Wednesday, December 31, 2008

looking back

late afternoon
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Yesterday afternoon as I was starting supper and gathering things for my weekly knit night I noticed this shadow cast by a ceramic birdhouse* on my kitchen wall. It seemed an appropriate way for me to end the year- looking back on the things (and people!) that I love and have influenced me.

It has been quite a year- filled with good things in both business and my personal life. For a girl who likes boundaries, it has been interesting to watch the good things flow back and forth in ways I would not have expected. This blog has been fun- and you all have been such a support for me, both personally and professionally. Thank you.

My friend Molly was responsible for thrusting me into this blog/etsy/flickr community I've come to rely on for inspiration and feedback. Thanks, dear friend. So many of you are valued friends and have really MADE this year for me.

I hope that good things come to you all in this new year. I'm excited and hopeful for the future. Be safe tonight, everyone. My own New Year's Eve plans will be quiet- some sushi at home in comfortable, cozy clothes with knitting and the boys that I love (Little boy came down with a rip-roaring case of pink eye yesterday, so our more "festive" plans have transformed into comforting ones, which are 100% acceptable to me!). Happy 2009 everyone!

* this birdhouse may be the first piece of pottery I ever purchased- there's one other contender for that honor. It was made by a fellow from Spain who lived in Oxford in 1999-2000. You can barely see the serpent crawling up the side towards the nest and eggs. I love it and have glued the bird back together on top of the house at least four times. It's one of my favorite pieces.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

simple gifts

simple gifts
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I hope your holiday week and the coming year are filled with simple, joyful gifts- time with loved ones, sweet anticipation for the good things ahead, looking back on accomplishments, and savoring the time we have together.

May your days be merry and bright- stay safe, warm, and happy, everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

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!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

holiday preparation

dessert plates
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Happily, almost all of my holiday prep is finished. I finished my pottery orders and gifts, have wrapped almost everything, sent out my cards. I have one knitting gift left, some bulbs to pot up and a few picture frames to buy, a party to attend, a Christmas pageant on Christmas eve, and a lot of relaxing next week while little boy and I are home.

These dessert/salad sized-plates came out of the last kiln load. I am so happy with how they turned out. I originally had six, but one cracked during the glaze firing. The family that's getting them only has 3 members, so I think they'll be fine with it. They'll get the sixth plate eventually, and I'll continue to make more because I really like this size for snacks, breakfast, and kid meals.

I'm beginning to really slow down and enjoy the quiet of advent- now that it's almost over. I have visions of knitting and pottery dancing in my head for the new year, but I'm also so relieved not to be pushing and feeling the typical stress of the holidays and pottery gift-production. It's difficult for me not to over-plan and schedule, but I'm quite pleased to find less on my plate. I hope you all feel this peace of the holiday season, as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

weekend of color

It has been a very dark and dreary weekend here, so I thought I'd bring out lots of color indoors to keep our spirits up. Our little bird advent calendar is coming along quite nicely- little boy enjoys picking a new bird to add each day, and I enjoy his enthusiasm for a countdown that doesn't involve more "getting." Or candy. Between Halloween, a birthday pinata, and holiday parades, we've been awash in candy and the "candy of the day" has finally been used up.

On Friday I found a fabulous vintage dutch oven that is so cheerful, I'm considering keeping it on top of the stove all winter long. I love that I rescued it at a thrift store, at half off its marked price, almost as much as I love its cheery yellow enamel. I finished pulling our Christmas things from the attic yesterday- I love my red Czech glass bead wreath (Martha Stewart, Christmas 2000), especially on my red front door.

Today I'm glazing the last of my pottery before Christmas. Some gifts, some last-minute orders, some sea urchins for the Brooks gift store. This was from my last load. I'm so glad I didn't do all of the urchins in color, because it turned out to be a no-go. I have several more of these, too, in a different style, as gifts for the ladies in my knitting group.

I hope your weekend's been restful and the week to come is filled with joy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 card

2008 card
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I don't send very many Christmas cards- I rarely send them to "in-town" friends because I usually see them during the holidays. My family's cards go mainly to old friends and infrequently-seen family who are out of town. I had my idea for this year's card before thanksgiving, but I only finished making them yesterday after getting inspired by Maya and her lovely recycled paper bag stationery.

If this little dove image looks at all familiar to you, it would be because it is the same little bird stamp I use in my pottery and St. Francis icons. I also have some green paper I intended to cut an olive branch with, but I've simplified.

After making my prototype with a paper lunchbag, it was a mite too thin to actuall write on- all of my favorite pens bled through the paper. Yesterday I found some 100% recycled kraft paper to use, instead. I hope that the recipients will, in turn, recycle the cards after the holidays.

Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

sweet little faces

sweet little faces
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
are finally up and in my shop. I'm a day late with these, but I hope I've made up for that with the sheer number of these little ladies. I've got stars, knitters, sunflowers, leaves, snowflakes, mod-looking dots- more matryoshka than I ever dreamed of. I hope you like them!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

a little publicity never hurts. . . .

new sea urchin crop
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Some time this summer I was approached by environmental designer and scientist Alan Marshall about contributing some pieces to a book he was putting together a book about art and design based on nature and natural motifs. He has included some of my sea urchins in his bookWild Design. I'm not sure how available it will be in the US as its focus seems to be mainly Australia and Europe, but I'm completely thrilled to be included.

More publicity- my friend and boss at the Brooks Museum, Tomi, is an outstanding artist. She's been making really lovely, modern pieces of silver and mixed-metal jewelry for some time, but she's just opened an etsy shop. I'm really excited about her work, particularly earrings like these, with their leafy texture etched onto sterling silver.

Can you believe it's already Thursday? Where does the week go?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

matryoshka ornaments

matryoshka, red/white
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm painting these little ladies today with underglaze before I fire them this evening. I have a few more things on my "to make" list before Christmas, but I want to get these, and a special order, out the door with time to spare. These ornaments are "green," or unfired clay, so I have to be especially careful with them. They will break if you look at them wrong.

