Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in review

bridgman pottery 2009
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
2009 has been huge, and in so many ways. It has been a year of a lot of growth. We've definitely felt both the thrills of accomplishment and hurt with those growing pains. Professionally, the year has been incredible. Since I quit my part-time art education job at a wonderful museum, my time for pottery has expanded exponentially. So did my sales. I haven't started the grand tally, but I more than met my 2008 sales in November and December. To have sales like that during such hard economic times is nothing short of miraculous. This year I've tried new forms and new colors- egg forms, more lidded vessels, buttery bells, buttons, pomegranates- and turquoise! red! Still working on getting that green to cooperate. And if last year was the year of the berry bowl, I'm not sure what this year has been, because I've made and sold well over 100 of them. Etsy sales have been wonderful, and my facebook page has surprised me with its activity.

I've taken some wonderful trips this year and met some wonderful friends- Dana of House of Roux in the early spring, a girls' weekend to New Orleans and a train ride with the Bundren family, and a fall trip to visit some very good friends. Not to mention the wonderful friends I've met through this blog and flickr. And seeing the Dalai Lama! Live! In person! A new school filled with old and new friends for my boy. New babies for dear friends and a brand new nephew.

There's been loss- dear friends and family have moved away. Permanent losses of my mother in law, a very dear friend who had been struggling for years. We've joined the ranks of the downsized and are looking, hopefully, in new directions (and in light of that downsizing, so so thankful for our joint capacity for freelancing and those aforementioned pottery sales).

I'm hopeful for what 2010 will bring. I've signed up for a late-summer workshop with my mentor and will take the opportunity to visit with some college friends I haven't seen in a dozen years while I'm in the area. I'm adding dates to the Memphis Farmers Market and St. Jude's monthly-to-quarterly market. I'm already thinking about new forms I want to play with and techniques to refine (namely, how to make the speckled egg glaze work in fewer firings). I'd like to work bigger and better. And I'd like to have enough work made from January-May that I can take the summer "off" from production and firing- both for the sake of my air conditioning (old house=old wiring) and time with my child.

So here's to learning from our past and anticipating the future. And here's to living in the present. Happy New Year's, everyone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

wrapping up*

Finally, I feel like I'm at a point where I can relax. Shows are over. Pottery is packed up for either a mid-winter (valentines?) etsy restock or I'll just hang on to it for spring.
I did promise more berry bowls, so there are six little bowls in my esty shop. I won't promise delivery in time for Christmas for any sales made after Saturday. I'm shipping some custom orders tomorrow, putting the sale pottery bins on their proper shelves in the basement, and then, friends, I'm focusing on knitting.

Aren't these just perfect? The pattern is here. These are for little boy. I may have to felt them again, but I don't want them so small that he'll grow out of them before next winter. They're the same size as his shoes, but. . . .
To reward myself for all of my pottery work, I bought a little happy. What I really want are some cloggy boots like these, but unfortunately, none are in my size (37 if you're asking, and of course I want red!!! Or blue. Or chartreuse**.). Or my price range right now. So I treated myself to this instead. I've lusted after Vesper Sock for quite a while, and this hank will go in my stocking. From me.

Last day of school is Thursday. I have packages to mail (tomorrow), gifts to wrap, cards to send (or not), cookies to bake. Dozens of rosemary or lemon-thyme shortbreads. Maybe both. All I know is that I feel relieved that the sales season is over. It was good, productive, exhausting. And I know deep down inside I'll want to start throwing again the week after New Year's.

So. Merry Christmas. Happy last days of Hanukkah. Happy Eid. Happy Solstice next week. Happy Kwanza. I'm going to enjoy the holidays with my family now. Lord I feel so relieved for the break.

*I came back to amend this and saw my crazy post title. "wrapping up!s"??? O.K.
** I have chartreuse cloggy boots headed to my house. Merry Christmas from my wonderful mom who knows what REALLY makes my day. YAY!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Pardon my unexplained absence. Early last week I was pushing to glaze my last big batch of ware for the Deck the Halls event. On Wednesday I set up, Thursday was the opening night. I think I threw a little more to finish my orders - on Wednesday, perhaps? May have been Tuesday. Since then, I've been a slug. A little knitting, a little reading. We put up the Christmas tree, lit it up. It fell over. I left it splayed in the living room floor for a while. I haven't done any holiday baking, wrapping, much of anything besides sitting. Last night I did my last bisque fire of 2009. I'll begin glazing this evening and finish and fire tomorrow. All this pottery has worn me out.

Despite my cranky weariness, I'm grateful for so much. During this past month I met my 2008 sales. It isn't a pattern I could keep up, but I'm grateful nevertheless. We really needed that income after my husband's pre-thanksgiving layoff - it has gone straight into savings until his freelance practice kicks in. Most of my Christmas shopping is finished- not wrapped, but finished. My mom helped us weatherstrip my charmingly-drafty 1922 bungalow this weekend. Now we can stand to be in the kitchen and den. It was so chilly in there that I seriously considered closing off that end of the house except for when I had the oven on. I'd really love a woodburning stove for the den, santa, if you're listening.

And I'm most grateful that I'm almost finished with pottery for the year. I'm sure that in a week or two my fingers will begin to itch for the clay again, but I'm looking forward to a break in the 10 hour production days. And I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family. My posting here will be pretty light until January, but I look forward to sharing new pursuits with you in 2010.

