Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year!

2010 has been a big year for me.  Sales have been slower than in years past because of the economy, which means that purchases are intentional.  People who are buying my pottery are really thinking about their purchases, weighing them, choosing to go without other things in order to buy my work.  I appreciate each and every one of your purchases this year.  I know that everyone has a choice in how they spend their money.  I'm so grateful for my customers.

I also feel like my work has progressed in leaps and bounds this past year.  I feel like I'm more consistent in some areas and able to take more risks in others.*

I'm delighted with the pieces I made based on Diana Fayt's  techniques.  And I love my new pitchers inspired by silver hollowware.  I did a little more handbuilding this year, and because my arms are bothering me, I anticipate doing even more in 2011.  If my throwing days are limited due to tendon pain in my arms, I'm not throwing things that I don't like or I've grown tired of.

The egg cups! Oh my- the Southern Living response has been tremendous.  I'm just tickled by that.

It's been quite a year.  I have some plans for 2011, some new ideas to try, some new marketing ideas, too.

Happy New Year friends!  Be well, safe, and happy.

*I just finished my 365 photo project/play-a-long here.  Not sure if I'll do one in 2011, but I'm glad I did in 2010. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

it's out!

I've been holding a bit of news close to my chest for a while, not completely certain that it was going to happen, but it did!  look!


I'm just as tickled as I can be!  I'm in Southern Living!!!  The cups are, of course, over in the shop.  I'm ready to make more this week as I can fit in the time.

When I got an email from the editor for the "Made by Southern Hands" column at the end of October I screamed my fool head off.  Many of my friends have known about this for a while, but I didn't want to spill the beans too early.  We got a call from a relative on Christmas Eve telling us that her copy had come in the mail- I picked up my copy at the grocery this morning. 

I hope you had a lovely holiday- we did- and this just caps it off!

Friday, December 17, 2010

holiday home, the overview



The first room you come to in our home is our living room.  We don't have an entry hall per se,  but we've arranged things so that the space is somewhat divided between the sitting and entry areas.  The sofa usually faces the (non-working) fireplace.  My decorating style is somewhat "empire-in-decline" meets thrift store- all of the furniture is old- either bought at antique auctions, passed down, or purchased at thrift/shabby antique stores and loved up.  There are a lot of books, asian pieces passed down from my inlaws or picked up at estate sales, some art by people we knew when we worked at a gallery,  and the furniture, by and large, is comfortable but slightly formal.  We really live in this space, so I kept the decorations limited to the tree and the mantle.  
You can see that the living room adjoins the dining room- the colors and style are similar, and the decorations are pared down to the advent wreath on the table,  our advent calendar on a sideboard, and two of the sparkly wreaths you saw earlier on the china cabinet and window.  I don't typically keep a table cloth on the dining room table- I prefer bare polished wood.  This table (a 1940s mahogany duncan phyfe model) is one that we bought the first year we were married at an antiques auction for $100.  The four chairs were an additional $100.  Both are much worse for the wear- we came home one night when our house was babysitting central to find a tonka dump truck and 18" of  its tracks running down the middle of the table.  I think in the coming year I'll paint the table and chairs rather than cringe every time I see a new scratch.  The dining room is the exact center of our home- I'm embracing the battering we give in and the life it hosts.   My favorite decoration in this room is the ceramic creche that my great grandmother made.  I found it in 2001 when we were clearing out my great grandparents' home.  This was packed away in an old wooden box in the "junk room" where she used to paint poured ceramics.  The pieces had already been glazed- everything was there but the Christ Child.  I used it as-is for years until I found an identical piece at a community center where I taught children's pottery.  I inquired if the ceramics lady had the baby and offered to buy it if she did.  She gave it to me and I glazed it.  I didn't get the color quite right, but I was happy to have the completed set.  My boy set it up this year- I can really see the influence of his years in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

And so, Christmas is a week away.  The tree is up.  We'll hang our stockings next week and begin to wrap gifts to go under the tree.  There are cookies to bake, some last-minute gifts to make, and yes, still cards to send out.  If you celebrate, I hope your Christmas is filled with brightness and joy, and that everyone's new year brings good things.

Be well, everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

holiday home, II

As I said previously, I do try to keep things centered during the holidays, but every girl likes the tiniest bit of glitz!  I have only 3 wreaths for the house- sometimes there's one on the front door, sometimes there isn't.  This year I've hung a homespun felted and jingle bell swag that we received as a Christmas gift last year.  There are also some bells from my husband's childhood home in Turkey, and a strand of beads and bells I picked up years ago in a little border town market in Mexico.  I love the bells ringing every time we open the door.

But the glitz- I stumbled on a half-bushel basket of old old glass ornaments when I was in graduate school (lower left)- for a long time, those were my only holiday decorations.  I displayed them in a giant silver punch bowl, hung on evergreens, and now, they're in a small silver revere bowl on my mantle.  There are a few votive candles scattered around them, and the old 1940s round mirror I picked up one trash day reflects the cheer.  That's about all I need on the mantle.

The three wreaths were all made during my Martha Stewart fandom heyday.  I'm not sure if I made them all the same year, but I may have.  The red glass bead wreath came first- I remember searching for and then cringing as I purchased $50 in red Czech druk beads ten years ago.  I generally hang this between the living room or dining room windows.  This year it's in the dining room.
The glass ball wreath came next.  It is really on its last legs, but it's my boy's favorite wreath.  I may have to glue the balls to a foam or straw form next year, because I like it too.  It hangs in the window over our kitchen table.

The final wreath, which took forever to make, is also a MSL project.  It came out of one of the holiday books and isn't on the website, but I made each leaf out of silver-lined glass beads, arranged them in clusters of three, and wired them on a circular wire form.  It almost always hangs on a mirror or on the china cabinet, in front of my silver collection.  I am a sucker for silver hollowware and old serving pieces- I enjoy using them, even in our decidedly simple and casual lifestyle.

I would like to have one more wreath, based on this one.  A neighbor gave me quite a lot of reindeer moss, and there are huge mossy areas along the greenway in our neighborhood.  I think I'm going to wait until after Christmas for this project, when the days are dark and dreary and I need a bit more green around me.

