Monday, September 3, 2012

Strange day in the studio...

OK, not THAT strange! Probably more of an eye-opening, reflective type day.

I went out yesterday to check on my completed kiln load and to do some glazing or maybe even creating.

Kiln was at 420, too hot to open still, but where it should have been. Hot enough to keep me from being tempted to open the lid and peek!

Walked over and looked at things to glaze. Nah, not feelin' it.

Went to my glass, finishing table, dorked around a bit with some things. Nah, not feelin' it.

Moved over to the creating area, took one look and said "yikes" in my mind. Definitely not able to feel it...

When I go through my creative whirlwinds nothing goes back where it belongs. Stuff piles up, stacks up, lands wherever and stays there. I make a huge mess. I was looking a super huge mess.

Soooo, spent the day cleaning up just that one corner.

I realized something about myself during the process --- I do need organization. I've always considered myself a pack-rat type, fine with stacks and messes. I can't even claim to know where things are like some messy people!

However, I have a breaking point.

When I'm in the "zone" nothing matters, I just go full tilt. When I stop, I must clean and organize before I can start again.

I feel cleansed or something along those lines... kind of like cleansing the palate after tasting a good wine! It's energizing to create in an area that is organized.

Today, just as soon as I complete this and put on my messy clay clothes, I'm heading out to my clean corner to start the process again. Ideas were tumbling through my mind as I cleaned up and I'm going to go MESS UP MY STUDIO!!! (Oh, first, I'm going to unload the kiln ;-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Today was a glaze day. Lately a lot of my pieces have been multi-step processes. I've been putting one or more glaze colors on the pieces, letting it dry overnight, then wiping the excess off getting the piece totally soaked, of course. Then letting it dry again overnight... Then adding my final colors. Sometimes I do that last glaze coat and decide it needs some touching up so I let it dry overnight, then touch up. It's a long process, but I love the results when I layer up a variety of colors.

I finished up the piece on the left today, will be starting on the one below tomorrow. First I covered the entire piece in a dark brownish glaze, let it dry, wiped off the excess. Then I glazed the tile patterns using blues, aquas and other colors. I let them dry then wiped off the excess. Then I glazed the entire piece with a tan-ish glaze, making sure to leave some of the browns and as much as possible of the tile colors showing. Well, guess I'm not quite finished --- tomorrow I'm going to touch up some of the tile colors to make sure they pop a little.

I haven't quite settled in on the colors I'll use for the piece to the right. Usually I have a good picture in my head when I start making the piece but that one has been evolving. I keep thinking blacks, tan, brown but then my mind shoots over to red, yellow, blue, primary colors. I may fire the one above and let the one below sit for a while until the right colors "speak" to me...

The studio is a mess! I go like crazy for a while, then have to take a break and neaten up so I can start the messing up process again.

Playing around with a lot of glazes and using more than one kind of clay means I have a whole lotta test tiles floating around! I used to leave them laying out, grouped by color type (blues, etc.) but now have one of those plastic drawer sets where I keep them. For starters at least! By the time I've been out there in the studio glazing for a few days it looks like someone took the test tiles and threw them up in the air, let them land wherever!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Clay Dreaming

I wonder if I'm the only one who wakes up in the midst of building a pot? Some good ideas have come during the night as I slept... Sometimes I simply complete a piece I've been working on during a dream. Once in a while I come up with a color scheme for glazing a piece that's been sitting on a shelf awaiting inspiration.

This morning I woke up in the process of puzzling on building a coil pot. A HUGE coil pot. I stayed with it in that quasi-half-awake state for a bit, thinking about it. Then went "eh, not gonna happen" and moved on to thinking about my day. I think that may be the first time I ever remember deciding against what my subconscious mind tossed out at me during the night or waking moments.

I believe that idea may have come from some stellar coil pieces I posted a few days ago by 童建銘 on Facebook. I guess they've been rattling in my mind. They are fabulous. I'd post them on here but I need to check on copyright issues before sharing photos of someone's work. If you click on the link in the first sentence it should take you to a photo on Facebook but you may need to be signed in.

Here's his Facebook page:

I'm going to zap him a message and get permission to post --- you must see some of his pieces.

