Sunday, April 30, 2017

And A Fine Mess It Is

This happy chaos is me trying to squeeze in a firing to be unloaded Saturday morning, as a Maine Pottery Tour event. This was the first time I used the summer studio this year - in the winter it's just the kiln shed. Starting to think the unloading might end up being Sunday morning instead of Saturday. Still, I got a lot of work done today! I cleaned up all the leaves & debris that accumulated in the space over the winter, unloaded the bisque kiln, applied flashing slip to all of the pots that are going to get flashing slip, and waxed all the bottoms & lids. (Oh and during a break I designed another t-shirt!) Tomorrow I am in Portland all day, teaching classes and, in between classes, working at my branch office doing computer-y things like writing the FMP newsletter (The Messy Minute! Shoot me an email at if you want to be on the mailing list.) So glazing won't happen until Tuesday, and then I only have the morning before I have to leave for Portland again. So, glazing and loading Wednesday, firing Thursday...I dunno, it could work, but it's a tight squeeze.

I have to keep reminding myself that it will be fine, either way. It's almost always fine! Things turn out okay a ridiculous amount of the time. The chaos resolves, more or less, the event happens, more or less, and afterwards anything that went wrong is just a funny story.

Sweet Gypsy Rose

I'll be introducing a new soap at my open studio event for the Maine Pottery Tour: Sweet Gypsy Rose. I just took it out of the mold - so pleased with the color & design. Smells lovely, too - like roses, of course, but light, not cloying.

Smell it for yourself next weekend!

Okay, I'm off - lots to do. XO

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Week and a Day

Only just over a week left before the sixth...or is it the seventh? annual Maine Pottery Tour! I do the organizing for the tour, but am also a participant, so the last week is dedicated (mostly) to getting my own studio ready. Today I loaded a bisque with the pots that will eventually be glazed for the kiln opening that will happen Saturday morning, May 6th.

Opening the kiln is the most exciting part of being a potter, but the pots are usually not...quite...ready for prime time when they first see the light of day in their finished form. They usually need a bit of attention to the bottoms and maybe a little steel wool to make the unglazed surfaces silky. So I need to have enough pots to fill the display even before the kiln opening. So I have been digging in bins and opening boxes, sorting out the best pots that are ready to go.
Bisque is loaded!

The pot in the photo about is the drawing prize! Visitors can enter to win by filling out a slip with their names & addresses. This builds my mailing list and draws visitors, and someone gets a free vase. Win-win!

My to-do list is dauntingly long, and includes making soap (hot process, so it will be ready in a
week); unloading, glazing, reloading and firing these pots;  spiffying up the yard; and assembling necklaces. And that's all before the grunt work of actually setting up! I've invited my friend Liz Downs of Ditch Lily Pottery to be my guest artist, so she'll be setting up with me on Friday.
If you'd like to come visit me durin gthe tour, you should check out studios near me, too! Click this link to get a printable version of the Central leg of the tour. Or, click this link to go to a Google map of the central leg. 
Hope to see you!
Saturday May 6 10 -5
Sunday May 7 11 - 4

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Not Remotely Pottery Related, but

,,,I made a new t-shirt! I took the photo last summer while delivering ware to Handworks, a gallery in Blue Hill, Maine. Doug came with me and we decided to make a day of it.

We visited Blue Hill Falls, which changes direction when the tide comes in or goes out. So cool! We waded in the gelid water and made a remarkable discovery: starfish come in colors! Beautiful, jewel-tone colors. There were masses of them, but I just couldn't capture the colors with the underwater shots; but I did get this small grouping on a rock that the departing tide had just uncovered. On the way back we stopped for lobster rolls at a little roadside stand. It was a great day.

So, I made a t-shirt commemorating my very Maine day. You can get it on a tank or a tote, too! Check it out here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Pop Quiz!

This is for the clay students reading this blog. I know you are out there!

My upside down plates have come out of the bisque, and guess what? One of them cracked pretty spectacularly. I sort of thought it might. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to why the one cracked and the other didn't?

Turn your computer upside down for the answer!

Actually, there's a bit more after the break.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Upside Down Plates

Potters, in my experience, are generous folks. One of the joys of teaching in a communal studio like Portland Pottery is learning from my fellow potters. It's a regular even to see something wonderful and ask the maker to share it.

Last week I learned from Brian Buckland how to make these upside-down plates, with undulating lines from a twisty cut-off wire. Brian learned it from Tyler Gulden, and so on and so on, it's turtles all the way down.

It's also a joy to be the one sharing!

Here are the steps, pictorally:
Center a three pound hump low & wide, as if you were throwing a regular plate
Throw a foot ring
With a wooden rib, make a deep undercut - about a half-inch 

Cut of plate from the bat with a twisty wire, but leave it on the bat. You can cut straight or not, depending on the pattern you want. 

Place a second bat on the foot ring. Line up the pin holes to get the plate as close to the center of the second bat as you can. 
Flip the plate between the two bats, like a clay sandwich
I couldn't get a good picture of the next bit, but you have to reach between the bats and get your fingertips (gently!) into the undercut, and peel the plate off the first bat. Be very careful , as it's easy to mess up the rim. This bit takes some patience, and some practice.

Even if you are very careful, it will look like crap when it first comes off the bat. Don't worry! It's supposed to.
See? Looks like crap. 
It should be pretty close to center, because you lined up the two bats pretty well, but make whatever adjustments necessary to get it as close as you can now that it's unstuck. Now you are going to snap the bat back on the wheel, and with a sponge, persuade the wall to come up until it is shaped like a plate or shallow bowl:
Optionally, you can trim out some of the center. This is probably a good idea so you can compress the center - I am a little worried that the ones I didn't trim out will crack.

If you are really, really good, your plate might be done! Mine all needed trimming underneath after they'd dried to leatherhard.