It's August.

It's been an exciting week over here.  First week of the first grade (it's been just great!). First egg from our little flock (after wondering if my chickens were indeed the type that produced eggs).  My grandparents have moved up from Louisiana and there's been a hurry-scurry to get their space ready for them. 

Oh, and the vapors of hell have ascended and rest heavily on Memphis.  Our daily highs have been 100 and over.  It hasn't been below 80 all week.  And the humidity, which I jokingly refer to as "gracious" has become an iron fist in velvet gloves, clutching at our lungs.  It's hard to get a breath during the heat of the day*.   I'm beat.  And wondering if I can manage to post anything here more than once a week.  I think we can live with that, though.  Don't you? Because fall is on its way, and we'll all have more energy.

But isn't the egg pretty?  My boy was so excited about it.  Ready to check again for eggs roughly every 12 hours.  Our other hen (Edna) will produce a brown egg- speckled or not, we'll find out.  Our old araucanas laid greenish eggs.  Pearl is an araucana. I bought a beautiful speckled brown egg earlier this spring- I still think of it, glaze-wise.  I'm not much of a fan of brown pottery, but this speckled tan was really lovely.  So I'll be working all of that out once it's cool enough to fire more regularly again.
I have been making pots all week and spent a few hours last night drawing on them.  I'm very pleased with what I've made and eager to finish them.  They are tucked away in the kiln, along with the pieces I made during the workshop with Diana Fayt.  These pieces feel more like me, and I'm happy with that.  And I'm close to being out of my regular stoneware, so I moved into porcelains again this week.  I made porcelain mugs and honey pots, a few vases, several eggs.  I have plenty of stoneware in my reclaim buckets, but they need to be rehydrated and wedged.  I had a jones for throwing this week, so porcelain it was.

I'm at an all-time low in my inventory.  It's nice.  But scary.  Really scary.  No mugs.  No berry bowls.  One honey pot.  No butter crocks.  I have work made, I have work made and fired and ready to glaze.  I just can't fire it.  First break in the heat and I'll crank the kiln right up.

I hope that you'll see this form again after firing- it's a new favorite of mine.  It's familiar, but I'm not sure where it came from.  I made this pitcher earlier this spring, and when I was cleaning it up in preparation for glazing the bottom of the handle broke off.  I glaze-glued it back together, hoping beyond hope that it would stick, but it didn't, really.  The crack is both clearly visible and wonky.  I couldn't bear to throw it away, so now it's my chicken feed scoop.  Pampered chooks they are.  I've made several pitchers that look like this- labeled with "syrup" for some friends, and "lait" for the general public.  I expect I'll be making more.

Hope your weekend treats you well.

*If you aren't from the South and you've heard us talk and wonder why we talk slow, move slow- it's because it is too damn hot and humid to do anything fast, especially in August.


has been my state of mind lately.  Sometimes it seems like everything happens all at once.  Good things, crazy things, inconvenient things, happy joyful things, things that make you want to just go back to bed.   There are some wonderful changes and events afoot, and a few hurdles to cross before they happen.  I'm trying to stay in an optimistic frame of mind but sometimes the daily grind makes that difficult. 
But I'm focusing on the good.

I told you about the tomato farmer who gave me six lbs of lovely beautiful heirloom tomatoes that he considered culls?  And I turned them into beautiful summer-flavored tomato sauce?  Six whole pints (that's six instant suppers!)?  I made him this tomato mug.  I did my usual leaf-imprint, but while thinking about this class I'm taking next weekend, I decided to write "tomato" in the really-too-dry clay.  I say too dry because if the clay had been a hair closer to leather hard rather than completely dry (it was completely dry),  I would have carved a bit deeper, which would have left more room for the glaze to pool into and the word would have shown up more.  Which is to say, at all.  But I am thrilled with the potential.  And totally excited about the class.

Other things in the works- weddings.  I have a love-hate relationship with facebook.  Love that I've been able to reconnect with so many college friends I haven't heard from in years.  Love the instant communication with in-town friends.  Really, I love the exposure it's given my business.  I just hate the (self discipline I don't have) time suck factor.  But one of my little sisters* from college is getting married at the end of August and I'm making her wedding party gifts.  And we reconnected and she saw my work on Facebook.  It really really makes me happy.

Did I mention I'm taking a class with the lovely and talented Diana Fayt?  And I'm completely over the moon about it?  She is very much a mentor to me, and I'm tickled to get to learn from her in person, not just in the over-email-advice-seeking capacity the internets provides.  Photos of the workshop to come.

