Feeling set in my ways...

...have to admit I've been feeling a bit stagnant in my work cycle for a while. I've gotten sort of use to the production way of getting ready for a show. I sort of know what sells and I'm constantly just filling in the gaps. I can't really remember the last challenging form I've made even though I know I've tried stuff on a whim that has not come out pretty frequently this year. Still in all, I haven't gone for the gusto because I've been OK with bottles, mugs, tea bowls and large bowls. These items pay the bills and fill up my shelves.

So...what's the problem your wondering? Well, that old green eyed monster is back at it with me and I'm itching to get in the game and make some really cool pieces. Guilty as charged..I admit it...I like being in those shows you have to pay for and also cushion my resume'. The last thing I entered was the 500 vase book and after that I think I have been laying low - not really having the drive to really work for something awesome. I work to pay the bills and although this is not a bad thing and actually its a must in our house hold...its not why I make pots. I make pots for the challenge. At the moment I'm get bored and I need a change. I also need a little fire to get me going and nothing does that more than good old fashion competition. Once again...I admit it! I get out on a tennis court and enjoy the game, but I also want to look like I'm a worthy opponent. At the moment in my studio and pottery "life", I'm feeling sort of like the ref. who's on the side lines observing what all the other players are doing.

So, I guess this weekend, if my pug mill is home and working, I guess I'll turn the tunes up, ask Joey for a little time away from motherhood and than try to step up my game. We all need a little push at times. I'm so exciting we have a long weekend to do just this!


Fading fast.....

I was commenting to someone this evening that I have a free week on the web to look for clay "stuff". My online courses are on hold due to summer break so I feel like I have some free time on the web to just play and see what I can find.

I had a pretty productive day in the studio because I hired one of my good friends teenage daughters to come over and play while I concentrated on my studio duties. I couldn't believe how much paper work I had gotten behind on! I had to pack up pots, send in some images for shows and do a good bit of trimming today. I wanted to take a photo of Harvey playing with the kids because she does such a good job but I couldn't really explain to her about my blog and I didn't want to look silly to a 15 year old. Today was one of those days I actually felt pretty thankful for living in a small town where I've really gotten to know my neighbors and can trust a handful of teenagers to come help me out when I need it. Last week one of my friends teenage boys baby sat the girls and did an amazing job. I was thinking how I hope one day Quaid may like to earn some extra money doing the same thing and I would hope since he's the brother of two girls, would be good at this. Most of the kids that help me out have parents who are either creative or have spent a bunch of time doing a variety of activities with them. It really shows in the games and activities they do with my children. Lots of made up games that require some good imaginations and I love this!
Here are some sauce pots that I'm waiting to stain in the morning. I thought alot about that spout and how the sauce ( like chocolate or syrup) needed a narrow spout rather than a large one to help get it from point A to point B. I figure that if the spout is really large, the sticky sauce may go everywhere and "plop" out. Once again, we'll have to do a trial run before putting these out for sale. I've learned some pretty hard lessons about functional pots and people who use them. Always test!

Back to the train of thought about surfing the web for cool pots............
Well, after doing my blog and playing on facebook a bit, I think I'll just go to bed. To tired to surf this evening!


The mole population..

Last week was sort of like working when you have an infant. Only a few hours here and there while they sleep. I was in and out of my studio whenever I could get a break and little people where happy and entertained. I'm thinking I may have to go back to the days and getting a regular teenage "helper" on set days so I can get more done for my shows coming up. Guess I should find one that can drive since I have three people going to different camps on different weeks. Some days I think " what was I thinking!" But, we'll make it work somehow and I'll get my pots done and hopefully they will look good. ( And my kiln won't die at the last minute!)

I have lots of folks ask me for toothbrush holders. Now this is something I don't think I ever thought of making when I was dreaming up crazy serving dishes and anything that would make other potters go "cool idea"! But, everyone needs a place to keep their toothbrush and I needed some small items to fit around some big bowls that are going in the kiln. We'll see how they go over! The new clay I've been trying seems to take the black stain really well. I haven't attempted handles with this clay yet just because I'm afraid of lots of popping and I don't have time to spare for those sort of set backs.
Our cats have been extremely supportive of me this summer. I believe this is the 25th mole I've taken out of my studio since school has ended. Boy they love me! Only two bats so far this summer this because I've had alittle talk to them about that! You would think the mole population in our yard would ban together and move next door. I guess moles are not very smart......
When Joey is out of town he always tells Quaid that he is "the man of the house". What this means is he's responsible for removing all dead creatures that are brought to the house. He usually gets on a pair of rubber gloves, a shovel and wrinkles up his nose while I watch from the kitchen window!


