Sunday, August 31

Tag you're it

So I just read about this tagging about a day or two ago, and now I guess I have been tagged. I have Judy Shreeve to thank for this slice of heaven. Since I have read the last two taggers entries, I thought it was interesting learning about six things in their life that they might not ordinarily mention and now I am passing the joy along.

Here are the rules of tagging:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog. (this is what you're now reading.)
3. Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them. (This is only a game.)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

Six random things about myself.

1. I love watching movies in bed.
2. I accidentally left my door open cleaning the bird-cage and when my bird flew away I was happy for it and glad we didn't find it.
3. I eat tofu because I actually like it.
4. I'm terrified of sail boating, somewhat scared of heights, and extremely uncomfortable swimming in black water.
5. I don't wear makeup and when I try I feel silly.
6. I tell my dog she's sexy all the time.

I don't know if some these guys have already been tagged-but these are my tags.

Melt My Heart
MudStuffing Sketchbook
ang design

Saturday, August 30

Presumptuous tool review

Well the kiln is loaded and programmed to begin to fire at 12:30 a.m. I adjusted the firing program to coincide with what I've worked out in my test kiln these last couple of months. We'll see what happens.

(a little warning, this next passage may be long, so I promise to embellish and use poetic license as much as possible to keep you from nodding off)

So I'm sitting here having a little lunch-some risotto and fish stew of some kind that Adam brought home from work last night-and flipping through my CM mag. I came across a tool that I don't like very much, and since I have never used one or seen the mechanics of it in person, I thought I was perfect to review it. The tool is on page 31 of the Sept. 2008 issue. It is called the Quickcenter, and is made by Brent with a hefty price tag of 274$ (no disrespect to Brent, they have some good equipment). The idea of the tool is that you take this cylinder with a plunger at one end and press it into a chunk of clay, then line the tool up with a bat that has a hole in the center and after pushing the plunger, presto, a "centered" piece of clay. There are several things I find disturbing about this tool and I have no problem sharing them. I will try and address the arguments for this tool towards the end as I know there is more than one way to look at this-although I don't really embrace the other way.

Lets start with the obvious. The clay is not really centered. Putting something in the middle of the wheel barely addresses part of the process and purpose of centering the clay. The photo shows the tool being pressed into what looks like a block of clay directly from the bag. Right away, this tool encourages bypassing of a critical part of clay preparation, and that is wedging. Wedging isn't the most fun thing to do. It can be exhausting-but it can also be meditative if you get your mind right about it. Although I am stating the obvious, wedging also compacts the clay, lines up clay particles, and homogenizes the clay. I'll tell you my opinion right now and that is that if you currently just open a bag of clay and bang it into a ball to put on your wheel, you're skipping part of the process that will noticeably make your pots easier to throw. Sure, by centering your clay on the wheel you do gain some compression and particle alignment, but centering will not be as easy and the center of the clay piece that you are working on, will not receive that benefit.

Once you eject this tube of clay onto your wheel it will need additional work to truly get it centered. I can't imagine-at least I hope-that no one would think that this tool has removed all aspect of centering from throwing. Really all it has done is placed a pug of clay in the middle. Nothing more really than what I do when I sit down and bang a properly wedged piece into the center and pat it to pre-center. Now if your idea of this step is to try and 3-point shoot if onto the wheel from the other side of the room, you will definitely have better results using this tool.

Here's where I have my biggest problem with this tool. It tries to make part of the job easier that is almost the first thing you need to learn and accomplish before making a pot on the wheel. What is the saying? Anything worth learning is difficult? Something like that. Maybe that's not true, but part of learning anything using involves pushing through a wall where there is a part of you that wants to give up and you decide that instead you will go forward. Many walk away. I think why this tool really rubs me wrong, is that it is dumbing people down, or allowing them to dumb themselves down. Don't get me wrong-I LOVE TOOLS-I'm almost a tool and gadget-aholic, although I restrain myself greatly because I am also a poor-aholic. I just can't seem to stop being poor.

