Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm back...but not really

Last time I threw on my wheel this was the bucket of leftover clay I had. Looks like it's been awhile, huh? Friday I tried to straighten up my studio a bit thinking I would get back to work, and I lasted about an hour before I had to go back to bed and rest. I can't seem to get my strength back as soon as I thought I would, it takes my breath just to walk upstairs and I am still coughing up the grossest stuff from my lungs. I am not a poster child for being sick and usually get back at it way too soon and end up feeling bad for months. This one hasn't been like that, I haven't been able to do anything and don't even feel like trying. I am bored out of my mind and want to get back on my wheel or at least do some hand building, but it ain't happenin'. I am happy for your blogs though, I just lay around with my laptop and read up on what everyone else is doing out there. Also, Wes is getting great movies for me to watch. Yesterday, No Country for Old Men, didn't see it in the theater, wish I had now. If you haven't seen it, rent it, very smart, very well done! I did manage to get out today and take Wesley to Jerry's Art o Rama in Raleigh, her favorite store, she just drools when she walks in the door. My mom sent her some money for school and she is spending it on art supplies. She did get some great stuff for her new love, charcoal. Funny, she has absolutely no interest whatsoever in clay. But she is a really good artist.

My friend Deb Harris is recently back from 9 months in China and brought me back this gift. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe it is a Kushi, from Japan (I think she got it in Japan)It is a very cool tool and I managed to roll out a small slab and make this tray just to see what kind of patterns this tool could make. Looking forward to more decorating with it soon. I can't believe how much energy it took me just to roll this one little slab.
This little guy had a nap out on the deck yesterday. I was thinking he might be sick, but when I opened the door he ran off, so I guess he was ok. Never seen a squirrel nap on my deck before. So there it is, I have algae in my clay, I have made one tray in one week and squirrels are napping on my deck. Quite the life I have here, right?!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Well, the sore chest I had last Friday turned out to be a virus I picked up at camp, then turned into a bacterial infection, then turned into Bronchitis, which I still have. This past week has been quite the adventure in misery- fever, vomiting, coughing, and other body functions I care not to think about any more. The new meds are wiping me out and I have been in bed for ten days now. Really tired of this, but starting to feel better, so I hope to be back in gear by the end of the week. Lots of blogs to catch up on, haven't even looked at my computer except to return a couple of emails.
Poor Wesley, her last week of summer was spent pretty much helping me out. She has been great, fixed a wonderful dinner last night which was the first meal I have eaten since last Friday. I have lost six pounds, but not the diet I would recommend. I'll be back blogging soon.......

Friday, August 15, 2008

great rewards

End of camp #3 today-Fabric Arts. I had thirty kids instead of the twelve I had in the past two camps. And they were 8-12 year olds instead of my little 4-5 year olds. Some of them seemed to think they knew more than me, most didn't listen to anything I said, and I repeated all instructions numerous times. I loved them all! They still managed to make some beautiful things so I suppose they did hear me after all, I just couldn't tell from all of the chatter. My style of teaching is all about the process and not the product and letting kids do for themselves. It tends to create chaos which I seem to be able to ignore. However, my chest is sore and my voice is shot and I will go to bed soon and it is 7:45pm. All in all it went well, however. We made Tibetan prayer flags and wrote a wish on each one. Today we dimmed the lights, the parents came, and we took turns reading our wishes. There were many wishes for world peace which was nice, many prayers for pets and parents, and one boy wrote a poem that made me cry. There was one "I wish I was rich" with dollar signs all around.........guess you can't have 100 % selflessness.
We also made Batik fabric, stamped fabric with Adinkra stamps I made, and made our own looms and weavings which was the most popular activity all week. The best part was today when one little Korean girl brought me a gift of a silver dragon hair clip. It was so beautiful and she was so full of joy when she gave it to me. This is why I do this, the rewards are great from these crazy little people!
Next week is sculpture camp. YAY, back in my comfort zone. Fabric camp was fun, but it was all experimental, like: "well, let's see if this works!" I forgot my camera all week, but just as well, there were just piles of fabric everywhere most of the time. I'll try to get some sculpture pics next week. And then school starts and I will be back on my wheel!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bakersville Treasure

Here are some of the pieces I brought back from Bakersville when I was up there. I wanted so many others, but I brought a specific amount of money for purchasing pottery and it went rather quickly. At least I know what I'll go back and get on my next visit.
Michael Kline, this little bowl loves strawberries and chocolate
Shawn Ireland, great for green tea
Michael Hunt- black beans and rice were great in this bowl! I bought this piece at Crimson Laurel. I really wanted one of Joy Tanner's trays also, but I bought this to remind me to stop throwing my bowls so thin, and I ran out of cash. Joy's will be one of the first things I go back to Crimson Laurel for.
By the way, just to help ease some of the self doubts and angst I have been reading lately:
I have learned so much since I have been reading everyone's blogs and I think I have grown as a potter because of these blogs. I have also received unconditional support from so many people that I don't even know. I went to Bakersville for a workshop and was invited by Michael Kline to stay at his place and they cooked dinner for me. They had never even met me. So much great advise has come my way and everyone is so generous with sharing their knowledge. There is no other community of people that I have ever been associated with, designers, theater people, photographers, no one that is more giving and helpful than potters. I am a stronger and better person for choosing to be with potters and I have made some wonderful friends for the first time in my life. All of you that have been sharing your self doubt, please know that I love and admire your work and look forward to your posts each night. It helps me to grow and it so helps to hear from kindred spirits. Go hear some good music this weekend, get outside, get a great hug from someone and maybe have a shot or two of tequila! This will cure all ills, promise!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kiln Blues

