ten and the written word

pitcher ten!  I wanted this pitcher to be simple and somewhat egg-like.  I threw a giant ovoid form (after having spent a lot of time last week making egg vases for spring),  threw a spout to cut down, and pulled a handle.  This pitcher will be glazed just like my speckled egg vases and then I'm calling that particular glaze combination quits.  I love it, but except for egg vases and egg cups, I'm ready to move away from it.  Why?  it is heinously messy and I have to separate these pieces from anything else in the glaze firing because the iron oxide doesn't completely adhere to the glaze and flies around, sticking to anything else close to it (or on the shelf above or below).  I just got a few of these speckled pieces back from a shop that was closing, so I'll list the remaining teacup and saucer sets, pitcher, and platter next week. 

Early this week, after I'd thrown about a dozen mugs, a friend contacted me about a special order for a friend.  She gave me a lengthy quote that inspired her idea and we played around with ideas.  I'd seen an enamelware cup that had a lengthy inscription, showed it to her, and we settled on a similar idea.  As someone who spent her entire academic career buried in words, reading, writing, editing, writing, and reading more, it seems appropriate to me that I find myself enamored with these words on the mug.  I've been working on my handwriting for years, tightening and loosening it up, ever-evolving, copying handwriting I like, exploring calligraphy (and developing my own style of fake calligraphy).  I like that this cup, which I coated with slip made from the iron-rich clay dug from the banks of the Mississippi river some years ago (yes, really, and it is rich and black like the darkest coffee), is tactile as well as visual.  I like that I can feel the rise and fall of my letters, as well as see them.  I'm not sure how much more of this that I'll do, but I sure do like this one cup.

bees! and testing

I am very excited- yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from Rita Underhill of Peace Bee Farm that my bees were ready.  I was not!  There was a lot of hustle and bustle to get everything situated so that we could install the hive this morning.  This is the inside of my hive, the comb that they drew down on top bars at their farm, and some pieces that we had to trim (the white is brood that the bees will, um, recycle, and they'll re-use the wax, as well).  We forgot to smoke the box of agitated, truck-shaken bees before we opened it and I got popped for the first time in 6+ years, but she popped me through my clothes so it wasn't bad (obviously, I'm not allergic to bees).  I'm very excited to see their (and my) progress.

I think that I may have mentioned that I needed to find a new clay body.  My old body had been reformulated and the glazes I'd been using no longer fit the body.  There was shivering (where the glaze has shrunk more than the clay and will come off in razor sharp slivers and sometimes cause the piece to break), especially with blue glazes and underglazes, so I began testing new bodies.  My first body was a bust- too much crazing on the inside of cups- the body shrinks more than the glaze, causing the glaze to crack, which can lead to bacteria growth.  Yummy, bacteria with your tea!  No thanks.  I tested a porcelain which did fine with the glaze, but I wasn't happy with its color.  I tested a stoneware that was much warmer and showed through my white glaze, making the glaze look too thin (or maybe it was just too thin) and there were fit problems- crazing in the bottom of cups.  I'm on my second stoneware and porcelain to test with my next batch of pots.  All of this is to say that if you're waiting on pottery from me, this is why it's taking a while to deliver.  I don't want to ship out defective pots, and I appreciate everyone's patience.

Ok.  This weekend is Easter, tomorrow is Good Friday and the beginning of Passover.  If you celebrate, I hope that it is a meaningful time for you.  If not, enjoy this beautiful spring.  See you next week!


exploring mishima

I have been completely laid out with the flu this week, stuck in bed and asleep like I haven't been in I don't know when.  All plans for meals, appointments (like with the accountant, the acupuncturist, visiting friends, departing relatives, seeing my old man in his rehab home, birthdays, yoga class), pottery glazing and shipping were shelved.  All I managed to do was sleep, do some sketching, listen to podcasts, cough, keep up with the e-course through videos and posts, and cough.  Our cleaning goddess came this morning, so I carried myself and my sketchbook upstairs to make some templates and begin working with this week's lesson- the mishima technique.

