Even though I came into 2012 with a plan (for drawing, for finishing up a client's order), I felt like I lacked any sort of momentum to get myself up away from the cozy wood stove and into the chilly studio.  That is, until I found out about how much a friend is suffering with a debilitating, degenerative rheumatoid disease, that it's been going on for 16 years, that she and her husband are in the direst of straits.  So I started working, thinking about Angela and Devin as I worked, and this is what I came up with:

and also this: 
As many of you know, my husband was laid off and under-employed for almost 2 years.  I'm blessed, fortunate, lucky that we came out of that period with our savings largely intact, with out home, our health, our marriage.  We lived on hope and faith and scratching around to make do.  I know that lots of people aren't so lucky.  And it just hurts my heart that my friends are in such a bad bad spot.  I didn't think that I could do much for them- I'm so far away, and what really could I do?  Well, this: I'm dedicating half of the sales of this work, featuring the first line Emily Dickinson's poem, to help support Angela and Devin.  I hope to have the first batch of these pieces out by the end of next week.  They'll be for sale here (email me and I'll send you a paypal invoice), through Facebook (same deal, let me know and I'll send you a paypal), and my etsy shop.  The trays are roughly 6" long by 5" wide and are $32.  The tumblers are 4" tall and are $34.   Shipping is a flat $4.

I know this poem means a lot to so many people.  It meant a lot to me as we wandered through the darkness.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping me to help my friend.

the third

 Here they are.  The pieces for the St. Jude event that I began in mid- July.  Finished them last week.  11 short oval vases, 11 taller oval vases, and in the back you can barely see the 10 enormous thrown and hand-built shallow serving bowls.
And here are the smaller vases and butter plates I made for the tables.  I'm incredibly proud of this body of work, but less pleased with the time it took me to make them.

As fate would have it, I came down with the upper respiratory virus that is winding its way around the city and spent yesterday, the day of the actual event, in bed, asleep, or trying to cough up my lungs.  I don't have any photos of the event itself (yet). 

I'm still under the weather, and the weather itself is not being very cooperative, so I will have limited work for Sunday's artists sale at Tsunami in Cooper-Young.  I think I'm ok with that.  I'll have what I'll have - some ornaments, some bee pieces, some of these colorful vases.  Not what I'd planned, but it's better than nothing!

Over and out until December.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Oh!  If you're still reading, I try to respond to people who comment, but most of the time blogger doesn't give me your email address.  This makes me cranky.   So if I don't reply to you when you've taken the time to comment, forgive me.  I want to, I just can't find your email address.


I can't tell you when I've felt such a sense of accomplishment (well, yes, I can, it was when I finished with my dinner set, but that was erased when I broke three of the dishes.  they're almost done!).  I needed to have 10 pieces (or groups of pieces) for the annual invitational at St. George's Independent School.  Now I need to go through them, separate them into groups, and price them.

There is no way I could have possibly made all of these without the help of my friend Natalie.  She wedged clay, rolled slabs and cut out all of the molds for my platters.  I did the finishing, decorating, and throwing, but she was instrumental in helping me work through this task.  I'm grateful and excited and ready to finish my last big assignment.  But before I do, look at what's coming! 

I made and bisqued some hex stamps to speed up my honeycombs.  One of my "eureka" moments came at Heath Ceramics when I was talking to Ali, the kiln-daddy and glaze mixer-master.  I kept staring that the hex nuts on the kiln and finally realized that they were the key to my honeycomb problems.  I'd been using a template to draw them, but I wanted larger shapes.  Hex nuts don't make a good impression in clay, but they do make a fine template for clay stamps.  I know it's obvious, but I'd been stumped and the answer was waiting for me in my hardware cabinet. 

Y'all have a nice end of your week and weekend.  My boys are going on a group camping trip and I'm taking the "extra" time to do a little housekeeping in the studio, pushing through the last of my production obligations, and get started on holiday production.  I'm late in the game and my work will be limited, but I'll have enough for a small studio sale, etsy restock, and to stock my local retailers. 


to say that I am thrilled with these is an understatement.  Bisque firing a bunch more of these today.

