Thursday, November 8, 2012

Setting up for Carolina Pottery Festival

The 12th annual Carolina Pottery Festival is on Saturday and this year we have a venue change. So I have spent a huge amount of time in the past few weeks getting the radio and newspaper ads corrected and notifying potters and public alike. Honestly, I've never worried or even thought about how one would handle a location change for a festival of this size. We had to find another place in a hurry because of an E.Coli outbreak that closed down our other venue. So, with just 2 weeks before the festival, we had to go scouting a location with about 20,000 square feet of indoor room, accessible parking , blah, blah, blah.......
At the last moment we were able to secure indoor space at the Cleveland Mall. Very nice venue and today we laid out some of the booths and will finish tomorrow.
Hope you can come out and see everyone at the Festival. And go home with LOTS of pottery!

Carolina Pottery Festival, Nov. 10th, 10am to 4pm
Cleveland Mall, 2001 E. Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC

Monday, October 29, 2012

Holiday Designs

These are some holiday designs I'm working on. The wall pocket vases are a design I started about 2 years ago, combining a vase with a wall hanging container. They also are great for pencils, utensils, etc. One lady told me she put her glasses in hers so she knew where they were.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wisdom from the Life of Pi

Don't know if you've read Life of Pi, a novel by Yann Martel, but I highly recommend it if you haven't. I was so taken in by this book that I had to do an internet search after I read it, trying to get more data on the story itself and the background of the story. Anyway, won't reveal anything of the plot.
One of the things I like is a forward or Author's Note. When I got to the end of the Author's Note in this book I was moved to tears by the following quote and have taken it up as an artist's banner of what this world might be without artists and their visions:

If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.  Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Carolina Women Today

This nice mention in the Artist Corner of September's Carolina Women Today magazine was courtesy of my friends Randy McNeilly and Janet Workman Berry. It was a fun afternoon with them in the studio.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

fall musings

Wow, time did a warp speed jump on me. One moment there were loads of golden days of summer ahead and the next moment it is chilly in a lovely way in the evening and Indian summer during the day. I love the surprise of the leaf color changes and the smell of wood smoke in the air.

I've been busy with lots of new colors and some new designs. I have been working on these platters for a gallery in the Northeast. They're a larger size version of some fish trays I have been making for a long time. Having lots of fun on them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why does it cost so much to ship pottery?

Was checking on one of the orders I shipped out last week and got this nice response:

"Hey Vicki,

The shipment came and everything looks great! I have to say you are by far the best pottery packager I have seen thus far. All of the pieces look great and I love how you sign everything with NC on the bottom. That alone is a huge selling point. We put everything out in the shop yesterday and we already sold one of the coffee mugs, so I hope that is a sign of quick sales. I look forward to working with you more as we grow."

Shipping pottery is interesting. Maybe you've wondered why it costs so much. About 9 months ago I was asked just that very question by a wholesaler. The short answer is that it is heavy and prone to breakage. The longer answer is that you have to use a LOT of packing materials to get your precious cargo there safely. There is an art to packing.  Knowing my work well, I put extra bubble wrap around things like handles or any decoration that sticks out. Then I aim for 2 layers of bubble wrap around top and bottom. And a layer of green shrink-type wrap to hold it all together. I like the green stuff rather than tape so that the bubble can be reused. Then pieces packed in snugly together with peanuts in in any open spaces inside a box that has 2" clearance all around in another box and the spaces filled with peanuts.

This is how I recommend packing pottery to anyone who buys my pieces and wants to send them as a gift to another part of the country.

I buy most of my packing materials from an outfit in Charlotte called Box It Up. Whenever I have to go get clay supplies, I try and restock any shipping boxes or peanuts at the same time. What I really love about this place is that they sell recycled peanuts in a huge bag. Two of the bags fills most of my van.

