Monday, March 30, 2009


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

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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Botanical Mugs

Botanical Mugs
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
how funny is it that I had to go back, searching though my flickr and iPhoto files to find this picture so I could remember how I make my mugs? I believe it's been a year since I've thrown a mug. But now I've got my botanicals gathered, ready to press them in mugs I can't remember how to make. They're just cylinders, slightly flared lip at the top, but the one I've made doesn't look right. And I don't have any left in my pottery stash.

Bamboo tumbler? sure. Honey pot, ok. Berry bowl? I could make it in my sleep. Mug, um, let me get back to you.

And honestly, this photo doesn't help much since I can't see the bottoms. Forgive me as I wander off laughing like a lunatic. . . .

Have a good weekend, folks.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Fiddleheads are my favorite natural motif. I love the uncoiling form, fronds waiting to spring out. I had an idea that although my ferns were not yet up, a friend who has a mature fern bed might have some fiddleheads poking up. She did indeed. I brought home a handful (after getting permission, of course!) to work with. Platters, saucers, bowls, mugs- I'll use every last one of these glorious gems.

Our weather has been beautiful- sunny, warm, breezy. The April showers are coming, knocking down the spent cherry blossoms, but dogwoods and redbuds are taking their places. There are a few last late narcissus blooming, yellow kerria branching out, and I think that the azaleas are beginning to bud up. Oh, spring.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

feets on the wheel

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

I hope your day is productive, too!

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

Saturday, March 21, 2009

beginning again

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
First and foremost, you all know that I love to garden, right? And eat locally? With naturally grown, chemical free fruits and veggies? So I was thrilled this week to learn that a portion of the White House South Lawn is in the process of becoming a vegetable garden. And if you know me (though I do try to keep politics out of this space, mostly), you know I'm a fan of the Obamas. At this point, I think Michelle Obama walks on water! I'm so excited about the first family's garden.

My mother and husband gave me a raised-bed demilune kitchen garden for my birthday about four years ago. This year, mom is helping me replenish the dirt with compost, composted manure, and topsoil (because all raised beds settle over time). My purple asparagus crop is beginning, and for the first time, I can eat my fill. After we get the soil in today (it's a good drizzly day, perfect for wetting everything down), I have some brussels sprouts and purple cabbage seedlings, and leeks to go in. I finally (very late) got my seed order in to Pinetree Garden Seeds, a small family-run outfit in Maine that lets you buy smaller packages of seeds at a greatly reduced cost. They specialize in heirloom seeds, but carry the old standby hybrids, as well.

I love my CSA and farmers market, especially for things that I don't grow, but there's nothing like home-grown. I hope that you'll all plant out a pot of basil and thyme, if nothing else. Happy gardening. I'm ready to go out and get dirty!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

and the winner is. . .

the lovely Lori of Laeroport. Send me an email with your address, and I'll send it off to you in, um, a little while. It's not fired, and this picture is not the final product, but it should look something like this one.

Yesterday the boy and I were looking for more clovers- we only found one, but enjoyed the time lolling around in the grass in the beautiful afternoon. If you're on spring break this week, like we are, I hope you're enjoying your time. It can be so hard for me to not be "on," working or doing, but instead just relaxing and spending down time with my boy, but I'm getting there. Clover hunting helps!

I'm still on a bit of a high from the birthday, the etsy exposure, and some unexpected blog exposure that I'm not quite sure I can even find- and I'm deliriously happy with the warm sunny beautiful days we're having. I hope some of my spring fever finds you, as well. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


etsy front page!
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Was just the best day. I so appreciate the good wishes here and in my email box. This screen shot also arrived in my in box. I was so, so excited to have a piece on Etsy's front page. As far as I know, this was a first for me. And of course, I love all of the bee-themed goods in this grouping.

Just a reminder, I'm closing comments at the end of the day on my little give-away. If you want one of the clover bowls (they won't be finished for another week or two), go ahead and comment by 5pm today, March 17, to be included in the drawing.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. I hope your day is sunny and bright!

Monday, March 16, 2009

the surprise

the surprise
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm a pretty low-key kind of girl. Birthdays have never been a big deal for me, and especially now as I am entering my middle 30s, I want and need less. We've been de-cluttering around the house, trying to simplify our lives by simplifying our possessions. This year, all I asked for was a single piece of pottery. Oh, and a load of dirt for my garden.

My husband got this cup for me. It's by Diana Fayt, my pottery hero. She's a strong woman with a successful business making BEAUTIFUL pottery. She has been so generous with her time and advice, and I am ever grateful. The little square saucer underneath the cup? That was a happy birthday from Diana. I was (and still am) so, so excited. Too excited to use them yet, but it will be a joy to use these beautiful pieces every day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Memphis Farmers Market

I just got my dates for the Memphis Farmers Market!* I'm so excited about the market this year- ready to see so many friends and acquaintances that I only see at the market. I'll be there, bells on, five times this season:

April 25
May 9 (mother's day weekend!)
May 23
June 6
June 20

If you're a Memphis or mid-south reader, I hope I'll see you there! During market season I do 70% of my grocery shopping at the market, the only things I buy at the grocery store are milk and flour- the market has it all- produce, flowers, fruit, eggs, beautiful hormone-free meats and cheeses, granola, honey, bread and desserts, pecans, and craft goods made from talented regional artisans. I'm so excited to be a part of MFM for fourth year! See you there- opening day is April 18, 7am-1pm!