Oh, before I forget, this photo is courtesy of Lana Chu of Ginkgo Glass, who is also showing at Deck the Halls.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

pottery reclaim

Given our current economic (and environmental) climate, there's been a surge in the creative reuse and repurposing of "spent" items. Reusing old clothing, making over household items for crafting, art-making, even gift-giving. Reclaim, upcycle, reuse, repurpose- in some ways we've become our grandparents and great-grandparents again. I've been happy to reuse and remake textiles and other household items for a long time, but I've just figured out how to apply this to my pottery.

Last week I made quite a large firing mistake. I didn't realize how big it was until after I'd glazed my work and fired it and 1/3 of the kiln load came out with cracks in the bottom. Some cracked through the glaze, which caused fatal seeping. In the case of my egg cups, the cracks were in the glaze but not through to the bottom, but cracks in the glaze aren't food safe. Unfortunately, this happens fairly frequently. The number isn't huge- maybe 5% of my pots are damaged in this way, but this was a large number to lose. Rather than throwing the pieces away, I asked my friends at Peace Bee Farm if I could buy some of their beeswax (Rita makes wonderful candles!) to make some votive candles in these damaged pieces.

Almost every component of these candles is reclaimed from used or damaged items. The metal wick tabs are recycled from the cathedral votive stand (when I find myself with noting to do, I start looking for things to do. I've been helping to remove old candle tabs and replace votives for several years and thought about reusing the tabs a few weeks ago). I made several sets of rolled beeswax candles for Christmas gifts and used my leftover cotton wicking for this project.

I'm really excited about how this project has turned out. I kept a candle for me and put three of the egg cup votives up on etsy (and at stocking-stuffer prices!). There are a few more bowls- including one speckled egg bowl- that I'm going to turn into a large candle for a Christmas gift. Now I just wish I could figure out how to repurpose cracked berry bowls! Speaking of berry bowls, I just listed five more. I may have a few more on Dec 17, after the Deck the Halls Holiday Sale at Park Place Center in Memphis ends on Dec 16. I'm ready to focus more on making gifts for my family, so I've set December 16 as my
making and firing end-date. December 20 is the last day I'll ship packages.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

buttons and marketing

buttons, II
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
These are new. I more than kindof love them. Michelle, a local knitter and pottery customer, had asked me about making leaf-imprint buttons this summer. At the time, I couldn't see how I'd do them, but when I started using ferny scraps to make very small trays, I knew how to do it. I hope y'all like them as much as I do.

I've had a great but crazy-busy several days. Friday I was at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for their holiday market. They're using the vendor fees from monthly-to-quarterly farmers and craft market to raise money to build an interactive vegetable and flower garden for the patients. I was thrilled to be there and support such a wonderful project. Several of my Memphis Farmers Market friends were there, and I met some other vendors who were just wonderful. More about them soon.
Yesterday was the MFM Holiday Market. Despite the crazy traffic issues from the marathon (but we're all grateful for and proud of the runners who help raise so much money for research and the kids at St. Jude) and the chilly weather (normal high is 55, yesterday's high was 42, windchill hovered around 32 all day), the market was very well attended.

Today I'm throwing a little more, packing and shipping etsy orders, and preparing to make a final (I think. I may update after the 16th if there are good leftovers after my next show) holiday listing over there. I'm also making up a batch of gingerbread cookie dough and experimenting with some lemon-thyme shortbread for my own holiday giving. I usually make rosemary-pecan shortbread- that may be hard to top.

Hope your sunday is restful!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

holiday shopping

While I realize that I just said that we aren't doing a lot of holiday shopping around here, it occurred to me that YOU might still have some purchases to make. As I mentioned the other day, I am fortunate to be friends with lots of creative and artistic people, both locally and nationally. When I do shop, my preference is to support locally-owned businesses. After that, I want to support creative people who've struck out on their own. Here are a few of my favorites (and I may make another list of favorite creative friends in another day or so!)

My sweet friend Sarah just put together a little holiday gift guide featuring several of her friends and was so kind to include me. She makes lovely felted items- from unique jewelry, like the necklace above, to beautiful bags. You can find her over at Smashing Darling, a really cool indie fashion boutique site.

This lady, Thomasin Durgin, used to be my boss. We both quit our jobs this spring to focus on our own creative pursuits. Some of my favorite jewelry comes from this little shop. I have these, these (which I wear almost daily and have given as a gift, as well), and am planning to give these as Christmas gifts. She's also made some lovely etched earrings with a monarch butterfly wing pattern- I have those stashed away to give as a very special birthday gift later this winter.

This is one of my very favorite things. Erin makes these wonderful fun patchwork camera straps for dslr or old-school slr cameras. Her shop should be stocked with straps on Monday, Dec 7. You'll want to get there quickly, though, because she sells out within hours. She usually has several colorways to choose from. I think they're so unique and would be a great gift for any camera buff.

Lastly, my friend Grace just opened (really, like, yesterday) a new shop filled with wonderful waldorf-style dolls and some lovely totes. I'm crazy about the fern-printed one (go figure. me? ferns?).

