Weekend weather/splicing elements

I thought I'd start off talking business (even though this weekend has been mostly about fun)!

I spent Friday putting in my new elements. While I was pinning everything in, I decided to add a few extras pins to my bottom row that was coming out of the grove. Well..you guessed it, this is what happened to my bottom element. Split inhalf!I'm sure the neighbors heard many #*&$@*#&@ coming from my shed. I do have a show next week and planned firing everything this weekend. SOOOOO...I got on the phone and located the nearest skutt distributor with elements. I found a place in Charleston SC, which is only about 3 hours from us. The owner told me he could FedEx the bottom element out to me that day and I should have it by Saturday.

Now I hope you all are thinking that we are here in the South with a snow/ice build up. And yes, driving did occur to myself and the nice gentlemen in Charleston SC who was sending the part. So, he suggested I splice my broken element together in the mean time. SPLICE?!?!?! Why I haven't heard of this trick before but I was game for trying it. He explained what I needed to to, which yesterday I did achieve. I haven't yet fired the kiln. Today I plan on turning it on to see if the element does fuse together. I also researched this on the wed. Below you will find a good description of the proper way to do this. I did not have the porcelain conductor since we couldn't venture out in the ice yesterday. I can only hope for the best! As for the bottom element. Naturally it did not get here yesterday and FEDEX does not deliver ground on Monday so it looks like I'll be cutting things close again if this splicing does not do the trick for more than my bisque load.
Onto the fun of the weekend. Our kids have been outside no stop for the last two days. Of course we have the only kids on the block who have sleds and snow attire! We got about 3" or so of snow and since the weather is pretty cold, it hasn't melted like normally. The snow also came down with a little mix of ice so boy those sleds are really fast!!
Of course, Mom was the cramp on the sled yesterday...Paws however did not care for the snow at all.....southern sissy cat!


Wintery Mix

....oh..we are hoping to get some snow this evening! Cross your fingers for us because I'm in need of some white stuff to make my winter complete!

The heaters are going and I'm getting ready to go out and start the path back and forth from my studio to the kiln shed for a bisque. Next Wednesday I set up for the Treasures of the Earth show in Shelby N.C.

This weekend I'm going to try and make up a few glaze tests for this kiln. I may not get to them if the red sled Santa brought this Christmas makes it out of the shed and the kids and I have some fun zooming down the hill on the street!

Fingers crossed!


Rolling Along

Resisting the "girly pots" use to sort of be my M.O. as you'd say. Of course I have never really been able to make a manly pot. I've tried but they always come out...well...just ugly ( I think). I do like manly pots, heavy, salt or wood fired. Of I guess I appreciate those type of pots. I think when I buy pots, I tend to go for color or decoration. The majority of the pots we use however and brown, salt fired , sturdy pots. So here, above, I think I'm finally embracing the girly pot. Maybe all those feeling of trying to please my male professors and fellow male grad students has finally left me. I had some folks show up to my studio this weekend and we talked a bit about some great galleries in the NC mountains for finding great pots. I mentioned that I had tried a few of those places but they just didn't think my work would fit. I then talked alittle bit about how the majority of my costumers where between the ages of 20 t0 60 and where mostly female. I don't have many couples who buy my work together. Usually the husband steps into my booth with his wife, looks for about a minute and stands out in the aisle while she chooses something. I find human observations to be so much fun when I'm at a show.
All the cups I've been making have taken a lot more time to complete. Larger sprigs are harder to work with I think.

Here's a bunch of stuff drying. I'm getting ready to go out for about an hours worth of work than head to Winthrop for class. My routine has finally taken shape now that January is almost over with. I am getting more sleep which has been my main focus so far this year. My art history folks have handed in the first essay of the semester. I tried to make my course more "user friendly" for myself this semester. I was finding that I was spending way to much time on this machine. We'll see if my revamping paid off about mid-semester!
Tomorrow is Friday!~ YIPPEE!