I am very pleased with how my little knitter turned out, but I'm also crazy about the mod-dot patterned lady. I want to do a few of those in blue, too.

Also on my to do list today: more of these little birds. I cut out 20 on Sunday and want to sew up about 4 a day. Little boy is so excited about filling our advent tree calendar with them.

Friday, November 28, 2008

handmade holidays

felt bird
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm jumping back into pottery this weekend, making ornaments, more icons, and some wide, shallow bowls for forcing paperwhites, but before I get all dirty, I wanted to show you this little bird. I can't even tell you how delighted I am with it.

This sweet little pattern has been making the rounds online for quite some time. I came across it this morning while doing some inspiration research for my family's advent calendar. I'm making a whole bevy of these little birds to hang on a special tree (Gary is in charge of making that) each day during December. Before making 24 of any one object, it is sometimes wise to do a test-run. The original pattern is a bit larger than this one- I reduced it to 60 or 70 percent and cut the pieces out of some felted lambswool sweater scraps. Since the bird is so small and the felt is so thick and fuzzy, I simply zig-zagged the seams and left them showing. It's a bit more rustic and tactile that way. The eyes are french knots of chartreuse ribbon and I stuffed it with some cotton quilt batting.

This little guy is resting on a quick-and-dirty ivy topiary I made from a 4" pot I found at the grocery. I took a 14" length of thin (16 gauge?) copper wire, formed it into a circle, and wrapped the tendrils around the form. The bird is hanging from the top. A friend is hosting a tea this weekend, so I'll take this as a hostess gift. Though I admit, I almost hate to part with the fuzzy little bird.

I'll have more pottery to show you next week, I promise. I know it's been a bit of a drought, pottery-wise, but I feel the clay calling me. And I WILL have revised matryoshka ornaments up at etsy by the 8th.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

my family relish

family relish
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I hope that Thanksgiving is warm and bright for all of you. I like to get all of my cooking done the day before, so that I'm more relaxed and not trying to do six things at once. Today's agenda is prepping the turkey, making the pumpkin cheesecake, and cranberry relish. In honor of the day and in thanks for your friendship, I thought I'd share my family's cranberry relish recipe. It is very simple, uncooked, and a bit unexpected. My mother's youngest sister found this recipe some time in the 80s and we've been making it ever since:

cranberry relish
1 bag whole fresh cranberries
1 orange (organic), quartered
1 c pecans
1/2-1 c sugar.

Pulse in the food processor until the orange is in tiny bits and everything is well blended. This is tart, crunchy, and my idea of the perfect combination of sweet (just barely) and savory (lots). It will make your leftover turkey sandwich sing. It will jazz up oatmeal. It is a nice garnish to a very rich dish like pumpkin cheesecake. Whatever we have leftover we pop in the freezer and use for the rest of the winter (because we usually make 3 batches). As you can see, I like to eat it with a spoon.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm off to make that pumpkin cheesecake now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

my mondays

monday is my putter day
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Almost every Monday is a day off for me, and I spend it the same way nearly every week. I have a hard time cleaning while the boys are under foot- both big and little will help, but it's hard to run the vacuum or really clean while they're home. I spend some time with my squirt bottle of Dr. Bronner's, making the house smell all minty, and some time with Dr. Dyson, ridding the house of dog hair and dust.

Today I needed to take some flowers to friends who'd been ill, so I also took myself to Davis-Kidd, an exceptional regional chain, to check out the latest from Mason-Dixon Knitting (it's on my Christmas list) and pick up the new Stitch magazine, because I NEED Martha's skirt. I haven't opened it yet, because today is a play-date day and I'm making myself wait until the kiddos are occupied to indulge in magazines and knitting.

There's been so much talk this summer and fall about this bread book. I've been using the Peasant loaf, substituting half of the white flour for whole wheat mixed with a whole-grain hot cereal mix (Bob's I think? I read about it in Cooks Illustrated some time ago). I dump the entire bag of cereal mix into my wheat flour bin- it gives the bread a nice hearty crunch. Tomorrow is little boy's school Thanksgiving Feast- we're bringing the rolls for his class. I made up a batch of dough some time last week (maybe Monday)- it's been sitting for at least 7 days and has developed such a nice sourdough flavor. I put about 2 T of dough in muffin tins and baked them for a bit over 25 minutes at 375. Delicious.

I hope your afternoon is going as pleasantly as mine is, and your week is a good one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


fetching set
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This is what I've been doing instead of pottery. Knitting for Christmas. Here is a set that I made for my grandmother, and yes, indeed, I'd love to keep it for myself, but my version will come after the holidays. Knitting and teaching and rocket birthday parties (and thank you notes) have been filling most of my time lately. I am still working on matryoshka doll ornaments and a few other things, but in the evenings, when it's cold and supper is over and the boy is in or headed to bed, I've been knitting. And time is really flying.

I hope to get back to the wheel and kiln next week during the Thanksgiving hooplah- since we're not hosting this year, only bringing the turkey and pumpkin cheesecake. I've got several pottery ideas in my head that need fleshing out, and while I'm excited about them, they're just living on paper or in the quiet farthest recesses of my brain. Usually I wouldn't be ok with this, but right now I am. Maybe because I'm not spending much money these days and I assume that no one else is, either, maybe because the year's been nuts (but good, too) and I'm ready to put it to bed and look towards tomorrow after I've had more rest. I think this may be the first time in my adult life (or since I was 12) that I haven't felt driven to create, do, be. Whatever it is, let it be.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I was revisiting some of my pottery earlier today for a shop update and dug out this sea urchin. I really, really love it. It is so far from perfect that it may be the closest to art of anything that I've made. I left bumpy clay, handprints, and tool marks on the surface, which I usually try not to do. 2/3 of the spines fell off before and during its first firing, but I liked the random design that was left so I glazed it anyway.

