Wonderful Film- Lucie Rie

I sat down Thursday with my student to watch a film that was made about Lucie Rie in 1982. The interviewer was David Attenborough, from the BBC and trying to find a copy of it on the web has proved to be a bit difficult. Lucie Rie was one of the first female potters I knew about when I began throwing. I had a friend who was enamored with her bowls and glazes and he also was the person who first introduced me to throwing.
This film is great because I'm sure Lucie is in her 80's, in this film, still throwing and making all her glazes ( no gloves or mask which makes me laugh after we read so much about toxic materials in our field and she messed with many!)
Lucie forms seem so simple but when you watch her open up a lip and a bowl with a feddling knife you realise that her own way of doing this works just for her and would be impossible for most other to do. Her wheel sounds like a mack truck coming down the road and you have to wonder if it fueled by diesel!
If you have been one of the lucky one's to see this film you'll have to tell me what you thought about her comments about Bernard Leach. Interesting how when he first saw her pots he didn't like them but than, after he got to know Lucie, he told everyone to buy her work. Makes you kind of wonder if all those folks who have be come really famous are really great potters..or just in the right place at the right time!


Its What's On The Inside That Counts!

So.... I'm kind of taken with this "what's on the inside" of pots this week. Working slowly to narrow down themes of my work is always on my brain and then the thought gets easily swept away when I"m in a hurry or rushing to get a load of work done. Shame on me when I do this! I'd like to think that the income I'm making with teaching is allowing me to not "crank-out" stuff. Some days I just don't get any choice but to only work in my studio for two hours and then the rest of the day in taken up with computer work, taxi service, "domestic" issues and all those other things in my life that take priority over my muse,which is creating and being just with me and my thoughts.

Anyways....I have made these similar shaped bowls for a number of years and about two years ago I started to focus on the inside a bit more. I have a potter friend who says her husband loves to eat out of these bowls because he can grab his veggies on that inside rim I fold over. He also likes having something to look at inside after he's done with his meal. Score on both those accounts!
On these bowls I've modified the handles to add the colored clay I'm now adding to all my work and instead of painting the flower on the inside, I'm also have the middle be a pad of colored clay.
Surprises are always a good thing!


Messy Days

Guess we all have days like this. Sometimes I enjoy just getting down right dirty with clay all over me, dust and water splattered from here to there. Yesterday was also rainy so the water, clay, mud and glaze particles where really all mixed together on my cloths!

I was thinking how I really needed to throw yesterday and how great it would be to have a apprentice to come in and do all these tasks that seems to go on for a whole day. I've heard many really successful potters who let folks use their equipment for trading out mentoring and work duties. Of course I don't really think I'm close to do anything like that but maybe one day when the kids are grown and I have what I like to call a REAL studio space.

Until than I guess I'll just wait for my little people get a bit older and make some of these tasks "chores" options. ( Well..not making my glazes..guess I'll keep doing that!)


More box info.

If you haven't checked out Ron Philbecks blog in the last week, you should especially if you like boxes.

Someone asked me a few post back if I could explain step by step how I make my boxes and I thought "boy, that would be a good video idea". My only problem with that is..well..I don't know how to make one of those fancy blog video's that I keep watching on everyone elses blog. But, that doesn't mean in the future I won't get my handsome "tech guy" to try one out. Anyways..enough about my lack of savvy tech. skills! What I did want to point out is that Ron has two great video's on how to make a fairly simple box and he does such a great job of explaining all the do's and don't as well.
As for my boxes, here are a few more shots of the lid/flange and the inside of the box. These boxes are pretty time consuming and take lots of fiddling' to get just right, but I enjoy making them so I've allowed myself the time to just add all these details instead of trying to speed the process up.

I love the idea of opening up a box and finding a little surprise inside.


No time to blog..

I apologize for not getting back on the blog circuit for a few days. I've had to focus on some domestic matters here at the house. ( Boy, doesn't that sound so presidential!) But here is proof that the pottery business does roll on here in York. I took these quick shots over the last few days. The top one is of the boxes after they have been thrown and trimmed with the wood shaving tool. Below are some finished ones before going into the bisque kiln.

This evening I'll try to get some more photo's of pots of been working on. Joey and I are eagerly awaiting the rest of my camera equipment so we can begin to set-up a photo station in the house somewhere. Hopefully by next weekend I'll have new pots fresh out of the kiln.

Enjoy the Olympics this weekend..I know we will!


Middle of the Week

This was the start of my boxes the other day. These types of boxes take a lot of time to make but I enjoy making them and haven't done so in a while so they where on my list this week. Things are drying SOOOOOOOOOO SLOW around here. Its like watching paint dry.... I also started to load up a bisque. Here are dinner plates, some bottles and my bread a butter...tiles.
One of my girls the other day asked me when I was going to take some of their drawing again and turn them into a "pot". Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile remember that I tried this on a few plates but...they where just sort of "OK". I do like this idea. My girls have some great characters that they draw and I hate to let those images pass me by. I was thinking the other day that I may take a few of those images and change them a bit for alittle different subject matter on these tiles I make. So far I do flowers, houses and cupcakes. So many idea's some days pop into my head that I'm never sure if I'll ever be able to try them all. Good thing we have sketch books...right?