OK.  This weekend I'm at the market.  It will be hot.  I will have fewer things than usual.  OH!  But the really good news is that the tent and shelves and everything fits neatly into the car with the seats folded down.  I was overjoyed when we did our "test pack" earlier this week. 

So have a lovely weekend, I'll be back in this space in August.  I'm giving myself a break for the class and clearing those hurdles I mentioned earlier.  Think good thoughts, will you? 

*I went to a women's college, Salem, in NC.  It is a very small school, and there are "sister classes"- ie freshman/junior, sophomore/senior.  My little sisters and I were close but had lost touch, so it's wonderful to reconnect and play a small role in one's wedding.

hot hot hot

ok.  no break in the temps.  I have a smaller kiln on site, now I just need a new outlet to plug it in.  This week (so far!) I've fired twice.  Well, not this week.  Once on Saturday, once yesterday.  Both smaller loads, fired in the wee hours of the morning.  I can load in the afternoon and fire the first two cycles (warm up- 2+ hours, medium 2+ hours) with the air going and then turn up the kiln to high and turn the air off as we go to bed*.  The bisque firing was finished at 2am, so I turned the air back on when it was finished.  The glaze firing I did last night took until almost 4 (I wake up every few hours to check on the progress when I fire through the night- a nervous wake-up habit), but it was nice to wake up for real in the morning to a cool rather than stifling house.  Firing smaller loads means less time glazing (per session), which is very good for me.  I'd rather work for three hours at it than six hours.

I hope to have some brand new things to show you before Friday.  Fingers crossed.  On Saturday I'll be at the farmers market.  Saturday feels like a million miles away, but Monday already feels like a year ago.

I hope you're having a good week.  I feel like things are settling down here a bit, which is good.  Tomorrow I'm going to swim and work on the wheel.  I'm looking forward to both.

*If you're new to me, I have an old house (1922) with old wiring (ahem. though not 1922, it still provides a limited amount of power) that doesn't allow me to run the air conditioning and the kiln on its highest setting.  Once the air was on, a supplemental AC unit was going, and the microwave was on and we lost power.  When we build a new studio we'll also put in a new/separate electrical box so that I can run both at the same time)

the week begins

good morning!  I hope you had a good weekend.  It got almost blistering hot here- may is dancing happily along and suddenly it is august- full force heat and humidity.  When I came home from walking my boy to school (it was before 8)  I checked the temperature- 85 degrees, 75% humidity, 93 degree heat index.  Wow.
Only one more day of walking to school- tomorrow is the last day of school, less than a half-day.  We'll be taking the rest of the day to play in the scale model of the Mississippi River at Mud Island a free riverpark downtown on the Mississippi River.

So I've done my outdoor work- hanging laundry, watering the garden, posted a few photos from the weekend, and now I'm going upstairs to work on some orders that I need to have finished by the weekend and more work for my home sale.  Because summer begins tomorrow on when little boy isn't at camps, he'll be at home.  Fitting work time in gets harder.  Not impossible, but our pace certainly changes.  We've all worked hard this year and are looking forward to a rest during our summer break.

These ladybug bowls came out of my last kiln load- they belong with the platters I made for a wedding.  I think the flowergirls are getting these.  I've been making them since the winter of 2001 when we had a ladybug invasion in the house.  We lived in the country and they were on EVERYTHING.  I've been making them ever since- they're my favorite baby gift, especially paired with a book like Eric Caryle's The Grouchy Ladybug.  I have a few friends in blogland who've recently had babies- their cups are on the way!

I hope you have a great week!

working merrily along

 I disappeared for a moment, didn't I?  I've been working steadily to build my inventory, working to expand my repertoire- both in terms of forms and glaze applications.  Several people have asked me about other "eggshell" glazes- specifically brown speckled chickens' eggs.  I tried my speckles on white and was pleased, but I really like it on the creamy reduction-style glaze at top.  The brown holds a lot of potential, I think, but I am not where I'd like to be with it yet.  I only have these two eggs right now, but I'm working on more for the shop

The weather in Memphis has alternated between fabulous and horrid- I stayed home from the  Memphis Farmers Market this past week- we had torrential rains and flooding.  All is well in my house and in my city, but Nashville was hit hard.  Lots of familiar and famous places are under water.  My family and friends are safe; I am grateful that they live in areas that weren't hit by the flooding Harpeth and Cumberland Rivers.

