Saturday, May 16, 2020

Satin Matte Black ^10 Reduction

Just storing this glaze recipe here so I can't lose it.

Black Satin Matte BATCH SIZE 5000
Percentages Grams
Custer Feld 20% 1000
Soda spar (minspar) 20% 1000
Whiting 2% 100
Dolomite 15% 750
Talc 13% 650
OM4 10% 500
Flint 325 20% 1000
Chrome Oxide Green 1% 50
Red Iron Oxide (domestic) 3% 150
Cobalt Oxide 3% 150
Manganese Dioxide 2% 100
Very reliable, forgiving, smooth, true black. Iron spotting will occur over brown claybodies. Can be runny in combination with other glazes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

No Common Ground

This one hurts.

The Common Ground Country Fair has cancelled its live event, previously scheduled for September, and will hold a virtual fair instead. That's just the lectures & demos; there will be no craft sale.

While I am disappointed, even before this decision I was wondering if people would be willing to brave crowded public events as soon as September. The incompetence of the federal response to the pandemic - and it's so terrible I wonder if it is incompetence, because they couldn't have done any worse if they were trying - means we have not seen any real signs of slowing in the disease. Here in Maine things look better, because Covid-19 got here somewhat later than in other states, so our response was relatively earlier; and because the governor jumped right on it. But, as the meme goes, having some states on lockdown & not others is like having a peeing section in a pool.

The Common Ground has offered us the option of having our booth fees refunded or donating them to the organization; and while I would love to be that kind of generous, I don't feel I can be when I don't know when I will have work again. They also offered us the option of carrying over booth fees until next year, but didn't offer to waive jurying for 2020 acceptees. I think that would have been a nice gesture, since we already paid for jurying, and all of us out here are hurting, too - would have been nice to have one thing we could rely on, for when the world starts turning again.

Anyway. Hope your lockdown is going well. Stay safe, friends, and hang in there.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Casualty of the Pandemic

I just learned that Hallowell Clay Works, one of the studios I taught at pre-pandemic, is closing its doors. I imagine this is only one of many businesses that will shut down as a result of Covid-19, and I know people have lost far more precious things, but I am feeling it all the same.

Like all the best teaching studios, Hallowell Clay Works is a community. Clay has a really steep learning curve, and having supportive people around you to celebrate your successes - sometimes point out to you your successes! - and sympathize with the failures, helps you over that hump. I've never known anything that can knit a group of strangers into a group of friends faster than a pottery class.

Malley Weber, the proprietor, is a remarkable person: clever, creative, resourceful. This is not the first incarnation Hallowell Clay Works has had and I trust it will not be the last.

This is the first Covid-related change around me that isn't just hitting the pause button; this is the first thing that won't be the same as it was, whenever the crazy is over. Though it has been 5 weeks since we hit pause on our lives here, my head still swims with the speed of it: one day I was excited about all my new accounts & upcoming shows, delighted that I had the perfect number of classes - could basically write my own ticket on that score -and thinking about refinancing my house. The next day all that was over. Some of it didn't know it was over yet, but it was over - it just didn't have to good sense to fall down.

Ugh, this is a bummer of a post, when in fact I have a great deal to be thankful for: my own health, and my family's; I am stuck at home, true, but I have a studio to work in, and a garden, and all the books anyone could want. The money will start to get iffy eventually but we are ok for now.

I hope all of you are coping, staying well and staying safe. Just stay well. Just live. The rest we figure out later.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Bummer but no choice

Surprising exactly no one, yesterday I officially cancelled the 2020 Maine Pottery Tour. It had been obvious for a while that I needed to do it, but I kept hoping for a miracle. I can't tell you how bummed I am about this! 2020 seemed to be gearing up to be the best year yet for the Maine Pottery Tour - we had more studio than ever, and were getting some really great publicity. I was going to be on the radio, on Maine Public's Maine Calling program!

All that went out the window.

This fucking virus. I am 100% on board with the stay-home approach, but that doesn't mean I am not vastly disappointed. It doesn't make sense to be angry at a microbe - it's just doing what it does. It's like being angry at the weather. But emotions don't always make sense, so yes, I am angry at corona. Angry, and worried, and downright scared.

I got my jury results from the Saint Louis Art Fair - I was actually kind of relieved to get a rejection, as I feel like an acceptance into such a great show might have jinxed the nation, causing the pandemic to extend all the way to September. But I was rejected, so HEY UNIVERSE, YOU CAN QUIT WITH THE COVID-19 NOW.