As I look at it now, I realize that I've changed a lot this year, because last year this piece, with its rough areas and complete disregard for machine-like perfection would have landed it in the trash. Now I feel an almost maternal affection for it. I hesitated to list it with my other work because it is SO marked by my hands, but I'm letting go of my drive for perfect and waiting to see what happens. If it's gone by the end of the week, it will probably be because I took it off and put it somewhere in the house to reflect on more.

I've never been easy on myself- demanding more and more - good grades, good works, good meals, better-quality products for my customers, faster and more and more. This summer it all came to a screeching halt. And it was hard to deal with not being able to do it all. It is still hard to deal with not being able to do it all. My responsibility to my family - my husband and my child, parents and inlaws- means letting go of my self-imposed ideas of perfection. I think that this may be why this little urchin speaks to me. Imperfect is better than just ok. It can be beautiful.

Onward. onward.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rocket day

My son's birthday party was a rushed deal this year. It's #5, which is a bit of a milestone, and we were excited to do it, but nearly every aspect of was an ordeal. Little boy knew he wanted a rocket party and a moonbounce. That worked, thematically, but we had a hard time getting one! Finally, the day before we left for the mountains, we reserved one, but we weren't able to make the invitations until the day we got back. Passed out the invites on Tuesday and started looking for rocket/space decorations and treats. Looking instead of making because I knew we were creeping toward the "last minute."

Did you know there are NO space-related little toys or paper goods? Everything is character-themed. I felt lucky to find the star candles. On Friday I broke down and started crafting. I kept a big bag of water color- spattered paper from the last time I taught an art summer camp. These came in handy. I made 24+ rocket, saturns, and shooting stars for the cupcake toppers on Friday afternoon. I also made a rocket pinata, per little boy's request.

Then I started baking. My cupcake recipe failed. Tasty, good texture, but 18 out of 24 cupcakes were concave. Later I realized they could have been "crater" cupcakes, but I'd long since pitched them. I made more. And more.

Saturday morning we woke to great excitement and cold grey skies. Five years ago, average daily temps were in the high 60s. Last year, mid 60s. Yesterday- 40. And windy. Not even the fire pit or spiced cider helped the freezing parents who braved our backyard. The kids were fine, but they were bouncing.

Have I mentioned that I set my bathroom curtain on fire? With a candle with a too-tall wick one hour before all of our friends arrived? Yeah, wonderful way to set the tone for a celebration. And while Gary was setting up a brick base for the fire pit he maybe broke his pinkie? Maybe sprained, maybe broken. We both got to a certain point when we gave up and just let the rest of the day progress.

The kids all had a great time, the moon bounce arrived and stayed inflated, fifteen kids bounced their heads off, all the cupcakes got eaten, and this time next year I'll have forgotten about the trials and just remember the fun. And the dozens of books that the kids brought for patients at LeBonheur Children's Medical Center. Little boy decided to ask for books for less fortunate children (ON HIS OWN!! I am so proud!) instead of toys from his friends.

It was a good day. It was a funny day. I am glad that today is Sunday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

thistle farms

thistle farms
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last night I had the pleasure to meet Becca Stevens and two of the women of Thistle Farms, a non-profit business operated by the women of Magdalene in Nashville, TN. Magdalene is a residential treatment and recovery home for women who have survived life on the streets - survived prostitution, addiction, violence.

I am rarely at a loss for words, but the realities of these women's lives- fleeing the worst of all possible realities and living into new beginnings- leave me both dumbfounded and completely inspired. I bought several of the all-natural, high-quality, 100% handmade bath, body, and home products for myself before their presentation because I could not resist the beautiful lavender and refreshing tea tree-mint fragrances. Today, I'm going back to buy more as holiday gifts for my family. All sales proceeds go back to support the residence of Magdalene. I rarely feel the need to endorse products, but I hope that if beautiful, natural bath and body items are on your holiday list, you'll check out Thistle Farmsand support these women.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

golden weekend

golden maple
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
We spent this past weekend in a tiny little stone cabin in Sewanee, Tn. No TV, no phone, no computers or internet. Just my little family in a one-room cabin with a wonderful woodstove, a glorious view, some knitting, and each other.

Sewanee is home to the University of the South, a couple of cute gift shops and restaurants, and a very active (and activist) little community. The cabin we stayed in was located on the grounds of an Episcopal retreat center that also houses a convent and lays claim to one of the prettiest views in the entire state. I am so in love with this little town I was almost scheming on how to move up there. We'll definitely go back.

On the way home we stopped to see family in Nashville and made a visit to the new Trader Joe's in town. I filled my cooler with wild-caught fish, hormone-free and organic cheeses, a new supply of my favorite conditioner- all at nearly give-away prices. I was so excited to hear that Memphis should be getting one in the next year or so. Some women get excited about new shoes. Me? New food and the potential that a well-stocked pantry and freezer bring.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, November 7, 2008

pottery is always experimental

matryoshka experiment
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Good morning! We're headed out of town this morning for a mini-vacation after a busy, crazy, joyful, exhausting week. A long weekend in the mountains of east Tennessee- fall color should be at its peak, temps in the 60s- all about 4 hours from home.

I'm leaving you with these little matryoshkas that I experimented with. I was so disappointed when I pulled them out of the kiln. The yellow and blue glazes were so gloppy- the yellow because I didn't mix enough, and the blue because I used a new dry formula and it was simply too thick- that I lost the faces. I love the red and white one, and the green one is acceptable, but I'll be making another small test batch of these ladies. I think I've figured out a fix, though. I love the color pooling in the stamped design in the bellies, so those will stay. I'm planning to leave the rest white with colored accents for the faces and dots, just like the red one. I was so inspired by Maya (of my internet connection is doing bizarre things this morning, so I'm having a hard time posting, much less linking, so my apologies if you have to google to find Maya), who did these wonderful matryoshka stencils on linen. I couldn't get her little seasonally-decorated ladies out of my head until I sat down to make my own version. I hope to have a batch of these to go on packages and Christmas trees soon.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'll see you back next week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

november 4

back door
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
It's a big day today. I woke up with a gnawing in my stomach, aware of the possibility and potential for bitter disappointment that awaits. Instead, I'm focusing on the flaming display of crepe myrtles outside my back door, the full glazed kiln that awaits, the beautiful, blue-skied, 75 degree day (hello, November in Memphis), the zinnias that are still blooming their heads off in my little garden, and the new friends I'm going to meet tonight to share our craft.

