Monday, December 31, 2007
I will be in the studio but not on a regular basis in January, so if you need anything, contact me at my email or leave a non-urgent message at the studio and I will get back with you. I can set up an appointment to meet those folks who have a pottery emergency, so call me.
Otherwise, if you are driving by and the lights are on and the open sign in the door, drop in. I'll be in the back, making some clay magic.
The best of the New Year to you!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Today I will be glazing and firing--I have several "cat" teapots and mugs that match, so I am anxious to see how they turn out. One set is for a commission, and the other is a back up piece, just in case. My other teapots had a 75 percent success rate, because 3 of the 4 came out. Have to figure out what to do about the fourth one, which stuck to the shelf and had glaze runs very badly. I have others in reserve, but not fired so it will not make it for Christmas.
Other work are mugs and bowls, great for last minute gifts. I'm doing a sketch of black bamboo on some curvy mugs, with handles placed at the "hip" joint. They were taller and smaller diameter than I normally do, and have an elegant look to them. They should be jumping out of the kiln on Saturday if all goes as planned!
Hope to see you during the count down to Christmas!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Today is my daughter Katie's birthday--24 years wise! This is a picture taken several years ago while visiting Spence, her younger "bro" at school. At the time I'm sure she was saying something like "and so when are you going to get a hair cut?" It's hard to maintain a serious conversation in a big sister fashion when your little brother towers over you by a good 8".
I feel like I have blinked sometimes and found twenty years have passed by in a whirl. We have been engaged in sending these bright shining beings from us like swiftly moving arrows finding their own paths, but as the bow quivers after the arrow is released, so moves my heart. Happy birth day "K"!
In the world of clay, today was wait. I have two cooling kilns and a load of commissioned teapots that I am hoping came through with all parts still attached. Tomorrow will be the unloading day and caning the handles to complete these orders. Then the last firing of the last holiday work promised and time to make the things that exist only in my head. For inspiration I have been looking at the pictures in a book I picked up at Sam's on Lost Civilizations. There are some stone carved trees from Persia that I want to try out, and some swirls and circular patterns I want to incorporate into some vase forms.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The winner of the piece of pottery given away during my open house was JOY FLETCHER
I will be open this Saturday from 10am to 4pm if you need some quiet, relaxing space to find unique gifts for friends. Have fun at your holiday events.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
This is the prep work for the pieces and all the other chores in order to have pots to offer:
Order/pick up clay and glaze supplies
Mix dry glaze materials
Sieve and screen wet glaze materials and label buckets
Clean up studio and kiln area and gallery
Create business cards, promo pieces, invoices, etc. on computer
Maintain mailing and database
Pay bills/reconcile finances
Create, print, label, stamp and mail promo pieces
Send out press releases for studio and sales
Look at books and mags for ideas for pots and classes
Create production list of needed pots
Sketch out new ideas to work on
Make pieces on wheel or handbuild
Carve or texture work
Trim/Finish pieces by handling bottoms, handles, parts etc.
Load kiln for bisque firing
Clean/Sand bisque pieces
Sign flat pieces and wax bottoms
Decide how to glaze pieces
Glaze/layer multiple glazes on elaborate pieces
Clean bottoms of work
Load kiln for glaze firing
Examine work for flaws
Cane reed handles or add attachments for knobs
Display pieces in gallery or
Box for sale or
Pack to ship
Load van for show
Drive to show
Set up booth space or tent
Put away boxes
Clean up gallery
Enter new names/addresses in database
Decide/enter future shows
Maintain kiln and kiln furniture
Handle sales tax reporting
Make glaze test samples
Answer phone and correspondence
Take out the trash
Start the production cycle again.
I'[m sure I have forgotten things...maybe you can add the one you think of.
And now that I have anwered that question with "A LONG TIME", I have to go to the studio to check my kiln, make a deposit, hand build trays, handles on 16 mugs, 5 brie bakers, 4 pitchers & trim 20 bowls, assemble two teapots and teach a class!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
We had a very nice visit with our son over Thanksgiving. He is in a band and we got to go to practice and listen. Such passion in music and musicians. It was great to watch him play and let everything go. Something about music that can release your soul. If I ever figure out how to add music here, I will post a clip of an instrumental that he just sent.