I have one more photo for you at the end of the week-
 see you soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

holiday home tour

my dear friend Mama Urchin is hosting a holiday home tour and asked me to play along.  Because I have a teensy house (well, the part that is heated with radiators, my best friend during the cold months is about 1200 sq ft), I try to keep things simple.  And as a person of faith, I want to focus on the holy more than the glitz. 
The Episcopal church (and many other liturgically-based churches) "celebrates" Advent - the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas- before the great Celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of preparation and seeking the light in darkness (in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Isaiah 9:2- "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"- is the basis for much of our work during these four weeks), so light plays an important role in how my family celebrates advent.
I'll start with the bottom right photo, as it is all about Advent.  The first Sunday of Advent we make a wreath at St. Mary's Cathedral.  It's an all-ages event.  I missed it this year, but my boys brought one home.  Some churches use purple for Advent, some use blue.  We've recently switched to blue, which I'm happy about because, well, I'm not a fan of purple.  The pink candle, which we lit this week, is for Mary.  The next photo is a fun one- our advent calendar is based on the free bird pattern offered by Spool.  From the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, we add a new bird.  Originally I only made 24 birds -this year I need to make a few more.  I used wool and cashmere sweaters -either purchased at a thrift store or moth-eaten ones from my house- to make these sweet little birds. 
Next to the birds, this stationary wooden creche is one of my favorite holiday decorations.  The priest who was my campus minister came down to Mississippi to perform my wedding- he's done the same for several women I graduated with.  The summer I was pregnant, he traveled to Israel and sent this olive-wood creche as a baby gift when my son was born right before Thanksgiving.  When he grows up and has his own family, I'll pass it along to him, but it is very meaningful to me.
The star on our tree is a Moravian Star.  In Moravian households (and in Germany, PA, and Winston-Salem, NC, this star hangs outside, lighted, from the beginning of Advent until the beginning of Epiphany.  It represents the star of Bethlehem- that great light.  My college, Salem, was founded by Moravians, so this is a special symbol for me.  For many years I had a white star that we hung on the porch, but it died last year.  This paper one from an imports store will do for now, but I plan to replace it soon.

Later this week I'll delve more into our Christmas decorations- the tree is up and lit and I am slowly adding wreathes to the windows and other festive bits around the house.  But for now, I'm taking it slowly and anticipating the great light to come.  Be well.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

goodness gracious

I know now that I absolutely made the right decision to cut back on my expectations of what I could accomplish, pottery-wise, this holiday season.  In the past week my house has been struck by the flu (little boy was down for 5 days, which meant that I was pretty busy during that time) and a pot that had cracked due to thermal shock (read, I opened the kiln when I shouldn't have) spontaneously exploded two weeks later, cutting my hand pretty badly.  We spent Wednesday afternoon at the doctor's office getting the cut glued back together (I love advances in medicine sometimes) and I realized that I needed to scale back even further.  So this week we spent a great deal of time cozied up on the sofa, reading, drinking warm tea and cider, decorating the tree, resting, getting well.

I do have one tiny little holiday offering in my shop.  I've been making these little nest ornaments this fall- I had a few dozen for sale at events in town, and there are ten over at etsy.  The nest is thrown and altered; the eggs are hand-formed.  I kept back quite a few to use as package toppers.  They make me happy.

It has gotten so cold here - today's high is 30, the low is 16.  For the next few days Memphis will be colder than New England.  I don't remember December ever being so cold here- I'm wishing for a wood stove and cranking out wool sweaters and fuzzy mittens to keep my family warm.

I hope you have a good week- be well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

right now

right now I am sitting at the kitchen table, glazing a fern platter.  I'm feeling a little under the weather- you know, when it's just starting and you know that you can stave it off if you go to bed early and take care of yourself?  That's where I am.

But it isn't entirely unpleasant.  I'm watching the little sparrows (and occasional cardinal, finch, and rascally squirrel) at the feeder just outside the window.  I'm listening to a history of the world in 100 objects, wishing that there was a companion book to the series.  My favorite episode so far is the one I've just heard- about how the image of Buddhism- the young, seated Buddha- is the one we think of when presented with the idea of Buddha.  But really, they're all just fascinating.

I've just had my very favorite tofu curry soup (so spicy, so rich, so full of veggies), delivered by a soup fairy (thank you, thank you Jess), and am smelling the warm mingled spiciness of my umpteenth cup of chai and gingerbread warm from the oven.  Homework is being completed beside me as I work.  A little later, once I've cleaned off the bottoms of my pots, I'll get into bed with more tea, knitting, and finish watchingthe Gleaners and I.   I'll wait to fire the kiln until the morning. 

I feel so much relief since re-adjusting my holiday business plans.  And I thank you, friends, for your support and understanding.  It means a lot. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

plans and changing them

Hi.  How are you?  I haven't been in this space much because, honestly, I've overscheduled myself.  After a solid year of working as hard as I  can to keep my family financially and emotionally afloat during unemployment and morale crises,*  I'm tuckered out.  It's been a year full of amazing highs and seemingly bottomless lows, and I am ready to re-prioritize.

I have focused most of my production for local markets this year- two shops I'm thrilled to be associated with, my local farmers market, and my long time customers, friends, and family who live in and around Memphis.  I've really neglected my online customers and my Etsy shop this year.  I had big plans for listing things online near Thanksgiving, but low- Thanksgiving is this week and everything I've managed to make is either for local stores and shows or a really big thing that's coming up in mid-December, completely unrelated to the holidays.  I think, realistically, that I won't be able to do a big update this year.  If you were counting on it, I am so sorry.  One of my 2011 habits-to-work-on is to update Etsy once a month.

Today, though, the idea of adding ten more honeypots/berry bowls/butter crocks to my to-do list  makes me want to find a new profession.  I was thinking yesterday as I was cranking out 15 of the same little item that ten years ago I'd grandly thought that I wanted to be a production potter, and how fulfilling and wonderful that would be.  Now that I almost have become one, it is wonderful, and it is incredibly gratifying to have people tell me how much my work means in their daily lives, I'm realizing that it's also really, really physically tiring.

So.  I'm letting myself off the hook for a holiday Etsy update.  I'll put up some of my birds nest ornaments by Dec 1, because I did make those specifically for etsy, and I'll share my big news (the reason for the production pottery) in a few weeks.  I hope you have a peaceful, family-filled Thanksgiving.  And if you're shopping this weekend, I hope you'll make an effort to support local small businesses.  The families that run them will thank you, as do I.



*Happily, thankfully, blessedly, my husband found a new position almost one year to the day after his layoff in November 2009.  It is a good fit for him, an I'm grateful that it came along when it did.

Friday, November 19, 2010

7

my little one is 7 today.  We began the day with chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate syrup (seven of them), and I'm making gingerbread cupcakes with maple frosting for his urban-forest hike birthday party tomorrow.  Also doing a little trimming and glazing. 

Have a good weekend, friends.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The sale this weekend went so, so well.  I sincerely thank everyone who came out.  I know you have a choice in where you spend your money and I am deeply, deeply thankful when you choose to support my business and my family with your hard-earned dollars.
I did something a little different this year- I had a "soft" opening Thursday evening for some area moms- it was good to get set up early and have Friday free from the usual pre-sale stresses.  I think I'll be repeating that.

