Tuesday thoughts

I have been back in the studio making things. I guess that seems like a good way to put it. Amy Sanders and I on our way to the Greenwood Friday night where talking about what kind of real connection we had to our work. We both feel sort of in a grey area with what we do. We are stuck on the question of "what is the background behind why you create what you do". The simple answer of " I like to make utilitarian pottery because I grew up in a family who liked to eat and have an elaborate meal", just doesn't say all that needs to be said these days. Most potters have really clear explanations for why they put bugs on there pots, or make a foot a certain way. I'm back struggling with this again. Maybe I've been struggling with this since grad school( maybe in grad school...who knows). Back than I had a direction, a reason since than I have just been trying to get my electric glazes to look a certain way and work and make some money at what I do.
I threw some big covered jars last night. I made a form that was simple and pretty standard I thought besides the fact I changed the flange by making it square. Ever since Julia Galloway's workshop, I've been hooked on the incising method. I've used it along with my springs, my stain application and the resist method. I really enjoy doing it but kind of feel like I'm stealing an idea so I've been trying to work it out with another type of surface application. And still , I ask myself what connection I have to these methods. More and more I think about getting back into salt work and limiting what I do on my surface, change my clay body and start totally new. This of course would take time to work out but I still have not got over an edge to find my niche I think.
Some days thinking to much while your working can stale your brain out. I'm having a stale-out I guess.
Tomorrow night I have a meeting with my Circle of Eight group so no working in the studio. Saturday I THINK we are putting the roof on my kiln shed if my neighbor and Joey can round up some more guys to help.
I'll see if I can get some images up of pots in progress this week.



Moving right along on the shelter! Today Joey and Paul, my neighbor got the posts for the shelter up. I can't believe we are moving right along. It gives me a really good feeling to know that I may have a chance of getting this thing up and built by the time I told the NC arts council I would have the project done!

Tonight its back to the studio. Joey and I are planning on watching a movie together while I work. ( I know....that is so bad to throw and watch TV, there is a "zen" potter out there somewhere on the web who has just wrote me off there list.) But, some weekends this is the only way we can have a date together and tonight I'm just making some slump molds and sprigs so I think I can watch and listen while doing that.

PS. I also listen to MPR and books on tape if that will put me back into anyone good graces out there is cyber world.

Greenwood opening

Amy Sanders and I went down to Greenwood for the opening at the arts council with the Circle of Eight group. The show looked really good and all our work looked great under there glass cases. Amy and I had a good time catching up since we hardly get to see each other that much even though we both teach at Clayworks. The arts council was honoring Ruth Martin who has been teaching art for over 50 years. For many years the Greenwood school district did not teach art in the schools so Ruth would teach private art lessons in her home. I was one of those people who took private lessons from her even though at that time the school district did have art classes. I also worked for Ruth in her framing shop and I was one of two lucky people she asked to be in this show honoring her....that was a treat. She is one of my favorite people from my childhood and I think I realised how important adult mentors are to children. Congratulations
If you want to see more images of the show, I'll be posting some on our Circle of Eight blog in a few days.


Moving Dirt

The bobcat came today and dug/moved around dirt for the swell to help the flow of water into the yard. Here a photo of him dumping and packing down a huge amount around the kiln pad to also offset the water issue plus give me more floor room around the shelter for tables and stacking the bricks for the door. The kids of course where thrilled with this whole process today. Quaid thought for sure today that maybe the digger would unearth some hidden treasure in our yard. ( Wouldn't we all like to seen that.) The guy who was running the bulldozer next door a few weeks ago told me how he's always looking for stuff when he's digging up yards around here in York because there is some story about a bunch of gold or money that was berried by the confederate army around here. Wouldn't it be funny if that story became common knowledge around here. I'm sure I'd find at least half of my neighbors with metal detectors and bobcats searching around there yards in the middle of the night.

I'm off to the Greenwood opening with Amy Sanders. I'll check back in later.



