Shows and Friends

I'm in a few shows this October so I thought I'd put some links and thoughts about a few of them up this evening. Here a shot of my glass blowing friend and former boss Lisa Oakley. Cedar Creek is having their 40th Anniversary and on the link you can read a wonderful letter Lisa wrote about all the years it took for her father and mother to start this great gallery and the effect it had on the potters who had studio's there, the staff that worked in the gallery ( such as myself) and there family. Reading this note from her made me feel better about all the hard decisions and up and downs we go through with myself trying to make it as a potter so I can do what I love to do. Lisa, her Dad Sid and my good friend Brad Tucker always had great stories about the "early" days at Cedar Creek and I use to love to hear them laugh and talk about some of the wacky things they did to stay afloat. Here's the link if your interested - go to "A note from Lisa" to read what she has to say......Cedar Creek Gallery.

Another show that I'm in is a cup show at the Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts. I just got the card for it the other day and saw some great names on there like Gay Smith and Julia Galloway just to name a few. To have my stuff anywhere outside of NC/SC always thrills me to death. Its so cool to think someone way across the US has one of my pieces.

So far the weekend has been pretty good. The Circle of Eight group met Friday night for a meeting at Julie Wiggins house. Of course our dinners are always great, served on great pottery and we all have fun catching up with one another. Today I took the girls to a really good birthday party where the theme was "camping". The parents of this girl put tents and a boat out in the yard and had camping stuff for them to do. It was great not to have to go to another Barbie birthday and the 4 year olds had a blast.

Joey, Quaid and my father started to clean out the furniture from the 97 year old grandmothers house. She has moved in with my folks and in turn is giving away basically everything she has. It is great that my kids now there great grandmother and that she is not living alone anymore. Its comforting to know my parents are right there with her if anything happens and I enjoy getting to see her more since I'm at my folks a lot during the week.

Tomorrow will be another kiln day!



Its 2 pm and I just finished lunch. I typically eat my lunch while I check my emails and such. The girls have had there snack after a long ride home from school and they are playing princess and princess kitty. ( Aydan is down on all fours carrying her stuffed kitty's in her mouth while Mckenna is in a princess dress with a real baby doll.) I like these afternoons when the girls and I just come home after there time at school and we can relax. I think I'll blow off my house work and play with them a bit after I get done with this post
This morning I packed up pots for my show at Gaston College that I will set up tomorrow morning. I decided not to have a big reception at night because I wanted to entice students to sign up for my throwing class in the spring. I'm going to demo and than at lunch we'll have a little reception. As I've said in a few post Joey and I are squeaking on by to keep the kids in private school. I have to come to the realisation that next spring I need a lot of teaching gigs and a regular pay check to pay off debt and keep the kids in school. Last week we also took Quaid to the doctor for some ADD issues and have decided to put him on medication.
Yesterday I had a wonderful conference with Quaid's teacher who said that he is so bright and such a unique little boy with so much potential that hopefully this will help him sit still a bit more and focus so he can be to his full potential. This school is just the best environment for kids and I have found all the teachers to be so caring and put forth so much effort with teaching that my hearts just breaks to think we may have to give it up and put the kids in a very low rated public school here in York where over half the kids are on free lunch, the classes are huge and all the state is concerned with is over testing the kids so they can meet there score requirements. I think Sc schools are some of the lowest in the nation for scores. I attended Sc school when my family moved here in 1981 and I know from experience that the system was nothing like what I had in upstate NY. My parents even made me finish up my requirements the summer of the junior year and sent me off to college so I would not have to waste another year in high school there.
Its amazing how much you will sacrifice for your kids. I much rather have the kids be dressed well and look clean and polished than myself these days. ( I use to be a real cloths hound and really spend lots of time on myself). There is a new Suave shampoo commercial where the mom goes from dating to marriage to kids and you finally see her in a bunny costume with her hair all in tangles and of course the commercial talks about Mom's letter themselves go. I can totally relate to this. I never thought I'd be buying my cloths at Walmart but I do and they are mostly sweat pants!
Anyways....in the spring hopefully I will be able to really get some teaching gigs and that means I'll have to forgo all this wonderful time I've had this fall in my studio. I plan on making the best of it and enjoy the non-stress I've had so far. It has been wonderful but at this time it doesn't help much. We'll see how the up coming shows go and take it all one day at a time. I know the kids are happy where they are and that matters the most to me.
Well speaking of that, I'm off to play the "Queen" with the girls. Tonight I teach, which is always enjoyable.