Craft buddies

The other night at dinner my Dad, Joey and I where talking about the new Kindles that where coming out. My Dad is a HUGE lover of books and we joke alot in my family about how the ceiling below his office is going to cave in one day because he has just stacks and stacks of books. He loves information, reading, art and politics. Back in the 70's he co-wrote a publication that talked about trends in higher education. He does a lot of consulting on this subject as well as writing grants now that he's retired. Since he loves to write and is full of all sorts of wisdom, I am trying to talk him into starting a blog of his own on education and the future/trends in this field. As for the netbook idea...he told us that he'll never give up buying books, but he does like the blog idea!

So since we all like to blog I thought I should point out that on my blog list you'll see that I don't only have potters listed. In fact today my very good friend Betty McKim who is a jeweler sent me the link to her new blog. Betty and I go way back and pretty much all the jewelry I own was created by Betty. She too attended ECU and has grown twin boys. She has also worked her way through trying to be a Mom and a crafts person through the years. Before I was a Mom, I can think back on all the experience she went through and put them to good use now that I'm dealing with the same issues. She gets a kick out seeing me deal with young children/twins now that hers are grown and out of the house.

If you get a chance , check out Betty blog. Her husband is also a great painter and they both have some interesting ideas/experiences to share.

Time to go work on some boxes in my studio!


Pots by Mail Order

I received a very cool mug in the mail on Friday.......

Fellow potter, blogger and Mom, Vicki Hartmen sent this lovely cup my way. It came all the way from Rochester NY so that was even more thrilling for me when I opened the box! Of course we got snow again here that very same evening so I'd like to think Vicki's cup brought some of the "white stuff" my way.( Once again, I was thrilled while everyone else around here scrambled to buy bread and milk at the near by store. )

I enjoyed several cups of coffee in this mug all weekend. It felt great in my hands and I really enjoyed looking at the detail Vicki puts into her drawing/decals. She has been kind enough to send me some information about decals so I may have to try a few of my own this year on some pots.

Please check out Vicki's blog if you haven't done so. Its very nicely done and she makes some fantastic pots. I love her forms.

We have had a very nice weekend. I've been back and forth in and out of my studio while Joey has been narrowing down some new ideas for a web/blog/etsy site for my work. We ordered a light box today and some new lights so I can take my own photo's. So I've been moving right along with the technical end of what "we" do when we are not making pots.

I wore some festive socks today for our Valentine's dinner with my folks.
I love a cool pair of socks!



I remembered today that some folks had some questions about sprigs and the drawing I do on my pots so I thought I'd just answer them for everyone.

Springs - I do make my own molds and I do press the clay into the molds as well as using slip for some of my sprigs. They are scored on both sides and applied while the pots are leather hard. I know someone asked me this a while back and I just never got the post answer back to them....

My drawings are incised in the leather hard clay as well. I use to do a lot of brush work but after taking a workshop with Julia Galloway, cutting into my surface with different tools was just so much fun, I've never gone back to a brush. But....never say never, right?

I was telling the my girls yesterday how much I use to LOVE Valentines Day as a kid. I would keep all my Valentines in an old candy box. Valentines today are so commercial. Why can't they just make these old sort of generic Valentines? Do you remember how the box came with an assortment and you had to pick and choose who got the big heart with the kitty-cat holding the pink bow, or the little boy and girl kissing? Quaid said he'd rather just have his Transformer Valentines and leave it at that. Spoken like a true 9 year old boy!
I went to great lengths this year to get the kids all Valentines with NO commercially advertised figures on them. It was hard, but we did manage end up with paper airplane valentines, flower seed ones and recycled paper book marks! Score...feels so good to have some control over what this crazy, media driven world. Mom's and Dad have a tuff time these days trying to keep everyone safe from words, music and images. The older my kids get the more questions we have coming at us in all sorts of directions that just make me want to change the topic REALLY FAST!
Ok, that is my rant for the morning. We are hoping for some snow this evening. So very sorry your folks in the North East have so much along with my pottery pals up in the NC mountains. I heard the winds where horrible the other day! Weekends are good for snow. Keeps the little people outside and happy.


Looking and Seeing

I think there is a difference between looking at your working and really "seeing" your work. Once we take something out of the kiln and realize that we have altered the appearance in certain way, we are happy. Visually this makes us go "AHHHHH"! But actually seeing what it is that we have done takes a while to register. Sometimes this information doesn't come to us until a pot is packed away for a bit and we see it a year later or another individual comments on something the glaze has done or the way we applied an element the we the artists did not even notice. I think we all save our favorite pots for a bit. This little cup is sitting by its self in my studio. Lots of information on here for my brain to think about while I make the next round of pots. After meeting with my "Pottery Pals" last week, I got a whole set of suggestions that where just little changes but I think will make a huge differences in what I'm doing here. Once again, I highly recommend having folks around you to talk about your work. Four eyes see so much more than two!