Blue Sky

Sounds to me from what I've been reading that we all are in need of a little sunshine in our lives to get us moving in our studio's. Yesterday was just that sort of day and from what I can see outside, today, at least here in the South its looking pretty sunny again. I think the temperature here today in South Carolina is going to clime to the 50's. Pretty good! I was listening to the news this morning and heard about that huge snow blizzard in ( I think ) Iowa and its looks like some of that storm may be heading our way this Saturday. If it does, once again I'm hoping for some fluffy white stuff and no more RAIN.
Our poor yard is just a mud pit this year. ( Thanks to my neighbor who I ranted about a few years ago.) We have not had the funds to fix this problem in our back yard and it does have some barring also on why I haven't hooked the gas up to my salt kiln yet. The gas truck can't get back into our yard without getting stuck most weeks due to all the flood waters that flow through our yard. GEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR

On the bright side, our flowers will look great this spring I hope! Guess I really need to get out and plant some bulbs soon. We tend to have flowers peeking up through the ground mid-February around here and last spring I really neglected my gardens.
Since it was so sunny yesterday I felt like I got a lot done in my studio. Here are two cups with the larger springs on them and yes, that is the new colored clay I mixed up. The brown is the terra sig I've been experimenting with. I'd like to mix more of that up in some other colors and see what it looks like on my pots.
The first of February I always participate in a show called Treasures of the Earth at the Cleveland County Arts Council located in Shelby NC. Some years I've used this venue to try out
new glazes or forms. This year I guess it will be the new colors I'm trying with my sprigs. I may even try some new glaze colors!
Today is a day for paper work and teaching my class at Winthrop in the afternoon. I really love teaching during the day so I can be home at night with Joey and the kids so that seems to be working out well this semester so far.

You all have a great day and I hope the January "blahhhhhhhs" have passed for us all.



I felt like I was finally on a roll this weekend. The cold rainy weather is still hanging around this part of the country but I am managing to stay pretty warm in my otherwise un-heated studio. I've learned in the last few years where to put the heaters for maximum heat and to make sure I turn them on about 2 hours before I go out to work. Our heating bill here in this old house was so high this month that I think yesterday my studio was warmer than the house because we've just decided to turn the thermostat WAYYYYYYYY down. This kids don't seem to mind being cold and I know it will only last a few more weeks. A few years ago when I was at NCECA I remembered some mugs with lids on them and thought it was such a cool idea that I had to try it. Can you believe this many years later, I finally got around to making some?
Here the covered pot I showed in the last post. I think I'm really getting bold with the springs and we'll see how the outcome is. Still not sure about all this but we'll see.

My twins girls are really going through a stage where each one wants separate time with Mom.
Aydan wanted to come out with me this weekend and make the characters from Winnie the Pooh, while Mckenna wanted to make the Wonder Pets. Each girls asked me to make a house for these little creatures so I'm slowly doing that as well. I wish I could say that my child do hang out alot with me in my studio but sadly this is not the case. My space is so small and I get such little alone time that I have to block out work time and kid time. This weekend since it was so rainy out and I needed to get so much done they did hang out with me and it went fairly well. Maybe one day when I have the big, warm studio out in the backyard with a nice old couch and...did I mention heat..the kids can spend as much time as they want just hanging out with Mom.

Monday I'll start staining some pots and moving them out to the kiln shed.


Thinking containment

Every so often I write about being stuck on something. I find the more pots I make the more I think I'm stuck on certain vessel forms. Here's one......lidded jars. Just when I think I come up with something really neat, I make a few, they sit on my sales shelf for awhile I think "well, maybe I don't have it". And I go back to the drawing board. I did have one lidded form that made several times over and over again for people that seemed to sell well but I didn't feel like it fit with the rest of my forms so I've stopped making them.

Getting stuck is a good thing. It forces me to scan all sorts of books and websites for some inspiration. I always start out this way and then either just start throwing some forms or make a few drawings. This form above is just a sort of "study". I'm going to play with cutting it, altering it perhaps in some way and see where it leads me.

I do always tend to look at turn of the century glass work for my idea's. I found a great site with all sort of blue glass covered jars. Below are just a few that caught my eye.

I love the old fashion covered boxes that housed, I believe, powder on a ladies dressing table. My grandmother use to have a few of these when I was a child and off course I loved that big, pink powder puff that would sit inside. Some of these forms are also candy dishes I believe. My grandmother also had several of these around the house. Funny how so much of what you are drawn to or create comes from some tiny little memory in the back of our brains somewhere. I love that about the creative process and learning why people make what they do.