Feels good to work

I've been able to carve out some time in my studio most mornings and evening this week. It feels really good to get back to work.

Here's just one board of pots from last night. A little lightning bug decided to come in a sit on one of those mugs below. In the summer time I have all sorts of interesting bugs that visit me and thank goodness all the rotten floor boards in my shop got fixed about four years ago so the raccoons finally went away! The bugs don't bother me and the cats, for the most part keep themselves entertained with the bugs between naps and meowing to go in while my wheel spins around and around. The bags of recycled clay are mounding up. Here are just a few I haven't taken back to my shed yet. I have about 8 more out there! Today I'm hauling the pugmill to Rock Hill to see if a machine shop there can help me out. Fingers crossed!
I appreciate all the nice words and encouragement with my etsy site. I know its a little ruff but we are off to a good start. Like everything else there are all sorts of in's and out's to etsy that I'm not yet familiar with yet. I just wanted to finally get it up and running and after the next kiln load, I'll put more photo's up. Hopefully if work slows down for my tech guy, he'll be awake at night to keep things listed and check for all sorts of activity going on with all those etsy folks! I've been able to cut my computer time down with my online course and I'd like my computer time to stay that way so I can make more pots.
10am..time to make some beds and get out to work while everyone short and small is busy playing and reading! It seems we need Mom to come up with activities in the afternoon so I better get going!


Etsy up

Last night Joey and I got my etsy site up and going. It still needs a little tweaking but I didn't have time to get all those wonderful, flowery description of my work written down yet. Soon, soon..I needed to run out and make some pots so my tech guy did the best he could.

At any rate, I am up and going with a few pots listed. In time we'll get the hang of it.

The pug mill is still not going....such a bummer. I called around town, no luck on finding someone who can help me out. Today I'll search around the phone book in the next town. So sad being without my pug mill!

You all have a good Tuesday!


Its all in pieces...

I think that must be a lyric to a song of even the name of a pop classic. At any rate, it seemed fitting for my pug mill this weekend. I spent all day yesterday trying to get this thing fixed.
I did get out alot of aggression and I think I must have used some pretty good arm muscles in the process but the rusted barring won't move. DRATS! That barring, as you can see, is so stuck on there! I may try and wack it again some more today after it sat all night in some more WD40. I think on Monday I may have to call around town and see if anyone here can fix motors. What will do if I can't get this things fixed! POTTERY NIGHMARE!!I threw a few things with one of the new Standard clay bodies that I wanted to try. Its a very grey looking clay and pretty stiff. I think it may crack even more than the Helios I use but I"m not 100% sure about that yet. It may not even like the sprigs!

Happy fathers day to all the Dad's out there. We are planning on a little bit of shopping and some lunch today. I hope to get back in the studio tonight because Blowing Rock is right around the corner!


This week with my pug mill..

So here is my barring issue with the pug mill. Doesn't it look like a bear to get off? Joey and I will be back on the case in the morning to see if we can get this thing totally apart and put back together with a new ball barring. This evening we had to go out and get ourselves some new tools for the task. Wish us luck! We are sort of like Laurel and Hardy whenever we have to repair something.... I did start throwing a few pots the other day. I got some new clay to try which is a Standard Mix ( 130) porcelain. Its firing range is cone 6 -9 so we'll see if it works for me at cone 7. As Mike at Carolina Clay said to me the other day when we were discussing my clay issues " Jen, your sort of in a special little category...."! He gave me a few other bags of stuff to try also so maybe I'll report back on those as well.

Below is a photo Joey found of a sea of eager parents at the new Charter school we are hoping to get back into. You can play " Find Waldo" and see if you can spot Joey and I. I'll give you a hint..we are the two with extremely concerned faces in the crowd!
This week I volunteered on and off at Quaid's Boy Scout camp. There he is, my little scout! I had to teach the "Art Badge" to a bunch of little boys his age. Raising a little boy has been such a treat and he's a lot of fun to have around and watch grow. Mothers and little boys are just a unique mix. Especially if they are your first born!