And I'm going to focus on things I can control, like re-mounting my whirligig that I didn't notice had fallen off the garden post (see lower right corner) until I loaded this photo.

I'm taking a deep breath and turning off the news now.

Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween!

Weeks and weeks ago little boy told me that he wanted to be a rocket for halloween. Okay, I thought, that's better than the "harvester" he wanted to be last year (he ended up being Bob the Builder because we had the stuff and that's what he was the year before, too). A harvester? Like a combine? Yes. As in "Frank" the Harvester from the Pixar movie Cars. So a rocket was do-able. Especially since Gary had gotten this earlier this summer. So I drew this little sketch to see what he thought, and then I sat on it for three weeks. Or more.
The deadline is here. Friday morning is the halloween party at school, and I have to work (I'm going to be Frida Kahlo), so we laid out the mylar foam last night, roughed out a costume shape with sharpie marker, and I started thinking. I have a large bin of old wool sweaters and skirts from thrift stores that I've felted down for various projects. Those came in handy. I sewed up the shoulders and the sides (my sewing machine doesn't like to sew on foam, as I learned, so I put newspaper under the bottom piece so that the feeder teeth would actually, you know, feed). I cut out red and orange felt triangles for the flames at the bottom, red, white, and blue felt for the lettering and the star/planets that decorate. I glue-gunned those on, as sewing with a needle and thread meant that I repeatedly stabbed myself and bled all over the costume. But now it's finished, and we're mostly happy with it. I decided to dress as Frida Kahlo for work.

I've been so busy lately that I don't know if I'm coming or going, which leads to infrequent blog posts, and infrequent pottery action. I fired the kiln on Sunday but haven't even peeked in to see how the bisque fire went. I'll figure that out this weekend, after the halloween festivities.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

first frost

first frost
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last night they predicted frost, so I went out to cut most of my zinnias and all of my basil. We got two huge bouquets of zinnias, a pint of pesto, and another pint of thai pesto, which we savor and never have enough of. It's so simple- thai basil, fish sauce, lime, sesame oil, and a dash of rice vinegar. I also put in just about a teaspoon of peanut butter. If you have some leftover chicken or some shrimp, some jasmine rice (cooked or not), veggies, and stock, you can make a fabulous risotto in 10-30 minutes (depending on the rice). If you have some coconut milk, that makes it even better (I buy the powdered coconut cream from our local vietnamese market).

Old man winter blew a slight frost over our roof tops last night, but the rest of the zinnias came out unscathed. Tonight will be cold again, but we'll be back to our "usual" temperatures on Thursday. Every year it's just barely warm enough to wear shorts on Halloween- and has been for as long as I can remember. This is early for our first frost, but I was happy to bring in armloads of zinnias.

Later this week I'll have the "final" results of my Mississippi river clay to show you- I picked a glaze that highlights its natural color beautifully.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, October 24, 2008

here's a little hint

a little hint
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
of what's up my sleeve. I was inspired by another blogger's creative output (but I'm afraid if I link to her you'll guess what this is too easily!) and made a dozen of these the other day. I'll have them bisqued and ready to glaze by Monday, I hope.
It has been such a busy week- full of good and moving and going- I feel a bit behind, but in reality, all I've neglected is my camera, this blog, and my mystery sock. I have Catechesis training all weekend- tonight from 4-8 and Saturday 10-3, so I doubt I'll have time for knitting chart-reading or much pottery, but sunday afternoon I have a date with my kiln.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


curried pumpkin soup
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone. I think that I am officially on the mend. And happily, noone else at my house has gotten strep. Tuesday noonish I got really hungry but couldn't eat "real" food. I wanted curried pumpkin soup. Here's what I threw together:
1 can of pumpkin puree (solid packed, not sweetened)
1 can veg. stock
2 chopped onions and garlic
a little olive oil
1tsp each corriander and curry powder, maybe a little more.

This was super easy- even for a fevery-delirious woman who really should have gone back to bed instead of cooking.

That night we transformed this fabulous chicken with 40 cloves of garlic (our son's godfather was in town saturday, so we made this in his honor) into a wonderful soup by adding water, more onions, garlic, mushrooms, and barley and simmering for 30 minutes. We ate it again last night. We've made that chicken twice now, and each time we've made luscious soup from the leftovers. Last night I discovered that one of my tomato tipis had blown over when we were camping and badly damaged about a dozen large ripe "cherokee purple" tomatoes. Those are going into a fresh tomato soup out of this vegetarian tome. Yes, it's all soup all the time.

And I have some good or bad news, depending on where you are. I had to cancel my classes for today and tomorrow, and while trying to reschedule them, I realized that I have NO TIME. Every day, almost every weekend from now until mid November is booked solid. My annual pre-holiday home sale was going to be the weekend of Nov. 14. This week was supposed to be my pottery-making frenzy to get ready for that. I've made not one thing. Rather than make myself and my family crazy by trying to have enough work to show, I'm canceling it for this year. Whatever I have and manage to make will go up on etsy. That's good if you're out of town and are already an etsy shopper. If you're in town, I do apologize, but I'd be totally happy to make things to order and deliver before Christmas, or to sub out shipping for sales tax for things that you like that are listed on etsy.