I have:

A Talisman Sieve (one of the greatest tools ever invented; albeit a pain to clean) a slab roller, a Giffin Grip (bought with my first pottery sale money in college-after I learned how to center a pot for trimming), an immersion blender (good for pre-mixing glazes that contain the dreaded, clumping Bentonite, before sieving) two digital scales (because one just isn't enough), multiple wire tools, needle tools, ribs, sponges, brushes, etc., a ware cart (because I don't like to walk back and forth when I don't have to), an extruder (makes rapid fire compressed coils-love it). What I don't have yet, sniffle-sniffle, is a pug/mixer mill (to help with recycling clay and de-airing freshly made clay) and a treadle wheel (because they're so purrrty). But that's due to my pooraholism.

I imagine that some might see a conflict between what I am preaching and what I am practicing as involves my using a Giffin Grip. I don't see it as the same thing. I suppose you could say that tap centering, or needle centering the pot and then taking clay coils to hold the pot to the wheel, is a crucial part of making the pot. I don't think so. If it's part of the process for you and you are kind of Zen about it, then that's great. I wasn't zen, it seemed like a lot of time spent doing something that wasn't that important to making a pot. The clay has already been wedged, centered, thrown, partially dried, and now I just need to hold it on the wheel so I can trim some excess clay off which which this tool does a great job of doing (usually).

I just think that part of mastering a craft is learning and using the process. By attempting to remove centering, this tool allows us to think that we either can't or shouldn't bother getting the clay (and our hearts and minds-"we are the world, we are the children . . .") to center, and makes the beginning part of making a pot into a paint by number enterprise (no offense to paint by number fans). So I think some of the arguments against my thinking is that this tool will be good for:

a. beginning learners
b. children
c. people with weak wrists, arms, bellybuttons, whatever
d. clay classes for the hobbyist

As far as beginning learners go, I think I've already addressed this. Learning to center is part of learning to make a pot. It's not about skipping the hard stuff to get to the fun stuff (which is still hard, and probably will be harder since you have not gotten a true feel for the clay yet). As far as kids go, I know that everyone might think I am an evil ogre, but I don't believe in dumbing kids down, and that they shouldn't learn struggle and failure . That doesn't mean they should never be helped. Of course not. But I don't think this tool will really help them much, as it will take about 10 seconds for them to get the clay off center again. I'm just not a fan of this "there are no losers, every ones a winner" culture that we try and create for our kids. It does NOT prepare them for the real world. The weak wristed-you still have to get the clay to full center and turn it into a pot-things still requiring strength, which is largely built by wedging and centering. The hobbyist in a clay class? Is there a different argument for them?

While I'm at it, there is an ad for what I think is a FANTASTIC tool on page 69 in the same mag. It is called The Bump, and made by Mudtools (Michael Sherrill). This is a throwing stick, made with a flexible neck, what looks like an easy to grip handle and a firm-centered sponge end . I have never used or seen one in person but I'm telling you it's ingenious and I gotta have one. Sometimes, you just know.

Oh, if you read this far-thanks.

Ready to load

I finally finished glazing this batch yesterday. I'll load today and set up the kiln to do the majority of the firing overnight, reaching peak temp. in the morning after I wake up. I really need to be able to unload Monday, assess the situation and begin glazing again for a second firing before next Friday. Unless everything in this kiln turns out spectacularly beautiful, then there won't be that pressure. I'm under this pressure because of a small but crucial detail I forgot about.

NH has a League of Craftsmen. I was accepted in May. However, all members are accepted under conditional acceptance. You still need to send in three review shipments, probably so they can see the consistency of quality or whatever in your work. They have to be spaced at least three weeks apart.


In order to increase my chances of getting a booth in next summers League fair, I need to apply by Nov. 1. The fact that I hadn't sent in my review shipments yet completely escaped me until about three weeks ago. It wasn't that I was blowing them off for a while. Almost immediately after my acceptance I had surgery and was pretty laid up for about 5-6 weeks. Combine that with a pretty big change in the style I had been working in, and I've got a lot of work to do now in a short amount of time. Oh well. If it works out that's great. If not, there's always the next year. I'll still have other shows I can do this year. Okay bye.

Thursday, August 28

The Scoop

My last test firing was a little disapointing, but maybe two or three nice ideas. I managed to get a few tooth jars in. I really like the black one and the blue one. The black one's blue inside, so a little contrast. I'm mentally and physically exhausted right now, so bear with me. I wanted to put something in the photo for size reference. The blue one is so cute. It's maybe as big around as a quarter. I'm on day three of glazing, and I'm hoping I can get everything finished tomorrow and fire Saturday or Sunday at the lastest. It takes soooooooo loooooooong glazing like this. But I'm figuring out a system along the way.