Well, first cup of tea is complete, time to move on to the list of things-to-do that I made after deciding not to do the dream pot.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My new pottery trees

In my last post I was tossing around ideas on how to show off my new series of hanging pieces. I've pretty much stayed with pieces that would sit on a shelf or table in the past although off and on have made wall pieces. Since I only had a few I usually just used a wooden plate stand to show them off or hung them on the ends of my shelf. With so many now I had to come up with a more "dignified" way to show them off.

I painted the shutters I mentioned, and the frames but it just didn't work for all the little pieces.

"Tree" is to the left, you can see the smaller one off to the right.

Cathy Spitz, who is teaching me how to do stained glass, found a couple of very cool "trees" at a local place that she uses to display her stained glass hangers at shows. It's made of welded metal, some rebar and other added metal, is slightly rusted and a creamy off-white paint. I loved her trees!

I finally took my butt over to the store a few weeks ago and... of course, they were closed. They're only open Thursday through Sunday. Long trip for nothing.

What made the trip that much more frustrating is that I got almost there, realized I needed gas, pulled into the gas station only to discover that I'd left my credit card and drivers license in my work out back-pack. I had to drive all the way back home, then drive all the way back over to learn they were closed. Ha. And yes, if I had known the name of the store I would have called before the trek. Possibly. It really never crossed my mind that a store would be closed during business hours.

I did go back the following week and found two perfect pieces to hold my hanging "dangles" (my term for the small ceramic pieces). I bought one large one and a small one. I would have gotten two big ones but didn't like any of the others.

Top of the large tree. Stands maybe 6 feet?
Turns out it's a good thing I didn't get two large ones --- they don't break down and the one I bought barely fit inside my vehicle once I've packed my shelves and pottery! Because they're metal I have to wrap the entire thing, too. Ah well, I think they look good. Usually my hubby is able to help with set up but he's been having some rough times so I had to do it alone on the way up. My son helped on the way home.

I seem to always take pictures as an afterthought and only when the lighting is bad, but I've included a few shots of my new trees. I took them while setting up for a show in Cumming, Georgia. I wish I had paid for electricity as the lighting was pretty bad. I talked with them about the lighting -- they were upset and apologetic. Someone had set the lights wrong and there wasn't a darned thing they could do about it. My pieces need light.

I put a piece of rebar between two of my shelf sets to hang some of the larger pieces. It was a happy accident that I found the bar, plan to buy another so I can do this again.

Little tree and one of the sheers I mentioned. Two shutters, too.
I backed the rebar hanging area with a stone colored sheer (straightened it out before the show started!). I backed the smaller shelf with a similar sheer to give me definition from the booth next to me. Not sure how I feel about the sheers. I like that they don't take up much space and they let light through. Not so sure that they look very professional. We'll see. Most shows I do are outdoors so they won't be needed.

I plan to paint my shelves to make them lighter as I mentioned in my last blog. I've been searching the stores for just the right color and texture...bringing home paint samples.

Anyone still reading? I was thinking as I typed that this may be the most boring series of blog posts ever! How many people are interested in the trials of getting a booth "just right"? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Changing my display...

Well, it struck me that now that I'm doing more hanging pieces I am going to hafta figure out how to nicely display them.

In my booth it's fairly easy, however, in an indoor show I'll need free-standing "hangers" to display the pieces.  Given they're all different sizes it's going to be an interesting challenge. For me. Maybe not for some of you!

I have been wandering through websites, booth displays, and how-to articles for ideas. I have also been looking at what I have on hand. I want a tasteful display that is lightweight, flexible (as in, fold-able, easy to transport) and a good fit for my shelving and overall "look"...

I spent the morning sorting through the things I have stashed in the garage and out in the studio. I have a number of tall and short shutters that can be connected or painted. The big ones are not exactly lightweight but they are flat. They might look good painted, standing up at the back of the booth. The short ones would work on top of a table but you can't see through them so I'm wondering if they would block too much. On the plus sides, I can use both sides, they fold flat and I could paint them any color.

I have dowels --- thinking about adding some cup hooks to the back of my shelving, hanging a dowel and using it. I would need to also hang a back onto the shelves to avoid having the hanging pieces clash with the pieces sitting on the shelf. That would also only work when I have room on the back side of the shelve for people to walk. Maybe I'll save that one for an outdoor show. I rather like that people can see my art from both sides so not sure if I really want to go that route.

