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Thursday, December 31, 2009

What do you do on New Year's Eve?

I sit home and load new music on my IPod and watch yourtube videos. Pathetic isn't it?!
Gerry is shooting the Duke ballgame and I can't stay up past 10 or 11pm so New Year's Eve isn't a big deal to me. Tommorrow we will go to my good friend Laura Farrow's house for her annual New Year's Day pot luck which is much much better. I'm sure I mentioned before how much I like Jack White, this is my all time favorite video.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Decorative Accessory

When I was a showroom designer I probably used or wrote this term 10 times a day. I call my cat my decorative accessory, she is so pretty and just plops down in a shaft of light or on a quilt and looks like she is posing for a catalog shot. Today I filled out show applications, filed some papers away and cleaned out the attic. Time for some of those childhood toys to go!
I'm not going to use this blog as a pissing match, but let's just say today I had a conversation with Olympic again and it looks like they will probably not be sending me any shelves, mostly due to some profanity used on my part. Oh well, years of working for older corporate America white men has not done much for my patience with intolerable personalities from upper management types that think I am an idiot. Apparently these posts and shelves were only meant to last a year, and no one at Olympic seems to understand that I actually wanted them to last longer than that. Since I have been trying to deal with them since November 11, 2009, I just give up. It's just too unpleasant. And here is the most aggrevating part of all: I looked up the cost of the shelves and posts and it comes to around $150 for what I am asking to have replaced. I spent $2800 with these people and they want to argue over $150 to make a customer happy!!!!!!
WHAT I WILL TELL YOU IS THAT I WILL NEVER ORDER ANYTHING FROM AXNER OR OLYMPIC AGAIN AND I WILL SAY THIS TO ANYONE THAT ASKS FOR MY OPINION ON THESE COMPANIES! THEY BOTH HAVE THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE OF ANY COMPANY I HAVE EVER EVER DEALT WITH!
There, now that that's over, lets just all have a great 2010!! and be kind to the first person you see every day. How 'bout it!?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mug Shot

Some of you journalists out there have probably heard the term mug shot a few times right?! Gerry used to hate shooting "mugs" when he worked for the newspaper. Well, I got a new camera for Christmas so I might be posting a ridiculous amount of photos for awhile! Here is a mug that I got for Christmas, cute isn't it?
I have a macro lens, oh how I love a macro lens!!!
Day after Christmas breakfast, I sat down and took one bite and realized how pretty this looked so I ran a grabbed my new camera. I may be doing a lot of that. It has a setting just for food shots. I love that! I am sooooo sick of food right now, though. I really think that I am in a sugar coma :)
I asked for one of these mugs for Christmas and ended up with the whole set. I really wanted it to study the shape, I was interested in this very round body. These are at my favorite store, Anthropologie, where I only go in and look at the merchandising, can't afford to buy most anything they sell! I know I should have gotten mugs from potters, but I tend to buy brown mugs for myself and I would have never bought these, so they made a nice gift to get. Plus they are fun in the morning to wake up to. Sometimes you just have to have a little color. There are still lots of potter's mugs on my list of things to get this year. I mostly sell pottery to buy other pottery, is that messed up? Maybe............
The mugs are cute inside as well. I just realized the camera has a date stamp, yep, there it is, sorry. Note to self, turn it off! I used to hate getting prints back with that stamp on them.Remember when you put your film cassettes in those yellow bags, and went back a week later to get them, and most of them looked like crap and you got double prints of crappy photos?God bless digital photography for those of us that aren't professionals. Well, God bless it for the professionals too, Gerry used to smell like photo chemicals all the time and ruined all of his work clothes. Plus, I spent hours waiting around in the darkroom while prints were made so we could finally go to dinner. Although, it was pretty cool to watch him make black and white prints. Oh, sorry I digress! Hope everyone had a good Christmas, I am ready to come out of the seasonal fog and get back to making something! Can you tell that I ate an entire chocolate orange ball today? You know, the one that you smash on the table and it breaks into wedges? Do you like those? I love them, but only get them at Christmas. Wesley hides hers and eats like one piece a week. I set mine on the counter and eat a wedge every time I walk by it! yummmmmm!
Well, I had a nice video of Susan Filley to show you but after waiting for blogger for over three hours to down load it, I gave up. I'll try again later, guess everyone is posting Santa videos or something.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Musing about Mud