The form below is what came of my little exercise today. I still have a lot to do on this form and we'll see how I feel about it after I add all my extras on.


Hump day

Boy, today was a wonderfully sunny day!!
It felt great out in my studio and I really enjoyed being out there. Slowly, slowly I'm gaining momentum.

Here is a shot of some new colored clay that I want to try on my pillow tiles and press mold dishes. I'm introducing pink ( I think ) into my mix of aqua, amber and green. We'll see how they look together. I've noticed that so many clay artists lately are really going wild with their color combination. I guess if the application is good and the glaze itself has a good rich texture, you can really pull off some wild surfaces and color combinations. I'm always up for new things but tend to do them in little bits. I like to try stuff, ponder it, take it away and bring it back at a later date. I'm slowly getting some shows planned for the Spring. Please check back in a bout a week or so to see new items added to my side bar. As always, I add new folks to my blog list here and there to take a look for new faces/blogs also. You never know what you may learn!


Haiti and things...

I worked on repairs this weekend and did a little bit of throwing this weekend, but not much I have to admit. I still can not get in the swing of things but I know I will. Is it just me or does the whole earthquake thing on the other side of the world tend to really get ya' down? I listen to NPR alot and of course its one tragic story after the next. I've donated money for flashlights and other stuff. Any little thing I can do I have, but you know its just not enough and you have to wonder how all those poor people are going to make it. I guess the vibe from the radio and just the fact its January may be playing a part in my feeling discombobulated. I'm just feeling alittle off kilter! Onto my part repair.
I am happy to report that after looking closely at the casing around my prongs, I did come the conclusion that I knocked it really hard and that is what caused it to break. Not the fact the element wore it out because it was sort of resting on the above the casing . ( Although, I do know it did not help the matter either .....just in case that tech from Skutt reads my blog! YIKES) I'm waiting on some elements and then I hope I am back in business!
The kids are I went for a hike yesterday at a State Park near our home. I couldn't resist getting out in the warm sun and airing out every one's brains. Including my own! We made a stop at Good Will so they could spend some mad money and a treat at Krispy Kreme ( well..not for me but I sniffed in a few calories). That is how we celebrated Martin Luther Kings Birthday. I was tickled that the girls would tell folks "Happy Martin Luther King day!" when we saw someone we knew. Maybe he's smiling somewhere...
All your Cyber-folks have a good Tuesday!


Not much done...

I don't feel like I've gotten very much done in the last few days. I didn't work in my studio on Friday because I doing some deliveries on Friday ( yes that is considered work....)

Yesterday I spent the day trying to figure out how to get my shelves and other things from Bennett Ceramics out of the box. What a mess!!! I sat and pondered this situation for I'm sure 15 minutes every time I opened another box thinking to myself , " Surely there is a better way to get this junk out of here?".

My friend Sandy Singletary called a few weeks ago to tell me she was moving and offered me any sort of raw materials I needed so this took up part of my Saturday as well. NO complaints there because I love chatting with Sandy and it was so nice that I got all this stuff for FREE! What a friend.......

I had to think about where it was all going to go and do some cleaning for that as well.

Mckenna came out here and there to show me a story about a two friends and an guinea pig. I had to spend some time with the kids as well...plus my sister was visiting. SOOOOOOOOO...

Today I'm locking myself on the porch so I can throw. I get antsy if I think I'm behind on things and I'm sort of feeling this way...(or maybe I've just had to much coffee over the last few days.)


My weekend is set...

Happiness is finding all the parts you ordered for your kiln in boxes on the front porch. Looks like I know what I'll be doing this holiday weekend. Tomorrow I'm going to hang out with my sister and go to IKEA and some other cool places but come Saturday morning...time for some kiln repair. Yippee( someone quick, come examine me! Enjoying kiln repair?????????)



Just like going to your closet to pick out something to wear for a night out on the town or just casual dress for dinner at Pizza Hut...
I have a mug for different occasions. Here is a mug by Mark Peters that is one of my favorite everyday mugs. I think I've had this mug for over 8 years. I love to drink out of it because it is so sturdy. If I have to drink my coffee on the way to school in the morning I know I can finish the cup and toss it on the passengers seat beside me. If I go around a curve and it falls to the floor, no problem, its sturdy and it will survive. I love that about a mug like this! Its also made in the wood kiln and I know that if I have to heat it up in the microwave, I won't burn my lip to shreds when it comes out. Have you ever noticed the difference between a mug that is low fire and is put in the microwave and one that is high fire? Big difference how it takes the heat when it comes out. Of course I buy mugs for how they look and who makes them. There is no way I would not purchase a great low-fire mug just because I feared the microwave, but I do have to admit, it wouldn't be one of my everyday sturdy mugs.