Thanks, again, for the well wishes this week. I appreciate them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Today I am participating in Blog Action Day: Poverty.
We aren't wealthy, far from it. But we have more than enough. And my dear, dysfunctional, beloved city is full of poverty. Today, I will donate the proceeds of any sales and my day's wages to MIFA, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Agency, headquartered in Memphis, which serves the poor in our community, offering Meals-on-Wheels to the elderly, job training, educational opportunities, utility-payment assistance, and many other services to the poor in the Memphis metropolitan area.
Please join me in helping to eliminate poverty in your community.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the. worst. ever.

Our last camping trip began with a nasty cold for daddy and more work for me. This camping trip began with mild aches that I wrote off to Saturday's 5k. I laughed it off- oh, haha, you were sick last time, I'm sick this time. Then came the chills. Then the full-on-fever. Grouchy Daddy who has to do everything, including taking care of ill mama and the little boy whose behavior takes a sudden nose dive whenever his mama gets sick. We stayed less than 24 hours. Went to the doctor's office yesterday afternoon because I could tell that this wasn't a normal virus. It's not. It's strep. The z-pak is already working and I'm going to make some creamy pumpkin soup since swallowing is problematic.

Poor family. We may never camp again (mosquitoes were still a problem). But the good things were: pre-cut and stacked firewood left by either the park service or some nice campers, and my impulse to grab the iced green tea from the fridge. It heated nicely next to the fire and soothed my throat. I'll see you all next week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

fall break

my kitchen table
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
good morning. today is our first day of fall break- it is really just now beginning to seem like fall. We have a busy day and weekend planned- glazing and Mars Lunar IMAX movie today, a 5K cancer walk, godfather visit, camping packing tomorrow, and a retreat to our favorite camping spot Sunday and Monday. Oh, and little things like the grocery store. Other than running in for milk and bread, I haven't had to buy groceries for more than two weeks. Thank you, CSA. Even though we only bought a half-share, there's more than enough for a week's worth of meals when combined with the rice, pasta, and beans in our pantry, and the chicken socked away in the deep freeze. That was a tangent.

For the weekend, I'll leave you with this little photo I took yesterday when I was frustrated with the length of time it took to pack a pottery shipment in my new "green" materials. I hope I'll get faster, because I'd really like it to work. But since the weather's cooled, my garden has come back ot life. The pineapple sage is sending up bright red spikes to attract teh late humming birds, the zinnias have burst into a profusion of blooms, and my dahlia keeps perking along. On the table are a dozen recycled newspaper leaves inspired by Maya. Her's are so much prettier than mine, but our crayons are crappy and I didn't use watercolors like she did. My boy is interested in sculpture and building- the allure of crayons are largely lost on him. Maybe the next child will want nice beeswax crayons. . . . But I'm looking forward to stringing these on some thread and hanging them from our dining room windows- or making more and gluing them to bare branches. . . . endless possibilities, limited time.

Happy weekend, everyone. It's time for me to get to glazing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

weaning myself

Or attempting to, anyway. I'm trying to give up petroleum products in my shipping. This morning I bought 250 feet of corrugated cardboard and drug out my paper shredder. I'm afraid to completely give up the bubble wrap, but I'm using less of it. One possible downside- the packages might weigh a bit more, which would increase shipping somewhat. What do you think? The guy at the packaging warehouse thought I was nuts and wanted to sell me on the foam egg crate-type material (be still my heart, pottery arrives perfectly cushioned, as if traveling on air), but the stuff can't be recycled at all. My hope is that if you get a package from me, you'll reuse the bubble wrap and chuck the rest into your recycling bin.

Monday, October 6, 2008

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.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

the mystery of pottery

that's the color
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
You just NEVER know what's coming out of the kiln. Remember the clay a friend and our kids dug from the sandbars of the Mississippi river? How it turned to terra cotta when bisqued? I was so disappointed to lose the rich deep brown of the native clay. At 2200 degrees, it almost came back. Still pretty reddish, but it held up (I had a small fear that it might melt in the kiln) and I'm pleased with the body color. The clear glaze is another story. I thought it looked milky. Gary though it looked bluish or plumish. "Physics just gets turned on its head at 2000 degrees," he surmised. I still have a bigger, fluted bowl in this clay and more to make another for the family that camped with us, but I'll have to solve the riddle of this milky not-clear glaze. The clear IS clear over underglazes or a white clay body, but there's no telling what minerals are in this raw clay and how they'll react with any given glaze.

I have some other pieces to show you next week- my greens were deep and more jade-like than ever.

This morning's 5k was good- so cool (about 65)- and I shaved almost 2 minutes off my time. No walking this time. I think if I'd had my iPod on, it would have been even better. Next time.

Hope you're all having a happy weekend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

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.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

finished lady sweater

finished lady sweater
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
YAY! Blocked, vintage square shell buttons sewn on, ends woven in. I was a little surprised that the sleeves were so belled, but I think I'm going to be living in this once the weather gets cooler.

If you're a knitter, here is the pattern, and details are raveled.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

celebrating the little things

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Are you worried? I'm worried. Sales are slow, I had a big car repair this week, virus season is upon us, and there's the rest of the world that seems to be tanking. I am not naturally an optimist- it is so easy for me to get bogged down in the worry. I don't know about you, but I'm making a concerted effort to focus on what's good and wonderful in this life, especially right now.

This morning I bought a load of wonderful crunchy delicious Arkansas Black apples, grown 20 miles from my home. I picked up my CSA and found more produce than I'll be able to use in a week. I had an extra $5 after I bought my farmers market groceries and treated myself to a bouquet of sunflowers and horsetail grass. The heat has finally broken, I'm wearing a hand-knit sweater, and focusing on what's uplifting:
knitting, cooking, fall leaves beginning to color up, an upcoming camping trip, another 5k to run, intensely blue sky that only happens once summer's over, open windows, a job that is keeping me busy, a beautiful happy family, Saturday morning pee-wee soccer games, friends and customers asking hopefully after my holiday pottery plans - the list could, and should, go on. Let's all focus on what's good and possible instead of worrying about what is or might happen. I hope that you all find something wonderful this weekend to buoy your spirits.

