Friday, September 30, 2011

What's going on in the studio?

I know, I know...I've been all introspective lately.

So here I am, sipping an Americano (single decaf espresso with hot water to make a full size cup of coffee)...and wishing I'd taken some new pictures of the new pitchers and platters.  Well, sorry about that.  My hands and life have been too full to take care of lots of little details lately.  And you don't want to know the condition of my laundry.

I've kind of spent the week working on a coffee pot.  Seriously.  I threw the body, and then just before trimming it, I set the bat it was on sort of leaning on the wheel head, while trying to make some space for my body and legs and all around the wheel.  And pushed against the pedal to move it into position, only to have it flash "ON" and the wheel head spun rapidly...not just a little, I mean FAST. 

I grabbed the flying coffee pot, said a word that was repeatable but not exactly legal according to the commandments...and looked to see the damage.

The rim had been altered with several nice deep dents.  And the sides were just a bit off round.  I decided it was fixable...which meant really cutting off the top and re-throwing the rim.  Fortunately I was able to wet it down enough again to do some more work on it.  It continued to have a bit of a limp as it turned on the wheel, even when I tried to round it up again.  Finally I put it aside, and was glad at least I'd cut it off the bat...though if I hadn't then all the drama wouldn't have happened probably.

I'd already made the lid, so I just remade the rim to fit it, I hoped.   Then in the next few days in the studio, I made a high spout, which was to be cut into pieces to make a curved spout that starts at the bottom of the tallish pot.  I also made a slab for the handle to be cut from...since I've enjoyed making loop-di-loop handles this way rather than true potter's handles which are "pulled."

Trimmed the original pot by throwing a big chuck of clay which could nest the narrow top of the pot...and I discoverd a thin bottom on it...and still pretty thick walls.  Oh well, this was going to be my first coffee pot, and I was determined it would be finished, even if it failed sometime (again).  Then a day later cut that spout to pieces and reassembled it, fastening the handle on it, and left it covered to simmer, er, to all become the same level of humidity.  Today perhaps I can finish the spout's joints so they are pretty.

Did I mention I made 2 coffee cones?  One for a single cup, to be placed right on the rim of a mug.  One for the big pot, which is also usable for single cups...but will be part of the big pot system.  Yep, this isn't just a serving pot, it's designed to make paper filter drip coffee. 

Why did I spend a week doing mainly one pot?  Because I never had before, and I wanted to see if it was something I could do.  I would be thinking about the next steps when I fell asleep.  That was a good thing.

Oh, I did throw several platters too.  Just to use some of the time I couldn't work on the coffee pot!  And I glazed a couple of things as well.  I may focus on one pot for a whole week, but I am aware that there has to be more than one pot in my life!  So dear friends who are production potters, sorry about that.  I like using the scientific method to discover what is possible...and to take me where I've never been before.  Also, and this is very important, I needed one of these. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

beauty and function

That's the potter's be able to supply our homes with functional wares which are beautiful.  Lately I'm only supplying my own home.

So if nothing is sellling for me, I have to think why.  I won't lay all the cause upon economic marketplace reasons.  After all, other potters are making sales.

So I go back to my inner cause...that which is the only thing I really have any control over.  My own creative process.

Am I creating to sell?   Perhaps not.  I keep moving away from marketing mentality into "artistic" endeavors.

I could make more of the triple spiral labyrinths, as well as the Chartres Cathedral labyrinths.  I could start carving and painting the mountain scenery again on the sides of vases, or on tile forms.  I know these are things I can do.

But they aren't necessarily moving me forward into being a better artist.

So the question becomes, do I spend my time, my precious time that is limited in working in clay to only a certain number of hours, in making marketable items, or to stretching myself to do something that makes me feel wonderful, because I am trying to make something wonderful?

Yep, that's where I'm sitting right now.

What do you think?

Saturday, September 24, 2011


In a few minutes other women will arrive to work out the final details of our Sun. service to be given tomorrow.

I am feeling ok about it, but don't think I've worked very much on it because of my friend's situations this last week.  Memorial Service on Mon, then another person who disappeared with all the concerns over that, and yesterday getting my new kitty.  It has not been a normal week.  I have one friend who also had to deal with a cold as I'm not complaining, just stating this has not been my normal week!

I was glad to be able to thank one person for "pushing my buttons".  It is an opportunity which I generally avoid.  But sometimes it's better to absorb that it's happening, and find the gratitude place in it.  I think I probably took some pride away, which next time I'll try to avoid. After all, the point is to grow, not to find fault either in myself or the other.  Or maybe the point is to build relationships, which I admit to not being particularly good at.

