Quick post just to show some progress here at the studio this week. I'm taking a break for a day or so because I other stuff going on. Tomorrow I'll back in there. I do have some shows coming up....AHHHHHH...I really need to step-it up a gear. This weekend will be good for that because I think I only have one obligation in the "mommy department" to take care of. Boy, being a mom is a full time job! I was thinking this week how I do enjoy being at home with the children. I enjoying being there for them when they come home,cooking a good meal for them and keeping everything straight. There of course is sort of a give and take with that notion. Sometimes I wonder if I do to much for them and than other times I wonder if I am really there for them enough since I spend time on and off the computer doing my class and then in and out of the studio checking on stuff. In my mind, I'm always working on something even though I'm am physically here. Ah...such a head game we play with ourselves!
Oh yes....pots.
Here are some egg cups. I am planning to make some saucers for them so when they are used the owner has a little tray to put the shells on.
These are the boxes I love to make. They do take a long time but I enjoy them and I think that matters a lot. I've used some color clay on these. I want to see how it looks so they are sort of experiment. At the moment they are under tight plastic because I do tend to have issues with them getting small cracks in the base. Boy does this upset me when it happens since they take so long. Cross your fingers for me! I am really getting tired of the clay body I'm using. Soon I'm going to think about a change. More about that at a later date!


Taking Photo's

So, we all talk about things that we do in ceramics that we really don't like. I hear most people say they hate to glaze. Some people complain about the paper work aspect of it and being one's own accountant. I sat at one demo and listened to a guy talk about how he wished he was married again so his wife could take care of the business end of things and than he could just make pots. Pretty funny and telling of this person at the same time. ( I do enjoy any individual that is truly honest so this truth brought a smile to my face as the rest of the women in the audience gasps; I think ). My true "angst" when it comes to ceramics is taking photo's. Oh, how I hate it...and with a passion I think. I tried and tried in grad school to learn how to take a good photo and once I got out of school thought that truly I knew how. After a few years of trying to get into various "big retail shows" I was told by a fellow craftsmen on the panel that basically my photo's....well...sucked.( Sorry for the slang.....)
So..in the last few years my pal Ron gave me the name of a wonderful photographer near by who has been nice enough to trade with me and take my photo's. He does a wonderful job and plus, he's just a really nice guy. These days it seems like I need new photo's every three months or so and since I don't think this photographer needs 1000's of Jen Mecca pots, I need to try once again to take my own photo's. AHHHHHHHH......
A few weeks ago, Ron Philbeck, Amy Sanders, Julie Wiggins and I got together to try and take some photo's once again of our work. We are kind of like the Four Stooges because we spend most of the time laughing and trying to figure out how to use the camera, lights and tri-pod.
Here are some of the photo's that we took. I am thankful that those guys helped me out with some photo's since I gave up years ago! Hopefully we can keep trying to perfect this art. All I know is that if we keep getting together to take photo's, I think I'll provide the lunch and let the new "experts in technologies" do the photographing!


Workshop at Clayworks

I'm always so amazed at how small the world really is. It seems lately that I've gotten the chance to re-connect with people that I haven't seen in years and its been such a great feeling!

This was true yesterday when I attended a workshop given by Allison McGowen. Back in 1998 when I was in grad school I got the opportunity to be a studio assistant for Silive Granitelli and Allison was one of the work study gals in the class. At that time I remember her being very motivated and eager to get as much out of her experience and the class that she could. Since than she has gone on to do great things and lucky enough to attend Alfred for graduate school. Her pots these days are so interesting and I really enjoyed listening to how she worked out her idea's to get to the point she is at now. The workshop was really well attended and it was nice to see other faces from the Charlotte clay community.

The added bonus about reconnecting with Allison is that she is living on the other side of Charlotte these days and is also a mom of young children. Knowing there are young, successful pottery mom's sprouting up all over these days makes me feel not so in the minority anymore.

Check out Allison's website when you get the chance!


Fridays Work

Today was productive in the studio. I guess yesterday was too but I had to spend the evening away from home, so I didn't get back in there to finish up stuff..which was a bummer. You know how good it feels when your on a roll and I think I've finally gained some momentum that I was lacking for awhile.

I have started on the new compotes. You see in the photo some closed forms that will become boxes. I love to make boxes and I just to check out other potters boxes too. Boxes are one of those items we potters make that don't have a "food" related use to them but the thought of putting something in them that is very personal and special to someone really applies to me.