My chickens are outside, the garden is wearing its spring party dress, we're all healthy, and I'm grateful.  I'll have more of my work to show you this weekend.  Hope your week is productive and happy.

weekly wrap up

I just peeked into the kiln to see how my glaze firing did. Top load looks just swell. Some of these pieces (like the big platter on the left) are gifts- others are designated for the shop and custom orders. Many others are going to some friends' new store, the Trolley Stop Market. I've been working hard this week on cranking out a custom order for a wedding- I have two pieces left to make. Keeping my fingers crossed that they turn out as desired!

It has been such a full week. Full of good things, blessings, surprises, and a few trials. Sunday was spent doing Sunday things, plus clearing out all of the baby gear from our attic. On Monday I got a good deal of throwing done- I was happy with my work. I also got the kiln loaded to bisque fire half of the wedding order. Tuesday our utility company knocked on our door to let us know that they needed to take out a shrub that I happened to like. To compensate, the used a back hoe to remove a block of hollies that we've been trying to remove ever since we moved into our house! I was so, so happy about that. The resulting sunny space will be dedicated to tomatoes in the short term and to a pomegranate bush in the long term! That same day a dear friend overnighted me a package of lovely lacy ferns. I took them right upstairs and made several large pieces- platters, bowls, even a few vases- all decorated with her ferns. Wednesday was spent shipping, buying more shipping supplies, detail-glazing the ferns.

I tried to do too much on Wednesday. Way too much. Woke up tired and cranky Thursday morning and sent out a cry (ahem. whine) for help. A friend came over, helped me glaze the last of my load of pottery, brought sweet buttery pastries, AND took a load of my old dress/professional clothes to Dress for Success. I called another organization to come and get all of our baby gear. Another dear friend and her daughter spent some time in the afternoon visiting, and my mom came and brought supper! This morning I was talking to my neighbor about the rain barrels we're putting in and she gave me tomato plants! Another friend also gave me tomato plants (I had a tomato seed disaster this year. I didn't water them and they dried right up.); I think you know where we're putting them.

I feel so busy, blessed, stretched. Sometimes sorry for myself, but I'm reminding myself to laugh at it, not take pottery or trials too seriously, and to delight in the good things. Thanks for being part of the good things.

Have a lovely weekend.

Our spring break was lovely and I don't remember a more beautiful Easter day- we got outside a lot in the last week and spent almost the entire weekend out enjoying the beautiful weather. I hope you've been able to enjoy it, too.

Today I've been working like a crazy woman all day, glazing. I had wonderful help again- this time with the sanding and the waxing as well as the glazing. Hiring a helper has been the best thing I've ever done for myself professionally. Paying someone else to clean for me was a close second. That I miss. But hiring for glazing help has been invaluable- I'm more efficient with my time when I'm paying someone else to help me and it should make sense that it would only take half the time with two people working, but still, it amazes me. I have a big load ready to go tomorrow and there are several pieces that I'm excited about, like these two platters:

They are test pieces for a large custom order- I need to find more of the fern, but I have another month to work on them. The first of May is my self-imposed deadline. I know you can't really see the design, but the fern is vining and lacey, and the brownish glaze will be a deep bronzey green and the stems covered by white will take on a turquoise glow. Glazing the ferns is tedious but I always forget how much work it took when I see the end results. There are still eggs to speckle and the kiln to load tomorrow, but it was a good day's work.

After supper I did some clean up work in the kitchen, glazing table, and later in the garden. I am pottery-ed out for the day and needed to putter around with other things. While I was out I picked my first asparagus of the season. These spears are a bit late and there aren't as many as I'd hoped, but I expect more in the coming weeks.
I'll eat these with a fried egg for lunch tomorrow. They are enormously fat at 1.25" in diameter and make me absolutely giddy. Besides a little picking, most of my garden clean-up time was spent culling asparagus seedlings from other areas of the vegetable garden. There were about 10 little baby ferns popping up in my leeks and several more in the area where I've planted carrots and radishes.

April 17, the opening day of the farmers market, is quickly approaching. The Trolley Stop Market (no link yet, but they do have a facebookpage) is projected to open on April 21. Between now and then I have about 500 herb markers to make, plus berry bowls, honey pots, and butter crocks. I won't be in this space much until mid-month. I'll pop in with an etsy update- the first batch of berry bowls is coming soon.

