Wednesday, June 30, 2010


 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.

Monday, June 14, 2010


What a weekend.  It's hot like August right now and has been for almost a full week- high in the mid-to-upper 90s, high humidity.   Now I like, even love our humidity.  But at this temperature, the humidity means we have heat indices in the 100s.  I've been craving some time in a cool forest, in running water.  A respite.  We had a very busy weekend - I had my day at the farmers market and we hosted our bookclub that evening.  I'd planned to spend Sunday on the Mississippi River to have a day of cool and quiet. 

It turned out that we needed the respite as Sunday began rather traumatically.  I got up early, as I usually do, and let the chickens out as the coffee was brewing.  There were only three.  There were signs of a scuffle in the hen house.  There were feathers outside everwhere.  And then, to top it off, there was crowing.  Quite a lot of crowing.  Mary, a well-mannered black star hen, served as supper for the neighborhood raccoons.  They ripped out the screening in the back of the hen house and I can only imagine what followed.   And Petunia let us know for sure that she is not a she.  We were devastated at the loss of our hen and disappointed to learn for sure that we owned a rooster.  It was hot, it was humid, and we had a loud carnage scene to deal with.  Respite, we doubly needed you, even though we knew we'd return home to the task of re-building and reinforcing our hen house.

We are fortunate to have a great state park, locally known simply as Shelby Forest less than 20 miles from our front door.  It is so densely forested that a) the temperature is 10-15 degrees cooler there than in the city and b) our cell phones don't work in the park.  There are two lakes, miles of hiking trails, and when the river is low enough (and it wasn't this time), sandbars to play "beach" on.  Central to this artisan's interests, vast pockets of iron-rich sandy black clay line the sandbars and boat access ramps.  We played in the water for a bit, dug a bit of clay, picnicked in the shade near one of the lakes and rested for a good part of the day.  It was deep green, cool, breezy.  Full of wildflowers and vast glades of ferns.

I'm still so sad about our chickens (plural because Petunia will need to find a new home- crowing roosters aren't popular with city neighbors), but I am glad that we went to the river as we'd planned.  It was a beautiful, peaceful place. 

I hope your week is a good one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good morning.  Last night we got some much-needed rain- everything is green and lush this morning under still-grey and heavy skies.  The humidity in the air makes everything feel slightly tropical-I can almost imagine that I'm in New Orleans, sitting in old metal lawn furniture with a cold drink, waiting for a breeze to stir the air that sits heavy on your skin, like velvet.  Some people find the humidity oppressive, but I've always loved how it is almost tactile and soft.

Over the past few weeks I've been spending more time on projects around the house than in the studio- I have a rescued butler's pantry (literally rescued, I found it on trash day on someone's curb) that I've been stripping years of paint and grime off it.  It's nearly ready to paint.  I made new covers for the cushions on the porch.  The house got a deep clean (it's dog-shedding season- the vacuum comes out more frequently), and just yesterday we installed some new (to us, also repurposed items) huge planter boxes (4x2, almost 2' deep, and we have them set up so that they're waist-high) along the driveway in the back yard (our house is ca. 1922- the drive goes all the way to the back, where there was originally a small garage and now there's a carport w/ attached storage building that houses my kiln and glazing supplies) for more planting space.  My strawberries have almost taken over half of my little kitchen garden plot and need to be moved, and I discovered that last year's tuberose bulbs tripled!  I'm considering new window treatments for the den- I took down our old valances this winter and have yet to replace them- still thinking on that, but that little lift will be coming soon.
So, lots of house love, and last weekend we had quite a bit of company, including a special visitor and her two sweet kids.  We spent most of her visit outside underneath our fig tree, enjoying the shade, our children playing in the tree house, and pleasant company.  The combination of visitors, loving on our house, and resuming my morning runs through the neighborhood has had me really thinking about my home and my old neighborhood.  Rachel's post resonates with me.  I feel lucky to be where we are, in an old, established, modest neighborhood.  One where people (mostly) love their homes but no one is ostentatious or trying to outdo.  One where I can have a bottle tree in the front yard and no one gets bent out of shape by the enormous bamboo tomato cage sharing space with too-abundant flowerbeds- my neighbors laughed at that instead of being upset.  Not to mention my chicken yard, clothesline, and rain barrels.  I'm grateful for that (and realizing that more and more, I may be slightly on the fringe.  I'm ok with that). 
The last six months have been difficult- the economy has been rough on everyone.  I'm taking a big break from feeling oppressed and worried to be grateful for our blessings and the small things that keep us going.  I'm grateful for the big things, too, but sometimes it's the smaller things that add up to help me see the big ones I've been oblivious to.

