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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day



This is a video package that Gerry put together for Memorial Day. You can read the story here Kevin wrote a great piece! You can also view the video at youtube
My thoughts are with all of those families and soldiers connected to the military today. God be with each one of you!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

NCMA

Wesley and I went to Raleigh today to visit the new NC Museum of Art. People! If you live near, or if you live in NC you must come see the new museum. The building is architecturally stunning and the collection looks so wonderful on the fresh white walls. The Dutch masters and early centuries (17, 18 etc) work used to be on dark walls and looked great, but on a hot day like today, the cool white interior space was bliss. The outdoor gardens are peaceful and beautiful and the building itself it just grand. Here are a few pictures I took of work that I especially like before, yes, my camera batteries died! Wes took a bunch of photos so when I get them from her camera I'll post some more. There are also lots of photos on the NCMA website, click the link above for more.


This was one of my favorite things. I could have walked in the door, looked at this wall piece and left happy. It is on the wall in the restaurant just as you enter. Very spectacular. Hollis, this is where the click on the photo to see the bigger photo comes in, if you click on this photo you can see how great this piece really is :) You can see the installation pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncma/sets/72157622838272597/
And in the gift shop NC's own Blaine Avery and Ronan Peterson. Way to go guys! How'd you do that?!

This piece is even more stunning when you read what it's made of and why. These are woven liquor bottle wrappers and bottle caps and newspaper from Africa, there was a long and interesting statement about the reason for it's being, I should have photographed that. It must have taken more than a year to make this thing, I can't even imagine......

sort of a contemporary Madonna and Child, the left arm is a piece of wood, nice......and then my camera died, just as I was entering the Greek pottery room and the Mayan room and the African room, and the Rodin sculpture exhibit, and the water ponds with bamboo and water lillies, and and and..... you just have to come and see for yourself!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Full bloom

My flowers are just bursting with blooms right now. We have two gardenia bushes on either side of the front door and the fragrance is unbelievable. My hydrangeas are in full bloom and the daisies are just about to open. So pretty.........

The pear and the raku tile from yesterday are gone as well as all of the house pendants. I took them to the NC Craft gallery today and she bought a bunch of work that I had been saving for her. I love working with Sarah. I bring my stuff in, she picks out what she likes and she hands me a check. She is a big help on advising me on pricing and honest with her critiques and suggestions. We scheduled a show for my houses for next May. That gives me a year to work it all out, get it right and stay on task. This is a really good goal, and a good amount of time to get a very nice show of my houses together.
Here are a few beads from the firing yesterday. I tried to do some bead work today but I don't have a clue what I'm doing. As luck would have it there is a bead shop next door to the craft gallery. I went in and found out they do bead classes every Sunday. I'm thinking about signing up for a class and getting some basics so I can dress these up a bit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

and moving right along...........

I had a few things that I needed to Raku fire today. It was a beautiful day after raining for days and days. Nice to be outside. The pear and the tile turned out pretty good. Every time I make pears I sell them, but I forget to make them, and really I'm kinda bored with them, but I like this one, I may have to make more. I usually put a white crackle on them and that's all good, but this glaze is really cool. I also fired a bunch of beads and pendants. I'll show you some of those later, got tired of downloading pictures. Does anyone else out there get impatient with how long it takes to download photos? or is it upload?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New homes for my houses

Finished up these pendants today and got the houses out of firing number three. All good, no casualties! They are off to their new homes at the NC Craft Gallery and the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh. I will be sad to see them go, I have grown rather fond of them, they have been around here it seems like forever!

Michael Mahan asked about black oxide at ^04 and here it is, above, brushed on and wiped off below brushed on and very lightly wiped. This is on Campbells brick red. The stain holds up pretty well and I like the look a lot although it should be for decorative only, I think that eventually with a lot of washings the oxide will wear off. The chrome oxide was rubbing off of the tile so I'll just use the chrome terra sig which is really nice and then if Iwant it more aged, I'll put some black oxide over it. I like the looks of the tile below a lot.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sig and Stain


Test tiles are out of the bisque, I have put some black iron oxide wash on them and they will go back in for an 04 firing. They are chrome oxide, red iron oxide, cobalt carbonate, copper carbonate and rutile colored terra sigs and washes. I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible so I don't end up spending a ton of $$ on colors I may not use. Once I figure all of these colors out I may move on to a mason stain, but really I have all the color I could possibly need right now here with these.
I may add more stains to these like the test below, but first I want to see how this one comes out. It was a little house that wasn't very well built so I used it for a test tile. I sort of like the two above just simple, but we'll see.....

My friend Charlotte suggested I make some house pendants, so I did.....great for test tiles too!
Gerry has been shooting Nascar all weekend and Wes has had band rehearsal so I got a lot done around here. Firing an 04 tomorrow, happy week everyone!

