Monday, September 26, 2011


to say that I am thrilled with these is an understatement.  Bisque firing a bunch more of these today.

This weekend I also went to see this show and lecture.  I bought the book that accompanied the show, which is something that I rarely do, but I think I'll go back to it over and over again.  I drew and took notes furiously throughout the lecture- not so much on this potter's style- it was very much in the folk, utilitarian style of the NC mountains (read- really, really thick), but he used a slip-painting style that was reminiscent of Wedgwood Jasperware (without knowing about Jasperware) and crystalline glazes.  Crystalline isn't something I'm interested in pursuing- they're not really food safe- almost, but not quite, too soft and leachable, and frankly, too finicky in the firing.  I'm not into finicky.  Nope.  But I did fall in love with how they cascade down the shoulders of large vases, and that, friends, is something I can draw.  If you're in Memphis, the show runs through mid-November.  There's also a nice impressionist exhibit up through Oct 9.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

working and sorting

I may have mentioned that I was sorting out my options for the foreseeable future,  what I wanted to do, what I wanted to make more of, what I didn't want to do this year(a holiday home sale) and what I didn't want to make anymore.  This is a process that's been difficult for me, and that I've been wrestling with for the better part of this year.  Difficult because some things have been so so good in the past but don't feel quite right anymore.  Difficult because I'm used to them and changing how I do business or make pottery is scary.  Difficult because I've been in survival mode for so long that I haven't let myself ask big questions since, oh, 2009, when I decided to quit my job, one that I loved but knew I wouldn't want to do forever, and go out on my own.

During this process, I've been off-line from social media sites (that are useful but harmfully addictive for people who need to actually get things done).  The only on-line form I've kept up with has been flickr, and if I weren't committed to taking and posting a photo a day, I would have foresworn that, too.  Surprisingly, I haven't missed it.  Not at all, which leads me to wonder how much of it I'll add back in October, once the heavy part of my current workload is over.  I've also just finished a 30 day vegan course, which was challenging and stretching and good.  There's been a lot of navel-gazing in the midst of a heavy workload, but I'm seeing lots of progress in both the work and clarifying my goals for the future.

These berry bowls, which have happily (but more frequently, frustratingly) paid my mortgage for several months of each year for at least the last four years,  are on the don't want to make anymore list.  Maybe forever, maybe not.  These are the last three berry bowls I made.  Even with new techniques in throwing and piercing the holes, the percentage of breakage (which never shows up until after they've been glazed, leaving me with a functional but non-sellable bowl) is just too too high.  One in every four or five bowls cracks, even when pierced with a sharp tool, a drill, compressed on the edges, etc. etc.  No more.  I have one (not pictured) tucked away in my cupboard in case the one I use most breaks.  Two of these are being sent away.  I haven't decided what to do the last bowl.  It will probably go into my gift closet.  I love to use my berry bowl, but I will not miss making them, nor will I miss explaining that despite its diminutive size, it is a colander.  Not a coffee cup.  Ahem.

Next week I should have lots of pretty pretty work to show you.  I've been throwing and glazing and drawing on pots every day.  There's no more shelf space in my studio.  I have another hour's worth of either glazing or drawing to do tonight (probably glazing, so that I can fire the kiln overnight).  I have conquered the "how to hang it" issues I was having last week, happily.  I'm knocking through long-standing orders.  I'm super-tired, but my goals are clear(er) and I'm moving past the post-stress exhaustion, thank goodness.

Hope your week ends well, friends.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Good morning!  It is mid-morning here, now, and I'm ready to start my day in the studio.  I've been spending a lot of time planning and drawing this week because I realized, late last week, that a deadline was approaching much faster than I'd anticipated.  As in, weeks sooner.  And that I was somewhat behind in both planning and production, given this new deadline.