Thanks to the blog Musing About Mud for posting the photo of my little pear on Christmas Day! What a very nice surprise. I love this blog, there is always such great information there about exhibitions, call for entries, etc. It is a wealth of information, if you haven't checked it out, go on over and say hi! Hope all of you are having a great day with your families. My family is sitting out in the porch swing right now and I am trying to warm up by the fire after being out there. It is so foggy and drippy with rain today, we have sat around all day eating, watching movies and warming by the fire while it rained. I think I have filled myself with enough chocolate to last me until next Christmas! Has anyone tried those chocolate truffles from Trader Joes? Decadent!
Just taking a little break from the movies, A Christmas Story is back on so, talk to you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Kiln Posts arrive

New kiln posts arrived yesterday. These are from a company called Carolex. Anyone heard of them? The enclosed note said, "We are sending samples (samples?) of our round 3",5", and 6" posts that we use in high fire kilns. We will be making the 8" and 10" next and firing them shortly thereafter. We will ship when ready. We are sorry for the problems you have had and hope this will correct them. Wishing you a happy holiday."
Well, thank you Olympic for getting these to me, I guess. I have never seen posts like these. I did a Google search for kiln post and not one image of these came up. What do I have here?!?! Has anyone ever used these or seen them? They are so fat, they are going to take up even more room in my already limited size kiln. I have only used the square kind, but these do look substantial, so we'll give them a try as soon as the holidays are over and I will let you know how it goes........it's like a soap opera, isn't it!? Stay tuned.................
PS: After this post, I called Carolex to ask them about these posts, that apparently can fire to ^12, the owner had nothing but nice things to say about Olympic and seemed genuinely eager to help out in any way, he was very nice,
so............... the story continues :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not your typical Christmas

First of all, if you have not seen AVATAR, you must go see it, and see it in 3D, you get these cool glasses! I have never seen anything like this movie, spellbinding pretty much covers it!
We went back to my hometown for Christmas, Myrtle Beach, SC. My mom recently remarried, she is 79, my dad passed away 16 years ago, and my mom's new hubby got her this for Christmas. I grew up in a tiny little wood siding house with oil heat and now my mom is living in this........wow, she has come a long way, good for her I say!!
She has a pool and hot tub, oh my!!
This is Broadway at the Beach. When I was little this was a marsh and farmland and we boarded my pony here. There was a dirt road that went through here and that was the route my school bus took. Now it is full of shops, a Hard Rock Cafe, IMax theater, and lots of restaurants and bars.
Some of you may remember the Myrtle Beach Pavilion that was such a huge part of so many families vacations. It was recently torn down and they moved some of the iconic things from the amusement park over to Broadway. I rode this swing so many times as a kid, and ate more corn dogs and cotton candy from this stand than I can remember. My relatives in NC thought I was the luckiest kid alive. I, however, felt like a total misfit most of my life. The kids I grew up with lived in motels, their parents owned restaurants, they drove porches, mercedes, and bmw's to school. My dad was a furniture maker and we were just barely middle class. When I went to design school, kids in my class were just getting away from home and wanted to party. I had been partying at home in MB since I was 14. I was worn out and didn't go out with them. I was serious about my career as a designer in my 20's because I had worked since I was 13, and no one in the company I worked for took me seriously because I was so young. It wasn't until I started doing props and sets for the theater that I found "my people". It's no wonder considering the crazy place I grew up.

The fun house mirrors were always a must see for my grandparents when they came from High Point NC to visit, they would stand there for the longest time and laugh and laugh.
When Wes was little she had to go and play Dragon Golf every time we went to visit my mom. And Gerry had to go play baseball. Not much has changed. No wonder we stay in trouble all the time, we are still 12 years old!
This is Fun Plaza. It is located on the boardwalk right on the beach and this is where I got my first job when I was thirteen years old. I worked in the gift shop just to the left of the skee ball sign.

