Wednesday, April 30, 2008

bee teapot

bee teapot
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
First, hello! to everyone who is popping over from little elephants, and thanks, Veronique!

Yesterday was my college roommate's birthday. I made this teapot for her as a housewarming gift (for the house she and her husband bought a year and a half ago- I'm a little slow), but sent it for her birthday. She'd requested a bee teapot on one of her visits to Memphis several years ago when I first began making teapots.

I think I made this in November, but the glazing never was right, then my kiln decided to take a 4-month break. Kiln is now working properly again, and a fixative added to my glaze solved most of the streaking/ too thin spots that I had issues with, so after I fired it for the third time last weekend, I loved it up for a little bit then packed it up to send to Hester on Monday. I love the bees peeking through the glaze, I love how the handle fits right above the spout. Sometimes I have problems with handle placement, but this guy may be my archetypal teapot. Even the lid fits perfectly.

I made four honeypots that were fired in this load, but two of the lids broke (I dropped them on concrete) after firing. I hope I'll be able to make new ones, but the rate of shrinkage and the fact that I didn't note the dimensions of the wet pieces mean that making replacements might be difficult. I learn more about what I should be doing with my pottery every day, mostly through my mistakes.

Oh, and here's another fun tidbit. The "not picardie" tumbler may be a gift to the universe. Yesterday I was at a birthday party at the playground at my son's school. The tumbler was in my car, so I used it for water instead of using a disposable cup. Four year-old parties always seem to end in meltdown, so the tumbler was left on the playground. Gary dear went to see if it was still there on his way home. It was not. One of the teachers rescued it, took it home, and said that she'd bring it to school tomorrow. If she doesn't, that's okay. I'm releasing it. Sortof like the cake plates, warped during their glaze firing, that we left on a bridge over a creek in our neighborhood. I was distraught about their Dali-like forms, so Gary decided to gift them to anyone who wanted them. They were in the creek the next morning. I wonder how long it will take for them to be worn down into pebbles. . . .

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

bee love

pile of bee medallions
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Yesterday I brought in this pile of bee medallions to make into promo pieces for my etsy packages. I sat down to check email for a second before running up to the studio and was struck with the color and composition of the yellow and white forms on the blue gingham napkin*. The bee is made with my normal logo stamp- I was really happy with how they turned out and am considering making some mugs with this bee-oval on them. I've made vases and pitchers with a bee inside a circle, thinking of old french and italian wine carafes, but the oval really speaks to me.

These magnets are made with rare earth magnets. One 1/4" round magnet is strong enough to hold up a calendar. I don't think I'll be selling these (maybe at the farmers market in Memphis, but not on etsy), but they will be in every etsy package I send until I run out of the magnets. I always love getting a little unexpected happy, don't you?

*When Gary and I married, we had a huge shrimp boil and bbq -ribs and pulled pork, Memphis style- at a place called "the Gin," really a college-mixer type bar- that had a huge, shady patio, just off the square in Oxford, Miss. My dear mother in law bought yards and yards of cotton gingham to use as napkins for the event. The lady really knows how to throw a party- she is quite the hostess and sets a beautiful table. After the event, she washed all of the used napkins and gave them to me. I still have a pile of rolled napkins, tied with raffia from the dinner, in my china cabinet. We have about 20 of these in rotation for daily use. Every time I use them, I think about our rehearsal dinner. I love using them, and they are the hardest-wearing napkins ever!

spontaneous poetry

From little boy, tumbled in our bed on saturday morning:

the birds are chirping
the clock is ticking
let's have breakfast

not quite haiku. We had fun turning it into beat poetry by changing the last line over and over and over again as we headed out into the day. I had to record it before the lines slipped from my memory.

Monday, April 28, 2008

molly's berry bowl

molly's berry bowl
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
A friend requested this sweet little bowl from me maybe a month or so ago. I'm really pleased with it and am planning to make more of them.

When Gary and I married we got a little bowl like this as a wedding gift. We used it constantly- it was in the fridge, filled with grapes, strawberries, or wild blackberries more than it was in its cabinet. One day, it fell out and broke- cold pottery breaks really easily for some reason. The fall wasn't a large one, but it cracked in two almost even pieces. I was very sad and set about trying to duplicate it. I never did "get" it, but that was almost 7 years ago, and I'd like to think that I'm a better potter now.

