Wednesday, March 27, 2013

shop alert!

I've been missing these cups.  Hope to get them (and then keep them) back in regular rotation.  And there are also a few of my valentines cups, plus some springy things coming.  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I am so excited that these are finished, and 11, 12, and 13 are in the works.  This is week 13, and I hope after this week I'll be back on track to make a pitcher each week.  Not working - not throwing, trimming, not much glazing- has been a drag.  I'm happiest if I'm busy.  Take away my pottery, my knitting, and, frankly, the sunshine, and I'm not the happiest of all campers. Slowly but steadily. . . .

Pitcher 8 is one of the tallest things I think I've ever made.  I used my kiku mon stamp and cobalt wash (it is cobalt oxide, frit, and water I think.  don't quote me).  Very happy with it.

Pitcher 9 is perhaps my favorite so far.  But it did not like me.  I glazed it with my not-frequently-used celadon glaze (not frequently used because it crawls like crazy, doesn't want to stick if there's any moisture in the piece, and fires spotty) and it came out of the kiln just a hot mess.  I put more glaze on the very bare spots and refired it.  The glaze did run towards the foot, but I love this deep celadon color.  The glaze may be too thick (it probably is because it has never ever been this dark before), and after I finish this gallon I currently have, I'm retiring it.  But I use it so infrequently that won't happen for a year or three.  I have very little knowledge about glaze chemistry, but this glaze has been lovely and ill-behaved since I began using it in 2001, and as it is a commercial glaze, I have very little idea about how to fix it's issues, but it seems to be not related to clay body, as many of my other glaze problems have been.

Pitcher 10 turned out exactly the way I'd envisioned.  Happy.  May make more of these for sale once my arms are better.  It's a very springy happy eggy thing.

I hope to get back here later this week with more, and I never did take my shop out of vacation mode last week, but I also hope to do that before the end of this week.  The bees are settling in nicely.  I taped their entry shut for 24 hours (they managed to get out anyway, through a crack in the viewing window that I should caulk closed from the outside), and they cozied in for the cold spell we've been having over the weekend, cleaning the hive and eating the syrup and taking short orientation flights around the hive.  I'm happy to see them flying around on sunny afternoons, and my neighbors are excited to have a hive back in the yard, as well.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

bees, take 2

on our way back from new orleans two friends contacted me about a swarm that was fairly close to my house.  I didn't think I'd get back in time to collect it but finally got around to getting in touch with the woman who'd identified it Monday.  She let me know that it was still there and unclaimed last night, then that it was still there this morning.  I talked to my bee mentor about it, took notes on capturing a swarm and installing it, then waited to hear if they were still on their tree this morning.  They were, so after school called it, I gathered my veils, brush, and air-holed bankers box and went to capture a swarm (half praying that they'd flown away).
As you can see, they did not.  They were clustered around a young weeping willow tree in someone's front yard, almost unnoticeable from the house and from the street.  I brushed them into the box, sprayed them with sugar water, taped the box closed, and tried my hardest to keep them from getting out.  Once home, I put them in the shade and went inside to glaze for the day.  At 3pm, I went outside to check on them and saw that they had begun to let themselves out- chewing through the knife slits I'd made in the box, beginning to fly around and check out my open beehive.  By 4 pm, almost 100 had gotten out so I bit the bullet, suited back up, sprayed the inside of the hive with sugar water, and deposited them in the hive as quickly and efficiently (which should be translated: not very) as possible.  The lid to the box fell off and onto the ground and it got a little messy.  However, I did see the queen in the cluster that was on the lid (the queen looks like a cross between a cockroach and a bee- her abdomen is long and shiny and dark golden brown, while the bees look pretty short and fuzzy in comparison), so I grabbed it, shook it into the hive and did my best to close it up and get myself away from the (justifiably) angry cloud of bees.  I left one back bar open and the lid propped up so that the rest of the bees could smell the queen's pheromones and join her in the hive.

I took this photo after they'd been in for about an hour and weren't ready to chase me away anymore.  In another little bit I'll completely close them in- I closed up the entrance holes and will put the final bar back on and close the lid- for 24 hours and hope that they decide they like my hive.  In another week or two I'll start checking for brood.  After my hive died I ordered a package of bees that will arrive in May.  I haven't decided what to do with them yet- if I'll cancel the order, try to sell them locally, or add another hive, but right now they're insurance in case I only thought I saw the queen or they decide to abscond.

Still working on finishing my glaze load, but that will happen tomorrow.  I have three pitchers glazed and in the kiln already, and will top that with about 30 cups that are waiting patiently on my glazing table.  Today feels like it's been three full (but good) days rolled into one.

More pots and bees later, friends.

Monday, March 18, 2013

a break

my tendonitis and carpal tunnel flared up a few weeks ago so I've taken an extended break from pottery, from knitting, from typing.  Still thinking and dreaming and researching and visiting good pots.

Saturday I was at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and spied these gems by Shearwater Pottery (of Ocean Springs MS) and George Ohr (Biloxi MS).  I think that big pitcher might come out in my work, and maybe that little bitty one, too.

More when I have it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

ten and the written word

pitcher ten!  I wanted this pitcher to be simple and somewhat egg-like.  I threw a giant ovoid form (after having spent a lot of time last week making egg vases for spring),  threw a spout to cut down, and pulled a handle.  This pitcher will be glazed just like my speckled egg vases and then I'm calling that particular glaze combination quits.  I love it, but except for egg vases and egg cups, I'm ready to move away from it.  Why?  it is heinously messy and I have to separate these pieces from anything else in the glaze firing because the iron oxide doesn't completely adhere to the glaze and flies around, sticking to anything else close to it (or on the shelf above or below).  I just got a few of these speckled pieces back from a shop that was closing, so I'll list the remaining teacup and saucer sets, pitcher, and platter next week. 

Early this week, after I'd thrown about a dozen mugs, a friend contacted me about a special order for a friend.  She gave me a lengthy quote that inspired her idea and we played around with ideas.  I'd seen an enamelware cup that had a lengthy inscription, showed it to her, and we settled on a similar idea.  As someone who spent her entire academic career buried in words, reading, writing, editing, writing, and reading more, it seems appropriate to me that I find myself enamored with these words on the mug.  I've been working on my handwriting for years, tightening and loosening it up, ever-evolving, copying handwriting I like, exploring calligraphy (and developing my own style of fake calligraphy).  I like that this cup, which I coated with slip made from the iron-rich clay dug from the banks of the Mississippi river some years ago (yes, really, and it is rich and black like the darkest coffee), is tactile as well as visual.  I like that I can feel the rise and fall of my letters, as well as see them.  I'm not sure how much more of this that I'll do, but I sure do like this one cup.

Friday, March 1, 2013

eight, nine

eight is in the rear- I threw a tall cylinder and kept the spout from the previous week's pitcher.  I am particularly proud of the handle.  Very simple, stamped with my kiku mon stamp in cobalt.

nine is in the foreground.  I really like streamlined versions of Georgian, Regency, and Victorian silver hollowware, upon which this pitcher is loosely based.  I redid the handle multiple times.  I threw the body in one piece, waiting for the clay to set up a bit before I brought the neck back in.  The spout is applied- I think that I threw it and cut it down to fit, then trimmed the piece on the wheel.  I think this one will be a solid color, maybe celadon green.

that's all for now!
Have a good weekend