Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Season of Abundance

It's fall. Okay, technically it's summer for another ten days, but, ya's fall. Like every September, I am about buried in a mound of tomatoes right about now. I also have cilantro, garlic, and jalapeƱos. Now all I need are some limes, chili powder, and cumin, and I have the makings of fresh salsa. I will make approximately a boatload, and freeze most for later. 

Basil and oregano are in abundance, too, and I am pureeing up a storm with my tomatoes to freeze for future spaghetti sauce. I'm also clipping and drying those herbs, along with thyme and rosemary. I love this admittedly illusory sense of self-sufficiency, and every year I am tempted to go further: Keep bees! Maybe chickens! Does Augusta have an ordinance about goats? 

Fall does this to me; it puts me a mode of producing, and hoarding: what is instinct, except millennia of collective memory? Mine is telling me, make and save. Make and save. Winter is coming.

In the studio, too, I am a busy bee. Making and saving, also for winter, in a different way: for the shopping season. I am incredibly bad at guessing what people will want to buy, so I just make what I want to make. Here's what I want to make:
  • Mugs! So many mugs. 
  • I got a little burned out on butterdishes in the spring, but I am ready once again to embrace one of my favorite forms. (Speaking of: I've been asked a few times about the video of my Process Room demo at NCECA. The answer is, I don't know. There have been many videos from the conference posted to NCECA's YouTube page, but none from the Process Room yet. Believe me, when it appears I'll share it here like five minutes later.)

  • Altered oval vases! These are a new fave: fun shapes, lots of surface to decorate. Also, they demand handles. 
  • Wine Chillers: These seem like such joyful pots to me; it makes me happy to imagine them in use. Holiday dinner. Date night. First night in a new apartment. 
  • Serving bowls! Obvs.
  • This will probably be the last kiln load I'll throw in the summer studio before the whole operation moves upstairs. That's a bummer in some ways, because making stuff in the summer studio feels like camp. Everything is fun upta camp! (Throwing a little Maine dialect atcha.)But I have more room in the winter studio, more shelf and table space. I can make more stuff, more quickly! It's fall. That urge for making is upon me.

    It's fall. 

    Sunday, September 4, 2016

    Unloading Day, Belated

    I realized I didn't do my usual unloading day post after the last firing, because most of the pots in the kiln had immediate destinations. Also because that was the day the camera died - after I took the photos - and I had only a foggy idea how to get them off the chip.

    But, got it figured out! As I said, most of these pots are gone - many to Gray Fox Gallery, in Rockland - so I didn't do individual pottery portraits. Hopefully after the next firing I will have pots to repopulate my online store! Anyway, here's how the last firing looked. It was very...stripey. In a good way!

    Looks good thru the spy hole...

    These are ^10. When I fire ^6 the pieces have more applied glaze, less bare soda areas. The ^6 glazes really are as good as the ^10, but at ^6 the soda glass itself is just less...luscious, I guess. It's subtle, but I can see & feel it. I also discovered that if I am meticulous about cleaning out the burner channels after each firing I can increase the efficiency dramatically - enough so there is not much difference between ^6 & ^10 propane consumption. So, with all that, I am starting to wonder if it is worth the storage space (and potential for disaster!) to keep around clay and glazes for both.

    But all that is for another day.

    The studio is still full of bisqueware, probably enough to fill another firing, and though I am having sort of a grasshopper summer, I have been glazing a few every day, so look for another unloading day, coming soon.

    Thursday, September 1, 2016

    Rhymes with Hug

    A mug is the most intimate of pots. Unlike a plate or a bowl or a butterdish, you spent quality time with a mug: every morning, with coffee; cold winter afternoon, with hot chocolate: and in the evenings nothing beats a mug of chamomile tea to help you sleep.

    As you hold and sip, your hands embrace a mug, your fingers run over its surface. You learn its eccentricities. You get to know a mug. It's no coincidence that "mug" rhymes with "hug."

    Oh, wait. Yes it is. It is a coincidence.

    Moving right along.

    We were talking about mugs, in class. Handles. Lips. The landscape of surface that entertains your fingertips. There should always, in my mind, be more to a mug than meets the eye. I borrowed several examples for class from the Portland Pottery Cafe, where they have may mugs & other pots for sale. Here are a few:
    Steve Zoldak

    This one is me.

    Me again
    Marie Palluotto, Red Door Pottery

    Tyler Gulden

    Sorry for the crap photos - my good camera died.

    So, funny story! I had a birthday last week. My Tuesday night class are mostly repeat students, some for several years, so we all know each other pretty well. We had cupcakes.

    This week, I bring in these mugs from the cafe to discuss what makes a good mug, and in discussing the last one, the Tyler Gulden mug, I uttered these fateful words: "This one is my favorite. I thought about asking Tyler for this glaze recipe, but then I realized, I don't even want the glaze, I just want this mug. If I ever have $50 all in one place..."

    My students! What scamps. They had one person distract me with questions, awhile another ran over to the cafe to purchase the mug for me, as a birthday present! You guys. I heart you.

    I am looking forward to getting to know this mug.