For the most part its been kind of a busy week..or at least my mind has been really busy. Yesterday I took the kids to Shelby to visit my friend Ron, get some photo's of his kiln shed and put some sample bricks and pots in his kiln. Here's a photo of his kiln shed, which I guess we are going to try and reconstruct over my kiln. Ron had a good idea of painting the wood white to spruce it up some for my neighborhood so no one would find it such an eye sour. I guess to save money Joey and a few other guys are going to have to build it. I guess if I can get my parents to watch all three kids, I'll even help and really I should since its mine.

This kiln grant has really taken on a force of its own and once that ball started rolling it has been clear that it isn't going to stop until its up and running and hopefully bringing me new good work. I have really slowly realised how much being a creative person and trying to make a business out of being just that effects everyone around you. I remember Linda Christensen telling me that how when she won a huge grant to build her studio she felt almost grief because she had worked so hard to get there and had sacrificed so much. I didn't understand that statement at the time but the more I bring my family into this life, the more I kind of understand what she said and why.

Anyways, lots of deep thoughts and feelings with bringing this kiln home and what lies before me in this new adventure.

Last night I finished up some new cool slab built trays and mugs, mugs, mugs ( which some still need handles put on). Today I did some much needed book keeping from the last month of expenses. This weekend I would like to fill up all my shelves in my studio with pots waiting to dry and get some surface treatment. Tomorrow night is the opening in Greenwood Sc for our Circle of Eight show. I'll post more about that tomorrow.


Time for tests

The kiln is all boxed up and in the shed. We are making plans for extending the ground in front of the kiln and constructing the kiln shelter but, the real issue is the Insulating fire bricks that I need to coat with something. I've talked to people, I've read stuff and considered some crazy alternatives to the ITC, which most people say is what is needed on soft bricks in a salt/soda atmosphere. As much as people say that is what you need they also fallow that statement with the fact that it flacks off into your pots. Not to mention that it is very expensive. So, this evening I mixed up two formula's to test that I either got from a Gail Nicholas book or one that I read off of ClayArt. Gail Nicholas answer to coating IFB is a formula of EPK, Alumina and Molochite - all equal parts. The other recipe is EPK, whiting and Potash Feldspar. ( At the moment the brake down of that one escapes me but if someone is interested in knowing it, just drop me a note.) Ann had two types of IFB in her kiln ( K23's and
K 26's) so tomorrow I'm taking them out to my friend Ron Philbecks soda kiln and he going to test these for me. I'm also throwing in some test pots with my cone7 glazes on them just to see what happens. As all tests, I can't wait to see what I find out!
Last night I threw mugs and made some little trivet trays. I always have to ease back into my throwing when I've taken a break. I got a cool order a few days ago from the manager of Cedar Creek Gallery. It seems they will be celebrating there 40's anniversary and they are asking all the potters who once worked there to make 40 mugs with something on it to mark the date. Of course the interpretation of 40 is left up to the potter. I love orders like this, it makes creating so much fun. I'll let you know some of my idea's when I get to that point. Chow!


Bringing the Kiln Home

We just got back from our adventure of breaking down Ann's kiln. It actually was not as hard as I had thought or as tiring. It took us about two half days ( we had the kids with us so we had to stop early the first day to save my mother-in-law) and than we finished up Sunday morning. Ann and Stan Riggs where wonderful in remaking the arch form to take the kiln apart and helping out a lot with vital information we will need for putting it back together and getting it up and running. They have a beautiful house and the yard is spectacular. I can see that since Ann is no longer making pots that her new full time job is her gardens. I have to admit when I walked into her studio and saw all the pots that had been made but now yet even bisque I felt sort of bad to be taking all her equipment away. ( I should of taken some photo's of her finished work that she had up on shelves because Ann does make wonderful pots.)
Here are some photo's of us numbering all the bricks so we could box them up and hopefully put this puzzle back together soon. I think we went a little hog wild on our numbering system but the two of us didn't want to leave anything in question so all the bricks, boxes and the way we put them into our shed is in some sort of ( what we think) logical order.