This summer I accepted an invitation to show at St. George's School here in Memphis.  I had a plan and was thinking through how I'd be hanging my plates, platters, and bowls on the wall.  I'm still working through that- have had some successes and some abject failures in the hanging department.  The show is in November.  Plenty of time, I thought, to work steadily and give myself some days off to regroup, refocus, re-evaluate.  Friday I shuffled through the papers that came with my contract and realized that photos and artist statements are due this week.  Eek.  Work needs to be finished by mid October.  Eek.  I have several pieces in process, but only a few pieces are actually finished and ready to be shot.  Eek.  I have a plane ticket for Oct 3, and wanted a clear plate before I leave.  Well.  Time to revise the plans.

My solution is eating breathing sleeping drawing bees on pieces that I've thrown and handbuilt.  I've made a good bit of progress (my plans, roughly sketched out, above) but I have miles to go.  Realistically, one can only sit hunched over a plate/platter/bowl you're drawing on for 3 hours a day.  The actual making of the pieces is a breeze, but the surface design/detail work is hard on the body.  Yoga has become my good good friend.  I'm excited about the work that I'm making.  That helps.  The other work (those large cylinder vases) are on the back burner for another week or so because I'm 4/5 finished with those large pieces and they aren't due until November.  Progress and process.  I don't work well when I'm freaked out.  I do work well when I have a plan.  So I have the plan, and it will all be well.

See you soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

little bits of happy

yesterday I pulled this piece, and a few others (it was a tiny kiln load in my tiny kiln), from my kiln.  I was really happy with how it turned out.  This blue is a new color for me- brighter than I wanted, but I'm pleased.  The photo is dark so it's difficult to see (especially with the high gloss finish), but I really like the watercolor-y lightness and depth of color.  I want to play more with this watercolor effect.

I was also pleased that my little kiln made it up to ^6- I regularly bisque in this kiln- the bisque fire is the first firing- I take the kiln up to about 1900 degrees, slowly at first to make sure the pieces are bone dry- then finish up fairly rapidly in 10 or so hours.  Yes, I said rapidly.  The second firing goes to the mid 2200s and typically takes 13-14 hours.  The little kiln is older; the coils need to be replaced, but I rarely glaze fire because in the past it hasn't reached ^6 in 14 hours.  Happily, it did on Tuesday night and I opened the kiln up Thursday morning.  I've taken to letting the kiln cool for a full 24 hours before I even touch it- I don't want to risk cracks in the glaze or worse, the pots, from cool air flooding the hot pottery.  Once, in my first few years of making pots, I melted the sleeves of a down coat by taking a too-hot piece from the kiln.  I've learned my lesson there.

Other happy bits- the weather has cooled down to windows-open temps.  Next week will be back in the 90s, but this week's been a lovely reprieve.  And it's reminded us to get our firewood ready for actual cold.

I bought my plane ticket for San Francisco!  Only after much hesitating and dithering and nausea caused by sticker shock.  Lesson learned: next time, buy it when it's $300.  I am excited to go, and more excited to see my friend and mentor, Diana.  I'm also grateful that Gary's company is having a big meeting in an interesting city.  Work (at home, even) is going well for him, and I'm glad for that. 

This piece of pottery is for an Oct/Nov invitational show.  I'm really excited to be working on a large group of unified pieces.  They all have to hang on the wall- that's a challenge I'm working through.  I've figured out flattish bowls and platters, but I'd like to hang some deeper pieces.  Time for some experimentation.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

right here

is where all of my energy has been going lately.  So far I think I have 8 of each of these pieces, maybe a few more.  The ones on the upper shelf are 7.5" x 5-6" oval cylinder vases.  The lower shelf is 5.5"x 7.5" ovals.  Not shown are 13" diameter shallow bowls. 

I need to have 10 of each of the 3 styles, so I'm making 14 of each. 
I'm also working on finishing glazing the dinner set I showed you last week- the touch ups and replacement pieces, plus two sets of bowls for a client who has been ordering her dishes piece-meal fashion. 

I did not labor on labor day.  I didn't even pick up my camera.  Today I glazed.  Tomorrow I'll trim and throw a bit, then tackle a few boxes of tomatoes.  Those won't last.