Happy weekend.
Some of these apples are going to go into a surprise galette for my boys this evening. I wish I could share it with you, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

test bowls

test bowls
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
These are two tiny bowls I made out of the Mississippi River clay. I just took them out of yesterday's bisque firing. I have to say that I'm pretty shocked at how much they look like terra cotta. I've used terra cotta clay before; it looked the same before and after firing. My river mud was deep brown/black even when bone dry (here is a finished, but still unfired, mud bowl. There's obviously a lot of iron in that clay. Any other colorants have fired out, and it's possible that they'll fire out even more on the next, higher temperature.

Later this week/weekend I'll glaze the pieces in this load*. I'm going to try a clear glaze, because for these pieces, the color of the clay is why they even exist. But, since I don't know if these will even stand up to cone 6 firing (2200 degree Fahrenheit range), I'm not risking my "good" piece yet. The experiment goes on. Slowly.

*This load included a few berry bowls, but out of this batch of 11, 5 cracked. At least I know before glazing, but those aren't good odds, friends. I don't know which were cut with my new hole punch, though. I didn't do anything to distinguish them from the ones where I used my old one. I know that I STILL owe some of you bowls, and I'm sorry that it is taking me so long to finish them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

pottery again

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I photographed this vase early this afternoon because it sold and I'd forgotten about it. I had to hunt through the bins of things I had listed on etsy to find it. I love its shape and wanted to be able to reproduce it. Sometimes I'm very "out of sight, out of mind."

I love how this nestles into the palm of my hand- its shape is almost oniony. When I was in college I had nice hands, but eight years of almost constant clay have aged them. Right now they're in pretty good shape- no water-logged, peeling fingernails or torn cuticles. My nails are as long as I can stand for them to be, even when I'm not working in clay. Aged hands are a small price to pay for the pottery- and perhaps because of how weathered they are most days, they are my favorite part of me.

Today I broke my clay hiatus, doing some last-minute sanding/trimming and bisque firing, and I made a couple dozen small crosses for the Episcopal Bookshop in Memphis. Later this week I'll glaze and hopefully have some new work to show you.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Clanjamfry 5k

My time: 37:25. 97% running (I took 3 30-45 second walk breaks), middle of the pack. And now I'd like some ibuprofen.

Friday, September 19, 2008

green:target love

green:target love
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Since I don't have any (not a bit) pottery to show you or talk about here lately, I thought I'd show you what HAS been turning my crank lately. Green. Brought to you by Target. I'm not a big shopper, really and truly, I despise it. But I needed some things that required a target run last week and I saw these shoes. Actually, I'd seen them a month ago and couldn't shake their memory. I went to not-my-usual target and there they were. Cushy, suede, grass-green, and my size. For $24.99. I bought them and have worn them four times since last Friday. Including several days of standing all day. I have really high arches and can't wear just any shoe, but these worked. They also come in purple, black, and brown. I love the green. That trip also netted the pleated-neckline apple-green rayon knit Isaac top. I've worn it twice. I think it works best on flatter chests because of how the pleats fall, but whatever. I love the color.

Today I realized that I needed a pair of running shorts for tomorrow's 5k that aren't shorty-short. And cottonballs, white-out, air-born. And this bag. Because I forgot my reusable bags, and because of the chevron quilting, and because I'd been thinking about making a tote for schleping all of our family's stuff to church, school, soccer, here, there, and everywhere. But time is a factor. I had $16.99, but not the hours to sew. Instant gratification isn't usually my MO, but today it worked.

All of this green love makes me think of Erin and her everything-green. Usually I'm a blue girl, but for some reason, green is my thing this fall.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


vintage buttons
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
the February Lady Sweater, a great grown-up sized adaptation of Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater, has been my latest "big" knitting project. It's my second cardigan, first real lace project. But I haven't been working on a whole lot lately. All of my waking at-home time has been spent on teaching prep. Everything else has fallen by the wayside. I am 70% finished (maybe more!)- I have a sleeve and a half left, plus blocking so that the lace portion will stand out nicely.
Last week I went through the vintage button stash that a friend inherited from her mother then donated to our church's craft room. These are what I came up with. I LOVE the black and ivory swirly plastic (or bakelite?) buttons. They just don't work well with the variegation in the kettle-dyed yarn (it's arucania nature wool, if that means much of anything to you). I also picked out these snaggle-toothed shell squares. I think I'll end up using these, because I just think they're charming. I love shabby-chic, lived in, time-worn, comfortable things that have a history. At the same time, I'm a very "linear" person- I like clean lines, clear spaces, symmetry. These buttons don't say that, but then neither does the yarn. I'm keeping my eye open for more choices, but honestly, if I have time to be looking, I think I'd rather be knitting.

Two weeks ago I threw some pieces and thankfully wrapped them up well. This afternoon was the first day I've been up to the studio to check on them- life has been a three-ring circus lately (sometimes good, sometimes trying, all the time busy). I may just be able to trim them on Thursday. And I still hope I'll bisque fire this weekend.

Happy mid-week, everyone!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Hi again. I thought I'd better post now because it's going to be a crazy week after the weekend that was a three-ring circus. I attended a huge Martyrs pilgrimage and festive Eucharist/celebration this weekend (since that's all I've talked about here lately, these martyrs, I guess no one's surprised), I attended our long-running wonderful co-ed dinner and bookclub for the first time since (ashamedly) maybe the month of May. Or April. It's been a long dang time. In case you're interested, we just read Brideshead Revisited, like everyone else (only I stopped at page 75 because I'm feeling a bit rushed and bored and I stopped too soon they say). Next up is Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You, though, sadly, we're missing AGAIN as we've planned to camp since it's fall break (Aside: April, you could still go if you want, we just won't be there). I'm disappointed, because I love Miranda July. She is brilliant and quirky and I'm going to read anyway.