The weekend was capped off with the mortal release of someone who had been both a friend and foe.  I went to visit her early this morning- she was no longer cognizant, which was a blessing, really.  I spent a short time with her, did my other errands, and came back home to a phone call that she'd passed soon after I left.  I'm grateful that we were able to have peace with one another, grateful that she is no longer in pain and conflict.    Beginning my day with a release like this one is odd- I'd planned to have a quiet day; now it is more so.

This little porcelain cup is one of my favorite things- I bought it in Sewanee, TN, and can't remember the artists' name any more.  I keep a beeswax votive in it to light when I pray and meditate.  Today has been a very meditative day.

Peace, friends.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Annual Open House

I'm woefully behind on getting out postcards for this event, but given the fact that this is 1 of 4 in the next month, I don't feel too too terrible.  So.  If you're in Memphis, please come on over on Friday and Saturday (5:30-9 Friday, 10:30-4 Saturday) to see the pottery.  There's slightly less than I've had than in years past, but again, this is sale 1 of 4.

Okay.  Time to finish glazing.

Have a good week!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

chickens and the egg

 new chickens- big golden buff orpington is Merigold (named first for Merigold, MS, secondly for her color).  She's at least 8 lbs.  Big girl.
Next to her is "Speckles," a barred rock.  She's medium size, no larger than my sweet pet chickens.  These ladies aren't tame.  Yet.  They'll come round.
and one of their eggs- I think it belongs to Merigold.  It is extra, extra large.  Edna's egg, to the right, is a regular large grocery-store sized egg.  Merigold's was twice as large.  I thought it might have been double yolked, but it wasn't.  The yolk was large and a big asymmetrical, but not fully double.  They haven't gotten hang of the idea of nest boxes yet- this was on top of a stone in the yard.

I'll be back later in the week with some pictures of pottery, I hope.
Have a nice week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

covered up

so so much is happening around here.  good stuff, crazy stuff.  I've got some pretty big news to share soon, and I've got production deadlines for shows and gift orders for the holidays.  My little kiln is running twice a week and the big kiln is going at least once a week.  My sister in law saved the day by picking up several hundred pounds of clay for me last week when she was in Nashville- I've been going through almost three 50 lb boxes every week.

Gary is covered up in freelance work, I'm covered up in pottery, there are school, scouting, and sport functions, and WOW- upcoming shows and sales.

Here's my schedule in brief:
Nov 12/13 Home Sale
Nov 28 Tsunami's Annual Holiday Art and Artisan Sale
Dec 4 Trolley Stop Market's Artisan Showcase
Dec 11 Memphis Farmers Market Harvesting the Holidays

Somewhere in there I'll be doing a big Etsy update.  In between those we have some big family birthdays, a 7 year old birthday party, Thanksgiving, and everything else that we do as a family.

And tomorrow?  We're picking up two new chickens. 

See you soon, folks!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

sneak peek

holiday 2010 ornaments. 
see y'all later!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

quiet

 I am, I will be, I want to be, a little quiet around here for the next week or so.  I'm working on building inventory for holiday sales- my own pre-holiday home sale on Nov 12 and 13, a ladies' night before that, a post-thanksgiving sale, and another thing or two in Memphis.  And a big etsy update, as well.  
I'm excited (always am) about new work and have a harder time cranking out the things that people actually "need," like mugs and bowls.  I'm making those too.  Honeypots, butter crocks, colanders and tumblers.  You know, the things that sell and bring in my income.  I have a lot of pots to make in the next few weeks.

Today I'm not making any pots- I need to bisque fire, and it has been rainy so I've made bread and tomato soup.  I went to see a new movie (I hope there will be more info up at this link later) screened at the Indie Memphis film festival.  I wish that this movie were a book so that I could read it again and again. 

ok.  see y'all later.  hope you have a good week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

oh, hello

I'm still here. I went camping. It was awesome. Good food, good company, beautiful surroundings. It couldn't have been better.
Re-entry has been what it always is- kind of tough. The first day you're refreshed and then real life comes crashing back down. There's homework to do. Luggage to unload and put away. Laundry, bills, and, if you're me, pottery that has to be fired and glazed *right quick like* so that you aren't behind. And I am behind, perpetually, but that's ok. I'll never be where I want to be, production-wise, because I have unrealistic expectations of how much I can do in a given time period. I do a lot, but it isn't quite what I think it is.. That's also ok. What doesn't get done isn't earth-shattering.

There have been some good things, too. New ideas I'm working on. A new project I'm feeling extremely lucky to be in on from its inception. A finished pair of socks (I like 'em bright) and 2/3 finished sweater. 40 something jars of tomatoes in the canning pantry and a really really nice stash of tomato jam and pickled okra. More freelance work coming in, new things opening up.

There are three dates left for the regular season of the farmers market.Believe it or not, I intend to put up *one more box* of tomatoes. No, they won't be the best or tastiest or whatever, but this winter, I'm not running out of tomatoes. Yes, I have a problem. And I'm fine with that. I'll be there this weekend and on the 30th. And at the holiday sale on Dec 11.

Speaking of problems, I pulled this little individual teapot-thing out of my seconds box in the basement.  Hubs was ill yesterday and I needed a teapot that wasn't a full-on teapot for his preferred small cups of tea.  I'm not sure why I thought this was a second (actually, the lid isn't quite where I would have liked it to be, but nothing is perfect), but I'm glad I pulled it out.  When we're both working at home, we tend to have a lot of tea.  I think this will be in use a lot. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

finally fall

The weather's finally cooled down.  As much as I looked forward to summer, I really never thought it would end.

This weekend I went camping with some good girl friends- it was fire-less because of the drought we've been having (I think we're on day 40 without rain), but the weather was crisp, the breezes were plentiful, and the skies were amazingly full of stars.

Once home, I made a batch of spicy tomato jam (and I do mean spicy) for gifts and for the pantry.  I have another 7 quarts of quartered tomatoes on the stove, and this evening I'll finish up my last box with as many pints of marinara as I can eek out.  Last summer I canned 2 boxes of tomatoes- maybe 10 pints of puree and 12 quarts.  This year I've gotten almost 4 boxes of tomatoes- I have no plans of scrimping on my tomatoes or running out.

Outside the kitchen, it is time to really ramp up on the making.  I'm participating in a "trunk show" type sale at a friend's home, my own pre-holiday sale (Nov 12 and 13), a Thanksgiving weekend sale, and the Memphis Farmers Market second annual holiday sale.  Plus I plan to have a fully stocked etsy shop for the first time in, oh, who knows when.  So, folks, it's time for me to get rolling- I've already begun making pomegranates.  And I'll have lots more butter crocks and honey pots.  I can barely keep those in stock, and I'm grateful for that.