We also have to go and get a fortune from this creepy lady every time we visit.
I had the weirdest childhood, dysfunctional doesn't even cover it. While Gerry and Wesley played arcade games I walked around outside on the boardwalk and talked to all the ghosts. MB was a crazy place to grow up. I spent my time skate boarding, laying on the beach and swimming in the ocean. I had a job starting from age 13, and a car/license at 14. A good bit of my time was spent driving on the Boulevard, music blaring out of my 8 track tape player and my best friend mixing white russians in the seat beside me. My car was a 5 speed Mercury Capri with a sun roof and we thought we were the baddest asses out there! Going to Myrtle Beach for Wesley and Gerry is play time, they have so much fun, Gerry remembers his family vacations that were spent here every year, Wes remembers her childhood fun and I work out all the strange things that happened to me as a kid growing up too fast with parents who were not paying attention. It takes me a week after a visit to get my head back. So there is a little stroll down memory lane, so different from Meredith's farm visits and so different from all of the snow pictures being posted right now, but it's a bit of an escape from reality for ya, isn't it! I don't know how all of this led me to making pottery, I'm sure it was all due to my grandmother and her love for Seagrove and pottery. It just took so long to get here!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Music


Here is a little Christmas tune from our good friend Jeff Brown. We went to college with Jeff and he is a very talented musician living and working in Charlotte NC.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Raku Students

Today, I met my Raku students for lunch to talk about our Raku class, what we did right, where we could improve and what our goals are for the Spring class. We had a lot of fun, and Ronni, we missed you! I took them all a small gift and here's what they brought:
Kristen gave all of us a pendant that she fired in the last firing we had, look at the beautiful red she got from Soldner's Copper Red glaze, I only get blue from this glaze, the pendants are really beautiful and so "Christmasy"
Charlotte baked cookies for all of us. We opened one of the platters in the restaurant and had dessert, I'm sure the restaurant appreciated our BYOD.
and she gave us the cutest tool caddy, I can't wait to stick all of my class tools in this, I have been using an old wooden box!
Here are a couple of photos from our last class, aren't these the most adorable women!!!! Kristen above and Ronni below, Charlotte was the photographer and I think Bridget was inside having some of the wonderful bean soup that Charlotte brought. What an amazing group, we had soooo much fun and I am looking forward to Spring when we can fire again, in my sort of new OLYMPIC kiln, that I like very much :) and what a great kiln for Raku firing!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What can I say...............

Ya'll know I like my kiln, right? I have been very happy with it's performance, except for this ridiculous problem I am having with the posts and shelves. I finally got someone from Olympic to call me today, I think Asshole was his name. Meredith was right, I have never had anyone speak so rudely to me in my life, especially someone that received a $2500 purchase from me. When people buy things from you aren't you supposed to say, "thanks so much for your business, and let me know if there is anything I can help you with in the future", and don't you want to have a good relationship with that person so that they will be a repeat customer. Well, FAT CHANCE I will ever buy anything from Olympic again!!!!! I just wanted to ask this man if he had a daughter and how would he feel if some asshole spoke to her the way he was speaking to me. He made me feel like a liar and an incompetent and it was all I could do to keep from absolutely going off on the phone, but I was raised to have some manners and treat people as I would want to be treated, so I held my temper and wished AH a Merry Christmas. He says he is shipping out replacements today, we'll see...... just be warned if you have to call Olympic, put on some body armor and don't call me if you want a recommendation to buy something from them!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Get 'em while they're hot!