My only problem with this edition of the berry bowl was glazing- Molly likes the white glaze, and it is one of my favorites, as well, but I have trouble getting it right. I glazed it once but the pigment had settled too much to coat the bowl properly. The second firing came out just about right, though, so this little guy is about to be packed up and shipped off to its new home. I hope it has a long, happy, and useful life!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"not-picardie" tumbler

"not-picardie" tumbler
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I've written before about my love for the duralex picardie tumbler. Many times, I think. I showed a picture of this tumbler just after I'd made it. When I was glazing on Thursday I really debated on its color. Almost all of my white glaze didn't get mixed well enough and/or didn't have enough pigment in the bucket, and half of my yellow had the same problem. I mixed new glaze and redid them yesterday, but old reliable blue turned out just fine. Ish.

I'm not sure what I was striving for - that's not true. I know exactly what I was striving for. A duplicate copy of the picardie. I wasn't really happy with this tumbler when I pulled it out, not really happy with it when I photographed it, but now that my Sunday morning coffee is in it, it may be growing on me. It feels good in my hand, the base is pretty well weighted yet it is lightweight (as lightweight as pottery can be, and the equivalent of my favorite bamboo tumblers).

Whether I'd make more or not is another question. It was fairly labor-intensive (see this post) and I haven't changed my mind about what it would cost ($15 range). I think I might like it better if it were colored inside with a white exterior. I'll have to play around with it a little more.

One possible way to make it more like I want it would be to make another, make a mold, and slip-cast the piece. I got a copy of Andrew Martin's revised slip casting and mold making book this week. It gave me new insight into how I could make some of the pieces that I love but are too tedious for production work.

So, what's the verdict on this? Should I try to make more? Thanks for any and all feedback.

Friday, April 25, 2008

archive friday

This morning after my run* I opened my blogroll and clicked on Loobylu, where I saw "archive friday," where she showcased some of her older work. While I've unofficially been revisiting some of my older work, I thought follow her lead and delve into my sketchbook today. This little image, drawn with a superfine pen on crepe paper (I think) and glued to a small white card, was the basis for my 2004 Christmas card. The bird was not so hard, but the nest was trying. I don't think you can tell, but I drew them separately and layered the images. When I was happy with the image, I did nothing more than take it to kinko's to have it printed and sent them out as postcards. I made my own christmas cards for years and years. Every year I consider buying cards and every year I bail on that idea. This year I embellished plain cards with snowflake cutouts.
Sorry, off topic. This little bird theme keeps showing up in my pottery. Hopefully, after the kiln cools (now, at 8 am, 12 hours after firing ended, everything is still too hot to touch), I'll be able to show you more little birds in my work!

Happy weekend!

*This is strange. This has always happened, and maybe other runners can explain it. I ran more distance today than Weds, which was more than Monday- breaking in the new shoes slowly. This morning I ran all the way around an additional block (yeah, sounds wimpy, I ran an extra block, but our neighborhood blocks are about 20 houses long, then skinny just-backyards on the other sides), plus my usual takes-30-minutes route. I got in the door and was shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you) to see that it took less time today than it did the rest of the week. What gives? Anybody know? I don't think I'm running faster- I did run more, but. . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008


For now. There's another load to go. At 1pm, I was still glazing. I am weary of it. I am very dirty. It's been 3 days I've been working on glazing while little boy is at school. I have a largeish kiln and 70+ pieces, which explains some of the time it is taking, but I'm also trying some new things. This means that there is some new work I'll be excited to show on Friday or Saturday. There is another full load that has yet to be glazed.

Object lesson: be neater with new pottery- less finishing work. Glaze as I go to avoid 3-day marathon glazing sessions.

I spoke with my friend and coworker Deirdre right before I finished. She agreed that you have to get into a "glazing mindset" and that three straight days of it was probably no good. Now her work is infinitely more detailed than mine is, and I'd hate to have to be as careful in glazing as she has to. My fingers are crossed that everything will turn out well, because there are a few gifts in this load, and if the experimental pieces turn out well, I think that they could become a new line for me. Pictures soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the work-glazing

After I posted, I got an email from a customer and friend who used to work with Gary. The sweet guy bought a few serving pieces of mine for his wife for her birthday. He wrote to tell me that she was pleased (I'm so glad! They are such a sweet couple), but as he's just read my blog post, he wondered why glazing wasn't fun for me. It occurred to me that I hadn't said why it was a chore, so I thought I'd answer that question here.