Have a great week, y'all.  I'm off camping again at the end of the week with some really dear friends.  I can hardly wait.  See you next week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

checking in again

Time just keeps passing. 
The etsy show last weekend was a three-ring circus.  Very well attended, good publicity- there seemed to be some buzz. 

I just put these four bowls up in my shop
I haven't been making as many this summer as in years past.  I do plan to have more in November, right before Thanksgiving, for holiday giving.

I finally got my little kiln plugged in and fired it on Monday.  I'm reserving it for small batches and my drawn-on pieces.  The big kiln is running right now with some re-glazes for the weekend.

I've been asked to make some sacramental/liturgical items that might appeal to men and boys.  That's something big to think on, design-wise.  Color-wise, I know just where to go.  But it is the motif that has me slightly stuck.

Ok.  Back to work.
Have a nice week, everyone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

sneak peek

some tumblers and honeypots for Friday night.  What doesn't sell will go on etsy.  If there aren't any left (wouldn't that be nice!) I'll be making more.

Is it fall-like where you are?  Mid 90s here again today.  Next week will be cooler.  I'm ready for crisp.  And not the dry, parched crisp we've had all summer, either.

Happy day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

yippee!

Earlier this week I shared some images of my new work on facebook and flickr.  I really couldn't be more pleased with them.  So much so that I grabbed this pitcher and called it "mine," not for sale.  I'm really happy with my application of this technique.  I feel like it is reminiscent of Diana Fayt's, but it is more me than simply aping her style (which I love but couldn't even begin to aspire to).  When I was getting ready for her workshop I found a photo that I altered and drew to become this bee on a blown-out pussywillow branch.  A friend copied it for me and made reductions and enlargements to work from.  As soon as I saw the copies I knew it had potential to use with an almost wallpaper-like repeat.  Although I'm not a great fan of wallpaper per se, the repeated motif really appeals to me as a design element on pots.   

So.  After two or three seemingly disastrous firings, I think I've gotten the hang of how to do this.  And I am so, so flipping happy about it.  The workshop was a fabulous experience, but to have come away with a new way of working is even better than fabulous.  I feel like I'm (almost) always pushing forward in my craft.  Heretofore my work has been focused on the form, not the surface design.  As many of you may know, I have HATED glazing for several years.  I never thought surface design would capture my attention (outside of laying a fern into the wet clay to create a glaze-able impression or stamping a word into the body of the piece, both of which I still love). 

I'll have a small selection of these pieces at the Etsy Memphis sale next Friday at the Jack Robinson Gallery.  I'm excited about them.  I hope you will be too!

Have a great week- I hope I'll be back in this space on Thursday to give you a preview of more work I'll be showing Friday night.  Take care.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

goodness

Hi.  It's late afternoon, after a busy day.  I'm a little beat.  I ran this morning as dawn was breaking- it felt good.  Then I spent 4 hours in the studio, throwing and drawing bees on pots and I'm tired and sore.  I have a large pot of black beans on the stove that I'm about to turn into sliders, although I'm not sure we'll eat them tonight. 

Even though it is 95 degrees today, fall is in the air.  Yesterday I found bits of orange in the garden- rose hips, pyracantha berries, and some late milkweed blossoms.  I'm grateful the humidity has slipped away.

I thought I'd share some very good things with you.  You know the event I helped to work on?  We exceeded our goal of $4000.  That was so so wonderful. 

I found a new magazine that isn't for everyone, but I'm excited about it.  We've been simplifying and self-sufficient-ing more and more around here so it's right up my alley.

I'm planning a camping trip with a dear friend and her family next month in the TN mountains.  SO excited about this.

The local response to our Etsy Memphis sale has been so encouraging.  I'm working hard on some things to unveil next Friday!

I hope you're well and happy.  Have a good rest of your week!  Back to the sliders for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

a big to do

This summer my good friend Papatya and I started talking about promoting etsy artists and artisans in Memphis.  We've been talking about it all summer, and now it's here.  The wonderful Lisa at the Center City Commission found a great space for us and 12 other etsy artists.  I am so grateful for her help!  This is a one-night-only show full of all kinds of vintage and handmade goodies.  Early holiday shopping, anyone?  If you're in town and out and about, I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

events

good morning.  has the back-to-school business set in for you yet?  social events, sports, charity?  It certainly has over here.  I have one special event I'd like to tell you about today.

Amazing Grace (sorry, it's a facebook link) is a fundraising event for a family that is dear to my heart.  My friends Wendy and Kalki adopted a sweet little girl a few years ago.  She has Pierre Robin Sequence and has had 16 surgeries in her short 5 years.  She's scheduled for two more in the next two months.  You can only begin to imagine the expenses associated with that many surgeries.  I can't wrap my head around it. 
Some friends of the family have gotten together to arrange a large fundraising party tomorrow night at the Trolley Stop Market, my good friends' store and restaurant.  $10 donation gets you in the door- unlimited pizza and entertainment, and there's a large silent auction filled with gorgeous works of artists (musicians, writers, and visual artists) and artisans.  This is  the piece I made for the event.
If you're in Memphis, I'd love to see you there.  If you're away, look around on the facebook page, and if you feel like giving, I'd thank you.

Have a lovely week.  I've got more things to tell you later in the week, but for now, I'm off to help with this event.

Friday, September 3, 2010

results

Here is the first batch of pottery I made from what I learned at the Diana Fayt workshop.  There's some definite potential here.  I love love love this bee motif (I found an old old photo of a bee feeding from a blown-out pussy willow blossom that I've drawn and altered to use).  The text, "l'abeille bonne", means "the good bee."  I think I like that almost as much as the image.

I'm both pleased and upset by this batch, but I'm going to compare this effort to learning to bake bread, or to knit a sweater.   This is a learning process.  The first loaf of bread you make, even following the best recipe, isn't going to be as good as the 100th loaf you make.
And y'all know I'm a big knitter, right?  Knitting is something that I do JUST for me and occasionally for beloved friends or family.  But the first sweater I knit doesn't look anything like the sweaters I knit now.  And my first sock?  e.gads.  So this pottery, using this technique, is similar.  I had wonderful instruction but I had several user errors along the way.  The first bisque firing way over-fired and vitrified the pieces so the glaze wouldn't stick.  All of these pieces that were in that firing are pretty rough to the touch- with one exception- not glossy/glassy.  The design shows through just fine, but the finish isn't where I want it to be.

The second bisque firing was fine, really, except that I didn't take it to the proper temperature.  A bit too low, this time.  When I started to apply color to the design it soaked in to the piece with a speed and intensity I didn't expect.  This little aqua pitcher was, well, black.  I glazed and fired it anyway, and it is fine, but much darker than I'd intended.  The white pitcher next to it also has problems from user error.  I meant to glaze the interior white- a thick, glossy, opaque glaze- but it spilled over, and since the outside of the pot was black-ish anyway, I just kept going.  The design is almost  completely obscured by the glossy opaque glaze. 

