Saturday, October 31, 2009

Me and Phoenix

Well. I have thrown a bunch of bowls and mugs with my new Phoenix clay and I have to say this is the strangest clay I have ever used. I don't know yet whether I like it or not. I will say that it is the most forgiving clay I have ever used. You can do most anything to this clay and then correct it. I had a huge ripple in one of my mugs and just made a couple of pulls through it and the thing went away. I had a teapot slump and get a fat bottom, just cupped my hands around it and pulled it right up. It's kinda nice once you get used to how plastic it is. Way different from my groggy clays though and I feel sort of like a traitor to them :) I guess the true test will be when I see how the glazes I have in mind turn out with this clay.
I made a bunch of bowls with slightly different interior shapes to see which I like best and with which glaze. Also, I will throw one bowl then go to make one like it and think of something else I would like to try. I have plenty of stuff made for the next two shows I am doing so I can play a little with the cone 10 and get it right.
This feels so much more "right" to me. I was not feeling the earthenware once I got started. I'm not into decorating and dipping in slips. I just want to make some beautiful straightforward bowls and mugs. That's all. I will enjoy the drawing and slip trailing from those that do it right!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If Only.................

Well, if my earthenware glaze tests had turned out like this I would be making earthenware. But then I would be Steven Colby! I love this jar I saw on his blog! My Raku class started at the Artscenter today. Some of the girls in my class have been coming to the studio for quite a while now and it is going to be so much fun having them in my class. Also, one girl signed up from my last pottery sampler class. A new clay addict I fear! We will fire in a few weeks, I'll have some fun pics from that I'm sure! I made a bunch of bowls and mugs this week in Phoenix clay, I don't particularly like this clay, feels like I'm throwing rubber, but I think it's going to be more practical for me. I guess I just need to get used to it after all the groggy clay I have been throwing. It wasn't so long ago that the craggy crunch I threw for the wood fire was making my fingers bleed. I really think I have chosen to be a potter just to torture my brain cells!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Plate decorating

These are my two favorite decorated plates out there on the blogs right now. Above, Blaine Avery
and below Po-Wen Liu. I just took workshops with both of them and really like their approach to pottery making. They are very thoughtful and have unique approaches to surface decoration. I don't really like making plates because of that big space you have to decorate. My friend Laura Farrow is making some great plates too. I'll try to get some photos of them next week on the Orange County Studio Tour. Looking forward to that!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin picking

Today was Gerry's 50th birthday. We had a great day, went to Elmo's in Carrboro for breakfast, spent the day together, picked Wes up at school and went to get pumpkins for Halloween. Later we went to dinner at Kanki, a great Japanese place in Durham. He hasn't really been looking forward to this day, but got through it fine and now he has lived for half a century. Wow, can that really be? He looks like he is about 30 and acts like he's about 12 :)
I have moved on to other pottery ideas and may write something later about that. I'm a Libra, so this happens. I go back and forth from one thing to another constantly and drive the people that live with me crazy! I choose to think that I am exploring all possibilities! Happy week, all :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One of those weeks

Thank God it's finally Sunday and I can put this week behind me. At least Friday was a great day, because I can't say much for the rest of the week. Let's recap: worked at CM on Monday, mixed glazes, boring. Fired a bisque on Tuesday, too fast for Earthenware, organic matter stayed behind, fired an 04 on Wednesday, unloaded a bunch of shite on Thursday and glazed some Raku ware, had a lovely day in Seagrove on Friday (TGIF), then Saturday, oh Saturday, should have stayed in bed. Woke up to the phone ringing at 8am rainy morning when I could be sleeping, Wesley's drummer calling stranded with no way home at his girlfriend's house, and I don't know why this is our problem! Except they were supposed to have practice at 9am and nobody bothered to let Wes know, again this is rainy 8am Saturday morning. So I got up, and loaded the kiln for a couple of Raku cycles because I promised a bowl to the Orange County Rape Crisis auction and don't you know the first bowl I made for it cracked, so I made two more just in case. Well, as soon as I fired up the kiln it started pouring rain, raindrops fell on my glaze and my glaze doesn't like raindrops so the new bowls look polka dotty and yes, there is another very tiny crack in one of them. Why is this the way, when you promise a piece to someone and there is a deadline?!?! Also, I was supposed to leave for the Octoberfest sale at Saxapahaw by 2pm, car was loaded when the rains let up and as soon as we got ready to leave, of course, torential downpour. So, I'm not into doing outdoor festivals in pouring rain, I just went back in the house and had a pity party! Then, just so I could be sure my head would explode I started looking at photos online of Japanese shino and pots by Lisa Hammond, who I love, but who doesn't make handles as nice as Brandon:) and I started thinking how nice tenmouku and orange shino would look with my turqoise Raku. Can you say A.D.D. ? So it's Sunday morning, my dog is sitting here chewing himself to pieces and licking those parts only dogs want to lick, I am having some tea in my new Dean and Martin mug and Gerry turns 50 tomorrow so I am going to bake a cake today and start all over tomorrow. With what, I have no idea! I do have a Raku class starting on Thursday and I know most of them so that is something to look forward to. We will be making at the Artscenter in Carrboro and firing here. Cheers everyone, thanks for your kind words of support this week, and oh by the way, did you see that Deb Woods from Mudpot blog is back amongst us? Welcome back Deb!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This blog thing