Mishima is the process of filling incised lines with colored slip, clearing away the excess in one form or another, then firing and glazing the piece.  It is beautiful and delicate and a very immediate process- something I've very much wanted to learn.  I've tried it on my own before with mixed results, but as with everything, there are tips and tricks you learn when someone with experience teaches you, vs blundering through on your own.  I'm hopeful for these pieces, which I'll let dry and fire at the end of the course.

I made the drawings of the crimson clover while I was listening to Brooklyn Homesteader's webinar on urban beekeeping.  Crimson clover has long been one of my favorite wildflowers and I made several drawings of the plant based on antique botanical illustrations.  I took my favorite of the lot to make into templates for this course.

Next week, I plan to get back to work while my boy is on spring break- finish glazing and shipping orders that people are expecting  - my apologies for the delay- and working on some outside projects if the weather cooperates.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

working, or trying to

This week has been chaotic.  Last weekend I did my day-long bee course (it was wonderful!) and began dealing with the aftermath of a dear friend's stroke, which ate up most of my working week.  My time's been spent more on care-giving than creating, and in the end, that's worth much much more than a kiln full of ware.  Pottery is important, but I know where my priorities should be, and that's with people.  That said, I did get a load glazed and fired and took some chances with a few pieces on making my own versions of my beloved English (and Chinese) blue and white china:


I have to say that I'm delighted with the results.  The chicken cup was green- raw, unfired.  I really like how the stain (a mix of mason stain and water) soaked into the interior of the cup and clung to the exterior in patches, as well as in the areas I drew into).  The hope cup and small platters (as well as the large bowl in the background) was bisqued, so the stain didn't permeate the whole surface.  I'm SO pleased with this, especially on the greenware.  I'm not ready to roll out these pieces, but I like them enough to continue working with this idea.

That fluffy-bootie chicken, by the way, is a drawing I did of Merigold, my buff orpington hen who passed away- suddenly and without illness- yesterday.  We had a very solemn chicken funeral yesterday after school.  My little boy insisted on laying her in the grave and covering her, fashioning a cross marker (Merigold was an Episcopal hen) out of sticks.  She was an old chicken and served us well. 

I am looking forward to a full day in the studio today, and getting ready to take a pottery class next week.
If you've ordered tumblers from me, I'm sending out the first ten this weekend.  The others are in progress and will go out the first week of March.

Have a peaceful weekend friends.  Love on those closest to you.

pulling back, experimenting

Hi, friends.  Would you believe that I'm STILL on the mend, still not 100%, still coughing and not up to my usual energy levels?  This is the 3rd Sunday.  A bear of a virus, this was.  But I'm better, I'm being quiet and listening my my body and energy levels and pulling back from working like crazy during this holiday season and resting.  I am working, but I'm doing so slowly, with help, quietly.

In October, I returned from San Francisco ready to experiment with new clay bodies, glazes, techniques.  I've gotten the first bits of what I made from the kiln this week.  There have been some definite YAY pieces, like this mug.  It is porcelain, which worked beautifully with my standard yellow glaze.  It seems to just make the glaze sing.  It is also the first finished piece with my honeycomb hex stamps, inspired by a conversation I had at Heath Ceramics in which I looked at their enormous kilns and fixated on the hex nuts holding it together.  I'm very pleased with it.

The porcelain did very well when it was a flat-bottomed, not footed piece.  If the piece had a trimmed foot ring, it left large chunks of itself adhered to the kiln shelf.  Every. Single. Stinking. piece.  No glaze on the bottom, but the porcelain doing it's thing and sticking.  It did this, too, if it had an underglaze bottom.  The edges stuck.  So I did a bit of research and found that I need to add an alumina hydrate solution to my wax to keep the porcelain from adhering.  You learn something new every day.




This blue is a new underglaze color.  I was excited about it, but it's 2 ticks too bright for my taste.  Nice, but not what I was looking for.  Not to mention that on a large pitcher, it peeled off in several spots, ruining what I thought was a particularly nice piece.    I was playing around with the surface design and this piece, in particular, never felt right.  I like it, but it wasn't me.  I realized why once I pulled it from the kiln.  The divided planes of color and random lines intersecting the two is a fairly straightforward (but unconscious) copy of my mentor's work.  Nothing wrong with copying styles to learn, but I kept feeling like this piece specifically wasn't me, even as I was making it.  Well, Duh.  It's not.  It's nice, but the color, the line, they're not me.   Diana also helped me trouble-shoot my underglaze peeling issue yesterday, so I'll be ready to roll in January.

