time a' flying

Sorry for the radio silence- I can't believe it's already Wednesday. I've gotten so sidetracked this week. Big plans, but the time slated to do them has dwindled away. I had my best market ever on Saturday. It was giddy-good. Even though it was stormy-raining as we set up and rained intermittently throughout the day, the market was crowded and I was slammed! I managed to throw a little to replenish my supplies on Monday, and trimmed a little yesterday, but pottery's taken a back seat to life this week. Today I need to make herb markers (Really, really BADLY. I have maybe 20 left), list some things on etsy, throw a little more, mow the yard (did we really have 8 straight days of rain?), and do some necessary things like, oh, the laundry, which I haven't touched since last Tuesday.

Tomorrow is more of the same, plus packing and downloading podcasts for my train ride to New Orleans! One of my dearest friends is graduating with her phD in Public Health from Tulane University in NOLA this weekend, so seven of our group of college friends are traveling down and basically taking over a little b&b in uptown for the weekend. Two of these dear friends are having babies this summer (more than that, really, but these two will be in NOLA with me) and we're going to have a teensy baby shower while we're all together. I've added a new component to my standard ladybug baby gift- I'll tell you about that later. I'm so excited about this trip- especially the train ride with time to knit, listen, reflect, rest.

I'll post back here when I've got an etsy update for you. I think that I might go ahead and list berry bowls as custom orders rather than having a large batch of them in the shop. It seems like I'm never going to have a large inventory of anything, especially since school lets out at the end of next week. Should I get to work on the wheel today, berry bowls are at the top of the throwing list.

Happy week, everyone.

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!

fiddleheads


fiddlehead bowl
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Spring is in full swing. I'm making pottery like a crazy woman. Yesterday I was supposed to have made herb markers, but instead I made 15 tiny bowls and 15 bud vases. And then I got my new camera and the day went to pot.

I bought a Nikon d70 with a starter lens, a good all-purpose 55mm lens, and a macro lens. Exclusively for taking pictures of pottery. I'd gotten so frustrated with trying to take detail shots with my Kodak easy point and shoot that I upgraded when we got our tax refund. And I'm SO glad I did. Already. And I can't wait to try the macro lens!

But back to pottery- I love love fiddleheads. I wish that I could reliably find them in the summer, but it is harder (though not impossible) then. So mid-spring is my fiddlehead making time. I've made platters, plates, bowls, mugs. I need to make another half-dozen platters to see me through the spring. Happily, if I remove the fiddleheads from the barely-damp platter before they're all dried up, I can usually get two platters from a single fiddlehead. Here's my technique- roll a slab of clay, press fiddleheads into the wet clay. Drape the slab over my mold, trim the edges, let dry. As the clay dries, it sucks the moisture out of the fiddleheads, too. Sometimes I can catch it in time to reuse. It is much much easier to reuse leaves- japanese maples, ginkgos, even ferns that aren't quite as delicate and won't tear up when I lift them off.

Today's task is more fern ware and herb markers. Ten days until my 2009 farmer's market debut!

Have a great Thursday!

quiet day

today I am having a very quiet, slow day. Bordering on lazy. A little glazing, a little waxing, a little cleaning up. A lot of music. Maybe a nap. It's cool and rainy. I'm happy for rain now so that this summer we won't have to worry about drought.

And I'm happy for a quiet day because our weekend was jam-packed. Lunches with girlfriends, dinners with friends, a beautiful hike in our wildflower-filledurban forest on Saturday morning with the family and 30 other people, an impromptu visit from a godfather for the 5th anniversary of little boy's baptism, a birthday party, bookclub, an Easter Brunch, full-scale smells-n-bells Easter service, egg hunt, family Easter dinner.

It was a beautiful weekend. A full weekend. It is a quiet day. A restful day. I'm happy for the transition. And the chance to work a little, rest a little. I'm looking forward to getting a lot done this week. I'll have some things to show you in a few days. . . .

honey pot season

Can you believe it's Thursday already? The week's been a whirlwind. We are full in the throws of spring in Memphis- azaleas are blooming, the spring wildflowers are cropping up in everyone's lawn, bees are flitting around the neighborhood gathering pollen- Which brings me to our title. Honeypots. Right now I'm all honeypots all the time. And berry bowls. And tiny vases, and herb markers. Really, I'm all pottery all the time. I am eating, sleeping, breathing pottery. And ditigal cameras, because I'm looking to upgrade from my point and shoot to a digital SLR. I have my eye on a Nikon d70. But alas, that is not pottery, not a honeypot, not the subject of this post. . . .