Friday, May 21, 2010

There's a lot going on around here!

Yesterday I made a bunch of test tiles. I have been putting this off for the longest time, but I made a TO DO list and put that at the top. I usually make little bowls for tests because I am a visual learner and it's much easier to understand what a glaze is going to look like on an actual piece. But if they turn out nice they end up getting sold or going in my cupboards. Also, I scribble notes about the tests in random places and can never find them. Plus, these are for oxides and terra sig mostly so who needs a piece to see that. I stamped them to see how the glazes break and I very neatly wrote on the back of each one what they were. This is a first for me, test tile organization, I think I like it! I'm doing line blends so I wrote the amount of colorant I used per cup of base on each one.
While the tiles were drying, I made a board of flower pots, tis the season after all. I have had some requests for them at Saxapahaw, so here they are. And check this out, I made six of them and they are all exactly the same size, and I didn't get distracted one time while making them.

Well, maybe I got a little distracted. I also put terra sig on all of these barns. This photo is for Matt Grimmett who shares the same fascination as me for seeing how much we can pile on a dining room table:)
and as I was drinking a Latte out of a Starbucks coffee cup that my husband so kindly brought to me, I thought it would make a nice template for a cup so I hand built this one just to see. I think I'm going to make more of these today, I like it. I just cut the cup up for a template, stamped the clay then rolled it up. Handle is a la Brandon Phillips tutorial. Big and fat, I don't like whimpy handles on chunky mugs. The photo doesn't really show the handle that great, sorry.

and then I got just a bit distracted this morning when I saw a mom and dad blue bird coming out of the bird house. I heard babies in there! Don't you just love baby bird chirps! Wesley made this bird house in art class last year, there are lyrics to a song on the top, but I can't remember which song. She never finished the art work but the birds don't care.
and some other day I must have also got distracted, because I went to pop my tea in the microwave to heat it up a bit this morning and this one was in there. I have no idea how long it has been in there. Sometimes when I leave my tea sitting around I like to give it a little zap to warm it, this is a perfect example of my multi tasking, starting one thing and then moving on to another before the first thing is finished. I ordered a North Star portable slab roller yesterday, I am so over the rolling pin and paint stick routine for slabs. I borrowed one from a friend a while back and really liked it, so thanks to my pottery class, I am using the money from that to pay for it! Lots to do today, so I better get busy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why I Blog

I started reading the blogs of Doug, Andrew, Paul and Matt back in early 2008 and was transported to the pottery studios of England through their words and photos. I think this is where my reading less books all began. I used to sit down every evening and read a book and I found myself, instead sitting down with my laptop to read blogs. I found other blogs through these four and lurked about for a while before I figured out the comments thing. I started thinking that I might like to have a blog, but really had nothing to blog about and didn't really feel worthy of actually calling myself a potter. I was still struggling with making a bowl and a mug! And then..........
I fired my first wood kiln with my good buddies Susan and Laura and I felt like a real potter and I was bursting with enthusiasm and wanted to tell everyone I saw about this firing. Look at our faces! I can still remember the feeling of seeing the dawn break the morning we finished firing and I still remember that first peek in the kiln. And so, in May of 2008, my blog began. This is just another creative outlet for me. When I was a kid I made collages and painted. When I was a designer I made story boards and drew floor plans. When Wes was little I made scrap books. Now I create with clay, but I still like to lay out words and images and blogging is a natural extension of all of this- photographing fun things I do, telling fun stories, fussing about injustice, whining, meeting interesting people, passing on a cool idea, sharing music and books and bragging about my family, friends and students. I have lots of opinions and don't mind expressing them, much to my husband's dismay sometimes, I see lots of things I want to tell everyone about, I like sharing any information I have that I think might be helpful to others, I like when people share information with me so that I can learn more, and I like the support I get when I'm having a rough day or having a pity party, as we all know I have from time to time. I've had a place to stay and have been fed from time to time thanks to potters like Meredith Heywood and Michael Kline, I have had my own personal video tutorials from Brandon Phillips, which taught me more than some teachers, I have received wonderful gifts from potters like Hollis Engley, Jen Mecca, Carol Epp, and Trish Denholm, I get posts lifting me up when I need it most from Judy, Linda, Gay, Meredith, Jen, Ron, Joy, Paul, Cindy, Cindy,Patricia, Ang, Jim, Andrew, Kari, Laura,Judi,Jeff, Peter, Tig, Blaine,Doug, Matt, (I know I am going to leave someone out, just leave your name on a post here!!!!) and soon I will be a part of an amazing show in Southern Pines that Meredith is putting together with all of these bloggers that I talk with every day. So Meredith asked us to write about why we blog. I blog to share information that I hope will help other potters that might be struggling with the same thing I was struggling with, I blog to ask questions of those more experienced than me, I blog to share some happiness that I can't keep to myself, I blog to brag about my talented daughter and husband (hope that isn't too obnoxious, but I love them!) I blog to read about others that are bragging and sharing their happiness about their families, I blog to be transported to another part of the world for a brief moment, I blog to get a sanity check, just to make sure, I blog to get opinions on things I am unsure of, but mostly I am blogging with new friends that get what I'm doing, because they are doing it too. It's a weird life to explain and understand and I am really glad all of you are there at the touch of a keyboard and a monitor when I need you! Blog On Mates!
XOXO
Laura Farrow, me and Susan Wells toasting our first wood firing, May 2008