And I'm working in the studio again.  I've made several more "Beurre" butter crocks, honey pots that say both "honey" and "miel", lidded salt cellars, berry bowls, and bud vases, because these eight were among the last that I had.  I made another dozen last night.  I'll be at the farmers market on Saturday, out in the "T", from 7-1.  If you're in town, I hope to see you there.

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

a little more

about that interview I was telling you about on Saturday.  I'm still thinking about it.  I dug up (literally, in the case of the split example) my old buddha heads I made while teaching in 2004 (I think).  The one that split was in a window box planter on my front porch.  The other white one (it came first, made out of self-hardening clay that I took a risk on and fired) was the first one I'd made.  I think the buff stoneware is the better of the two.  They're about 3" tall.
I first became interested in Buddhism when I was in college (typical).  I am not a good Buddhist.  Not at all.  I don't let things go easily.  I try, but -  trying is the essence, I think.  I'm a better Episcopalian.  Much better.  And more committed, but still, it's all about the trying and starting over every day.  I think that Jesus and Buddha would be cool with each other on most levels.
On Sunday, after Saturday's Memphis Farmers Market appearance, I plan to play hooky and take my family down to the river for the day.  They think we're just going to play in the muddy muddy water, but really, I'm going after that iron-rich clay for my project.

I may not be in this space again until early next week, so have a good one if I don't see you again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


this morning I got up early to head to the farmers market and take a little photography field trip.  A friend sent me a link to a story about tableware taken directly from the earth.  I did that once and enjoyed it, but haven't tried working with it again.  On the way back from the market I heard an interview with Edward Tufte and his Buddha with Bird Nest sculpture.  Sculpture might be the way to take this local clay- its high iron content contaminates my white porcelaineous stoneware too much for tableware.  A seed (or nest) of Buddha with a nest has been planted in my brain.

Canning season starts for me this week.  I bought all the beets one farmer had- spiced pickled beets (and chiffonade of beet greens for the freezer- I love beet greens, especially sauteed with onion, garlic, and potatoes and served with hash or a bit of sausage-makes it palatable for the boys- over pasta) coming up- and was given a box of slightly smooshed peaches by the manager of an orchard who gave me tons of culled fruit for canning and drying last year.  So sweet of him to remember!  I'm thinking about gingered peach jam for this first box, and I'll get out the dehydrator for the less-smooshed pieces.

The kitchen garden I occasionally sneak into (it isn't open to the public, but I've been given permission to visit, even though it stays locked) was lovely.  Photos over at flickr.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Hi.  I'm feeling a little better now.  My shoulders are gradually coming down from my ears.  I have a few things to tell you about.
First, if you're in Memphis, my friends the Forresters (of Whitton Farms) have opened their long-awaited Trolley Stop Market.  They have a facebook page but not a website yet.  I have pottery there, plus there's a plethora of local goodness: honey, organic popcorn and rice, organic flour (hard and soft wheat, kamut, spelt), veggies, flowers, gifts, and really really fabulous pizza.  I make a pretty mean pizza, but this nearly topped my own efforts.  No, I'm not at all modest about my cooking in general and my pizza in particular.

Second, in lieu of having a sale at home this summer, I'm going to make a pretty large etsy update.  A honeypot or two, more egg cups, speckled egg ware, berry bowls, mugs.  I'm going to photograph the pieces and start listing them today.  You my readers, customers, and friends have been so supportive of my work over the past several years.  I really appreciate it. 

My sweet friend Tara took a lovely photo (all of her photos are lovely, frankly) of one of my pieces and used it in her blog post for today.  If you have time, go look at her photos.  She captures life in such a way that it just looks so pretty.  She inspires me to find the pretty moments in the midst of my daily grind.  And lately, I need the inspiration and the pretty.  I think we all get bogged down and need to be uplifted.  Tara's work does that for me, and her photographs of my work remind me of why I chose this work- I believe it makes everyday life happier, even just a little happier, a little more meaningful.  Thanks for the reminder, Tara!