I plan on duplicating this cup and once I have the new one with the some small changes, hopefully I'll get some shots and post the two together and talk a bit about them.

As of today I'm back throwing and off to Winthrop for some more "coil pot" instruction. We are also doing a barrel firing today, which I'm sure the student will enjoy. Who doesn't like to play with fire?

Valentine's day is just around the corner so if you have kids, especially little girls I'm sure the hearts and the color "PINK" is everywhere! Have a great day!


Onto Monday

I enjoy Monday's. I always think there is such a fresh start to the week and anything I feel like I need to work on, weather it is studio work, something with the kids, or an attitude I've taken that needs to be turned around...whatever it is, I'm always hopeful to start fresh! The sun is out today so what could be better to start the week off on a good note.

Yesterday I went ahead a took out my elements that I fused together. It Looked like they stayed together for the most part but once I ripped them out..well that was it. I have no idea how you guys get those pins in that bottom grove of the kiln because when I actually get in my kiln and sit on the ground to put those pins in I feel like a stow-away in a box on a ship! Putting elements in is not fun but I'm starting to become a pro at it!
My kiln is back to good working order and I also bought some new Allen wrenches so I don't have to fire with the visual cones anymore. Below is a photo of some handy sheets I laminated that hang near the kiln. I took them out something that came with Ceramics Monthly a few issues ago. I'm sure those of you who get the catalog now what I'm taking about. Its lists all sort of useful technical information and since I like to refer a lot to book and not rely so heavily on my memory, having a chart about what temp. things heat up to along with what materials I can substitute for different ingredients-this is a handy reference near by.

I'm still working on a special order for those big bowls I was doing before Christmas. Here's another shot of them. This design is nothing like I usually make so its taken awhile to figure out what this customers wants and how to modify it a bit to fit my clay body, the bat size I have and what she wants these to look like. It was a bigger challenge than I had envisioned.
Today I'll get started on some plates and more covered mugs. I was not happy with the way my lids fit on the last batch so that challenge is going to be revisited.

Happy Monday everyone!


Good Days

Yesterday was not a studio day but still what I consider a work day. I had a good morning catching up on pottery talk with my "Pottery Pals", Ron, Amy and Julie. We got some showed lined up for the up coming year and I got to show them my new pots to get some feedback. Its so great to have a group of pottery friends to show my work too and discussion different shows and ways of dealing with customers. Even when you've been making pots for a few years, I find that I still needs lots of guidance each and every step of the way and its so great to get advise or opinions from other folks working through the same issues as myself. Plus...we all just have some good laughs together and that's important as well!

After a great morning, I was treated to a massage ( via gift card from my folks),which my sore back greatly appreciated and in the evening took my kids at a basketball game at their school. Lots of running around in the cold weather/rain here, but it was all worth it!

Today I cleaned and organized my studio, pugged some clay and met a new potter who is also a landscape designer in Gastonia NC. He came out to talk pots with me ( he too graduated from ECU a few years before me) and also offered us some much needed advise about our water problems. Hopefully we can get some of that resolved in the next year or so and then..I can get my salt kiln up and running.

So, here's a little trip down memory lane for some of you folks. The other day I was asking Joey if he remembered this song called Shake Down Cruise because it has resurfaced on the radio lately I've noticed. Does anyone remember what other song with guy sang back in the 70's???

Hope everyone is staying warm and dry this weekend. Have a good one and I'll get some pottery stuff up here in my next post.



I have to do a quick post. I'm trying to get my tax information in order today so we can get that out of the way.
My kiln came out pretty good. I got some good information from the last bit of pots I made with the new big sprigs. Here is my favorite cup. You can see the colored clay is a nice muted yellow. I kind of like this! I had to use the Iphone camera this morning because I was in a hurry so the next few shots are alittle dark and blurry. Kind of takes me back to the days I had that really bad old digital camera.
A few tiles. I really like the orange combination with my greens and aqua's.

The new covered pots gave me some idea's that I think I can work with. The way the black stain and the colors sort of go together gives the pot a more rustic look in a way to me. Hard to explain what I see..but I sort of like it!

Well, back to the paper work and onto to see my students. We are working on BIG coil pots. I'm pretty proud of how large some of my students have gotten these! Its amazing what clay can do...



As a child when the grass started peeking through the left over snow I knew that spring was on the way. This was most likely in May but here, well its the first day of February and the snow is going away. Yesturday was sunny and nice. I could hardly get the kids back outside! I spent the day glazing while the kids had a snow day. I am happy to report that the element splice did in deed work. I can't believe I've been doing pots for about 14 years and never new that trick!
I'm firing everything without my kiln sitter. The small arm that holds up has not been moved yet because I'm in need of a new set of Alan wrenches to get that sucker off! Its kind of nice watching the cones bend for a change but I have to admit you do get lazy just waiting for the kiln sitter to go off. Today I am glaze firing.

Don't you just love this little snowman!