I also have a number of old window frames without glass. I am toying with making a free standing contraption. Not sure if I can convey the picture in my mind but I'll try. It would have a center pole with frames branching out, hinged somehow so they'd fold together. When standing they would form a Y (well, close enough, more like an X minus one leg ;-) with the pole being at the middle. I think that's an idea I might carry up to my Dad's for some ideas and help!

I like the idea of using the frames and shutters as it kind of fits with my basic design. You can see how I've used them in the booth shots I included, but they hang from the tent frame, something I won't be able to do in an indoor show.

I have three different size shutters, that's the medium tall thin one in the bottom picture. The smaller ones are hinged and can stand alone on a table. The larger shutters are about the same height as the tent walls.

I have a maybe five or six pieces of free-standing driftwood sculptures that I've used for smaller hanging pieces. They look good but you can't hang much and they can break --- plus I've found a lot of people ignore what's hanging on them and want to buy the driftwood!

I also have some stands that my Dad made for me --- you can see one in the bottom picture next to the window frame.

I'm thinking about changing the color of my shelves, too. Right now they're black. I like them black, but black absorbs light and my pottery does best with a lot of light given the way I mix colors, add glass, etc. They used to be natural wood but they looked a bit unfinished. I wish I'd stained them, but the idea of black worked for me back when I did it.

So, I guess I'll be outside playing with displays if they rain will hold off. I'm a notorious last-minute person. My next indoor show is next weekend so for a change I'm kinda-sorta ahead of the game...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Experimenting with glass

I've been incorporating glass in some of my ceramic pieces for a while. I add various types of glass to the glaze or place atop the glaze prior to firing. Most of the time I've been pleased with the way they turned out. Each time I've learned a bit more about the process.

Pieces in the kiln, glazed but not fired.
I've always loved stained glass. A friend of mine does stained glass and offered to teach me. I jumped at the opportunity (albeit slowly, it took me about six months to set aside the time!). I made a couple of small pieces and was OK with them, but not thrilled. She said I'm a natural, picked things up quickly, and all that good stuff. It wasn't the process I wasn't thrilled with, it was the design of the pieces I made that didn't excite me.

My intention was and is to do a line of ceramic pieces that have spaces or voids I can fill with stained glass.

The new "glass corner" in the studio. Picked up the glass holder under
the table at a thrift store for only $10... it was meant to be mine!
I decided to go for it in my usual manner... I bought all the stuff to do stained glass, cleared out a corner of my studio and got started making ceramic pieces to marry up with stained glass.

After being fired, waiting for glass to be added
I wrote a bit about the difference in the processes recently --- stained glass is almost instant gratification, ceramic art takes weeks. I mentioned that to my stained glass friend, Cathy, and she showed me a piece that she had already spent roughly 30 hours on and it wasn't soldered yet... However long the time, she still doesn't need to stare at wet pieces and wait for them to dry not knowing the outcome!

Anywaze, back to my travels in stained glass and clay.

The piece I took to Cathy's for a refresher. Note the larger soldering
lines where the glass meets the clay.
I made a bunch of pieces and they're sitting on a table awaiting the glass. I got nervous about the process for some reason. I kept starting, then finding a reason to go back to what I knew and was comfortable with --- my clay.

The piece I made on my own when I got home. Much happier.
Finally I kicked myself in the rear, talked with Cathy, grabbed a few pieces and went for a refresher. We both experimented as she had not tried marrying up a ceramic piece to glass either. I learned what I will be doing in the future and what I probably won't be doing. I didn't like the big soldering lines where the clay met up with the glass. Nice little lines between the glass pieces, chunky lines where the glass meets the clay. 

I brought the piece home and played a bit more with it. I decided to make another small piece of stained glass to add (the pink triangle on the left in the photo above) and to add some aqua beads to pick up the aqua on the right side. I haven't attached the aqua beads yet, still playing with the layout. I also made a small clear glass triangle to use in the cord or chain that will go through the hole at the top so it will dangle.

The piece to the right is one I made on my own in the studio. I'm much happier with it! I am now ready to tackle all the rest of those pieces laying on the table! In a few days I'll be making a trek to the not-so-local glass store (45 minute drive, one way) to pick up some more glass. I'm hooked.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cheating on my clay...

