Friday, May 27, 2011


I'm glaze shopping again.  For clear this time; the new batch of white is doing exactly what it is supposed to, but the clear- oh goodness.  I tell you that it BITES to spend, say, six hours on a set of cups (start to finish, hands-on time is about 10 hours for these 20 cups, not including firing) and pull them from the kiln and find them rough and streaky and/or cloudy.  I tried to reglaze them but the glaze wouldn't stick because it was too thin.  Not terribly good for someone trying to fill wholesale orders. On Tuesday I cried about it and told my son I didn't want to be a potter any more.  He asked what I'd do with my wheel and kilns.  Good question.

And then I see lovely photos of my work in friends' homes, and someone I know sees me out at supper and tells me that she loves the new piece she bought, and my knitting friends are tickled with their newest batch of seconds, and I realize that it's ok.  And that I am in serious need of a re-boot.  A vacation.  So we're taking one.  I'll be back here in a few weeks, with some new clear glaze, and hopefully some work to share.

Happy Memorial Day.  Enjoy your holiday weekend.  Remember those who have given and lost and be thankful.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Here's a preview of half of my kiln that is ticking and cooling out back.  about 2/3 of this load is intended for local shops.  The other 1/3 is for my etsy shop.  I love love love these pieces.  Yesterday, when my assistant was over, I had her roll out slabs to make some platters to draw on.  I checked on them last night and am looking forward to spending an hour with them later this morning. 

I keep feeling like I'm working and working and not having much to show for it, but I remind myself that keeping things in inventory is not my goal.  Making and moving them out is.  I do need a certain amount of inventory to, oh, stock an etsy shop or have a sale at home, but I realized that I'm accustomed to having six huge rubbermaid bins chock full of pottery- 60+ lbs each, but that's not how I'm working anymore.  It isn't efficient or, frankly, the best way to generate income for my family.

Tomorrow I'm getting a new batch of the glaze that worked best for me so that I can finish one of my dinnerware orders and start a second.  (hint to Melissa- THAT's where your effort has been going!)
This afternoon I'm going to pick strawberries with a friend and our children, and then we're going to make JAM!  Canning season has begun (I snuck in a batch of rose petal jelly and syrup on Mother's Day) and I have a plan.  Tonight will be rocking at Levitt Shell, our neighborhood free concert venue- I'm thinking about a picnic of Zapps (google it!), banh mi, and rose- or abita, as it's a new orleans band.  And on Sunday, I'm working on putting those front-yard raised beds in.  In the middle of the yard.  Because it's my yard, dang it all, and I'm out of veggie space.  Possibilities.

I hope your Friday is full of potential.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I stink

at blogging this year.  But ironically, I'm making like gang-busters.  Everything I make, like these platters, I'm making in quantity.  Platters, honey pots, latte  cups, mugs, berry bowls.  I've been making 8 at a time of everything.  First, I'm working on filling my wholesale obligations and the dinner sets that people have ordered.  Second, I'm working on building inventory so that I can have a sale at home in June, and put things up on etsy.  I seem to have been unable to have enough work to put it online.   And I've been doing little projects around the house, like painting a new mailbox for the front porch so that the mail doesn't fall through the slot and get permanently lost under the sofa.  Not good when that happens with bills, or netflix envelopes.  Trying new things in the studio and outside of the studio.   Reorganizing the studio with found and new-to-me shelving.  Painting lots of things.  And summer's almost here.  Ten more days of school.

Hope your weekend is swell.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

the glaze test

I've unloaded the kiln and am mostly happy with my test results.  This is glaze one, which was totally new to me.  Um, No.  I'm not sure if you can see that it has an almost eggshell like texture to it- almost miniature dimples.  It is bright white and runs all over the place on the pieces that I dipped.  I tried it on one of my botanical mugs and you can't see the leaf at all.  It was fine for brushing, but again, the piece that I brushed had a 4-leaf clover in the middle and the image was almost completely obscured.  The glaze also dripped all the way down to the kiln shelf on several pieces, so I have some shelf maintenance to do now- you can see this on the little bowl, which had a really clear margin of wax on the bottom to keep the glaze off the bottom of the pot.  This will probably be a good liner glaze (to go on the inside of mugs, particularly the mugs that I draw on), but this glaze is not for me.  I bought 5 lbs of it, which makes a gallon, and it should be fairly easy to use up if I use it exclusively on the inside of pieces.