This weekend I also went to see this show and lecture.  I bought the book that accompanied the show, which is something that I rarely do, but I think I'll go back to it over and over again.  I drew and took notes furiously throughout the lecture- not so much on this potter's style- it was very much in the folk, utilitarian style of the NC mountains (read- really, really thick), but he used a slip-painting style that was reminiscent of Wedgwood Jasperware (without knowing about Jasperware) and crystalline glazes.  Crystalline isn't something I'm interested in pursuing- they're not really food safe- almost, but not quite, too soft and leachable, and frankly, too finicky in the firing.  I'm not into finicky.  Nope.  But I did fall in love with how they cascade down the shoulders of large vases, and that, friends, is something I can draw.  If you're in Memphis, the show runs through mid-November.  There's also a nice impressionist exhibit up through Oct 9.


Good morning!  It is mid-morning here, now, and I'm ready to start my day in the studio.  I've been spending a lot of time planning and drawing this week because I realized, late last week, that a deadline was approaching much faster than I'd anticipated.  As in, weeks sooner.  And that I was somewhat behind in both planning and production, given this new deadline.

This summer I accepted an invitation to show at St. George's School here in Memphis.  I had a plan and was thinking through how I'd be hanging my plates, platters, and bowls on the wall.  I'm still working through that- have had some successes and some abject failures in the hanging department.  The show is in November.  Plenty of time, I thought, to work steadily and give myself some days off to regroup, refocus, re-evaluate.  Friday I shuffled through the papers that came with my contract and realized that photos and artist statements are due this week.  Eek.  Work needs to be finished by mid October.  Eek.  I have several pieces in process, but only a few pieces are actually finished and ready to be shot.  Eek.  I have a plane ticket for Oct 3, and wanted a clear plate before I leave.  Well.  Time to revise the plans.

My solution is eating breathing sleeping drawing bees on pieces that I've thrown and handbuilt.  I've made a good bit of progress (my plans, roughly sketched out, above) but I have miles to go.  Realistically, one can only sit hunched over a plate/platter/bowl you're drawing on for 3 hours a day.  The actual making of the pieces is a breeze, but the surface design/detail work is hard on the body.  Yoga has become my good good friend.  I'm excited about the work that I'm making.  That helps.  The other work (those large cylinder vases) are on the back burner for another week or so because I'm 4/5 finished with those large pieces and they aren't due until November.  Progress and process.  I don't work well when I'm freaked out.  I do work well when I have a plan.  So I have the plan, and it will all be well.

See you soon.

covered up

so so much is happening around here.  good stuff, crazy stuff.  I've got some pretty big news to share soon, and I've got production deadlines for shows and gift orders for the holidays.  My little kiln is running twice a week and the big kiln is going at least once a week.  My sister in law saved the day by picking up several hundred pounds of clay for me last week when she was in Nashville- I've been going through almost three 50 lb boxes every week.

Gary is covered up in freelance work, I'm covered up in pottery, there are school, scouting, and sport functions, and WOW- upcoming shows and sales.

Here's my schedule in brief:
Nov 12/13 Home Sale
Nov 28 Tsunami's Annual Holiday Art and Artisan Sale
Dec 4 Trolley Stop Market's Artisan Showcase
Dec 11 Memphis Farmers Market Harvesting the Holidays

Somewhere in there I'll be doing a big Etsy update.  In between those we have some big family birthdays, a 7 year old birthday party, Thanksgiving, and everything else that we do as a family.

And tomorrow?  We're picking up two new chickens. 

See you soon, folks!

mostly just procrastinating

I am not really a procrastinator. I like to get it done and move on to the next thing. Ahem. Except when it comes to glazing. I've got a small pile of work in front of me that I need to glaze and fire tonight, because unless we're getting another snow or ice blanket, I'll be at St. Jude on Friday for their semi-monthly vendor fair. I hadn't planned to make new ware after the last event was rescheduled, but I had a request for one of my butter crocks and had none in stock.
So. This morning I've cleaned up the kitchen, weeded through plastic food storage (we're weaning ourselves off of those convenient endocrine-disrupting items), done some laundry, taken pictures, and sat down at the table with my computer. Time's up. Time to glaze.

