Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's NaBloPoMo!

Well, technically, every month is NaBloPoMo; but this month I am participating! I won't necessarily be posting to this blog every day, but I will post to one of the three (two and a half, really.) The theme for October is Between, which causes lots of clay-related ideas to pop into my head: things like negative space, process ideas, business-y thoughts.

I hope some of my fellow clay bloggers will come along for the ride!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Europa, Persephone, Miranda

"Women" By Adrienne Rich

My three sisters are sitting
on rocks of black obsidian.
For the first time, in this light, I can see who they are.

My first sister is sewing her costume for the procession.
She is going as the Transparent lady
and all her nerves will be visible.

My second sister is also sewing,
at the seam over her heart which has never healed entirely,
At last, she hopes, this tightness in her chest will ease.

My third sister is gazing
at a dark-red crust spreading westward far out on the sea.
Her stockings are torn but she is beautiful.

Something Fun in Progress

More to come.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Over-fire, or Under? The Burning Question

You'll remember that for due to a thermocouple failure, my last firing was quite uneven. I had to choose between letting eleven fall on one side, or failing to reach 9 on the other. I usually would have chosen to let one side be too cool, thinking that I can always refire the unfinished pots, but this time, in the interest of science, I went for 11. When I shut off, I had nine over on the west side, with 10 just barely soft, and 11 fully over on the east side. And you know what happened? Nothing much.

The pots on the Cone 11 side were very nice. I had to do some grinding, but only where the soda was so plentiful as to form a river. The glazes on the Cone 9 side were fine; not as spectacular as I know they can be, but still perfectly nice.

So: I learned something! It depends on the specific glazes, of course, but this is still useful information.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Soda-fire Workshop, October 29 - 30

Join me in Augusta, Maine this autumn for an almost-Halloween firing of the soda kiln. Using my slips, glazes, resists, brushes, and tools, we'll spend one day glazing and loading my sprung-arch soda kiln. Day two will be firing the kiln, and learning to mix kiln wash, wadding, door mud, and glazes. Workshop includes slips, glazes, 2 days of instruction, as well as slip & glaze recipes and firing. Bring 6 -10 bisqued pieces, not to exceed 2 cubic feet. I'll get as many pieces as possible into the firing. I can't guarantee every piece will get in, but I'll do my best. Please be able to tell me which clay body you are using, or the recipe if you make your own. Must be Cone 10 stoneware.

Fee: $125

I have room for 5 participants. Once you've registered, I'll send you links to hotels in the area, and Mapquest directions if you need them.

View Larger Map

The firing will be unloaded on Wednesday November 2; you can pick up your work or have it shipped, or I will deliver locally.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fine Time for a Thermocouple Failure

But when else would it fail, except when it's in use? When it's just sitting there? How could you tell?

So one burner was out, not sure for how long, but clearly long enough to slow down the firing. Glad I got an early start (relatively speaking!) this morning. I've got 11 going on one side and nine rigid on the other...sigh. Which is worse, a little overfired, or a little under? I would usually opt for "under" on the thinking that I can refire, but this time I'm going to try Door Number 2. I hope I won't be in this situation again, but I probably will, so here's a chance to learn something, for future reference.

Thursday Inspiration - Karen Swyler

Repeat with variation, negative space as sculpture: Karen Swyler is a master.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Still Summer!

Here's the glazing pavilion, as seen from my studio window. Glazing in the warm morning sunshine is a welcome reminder of the joys of self-employment, math be damned.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Do Monday

• Glue on magnet backs
• Finish private order
• Contact 2 potential outlets
• Throw 25 lbs
• Teach class

I've downloaded Open Office software, which is a free version of the MS Office Suite, and used it to create spreadsheets for the rest of the year: what's coming in, what's going out, and the difference between the two. That'll light a fire under ya, let me tell ya.

Which is a good thing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened After the Orders were Filled

Though I still have orders to fire, all the ware for existing wholesale accounts has been thrown, so when I sat down at my wheel today, I could make anything my little heart desired, for the first time in a month. The only problem? I couldn't think of anything to throw.

Mugs, I suppose - never have enough of those. But I'm kind of all mugged out. This is something I didn't anticipate when doing all my careful (well, sort of careful) planning: I don't feel like throwing. I need to, because I've got a bisque scheduled on Wednesday, and if I am going to seek out a new consignment outlet this month, I need to have something to put in it...but, meh. I just don't feel like it. I never seriously considered that I might have to force myself to throw!

I ended up making some bottles, not too bad, that are giving me ideas for some other things...

What do you do, when you get stuck?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hey Jack! Over Here!

Like, well, everyone, I have a crush on Captain Jack Sparrow. Not so much Johnny Depp, who is a fine actor and surely a fine person, but is otherwise just some guy. His character, however, makes me think I was born in the wrong century. Except for being a selfish, narcissistic, violent criminal, (oh, and fictional...though in light of the aforementioned qualities, that might be a plus, on balance) he's sort of my ideal man. Imagine my delight to read that archaeologists believe that 18th century pirates of the Caribbean had a fascination for fine pottery!

I feel like I did when I learned that the Enterprise-D has a ceramics studio.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Through a colossal effort of will, I managed not to unload the kiln before the door was fully open. Well, except for this one, because it was twinkling at me:
Most of these are destined for Attrezzi in Portsmouth, Bayview Company in Saco, and Cry of the Loon in Casco.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Inspiration

In keeping with our class theme for this session - "Around the World" - I really wanted to show students a selection of Yixing teapots. Much to my surprise, it took all of my powers of google-fu to come up with good images. Not that there aren't lots of Yixing and yixing-style pots out there -- they are just so poorly photographed, or the web images are so tiny as to be useless. Anyway, here's what I got:

And then I remember Richard Notkin!

A right little ray of sunshine he isn't; but what compelling pieces!

September Goal Setting

September - also known as "The Month When I Eat Nothing But Tomatoes" - is upon us, and it's time to get back into my old habit of monthly goal setting. I notice that the beauty of self-employment is also the beast: the lack of any structure to the days hurts my productivity. (My lack of discipline is an ongoing theme, I know, I know, but I think I am not alone in that & hope my attempts to address the issue will either a)help someone else or b) crowd-source the problem: generate ideas from all of you as to how you deal.)

So, Goal One: I need to create some structure, around the nugget that I have: Monday and Tuesday evenings, I teach classes. And I know I need to complete a firing cycle every two weeks. So, let's say Wednesday is firing day, whether bisque or glaze. That means Thursday is cooling, Friday unloading, and either waxing, or grinding, pricing, and packing. Other tasks fall into place: if I know I must bisque on Wednesday, it follows that I must make enough stuff to fill the kiln before, say, Monday, in order that it be sufficiently dry. Let's see if this helps: Baby steps.

On my other note - sales - I have Goal Two: I need to gain a wholesale and a consignment account in September, and obviously, make enough inventory to satisfy all accounts. I have a list of places to approach, and appointments with two prospects. Selling, I find, is exactly like pulling handles or trimming feet or glazing. Remember how you didn't like pulling handles, back when? And now you do, because you got better at it. (At least I observe many student whose experience follow this trajectory.) Everything is more fun after the steep end of learning curve flattens out.

I think those two fairly large goals are enough to be getting on with for September. Now I'm off to make some salsa: the tomatoes are gaining on me.