Monday, November 30, 2009


Advent is my favorite "season." It is a quiet time for waiting, reflection, preparing. I love it. A peek of light in the darkness, speaking of good things to come. Yesterday we had our annual advent wreath workshop; this year, little boy did the wreath almost entirely by himself. I usually have very specific ideas of what I want, how I want it to look, but I let go and let him create this year. Letting go, preparing, waiting is my own personal theme for this advent season. It is hard to do that- I HATE letting go- but the results always pay off- in beautiful memories and unexpected blessings.

I went to a women's college in Winston Salem, founded by the Moravian church. Advent was very special in Old Salem, celebrated with beautiful white stars hanging in doorways, lots of beeswax candles, and greenery. It was simple and lovely. I've taken my cues for Christmas decorating from my four years in this special place- I don't put up our tree until midway through December, but our advent wreath is out, my simple advent calendar comes out, and in years past, I've hung a Moravian Star over our doorway. Sadly, it died last year (after eight years of advents) and I never got around to replacing it.

This year's advent preparations are more simple, and hopefully more meaningful. We've cut back on the extraneous- both gifts and activities. We're giving fewer, simpler, and more handmade gifts. I have some sewing to do, more pottery to make, and a bit of knitting to finish. I spent a large chunk of Saturday afternoon finishing rolled beeswax candles and making some paper star ornaments for packages. The smell of beeswax and the golden light these candles make me happy and fill me with hope. That's what advent is about- letting go and quiet, hopeful waiting and watching for the bright future.

Blessings, friends.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

creative friends

In another week I'm going to be participating in a collective holiday sale called "Deck the Halls," located in East Memphis, and put on by my friend Lisa Williamson. Lisa is an incredible woman- I met her last year when her eldest daughter was in my son's pre-k class. She is an artist, a women's running coach, and she is putting together an interactive art museum for children and adults called the Junkyard. They're currently scouting for a location and the whole city is abuzz about its potential.

Lisa just opened a new etsy store with some of her smaller encaustic and mixed media paintings and is offering free shipping until Christmas! I'm excited that she's joined etsy, and proud to be her friend. (this painting, Green Wallflowers, is up in her shop)

Oh, and thank you all so much for your support for my etsy shop. I'm adding a few more pieces this week- some mugs and the next batch of berry bowls late this week.
I hope you're having a beautiful weekend!

Friday, November 27, 2009

first holiday listing

I had a beautiful day yesterday. Did you? I hope so.
At 10 am these will all go up over at my etsy shop. I also have a little shelf full of other work that I need to photograph and list. Some today, some during the next week.
After a little "work" time, we're going off to hike in the woods. I hope you enjoy your day, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


heading your way
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'll be listing about half of the promised 25 berrybowls on etsy. I thought about listing all of them, but I know that folks are out of town and traveling, so I'll do a second batch on Thursday, Dec 3. And I'll sprinkle a few other things in here and there.

Happy Thanksgiving- I am so, so grateful for the good things in my life. And for the hard things, too. They don't make me happy, but good things come from them, and for that, I give thanks.

See y'all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

sale aftermath

botanical ware
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Wow. I am so, so grateful to all of my friends and customers who came out to my house this weekend for the sale. My expectations were exceeded more than I can even tell. They were blown out of the water. And even better, I still have about half of my work to carry me through to my next 3 sales on Dec 4, 5, and 10. The kiln is full again, slowly heating up to bisque a new set of pomegranates, platters (because I'm slap out of both of those) and the promised etsy berrybowl restock on Friday.

The first year we were in our house Gary built a wall of bookshelves in the living room, facing the fireplace. We ran out of space on them almost before they were finished. We love our books and find that we have to cull the collection quarterly. Only the classics and pretty books get to go on these shelves, and guess what- there's no more room! Twice a year we empty 1/3 of the shelves- everything at eye-level- for pottery display. We move the club chairs, the sofa, the rug out, and move the pottery in. Two large shelves plus bookshelves in the living room, the dining room table and another small self in the dining room. Pottery central.

We have just moved the furniture back into place, but all of the pottery is still in the dining room. I need to inventory what I've got and what I need to make, organize it, and pack the ware back into their proper bins. In time for Thanksgiving. And I tell you, I am thankful. Life has thrown my family an enormous curveball or two this year, but I'm grateful beyond words for all of the good things that have come our way.

I'll try to pop in on Wednesday and give you another peek at what's going up on Friday. Y'all have a wonderful week, won't you?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bridgman Pottery Pre-Holiday 2009 Sneak Peak

Here are some of my new pieces- new styles and colors. And, of course, old favorites. I haven't shot any of my berry bowls in a while, but I'll have about a dozen for this sale. I'm holding back all the rest for etsy.

Time to go move furniture and start setting up!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

taking a small break

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
From preparing for tomorrow's sale to celebrate my son's 6th birthday. His school has instituted a no sweets birthday policy, so we did up some dime store dinosaurs to give his class. Time sure does fly. I can't believe he's such a big kid. And I know in a few years I won't be able to believe how little he seemed in 2009.