Sometime today or tomorrow my good friend Molly will be giving away one of my honeypots. This honeypot, actually. She is responsible for my venture into etsy, blogging, and the successful sales year I had last year. She is also responsible for what I call the year of the berry bowl. A little later (again, today or tomorrow), I'll have 3-4 honeypots in my shop with more to come. No berry bowls yet, but they're coming. I'm stocking up for the farmers market, the shop, and my annual summer sale. Busy, busy time.

I won't be back in this space until next week- have a wonderful Easter weekend, beautiful Passover, lovely spring. Enjoy this time of renewal, friends.

the work: firing


Were you all just sending me super good peaceful productive thoughts today? I glazed all 75+ pieces in under 3 hours- all by myself! Glaze helper #1 was unexpectedly called out of town. Helpers #2 and 3 had some sick child issues- but taking care of our sick kids is top priority. Everything is cleaned up and in the kiln, firing away. I'm excited to see how things turn out.

Happy weekend! I'm looking forward to some steak tacos with guacamole and a little margarita tonight- and glorious weather to garden in tomorrow. I hope the sun shines on you all-

ideas

I have an idea. I've been thinking about it for a while- at least since last summer. I love light and airy flowers and leaves- think maidenhair ferns, queen anne's lace, dandelion puff balls- much like this one in my sketchbook. Translating this idea into pottery though, eludes me. At least it eludes me in the normal way I've made pottery- throw it, press the leaf/stamp/flower into the wet clay, fire, paint, wax, dip-glaze. So I'm thinking about trying it a new way. Actually, I have tried it a new way. It is in the kiln tonight, bisqueing away. I'm not sure how it will work, if I will like it, if y'all will like it. But new ways of doing things are worth exploring.



Thank you all for offering to send photos of your mugs- it helped! I made almost a dozen and think that I've got the mug mojo back. This morning I realized that I have under a month to produce a small body of work for my first date at the farmers market in late April. I have some serious work to do! Have a good week, everyone.

feets on the wheel


feets on the wheel
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Or they will be later. This morning my feet have been pounding the road (my first good run- or any run at all- since I had strep throat in October. I have a patient friend who came to get me at 5:50 (sharp!) and mapped out an easy 3 miles around the neighborhood), waiting in the car inspection line, tapping to 1940s country/bluegrass, and tidying up the house. After I go get the kiddo from his morning pre-K program, I'll go upstairs to trim the dozen-plus pieces I made yesterday afternoon. I happily dedicated Monday morning to mowing, edging, pruning, and clearing the garden from the last of its winter cloak.

I hope your day is productive, too!


Oh, and yes, I almost always throw barefoot. It seems like I get better traction on the pedal when I'm not wearing shoes ('cause that traction on the pedal is oh so important, you know?). I'm sure if I used a kick wheel I'd want shoes on, but I love my electric model. Also I tend to track less clay dust down the stairs when I'm shoeless.

glazing green

My celadon green glaze is one of my favorites, but I've had to give up all expectations of consistent performance when I use it. I never know what this color will do. Take this photo, for instance: some of the pieces seem blue-celadon, some have a definite jade green quality. Sometimes I am able to tell customers why different batches turn out differently- for example, the two vases with a row of dots on their shoulders were glazed together, and I'm fairly certain that while I used my usual combo of a bronzey green over plain celadon, the bronzey green really stole the show. They are a completely different color from the rest of these pieces. And there's a 10% chance that I accidentally used a different green, one that I usually use to paint my ferns, on top of the base color. Experienced (more experienced than little old me!) potters know that kilns typically have warm and cool spots, and temperature definitely effects how a glaze's colors develop. That's one explanation. Using the wrong glaze would be another!


Sometimes two pieces glazed at exactly the same time, in the same manner, and fired right next to each other turn out completely differently. Take this honey pot and bud vase. The bud vase (and the shorter bud vase in the background) show more of the bronzey-green characteristics than the honey pot, especially where the glaze has pooled in carved lines. The honey pot is pale, smooth, with little variation in color. All three of these pieces were treated in exactly the same way, fired on the same shelf. As I look at these photographs, the color seems more consistent than it does in person, perhaps because of my blue drop. I'm happy with all three pieces, but every time I open the kiln I'm the tiniest bit perplexed with how this glaze behaves.

