Saturday, December 31, 2022

Opportunities & Ruminations

I spent the last post kind of ruminating on whether I want to keep pushing so hard to sell more pots, so I can spend more time in the studio, or whether it would be better to just stand in the place where I am, enjoy having, not lots of money, but enough, & a little time to do other fun things like hiking & kayaking. (Yes, I hike in the winter. In Maine. Yes, it is cold & yes, it is fun!) 

But, as nice as all that sounds, I feel like I want to take one more run at the Big Push. I want 2023 to be a year of grabbing opportunities. I feel like, for, well, reasons, I've spent a couple years just doing what it takes to get through each day, each week, & not really thinking strategically or pursuing any goal beyond that. I'd like to get back to more planning, more willful directing of how my life goes. I've been coasting, not in the sense of not working hard (seriously: LOL) but in the sense of just relying on the efforts I've made in the past, opportunities I have pursued in the past, to hold up my sky. 

And don't get me wrong! Coasting is great! But it's time to get back to steering this boat, finding, pursuing, and creating opportunities. Here are a few that are on my radar:


Maine Made dot com
Art Fairs
Downeast Shop
Center for Maine Craft

  • Gardiner
  • Portland
Patreon - clay videos? 

So, yeah, I guess I am back to what was my New Year's resolution for many years: try harder. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

More, Better, Healthier, Happier

 As I said in my last post, I am making a list of 23 for 2023: a list of guideposts for the New Year. The items on the list- habits, experiences, goals - fall roughly into 4 categories: More, Better, Healthier, Happier. With, of course, a lot of overlap between them. 

New Year's Resolutions are an opportunity to examine assumptions. Like, do you really want the thing you think you want? Or does it just seem like you ought to want it?

Sometimes I think about that with regard to spending more time in the studio. When I was a young potter, I always thought that I would be a full time potter, in the sense that I made my entire living making pots & selling them, maybe with the occasional workshop here & there. That is not, mostly, what happened! I make more than half my living teaching clay classes. This is partly because it's so much easier to make money that way! & right now I am questioning myself: is that really so bad, to do a fun &easy job more than the fun-but-hard job? I've always felt like it makes me less of a professional, but...1st, does it? Does it really? And 2nd, why do I care about that? That's just image, perception. What matters is how it affects my actual life. 

Of course, making pots is satisfying in a way that no other job, however rewarding, could ever be. But does the exact ratio matter all that much? Like, am I right now spending the optimal amount of time in the studio? I always think I wish I spent more time in the studio, but...maybe the reason I don't spend more time in the studio isn't because I don't have time. Maybe it's because this is how much I want to. 

There was time (maybe it's still that time! not sure) when push-push-push was my main mode - and if that doesn't work push harder. Let me tell you, pushing harder works! Business-wise. But does pushing harder make me happier?

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Year of Starting Over

For the last few years - since about 2016, honestly, when it felt to me like the world started to go insane - I have posted less, & not just that, I have worked less. Or, no, that's not right, because I have taken on more classes, but I have spent less time in the studio. I want to change that. I have so many ideas of things that I could do or should do, but somehow I never seem to get around to doing them. 

I guess that's what I want to look at for 2023: is it just that there are not enough hours in the day? Or am I spending time doing unproductive things, & I could reclaim that time? Or am I just older & don't have the energy I once had. These are some things I want to use the next few days to think about, as I start setting my intentions for the New Year.

Most of 2023 will be the Year of the Rabbit, a sign of peace & prosperity. I could really use some peace & prosperity! That's what my resolutions are all about this year. 

23 for 2023 is a list of habits I want to change or acquire, experiences I want to incorporate, things I want to accomplish, & maybe some things I want to pare down. I'm still working on my 23 for 2023 list, but I think I can divide it into 4 categories: Better (make better stuff); More (make more & sell more); Happier; & Healthier. 

Maybe you want to play along! If you are creating your own list of 23 for 2023, post the link here! 


Sunday, December 18, 2022

Looking Ahead

Ceramics is a funny medium, from a sales point of view. By now - mid-December - it's way past too late to make things for the holiday shopping season. I've shuttered the online shop for the season - I'm not confident I could get items shipped in time, & anyway most of the pots are in stores or pop-up shops. 