Today Mark's mug broke. So sad...it got knocked just so on the edge of the counter and unfortunately had to go meet its maker in the blue trash can.

I made mugs and tea bowls the other day. I was thinking about this sturdiness factor that I like while I was throwing. Sometimes I make dressed up mugs that are lighter than others but I think most of the time, my mugs are somewhere between dressy and sturdy. Maybe I'm going for that "going to the movie's" type of dress with my mugs.

I know one thing, time to give Mark a call about getting another mug.


Pumpkin crepe' anyone?

I've been slowing getting back into the swing of throwing. I have some special orders I'm working on and I started on cups to get the ball rolling the other day. I always find that its slow getting back into the momentum of making pots and others daily tasks. My New Years resolution was to get more sleep so I'm trying to stay off the computer during the day ( well morning) and work more in the light hours and than do my class stuff and computer correspondence at night. We'll see if it works for me or if I'll have to get back out in the studio at night like I've done for the last 10 years. When I do this, I tend to stay up to late and I want to avoid this. My body clock needs to be re-set from my 20's I think. I no longer can sleep until 9 every morning and haven't, consecutively for the last 10 years but I still think I can stay up every night until midnight, and obviously by the bags under my eye's..I can not. So, it 10:30 right now and I'm running off to bed. But before I do so....
.......this evening I was preparing some yummy pumpkin crepe's for book club tomorrow night. The book club I'm in always has a theme but for some reason last May when it was chosen I must have missed that meeting. I say this because one of my friends called me up and said "have you got any books to suggest for book club next year?" I replied by saying the only book I had read thus far was "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris and I didn't think it was a really deep book for discussion. Low and behold, some how my book got chosen for the month of January and here I am the host and the person leading the group discussion. I do love listening to David Sedaris as I'm sure I've said before on here. I don't have that many discussion questions planned for the book but I am going make everyone sit through a reading of the Santa Land Diaries. I still laugh out loud when I hear David talk about Crumpet that elf. We'll be having some cheese, crackers and some other yummy finger food and yes...always there is wine! For dessert I will be serving Pumpkin crepes. I had fun rolling them around the pan this evening and pretending I was Julia Child's.

Here you go if your one of the few who have never heard about Crupet the Elf! Enjoy...


To answer questions...

(More on the "broken tube". )

Thought I'd answer a question I got below on my "tube issue", just in case someone out there was curious about my conversation with the technical guy at Skutt.

Over the tube where the element hangs down is yes, a broken brick. I am going to replace that element and just put extra pins to keep it secure in the future. I'll just keep checking in and adding pins as the element gets older.That brick does need to be replaced but doing that I will need to take the whole control box off my kiln, than take off the metal casing on the outside of the kiln and after that....well, I think I'll probably have to call the Skutt people again and find out how to get the brick out and new brick in. This sounds like a good project for the summer...

Our Clay guild here in Charlotte is really good about sending out info. on used kiln that "need a little work". I always look at these deals and think, " someone must have time to fix these things, but I don't".

I do have broken bricks in my kiln and my floor is looking alittle beat up so yes, my kiln is in need of what I see as "cosmetic repairs". It is 10 years old and I fire it ALOT. I also fire to cone 7 so my elements get alot of wear and tear. I think most likely in a year or so depending on our living situation, I'll use this kiln as a bisque kiln and save some money up for a new electric. Not to mention I still have my salt kiln out back that needs gas hooked up. So I have many option with no extra cash to fund my adventures. My studio really does run on a dime and a shoe string. I just take all those repairs and options one year at a time and dreams of the day some wealthy benefactor will come my way! HA! Until then, I'll just keep fixing things in little increments at a time.

And yes...the Ron guy is a pottery god!