I freely admit that I use commercial glazes because I have neither the knowledge nor the time to mix my own (not to mention the patience to weigh out grams)- and because glazing isn't my favorite part of the pottery-making process. Even with the chemical variables removed, pottery frequently feels like dabbling in alchemy. It certainly is an adventure!

getting ready

It is almost time to begin full-time pottery work. I'm gearing up for a small etsy update this week (maybe by Thursday), prepping for the last session of a class I'm teaching for children, and ready to replenish stock for the farmers market season. Today's task is a bisque firing and some photography. Tomorrow and Thursday will be studio days- making rather than finishing, which is my favorite part of the pottery process.

My last five classes of museum teaching are on Wednesday and Friday, then we're finished for the school year, which makes me a little sad. I really enjoy interacting with the kids- 4th graders -9 and 10 year olds- are probably my favorite age. Once adolescence kicks in it gets harder (mostly because they're all bigger than I am at that point!) to teach, but I really enjoy working with those young minds and watching them think about art and relating it to their own lives. I have a great, flexible boss, a wonderful co-teacher who is a very accomplished ceramist, and a fabulous work environment. I'm always sad when my part of the school year is over. I'm also grateful that it's a job that allows me time to create my own work. If I worked 9 to 5, like most people do, I'm not sure there would be a Bridgman Pottery.

I hope you have a good week- I'll pop in shortly to show you some of what I'm working on.

pottery (un)orthodoxy


craving color: green
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
this week has been the greyest, dampest week- we had a freak ice-almost-storm on monday and tuesday, bits of rain (but mostly the misty-spitty kind of rain), fluctuating temperatures- Sunday's craving color, has been drawn out, as you can see from the series of photos I put up on flickr this week.

This set of green bowls was part of my color craving photo pool- I made them for a friend's mother who asked for them this summer (egads!). She only needed three, but I made six just to be sure that she'd get them. My hurry-up-pottery method is unorthodox- I threw all of these in a two-hour stretch, pre-trimmed them while they were still on the batt, and put them under a light for 24 hours. After they dried somewhat, I smoothed the bottoms (I lost one at that point) then brought them to the kitchen and put them in the oven to speed-dry. I slowly bisque-fired them on Friday and glazed them on Sunday. They were cooled and finished by Monday afternoon. I was so happy.

You never know what's going to happen with pottery, though. As I was glazing, I noticed two very small cracks in the surface of the bowls. If I'd decided not to glaze them, I would have been left with three "perfect" bowls, depending on what happened in the kiln. I wasn't willing to risk messing up those (because sometimes unexpected stress cracks pop up during glazing, especially when you do the hurry-up production that I did with these) , so I glazed all five. When I unloaded the kiln, breath held, I saw that the glaze had filled but not deepened or split the cracks- it had essentially "healed" them. It's been my experience that glaze in cracks makes the cracks bigger- but I shoved some of the sanding dust into the cracks before I glazed them, thinking that even if they got worse (meaning not food safe) I would fill the bowls with paperwhite bulbs. All five bowls were perfect, and I was so happy to offer my friend's mother her choice of bowls. I'm even more pleased to have two left over to fill with pebbles and bulbs for holiday hostess gifts.

As I have time during the next two weeks off from working at the museum, I'm planning to start on my spring pottery- that means berry bowls. With my new hole-punch tool. I've given myself a 3-month break from making these, but our farmers' market starts back up in April and I'd like to be ahead of the game this time.

If you're one of the people who's contacted me locally to buy pottery this year for holiday gifts, thank you so, so much. It was a difficult decision not to do a sale, but I'm grateful to you for your purchases and enthusiasm for my work.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe weekend!

a give-away!

No, not here, but Stefani over at Blue Yonder is giving away what looks like a fabulous bread recipe and one of my little butter dishes. It might be this one. Due to some post office craziness, Stefani ended up with two of these, and we're all trying to declutter, right? Who needs two? So go comment and see if you win! And thanks, Stefani, for highlighting my work. (I'm not sure why the picture's so tiny, but Stefani has a better one.)

Lately I've been quietly and steadily working on things for the holidays. Some are Martyrs of Memphis related, some custom orders, and lots of easily-shippable holiday goodness that will go straight to my etsy store. Including more butter dishes, honey pots, and yes, even a berry bowl or two.