My kiln is full to the brim with blistering hot, glazed pottery. It is cooling down and I'll unload and finish pricing everything tomorrow. Today's task: cleaning. This is one benefit to having sales at home- I get a really deep clean done in the living room, dining room, bathroom, and kitchen. We move all of the furniture and take the books out of our bookshelves to display pottery - everything gets a good Mrs. Meyer's lavender wipe-down in the process. With masks on- we tackle that task today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This morning we needed mittens, scarves (for me) and hats (for the boy) to walk to school. Winter is finally coming- we've had balmy, September-like temperatures all November. It has been wonderful in most respects, including being able to find and use fresh leaves in my pottery. A frost will come soon, and with it, my leaf supply will be gone until April. After dropping the boy off, I picked up as many japanese maple and ginkgo leaves as I could carry. Once home, I wrapped them in paper towels, tucked them into plastic zipper bags, and stashed them in the cheese drawer in the fridge. I need to find some more ginkgo leaves and ferns. Oh, I'll need lots of ferns to see me though the winter's making.

Today I'm glazing my fall leaves pottery for the sale. I may do two glaze firings before Friday, but I'm not counting on it. There is still so much work to do for my December sales, but I'm energized by it rather than stressed by the prospect of so much to do.

I hope your Tuesday is lovely. Ours is chilly and grey- good soup weather!

PS- I'm now on facebook as Come see me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

little pitcher

little pitcher
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
another piece from the last kiln load. I love these shapes derived from mom MIL's mid-centry Rosenthal china. And I love the hot pop of color on their insides. I think I'll be making lots more of these, though not in time for my sale at home. I have one more load to bisque and glaze - I hope to be finished with all pottery-making by Wednesday. Lots more leafy pieces- this time in autumnal colors! And a set of spoons (tiny, like salt spoons), too. I am so excited about the spoons.

I love pitchers- they are both useful and lovely. They hold so much, give so much. Empty, refill. Empty, refill. Holding in, sharing. This may be my winter of making pitchers. I used to make them a lot, but I haven't in some years. I have a tiny one that I keep for milk in my coffee that I made a long time ago. I use it almost every day and need to make more of that size. Especially right now, I feel like they parallel our lives- the emptying and receiving that we all experience day to day.

It has been a gorgeous weekend here. I hope yours has been lovely, too. I have a busy week ahead- lots of spiffing up the house, preparing for the sale. We have a birthday this week too- my little one will be 6, which seems unreal. We celebrated with his friends yesterday at a campground- simple, fun, easy.

Have a good week, friends!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I am really really happy with how all the pomegranates turned out. I love love love them. The fruit and my representation of them. The red still isn't perfect but I'm ok with that. The entire kiln load was a happy one (with the exception of a piece or two that needs a little more love). I glazed more yesterday and am ready to clean up those pieces, reload, and fire that bad boy.

It's Thursday already. Where has the week gone?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

sneak peek

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm a little breathless over here- my kiln is running every two days- load, fire, cool down for 24 hours, load, fire. I'm still making and glazing for December. I think this may be the last load (maybe) for my sale at home on Nov 20 and 21. I did a lot of ferny leafy pieces in this load. And reglazing the reds. Lots of bird egg speckled pieces in here, too.

I'm finishing addressing the postcard invites today and will mail them tomorrow. If you're a facebook friend or on my email list, you'll get your invite that way. I didn't print as many cards this year as in years past.

We had a big birthday yesterday, a birthday party Saturday, then another big birthday next week. And the SALE! A little breathless here.

Hope your Wednesday is sunny and bright!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

sunday kids cooking

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Sundays are always hard for me. I try to be out the door by 9:30 so that I can prepare my atrium for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Mary's. This means a simple snack for toddlers, flowers, fresh polishing supplies (wood and mirrors) set out for practical life work, and sometimes grown-up snacks for hospitality hour afterwards. Plus getting us all dressed. All this equals stressed.

If I get up early enough, I try to make a "festive" breakfast for us to eat together. This usually counteracts my stress level. This week I made some pumpkin and spice waffles. I was inspired by Molly's pancake recipe and worked from there. I keep a large bin filled with the whole grain version of the Sept '06 Everyday Food pancake mix. I reduced the liquid by 1/3 and omitted the oil, replacing them with 1/2 c pumpkin puree. I also added about 1.5 teaspoons each maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice plus sprinkle of turbinado sugar to help with browning.

These were so good. I'm going to make more and freeze them for DIY school day breakfasts. I love waffles. Don't you?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

streaky mcstreaksalot

streaky mcstreaksalot
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This red series may be a very limited run. Every piece requires two glaze firings. If the color is right the glaze is so thick that it runs and covers the holes in the berry bowls, which I have to pierce, file down, and refire. If it is thin, it's streaky - unacceptably so- and see all those light spots? They're also sandpapery-rough, despite the fact that I sand down all these pieces before glazing so that they're very smooth. I just reglazed these and will fire again on Sunday or Monday. That hadn't been on my Saturday agenda.

So. Question. Is it worth it to you to literally pay $10 more for a red thing? Because, yes, it is beautiful, and yes, I love red, too (my glasses, my favorite lipsticks and glosses, embarrassingly, half of my shoes are red, too), but if I had a choice between a red mug that was $26 and a blue or green one that was $16, I'd probably pick the blue or green one.

I'll keep enough of this on hand to make these pomegranate vases (though they had to be reglazed too) on a seasonal basis, I'm just not sure if this will be a permanent color. Thoughts?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

today's throwing

today's throwing
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
should be about the last of the work that I'm making for my home sale. I still have a way to go for etsy and my december obligations, but I can see the light at the end of the production tunnel. I made a dozen of these largeish serving pieces, four platters, and another dozen tiny bowls and vases. I ran though 25 lbs of clay in just under 2 hours. Tomorrow they should be ready to trim.