Happiness is....

is a working pugmill! Handyman PHILBECK showed up Friday afternoon to bail me out of my embarrassing mistake. Boy is it great to know how to take my pugmill apart now and while also being able to ask someone what all those parts are!
It only took Ron like 1/2 to have me up and going. Ron wanted to me to tell everyone that he does work for food, although he wasn't able to eat on Friday because he had to dash back to Shelby.
While Ron was here I was sort of going back and forth with a technical guy from Skutt about my kiln. From just this little photo below he was ready to sell me a new kiln because he said to me "by the looks of just this part, I imagine you need some other parts as well for this kiln"! I have to admit that some days, a comment like this just rubs me the wrong way. Long story short he tried to talk me into a bunch of parts and all I wanted for the time being is just the Tube Assembly because I have to get going on work for a show the first month in February. He has me taking the whole metal casing off my kiln to replace the bricks and everything else under the sun. I was voicing my frustration to Ron when he showed up and he made the suggestion that I should just wrap kiln wire around the tube to hold it together! It got me thinking how if your a real frugal potter who doesn't have cash laying around all the time to fix everything 100%, you can get pretty creative in making it all work someway or another.
(FYI...for those of you who do not know this, that element hanging down on my cases was the cause' for it falling apart although I'm sure the good knock I gave it with a kiln shelf one day, didn't help the matter either.)

Doing a bunch of hard labor can be so rewarding. I still love to get dirty!



I'm so glad everyone enjoyed my "Nimrod" story. So glad everyone got a good chuckle out of it. I do enjoy laughing at myself most of times. I'm sort of notorious for doing ridiculous things so I'm pretty use to stuff like that. And doing lunges...well, I'm a master at multi-tasking so that was a no brainier to getting out of going to our very old and stinky YMCA here in little old York SC.

So, the "shaft coupling" was ordered yesterday and is on route here to arrive sometime tomorrow. My handy, dandy pottery pal, Ron Philbeck is going to hitch up his wagon and come help me out with getting my pug-mill back together. No need to bother my husband with stuff like this. He needs to get going on my new blog/web/etsy site ( plus fixing things is really not his forte..) If you married, and have a husband who is NOT a crafts person but seems to always be pulled into the business...you have space out your favors! So, I'm going to feed Ron and owe him one big time for bailing me out. Lords knows, if I take my pug-mill apart I may never make clay again.

Here another equipment part I've got to order. Have no idea what the name of this is, but as you can see the casing for my kiln setter split apart, which of course, is not good. I need to also add a few shelves to my list since I over fired a kiln...............ah yes, the stories some days just go on and on. So, while I sit here waiting for all my parts to show up, I've been working on my online course, checking up on emails and blogs and re-visiting old friends like Natalie Merchant!
Boy, I use to love to dance around my apartment to many 10, 000 maniacs tunes! You have to admit, she does have a pretty great voice.
The first song is "Candy everybody Wants" . The last song is one of my favorites "Verdi Cries". Enjoy some tunes you all! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ypkQhbaFcU&feature=related


Feeling like a .......


Don't you hate it when you go to bed with such big plans for the coming day? Well..this is where my story begins.......

Today was going to be the first big day back in the studio. Cleaning to do, clay to make, maybe a few mugs could be thrown. What a wonderful vision that danced in my brain right before my head hit the pillow.

Woke up, got my kids feed, dealt with the mornings usually whines and grips, did the 1/2 drive to school and on the way home... sheer bliss in the car with my coffee and NPR and thoughts about clay! Clay, marvelous, guppy, fresh clay going into my pug mill and coming out of the pug mill.

Got my morning chores done, checked a few emails, made some coffee, put on my winter weather gear and out I went! Put the kiln on so the shed would not be freezing. Got my radio set for some good stories and news and started my journey, one bag at a time of scrap clay from one building to the next. I even made a little workout of the whole thing. There I was with each bag doing lunges across our lawn. ( My neighbors already think I'm a little batty so ....) Twelve to be exact all while taking my bags of clay from one building to the next. I tell ya', 12 bags can really give your "buns" a workout. I was so proud of myself. One less thing to do at the gym!

So there I was with all my bags ready to go. Got some warm water to put in the hopper and before I even thought about it, I turned the pug-mill on.

Now, lets think on this...
All across the North East what has been going on?
Cold weather...
And what does that do to solids that have water in them?
Why...they freeze!
And so what was in my pug-mill?
Frozen clay!
And what do you think happened?

