multiples

a long time ago I told someone that I wanted to be a production potter. I haven't quite gotten my wish, but I do find myself in production mode more often than not. Last year I made berry bowls. And more berry bowls. And more berry bowls. This year I have a small stash ready so that I don't have to make nothing but berry bowls. A week or so ago I made nothing but honeypots. Yesterday I made sets of tumblers. It's easy (easier) to get matching pieces if you make several (dozens) at the same time. Monotony does set in- I like to start off my throwing session with making several small bowls and vases- do my production work- then end with some larger serving pieces. It helps to break the time up somewhat.

This photo is the end result of a long line of production- I made ten platters decorated with my favorite (but difficult to find) Japanese Climbing Fern (Lygodium japonicum) for a wedding. One cracked after I dropped an egg cup on it*. I am very relieved to be finished with this project and happy with the results. I hope the bride who ordered them is equally happy!

I'll be at the Memphis Farmers Market this weekend with fewer speckled pieces than I had last time but more ferny pieces. I'm looking forward to good weather and to seeing market friends again. Have a good week! I'm going back up to making multiples.

*I glazed the platter anyway and will hang it in my studio. There are several pieces that I've made with flaws that render them unsellable but that still speak to me- cracks down the center, chips on the side (I am a lazy packer when I'm not shipping, and my inventory suffers for it). I'm thinking of a hanging arrangement in my studio that looks something like this.

how to: sarah's platter


For anyone aspiring (haha- what a grand word!) to make work that looks similar to this- here's how I did it. I pressed the fern into the slab after I cut the shape. Let it dry, pulled out the fern (I always try to get more than one use out of each fern or leaf!), bisque. I glaze the fern portion only (leaf and stem) with a deep, bronzy green, using a small paintbrush. Some areas have darker coats, some lighter. The lighter coats look more tan than green. I waxed over the green glaze (using the same tiny paintbrush), let it dry, then poured white glossy glaze over the entire piece. Sometimes beads of white glaze stay over the wax- sometimes I leave them, sometimes I brush them off. I love how the turquoise glow that happens where the white and the green meet. This is one of my favorite glaze combinations, but doing the ferns is pretty tedious, especially when you do what I do and wait to do 20 of these pieces in a single day. Makes sense in a glazing-materials and preparation way, but not in a keeping-the-potter interested way. Podcasts help me to break up the tedium.

bee logo

Last week I was at the post office shiping an etsy package. The clerk was unusually chatty and asked me about the bee on my business card (I'd gotten lazy and used it as my return address), if it was a bee simply because my last name begins with a "B." I answered that indeed, that was one reason, but also because Melissa, in Greek, means "honeybee."

I think in my last post about bees I mentioned that the shape of classic bee skeps is an inspiration to me, but the bees themselves are on each piece that I make. This image, and the image on the post, is one that I drew freehand. For the clay stamp, I traced the drawing on tracing paper then laid it over a thin slab of clay and pressed it to transfer the image to the clay. After the clay was leather hard, I took my lino-cut tools and carved out the image, leaving only the areas darkened by pencil marks. After I bisqued it, I used this little stamp instead of signing my pieces. The bee became my signature, as seen here on the base of this teacup. Occasionally, I also use this stamp as an all-over decoration, but I find that unless I go back to stamp the pottery at just the right moment, the piece warps and I have a hard time getting it back into its proper shape. These bee-strewn pieces show up from time to time -there are a few in the production line now- but not often.