Monday, December 31, 2007

Almost happy new year

Wow, it has been a whirlwind of activity here. I was able to get all the holiday orders done, with one exception and that was graciously allowed to be redone after Christmas. The studio will be closed for classes until February as I get geared up to make new work for Treasures of the Earth, a show I have done in Shelby, NC for many years. I have been working on some artwork and paintings over the holiday and will post pictures soon. They are for a place in Florida that my son is moving to, and we will be able to use for vacation. I've done some mosaics, some ceramic platters and some wall display boxes that use found objects and saved pottery shards, combined with copper foil embossed sheets. And there are two paintings of trees based on carved stone at Ankor Wat (ruins in Cambodia), embellished with Klimt (Gustav Klimt, painter who did very textural and decorative work and who I like a lot) like borders. I imagine all of it will translate into the new work I will be doing in January.

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

Saturday in the Shop

I'll be in the gallery on Saturday, finishing up some last projects, so you can drop by and get away from the crowds. Some times there will be Christmas music, but I mix it up with Willie Nelson and James Taylor, because I can only listen to carols for so many hours, days on end. I will be there from 10am to 4pm.

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

Kids growing up

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


Today I get to dress up a bit and run over to Denver to have brunch with friends. Of course I will have to bring work clothes to change into, but a fun holiday thing! I did get all the work finished the other day, but it took 2 days, not one to handle, assemble, decorate all the pieces I threw in one day. Another reason to say "A long time" as the answer to the question!

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

How long did it take you to make this?

This is a question I get fairly often and it is always hard for me to answer. I read an article in one of the clay mags and it talked about how many times one had to either touch a piece or do prep work for a piece and it was an unbelievable amount of time. I heard Cynthia Bringle anwer that question with "Twenty years." Either way, it seems like you have to get into such a long discussion about all the parts of clay making or how important the years of experience have been in order to create the piece they are asking about. So I thought I would talk about it a bit here, then maybe just print out little slips of paper that had this blog site and title on it and give that out when asked.
This is the prep work for the pieces and all the other chores in order to have pots to offer:
Inventory supplies
Order/pick up clay and glaze supplies
Unload/store clay
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.
Dry pieces
Load kiln for bisque firing
Fire kiln
Unload kiln
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
Fire kiln
Unload kiln
Examine work for flaws
Clean/smooth bottoms
Cane reed handles or add attachments for knobs
Price pieces
Display pieces in gallery or
Box for sale or
Pack to ship
Load van for show
Drive to show
Unload van
Set up booth space or tent
Unpack pots
Display pots
Sell pots
Pack pots
Pack van
Drive home
Unpack van
Unpack pots
Display pots
Put away boxes
Clean up gallery
Enter new names/addresses in database
Decide/enter future shows
Maintain kiln and kiln furniture
Make deposits
Handle sales tax reporting
Make glaze test samples
Teach classes
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

Jingle, Jingle, Jingle

I was driving home last night and admiring all the holiday lights on the houses. There is something about this season when darkness descends so early and lifts so late in the day that needs a little extra illumination. When I was very young we would pile in our car and drive around, looking at the decorations. And even when my daughter and I came home from the hospital on Christmas eve in 1983, we piled her in the car with my folks and drove through ChristmasTown in McAdenville. Hope your days and evenings are being illuminated!
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

Open House

I'm getting work ready for my Open House on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9. These little gingerbread guys will be available as holiday ornaments. I will also have these sterling earrings that are recent new creations and more variations. I thought I would multi-blog today in order to have some free time when we see our son for Thanksgiving. Hope yours is wonderful and full of turkey.

Views from the Festival

A few views from the Festival. Tall carved vessels are from the Kings, Puzzle Creek Pottery. June Miller stands beside her work. Carved vase and plate are by Alan Griffin.
It was a great show. If you missed it, hope you set aside the date for next year--Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008. And tell all your friends!

