Sunday, August 31, 2008


It seems that everyone was making pitchers, so I thought I would give it a whirl. I usually don't make the neck so tight or do a curlique handle but got inspired by some that Ron did a bit earlier. This one was about 8" tall in the green state. We'll see how it comes out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More on Warping

I seem to have the most difficulty with square shapes. For those I use a more drastic way of keeping the piece from warping. Using sock orphans in all sizes is a good way to rid your laundry room and be frugal at the same time. I take the socks and stuff a plastic grocery bag inside of them. Then I fill the bag with sand and tie a knot in the top. I drape a piece of tissue paper over the work before laying down the socks. You are seeing a women's ankle length in use on a small plate. Several men's tube socks work great when draped long ways on a platter. The only caution I would put out is that if you get too much weight on a piece, it can crack from being unable to move while shrinking.

This is the little plate prior to being "socked". I have found it wise to run a fingernail between the clay and the plastic wrap because the wrinkles in the plastic wrap can form the basis of a crack later if you don't loosen the edge of the clay from the wrap.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Little Attitude from the Mint

This is after a GREAT firing!

This is trying to decide what went wrong.

This is picking up the gauntlet, wielding the big stick and playing for blood. Which you have to do sometimes when you make your living based on how much that volcano that you lovingly call your "kiln" and your public refers to as your "oven" plays havoc with your work.

Seriously, these figures, which are about 12 to 20" high are in the collection at the Mint Museum. They are in the Meso American section, made by different cultures, but I love the expression and life in these guys.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Shipping Depot

New work going out to a gallery in Black Mountain, NC and a gallery in Woodstock, Illinois. I spent most of today wrapping and boxing to get them going out this week. Whew, that is harder than making the work.

Problem solving: Warping

I make a lot of flat pieces, using slabs of clay. I thought I would talk for a bit about a problem I have run into with the slabs. During the drying stage certain pieces want to warp and twist. I use dishes and forms to slump into, so it is important to me to know when to take a piece out of the form, and when it is better to leave it in.

The first method makes use of my left-over clay pieces. I make clay "biscuits" out of them to weight my slabs down. They can be bisque fired or just left in the dry state, and used over and over. I have bowls of them in the studio.

In the pictures above I am making a cocktail plate. First I spritz the form with water, then I spread a piece of thin plastic wrap (like Sarah wrap) to keep the clay from sticking to the form. This one is plastic, which I like because I can give it a good "thump" with the sheet of clay and it will drape nicely into the form. I also thump the glass ones if they are sturdy. Once the excess clay is trimmed away and the piece has texture applied, I drape a sheet of tissue paper over the clay, then lay down my clay biscuits. They seem to suck some of the moisture out of the clay and swiften the drying time. Even if I take the piece out when leatherhard to clean up the edges, I will replace the biscuits until it is bone dry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Some More Mint

This beautiful green vase is one I attempted to duplicate back in 1998. It was a class project to find a historical pot and recreate it. I threw all these bottle forms and joined them. To say it was heavy is an understatement. I even bisque fired the piece but it was never graceful, always clunky. I still love the original. I also love the way the camel and horse are treated. That big thick neck of the horse is just great! Obviously these are Asian pieces and not sure what dynasty, but very old. I can't ever seem to get the piece in focus with the description legible behind and I am not organized enough to write down dates/notes that coordinate with the photos.
Yesterday was a back breaker in the studio. I threw sauce bowls, brie bakers and some plates that I want to experiment with, then geared up to mix glazes. It would have been a sight if you were there, because I had a pink plastic hair cap on and my heavy duty face mask. I had to mix 4 glazes, which ended up being 30,000 grams total. I thought it would be a bright idea to save mixing for last, since then I could leave the studio and hopefully most of the stray particles will have worked themselves out of the atmosphere today. I still have to sieve (run the thick mix through a small mesh screen to break up lumps) all those mixtures today, but the worst part is over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A trip to the Mint

My friend, Beth, and I visited the Mint Museums on Sunday for a nice girl's day. Neither one of our husbands was interested, so we enjoyed lingering as long as we wanted. I took a good bit of images for reference and thought you might enjoy these pots from the 1500's. The top platter is by Thomas Toft. The next one is a tyg, which was a term for mug. It is just so over the top with decoration that I loved it. If they would have let me handle it, I would imagine that the bumps of slip would be lovely to the touch. Nice thing about museums is that they preserve history. Bad thing is that you can't touch anything without getting in trouble!
I'll post some more of my favorites later!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Glaze Combos

I have been working with some new combos of color and these are samples of the ones I like. The one on the left is something I have played with for a bit, but was using a glaze called Plum, which had bone ash and settled to the bottom of the bucket like no one's business. Sometimes it would crawl and sometimes it would do the most beautiful things. Very finicky. I put my foot down and decided no more plum. Instead I have been using Nutmeg (found in CM last year or so). To date it is a nice reddish brown which plays well with other glazes. I am laying 3 different colors on each mug. I fire to cone 7 on a white stoneware.