These pieces are usually white with green leaves. But after a brief camera (and leaf collecting) walk early this morning, I've decided to glaze the ginkgo leaves in their splendid autumnal gold and go for red with the japanese maple leaves. Just because.

For the rest of the morning I'm going to load the kiln and begin a glaze firing and glaze some more pieces to fire again on Saturday or Sunday. It usually takes a good 24-36 hours for the kiln to cool enough to unload without risking cracking the glaze as it meets the cooler air temperature. Lately I've been trying to work hard from 7:30 until about 12:30 (with breaks for coffee, an early lunch, and email checking) and be cleaned up, showered, and ready to pick up little boy by 1:30. That leaves enough time to plan our supper before I get him at 2ish. The afternoons are dedicated to homework and picking up, reading practice and a little knitting if I'm lucky. The weeks just fly by.

I hope to have some new pieces to show you this weekend. Have a great rest of your week!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yesterday I made this little collage of some of my work from this year for my pre-holiday sale invitation. Cards are printed and ready to be cut, addressed, and stamped. I think I've made everything that I wanted to make for this sale, but I'm making more for my December obligations. I'm excited that my friend Uele is joining me this year. She makes the best granola. And steamed breads, floral honey, tea blends, bath soaks. . . Dark star, the chocolate granola, is irresistible.

Today I'm glazing (I finished my trimming before 9- I love our 7:15 am school start some days), mixing glazes for my class to glaze their icons and crosses, and I just paid to reserve a spot in a 3-day class this summer with Diana Fayt. Early Merry Christmas (and tax-deductible!) to me!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Did you have a good halloween? Ours was jam-packed with kiddo fun on Friday and Saturday nights. Little boy had great fun with his best friend and our combined families. I only did a minimum of pottery work this weekend- trimming another dozen berry bowls. After my last day at the farmers market, I decided to use a portion of my sales to buy this fancy trimming tool that I'd wanted for years. The Giffin Grip really does make trimming (especially centering) easier and nearly fool-proof. I can't tell you how many times I watched in horror as a pot lost its gob of anchoring clay and went flying off the wheel. No longer! I can't say that I'm trimming faster, but I am trimming better. It was money well spent.

Yesterday I spent the day being a lazy lazy lie-a-bed, doing a little Christmas knitting and a lot of contemplating. I meant to load and fire this body of work, about 40 small crosses from a workshop I've been teaching at the cathedral, but I never made it past the den. I'll fire it and the rest of the dry ware that didn't make the last firing today. This little workshop will be finished on Wednesday, when we glaze our work. While I've enjoyed it, I have also realized that my teaching days (with the exception of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd work) are over for a while. I've been teaching in full-to-part time capacity since 1997. Sometimes elementary and middle schoolers in reading (once the kids are physically bigger than I am, something changes and teaching gets a LOT harder), sometimes as a grad student trying to cajole undergrads into reading and discussing Faulkner (this was when I put any thoughts of a PhD out of my head), and for the last eight years, as a teaching artist. After I left my museum job, I knew I was tired and wanted my creative energy to go into my own work and family. But when I started dragging my feet with this fun little workshop for people I know well, I realized that my teaching cycle is over, at least for now.

Lots of things seem to be beginning or ending their cycles lately: the changing seasons, little boy's new school and the challenges and opportunities that go with this new community (one thing that I'm very excited about is the school's garden and its expansion), the calendar year is winding down, and I find I'm narrowing my focus and gladly dropping what isn't working anymore. Regardless, it is interesting to detach a little, sit back and watch these cycles begin anew or play themselves out. So: teaching- ending. Making- beginning and continuing. Living- continuing to figure out what works and what doesn't. I look back fondly at some things that are ending- and am grateful that others are over. I wonder at what will happen in the future, which doors will open. Life is good right now. Life is good always, even when I have to puzzle over it a bit.

And speaking of making- off to work. Hope your week is a productive one. I know mine will be!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


oh. It was good to unload yesterday. I let the kiln cool down for an entire 36 hours (better for the glaze, less crazing, pieces have better longevity). Nearly everything came out JUST RIGHT. I tried some new things with this load and had some new forms- my long-awaited (but largely silent) salt spoons.A test pomegranate. A very good application of my new green glaze. More speckled egg pieces. Each layer held surprises of the very good sort. The only slight disappointment was with red berry bowls. Here's the deal with them. There will be very, very few. The amount of glaze needed to get the lovely red color means that the several thick applications run down the inside surface of the bowl and cover the holes as it melts.
So I take a special ortho surgical tool (Gary works in the marketing dept. of a large Ortho/surgical/trauma manufacturing company and has some surgical tools, like this long screw/drill that I use) to pierce the glaze, file the hole down, then refire it. These extra steps and subsequent refiring mean higher prices for you and a smidge of frustration for me. But it is pretty, and I'll keep doing them. These will just be limited run pieces.

After I unloaded the kiln, I went to the studio, discovered that I had another full load ready to go (loading this afternoon)- I've been averaging 24 pieces in about 2 hours. When I sat down to throw small pieces, I made more tiny bowls, vases, and egg cups. I threw 36 pieces yesterday morning. Today I'll trim them. My wrists complain a bit, by Hyland's Arnica-based Arthritis Relief tablets take most of the sting away.