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sleepy Creek


It has been raining and gloomy here for the past two days, and I have sat for hours at my computer trying to find us a place to go for our vacation. This year will be our 25th anniversary and we have been looking at France, Amsterdam, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and on and on. The thing is finding a flight to any of these places sucks! You either have to take a red eye, or get up at 4am to find anything affordable. Not to mention all the hassle of air travel in general, then when you get there you have to get a car, check in, try to figure out where to go, blah blah. Then there is the dog.... In my 20's and into my 30's I was on a plane almost every week and I have traveled a lot. My idea of a nice vacation does not include all of this travel hassle anymore. Not to mention all the travel Gerry has been doing lately. He just needs a quiet rest. I want to go somewhere and sit and watch the world slowly pass by, Gerry wants to fly fish and Wesley wants to write. I have been to all of the lower 48 states and I have to say one of my favorites is still North Carolina. We have the coast, the barrier islands, and the beautiful mountains. It's funny to be looking all over the world for a travel destination and then end up three hours from our house, but, today I found Sleepy Creek cabin. Doesn't that sound like heaven!? It's in the NC mountains near Boone, secluded, on a creek with a porch and rocking chairs. This is more like it. I'm just not into world travel anymore apparently. I didn't know this about myself until I started planning. I do want to go to France so I think I will just have Judy Shreve be my travel agent when I'm ready and she can plan the trip for me. I'll pay you Judy!

Nothing is new

I came across this blog http://these2words.blogspot.com/ this morning by way of Michael Kline and at first thought it was a photo of my houses. But I knew that couldn't be, I never make this many of something at one time! As I scrolled down I saw more and they are really fun. I love the surface treatments she is using. I've never seen this blog before, but she has some very nice work. As she said in her post this is a new body of work for her. The functional pottery Vicki makes is also very nice and these little houses work well with the cups and bowls.
A couple of posts ago I wrote about how turtles would probably be showing up all over the studio since Charlotte was putting them on hers and how a friend of mine described it as heightened awareness. I have never seen Vicki's blog, but our house forms are very similar. A house is a house, a bowl is a bowl, a turtle is a turtle....... It's funny how so many of us can take the same form and give it so many different lives. At first I was a little disappointed seeing these houses and realizing that I'm not so original and I know there are other potters that have used house forms, but I love making them and I just have to figure out how to make them my own. Just as every potter takes a bowl or a mug or a teapot and gives it their own signature. There really is nothing new is there!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Best yet

I made a few more houses yesterday and these are definitely the best yet. As I have mentioned before, my path with pottery making has been a long hard road. It took me nearly a year to figure out how to wedge, several more to learn how to center, bowls? forget it, I am just now making nice bowls after ten years. When I finally figured out I could throw better with my wheel going in a different direction and figured out the opposite way of doing things from that of all the right handed folks that taught me, it all got better. Being left handed, I have had to do that all my life. A right handed person taught me how to knit and I had to just reverse everything. Same goes with softball, catching, throwing, snowboarding, etc.....
Anyway, there is a point to all of this. Yesterday as I sat making these houses, I had so many thoughts going through my head, thoughts that an artist would have while making a piece of art. Not thoughts of am I breathing, is this centered, are the walls to thin, can I make one more pull, I am going to rip this f'ing thing off the wheel and throw it at the wall, you know the normal wheel throwing thoughts.... or the other thoughts: are these going to sell, can I really sell these for $5, how many of these can I stand making anyway......
I was thinking of where these houses are coming from, memories from my past that they represent, thinking about all the oxide washes and surface treatments I could use. And at that moment I finally felt like an artist, not struggling with my materials, but using them to express something inside me that I wanted to represent with clay. It felt really good! I used to have those feelings a lot as a child. I did some sort of art all the time. I painted, I constructed, I collaged anything that would be still, it just all had to get out somehow. I have been so busy learning this craft of clay that I forgot how it felt to just create because you had to. There is not enough time in the day to do all that I want to do with these houses, so I hope that my attention span will hang in there for just a bit longer so I can see where I can take this. I do miss my wheel and need to make some bowls, because I sold out, but I am preoccupied at the moment with structures so the bowls are going to have to wait!
The Farmer's Market sucked last night. It was hot, and only the ice cream was selling. None of the craft people sold anything, I made a big 'ol $5. Oh well, the past two weeks were fantastic so it comes it goes. I did see lots of friends and fellow potters, had some Maple View ice cream and my family was with me, so no loss. I have some new things from the kiln that I was going to save for the market but I think I may take them by the NC Craft Gallery and see what she would like first. I haven't taken her anything since the holidays and she may have forgotten who I am:)
I am planning on working all week with no interruptions, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Warp, crack, pin hole, explode