This week I am teaching every day (I know 'most everyone works full time and has a family and manages to have hobbies. My hat is off to you because I cannot seem to manage 1.5 of the 3). I am running a 5K on Saturday, so hopefully I'll be running every day except Friday. Or maybe Thursday. It's harder for me to skip one day of running and go again on the second day than it is to run every day. Haven't done a real race before (but I used to run for an hour every day when I was in graduate school. I had to stop because I was getting thunder thighs), but I'm not concerned about placing, only finishing. Because lately I've been, ah, slack in the exercise department. I need to bisque fire and try to glaze by Sunday (hah!). I'm prepped for teaching through Tuesday - I go to a different school each day- each 4th grade class in my program gets 2 guided museum visits/activities plus three in-school visits. I work with over 500 Memphis City School 4th graders- the program serves over 1000 students. I know what we're having for supper every night this week, and I have a vague idea about how much more prep work I'll need to do before Friday. So I feel somewhat prepared for the week ahead. And in 5 minutes my face will be washed, jammies on, and I'll be on my way to sleep, much like this bee who was lulled down in his zinnia bed by the cool (thanks, Ike) weather we've had today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh, hi

dahlia pitcher
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Did I, ah, forget about blogging this week? I almost blogged yesterday, but I was tired, it was Sept 11, I dropped off the icon, and it finally boiled down to the fact that I just didn't feel like it. And it's gotten all hot and humid again.

I've been teaching this week for the museum, doing a lot of prep for teaching, hammering out schedules, trying to stay on an even keel.

I picked these Dahlias this week- they were so fresh and pretty. In Memphis, it seems like the dahlias do best once the summer is waning. I always forget about them until I find them hiding in the mess that my garden becomes when September rolls around.

Have a happy weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the martyrs of memphis

martyrs icon
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Here, finally, is the 90% completed icon for the Martyrs of Memphis that will go home this weekend with the Sisters of St. Mary's in Sewanee, TN. I finished the gold portions today*, ironically, on the feast day of Constance and her companions.

I've shown you pictures of this and my other version of the Martyrs icon before, but I'm not sure I've explained why I'm so fascinated with this group of mostly women (but including men) featured here.

I attend St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral**, located at the fringes of downtown Memphis, TN. It is in the medical district (appropriately, given its history with the Yellow Fever Epidemic, when over 5,000 Memphians died), bridging bustling downtown, impoverished neighborhoods, three hospitals, and numerous social-service organizations, including several missions for the homeless. During the 1978 Yellow Fever Epidemic, St. Mary's (a mission church of the larger downtown Episcopal church, billed as a "house of prayer for all people" because its parishoners weren't required to buy their pews, attracting members of lower socio-economic status) opened its doors to those orphaned by the fever. The Sisters, led by Constance, ran a school for girls. When the epidemic struck, Constance and Thecla were safely on vacation but returned to nurse the poor (for everyone of means left the city posthaste), sick, and dying. They worked until they, too, were struck with the fever. Charles Parsons was rector of Grace Church in Memphis and served with the sisters. Louis Schuyler came to Memphis from Hoboken, NJ, to serve at St. Mary's and died 10 days after he arrived.

Sunday night I finished Molly Crosby's excellent American Plague, a history of the Yellow Fever, it's multiple epidemics, and the scientists who worked to discover its roots and develop a vaccine. The story was mind-boggling. The sacrifices of the priests, nuns, doctors, and scientists were nothing short of enormous. At the top of the icon, an angel holds a scroll with the verse from John 15:13 "no man has greater love than this, than to lay down his life for his friends."

* I had completely forgotten what the actual date of the Martyrs feast was until I was contacted by Fr. Miguel Zavala Mugica, who requested permission to use the image of one of the icons for his excellent (but written in spanish) blog.
**St. Mary's also played an active role in the 1968 Sanitation Workers' strike and the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis. Dean William Dimmick carried the cathedral's processional cross in an inter-faith march to city hall the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain. It split the church, but many of those who stayed were dedicated to social justice issues, specifically involving the sick, the poor, and the homeless.

just hanging around

entomology training
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
a bit like this grasshopper who showed up in my living room last night. We put him in my sprouter to see what he did. Grasshoppers are the most fastidious little creatures I've ever seen. I was mesmerized last night, watching him groom himself for well over an hour. He went to Pre-K today. We'll let him out this afternoon. Entomology is fascinating to me, and I love most insects, as long as they aren't "eww" bugs. Ladybugs, bees, beetles, wasps, even are fascinating. I love caterpillars, earthworms, crickets, too. Roaches? Eww. That's where I draw the line.

This week I start museum-teaching, so I've been doing a lot of prep-work for my classes. Dear Gary has arranged to pick up little boy from his accelerated pre-K program (it lets out at lunchtime) so that I can keep Tuesday and Thursday as dedicated pottery days while I'm teaching. I'm really gearing up for holiday production. And to finally meet my summer obligations that fell by the wayside.

It's a rainy cool Tuesday here- a pot of soup is on the stove, after-school muffins in the oven, and more prep and pottery fills my brain. Onward!

Friday, September 5, 2008

mud bowls

WOW. This clay was still really really wet (probably too wet to through, really). And really, really messy. I didn't want to wedge the clay (which would have dried it out a bit more) on my canvas boards because my usual clay body is white and I didn't want to risk staining the boards or future projects. My ususal is also really fine-grained; it feels a bit like handling cream cheese (people also describe porcelain clay as feeling this way). This raw clay has a lot of sand incorporated in, so throwing with it felt really different. I thew thickly and slowly- but my first few attempts collapsed when I pushed the clay too far. My fingernails got shredded (they were a bit too long for throwing anyway), but thankfully my skin didn't.