So this is an Equinox with lots of feelings for me.  Coming to balance.  Day and night have equality of splitting time.  They don't exactly have equality of other things.  Weather is completely least this year autumn came whooshing down the mountains a full week before the Equinox.  And there's the silliness of the calendar saying the 23rd is Equinox, when it's always been the 21st or 20th, or maybe 22nd.  What's going on?  I don't have time to look up the scientific explanation.  But it sure is screwey.

I'm getting back into my life, making pottery/sculptures, being a cat mother, being a grandmother, and still and always a mother.  Now my prayers (yes I do pray) are for my youngest son and his partner to obtain jobs that are fullfilling to their needs.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Mugs and bowls

In the midst of everything else, here are some new pics of my work.  If I didn't have some pottery to work on, I'd probably be vege-ing out somehow. 
Of course today is turning into a wonderful outdoor day.  So there's that too.

The clay makes all the variations in color so much fun.
And putting glazes on then wiping them thinner in spots, so the great clay shows better.
This has become my favorite glaze combo.  I've now made demitasse cups in small and large, and there are now 4 mugs that are grande...probably 14 oz. (Well, maybe 12.  I can't check because they are all wrapped in the crate in the car, waiting for next week's tailgate market)

I'm asking the universe of all possibilities to help our little group of potters make some sales this weekend.  There are some of us using pictures of various saints to help.  Whatever can help is more than welcome.  Some of our group are students that need help paying bills...well, we all need help paying bills, I'd guess.  So while people get their great produce and honey and organic this and that this weekend, I hope they think of how a piece (or more) of pottery would just be the thing to get as well!

I'm going to go work on the triple spiral labyrinth that my friend made 2 days before she died.  We worked together to make the path clear.  I am just going to infuse the path with some purple paint, which should contrast nicely with the orange tones of bisque clay.  That will be placed somewhere among the "remembrances" at the memorial service tonight.

I've decided to skip the pot luck dinner, and just hope I can remember how to sing the 2 songs the Sahara Peace Choir will be singing.

Our community of loving friends and family will be sharing what a blessing this woman has been.  It is indeed going to be a celebration of her life.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sept. plates

 A casserole dish...much needed in my household for taking to pot-lucks.

 But I'll gladly sell it to provide the stuff to put in the next one!

 Most potters make test tiles.  I hate to waste the time and energy, and never find that the actual glazes come out looking like the test tiles I make

Test plates.  Here several glazes are applied, to see how things happen when they come together and when they stay separate.  This is the one with a chocolate brown center motif. 

 Raspberry center...

 A golden center motif...

And here's the turquoise center playfulness..

 Detail of why I call this playfulness..

These plates all stack together wonderfully.  I'm such a happy potter!  Sometimes the surprises that glazes give me are all it takes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Thoughts of the day...
Zing, like the bee that came over to the chocolateer from the booth next door.  I had to decide whether to get dark chocolate with or without sea salt.  I finally decided for purist taste.

Zip for the sunshine and cool breezes...I'm in love with early fall weather...warm and cool and energizing for me when humidity is also low.  I want to dance.

Zoop up lots of goodies, tomatoes, a bagel heated and smeared with cream cheese for lunch, some apple butter...and

Zowzer for the maple syrup that was harvested with horses by Amish in Wisconsin, and then canned by a local woman.

Zowie for the figs.  Freshly picked, ripe, and such a gift of the goddess!

The tailgate market was so full of joy today.  Except for my friends who wanted to sell their pottery.  Mmmm, that was a sadness.  There was no reason, except maybe there weren't any tourists today, just folks who were buying their own foods for the week.

So next week we will have something different for our display.  Don't know what yet, but it's going to have some changes...thanks to my friend and myself who will be the vendors of the day for our little co-op.  I actually dreamed that the display setup would have something new and zingy to it.

Zoom, that was me speeding over to the studio to finish trimming my pitcher.  I also brought home some of the labyrinth discs that I've been making for the impress the design a bit more, clean the edges up, basically trimming detail work.  No, I didn't actually speed, but needed to use that adverb, zoom!

Zzzz, that will be me going to bed tonight and not having the hours of waiting for sleep to come like I did last night, so I slept in till quite late today.

I've got lots of clay work to do...both some wall hangings, and some autumn leaf pendants and well as more pitchers that I've enjoyed starting in my specific style.  But this season has snuck up on me, and I've got a lot to do.