I dropped some things off at the NC Crafts Gallery in Carrboro today. I had everything out for Sarah to look at and choose from and noticed some of the pieces were missing. One of her customers had already picked up several items and was heading for the register. Talk about a fast turn around! They were in the store for less than 30 minutes! I love that! One of the ladies that works at the gallery had seen my work at Festifall and asked if I would wholesale some things. The next week I brought them in for Sarah to look at and she placed an order. I think most everything that I brought in has sold, except for some large vases that are on consignment and she gave me a very nice order today! I left my "Sung Dynsasty inspired" jar for her today on consignment, hope it finds a happy home, I love that jar! It was great to see the gallery very busy with customers and lots of sales were going on while I was there and it was 10:00 am. I also loved hearing the comments from one shopper that she refused to support Walmart and was shopping to support artists. How great that there are people like that out there. Sarah has lots of wonderful work in the gallery right now, so if you are looking for a special gift head on over!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rain, rain, and more rain..........

Gerry had to shoot the national soccer championship game today in the cold and the rain, how do those players stand it? I like this rain drop picture he shot. Wesley and I went to look at keyboards(that's what she wants for Christmas) and shopped for Christmas gifts, in the rain. It seems like everything I do these days is in the rain! I have to glaze and Raku some stuff this week and then I am closing the studio door until after Christmas. Let's hope for one sunny day this week, I don't care which one, I just need a day to fire my kiln!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Go figure.....

I had such a great day today, hope all of you did! Wesley's school, Woods Charter School, had "Winter Woods" today. They invited parents and teachers that were artists to bring their work and we had a great art sale. So, last week I was at beautiful Stagville Plantation, lovely location, really nice people, but sold almost nothing. Today my table was in front of the microwaves in the great room (bad yellow paint job by the way!), I didn't bring half the stuff, and I sold a ton, brought home an empty bin and Christmas $$$ to buy lots of presents. YAY! Thanks to everyone that came out and supported the Woods artists!
The elementary art teacher got a grant to buy a pottery wheel for her class room and I was lucky enough to be the first one to try it out. We did demos all day and I threw a bunch of these little vases that I am using for Raku test tiles, they work so much better than flat tiles for Raku (I have some to show you later), how cute is that little vase!

This is our very wonderful and good sport principal Mr. Rentz crawling through the Egyptian burial chamber! He is a wonderful pianist and we love him!
And Mr. Durham, the middle school/high school teacher, really got into the wheel throwing and gave me a much needed break. I brought several pieces these girls made home with me to Raku. Their mom gave me a rather large pottery order for the holidays so it is the least I could do! I love this school and feel so fortunate that Wesley was able to get in. Now to get busy on that order.......

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kiln posts

Does this extrusion look right to you? Don't they look crooked? I am having a time with Axner and Olympic getting this kiln post/shelf thing resolved. I first contacted Axner on Nov. 11 and I have now moved on to Olympic and still no replacements, no resolution, no answers. They just keep saying "we will get this resolved soon". When is soon? you may remember that I lost my first ^10 load due to a shelf that cracked in half, brand new shelf. Second ^10, lost it to kiln post explosion. Here is what has happened with those brand new posts and shelves.

This post cracked in half on it's first firing
all of the posts are splintering, (again, crooked right?)
and exploding
and I now have two cracked shelves. Does this seem normal to any of you out there? I have worked in community studios for ten years where kilns are fired nearly 24/7 and abused by inexperienced assistants and have never seen anything like this. I WANT NEW POSTS AND SHELVES!! What is it going to take? I can't fire my kiln right now except for Raku because I don't trust the posts or shelves. Come on Olympic, do the right thing!!!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crap! No card.....

Today was our final Raku class with the Artscenter students and we had a great time, except for the cold. I feel chilled to the bone. I took some really great pictures and just sat down to load them on my computer, but there was no card in the camera! I live with a professional photographer, wouldn't you think I would know by now to check the camera for the memory card! So, sorry, no photos, maybe someone from the class has some and I can post them later. Anyway, the firing was really good, everyone got some great pieces, there were a few losers but that's Raku, some loss is expected. The tiles are cracking randomly and I can't figure out why. Any raku folks out there having that problem? We might have four tiles in the same firing, same can and two of them break right in half. I had this happen with my last firing too. Is it the construction, thickness, bisque? Just don't know, it's so random.Thanks to all of you for a great class, looks like everyone will be back for the Spring session and more fun testing our wits! This is by far the BEST class I have ever had!!!! You guys R.O.C.K.!!!!!!!!! I may have more thoughts for you later, but I'm crashing right now. I woke up at 11:30pm last night and never went back to sleep because I am an insomniac, so I'm off to bed soon for a couple of hours of sleep hopefully! Thanks everyone for a great day :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