Off to the studio. Lots to clean and finish before the open house. Hope I see you there.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Got some earrings finished and packaged up. I have been putting together these sterling silver/semi-precious stones earrings and wanted to have them for the holidays. Now, where to put them on display in the gallery?
Off to the studio. Lots to do..........
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
To have been a part of creating something that has turned out so much larger than the original idea is quite thrilling and sobering at the same time. When we started we did projections for 35 potters and had a budget based on that. The response the first year was about twice what we expected. Every year it has been a search to widen the promotion and get it out as far and well known as possible. It has made me think twice before I criticize a show, now knowing what work it is to put on something of this nature. Our Board is great. There are 7 potters and we start planning early in the year for the next festival. The ideas for next year are already percolating in our brains but the breathtaking moment is to look out on the morning of the festival and see if there are excited crowds waiting to be let in.
The first year I peaked out, I was almost in tears of relief when I saw the line of folks waiting for the doors to open. In each year since then, I work like crazy to promote it, then still experience the awe that people are coming out and bringing their friends. Hope this year is bigger than the last!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
She did a workshop for the Carolina ClayMatters guild several years ago and I am the guardian of some of the smaller pieces that she made during the workshop. One of the pieces was this box, with a secret compartment and a pull out drawer.
My class fell in love with the idea of doing a complex box so we devoted 3 classes to the box construction. They did a great job.
This one is dedicated to a love of trees, by Chris and has an acorn hiding inside the drawer and a lizard in a viewing window at the back.This one is based on a love of Egyptian things and has sprigs of hieroglyphs and beatles by Flavia.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Tuesday was handbuilding class and we finished up the boxes we were working on. They look spectacular! I have photos to follow. Lana Wilson was our inspiration. After that I made some slab forms and trays.
Wednesday was a trip to Shelby for a Carolina Pottery Festival meeting and dropping off work at Buffalo Creek Gallery. Finances, quarterly reports and marketing ideas kept me at the computer all day and away from clay.
Today I finished placing the ads for the Carolina Pottery Festival and got some work glazed. Tomorrow promises to be be a long production day. Yeah!! I have a list of things I have to get made. So...pictures to follow and more about the Pottery Festival.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Now it's back to reality. I had a couple of good firings and my elements, which I have been stressing over, continue to work. They are close to their last legs and I keep hoping to nurse them through the next few weeks until after the holiday rush.
My mom and sister are coming this weekend and the ACC show is in Charlotte, so we will have a good time hanging around and seeing craft. My sister has a new clay project she wants to try but it is all in her head, no photos or pictures. Should be interesting. Gotta run...class starts in a short bit!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Yes, I did say microwave. No, I don't heat food in it. It is strictly for clay. This was a trick I picked up at the NC Potters Conference when Pete Pinnell was one of the presenters. We'll see if I stressed the clay so much that it cracks on me.
I am making work to fire in a friend's kiln because she wants one more kiln load and doesn't have enough time to make more work. It's great because she has a gas kiln, so I will have a different look, but a bit stressful because I don't have the extra time myself and I have to choose a more simple style without my usual texture because of my unfamiliarity with her glazes. Nothing like creating more problems for yourself.
However, what I really wanted to write about was Lilesisms. These are unique family sayings from my dad's side of the tree. When my son was in school he had a project about collecting quotes which were special to him. I had this great idea of putting the sayings in clay and making a box for them. His teacher would only allow the students to use "famous" quotes. Spence probably breathed a heavy sigh of relief that I wouldn't be "helping" him with the project. He knew it would turn into a major ordeal, and he was not into putting more time into projects or homework than was absolutely necessary.
Growing up I heard these things all the time. I thought everyone knew them. It was a real education when I learned that they were probably unique to east Texas (where my dad's family is from) and possibly known only to our immediate family. My husband certainly had never come across many of these sayings until he spent time with our family.