Happy Wednesday.

the greens


the greens
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This entire kiln-load was full of mysterious outcomes. I have issues with my green pottery. Earlier this summer it came out all speckled, looking a bit like salt-glazed work. That, I believe, had to do with humidity and how wet the piece was when I attempted to glaze it. This time the greens came out much more bronze-flecked than usual, and certainly deeper. I'm not sure that I could even call this jadeite. It's bordering on downright jade. Still, I like it. I have a small creamer and sugar with this dotted pattern to go with an existing teapot, but alas, it is too dark. I'll need to make another teapot to go with them.

I have the next week and a half off of work so that I can devote my days to pottery. I am woefully behind (as in, if I don't get a move on, I won't have my annual sale in November)**Edited to add- I won't be putting much of anything new up on Etsy until after my sale. Unless you ask me rilly rilly nicely**.

With that, friends, I'm off to the studio and wishing you a happy week.

ladybug day


the good
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Good morning! I'm in the throws of my after-run endorphins right now, so the idea of spending the day painting ladybugs isn't making me cringe like it might if I'd slept in. It was almost COLD this morning- 54 when I turned on my mac after my run.


Yesterday I prepped, waxed, and did single-color glazing for this kiln load. I was happy to get a good day's work done, and there wasn't so much to do that I got bogged down and blue about it (because glazing is my least favorite part of pottery. Isn't that funny, I'm not as thrilled about finishing the work as I am about starting it). Today I'm finishing the dozen-or-so ladybug pieces, mixing my new dry cobalt blue, and refiring one of my icons.


Today the sky is bright blue, the highs are in the 70s, and I've got plenty of work to do. Oh, if you're a knitter, Kirsten Kapur is offering a free Mystery Sock KAL on Ravelry. I'm using some trekking-like ombre blue JL Julia yarn. Even though it's a busy day, I've got the cuff pattern printed and I'm going to cast on when I break for lunch.

Hope your day is beautiful, everyone.

the good, the bad, and the whiny


the good
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
After two weeks of school, little boy's been hit with the first stomach bug of the year. We're hanging out on the sofa today, reading, watching videos, playing interactive caillou games. Getting bits and pieces of work done between the low-key activities.
Item one- unloading the kiln. It was mostly good. The ladybugs were great. All of them (but one, which will be reglazed) turned out just as they should. Most of my berry bowls did well. The platter that seemed to go on forever had its predictable effect of making me love the meticulous fern-painting episodes.
The icons, well, those made me want to cry. The glaze was uneven, splotchy. The faces were lovely, but I am not happy with the background and the coverage on the priests' and nuns' clothing. Acrylic paint is not usually a solution for glazed pieces, but I am planning to experiment with my stash of oil paints.

Today, though, is not the day to do that. Today is a mama day. So I will go and revel in being my boy's mama. The pottery will wait until tomorrow.

Hi-

I realized that I haven't been present much here. It's been a busy several weeks, but also really good. The traveling, cooler temperatures (it's unheard of to NOT have to run your AC in Memphis in August. Mine's been off since I got home last Monday!) that mean more outdoors time, a new/old piece of furniture that belonged to me great-great grandparents (more on that later), the first week of school, getting caught up on pottery (ahem. Still not really there yet!)- well, I've been crazy busy, but in a good way.

The farmers markets continue to be so good. I picked up these heirloom cherry tomatoes on Saturday and plan to incorporate them into a cobbler for this week's local meal. And I'm thinking about the bowl, too. I made this little bowl (it probably holds 4 c) in 2004 as part of our wedding gift stash. I made dozens- to give singly to people we didn't know well (co-workers, casual acquaintances) or to give in sets of 2-4 for people we knew better, or as housewarming/hostess gifts. We use it quite a lot- it's the perfect size for a party-serving of hummus, guacamole, salsa, or side dish for a meal. I'm on my way back upstairs, so this little bowl might be reintroduced into my lineup of wares.

I'll do a bisque firing this week, so if you're on the berry bowl list, I'll have some in the next week or so. I am SO behind on these. And I apologize.

Happy week, ya'll.

new martyrs icons


new martyrs icons
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Well, there's nothing like having a customer who wants to see that you've at least STARTED the piece that they requested back in June to spur you to work. I admit it, I've been a slug. Bindy, if you're reading this, thanks for kicking my rear in gear!
Yesterday afternoon I made the first of two Martyrs icons - on the right. This afternoon little boy and I went up to crank out the other. I still have some smaller ones to make before September first, but I feel great relief that I've gotten something done. Ladybug ware and berry bowls still to come, but that will happen next week, after my trip, when school begins again.