While I felt that half of this kiln-load was filled with failed pieces,  I did learn a lot from trouble-shooting the problems.  This week I'm planning to scrape and re-coat my shelves with kiln wash, order my alumina hydrate, and keep working, slowly, steadily, at honing this craft.  I'm also planning to add several small pieces to the shop and finish up orders people have placed for Christmas.  Failure marks progress.  And makes a fantastic mosaic pile!

Thanks for reading.




a shift

I've been putting off listing my new pieces online - I didn't touch the pottery last week.  It has been sitting on a sideboard in the dining room, staring balefully at me every time I walk past.  I feel a little at odds with it and with my work as a whole, but I'm beginning to come to terms with it. 

For the past ten years I've been making pots.  I've been selling them at a price with which I feel comfortable.  I've reasoned that I can pay myself a certain rate per hour and factor the cost of my work by that rate- and it covers my expenses.  I've prided myself on making useful and above all, affordable work.  A lovely but expensive mug won't get used, I thought.  I want my work to be used and enjoyed every day.  So, as the costs of materials and utilities went up (oh, you should see my electric bill when I'm firing a lot), my prices stayed relatively even.  Over the years my coffee mugs have gone from $15-18, but nothing drastic.  I also know that as a, um, impoverished sort of person, money is tight, and that's almost universal right now.  $30 cup, or $30 for lunches for my family for a week.  I know the answer to that question.

This year, my wholesale orders have jumped.  You probably know how that goes, right?  I get $9 for that $18 mug?  Um, not so appealing.  So the mugs that my wholesale clients sell are higher priced, and if I sell those same mugs, I match their price so as not to undercut them.  I've tried to keep my prices at a level that I'd pay, but I've been uneasy about it.  I have a beautiful cup that I bought for well over $50.  A guest in my home asked about it when we were having tea and wanted to use it.  She asked me (because she was a very good, close friend, and we've dispensed with those barriers) about its price and promptly put it back on the shelf.  I understand that reaction, and it isn't one I'd like to see with my work.  There's a flip side to that- under-pricing work makes it disposable.  I get that, too.

BUT.  I'm experiencing a shift.  This work, like the cup above, is still pretty affordable.  But it is significantly more expensive than one of my botanical cups.  So I've put off listing the bowls and platters and pitchers, items that are regularly more expensive anyway, because I've been worried about (speaking collectively here) your reaction.  Not that it isn't good enough to fetch the price that I ask, and not that I don't deserve to be compensated for my work, but I've just been nervous.  This week I'm going to start listing them.  They do me absolutely no good sitting in my dining room, staring at me.  Actually, less good, because they're likely to get broken where they are now.  So these pieces will be special*.  They'll cost more.  But they take more time, more skill, more firings.  I think they're worth more.  I feel mostly good about this decision.

Several of these cups are already up on Etsy.  The one pictured above is going to its new home tomorrow.  The mugs that I used for my invitation will go up in another few weeks- they need another glazing and firing.  I won't be around here much over the next two weeks.  We're wrapping up summer, working hard, and sneaking in a beach trip before school begins.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer, too.



*They're also special because I'm setting aside a bit of each sale to finance my own urban bee hive next year.  And they're the pieces I'm making for my first invitational show this fall.  And they're special because I love them in a way that I don't love my other work.  Maybe because Melissa means "honey bee", maybe because I'm drawing them.  I'm not sure. 

eek

what a crazy week it's been.  Easter was lovely, then the weather came.  All of our friends and family are safe and well, but the toll on the mid-South has been really steep.  I complained about three straight days and nights of tornado sirens wailing, but the reality is that I'm glad we have them and I'm very grateful that Memphis escaped most of the damaging winds.

Pottery-wise, I'm having a bit of a crisis.  My old reliable white glaze has begun acting up on me- either not covering properly or shivering off - which means that the glaze cracks and bits of razor sharp glaze flake off.  I grabbed one of my new latte cups from its bin on Wednesday and cut myself.  Not badly, but that's not supposed to happen.  I suspect that my clay has been reformulated, but my clay and glaze supplier has sent me a new batch of white to test and I've purchased a few other glazes to test the next time I fire.  I'm waiting to glaze a fire a ton of work until these problems have been worked out- which must happen, oh, next week.