Here's a partial list of Lilesisms:
"If I tell you a goose dips snuff, you just look under his left wing and you'll find a little box of Copenhagen." Translation: Believe what I say!...Copenhagen is snuff or chewing tobacco.
"He/she had a hard row to hoe." Translation: That person was experiencing a great deal of difficulty.
"Don't worry about the mule, you just load the wagon." Translation: You do your own job and mind your own business, and I'll take care of my end of the deal and then we'll get along fine."
"That's gooder 'n snuff, and better 'n taters." Translation: I enjoyed that quite a lot.
"Et tu, Brute'? Naw, man, I ain't et nothin'." Translation: I'm hungry, let's go get something to eat.
I'm sending those lovely sayings that I hold so affectionately across cyberspace and time to my grandmother and grandfather, somewhere in the great beyond. Miss you both.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
It was a fun trip to get me out of the studio.
I took some shots of the pots in the gallery. These are some egg cups (I'm pretty sure) and a flower box. Very beautiful.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Alex Miller was kind enough to send some photos of my booth, so here are images from the show.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
I usually don't get back to enjoy the fair itself, but get a fine view of the 240lb pumpkins, the 150lb watermelons and all the cakes and jams and jellies on display, as I lug my clay and tools to the demo booth. If I were in charge of the cakes, I'm afraid I would have to sample a bit.
When I was young and we were still living in Bossier City, Louisiana, we would go to the state fair. My grandmother would go with us and I have these great memories of bits of sounds, lights and color. I always loved the duck game, where you would pick up a floating duck and look underneath to see what prize you won. My grandmothher loved to play bingo--she was a three carder, minimum, and I would help her look for the numbers as they were called. Cotton candy and the smells of roasting hot dogs, and the cool, crisp air of the fall, the lights and thrill of being out late at night (for an eight or nine year old), those are all my great memories of fairs.
I got a glimpse of the past as I walked out to the car last night, carrying the last of the thrown pots. The ferris wheel and rides were bright against the night sky and there was a slight cool breeze and rain drops beginning to fall. Lovely.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
This is the first open house where I have had other artists come in. Guest artists for this event are Gilda Coughlin, who makes handmade jewelry, and Renee Matthews, who is a clay artist and also paints. So there will be pottery, sculpture, paintings and drawings and handmade jewelry.
I'm finishing up firing the two kilns, full of brie bakers and mugs, and some funky work that I did with my handbuilding class. I love that class because it pushes me out beyond my boundaries and into funky-land! So you will see some chicken pitchers, a sculptural candleholder and an oval bowl with lots of waves and texture. That is, if everything makes it through the firing!
Hope to see you there. If not, I'll be in Charlotte next weekend, and in Vale the weekend after that.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The construction in my studio started while I was gone and I thought it would be done when I got back, however, things happened....so we have a little different plan on the finishing touches. I believe it will actually be better though. I have two small display rooms and I wanted an opening through each that would function as shelving as well as decoration. It really is going to be nice!
Pictures on the above will follow. I'm starting the downhill race to the fall shows that culminates just before Christmas. I do love the outdoor shows and the excitement of a lively pottery crowd. Setting up and breaking down and packing the car many times is not fun, however. It is just hard, backing aching work.
Well got to run and glaze pots!
Friday, August 24, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
A friend had requested I make a covered jar for her, based on a photo on my website. I was using carved cinnabar beads for the original ones as the knob, but don't have any of those, so I made some out of a dark red clay body and fired them separately, then epoxied together. It would make it easier if both clays fired at the same temperature, but do not.
After these great firings, I took a lot of photos. I used to take my own shots, set up in a dark room with bright lights and a sheet for a diffuser and after several hours of photographing work, you hoped for the best with your slides. Then I started to use Randy McNeilly, a photographer who is great, to take images for shows, my website, etc. But for the blog, and to have photos on the fly, I am back to setting up a temporary photo shot in the studio. Digital cameras make it much easier and you know what you got immediately for the most part.