beer glasses


I read on Ron Philbeck's blog the other day that he was sipping beer from a ceramic cup, so I thought I would give it a try in my new favorite cup, you know the one, right? Blurry photo isn't it, beer, remember......anyway, I find that I don't like sipping beer from a ceramic cup. first of all the foam would not go away, second, the beer got warm really fast, I like cold beer if it's cheap beer, and third I like drinking cold beer from the glasses we keep in the freezer. We bought a set of wonderful beer glasses from the Broome St. Bar in Soho when we were in NY, I have amazing memories from that bar and that's what I want to drink my beer out of when I use a glass. Here is the bar, such a cool local pub. I would move to Soho just to be able to go here ever day.Mostly I just like a long neck beer bottle to hold on to while I drink a beer, (I'm sure someone could make a sexual inuendo comment about this, but's let's don't). So there is a quick thought on beer drinking and pottery. I like tea, wine, and water, in that order, from my pottery, but not beer. One last thing, guess what, it's supposed to rain again tomorrow. My grandmother used to make up words when she wanted to swear, because she didn't swear. One was "I Swigger." Really. So...... I swigger, rain again?!?!? I swaney, what are we going to do!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Good trade

One of the best things about doing art shows and festivals is all of the nice people you meet. At the end of the show on Saturday one of the vendors asked if I would like to trade. I asked what she had and when she said bread, I said absolutely. My family could live on bread and water, no lie! She got a raku tray and I got one loaf of sourdough, one wheat sourdough and one ciabatta and a seasoning packet was included for olive oil. Sunday, I made a big pot of black bean soup and we ate two of the loaves, one is left for lunch today. Sooooo good. The little bowl is one of my earthenware tests that I forgot to post pictures of, the only one that did not pin hole. It is a really sweet bowl.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Makes me smile

Here's some inspiration for Kyle Carpenter and Michael Kline :)
See you guys Monday, I need some rest tomorrow!

Sid Luck at Stagville

Well, Stagville sucked for sales, but the company was great! Met some nice folks today but the weather could not have been worse. Stagville is a historic plantation and we were supposed to be spread out on the grounds in and around the plantation house, which is the whole reason I agreed to do this show in the first place. I love being at these places. But today was bitter cold, windy and raining, so they moved us inside to the visitor's center. You know the building if you have ever visited any museum shops. Small, bright light and they had to squeeze six artists in this space. I was right beside Sid Luck, Seagrove Potter, many of you know him well.He is the nicest man you will ever meet, but a hard act to follow. Not to mention a bit intimidating for me to be beside as a potter who has no traditional pottery background. The coolest thing about it though was this: in 2002, Sid was doing a workshop at the local Parks and Rec where I lived and I went. He is the first person to ever put a ball of clay in my hand and I was hooked from that moment on. How ironic to be next to him eight years later at a show. He was doing demos and telling tells and the visitors were eating it up, then walking right over to his table and buying up all of those traditional Seagrove pots, $9 blue mugs, they were very nice. My temmoku mugs were $15 which I thought was cheap and I sold none. Do you think anyone at that place today had a clue what Raku was or temmoku? I guarantee you if I had my Raku kiln there and was pulling shit out of it, I would have sold some, but noooooo, I sold those f-ing Christmas ornaments that I DO NOT like to make. But if I didn't make them, then I would have no sales at shows like this. So, moral of the story, I need to STOP doing shows like this, right? So, Matt Grimmitt, I'm right there with ya on the piss show experience. The only good part, was visiting with Sid and his lovely wife all day, and the other good thing for the day, was getting a really great email from Steven Forbes deSoule which brightened my day greatly and gave me encouragement to get up, brush myself off and get on with it. He didn't know the day I had, but the email sure helped lift my spirits. Thanks, Steven, if you are reading this!!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Winners and losers