*MFM logo courtesy of the MFM facebook page here

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

lucky - a reminder

lucky day
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Wow! Thanks so much for all of your nice comments. We ARE all in this together, aren't we?

Yesterday I had a great day. It was 80 degrees, sunny, beautiful. I worked in the garden, dried some laundry on the clothes line, and enjoyed the first week of free time I've had in a long, long time. Dear readers who work full time, have families, AND manage to craft something- my hat is off to you. I've been depleted, but I'm recharging.

I met a friend in the late morning at my favorite thrift store and came away with quite a haul- I feel like my spring wardrobe is nice spruced up for less half than the cost of of a single top at a store like Gap- and when I got home, I spent some time in the clover patches, thinking about pottery-making.

I've always been "lucky" when it comes to finding four leaf clovers. If there are any in a patch, they jump out at me. I found about 9 in my front and back yards. I made a dozen little "lucky" pieces for the spring. I really like giving these to friends who need a little lift- who are going through a tough spell at work, have been ill, or just feeling blue. I did have to cheat a little with some of these, but by the time they're trimmed and fired, I won't be able to tell which ones!

As a little thank you for lifting my spirits and further reminding me how lucky I am, I'd like to offer one of these to my readers. I'll close comments on Tuesday, March 17 (simply because these make me think of st. pat's a little) and my random number generator (aka little boy) will choose a number to send the little happy off to. I won't have these actually finished until the end of the month, but I'll let you know if you win.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

thinking about the economy

napkins: thinking
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I love blogs. I love reading them. But there's a small problem- sometimes they make me all wanty. We're all cutting back, all a little nervous, trying to be less wanty. As a craftsperson who makes useful, but, I'll admit, not exactly NECESSARY items, I'm nervous and thankful for every sale I make. I don't know where I'm going with this post, really, but I do hope that I'm not coming across as preachy. I'm asking myself a lot of questions lately.

But what does this have to do with a pile of napkins, you ask? This morning I was thinking about the economy (after I turned NPR off because I couldn't bear to hear one more word of impending doom), I looked around the kitchen and saw our napkins piled up in their basket near the table. It's not much, really, a bunch of cotton squares, some hemmed, some pinked. Then I realized that I've had the red ones for 11 years. I made them in 1997, just as I was graduating from college. A roommate's mother used cloth napkins, I reasoned that they were less wasteful and brought the family meal "up" a notch, so I wanted some for my first apartment. I found this fabric a year before at a mill-ends shop, squared about 6 pieces, hemmed them, then started to use them.

The gingham napkins were from my rehersal dinner- a shrimp boil and barbeque- in 2000. My mother in law bought yards of gingham, cut them into 10-12" squares with pinking shears, and tied them with raffia. After the dinner, she gave them all to me. There were more than 50. We have perhaps ten in use now, some pretty stained, but they still do the job. And yes, that means that I have about 40 more in a dining room cabinet, ready to last well into the century.

What do napkins have to do with pottery? Nothing much. Just one thing that I haven't had to go out and buy- not new cloth ones (though I was given 25 white damask napkins a relative found at an estate sale, so fancy dinners are covered as well), not disposable paper ones. The napkins make me pretty happy.

Like the napkins, almost everything in my home is hand-made, re-used, older, lived in. Lots of loved-up junk store furniture, a few pieces of good antiques from family or estate sales. We haven't really participated in the type of spending that is causing people to tighten their belts. It is still important to me to buy things from other artisans and artists- I think I will never give up my CSA (because we've found that it actually saves us money)

My family is very lucky. My husband is in an almost recession-proof industry. My child is about to start public school. When we bought our house, I wouldn't look at anything above a certain price point- and that was well under what the bank "said" we could afford.* We dive durable older cars. I like to cook, we like to rehab/remake second hand items. We have no credit card debt and very little left in student loans. I feel incredibly blessed. If my pottery sales tank in 2009, I'm fine, because my heart goes out to everyone who isn't as lucky as we are.

My hope for all of us right now is that we'll find contentment and happiness in little things- the grass greening up, beginning to garden again- or for the first time. I would love it if we could all share some of the things that we do to find joy in the little things. What is helping you?


*On that note, it bugs me that people castigate ALL home buyers who bought above their means. If, like me, they were first-time buyers who just listened to what the bank advised, they were encouraged to buy more house than they could afford. I couldn't justify spending more than half of our paychecks on the mortgage. It took a lot of careful looking to find something that I felt we could comfortably afford, despite the bank's assurances that we could swing something 50K higher. I know more people experienced this than just me, and we dealt with a reputable bank, not a sleezy fly-by-night mortgage lender. We're just lucky that I am stubborn. That would be a first.

Friday, March 6, 2009

celery: green week.

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I have loved loved loved green week. The weather's been just fine this week, with more green showing up every day. The daffodils have shaken off the snow and are blooming their heads off, trees are beginning to leaf out, and the perennials are peeking up out from their mulchy blankets.

It's been a super busy week for me, but I'm so glad I made time for green week. I hope you've enjoyed the photos, too.

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back with more pottery next week!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

glazing green

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

green tuesday

green in the studio:

these are smallish squared bowls

and in the garden

heirloom egyptian walking onions in the kitchen garden and helleborus peeking through the last of the snow in the shady flower bed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

green week!

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
A few weeks ago I participated in Erin's yellow week. Now Emily is hosting green week. I'll have some shots here, lots more on flickr. I'm itching for spring, aren't you?