A little update on my discount gift shop dilema. I called up Rolanda, Farrah-whatever-and I first approached the conversation with an open mind (always good). Heard her out and it was shockingly bad what she wanted for so little money. I'm sure she didn't really understand fully what she was asking for, but I explained it to her.

What she wanted was a little tea set. About maybe six of them. It's something she saw somewhere and like I said yesterday, thought she could get it cheaper through me. The set consist of a teacup, a tea strainer that sits inside the cup, and a cover which also serves the purpose of a little plate to put your strainer in. This is a three piece set (I know you can count) a nesting set, everything needing to be fitted together and such (I'm sure as potters you are all aware of these things, but I need to add drama to my story).

The first thing I asked her after she told me what she was looking for, was how much they were charging for this set? Hold on to your trim tools. 35$. Well, I didn't require a whole lot of thinking after that. One more detail is that the set she saw was mass produced. So, 35$ for a three-piece, mass-produced tea set, and I diplomatically explained to her that there was no way I could possibly do better than that for a price for a hand-made set like that given everything involved, and that it sounded like she had already found a good deal. She wasn't upset or anything, but I sensed a slight bit of surprise, but my senses are occasionally off. I wasn't apologetic at all-in fact-quite businesslike, which I think was a good way to approach the situation, because I am trying to run a business after all. So that is my story and Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, August 27

The Petty Potter

Okay. Um, I think I just found another pet peeve. That's probably not the correct term for this. Here goes.

I get a phone call today. I don't answer the call because I'm a big call screener and I was glazing and didn't want to get sucked into a conversation. So the phone beeps with a message and I check it. On the message is a friend of mine. She says this, and I'll try to quote as verbatim as I can.

"Hi Deb, it's Farrah (not her real name). I was out today and I saw this pottery and had an idea and I thought of you."

(I'm thinking right now that she's about to tell me this nifty little item that she thinks might be good for my work and I'm thinking, oh how sweet of her to call me). Then she goes on.

"I can't really afford to buy these for everyone for Christmas and pay retail and so I thought you could make them for me and we could figure something out and I could pay you a certain amount."

I know I'm a little sensitive sometimes. Things rub me the wrong way easily. But I wonder if I am being too sensitive, or maybe am just not as tolerant of insensitivity towards me and being used as I once was. Ten years ago I would have agreed to work pro-bono making Christmas gifts for her, because I probably would have been concerned of what she might think of me for refusing. Might I seem petty? Or not a team player? Nowadays, I just don't care so much anymore. Why should I strive to be tactful and generous about this? Why do I feel the need to preface this post with "I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it but . . ."

Having said this I want to make this clear. I am not stingy with my work. I am more than happy to share with family and friends. It's just clay that I shaped and I'm happy to give it away-when I want to, and when it's a choice I've made. Granted, a lot of what I give away for free are seconds (or what I view as seconds but they think I'm crazy for not liking), but not always. Come to my house and express a love for a piece, and I'll probably tell you to take it with you. But I don't feel as generous when someone views me as an option to "paying retail".

I still haven't called her back. This could be interesting.

Tuesday, August 26

Just Words

I have this pet peeve. It centers around people acting and saying things that imply that making pottery isn't really work. It's become such a pet peeve, that I don't tolerate it anymore. Someone says something, I say something back. I know they probably don't intend for their comments to offend, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be called to task and perhaps learn a little bit more about life.

Subject: yesterdays comment

"So, are you still working, working (said twice) or are you just doing the pottery thing now?"

Is this making anyone elses hair stand up like it did mine?

My response: "Well, I still consider it working, working (said twice) but yes I'm making pottery full time now".

Subtle, but direct in its' own way. Oh, if I kept a book. One of my favorites starts with this:

" . . . it must be nice . . ."

