Found this great video explaining what the moment of inertia means, a helpful concept to keep in mind when deciding what shape handle to attach to a mug. The upshot for me & the way I explain it to my students is that, the further the handle is out from the body of the mug, the heavier the mug will feel. It's part of why 4-finger handles, though intuitively it seems they would feel more secure, often feel like you have to grip the handle more tightly - so they are less comfortable, mentally & physically. (The other reason is there's no finger left over to go under the handle for balance.)
Yes, I know I am a snore. That's why I have a blog, so I don't accidentally bore my friends right to death.
Friday, December 6
6 - 7:30 pm
Drop-in event at Hallowell Clay Works
157 Water St, Hallowell
It's fun cooking up ideas with my clay buddy Malley Webber, of Hallowell Clay Works fame. Mostly because I happen to have the appropriate cookie cutter, I suggested we do an Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornament party!
Like everything I do, it's more work that I thought it would be...rolling & cutting the clay is only the beginning. I realized once I started that people are going to need images & help getting started - most people need a little priming to get their creative juices flowing. To help out, I've been doing web searches for "ugly christmas sweater" images.
That phrase has changed with the popularity of Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, as now there is a whole genre of "utterly repulsive Christmas sweaters," including Santa's-ass, reindeer-face-as-boob, humping-reindeer, elves-on-the-toilet, and profanity-laced-holiday greeting. These are pretty far from the original idea of ugly christmas sweaters, which were originally just sort of tacky & over-decorated. I'm sure such low comedy has its place at parties, but they aren't quite what I am looking for.
I had better luck searching for "Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies," the designs for which are largely based on the classic ugly Christmas sweaters. Downside: now I want a cookie! I found lots of good designs, though:
In addition to not being repulsive, the cookie designs have the advantage of being already simplified.
I will be printing out some sweater outlines for people to draw out their designs first - so many people who are not artists forget this step! You get a better result if you plan what you are doing before you begin.
This is gonna be so much fun! I hope you can join us.
Demonstrating plates, and a slip decorating technique last night! After I ribbed out the chrysanthemum pattern I had made, I was left with a spiral and the faint impression of the pattern. Decided to keep it - the gods of chance aren't always buttholes!
Oh, holiday season! What a blessing you are Blessing, of course, for anyone who sells things, because that's a time when lots of people buy things! Like the Grinch, I know, of course, that Christmas means "a little bit more;" but anyone who sells things for a living can't pretend the shopping aspect of the holiday season is unimportant.
One of the things people like to buy in the lead-up to Christmas is tree ornaments. These can veer into the hokey; indeed the hokeyness can be part of the charm, connecting us with generations of traditional imagery. As an artist, though, I am always looking to put a fresh creative spin on things. Stars are part of Christmas imagery? Cool, let's run with that, see where we get.
I live in Maine, which informs some of my creatives choices, so where I got with that was starfish! I took a clay cast of a dried starfish I stole from my sister's house, then used that to make multiples. They are soda-fired porcelain so the colors range from dry or glossy white to salmon to toasty brown. They resemble real starfish, actually.
They are a little fragile, but no more so than the delicate glass bulbs adorning Christmas trees everywhere. The making is pretty easy - squash some clay in the mold, pop it out, fettle & sponge the edges; drill a tiny hole. They do have a high-ish breakage rate, but they take up virtually no space in the kiln, my major expense. With all that in mind, I think I can keep the price pretty low - I'm thinking $12 retail
I'll have these for sale at the Portland Pottery Holiday Sale, December 13-15th, and hopefully some at Hallowell Clayworks.
I haven't done a Thursday Inspiration for a while, on the advice of Mr. Business Guy, who pointed out how much time I was spending on business activities that do not, in fact, generate any income, while neglecting others that would. I couldn't resist this one, though - Noelle Hoover, a potter I discovered via Pinterest in a show at AKAR that is all handmade butter dishes.
I gotta say, these butter dishes are WAY underpriced, IMHO. $60! And the gallery takes half, so $30 for all that work. Now, they are slip cast, so the cost on labor is amortized over many pieces - but she still had to do the finish work on the castings, assemble, glaze, and fire these pieces.
Unsurprisingly, they all sold out of that show.
Here are a few more works:
I can't take credit for this one - learned this from my students (who maybe got it off Pinterest? don't know.) It's genius, though - the balloon is squishy enough that as the pot shrinks it compresses, so you can just leave it in, keeping the pot round as it dries.
To be fair I have not tried this myself - as I was typing the last paragraph, it occurred to me that the balloon *might* be squishy enough to distort right along with the pot, if say, the pot dried to fast or something like that.
Anyway, it's any idea. I will let you know how this student pot turns out.
My dining room has looked like this for a week!
My making cycle is about 5 weeks long; one of those weeks is devoted to distribution. That's what this week has been: finding homes for the pots from the last firing, and, in this case, the ware from seasonal stores (common in Maine) that are closing until spring.
I should finally get my dining room back today (not that we ever dine in it, except at Thanksgiving.) Today we the last step in the distribution process - photographing the pots I've chosen for the online shop, and creating their listings. Should have those links for you later!
Lori Keenan Watts (aka me) is a potter, gardener, and avid reader from Augusta, Maine. Though I started my university education in surface design for fabric, clay quickly grabbed me by the heart and redirected my creative impulses. I have been a potter for over 25 years -- hard to believe. The most valuable years of my ceramic education were spent in graduate study at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, under the tutalage of Dan Anderson and Paul Dresang.
My aesthetic is guided by my love of the material itself. What fascinates me and makes a pot compelling for me is the clay-ness of clay: the squooshiness that becomes the adamantine solidity. I also like patterns, unexpected proportions, and when the flame comes along and dissolves part of my careful decorating efforts! I am obstinate about this aesthetic, to a point which might be called pig-headed, but hey, if you don't like what you make, why bother?
My happy little family also includes my husband, musician and photographer (and author of the book Alewife) Doug Watts; five cats; and a turtle, all foundlings and rescues of one stripe or another.