Squirreling away leaves

I had to take a little time to make a leaf run before they all fall. There is a place in my town that has a row of ginkgo trees that I supplement my leaves from. As you can see, they are starting to turn yellow and I could just scoop them up in a big bag and bring home to sort. I try and put a mix of sizes in smaller bags and so I have various types of Japanese maple and ginkgo leaves safely squirrelled away for winter.
Over the years I have tried various methods to save the leaves, but freezing has proven to be the best. I just thaw them out for a few minutes and then they are ready to be rolled into my trays.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Brie Bakers and Mugs

Yesterday was a great day in the studio, though I didn't get as much done as I thought I would. I had planned to make a crescent tray with a dragon--a custom order for holidays--mugs, brie bakers, put together 6 teapots--4 of which are custom orders-and do some slab work. Out of all of that, I got the teapots put together and ready for carving, threw the bakers, finished some covered jars and carved them, unloaded the bisque and glaze kiln and got the mugs ready for handles. So the list for today is longer to finish up yesterday's stuff. But I love doing the create part of the work. Freshly made pots up to the leatherhard stage is the most exciting for me. Maybe because they still have potential and haven't revealed what they will exactly look like. I do like unloading the kiln when it has been a good firing, though. That makes my day sing! Just the stuff in between is more like WORK. Glazing and making glazes are my least favorite. I would rather clean up the studio. I might even rather file papers.

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

Sigh of release

I started to say relief, but that implies some regret. Release feels more right. I am talking about the Festival again. It went stunningly well from many accounts and the folks who attended were very impressed with the selection and quality of the work. We ran out of admission tickets, had a highest ever attendence and great reviews. Now all we have to do is do it again but better, next year!

I walked this morning and yesterday--one of the many things that fell by the wayside before the Festival. I think fall mornings in the Carolinas are some of the most beautiful in the world. The sky and clouds are amazing but very fleeting. You have to look up at just the right time to catch them. I also had a chance to admire the fall garden that Jim planted. We have lettuce, spinich and green onions coming up. His soil looks so loamy and rich. The trees are just about in full color now--so late in coming but so lovely.

I'll follow with some shots from the festival but just wanted to enjoy the day for a bit, and then jump on orders for teapots.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Only 2 days left

I'm excited. Just 2 days left to the Carolina Pottery Festival. I will choose work today, finish off the last firing and load the van to set up tomorrow. I am one of the original creators of the Festival (now in the 7th year) and I get a bit nostalgic about it at this time of year. That is when everything but the last little bits are wrapped up and we're waiting to see what the crowds will do.
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

Fantastic Firing

My friend Bobbie had a fantastic firing in her gas kiln. I drove out to her sale on Saturday and picked up my pieces that were fillers and they are quite beautiful. Such different colors than my firings and I was experimenting with some glazes that we had used with Ben Owens, III, at Penland back in 2000. There was a liner glaze that I added some rutile to and got a lovely ambery gold, and altered a speckled trout recipe and got a very wild green with black specks. Pictures to follow. The teabowls and flower containers will be at my studio this week and the Carolina Pottery Festival - next Saturday. Hope to see you at one of the two places.

Lana Wilson Boxes

We finished the construction of our magic boxes in handbuilding class. This was a very ambitious project based on Lana Wilson's (California) work.

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

Count down to the Festival

This week at the studio has been a whirlwind. On Monday I glazed at Bobbie's house for her gas kiln firing. She had her grandson out there with us and we were singing to keep him amused. I could not seem to remember anything past the first line, so there were a lot of "da-da-da" verses that he heard. I had two wheel throwing classes and threw with some old clay that I had rehydrated. Very luscious and extremely soft--my wrists and hands appreciate soft clay!
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. to follow and more about the Pottery Festival.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Busy Week

We had a great weekend in Asheville. I took off some time from the studio to go with Jim to a veterinary conference and managed to see some other folks' work while there. Also stocked up at Highwater clay and Earthguild for cane, reed and dyes for my handles. I enjoyed walking around downtown and seeing the sites.
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