I'm not complaining, please know that. I chose this job for myself, and I love it, but like any job, there are just parts that you don't like as much as others. I know that some people LOVE glazing. For many potters, and I'm thinking particularly of these potters, painting, illustrating, glazing their pottery is an obvious joy. It's an expression of whimsy, personality, joy in creation. I am both a sloppy potter (I can't quit touching my wet ware, leaving finger and handprints all over it, clay boogers, dents, you name it. Nasty habit I need to break. I should leave the pottery alone on the bat until it is leather hard.) and a recovering perfectionist. So even though the pottery has prints and boogers and needs to be sanded, I dearly want the finished product to be completely smooth, snag-free, well-covered by glaze, with a nice bottom, blah blah. All of my perfectionist tendencies come out when I glaze.

Here's my typical proceedure: first I sand (um, bad for the lungs), then rinse each piece, let dry, stamp the bee on the bottom, wax the foot of the piece (the bottom and lower 1/8"), try to keep that 1/8" line straight, try to keep the liquid wax off the rest of the piece. Wax is applied to keep the glaze, essentially liquid glass, off the kiln shelf. If there's specks of glaze on the bottom of the piece, the pottery might adhere to the shelf and either leave a piece of itself there or take a chunk of the shelf with it. Also, if spots of wax get on the rest of the piece, the glaze won't adhere and there will be sections of unglazed clay on the finished piece. That has to be reglazed.

While the wax is drying, I mix up the glaze- it's in gallon buckets and has to be mixed with my drill and screened to remove any clumps. I almost always have clumps. Then I dip my pieces with tongs into the buckets to coat them with glaze. After they dry, I try to brush off any obvious drip marks and wipe off any errant glaze from the foot. If the piece is a single color, that's all. But for my fern pieces, I paint the ferns with a green glaze and wax over that before I dip for the main coat of glaze. For the ladybugs, I paint the red and black details over the white base coat.

Today I got about 45 pieces clean, stamped, and waxed. I painted leaf-green on another ten small pieces but didn't wax over those. There are another 30 or so pieces that I didn't get to at all. I stopped after 4 podcasts. Conveniently, it also began to thunderstorm and freak the dogs out. I do all of my glazing work outside, weather permitting, because I am so messy at it- glaze splattered everywhere, wax splashes, dust from sanding everywhere.

So. There's the process. Loading the kiln might take another hour because I try to pack the kiln as full as possible- the pieces jammed in together but not touching so they won't stick to each other. Firing is usually another 10 hours, then cooling might take another 24 hours. Slow process. Maybe someday when I'm rich and famous I can hire someone to glaze for me! I can wish, right? Until then, I'm back at it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

sea urchins

One of my sea urchins was just showcased in the Star of the East blog! Thanks, Estella!

eating an elephant

Today I begin glazing. The real work begins. See, making the pottery- throwing, trimming, even sanding it all smooth, that's fun. I enjoy that part. Glazing? That part's not so fun.

Yesterday was a pretty blissful- had my run, had a pottery-related lunch meeting at a yummy cafe (BLT on homemade sourdough with avocado? Yes please! And a tax deductible pottery expense? May I have another meeting please?) around the corner from my house, then walked to pick up little boy from school early. We walked home, got the new bike, then went to the playground with another little friend. Stayed at the playground for a long time, chatted with the other mom, knitted on my sock. Came home, played more, made a fabulous Vietnamese Steak Salad (read- sneak in six types of vegetables by putting small pieces of steak over them) which we ate outside under the patio umbrella, on my grandmother's wrought iron patio table, put the boy to bed, watched Scotland, PA, which we thought was an interesting if crazy take on MacBeth. Who isn't up for a little monday-night Shakes?

This morning, little boy rides to school- I tell you, that bike is an amazing thing- while I walk beside him. And a playdate after school! So mama can work! Except work is glazing and it's messy and I've got at least 12 hours of it to look forward to. Maybe 4 today. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. My right-now bite is stamping my logo stamp on the bottom and waxing. Maybe a little leaf detail work.

