also have online sales that we sell and ship throughout the country.

How can people participate with/support Mighty Mud? tells you almost everything about us and lets you sign up for events or purchase items. Our physical address is 127 Jennings ave Knoxville, Tn 37917 and our phone is 865-595-1900, email: As a practicing artist I maintain a website

Artist, business owner, and educator Barron Hall lives Knoxville with his wife and two adult children. He holds a master’s degree in ceramics from the University of Tennessee. Hall owns and runs Mighty Mud Studios, and teaches ceramics and sculpture at Maryville College.