Things that consume my life....

Naturally this blog has not been consuming my life, in fact, these days as I'm sure you all have noticed, its been sort of an after thought!
Yesterday I took a bunch of photo's and my goal today was to post them here on the blog. I'm actually sort of enjoying taking images these days. Its sort of challenge and I'm ready for a bigger and more complicated camera with more bells and whistles so I can really get this photo thing down to a science! ( Of course all with a manual.....)

My pug mill is in a million pieces this evening. The ball barrings needed replacing and if you've ever done that before..well, you know you have to take the entire thing apart. Little did Joey and I know that after about 2 hours of taking off bolts, getting clay out of it and trying to pry it loose that we still could not figure out what was holding it together. Once again...I think I may have to beg my Fix-it man in Shelby to help me out. ( I'm in the process of sweet talking him with some dinner via Facebook!) I guess until I can get my pug-mill back up and working, I'll have buy a few boxes of clay because I have lots to make for the month of July. The pots in these latest photo's where from pots I held back from my last kiln before the Larkspur show. Most of these images are being entered in various shows. There are other images that I'm saving for my etsy page. Yes, yes....its coming. Between my Tech man working more than 60 hours a week and myself consumed in mother hood and my children's education, the new website has taken a back set to even the blog these days. I do enjoy Facebook I have to admit and I keep up with my fan page. Some days that is all I can manage!I'm finding myself slowly falling into that pottery category of women who make pots but don't get as overly excited about new trends and famous potters anymore. I remember these same sort of "Part-time-Mother-Potters" that I use to meet at workshops when I was in grad school. You'd mention some great up and coming potter and they would just say "oh, yeah", like it was no big deal. In my mind I'd think "how could they be so calm about such awesome work". I know now that they where most likely thinking about how they were going to pay for dance lessons for their daughter or maybe the fact they couldn't apply for two shows in one month because they just wouldn't be able to find that amount of time to make enough pots for two shows. Yes, these are the things that now consume my life. Dance lessons, play dates, manners and school.

Joey and I skimped and saved to send our three to a wonderful private school for four years. It was great! Our only worry was the money aspect of it. Every year we'd wonder how we could keep it up. This year we got an opportunity, as I've said before, to send out kids to a new charter school in our area. They all three got picked in the lottery back in February. We weathered the storm of telling them they would change schools which caused lots of drama that was consuming for a few weeks. This weekend we learned that the charter school we were all set to send the kids too had to cut back from 1200 students to 600. Quaid made the cut but our twins are waited listed again......

Once again, my mind is consumed with what to do now that is best for our kids. Hard to think about pots in times like this. When your a female, I think you want to talk and gather as much information as you can on any tuff situation....I've been on the phone, checking website, emailing and just being a general stress ball about the whole thing. Night and day its all I think about.This saga will continue and in the mean time I need to tell myself that I have obligations to shows and folks waiting for work so I have to get back to work.

Maybe picking up some clay and turning on the tunes in my studio is just what this Pottery Mom needs!



My mystery plants finally bloomed last week. I'll have to look them up and see what it was I actually planted! I've unpacked from last weekend, took a little break from work and am now waiting on some parts for my pugmill, which is in need of yet another repair.....
I'm also dividing pots up for photo's, shows and orders.
Our girls turned 7 on Friday. We took them and another set of twins to the Columbia zoo for the day. It was a fun adventure and they had a blast. Next week it back to business for me I hope. A weeks break from clay is long enough and I'm sort of antsy to get back in the swing of things. Many camps to drive people back and forth too but the children are pretty good at entertaining themselves for longer stretches than when they where 3 and 5 so hopefully I won't need to hire a babysitter while I try to get some work done during the afternoon and morning hours. We'll see how it goes! I know the summer break is a short one but mine is also packed with two other big shows so I can only enjoy part of the relaxation of having no kids in school for 3 months.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!