My colored glazes all seem to be working properly, so I will be using them, instead.  I put up a bunch of these speckled spoon rests at Etsy and will list the solid colors over the weekend.  I had hopes for honeypots, but many of them are supposed to be white, and, well, ahem.  Soon, I hope. 

I think that these are growing pains.  It's interesting to me that these problems are cropping up now, eight years after I began using this clay and this glaze, and I'm working more carefully and mindfully now than ever before.  There's something to learn, I'm just not sure what it is.  So in the meantime, I'm doing a lot of thinking and throwing and yoga (I've discovered that I can do a mean headstand.  The handstand triggers my old friend tendonitis, so I'll stay away from that, thanks much, but I'm a bit tickled by the headstand action) and reading and refining my pottery-making process.  Maybe that's what I'm supposed to be doing- refining rather than producing.

Well.  I've said all I have in me.  I hope your weekend is nice and relaxing.  Thanks for being here with me, friends.




Works in progress

Unloading the kiln is always a surprise.*  Yesterday I unloaded two large (as in, many pieces) commissions- I was so pleased that they came out how I'd hoped- as well as some pieces I was experimenting with.  Sometimes you have a concrete image in your mind of how something will look when finished.  Then, once the work is completed, it falls short.  Sometimes a smidge, sometimes greatly short of the mark.  I think we all experience this in cooking, in artwork, writing- almost any endeavor in which we have some creative input.  Here's my example- two cups:
The cup on the left is the first cup I made.  I wanted something simple and less expensive than the other cups I've made in this technique .  I had a small handmade cup that had nice clean, straight lines, so I used that form and added the bee.  I didn't feel like it hit the mark.  The text was wrong, my surface design was way off (I took some shortcuts and just plain old did it wrong), but the cup felt good.  I like drinking from it, but it isn't visually pleasing to me. 
The cup on the left is closer to what I had in mind.  It is slightly wider and shorter, and I cleaned up my surface decorating process.  There are three of these, with three different drawings,  and with two of them I feel like I'm 95% there.  I'm not shooting for perfection (perfect = not made by hand= no room for personality= graceless), just another tweak or two.  I'm happy with this one and will make more soon.

I really had the best day yesterday.  In addition to the good kiln-unloading, I had studio help (a friend is coming over once a week for a few hours to help me in the studio- it's a godsend!), yoga class, shipped several big orders, and best of all, received so much really affirming feedback from a little profile that ran in our paper.  It is always nice to hear from friends, family, and acquaintances who let you know that you're on the right path.  I'm so grateful for the life I live and the blessings I receive from everyone in my life.

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone-

*last week I opened the kiln to find that either my glaze was contaminated or some sort of ash/mineral/who-even-knows had settled on the top of two large white platters strewn with ginkgos.  They were so nice, except that they were randomly speckled with black.  I was so upset and have since shop-vac-ed the kiln thouroughly and strained my white glaze.  The problem must have been solved as these pieces aren't speckled with the same black.  But oh, it was disappointing.

color

Color is funny, isn't it?  How we feel about color is deeply personal and sometimes unexplainable.  I love love deep cobalt blue,  I adore jolts of red.  But purple?  I have an almost visceral reaction to purple.  Never mind that my favorite flower, lavender, is very decidedly purple.  I like green quite a lot, but I haven't been using very much green in my pottery lately.  And my beloved cobalt?  Well, it doesn't sell terribly well for me, and as I look at the body of my work, it doesn't really "fit" with it anymore.  I haven't been using it for much in the past year or so.  Cobalt will still show up on the occasional honeypot or egg cup.  It will still be available for special requests, but I may be finished with it in terms of large bowls and mugs and things.  Or I may not.  I haven't completely decided yet.

