Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I don't have much to say, I have been very busy (like most of you) with this holiday season. I have been busy with custom orders, regular orders, and pickups. I like it, but it made me a nervous wreck. I also had five knit gifts I wanted to get done. I have only completed one. It was a cowl neck that was opened early so that my sister can keep warm during her visit in Germany while visiting our other sister for the holidays. She loved it! Two others are still being worked! My mother's infinity scarf is about half way done and only one of my sisters sock is (almost) done! I need to get to work! The other two I had planned...I gave up. I bought those people gifts. Here are a few things I have sold over the holidays. Some I had for so long or really liked, I was sad to see them go. Here I have listed all my custom orders.

All of these are the custom orders. The first ones listed are a custom order for a friend in Germany and the last ones (the set of four cups) are for my sister and her husband as a Christmas gift. The cobalt blue ones were purchased for a friend in Indianapolis, and the white vase is for a family friend. If you would like to see others that have left my shop this Christmas season, check out my sold items in my Etsy shop

Here are a few things that I have recently listed. I was very excited to use those crackle and crystal glazes I ordered, but they didn't come out as expected.The crackle ones are okay, but the crystal ones look like barf.

A close up of the sea green crackle glaze.

This last lidded pot was featured on Etsy's front page! I was very excited about that. You may remember these pots from previous posts where I have pictured them as bisque or greenware. It will be a while before I get any new greenware or finished pieces up.  Have very Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Little Gift Guide in Technicolor!

I decided to do a little gift guide here with all things bright and all things under $20! Think I can do it? I think so. Also everything will be from Etsy and handmade. This way, you won't break the bank and you will supporting artists who devout their time to making quality pieces. Oh, and of course they are all bright colored pieces hence the Technicolor title. I will have all the links below the photo.

Estilo Jackie has glass beaded bracelets with gold and silver accents. They look so pretty stacked together. This look packs a lot of posh without breaking the bank. Love them!
Beaded bracelets $12-$15
This Goodie Goodie Gum Drops shea butter soap set is so cute and looks tasty! They are only $6!! The store is loaded with very affordable lip balms, lotions, and bath time goodies at very affordable prices.

Designs by Sheng has all kinds of pretty cotton accessories. These were my two favorites. At $10.50 a piece these wallets are totally worth it. So pretty and bright! This store has different sizes and patterns of totes and handbags.

These shirts are great quirky gifts that look very comfy and have an array of pretty colors and designs.
These t-shirts are $17.00 and come in any size. I like the rooster. This store also carries pillows, tea towels, and reusable bags.

Kathprints has all kinds of designs and colors. This store carries journals, coin purses, cards, and prints. The note cards are $16 and the coin purse is $14.

Lastly I wanted some pretty affordable art work for your home. This is a print entitled Sweet Dreams Owl and costs $17.  This store has plenty of prints of all kinds. The tree prints are also very nice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Orders and Such

Okay, so I was ready for the crazy wave of holiday shoppers in November, but they didn't come. They are here now! Crazy procrastinators, gotta love them, especially since I am one of them! So last minute I get orders. They came at just the right moment too! Thank God! If anymore come in, I don't think they will make it in the kiln on time. So here is what I have gotten from the kiln today after class. Oh yeah, and speaking of class...I have a child prodigy on the wheel! He's not really one of my students, he just came in one day (without a lesson mind you) and decided he wanted to throw! Now, he weasels his way out of his other classes to come to mine. He's very good. I can't wait to see what else he makes.

The two larger came out today, the smallest one is from a while back and has been in my shop a while. The medium size one is for a family friend and the tallest *MEGA SPOILER ALERT!!!!* is for my sister...sorry if you already saw this picture before you got it! They weren't supposed to go together, but now that I put them together, I feel horrible splitting them up! They look like they belong together. Looks like I will have to make more to complete the set. 

A co-worker of my sisters ordered some things (bye bye turquoise jewelry box and blue bud vase) and suggested I make small tea light candle holders. I thought sets would be best, so here are my first set. Thanks for the idea Melinda. They are each about three inches tall. and I used a single hole cutter to carefully make these shapes.

Not sure which color to make these little gems. Other than this and that, I have purchased some crackle glazes that will come out Monday along with a few more custom order pieces. I also have a new crystallized glaze, which I am very excited and curious to see come out. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some Bisque and Finished Pieces

My new students are amazing! I think my next post will be about their pieces and their progress. I am very proud of them. They are still having problems centering, but they are getting better and learning to not be scared to take chances. I have gotten a few new pieces from the kiln. The day was snowy and drab, so the pictures of the finished pieces came out crappy. I got a hefty amount of bisqueware back, so I have a lot of glazing to do!