Monday, August 25

Black bears and black pipe

Just wanted to jot a quick post with some info about my wheel legs. I decided not to take a photo because I just posted a couple of photos with my shorter wheel legs, and I think you can aptly use your imagination and visualize it taller. But I would like to share the details. I had written that I wanted to raise my wheel higher, but I'm a little priss and didn't want to put the wheel on blocks, and so we drove to Lowes on Sunday (stopped in to see my daughter and grandson while we were there and took him out for ice cream-he is so cute), but anyway-at Lowes they have all different sizes of black pipe-the exact thing my wheel legs and short extensions are made of-and so I bought three 18" pieces of pipe, which they cut for free. I wish I had gotten them 20" because after cutting I discovered that I had to pay for five feet even though I only got 4 1/2 feet, but with 18" extensions my wheel can go high enough if I want that I could stand (which I don't want) so I'm fine. Another small detail I discovered after the pipe was cut, was that if I bought less than 10' I had to pay a higher price. Ten feet and over it was 2.40 a foot, and less than ten feet I think was 4.19 a foot. I could deal with it because the new legs still only cost me 20 bucks. So I'm pretty excited and Adam helped hold the wheel up while I put the new legs on. He's a little goofy and very helpful. He was more excited than I was.

This photo above is from a couple of weeks ago. It's really bad I know, but the best we could get in a where's the camera panic. We were sitting on the couch and all of a sudden Adam just says: Bear! and I look up and there is this relatively large (but I've seen larger) bear lumbering down our street. Now I don't live in the boonies, as in, on my street there are probably 8-10 houses within a few hundred feet, I am 1/8 mile from McDonalds and the highway, and about a mile from Hannafords and Walmart. I am however on the edge of the woods. We live smack in the middle (or maybe the edge) of bear country, still you don't just expect a bear to go strolling by in the middle of the day. Adam goes running out down the street after it trying to get a picture (not smart-and you'd think he'd never seen a bear before, although at the restaurant where he used to work in the Valley they would have to scare them away from the dumpsters).

I used to work at the same restaurant as Adam (how we met-he hired me-how cute) and one night I'm walking out to my car and I open the drivers door and this bear stands up on its back legs from the other side of the car. You just can't imagine how intimidating that can be. They are pretty big and imposing while standing erect. But my encounter was one of probably hundreds there. The bears are so strong they pick up the grease dumpsters and tip them over to get at the fat. I worked at another restaurant a few miles down the road from that one and same thing, on my way out to the dumpster and there one is. Fortunately I was not alone, and the guy I was with was much taller and meatier than I am, so I think would make a better meal, so I wasn't as worried. We stood and watched him for a while and finally had to scare him away to get to our cars. Realistically they are not dangerous. They are not attack animals-but they occasionally do attack, and it's almost always ugly, and so I would like that it never happens to me. Or anyone else for that matter. We have Black bears around here and the thinking is, if attacked, to fight back as hard as you can with a Black bear, while I believe the thinking with Grizzlies is to kiss your ass good-bye.

Sunday, August 24

You may be sick of this by now, mug test #7

Well it's finally here. My seventh test, what for me is thrilling, and what for you might now be a little old hat. But, see here. My first test was rather disappointing. As was my second and third really. But my last couple of test have been quite inspiring. I pretty much liked all seven of the seven mugs in this last firing. A high success rate for me. Shape of this one-not so great. Design, I like it pretty much.

Gotta compare this next one maybe as well.Like this little guy up here. Really like the black dots against the . . . black. Subtle, but makes it far more interesting I think.
These next two are results using two of the three new white liners I am testing. I am relatively happy with all three, but two give a little pinholing, but I can almost garauntee they won't on this new clay I am testing. so I'm not writing them off yet.

Ahhhh . . . yet another reason why I am looking for another white glaze . . .

I think I have two test firings left for now. One I need to do to test the small batch of white I made up as a result of these last tests. I really don't want to invest an entire kiln load until I know for sure. Also, I made up a larger batch of the new clay I have been testing, and threw about eight mugs and some bowls the other day. I am impressed. So far with the fired color and density, and glaze interaction, and now with its' throwing ability. I can't believe how well it collars in - for five day old clay. Impressive. Well, if you haven't been bored to tears by now, there is still more to come. And if you are bored to tears . . .

Saturday, August 23

Some mugs from test #6

Well hello. Here are just a few cups from my sixth test. Overall I was happy with everything, some more than others. Above is a tumbler that had white slip on the outside. You can see what a difference that makes with my white glaze. Much brighter white and no defects. I wish more of my bisque had slip on it so I wouldn't be having this white issue. I did have three very promising results from my white test the other day however, so hopefully I'll be able to get through my current bisque without any more white issues.