PS, I removed the blog that I posted yesterday.  If you want to know about my secret illness, I've decided not to post it as a public announcement after all.  I live in a conservative community, and somehow I don't think it is ready to discuss these more private aspects of my life.  At least I'm not, except with close friends.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

links for potter info...

Community studio in Missoula ...check it out if you haven't yet.

This is one page of the clay studio...where my son is listed as one of the teachers.

I liked hearing about another community studio, similar to the one in which I am active.  Not to mention me being proud of my son, Tai Rogers, becoming a Resident in the community studio in Missoula, Montana.   

Our BMCA clay studio here in Black Mountain doesn't have "residents" or studio assistants.  Just a couple of us who volunteer to monitor the studio during several of the Open Studio times.  The time our students can work outside of their class time is just 19 hours a week.  Missoula's community studio is open 24/7 for it's students.

But it's pretty clear that the Missoula studio is much bigger than ours...though I am happy to to learn some of the ideas that are on their site.

The other site I'm going to give you a link to is Charles Freeland's, who is our new studio manager.  This is his product page, but there's more information on his home page.

I'm enjoying getting to know Charles gradually, as he fixes things and makes the studio more comfy for use.  He also spends a lot of time with his students during open studios.  It's like having a private tutor, and they are loving it!

Today I was busy in the studio, and have a pitcher to finish tomorrow.  I've started impressions for 8 Triple Spiral Labyrinths.  I've also got 3 impressions of the Labyrinth from the Chartres Cathedral.  I put handles on 4 mugs, and trimmed 4 cereal bowls.  So whenever they are bone dry, they'll go into the kiln room.

The Labyrinths are pressed into clay from a mold I made.  The Triple Spirals are for a class that starts this Sun, and they obviously won't be ready in time...but I'm wanting each student to be able to paint their own glaze on theirs.  So when they are bisqued, then they will have that opportunity.

I'm happy that tomorrow there will be a couple of hours to be in the studio...since I've volunteered to "monitor" the time.  That way I'll be able to continue working on the things I couldn't finish tonight.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Give away

This birthday I gave away pottery.

 I was very fortunate to have lots of family members around to distribute it to.

The main trick was, how to make sure that certain pieces went to certain people.  
 I did give some choices to well as directly hand some to them.

 This one came in handy when a pot of pasta was about to be served, and there wasn't a bowl the right size, so voila, I pulled it out of the crate where it was waiting, and it became the serving bowl it was meant to be.

 The pretty platter/plate became a nice serving dish also.

This one was special to me, and I gave it to a special relative...thinking how she is so feminine and this pitcher is dainty as well.  The raspberry glaze is really beautiful on it, which only another potter might appreciate. 
So I liked giving away some of my better pieces.  I probably had a few other ones that I can't find the photos of...
and now I don't have them on shelves or crates in my house anymore.  They may remain in the homes of those I gave them to, or they may become many pieces in trash somewhere. 

But I've completely let go of them.

You are so welcome!

Monday, September 5, 2011

pitcher and little jars

Refire glaze of celadon over Mexico

As I posted before, Mexico left a metalic shine sometimes, which wasn't permanent.  I even could taste it sometimes, so put another glaze over it and refired a few things.  Some worked, some didn't.

 There used to be 4 cups to this set, but I'll trade a couple with clay that bubbled and cracked for no longer having a "taste" in my mouth from drinking the Mexico flavor glaze.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I bet you thought I stopped making any by now!

Reglazed plate looks better!

detail of plate...the white bands are in the raspberry glaze, not reflections

When I got back from rolling along the highways, there were bunches of glazed pots to take pictures of.  So here they are!  Some are reglazes, and some of those didn't work so well.

A deep dish plate, with about 1" rim depth

 Oops, the kitty bowl got a boil.  Right under her leg, it's all bubbled up.  There were no bubbles evident following either bisque or first glaze firing.

I loved the Mexico glaze on this bowl, with underglaze decorations.  But when kitty drank out of it, her tongue started licking off the surface of the Mexico (a kind of metalic shine disappeared).  So I decided to put a coat of celadon over the whole thing.
 Only trouble was the clay couldn't take it...the bubble goes all the way to the bottom, and the glaze has this awful crack along the bottom as well.  Guess I'll be limiting my "reglazing" in the future.

But I do like the combo of Mexico with the will probably be doing it some more, on a first glaze firing.