New Shape

Here's the new flower block shape. I still love the old one's and won't give them up but I'm trying this one due to the feet issues I've had with the oval ones. I'm not even sure if I'm sold on these type of feet being on this form, we'll see. I made 3 of these so who knows if they will survive the glaze kiln or not.

I did take some photo's of the finished work that came out of the last kiln load but my camera is so bad that the glare just did not do them Justice. maybe I'll try again tomorrow in an outside location.

Lots going on with me this week...parent conferences, packing pots up for shows, finishing up special orders, getting ready for my solo show ( which I'm putting up Friday) and lots of family financial stress - never good for the body or thought process. I'll talk about all that maybe tomorrow. Its been a long day and I really need some shut eye. Tomorrow morning I glaze!


Start of the week

I had a good start to my work week today. I cleaned some shelves, started loading a bisque and finished up some new flower blocks. ( I just can't seem to get away from them). My last set of flower blocks in the last kiln I fired all had "foot"issues. Basically the feet either pulled away from form when they where firing or I had glaze runs that broke off little bits of the foot after the glaze firings. So....I'm taking a break from that shape and this time made a boxy shape with different kind of feet. I'm determined to figure out this puzzle and have some sort of flower block design be a regular thing I make in the inventory.
I'll get some photo's up tomorrow!


Back of Kiln

Here is the finished result of two days of work. This part proved to be a bit more labor intensive than the other part. Joey helped me a good bit yesterday. He was a the brick cutting man while I looked for the pieces of the puzzle in all the boxes that went with this project. Today I finished up where we had left off yesterday and next will be the chimney.
I keep looking out into our back yard not believing what I'm seeing. After we got married and I became a mom pretty quick, I thought for sure this would never happen atleast until I got Quaid into high school and I was working pretty much full time to save up money to build a kiln. It has taken so many years to be comfortable with my electric work that I was starting to get to the point where I told myself, maybe it would be ok to keep exploring all the electric options that are out there. Now, here I am ready to go back to what I loved doing in school. I now my forms have evolved and I've learned a lot about selling my work and making good use at the spurts of time I have in my studio. Hopefully this new direction will push me a bit further into the ceramic field and branch out to a broader customer base. I really don't like to think about what I make in a money making way, but really when it comes down to it, I'm making a product that I want to sell. And I need to sell a lot of because when your a part time potter, your really just a hobbyist. I feel like I am gaining momentum finally but I still have a good ways to go to really find my voice a bit more with what I do. So, I have this great little kiln that is just begging to be done and fired soon! I am anxious to see how the first firing goes and how the kiln holds up. Next up....the chimney!



Guess I've been gone for awhile when it comes to posting what is going on. It seems that I've just been to tired to stay up and post and during the day I've had to many detraction to think about what to say once I've gotten on here.

At the moment Joey and I are taking a lunch break from working on the back of the kiln. ( He's actually making a garden minestrone soup for tonight while I'm blogging.) I would really like to just knock out the rest of the kiln this weekend. Once we get the back on, than we need to work on the chimney up to a certain point, than I need to get more bricks to build it up and out of the roof of the kiln shed. I of course had a plan on having it totally done this September but our funds are so tight I don't know how I'm going to save up enough money to pay for the gas and the coating for the inside. Unfortunately today we had to have one of those dreaded money talks, always a bummer. I had 3 classes that didn't make this fall which I was planning on and its really put us in the red. Its tuff but you just have to keep pushing along and make some difficult decision about life. We've been doing this since Quaid was born and we are both pretty tired of it.Enough of that....