Here is a detail of the blue stripe above. I love what's going on here, and I just love the black, white and blue together.

Here is a cup similar to one I have made before-but that's a good thing. Always good when you know you can repeat something.

Here is the mug that was supposed to have black dots with a black liner, but ended up with stripes. I think the blue is far less overwhelming this way. Well, taking the day off because family is coming, and then tomorrow off because Adam is off on Sundays, so I won't be making much pottery. I do plan on building a new workbench in my studio however as I am badly in need of more counter space, and under-counter storage. Bye for now-

Friday, August 22

New potters stool

My new stool arrived today. I was in the back yard taking some dazzling photos of my #7mug test results (and I haven't even posted the photos of #6 yet-what a sly devil) and I heard this sound like a UPS truck. I thought- could it be? And it twas. Thanks again to Joy Tanner for sending me this link to Sheffield Pottery where I bought the stool. I still need to get my wheel up a little higher. When I bought it years ago I bought leg extensions for it, but I got the short ones because I thought, what kind of wacko would need 18" extensions on their wheel? I am opposed to putting it up on cinderblocks or such, so I need to figure something else less obstrusive out. So, up above is the stool in its' shortest position.

Here it is in its highest position

And here it is in its clever little potters position. All four legs are independently adjustable. Pretty cool huh?

Here is a little critter I saved from our patio drain. We have to remember to check once in a while because frogs and salamanders can get in, but can't seem to get out. We also just get a lot of frogs on our sunken patio, who, I think go hopping by and drop into the abyss and can't get out. They like to go under and behind our hot tub. I saved two today.

Yesterday was a sad day for the animal kingdom at my house. I found a little blue jay who had obviously been attacked by my cat Batman (I didn't see him do it, but I know it was him) and I held him for a little while but then decided to let what would happen, happen, and put him in the grass under the trees. Later I went to check on him and he was gone! I was excited for about 10 seconds when I turned around and saw a very dead blue jay behind me. Oh well.

I did save a grasshopper from my mystery glaze however. I have the cover off this 30 gallon can, which is 3/4 full, because I'm trying to dehydrate it so I can get rid of it. Little guy was stuck in the glaze on top, so I gently gave him a bath and sent him on his way. Daisy stepped on a frog the other day, and that wasn't pretty. But that's another story.

Wednesday, August 20

Mug test #5 and grass

So this mug up above is a little blue. A little too blue. I am retesting it with a black liner, but I got a little crazy and did stripes instead of dots on the other one. So I guess I won't really know what this mug looks like with a black liner, will I?

This one above is okay, but something's missing. Maybe it'll grow on me, but the panel seems like a blank canvas. I'm trying to find a balance between boring and simple. The less going on with the pot, the more I usually like it.

I really like the mug above. I think this is the cup that I talked about in my post about cup shapes that I thought looked like it should go have tea and crumpets with it's big, fat, bow handle. Now it's all dressed up for the occasion. An interesting observation. When I glazed the inside, I wiped the drips off. Let the cup dry for a while. When I glazed the outside, I could see that the glaze was absorbing unevenly where I had wiped, and presumably where the cup was more damp. Really shows you how glaze thickness and such a subtle thing can affect the color.

Afternote: When I glazed mug test #6, I saw the same thing happening when I used this glaze combo again. Where I had wiped drips of blue glaze from the outside of the mug, the glaze seems to be repelled. This time I know it's not an issue of the mug being too damp, for I dried it a while in the sun. I think something in the glaze must be sealing the surface somehow, so I will need to be careful when glazing the inside of pots, or maybe light sanding over the spill area might break the surface.

A little detail of above cup.
Here's another stripey cup. I obviously like stripes and dots. I didn't put up all of the cups. Too many photos.

Adam and I are not really into lawn maintenance. It just seems like a silly waste of time to me to be out there chopping all the grass off. We mow our front yard occasionally so as not to offend our neighbors delicate sensibilities, but pretty much let the rest go and mow a path where we want, or need to go. The benefit to this is obvious. My backyard is a haven for butterflies, grasshoppers and frogs. When the wind, or Daisy disturbs the grass, I have seen a half dozen butterflies I didn't even know were there, shoot to the sky. You don't usually see that on two inch grass.

