Monday, May 28, 2012

Fair Trade

I mentioned in my last post that I had made a trade with Carole Epp at the sale on Saturday. She took home my 'Sundae' Jarhead and I was lucky enough to get two of her magnificent little sculptures! Here they are...sitting happily on a mini stool on a shelf in my dining room! Love them!

I don't want to get into the habit of trading. Sometimes I find that awkward. Someone asks if you'll trade and what they're offering in exchange really isn't anything you'd like, and so you feel bad telling them "no thanks". I should probably adopt a no trade policy...unless of course it's something I'm dying to have!

Life is tough!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cloud Nine...

Now I know what that feels like. I'm still a little high after yesterdays sale. I'm not rich...just high on praise and good fortune!

I had a great time! The day itself, wasn't particularily nice...overcast, windy...quite windy at times (a guild member lost a lovely and rather large platter when the wind picked it up and threw it off the stand it was perched against)...and the odd spit of rain...but only at the end of the sale. On a good note, the sun did peek out a few times...just enough to warm me up if I moved from beneath the tent. The crowd. Wow...sooooo many people..and dogs and strollers. Lot of people just strolling and enjoying the festivities...face painting, clowns, kids activities, a parade, street performers. The mood is really incredible.

People seemed to like my work and a lot of them took cards. I certainly did't walk away with big fat pockets, but all in all I was really happy with the sales I did make, including my lovely big sgraffito bowl with the blue leaves on it! I wasn't there to see who bought that and it's a little disappointing to be honest because it's always nice to know. I especially appreciated all the wonderful feedback and compliments. Things like "it's so nice to see some contemporary pottery" and lots of remarks on my colour choices and my surface treatments. I was also thrilled to meet Carole Epp, who quite frankly made my day! (god forbid I should ever meet a big time celebrity! hahahah) Carole writes the most amazing pottery blog, Musing about Mud, and I have followed her religiously for several years. She was very complimentary of my Jarheads and in the end we swapped pieces. I'm not sure who was more excited about that! She also invited me to participate in the Flock and Gather Christmas market that she and several other artists are involved with! Yeah!!!

I have to apologize for the pictures. I think I was so wrapped up in everything, that I forgot to take very many. I've included my one lone pic of my pots piled high on the table. I think in total there were seven of us, including me sharing tables and so we had limited space. I really love to display and felt a little limited in what I could do here, but you can bet that come August when I'm in my next sale and selling solo, I'll have things looking better! I've included a few pictures of some of the work of other guild members.

Thanks to everyone for the good luck wishes and encouragement and to those of you that visited my table, a great big thanks as well!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Oh my bags are packed....I'm ready to gooooo

Yes I'm singing. haha Quick post before bed. Everything is priced, Everything is packed. I've made up a stack of business cards and hang tags (One day I'll get them printed). I've got my camera in my bag and...I'm ready!

Thought I'd post a pic of my business card. I made them ages ago, long before the Clayer class. They're simple, but I have to admit that I love playing on photoshop...a little TOO much some times! Anyway, one day I hope to get Moo cards...I love the ones I've seen!

Unlike Peter, Paul and Mary...I do know when I'll be back! Tomorrow evening! I'll post more then!

This is it! (Huey Lewis is playing in my head)

One more sleep! Yikes! I am both excited and apprehensive at the same time! Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am I will be unpacking my pieces and helping with the set up for the sale! Thankfully, it sounds like the sun will shine, albeit it will be a little chilly. But for me, better chilly than too hot!

Cracked open my kiln this morning for the last of my glazed pieces! Thankfully, no more disasters and other than some underglaze colours firing much darker than I had hoped, everything looks good! I have to remember to do test tiles using my underglazes so that I'm not disappointed. Pre-firing, my bowls were lovely and bright. Now they're quite dark. Ah well. It is interesting though, that the cheaper underglazes I have, tend to stay bright. I'm going to have to rethink what I use and where. The Amaco u/g are wonderful on low fire clay. Perhaps I'll save what I have for my LF earthenware. My other option...and one I really do need to work to make my own slips. Luckily I'll have some time to play once this first sale is over as my next one isn't until August!