Have a great week, everyone!

new color

that I bought specifically for my porcelain teacups. I have to say that unless you throw paper thin (rather, unless I start throwing paper thin), there's just no sense in using porcelain. I can't tell much of a difference except that it is harder to work with.

I tried it on my salt cellars, too. I really like it on these. The color is called, app
ropriately enough, eggshell. It's like a heavy french vanilla with a white bloom on top. Very very difficult to photograph how the color "breaks," but there is a lot of variation in the color. When I took these photos on my normal blue drop, they just looked white. Thye also looked white on my yellow kitchen table. I don't like to photograph my white pieces on white because they don't show up well. I think these need white to photograph.

Can you see the color variation here? I like this glaze a lot, and I like it better when it is glazed heavily enough to really "break" (that's a reduction term- a different type of firing- for the color variation and mottling effects within a single color of glaze. It isn't an effect I use often- I generally prefer transparent but straight color). I'm not sure how I like it on the teacups, but I think it worked brilliantly on the salt cellars and spoons.

I've been working like crazy. But I'm also working within the limits of my tendinitis-prone arms. I can only throw for about 2 hours, and generally I do one day of throwing, one day of trimming with a tiny little bit of throwing (bud vases and tiny bowls) tacked on the end. Plus some hand-building. This week I've made 20 berry bowls, some platters, lots and lots of tiny bowls and bud vases, and two dozen egg cups. It's almost market time!


moving around here. My small procedure turned into something bigger and more complex. I'm off my feet for a little longer than I anticipated. I had an abdominal incision, which means that if I'm going to work on the wheel any time soon I'm going to have to re-think how I do it. Not curled up over and around the pots. That won't work.

Yesterday I had Gary bring down a softball-sized lump of clay and my favorite clean-up tool, a double-sided blade that I use for trimming, hand-building, and decorating, but rarely for cleaning up, a fabric-covered piece of particle board leftover from my teaching days, and one of my rolling pins. I've been leafing through back issues of Ceramics Monthly and was beginning to get the clay "itch" again. Over the course of a few hours, I made a template for a new square salt cellar (slightly under 2" across) and worked on my salt spoons.

In November I was very excited about my first little spoons. But as I sat down to make more, I didn't like the bowls. In particular, I didn't like how the edges of the bowls curved up toward the handle. I'd simply been pinching them into a bowl shape, which worked fine, but the lines weren't as clean as I wanted (yes, I am a recovering perfectionist). Yesterday I began experimenting with cutting out darts in the bowls to get the look I wanted. I am happier with the new shape and will make a template to use to make more, I think.

I hope to have some help getting my kiln loaded and fired over the weekend- no heavy lifting for me. Next week I'll try glazing. I have a new color I bought to use for my porcelain teacups. We'll see how it goes.

Have a great weekend. I'm signing off until next week.

good monday

The sky is bright, the ice is melting, I've finished my monday paperwork and am headed up to the studio for a good hour of cleaning and another two hours of working. I was particularly happy with some of the things I took out of the kiln late Friday.

Some of these will be at the vendor marketplace at St. Jude this Friday, right outside the Kay Kafe. Have a lovely week


I'm a bit stuck. I've been restocking in the studio- making things I need to make, but I'm not exactly inspired (no, that's wrong- I'm VERY motivated to bring in money for my family. But I'm not excited about it) by what I'm doing. Surface design really isn't what gets me excited about pottery- it's the form that does great things for me.

So I'm trying to work through this stuck, but would you, could you, send me some images (or urls of images on line) that you find lovely and inspiring, shape/form wise? Pretty please?

Thank you!

pottery reclaim

Given our current economic (and environmental) climate, there's been a surge in the creative reuse and repurposing of "spent" items. Reusing old clothing, making over household items for crafting, art-making, even gift-giving. Reclaim, upcycle, reuse, repurpose- in some ways we've become our grandparents and great-grandparents again. I've been happy to reuse and remake textiles and other household items for a long time, but I've just figured out how to apply this to my pottery.

Last week I made quite a large firing mistake. I didn't realize how big it was until after I'd glazed my work and fired it and 1/3 of the kiln load came out with cracks in the bottom. Some cracked through the glaze, which caused fatal seeping. In the case of my egg cups, the cracks were in the glaze but not through to the bottom, but cracks in the glaze aren't food safe. Unfortunately, this happens fairly frequently. The number isn't huge- maybe 5% of my pots are damaged in this way, but this was a large number to lose. Rather than throwing the pieces away, I asked my friends at Peace Bee Farm if I could buy some of their beeswax (Rita makes wonderful candles!) to make some votive candles in these damaged pieces.