So, for me, I'm in year-end mode already. New Year's Resolution mode. Long time readers know I love New Year's resolutions, although the last few years have made those more challenging to keep. 

I will make them again, of course! My feeling is that even if they don't completely work, a couple of months of improved habits is better than none. And sometimes they do work! I'm not a "stop trying" kind of person. 
Although lately - for months now, actually - I have sorta lost my work mojo. That's been evident in the thin offerings here. Is it because I am teaching more classes? Doing more outdoor recreational activities? Because my mother, almost 90, needs more of my time than she used to? Maybe! There are, after all, only so many hours in the week. But I still spend plenty of time reading books I've already read, streaming mediocre shows, or mindlessly scrolling social media. Maybe I am just older & more easily tired, but I would love to get back the level of energy & enthusiasm I had for all sorts of creative pursuits back in about 2015, before the world went insane. 

So, watch for my 23 for 2023! As you might guess, it will include more posts here & more time in the studio. Start brewing up yours, & share them with me! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Pricing, Sorting, Packing...


After a 2-year hiatus, I am once again preparing for the Portland Pottery Holiday Show! The show runs from December 16th - 23rd, at the studio at 118 Washington Avenue. 

The opening is Thursday night from 6-9, & I am especially looking forward to this, as there are many friends & colleagues I only see at this event. 

In other news, I have deleted my twitter account. I thought I wouldn't care who owns the site, & I wish I didn't have to care, but I really don't want my business showing up next to Nazi tweets. Will it affect traffic to this blog? Maybe! But I can find other avenues. Like Post! 

I think the main thing affecting traffic to this blog is the thin stream of content. In the New Year - you remember how I love New Year's resolutions - I will attempt to post at least once a week. 

Anyway! If you are anywhere near Portland Thursday night, stop in at PP - I'll be tending bar. Merry, happy, holly-jolly, etc. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

New Pots in the Online Shop!

Just in time for Small Business Saturday. And, you know, Cyber Monday, & the rest of the holiday shopping season, right up to December 15th, which is the latest I could get a piece shipped in time for Christmas. Here are some of the new offerings:

Garlic roasters! If you have a cook in your life, they need one of these. Roast garlic is soft & spreadable, & has a milder, sweeter taste than raw. I'll tuck a recipe in the box with purchase! Get one here

This is a larger serving bowl, about 8 inches in diameter & 4ish inches tall. The slip trailed flowers are pretty exuberant, I guess I got carried away! The glaze is a greatly altered Leach White - like, so altered it now only shares one ingredient - plus some chartreuse Mason stain. It's satiny & smooth, and while I wouldn't call it chartreuse (Mason stains don't always express the expected color, especially in reduction) it's a lovely spring green. See more here

You know how I love to make butter dishes! I have a few new ones in the shop. This one has a periwinkle interior, another results of my playing around with Mason stains. See more here.

Loads of little vases, just over 4" high, listed today as well. Little enough to bring some beauty to your workspace. Or even your car - they fit in the cupholder! 

Thanks for looking, & I hope your Thanksgiving was as full of love & family as mine. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Saturday in the Studio

I had hoped to fire the kiln today but as usual glazing took longer than I expected. When will I learn? Survey says: Never! 

By 8 pm last night I'd finished glazing but still had to make cone packs, wash kiln shelves (a few, anyway), & mix wadding before I could even start loading. Sure, I could have done it, & been lighting the pilots at midnight, and there was a time when I would have done it: when push to the max was the order of the day, every day. That's not how I roll, these days. Maybe I am just older & tireder, or maybe I have a better perspective on work-life balance now. In any case I decided to call it a night, pour a thc-infused lemonade, & watch a couple episodes of Lower Decks. I'll fire tomorrow. I can't unload until Tuesday at the earliest, no matter what, so I am not losing any time. 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Let's Hear it for the Nerds


I made a t-shirt! Get yours here.

Ceramics Opportunity!