But back to the green.  Late this fall a friend gave me several buckets of glaze- the same brand that I currently use, some colors that I've used, some that I haven't.  I passed on the more earthy colors- browns and bronzes that I knew I wouldn't use- and kept a few that I would.  There was an entire gallon of celadon, which I took as a sign that I should begin using that again.  These egg cups are the first pieces I've glazed in this deep celadon green in almost a year.  I forgot how much I like how it pools in the ridges at the base.  I also did a set of teacups and saucers for a friend who sent me a huge box of lemons from her tree. 

This color can be tricky and often requires two glaze and firing sessions (that equals three trips to the kiln).  It also varies in its intensity- sometimes it comes out deep jade and sometimes it is very pale green.  I think that after years of trying to make everything the same in every firing, I'm starting to embrace the wabi-sabi in my work.  It won't be perfect.  It won't be the same every time.  And that's just fine by me. 

We're supposed to have a snowstorm tomorrow.  I'm going to hole up in my basement and finish glazing that set of dishes I showed you last week.  More on that next time.
Have a good week, everyone!

liturgical

Shortly before the holidays two different church organizations asked me to develop some liturgical items for them.  I finally sat down to make some drawings and stamps a week or so ago, after letting the ideas percolate in my brain for over a month.  This photo is of the green (unfired) stamps, drying on my radiator.  They've been fired, and I was happy with what I'd come up with.

Until, that is, I actually used them.  Yesterday I threw some Jefferson-type cups to impress with the round cross designs.  One of them worked.  Same with the anchor designs.  I'll fire and glaze all eight prototype pieces that I made, but it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it can be to get the image in my brain to come to life.  And how making something that falls so short can give me such a sinking feeling.  I ask too much of myself, perhaps?  I'm grateful that my work isn't always in R&D stages!   Regardless, I'm happy that at least two of these seven designs worked the way I wanted them to. 

Today I'm trimming pots that I made yesterday and the day before- including these liturgical Jefferson cups.  First, I'm going to run with my dog.

Have a wonderful day.

yippee!

Earlier this week I shared some images of my new work on facebook and flickr.  I really couldn't be more pleased with them.  So much so that I grabbed this pitcher and called it "mine," not for sale.  I'm really happy with my application of this technique.  I feel like it is reminiscent of Diana Fayt's, but it is more me than simply aping her style (which I love but couldn't even begin to aspire to).  When I was getting ready for her workshop I found a photo that I altered and drew to become this bee on a blown-out pussywillow branch.  A friend copied it for me and made reductions and enlargements to work from.  As soon as I saw the copies I knew it had potential to use with an almost wallpaper-like repeat.  Although I'm not a great fan of wallpaper per se, the repeated motif really appeals to me as a design element on pots.   

So.  After two or three seemingly disastrous firings, I think I've gotten the hang of how to do this.  And I am so, so flipping happy about it.  The workshop was a fabulous experience, but to have come away with a new way of working is even better than fabulous.  I feel like I'm (almost) always pushing forward in my craft.  Heretofore my work has been focused on the form, not the surface design.  As many of you may know, I have HATED glazing for several years.  I never thought surface design would capture my attention (outside of laying a fern into the wet clay to create a glaze-able impression or stamping a word into the body of the piece, both of which I still love). 

I'll have a small selection of these pieces at the Etsy Memphis sale next Friday at the Jack Robinson Gallery.  I'm excited about them.  I hope you will be too!

Have a great week- I hope I'll be back in this space on Thursday to give you a preview of more work I'll be showing Friday night.  Take care.

results

Here is the first batch of pottery I made from what I learned at the Diana Fayt workshop.  There's some definite potential here.  I love love love this bee motif (I found an old old photo of a bee feeding from a blown-out pussy willow blossom that I've drawn and altered to use).  The text, "l'abeille bonne", means "the good bee."  I think I like that almost as much as the image.

I'm both pleased and upset by this batch, but I'm going to compare this effort to learning to bake bread, or to knit a sweater.   This is a learning process.  The first loaf of bread you make, even following the best recipe, isn't going to be as good as the 100th loaf you make.
And y'all know I'm a big knitter, right?  Knitting is something that I do JUST for me and occasionally for beloved friends or family.  But the first sweater I knit doesn't look anything like the sweaters I knit now.  And my first sock?  e.gads.  So this pottery, using this technique, is similar.  I had wonderful instruction but I had several user errors along the way.  The first bisque firing way over-fired and vitrified the pieces so the glaze wouldn't stick.  All of these pieces that were in that firing are pretty rough to the touch- with one exception- not glossy/glassy.  The design shows through just fine, but the finish isn't where I want it to be.