These two bowls are maybe 8" in diameter and 3" tall. I checked them this morning and they were too wet to trim (but it's been rainy all week, so everything is drying more slowly). I've never used clay this dark- I've used terra cotta before (that is REALLY rough on your skin) and we all know how terra cotta pots look when fired, but I have no idea what will happen with these. I don't know if the color will fire out (most clays change color when fired), or if the clay will even go up to cone 6 (+/-2200 degrees), because some low fire (1800 degrees, not as durable, prone to chipping/flaking) clays will melt at that temperature. I have several more pounds of the clay, so I think I'm going to make several smaller pieces to test with clear glazes at low and high ranges so that I don't inadvertently destroy these two larger pieces.

I tell you, I haven't felt this excited about pottery in quite a while. I love what I do, I love my functional pieces and the style I've developed with them, but it is fun to experiment with something that is unpredictable.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

mississippi mud

mississippi mud
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
today I am working with this: black clay dug from just beneath the sand bars* of the Mississippi River, just north of Memphis. Janie, the eldest daughter of my friends who camped with us, discovered it a mere half-inch underneath the sand. She called me over to ask if it was clay, and if it was, was it clay that I could make pottery out of. Why not?

The day before I'd noticed pebbles in the river that smooshed between your fingers when you pressed hard, or that cracked in two when they were dry, washed up on the sand. I remember thinking, "huh. must be clay," but not going beyond that. We all started digging up hunks of clay (a little sandy) to take back home with us. We found a plastic bag (washed up? left by some fishermen?) to cart it home in, and it has been sitting on the stairs to my studio since Monday afternoon.

I'm going to go upstairs and try to work with it- since it's black and my usual clay body is white, I'll have a lot of cleanup work to do, but I'm excited to work with it, see how it will fire, and if it will take a glaze. It may or may not- a big experiment. I'll show you what I come up with.

*sand plays an important role in Memphians' day to day lives. While most of our soil is clay-based, 350-1000 ft underneath the humus and clay layers are large, white-sand aquifers that purify our drinking water. We have wonderful tap water- clean, clear, good tasting. Thanks, Memphis sand!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

family camping

Oh what fun we had on the family camp. It was busy, crazy, loud, quiet, peaceful, and nerve-wrecking all at once. Saturday night and Sunday was Bridgman solo camp- setting up, exploring a bit, hiking a little, knitting, reading, finding out that those candles I brought solely for atmosphere would actually be needed since our lantern failed to charge itself before we left town (ahem). When I camp, my goal is to live well- we always have steaks on the first night, a bottle of nice wine, something dessert-y (this time it was vanilla-soaked grilled peaches and pears over my mother's pound cake). We had baba ganoogh, a caprese salad with grape tomatoes and pearl-sized balls of fresh mozzarella, grilled corn, - YUM.

Pancake breakfast, hiking, river-exploring, more quiet reading/knitting/playing/napping time filled the day until we ran out of mosquito spray (and, ah, ice cream)and made a run to the old-fashioned general store near the campsite. That evening joined by some dear friends and their two girls. This was their first family-camping experience, so we were invested in making sure it was a good one. There was lots of mayhem in tent set-up, exploring our little site, dogs getting adjusted to each other, and mud-pie making in the "sink" around the water spigot. We had fabulous chicken and pepper fajitas with "rock-and-mole", smores, and crying exhausted kids. Monday started off with percolator coffee and "raft potatoes" which I should have taken a picture of (pan-fried potatoes and onions, scramble in some eggs and cheddar, even better with diced bacon).
We were off to the river by 9. We spent all day exploring the sand bars of the Mississippi River, finding beautiful opalescent muscle shells, rocks, driftwood, and swimming in the little pools that formed between the sand bars. Dogs swam, kids swam, mamas swam, daddies stayed in their chairs bonding over movies and rock-n-roll. The best part of all this? It all happened 20 minutes from my front door. Beautiful towering oaks and cottonwoods, temperatures hovering in the low 80s, absolutely no cell phone reception, so close to home. It was a perfect holiday weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

happy long weekend

hello, yellow!
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I hope you all have a rest from your labors. We're going camping with another family along the banks of the Mississippi River. Camping is one of my favorite family activities- I just can't get enough of it. Summers are so hot and sticky in the deep south- we don't get out in the woods much from June-September, but we're making an exception for Labor Day weekend. Planning to go again in October and any other time I can fit in. Because I do love hanging out in the woods.

When we get back, we're half-expecting to host a dear friend and some friends of hers from New Orleans. Hoping and praying that we won't need to host them, that big bad Gustav will spare the newly-recovering Gulf Coast his fury. So there's a lot of prep-time staring at me today- prep for camping, for guests.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and send prayers and good thoughts for everyone in Gustav's path. Oh, and also, thanks for all the comments, good will, and friendship you've offered this week. I do appreciate it. Cheers!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

sea oats

sea oats
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
well, the cat's out of the bag. I put this picture up on flickr, knowing full well that the woman I made it for would see it. And she did. And she's happy with it. Usually I stick with ferns, ginkgoes, and japanese maple leaves for my leaf impressions, but my friend Naomi said she thought that sea oats would work well in the same application. I decided to try it and gift the results. I've been gleaning ferns from her garden for a couple of years, mostly because my dogs wallowed in any shady earth in my yard until it was (and still is) as hard-packed as concrete. Not ideal growing conditions.

I was hesitant about this motif because my great-grandparents had Homer Laughlin's wheat dishes (the golden colored, gold-rimmed ones), and I never liked them very much. I've been trying to figure out why I didn't like them, and I think it boils down to something very simple. I'm much more of a woodland kind of girl than an open-prairie type. Which explains why, on trips out west, to Austin, Colorado, Southern California, even the beaches of the east coast- I FREAK OUT. I need the trees, the shade, the anchor that they provide in the landscape, and the ferns that grow in the shade. Memphis is covered in a dense canopy of green (Naomi is fighting to preserve some of that green space in Memphis), and it is something I need to feel at rest. The sea oats are a huge thank you to the woman whose garden I regularly plunder. And even though they were SO much easier to paint, I'll be getting back to the ferns shortly. Because I'm a woodland kind of girl.

Edit- This is the china pattern my great-grandparents had.