What a beautiful day Saturday was! I still haven't unpacked the van from the Burlon Craig Festival because I had to go in and make some pieces today. Timing is everything, and if I didn't get them done, then they wouldn't have enough time to dry. I was already stressing out because I had to force dry some pieces in the microwave before I could fire them.
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

I had a treat yesterday. Jen Mecca was doing a demo at Gaston College, so I buzzed on over to watch. It was fun to see how she created her boxes, and threw slab bottoms on the wheel. Every potter has their own techniques and I always learn from them. Sometimes it gets filed away and the technique will come in handy to solve a problem or offer a different solution to the way I am working.
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

Claymatters Sale

The Claymatters sale went well. The weather was so wonderful and I always love being outside for this event.

Alex Miller was kind enough to send some photos of my booth, so here are images from the show.

The next event for me is the Burlon Craig show, another outside venue. Looks like great weather and good music for it is in the future.

In the studio we will be working on a treasure box, similar to one that Lana Wilson made during a demonstration for the clay group. Should be challenging!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Great Open House

The open house was fun! We had lots of folks out to see all the artwork. It was nice to meet some of my fellow art guild members, who I knew the names but hadn't connected the faces with. And the ladies from Covenent Village were a great crowd. There were two winners of the gift certificates which were sponsored by Deb Lowery, of BedMe and BreakfastMe Travel. She is an independent travel assistant, affliated with AAA, whose purpose is to help plan your trip and save you time. What a great concept!

I took a few shots of work-one of the chicken pitchers we worked on in handbuilding. The other is the openings between the rooms that act as additional shelving. I repainted 2 areas and used a color similar to green tea. So this is one of the rooms looking out into the front gallery. Mostly functional work is now located here.

The next show will be this weekend at McAlpine Business Park on Monroe Rd. in Charlotte. This is always a great show with wonderful work and a big turnout. The weather is usually zen-like, with a small breeze and a calming waft of leaves in the air. They gently drift down from the towering trees, ending in the field, or near the old barn and silos. I'm sure there is a haiku there waiting to happen.

Thanks to those who said they checked in on the blog. I sometimes get the idea that I am writing just to myself, which is fine, but several of you mentioned you looked here to see what was happening in the studio.

Meet Dragon Gorthen, a design made by Courtney. She did a great job, including the dragon symbol in Chinese. We used a technique that I recently learned from Amy Saunders, of Carolina ClayMatters guild. You take a cone of clay and run a dowel all the way through it to hollow and thin it.
I like this method better than using a sheet of clay and connecting it to make a cone or cylinder because the clay is more manageable and the clay maintains it's strength as you manipulate it. It works great for the body of this piece as well as the legs and head.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fairs-past and present

Last night I demonstrated throwing on the potter's wheel at the Cleveland Co. Fair. Every year the Board of Directors of the Carolina Pottery Festival each take a night to promote the Festival and throw pots at the fair. I always enjoy it because I love what people have to say. I really love watching them watch me make magic with clay.

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

Open House

I'm having an Open House on Saturday, Oct. 6, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday, Oct. 7, 1 to 4 pm at Bluegill Pottery, 4522 W. Wilkinson Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28056.

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

I went to LA and got to see several museums. Lots of old pots. These are shots of a Palissy platter, 1500's, and a detail from a middle eastern plate, not sure of date. The fish are in a friend's Koi pond. They are my favorite fish, and I have used them as imagery on my pottery often.
Unfortunately, I could not use a flash at the museums, so photos are not crisp with details, and the fish kept swimming so fast that they were already out of the frame by the time I could click.
I'm getting ready for the open house at the gallery this weekend. It should be really great weather and sounds like lots of folks will turn out. All the renovations are complete and I am really happy with the results.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Old dogs, new pots