The second bisque firing was fine, really, except that I didn't take it to the proper temperature.  A bit too low, this time.  When I started to apply color to the design it soaked in to the piece with a speed and intensity I didn't expect.  This little aqua pitcher was, well, black.  I glazed and fired it anyway, and it is fine, but much darker than I'd intended.  The white pitcher next to it also has problems from user error.  I meant to glaze the interior white- a thick, glossy, opaque glaze- but it spilled over, and since the outside of the pot was black-ish anyway, I just kept going.  The design is almost  completely obscured by the glossy opaque glaze. 

Lessons learned:  First, babysit your kiln and don't let it over-fire.  my last two firings have gone much better because I paid attention to the time.  Second, follow ALL of the directions at first.  Third, some pots are just for learning, not for sale.  The honey pot and two of the little vases are ok to use, but the others are far too un-glazed for real use.  Or to sell.  It's ok.  I'm still learning. 

grrrr

here's a tip if you're just starting out or if you've gotten lazy about your firing.  Keep a log of how long it should take you to fire your average load.  If it usually takes you 9.5 hours to bisque under normal circumstances and the kiln's been running for 13, something's wrong.  Maybe the little cone that sits in your kiln sitter has melted and stuck to the sensing rod so that the kiln keeps firing to cone 7, leaving you wondering if you should try to glaze the now-vitrified pots or not.  I unloaded my kiln (including one shelf that warped, so maybe -probably- the kiln got closer to cone 10 - that's 2300 degrees, folks.  I usually only fire to cone 6, which is in the 21-2200 range.  this load should have shut itself off at 1800.), test-glazed a few pieces, and went back to bed.  Yes, I called it a day and slept until school got out. 

I've noodled around for some tips and tricks on getting the glaze to stick and I'm willing to try them, but the problem is that once clay has vitrified- meaning that it is as hard as it can get and the pores in the clay are closed- the water in the glaze doesn't absorb back into the clay.  Usually you dip or brush wet glaze onto a piece and all of the water is sucked into the clay.  When the clay is vitrified, the glaze- and water- just sits on the top of the piece. 

Yes, I still feel pretty peevish about the entire thing.  So my plan of action is to test a few pieces and run the kiln again tonight to see if the kiln sitter will work or if I will need to fix it- which would be a handy thing to learn to do.  It's always something, isn't it?  And I'm going to put a log up next to the kiln so that I'll know how long each firing should take and watch it more carefully. 

Yes.  My pieces from Atlanta were in this load.  I lost one of them- the color that I'd used turned completely black.  Not pretty.  The other ones seem to be ok.  So this setback, trip-up, whatever is a learning experience.  I'm going to stop being so irritated by it and pick myself back up and carry on. 

I'll be back.

learning

home home home.  I am so happy to be home.  This trip was fabulous.  It could not have been better.  I met wonderful people, learned so much, reconnected with friends I hadn't seen in a dozen years.  It was good.  But I'm a homebody, and I'm happy to be home.

This photo is a blur (ahem, intentionally) because the weekend felt a bit like a blur.  It went by so quickly.  Diana Fayt is a tremendous artist and a generous teacher.  I feel fortunate to have been able to learn from her in this workshop in real time.  She gave me a lot of
advice when I first dipped my toes into blogging, flickring, and selling on etsy and has been a very real mentor to me.  Meeting her in person was really wonderful.


Here's a little sneak preview of what I worked on at Mudfire.  This workshop was a challenge for me because I'm such a "dipper."  Most of the fun of pottery to me is in creating the form.  I try to get over my distaste for the glazing process.  Decorating the pots- drawing on them- was work.  Drawing is  intimidating (especially when you're drawing on a piece of pottery!), but it's a learned skill.  A skill I've let sit and rust over the years, but one I'd like to brush up on.   I am pretty smitten with this image I drew from an old gardening photo of a bee visiting a blossomed-out pussy willow.  I think I'll continue to play with this motif as I explore this new surface technique.

so.  back to real life.  school begins on monday.  there's trip laundry to sort out, suitcases to put away, a pantry to refill.  And my stars but it is hot in Memphis.  Daytime highs of 103 and nighttime lows of 85 mean there's no pottery firing for the foreseeable future.  No matter, it will wait. 

