Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Losing Sleep....

That was me last night...tossing and turning while my lovely mishima-d bowls baked in a very hot kiln. I was so worried they wouldn't turn out smooth and blemish free, especially after that episode I had a month or so ago where half of my bowls were dotted with little pits.

It has taken ages for my kiln to cool enough so that I could take a peek. No doubt because the porch is already quite warm from this scorching weather, but finally....success!! Yay!! I am doing the happy dance!!! These are a gift for a wedding taking place this weekend and I would have seriously cried had they come out in any way but almost perfect. The only problem with them is the size. Not as big as I had hoped they'd be, but still pretty nice. That size/shrinkage thing still baffles me. One day I hope I'll understand it better!

I also fired my bird vases and one of my Potty Mouths. I used a different clay for these, redder and a mid fire, though in the end they are a lovely brown and would be really lovely if I hadn't washed them with the black underglaze because now I'm seeing a bit of a bluish tinge. Still nice, don't get me wrong...but I prefer my low fire terra cotta. His hat turned out quite shiny. I'm guessing the u/g has more flux in it? Sort of worked in my favour!

Citrus bowls, glazed and ready to fire!

So, a little of what I've been up this week. See what other potters have been doing at Mud Colony! You can find them here!

Friday, August 24, 2012

'Bout time....

I am sans mother this weekend so I hope to gets a lot of potting done! I did manage to finish an order for my daughter. I can't tell you what it is yet because it's a gift for a friend's wedding. I suppose that I can't post any pics either! Awwww....Okay...well, right now they're still green...decorated with mishima. I am hoping they'll be dry enough to fire tomorrow. I also have the other bowls for this order ready to trim and a few planters that I had a request for. I'm actually pretty excited about these. I know what I want to do with them and I think they'll be bright and fun and make someone very happy sitting on a windowsill!

I've recently read a few posts lately about the change over from summer to fall and it's definitely happening here. Some of the trees are already turning. (I always thought you needed a frost before that happened but seems it's not at all true) The air just feels more "fally" or "autumny" if that's how you choose to call this time of year. Even on a hot day...and we've been having temps of 30+, it doesn't feel as hot, though the other day we had a quick shower and the day turned hot and humid so that was definitely an exception!

I'm never too sad to see summer go. Don't get me wrong, I love the summer, but eventually I get tired of the weeding, the watering, the deadheading. I don't know how you people that live in summer-all-year-round climates do it...ALWAYS doing those dreaded tasks! My hubby is sick to death of mowing the lawn and thankfully it's not growing as quickly these days either! I really do like winter, though it's not my favourite season, but I like the snow...when everything is blanketed with white and especially when it's sunny and not too bitterly cold and the ground sparkles with little ice crystals. It does get cold here...-40...wind chills...and truthfully, running from the house to the car is sometimes torture, but we get a LOT of sunshine...even on the coldest days and it never really seems as bad.

Of course looking out my window from my heated house, admiring those sparkly ice crystals and that glorious sunshine makes it much more bearable! Yikes! I'm babbling this morning!

Off to do my little interval run. Yes..if you can believe it...and I know some of you won't....I'm doing the Couch Potato to 5K training...not FOR a 5K run...but for me! I'd better get out there before it gets to hot!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Poor Neglected Blog...

I'm blaming it on the hayfever or the hayfever symptoms, 'cos I haven't been officially diagnosed. It seems that I've developed some allergies because this time last year I suffered from the same annoying symptoms....itching, red, dry, scratchy (literally I could rub them out of my head) eyes, sneezing...constantly, sinus headache, runny nose..though sometimes it's just stuffy. Fun stuff! Thank goodness last year at this time when my eyes were redder than red and somewhat swollen, I visited with my eye doc and he gave me some prescription drops which do seem to help a little. I need to apply some nice warm compresses to them at times, I think. I'm also taking Reactine daily (an antihistamine) which is or isn't helping. I can't tell to be honest. Maybe it would all be much worse if I wasn't on it, but still I'm waking with a doozie of headache and really just feeling very sluggish! I'm zonked by mid afternoon and taking naps! Not sure if that's all a part of this or maybe the drugs? Either way, I haven't been accomplishing much in the way of clay even though I'm itching to get down there. Hopefully today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

For the Love of Red Clay....