So, this morning I'm pricing. I have been procrastinating. But, I've decided to go with my heart. I'll definitely take into consideration all the wonderful advice I've received from my girls (fellow clayers, friends and know who you are!) What's the worst that can happen? I'll definitely be watching the crowd looking for whispers of "Oh my god...she's asking THIS much"!

I also need to print up a nice stack of business cards and tags! Going to be a busy day! Wish me luck tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Big Bang....

Uh huh...that's some point there must have been a loud boom. I didn't hear it, which is just as well, but I knew as soon as I opened my kiln and saw the shards of pottery on the TOP shelf and INSIDE my smaller bowls that something below had blown up! It was on the middle shelf...the biggest bowl I've ever made!! Five pounds of clay, and if I do say so myself a really nice shape and I'm heartbroken because I loved it! Anyway, the bottom blew out. I'm guessing it was too wet. That'll teach me! Thankfully, nothing else broke, so I have the 6 smaller bowls (and a really nice bottomless bowl!)

As for Vlad, Lars and Lizzie, I won't fire them, so I won't have them for this sale. They're still very wet and I really don't want them damaged, so I'll dry them slowly. I'll have them for my next sale or perhaps I'll get them on Etsy! Tonight I'll vacuum out my kiln and tomorrow I'll fire the remaining glazed pieces!

Whew! Well, that gives me a little more time to get all the other stuff done before Saturday!

Time is ticking....

So many things to do, so little time! I'm waiting patiently for my kiln to cool so that I can get my bisqued pieces out, glaze them, and then throw them back in for a glaze fire. Then it's on to another bisque load! I'm pushing it, I know. The bowls I put in yesterday were a little damp and I worried about that. I can't imagine the mess a shattered pot can make of a kiln! Of course I'm still worried, because my kiln is still too hot to open. I did start the kiln on slow and even stopped it for an hour or so, hoping all that extra water would evaporate! Unfortunately my "jarheads" are very wet and I'm not sure I'll get those finished in time for the sale. first! I'm so excited, but more than a little nervous. I'm sure I'll sell something and of course I'm hoping I'll sell loads! But, whatever happens, it's a start. Pricing is something I'm struggling with, though I got some very good advice from Monica and I'm recording all the info I think necessary so that I'll know better for next time. I need to take some pictures...good pictures. I need a white background and some good lighting. I've found information on how to make your own light I have time for that! But I really want to record all this information as well as pictures so that I will remember what I've made and what it looks like!

So last night, I set all my pieces out. I'm amazed at how much my work has improved. Bowls that I made months ago, are definitely less refined then the ones I made a week ago. I'm sure there is always room for improvement and it's made me realize that I need to focus on perfecting one form at a time. For now it's bowls...and of course figurative pots.

Who am I kidding!

PS (I must be insane! I have all this stuff to do before the sale and I've got my cupboards pulled apart to dejunk and reorganize!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We could all use a little inspiration...

A fellow potter, Linda Fahey, shared this video on fb this morning and I thought I should share it with you. I found Elizabeth Gilbert (author of 'Eat, Pray, Love'...definitely a favourite read of mine!) compelling, candid and most of all informative in a wonderfully entertaining way! If there is one trickle of creative juice flowing through your veins, you'll want to watch this!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Vlad in full colour!

He's a little dull...but in colour only! hehehe....His teeth need a little whitening as well, but I need to give them a day to dry!

Quick pics!

Just a quickie post! I want to paint Vlad today before we leave for a bbq! Beautiful weather here, though we might have had some frost this morning! I guess I'll notice for sure as the day progresses because I planted some bedding plants yesterday! What was I thinking! It's a little early!

So I'm posting some pics of my clown! He's looking spiffy! Not finished yet because he'll need a fire and a little distressing, but I'm happy with him!

More tomorrow!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mishima...who knew!

Adorable little undie ornaments by Josie Jurczenia. You can find her blog, Josie Goes to Pot, here. I haven't visited her site for eons...until last night and it was nice to get reaquainted with her work because I've always admired it! Until Diana's class, I didn't realize that Josie uses mishima in her surface decoration, nor did I understand the process. Going through her pictures again, knowing now what I do, made me see her pieces in a new light.