I just put on my old stuff so I could go out and play in the clay, was heading out and decided to stop, share the thoughts that were rambling through my brain as I changed...

I started out thinking about the things I was planning to create. Pinterest has been a dangerous place for me as it just keeps my mind bubbling with ideas, many stemming from jewelry pieces surprisingly. I was flipping all over the place with various ideas for my day in the studio.

During the semi-planning my lips wrinkled and my nose crinkled at the thought of the clay I was using. I am cheating on "my" clay. Over the years I've settled into using majolica clay, love the feel, the way it does what I want it to do, the versatility, the way it interacts with my glazes... but off and on I get adventurous, or maybe just decide to expand my horizons a bit, and I'll grab a white or black or brown clay of some sort. I do love the look of a brown or black clay!

However, I end up disliking every one I try because it just doesn't work the way I want. It's too wet (yes, I do let it sit so it'll dry a bit), it cracks when bending or forming, it doesn't "take" my glazes very well or it simply doesn't feel right. Yet I do want to find the perfect brown or black clay, or even white clay, to break up the red run... And, to get some of the pure colors I'd like on some pieces, only on white clay will work. Unless I glaze white first, then use colors, a process that seems silly for my purposes when I could just use white clay. Some of you may be snickering at that one --- I am after all using majolica clay!

I'm determined that I'll finish up the clays I bought before going back to that stack of majolica sitting in the corner. I have even pulled out a bag before disciplining myself to walk over and grab a white or brown bag that's already open!

Don't get me wrong, I'm liking what I'm creating, but I can't do some of the things I'm aching to do from my idea book. I had great plans for the clays I bought when I grabbed them... but my fickle mind has moved on to my next batch of ideas and I'm ready to move on.

I don't think I'll be cheating on my red clay for a while after I finish up these batches!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To join or not to join...

I've been debating whether there are sufficient benefits to memberships in groups like the Potters Council, etc. to warrant the costs. I was a member of some national group a while back, let it lapse. I also used to take Ceramics Monthly, Pottery Making Illustrated and Clay Times. I've let them go by the wayside also.

I rather liked the magazines that had how-to articles, miss them but do have the ability to go on-line and look at pretty much anything I'd like. However, there's nothing like the tactile experience of opening a paper magazine... while sitting on the throne <g> or while eating... I even read in the shower. Can't take a computer into the bathtub when soaking in those bubbles either.

Curious as to who is taking what magazine, whether you're in a group (aside from local art groups), what your thoughts are. Has it helped? Why are you in the group?

I'm in two local arts groups, one I started partially 'cause the local art group raised their noses at the idea of "clay" as a fine art... but also 'cause I saw the need for an art group that would focus on the business side of the arts (hence,, Fine Arts And Crafts Entrepreneurs).

So, share, spill, lemme know what, when, why... I'm staring at a screen on my other computer that's open to Potters Council membership at $52 a year...

Had an idea

I had the idea that I'd start an idea book. Hmmm, have you ever typed or written a word and had it look really weird? I just typed "idea" three times (title & twice in blog) and it zipped right over into weird word territory.

Don't want to take that sidetrack (something that happens very easily when you have a mind like mine)...idea is not a weird word, it's not a weird word...

For years and years I've filled my brain with ideas of things I wanted to do in the studio --- ways to add feet to pieces, glaze combinations, structures and so on. Sometimes I'd go into the studio and so many ideas would be crowding and fighting in my brain that I couldn't do anything! Many ideas have gotten lost by the time I made it to the studio, too.

Also, over the years, I've been collecting these cool blank books. I would see one that was pretty, interesting or touched me somehow and I'd buy it. The intention has always been to use them, but somehow the idea of "ruining" those pristine beautiful books by putting ink on the pages has kept them stacked on shelves or in my bed-side cabinet.

Finally, I actually started using the things a few weeks back. I already have one about a quarter to a third filled with ideas for pieces I want to create...

Part of the jump was spurred by all the stunning pottery and art I've been seeing on Facebook. I'd see a color combo I liked and think "hmmmm, I bet that piece I'm working on would look great with a somewhat similar color combo, maybe add a bit of red highlights, or a touch of, etc., etc... I'll have to remember that". Then three days later start to work on the piece and either forget completely or not remember what colors I'd been thinking about because I'd looked at a hundred pieces since then.