It seems that when the Potter God came to me and said "here my child, choose your path in clay" I went for the uphill, rocky, most difficult path. If there is a ^6 glaze that is fussy I have used it, if there is a difficult clay body to work with I have picked it(except for porcelain), the most challenging firings to learn- wood, shino, raku, saggar, done it. I will experiment with anything, try anything, no worries most of the time for the outcome. This path has taught me a lot and I don't have any fears when it comes to trying things with clay. What I also don't have is any consistency and I don't have patience for sticking with one process. My friend Charlotte nailed it the other day. I was talking about trying to narrow down what I make and stick with it and she said I wouldn't do it, because it is all about the figuring out for me and once that is done I want to move on. So right! I like the problem solving and the creating. Whitney Smith has a great post about production vs. art and I guess it's more about the crafting of something for me, the doing with my hands as opposed to selling my work. Don't get me wrong, I love to sell my work and see people happy with a piece they have purchased, and I like having the cash, but I need to create. Right now I am fortunate that Gerry has a great job so I can continue to learn more about this craft I have chosen and hopefully one day master it the best I can and be a more full time selling potter. Right now it's about the figuring out, later it's going to be about, "oh crap Gerry has retired and Social Security ain't paying the bills! Get my ass busy! I sure wish someone had pointed me down this path a lot earlier, by the time I'm good at it, I'm going to be worn out:)
I am determined to make this clay do what I want. I'm leaving a lot of the accidental marks I make, the dents, the scratches, the tears, it seems the more I leave the better these look. But I am not allowing the warpage! I found these tea boxes in my cupboard and they fit perfectly so I'm hoping this will help with the long slabs wanting to warp. I like that these fit so nicely, seems appropriate. How many of you hand builders rummage through your kitchen when you are constructing something? I'm in there all the time, looking for just the thing I need.
After I tied this up for a slow dry, I sort of liked the idea of the wood top and the raffia. I may have to think about how to make one with these elements. Gonna need a table saw I do believe! My dad was a furniture maker and I used to love to go with him to work and play with the scraps of wood and the sawdust left around on the floor. Maybe I should think about incorporating wood in my work, might be nice...... Farmer's Market this evening and making a roof for this box this morning. Hope all of you have a lovely weekend!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Raku fire for my class

My class was over yesterday to finish up our session with one last Raku fire. Everyone had great success and not one broken pot! The cup above was made by Amber and is one of her first wheel thrown pieces. Way to go Amber! Thanks to everyone for the breakfast frittata, the veggie chili, spinach salad and pasta. See why I invite them over? They feed me really well!!!! All I did was make some red zinger tea and lemonade :)
Charlotte is testing some underglazes and terra sig with her Raku pieces and getting some nice results. I like the turtles she is adding on her work. We will probably see lots of turtles on things around the studio now. When anyone does something a bit creative like this, it starts popping up on lots of other work. I had a friend one time that suggested it was just heightened awareness. I could say what I think it really is, but I'll be nice......after all, there are lots of people in the world putting turtles on their work :)
Bridget continues to come up with fun ideas for her hand building. She used a cut glass bowl as a mold for this piece. Nice result. I hope Linda Starr is taking notes here:)
More of Ronnie's bubble trays. I love this idea! Ronnie brought her little boy Josh along, but did I get any pictures? No, I was too busy staring at his amazing blue eyes! He is going to drive the little girls crazy with those things soon!
Here is a little experiment. I don't like the way my white clay body looks on the ^6 trays I made, so I put them through a Raku fire yesterday and got much better results. It didn't change the look of the glaze at all, just gave me a black bottom, which I much prefer.
So, another Raku class comes to an end and I won't be teaching any this summer just working on more houses and barns to see where that goes. I have two more in the works right now that are taking me forever. One warped, so I need to slow down the drying and use more bracing. I think they may have to go smaller, the large ones are a beast, sigh....