The Division of Ceramic Art at the School of Art and Design, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, is seeking candidates for a full-time Assistant Professor position of Ceramics beginning in the fall 2023. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Potter Bones

The bones of a woman who lived approximately 3,000 years ago have been determined to be those of a potter. The skeleton was found in Crete, & dated from what is sometimes called the Greek Dark Ages. 

Am I the only one wondering: if my bones are dug up 3,000 years from now, will they tell my story? The pottery part of it?
I love to read about ancient potters & ware because it reminds me that people are people; not so very different, at heart. 

Sorry for spotty posting! Hoping to get back to greater regularity now that it's fall, which traditionally means getting back to serious business. 🙂

Thursday, August 25, 2022

FFS Can August be over soon?

 August - my birthday month! - is usually a fan favorite here at Fine Mess Pottery. The nights get cooler while the days are still bright & warm. All that is still true, but August has been rough this time. 

First, there was the passing of the Grey Lady. I am not terribly sentimental about vehicles (for someone who names them); my dismay is more about the expense of replacing it. While it's true that we got very, very lucky in finding our Ranger, five thousand bucks is still five thousand bucks, going out the door. Add to that I had some long-delayed dental work (tell me again why my teeth are not considered part of my body, for insurance purposes?), we had to insure & register the Ranger, and now my PT Cruiser is acting up. So far I've had to pay for a tow & some minor fuel line work (& a AAA membership, just in case) but I can tell something is still wrong. Our turtle, Red, has needed some veterinary care, as well, for a nasty cut on his forepaw. None of these a bank-breakers, but all happening in the same month, they are getting weighty.

Most of the time I remind myself how very lucky I am. When the Dakota was declared moribund, we had the money to replace it. I have been blessed with genetically good teeth, so my dental visits are few & normally maintenance. Red is recovering well! Things are gonna go wrong from time to time - it's not reasonable to expect that they won't - & I am aware that things have not gone nearly as wrong as they could go. 

But geez. Can we be done with the hits, for just a little while?

Saturday, August 6, 2022

As Yet Unnamed


The universe has provided me with a new truck. Or - equally plausible! - I scoured Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace, & every other avenue I could think of, until I found the vehicle I needed. It's a 2010 Ford Ranger, low miles, no frills. We got it for what would have been an insane price a couple of years ago but baby, things change. It was actually the cheapest one on my list, & had been on the market for over a month, so I was half expecting it to be trailing parts & belching smoke. Not at all! Other than some scratched in the bed, it's like a new truck. 

It hasn't yet earned a name, but I am listening to the wind thru the window for suggestions. 

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Grey Lady Drives Off Into The Sunset


It seems like only yesterday I drove her home, overjoyed to have a truck for the first time since 1989. Everything is a little easier with a truck! Art fairs, yardwork, dump runs, snagging free furniture left by the side of the road. But sadly the Grey Lady has been diagnosed with terminal frame rust, & she will not pass her next inspection. 

But I'm not doing artfairs anymore - probably? - & roadside furniture finds always smell funny; & I don't know if we can find a bargain like we got with the Grey Lady. It's a tough time to buy any used vehicle, especially a truck, since demand for used vehicles has never been higher, in part due to a dearth of new ones - that's that whole chip shortage you've been reading about. 

Anyway, we are, in a way, lucky: we have a PT Cruiser that I will continue to drive to class, & the Grey Lady herself is not immediately out of commission, so we have a few weeks to find a replacement. I'd love to get another small pick up, but it may not be in the cards. So, local readers, if you hear of a good deal on a used truck - or, heck, a good deal on any vehicle - give me a shout! It takes a village.

On a completely unrelated topic, anyody wanna buy pottery? 😄

Friday, July 29, 2022

In Use

I have an alter ego that occasionally pops up in the studio. Unlike my usual work, she makes hand built work with spontaneous shapes & rustic edges. I don’t know how other potters stick to just one style of working! My alter does not appear often, or make many items, but I really enjoy the few I get. 