Yesterday Wesley and I drove down to Seagrove for the day. We were invited to have lunch at Whynot Pottery with the Whynotians, Mark and Meredith. It was a great day for a road trip, just a little cloudy and the leaves are at their best colors right now. To get to Whypot Pottery, you turn in to a dirt road, lined with pine trees and follow it past a beautiful pond, until you reach the red building. What a paradise. We had great pizza and salad and even better conversation. Mark and Meredith helped out with trouble shooting my glaze issues. Meredith and I are in very parallel universes and it was so fun to finally meet her. What a great couple.
I just love this blog thing. I have met so many great people. How else would I have stayed at Michael Kline's while taking John Britt's workshop and had dinner with his great family. or had my own personal tutorial videos from Brandon Phillips (which by the way helped me throw mugs and bowls and pull handles better than any class I have taken!) or have pizza at Whynot or get glaze advise from Judy, Hollis, and Peter, and then there is the moral support from Linda, Jen, Cindy, Jim, Laura, Susan and on and on, I'm leaving out lots of names, but it's all of the pottery bloggers out there that leave comments and post great blogs themselves. I love your blogs, I love hearing from you and I think this is such a phenomenal new way of making friends and learning about our craft. Meredith and I were saying that we really need to have a bloggers get together somewhere so we could all meet.
The Whynot shop is great and Meredith gave me and Wesley one of her beautiful pendants. She gave Wes only a couple of choices, Wesley being a Taurus and all, she needs few choices and Meredith has a Taurus child so she knew this!

After lunch and a studio tour, we went by Dean and Martin Pottery. What a fantastic shop and the pottery is just spectacular. We met Steffanie and chatted with her briefly. I totally forgot to mention to her that I have a blog, I was so captivated by their work. After Dean and Martin we stopped in to see Fred Johnston at Johnston and Gentithes. Fred is so fun to talk to and has some of my favorite pottery. If you have ever stopped by and talked to Fred, you know that we were there for awhile and then it was 5pm and I had to get home, so we missed so many other people we wanted to visit. Just means I'll have to go back though, so not all bad :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

What the "F" am I doing!?

Earthenware testing did not go well. Pinholes, crawling, bad slip application, ugly colors, you name it, I got it. Today I woke up not wanting to do this anymore (just a fleeting thought, I'm sure it will go away). I have no functional forms in my head that I want to make with Earthenware, although I loved throwing it, no mug design that makes me dance, no casseroles, nada. I do have beautiful large Raku jars and platters in my head however. Why the hell can't you use Raku for food?!?!? ARghhh... I need an earthenware glaze that makes me happy for functional ware so I don't have to say over and over, "no you can't use that really beautiful bowl for food, it's just to look at, has no good reason for existing except that I liked making it and look at those cracks!" And no I don't want to make earthenware with white slip and draw on it, everyone else has that covered, thank you. I just want a rich, wonderful glaze that will compliment my raku rich wonderful glaze so you can eat out of the damn thing. And there is a nagging voice in the back of my brain speaking about cone 10 once again. Go away! If I could only rip off what Brandon or Hollis are doing, I would be fine :) Their work always makes me think how nice my Raku would look sitting beside theirs, it is very complimentary to my style, not that I don't like everyone else's work out there, it's all great!
In other news, I'm taking a breath and Wes and I are invited to lunch with Meredith at Whynot Pottery so we are heading down to Seagrove this morning. I'm going to take some of these miserable tests with me and whine on Meredith's shoulder :) We were supposed to go to the Mts. this weekend, it's Gerry's 50th birthday and I thought we were going to celebrate in Asheville, but he isn't feeling it. So, I'm going to do the Ocktoberfest at Saxapahaw instead. My friend Susan is firing her wood kiln as I write this, I should be out there stoking a kiln, but thought I had other plans. As I said to Judi on her blog, I can't seem to plan my life for one week, much less have a five year plan! OK, well off to Seagrove for some inspiration and a breath of fresh air. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