Barns with Platters

My friend Blaine Avery has a wonderful post card with a shot of his studio, which looks like a big barn and he has all these platters hanging up on the side of this building. Its a great shot! I was chuckling to myself this weekend when I picked up his card at Larkspur and saw this image because I was thinking of my little kiln shed out back and the few platters I have hanging up on the outside. ( Maybe Blaine will send a photo of his shed so you all can see his photo...)

Last week I once again had platter woes with the small cracks in between the scalloped edges. I swore I let these platters dry slowly but the clay I guess just did not like the cuts on the side. Here is the amber platter in my wheel barrow. Yesterday I did some gardening and was transporting the platter from the shed to the house. Just thought I'd share.

Today I'm ordering a part for my pug mill and taking some photo. This evening Joey and I are going to see the play Wicked. I can not wait for another fun outing with my hubby!


...more from Larkspur

Since I've done Larkspur for the last ...oh I think 11 or so years, I've always marveled, as does everyone else, how at 10 o'clock on Saturday the folks just run to any and all of the garden art that is for sale. The first few years I would just stick to bringing my pots to the show than I caught on that maybe some planters would be a good idea. These sold alright but it wasn't until 2 years ago that I finally just told myself that I needed some sort of item on a "stick".
The first year I did this, I made fish that looked like birds. I only made 6 of them and with in the first 15 minutes...they where gone. The most comical part to this story is the fact that since we all like to sit around and laugh at each other, that year I became the brunt of many jokes about putting anything I could find on a stick and selling it!

This year since I knew I had many great potters to compete with I once again came up with something on a stick for the garden art folks and boy did they fly out of there super quick.

Once again I was the brunt of alot of jokes....especially from my pal Brad Tucker so.......
Here you go Brad, one last gab about my houses on a stick!


Larkspur Stories and Photo's

Larkspur once again was a ball! It was also really hot and full of people! No big deal about the weather because all that meant was that we drink a lot of water, get a little delirious and had a lot of good laughs together while we where selling our work. I think this year France had the most craftspeople than any other year. It was wall to wall tents everywhere around her wonderful gardens. Above is a photo of my tent and next to me is Tim Turners pots and paintings. Below is just a sneak peek at one of the my shelves.
The photo below sort of depicts what we do every year...basically sit under the shade and play musical chairs depending on which of us has a prospective customer in our booth that needs some attention. Other than that, we just sit under a big tree and talk shop and cut jokes back and forth at each other all day long. If you look closely you can see that Ron Philbeck made an appearance and looks like he fit right in on the banter back and forth!

Many of my friends where here but I only got a few booth shots that actually warranted some viewing up on my blog. Sorry goes out to Laura, Blaine, Betty, George,Jen, Brad and Lisa and so many more wonderful craftspeople.

My little helper that came with me ended up not wanting to tag along with Mommy for once. One evening of waiting around while Mommy put up the tent and hauled boxes back and forth from the truck was about all she could take. She ended up swimming, visiting with Grandma and some cousins and having all the attention one 6 year old twin could possibly want.
It was a great weekend! This week I plan on catching up on house stuff, yard work, some quiet time with my children and getting into the swing of the summer. Next week I think I'll start potting again...but you never know!


Heading out!

Aydan and I have the truck all packed up and are heading out to Larkspur. I'll be coming home with some photo's of the weekend. If your in the Raleigh area please come by and say HI! Pots packed!
Peek in the kiln yesterday evening!

A few plates!

Hey...my mystery plant has blooms! Hope they are still around when I get back...
Aydan is very excited about her weekend with me. Her Zhu-Zhu pet is excited too!


From the kiln...

Just a few quick images from the kiln. These bottles below where my favorites from this last firing. I think I'll keep these and enter them in a show. Guess its time to look through all those prospectives I sent away for last month! This is one of the cream and sugar sets I was working on. I still hate tray. Guess I need to find some great potter who loves making trays and take a workshop with them.
If your wondering what the little dish in the middle is for..well, everyone needs a tooth-pick.

Nice set a tumblers here. Someone asked for some smaller ones for their bathroom so I scaled these down a bit.

Last but not least is a teapot that I've grown found of. Well the shape is really what I like. Its hard to find a teapot shape that you like and works well. I think this one might be it for a while. I'll have to make some more next month.
I"m off to bed. I'm looking forward to getting on the other side of next Monday.