Thursday, April 30, 2009

thursday already?

The week has flown by. I've been taking my time with things- getting my kitchen back in order after having my cabinets painted last week, throwing a little, compiling notes for my college class's annual alumnae news magazine, attending a book party for a friend, packing and shipping, you know, staying busy.

My hope for today is to start throwing more egg cups like these above. I've had several requests for other colors, including the speckled turquoise of the egg vases. I did place an order from Casey's, including some wooden eggs to help me keep the size of the cups right. I bought one for display, so that I won't have to beg an egg from other vendors at the market, and one for the studio for sizing purposes.

Somehow, with the kitchen's disarray, my throwing time was decreased- I still managed to make things, just not the volume I'd hoped. Saturday should be my throwing day so that most of the things that I needed to replenish for the market will be ready to fire on Monday. The bigger things I'm making are for the June home sale. I haven't set a firm date, but it's nearing. I'm thinking perhaps the last weekend in June for my local friends and customers.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

first day

first day
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Over the past several weeks I've been mulling over life, work, my priorities, and how best to achieve what I want, long term, what my family needs, and how these goals work together. In the end, everything boiled down to the fact that I tend to have too much on my plate. Too many responsibilities (self-imposed, I'm just that way) pulling me in too many directions. I realized that in five years I'd like a happy family, a happy home, and a happy career as a potter.

After much reflection and a hard look at our finances, I decided to focus my attention on pottery and my family. Yesterday I resigned from the best job I've ever had- with a clear conscience and a light heart. I loved teaching at the museum. Love working with kids, especially fourth graders. My salary was more than adequate, the hours were good- when little boy was in school- but when I was working teaching I could only take care of my family. The job was seasonal, but I didn't have time to work on pottery like I felt I needed to. When I go weeks without having my hands in clay, I feel like a part of my life is missing.

So this means that pottery is a business- I've had a business license for almost a year, paid sales tax for almost 8 years, paid self-employment taxes for 8 years. Last year was an excellent year- my pottery income matched my teaching income. I was so so fortunate to have wonderful customers and friends supporting me.

This also means that my family will have to make a few small sacrifices. Gary and I both drive cars that are over 10 years old. Happily, but it will remain that way for longer than it would if I were bringing in a regular paycheck. I've had fun with etsy- buying from other sellers. I'll have to be a little more careful on that front. But little boy will be starting our public neighborhood kindergarten in the fall- it is in walking distance from our house. And I'll have much less driving to do, which will help reduce expenses somewhat.

This is a big step for me, but I'm excited about the potential- both in terms of growing my business and making a less-harried life for my family.

So today, on my first day of full-time self-employment, I made some ladybug pottery (haven't applied the bugs yet), trimmed some pottery from last week, and have a few pieces to pack and ship out. It is time to develop a new routine!

Thanks for helping me make this decision- your enthusiasm for my pottery and kind comments over the past year has really helped push me in a good direction. I'm excited to see what the future holds!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

market season

honey pots
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
My first day at the 2009 Memphis Farmers Market was excellent. Really, really excellent. Beautiful day, happy customers, happy friends, good brisk sales.

I know I've told you before about Peace Bee Farm, my very favorite honey people, and I believe I mentioned Richard's blog, Peace Bee Farmer. Richard, Rita, and Wes Underhill will also be at the Memphis Botanic Gardens farmers market, which opens this Wednesday, April 28. They will be carrying a small selection of my honeypots! I'm really excited because the Wednesday market reaches a different segment of Memphis and I'm just not able to do both. Also, I'm excited because I just love the Underhills.

I hope the rest of your weekend is just wonderful- I have been awake since 4:45 this morning, and I am looking forward to a short nap before the evening begins.

** Sunday morning edit- if you're looking for honey dippers, there are a variety online, but I get mine from Casey's. They have lots of cool wood items- toys, waldorf and montessori-style children's utensils, toys, and, um, components (for lack of a better word). Great prices, they take paypal, and I want to say that they're all made in Maine, but I can't back that up 100%. I'm going to make another order from them for my Catechesis atrium soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

different application

different application
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Not to stir the pot anymore, but what do you think of this? This is a little bowl- actually much bigger in diameter than the egg vases, and shorter- that I made for a friend who loved the egg vases but wanted a salt cellar for stove-side salting. I only made the one. And I discovered that I'm slap out of this blue glaze. Time to order more.

I'm in the Delta Pecan spot this weekend at the Farmers market- West side, to the South of the entrance, I think.