Here are some things I made this week. I'm happy with the new direction I'm going with keeping some of my clay body showing through. I'm sorry I haven't posted some photo's of the new work that has come out of the kiln but I don't have the best camera and whenever I think about taking a photo, its always when the sun has gone down and the lighting is bad. I'll try to make an effort to get some photo's of finished work up soon.

Stay tune for some kiln photo's!


Mid Month

I looked at the calendar today and had that feeling of shock that September was almost over and October will be here very soon. I feel like October is when my fall race starts. All the holidays, shows, field trips and trying to find the time to enjoy it all is right around the corner. Last year I made a real effort to enjoy my family time because is other years, the fall had been a blur. I'm still going to try and stick to that promise I made to myself this year as well.
So..on that "October thought", I have a one man show that is going up at the end of next week. YIKES! I do have some pots put a side for it but as always I want some new things so I've been busy these last two evenings and today. Tuesdays are my long day in the studio because Joey takes the kids to school for me and my parents get the girls at 12:30 so I have until about 1:30 or so to work. Today in my neck of the woods, the weather was just wonderful and being out on my porch throwing was the best. Today was a day that you wanted skip around and whistle a happy tune. ( I guess I've watched Snow White a bit to many times...)

My mother-in-law, who is whiz with a sewing machine sent this to me last week. I didn't have what I needed to hang it up for my show last weekend but I will proudly hang it at the Claymatters show in October. I'm slowly going to start getting my inside booth together for the big show I'm doing at Thanksgiving in Raleigh. My tec guy listed a new side bar with all my shows. I'm sure I'll be adding more as they come up so keep checking back.


Sunday I did work on the kiln a little bit. Lots of kids around eager to help so I spent most of the time distracted while trying to figure this bottom part out. I have run into a bit of a snag here. I'm replacing all the bricks that go around the burner ports with hard bricks. Ann had mostly soft bricks here mixed in with a few hard so the levels for the wall are now off a bit. Joey and I decided that I would just have to cut and shave down the next level to fit snugly on this one. In other words I'm going to have to cut some sort of joint places that fit around the hard brick so I can level out the next row. I did plan on working on that yesterday but in the morning I had a sick child so I lost that work time.

( The wine glass is Joey's so don't fret that I'm trying to do this with a little "buzz" going. Aydan jumped into for a photo opp because she felt like I needed some help from a T REX that day.)


Sunday thoughts

The Circle of Eight show yesterday was really good and I think successful for all involved. We had a pretty steady flow of customers and as always , there was a certain kind of pot for everyone. I still enjoy seeing how we all do really different types of work and I enjoy seeing new pieces by each of us. Having Mark Peters work there with us sort of made the whole circle of different types of firing complete as well.( I guess all we need is a raku person and then we would be set!). I enjoyed visiting with Mark and talking about the days we use to work together and catching up on new stories about his kids and such. Its amazing to me how fast times goes by with out you realizing how long you have really known a person. I've known Mark 17 years and I never would of thought I'd be selling pots along beside him. Good show, good friends, good weather and good company!

Here on the home front today was equally as good. The weather was nice, we all got to sleep in, relax and play without to much running around. Joey got to cook one of his fabulous meals and watch the Panthers play. Quaid had a buddy over and Aydan got invited to her first play date by a class mate. Now, this may not seem like a big deal but to me and Aydan, it was exciting. I didn't know the mother or the child so I drove Aydan to the home and had a pleasant conversation with the little girls mother before leaving her by herself. Why this part of the day sticks in my mind now at 12 o'clock is because while having a conversation with the mom, she explained to me that this little girl was having problems learning in school and she was asking me different questions about the teaching and what Aydan has learned. I observed that while the girls where playing near us that this little girl did have some trouble speaking and it reminded me of myself when I was little. I wanted to assure this mom that her daughter may have some issues in school with learning but she would be ok as long as she had parents behind her that stuck with her getting through school. I also wanted to say keep her self esteem up while she is struggling to just get through all the work that seems foreign to the way her brain learns. Seeing your child struggle with something can be so hard. Now that I'm a parent I can only imagine how my parents must have felt when they discovered I had learning problems. They also must of felt like they had accomplished so much when I got through school and was able to go onto college. They still stick by me with what I finally decided I loved to do and they have supported me from the beginning.