All of my work is leading up to my own holiday show and the two other holiday sales I'll be participating in. I'll have a big etsy update the day after Thanksgiving.

Today's task: trimming, loading, prepping for tonight's clay class (crosses) by cutting out templates for my students, and more roasted root vegetables. Oh, and the vacuum.

I hope you're having a good, productive week, everyone. And as I look at this, I sigh just a bit, wish I knew how to wrap text better, then release my perfectionism. Just for this moment, I'm letting it go.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cooking for kids- "man food"

When we were at the Urchin's house a few weeks ago, Jennifer told me about hash. I remember reading about hash on her blog, and how it seemed to be a good way to sneak in veggies (and a variety of veggies, at that) for a very carnivorous family. She was 100% right. My son and husband liked this supper better than any fancy-bordering-on-gourmet meal I've ever made.

So. Hash

Root vegetables: sweet potato, turnips, regular potatoes. Cubed (about 1/2-3/4 dice), tossed in a few teaspoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast at 400 until they're nicely browned. Maybe 20-30 minutes.
Bell peppers, choppped
Red/Yellow onion, about 1/2 cup, chopped
bulk sausage (I used 1/3 lb from the lb I'd bought at the farmers market and froze in sections)
one egg per person
a pat of butter

While the root vegetables are roasting in the oven, melt a pat of butter (or don't if your sausage is fatty, but mine renders very little fat so I needed it to prevent sticking) and saute the onion and garlic. Add the sausage and cook. When the sausage is about half cooked, throw in some chopped bell pepper. This doesn't require much tending, which is nice.
Once the root vegetables are roasty and cooked through, add them to the pan. Throw in a little (very) water to deglaze the pan and mix the entire thing up. Crack eggs on top of the hash, reduce heat somewhat, cover, and let the eggs steam. I don't like my egg yolks to be completely cooked ever, and this was nice with some runny yolk mixed in.

I served this with a spinach salad topped with the last (maybe) of my csa tomatoes, halved and roasted in the toaster oven, and topped with goat cheese. (honestly, this part was a concession to mama's taste buds. Little boy didn't like the roasted tomatoes so I ate his)

This meal was entirely local except for the purple onion and spinach. The boys didn't even notice the turnips, just the roasty/toasty/meaty goodness. I imagine it would be good with leftover roast beef or pork loin, chicken or turkey. Leftover savior? Though I was skeptical, it used very little meat and made a nice hearty meal. Even though it doesn't LOOK pretty, it is filling, thrifty, and they just plain loved it. We'll be having this again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the flip side

It was a great last day at the Memphis Farmers Market. Next week is the very last Saturday for the 2009 season (not counting the special Holiday Market Day on Dec 5). I was happy with my sales, more happy that I didn't sell out of some certain somethings, which means that I have fewer things that I need to make to feel well prepared for the aforementioned holiday sales. I met a few people who read this (hi!), which always shocks me because I always think that a mere handful of friends in metro DC and KC read this. I began to stock up on market provisions for the winter. Today I managed Goat Cheese. Next week I'll tackle sweet potatoes, honey, and, um, more goat cheese. That's a purchase I have to spread out just a teeny bit. $70 in goat cheese would raise eyebrows. Mine included.

So. The flip side to my pottery-making craziness is I've become even more of a homebody. After the market I swung by my favorite Thai-dive and picked up some curried tofu soup (it kicks the formerly best-soup-ever Tom Yum in the tail). What you see here, red wine and pistachios, would comprise my plans for the evening. Some dear friends are throwing a party- I'm on the sofa. Sending the boys off tomorrow and staying home to glaze and trim a bit. And maybe read and knit on the sofa. Next week is a little crazy with outside appointments so I'm alternating staying at home cozying with staying at home working. Fall has really set in and all I want is soup, warm drinks, and blankets during my downtime. And maybe for the first time ever, I'm really understanding what it means to relax. Now all I need is a little pot-bellied wood stove.

Hope y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

holiday hoopla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

kids' cooking- asian

Tuesday has kicked my tail. Totally kicked it. I'm glad the day is done and that I cooked my kids' meal yesterday. Friday also kicked me pretty hard, so we ate out. Normally, I don't like to eat out. I like knowing where my food comes from and how it is prepared. And six nights out of seven, I really enjoy cooking. When we do go out, it's usually ethnic (Thai, Mexican, Japanese) and Gary and I try to deconstruct our dishes to figure out how to adapt them to home cooking. We went to a dive-y Chinese place that also has a fabulous Thai menu. Thinking about how much we enjoyed our meal, and knowing that we had the essential ingredients, I looked up a recipe for Pad Thai in Joy of Cooking. And promptly closed the book because the recipe was too too long and complicated. Here's what I did instead.

Gingery Asian Noodles with Good Stuff
1 T vegetable oil and Sesame oil (I use safflower oil because that's what I make our mayo with and it is nice, neutral, and good for high heat)
1 large clove of garlic, smashed
1" fresh ginger, cut in match sticks.

Sautee this until the garlic is browned and remove it. I keep the ginger in because we like it. Use the oil to sautee:

1 halved and sliced yellow squash
1 halved and slice baby leek (pulled from the garden) or several scallions
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
about a dozen sugar snap or snow peas

Remove from fire and aside when tender crisp.