Here's a link to a page I was just looking at by Jeffrey Guin at the blog Clean Mud. He made a raku kiln from a garbage can and has very easy to follow instructions. If you're interested in Raku, scroll to the bottom of the page where it starts and follow it up.

New clay and snow

So I'm pretty happy about the results I have here. I am thrilled with the glazes on this clay body. They look great, and amazingly there are no obvious defects. How is this possible? Five glazes and they all look good? On a body I made? This is someone else's life. The clay is this great dark brown with a hint of red. It reminds me of a dark, hard terra-cotta. So, even though I want to plunge right in and mix up a couple thousand pounds, I'm trying to be sane and methodical about it. So instead I mixed up a 20 lb. batch which I should probably go check on soon. Weird. I swore that I would never make my own clay again because I so despised doing it in college, but I have no reservations about doing it now. I think I much prefer this method of making it (slurry and rack vs. dry in clay mixer). So I better design some drying racks and begin construction.

The thing is, unless someone has a better idea, if this 20 lb. test is a go and I go with this body, I have to imagine how much clay I might use before next spring-and make it all before the weather turns cold. I don't know what the weather is like in other areas where people make their own clay, but in the winter here it can be a bit chilly. Like 25 degrees below zero chilly sometimes, but almost consistently below freezing which I don't imagine is very good for drying clay. Especially the last three winters. They've brought a whole other level to cold endurance.

I was a snowboard instructor for one of the really cold years and on top of the mountain, with the wind blowing and the air already in the below zero range, I remember a day that with the wind chill it was 45 degrees below zero. On days like that we all walked around wrapped up like mummies. You could tell who people were by their goggles, snowboards and occasionally special attire. We had this one guy who taught skiing, who when he wasn't teaching wore a pink snowsuit, with a green furry belt. I didn't even know him but liked him immediately. I got frostbite once on just a little bit of the side of my nose, because there was the tiniest leak of air sneaking in between my goggles and face wrap. I could feel this little sliver of air burning my skin as I blasted down the hill at lightening speed, flipping and jumping and ollies to high heaven-oops, sorry, I got caught up in a little fantasy there. It was really cold anyway.


I almost forgot. Here's Daisy Doo. I made her a little cave under my slabroller. I really need the storage space but I'm hoping to give her a safe place to go during the frequent thunderstorms we have-she usually comes over and stands by me shaking violently, which I can stand for about three minutes. Also just her own little pad. Unfortunately her favorite place to lay is wherever I am standing, which isn't usually very practical. I'm making glazes the other day and walking around her and stepping over her for an hour. But I don't mind in a way because she went through this skittish phase, very skittish, and just walking by her or standing up would freak her out and she'd jump to her feet like someone had shot a gun. It was freakin me out a little. She's a weird dog. She's really good natured and always been treated well, so she has no reason to be fearful, but she has this habit of looking at you like she's done something wrong. She hangs her head low and looks up at you through the top of her eyes and keeps darting them to the side. It's hard to get a picture of her because I feel like I'm torturing her.

I just realized this is my 100th post. I think I am supposed to celebrate or something. So I wept some pretend tears of joy. I think I will be a little more festive on my 365 and 1/4 day of posting.

Post Another Alright, Some Shmatin Glossy Yeah White

So I'm on a quest for white. I dug through some old test tiles to see if I had anything I might be able to use, but no luck. It's frustrating, because I know on a lower iron body many of these would probably be fine. I'm not much of a glaze chemist, so I haven't really spent much time trying to tweak one recipe until I get what I want, although that may be my second route.

I made up eight different tests yesterday. I'll try them out in my next firing and hope for some magic. I have so many recipes compiled, and a lot of the names are really vague. Sometimes I have the source of the recipe so I can just write "Richards yellow" or whatever. But many I don't and so to avoid confusion with all the other Satin Whites, or Glossy Whites (these are not very creative names-who named these? What did they name their children-Small Person?, Little Human? I wasn't exactly creative, but threw the first word that popped into my mind onto the tag. If I were to ever post the recipe publicly for some reason, I would make an effort to locate its origin, and at the very least make sure it was not attributed to me, so I don't see given them nicknames as a problem.