If I hadn't said before, this kiln is a catanary arch kiln so an arch form needs to be constructed before any bricks go up. The arch form helps you put the brick in place and then once the key brick is in, the form slides out and it is free standing. ( If you do everything right!)

Tomorrow night I'm anxious to get back in my studio and throw. I did manage to sell some pots this weekend to a gallery in Greenville NC so I have to start making stuff Arts In The Park in Blowing Rock NC.


Off to get kiln

I've just been packing up pots for a show I'm doing with The Circle Of Eight in Greenwood Sc at the Greenwood Art Council. Next Friday the 27th is a opening. I think it will be fun to go. I'm from Greenwood and it will be nice to see some familiar faces.
Tomorrow we pack up the car and the kids to head down to Greenville N.C. and take apart the kiln I"m getting. If I haven't said it already it is very special to me to be getting this kiln from such a good potter and wonderful women. Since Ann was is a mom also and made pots while her kids where growing up I feel like the equipment will have some good vibes coming from it. Hopefully my pots will turn out as good as Ann's one day.
We will also have a chance to visit with my husbands family which the kids are looking forward too. I'll check back in when we get back. Have a good weekend!


Needing a little pick-me-up Part 2

Today was the big day for my propane tank. The guy I've been dealing with about setting up the tank has been super nice to me and this morning he was all set to get me set up with my tank. But as we were talking about where to put the tank his right side man made an observation that the truck most likely would get stuck in my back yard because.....THERE WAS SO MUCH MUCK~ so, no tank today. Actually it is ok because basically had can set it up once the kiln in build, but still I was a little disappointed.
Muck has really been running rampant around here. The girls have been in very whining moods so far this week, Quaid has been overly dramatic about a host of ridicules things like lost toys,his sisters singing to load and my personal favorite..cleaning his room. I too have still been in the MUCK mode. After unloading my kiln the other day I just looked at my work and really just didn't get to excited about it. I think this must of been some what of a result of going to Articals the other day and seeing all the great work in the gallery. Also, the owner did not get a huge amount of my work, which was a bummer. She said the summer had been slow and she had just maxed out her account with some other work. We'll have to see if she buys any in the fall and than I'll decide weather I should stay with that gallery or switch to another in town.
I'm really having a urge to just ditch the porcelain when I get my salt kiln up and working and just change to stoneware.I kind of think I would have a more universal customer base even if my work still had a female
aesthetic to it.
Like I said at the top, I need a pick-me-up. Maybe I'll make some cupcakes tomorrow!


Needing a little pick-me-up #1

Yesterday and today have been nothing but a consuming "fest" of our water issue in the backyard. Yesterday we had a huge down pour and because my neighbor has basically put a parking lot in his back yard we got a flood in our yard in places we have never had before. With my Italian blood in me my temper was through the roof especially when I saw the mud in front of my kiln pad. Joey and I spent the evening trying to figure out what we could do to divert the stream in our yard if our neighbor wouldn't help out. ( Personally I liked the idea of damming it back into his yard.)
This morning I awoke to this banging, bulldozer sound and when I looked out my kitchen window I could see that part of the driveway next door was being torn up. The one bad issue was the part being torn up was the only part the water flowed the other way towards my neighbors house. AHHHH....so as I was loading the kids in the car I found the one worker that spoke English and he confirmed that this was the case and that part of the driveway was going to be re-poured to flow...well basically back into our yard more.
Long story short, when I finally got home from my gallery visit I was either on the phone to Joey upset or trying to reason with my neighbor about the issue and then finally down to the planning department in town to get some advise. Very stressful day.
The outcome by 6:30 was Joey outside with a glass of wine in his hand laughing and straightening it out with our neighbor. I always tend to get the ball rolling with things ( and get my dander up) and then Joey comes in and smooths it out. I think they decide to grate our yard, put in a swell and I have the option of top dirt in my mud area with the walk way of either stepping stones or gravel from my kiln shed. Lets hope this is over after this.