This platter, for instance! I use it a lot; it’s a great serving size for two, or for side dishes for larger groups. Tonight I grilled cherry tomatoes & button mushrooms, and served them over pasta with Parmesan cheese. The warm iron-brown color of the platter seems to complement any food I place on it. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

New pots!

 I unloaded a firing last Sunday! Between packing & delivering the pots to their awaiting outlets, & photographing, then processing the images, I am only just getting around to posting about it. Nice problem to have: a week out, & almost all the pots are sold. I held out a few for the online store. 

Lately I have been producing two bodies of work: Dotopia & Sweet Life. (I find it helps, especially for taking wholesale orders, if I name the lines. Yes, the names are a bit corny! That's marketing for ya.) I'm only posting a few Sweet Life pots, because the Dotopia pots are in stores now. Damn, I really need to fire more often, because I need more inventory. 

Anyway, the pots are here. I'll be posting these in my online shop today

I'll be posting the links here as soon as I get these listed. Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Pottery Stairs are Out!


The Pottery Stairs, wearing their spiffy new coat of lipstick-red paint, are out for the first time since the Maine Pottery Tour! Local peeps, come & get your love! (Or, you know, mugs.)

Here's how it works: Choose your pottery. Grab an envelope - it's already got my address & a stamp.  You can mail me the price of the ware, or you can put the payment directly into my mailbox, on the porch. Or you can send money via CashApp: $FineMessPottery ; or at :@LoriKeenanWatts

Sorry, but I can't hold or ship pieces from the pottery stairs. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Yes, I'm Still Making Stuff!

You might have the impression from my last few posts that all I've done for the last couple months is studio housekeeping: roof repair, new shelving, painting the stairs. Au croissant! (or whatever.) I have been making like a mad bastard! I tend to share those photos on instagram - the social media platform I find truly enjoyable. I use a couple of the others but insta is the one that is actually fun, as opposed to a tool for staying informed, either of the news of the day or of my friends lives. Though I am very interested in politics, I keep my instagram feed free of it - anyone making political posts or god forbid memes, I mute them, at least for a while, because I think there need to be places, irl & online, where we can go & not focus on what divides us. It's the only way back to civility, if there even is a way back.  (Side note: I f*ckin hate most memes, they are basically bumper sticker thinking for the internet. Most just play into confirmation bias, & make people think they are informed without giving them any information.)

That was a long introduction, that wandered off into the weeds! Here are some pics of what's happening in the studio: 

Bisque on today is my last day to throw. Better make the most of it! 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Pottery Stairs Are Getting A Glow Up

The pottery stairs have needed spiffying for some time now, but it’s never the most important thing on my list. It’s not the most important thing on my list today, either, but I bumped it to the top while the waste I threw yesterday is drying . As you can see, the pottery stairs used to be red! And they will be again. 

Also on today’s list: Trim & decorate coffee cones; mow the lawn; grind kiln shelves; & listen to the 1/6 hearings.

But if the sun comes out, all bets are off; the kayak will start calling me.

Friday, June 3, 2022

All My Ducks In A Row

For “ducks” read “kiln furniture.” 

It takes so little to make me happy. Today it’s a new wire shelving rack to keep my posts orderly, freeing up tons of space in the summer studio. 
It's good to feel like one thing is under control! 

I've had a very busy June so far! I am still trying to catch up from not having a kiln for half of last year, in addition to the things I neglected while organizing the Pottery Tour: my taxes, for example. Did those yesterday, & got a start on reclaiming the lawn from no-mow May. I hope the pollinators appreciated it because it's way more work than if I had just been mowing all along. 

And then there are our new kayaks. 

I've been trying to purchase these for 2 years, but every time I had the money all in one place something would happen from one of our 3 big unexpected-expense categories: house, cars, pets. Never the less I finally made it happen so of course we had to take them out. We went to Savade Pond, a little puddle of a place too small to attract tourists, a paddled around for a few hours looking at lilies and turtles and white fluffy clouds. 

Other than that, I've mostly been in the studio. I have a slip trailing post queued up in my brain, all about my new best friend, Darvan 7. Type at ya later! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Up on the Roof

A predicted 4 day dry stretch seems like a good time to address the state of my studio roof. 

