Friday, May 29, 2009

slow and steady

slow and steady
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I feel like I haven't done much in the way of blogging this week- it has been a full one, filled with sadness, resolve, work, and bright spots. On Sunday I found out that a friend I'd gone to graduate school passed away, and on Monday evening, after happily spending time with my family noodling around the house, I learned that a dear, dear friend ended her battle with esophageal cancer.

The best way to honor loved ones' lives is to keep living- and so we do. Planning my friend's memorial luncheon with other friends- I'll be making industrial quantities of tomato aspic on Monday. Glazing pottery, making more, filling orders, puttering around in the garden, making home a welcoming, cozy refuge for my friends and family.

I shipped out 13 of the first 17 berry bowl/egg vase orders placed on May 15. I'll be reglazing next week after a glaze failure from trying to work in 90% humidity. This morning I finished trimming all of yesterday's pottery before 9am. I hope to get it in the kiln for its first firing by Sunday.

Today I'm searching for a large, oblong galvanized trough- what I grew up calling a "cow waterer" - to plant my tuberose bulbs in. I've run slap out of room in my back and front gardens- I'll be digging out irises all summer to make room for the cutting annuals I've always wanted to grow but didn't have space for- next year I will. I'm also going to see if I can find any dahlias left at the garden centers to plant in the few holes I do have. I garden in fits and starts- yesterday I planted beans and more basil, plus a few more chard seeds among my increasingly tall peppers.

Happy weekend, everyone! Don't forget if you want to participate in the One Local Summer challenge, signup deadline is Saturday, May 30!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


a dozen berry bowls are up in the shop. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

berry bowls- second batch

90% of the first batch has been glazed and is in the kiln waiting to be fired. Tomorrow's listing (by 10 am CST) will include a dozen open orders and several custom orders for people who specifically wanted more than one bowl. I'll thrilled to have the first batch done less than 2 weeks from their order date and anticipate that the second batch will be finished in another 3-4 weeks. Maybe I'll be able to surprise you and get it to you sooner! If you don't make this round, I'll be offering a third round, as well.

Thanks, friends, for your support and your patience.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

eating local

5/24 farmers market
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
If you've been reading my ramblings for any length of time, or if you know me personally, you'll know I'm a bit of a nutter about food. I love to cook, love to eat, and shopping for good, reasonably priced, delicious and local food sends me over the moon. Last year I did the One Local Summer Challenge, wherein participants pledge to prepare at least one 100% local meal for thirteen weeks during the summer and photograph/blog the results. I had the best time. We ate very well, and at a reasonable cost, as well. Even though the 2009 challenge doesn't begin until June 1 (registration is open until May 31), I'm beginning next week.

My biggest challenge last year was finding a good acid to use. I love lemon juice, and I like white wine vinegar, but I have a hard time finding a local wine that is dry enough to make a good vinegar. I'm going to check with a local orchard to see if they have any cider leftover from the fall to try cider vinegar. Failing that, I plan to plain old cheat on the vinegar front.

The second biggest challenge was bread. I can, and happily do, make my own bread. Finding locally grown wheat flour was more difficult, but I have a friend whose father grows wheat, so perhaps they also have flour. . . . I have a great source for local grits and polenta, goat cheese (soft, feta, and camembert. Or gouda, I can't remember which), an orchard with apples, peaches, strawberries, plums- you name it, they've got it. And veggies galore.

This photo is a small sampling of my haul from the farmer's market this week. Remember what I said about reasonable? I spent $20 yesterday. $5 for the broccoli, cauliflower, and six zucchini. $6 for sugar snap peas (a whole pound!) and carrots. $2 for a huge bunch of chard. Strawberries were $3.75 for an overflowing basket (maybe a quart sized? There were easily 40 large berries), and spying a box of culled peaches and berries behind the stand, I asked if I could get some of them instead of change. I got a dozen peaches and twice as many berries for that extra $1.25. Not too shabby.

(ETA 2/25) I forgot to address meat issues. We're not vegetarian. I used to be, but my boys love meat. I've learned to cook meat, though it is rarely the centerpiece of a meal- more like a garnish- sauteed garlicy greens over local polenta with a few crumbles of spicy sausage on the top. That's how I like to eat meat, though I surprised myself by serving grilled local porkchops with seared new potatoes and loving it. The extra meat from the porkchops will go into Vietnames spring rolls later this evening- not local, but the meat will be a garnish in the rolls rather than the star.