There are a few small pieces in this load that I'm very excited to tell you about. Hopefully on Friday.

Have a good week!

time just flies by

I can't believe how quickly a week passes. On Monday there was still snow on the ground. After several days of rain, it has all washed away, but biting wet cold remains. I am incredibly grateful that we got cold and rain rather than the snow that's hitting the upper midwest and eastern seaboard, but this is not a normal winter for Memphis. I think we'll all be ready for the first glimpses of spring that usually come at the end of February.

This week has been a busy one- I'm working on settling my business taxes and getting all of our documents in order for the accountant. I have a Valentines Day self-imposed deadline for turning it all in. We've gotten a serious decluttering and home-improvement bug at our house and have been hacking away at things we don't love or use often enough to keep. Organizing what we're keeping- from toys to books to food (a full freezer inventory was Tuesday's accomplishment) to clothes.

This week I also spent some time at a new space that is going to be one of the best new spots in Memphis! If you know me on Facebook, you may have seen something about a new retail location for me this spring. Or you may have heard me mention Trolley Stop Market. My good friends Keith and Jill Forrester are opening a new restaurant/deli/grocery/market in April. It will be all local produce, meat, honey, coffee, baked goods (including my friend Uele's awesome granola), skin care, and pottery! It opens in April, M-F, and you can read more about it here. I can't tell you how excited I am about this shop- both as a producer and a local-product enthusiast.

My excitement about the Trolley Stop has carried over into the studio. I've been making lots of vases- both bud vases like the ones I showed you on Monday- and larger versions. Jill grows gorgeous flowers- which will be a major component of the market. I also pulled out my box of two porcelain clays I ordered last year. One brick is hard and well, brick-like. The other is still soft enough to throw with. I haven't used porcelain in over 5 years. I couldn't tell the difference between my usual smooth stoneware and the trickier porcelain after the pieces were finished, so I abandoned porcelain in favor of the more-reliable, easy to use "porcelaneous stoneware" clay.

Fast-forward to 2009 and my problems with the berry bowl cracks. I was desperate to solve the problem and bought two porcelains to try and I bought a new hole puncher to try with a new hole formation. The latter two ended the majority of my production issues and the porcelain sat, forgotten. Today, I am both low on my standard clay and thinking about teacups. I opened the softer bag of porcelain and threw some with it today. I'd forgotten how much I love this. It has the consistency of cream cheese and the color of buttercream icing (for reference, the back bowl is my regular clay and the porcelain is in front). It is harder to throw- the eggs that I tried weren't successful, but the teacups were. I envision a set of lovely thin teacups made out of this clay. I even have a special (also abandoned) glaze in mind for them.

My. I seem to have had a lot to say.
Have a lovely weekend. Stay safe, and stay warm. I'll see you again next week.

holiday hoopla

I have been a pottery-making crazy lately. I'm making 25-30 pieces a few days a week (one day to throw, one day to trim, a day to rest my arms, then repeat), then firing and glazing on off days and the weekend. But the news is this: I've got plans. I've got a schedule. There needs to be work ready to roll by Nov 1, and after Dec 5, I'm finished making for the season. Here are my event dates:

Oct 24
: This Saturday is the penultimate 2009 Memphis Farmers Market day. I'll be there.

Nov 20, 21: my house. If you're in Memphis or the surrounding area, you're invited to come shop my wares. Berry bowls (though fair warning- I'm only putting out a dozen, so if you want one, come early), egg cups, tumblers, platters, honey pots, butter bells- a decent selection of work.

Nov 27: Etsy. Berry bowls up for the holidays. I'm making twenty five berry bowls in assorted colors. When they're gone, they're gone. I may have a few more here and there, but I'm not making promises. My online market has gotten the lion's share of my time this year, so I'm focusing on local customers this season. But I still really, really, love you.

Dec 5: MFM is having a holiday market. Outside, under the pavillion, right where we always are. Santa will be there, too!

Dec 10: Deck the Halls at Park Place Mall in East Memphis. I'll have work there from Dec 10-20.