Almost every component of these candles is reclaimed from used or damaged items. The metal wick tabs are recycled from the cathedral votive stand (when I find myself with noting to do, I start looking for things to do. I've been helping to remove old candle tabs and replace votives for several years and thought about reusing the tabs a few weeks ago). I made several sets of rolled beeswax candles for Christmas gifts and used my leftover cotton wicking for this project.

I'm really excited about how this project has turned out. I kept a candle for me and put three of the egg cup votives up on etsy (and at stocking-stuffer prices!). There are a few more bowls- including one speckled egg bowl- that I'm going to turn into a large candle for a Christmas gift. Now I just wish I could figure out how to repurpose cracked berry bowls! Speaking of berry bowls, I just listed five more. I may have a few more on Dec 17, after the Deck the Halls Holiday Sale at Park Place Center in Memphis ends on Dec 16. I'm ready to focus more on making gifts for my family, so I've set December 16 as my
making and firing end-date. December 20 is the last day I'll ship packages.

Hope you have a wonderful week!


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This morning we needed mittens, scarves (for me) and hats (for the boy) to walk to school. Winter is finally coming- we've had balmy, September-like temperatures all November. It has been wonderful in most respects, including being able to find and use fresh leaves in my pottery. A frost will come soon, and with it, my leaf supply will be gone until April. After dropping the boy off, I picked up as many japanese maple and ginkgo leaves as I could carry. Once home, I wrapped them in paper towels, tucked them into plastic zipper bags, and stashed them in the cheese drawer in the fridge. I need to find some more ginkgo leaves and ferns. Oh, I'll need lots of ferns to see me though the winter's making.

Today I'm glazing my fall leaves pottery for the sale. I may do two glaze firings before Friday, but I'm not counting on it. There is still so much work to do for my December sales, but I'm energized by it rather than stressed by the prospect of so much to do.

I hope your Tuesday is lovely. Ours is chilly and grey- good soup weather!

PS- I'm now on facebook as Come see me!


oh. It was good to unload yesterday. I let the kiln cool down for an entire 36 hours (better for the glaze, less crazing, pieces have better longevity). Nearly everything came out JUST RIGHT. I tried some new things with this load and had some new forms- my long-awaited (but largely silent) salt spoons.A test pomegranate. A very good application of my new green glaze. More speckled egg pieces. Each layer held surprises of the very good sort. The only slight disappointment was with red berry bowls. Here's the deal with them. There will be very, very few. The amount of glaze needed to get the lovely red color means that the several thick applications run down the inside surface of the bowl and cover the holes as it melts.
So I take a special ortho surgical tool (Gary works in the marketing dept. of a large Ortho/surgical/trauma manufacturing company and has some surgical tools, like this long screw/drill that I use) to pierce the glaze, file the hole down, then refire it. These extra steps and subsequent refiring mean higher prices for you and a smidge of frustration for me. But it is pretty, and I'll keep doing them. These will just be limited run pieces.

After I unloaded the kiln, I went to the studio, discovered that I had another full load ready to go (loading this afternoon)- I've been averaging 24 pieces in about 2 hours. When I sat down to throw small pieces, I made more tiny bowls, vases, and egg cups. I threw 36 pieces yesterday morning. Today I'll trim them. My wrists complain a bit, by Hyland's Arnica-based Arthritis Relief tablets take most of the sting away.

All of my work is leading up to my own holiday show and the two other holiday sales I'll be participating in. I'll have a big etsy update the day after Thanksgiving.

Today's task: trimming, loading, prepping for tonight's clay class (crosses) by cutting out templates for my students, and more roasted root vegetables. Oh, and the vacuum.

I hope you're having a good, productive week, everyone. And as I look at this, I sigh just a bit, wish I knew how to wrap text better, then release my perfectionism. Just for this moment, I'm letting it go.

the whys of pottery (at least one of them)

This week two pieces of pottery were returned by a customer who wasn't happy with my work. One of the reasons she returned the pieces was her expectation that the bowl be fully glazed from the top to the very bottom of the piece, which is exactly what you find on factory-made pottery. I leave a 1/4" margin around the bottoms of all of my pieces to ensure that the glaze doesn't drip down and stick to the kiln shelf. I happily refunded her, but I thought that since she expected something different than what I made, perhaps some other pottery customers might also be surprised by the margin and bottom of unglazed clay and wonder why I leave the bottoms of my pots bare.