Anyway. I hope all of you are staying home & staying safe. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Year of Yes OH WAIT

True Story: In 1996 I had a spectacular year. I won a big grant, I published an article in Ceramics Monthly, and I got into every show I applied for. I bought a house, I was hired to teach at the Northern Clay Center, I had two solo shows and took on 10 new wholesale accounts. Everything was coming up roses and daffodils, everything I touched turned to gold; I couldn't lose.

I may be gilding this a bit, in memory - but it was a hell of a winning streak. Then my life fell apart, from the marriage outward. The marriage was probably dead in 1997, but it took 3 years to fall down (and another for us to bury it.) During those 3 years I had far less time and energy to devote to business, and while I kept making and selling pots, and I kept teaching classes, I really wasn't able to build on the successes I had in golden 1996. The culmination of the collapse was when I gave up, ended the marriage, sold the house, and moved back to Maine, where I essentially had to start over again. In spite of that gloomy sentence, this was a good thing! I established my studio, got a teaching gig or two, met Doug, bought my house...put my life back together, remembering to build in a lot more laughter and joy, this time.

But, professionally, I never had another year like 1996, when I just couldn't lose.

Until now.

Who knows why? (Random, I guess? But I am tempted to credit my 19 for 2019 goal list.) For whatever reason, 2020 was shaping up to be another Year of Yes. All the doors were opening, all the lights were turning green. Remembering 1996 I had a bit of superstitious dread: what shit would the universe throw at me this time?

Although I admit I did not have "global pandemic" on my bingo card.

So, the Year of Yes has morphed into the year of hold on, just hold on. My classes have been suspended, some sales events cancelled, stores are OBVIOUSLY not selling as much. I have postponed the pottery tour, and I am still in hopes that by June we will be returning to normalcy...we'll see how that works out. Doug & I are hunkered down for a long spell of isolation. It's not so bad together, but of course we are worried about money - us and everyone. In Maine the governor & legislature are working on unemployment packages for people like us - if this had to happen, thank God it happened under Governor Mills, and not her predecessor. We aren't getting any leadership from the federal government, so the cities and states have to step up.

Anyway. At least I can make pots, mix glazes, and do kiln maintenance. I've also been journaling this experience - if you're bored, you can read about it here.

Be well. Stay home.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Things to do while Social Distancing

Though I remain moderately freaked out by the speed of current events, like everyone else, I am muddling through. Both my teaching gigs, Portland Pottery and Hallowell Clay Works, have put classes on hold. I fully support those decisions; which is not to say it doesn't suck, because it does!

I'm getting my mind around it, though. I am lucky, in one way: even if I can't work my teaching jobs, I can still work in my studio. My to do list for the next 2 weeks:

  1. Replenish glazes
  2. Rebuild bag wall
  3. Grind kiln shelves
  4. Finish orders
  5. Make fun pots
  6. Reclaim clay
  7. Make soap
 I have lots of projects around the house I can work on also - notably it's getting warm enough to start spiffying up the deck & the yard. Maybe finish painting the bathroom!

Here is how I am thinking of it: in wartime, soldiers risk life & limb, and they do it far away from their homes & families. All we have to do is stay home and chill. Yes, the money part sucks, but we can make that up later. For now, staying out of public spaces is the best way to keep ourselves & our more vulnerable neighbors, friends, and loved ones safe.

Be well, clay friends, & keep washing your hands. We'll get through this.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Pottery Tour Postponed

I want to post this everywhere I can, to get the word out:
Due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus, and following guidance from the Maine CDC to socially isolate for a period, we have decided to postpone the Maine Pottery Tour until June 6 & 7. This was not an easy decision but we are prioritizing health & safety. 
Eternal optimist that I am (when I am not in the grip of grindylows and dementors) I immediately jumped to the silver lining: my garden will be so much more beautiful for my guests! And now I have 5 extra weeks to get the word out.

I am optimistic, but not stupid - I know that epidemiologists' projections may be wrong, and the outbreak may drag on longer than expected. I will review this decision in May; if things still seem too risky, I will cancel the event. But we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

8 Weeks Out

On Leap Day I saw a crocus. Not blooming, yet; just the pale tip of growth poking through the frozen earth. A sign of spring! It seems far off, still, but in truth it will be here before we know it.