Mix together:
1 T chunky peanut butter
1/4 c lemon or lime juice (I used lime)
1/4 c fish sauce
2T sesame oil
2T sugar

Cube about half a block firm tofu and pat dry. Marinate briefly in the sauce you just made, then pan-fry in the same gingery-garlicy oil.

Boil enough soba (buckwheat) noodles or whole wheat spaghetti noodles for your family. I didn't have enough of either so I combined them and no one noticed. When they were almost finished, I tossed in a cup of shrimp. Drain, mix with vegetables and tofu. Top with the sauce you made and gently toss to combine. Serve it up: we added some frozen crumbles of thai basil that my mom bought and didn't like- I froze the entire bunch, crushed it, and dole out a bit as needed. Regular basil would work, too. I topped the adult noodle bowls with a bit of Sriracha, Thai chili-garlic sauce. We like the kid with the rooster on the label and the green lid. Everyone ate it up. I was really happy that I left the ginger in because it added a lot to the dish. There was only a tiny bit left. I ate that cold for lunch and enjoyed the ginger even more.

Monday, October 19, 2009


boy meets mama
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last week was such a blur. I don't think we even gave ourselves time to recover from our trip to DC before we jumped back into life and production. I made pottery like a crazy lady all week- berry bowls, mugs, platters, butter bells, and some big bowls. I haven't made a bowl larger than 6-8" in diameter in two years. I made two and loved it. And I realized that my pottery production had to be more than berry bowls. I enjoy making them, but I can't just make them. I have had a consultation with a lovely man in San Francisco about making some molds and slip-casting them, which will allow me to make other things. I will spend more than $400 to get molds made, but in the long term, it may be worth it. Now to find casting slip locally.

It got cold last week! I made soup on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Friday we went out to a looks-like-a-beef'n'broccoli-Chinese-joint that has a fabulous Thai menu. And what did I order? Soup. Tom Yum Soup. Which I'm going to figure out and make again and again and again. Except those little carrot-like pieces? They aren't carrots. Thai chili bits. This soup would kill a head cold.

And the boy and I decorated yesterday. I am not a fan of halloween. I am a fan of fall. We compromised and added the ever-popular possum-skull-on-a-stick to my croton and last year's light-up pirate pumpkin to my squash pile. We'll carve our big pumpkin this weekend. That lovely blue guy? I'm going to eat him up after Thanksgiving. I can't wait for that. He will make a lovely curried pumpkin soup, don't you think?

Yesterday I also spent about three hours with my scraping block and the electric grinder cleaning off my kiln shelves. They were covered with flaking kiln wash and glaze drips and needed to be completely resurfaced. I wore all of the grit off the grinding disc and had dust in my hair, my clothes, and even though I wore a respirator (and eye protection, and ear protection), in my teeth. When it warms up a bit I'll mix up the kiln wash and paint the shelves, then fire them on so that I can bisque and glaze this week.

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone! I'll be at the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturday- closing day is Oct 31! This season has flown by.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

holiday sale

At my house. Friday Nov 20, Saturday Nov 21. Limited inventory, but I've got to get back into the swing.

Oh, and I'll be at the Memphis Farmer's Market next Saturday, Oct 24.

Back to work I go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

cooking for kids- the pantry

Or: what to eat when you've been out of town for 5 days and haven't been to the store yet. Happily, we had some trader joe's cod fillets in the freezer, along with some chicken stock, goat cheese, and half a bag of spinach salad I knew would go bad if I didn't stash it on ice. Carrots, a few celery stalks, lemons, and half a purple onion in the fridge. Rice in the pantry. Sounds like supper to me.

Vegetable "risotto" (because it isn't quite, nor is it really pilaf) with crispy cod

1 small purple onion (or half a large onion), chopped
1 large lump of butter
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 c chopped carrot tops (because they taste like parsley and I had them in the freezer for a tuscan carrot risotto, which this is not)
2 c brown basmati rice
4 c frozen chicken/vegetable stock, brought to a boil
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese
large handful/small salad bowl fresh spinach
dried thyme

1.5 lb cod fillets
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a cast iron grill pan or skillet, put it in the oven to heat up.
Heat butter in a large skillet. Cook onions, carrots, and celery in the skillet. Add rice after a few minutes. Salt and pepper (just a little). Ladle in 1/2-1 c hot stock, stirring until evaporated.
salt and pepper. Keep doing this until you've used most of the stock and the rice is fairly plumped up. I turn the heat down and cover the skillet and don't worry about stirring constantly. When the rice is nearly cooked, I added thyme, the juice of a lemon, more salt and pepper, the spinach (because I'd just noticed it in the freezer), the carrot tops, and the rest of the stock.

Now rub the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You only need to cook the fish for about 8 minutes. While it is cooking, add the goat cheese to the rice and give it a stir. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice if you like. Dish up the rice, put a piece of flaky crispy cod next to it, and serve with bread and a lemon wedge.

Yum yum. And the boys liked it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

new! buttons!