Oh, it is such a good thing I backed out of my show.

Monday, April 21, 2008

we had a great date

the shoes and I. Not a long one, and we werer both definitely bleary eyed at first, but I think we'll see one another again.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

big weekend

Normally I am not a very acquisitive person. In fact, I really hate to shop. But I was wandering around on etsy a few weeks ago, checking out the wares of people who had "hearted" me, and I found this. It totally fits with my bamboo love. And when I was a little girl, my mother had wallpaper in our kitchen that was just like this, but green. I LURVE this. It came on Saturday, after we got back from a family hike. Thanks so much, Leigh.

I read a lot of blogs. A lot of hip crafty Portland mama bloggers who wear cute shoes blogs. I feel soo left out of the cute shoe game because I have high arches and those super in-style flats that everyone else is wearing? Um, not me. Cute little skimmers at Target? Not so cute once you stick arch support "cookies" in 'em. I was shopping for running shoes (see next) when I saw these skimmers. And they're Converse All Stars. And they go with everything. I'm a big summer skirt girl. I'll be wearing these a lot. I'm wearing them now. The best part was, TJ Maxx, under $20.

Those shoes I was shopping for? Running. Gotta start doing it again. Before I married, before I left oxford, I ran daily with the dogs. Thought it was 3 miles- 45 minutes. I think that it was maybe more. I have a dog who needs to run. I need to run. These eccos will help, I hope. I have a 6 am date with them tomorrow morning. They were also a steal. Love TJ Maxx for shoes.

A few weeks ago I joined the throngs who bought this book. We've already acted on some of Amanda's ideas, but this big bag of stuff is for my favorite. My little boy is capital-M-musical. We're making a percussion wall. That's attached to a treehouse. All of our instruments came from thrift stores. Daddy is building it so that it spans a little corner between our huge fig tree and a tall old crape myrtle. Mama is in charge of the paint. Little boy is in charge of the noise. If you haven't already read the book and you're a parent, do try to find it. A friend told me that it reminded her of the kind of parent that she'd envisioned herself before she had kids. Me, too.

And this may be the most fun part of our weekend acquisitions. Some good friends,who are (sadly) moving away this summer, have a son a year older than mine. All of this dear boy's clothes end up on my boy (see #1, I hate to shop). He was into all of the same things that mine is into now- full set of Thomas trains? Check. Easter Sunday dress up clothes? Check. Full-body Spider Man floaty? Oh, yeah. Last week Lisa emailed to ask if we were ready for a bike. Her boy'd outgrown his, would we like it? They SURE didn't plan to move it. So today, after church, my little boy took his first spin on a big-boy bike. Took right to it, which is funny, because the trike that I'd pushed for has sat largely unused for the 2 years that we've had it. This afternoon, my little boy was a blur of color as we went around our very large block, peddling as hard as he could while mama broke in her new running shoes, trying to keep up.

New paper goods, shoes, treehouse, bike- what more could we ask for?

Friday, April 18, 2008


Nests have been one of my obsessions for a while. Years and years. I'm thinking about them again, and the same idea that's been in my head for some time has been persistently popping up again. This nest, rendered in porcelain and washed with black underglaze, hangs in my dining room. There's another that hangs outside in the garden, on my fence. I made yet another, a large, plate-sized nest that incorporated porcelain leaves and feathers, that, unfortunately, I have no photos of because it was before we got our digital camera and I donated it to our public television's annual art auction. A small, rough, cup-shaped nest gets wedged in a crook of our Christmas tree every year. Nature girl (may I also admit to being a bit of a priss?) here finds a great deal of inspiration in nests. I am amazed by the little birds' ingenuity and instinct-driven architecture. I really, really want to make a series of porcelain nests and work towards a show. Where? Dunno. Would anyone actually want to buy nests? Dunno that either. The donated one sold, I know that, but this idea won't let go of me. It's taken up space in my head since 2004.