In fact there are only 8 weeks left before the Maine Pottery Tour! I organize the tour every year (well, mostly) so I know: that is a very short amount of time for all the stuff that needs to be done! We have 50 studios on the tour this year - more than ever! - and there are postcards to order, maps to create, and signs to distribute. That's in addtion to my own studio event to plan - I'll be doing a kiln opening Saturday morning May 2, have plates available for people to paint, and a tabletop potter's wheel if anyone wants to give it a whirl, so to speak - not to mention making pots for the sale part of the event.


I don't have full maps ready yet, but if you are looking to plan your pottery road trip, we do have several new studios on the tour this year. Here's a list, with web links, if you want to check them out:

Common Street Arts - Waterville
Top of the Hill Pottery- Augusta
Jeffrey Lipton Pottery - Litchfield
Dragon's Breath Pottery - Warren
Maine-ly Pottery - Belfast
Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts - Newcastle
EC Ceramics - Blue Hill
Tim Christensen Porcelain - Portland
Adrian King Pottery - Portland
Bentley Pottery - Portland
Heather Abt - Portland
Muddy Toes Pottery- New Gloucester
MEC Pottery - Cape Neddick

Thursday, February 27, 2020

New Rollers, New Classes, New Stores!

Hello, yeah, it's been awhile...Not much, how 'bout you?

Whenever there's a long pause between posts, I get emails asking after my well-being. I suppose this is because I have been open about my struggles with depression. I love you guys for being such kind & caring people, to someone you've never met!  But, not to worry! - in this case I have simply been busy in the studio.  I have three new stores carrying Fine Mess Pottery! Remember Dotopia? Buyers seem to like it. I have three new accounts! I've delivered to Lisa-Marie's Made in Maine,
and will be delivering to two others shortly. In addition I have two sales meetings scheduled for spring. I've stopped making the ask, for now, because I want to make sure I don't over-book myself: a nice problem to have.

New classes begin next week! I have four at Portland Pottery - I think all of those are full - and two at Hallowell Clay Works, where I think I have room in my Monday night beginner's class.

Other new stuff: I made myself a couple of rollers!

While I do enjoy manufactured rollers - MKM wooden rollers are such beautiful little objects! - the resulting pattern, with its perfect regularity shouts "machine made" from across the room. This isn't always bad! The wheel is a machine, and leaves a similar unmistakable quality. I often enjoy the tension of crisp precision vibrating against the squishy, human qualities of handbuilt work. Sometimes, though, I want a pattern that millions of other potters don't also have, or a pattern with a softer quality more harmonious with the handmade vibe.

I demonstrated making rollers for my handbuilding class last week. This week they came out of the kiln, and we got to see what patterns they make! It's funny but you can't always envision what the roller will do, so even though I made these myself, they are still a surprise to me. I was pleased with my results.

Looky looky! 👀

Anyway! Thanks to all for asking about me, I am doing so well it scares me! (Moron that later.) Now I've gotta get dressed & head to class. XO L

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Resolution: Less Waste

When I asked a young friend of mine if she made New Year's resolutions, she told me no, but she had made a New Decade's resolution: to cease using single-use plastics by 2030. This is an ambitious and laudable goal! Though I'd like to think I could do this, it feels overwhelming; but it did inspire me to think about the ways in which I could reduce waste in my life.

Here's an easy one: I can remember to bring a ceramic cup with me when I get coffee out! Coffee is one of my small indulgences. Every day at home, naturally! If you are like me, several times a week you also find yourself with a disposable cup in hand, enjoying a java out in the world. Take a second to picture the pile those cups would make at the end of the year! Disposable coffee cups aren’t good candidates for recycling, because they are either Styrofoam or lined with a thin layer of plastic.
That’s a lot of waste, but there’s good news, friend! A ceramiccup requires only 18 uses to break even with paper in terms of water use andenergy consumption. After that, every time you use a ceramic cup instead of paper, you are helping to save the planet. Once or twice a week I get a coffee out - usually at my favorite Portland coffee shop, Coffee By Design; and usually because I am between classes or other appointments in Portland, killing time. I am a potter! It is an easy matter for me to bring my own mug.

Think about it: after only 18 uses, a ceramic mug is gentler on the environment than paper, in terms of energy consumption, water, and waste. Everything after that is basically an environmental freebie! Plastic breaks even with paper after only 8 uses, but plastic will get brittle &; crack much, MUCH sooner than stoneware - a stoneware mug's useful life is basically forever. All the forever we have, anyway.

You probably already have a stoneware mug - I know my readers are mostly potters! - but just in case, here's a link to my new ones online.