Today I started throwing some egg cups. I guess when I walked outside and saw that some of my flowers had blooms on them my thoughts went to Easter, which then led to...
"Hey, I need to make some more egg cups"!


Being In The Moment

A few weeks ago I started doing something new to my pots.I was working one Saturday and I started thinking about all that goes on around me while I'm in my studio and my family is busy doing different activities. I was thinking how really I wasn't to separated from what was going on because I constantly have interruptions while I'm working on the back porch that is off our kitchen. There are days I do try to shut all the noise and activity out, but most weekends it is pretty impossible. After lights go out and Joey and I think everyone is settled in for the night on the week days,( I go out to work and he catches up with life on the computer) many nights I get pulled back into the house for a moment or two.

I've become so use to interruptions in my routine that some how I think it determines what I start to make or how I finish something. This is where the phase "In the Moment" sort of came into my head a stuck there. After finishing a platter one day I wrote my name, the month and the day on the back. Lately I thought it would be interesting for whomever bought one of my pots to know what was going on that day. I tried to take a photo of the back of one of these mugs.Half of them say " Mecca, February, Valentine's day" and the other half say " Mecca, February, Bed time for kids". I like the thought of having the added view into the my world when I'm creating something. I'm curious if at the next show I do, anyone comments to me about this. I enjoy little surprises and tricks to see if people are really paying attention. I'll let you know what happens.


Revisiting the Compote'

( Something about that titles makes me want to giggle....)

Years ago I had a gallery owner ask me if I would make her some compote's for her table. At the time I had no idea what she was talking about and made her draw a picture for me. I remember thinking why would she use one of these add looking pedestal bowls when you could just use a serving tray. Even though I did grow up in a house with a mother who enjoyed a very fancy set table from time to time, I had never encountered a compote for any type of entertaining. I should also say that at the time I was asked to do this, I had a 6month old baby, I had spent about 10 of my adult years still in college and not doing a whole lot of entertaining. Our idea of entertaining was inviting a few of my graduate friends over for grilling out and using whatever seconds I could find to put out on the picnic table.

It wasn't until we moved to York SC and I became part of some old southern traditions that I finally understood the need for a compote. If I can elaborate on this, entertaining for friends in an old southern town that is very into traditions has been an education in etiquette for me. I belong to a book club of women who use there fine silver and linens when it is there turn to host no matter what time of the day it is. Among this group of women, I am invited to tea's and baby showers where the table and food looks like it has just come out of a Martha Stewart magazine.( Some days I do live a double life. Mud from head to toe in my birkenstocks one minute and skirts with heals the next. Shhhhhhhh...don't tell anyone!) It all makes for great idea's to come forward, not to mention the sit-com/cartoon that lives in my head everyday.

( Look at the attitude those handles are putting forth on this blue glass compote!)

So...about three years ago, after attending a function with my lady friends, a wonderful old glass compote with strawberries dipped in Chocolate made me want to run home and make one of these things. Below is what I came up with. At the time I was thrilled with this, but now, I want some revisions to take place.

A few days ago when I was baking a bunch of cupcakes for a Valentine's party at school the thought that I needed to re-visit this form. So, I'm sketching and getting some idea's and soon I'll see what comes from my brain, down my arm and out my fingers to the clay.

(Hope you enjoyed the images!)


Pots in use...wheel not in use.

I did work yesterday..I made some mugs in the hopes that it would push me through this "mind rutt" that has been going on for a few months now. Some days I think I've worked out the hesitation I've had to just GET GOING in my head, and than I wake up and realize I have other things to do and I get sidetracks from my pots.
Here is my cat Clayton taking a snooze on my wheel. She likes to talk to me while I'm working and scold me for not staying out there as long as I should. Today she felt the need to put cat hair all over my wheel head. AHHHHH
The last two days I've also been working on my taxes and updating my mailing list. At least all this is Studio related! Time to start taking my sketch book around with me and writing down my thoughts, plus my ideas. I seem to get in my studio and I have this blank. Maybe I just need to fire some pots I have and then I'll get right in there. Also, deadlines are a good way to light a fire under me...and I do have those coming up. We all do this....don't we???
A few days ago, Joey made some Black Bean Burgers for me while he and the kids had some deer meat burgers. I'm not a big fan of "Bambi Burgers" so he's always good about making something else for me. I'm sure if the kids really knew what this was, we may get a lot of resistance! Here they are ready to be cooked in some of my pasta bowls.


More Bottle info.