Remind me never to take such a long break from potting again. Two weeks away and I struggled to throw a pot!...make that 3 pots...all squashed! I think it was partly because I was using reclaimed clay and hadn't wedged it well enough....and to be honest, I'm a little lazy when I'm reclaiming, because from what I understand, I should be letting the clay dry and then smashing it into little bits....not dropping entire pots into my watery clay and then squeezing periodically with my hands. This time around, the clay sat on my cement board too long and the edges dried up...but I did pick through those.....obviously not well enough!


I peeled back a new bag of clay (I LOVE the smell when I first open clay...mmmmmm) and started fresh. I've been making Jarheads and one Potty Mouth, in hopes that I can get the red clay out of the way and start on my orders. I really do spend a lot of time on these...I'm not even going to tell you how long, but I love doing them....REALLY love the fussing over them and adding the little bits!

So, here is my bird jar that I've been dying to make for ages. He's totally modified because my original sketch was a duck and this is....well, I like to think of him as a Robin. Bert the Robin...that' him. He really does look better in person and once he's all dirtied up I think he'll be great! No teeth in Bert...but tonight I'm going to look for a little Robin poem to maybe stamp around the inside flange. I think there might be one in an A.A. Milne books?

Here's my salt pig (aka Potty Mouth). He needs some colour but I really like him!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Today I picked my mom up from her once-a-week day program at our local nursing home. I stopped to chat with the Activity Coordinator, who asked me about my pottery. It seems my dear mother is bragging me up and telling everyone that I will bring pots in! I promised I'd bring one or two for 'show and tell'. That led to another idea...the possibility of me volunteering for a handbuilding class.

Now I'm thinking there is some real possibility in this, because I know how therepeutic running your fingers into clay can be, even though I have yet to convince my mother to try it. I'll push that a little more in the next few days, using her as my 'guinea pig'. Most of the residents in this home suffer from Alzeimers or severe dementia and my mother is quite "normal" in comparison. That being said, a lot of them do participate in the morning exercises and from what I hear they get quite excited when someone comes to entertain them with music.

I'll need to keep it simple. My Aussie friend Adriana suggested nothing more than rolling out clay and cutting it with cookie cutters to use for wind chimes or Christmas tree ornaments. I like that idea. I do realize that some might have trouble with the rolling but of course I'll be there to help! Another suggestion was a handprint, which is another fabulous idea! I think I'd need some very soft clay. It takes some strength to press down into the clay and really some of these people are very frail.

I'd love to hear any other suggestions you might have. Maybe I can make it a monthly thing if it goes over well the first time. I'm thinking it'll be much like teaching a kids program. Not that I've done that, but I've seen what they can do!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lesson #1

Don't take things personally.

That, for me, is going to be difficult.

My one and only picture of my display with my lovely sister "tweaking" things. I need to work on my props. We did some serious brainstorming and sketching so the next sale should look a little more professional"

My helpers for the day, soaking up some sun.

Breaking through the barriers! No dogs were allowed so it meant that my daughter, my hubby and Bella had to spend most of the day at the lake! They did take turns walking the dog so that they could peruse the sale as well. Bella was persistant that that she be allowed in!

My sale went well! It started off a little slow and there weren't a jillion people crammed wall to wall, was outdoors and the 'Fort' was a really nice space to hold it. We had lots of space between exhibitors and I was parked right next to a lovely pine tree that smelled wonderful, especially in the morning when it was still dewy! (It felt like I was camping!) I was also right next to a lovely wasp nest, that my sister and daughter discovered shortly after we arrived. A perfect wasp nest, attached to the big wooden post holding up the walls of the fort. Luckily, we weren't bothered by them...not even as we ate our lunch or sipped on our Coke Zero through the day. The day itself was perfect, a little chilly in the morning, but once the sun came out, it was gorgeous...not too hot and even when it a cloud did pass over and it felt a little cooler, it was still quite nice! People strolled the entire day. There seemed to be a lot of the cottage owners "just checking stuff out", but there were also quite a number who trekked from the city and surrounding areas, specifically for the sale.