Lessons learned:  First, babysit your kiln and don't let it over-fire.  my last two firings have gone much better because I paid attention to the time.  Second, follow ALL of the directions at first.  Third, some pots are just for learning, not for sale.  The honey pot and two of the little vases are ok to use, but the others are far too un-glazed for real use.  Or to sell.  It's ok.  I'm still learning. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

moments of grace

last week after my kiln debacle(s) I decided to take a nice long run with my dog after dropping my boy off at school.  I headed into it happily, hoping to burn through some tension.  Just as I started the last leg, one mile from home, I tripped on a sidewalk crack and landed on both knees, right underneath someone's sprinkler system.  I got up, kept going, finished firing the kiln (glazing the vitrified pieces didn't really work), and got ready for the market on Saturday.  Saturday was miserably hot.  I left early.  And I decided to take an extended internet break.  I'm still on it, technically, because life has been consistently kicking me in the shins.  And I'm terribly, terribly tired of it. 

I think one of the best ways to get out of a slump is to count your blessings.  And as tough as it has been, I can't say that there haven't been good moments.  A friend and I have been planning a one-night sale featuring etsy sellers from Memphis.  We're so close to finding a location.  She also rehabbed my bike.  My sister in law passed on her old trail bike to me several years ago.  It needed a bit of work and I didn't have the know-how.  And I hadn't been on a bike since, um, 1997.  Before that (1997 was a single bike episode), I hadn't ridden my bike since maybe 1987.  Yesterday I took my first bike ride in 13 years, and the first time I've used a bike with gears or hand breaks.  I enjoyed it immensely.  I have dreams of riding though the paths at Overton Park, which is a stone's throw from my neighborhood.  First I need a helmet.

Another friend has been really involved with a new farmers market in town, one that serves an area that could easily be called a "food desert."  Every week for the past three weeks she's been bringing me pounds and pounds of produce.  Okra, squash, tomatoes, lima beans, corn- and I've been able to pass the surplus along to people who could use it.  The okra (one week there was easily 3 gallons of okra) has become pickles- pickled okra is one of my favorites.  Lima beans and black eyed peas have been blanched and frozen.  I've been in high vegetable heaven. 

And this picture- Edna laid her first egg today.  I watched her carefully build her nest (they don't like our egg box, for some reason), step into it, and lay her egg.  This evening we had huevos rancheros for supper- made with our own organic eggs.  Soon we'll have enough eggs to share.

I'm still working on making pots, trying to build inventory.  And I'm heading back off-line now, and into a book.  I've got a list of books as long as my arm that I'm interested in reading.  Right now I'm half-way through Out Stealing Horses: A Novel.  Really enjoying it.  Also on my list is  Lucky Jim and March.  And I'm trying planting my fall crops by the moon phases.  Just to see if it makes any difference at all. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer, friends.  I'll be back in this space soon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

grrrr

here's a tip if you're just starting out or if you've gotten lazy about your firing.  Keep a log of how long it should take you to fire your average load.  If it usually takes you 9.5 hours to bisque under normal circumstances and the kiln's been running for 13, something's wrong.  Maybe the little cone that sits in your kiln sitter has melted and stuck to the sensing rod so that the kiln keeps firing to cone 7, leaving you wondering if you should try to glaze the now-vitrified pots or not.  I unloaded my kiln (including one shelf that warped, so maybe -probably- the kiln got closer to cone 10 - that's 2300 degrees, folks.  I usually only fire to cone 6, which is in the 21-2200 range.  this load should have shut itself off at 1800.), test-glazed a few pieces, and went back to bed.  Yes, I called it a day and slept until school got out. 

I've noodled around for some tips and tricks on getting the glaze to stick and I'm willing to try them, but the problem is that once clay has vitrified- meaning that it is as hard as it can get and the pores in the clay are closed- the water in the glaze doesn't absorb back into the clay.  Usually you dip or brush wet glaze onto a piece and all of the water is sucked into the clay.  When the clay is vitrified, the glaze- and water- just sits on the top of the piece. 

Yes, I still feel pretty peevish about the entire thing.  So my plan of action is to test a few pieces and run the kiln again tonight to see if the kiln sitter will work or if I will need to fix it- which would be a handy thing to learn to do.  It's always something, isn't it?  And I'm going to put a log up next to the kiln so that I'll know how long each firing should take and watch it more carefully. 

Yes.  My pieces from Atlanta were in this load.  I lost one of them- the color that I'd used turned completely black.  Not pretty.  The other ones seem to be ok.  So this setback, trip-up, whatever is a learning experience.  I'm going to stop being so irritated by it and pick myself back up and carry on. 

I'll be back.

Monday, August 16, 2010

break!

the heat has broken.  Finally.  Our low tonight is supposed to be 73.  I'm firing the kiln, finally, including the things I made at the workshop in Atlanta.  And not a moment too soon, given my inventory issue.

Have a good week.  I'll see you at the end of it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's August.

It's been an exciting week over here.  First week of the first grade (it's been just great!). First egg from our little flock (after wondering if my chickens were indeed the type that produced eggs).  My grandparents have moved up from Louisiana and there's been a hurry-scurry to get their space ready for them. 

Oh, and the vapors of hell have ascended and rest heavily on Memphis.  Our daily highs have been 100 and over.  It hasn't been below 80 all week.  And the humidity, which I jokingly refer to as "gracious" has become an iron fist in velvet gloves, clutching at our lungs.  It's hard to get a breath during the heat of the day*.   I'm beat.  And wondering if I can manage to post anything here more than once a week.  I think we can live with that, though.  Don't you? Because fall is on its way, and we'll all have more energy.

But isn't the egg pretty?  My boy was so excited about it.  Ready to check again for eggs roughly every 12 hours.  Our other hen (Edna) will produce a brown egg- speckled or not, we'll find out.  Our old araucanas laid greenish eggs.  Pearl is an araucana. I bought a beautiful speckled brown egg earlier this spring- I still think of it, glaze-wise.  I'm not much of a fan of brown pottery, but this speckled tan was really lovely.  So I'll be working all of that out once it's cool enough to fire more regularly again.
I have been making pots all week and spent a few hours last night drawing on them.  I'm very pleased with what I've made and eager to finish them.  They are tucked away in the kiln, along with the pieces I made during the workshop with Diana Fayt.  These pieces feel more like me, and I'm happy with that.  And I'm close to being out of my regular stoneware, so I moved into porcelains again this week.  I made porcelain mugs and honey pots, a few vases, several eggs.  I have plenty of stoneware in my reclaim buckets, but they need to be rehydrated and wedged.  I had a jones for throwing this week, so porcelain it was.

