Friday, March 30, 2012

in the studio

Good morning!  Here is a rare peek into my studio.  I put in a massive amount of time last Friday with a friend who helped me clean it out and clean it up.  Pottery is dirty filthy dusty business, and after I was so sick with the flu and upper respiratory issues (I was a little afraid that I had pneumonia, so I had a full workup and chest x-rays done, which, thankfully, gave me a squeaky-clean baseline), I've been super-conscious of keeping my environment clean- clean food, clean yard and home, clean studio.  The biggest risk potters face is inhaling harmful clay dust- think coal miners and black lung.  I mix some of my glazes from powder and always wear a mask when I do that, but I have been less careful about keeping the dust down in the studio.  I have a shop vac with a HEPA filter, but I'm also being more vigilant about wiping everything down after working.
This is a large but awkward space- long and skinny with a stairwell in the middle.  One large window on the west end, and dark dark paneling (and plastic "woodwork" trim??!!) that I've started painting a nice light bright palest sky/Scandinavian  blue.  So far I've primed all of the woodwork and painted the alcove where my wheel is, (right where that rolling pin and scraper are hanging), the window wall, and almost to the end of the railing woodwork on the opposite side.  Miles to go, but it's a start.

I've also been playing catch-up production wise.  This week Natalie made herb markers (it's planting time!), fern platters, and templates for me, and I threw mugs, tumblers, and egg cups.  My center of gravity is off, somewhat, since I elevated my wheel on blocks.  I have to re-learn how to throw higher, but my back will thank me.

We also got baby chicks this week and I've been going a little crazy making chicken pottery.  It just makes me giggle every time I look at the pieces in production.  But fear not, I am not abandoning bees!  I'm just exploring my inner nature nerd a little more extensively.

Hope you all have a good weekend.  I'm taking a field trip to the bee yard with my bee mentor and attending a chicken party.  Wishing Saturday's activities could span 2 days instead of packing it all into one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I haven't had a lot of production time over the past two weeks, but I feel so much better and I've kept up with my drawings and plannings and my coursework, and I am really really excited about some of the things that are happening.  This chicken cup is one exciting thing:  I really like using mishima- even though it's a bit time consuming, it's also immediate and really a lot faster process than drawing and bisque firing and then coloring and glazing and firing again.  I'm looking forward to making more of these, in red and in blue, and in drawings that aren't necessarily chickens. 

Though I am happily chicken-obsessed.  Admittedly.  Chickens, bees, pots, gardens, food- my passions.  I am bringing home three new chicks in the next few weeks- one has already been "adopted" and named by my dear friend and studio assistant, Natalie.  One little chickie will be Trudy, named after her mom.  I'm excited to have a little namesake.  Edna and Pearl are both named after Gary and my grand and great-grandmothers.  I like the old fashioned names.  Maybe there will even be some baby chick pieces that come out of our adventures in chick-raising again.

I let the girls out this morning, as I do most mornings that I'm puttering out in the garden.  They are so curious and come running towards me when they lose sight of me.  This is from this morning, when I did some light gardening and sprucing up with my coffee.  Mmm, toes.
Pearl is the bearded araucana chicken.  Edna is my star layer, a black-star chicken.

Happy Spring, friends.  Oh, and if you're chicken-obsessed like I am (or you love someone who is), these chicken tumblers will be in the shop when they're ready in another 2 or 3 weeks.

Monday, March 12, 2012

with a little luck

and some antibiotics I'll be back to rights in another day or two, pulling out of this flu turns into sinus and ear infection funk.  It's warm, it's spring break.  Kids are running in and out of my house and the house across the street.  I want fresh food, sunshine, fresh breezes coming through the windows, a ticking kiln, paletas, and to feel like myself again. 

I found these 8 four leaf clovers in my neighbor's yard.  Right now they're in a vase but I hope to put them on some happy mugs.  For now, though, they're just reminding me that luck is all around.

Friday, March 9, 2012

exploring mishima

I have been completely laid out with the flu this week, stuck in bed and asleep like I haven't been in I don't know when.  All plans for meals, appointments (like with the accountant, the acupuncturist, visiting friends, departing relatives, seeing my old man in his rehab home, birthdays, yoga class), pottery glazing and shipping were shelved.  All I managed to do was sleep, do some sketching, listen to podcasts, cough, keep up with the e-course through videos and posts, and cough.  Our cleaning goddess came this morning, so I carried myself and my sketchbook upstairs to make some templates and begin working with this week's lesson- the mishima technique.

Mishima is the process of filling incised lines with colored slip, clearing away the excess in one form or another, then firing and glazing the piece.  It is beautiful and delicate and a very immediate process- something I've very much wanted to learn.  I've tried it on my own before with mixed results, but as with everything, there are tips and tricks you learn when someone with experience teaches you, vs blundering through on your own.  I'm hopeful for these pieces, which I'll let dry and fire at the end of the course.

I made the drawings of the crimson clover while I was listening to Brooklyn Homesteader's webinar on urban beekeeping.  Crimson clover has long been one of my favorite wildflowers and I made several drawings of the plant based on antique botanical illustrations.  I took my favorite of the lot to make into templates for this course.

Next week, I plan to get back to work while my boy is on spring break- finish glazing and shipping orders that people are expecting  - my apologies for the delay- and working on some outside projects if the weather cooperates.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Hello, March!  75 degrees today in Memphis. I'll turn 37 later this month. I'm working in the studio this morning, eating my lunch outside while the chickens roam.  We'll get new chicks at the end of the month, and I need to set up a brooder.  Today will be my first full day in the studio in about 3 weeks.  I'm trying a new clay next week and using the last of my old standard clay that refuses to work well with any turquoise glazes.  I'm looking forward to all of it.

This week I began the Spring Surfacing e-Course Diana Fayt is teaching.  I'm not sure but I think the class *may* still be open for registration through March 4.  This is my work from yesterday:
They are self-footed platters that we'll use for different surface design techniques in the coming weeks.  Someone in the class has made a hexagonal platter- I could see using that for a series of bee platters.  I am going to try to not put bees on everything I make in this class, but I am, of course, going to stay true to my botanical leanings.  I'm going to make more of these today out of porcelain, just to play with.

My old man left the hospital this week.  I went to see him at his rehabilitation facility yesterday.  It was, without exception, the nicest place I've been in 3 weeks.  I am so grateful that he's improving, and grateful for the thoughts and prayers of my friends.

February has kicked my hiney.  I'm tired (but recovering) and looking forward to March.  I did keep up with my daily drawings last month and will scan and load them in a single mosaic file.  All but two are already up.  I used more color this month and immediately put a fast flowy chicken sketch to use decorating tumblers.  More of those later. 

Hope y'all have a good weekend.