Pottery glazes have a very high silica content. When they're super-heated (2165 F, 1185 C), the silica melts and becomes glass. Because I dip my pottery, the glaze is somewhat thinner than brush-on glaze, and as it melts, it runs down the sides of the piece. This melting and running is also why some of my colors, particularly the robin's egg blue, can look streaky and uneven, rather than completely smooth and even.*
Prior to glazing, I paint a thin coat of wax on the bottom of my pottery so that glaze won't stick to it. I also carry that line of wax slightly up the side of my pot. Usually I go about 1/4", but if the piece has a distinct foot-ring, like on a berry bowl or a cafe au lait bowl, I leave the entire area unglazed. I do this so that even if the glaze drips down, it is likely to stop and not melt onto the kiln shelf.

Yesterday, still a quite floaty and contemplative from seeing the Dalai Lama's lecture, I took care of a few things around the house and went to unload the kiln. This load was quite full of re-glazes and I did not do a good job of re-waxing the bottoms and footrings of the re-fired work. At least 15 pieces dripped and adhered to the kiln shelf.**
This, predictably, made me feel not so floaty. These 15 pieces- four berry bowls, a several mugs, and several smaller bowls- represented a quarter of the kiln load that I can't sell. Four hours of prep work and glazing, three hours of throwing, trimming, and sanding. Because I didn't re-wax and watch those margins. I think that the berry bowls' dripping had something to do with the humidity (today is the 15th straight day of rain in Memphis). They were not entirely ruined because I can sand the bottoms give them to friends who won't care. But this otherwise lovely mug? It is headed for the trash. You can see spots in the top picture where the shelf/ kiln wash stuck to the bottom of the mug- and those shiny spots? That's glaze (I'd put a thin coat of clear glaze over the speckles on this mug- the speckles need to be covered with glaze to be food safe, so I do two glaze firings on each of these pieces). On the second picture, you can see where a chunk of the mug stayed on the shelf. This was a particularly painful lesson in not rushing and really inspecting my work before loading it in the kiln. I've been doing this for 9 years now. These look like mistakes of a first-year student to me. With this post, I'm releasing and moving onward.

*I have issues with this look- I'd prefer smooth and non-streaky, but this glaze doesn't behave that way, no matter what fixatives I add to it or how I apply it. Since it seems to be a popular color with local and online customers, I keep using it, but to be honest, the streakiness bugs me. I'm a reforming perfectionist.

**this also tells me that it is time to do some kiln and shelf maintenance. This coming week I'll don a mask and use a grinder to smooth off the shelves. Then I'll mix up some kiln wash (a powdered blend of silica, kaolin-clay-, and aluminum hydrate), brush it on and fire three times. My shelves are old and flaky, and they need some love. A proper coating of kiln wash ensures that your drippy pieces don't take a large hunk of shelf with them when you remove the piece.


wild persimmon
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Seems like everything is crawling at a snail's pace around here. Well, except my child, who is bouncing off the walls. Y'all, we are on DAY NINE of rain, grey, clouds, humid sticky weather. Last week I tried to cope by making soups and breads, pretending it was fall. This weekend I had a class all weekend, as I will again this weekend, so little boy stayed at my mom's in the country. The wild persimmons were ripe. So life- the seasons- the world- really is changing even though things seem to be in a state of stasis. They're pretty and sweet, but so seedy and tiny that they're more trouble to eat then they're worth. Forager though I may be, I left them all to the deer.

Today I am trying to finish up a kiln-load of glazing, but it is mightily difficult to get wet glaze to stick in humid weather. I brought a bunch of things in this morning in hopes that I'd be able to glaze them after they'd been in (and in the oven, drying out) for a while. I have almost a full load of work that's ready to bisque. A few of you have contacted me about orders and I'm working on all of them- honeypots, butter dishes, butter bells, berry bowls, but the rain forest that is memphis right now has slowed my already slow pace down to a crawl. Soon, soon I keep telling myself.