I think I may have said here before that one of my prized possessions is a feather and lichen-lined hummingbird nest that fell out of a tree in the woods behind my mother's house. I have no idea how I'd translate something like that into porcelain. I'm hoping that this might help, and maybe this one, too. Earlier this week I was pouring over the Smithsonian's online Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio. Sweet Gary made some good copies for me to study. I think that nests may be my summer project. A showing of these nests may not be in the cards, but I feel really pulled towards at least making them.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

new sea urchin crop*

new sea urchin crop
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This is half of the sea urchins I've made since Christmas. I'm firing today for the first time since January- there are maybe a dozen more sea urchins in the very full kiln.

I know I've written about sea urchins before, but they are some of my favorite things to make. I like them best when they're bisqued, bright white, matte, pristine. Their form shines and I don't get distracted by things like shine.

I made two types of urchins, additive urchins, decorated with little dots of slip- I really like the ones that I've left spiky, some are almost too sharp to touch. Those may be my favorites. Then there are the subtractive urchins, the ones that I've carved or pressed designs in. The one in the back right is one of my favorites- I love the smooth, clean surface interrupted by the incised lines.

Some of these are intended to become salt cellars or votive holders- those with the large open mouths. The more closed-in forms are sometimes used as vases, so they must be glazed so they'll be water tight, but I wish that I could leave all of them as is without tampering with their function.

* My favorite picture of sea urchins was taken by my husband. He cropped in a large photo and titled it "sea urchin crop," for what he thought was an obvious reason. I look at the same photo (in the post referenced above) and think of a harvest or large group. My garden thinking prevades all else in my mind.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

lavender honey

lavender honey
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Now you know this makes me happy. Or maybe you don't. This combines some of my favorite things. Bees. Lavender. My little potager (fancy french for kitchen garden- see the onions and chard?). What a blissful spring day. I even got the kiln all loaded up to fire tonight! Walked home from school with little boy, found a tiny four-leafed clover and itty bitty blue jay feather, stopped and chatted with a friend on the way home. This happy uneventful day's been a long time coming, so I'm relishing it.

*Thursday morning edit- we ended the day with a drive down to the Mississippi River banks to watch the sunset after dinner. Perfect and lovely and beautiful day, all round.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

herb markers

new batch
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
up over at etsy . Several varieties available in matte sepia, glossy yellow and glossy cobalt. More to come.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Divided mezze* platters

Divided mezze platters
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm revisiting some old work- this photo is from a 2003 commission for a wedding gift. I made 6 or 8 plates that were divided like bento boxes or those little kids' melamine plates. In this case, the bride didn't like it when her food touched, so her friends, my customers, asked me to make her this set. Because the concept seemed so bento-like to me, I used a lot of asian-inspired images. Here are Japanese maple and Nandina, which is also called heavenly bamboo. I also used horsetail grass, a type of fern that ended up looking like stalks of bamboo, some ferns, and ginkgo leaves. I used a glass light fixture cover as my mold. This is the same glaze combo that I use in all of my "delta zen" pieces, like Sarah's platter, below.

*edited to add- we called them mezze platters because at the time, that was one of our favorite easy suppers. I'd go once a quarter or so to the mediterranean grocery in town and get cans of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), jars of roasted peppers, homemade pita, fabulous thick labna, and all manner of other middle eastern pre-prepared goodness. The divisions in these plates, as well as their ample size, made us think that they'd be perfect for serving such an assortment of goodies. I need to go back to that market- it's closer now and I haven't been in years! This week we'll have mezze for supper.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

how to: sarah's platter

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

Friday, April 11, 2008

sarah's platter

sarah's platter
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last night my mother requested a few pieces of pottery to send to friends in NC as wedding gifts. One was for her friend Janet's daughter, Sarah. Janet was my mom's closest friend when we lived in Greenville NC. She is an alumna of Salem College and introduced me to the school. If I'd not known Janet, I would have attended UNC-Chapel Hill, not moved to Mississippi after graduating, not met and married Gary, not become a potter, not been here with you today. So, I owe Miss Janet a huge debt of gratitude for shaping my life's path. Janet's youngest daughter, Sarah, is a sweet, elegant, very brilliant young lady. When Mom mentioned Sarah, I knew immediately which piece I wanted her to have. In my (not so humble) opinion, this piece is quietly elegant, refined but unpretentious, useful but lovely in its utility. These qualities also aptly describe its recipient (for Sarah also has a business degree from Duke!)
This platter is one of my very favorites of all that I've ever made. The fern is an oak fern*, one of the few ferns that will grow in full sun. I got a piece from my mother, before she moved back to TN. She got hers from a piece that was in a pot of something else, given to her by another gardening friend. I love this fern - truth be told, I love all ferns. This one is tall (3-4 feet!), wavy, adds texture, and its rambunctious nature makes it a good fit for areas that would othewise be neglected.
The oak ferns have really sprung to life over the past few weeks and the clump is happily expanding. I plan to make several more of these platters for my summer sale.