There are several vendors at our market who sell farm-raised, hormone-free beef and pork. While I could happily give up beef, I'm not sure if I could do without a little sausage here and there. My dad is a hunter- he supplies us with venison and duck. Chicken and turkey have been issues- but I discovered that middle-tennessee Mennonites raise halal (chemical-free, slaughtered according to strict Muslim standards) poultry for the Muslim community in Memphis and the surrounding area. They also sell hormone and antibiotic-free milk to one of the local produce stores. Both are slight more expensive (maybe 20%) than conventional dairy and poultry, but after little boy's severe allergic reaction to the growth hormones in conventional milk, we switched over to all organic (or at minimum hormone-free) dairy.

I hope you'll join along my local eating adventure this summer and think about taking one of your own. It's funny how much of a habit eating local can become and how easy it is to assemble good, fresh, local, and very importantly during these tight times, affordable meals. Even when we do spend a bit more, say, $10 instead of $6 for those 4 thick-cut porkchops that will give us 2 different meals (we're a small family, that helps), it is nice to know that 80% of the money goes directly to farming families.

Happy Memorial Day! I'm going to go think more about those pork and mango (nope, not a local meal by any stretch now) spring rolls!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
On Wednesday I told you that I may have had a fix for berry bowls that crack through the bottom. Um, no. I'm not sure why I thought soaking a tee shirt scrap in glaze and laying it over a crack would work, I did it wrong and you need to put it over an unglazed crack. As glaze melts it expands to fill a space, and when it gets into a crack, it naturally expands the crack. Next batch I'll try covering it with paperclay- a liquid mixture of clay, toilet paper, and water- then re-bisqueing. On a bad day, I lose half of the pieces to cracks. On a good day, only 10%. But I think that perhaps I'm trimming the bottom of the bowls too thin before piercing the holes, because the cracks never show up on the sides. It's a learning process.

In other- brighter- news, today is my boy's "graduation" from his preschool. He's starting our wonderful neighborhood school next year- I'm pretty delighted with the woman who will be his teacher and that we seem to have "packed" his class with kids from his current school. Having his friends there will make the transition so much easier.

I'm at the farmers market Saturday from 7-1. I'll have a limited number of berry bowls plus my usual wares. I replenished my herb marker and egg vase supply, but because of my mini-vacation last weekend, I don't have a ton of new work. My boys are planning to canoe on Sunday, so I'm giving myself a solo work day to catch up on throwing.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone! I'll see you next week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

if it's wednesday-

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
then I must be glazing. I just finished. It is such a pretty, pretty day to be outside.

As I unloaded the kiln I discovered that two of the berry bowls had cracks - always on the bottom, always between two holes. I did a little bit of research and found someone recommending soaking a piece of t-shirt material in the glaze then applying that over the cracks. I knew about paper clay, but I didn't want to re-bisque these. I may start rebisqueing if I have a lot of cracks in the next round, but I'll be interested in seeing how these turn out. The only grubby tee I could find was a ribbed tee, so it's not ideal- I think an old worn-out husband undershirt would be just right, but these are fine for tests. And if the patch shows up, I'll stick them in my gift stash.

I'm really delighted to be finished with the glazing and loading before 2pm. Kiln is running, I'm going to clean up, pick up little boy from school, and then start packing to ship orders.

Have a beautiful afternoon!

Monday, May 18, 2009

new orleans

jazz band
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
my goodness. what a whirlwind. I love love love New Orleans. My dear friend from college, Leigh Ann, graduated with her phD in Public Health from Tulane University on Saturday. A bunch of us girls decided to come down and have a mini college reunion to celebrate Leigh Ann's achievement. The weather was perfect- mid 80s and low humidity, beautiful blue skies, and only two pop-up thunderstorms. We had the best time. I took the City of New Orleans train there and back- it's a fine way to relax and travel- and it is so so affordable. I had about 12 hours of music, podcasts, and knitting- it was downtime that I really looked forward to.

While I was away and computer-less, however, the world was still at work. My wonderful friends Erin, Jennifer, and Molly all featured my work on their blogs this weekend. I was delighted to find that my berry bowls had sold over the weekend and stunned to find over a hundred emails in my inbox- thanks to their posts. Molly also let me know that the little bowls were included in Amanda's list of happy-making products, blogs, and ideas. All of these ladies were among the first blogs I started reading several years ago; I'm both tickled and honored to appear in their blogs' pages.

I'm making berry bowls like crazy. I threw 18 today and will trim them tomorrow. I hope to throw another dozen tomorrow, as well. I will have some at the farmers market this weekend and list more over at etsy, as well. This is our last week of school, so I'm pushing to get as much done as I can NOW so that I candedicate much time next week to the business of having summer fun. If you want berry bowls and need them by a specific time frame, feel free to email me (bridgmanpottery-at-yahoo-dot-you know) and we'll discuss logistics. Thanks for your support and your patience.