This is a picture of our dog Ginger, who died this summer. She was a great little trooper. Now she sits up on the shelf with our other three girls, Sidney, Kippy and Maggie. (They were all cremated and they are in little white boxes.) I have been trying to think what type of dog I would like next. My heart longs for a big one, like a grey hound or a Great Dane, but I would like to be able to take it to the studio and not frighten customers, so smaller would probably be better. I have an idea that the big dog longing has to do with always wanting a horse while growing up. Maybe after the fall/holiday rush we can figure it out.
It's officially the start of a new week. I had a couple of really good, productive days at the end of last week and over the weekend. I had a very good firing with brie bakers and some leaf pieces, and a few large, carved vases. So far the new white clay seems to be working pretty well. It has a tendency to some small surface cracks, but I think it must be the nature of a dense, fine particled clay. I did use soft brick under some of the larger pieces to minimize the heat difference between the top of the piece and the bottom, where it was sitting on the hot kiln shelf.

I had a very nice dark brown handbuilt curved front bottle that I am pleased with. The handbuilding process is working well. I have been using these great curved picture frames for the forming of the front and back sections. I would take a picture, but brown/black shiny surfaces just do not photograph very well to show detail.

The kiln is now firing with another load in an effort to get a bit ahead of the shows and get some more work to galleries.

I know that electrical element changes and a bit of brick work are needed soon and I am just holding on to get the last squeeze of juice out of the elements before I have to call in the kiln guy.

Will try to follow with a few shots of the latest stuff.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Wow, it's been a busy couple of weeks. We went to Hilton Head for a meeting in August, then to Atlanta over Labor Day, so I had the shop closed for a bit. Now my bisque ware is piling up and I will have to glaze and fire today in order to have room to make new stuff.

The construction in my studio started while I was gone and I thought it would be done when I got back, however, things 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


This was animal week. One of my students wanted to make a dragon sculpture, so we started with a platform of clay, then made hollow tubes for the head, body and legs of the creature. Texturing was done on the tubes, then all joined together. I had a terrific time helping. After it was finished, I kept going back to it during the day just to admire it.

Clay can take on such a life of it's own. Even after 10 years, the transformation of formless, shapeless plastic (as in "able to be shaped and formed"--not as in "the thing that everything now is made from") material into a physical object still delights me.


We had a hen house party at the studio this week. My handbuilding class worked on these chicken pitchers and I think they turned out great. They were pretty challenging. We used a cookie cutter to cut out the feather shapes, then joined them together inside a bowl. After a few rows, we took them out of the form and continued to build up the sides using the cut shapes. Can't wait to see them glazed!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Covered jars

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!

Woven clay baskets

This is a new basket. Very wide--had to manipulate my kiln furniture to fit in for the bisque firing. I have gotten so ambitious before that I have made something too wide for my kiln. I try to remember to check when I think I am close to exceeding the dimensions of my bottom shelf.

Dragon Tray

Last week was a great week at the studio. I had two very nice firings. I have been working on some special pieces and both firings were rewarding! You can see the dragon tray as I worked on layering glazes, one over the other. This was an experiment of how these glazes would react with one another and I like it. I will try some more with this technique. Maybe add more color in the sky background. The dragon is carved into the clay when leatherhard.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Two things seem to be pretty consistant at the studio, no matter what else happens. There is always someone who will come in with a pet, looking for the animal hospital and have a most curious look on their face when confronted with lots of pottery. And there is always a phone call or face to face with someone looking for a place to paint on pottery. The first event happens because the studio was formerly a veterinary hospital for a very long time (about 30 years). The second event happens because-?????? In my crazier moments I have considered making or carrying bisque ware for the folks who just want to paint. However, I manage to talk myself out of it when I consider where I would store the underglazes, work, how I would fit it into my firing schedules for my production and my classes..........

Earlier this year, I did have fun doing a personlized plate for the birth of a child. I do think this is something I might pursue on occasion. Here's a picture of it.
Got to run to work. Classes to teach, pots to make and glaze, etc.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Clean up and spruce up

Today was a "clean house" day at the studio. I have been moving tables around in the hand building section, trying to get an arrangement that I am happy with. Of course, when you move one thing, it leads to another, and at the end of the day I had cleared out cabinet space, gone through all my forms that the class uses to slump clay in, moved shelves, reorganized the texturing stuff, set up new shelves for the clay storage and put away glaze materials that have been sitting out for a good month. Tomorrow I plan on dusting and mopping from front to back and then everything should be in it's place and I can start throwing again.