Happy Friday, everyone!

*nope. it's bracken. my bad.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

note to self:

reading pottery blogs all day long may not be the best way to regain one's equilibrium. It makes one think: oh, I need to go LOAD THE KILN!! I keep forgetting I'm supposed to be taking time off. Well, not really. Because if I was working, I wouldn't be reading pottery blogs all day long. If you're interested, click on the one black bird link in the post below. The very talented Diana Fayt listed a whole slew of great ones.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
yesterday, while walking with a friend to school to pick up little boy, I realized that I am too, too stressed, and no matter how much I work or how hard I work, I will not get back the 30+ working hours I lost while he was sick. It is not reasonable to expect to be able to do 6 kiln firings in 14 days, and ware that is wet now will not be dry enough to fire by Friday. With a heavy heart, I called the gallery and told them that I would not be able to have my show on April 26.

While I was at it, I shed a few more things that I considered responsibilities, because when you don't feel like you have enough time to mow the lawn (or make a sign proclaiming it honeybee preservation plot to explain why the spring weeds are shin-high), you've got too much on your plate.

We went to the doctor's office yesterday- little boy got the "all clear" from his pediatrician, the ear infection that's plagued him since the first of March is finally, finally gone, just in time for spring allergy season. We're fighting with honey and royal jelly, this year.

I will be blogging less frequently until I feel slightly less insane, but I should have new glazed work to show in the next few weeks. Since I'm not doing the show, some work, like these herb markers, will be available on etsy. If you're a regular reader and you want some, especially if you want an herb that's less common (I'm thinking oregano, basil, parsley, etc as the common ones), please let me know. They'll be $6 each, including shipping. There will be a volume discount for 4 or more.

I'm going to tend to my garden and lawn now while I regain my equilibrium.

Oh, and HELLO! to everyone who pops over from One Black Bird. Thank you, Diana. You are so gracious. I am honored and humbled to be included on your list.

Monday, April 7, 2008

fiddlehead teapot

fiddlehead teapot
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This new teapot is going into the kiln today. It is the first functional piece I've decorated with sprigs. What are sprigs, you ask? Well, you know that blue wedgwood china with raised white decorations? That's the most famous example of sprigware. The white pieces are bits of clay that were pressed into a mold, carefully lifted out, then applied on the surface of the piece. In this case, I'd pressed four fiddleheads of varying sizes into a slab of clay so they left a deep impression. After I bisqued the slab, it sat in my clay tools drawer for years and years until March, when I pulled it out and began pressing clay into the fiddlehead impressions.

After this little teapot had been dried and trimmed, I carefully scored the back of these sprigs, added slip (a mix of clay and water, the consistency of thin pudding), and placed them around the teapot. There are two or three on the lid, as well. Those little lug/tabs on top will hold the handle- I will use a light-colored bamboo or rattan handle for this pot. It will be glazed in my "deep celadon" colorway. You can just see the little bee signature stamp at the far bottom left of the pot.

I frequently ask my husband what he thinks about the pottery when it's in this raw green state and am met with blank looks. Some folks have difficulty visualizing the finished piece, but what do you think?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

boo hoo

Oh, how I weep. Ever a Tarheel will I be, but now, with my Memphis Alumnus husband, I root for the Tigers on Monday. No more basketball talk*. Pottery from here on out. The blue will stay for a while, though.

