Monday, October 25, 2010

What I have been pondering.

So I have spent this past weekend at a Halloween party, at the local apple orchard, and carving pumpkins. It is safe to say that fall is my favorite time of year. Halloween used to be my favorite holiday when I was a child, but now I have decided that the fall season has plenty of magic within itself to be my favorite time of year. Where I am there is an Indian summer going on right now and we haven't yet had that chilly frost bite indicating winter creeping along the edges of this bright blue-gray sky. At the orchard this weekend were plenty of cinnamon scented candles in the barn/gift shop/cafe as well as Christmas center pieces and stockings. This was a wake up call to me (and probably many crafters, hobbyists, and artists alike who like to make their own gifts) to get started on Christmas ideas! For anyone who also sells their pieces, might already know the overwhelming success of Christmas shopping, but this is my first time. Here are a few things that have inspired me for my upcoming etsy shop collection that I want to bulk up for the holiday season.

Designed by Louise Christ it's made of brushed aluminum and stands 10.1" high and 5.3" wide. $54
Sculpted Jewelry Catchall from
Ona Pitchers from Crate and Barrel
The jewelry trees would have to be hand built for the most part. I like these trees, because they are abstract and not realistic. I haven't found any ceramic cut-out pitchers like these glass ones, but they can be done. If anyone watches Simon Leach on youtube, they know it can be done. It just might take a few tries.

These next ideas are some Christmas gift ideas that I have for family and/or friends. If you have read my earlier blogs you know that I am a knitter and they are great gifts when its cold out. This cowl neck is so cool. It looks great with a coat or to keep on indoors too.
Pattern and Cowl made by Julianne Smith Click here for more info and free pattern
Holiday Mice by Barbara Prime
The Mice won't be a gift, but they are really cute and can't wait to make them! Getting started on some mittens tonight.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Bisque ware "Before" Pictures and Updates

Of course I have been on the wheel and not just playing around with my sketchbook project. I finally took some pictures of some of my newest pieces that have yet to be fired. I also plan to take some "after pictures" from the last bisque ware updates that will be glazed fired this week hopefully. Lately in my studio I have been trying to perfect making slightly larger/taller pieces than I am used to by combining two smaller pieces together. I love the look of long bottle necks, so I make the body or belly of the pot first and needle trim the rim convexly. Then I make the top and neck of the vessel much like when I make a teapot spout (but longer) and then trim the bottom conversely to the bottom rim so that they will fit easily together. After they dry a bit overnight and I trim the bottom piece's foot, I score the edges with slip and kind of re-throw the pieces in a much more dry way using my rib tool.

Large pitcher and olive oil decanter.
 You can probably see or guess where the two thrown pieces meet. The one on the left is split between where the curve starts and the simple cylinder form ends. On the right the tall cylinder with the spout is all one piece and the handle was pulled and attached later. The olive oil spout accessory was bought from a wholesalers site:

Here are two other vases that I made with the same method. There are some slight grooves and lines that I couldn't get out, but I'm sure the glaze will fill them in later. These two are a little harder to tell where the attachment is than the first two. If you noticed the bottom of the one on the left compared to the right you can tell it has not yet been trimmed in any way.

Honey pots!
Other than the two-piece tall pots and vases, I have been trying to use the rest of my ceramic accessories, like my honey sticks. The honey pots are about four inches tall and have a small notch cut out for the honey dipper to sit in. I wasn't planning on making such plain lids, but they fit in my hand perfectly after I trimmed them like hockey pucks. So I kept them this way and decided they have a nice modern-chic look to them after I add a nice design. I still have chopsticks, more olive oil spouts, and teapot handles to make pieces for. I will probably spend most of my time on the wheel making more mugs and teacups today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Custom Order

So I have gotten my first custom order from a friend of mine. She wants something for her coffee table in her living room. she wants a pillar candle holder that is cappuccino or coffee color and short enough to not get in her tv view. First I thought there was not much variation that can be done on a wheel when it comes to cylindrical shapes. then I got some good ideas from Google and  I put up my favorite for her below.
Simple and pretty!

I also found a few shallow slump shallow plate like holders that are super easy to make and won't break her budget if she wants two or three in different heights. They have a very oriental look to them and can be decorated lots of ways.

I'm going to send her a few links along with some sketches I made. I also found a cool modern candle holder that I think I might make for my shop. The bottom tray can easily be made with a slab and so can the holders. I like this design, but I'm not really crazy about this particular style.

I am thinking white platform, with  colored cylinders with their inside also painted white. the platform will also have circle impressions so the candle holder will fit in their nook. The cylinder candle holders will have cut out holes in patterns that match and all three will be made at different heights (like the one shown). I need to get to work on that slab roller.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sketchbook Project Preview

So other than glazing pots (which is what I was doing all day yesterday) I have just started working in my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project. It is pretty cool. You sign up, and you receive the book in the mail.The deadline is January 15th and the book tours museums i n Brooklyn, Austin, TX, San Francisco, Portland, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, and Winter Park Florida. I'm pretty excited about it. I can't wait to see it when it comes to Chicago. There is a bar code on the book, so you can see how many times it was looked at. For more info click here:
Anyways, there is a list of topics to choose from and I chose Coffee and Cigarettes.  I'm trying to think of more ideas. I think the majority of my sketches will be funny. I am not an abstract artist with bizarre interpretations of "Coffee and Cigarettes". I hope whoever picks up my book gets a good laugh. My drawings are quill pen and ink and I'm not sure if I would consider them finished. the picture quality is horrible since the paper has a little glossiness to it. Take a look.
Cruela with her latte.

children at a very exciting coffee (not tea) party.
She's so cute right?
the Mad hatter with his coffee and smoke.