Good firing today! Lots of pots for the show tomorrow. If you are out and about in Durham come by and see me. I will be at "Christmas in the Big House" in the building with Sid Luck here:

Located in Durham, Historic Stagville comprises the remnants of one of the largest plantations of the pre-Civil War South. The plantations belonged to the Bennehan-Cameron family, whose combined holdings totalled approximately 900 slaves and almost 30,000 acres of land by 1860. Stagville offers a view of the past, especially that of its African American community, by allowing visitors to guide themselves around its extensive grounds. In addition, Stagville offers the public many learning opportunities.

So back to my firing- I usually figure on losing about 1/3rd of my work on Raku day, but today I only lost 3 good pieces and three test pieces. Everything else was good. The gargoyle pots survived. If you score, slip and smoosh the clay in very good, you can easily fire sculptural work, it just needs to be sort of thin for the glazes to look best. I think the jars turned out pretty nice, the glazes are amazing in the sun. photos suck here :) This glaze was a glaze we developed in the Steven Forbes deSoule workshop at Penland this summer. I call it Penland Copper Red, because I can't remember what we called it. If you reduce it heavily it will go way copper, but I'm not that fond of copper.
I am starting to get the feeling that I am going to be a Raku potter. I have the most success with Raku of anything that I try and I always like almost everything I make. I very rarely like any reduction work I make, never like ^6 stuff, I loved my wood fired pieces I did with Susan but haven't done any more of that. I do like temmoku, and that is very complementary, so I think I am sticking with that for now. Easy peasy for awhile. Lots less stress that way!

The little jar in the right corner is one of the temmoku survivors.

I was complaing about these little trays while glazing and saying I wasn't making any more, and of course they turned out beautifully, probably my favorite things in the firing. They are so tiny though, I always sell them, but never get back the time I put into them.
This tray was a hand building demo for my class, trying out a terra cotta dish that we had in the studio, you know, the dishes you put under your flower pots. It makes a great mold and they are really cheap. I'll be making more of these, I like the way it turned out.
another little temmoku survivor
This is the first squared jar I have tried to make on the wheel. It has been on my list of things to try and the other day I was in the mood, so there it is. Needs more work, but not bad for a first try. I need to come up with a different foot treatment, I don't like this one.
should have made more of these, but I'm not really into the votive making thing, betcha they sell though.
My mess is bigger than Ron's mess! Packing and pricing.......



I hate I lost these baskets. I had a time with them, they were destined to fail. I glazed them last night while I was freezing outside, the glaze was too thin, I rushed it because I was miserable, they sat outside last night, mistake. Fired them this morning and the glaze would absolutely not melt. I fire these to 1750 usually, I went to 1950 today and then had to re fire because some of the glaze still did not melt. It was weird. The handles stressed in the second firing and all cracked in the same place. Too bad, I sell these every time I make them. Would have been nice for the show tomorrow. They are really pretty. Of course they broke because I needed them tomorrow, if I didn't care, I would have three nice baskets right now!
This was a big fat mess. My class, take note! Remember when all of you were having such luck with Pipenburg and I said it was beginner's luck? Well, here is pipenburg after you have had it do the very best it will ever do. It comes back and bites you in the ass with this ugliness. And to add to the challenge of Pipenburg, I put glass on top, which did not melt. Should have known better, but it was a good test.
and here is the ugliest thing of all. I did a demo that Amy Sanders did in her workshop for some of the girls in my class that wanted to see it. I used it for a test tile for some crackle glazes I found recipes for. They sounded a bit sketchy when I was reading them, but I am looking for some fun crackles for my class. Well, these ain't them! They are really bad!!!!!
So here are the losses, not bad for a days work. Much better than the cone 10.