*Except for this. One of my son's godfathers was the Tommy the Tiger in the mid 80s. He wore his 1985 Final Four sweater to watch the game tonight.

preschool ecology

Little boy had lots to do when he went back to school on Thursday. Evergreen Playschool is a 6mo-kindergarten play-based preschool that mixes the best parts of montessori, reggio-emilio, and play-based education. I've been pretty astounded at what they've done, but this time, it was his turn to surprise them. This week his class had made a large garden and posted it up on the wall. Each child was to draw a flower, or several flowers, to add to the garden. My boy has been listening to my "greenie mama" ramblings about pollination, bees, and ecological diversity. The first thing he drew was the "garden fly." This is an entirely different thing from a house fly*. Those are yucky. Then he drew the grass, because a garden is not just flowers. There is lots of grass in the garden. Lastly, he drew the tiny blue flower, because blue is almost always our favorite color- mine and the boy's, so we have a fairly large collection of blue-flowering plants in our garden.

His teachers were surprised at both the detail he put into his work and at the overall picture he presented of the garden, that it's not just the flowers that make up the garden, but that it is an entire system. I am always surprised at how he internalizes (in the good way!) what I say, even when it seems like he's not listening at all. I'm delighted that the things that are important to me- the good green earth, our responsibility to preserve it as best we can, and, of course, creative expression- are sticking!

*We have a trap we got from here so that they don't swarm the house. The falling figs in the summer attract swarms of flies, plus, well, they are attracted to dogs.
The other day we were in the car and he said, "look, mama, there's a giant blue flytrap!" It was a small screened-in trampoline in someone's backyard. The fly trap that we use is recommended by the World Health Organization for disease prevention.

Photoshop credits go to Gary Bridgman. He does things with a computer I could only ever dream of accomplishing. Thanks, Honey!

Friday, April 4, 2008

the work

I'm afraid I'm too tired for much text- so here are some pictures of the brand spankin' new work- ready to dry, more to make, lots to fire, lots to glaze. You can see that I have a strong emphasis on botanicals. After these pieces dry a bit, I'll sand/wipe the fingerprints and "clay boogers" off of them.

I'm a little afraid this one won't make it. It will have to pot itself off the bat because I can't get it off. I broke two wires trying. I did cut it off after I made it yesterday, but now that it's time to trim, no luck.

Lots of fiddleheads in this batch

sixteen mugs with ferns, fiddleheads, and other pretty leaves from the garden

Japanese Climbing Fern oblong platter. This is a "swell" melamine platter from Target that is my most favorite mold to use.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

back to work, II

I must have some internal clock- I've been working roughly since 10:30, with boy-breaks and lunch breaks. Closing in on 2 o'clock, I know it's time to stop. When I'm working at home, 2:15 is school pickup time- it must be hardwired into me now. Three podcasts after I started, I have sixteen mugs drying, waiting to be trimmed and have their handles attached. Little boy played while I worked, filling butterfly cookie cutters with small balls of clay, wrapping wire about a hunk of clay, being a boy. Scattering packing peanuts around the room, being a boy. The platters and cilantro markers will have to wait until tomorrow. Yay! Progress!

back to work

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Thank you to everyone who left kind comments and emailed about little boy - he is finally feeling better after 10 days of on-again, off-again sick. Your sweet support has really meant a lot! Now it's time for me to get back to work. I have less than 25 days to get ready for this little show- last night I made six mugs and Gary worked on the new sticker for the postcard. This is my first choice for my image- most of my Mississippi customers gravitate towards these herb markers- and many of my Memphis customers do, too.

Today's task: find some ferns that are leafed out and/or in fiddlehead stage. Make some cilantro markers. Six more mugs, a couple of platters, maybe? Little boy is still at home, he likes to play in clay a bit, so maybe we'll have some family studio time.

And it's close to Tarheel time! My husband is a U Memphis alumn, so if our two teams wind up playing against each other, one of us will need to watch the game elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Repurposed: bag dryer

improv bag dryer
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I had been coveting the Gaiam bag dryer for years, but I refused to put up the $20 plus shipping. In January, when I read about Danny Seo making a similar dryer out of a thrift store toothbrush holder, inspiration struck. I made this little yellow self-arranging vase for summer zinnias a year or so ago. It was sitting, sad and forlorn, in my china cabinet with the other out-of-season vases this winter. Out it came, and filled with take-out chopsticks (and a few of our "nice" ones), it sits on my kitchen window sill. I use it every day to dry the plastic zipper bags I reuse. This shape, by the way, is the same shape as "not great aunt edna's teapot". I like this classic greek-inspired form and use it fairly frequently.