Friday, May 31, 2013


this year I've been working towards a lot of different things, including streamlining what I make (more in terms of finishing and surface design than forms), expanding my repertoire, and looking at the best way(s) to grow my business.  Here's some of what I've been working on lately:

cake stands- I used to throw these in two pieces, but they'd slump or come apart.  Frequently.  It was really frustrating.  I've learned how to throw them in a single piece and they're doing much much better.  Still refining this form, but I'm happier with these and their potential than I was with the others I used to make.  Jeanette has made seemingly (possibly literally) HUNDREDS of cake stands this spring.  She's been a huge inspiration in my relearning cake stands.  There are still some ticky little things I'm not happy with, but I like the direction I find myself moving.

faux bois- the response to these has been overwhelming- both online and in person.  I can't say that these will be a huge part of my lineup, but right now it's fun and fresh and helps me to crank out more of the same old forms.

pet urns- I think I've finally settled on the appropriate sizes and prices for these.  I've made some test pieces and have a few more to make, but they're coming.  For dogs AND cats.

I am still working on pitchers, but I've been so busy with work and life that I haven't taken photos of the last three or four.  This weekend.

Lastly, if you're local, I'll be at the Overton Park Day of Merrymaking next Saturday.  I'll be sharing a booth with Sweaterlove.

Monday, May 20, 2013


last week completely got away from me.  The pitchers are in the kiln (one or two, that is), and I have several other pitchers in various states of being made or fired or completed.  I am working towards a festival in Overton Park in lieu of a home sale this spring/summer, trying to keep my retailers stocked, and working on the planning and experimenting stages for a really big project.

When Gary and I got married in 2000, I had already begun a collection of blue and white dishes.  Some old blue willow, spode, asian-import bowls, an antique set of wedgwood.  I loved to mix and match the very old and fancy with mass-produced transferware and heavily mass produced restaurant ware, all unified by their blue and white color scheme.  Many of these are still my every day dishes, and I've begun adding my own blue and white pieces to the set. 

I'm working on a new idea, combining the more traditional floral (and bee!) patterns I played with heavily in 2012 and mixing them with more abstract, organic, geometric blue and white renderings.  Sometimes in the same piece, sometimes in coordinating pieces.  I'm very excited about this project and will have some pieces up in the shop and locally, but I am keeping most of these back until the new year.

Fifty percent of my making time has been filling orders and making many of the same things I've always made (but I am dropping a few things here and there), and fifty percent is dedicated to R and D mode. I hope, at the end of this year, that I'll have a more unified body of work to streamline my making, my supplies, and my time.  Refining has been my underlying goal for this year, and I'm beginning to see things that I like.

Hope y'all have a good week this week.  School ends for us on Wednesday.  I am not ready!

Monday, May 13, 2013

bees, take 3

On Thursday, I went to check on my bees and was a little alarmed to see that they had taken up almost ALL of the available space in the hive.  Saturday morning, I let the dog out and noticed a dark blot in the very top of my fig tree.  About 20 feet up.  I got out the binoculars (closer at hand than my glasses) and gasped to see this:

This swarm was about three times the size of the swarm I'd captured  in March.  I guessed that they'd come from my over-full hive, and a quick check through the window showed that it was still quite full, but not so full of bees that I couldn't see the comb.  I sent my bee mentor an email, and within an hour, Richard was over with his swarm capturing equipment.  We got the bees, but it took almost 2 hours.

After we knew we'd gotten the queen, we checked on my hive.  Richard explained that the old queen leaves the hive with 60% of the worker bees when they swarm.  Typically, they do this after they've capped several new queen cells, which you see here:

That peanut-shaped bump is a queen cell, filled with royal jelly and bee larvae.  To the right, you see some raised bumps, which are drone brood, and the flat capped cells are worker brood.  We found five capped queen cells, plus several other empty queen cups.  Because Richard raises queens, I had him take three of the five capped queen cells back to his apiary.  In another few days, the new queens will emerge, determine which queen will be queen (it's a death-fight), then take her mating flight.  After that flight, she'll spend the rest of her life inside the hive, laying eggs.  Unless, of course, the colony outgrows its space and they swarm, in which case she will leave with 60% of her colony and begin again.

Because my intention with beekeeping is increasing bee health and the bee population, I'm happy to see my colony grow and divide like this.  If I were keeping bees for honey, swarming would mean less honey for me to harvest, but that's secondary.

Interestingly, late Saturday afternoon I got an email from Rebecca detailing her family's swarm adventure.  Seems to be the season!