So now I am carrying my idea book with me everywhere. I see a piece of wood hanging on a tree in a certain way and it sparks an idea for a handled piece... ideas come from everywhere... silverware stacked in a certain way, an old print, a piece of metal at a junkyard... now that I have the idea book it seems the ideas are popping up everywhere!

I think that if I live long enough I may just fill up most of my blank books!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Picked up my art from Newnan...

I completely forgot that today was the day to pick up my pottery from the Newnan Fine Arts Centre! They had to call me...

I knew something was rattling around in my brain but was focused on completing some work and didn't bother to check the calendar. Usually I take a quick look on Sunday to gauge what my week will look like. But no, not this week... Poor guy had to sit and wait on me!

I was very pleasantly surprised to get the juror's comments on the three pieces I had entered. They scored the art in 8 areas including originality, emotional content, line quality, modeling of form, color clarity, design quality, attention to detail and value range. 5 was "Outstanding", 1 was poor. One piece was rated 5 in all categories with a comments "One of our favorite pieces in show", "Gorgeous piece", and "Nice variety in textures". The other two were mostly 5's with a few 4 1/2's.

Wow. Nice.

It is very nice to have people I don't know rate my work highly. It gives me that glow which translates into motivation to try harder! Now if any of those three pieces had sold while they were at the Centre it would have been even nicer...

I appreciate the exposure, plus the opening reception was exceptionally nice. I think I would suggest that prices be placed on each of the item cards but I understand I'm not the first to suggest that and it hasn't been done so doubt my two-cents will change anything!

Anyway, the three pieces are in their boxes awaiting the next show. Someday the right person will come along with the right spot and color scheme and give them a home.

p.s. I'm working on improving my photos. I picked up a white background this morning and will be redoing a lot of my pictures. 

Some work to do on this blog...

Switched over from Hummingbird Hollow to this blog. I just took a look at it and it's flat out ugly. I really need to fix it up a bit. Right now I'm having my morning cuppa tea, then heading to the gym. Then I have to do some work, real-world work. Then I'm gong to fix this blog. I'm mainly rambling a bit this morning as I set up feeds last night before I went to bed and was yawning so badly I didn't bother to test them and see if this would go to my Twitter and Facebook pages. So, if you're reading this, sorry, it's truly boring. Snoring boring.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stained glass - almost instant gratification...

If you've followed any of my previous posts you're probably aware that I'm not the most patient type. I want to create a piece of pottery, have it dry before I finish the next one, fill the kiln with all the dried pieces that same day, get the kiln going as I leave for the day and open it when I come back the next!

Working with clay has taught me to be a little more patient --- at least when it comes to creating my pottery pieces! Waiting is the name of the game. From start to finish can take weeks if not months. If you work with clay you have learned a bit of patience.

Now I've started working with stained glass. I'm in the beginning baby-step phase so I'm slower in some areas than I probably will be after I'm comfortable with the idea that I probably won't slice my finger off with that sharp glass. In other ways I'm probably faster as I'm not doing anything intricate or overly involved.

Compared to working with clay, completion of one of my stained glass "masterpieces" (cough, cough) at this point is almost instant gratification! Design, cut, grind, clean, foil, flux, solder, clean, wax. Zip, zip, zip, done!

I know anyone who's bypassed where I am in this process is laughing at that last paragraph, right? No need to write and set me straight, as time goes on and I learn more I'll probably someday cringe that I could have been so naive.

At least right now I don't have to wait weeks and weeks to see the end product once I've started. I've made a few pieces from start to finish in no time. I suppose that if I took out the drying time, the waiting on the kiln to fire and cool times, that the actual time involved in making a piece of pottery compared to making a piece of stained glass art might almost be the same. But I don't have to wait for the glass to cook and cool!

I have fallen in love with making stained glass already. I can't wait to explore this form of art further. I won't share any of my pieces yet. I already know they're the ones that will be relegated to a drawer somewhere someday...the ones I'll look back on and go, "gee, how did I think that looked good?". But I will hold onto them and smile fondly when I find them in the drawer.