I received lots of good feed back. Most seemed to appreciate the bright colours and there are a lot of polka dot lovers out there! A lot of people were curious about my spoons and scoops though they seemed to struggle with what to use them for. I've always found that to be the case when selling something. You need to educate them. You need to make suggestions telling them what this piece can be used for! That usually peeks their interest and at this sale and specifically with my spoons and scoops, only then would they pick them up and cup the bowls of the spoons in their hands rubbing them over the smooth glaze (they really do feel so nice) and in the end I sold quite a few...more than I thought I would, though I might have priced them a little low. I'll have to evaluate that for the next sale!

Blue was the colour of the day. Turquoise. Not much interest at all in my orange pieces. In fact, they were all drawn to the blue cupboard. That makes me happy. I'm a blue girl and quite honestly if I could paint everything in turquoise I'd be thrilled! Something else to consider. It's funny that almost everyone that entered my booth would first be drawn to my dark blue (almost navy) bowls with the orange dots, but no one would buy them. The same thing happened at my last sale. Interesting as well, was my lovely green lacey bowl sitting on a little perch and being the VERY first thing people went to, and almost always picked it up! Eventually my sister suggested we move that to another spot, because it is also one of my pricier pieces and she figured that for some, it was enough to turn them on their heels, thinking I my work was too expensive. BTW, that bowl did sell at the end of the a wonderful woman that loved green AND polka dots and for a few minutes she was debating on that green bowl or the big navy bowl, but the green won out!

So the biggest thing I need to overcome is that feeling of rejection when people walk by the booth, without even stopping for a peek. Or when they stroll by and quickly turn their heads in the other direction, hoping you won't see them! Of course I know that not everyone is interested in pottery and certainly not everyone loves contemporary pottery. I'm aware too, that some are just out for the day, stopping in packs to visit with their fellow cottage owners, or that some have just accidently passed by and thought they'd take a peek at what's inside those big wooden walls. Maybe I'm a little greedy. Or maybe I just love being praised! Who doesn't love that! I want them ALL to love my work! This isn't the first time I've struggled with this. I owned a retail shop for years and felt totally deflated when someone would step through the front doors and turn on their heels and leave without even so much as taking a few steps...and I was in a lovely, century old house!

So, to everyone who did stop by and to give me my very much appreciated "pat on the back", a great big thank you. Thank you too, to everyone who bought a little something from me. I hope whatever it is you took home with you, brings you lots of joy!

Quick question. Does the work Ceramics confuse people? Do most see it as the greenware poured from moulds, not hand thrown, not even "handmade" by the potter...the pieces you clean the seams and then glaze? Is it better to call myself a potter than a ceramicist? I like the word ceramics. To me it feel more modern and I did struggle a little as to what to call myself. It struck me at this sale, when my cousin asked me "where I get my pieces from". Hmmm....I'll be curious to see what you have to say! I actually took my sign down because I thought maybe it was confusing people!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ta Da!!!

My spoons and scoops are fired! They turned out well...really well in fact, though I have to admit my heart sank when I opened my kiln and found each and every spoon and scoop with a stilt stuck to the glaze! Before you ask (Monica), I DID clear a little spot where the metal prong would sit, although perhaps not enough. I wonder too if it wouldn't have been a better idea to just flip the stilt over and let the glaze rest on the porcelain bit. Is it porcelain? I really have no idea, but there were bits of glaze resting against that bit of the stilt and for some reason the glaze didn't adhere to that. I was reading something on Ceramic Arts Daily about making your own "kisses" and/or painting them with kiln wash so that the glaze doesn't stick. I'll definitely do some more reading up on this before I make more of these.

The good news is that I did manage to break all of the stilts free. I had to cover them with a small towel and tap them with a pair of pliers (for the life of me, I couldn't find a hammer). It didn't take much tapping but it did leave a little pinched glaze, which of course was sharp. Luckily, in this crafty life of mine, I've tried my hand at stained glass and so I had a file to smooth those down. Then I rubbed them with a dampened piece of wet/dry sandpaper. Yes, there are holes....unfortunately...and some are "darkish", but they're all on the back side and won't interfere with the serving side of the pieces. Some of the glaze is a little thick on a few of the red pieces and so there is some clouding, but I'm loving the spoons so much, I barely notice!

And they are!

One day I AM going to work on better photos, but tonight I'm trying to get all my stuff packed up for my sale on Saturday, so no time to make any adjustments! Check out Mud Colony to see what all my mud buds have been up to this week!