Here are a set of bottles that I talked about throwing in the last post. I had someone ask about why I throw standing up, which I guess I should of written about in the last post so..here it goes.

Back in undergrad I did throw sitting down. I guess I had been making pots for about 3 years at that point. As we all get at the beginning, I would spend hours at the wheel just working on one form. I found after awhile that my tail bone was really giving me some pain the shot down the right side of my leg. At that time in my life I was also going to the gym everyday and doing a lot of power walking so I'm not sure all that physically activity worked well together. In the summer of 2005 I did a workshop with Silvie Granatelli and watched her throw standing up. When I got back, I decided to put my wheel up on cinder blocks and work that summer on teaching myself how to throw a totally different way. It did take a few months to get the hang of it and when it comes to making big things, I have to admit sitting down would be better. I am so use to throwing standing up and "side saddle" as I call it, that I would never got back to sitting so I've figure out ways to modify my throwing. I have no more pain in my lower body now but there is a trade off with some shoulder issues I kind of baby.

I highly recommend going from sitting to standing if your having any lower back issues.


Throwing Bottles

I was thinking today while I was working in my studio ( on a such warm day...ahhhhhhhhh)....that maybe it would be nice to show how I try to balance myself while throwing standing up.
Today I was making bottles and since my wheel is at a certain height, sometimes its hard to for me get on top of a piece and throw taller. One of my students was asking me the other day how I steady myself while standing and I explained to her that at times I have to use bricks to stand on.
Here I am throwing a pretty narrow bottle that is about 15 or so inches high ( maybe more) and what I do is get a brick and put it under one of my feet and the other one I use to push the top of my pedal. Sometimes if the piece is really tall I just put the pedal at a certain speed and sstand on many bricks for height. I really don't like doing it this way because I like to control my peddle speed at all times.
Some people are lucky enough to have hydraulic wheels that change the height in order to make bigger pieces. If you don't have one of these types of wheel perhaps this piece of advise might help you!

This week I have more taxes to figure out and my mailing list to straighten out. I'm hoping the weather stays nice because the cold has been keeping me away from my studio and this is never a good thing.


Middle of The Week

Tomorrow night I will be in Shelby at the Cleveland County Arts Council for a show called Treasures of The Earth. If you read Ron Philbecks blog or Vicki Gils, they have mentioned this show as well in there posts. If you'll notice, I've added a few more shows to my side bar. Slowly my calendar is filling up which is great. This is what gets me really motivated! Today I spent most of my day setting up for that. No time in the studio. This evening the temp. is in the teens and even though I use to layer and deal with the cold last winter, I just can't bring myself to do it this winter. I have extra day time to work ( so I'm telling myself) this year so I figure I can take a few nights off and do "inside" work. Tomorrow I have NO errands to run, kids functions to be at or other work related things so I can just be me, quiet and to myself in the studio. I'm kind of looking forward to that!

Yesterday I went Ice Skating with Quaid's class. Here we are and here he is on the ice. He was a trooper and finally got the hang of it. I was suppose to teach at this time but my friend Julie helped me out and taught my class for me. It meant a lot to Quaid to have me there and I'm thankful I can have such a flexible career to do this.


Time to Pay The Piper

Yesterday I got back from Richmond Virginia where I had a wonderful visit with a great old friend of mine. Nothing is more important in life than to have great friends, a good family and lots of laughter. Laurel, who has been my best friends for years, treated me like a queen and indulged me with all my favorite past-times..food, movies, theater, junk TV and lots of silliness this weekend. It was an over due visit and for once I did not feel guilty for being away or taking time to myself. It was a great way to end January this year. I'm NOW ready to start 2009. I guess my calendar has always been a bit different than normal folks. New Years always comes to soon after Christmas for my taste so I spend January still getting over Christmas. The first of February should be New Years in my book!

So....here I am February 2nd and its time to "Pay the Piper" ( I love silly expressions) and get my butt in gear! I have to admit, I've been playing to long this last month and although I have needed the time away from my normal, I need to get going.

Today I spent most of day in my studio and plan on getting started on some new porcelain forms and ideas this week. I do have two days I will be away from my studio setting up shows and doing other things but I think by this weekend, I'll have some new stuff to talk about and maybe even show some work in progress.

Hope everyone had a good Groundhogs day. Does anyone out there really understand how he sees his shadow anyways? This question came from my kids today and I didn't really know how to answer it. At any rate, guess we may get a few more snow-flakes here in the South!
Have a good one! Jen