500 Raku

Those of you out there with Raku work, don't forget submissions are due Monday October 26 for the 500 Raku book. This is one of the images I sent in. This little guy has a happy home now with someone named Bob!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scrubbing Bones

I've been waiting all summer for these bones to be clean enough to gather up. You may remember this summer, a deer died in our woods and we couldn't sit outside for two weeks while it decomposed. Me and Gerry and Wesley went and gathered up the bones last weekend, how's that for some good family time! Today, while I'm kiln sitting I sat outside and scrubbed them good. I'll let them sit in the sun for awhile and bleach and then I'm going to make some pots for them. I hope the deer had a good life, and I thank him for the bones I'll get to put on my Raku, sort of a continuation of his life :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The very awesome Blaine Avery

Blaine Avery came to Claymakers today for a marathon slip trail/brush workshop. Blaine did demos for slip trailing, wax resist, brush work and even threw a piece and did a little slab work. If you have not been to Blaine's blog or shop, click on his name for a link. He makes beautiful work. If you can't make it to Seagrove for a visit, Claymakers has some wonderful pieces of his in the gallery. These past three workshops have been packed with so much information and presented by such talented potters that my head is about to explode with all that I have taken in. I have taken parts from each of them and have some ideas for my earthenware, (that I can now throw larger thanks to Po Wen, and I can decorate thanks to Amy and Blaine! )
I think the crane and the turtle are my favorite designs, but I liked it all. My very favorite was a long horn bull that he sketched and created with black slip but somehow I forgot to photograph it with my camera. I was shooting some pictures for Blaine so they must be on his camera. Maybe he will have them on his blog.

Blaine is very generous with his knowledge and I think we all took away a lot of helpful information today, and heard some fun stories as well. Thanks Blaine for an awesome workshop!!!!! Can't wait to get some slip on some earthenware!!!
Aren't these pretty?! Shooting pictures in the upstairs studio is so hard, terrible lights and a big window to mess with the white balance and give lots of glare, so check out Blaine's blog to see better shots of his work.

Chicken stew and biscuits

I make this recipe all the time, it's really good, from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook, or here is a link to the recipe I leave the chicken out, Wes, the vegetarian requires that. Posie gets Cozy had this posted on her blog today and I love the idea of making different size biscuits for the top. Sometimes I use pastry dough. So, when you are rolling out dough do you wedge it like clay? I do, and also, I like to cut out shapes and use stamps with pastry dough just like hand building. Anyway, this looks so good, I think it's going to be supper tomorrow night.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blaine Avery

Claymakers has had a series of workshops this session that have been really great. Po-Wen Liu, Amy Sanders, and tomorrow we have Blaine Avery coming for a slip trail workshop. I'll take lots of photos and try to post sometime over the weekend. This should be another great Saturday. I have been working on some earthenware samples this week-bowls, mugs, cups. I think I am going to like this Earthenware. I have some small test batches of glaze mixed up and hope to get a bisque fired next week so I can do an 04 firing and see what happens. Guess I know what I'm doing next week.
Also, made a couple of large bowl/platters tonight. I made one earlier for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center auction and of course it cracked. I have never had a bowl crack before so of course since I needed this one to be great, it cracked! Isn't that always the way............

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NC Craft Gallery

I took a bunch of pottery over to the NC Craft Gallery in Carrboro today. They have a 15% off sale going on right now and lots of great art to see and buy. I'm looking forward to working with them, the owner Sarah is such a nice person and always has great stuff in the gallery.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mildred's Lane

You know how sometimes you go to a blog and they have a link to a page and then that link leads to another page and so on? Well, that's how I ended up at J. Morgan Puett's page here
This is the most wonderful retreat for artists I have ever seen! You have to go visit the site and click on all the photos and see everything!!! It is amazing. I wish there was a place around here I could turn into a retreat like this. What a dream!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amy Sanders

Claymakers had the great pleasure of hosting Amy Sanders today for a hand building workshop.
I took lots of pictures, but when I was putting them together for this post, I didn't even know where to begin. Amy has many steps in her pieces and her demos are very involved with lots and lots of information. I just didn't know where to start, so I'll just say, if she is ever in your area doing a workshop, TAKE IT! She is fabulous, warm, giving, and very funny. Everyone loved having her at the studio and I think she sold some pieces today in the gallery. You have to see her make these pieces to understand the process, I don't think my explaining things with the photos I took would get anywhere, sorry about that. But, here are some of the pieces she brought for the gallery and gave us demos on. I'll look back through my shots tomorrow when I'm fresh and see if there is anything that I could explain clearly. THANKS Amy for a fantastic workshop!!!!! It was great to see you, good luck with the new baby. Best wishes!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Beginners part ll