As you can see, I have been a little crazy about different kinds of bottlenecks and tapering fat bellies. I will always choose to do a fat round vase over a cylinder one. I also love skinny bottle necks.

Here are some of the larger pieces. The tallest is a custom Christmas gift. These studded vases take very long to finish, but they are so pretty. I will only glaze them white. I think white compliments the shadows and values of the vase.

Here is that custom candle holder I have been finished. This pot is in my "Journey of a Custom Order" where you can see it as bisqueware. I am happy with it, and I really hope my customer is too! I'm excited to see what she thinks. Below is a photo of that yellow mug I had showed before the glaze was fired.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What I Got From the Kiln Today!

Today was a hectic day! I went to teach a new class of kids, which was very exciting. They seemed to be very into my lesson, and they will start tomorrow. Then I came home with a few new pieces. I am glazing that custom order from the previous post tonight and will hopefully get it done this week. The other pieces I have are part of my Chevron debut, which I was really excited to see. I have only done two pieces with this design, and I think I like how it came out. The orange came out much better than the Turquoise glaze. 

I had such a hard time with the camera today, because it was a yucky overcast day. The pictures did not come out the way I wanted them to.

Here is the honey pot with its honey stick. I love the way this pot came out. The shape is perfect. All my designs are made with simple tools, like tape or squeeze bottles. you need a very steady hand to use these kind of bottles. I usually make marks on my pots with pencil on the wheel when it is bisqueware before glazing. I use one just like this one that comes with different size metal tips.

All of these pots can be seen in previous posts I have in either a greenware or bisqueware state. You may remember this mug from a recent post where I used tape to paint my pattern. This is how the finished product came out. If you would like to see more pictures of these pieces, visit my store!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Journey of A Custom Order

A few weeks ago I had received a custom order. Yay! It was exciting, but I definitely underestimated the stress and time that goes into it. I was very flattered that the customer chose a piece that I already had, but just wanted it bigger. The candle holder that I had listed was to small for her choice of candles. If you had seen my older posts you know my tools of choice and are familiar with my cut-out candle holders. She wanted the same pattern as the smaller one, but because it had to be bigger, I had to slightly alter the hole pattern. The custom holder is still greenware (not fired at all).

Below you can see that the original pattern has a four hole pattern and I altered it with a five hole pattern. She wanted the opening to be 4.5" wide and the entire pot to be 4" tall.  Because clay shrinks so much, I had to make this vessel about three times to get the right dimensions with as little alterations to the original pot style.

Here you can see the difference in the two pieces. I have already sold the light blue candle holder. I think the order came out pretty well and I am eager to send the customer an update and a picture of her piece. I will post later pictures to keep you updated on the piece.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Glazing! Techniques and Ideas.

So I have some problems with my firing process, so I wish I could share some finished pieces, but instead I decided to share some of my glazed-unfired pieces. In my last post you see some of my glazing tools, but I use more than just bamboo brushes sometimes. My last glazing I was really into using slip trailers and bottles to make thin lines. However, lately I found that I can create this "frost" looking line with white glaze on colors. So I have been trying to achieve that again in a much bolder way. the first time I saw a very slight effect from transition of colors, I got it by accident and it was very small. It appeared at the rim of a small bud vase.
I love the way it looked, but this picture is zoomed in so closely that its noticeable and on the real product it isn't from a regular distance. So Hopefully I can recreate it on a larger scale. I plan to do a few more mugs and bowls in this way and hope to get a great result. On this mug I used a dark danish blue and made these dramatic thick drip marks and sloppily painted the rest with white glaze. 

Other than that frost affect I am trying to achieve, I also love making designs with simple masking tape. I have only made two other pieces this way and loved the way they turned out. I lay the tape down on clean bisque ware and make my design, then glaze over it and after it dries, I take the tape off and fill in the empty spots. 

You can see that "frost" effect on this piece too
For the most part, if you are careful enough and use clean hands, you will get nice clean lines. Here are some mugs that have not been fired of course. One is fire orange and the other is sunburst yellow. If you like to see how these colors look when fired, check out my finished pieces at

If you do detailed work in any way, it is important to know your glazes. I know that the danish blue, sunburst yellow, and a green glaze that I have run a lot when in the kiln. So for the most part, they are not good with detailed work unless i use them in vertical stripes (like the mug pictured above), for plain colored pots, or if I want that dripped look (like the blue mug above).