Like I said, it was a good day to just sort of sit back , relax, reflect and be thankful for all the good things that happen to each of us.


Fall Circle of Eight show

Here the information on the Fall Circle of Eight show. If you want to come see what new things all of us are working on, take some time out of your Saturday! And an added bonus, if your not familiar with Mark Peters work, come see his great group of wood fired pots!

Fall Sale......... Sept 15 from 10 am till 4 pm
1225 Dade St,
Charlotte NC 28205
704 *650* 5662 for more info.

If it rains, we will still be there inside!



I have a kiln cooling and I am set to load another bisque this evening for my final firing on Thursday. Of course I won't know really how I'm doing until I open the kiln tonight. I have a lot of big bowls and platters in this kiln and lots of times the bigger pieces require re-fires to get some of the bubbles to flux out. My glaze base is very touchy and it sometimes likes to be soaked but other times if I do this, I risk a lot of running in the glaze so I always have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

I'm very lucky in that Friday, (the day I'm usually racing around before a show, packing the car and pots at the same time) that Joey is taking the day off to just be around and help with running the kids to and from school and be here if I need some extra help. I would love for us to work some more on the kiln but I'm not sure we will find time to do that. Maybe this Sunday we can get back to that project.

I neglected to introduce a member to our family on my entry about our beach trip. Quaid bought himself a hermit crab and named him Hermy Claw Lawler. I really thought that all hermit crabs do is just sit around but this week, during the day when it usually is just been me and the cats, Hermy and I have been getting to know each other. Monday I made sure the he was fed and had water plus like a true mother I cleaned up "his room" for him. To my surprise when Quaid came home and we looked back in his cage, I realised that Hermy had re-arranged his cage to HIS liking. Since this impressed me so much, each morning I have done the same thing and every day Hermy has changed it back! It is the coolest thing! Animals just rock!

( Check out who guards Hermy from the cats.)



All last week before our trip I was battling a sore throat by taking lots of zinc and different kinds of herbs. I thought I had cured myself but Saturday at the beach it all traveled to my lungs..........so, needless to say tomorrow I'm off to the doctors.( Boy I have not had a good start of the school year sickness wise!) Today as I was coughing my brains out and telling myself not to lay down and rest but keep working in the studio.To keep myself on task, I did I take a little soup break. It did taste so great and having it in such a fun bowl made it all the worth the wait of cooking it.

This bowl that we own was made by Ronan Peterson who was just in a show with the Circle of Eight group in my home town last month. I met Ronan a few years ago in Raleigh and this year I got to hang out with him and trade "wares" at the Larkspur show that I do every year.

I was having a lot of good thoughts about making bowls and the function of them today so I think that is why I choose to stop working and eat some soup. Just this morning another one of my favorite bowls got broken in the sink and I was lamenting to myself how if it had just been a bit more substantial of a piece, it would of survived having another bowl thrown down on it. The more I make pots and look at other ceramic people work, the more I really like a hearty, thick piece of pottery. Ronan's piece here is very fun but also hearty..no chipping, no thin rims for knocking.

Because I do work in Porcelain, my students always expect my work to be very thin. I have explained a numbered of times that at one point this was my focus with the clay body but as time went on ( as a functional potter) I felt like my true way of throwing was much more heavy handed and for years now I have gone in this direction.

Boy, just looking at the photo of the soup in this great bowl just makes me want to have another right now!


I thought I'd just show where I was with everything today while I'm racing the clock as always to get things out the door for our Circle of Eight show on Saturday. If all goes well with my two kilns I should have a pretty good amount of inventory!

Finished inventory so far for the show.

Things to be unloaded and glazed.

Stuff that needs cleaning up and staining to go into the bisque kiln.Stuff that needs to be put together.