This is sort of a new experience for me, as my typical approach would be to wait until a thing is a Problem, with a capitol P, before solving it. I could have just plopped a tarp over it, or replaced the torn shingles, to keep the water out, but carpenter ants have gotten into the wood, & while I could have postponed the fix it was not gonna get better by itself. So, dry weather predicted? Time to tackle the roof. 

My only problem is, I don't really know what I am doing. I do find myself in this situation semi-regularly: a job that needs doing, but no money to hire it out, & no skills to do it myself. My usual approach has been to just do it anyway, & figure it out as I go along. How hard can it be? has been my catchphrase for decades, though some things can, in fact, be pretty damn hard! For example I have no idea if I am going about this job correctly. I climbed up on the roof with the circular saw & cut out the punky section; next it's back up the ladder with a tape measure, then off to Lowes to buy some...idk, plywood, I guess?... to fill the gap. 

And maybe there's some kind of product, like caulk, to seal up the joint between the boards? I mean, there's definitely caulk, i know there's caulk, but is there a special kind of...roof caulk? You know, like how there's moisturizer for you face & there's moisturizer for your elbow but they are different? Maybe caulk is like that. 

Or maybe I am overthinking it. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

3 Days in the Studio

 Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow:

Yesterday was mostly teaching classes - not a lot of studio work. I did some minor clean up from the pottery tour,

& sent off some photos & a blurb to promote a workshop I am teaching at Hallowell Clay Works. Oh! That reminds me. Want to take a slip workshop? It's Sunday, May 22nd, from 2 - 5. 

Today has some teaching also! I don't normally teach on Wednesdays but I am subbing a class this morning. This afternoon I'll be sorting, pricing, & packing pots to go to Mainely Gallery, in Belfast. That'll take most of the afternoon, but I might get to end my workday at a reasonable time & read my new book, The Investigator

Tomorrow I am delivering said pots! It is looking like a gorgeous day for a drive; maybe Doug will come with me & poke around the cute little town of Belfast, Maine. Not too long, though; I have to be in Portland to teach by 6 pm. 

Friday & Saturday I have to do a serious house cleaning. I mostly neglected cleaning in the 3 weeks prior to the pottery tour, and it shows! Then my mom & the fam are coming on Sunday for Mother's Day. Busy week! 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Time to say Goodbye

And, unlike the old song says, goodbye does mean forever. Goodbye does mean we'll never be together again! It's time to let go of my old art fair set up. I built it in 1994, and while it served me well for many years it has gotten increasingly rickety (not unlike myself) and I have had to resort to more and more desperate measures to make sure it is stable enough to hold the ware for the duration of an event. Last weekend I nailed parts of it together. There was a moment when I was contemplating duct tape. It's time to let it go.

Here's how it looked, in better days...
 The question is, do I build another one? If so, for what specific uses? If it is to be solely a studio evnt display, that has a different set of parameters than an art fair display, that needs to be fairly lightweight, portable, and quick to set up. 

I used to spend a lot of time thinking about booth displays. Lately I am thinking about whether I want to do art fairs at all, given my own increasingly rickety self. Art fairs are a lot of work! And, honestly, I got spoiled in St. Paul; there were maybe 20 top-shelf art fairs within a day's drive; here there's one. Craft Boston used to be, but for the last at-least 5 years it has been sucking mud; the PMA show is headed that way also. 
Most of the good shows that I used to do, when I lived in St Paul are still running, but driving 2 or 3 days, staying in motels (I'm too old to sleep in a tent on the ground, at least when I am working), eating out - fast food is both nastier & more expensive than home-food - the calculation is different. The absolute most I could hope to make from a good show is probably around $5000 - & that would be a rarity. Subtract the booth fee & the studio time, & the classes I'd have to miss & the travelling expenses...not looking like such a great dice to roll now. 

OTOH, I used to love the art fair lifestyle. Seeing new cities, a group of friends I only saw during that season, trying new restaurants...I didn't even mind the driving. I'd try to find a Spanish-language radio station & listen hard to see if I could understand any of it. 