Well I have run into a little stumbling block with the gas kiln construction. We started digging the footing to pour the concrete slab yesterday and hit a hollow shaft 12 inches down that housed pipes for our waste system. We have this weird system that has to pump the waste uphill because of our rocky and sloping land and the septic fields and pipes seem to be everywhere. We have walked all over this property and can't find a flat place except where the septic fields are or where pipes are very likely laid in the ground.
At this point, I am thinking that maybe I should just buy a Skutt and figure out how to use electric fired glazes. I know very little about cone 04 and cone 6 and would have to do a lot of testing but it might be easier than trying to locate this kiln right now. I'm just going to pause and try to rethink this. It's never simple, is it?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Visits with potter friends

I went over to visit with Deb Harris on Friday. She was loading her kiln that is very much like the one I am building and I wanted to see it loaded. Gillian Parke was there loading some of her stuff as well. Gillian just received the honor of Emerging Artist in Ceramics Monthly. They both make beautiful pottery. Deb and Gillian are just back from John Britt's as well. They took his glaze workshop and it sounds like it was well worth the time for them. I'm going over Monday to see their latest test results. I'll try to post some results here.

Susan Wells invited us out to her studio Friday evening for mojitos and a first glimpse at her finished sculpture. She will dry it for a month or so and then fire after September.

TA DA! It is very grand. Susan is firing these great big things on site.
They had a blind friend come for a visit that wanted to feel the sculpture with his hands, it was so interesting to "see" the piece through his hands. A few of us also closed out eyes and explored the sculpture that way. Never thought about doing that before.
Wesley made friends with Steve's dog, Joe. This was the very sweetest animal!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


So here is what my studio looks like after a month of making props for The Music Man, getting plans together for summer camp, and going off to a kiln workshop. Today I actually worked in here in a tiny little clear space on the floor building this loom for Fabric art and printmaking camp next week. We are going to make miniature versions of this loom for each camper. This will be the class loom that everyone can have a turn on. I did this one year and the end result was beautiful.

My poor drafting table.............
I really enjoyed weaving today. I haven't done this in a long time. If my body doesn't hold up for pottery, I guess I can always work on a loom. One problem, the whole time I was weaving I had ideas for pots going through my head.
I also made some Adinkra stamps so the campers can make some African inspired fabrics
For sculpture/mixed media camp, week after next, we are going to make stick weavings, because I know I am going to have a bunch of fabric left over and I have some ceramic beads left over from camp last year that we can weave in with the fabric. I was leaving the theater on UNC's campus last week and some summer student had thrown out all of their very colorful sheets next to the dumpster, so of course I had to stop and pick them all up. I really like the thought of making things from what others throw out. Things seem so much more useful that way.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Crimson Laurel Gallery

For those of you that have not visited the Crimson Laurel Gallery, here are some photos. I had heard about the gallery through various bloggers and stopped by as soon as I got to Bakersville. This is one of the nicest galleries that I have visited in a long while. Well worth a trip up if you want to shop for some exquisite pottery pieces. It is very warm and inviting and David is very knowledgeable about many of the area potters as well as artists around the country.
The prices are very reasonable and even though I spent a bunch to do the kiln workshop I still was able to purchase several pieces on my visit. I bought one bowl in this gallery, one tea bowl from Shawn Ireland and a plate from Michael Kline. Treasures...............

Do you see the bowl on the bottom shelf, left corner? There was one also on the right that chose to come home with me.

Joy Tanner's work looks as wonderful in person as it does in her photos.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

John Britt's Kiln Workshop

Welcome to my studio, won't you come in.........

how to build a sprung arch without a frame
Really fun group, we worked well together and got it done!
Starting to brick the chimney during the hottest part of the day. I recommend doing this part in the early morning or evening next time, and don't drop things down the hole
Got 'er's so great!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Home from a weekend with John Britt and friends

Hi all: I can't imagine that anyone could have had a better weekend than I did. I spent Friday Saturday and Sunday up in Bakersville building a gas kiln at John Britt's. So this man is quite brilliant. We paid him to build his kiln. I did learn a lot and John made the work so much fun. He is also crazy and funny and has more energy than any one person should be allowed. Thanks John for a great time!
I stayed up at Michael Kline's house while there. I woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful fog rising from the Mts., plundered through his studio while everyone was asleep and found this wonderful little plate for breakfast. It came home with me.
Michael's place is so great, there were 6 deer over in this field but I didn't want too get too close so they would stick around. This is 6am Saturday.
Before I post photos of the kiln building I must first give a big THANKS to Stacy and Michael for giving me food and shelter while I was in town.
Michael and his wife Stacy were wonderful hosts and fixed me a feast for dinner on Saturday night. If you have ever been to Michaels you will understand this, I could not stop looking around his house. It is such a welcoming place with every surface covered in a great piece of art or pottery. Even his kids drawings pinned on the walls are great. I could barely eat for looking around at the table and trying to figure out who's pieces we were eating off of. I had a Michael Hunt plate that looked so amazing with my spinach and black bean tortilla(Stacy made the tortillas from scratch) and I know there was a Kline pitcher on the table, the rest blurs, it was so wonderful. Maybe Michael can fill in the gaps.
And then there were these two little beauties. Evelyn and Lillian, my new best friends. Are these not the two cutest things?! They have their parents looks and talent and are so warm and friendly. I popped up the top on my VW van so they could get up in the top and play. Here they are in the van.
I have lots of photos and will post my visit to Crimson Laurel Gallery which is a MUST SEE while in Bakersville, my visit with Shawn Ireland, and of course the kiln building process. I also have some photos of my pottery purchases. I have no camp this week and I don't plan to do any pottery. I just want to take in all that I learned this weekend and start planning for my own kiln construction. So this week will be a John Britt blog spot! Stay tuned..........................