We had Lana Wilson, a great potter from California, as a workshop instructor for Carolina ClayMatters Guild, several years ago. She said her family could tell when she had a great firing because she made a great dinner. Ben Owens said it's like Christmas. It is very exciting to see what has come to life in the firing!
GREAT WEEK!!! Hope yours was creative as well!
Monday, August 6, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Sometimes when I have a lot of unfinished things going on at once, it helps me to focus on getting the clutter out of the way physically. Then my mental space seems to free up.
I got the proof for my new "sandwich" sign today. The wooden one that my son built for me 2 years ago has about had it. The new one will be an improvement over the chipped and peeling one. I have been moving towards slowly sprucing up the exterior of the gallery. My friend put up some shutters on the front windows and I planted some nice big planters with Alberta spruces and potato vine. After the fall shows I hope to get a colorful awning for the front door.
Over the next month or so, my friend Dan will open up a section of the wall between two of my gallery rooms. I think it will be nice to have the sense that you can see from one room to the next. Will try to get some photos of the changes as they occur.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
For those not familiar with N'awlins slang- beaucoup is a whole lotta something.
To say that it made me mad is an understatement. Now that I regained control of my email address, I wish someone could discover the scoundrels that are doing these types of spam, scam and other four letter words. I mean, if they stole my mail out of my federally owned mailbox that I put up on the street and that the local kid can't even attach a flyer for mowing services to, it would be considered a federal offense. Then sending that bull out would be considered mail fraud. People go to jail big-time for that. So I hope that the laws will one day expand to capture,try and prosecute these thieves who prey on people in the same manner as old fashioned snail mail scams.
Thank goodness I went to the studio and took out my frustrations on some clay!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
On a brighter note, I had a really great day of classes yesterday. The turtles were made and each one is very different. My other class is a throwing class with two sisters and a dad. They brought their younger brother and he happily played with clay as we slung clay and pots all over the place. They are the sweetest young people. Now that my children are all grown up, I forget how heart melting it is to get a hug from a young child. Anyway, they all hugged me after class and it pretty much made my day.
I think part of the reason it was so special is because I can relate to how my grandmother felt with her great grandchildren and how my mom has treasured the moments she spent with the kids when they were young. There is this sudden realization of how special and treasured is the time you have with kids--they are such bright and shining things. Maybe it's just one of those phases you move into as you get older. Maybe it's life's way of getting you used to the fact that you are indeed quite older and it has been a very long time since you were that bright, shining and new.
This morning I picked tomatoes, green beans and peppers from the garden. Jim will be really pleased. He loves the fact that his green, red and yellow peppers are big, fat and free, while the ones in the store are about $2.50 a piece. Plus, you know what you have done to the soil and plants instead of blindly hoping you're not getting a mega dose of insecticides, fertilizer and bio-enhanced foodstuffs from the corner grocery.
Enough of this enjoyment, the numbers are calling my name. Maybe they'll let me out early this afternoon and I can do some slab work!
Monday, July 16, 2007
I have been throwing more with darker clays--using a speckled brownstone that I like for my students to start with because it is more forgiving. I fired it in my older kiln and it got a bit hot because it bloated on some of the pieces. That kiln fires hotter than my newer kiln and the elements are on their last little electrical charge, so I'll have to remember to adjust it so it will be cooler next firing. Pottery is all about change, change, change... On another note, the new white clay I have been testing seems to be working alright. Threw some larger forms that I will carve to see if it can stand up to the greater stress of larger work. Keeping my fingers crossed. Potters always seem to be searching for the perfect glaze or clay body.
We're due to make garden art tomorrow in handbuilding. Will try to post some photos of the work. I had some teenagers do a handbuilding class and they made these great turtles and when I showed them to my other handbuilding class they wanted to make some as well.