My normal MO is to think (and commit to) that I can do way more than is reasonable. This leaves me in a crazed state by Dec 15, when the holiday parties are in high gear, and all I want to do is stay home, huddled under blankets on the sofa, with a big mug of cider-spiked rum. I'm looking for balance this year. Having it mapped out on the calendar before Halloween is a pretty good start.

new! buttons!

Squee! I think I've showed you some of my buttons before, but for some unaccountable reason, these just make me SO happy! These eggshell-glazed buttons are, of course, my favorites, but I just love making these! Maybe because they combine my love of knitting and sewing with pottery. I began sewing simple clothes dolls when I was in the third grade. I remember making a nightgown in the 5th grade. And wanting cute buttons for it.

It can be hard to find good buttons commercially- and they can make or break an outfit. My first set that I was happy with were for my norostripey cardigan. I made another set for a friend's baby sweater (they're the tiny celadon green ones). I'm hooked on them, mainly because it is a way to work in clay when I don't have the time for a full-on throwing session. It is also a great way to use some of my stamps, like the starburst-shaped plastic bits your sometimes see mirrors attached to walls with (in white), or bottlecaps (yellow). The red ones are just pinched/thumbprinted. These are making me insanely happy.


Hooray! The heat has broken! I was able to fire the kiln to bisque Monday night and I should be able to run a glaze fire this weekend. We're expecting highs in the upper 80s all weekend with lows back in the high 60s/70s. The other night it was still 90 degrees at 9 pm. Ugh.

I won't have wonderful pictures to show you because I had to send my Nikon back in to repair the flash. I don't ever use the flash for pottery photos, but I realized that I could either have it fixed now (while it is still under waranty), or be VERY upset that I hadn't done it once Halloween rolls around. So I'm fixing it now and re-learning the point-n-shoot. Because I totally forgot how to use it.

I think in another two weeks I'll be listing berry bowls again. I'm trying to throw plenty of them and have them bisqued so that I can simply glaze-to-order, but it's summer, and we are being very lazy at my house. Playing, swimming lessons, reading underneath the ceiling fan, contemplating painting the old porch swing, you know, summer stuff.

Have a great week everyone!


Oh, I never thought I would be so glad to see a Monday morning! My boy has been sick, sick. He stayed home from school most of last week then popped a 103.5 temp friday night- well, at least that, because he wouldn't let me stick the thermometer anywhere but on the inside of his cheek. Nothing would stay down all day Saturday and Sunday morning; we had two visits to emergency care within one week- but HAPPY DAY- he is WELL! He had a bad stomach virus and a double ear infection following a stomach virus from Easter and tonsillitis on Tuesday- still quite a lot for one mama and one daddy to take care of. We are very grateful to live in Memphis and have a the fabulous Le Bonheur Children's Hospital 5 minutes from our house, and to have pediatricians who keep the office open on Saturday mornings, too!

But there is also pottery news: I made a small etsy shop update on Friday before the second round of sick started, and my kiln, which has not been firing properly since December, is now up and running like it should be. Thanks to my fabulous co-worker, friend, and master potter Deirdre, for that. Another friend requested a special little berry bowl- basically an oversized teacup with colander-like holes. We had a lovely little bowl like this as a wedding present, and I made a few several years ago, but I just fell out of the habit. If bowl #1 turns out, I plan to make a half-dozen for summer sales and the etsy shop.

If you are a Memphis or Mississippi reader, I just got definite news that I will be at the new Mississippi Handmade gallery in Oxford on April 26. They are located at 1004 Van Buren Ave, just off the square, and a stone's throw from the wonderful Bottletree Bakery. Mississippi Handmade is at the corner of 10th and Van Buren. Parking will be a bear that day- it is the annual Double Decker Arts Festival day. Later in May and June, I'll have a booth at the Memphis Farmers Market. I'm not certain about the dates yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I have them. I'm excited about both ventures, and I'll have a home/studio sale sometime in early June, as well. If you're on my mailing list, you should get a postcard about these events. If you'd like to be on my mailing list, email me (bridgmanpottery(at)yahoo (dot)com), and I'd be happy to put you on the snail mail or email list.
Have a great week!