I'm at an all-time low in my inventory.  It's nice.  But scary.  Really scary.  No mugs.  No berry bowls.  One honey pot.  No butter crocks.  I have work made, I have work made and fired and ready to glaze.  I just can't fire it.  First break in the heat and I'll crank the kiln right up.

I hope that you'll see this form again after firing- it's a new favorite of mine.  It's familiar, but I'm not sure where it came from.  I made this pitcher earlier this spring, and when I was cleaning it up in preparation for glazing the bottom of the handle broke off.  I glaze-glued it back together, hoping beyond hope that it would stick, but it didn't, really.  The crack is both clearly visible and wonky.  I couldn't bear to throw it away, so now it's my chicken feed scoop.  Pampered chooks they are.  I've made several pitchers that look like this- labeled with "syrup" for some friends, and "lait" for the general public.  I expect I'll be making more.

Hope your weekend treats you well.

*If you aren't from the South and you've heard us talk and wonder why we talk slow, move slow- it's because it is too damn hot and humid to do anything fast, especially in August.

Friday, August 6, 2010

branching out

I had the very best lunch today.  Curried tofu salad sandwich with organic homegrown tomato, basil, and spinach.  Tomato-basil pasta salad.  Rosemary-dijon potato salad (it was really nice and zingy, but sadly, not on my plate when I took this picture).  I had a LOT of good food in Atlanta, but this lunch beat it all, hands down.  My good friend Wendy recently started a catering and made-to-order business, and she asked if I'd like to try my hand at food photography.  I jumped right in.

Goodnight Gracie Specialty Foods , first, is delicious.  Second, it's affordable.  Wendy focuses on spreads, ready-to-go dinner-type salads (think Tabouleh or Thai Sesame Noodle Salad), savory cheesecakes, salsas- things you can build a meal around with what you've got in the fridge or pantry.  If you're in Memphis, she offers specials every weekend- you can get the dish on facebook.  She also caters full meals, picnic baskets, and most intriguing to me, savory cheesecakes.  I'm ordering a tomato cheesecake soon. 

I really had a ball taking pictures of her delicious dishes.  Bonus- she asked to use my pottery for the shoot!

I lucked out with the farmers market on Saturday- I'm under the pavilion again.  So grateful for the shade and ceiling fans, and so ready for this triple-digit heat to break. 

I hope y'all have a nice weekend.  I'm working on getting a new-to-me little kiln set up so that I can fire smaller (thus lower amperage) loads and keep my sweet air conditioning on.  And school starts on Monday- so my summer break ends, too.  See y'all next week!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

learning

home home home.  I am so happy to be home.  This trip was fabulous.  It could not have been better.  I met wonderful people, learned so much, reconnected with friends I hadn't seen in a dozen years.  It was good.  But I'm a homebody, and I'm happy to be home.

This photo is a blur (ahem, intentionally) because the weekend felt a bit like a blur.  It went by so quickly.  Diana Fayt is a tremendous artist and a generous teacher.  I feel fortunate to have been able to learn from her in this workshop in real time.  She gave me a lot of
advice when I first dipped my toes into blogging, flickring, and selling on etsy and has been a very real mentor to me.  Meeting her in person was really wonderful.


Here's a little sneak preview of what I worked on at Mudfire.  This workshop was a challenge for me because I'm such a "dipper."  Most of the fun of pottery to me is in creating the form.  I try to get over my distaste for the glazing process.  Decorating the pots- drawing on them- was work.  Drawing is  intimidating (especially when you're drawing on a piece of pottery!), but it's a learned skill.  A skill I've let sit and rust over the years, but one I'd like to brush up on.   I am pretty smitten with this image I drew from an old gardening photo of a bee visiting a blossomed-out pussy willow.  I think I'll continue to play with this motif as I explore this new surface technique.

so.  back to real life.  school begins on monday.  there's trip laundry to sort out, suitcases to put away, a pantry to refill.  And my stars but it is hot in Memphis.  Daytime highs of 103 and nighttime lows of 85 mean there's no pottery firing for the foreseeable future.  No matter, it will wait. 

I hope you'll enjoy the rest of your summer.  Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ha!

so I say I'm taking a break and I can't stay away.  just REAL fast- yesterday I made my annual batch (this is 1 of 2) of fig jam with rosemary and lemon.  I bought tiny quarter pint jars for gifting.  I needed to have one to take to my excellent teacher, and to be honest, I was afraid that they'd spoil before I could use them if I didn't do something NOW.  It's super yummy, not too sweet.

Oh, you'd like the recipe?  If you don't know how to can, you could freeze it.  But you CAN can.  Just make sure your jars are super clean (put them in a large stockpot with a towel underneath and bring to a boil as you're making the jam.  Take 'em out with tongs.  Throw the lids in a small saucepan and simmer) and you have a big stockpot.

Fig Rosemary Lemon Jam
mashed figs to make 4 c
1.25 c sugar
1 box low-sugar pectin (I use Pomona's Pectin, it's low sugar, but I have to get it online)
1/2 c lemon juice (or more.  I use more)
grated zest of one lemon (again I use more)
3 sprigs rosemary, destemmed, but not chopped

boil it all up.  Ladle it into your jars, leaving 1/4 " headspace.  Wipe the rims of your jars clean, screw on lids and rings, put back into your boiling stockpot (if you don't have a canning jar rack use a kitchen towel in the bottom) and process for 10 minutes (start timing when it begins to boil again). 
Take the jars out and let cool on a towel-covered cutting board.  The lids should ping.  If they don't ping or suck in,  keep in the fridge.  This made 7 quarter pints and 3 half pints.  I have some more figs in the fridge that I may use to make a fig/thyme/onion jam with after my class.

ok.  have fun.  be well. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

gob-smacked

has been my state of mind lately.  Sometimes it seems like everything happens all at once.  Good things, crazy things, inconvenient things, happy joyful things, things that make you want to just go back to bed.   There are some wonderful changes and events afoot, and a few hurdles to cross before they happen.  I'm trying to stay in an optimistic frame of mind but sometimes the daily grind makes that difficult. 
But I'm focusing on the good.

I told you about the tomato farmer who gave me six lbs of lovely beautiful heirloom tomatoes that he considered culls?  And I turned them into beautiful summer-flavored tomato sauce?  Six whole pints (that's six instant suppers!)?  I made him this tomato mug.  I did my usual leaf-imprint, but while thinking about this class I'm taking next weekend, I decided to write "tomato" in the really-too-dry clay.  I say too dry because if the clay had been a hair closer to leather hard rather than completely dry (it was completely dry),  I would have carved a bit deeper, which would have left more room for the glaze to pool into and the word would have shown up more.  Which is to say, at all.  But I am thrilled with the potential.  And totally excited about the class.