I've discovered a trick to my drill mixer. If I don't sink the mixer to the bottom of the bucket it doesn't splash as much. Good to know. The other factor to the splashing problem is my drill's single speed. Full tilt or off. I'll be switching drills soon.

egg cups

egg cups
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I was noodling around this morning (um, I still am) and saw the cutest idea for using egg cups is you aren't going to actually eat eggs from them. Go over to Design Sponge and see. I think I'll get some succulents to put in some of these for my next day at the farmers market (oct 24) and my pre-holiday home sale.

I finished trimming my not-rosenthal pottery. I'm pretty happy with the clean lines. We'll see how it looks in color. That new green, maybe?

It has been raining every day since last Friday here. I'm a tiny bit sick of it, except that it has sprouted all of my fall veggie seeds I planted. That makes me happy. But lordy, I'd love to see a little sunshine. Especially since I need to do some glazing. Super-saturated humid air means that wet glaze doesn't like to stick or dry so well. In due time.

I'm working on slab work today- giving my arms a break from throwing for a bit longer. More icons, plates, platters. I like to listen to podcasts while I'm working. I'm a big fan of the How Stuff Works series of podcasts, and, of course, This American Life. Any new podcast suggestions out there?


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I had a much, much better day working yesterday. Throwing went well. It's too wet to glaze, but I threw lots (a bit too much, perhaps, as my tendinitis seems to be flaring up again) and I'm happy with the forms I threw. But the flood of emails and comments from y'all really, really made me feel better. Thank you.

Much of what I made yesterday is influenced by this sugar bowl that belonged to my late mother in law. She and my father in law lived in Germany in the mid-late 50s. She bought a set of these Rosenthal factory seconds (she called them the "gypsy dishes," because she bought them from street peddlers). They aren't marked, but the matching salt and pepper shakers are marked Rosenthal, so I believe that's what these are.

Despite my more traditional, slightly toned-down but still a little frilly tastes, I've always loved mid-century design. I think designers like Eva Zeisel are the bee's knees. Mother kept the coffee pot, tea pot, and spouted pitcher (a chocolate pot?) on the top of her fridge. I always admired the pieces, and last week my sister and law gave me all of the pieces to the set that were left. We're using the dishes every evening and yesterday I carted a few pieces up to the studio.

First I made a pitcher slightly reminiscent of these pieces, but I think I got the sugar bowl spot-on. I still need to trim the lids, but really looking at these really helped me think through some issues I'd been having with my work- particularly the lids. I don't know WHY I hadn't been making a gallery for the lids to rest in, but I haven't, not for years. So I had problems with lids sliding around, and in cases where the shrinkage rates were different (probably because some of the clay -for the lid, say- was more wet than the clay for the body), lids would wind up being too small and fall through. Not good if the lid goes on a honeypot. Most of the time I caught this problem, but it is SO embarrassing to have a customer tell you that happened.* Simple little shelf for the lid to rest on does seem to fix all of that.

I think I'm over the pottery malaise I was feeling last week. I sure hope so. It looks like it will be too wet to try to glaze anything this week, but I have plenty of handbuilding to do this week while I treat my tendinitis. I hope your week is off to a good start. Mine is.

*I don't have issues with this kind of criticism, and this isn't the kind of complaint I whined about yesterday.

new groove

I feel like I've still been a little quiet here since school has started. I've been working really hard on a lot of different things- some success, some, not so much. Ten years ago I ran. For at least an hour, every day. I had two labrador retrievers, one very young, one adult. I was in graduate school, very busy, and running helped keep all of us better-behaved. I married, moved to the country, and twisted my ankle too many times (on trails used by horses) to keep running. Five years ago we moved back to the city, to a neighborhood with a great 4 mile greenline, a college, a huge urban forested park, and I've been sporatic. In July I started really running again. I felt like I hit a plateau where I couldn't get much beyond 3 miles. Today I ran with my neighbor, an English professor and women's running coach. We did seven. And I didn't die. Or walk as much as I thought I would (maybe 1/4 mi, if that). It was a huge push for me to do that much more.

I've also been testing new glazes. I've gotten so many requests for red that I bought a pint to test. It's pretty happy, isn't it? A pint was just under $20. A gallon is well over $100. Red pottery = higher price. So. I also bought a new green. It was an affordable gallon- but it didn't come with any mixing instructions at all. When I first mixed and used it, it went on too too thick (see the splotchy berry bowl? the clay underneath is white. Bare spots aren't white anymore). So I'll thin it, test again, and see how it goes. I've been looking for a good grassy green for quite some time. I'm 90% happy with this. I've also been trying a new method for my eggshell glazed pieces that doesn't involve inadvertently breathing in fine particulates. I tried mixing my stain with water and flicking it on, but the color faded away to barely visible. That's still a work in progress. Perhaps I just need to wear a respirator while I make those pieces.