Here are glazes 2 and 3.  Glaze 2 is my old glaze.  Glaze 3 is my old glaze, just a fresher batch.  Again, I dipped and brushed pieces.  I measured 100 ml of each glaze and then weighed them.  They each came in at 146 g, 145-150 being the optimal weight according to the manufacturer (less weight means too much water, more weight means too much glaze solids).   No shivering off this time with the old glaze, but there were still patchy rough places.  In this photo I dipped the platter on the bottom in the new formula and it was almost perfect.  Lesson 1- start dipping ALL of my pieces if possible.  The second piece, on top, is the new mix of white on top- nice and thick, 3 brushed-on coats.  On the bottom, the old mix- again, 3 brushed-on coats.  I'm not sure if you can tell in the photo, but the top layer is much thicker than the bottom layer.  The really interesting thing about these tests is when I mixed up the  glazes, there was a discernible difference between the two buckets of the old and new glaze.  The old glaze was bright white and settled out quickly, even though I'd added a stabilizer.  The new glaze was creamier, almost beige.  It didn't need a stabilizer, even after I'd been using the bucket for an hour or so.

I didn't glaze under ideal conditions- it was raining cats and dogs for most of Tuesday morning, and I was in the even-more humid basement.  I always have problems with the glaze sticking on humid days, so I expected some problems.  I'm pleased that I didn't ruin too many pieces with Glaze 1, that 75% of the pieces I used Glaze 3 with came out near-perfect, and Glaze 2 did exactly what I expected it to, which was to under-perform. 

If you're interested in knowing which glaze I used for Glaze 1, shoot me an email (I don't get most of the email addresses with your comments) and I'll tell you.  Glaze 2 is an at least 3 year old 25 lb bag of Opulence Gloss White.  Glaze 3 was a brand-new bag of the same.  There is one other white glaze I'd like to test, but since I buy all of my clay and most of my other glazes from Opulence (they're based in Nashville, fairly close to me), I think I'll stick with them.  Now to work on those dinner and wholesale orders!

I'll be at MFM for Mothers' Day shopping on Saturday.  Maybe in the new section of the pavilion.  Come say hello!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

good morning!

It is, finally, a beautiful sunny day.  We've had torrential rains for the last few days (Sat pm through Monday night), which, coupled with the MS river's almost record-breaking depth (we're almost at 45 ft, expected to be at 47 next week.  Official flood stage is 34 ft), has almost everyone on alert.  Last year on May 1 we had flash flooding that caused creeks to rise, threw municipal pumping stations off line, and caused all sorts of havoc.  We didn't know it was coming.  Now we know it's coming and people are evacuating, planning, sand-bagging, worrying.  I'm grateful for the warning and lead-time.

Weather aside, yesterday I tested my three white glazes.  My old white glaze that had been giving me problems, a new batch (same glaze, but made recently- my I bought my old batch several years ago), and an entirely new brand.  I mixed them up on Monday, let them rest for 24 hours, then screened and glazed a load to see what they would do.  Mugs, small platters and little bowls- I tested dipping (my preferred method of glazing) and brushing (what I have to do for larger pieces) to see how they'd turn out.  The kiln finished firing around 4am, and I'll need to wait until Thursday morning to unload it.  My fingers are crossed.  There was a discernible difference between the new and old versions of my "regular" white glaze- both in how the glaze felt when mixed and dried on the pieces, and in its color.  I loaded the kiln so that each glaze  got its own shelf - we'll see.  I'm hopeful that the new/old white will work well and that maybe the new-new white will, too.  Because I've got a TON of pottery that needs to be glazed white, and I'm ready to put that dinnerware set to bed!

Thanks for your good thoughts and emails about how my family fared with the bad weather here in the Deep South.  I really appreciate it.
Happy Wednesday-