Other things in the works- weddings.  I have a love-hate relationship with facebook.  Love that I've been able to reconnect with so many college friends I haven't heard from in years.  Love the instant communication with in-town friends.  Really, I love the exposure it's given my business.  I just hate the (self discipline I don't have) time suck factor.  But one of my little sisters* from college is getting married at the end of August and I'm making her wedding party gifts.  And we reconnected and she saw my work on Facebook.  It really really makes me happy.

Did I mention I'm taking a class with the lovely and talented Diana Fayt?  And I'm completely over the moon about it?  She is very much a mentor to me, and I'm tickled to get to learn from her in person, not just in the over-email-advice-seeking capacity the internets provides.  Photos of the workshop to come.

OK.  This weekend I'm at the market.  It will be hot.  I will have fewer things than usual.  OH!  But the really good news is that the tent and shelves and everything fits neatly into the car with the seats folded down.  I was overjoyed when we did our "test pack" earlier this week. 

So have a lovely weekend, I'll be back in this space in August.  I'm giving myself a break for the class and clearing those hurdles I mentioned earlier.  Think good thoughts, will you? 



*I went to a women's college, Salem, in NC.  It is a very small school, and there are "sister classes"- ie freshman/junior, sophomore/senior.  My little sisters and I were close but had lost touch, so it's wonderful to reconnect and play a small role in one's wedding.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

goodness


I really don't know where the time goes.  Last week went by in a blur, but it was full of good things.  First, I did get the 850.  It isn't a wagon, but the seats fold down and I'm hoping hoping I can get all of my market gear in - shelves, tent, etc.  I really mourned velva-the-volvo's passing.  But I'm hoping that she has a future with someone else.

I threw quite a bit.  I made lots.  A whole kiln load.  All good.  And I experimented with plates.  That hurt my arms, so I put the idea of wheel-thrown plates out of my mind.  Can't do it without pain, so there's no reason to entertain ideas of doing so.  Beginning to figure out slab-built options for plates. 

I sauced and canned eight pounds of heirloom tomatoes.  That a fellow at the market gave me as he was packing up.  They were catfaced- you know, puckered, multi-lobed, a little scarred, full of character, if a tomato can have such a thing.  Really yummy sauce made from organic tomatoes.  Free organic tomatoes.  So I made this farmer a tomato leaf mug.  I'll show you later this week.


One night I stayed out for an extra hour with a friend and I realized that she is one of my life mentors.  It is so good to have those kind of people in your life- people you can learn from just by watching, and conversation with them only deepens your understanding of their wisdom.  I feel really blessed to be actively involved with a multi-generational group of women.  I learn so much from my time with them.


And the figs are in.  I'm picking three times a day.  My largest mixing bowl is full of figs in the fridge.  I'm looking for teeny giftable-size canning jars to make rosemary-lemon-fig jam.  And thinking on how I'll fit in jam-making  to my pottery (and swimming) schedule this week.  The chickens like figs, too.  That's fun.


Ok.  I hope you had a good weekend and have a good week.  I'll see you later.


Monday, July 12, 2010

It's a Monday. And other news

It's Monday*.  The good:  We have gotten a goodly bit of rain, which I'm really just over the moon about.  My boy is in an all-day camp out in the woods, which I'm also tickled about.  I made more butter crocks today, and some crock-pot applesauce.  And I just found that I've made my second appearance in my friends' (Emily and Molly)photography blog, Habit.  I'm flattered to be included.  I've been perusing the beautiful photos and snippets of days for over a year- this month they've invited everyone to participate through flickr.  It is a thrilling to see one of my photos pop up while I'm checking my blog stream!

These tomatoes, by the way, went into a delicious cobbler that I've been playing around with for several years.  Last night's version included goat feta, basil, and a cornmeal pastry crust.  This is one of my favorite dishes- I always freeze several gallons of cherry tomatoes so that I can make this over the winter.  It is one of my favorite things to serve at Thanksgiving.

I had a good market day Saturday- the best I've had since the opening weekend.  I'm grateful for that, and grateful for the enthusiasm for the butter crocks.  Several people have talked to me about making plates over the weekend, so I've thrown a few and am waiting for them to dry enough to trim them.   Plates are hard work and expensive, but I'm up for a challenge.  I don't think I'll be too upset if they don't happen, though.  There is little that's as frustrating as opening the kiln and finding that your hours of work amounted to several cracked plates.  Or berry bowls. Or whatever.  Cracks are no fun.

I hope your weekend was good, and that your work week's gotten off to a good start.

*since it is Monday, here's my Monday story.  I drove my old reliable 15 year old volvo wagon to the bank.  I sat in the drive through, where velva-the-volvo entered her death throes.  She passed out.  In the drive-through lane.  Gary had to come and give me a jump, then go to get the battery checked and find that she needs a new alternator.  If she weren't 15, this wouldn't be a deal-killer, but she is.  And I talked to my mechanic, and he recommended a test drive of another-but-newer- 850.  Think good thoughts for us, will you?

Friday, July 9, 2010

weekend again?

I can't believe how quickly the summer is going by.  I'm doing less than I planned, but I always plan to do too much, so I'm ok with that.  I've been swimming a lot.  Every day, a lot.  It is a joy.

On Tuesday I was getting ready to glaze my pots when I realized that I'd bisque fired several honeypots without piercing holes in the lids.  Hmm.  I'll probably make new lids for those pots, but I decided to make jam- blueberry blackberry- instead of glazing.  I processed the blueberry butter, then made the jam.  I have 17 jars of blueberry goodness in my pantry.  I told myself that jam was less demoralizing than honeypots that wouldn't hold a wooden honey dipper.  It turns out that there was another reason to wait to glaze- my friend and glaze helper called and wanted some pottery time.  If I hadn't set my work aside, I wouldn't have been able to have her help.  And I was so happy to have her help.

It is raining!  Big wonderful fat drops.  I hope it keeps up all night.  This is the first rain my garden has seen since June 11.

I'll be at MFM this weekend.  In the "T".  With honey pots, butter crocks, speckley things, berry bowls.  This coming week I'll have several of these same things in my neglected etsy shop.  And my boy has an all-day long camp next week, so I'm planning to throw on the wheel every day. 

I hope you all have a nice weekend.  Thanks for your support, your friendship, your time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

july

Good morning!  I hope you had a good long holiday weekend.
This weekend I:
went picking blueberries with a friend and with some of my mom's friends.  Picking on this weekend at a teeny-tiny family farm is my family's tradition.  It's perfect, especially when the heat holds off like it did this weekend.  I made off with three gallons.  Then I made:

this.  In the crock pot.  It is yummy and easy.  And still in the fridge, because I didn't get around to processing it.  I also have a batch in the dehydrator.  We love dried blueberries in our granola.

watched my husband finish up the nesting box for our chickens.  The coop is finally all ready to paint and pretty up.  I'm excited about this step.