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

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

Saturday, October 10, 2009


These butter crocks are a tangible representation of friendship for me. I wrapped them carefully and carried them on my lap as we flew to Washington (because I've had pottery break in my suitcase. It is disappointing to arrive and find gifts in shards). They are gifts for friends- three women I feel like I know well, two of whom I've never met. One is directly responsible for so many of my sales online- she pushed me a tiny bit and gave me a start. I feel like I owe her so, so much. All three are fabulous mothers and inspiring in their dedication to their creative output, their homes, their families. I'm lucky to get to see them and hug their necks today. Email is wonderful, blogs are great, but in person- that's just bliss. I am so, so happy that it is happening.

I've made about a dozen butter crocks now and feel like I have the form down. I should have plenty of these available for the holidays. I try to make a few of these and a few berry bowls every time I throw. I really like them in this speckled glaze.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Earlier this summer a woman from Australia contacted me about my ladybug pottery. She asked for this breakfast set, pictured. Five little mugs, bowls, ramekins, and a honey pot, sugar bowl, and creamer. I hope they love it and use it every day. I'm a bit nervous, though, because this may be the largest order I've ever shipped. It went out on Wednesday, and even though it is VERY well-packed, I'm literally praying over it. Shipping overseas makes me anxious. I am 100% comfortable with my corrugated cardboard wrapping and paper filling, but it is heavy. This time I'm using bubble wrap and styro peanuts. Shifting (and resulting breakage) is my biggest fear. I've shipped to England a time or two, but Australia is another matter entirely. That is a LONG way from Memphis, TN!

We're headed out on a mini-vacation today. I'm so excited to see old friends and new ones, too. More on that later! I've got a post or two scheduled for while I'm gone, and I've been making work like crazy. I'm not going to put anything new up on Etsy until after Thanksgiving. I've neglected my local base for online customers all summer, so it's time to focus on folks in Memphis for a bit. That being said, if you have something in mind for holiday giving, let me know and I'll be happy to add it to the list.

Our weather has turned just glorious here- cool crisp mornings, temperate days, bright blue skies. I hope yours is just as nice.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

cooking for kids: 3

cooking for kids: 3
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
So, this is typically how I cook: "Oh, Lord. It's 4:30. What needs to be used?" Butternut squash, carrots, a cup of coconut milk from a coconut little boy opened with his grandparents this weekend. A knob of ginger I bought for another recipe. A brick of cream cheese that needed to be finished off. A mistakenly-bought container of hot-pepper labne (thick and creamy Middle-eastern yogurt cheese). Knowing we're about to go on a mini-vacation for a bit and some food just won't keep. Cool and grey day, feeling a little poorly, wanting warming soup.

Gingered Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

1 med butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
4 carrots, peeled, chunked
2 c water
1 c coconut water or canned coconut milk
salt to taste
1 T olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 2" knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2T cream cheese
juice of 1/2 lime

paprika, creme fraiche, labne, yogurt, or cream cheese

Steam squash and carrots over water until tender. Cook onion, garlic, and grated ginger in a bit of olive oil. Combine all in the water you used to steam the veggies. Puree with an immersion blender (or a regular blender, but my immersion blender gets more use than any other small kitchen appliance we own). Add lime juice and cream cheese*, puree again. Salt to taste.

When ready to serve, top with a scoop of labne/yogurt/whatever you're using. The hot pepper labne gave this a real kick. I didn't use it with little boy's serving, though, because mine was crazy hot. Sprinkle with paprika.

We ate ours with a spinach and bell pepper salad and some garlic herb bread I picked up that afternoon. It was definitely a hit- perfect for a chilly night. I'm eating the very last cup-full for lunch. And planning to make it again the next cold rainy night we have.

*If you're concerned about fat content, you could cook a potato or add some silken tofu and puree it to sub for the cream cheese. You'll keep most of the velvety texture that way.

Monday, October 5, 2009

happy monday

river maple
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
to you. I just barely managed to take this picture of a light-flooded red river maple as our canoe sailed underneath on Saturday. It was such a gorgeous day.

It's cold here and I'm glazing, drinking tea, listening to podcasts and doing the weekend's laundry that got skipped this weekend. Thinking of some homemade tomato soup and cornbread muffins for supper.

It seems to be shaping up to be a chilly fall in these parts. It just now hit 60 and our normal high for early October is in the low 80s. I'm ready for the change, but I'm not.

Back to work for me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

autumn colour week: red

Oh how I love red. There is at least one red thing in every room in my house. Lots in the kitchen, hits in every other room. Red fruit, red furniture, red flowers. Um, red shoes. Red shoes are a serious weakness for me. I have an embarrassing number of red shoes. But they make me SO HAPPY! Red and yellow are my happy colors.

I just peeked in the kiln to check and see how this load went. Top layer looked great, including these new red pieces!! These were tests- not for sale yet. I'll make more and have them available before the holidays.

Somewhere in this load there are also some tiny little red buttons. And some robin's egg buttons. I was really, really meticulous with this glaze load. I'll see at the end of the day how the whole load went- it is still too too hot to touch. I did a teeny bit of kiln maintenance, but I haven't scraped and re-coated my shelves yet.

This morning we all woke up with a sunny outlook. We're all well, rested, and ready to face a full weekend. I'm looking forward to taking my first canoe float in about 2 years tomorrow with Gary and some friends. I promised little boy we'd get a pumpkin at the farmer's market tomorrow. The weather is glorious, the leaves are beginning to turn. I'm going to find our tiniest drybag and bring my camera on the trip. Have a lovely weekend!