Love these! How fun would they be to wear!

I love how carefree her pattern is!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jules love shiny things!

I'm on a roll! I made the last of the pots I had thrown for my jars. I'll have to throw some more, 'cos as you can imagine my head is swimming with ideas. This last one was pretty simple..and I was impressed by how quickly I finished her! It seems to get easier the more I do, maybe because I get a system going, like rolling out a big pancake of clay and adding texture to sections so it's ready to cut into the little shapes I use. I'm also trying to keep my space clean...or cleaner...though you'd never know it from the photos. Through the process, I have to keep reminding myself that it's okay to use the same eye "patch" on more than one pot or the same nose...or even the same texture! I tell myself that the chances of the same person purchasing both pots isn't very likely and even if it is...would it be so bad to see some repetition?

So here she is...Jules. She's a jewellery bowl and she loves shiny things. It says so on her tattoo (on her back) I'd love to take credit for the idea, but I've seen several of them on the internet and course I wanted to make her just a little different! I think she makes a great functional piece. We can never have enough little containers for our precious jewels (or not so precious in my case!) If you're wondering about the holes circling the rim; those are for hanging your earrings and there's extra space to hang another pair in her ears. You can also pile your bangles and necklaces inside her head. I've rolled a thin peg and it's hanging from my work table..drying a little. If it works, I might stand that peg in the middle of her slip your rings on!

You can call me Salt Lick Lizzie...

It's late and I need to get some sleep, but I wanted to post my latest! I walked into my studio later this evening just to check on my Jarheads and couldn't resist that naked pot sitting on my work table. I only wanted to start...just cut out that hole for the mouth and the next thing I know, I'm a maniac!...cutting, scoring and smacking bits and bobs onto my salt pig. Yes...salt pig...but not a pig really. I never really understand how they came to be called salt pigs in the first place.

I had sketched the idea of her a while back. I gave my sister one that I made in class. Nothing so detailed. In fact, it's nothing more than a sort of blueish green egg, with that typical front opening. My instructor thought it was a birdhouse! (but it's very small for a bird!) She loves sister that is, and so I've been meaning to make more, but wondering how I could incorporate my figurative work into that salt holder.

I'm in love with her and her beehive "do" and teeth! So tell me what you think! I'm really happy, too, with her tongue...which will be the spoon to scoop your salt out with. I just have to figure out how to make the spoon bowl. The tongue is great, better than great and I'm really pleased with the way it hangs, but the bowl? Well, I have a small pitch pot wrapped in plastic, as well as rolled ball...thinking that perhaps I can carve the centre out. I've pinched the opposite end of the tongue into a bit of a peg. You get it, I know you do. Square peg in round bowl. Sound simple....fingers crossed!

Thanks to Monica for the name!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Meet Vlad...

Built my vampire today! I'm calling him Vlad...Vlad Amir. He's a friendly enough blood sucker, just looking for a donor or two...oh...(I've spelled donor wrong on his little pocket card)! Obviously Vlad can't spell! I was hoping he'd be thinner..and taller...but more often than not you have to work with what you have. I'm also not sure I like his head shape. I prefer hats on them, at the very least some sort of sticky out hair. Maybe I'll have to give him a rooster tail just for some interest.

He'll look much better once I paint him. Black and white I think...with shocks of red (course!) and once he's grunged up, he'll look fabulous!

Details. I'm a sucker for them! If you look closely you'll see his nose is a wooden stake, his one eye is a bandaid, this belt buckle says Type O Blood and his back pocket is tagged with "Jeans by Vlad"!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The making of a clown...

I'm working on my figurative jars, or Jarheads, as I like to call them. I'm keeping track of the time it takes me to create one and I think I'll have to sell them for an arm and a leg. or at the very least the first born child. That is if I plan to get paid for my time. But...I love making them and I'll worry about price later (I have a week if I'm going to put any in this sale on the 26th.) I did have a few interruptions this afternoon...picking up my mom...making out some bills for my hubby...eating lunch which also interrupts my train of thought. I don't know about you, but when I'm busy working on something, I often forget to eat!

Thought you might like to see the process!