Recently I finished the new book by the author who wrote The Kite Runner. The author's name and new title escapes me now (it has warp-speed jumped into the hyperspace between my ears and will probably jolt me awake with it's return about 3:00 am) and I loved it. I feel like I was reading it so fast to find out what would happen that I missed some beautiful descriptive prose. Wish I could start it over, now that I know how it ends, but enjoyed it so much that I sent it to my son with instructions to forward to his sister when he finished it.
There are black-eyed susans in the front shrubbery beds and yellow tomatoes in the garden. I enjoy these days of summer flowers and produce. Will try to get some more images up later this week.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I tested a new white clay and it looks like it will do nicely. I couldn't tell the difference between my old clay and the new one. Guess the ultimate test will come when I fire a large carved piece which will be soon.
Experiments were a fun thing. I made some tiles, another braided clay basket and worked on some turtles with two nice young folks. The turtles were a hoot to make--we did the shells inside a bowl and then microwaved them to stiffen up. Don't try this at home in your microwave!! Now I want to do some of my own as fun, funky garden art.
My classes will start again tomorrow and they are pretty full. I have a lot of people doing handbuilding and some new folks starting with wheel throwing. All the classes are concentrated on Mondays and Tuesdays to give me production/creative time the rest of the week. Of course that means everything else--glaze mixing, kiln loading, administrative and financial duties, marketing, clean up, shipping, inventory, etc are also thrown into those three days.
A new series that I want to begin work on will be sculptural--heads and shoulders of different kinds of people. I can see some of them in my mind. I hope to get started by the end of the summer. Bottle forms are another thing I want to pick back up. I have one drying now and will see how well it fires. So many ideas and so little time........
Friday, June 29, 2007
I have some friends who have been blogging longer than me and they have really nice blog sites. You should check out Ron Philbeck's site at http://www.thepottersjournal.blogspot.com/. Ron does soda fired work and I have many of his pieces that I really enjoy using. He makes these cool covered boxes with animals on top. I have one that holds my sugar so I get to enjoy the smiling turtle and the bluebird perched on it's back every time I make hot tea.
Jen Mecca is another friend who makes beautiful whimisical work. She uses these great little swirls and squiggles of clay to finish off handles and feet and puts little sprigs of clay in the shape of leaves and flowers. Her spot is http://www.jennifermeccapottery.blogspot.com
Hope you go and visit both their sites and jump to their websites to view.
Also moving things around in the studio to be more efficient and registering folks for classes. I did get some test tiles made and have ideas for the design of several more and made a large square platter of a dark red clay with white clay slip laid on top and bamboo branches carved back through. That's called sgraffito. Usually I just put a clear glaze on top of that but I want to try some extra color with this, so after it goes through the bisque firing, I'll apply underglazes (kind of like water color or tempera) but designed to withstand the high temperature firing. Then the clear glaze over that. I've got the way I want it to look in my mind. We'll see how it turns out.
And I did get another large braided basket done. I bought this huge roasting dish several years ago with the idea of using it for a form and it worked great. So I guess I did get a little clay work done.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I would like to get a glaze firing in before the weekend because I am testing a new white clay and I really need to see how my glaze colors will look on it before I commit more time to new work in this clay. It may be back to the drawing board if I don't like how everything looks when fired.
Being a potter is a most unusual craft. I can't imagine making my own oil colors as a painter, or weaving the canvas or cutting down the wood for a canvas frame to paint on. Yet many of my friends do just those types of things as regards to clay. I buy my clay already mixed, but there are lots of folks who are mixing or digging their clay. I do mix my own glazes and so have become very attached to the colors of my pots. That's why I am in this quest for the perfect white clay body--strong enough to make larger pots, white enough to be a wonderful background for my glazes, with a subtle depth so that the clay doesn't look flat or without life and not too dense so that it doesn't react badly in the kiln to temperature changes between the air and the kiln shelves. Lots of technical stuff to master in this craft.
