Monday, April 26, 2010

long and lazy

This weekend seemed particularly long and lazy, even though we were busy and productive almost the entire time.  There was a great deal of weather excitement in town- severe storms Friday night and all day Saturday.  Thankfully we got our rain barrels set up (read: Gary diverted our gutters- some new, some ancient) just in time on Friday and collected a full 275 gallons in the back, 55 in the front, and replenished the other existing 55 gal barrel.  Despite the storms, I made my way to the Memphis Farmers Market Saturday morning to visit with my market friends (it is hard to visit when I'm working!), pick up eggs, honey, and produce. 
Once home, I made some pots, puttered, and listened to the storm.   When the weather cleared, I did a bit of weeding in the wet garden (Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces has been my bedside reading lately) while the boys worked on the chicken coop.  I bought Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock because I love Ashley English's writing (check out her Small Measures blog- it is very inspiring), and because last time around I lost a chicken to egg binding (basically her egg got stuck and she died because I didn't know what to do).  Our coop is loosely based on some of the plans in her book.  It is an entertaining and informative read- and it is beautifully photographed.  I'm looking forward to her upcoming books on home dairy and beekeeping! 

This week is my get-ready-for-market week.  Today I'm trimming the last of my pots, drying them in the oven (we've gotten our "april showers" all in one weekend), and bisque firing tonight or  tomorrow.  Glazing mid-week, then pricing and packing.  I snuck in a little sewing time over the weekend and hope to finish some projects and throw more pots upstairs.  Throwing is my favorite thing to do, pottery-wise.  I'm so glad I decided to get help with glazing- it's really sped up the process.

I hope you all have a great week- I'll see you again  towards the latter half.  It's almost May!  Can you believe it?

(PS- I've added Amazon Associates to my account.  Since November our finances have been tight and my book-buying habit has been severely curtailed.  It was my favorite vice.  This little tool will help me to indulge in it every once in a while again.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

weekly wrap up

I just peeked into the kiln to see how my glaze firing did. Top load looks just swell. Some of these pieces (like the big platter on the left) are gifts- others are designated for the shop and custom orders. Many others are going to some friends' new store, the Trolley Stop Market. I've been working hard this week on cranking out a custom order for a wedding- I have two pieces left to make. Keeping my fingers crossed that they turn out as desired!

It has been such a full week. Full of good things, blessings, surprises, and a few trials. Sunday was spent doing Sunday things, plus clearing out all of the baby gear from our attic. On Monday I got a good deal of throwing done- I was happy with my work. I also got the kiln loaded to bisque fire half of the wedding order. Tuesday our utility company knocked on our door to let us know that they needed to take out a shrub that I happened to like. To compensate, the used a back hoe to remove a block of hollies that we've been trying to remove ever since we moved into our house! I was so, so happy about that. The resulting sunny space will be dedicated to tomatoes in the short term and to a pomegranate bush in the long term! That same day a dear friend overnighted me a package of lovely lacy ferns. I took them right upstairs and made several large pieces- platters, bowls, even a few vases- all decorated with her ferns. Wednesday was spent shipping, buying more shipping supplies, detail-glazing the ferns.

I tried to do too much on Wednesday. Way too much. Woke up tired and cranky Thursday morning and sent out a cry (ahem. whine) for help. A friend came over, helped me glaze the last of my load of pottery, brought sweet buttery pastries, AND took a load of my old dress/professional clothes to Dress for Success. I called another organization to come and get all of our baby gear. Another dear friend and her daughter spent some time in the afternoon visiting, and my mom came and brought supper! This morning I was talking to my neighbor about the rain barrels we're putting in and she gave me tomato plants! Another friend also gave me tomato plants (I had a tomato seed disaster this year. I didn't water them and they dried right up.); I think you know where we're putting them.

I feel so busy, blessed, stretched. Sometimes sorry for myself, but I'm reminding myself to laugh at it, not take pottery or trials too seriously, and to delight in the good things. Thanks for being part of the good things.

Have a lovely weekend.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I am finally ready to let these go. Here's how I'm doing berry bowls this year. I'm listing ten at a time as I have them. I'm not offering custom colors or groups. Trying to meet individual requests made me more than a little stressed last year and the year before. I'm trying to reduce the amount of crazy in my life this year. I've had several customer requests for saucers to go under the berry bowls. I'm going to begin making them this week. and should have them finished the week of May 1. If you want a saucer, please indicate your wishes in the buyer's notes and I will send you an extra paypal invoice to cover the cost of the saucer ($10, which will also include the bump in shipping).

I do appreciate everyone's enthusiasm for these berry bowls. They (and you!) make a huge contribution to my family's financial well-being and even when I feel completely crazy during "berry bowl season" I never forget how much you help us. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


How are you? You know how sometimes it feels like your weeks fly by? And sometimes it feels like three days have already been a week? I think when I have a concrete deadline things start to go haywire. On Monday I bought a tent for the market. I hope hope (fingers crossed) that it will arrive before Friday. I started running again and got in a little easy 25 minute jog with my dog. Monday was also a glazing day- and the bottom broke out of one of my buckets of glaze. Happily, I was glazing over the kitchen sink so most of the mess was contained. Also happily, it was the sepia color I use on my herb markers and almost nothing else. And I have more dry glaze. I tried to salvage what I could (many glazes settle into a thick sludge at the bottom of their buckets) by mixing the sludge with a little bit of clear glaze- and the markers came out clear. I'll redo them in a bit. It took most of the day, but I got my glazing finished. Hundreds of herb markers and the first round (they have to be glazed twice to encase the speckles in glaze) of all of my speckled egg ware. Right before the glaze bucked busted, I remembered that I had a dentist appointment and went to it, covered in glaze, still wearing running clothes. I couldn't stop laughing- I was mortified that I forgot, that I was filthy, but there you go.
Tuesday we had QUITE AN ADVENTURE that took up the entire morning. This adventure was right on top of the work that I needed to do and, ah, effectively prevented me from doing it. Then we had a funeral to attend. By the time the funeral was over school was out, little boy had a dentist appointment. After the dentist appointment, I managed to get the rest of my pots waxed and some details glazed. And I began to see the humor in life before deadlines.