I hope y'all have a great week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

week in review

A tiny miracle flew into my kitchen to help me deal with life's sorrows and losses.

my knitting group tagged our neighborhood coffee house. Can you see the batman insiginia? I added a strip of chartreuse zig-zag lace trim at the bottom.

More rain led to a beautiful week of sunshine. And the strawberries began to come in at our house!

Lastly, I decided to go ahead an list berry bowls over at my etsy shop. After consulting my pottery-buying friends, I decided that if I didn't at least list them as custom options I wouldn't get them made. So I listed 15 and finished 10 yesterday. This little batch will be ready by next Friday, with more on the way.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

time a' flying

Sorry for the radio silence- I can't believe it's already Wednesday. I've gotten so sidetracked this week. Big plans, but the time slated to do them has dwindled away. I had my best market ever on Saturday. It was giddy-good. Even though it was stormy-raining as we set up and rained intermittently throughout the day, the market was crowded and I was slammed! I managed to throw a little to replenish my supplies on Monday, and trimmed a little yesterday, but pottery's taken a back seat to life this week. Today I need to make herb markers (Really, really BADLY. I have maybe 20 left), list some things on etsy, throw a little more, mow the yard (did we really have 8 straight days of rain?), and do some necessary things like, oh, the laundry, which I haven't touched since last Tuesday.

Tomorrow is more of the same, plus packing and downloading podcasts for my train ride to New Orleans! One of my dearest friends is graduating with her phD in Public Health from Tulane University in NOLA this weekend, so seven of our group of college friends are traveling down and basically taking over a little b&b in uptown for the weekend. Two of these dear friends are having babies this summer (more than that, really, but these two will be in NOLA with me) and we're going to have a teensy baby shower while we're all together. I've added a new component to my standard ladybug baby gift- I'll tell you about that later. I'm so excited about this trip- especially the train ride with time to knit, listen, reflect, rest.

I'll post back here when I've got an etsy update for you. I think that I might go ahead and list berry bowls as custom orders rather than having a large batch of them in the shop. It seems like I'm never going to have a large inventory of anything, especially since school lets out at the end of next week. Should I get to work on the wheel today, berry bowls are at the top of the throwing list.

Happy week, everyone.

Friday, May 8, 2009

on photography

honey blues
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
can I tell you how much I love my new camera? I love it. And I think my photography has improved because of it. Details are better, clearer, and I'm a touch more confident. My old point and shoot was great, but my details were always blurry and I grew increasingly frustrated by its/my lack of precision.

I've always been influenced by the photography and prop styling in magazines like Martha Stewart Living- simple shapes, natural textures, harmonious colors. MSL is 100% responsible for my choice of pale blue linen on my photobooth in our basement (though, I might add, a dampish basement is not the best place to keep linen. We'll have to shift it around this summer). This white tray the blue honey pots are on is one I just found at target- simple metal tray, painted white, with a silver rim and handles. I bought it specifically to hold my color-lined and cafe au lait bowls at my sales, either at the market or at home. I do like how it makes the colors pop out.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

wet wet week

too hot
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
apologies for this blurry photo, but the kiln is really too hot to even vent yet. This is this week's load- full of egg vases and bowls, honey pots, egg cups, and a sprinkling of ladybug ware.

It has been raining cats and dogs in memphis. Really, it's been so wet that I had to resort to drying pottery in the oven because it didn't want to dry otherwise. I have two ponds in the back yard that refuse to drain, and I don't know about you, but I'm ready too see more blue in the skies than I did for half an hour on Tuesday.

I'm at the market again this weekend, then next weekend I'm heading down to New Orleans for a girls' weekend and to see one of my best college buddies graduate with her phD in public health from Tulane. I'm taking the train down and am excited about the extended knitting, daydreaming, podcast-listening time. I haven't taken a train since I rode from Rocky Mount, NC to Washington, DC in the spring of 1993.

One last thing. Have you heard about this? I doubt I'll get to one hundred, but I went from maxing out at 5 to 12 in my first week. Though the first week took two to complete. I'm surprising myself with my abilities.

Have a great almost-weekend. Hope you see some blue skies where you are.

Monday, May 4, 2009

bench monday

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
have you seen pictures of women (it is mostly women) standing on things on flickr? There are over 600 of us participating in bench monday. The rules- one photo per person, taken on a monday, uploaded on a monday. Extra points for props, like chickens.

I've been playing along for a few weeks. Join us if you'd like!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

rainy weekend

wooden egg used to measure egg cups:good rain for the garden:
studio time-honey pots and egg cups:flowers from the farmers market