Like I said......I feel like an Nimrod.

Tomorrow will be spent ordering parts.


Analytics - who reads this anyhow?

I use to love to look and see who was reading my blog when I first set it up. I use to get so excited when someone way over in Africa was interested in what I had to say! Than I poked around the Google page and realized that I had a huge bounce rate so really, these folks most likely hit something that said "Pots" and saw my kids up on my page and decided to go somewhere else. Long story short, I gave up checking my info. and just wrote.

So, I find it so funny when folks find me before someone who I perceive as being much more visible in the blogging world. The other day I got this email below.....

Hi Jen,
I'm currently putting a book together of stories of successful potters who have carved out home based/internet businesses in particular niches in their industry. I see you have quite a number of members and want to know if you have any members who would like to be published in this book as well as do an interview over the internet. The interview will be put into CD format and they can have a master copy and use it for any type of marketing they want and the same for myself as well.I would greatly appreciate your help.
Kindest regards,Ben Sibley

PS If you want to have a look at another book I've done go to www.plantarfasciitissecrets.com- my background is in podiatry but I business coach in the health field and Im in the process of putting together books of successful people in different industries. I enjoy pottery but being in australia i've noticed not too many have carved out a successful& profitable career so I'm on a mission to see who's done it and help other potters to do the same.

So, I have to admit I never really know what to make of folks popping out of the blue to ask me questions like this. I always think " They must have asked Micheal Kline, Ron, or one of those folks in the UK the very same thing? Surely these guys pop up in the pottery blogging world much more than I do?". Please..raise your hand if you've gotten an email from Ben and been able to help him out with these sorts of questions he is looking for to help his research.

I have corresponded back and forth with him and explained to him that really I don't support our family with my pots. But also with that said, I do pick up all the other extra expenses our family has along with all the other day to day things we all share with our significant others.

I was honest and said that I teach to supplement a steady income that I can't control with selling just pots. But, of course, my heart is always in the studio and wishes I could be there full time. He also asked me if I felt like my blog and the Internet helped my business the most ect. My mind than ventured back to what Ron Philbeck had talked about on his blog a few weeks back. The group.......

I think I really rely on alot of my follow pottery friends. I love being part of a community and having someone around to talk shop with. I think being part of a group is the best way for me to get my name out there more than just putting my photo's up on the web or doing shows. I enjoy helping out fellow potters with inviting them to be in shows with me and hopefully they will do the same for me at some point. Every time I venture to a new workshop or show, I always get other contacts and meet new folks who either like my work or respect what I do. Being able to share information, knowledge and support is really important to me. I think groups are great if everyone is in agreement as to what goal you have weather its just to get together to critique or just to do sales. I'm hoping in the future I will be able to be a part of this sort of thing once again and able to share my enthusiasm for community and helping each other move forward professionally in one way or another.

If your interested in contacting Ben I'm going to post a few more emails between the two of us that you are welcome to read. I'll post his email address. Hope someone out there can help him more with what he is looking for.

Here is Ben's Email if you interested in giving him some information.

Once again, I never know what to think of people who contact me whom I don't know. I usually consult my "people" before replying. The web I think can be a very scary place but also a good place for business and contacts. If I didn't believe this, I wouldn't have my blog.


In comes 2010

I'm not sure I ever thought about getting to the year 2010. I remember once thinking it would be cool to have a child born in the year 2000 and that did happen for me. But last night I was thinking..WOW...its 2010!!

We spent New Years hanging out with some of our local friends and of course the children. We all went back and forth on where to get together and who had the biggest home because out of the four groups of friends, we have a total of 15 children! Craziness can really happen with an age span of 5 to 17. One brave couple other than ourselves took the burden of having all of us at their home and nothing got broken so it was a successful evening.

I'm not big on New Years Eve's since I worked at a bar for years when I was in college and always had to work New Year's Eve. I can remember one crazy New Years where after the clock hit 12 I just hide behind the bar because I had made so much money and had so many drunk people spill drinks on me that I just thought I had had enough!

I'm looking forward to 2010. Can't really explain why but I have a good feeling about this year.

Hope everyone out in Cyber land had a safe and enjoyable evening and I'll be back on line soon with hopefully some pottery talk.