They don't look like much here, but I throw some basic shapes, trying to match a "head" to a "body". I've tried hand building...and sometimes I do a little, but the perfectionist in me prefers a thrown form.

I've puffed out the belly a little and attached the head.

Sliced off the the mouth. I'll add a flange inside the head so the lid stays put and course I'll paint that as teeth!

Head fits! Now the fun part, adding character! The lips aren't quite what I hoped for but I think they'll work.

Cone hat! Arrggh!! Had trouble with that! You'll notice my workspace gets very messy. I create in the same way I there ever enough counter space?

Ta da! Finished...or not. I'm thinking maybe some big shoes and of course I'll have to u/g bits here and there, incise some lines...perhaps a stamp or two. I'll paint some striped pants I think, polka dots on his top and maybe the hat and he'll need a big red nose! Then it's a bisque fire and a wash with a black underglaze to fill in all those grooves. But for now I'll wrap him up nice and snug in a plastic bag so all those added bit and pieces stay put!

So there you have it! More pics to come!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Whew! Success!

Either I'm a very lucky girl or firing isn't quite as finicky as I thought. Don't get me wrong. I do realize that pottery is a bit of a science, weighing and measuring accurately when mixing glazes and slips, compressing the clay...for that matter understanding which clay is for what, and I'm sure that firing really does require some skill. The pottery gods were surely watching over me yesterday, because my pieces all turned out beautifully! It really is so exciting (albeit a little worrisome) to crack open the kiln and see those wonderfully gleaming pots staring at you!

It truly is like Christmas! I've had to learn to be very patient. I'm the girl that would carefully peel the tape from the ends of my gifts and quite skillfully slide the box out to see what I was getting BEFORE the jolly fat man came and I could wrap them back up in the exact same way they were before I stole that look. I'm also the girl that, of late, finds nothing under the tree for me because my family has gotten very clever and tag my gifts with another name so that I don't know which gift I should sneak a peek at! Damn them! So waiting for that kiln to cool...really cool (I am so worried about crazing/cracking/PINGING), is painful. But, so far I've been a very good girl....and today I was especially patient because mishima is so labour intensive and I did NOT want to spoil my work!'s a pic or two. You can see more on my flickr account here or my facebook page, here!

I made these pots (the black and white mishima) during Diana Fayt's workshop. It's taken me this long to fire them!

Time to throw!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lessons learned...

I hope it's not the hard way!

I'm firing another glaze load today. My back is feeling so much better. I even managed to trim my spireas today and pull weeds. Even after all that bending my back was still feeling pretty good, I decided it was time to throw! I have my first sale on May 26th. I'm sharing a table with the guild and I'd like to have a nice variety of pots for sale. So the clock is ticking and I really need to spend more time in my studio making stuff!

I'm thinking that throwing and watching a kiln at the same time might not be such a good idea, especially when the kiln is upstairs in the porch and my wheel is in the basement. Or perhaps I need to set a timer...once I know approximately when to expect the temp to rise just enough to close the lid (I left it a little long). I did set it for an hour after the lid closing fail, figuring that in one hour or shortly thereafter, I could plug my peep holes. But instead of a temp of 1700F, it was at 1900! Yikes! I hope that won't spoil my one and only teapot, which has been waiting soooo long for a firing and all my mishima mugs! I have my fingers crossed!!!

Okay...peeps are plugged, temp is rising, chicken is marinating (North African Chicken....our newest fav), rice is cooking and my mom is washing the romaine! Gonna sneak in a pot or two before dinner!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Love my new glaze!

I'm up early. I can't seem to sleep in anymore. My head is filled with "clay" stuff all day and for that matter all night long! I dream about it, I wake in the morning raring to go....and so here I am...

Yesterday I had a successful glaze firing! My pieces came out better than I dreamed they might! I was more than a little nervous to open my kiln as the day before I mixed up...for the very first time in my life...a pail of the most perfect Cone 6 Transparent glaze. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not exactly a "glazer". Quite frankly, until yesterday, I really detested the job. Previous to yesterday, my beautiful pots turned into ugly ducklings after they'd be pulled from the kiln. I'd find them riddled with pin holes, or speckled with "bald" spots and far too often the glaze would look just hideous on a pot that I really loved pre-glaze. I'm guessing that it's partly because I have more control here at home in my own little studio. Glazing in a dust filled room with other potters sanding, throwing, hand building around you really can't be good for a dust free bisque pot. At home, I'm very careful, to clean up before I glaze and really take the time to keep things clean...even so far as to wear disposable gloves as I'm handling my ware!