I've called the left combo, Horizon, because it reminds me of the mountains. The right one I'm trying to figure out a good name. If you have suggestions, please post. My friend, Randy McNeilly, said it reminded him of Chaco Canyon and I can see that. Anyway, a nice name would be good, instead of Altered Mexico Point Green/Nutmeg/Trimix or Altered Creamy Orange/Nutmeg/NTA. Somehow those just don't cut it for folks buying mugs, but make perfect sense to me, of course!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fillers and changes

Sometimes folks will request things that I don't think about doing. I've had a request for buttons for some handmade hats and shawls, etc. Since texture is one of my trademarks, I have been having fun with little pieces of clay. These found their way into the kiln around all my larger pieces.

I like the fact that all the areas of kiln shelf were covered, thus making it a very efficient firing. I call things like the buttons "fillers" and have been doing that for a long time. Sometimes they are paperweights, sometimes medallions, and now buttons.

My "black bamboo" mugs in a different color. Usually I just glaze them in blue or green. This is a nice neutral shade.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


My friend, Pam, started a "goblet exchange" awhile back. These are my contributions to the other potters in the exchange. I just have to get them delivered now. I threw these using the "cookie" technique from a blog video that I posted earlier this year.

More info on that book

Sorry I didn't include the whole title for the book, Turning Point, Oribe and the Arts of Sixteenth Century Japan. It's a Metropolitan Museum publication. Try this Hope that helps! By the way, mine is a soft cover edition, not as expense as listed on amazon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Inspiring Clay Books

These are some of the books I am looking at for inspiration at the moment. Turning Point, Modern Japanese Ceramics, The Art of Ogata Kenzan, Inside Japanese Ceramics, not quite up to date Cermamics Monthly, Pottery Making Illustrated, and the new National Geographic, which has an article on Iran. I also found an old box of National Geos (about 10-15 years old) in the garage during a recent clean out, and went through them, ruthlessly tearing out inspirational pictures for painting and clay work.
The photos of inside the book Turning Point are to show the beautiful quality of the pottery images. Turn your head to see the great teapot. For some odd reason, blogger wants this to be a vertical shot and I have no control over the way it has flipped it! I love the honeycomb brushwork and the way the swash of simple green color meets a complex design.
Modern Japanese Ceramics is a new acquisition and I am savoring it slowly. The hip flasks are very cool and that is what is featured on the cover. Here's to some book browsing during these dog day afternoons.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


This was a scene from the stuffing of PR packets for the Carolina Pottery Festival, along with potters' packets of post cards, info sheets, etc. A behind-the-scene look at the glamorous things the Board of Directors does throughout the year to promote the Festival! My local post office secretely groans when I bring in packets 100 or so at a time to individually weigh.
On the studio front, yesterday was a long day and my body is protesting heavily this morning. It started at 8am with getting pots ready to be photographed and ended at 10pm with getting the last kiln loaded and ready to go.
On the up side, I managed to squeeze in a short visit to Ron's place after the photo shoot. Kind soul that he is, he gave me charity tomatoes because ours are just not going to produce anyting large enough to make a tomato sandwich with. Today I shall feast at lunch! Thanks Ron! I also got to see some more new pots in person, which look really cool.
On a parting note, this was an image Jim took when we were driving through West Virginia several weeks ago. I'm going to take that piece of big sky and rolling hills with me for inspiration at the studio today. Have a good day and eat some local produce!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Extreme busyness

It seems like I might catch myself coming or going, with things moving fast in the studio. I have been making lots of work. This is some waiting to have the bottoms sanded and then be priced before going out to the gallery space. The work is a mix of the white clay and the darker clay that I use. The patens (communion plates) and chalices are fun. I get to carve on these and they can be used either as dinnerware or during religious ceremonies, depending on who is buying!

On the greenware side, I have been making a lot of mugs. Here you can see some of the finished and fired impressed handles I have been doing. My favorite tools for these (at the moment) were a rope, the end of a great pen, and the handle of a sponge brush, accented by little pen divets. Well, little time to write as I must buzz on down to the studio and unload a kiln for glazing.