Went swimming with friends on Friday and Saturday.  Watched my boy dive into the pool and swim all the way to the shallow end.  Watched him swim from the shallow end to where I was bobbing around in the deep end.  Was mystified by his sudden progress.  And realized that for the first time since I was a college student, I have a tan.

Took vows to simplify my life a bit more.  Sometimes I try to do too much.  When you try to do too much you (read: I) aren't happy or gracious or welcoming.  Simple is better.

Bisque fired on the evening of July 4, listening to the sounds of neighborhood kids shooting off firecrackers.  Today I'll start glazing.

Helped my mom finish digging up the heirloom plants at her old garden to go to her new house.  She has some irises that belonged to my grandmother and her grandmothers.  The teeny tiny daffodils from Louisiana are hidden deep in the ground and will have to wait until spring when they show their leaves again.  And organized her new pantry, hung some plates I made before N was born on her kitchen wall, and washed all of our cars.

Started learning about planting by the moon phases.  Interesting.  I'm going to try it with a second batch of potatoes (even though it's really too late, I found some fingerlings hiding in my basement root storage) and those green beans that have dried up.  There's certainly no harm in trying them again.

This week:
holding out hope for rain and cool temperatures
more swimming- practice after this week's swimming lessons
processing the blueberry butter
making blueberry-blackberry jam (oh, hello! jam!)
glazing.  That part starts today.

talk to you soon.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

making

 Hi.  Several times this week I've caught myself sitting down, ready to write, but with little to say. 

I'm making a lot this week. 

Throwing and trimming and doing some slab work. 

Tomorrow is my 10th wedding anniversary. 

The weather's cooled down some.  I'm very grateful for that (and for the 10 years).

Today I sat underneath the fig tree on our old metal glider with some iced coffee and a book, watching the chickens root through my newly-laid mulch in search of bugs.  They found several and chased each other every time one found a nice juicy bug underneath the ailing green beans.  Extreme heat (28 days of highs over 94 with high humidity- over 70%) has killed a lot in my garden.

There are still only 2 chickens.

The coop and yard are locked up tighter than Fort Knox. 

I'll plant more beans when the temps cool down a bit.  Maybe a second crop of okra in case they don't.  The tomatoes are mostly in the front yard and they're doing fine.

I enjoyed the sitting in the shade.

ok.  have a good rest of your week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

what's next?

hello!  How's your week been?  Ours has been a little crazy.  Plumbing issues (we have a fabulous utility company that took care of a leaking pipe in front of our house and then took exhaustive measures to trouble shoot and then fix subsequent problems.  Lots of people moan and groan about public utility companies, but every person I've dealt with at MLGW has gone above and beyond the call of duty), heat (15+ days with temps hovering around 99- that's typical august weather, not june!) and firing to work out.  Plus I've been thinking more about sustainability at home and in the studio.  I made my own laundry detergent and have been exploring water conservation/reuse options that go beyond the rain barrels we have set up.

And pottery wise, I have some new things to show you!  I've been playing with my letter stamps quite  a bit- I have the large stamps I've had forever and a relatively new set of 1/4" stamps.  First, this little "hello" was a test piece for a friend who wanted a butter crock in blue and yellow.  I wasn't sure how it would work, and I was honestly afraid that the colors would run, but I'm pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. 

And I am really really tickled with how these turned out.  I have several salt cellars with lids (the one pictured lost its lid somehow and it didn't get glazed) and more honey pots that say "honey" instead of "miel".  I like French best, but I'm making versions in English, too.  What do you think?

I'll be at the market this Saturday and will have these plus the english honey pots.  Whatever is leftover will go up in the shop on Monday.  And I am definitely making more of these.  I have a few other surprises to show you over the next few weeks- I want to have plenty ready to roll out the door before I introduce them, though.  No sense in being a tease, is there?

Have a good weekend, friends

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

hot hot hot

ok.  no break in the temps.  I have a smaller kiln on site, now I just need a new outlet to plug it in.  This week (so far!) I've fired twice.  Well, not this week.  Once on Saturday, once yesterday.  Both smaller loads, fired in the wee hours of the morning.  I can load in the afternoon and fire the first two cycles (warm up- 2+ hours, medium 2+ hours) with the air going and then turn up the kiln to high and turn the air off as we go to bed*.  The bisque firing was finished at 2am, so I turned the air back on when it was finished.  The glaze firing I did last night took until almost 4 (I wake up every few hours to check on the progress when I fire through the night- a nervous wake-up habit), but it was nice to wake up for real in the morning to a cool rather than stifling house.  Firing smaller loads means less time glazing (per session), which is very good for me.  I'd rather work for three hours at it than six hours.

I hope to have some brand new things to show you before Friday.  Fingers crossed.  On Saturday I'll be at the farmers market.  Saturday feels like a million miles away, but Monday already feels like a year ago.

I hope you're having a good week.  I feel like things are settling down here a bit, which is good.  Tomorrow I'm going to swim and work on the wheel.  I'm looking forward to both.

*If you're new to me, I have an old house (1922) with old wiring (ahem. though not 1922, it still provides a limited amount of power) that doesn't allow me to run the air conditioning and the kiln on its highest setting.  Once the air was on, a supplemental AC unit was going, and the microwave was on and we lost power.  When we build a new studio we'll also put in a new/separate electrical box so that I can run both at the same time)

Friday, June 18, 2010

good friday to you

 I'm so glad that it is here.  This has not been the easiest week on record- not a good week to be a Bridgman chicken.  We're down to two hens.  And they're flipping out just a bit.  Funny thing was another friend had one of her araucana "pullets" turn into a roo, as well. 

I'm slowly restocking my etsy shop- these teacups are there, and there are a few berry bowls up, too.  I've gotten some really nice  bloggy props this week.  I really appreciate it, friends.

I'm working on figuring out how to fire during this heat wave we've been having.  The solution involves borrowing a smaller kiln from a fellow potter-friend who is expecting her fourth child this summer.  Ironically, the kiln used to be mine and went to live with a little old lady friend before it went to my friend who has it now.  Smaller=less energy=I can run the air.  Our lows  haven't been much under 80 for the past two weeks, and the high humidity (which I usually love) means that it feels much warmer than it is.  We're having August weather in June.  And it's ok, but I have to have a production work-around.  I can't not work just because it's hot, nor can I make my family suffer through nights of no air conditioning.  (what did we do before this air-conditioned comfort?  I'll bet that windows weren't painted shut- as they are in my bedroom- before the advent of air conditioning)

I hope your weekend is restful.  See you on the other side.