Anyway. The Maine Pottery Tour is over for another year. My event was successful, about 70 visitors & the same sales as last year - which is good, because last year landed in kind of a unique moment, when for about 5 minutes we thought the pandemic which had been keeping us away from public activities for a year was over. (It's still not, of course, but the pottery tour is mostly an outside event, & even a big turnout isn't densely packed, so I felt ok about doing the tour.) Anyway, maybe we've just finally hit a critical mass of people who know about hte tour, return every year, & help spread the word.

This week is always funny for me, because I've spent the last 4 months thinking about & working on the tour in basically all my "free" (lol) time, and now there's a space where that used to be. I have orders to fill & pots to list online & stores to approach, not to mention classes to teach!  - believe me I have plenty to do - but I am going to take a moment to appreciate the not-urgency of those tasks. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The Pottery Tour is in the KJ!

 Featured are my friend Diane Harwood, at her studio in Winthrop, and Nick Skelton, whose studio, The Art Walk, is also located in Winthrop. If you scroll down the article a bit, I am quoted! 

Here's the link.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Here we go!

It's probably not a great sign, that I am still tired from yesterday! & this year Doug can't be here to help me set up the EZ-up (not all that E-Z, honestly, but doable, even with just one person.) 

Still, every year I for get something, & it's fine. 

Still to do:

  • Put up the tent & shelves. This is the biggie.
  • Price pots. I was going to do that last night but it was so cold & after dinner I was so tired! 
  • Place the pottery tour signs
  • Bring out all the sales materials: bags, wrapping paper, receipt book, Square device. 
Those are the crucial things. Once those are done I can do the less critical stuff. 

Right after I finish my coffee. 

If you're in Maine, I hope you'll come visit one or more of the stops on the tour this weekend. Lots of great stuff to see! 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Getting Ready!


A peek into the spyhole! Unloading Saturday at 11

This might be my busiest day of the year: the day before the Maine Pottery Tour! (& yet here I am blogging, lol.) No matter how prepared I think I am, there is always too much to do on this day. Get change, print flyers, price pots, double check the Square app, set up the road signs. I would normally set up the shelves on Friday but we are meant to get high winds today, so that seems like a Bad Plan. Guess I'll just have to get up way early tomorrow!

Anyway. I was pretty excited to see how nice things look thru the spy, can't wait to unload with visitors tomorrow!! 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Off the Bench at Last

Put me in, coach! 

Because I can fit more pots in the bisque firings than the glaze firings, there are always a few leftover pieces of bisque ware. I keep them against the day that I need to do a firing but don’t quite have enough stuff to fill it. That day has come! After my mishap last weekend - dropping a board of pots on another board of pots, after the last day I could throw & have stuff dry enough to bisque- it was looking like this firing would be short. Normally I would just wait, & for when I had made more stuff, but this time I have a hard deadline: I’ve promised visitors that we will unload a firing Day One of the Maine Pottery Tour. 

Time to call in the benchwarmers! As you can see, some have been waiting a very long time for their moment to arrive.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Squish Happens


I spent all day yesterday in the studio, attaching handles, decorating, throwing for a couple of hours; I even thought I'd get ahead of the game & pull the handles I'd need to attach later. I did all that with a little tickle of worry in my mind: I promised I'd unload a kiln for the pottery tour, which means I have to load Wednesday & bisque Thursday at the latest, in order to fire a glaze next Wednesday to unload Saturday the 30th. Would I have enough stuff? 

But I felt pretty good about my progress, until this morning when I went in to attach the handles I'd pulled. When I grabbed the board of mugs, somehow it became unbalanced & slipped from my hands, landing on the board of big bowls below it. FUUUUUCK!!

I was pretty irate, for a minute, but whaddaya gonna do? This stuff sometimes happens, and melting down over does not make it unhappen, no matter how hard I try. So, I'll still fire, but it'll be a light load. 

I handled the 2 surviving mugs, trimmed & decorated the surviving bowls, and I'll throw some little vases that can dry in time to load Wednesday. 