I have:

Alright White
Posts244 White (we know this one!)
Another WSM
Yeah Satin Matt
White Breaking White (take off of Tom Buck's Cream Breaking Red w/no RIO)
Satin Shmatin
Glossy Mossy No Flossy (Glossy Mossy Flossy with no RIO)
Some White Liner (my tribute to a little pig)

Test Mugs #5 is cooling right now. I'm pretty anxious to see this because I have my test clay in there with my glazes. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but it would be nice if it all went well. I kept a small piece aside and test it every day for plasticity and it's improved tremendously in the two weeks or so since I made it. I can bend the snake with no breaking now.

Tuesday, August 19

Thunder and teeth

I haven't been doing much work in my studio the last two days, so not much new to show. I added some words to a few of the tooth fairy jars. Thought I'd make a few to fill some other needs as well. I have mixed feelings about doing this. There is a pretty large chunk of myself that feels a little like I'm selling out to do this kind of thing. It's kind of kitsy (kichy?) Not exactly high art. BUT, it does utilize some small spaces in my kiln, and give me something to sell cheaply and in markets where people aren't looking to spend big bucks, or buy big pieces, such as the White Mountain Boogie and Blues music festival I went to Sunday. It's not a craft fair and most people I think would just want a trinket. I think I might rent a space next year and I'm thinking of appropriate items. Of course I would bring plenty of pots that don't feel like a sell-out to me such as mugs (high art!!) and bowls and what not. What a conundrum. I do like making these however, they are kind of fun, so I guess if that is there, then it can't be too much of a sell out.

My back is out a little. I've spent so much time at the wheel the last few weeks and I could feel it cramping up. It's hard to get around the last few days. I checked out Staples yesterday for a new stool. I want something I can adjust so I am standing/sitting. Legs kinda half straight, but weight on my butt you know? But I want a seat that tilts forward as well. The only stool I found that could go to 31" high was 169$. Not able to swing that currently. I'm not really into putting my chair up on cinderblocks and tiltling wedges or whatever, so if I can't find something soon I might try building it myself.

It's hard to believe some areas are experiencing drought now. This summer has been crazy with rain. I've never seen anything like it. More thunderstorms in the last six weeks than I think combined in the last six years. Torrential downpours, days on end rain. I LOVE IT. Now, if I were living a life of something other than say, working? It would be a drag. I normally love to hike and bike, but I just don't know when to do it, and the less I do the less desire and energy I have for it. Along with this rain there has been no heat. Summers around here are usually brutal. Even if it's only 85 or 90 degrees it is so humid you just want to drop dead. My a/c has hardly been on in two months. The rivers are swollen, raging and brown. I wouldn't want to fall in. I do miss hiking and biking though. I love the feeling of freedom, and the connection to my body. Hiking in New England usually has a spectacular reward. Once you are above tree line you can see forever. I stand on the peak, dirty and sweaty and elated feeling high and totally at peace, and try to imagine how far away is my home.

Saturday, August 16

Wicked awesome test mug #4 results

So, as you can see from my post title I am pretty pleased with these last results. There are still a few issues I need to deal with, but huge potential I think. The blue really looks nice with my palette, and in practice it interfaces well with the other glazes-a huge plus. I got these issues though, you can even see it in this photo above. My white liner glaze blisters unpredictably, or rather maybe too predictably and I am finding the risk of this unacceptable. I am quite certain this is directly related to my clay body. It doesn't behave this way on porcelain, or if I use it over slip. I have a really high iron body and has been difficult finding glazes that co-exist well with it. But it's the best looking and most mature body I have tested. So I need to do something about that.

This cup above is glazed the same way as the one above it. If you click on the picture you might be able to see a nice attribute of this blue however. Where it breaks over edges it shows the dark body, but then fades away from the dark edge into a pale, whitish color, then goes to blue. This gives it a lot of interest I think. I think it probably has to be the right thickness for this to happen. You can see I chose to have a cup of tea in this one.
This matt black and the blue have a real potential together I think. The issue which you can see on the cup below is that I have to be careful not to let the liner glaze become too thick on the rim or I can get shivering. I know this is not a result of the two glazes meeting, because usually it is fine and I have frequently ecountered this issue in the past with the black liner. So, that should be an easy problem to deal with.

So, below is the same glaze combo as way up above, but with the blue as a liner. Unfortunately I got a few pinholes around the inside of the rim. I am first going to approach this as maybe the glaze was too thick because I held it in the cup for several seconds before draining out. So we'll see about that.