Work to do, work to do. I bought copper wire for my herb markers this morning- I actually bought the electrical supply company out of their #10 bare copper wire and will have to go back for more in the next week or so. I ordered an entire 500 foot spool so that I won't have to keep going back and bugging the nice older men and electricians wondering what the heck this gal is doing. Actually, the guys who work there all know about the markers and said that maybe they'll try their hand at copper-wire craft too. Spread the DIY life!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day, I give you one of my favorite hymns, written by Folliot S. Pierpoint in 1864. This photo is one I took in the Old Forest of Overton Park, a 342 acre (though its wooded acres are rapidly diminishing) park in the center of Memphis, TN, a mere stones-throw from my house. I hope, no matter where you might stand on the politicization or trendiness of "green" issues, you might go out and enjoy the beauty of this spring day today. We are stewards of this earth, and we need to take good care of it. Have a beautiful day, everyone!

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

Words by Folliot S. Pierpoint, 1864

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

egg cups

Is it any surprise with my love of all things bird* that egg cups would be floating around in the back of my mind? I made these a few months ago and just got around to glazing them. I have a half-dozen more ready to be glazed, but these two are the prototypes. They're also intended - and have been since their creation- as birthday gifts for my sweet friend April. I thought they would work not just as egg cups, but as little vases for spring blossoms. The second set I made is slightly smaller, which is good, because these are a tad too big. That egg on the left- it is HUMONGOUS. Almost duck-egg-big. Not quite, but almost.

Happy Tuesday! And happy birthday, April!

*A few weeks ago when my son's godfather, Tom, was visiting, we were talking about chickens and birds. I mentioned that I wanted chickens again (alas, our yard is too, too small) and he reminded me that his daughters called me "Chicken Melissa" years ago, not because I had chickens (which I did eventually get a threesome of chicks), but because I wanted them. I had forgotten all about that.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

MFM 2009

Yesterday was the first day of the Memphis Farmers Market. It really was like a country church old home day. Lots of hugs and good wishes and squeals and "good to see you"s. Have I told you about my MOST favorite vendor? It is Jim Tanner, my "goat cheese man," from whom I buy my eggs. I didn't hold out much hope that I'd be able to get eggs yesterday since I didn't get to the market until 8 and Jim usually sells out by 7:15. You can't imagine my delight when he opened up his egg cooler (It is easily 3.5' to 4' long) and it was still full. Last year I'd make a point to get to the market before 7 (when I work the market I arrive at 6, when I shop, 6:55) JUST to be sure I'd get eggs. I asked what had happened- one customer "blamed" the rain. Jim's simple answer: "I got more chickens."

Jill and Keith, my "favorite" farmers in charge of Whitton Farms were in full force with their veggies, flowers, and transplants. I got baby garlic in my CSA bag and impulsively planted them all last night before the rain started, in hopes that I'd be able to finish the season with good heads of garlic. I was just tickled to learn that my favorite honey producers will now be at MFM EVERY week. Richard and Rita Underhill of Peace Bee Farm are such wonderful people, and Richard is blogging about honey and their farm at Peace Bee Farmer.

Lastly, well, not lastly, but for *right now*, my friends Guion and Jeremy Benkin have started a great little company called Re-Hy. They recycle glass bottles into lovely drinking bottles, dish soap dispensers, and cruets by adding etched designs and metal tops. The Benkins are lovely people (aren't all crafters, really?) who are so excited about this venture. They, like me, will be at the market periodically.

My first week at the market is this coming saturday. I am excited and have a lot of work to finish up. It will be a busy week this week, but a good one, I think. I hope you all have a beautiful Sunday and a beautiful spring week!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


fiddlehead bowl
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Spring is in full swing. I'm making pottery like a crazy woman. Yesterday I was supposed to have made herb markers, but instead I made 15 tiny bowls and 15 bud vases. And then I got my new camera and the day went to pot.

I bought a Nikon d70 with a starter lens, a good all-purpose 55mm lens, and a macro lens. Exclusively for taking pictures of pottery. I'd gotten so frustrated with trying to take detail shots with my Kodak easy point and shoot that I upgraded when we got our tax refund. And I'm SO glad I did. Already. And I can't wait to try the macro lens!

But back to pottery- I love love fiddleheads. I wish that I could reliably find them in the summer, but it is harder (though not impossible) then. So mid-spring is my fiddlehead making time. I've made platters, plates, bowls, mugs. I need to make another half-dozen platters to see me through the spring. Happily, if I remove the fiddleheads from the barely-damp platter before they're all dried up, I can usually get two platters from a single fiddlehead. Here's my technique- roll a slab of clay, press fiddleheads into the wet clay. Drape the slab over my mold, trim the edges, let dry. As the clay dries, it sucks the moisture out of the fiddleheads, too. Sometimes I can catch it in time to reuse. It is much much easier to reuse leaves- japanese maples, ginkgos, even ferns that aren't quite as delicate and won't tear up when I lift them off.

Today's task is more fern ware and herb markers. Ten days until my 2009 farmer's market debut!

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I just had to share something that came in my mail today. My friend Sarah sent this to me. I was anxiously looking for another package today but was sufficiently distracted by this warm and woolly nest and egg to forget it and everything else. I sat at my kitchen table petting it, marveling at the colors and texture, wondering if some of the wool might have come from Sarah's own sheep. Sarah makes lovely felted bags, scarves, and necklaces that she offers over at smashing darling. I saw a photo of these on her flickr stream and was smitten. What a sweet friend to send me one of these and feed my bird-love.