I'm reflecting back to a time when I would have spent the day angry & bemoaning the lost pieces. An important lesson it took me way to long to learn: not all ware is going to  make it to the kiln, & not all ware that comes out of the kiln is going to be successful. Letting go means you don't lose the day & your good mood, also. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Third Firing is in the Books!

 Despite having the mother of all colds (definitely not covid; I have tested 3 times now - 2 at-home & one pcr), I could not wait to unload the third glaze firing of the new soda kiln this morning. Got some amazing color - kind of a bronze-y gold - on the bare bmix body; and the Bauer orange, that reliable standby, got almost uniformly glossy & bright. See for yourself!

There were a couple disappointing factors, tho - some of the pieces were made before I started slow-drying anything with slip decoration, and as a result there was a little bit of popping off. Slow drying seems to have solved this problem, so yay; but of course those individual pieces will have to be seconds. 

And speaking of seconds, some of the Dotopia pieces - the ones with Oribe dots, as opposed to yellow dots - some of those will have to be 2nds also, because a lot of the dots jumped right off the ware & onto the kiln shelves (mostly) or other pots. This is a super annoying new problem, which I suspect is caused by a change I made it response to advice, and upped my bisque temperature from ^08 to ^05. I can't see any advantage to this - just higher fuel costs - & now it has made my glaze behave badly. So, not to put to fine a point on it, fuck that. 
Some dot pots that didn't have that annoying problem

You might think I am unhappy with this firing but - au contraire! - I am quite delighted. I got a lot of good pots, I know (at least I think I know) how to correct the problems, and best of all I feel like I am getting a good handle on how to fire this kiln. I think the level of reduction & amount of soda were just about perfect. 

I am always happy when I am learning new things. 

Some of these pots are off to Mainely Gallery in Belfast; a few - mostly mugs - are headed for Bay View Company; and the rest will be available for sale here at my studio during the Maine Pottery Tour. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Coffee Pour Over Cone

 I've resisted making these for a long time, because I figured like lots of specific-use items, there were some specs I didn't know, & wouldn't know until I went to use it. I didn't (& don't) have time right now to do the experimenting that would be necessary to make coffee pour-over cones that work well. 
But, then I got a jump start from my colleague at Portland Pottery: fellow instructor Brian Buckland. Brian had drawn this image on the whiteboard in our shared classroom: 

Brian makes these a lot - you can purchase one of his here & here, if you've been wanting one! or visit his studio in Buxton during the Maine Pottery Tour. Anyway, Brian is incredible generous with knowledge & information, & he filled in the last 2 pieces I needed: how much clay to start with (2 pounds) , & how big is the hole in the bottom (1/4 inch.) 

Here's my first attempt: 

I took a slightly different approach to the base - I gave the tray a little upward curve, thinking it would seat itself better on a wider range of mug widths. I think I will leave the outer surface of the try unglazed, to create a little more friction so it won't slip around while in use. I also made a more conventional one, with a flat tray at the bottom, but that still needs to be trimmed. Looking forward to testing out both of them, & maybe making more if they work out well - hopefully I will have one or two in the kiln I unload during the pottery tour. 

We get by with a little help from our friends! 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Website Design Refresh!

 Oh, I've been sitting on this so hard, because we were waiting until it was ready for the big unveil! Milly Welsh of Zebralove Web Solutions has built a new, updated website for the Maine Pottery Tour

Important features: a pop-out page for each studio, with a little blurb about them and/or their pottery tour event, and a search function so if folks are looking for info about a particular studio. Behind the scenes, Milly has built in a function so potters can update their own listing, uploading the photos they want & writing the blurbs themselves. This is great for me, obviously, but also for the potters of the tour - they are in complete control of how they are presented to the world. Here's my page.

The tour is April 30th & May 1st - we usually schedule it the first full weekend in May but this year that's Mother's Day, & I'd lose half the studios if I chose that weekend. 54 studios this year! Hope to see you there. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Ancient Clay

The 2,400-Year-Old Giant Clay Vase Discovered in Peru

Yeah, pretty sure that's not a vase. 
Also - not to doubt the archaeologists, I'm sure they thought of this - but a vessel this big, you'd build an ad-hoc kiln around it, which would be dismantled once the piece was fired; so the fact that there were no "remains of stoves" (LOL) doesn't seem conclusive, as to where it was fired. 