It is however, one of the reasons I started to use slips and underglazes...and for that I'm thankful! I wanted colour but couldn't find it in the limited choices at the studio I was taking classes at and so slip and clear underglaze became my primary choice. It works with my sgraffito and my mind is bloggled at the moment with all the possibilities!

So this morning, I'm sharing some of my new pieces with you! I'm loving them! I'd love to hear what you think!

And before I forget...Happy Mother's Day!

PS I really need to invest in a photography light box and one day a 35mm camera if I'm to take good pictures!

Friday, May 11, 2012

All fired up...

My pots are now glazed with my very own hand mixed glaze...well, Monica' least that's what I'm calling it...Monica's Cone 6 Transparent Glaze. I decided it was the perfect thickness...not too fat or too skinny (Monica is educating me), but just right and it coated my bowls beautifully! I did have a few runs because I'm a little awkward with dipping and I really don't like the dipping tongs though I suppose they are a required tool. I did try hanging onto the edges with my finger tips (impossible!), but that left big bare spots that weren't as easy to cover as I had hoped and they got all lumpy and required some scraping to smooth them out.

I do realize that, ideally, I should let my glazed pieces sit over night before firing them. But, I'm in a rush (story of my life) and need them by tomorrow morning because several of the pots belong to my niece who spent the weekend with me a few weeks back. She wanted to play with clay, specifically she wanted to make something for her mom for Mother's Day. So, I need to have them finished by tomorrow so that I can drop them off on my way to Monica's Studio sale in Moose Jaw. I hope they all turn out or I'll have one disappointed little girl!

I could show you pictures, if I had any...but as usual, I thought about taking them after I loaded my kiln and that takes me a while because I'm always shuffling stuff around to get the pots to fit. I'm not about to remove them for a few pictures. I'm quite honestly the worst photographer in the world. Ask my daughter. She often reminds me that I didn't take enough pictures of her or her brother growing up. I think I did okay, but admittedly, I'm pretty awful at it now. I always forget to take pictures even when I take my camera with me... kiln is on...I promise I'll have pics in the morning!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chemistry 101

Yes, that's right...the dreaded Chemistry class. Not my favourite subject, but tonight I used what knowledge I did retain to mix up a pail of low fire glaze. Feeling like the mad scientist, I dished out the fine powders and weighed them (accurately) on my balance scale and then whipped the dry ingredients with H20 (showing off now!) using my fancy new paint-mixer-stick-thingy that you power with an electric drill. A double sieve to work out the lumps and chunks and voila...Cone 04 Tim's Clear! So now it sits overnight. I think it's a little thick but I decided against adding any more water until the morning. I'm not expecting it to thin overnight but I want to talk to my "mentor". She'll know what to do!

Inspiration right here at home...

I want to introduce you to one of my favourite Saskatchewan ceramic artists. Cathy Terepocki's functional work and her stylish jewellery are wonderfully cheerful and in her own words "playful". I was fortunate enough to attend one of her workshops recently. As you can well imagine, my head is swimming with new ideas!
You can find her here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Feeling groovy...

Maybe not groovy...but much better today than yesterday and I imagine better again tomorrow. I've had enough of doing nothing! I actually tidied up my studio this afternoon. I hate when I leave it in a mess. I read a great tip from a fellow potter (from a blog of course!), not so long ago, which I've sort of adopted. I wish I could remember who it was. She said that she always tidys up her workspace at the end of the day because it's much easier to be inspired in a clean studio. I have to agree!
Feeling inspired now...I'm thinking jars...bigger ones...

To blog or not to blog...

I love blogs! I have an exceptionally long list of them in my favourites folder. Some I read every day...faithfully. Others every now and then. I admire bloggers that post daily. It's a huge commitment. I know. I've blogged before and here I am again. New blog. New commitment. New work. Join me?