In this last photo, you can see what I mean in glaze coverage. The green really saturates and runs leaving no trace of banding, while the turquoise covers, but has some variation and isn't as thick. I will post these mugs back up on a later post to show you the results of my experiments. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Tools I Can't Work Without

I have become interested lately in people's personal throwing tool kits. My friend and past high school art teacher does some very different techniques and uses different tools than I do. I try her way and try her tools, but I can't get accustomed to them. I believe a lot of it has to do with how and who you learn from. I also notice that most people who have learned on a kick wheel swear by them and are never really interested in an electric and same goes for electric users. I have a horrible time when I teach my students on their kick wheels, which I never seem to kick fast enough to center properly. I also notice that they pick up any tool for a certain job and stick with that tool. They search around the classroom for it before using a similar one. I have put together my tools here to share the tools that I cannot work without. There may be a few left out that I don't use daily. I admit that this post will probably be a bore to anyone who is not a potter.

These tools I use while on the wheel. Some are standard like the sponge, calipers, needle tool, and wire tool. I was taught by Dee Schaad of the University of Indianapolis art department to always use a chamois to smooth out my rims and it works very well. The two wooden stick tools are great for smoothing out and shaving and shaping the bottom of a vessel. The stick that has more a curve to it near the wire tool is also great for pulling up gently on semi thick clay walls. The large triangular rib tool is great for pulling up large pieces and smoothing out pieces like large cylinders. If you are not a potter, the calipers are for measuring, the the needle for trim the top of a wet vessel, and the wire is to cut the vessel off the wheel head when complete.

These tools are secondary in that they are not used until the pieces is bisque and/or leather hard greenware. Dee Schaad has also taught me to always use bamboo brushes when using glaze and here I have two sizes. I often use two hole cutters when  making teapots or candle holders. I forgot to picture my trusty potato peeler too, which I often use to make pretty mugs. My all time favorite trimming tool is to the right. I have a ton of other trimming tools that I rarely ever use. This tool has a nice straight metal edge at the top that trims very nicely. A few other things I forgot to photograph were my hand held spray bottle and large pump spray bottle which I use to clean my studio with.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Bit of Pretty Inspiration

I do not hand build and for the most part not a huge fan of it. The wheel makes things slick, smooth, and flawless. Maybe I just haven't found many things that I can consider perfect or beautiful that have been hand built. I did a bit of surfing tonight and stumbled upon a beautiful ceramic garden that is hand built and gorgeous. I googled "ceramic flowers" and found Sugiura Yasuyoshi's Ceramic Natural History collection from 2002. His pieces are so delicate which makes them seem real.

He started making his collection in 2000 and it has 410 finished pieces. Some pieces were made in individual smaller parts like leaves, petals, and seeds that were put together after they were completely fired. I don't like matte finishes, but this collection would be nothing without that textured matte finish. 

As a potter I have had to teach myself when not to over touch or "fix" a pot, I can't imagine what kind of skill and experience this collection must have taken. I do not believe I can achieve anything like this, but maybe I should practice my hand building skills sometime. I can't get enough of these delicate clay blooms.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Some Greenware and a Few Finished Pieces

It has been a while since I last posted, but I have been spending a lot more time in my studio lately. I need to balance things better between working online (blog and etsy) and working on my products. Both can be incredibly draining and after spending hours doing one, you sometimes never find the time or energy to to the other. I have been working on repeat throwing. I have yet to reach my goal of twenty products per hour, but I have accomplished making one product identical on repeat even if it is not twenty an hour. My faceted mugs are now somehow imprinted in my brain as far as height and width which really speeds up my production of them. Since I have accomplished that, I am moving on to identical repeat throwing bowls now which is a lot more complicated, because there can be so many shapes and depths.

I haven't taken pictures of everything I have been making, but I do have some jars and plenty of bowls that I have made. After hours of sitting hunched over concentrating on repeat throwing I like to take a few lumps of clay and free throwing. It helps me unwind and have fun if my throwing earlier was a disappointment or if I'm just sick of making mugs, jars, and bowls. Here are a few vases I had lot of fun making in different shapes and sizes. There are more that I have that were to wet to move. The ones pictured here are not trimmed.

Here are a few glossy pretty pieces that I am still not sure about selling. The green teapot still needs some filing on the bottom from glaze dripping. After tomorrow I will fix it and hopefully get it photographed and posted.

These bowls were simple and easy to throw and took a long time to finish the detailed glaze. I was very disappointed when I got them from the kiln. They did not come out as I was hoping and two of them have a slight orange tint on one side from the kiln. Tonight I will be working on repeat throwing bowls and getting them to look identical. As hard and frustrating as it can be practice really makes perfect.