Adam gave me an amazing critique this morning. I thought it was very thoughtfully done and very astute/intuitive/perceptive. He was very happy with the mugs and said that he could really see the style and direction that I am going in. He described the work as playful, whimsical and not really "perfect", but in an intentional way. What did he say, something like the work is mature but yet has a child like quality. He said it way better but it really impressed me how thoughtful his critique was. He noticed the blisters and such said he has become really aware of how much more there is to making pottery, than just making the pots. How many issues need to be dealt with etc. He looks at pottery now with a different eye because of what he has learned from living with me, and has become a professional s-crack spotter. I really appreciated his feedback this morning. It was positive yes, but most importantly inspiring.

So I think this blue, if it can stand the test of a few more test firings is going to be a welcome addition to my work. I know I said a few posts back that I was getting rid of blue, but I was glazing a lot of my work in blue allover, and I think my intention now is to just use this to compliment and highlight the cups with a little color sometimes. I can't wait to test these glazes on that test clay. It's bisqueing now. It has this dark brown, reddish quality that I hope might really add to the glazes as it peeks through. AND NO GROG!!!! Oh happy day, to throw with clay with no grog. Okay, bye.

Friday, August 15

Covered jars and tooth fairys

Here are five of the eleven jars I hoped to finish today. I've got a little spiral thing going on which I like. It's slip on the pot after it was trimmed, and I'm just hoping there are no unseemly cracks as it drys. You may be wondering, "why does she make so many covered jars? What's up with that?" The reason is that I have avoided it for so long because it was, well, you know, difficult. Making the lids and all that. So I have been pushing myself to become comfortable and good at it. I was focusing on pots with galleries for a while,and now I am trying a flange lid.

I put a little sgraffito (I don't know how to spell that) on a few tiny jars.

My daughter gave me this little jar once that had some perfumed creamy stuff in it, and I saw the jar today and thought it might be a good item to make for all the small spaces (good and faster than my tiny jars). I am thinking that they are tooth fairy jars. I'm going to get some corks and we'll see how they sell. If they don't sell well, I will most likely never make tooth fairy jars again.

Well, I guess that's about it. I don't have the mental energy to write much more lately. Oh, some exciting news. Tomorrow morning I will open up mug test #4 firing. It has a little of that blue in it. Also, a little surprise, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 14

I love you

I'm finally done with these little pots. For such tiny pots, they take a lot of time.

Here's a picture for a size perspective of them.

So, some good news. I think I've got something going on with my handles. I still need to perfect it a little which will come with practice, and I'm not sure how big to make them yet so I tried a few different sizes, but all in all I'm pretty happy with them.

I found this on my bench this morning when I went into my studio. How sweet a way is that to start the day?

Wednesday, August 13

Mug test #3

So, here's the girls from the last test all lined up. Again, some decent stuff, some boring stuff, some puzzling stuff and one possible gem.

This cup above could have some possibilities. However, the white glaze tends to blister and pinhole when it feels like it. I try to be patient with it because I kind of like it, but I'm thinking when I run this huge five gallon bucket out it's gonna go. It's hard to see in this image, but I got blistering where the white overlaps the black, and more significantly, on the other side some major shivering. But I like the graphic quality of the black and white for sure.
This mug above is kind of interesting, in that it is glazed ALMOST exactly like the one below, but I don't like this last one as much. I have figured out a few reasons why, but it is interesting to see what a big change, a subtle difference can make.
This cup above is from the last firing, glazed very much like the one above it. I really like this one.
I kind of like this. Except it's kind of boring. It needs a little pizzazz and I just need to figure out what that could be. But it has potential.

This is my favorite girl of the bunch this time. And standing next to her is my little gem. I am looking for a blue I can use that is sort of turquoisy, durable, not ugly, and works on my body (I have a high iron body and glazes often don't like it). So, I'm kind of diggin it. I think I'll use it in my next set of tests and see what happens. I've tested and rejected a lot of blues.

Today was a long day. Those little cute tiny jars kicked my but. I actually still have three of them left to finish. I never got to the mugs at all. But I did throw the beginnings of maybe eight more pots while waiting for everything to firm up. But still, just one of those days when it doesn't seem like I got a lot done. Especially since the pots I finished are about one and a half inches big. Oh well.