I hope you'll enjoy the rest of your summer.  Thanks for reading my ramblings.

what's next?

hello!  How's your week been?  Ours has been a little crazy.  Plumbing issues (we have a fabulous utility company that took care of a leaking pipe in front of our house and then took exhaustive measures to trouble shoot and then fix subsequent problems.  Lots of people moan and groan about public utility companies, but every person I've dealt with at MLGW has gone above and beyond the call of duty), heat (15+ days with temps hovering around 99- that's typical august weather, not june!) and firing to work out.  Plus I've been thinking more about sustainability at home and in the studio.  I made my own laundry detergent and have been exploring water conservation/reuse options that go beyond the rain barrels we have set up.

And pottery wise, I have some new things to show you!  I've been playing with my letter stamps quite  a bit- I have the large stamps I've had forever and a relatively new set of 1/4" stamps.  First, this little "hello" was a test piece for a friend who wanted a butter crock in blue and yellow.  I wasn't sure how it would work, and I was honestly afraid that the colors would run, but I'm pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. 

And I am really really tickled with how these turned out.  I have several salt cellars with lids (the one pictured lost its lid somehow and it didn't get glazed) and more honey pots that say "honey" instead of "miel".  I like French best, but I'm making versions in English, too.  What do you think?

I'll be at the market this Saturday and will have these plus the english honey pots.  Whatever is leftover will go up in the shop on Monday.  And I am definitely making more of these.  I have a few other surprises to show you over the next few weeks- I want to have plenty ready to roll out the door before I introduce them, though.  No sense in being a tease, is there?

Have a good weekend, friends

a little more

about that interview I was telling you about on Saturday.  I'm still thinking about it.  I dug up (literally, in the case of the split example) my old buddha heads I made while teaching in 2004 (I think).  The one that split was in a window box planter on my front porch.  The other white one (it came first, made out of self-hardening clay that I took a risk on and fired) was the first one I'd made.  I think the buff stoneware is the better of the two.  They're about 3" tall.
I first became interested in Buddhism when I was in college (typical).  I am not a good Buddhist.  Not at all.  I don't let things go easily.  I try, but -  trying is the essence, I think.  I'm a better Episcopalian.  Much better.  And more committed, but still, it's all about the trying and starting over every day.  I think that Jesus and Buddha would be cool with each other on most levels.
On Sunday, after Saturday's Memphis Farmers Market appearance, I plan to play hooky and take my family down to the river for the day.  They think we're just going to play in the muddy muddy water, but really, I'm going after that iron-rich clay for my project.

I may not be in this space again until early next week, so have a good one if I don't see you again.

autumn colour week: red

Oh how I love red. There is at least one red thing in every room in my house. Lots in the kitchen, hits in every other room. Red fruit, red furniture, red flowers. Um, red shoes. Red shoes are a serious weakness for me. I have an embarrassing number of red shoes. But they make me SO HAPPY! Red and yellow are my happy colors.

I just peeked in the kiln to check and see how this load went. Top layer looked great, including these new red pieces!! These were tests- not for sale yet. I'll make more and have them available before the holidays.

Somewhere in this load there are also some tiny little red buttons. And some robin's egg buttons. I was really, really meticulous with this glaze load. I'll see at the end of the day how the whole load went- it is still too too hot to touch. I did a teeny bit of kiln maintenance, but I haven't scraped and re-coated my shelves yet.

This morning we all woke up with a sunny outlook. We're all well, rested, and ready to face a full weekend. I'm looking forward to taking my first canoe float in about 2 years tomorrow with Gary and some friends. I promised little boy we'd get a pumpkin at the farmer's market tomorrow. The weather is glorious, the leaves are beginning to turn. I'm going to find our tiniest drybag and bring my camera on the trip. Have a lovely weekend!

egg shell


egg shell cup
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
On my last weekend at the Memphis Farmers Market back in June, a customer asked me if I'd make mugs in this egg shell glaze. I told him I'd think about it and try. This is what I came up with. I really puzzled over the form. I wanted it to be curved, delicate, like an egg, but not so delicate that you'd be afraid to use it.

