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.