Thursday, April 29, 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Maine Pottery Tour: Download the Map!

Correction: mapS. The tour is divided into 3 regions: Central, Coastal, & Southern. As you can imagine there are no clear boundaries for regions, & studios like to be grouped with others close to them - it makes it easier to share publicity & send visitors to your neighbor - so we have ended up with a few oddities like a Harpswell studio not being in the "Coastal" region, and studios in Bethel & Paris being in the Central region, despite those places being in Western Maine. (I would actually love to have a Western region, I just feel like we need more than 3 studios to constitute a "region." )

Here are the links to download printable maps: 

Central region

Coastal region

Southern region

If you've got one of those newfangled, ever-so-clever phones, you connect it to the online map to plan your pottery road trip. Find that at this link. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

So What is Aesthetic Tension Anyway?

In my upper level classes I talk a lot about aesthetic tension. It's a design tool, like repeat with variation, or unexpected proportions, that we can use to engage the viewer, or in this case the user. Aesthetic tension is when two competing or even contradictory aesthetics are in evidence. It is one of my favorite tricks to employ. 

This mug gives us an example! The throwing lines are soft, but fresh; the decal image is crisp but degraded. 

This concludes our lesson for today. 

Dotopia Mugs, Pre-Dot

  Two weeks before the Maine Pottery Tour! What's more, I've promised visitors that I will unload a kiln Saturday AM...what was I thinking?? I must have been thinking, "I shall just work an insane amount, however much it takes, and make it happen" or else I was thinking, "Eh, I'll make what I can & fill the rest with huge bowls."

The latter, probably. Maybe I will make the huge bowls today. Yesterday was all about the mugs. They got stamps, handles, rib marks, and slip trailing. These will become Dotopia mugs. 

I use images of Maine wildlife for the stamps, but I tend not to go for the iconic ones: no moose or lobsters here. The critters I choose are ones I have childhood memories of or memorable experiences with. For example: my family went boating & fishing a lot, when I was a kid. I was afraid of dragonflies, until my father had me hold still & look at one, on his arm, seeing how beautiful (& how harmless) it was. I cam to love them & look for them everywhere, so many different colors! 

Bisquing Thursday, firing Wednesday. I hope. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Torn Slab Platter

 Well, that was fast! Between my wholesale accounts & social media, basically all of that last firing is sold now. (I now have to squeeze out a firing before the pottery tour, but that is a good problem to have.) I do have one piece left, maybe because I haven't even tried to sell it yet: the first of the torn-slab platters has come out of the kiln.

I have to make a lot of stuff, pretty fast, and there's demand for both Dotopia & Sweet Life (I've been wanting to use that name!) so now would be a really bad time for me to go haring off after yet another aesthetic whim. [Insert some quote about discipline here, I'm too tired to dig one up.] But this platter - more of a plate, really, after the shrinkage - well, it did turn out very well! Once things calm down a bit around here I will definitely be making more. 

If you are interested in Dotopia, you get get those pots at Gifts at 136 or at Maine Local Market; if you like Sweet life, you can get those at Monkitree

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Fattie of the Firing


These pots can be purchased at Monkitree, on Water St in Gardiner, Maine
Contact Clare at the link if you see something you like! 

Good firing! Mostly good pots, a couple of great pots, a few refires. I was most excited to see how the soda vapor interacted with the bare bmix, on the pots that I had sliptrailed with porcelain. Answer: pretty nice! 

As I sometimes do, I chose a mug out of this lot to be my mugs for a while. I'll use it until the next firing, then wash it (OBVS), slap a price tag on it, and sell it. If you come to the Maine Pottery Tour & you want to purchase the best mug, ask for the one that I kept out for myself for a little while! It got

very peachy-tan in the background, a nice contrast with the bright white of the porcelain. 

Lots of Dotopia pots in the firing, too! 

Almost all of the ware is already in boxes, on its way to Monkitree, Gifts at 136, Maine Local Market, and Bay View Company. I'm going to have to turn around another firing very fast to have pots for the Maine Pottery Tour! 

ETA: LOL so much for that! This piece sold a few hours after I posted this. Not that I'm complaining! 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

My Busiest Week

The week leading up to a glaze firing is always a busy one at Fine Mess Pottery. This one is compounded because we are less than a month out from the Maine Pottery Tour - I am working on the flyers right now. Did I tell you how much I hate that job? I am determined not to do the thing where I dread a task for longer than it would actually take to do the task, so I hope to have those finished today. 

Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday were glazing days. In accordance with Hofstadter's Law, glazing always takes longer than I think, even when I take into account Hofstadter's Law. My glazing is (usually) a

several-step process: trailing, waxing, dipping, pouring. I really go through the wax! I find that the flashing slip is smoother & glossier after firing where it has been waxed. I do not have a good explanation for this. 

I also needed to prepare the kiln shelves. Between every firing, I have to scrape & grind the kiln shelves, because the soda vapor makes glaze on them as well as the pots! I also do not love that job but again, if I eliminate the period of dread before I begin, it's over before I know it. 

Pre-made wads
This firing I glued on some of the wads in advance. The other wads I made up ahead of time & stored in a lidded plastic container; this makes loading go faster 7 helps keep my hands clean, so I don't get wadding smudges on the pots, or have to keep dipping my hands in water on a cold day. 

This had an unanticipated benefit; the wads were a little bit stiffer than usual, which meant that I could use taller wads that would not squish down with the weight of the pot. Taller wads mean more soda glass on the bottom. Bottoms matter! 

I space the pots with about 1.5 inches
between them for better soda distribution.
Then, the actual loading: it's always a push-pull between "get lots of pots in" and "leave plenty of space between them." Lots of pots, of course, has the benefit of being lots of pots! Plenty of space between has the benefit of better soda
coverage. I want as many pots as possible, but if I have to choose between "more pots" and "better pots," I know which one I want. 

If it still works I use it
I finished loading yesterday around 3. I take plenty of breaks, because I know from past experience that just powering thru will give me a sore back the next day, when the actual firing
will be happening. I got everything in that I needed to - yay - with some pots leftover for the next firing, also yay! Because I need to make, bisque, glaze, load, & fire so I can have an unloading even Saturday, May 1 for the pottery tour. 

The kiln is at ^05 now, in a light reduction. Probably about 7 hours to go. 

God, I'm tired. 

Oh, & happy Easter, if you are celebrating! 

Friday, April 2, 2021

You're Invited!

It's April & I am officially stressed. 

I have orders due imminently - not to say late (not to SAY late but) - and of course we are less than a month out from the Maine Pottery Tour! I am creating the flyers & mailing out the postcards & delivering the signs & filling out the community calendar forms & managing the public radio sponsorships. And all my usual stuff - classes, finding lost cats!, car trouble. SEND VIRTUAL HUGS

If you are on facebook, you can here more about the Maine Pottery Tour (May 1 & 2) on our page, or you can check out the website. If you are ready to plan your pottery road trip, you can use the interactive online map at this link

If you are on Facebook, you can accept this invite to the tour! You don't have to - you can just show up, for sure - but I always get a little joy-zing when somebody says they will be there.