This weekend was a tuff one for me. The reason's I do not know. Just a lot of stuff biting at my brain with unsettling thoughts. Some days I let myself get hit like this and I let myself get consumed in the muck. Joey and I are both working on being more positive about things especially around the kids. I think when your a real intuitive person its hard because you pick up all the crazy "energy"( lack of a better word) pulling at you weather good or bad. I like Monday's because I can forget whatever little thing just ate away at my brain and would not let me go, and just move on to the next fresh week.

( My kiln glazes did funny things both times I fired my kiln this weekend also and I haven't really figured out why yet). There was something in the air for sure this weekend!

Tomorrow I take pots to a gallery in Charlotte and Tuesday morning my propane tank comes. Lots of other kids things coming up this week as well.

Here are one of my favorite things out of the kiln. My little kids bowls. This photo does not due them justice.


Saturday I went to this great huge fabric store we have in Gastonia called Mary Jo's. I had to get flag fabric because I'm having my mother-in-law ( who is fantastic with a sewing machine) make me a flag/banner for my booth to add a little more flare to my set-up. Anyways, my mom came with me and we went to the mall, which I pretty much never do anymore and we looked at shoes. I noticed in the big department stores how Crock's are the rage these days and I had to chuckle to myself because I had some when they were really just funny looking shoes potters and gardeners wore to work in. You can pretty much get crock's in any shade you want and now the company is making snow boots for kids , flip flops and these kind of shoes boots that remind me of duck boats, which were all the rage when I was in high school. I started to think of how clever the designer was to come up with these type of shoes and how lucky he was that they caught on in some way. Really if you look at someone with them on walking around, the shoes kind of look like clown feet. I have to admit I really don't wear mine out in public for this very reason. Some people can pull the look off but for some reason I feel just short, compacted and goofy looking with them on in public. Come to my house on any given day though and you'll find me in them. On the other hand I think they look great on kids and I love any kind of shoes I can toss in the washing machine - my kids have the K-mart version because $28 bucks spent on kids shoes in out of budget.

After the morning clean up on Friday, this is how the door leading out to my studio looked.


Butterdishes and thoughts

I finally got my kiln up and running again yesterday. I was having a hard time with my "crimping skills" this go around and someone had suggested I find these really nifty screws that will link the element to the wire in no time flat. I ended up ordering them from Skutt and boy was it a breeze. If you ever have issues with fiddling trying to crimp those little tubes they send with new elements, I highly recommend these screw together ones from Skutt. With just a phone call and explanation of your problem they will be able to help you out.

So, my second load of pots is going this evening and tomorrow I'll be glazing. The photo up top are my butter dishes. Each one is different but the form is the same. I love the way they look all lined up here.

While I was driving to work this morning and really enjoying the drive and the day. ( I was having a moment when one says to themselves " boy life is great! The weather is good, my morning went well and nothing is better than some good music in the car radio and a cup of coffee for a commute). So..as I was saying, while I was enjoying my ride to Clay works to teach I was really thinking a lot about my pots and why I make what I do. I have these thoughts a lot. I think some days my heart is really into making these elaborate pieces but my head and energy leads me to the more production, easy to throw forms. I go back and forth on this. I guess I don't think anything is wrong with doing both but some days I get bogged down with wondering if its really a good business decision to go with your heart/hands and not with my head. There are so many things I think about while making my work. There is the selling it to the public and the question of "what will sell". There is that part of me left from grad school that asks "what unique form can you make that will get into a juried national show so you can be recognized with a voice". And then there is a part of me that knows experimenting with forms, glazes and surfaces is important for keeping the creative part of my self interested in doing what I do. There are lots of question we potters tend to mill over in our heads, a lot. Just thoughts today, lots of thoughts.