This morning everything has gone smoothly. I ran, unloaded the kiln, put the second glaze coat on my speckled pieces, finished glazing the rest, loaded the kiln, and now just need to reglaze those clear-sepia herb markers, start firing, clean up my glazing mess, then finally shoot pictures of my HOPE pieces and new egg vases to put up in the shop.

I certainly expect something of a crazed/epic nature to happen, as it does when deadlines press. But I think that I'll laugh instead of flip out. So far it's been pretty funny.

If you're in Memphis, I do hope you'll come down for the opening day of the market. It should be a beautiful day and a lot of fun. Have a lovely rest of your week!

Friday, April 9, 2010

7 days!

Until the Memphis Farmers Market opens its season. I've spent this week finishing my first batch of herb markers for it and the Trolley Stop Market, glazing and firing ware, tinkering with the layout of this blog (that was a wasted afternoon. I crashed it and spent 4 hours getting it back into shape), throwing, trimming, and reaching the point that I always do before a big event or season of feeling completely overwhelmed. The house is a wreck, the lawn needs mowing, laundry has morphed into a mountain of needs-to-be-done and needs-to-be-folded.

Instead of flipping out like I usually do, I'm stopping. It's Friday night. My kiln is loaded with the last of what I'll take to the Market next Saturday. I'll glaze it on Monday. Since I'll be there every other week until the end of October, there's really no sense in my trying to have everything all at once, is there? I am happy that I have enough to fill my shelves, with more on the way.

In my basement, on the photo table, I have almost a dozen of my "hope" vases and bowls. I plan to shoot and list them Sunday or so. 60% of their sale price will go to support St. Vincent's Orphanage, Hospital, and School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, via West TN Haiti Partnership. I'll let y'all know when they're up on etsy. There are also about 15 berry bowls down there, ready to go. I think that I'm not taking orders on these this year, I'll just list them as I have them. In years past I've made myself (and my family) quite nuts trying to make them as quickly as I could, breaking many of them, not being able to fire because we lost power for a week due to a freak summer thunderstorm. This seems to be how I operate- over-commit and make everyone at my house crazy. Not this year. I'll have what I have.

This photo has nothing to do with any of this, really, except that my friend Melissa called me around lunchtime to let me know that she had lots of ferns popping up and that I should come get some. So I did. A bouquet full of fiddleheads sure makes me happy. I also stopped at a house in my neighborhood with a glorious bed of tall ferns that grow happily in the sun (you might imagine that this is a rare thing) to ask if I could have a piece of the plant. The nice lady of the house told me that the fern escapes into the yard and that I could dig all that I wanted. I plan to head over tomorrow with a shovel.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. And I appreciate that you are reading what I have to say about my pottery, garden, and life. Thanks for your thoughts and support.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Our spring break was lovely and I don't remember a more beautiful Easter day- we got outside a lot in the last week and spent almost the entire weekend out enjoying the beautiful weather. I hope you've been able to enjoy it, too.

Today I've been working like a crazy woman all day, glazing. I had wonderful help again- this time with the sanding and the waxing as well as the glazing. Hiring a helper has been the best thing I've ever done for myself professionally. Paying someone else to clean for me was a close second. That I miss. But hiring for glazing help has been invaluable- I'm more efficient with my time when I'm paying someone else to help me and it should make sense that it would only take half the time with two people working, but still, it amazes me. I have a big load ready to go tomorrow and there are several pieces that I'm excited about, like these two platters:

They are test pieces for a large custom order- I need to find more of the fern, but I have another month to work on them. The first of May is my self-imposed deadline. I know you can't really see the design, but the fern is vining and lacey, and the brownish glaze will be a deep bronzey green and the stems covered by white will take on a turquoise glow. Glazing the ferns is tedious but I always forget how much work it took when I see the end results. There are still eggs to speckle and the kiln to load tomorrow, but it was a good day's work.

After supper I did some clean up work in the kitchen, glazing table, and later in the garden. I am pottery-ed out for the day and needed to putter around with other things. While I was out I picked my first asparagus of the season. These spears are a bit late and there aren't as many as I'd hoped, but I expect more in the coming weeks.
I'll eat these with a fried egg for lunch tomorrow. They are enormously fat at 1.25" in diameter and make me absolutely giddy. Besides a little picking, most of my garden clean-up time was spent culling asparagus seedlings from other areas of the vegetable garden. There were about 10 little baby ferns popping up in my leeks and several more in the area where I've planted carrots and radishes.

April 17, the opening day of the farmers market, is quickly approaching. The Trolley Stop Market (no link yet, but they do have a facebookpage) is projected to open on April 21. Between now and then I have about 500 herb markers to make, plus berry bowls, honey pots, and butter crocks. I won't be in this space much until mid-month. I'll pop in with an etsy update- the first batch of berry bowls is coming soon.

Have a great week, everyone!