Friday, April 26, 2013

loss, grief, doing something about it, joy

My family has faced tremendous losses over the last six months or so.  A dear friend of my husband's succumbed to cancer after a long, vigilant battle.  I lost my closest friend to suicide, have seen another sweet friend's marriage fall apart, job loss and the associated struggles, we watched our dear pet decline, and discovered that a family in our church community was struggling with emotional and physical abuse, much much too late to help.  This week the authorities found the mother's body and her husband was arrested.  She leaves two children that I know well.  One is my son's age, and the other was in my sunday school class for four years.  I have fought with how to deal with her senseless death, how to help her children, how to help other women in her position.

When I began making these cups in 2012, they were intended to help bring hope to a friend.  I want to continue that mission.  For the next month, 30% of the sale of each cup will go into a fund for my friend's children.  After that, a percentage will go to my local domestic abuse shelter.  I can't do a lot, but this I can do, and it gives my heart solace and joy to be able to make some sort of difference through my work.

The day we found out about my friend's death, we brought joy back into our household in a big way.  We brought home an 11 week old chocolate lab puppy.  His name is Ajax and he has really lifted our hearts.  He is curious and sweet and everything you want a puppy to be.  And he reminds me to be present and not dwell in the past, but to notice and take each day on its own, finding the joy in the small things.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

11, 12, 13

it occurred to me that I forgot to share the last batch of pitchers.
eleven- pencil stamped hexagons, stoneware, thrown and altered, glazed in yellow.

my yellow glaze had been behaving very badly and I was afraid to try it, so I thinned it a lot and did a test glaze on a cracked cup the kilnload prior to this one and it surprised me by being just fine.

twelve- thrown cylinder, handbuilt spout and base.  I used newspaper stencils and underglaze here

I really like this technique and how clean and crisp the stencils turned out.  These are the same birds from pitcher five.

13- I am really excited about this piece.  It is heavily influenced by contemporary Japanese surface design and I repeated the idea on some

The cobalt wash was way more than I intended - I wanted this to be as white as the plates, but I'll tinker with it and try again in another pitcher.  You'll see this again, a LOT, but the project that it's intended for is still top-secret.

Pitchers 14 and 15 have just been bisque fired, and 16 is awaiting more work.  It is now week 17 and I'm ready to make it today.  I'm excited to see how these pitchers have progressed and stretching both my potting and surface design skills.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

first batch

My first spring batch of berry bowls will go up in my shop at 9am CST tomorrow, Monday April 15.  I'll have another batch up in May.  I'm planning to do a listing of these once a month, no reserves, so that I don't get completely overwhelmed with making them as I have in years past.

Also, think good thoughts for my family this week.  We're putting our beloved pup Birdy down midweek.  She is 14 and has been steadily declining in health and in what she'll consent to eat since last fall.  I got her when she was 6 weeks old.  I was 24, in graduate school, trying to figure everything out.  She's been a faithful friend to me and my whole family will miss her deeply.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Today was the really nice day we've had in Memphis in a good long time.  I spent quite a lot of it outside in my garden- checking the bees (new brood!)- chicken-proofing the back garden (mostly successful)
 Edna got over, but no one else did, and after I popped her out of the garden, she didn't try it again.  I planted some onion sets and some strawberries, which leads me to these:
It is ALMOST time for berry bowls.  I'm going to have them in my shop, 10-20 at a time, as I make them, in quarts (these are quarts) and pints.  Saucers will be in a separate listing, for those of you that want them.  In the past I've let these take over all of my making time, which I'm resisting this year.  So no special orders or special colors, just what I feel like making when I make them and when they're gone, they're gone.  I am very grateful for the widespread enthusiasm that these bowls generate, and I'm even more grateful that I figured out how to keep them from cracking the last go-round.

I'll post here and on twitter when I list them, probably later this coming week.

Happy Spring, Friends!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

chickens! and breakfast

This winter I worked on making new drawings of my chickens for my pottery.  Also because I just really like my chickens.  See?
Several weeks ago a friend, who is the editor of Edible Memphis asked me about people I knew who had chickens, cool coops, and might be willing to show off their chickens in the spring issue.  Well, besides me?  There are a number of us who are obsessed with our birds and are happy to share the love.   Edible is by far my favorite local publication and I look for its sister publications whenever we travel.

But back to the chickens.  All winter I watched the girls roam and forage and run (there is nothing funnier than a chicken running at full tilt), taking pictures of them and making sketches.  One of my retailers asked about carrying the chicken cups after she'd snagged a pair at an auction and asked me to make some, with little plates to match, for her shop.  Here is the result:


I delivered several sets of these to Diane's this morning and put the rest of these little tumblers, plates, and egg cups in my shop this afternoon.  I'm trying to do a better job of keeping the shop stocked this year and am adding pieces as they're ready.  I'm also building inventory for a May home sale and a small local summer event or two.  And I have a BIG project on the horizon that won't roll out until fall and into 2014.  I'm staring down a pottery elephant, trying to figure out which bite to take first.

Thanks for coming along with me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

the trick of living well

Last month a friend contacted me about making a special gift for a colleague she admired who was retiring.  For the past while, this graceful lady had been preparing for her retirement and posted this passage from Ellen Goodman's retirement column over her desk:
There's a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over -- and to let go. It means leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving on, rather than out. The trick of retiring well may be the trick of living well.

She asked if I could make a cup with some of this text on it; I immediately said yes.  I'd been wanting to play with text in my work a little more (I still want to play with text a little more.  What else would one expect of a liberal arts major?) and and a little more loosely than I had incorporated it previously.  I love my calligraphy-style text in my hope cups, but that didn't work so well here (I tried and got a large hand cramp!).  So I threw a few  mugs, trimmed them, and sat down with a ball-point pen and started writing.  I was really tickled with how the text flowed around the cup and how tactile the piece was once it had dried a bit.

 I coated the entire cup with a mixture of water and raw, dark clay I dug from the sandbars in the Mississippi River a few years ago.  I'm not sure where that big bag of clay is, but I have a jar of slip that I made from it that I keep with my underglazes.  After the slip dried, I wiped it off and fired it.  Then, earlier this week, I coated it in glossy clear glaze and fired it again.  This morning, when I unloaded the kiln, I was really happy with it.  The look is softer than I imagined it would, some words are slightly hazy, others crystal clear, but it feels just marvelous in your hands.  I'm really tickled with this and can't wait to repeat it on other dishes.  I hope that the recipient is pleased with it when she opens it later this afternoon!

It is a gorgeous spring day here- I've been glazing and shipping today and am looking forward to trimming  pots I threw on Thursday tomorrow.  I'll be back later this week with 2 more pitchers.
Have a nice week, y'all!