New ventures I am working on this week, besides the clay quest, are gallery representation outside of my region and a trial run at a nice, small fresh market in Belmont this weekend (weather permitting of course). It sounds really interesting with fresh flowers, vegetables, baked goods and a few craftsmen. I also found some historical chalices that I would like to try and some tiles with a type of Arts and Crafts theme. That is probably enough new stuff to last through the end of June!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Then I went home for real. We were going to celebrate a joyous occasion-the wedding of a nephew at St.Louis Cathedral. We drove along the Gulf Coast on a sunny afternoon and the irony began to hit me. They have cleared and cleaned the coast line pretty well. There are still concrete slabs and abandoned houses but many times you would have had to have seen the grand homes and businesses that used to line a now very empty area of the coast. The beaches LOOKED clean but my imagination brought to mind the tons of scrap metal, cars, garbage, house pieces and countless paraphenalia of modern life that was pulled back out to the hiding water by the retreat of the storm surge.
We drove through New Orleans East on the interstate and didn't stray off. The mall that was brand new in 1975 when I graduated, where I had my first exciting foray into food service at an old fashioned ice cream parlor restaurant, where we shopped for jeans and prom dresses and even deposited our straw hats full of tip change at the inside bank was a pile of rubble.
As we got close to the I-10 highrise I saw the hotel I waited tables at during summer break. It was boarded and abandoned, along with the rest of the area around it. Then I saw the view of the old neighborhoods where kids on bikes, teenagers in cars and people on the street used to be the norm. The norm now was silence and stillness. Where noise and movement, joy and strife and the normalcy of life used to be on display for all to see had been replaced by grimness, no people for miles, no life for street after street.
The French Quarter looked similar to what I remember from my teenage years--except for the people. There was hardly any noise, din, crowds, music. It was so quiet and subdued. The tourists who had never been there before probably thought it was quaint and comfortable and enjoyable. Nothing like the up-in-your-face city that used to be my New Orleans. I felt like we were walking in a ghost town. A forgotten ghost town. So many people had left that remembered what it was like, that it's past is disappearing. And the future seems hopeless for a return to those old days. It took hundreds of years to be what it was in the days before Katrina. Decades seem too short to imagine that the Big Easy will be a big or easy way of life again.
The night of the wedding the irony of the present was most physically evident to me. When we were riding on the high rise of the interstate again, the faint lights of neighborhoods were visible below us. In the darkness were great patches of unlit areas that should have been glowing with lights. Street lights, house lights, car lights, neon lights, spotlights from businesses, security lights, traffic lights, police lights. Darkness reigned instead.
After the celebrations, we started the long ride home in daylight, and decided to veer off the interstate into my old neighborhood. My son mentioned taking pictures but somehow I couldn't bear to do that. Not because they were so terrible but because the opposite of the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" was true. They would just be photographs of abandoned houses, cars, streets and lives. They would FEMA trailers and bad roads and the sign of hope in the few houses going up. Never would they tell the story of what it felt like to be back in the landscape of your youth and find it had disappearred. Only words could describe the story because the sight of the tragedy of what happened in New Orleans is only one of the ways we perceive and process mentally. The pictures could never portray the silences, the loss of motion, the lack of smells, the feel of the houses, asphalt, rusted cars. And the memories of laughter in Joe Brown park, sunning out on the Lakefront, riding the riverboat and dancing, the smell of the peach trees in my backyard, marching in the football field of Abramson and trying not to land on a red ant pile, pushing through the crowds on Bourbon street, waiting for a table for coffee and beignets, watching the water and waves of the lake from the levee behind my house, the glowing lights of flambeau carriers and the drumbeat of a high school bands at the parades in Chalmette all seem to be drifting away, hardly possible in the city of the present. They seem a dream in the lost landscape of my youth--New Orleans.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
This hit home because I had taken pictures of a fern head unfolding in my garden with the idea of using it on the top of a covered jar, or as a design element for carving images into clay. Then I opened up the latest edition of a ceramics trade magazine, and there was someone using the same idea! Makes me wonder about how inspiration comes to individuals at the same time, who don't even know one another. Guess we really are just recycling ideas that have been in the air for a really long time.