Friday, July 27, 2007

New Glazed Work.

The finished 5-spouted vase. When I first took it out of the kiln I was not very pleased with the glazing. But after a couple of days, I decided that I do like this piece. Next one I will glaze differently, having gone through the process once, I know better what to expect. I would like to make a series of these with variations in size and height. The real test is whether you like them or not.
Other doings involve Carolina Pottery Festival. We had our Board of Directors meeting last week and put press packets and potter's packets together. So now I have to mail the 150+ pieces beginning this next week.
Also getting ready to apply to the Smithsonian show and the ACC show. I heard another potter describe it as the potters' lottery. That is how it feels a bit. You take your best work and get it photographed and pay your money and wait it out to see if you got the winning ticket this year.
My chalice and patens came out well and the latest braided clay basket has made it into the drying state, so things are looking good. This will be the biggest one I have attempted so far. I am hoping I have correctly estimated the shrinkage so that it will fit in my kiln.
Wildlife news around the house involve the doggle of ducks--don't know the correct term for whole lots of those winged beasties- and the cheeky squirrels. Our neighbor puts out peanuts and bread and all kinds of wonderful food for the local wildlife. She now has about 13 to 21 ducks who come to visit. I can see them from the kitchen window in the morning and the evening. Now that our dog Ginger died, there is no one to police the premises and the squirrels have taken to coming right up on the deck and burying their peanut treasures in my plants. It's great to watch all the action, especially at breakfast.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

E-mail hijacking, phishing and spamming

I had an unpleasant surprise this weekend when I investigated why I wasn't getting any emails. I found someone had hijacked my address and was sending all my emails to another spot, and then using my email address to send out spam. So if you received an email supposedly from me, with an unusual name as contact and told you that you had won a lottery, could make beaucoups of money from helping out some foreign company by laundering their money or were due some inheritance from a person you had never heard about, SORRY. It ain't gonna happen.

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

Turtle power and a bottle

Well, I promised images of the turtles, so here goes.

There is also a bottle form that I have been working on. Ron Philbeck and I collaborated on some mold making for bottle forms a couple of years ago. My mold didn't turn out well, so I use it for a big plaster bat to suck the moisture out of reclaim clay. Now I am back on the bottle kick but using a curved form to make the curved walls and slabs of clay for sides, bottom and top. The little spouts were wheel thrown and attached. This is a dark red clay that I have been experimenting with. I think it will make a really cool flower container.

FYI- How the pots are carved

Start of a carved bowl. This will be a band of pomegrantes and leaves with the background filled in with carved marks. The inside of the bowl has a similar pattern around the side and bottom.
Series of carved covered jars. I have made knobs/finials of a dark red clay body that will fit inside of a hole in the lid. Thought I would try using glaze to connect the two together. This is a white stoneware for the body and lid of the piece.

I have been doing a series of pots that have three different sizes marks on them for a couple of years. I put the biggest mark in first in a spiral or wave pattern. Then the next size and finally I fill with a very small mark. The inspiration and original title of the series was "Rainwater" because the marks reminded me of the impression of raindrops on the surface of water. A lot of folks think the pattern has a snake or reptilian look. I think it looks more like sea corals.
Weird Clay Fact: A very unusual thing that I enjoy about carving pots is the little pile of rubble from the bits that you remove and the sound they make as they plink on the table or floor. When I was younger I would help my grandmother shell crowder peas and there is something in carving leatherhard clay that is very similar to that feeling of releasing the peas from the pods and the sensation of coolnesss and aliveness as you run your fingers through them in the bowl. With the peas it was the pleasure of knowing how I would enjoy their taste with fresh baked cornbread and fried okra. With the clay it is the pleasure in revealing the pattern and images that the glaze and firing will accent.

Well...that's how it's done folks! Look down the road in a couple of weeks for the finished products. There is nothing in clay that is immediate gratification. Teaches you patience, grasshopper.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Finances, numbers and no clay

It's Wednesday, so that means it's finance day. My least favorite day of the week, taken up with entering data, figuring sales tax, doing my husband's company's finances and basically dealing with numbers all day. Then there is filing. Or should I say FILING. One of those organizational necessities but a most disagreeable task. Oh well, some parts of life are no fun but necessary, like cleaning the toilets.

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

Changes, The Kite Runner and Yellow Tomatoes

Wow, time has really flown by. I don't understand how it does that. I have been really busy the last few days. I started classes back last week and am doing 4 classes on Monday and Tuesday, and haven't yet figured out the rhythm of teaching and production.

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

Fireworks, experiments and classes

Exciting things have been happening this week and kept me away from the computer. We had a good 4th of July. There were lots of neighborhood fireworks and some special effects from downtown Charlotte and downtown Gastonia. I could see both as I went to check on a kiln firing! And it turned out very nicely, too! It's great when all your pyrotechnics work as planned.

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........