And I'm lucky enough to be able to recycle boxes from Wilkinson Animal Hospital, my husband's business. Veterinary hospitals receive their vaccines and refrigerated medicines in these solid styrofoam boxes with cool packs to keep everything chilled as they are shipped. Those boxes are great for shipping because they have the styrofoam as a super sturdy cushioning material. And they get at least one more use before someone throws them away. In the studio I use them to transport or store pieces and as a damp box. And you can always repurpose them as a cooler for drinks or for fishing.

Well, there's the skinny on shipping pottery.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All the colors of the rainbow

I was the girl that coveted the BIG box of colors on the first day of school. No 8 or 12 basics would do. I NEEDED periwinkle blue, topaz, emerald green and all shades in between. I still love the sound of colors in English, French, Spanish. They're like poetry to me. So, no surprise that I am working on expanding my palette. Will fill you in on the results plus a great trick I figured out on a quick and easy test that doesn't involve weighing lots of ingredients.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sock Monkey Product Shots

Been working on some shots of these little pendants that I make. I have been using some new glazes and wanted a nice funky photo, so that's where Sock Monkey comes in. This is a sock monkey my grandmother made for one of the children. I have changed the sex (I think), because originally this monkey had little fuzzy furry looking doodads on it's legs. I temporarily removed the said "doodads" (which is Southern speak for a rather useless piece or thing that you know not what to call, but have to give some designation). Got her (him?) all decked out in beach finery, posing with all this pottery bling around her (his?) neck. The other shot shows how I intend to ship these pieces to arrive at a lucky person's door.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Earth and Fire Festival

I'll have work here through the month of July. Lots of great work by over 20 potters. I have some luscious new glazes that I am very excited about, so hope you get out to see. Plus, the gallery is in an old converted train station that is just beautiful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mailbox surprise

Ron Philbeck emailed me that I made the cover on this latest issue of the Wholesale Crafts Buyers Guide. I had to run to my post office box to retrieve it. You can see my green Koi Crescent Platter in the far left at the top. Thanks Ron for the heads up! Been busily working on new work, new glazes, new photos, firing the kiln, etc.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chalises Commissioned Work

These are a few examples of 30 chalices that I was commissioned to make and they were picked up this week. It was a very nice commission in that I got some leeway on design and color selections. They did not want them all to be exactly the same. So I worked with a new sprigging technique for the grapes and the wheat designs. I'll talk more about that later and show how I came up with it. It's an old idea, recycled!

Studio Open House, May 19 and 20

Silly me, I forgot to state the date and times........

It's Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5pm

Bluegill Pottery
4522 Wilkinson Blvd.
Gastonia, NC 28056

Time keeps slipping away

Where did the time go? Been busy cleaning studio, unpacking from the Claymatters Sale last week and getting orders out. Hope you can come out tomorrow from 1-5pm and Sunday from 1-5pm. I've got some great new pieces..........

Monday, May 7, 2012

New Crescent Trays

One of the crescent trays I'm working on. Still has to dry and be cleaned up. The trees are a bit more stylized than previously and I've worked on sketches of all different types of trees. I'll be adding some color with underglazes. More to come later

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Amy Sanders DVD

 I saw a little blurb on this on the Ceramics Arts Daily site and got really excited because I know Amy, enjoy her work (a little textured plate hangs in my kitchen), and have seen her demonstrations at our Carolina ClayMatters Guild meetings. I also love texture and the little teaser they featured got wheels rolling in my head. So, I ordered the DVD set and it is great.
I even watched several of the DVDs while working at the studio because I was having trouble finding the spare time at home.
Here I'm holding a new roller that I have used on a lotus leaf tray. I have make about 4 new rollers for use on my botanical themed pieces and am so happy about them. She has a great idea for trays that I intend to incorporate into my work. Just wanted to share some clay inspiration. I'll have some of the new textures at the Claymatters sale in Charlotte on May 12, and also at my Spring Open Studio (more about that soon).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Charlotte Spring Pottery Festival

I'll be here on May 12th, in Charlotte, along with the rest of the gang from Carolina Claymatters. But we're playing rotating boothspaces this year!That's because the city has fenced off the Barn so we will all have different spaces than before, more than likely. Will try to have a sign out in front of the booth or on the tent so I'm easy to locate. I have GREAT new work that I'm really excited about. Come out, bring friends and think good weather, no wind thoughts.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Van Gogh inspiration