I'll be back here next week!

the reveal

First, I want to tell you all what a fabulous man I married. He came home one day this week to vacuum the floor before a relative came over (on his lunch break! He vacuums! And yes, there is a story behind this). Wednesday night he mixed all of my glazes for me, set up a table in the kitchen, and helped me with the unloading, glazing, loading, and firing. What a guy. I am so lucky.

These bowls. I am glad that I did more than I needed in green, because all but one came out like this. I think (no, I know) that the problem stems from too much water in my bisque (the fired piece)meeting too much water in the glaze and it just won't dry. I only have this problem with the greens. It is worse because I layer a second green over the first. I'll refire them and they'll look a little leopardy, but that's fine. I'd like them to be a tad darker, too, but I'll work on that when I've got more pottery to glaze. As of now, I've glazed everything that I have made.


Lisa's platter. Fourth time is the charm, apparently. I wish that I could have gotten a better picture of this (I may yet try), because the greens are pretty. Lisa is moving next week to Kansas City. This is a gift from a bunch of us. She has several of my pieces in this color- the deep celadon with slip-dots on the outside. I think I may have started making this pattern for her. I hate that she's moving.



This was a little experiment. Frances Palmer is one of my favorite potters. She is more whimsical than I am, but her classic forms, simple color, and fluting really inspire me. And I love that all of her pottery is meant to be used. Cake plates, vases, trays and vessels, all refined, but with a purpose of making everyday life more beautiful. She was one of the first potters that I saw and thought- "that's who I want to be when I grow up." Inspired by her whimsy, I snipped the tip off of a bag of slip to pipe these little ruffles on the top of this bud vase. Unless the flower is a tall single stem, the blossom will cover this detail, but I still like it.



And finally. A big batch of berry bowls. This doesn't make me finished, but I'm closer to the number that have been ordered than I was on Monday. YAY! All of these are going to orders, but I promise to have a big batch just up for anyone on etsy before I stop making them for the summer.


Happy Friday!
Oh, I am feeling SO much better. Much more like myself. Thanks for all of the nice comments and emails this week.

I must be on the right track

It's always nice to see that something you're into popping up on other people's radars, too. I've been making these domed, bee-skep like butter servers for some time. This morning, as I was reading though my bloglines, I was delighted to see Oakland, CA potter Whitney Smith's gorgeous collection of domed pieces. Ye pottery gods! They are exquisite. In the July issue of Martha Stewart there was an article on domed dishes (and that was right after the June issue on bee-decorated items!) that really excited me. And in May, a customer asked me if I could make a domed breakfast plate- decorated with ladybugs! It seems that the domes are in, so I'll be making more. I couldn't be happier to have them already in my line of pottery!

early morning

This was me early this morning, except that instead of making, I was finishing. I woke up early, roused by dogs who start needing to go out at 5:30, and dreaming that the pottery I'd thrown and covered up on Friday had all dried to the point that they weren't trimmable anymore. Well, out of eight bowls, two were completely dry, but the other six were wet enough to trim and pierce later today. I am really behind on getting the berry bowls done, but little boy's virus week before last, last weeks dr's appointments (oh, my ear is fine! And I CAN ski again!) and hospital visits with Gary's mother means that not much work got done. There are more important things than a production schedule, and when something in my life has to go on the back burner, it seems that it is always pottery. I'm not complaining, but if I owe you a berry bowl, I hope you'll understand. June has flown by faster than I'd like.

While I was throwing on Friday (I'm not sure, but I think that I only spent time in the studio twice last week. Once session produced four bowls, the next saw six. That's 10 of 30! YAY!) I also threw a set of dessert plates with some tiny ferns and japanese maple leaves I harvested from in front of my babysitter's house. They'll be in the green on white "Delta Zen" colorway. They look a lot like these, but bigger and the design is on the outside, near the rim, rather than in the center of the plate. I didn't even uncover them to start trimming them because little boy woke up and it was time to start the mama job.

It's time to start thinking about the holidays, believe it or not! I have a private home sale coming up in the fall in addition to my regular at-home sale, plus a friend has asked me to put work in her shop for the holidays. And there are the sisters that want working on. My, my, how time flies!