Anyway I thought it was an interesting story. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Thick of it: Maine Pottery Tour

When I went through my email this morning I had ten, count em, TEN, action items - & that was just Maine Pottery Tour related items. My brakes are making that ominous grinding sound. I still have some stuff to work out with the kiln. Nevermind basic housecleaning, that ain't happening. Not today, anyway, and tomorrow's not looking good either. 

I am working on an ad for the next issue of Downeast, & putting together the Maine Public sponsorship package. I am building the online map of the tour. I am unloading the kiln & making pots for spring orders! I am teaching classes, as always. 

I am starting to feel the squeeze. This is my song, these days:


Anyway! The Pottery Tour is only 7 weeks away now. You should visit! I'll post links to the map...but not today. Maybe that'll be on my action list for tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Burner, Blower, Damper

After fumbling around a bit early in the firing- this is only the second time I’ve fired this kiln, due to some unexpected burner issues- I’ve found a sweet spot of good reduction & rapid climb. Just recording it here, for future reference.

It’s been a rough couple of months, which I’ll tell ya more about later, but something finally went right.

This load is about half my work & half student work. Unloading Wednesday!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Friday To Do

 I used to write my to-do lists here all the time! Before I became aware that people were actually reading this blog, & got self-conscious about what I posted. I am going to try a return to more mundane posting, because honestly I don't have profound thoughts or even very interesting happenings to post very often. 

Today I am preparing for the firing that I hope to do on Sunday (or possibly Wednesday.) There's alot to prior to a firing, so let's get to it:

  1. Dig out kiln 🙄
  2. Mix wadding
  3. Grind shelves? I might not need to do this; I have way more shelves than I usually need, so probably have enough fresh clean shelves to load. But I gotta check
  4. Check propane. Which means creating a path thru the snow to the tank. MORE SHOVELING
    • I might have to call the propane folks! 
  5. Start loading
  6. Pottery tour stuff! Today I am scheduling Facebook posts about the studios on the tour. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Things & Stuff

 It's been almost a month since I posted - mostly a cold, snowy, sleety month. I read once that humans have hibernation in our genetic history and some months I really feel it. When it's snowing hard & in the single digits, every fiber of your being tells you to stay where you are warm & safe & dry; but you go out to shovel, because if you wait it's gonna be so much worse. 

That's not to say I haven't been busy! As I do every year, I began putting together the Maine Pottery Tour in January. This year we are funded by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission - yay - but that funding is so far just a (very reliable!) promise; I don't expect to see the money until June, after the pottery tour is over. Still, it will pay for updates & upgrades to the website, much more advertising, a bit for our previously-volunteer publicist, and a small stipend for me. (Not even that small, by my standards, tbh!) 

I want to fire this weekend, but the kiln is snowed in; we got 2 feet of snow in a 7-day stretch here in Augusta, & digging out has been slow. Hopefully the warm temperatures today thru Saturday will take care of some of it for me. 

I did buy myself a little day-brightener: a giant rolling pin for slab work! I got spoiled by the heavy maple pins at Portland Pottery & finally decided after all these years that I deserve one of my own. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Win for the New Year


Remember back in November when I was struggling with that grant application, for funding for the Maine Pottery Tour from the Maine Arts Commission? I received notification this week: my project was funded! I am, as you might expect, super excited about this; it'll mean getting paid for my organizing work, and also much more money for advertising & other efforts to get the word out. 

Nice to get a win right out of the gate. I don't want to jinx anything but 2022 might be the best year we've had in a while. It's the Year of the Tiger, in the Chinese zodiac; the tiger is emblematic of courage, strength, the defeat of evil (& couldn't we ALL use some of that! ) The water Tiger specifically is about self esteem & about learning. 

Anyway! if you are a Maine potter or ceramic sculptor & want your studio to be a stop on the Maine Pottery Tour, give me a shout at info[at]finemesspottery[dot]com. Looking forward to our best year yet!