Making Dinnerware

I've had dinnerware on the brain lately. I guess all the plates we use for day to day use are mostly my rejects. I've bought and traded a few lunch plates with people but most of the dinner plates are mine. A lot of my other potter friends have wonderful collections of different people's work and I'm always vowing these days to buy/trade more handmade dinnerware when I'm out and about at shows and such. I do have a wonderful 10 piece place setting that Joey and I got when we were married by my friend Brad Tucker. About the first two months we were married unfortunately some pieces got broken so I have put it away and only bring it out for special meals. Brad also does not like making dinnerware so I know I need to hold on to what I have because I may not get more! ( By the way Brad, where is that soap pump you promised me 10 years ago? Ha)

So dinnerware has been on my brain because every time I eat off of one of my plates, I really don't enjoy the way food sit one it and looks on it. Either the plates is to huge or the color is wrong. I enjoy doing dinnerware for folks but don't know that the place settings I do are really everyday wear.

This week I've been throwing plates and bowls to make up a new set and see how I like it. I kind of just want to keep going with it and playing with different plates patterns and see what kind of sets I can create out of just my plate design. I have established bowls that I make and sell frequently so I keep wondering weather I should design something around them or start fresh. This setting I've been throwing this week actually is designed around a bowl type I've started making this year. I'm making just four sets of whatever I come up with and figure I can sell these in pieces at some retail shows. When I get one I really like I plan on approaching my galleries to see if they would like to add it to there dinnerware section. I'll get some photo's up soon of these and you can tell me what you think.



Iguess the concrete guys know weather it is going to rain or not because I was totally surprised to see the concrete truck next door this morning pouring my neighbors driveway. But low and be hold it did not rain and I too got my concrete. Isn't it something? What a slab - much more than I had thought it would be and I think it will be great once we get a shed over it and of course the kiln on top. The kids and I had to welcome it and send it some good vibes with some happy hand prints. Of course the kids got a big kick out of seeing the Bobcat bulldozer come in and out of the yard with the cement.
The gas guy comes next Tuesday and the weekend of the 22nd we are off to Greenville NC to take down and pack up the kiln.


Pots - kiln

Here is the outside of my slab...exciting stuff! They had to replace my dirt with better dirt for the footing of the slab. Its going to be 6" thick with some wire in to hopefully sterdy it up some. We have water drainage issues so the dirt behind it is to hopefully help the water drain around the slab...we'll see! Its been raining a lot here so the pouring of the concrete has been put off. Tomorrow the weather again calls for rain so I think now it has been moved to Tuesday.

I've put some photo's of the very narrow vases I made for lilies and other long stem cut flowers. Also there is a photo of the sauce dishes I made. For anyone with small kids these would also be great for small proportions for veggies. My kids love to eat out of little small bowls because they think they are getting a smaller serving of things they don't really like. A deep little bowl like this is very deceiving to the "little"eye.

Day trip

We took the kids up to Ashville this weekend on a little get away. It was fun and we have plans to take everyone back again in the fall. Here we are at the Nature Center in the butterfly house. The Nature Center has been around for a long time and its starting to show in the exhibits, but even though it looks kind of beat up I think people of all ages love to go. They have river otters,bears, bobcats and wolves all in a natural habitat. We than took the Blue Ridge Parkway around to Lake Lure and let the kids play in a stream for awhile. The North Carolina Mountains are a great vacations for families if your ever looking for somewhere new to go.



Hope everyone had a good forth. We grilled out with some friends at the pool and of course watched the fireworks. The kids had a good time which is what I wanted..good memories of July 4th they can the keep with them.

This summer has been a real interesting sort of turn of motherhood in a way. The kids are changing so much and I'm trying to deal and help "mold" ( I guess would be the term) each of their little personalities. I always wish I could spend more one and one time with each of them because I know they need and want it but I have to stretch everything out including the few moment Joey and I have alone and the much needed quiet and down time I need. Not everyone is like this, but I've only needed quiet alone time to get my thoughts in order. Last night I had to sacrifice this ( I was trying to go on a walk on my own) but Quaid really pulled out the stops with tears and telling me how he never gets to spend time with me, so we went on a power walk together. He was happy as a clam and I have to admit I enjoyed the company and all his little questions about life and such. The girls are also establishing there own "self" and soon they too will be full of question and not so much nurturing time that I give them at the moment when they get into little spats or get hurt. Joey and I have realised how much less time we have spent one on one with them because they are twins and spend so much time entertaining each other. Parenting is such a challenge but a good one when you look back on whatever it was you just went through.