Thank you so, so much Sarah. I love it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

quiet day

today I am having a very quiet, slow day. Bordering on lazy. A little glazing, a little waxing, a little cleaning up. A lot of music. Maybe a nap. It's cool and rainy. I'm happy for rain now so that this summer we won't have to worry about drought.

And I'm happy for a quiet day because our weekend was jam-packed. Lunches with girlfriends, dinners with friends, a beautiful hike in our wildflower-filledurban forest on Saturday morning with the family and 30 other people, an impromptu visit from a godfather for the 5th anniversary of little boy's baptism, a birthday party, bookclub, an Easter Brunch, full-scale smells-n-bells Easter service, egg hunt, family Easter dinner.

It was a beautiful weekend. A full weekend. It is a quiet day. A restful day. I'm happy for the transition. And the chance to work a little, rest a little. I'm looking forward to getting a lot done this week. I'll have some things to show you in a few days. . . .

Thursday, April 9, 2009

honey pot season

Can you believe it's Thursday already? The week's been a whirlwind. We are full in the throws of spring in Memphis- azaleas are blooming, the spring wildflowers are cropping up in everyone's lawn, bees are flitting around the neighborhood gathering pollen- Which brings me to our title. Honeypots. Right now I'm all honeypots all the time. And berry bowls. And tiny vases, and herb markers. Really, I'm all pottery all the time. I am eating, sleeping, breathing pottery. And ditigal cameras, because I'm looking to upgrade from my point and shoot to a digital SLR. I have my eye on a Nikon d70. But alas, that is not pottery, not a honeypot, not the subject of this post. . . .

Sometime today or tomorrow my good friend Molly will be giving away one of my honeypots. This honeypot, actually. She is responsible for my venture into etsy, blogging, and the successful sales year I had last year. She is also responsible for what I call the year of the berry bowl. A little later (again, today or tomorrow), I'll have 3-4 honeypots in my shop with more to come. No berry bowls yet, but they're coming. I'm stocking up for the farmers market, the shop, and my annual summer sale. Busy, busy time.

I won't be back in this space until next week- have a wonderful Easter weekend, beautiful Passover, lovely spring. Enjoy this time of renewal, friends.

Monday, April 6, 2009

birds' egg vases

birds' egg vases
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I pulled these out of the kiln this morning, anxious about how they'd look. I am so, so pleased with them. The idea of a series of birds' egg vases has been percolating in the back of my mind for several years. I've finally come up with a glaze combination and shape that I like.

One of them is a gift for my friend Lynsey's birthday (the one in the front right). Another is already sold. I'm about to go up to the studio to throw- you can bet I'll be making more of these.

This morning I woke up early and went on a quick run despite the cold. April has fled the mid-south and been replaced by a few days from February. It always amazes me how much more productive I am when I run in the morning. So far I've unloaded the kiln and photographed a bunch of things, made hummus, loaded the dishwasher, sold some pottery, and started a pot of spicy lemon-ginger-carrot lentil soup. All by 10 am. I hope my morning in the studio is as productive.

Have a good week, everyone!

****ETA- I've just listed these as a custom order in my Etsy shop. If you're local, contact me and I'll take care of you. Please note that this is ONLY because I have to charge TN sales tax, and Etsy will charge you shipping. We don't need to ship locally, right?******

Friday, April 3, 2009

the work: firing

Were you all just sending me super good peaceful productive thoughts today? I glazed all 75+ pieces in under 3 hours- all by myself! Glaze helper #1 was unexpectedly called out of town. Helpers #2 and 3 had some sick child issues- but taking care of our sick kids is top priority. Everything is cleaned up and in the kiln, firing away. I'm excited to see how things turn out.

Happy weekend! I'm looking forward to some steak tacos with guacamole and a little margarita tonight- and glorious weather to garden in tomorrow. I hope the sun shines on you all-

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

work in progress

afternoon's work
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Hi! It's Wednesday. Time to blog again according to my internal blog clock. This is what I did yesterday- the detail glazing for the last kiln-load of pottery I fired. This morning I waxed the details and the bottoms of these pieces. This afternoon and tomorrow I will wax the bottoms of the load. On Friday, my friend and self-designated "glaze slave" Diane (a member of the "Memphis Knit Mafia" -you can find us on Ravelry) is coming to help me dip-glaze all of the pieces. And probably do some mixing, too, because I doubt I'll get all of the mixing and screening finished before her arrival. This is the first time I've had a glazing helper- and I'm excited, because glazing is my least favorite part of pottery and if I have help, maybe, just maybe, it won't take the entire day.

I hope your Wednesday is sunny and balmy and beautiful- it is absolutely gorgeous here. Little boy and I are going to have some after-school playground time today!