Van Gogh style trees were the inspiration for this whimiscal candle holder. My, those birds that built those nests must be huge!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tuscan Landscape Piece

The finished images of the Tuscan Landscape piece I was working on a few months ago. These three shots show the various uses- regular candle holder, a menorah and a vase. I learned a lot from making this piece and will probably tinker with it some more. The removable trees and birds' nests were fun but getting a really good fit for the candles is something I want to imrove on.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

I just love this print. It says SPRING to me. Our cherry tree on the side yard has blown itself into full bloom and the wind is sending down a lovely rain of lightest pink blossoms. Standing beneath it and tugging on a branch to get a shower of flowers over the dog and myself was a guilty pleasure that I indulged in yesterday morning. And then in the afternoon I had to drive 20 miles in order to deliver 2 canvases to Shelby for their MYSTERY ART event that starts on March 29th and all along the highway was a wonderful palette of brilliant redbud trees (in a shade that I covet for my pottery of chrome-tin violet), shy dogwoods with the faintest pale greens of leaves cupping the tender white blossoms, rolling spring grass green hills and dark greeny black pine shadows behind. More on the Mystery Art later, but enjoy the color in your world today!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Glaze Refire

It's been crazy around the studio and in life lately. Our daughter got married in California, so we have been cross country hopping and trying to recuperate from time zone changes and squeezing our bodies into those extremely comfortable tiny plane seats.
I have been having a problem with pin holing in two of my favorite glazes, but it almost always happens on my mugs. I have tried refiring before but it's not usually been successful, in fact, it usually gets worse. So yesterday I tried refiring a collection of pinholed mugs and some bowls that I didn't like the glaze results and eureka!! The thing I changed was firing at 2 cones lower and doing a fast fire instead of a slow fire. The true test will be if it's repeatable.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sometimes you just have to be flexible

I had a boy scout troupe coming last Thurs. evening to work on a project for their art badge, so I figured out what I thought we could accomplish in a little over an hour and had made a model of a dog sculpture that they could make from 2 pinch pots and some additions of clay. I figured I would give them a choice of whether they wanted it to be a bank or a rattle. Simple.

Well, the guys arrived and I started to describe what we were going to make and their originality quickly asserted itself. They thought the dog idea was fine, but each one had an idea of what they REALLY wanted to make. So..............breathe deeply and become flexible. They did an awesome job and seemed to have a good time, too. Cherokee was a big hit. Everyone got to pet him and I swear his skin was probably tender from so much love!

Dino egg and Eagle

Pig (left) and Frog (right)

Elephant and Hamster with mohawk

They do all rattle though!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Koi Work

A bone dry Koi tray that I have done the underglaze work on. The underglaze colors are very deceptive because they look washed out. However, once they are fired they will really increase in vividness. I'll try to get a shot of them at that stage so you can see the difference.

Next it will be bisque fired, then glaze applied and wiped off and other layers of glaze applied. This is a simplification of the way I first started making these trays and I am very happy that I changed my process. I used to put the underglaze colors on at the bisque stage and really had to juggle not wiping the color off as I tried to glaze them. And if the color is not vivid enough, I have another chance in the bisque stage to apply more.

A finished piece.

Detail of finished piece below.

This shows how I appled green glaze all over the piece then wiped it from the fish images and brushed on clear glaze over the fish. The green glaze went into the carved areas and it's color is changed to a steely blue when the clear goes over the top of it.

These will be heading for a gallery in Massachusetts as soon as we work out the details of the rest of the order.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Potter's Palette at NC Pottery Center

If you look really hard, you can see my painting at the top left corner. Hope you're able to either attend online or in person! Probably preaching to the choir here, but having the Pottery Center is a huge benefit for the craft of pottery in the state and I'm honored to support it.

I'll also have a set of ginkgo trays at the benefit that show how I portray these images in clay.