Here's a funky photo of a Potato Bug that Quaid found outside this week. My kids love bugs as I do too. I think bugs are really cool and some of them with all the colors of there shells are very beautiful.

Last night I worked on my butter dishes, threw a bunch of little vases to fill up yet more space in my kiln and yesterday I had another good class at ClayWorks. We'll see if I can get a bisque in this weekend and some flower blocks made. Joey and I also may take everyone up to the mountains for a little cheap summer thrill. I enjoy the thought of just waking up Saturday and a being spontaneous instead of the same old weekend routine. Life needs a little mixing up sometimes!



I'm still just making and making and making to fill up my space and load up on work while I'm working on the kiln in August. I have one show in August, a few small special orders and next week I'm going to take some pots to a gallery. Besides that, I'm not that busy with orders and stuff so I'm just making pots and packing them away.

I finished up the vases I was doing and threw a bunch of pasta bowls and then I got inspired to make these small 1/2 cup little bowls. Joey always makes homemade salad dressing for us each night in this little plastic cup and I started to think how it would be nice to make a small bowl with a little spout on it for just this. Well, I didn't put the spout on the bowl because I wasn't sure how many people would be interested in it but small bowls are always good for cooking and sauces. This evening Joey and I where discussing weather I should make something like that and I think maybe tomorrow I'll just experiment with a few and see how they go over. At any rate since I love making small little items and it will be a fun task and I can use some smaller things to tuck around all the larger items in the kiln. The plan this weekend is to tackle some more elaborate pieces like by flower blocks and butter dishes. I'll keep you posted.
Have a good 4th!

And the beat goes on...

I had a reality check yesterday in thinking that I was living in one of those neighborhoods that goes up in 2 weeks flat - new construction. We moved to this neighborhood because all the houses where old and the lots big and lots of privacy. Most of the people at the time on our street where older folks who had lived here forever.You hardly see most of these people even come out of there homes. Slowly the street is being up-dated but still most everyone here wants to keep the integrity of the old homes in tact and not change to much. People who live in small towns with rich history respect this I think. Our home is over 100 years old and we are only the 4th owner. I think that is amazing in a world where people move around like crazy. The guy who is re-doing the house next door is a new construction contractor and as I've said before , he's very young, kind of full of himself and from the get go, the older folks on the street where very ify about what he was doing. Joey and I where just thrilled the house was finally going to have a home owner and we thought the old folks should just except change. Well now I look out at my kiln shed and see this huge garage that is looming over my yard and I think maybe all those folks where right. I've been going back and forth to my shed all week in my usual manner only I know I have no privacy because workmen are always around watching me. I go out to hang the laundry and there they are along with that huge garage. It bothers me, what else can I say. Joey keeps telling me how great it is that the house next door that was in such dis-repair and now has been totally gutted, has just made our house go way up in value. I know he's right about this but all this change to my surroundings just makes me kind of grumpy. There.....I got it out. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the matter as time goes on. I have to remember that this guy is helping me with my kiln slab.



Here are the lidded jars I've been working on. Let me know what you think!

I spent yesterday inside my kiln literally putting the pins in so the elements don't pop out.Last time I didn't do a great job and I had a lot of elements all over the place. So..there is was stuffed in my kiln ( which was a oven) listening to the hammering and electric nail guns going to town. The workers next door managed to get almost a whole garage up in a day, it was amazing to Joey and myself.

I threw some tall narrow vases last night. I'll get some photo's of those up soon. Hope you had a good Saturday!