We have a great time at the beach. The kids of course just loved the place we stayed because it was all about fun for kids, which at this stage of the game, we are all about. The water was warm, it wasn't to hot or to crowded. September is the best time to go to the beach. Here are just a few photo's of the kids and my favorite attraction, this submarine. I like anything that is big and colorful and fun to look at. As a child I always wanted to be one of those artists that worked for Disney creating those sets they make for Disney World. It was nice to get away but as always, I'm happy to be back in my little section of the world.


Thurseday update

Tomorrow we are off for a cheap thrills family vacation to Myrtle Beach. We didn't really take the kids anywhere this summer and instead of tagging along with our families we decided to go it alone this beach trip. We'll just be there for 2 1/2 days but the kids we know will love it and at the moment that is all we can do.
I just got back from the first class of the fall. I only had 4 students so that is pretty small for what I'm use to. I also found out that my Tuesday morning class did not have enough people sign up for it so I'm out that class as well. It has'nt been a good fall for my teaching funds this go around. It makes me kind of worried when things fall through that I'm counting on but I can look on the bright side and know that I will have more time in my studio. I do have a lot going on with shows and building this kiln so maybe it was meant to be. We'll see.....
In the studio this week I finished up more covered jars and some teapots. I made all the parts for my candle holders today and plan on putting them together on Sunday night. Than the time line of firings will come next week to get ready for the up and coming show. On Saturday it will be our Circle of Eight fall sale. I am hoping for a full crowd this time. I know it will be a fun day with all of us at Amy's and also having Mark Peters there with us. Maybe we'll get some live music also to cheer up the day!
Well, I'm off to finish packing, have a good one.


Start of Front/door edge

Here is the front of the kiln for the most part. Ann had this great door that rolled up to the kiln but we were unable to bring it back here due to the weight of the steel that held it together. This really didn't bother me because I use to always brick up the door to the kilns I used at school and that is what I plan to do to this one. We had to change a few of the bricks around and preparation for the bricked up door as well as making more room on the kiln pad. Once again, the numbering system and photo's really helped because the whole front of the kiln made no sense to me if I had to have done this on my own.

Here is the arch standing on its own. When you put the arch form in, you need to take shims and place it about 3/4 inch off the ground. Then when you are ready to take the form out, you take out the shims and ...well hope for the best. As you can see, it worked!

Building the arch

We spent Sunday morning building the arch. I had so much anxiety about getting in the boxes and actually being able to remember how we had numbered that bricks and how it would all go back together. It went very smoothly and I was so happy that we had documented so much from when we took the kiln down. Also I had numbered every brick with so many "keys"that it really helped. Here is photo of the back of the kiln with the bricks in place as well as the arch form. We only had a few bricks up around the key brick that had to be re-cut and shaped for them to fit perfectly and tight.

( Trying to put a kiln together with three kids around was challenging, as you can see with the care bear that had to be in the photo. Lots of little hands trying to open boxes, hand us bricks out of sequence and shave bricks on the side of the cinder blocks.)
Here are the kids making some sort of "witches brew" with old spices from the cupboard and other things they could find outside. I was letting them do pretty much anything just to keep them out of our hair and happy while we were doing all this. All in all we survived the juggling between the two!


Arch Form

I got over my mouse fear and was able to finish off my floor today. I had to level each row of bricks just to make sure the arch is going to sit flush when we start to build it. Here is the arch form. Stan and Ann Riggs where nice enough to make this for us when we took the kiln down. Here is a photo of the arch form on my pad and one on Ann's before we took the last row of bricks down. Tomorrow we will start building the arch.

On the making pots front. I finished up 4 flower blocks last night, trimmed some cake plates and started work on finishing some boxes. I'm still forever searching and really trying to incorporate my thoughts on surface with my form. So far the boxes are plain besides an elaborate knob or finial on the lid. I took my time with the feet I paddled on these and I'm paying extra attention to the hand built flange that goes inside. I learned a lot making a hand built flange when I was constructing those Persian boxes, which both sold at Blowing Rock. I loved that show because a lot of my favorite pieces got good homes. I even sold a bunch of my egg cups!