The handle bothers me a little- but honestly, all handles bother me a little. My favorite cups have no handles; I like to cradle the cup with both of my hands- like I do with my bamboo cups (speaking of which, my friend Melissa asked me if I'd consider making them as planters- to hold succulents or small african violets. Those are forthcoming). I want to work with this form a little more, but I was really gratified to find that several friends echoed my preference for tumbler-style cups and expressed interest in seeing these without handles. I was almost excited to see my preference echoed (unasked, even) by my friends.

I've come up with another application for the egg form. Not just vases, now, but salt shakers. Molly showed me a picture of a stopperless stoneware salt shaker she'd been given. I noodled around and found something like a tutorial for this double-walled vessel and made a few. I only use coarse salt, so I made the funnel quite large, but I'm working on making a smaller one for fine salt.

I'm excited to be getting real work done in the studio. I think that I'm going to do an etsy update once a month. If you are interested in berry bowls, I have orders for about a dozen right now, but I'm going to try to have another dozen ready to sell in a few weeks. I haven't been able to get any up on etsy because other people have contacted me about them. So if you REALLY really need one, and sooner rather than later, just shoot me an email. Or leave a comment (but blogger doesn't give me email addresses unless you specify on your account that your email address is public, so if you comment and don't hear back from me, that's why). Or go to my etsy page and convo me.

Have a great Thursday!

bird's egg glaze


salt cellar
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
On Saturday I had my last-day-for-the-summer (I *think*) at the farmers market. I bailed out a session early, but I plan to go back in September/October. All of the pottery-making, 100 push-up-ing, aspic-making (or rather, full 10 gal stockpot lifting) has resulted in some stress/overuse injuries to both of my arms. I'm resting them for several weeks so that I can get back to the wheel; this means no new thrown-potter, and I don't have enough ware to take back down to the market week after next. I'd rather not be there than have a pitiful little showing. I can still do some handbuilding, and I've got some new ideas percolating in this old brain, so maybe I'll be able to save the work and ideas for a sale at home in July. Maybe.

But back to this glaze. I've gotten such a good response to this glaze. I've sold out of my little egg vases and most of the bowls. I made this little lidded salt cellar for Gretchen, who used to work with my husband eons ago and is also a friend's cousin. One double-degree of separation. Another couple asked me about mugs in this glaze, which I hadn't thought about- my sole application idea was egg vases, but why not mugs?. Someone else asked about a berry bowl in this speckled robin's egg blue (more of those in july!). For now, I'm thinking about some squarish plates and platters in this glaze. Later on, I'll make more lidded items like this one. Maybe even larger- butter-dish sized. And mugs.

I'm excited to get away from what I *must* do for a little while and think in slightly different veins. I'm thinking about molds for pieces that are particularly difficult to make, thinking about flat things, thinking about different, 3-d decorations. I'm also thinking about photographing all of my unsold ware and putting it up on etsy. Or about hauling out the sewing machine and playing that way this week.

I hope you're finding your summer unfolding with creative potential this week, too.

thursday already?

The week has flown by. I've been taking my time with things- getting my kitchen back in order after having my cabinets painted last week, throwing a little, compiling notes for my college class's annual alumnae news magazine, attending a book party for a friend, packing and shipping, you know, staying busy.

My hope for today is to start throwing more egg cups like these above. I've had several requests for other colors, including the speckled turquoise of the egg vases. I did place an order from Casey's, including some wooden eggs to help me keep the size of the cups right. I bought one for display, so that I won't have to beg an egg from other vendors at the market, and one for the studio for sizing purposes.

Somehow, with the kitchen's disarray, my throwing time was decreased- I still managed to make things, just not the volume I'd hoped. Saturday should be my throwing day so that most of the things that I needed to replenish for the market will be ready to fire on Monday. The bigger things I'm making are for the June home sale. I haven't set a firm date, but it's nearing. I'm thinking perhaps the last weekend in June for my local friends and customers.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!