Wednesday, December 28, 2011

pottery 2011

pottery 2011 1
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I made a little mosaic. Actually, there are three.  This year and been good and hard and crazy and glorious. I have part-time help, retail accounts, three publications, a show, several wipe-outs, and I am just now getting back to being ready to work and getting excited about what 2012 will bring.

I hope y'all have a great new year's eve and a wonderful new beginning to 2012. See you soon.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Professionally, I have been a bit of a stinker this holiday season.  My basement glazing area is full of pots to glaze, as is my slab roller upstairs in the "regular" studio.  Honey pots, mugs, teapots, platters, even butter crocks.  They sit, sad and abandoned, waiting until I'm ready to work on them again in January.  I stocked my shelves at one store in town, made sure another client was taken care of, and made some special order Christmas ornaments for a friend's business and another set for a local church.  I have a small kiln-load of glazed ornaments to give as gifts, and a few other special pieces I want finished- some icon-like pieces, a belated wedding gift, and some bowls for a special friend.  I've still been working- developing, hand-building, glazing, shipping, but I don't have much to show for it.

It is very strange to me that I don't feel guilty about this at all.  I'm content to sit and draw and think and knit or cook something.  Stranger still, I have nothing but one class on the calendar for 2012.  No markets, no fairs, nothing.  And I'm fine with that, as well. 

This year I'm giving lots of handmade gifts, but made my friends or their spouses.  I knit a hedgehog and a pair of socks that aren't quite finished yet.  One scarf.  Two pieces of pottery are going to friends who live abroad, but they aren't special made.  Christmas cards?  They're going to elderly relatives and a few mentors, but I haven't even begun them.  Honestly, I don't quite know what's come over me because I have never ever been this laid-back about Christmas in my adult life.  (I kinda like it!)

I am excited about my back door.  Several weeks ago I took a pair of klompen that some college roommates had bought for me in Holland, painted them yellow, and nailed them to the back of my house.  Planted them with johnny jump ups.  I bought a second pair from another college friend who sent me another pair and a single.  Last night I drilled, nailed, and planted them all.  They make me exceedingly happy.  I'm looking for a red pair, and maybe a plain wooden shoe to paint blue, to finish off this wall, but, dreaming big here, I'd like to have an entire wall filled cheek-to-jowl with planted klompen.  Call me crazy, but it makes me happy.

I'm signing back off until, oh, almost January.  I hope your holidays are merry and bright and joy-filled and peaceful.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

pulling back, experimenting

Hi, friends.  Would you believe that I'm STILL on the mend, still not 100%, still coughing and not up to my usual energy levels?  This is the 3rd Sunday.  A bear of a virus, this was.  But I'm better, I'm being quiet and listening my my body and energy levels and pulling back from working like crazy during this holiday season and resting.  I am working, but I'm doing so slowly, with help, quietly.

In October, I returned from San Francisco ready to experiment with new clay bodies, glazes, techniques.  I've gotten the first bits of what I made from the kiln this week.  There have been some definite YAY pieces, like this mug.  It is porcelain, which worked beautifully with my standard yellow glaze.  It seems to just make the glaze sing.  It is also the first finished piece with my honeycomb hex stamps, inspired by a conversation I had at Heath Ceramics in which I looked at their enormous kilns and fixated on the hex nuts holding it together.  I'm very pleased with it.

The porcelain did very well when it was a flat-bottomed, not footed piece.  If the piece had a trimmed foot ring, it left large chunks of itself adhered to the kiln shelf.  Every. Single. Stinking. piece.  No glaze on the bottom, but the porcelain doing it's thing and sticking.  It did this, too, if it had an underglaze bottom.  The edges stuck.  So I did a bit of research and found that I need to add an alumina hydrate solution to my wax to keep the porcelain from adhering.  You learn something new every day.

This blue is a new underglaze color.  I was excited about it, but it's 2 ticks too bright for my taste.  Nice, but not what I was looking for.  Not to mention that on a large pitcher, it peeled off in several spots, ruining what I thought was a particularly nice piece.    I was playing around with the surface design and this piece, in particular, never felt right.  I like it, but it wasn't me.  I realized why once I pulled it from the kiln.  The divided planes of color and random lines intersecting the two is a fairly straightforward (but unconscious) copy of my mentor's work.  Nothing wrong with copying styles to learn, but I kept feeling like this piece specifically wasn't me, even as I was making it.  Well, Duh.  It's not.  It's nice, but the color, the line, they're not me.   Diana also helped me trouble-shoot my underglaze peeling issue yesterday, so I'll be ready to roll in January.

While I felt that half of this kiln-load was filled with failed pieces,  I did learn a lot from trouble-shooting the problems.  This week I'm planning to scrape and re-coat my shelves with kiln wash, order my alumina hydrate, and keep working, slowly, steadily, at honing this craft.  I'm also planning to add several small pieces to the shop and finish up orders people have placed for Christmas.  Failure marks progress.  And makes a fantastic mosaic pile!

Thanks for reading.