Later this week: more pitchers and maybe some mishima.

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

14, 15, 16

pitcher 14.  inspired by this.  I made a chrysanthemum-type stamp years and years ago and pressed it into the not-quite leather hard clay, then brushed low fire blue glaze over it before I bisque  fired.  I don't remember if I tried to wipe it off or not (but I think I may have).  I coated it in clear gloss before firing to ^6.  My favorite things about it are my finger marks on the inside and the almost ikat streakiness of the blue on the handle.

#15 is an upsized version of a creamer that I made before Christmas and my friend Brian has.  Sadly, when I was moving it to bisque fire, I knocked the handle off, and some chunks of the rim.  Because it was still green (unfired), I got the pieces wet and stuck them back together.  So it has a bit of a "make do and mend" quality to it.  I have to say that while I was disappointed that I broke this piece, the mending is my favorite part of it.

#16 After I made the faux bois trays with the cobalt wash, I wondered how that technique of drawing the wood grain and then expanding it would work on a thrown object.  Not so well.  Not terribly, but not great.  I threw a thick cylinder and coated it in iron slip.  After it had set up a bit, I drew the wood grain pattern into the piece and put it back on the wheel to try to manipulate a bit more.  Problem with throwing is that you typically put pressure on both the inside and outside of the piece, so I effectively erased a lot of the pattern.  I think, honestly, that it looks a little hokey and while I've had good responses to the slab faux bois pieces, I won't ever repeat this variation.

#s 17 and 18 are ready to glaze and I threw #19 yesterday.  time flies!
Thanks for reading, friends.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

faux bois

In mid April, while trolling pinterest, I found this tutorial on making faux bois.  I'd seen one eons ago on the old martha stewart show about using a faux finishing woodgrain paddle on a slab and throwing it on a wedging table to stretch it out (I believe Jeff Bridges was demonstrating? who knew the Dude was a pottery person?  And completely aside, I have a lot of respect for his humanitarian work- he really makes a difference).  I was in a slump and needed to do something to spark my creativity (and to get back to work), so I shook up my bottle of cobalt wash, rolled out a thick slab, and went to work.  Here are the results:

The platter in the foreground is very rough/rustic.  It was the first slab and I didn't trim it at all, just laid it into a mold*.  I think I'm going to use it outside on my porch.  The second slab became the four dessert plates to the right.  In the background is the last slab I made, and I cut it to fit an oval platter form I have.  I took the leftover bits of clay and rewedged them to throw with.  I hope that there will be some cobalt marbling in the finished piece, but I didn't see anything as it dried.  We'll see!

I'm going to try this with my Mississippi River clay slip, as well, and see how that works.  I'm not sure this is something that I'll make a lot of, but it was a fun diversion.

Tomorrow I'll be back here with pitchers!

*speaking of molds, all of my molds are platters, plates, trays that I've found in thrift stores, antique/junk shops, and occasionally I'll splurge on the melamine trays they bring out at target every spring.  They have some great shapes that I haven't seen elsewhere, but I'd admit that my favorites are the small ceramic pieces I pick up at thrift stores for a song.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

two dogs

I made this urn for Birdy the day after we knew it was time.  I was glad to be able to do it and glad to find a small family-run company to help me.  She came back to me last Monday.

I will be making more of these in the future; I just need to get the sizing down before I offer them in my shop*.  Having her with me is special.  I wasn't financially able to keep Pete with me when we put him down in 2007 and I've regretted it ever since.  But Birdy was my first baby, and I knew that I needed to keep her with me.

(*ETA, yes, I'll have cat sizes as well)

And here's Ajax.  He is almost 12 weeks now.  Sweet, crazy (only sometimes), calm (mostly), loving, eager to please.  Already has sit and come down pat.  Stay, not so much.  But we've got time for that.  Very interested in the chickens, and the bees, unfortunately, think he's a bear.  He's learning to stay away from them.  He doesn't look like a bear to you, does he? I just can't wait until he's big enough to start running with me (3 more months for his bones to be strong enough for running)

Thank you, friends, for your enthusiastic response to my cup project for my friend's children.  I am just bowled over.  Right now I have 30+ orders to fill and the amount headed to the kids is approaching $400.  I could have never done that on my own, and I am so grateful to you.

Later this week, two more pitchers.  Or maybe later this weekend, 4 of them.  depending on if I can get them glazed or not.  Life is moving fast and I'm working on figuring out what goes where and when.  Balance.