I made myself some buttons! I think I'll make more for the sewers and knitters in my life.

I'm working really hard on filling orders and building inventory. I just made twenty egg cups. I've made a ton of ladybug pottery (and yet, not enough). I have no mugs to speak of, no platters. A few berry bowls that I'll put out after the orders for them have been filled. I'll be back at the Memphis Farmers Market in late October and am planning to have a pre-Thanksgiving sale at home. I haven't had a home sale since June 2008. It's time to do another.

My weeks are flying by. I'm out the door to run before 7:30, working (making, glazing, and yes, interneting), picking up little boy again at 2. Lunches, suppers, Catechesis work, laundry, cleaning. I'm finding my rhythm. It is bumpy sometimes, but I'm getting there.

Have a great holiday weekend. We're going to go pick peaches again (unless I luck out and get a box of culled peaches at the farmers market). It's almost time for apples.

Oh, and Sunday was the last of the one local summers. It was harder this year because I had more going on, but eating local is part of how we eat now. I may highlight a special meal every now and then, if you don't mind too much.

what I learned this summer

The summer is over. School's begun. Summer was great and easy and fast and hard and awful and frustrating and sad and joyful and I learned so so much. Some things I learned:
1. I just cannot make pottery during the summer when my child is at home. Can. Not. Do. It. Next summer, I'll need some sort of work-around. And I'll need to have a lot of inventory built up in preparation for summer (see why I quit my job).
2. If I focus on trying to work when I just can't, not only do I frustrate myself, but I frustrate EVERYONE.
3. I can't pre-sell/do custom orders anymore. I'm talking to you, Berry Bowls*. Making a customer wait 6-8 weeks for their pottery that they've already paid for is just not something I can live with. I'm thrilled for people who can do that, but I'm so task-oriented that the weight (real or imagined) of other peoples' expectations is almost enough to drown me. And this process doesn't take into account crazy things that happen like tendinitis in both arms, losing power for a week, unseasonably hot temperatures which mean I can't run the kiln.
4. I don't like making excuses, so I will not promise what I can't easily deliver. Is this the same as #3?
5. I am NOT going to please everyone. Some people are unreasonable in their complaints. Some people are justified in their complaints. I need to figure out which is which and deal with them appropriately. A measly $15 or $25 or even $100 isn't worth throwing myself into despair because someone didn't like their vase.
6. My friends really help me to see things more clearly. See the last sentence in #5.
7. My work doesn't have to be perfect, just my best. I am very hard on myself and my standards for my work are nearly unattainable. But at the same time, I'm not Target or a factory in China.
8. I need to take breaks more often. This last break from pottery to enjoy the end of summer with my boy was filled with productivity in other areas. I kicked home canning's tail feathers and have a nicely stocked pantry as a result. I read some books. I knit some sweaters. I was (mostly) a nicer person to deal with (see #2).
9. I'm online a little too much sometimes. Life is for living in real time and real place. The internet is a great tool and can provide a great community and information (and sales, support, inspiration, you name it). But do I really need more than about an hour of screen time a day? If too much screen time is bad for my child, shouldn't it be bad for me, too?
10. Y'ALL. I finished my first year as a really registered business. I paid my business taxes to the city and county. I keep up (and have been for 7 years) with my sales taxes. It didn't kill me or make me crazy, and I don't have to pay an accountant to do it for me. This was a big thing. I'm more than a little proud of myself to have it all finished and paid weeks before it was due.

So. I'm back to work, waiting for my kiln to cool so that I can unload it. I've just trimmed about 20 ladybug pieces for a an order and to rebuild my inventory. I'm looking at heading back to the farmers market in October. I'm planning to have my first home sale after a year and a half (pre-Thanksgiving). I'm testing a new red glaze and a new green glaze. I'm making new forms and thinking about pottery and food and sustainability and creativity. Life is good. I'm so glad fall is just around the corner.

Have a happy weekend. I'm enjoying the cooler temps this weekend. I hope they find you, too.

*This is not to say that I'm not making berry bowls anymore. I just can't let them take over my production time OR my life. I'm grateful that they're popular, I just need to moderate their production a little better than I have for the past two summers.