I think they still need captions or titles on the page. The Mad hatter needs a nice elaborate title in rococo style letters perhaps and a pack of smokes on his table. If you have any other ideas for me to sketch, please comment below. I still have a fried up bony smoker mom to in mind to draw and I had a lot of fun drawing Cruela so there might be few of her in my little book.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I've Been Up To: Finished Pieces!

I have been very busy with my long awaited final products. Over eight hours taking pictures and fixing in photoshop. I am very pleased that everything came out perfect and unlike my first batch everything is definitely sellable.  I was very distraught when I first posted my things on my etsy shop, because only about a 30% of what was meant to go up for sale actually made it in my shop. Glazes didn't come out right and some things just didn't look as good as they did on paper (or in my head). I kept telling myself that things take time and you live and learn. So after my first posting, I learned what not to do, what to do, and how helpful it is to have great friends and family that are willing to help you out.

So this time around I went crazy with hole cutters and made a lot of candle holders and glazed them all different colors. I haven't repeated the same patterns, but I probably will in the future.
I think I would still like to get a shot of them all at night on my deck with tea lights in them before one of them sells.
I have mentioned my faceted cups before, and if these sell as fast as my first set, I will definitely have my shop fully stocked with them. For some reason, I only want to paint them in blue hues. After the bisque firing one of the cups cracked and was beyond repair, so I am now stuck with a solo cup that I guess can be for a pencil holder or something or sold alone as a coffee mug.

This is my first teapot and I had it since my first firing, but the lid that originally went with it was bad. It was too big and for some reason left the bottom of it unglazed. So I finally have a lid for it. I have another in the kiln right now that is very similar, but has a convex lid and will have a cane handle, not bamboo like this one.

Last are these small bud vases that i almost didn't sell, because I though they looked so cute together and I couldn't stop holding the dark blue one in the palm of my hand. It has a perfect roundness to it.

Now that all is posted and I won't get back my small bisque batch until tomorrow, I have no excuses as to why I shouldn't be on my wheel all day. If you are interested in seeing more of my products that aren't pictured here check out my shop

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cute Big Heads!

I like cute things (who doesn't?). Originally I was planning on writing about folk art and stumbled upon Kokeshi figurines and then I went nuts with other cute things that have evolved from folky (or old lady-ish) art. It is interesting to me how these old artistic art forms evolved into modern "must haves" in pop culture.
I started my search with Russian nesting dolls, which are adorable. After looking at the wooden crafts I really want to buy my self a set of wooden fat blank ones to paint. The doll's original name is Matryoshka doll. The first set is thought to be made in 1890 and the designer was inspired by a set of Japanese dolls that represented the seven gods.

I was surprised to learn that many small folk crafts are very similar to the Russian doll shape/style. Kokeshi dolls originate from Northen Japan and are thought to have been souvenirs from hot spring resorts. They do not have one inside of the other like the Russian dolls, but the characteristically have large heads and small bodies made of wood. 

This set is folky and more traditional.

The two bottom Kokeshi dolls are modern and "cute".
The Kokeshi dolls then reminded me of  Amigurumi crocheted dolls. I love knitting so these dolls are not unfamiliar to me. Most of the dolls are animals, but many of the patterns can be transformed into little people. The Amigurumi style is also a Japanese art. The look is very reminiscent of typically adorable cartoons (like Hello Kitty) and illustrations.

These simple lines and forms are easy and still artistic. It reminds me of when I used to make a sit down and illustrate characters for hours as a kid. Sometimes you are just in the mood to make something cute.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What I've Been Up To.

I am still waiting on my glaze firing which will probably be loaded today, unfortunatly I won't be able to pick it up until early next week. In the mean time, here are some more greenware photos. I've been trying to keep busy while I wait for over 20 pieces to finally be done. I haven't had much luck on the wheel lately for some reason. I think I make myself seem to have more on my plate than I really do which causes me to stress and anyone who is a potter knows you need patience and a clear head while you throw. So lately I have been keeping to small things that are easy for me to throw. Hopefully I can get those finished peices up next week.

 For the 4 bowls in the front of the picture, I think I might make them into rice or curry bowls with a splashy floral print and sell them with some wooden chopsticks. The small bubbly vase has a crooked neck and I decided I liked it that way and didn't fix it. The small candle sticks were both made from 2 pieces that were assembled later. I have a lot of lids that ended up not fitting other pieces, so the urn style pot in the back has a fully dried lid that I had sitting around.

This is not a set, I just thought they seemed good together for the picture. the sugar and creamer are a set and the lid is another one that had a second chance from an earlier project. I hate, hate, hate making handles. So it works out that I either buy the kind you can attach or if possible don't apply one to a vessel at all. This cane handle will be assambled with the piece after its last firing of course. It took me a while to get the hang of these bamboo and cane handles. you have to hold them over boiling water so the steam lets them become pliable and then they will dry after you put on the pot and close the clasps. I got the idea of not having handles on small vessels from my sister who said she had seen a creamer with no handle while out to eat. It makes sense since they are so small. The lid on the sugar bowl was actually intended to fit the teapot which were both made a few months ago. the sugar bowl and new teapot lid were thrown this week.

I think next week I will be busy taking pictures of my finished pieces and I might try my hand at hand building which I haven't done since highschool, but I was pretty good. I should go clean up all the chalky marks I left all over the dining room table when I took these pictures.