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

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........

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pottery festival date

Just tested the link for the pottery festival and the date hasn't been changed yet. It's Nov. 10, 2007. Hopefully this date change will happen soon.

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 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

Hope you go and visit both their sites and jump to their websites to view.

Pottery Festival details

The last few days have been non-clay days. I had to finish a grant report for the Carolina Pottery Festival. This is a really wonderful event that was formed seven years ago and happens annually on the second Saturday of November. You can see the bare details at We hope to get a snappier website up this year! It's one of the largest pottery only festivals in the Southeast. Over 90 potters...what a visual feast for pottery lovers.

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

Electricity, rain, kiln firings and farmer's markets

Well, today dawned bright and beautiful. I want to get a walk in this morning. Weather looks like electrical storms and rain will be the norm again this evening. I have been trying to get back into the groove of walking exercise after foot surgery in January. Old bones protest loudly sometimes, though. I have been watching the weather like a "chicken hawk" as my dad would say. With computerized kilns it is too risky to try and fire when there is a possiblity of storms.

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

technical stuff

This is a photo that my son took inside St. Louis Cathedaral. I love how the candles reflect in the darkness.
Tomorrow I go to Shelby to see how to update my website. I have been putting this off for a long time. I love making pots and firing the kiln, but trying to get new pictures up on the site is almost beyond me. Hopefully my webmaster will speak slowly and repeat often!

Also taking work to Buffalo Creek Gallery. Have had work there for just about 2 months.

Then I get to buzz back quickly and open up the gallery. Tomorrow is filing and organizing so the clay will call continuously and I will have to ignore it. I have so many things I want to try out now, so it will be difficult.

Have been working on communion sets this week. Tried to do some research at the library for images of historical chalices and patens but really couldn't find much. That was disappointing but did not stop me from leaving with an armful of books.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Orleans- the lost landscape of my youth

Last week I went home again. To New Orleans. I had visited there vicariously in my mind through old connections during Katrina and the media blitz afterwards. I had seen the aerial photographs in magazines and newspapers and the email images sent by classmates of Marion Abramson High School, moldering and dank and abandoned. I spent hours on the internet trying to find the view of my old house, amidst the others of New Orleans East that had been swallowed for weeks by a soup of Lake Pontchartrain overwash, sewage and dead animals.

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

circular ideas

I have been reading a book about 1491-the Americas before western intervention. It explores ideas about how technology comes into being-sometimes taken from what has been before, sometimes simultaneous invention without interaction between peoples.

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.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New Baskets and braided pieces.
Travelling shows

You'll be able to find me at the following places:

Cherokee Historical and Preservation Society Pottery show May 19, 2007

Gaffney, SC

Lowell Freedom Festival June 2, 2007

Lowell, NC

Art Squared June 16, 2007

Hickory, NC

Looking forward to these new shows and meeting lots of new pottery-loving folks.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lush Spring

New works in bisque stage for basket and glazed pots.
I had a really good firing and took these images at the studio. The weather has been wonderful the last couple of days. I forget how lush the spring colors are after the winter. It's like putting on 3-D glasses and everything just leaps out at you with it's intensity and closeness. The irises in my front bed are in royal purple abundance and the grass is a rich shade of blue green thickness. I plucked some of the irises to take with me to the gallery yesterday because they were so striking. Next will come the big-headed peonies that have such a subtle smell. Food and flowers remind me of the purpose of being a potter--making things to put these other wonderful things in!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

what's new at blue

First posting and thought I would start with what's new at the pottery. I have been working on braided clay baskets and recently completed the largest one yet. It is exciting to work with new shapes and a bit adventureous as you don't always know how the clay will react. It could end up a big shapeless lump or the best thing you've ever done. Hope it's the latter. Will try to get an image up soon.