Thanks for all of the feed back on the previous post! I started teaching hand building because I was working in the studio as a studio assistant a few years ago and I would see all of the frustration the beginners went through on the wheel trying to throw a mug or a bowl. They just wanted something they could glaze and take home and wanted instant gratification, which you are not going to get with the wheel. They didn't want to slow down and take the time to develop the skills necessary to throw, they just wanted the end product. Many people taking classes at the artscenter are doing it for recreation and fun, not trying to become a professional potter. It's nice to see them in my classes take home mugs, vases, and trays that they hand build and now pitchers! Yesterday one of my students made a really great pitcher and she was so happy with it. It felt good to see how proud she was of her accomplishment. She is the one that said she wanted to make a pitcher, and like Brandon mentioned in the comments, I cringed. The week before another girl said she wanted to make a teapot! Why do they always ask for teapots!?!? Oh yeah, Brandon the dinner sets, What ARE they thinking!??!
Like Judy, I do believe that doing an early hand building project is a great confidence booster and it helps my students get used to the nature of clay much better than the wheel, where they usually just end up with a big wet blob of clay, a bucket of slop and a tray full of water to empty and clean up:) When I did a demo on making a bowl and a plate with slabs, one girl mentioned that she thought it was cheating. I don't really know how to respond to these "cheating" comments. What is cheating about making something, no matter how you go about it, if you are being creative and enjoying it, why does it matter how you accomplish it? I have sort of felt that way about slip casting in the past, don't really see the point, but hey, there are a lot of folks making some cool things with molds, so go for it, if that's what you enjoy. To me, cheating is only when you are making exact replicas of things working potters are trying to make a living selling themselves, taking the ideas they worked hard to develop and not even trying to make them your own, just flat out copying their work, I don't like that. Whitney Smith had a great post on this subject a while back. So anyway, happy days. My students will go home with their proud treasures and hopefully come back for more in the future instead of giving up because of wheel frustrations! Thanks for all of your comments.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Absolute beginners

I'm teaching a class at the Artscenter in Carrboro right now called Pottery Sampler. This is a class for absolute beginners. We started out with pinch pots, moved on to coils, then slabs and then the wheel. Last week one of my students brought in a photo of one of Mark Hewitt's pitchers and said, "I want to make this." My comment to her was, I can't make that! So I figured there had to be a good way to teach beginners to make a pitcher with slabs. And so I pulled out one of my trusty reference books from the 500 series and looked for one that might be an easy example. Here is what happened.
I rolled out a slab and stamped it with textures, beginners like using stamps.
Then I found a jar in my kitchen that looked like a good size for a pitcher, wrapped it in paper to keep the slab from sticking

And Voila, cut the rim, add a coil handle and not bad for an easy to make pitcher. We made them today in class and it was very fun!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thanks Festifall!

I had such a great day today! Beautiful weather, Carolina Blue skies and very charming people out appreciating art. The little white pot above (the one with the bling from the previous post) found a home today with a lovely man named Bob. It was my first sale of the day and then things just got better and better. Lots of pots have new homes. I saw many of my students from the Artscenter and lots of friends came by to say hello. Thanks to everyone that bought my pottery today!!!!

If you remember the Paperhand Puppet post I did, here they are in the parade.
And this dog stole the show. She was the cutest thing I have ever seen, but is trembling in this photo from fear of the parade and the drums. She was rescued by animal control officers in Durham at a puppy mill. She was a stray hanging around there. These lovely folks gave her a home and bought several of my pieces for a wedding gift for friends in Washington State. I also sold some pots to a very cute girl from London, who is flying home tomorrow with them in her carry on bags. How fun!!!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

washing, sanding, pricing, packing

My pots are all sanded, washed, priced and packed and I'm ready for Festifall tomorrow. Mark Hewitt would be proud, he taught me well! Wesley made some shopping bags with my butterfly stencil and I made some hang tags with some hand made papers for my prices. All is well, I'm tired, freshly showered, have had a wonderful Mexican dinner and beer at Monterey's in Chapel Hill and I am good to go. Let's hope there are some shoppers tomorrow, I am really tired of looking at this Raku right now!

I'm starting to like the idea of giving my pots a little bling :)