Sunday, April 28, 2024

Happy Accidents

Remember the firing when I accidentally shot the brass sprayer wand into the kiln? That was funny*! It could have been much, much worse, but as it was only the pieces wearing flashing slip were affected, like these seashell refrigerator magnets. They were supposed to be tan, grey, & bone - you know, seashell colors! The copper in the brass that fumed the kiln when that wand melted turned them all varying shades of grayish blue. Worse, it fluxed the flashing slip so that the wadding fused to the backs. 

Well, I decided blue is not the worst color for a seashell - and wadding is soft & easy to grind off, deliberately. I got to grinding & finished by gluing magnets to the back. The epoxy is curing now - these will be available for the Maine Pottery Tour, next weekend. 

*No it wasn't.


Saturday, April 27, 2024

Bonus for Pottery Patrons!

I have an exclusive offer for Patrons at the $5/month & up levels: get 10% off your purchases at Fine Mess Pottery during the Maine Pottery Tour

Check it out at this link to become a patron or learn more. Thanks in advance for your support! 

Signs of Spring: Cleaning up the Summer Studio

It's one week before the Maine Pottery Tour, and I am determined not to put off all the hard work until the day before. One of the most daunting tasks? Clearing out the summer studio of it's months-long accumulation of junk, actual trash, leaves & dirt. It's meant to be upwards of 60° & sunny today - perfect outdoor cleanup & hauling weather. I mean, I can think of things I'd rather be doing, but duty calls. I once read a quote from David Campbell: "Discipline is remembering what you want."I unfortunately can't remember what he actually did that was noteworthy, but the quote itself makes sense: when I keep my mind on the outcome I want - eyes on the prize, you could say - it's pretty easy to motivate myself to do the work that needs to be done. 

Usually. Longtime readers will remember that I sometimes struggle with depression. When that rears its ugly head, it can interfere with my discipline, because not only do I not remember what I want, I don't actually want anything! Not enough to make an effort for it. I had a longish bout with this in the early spring, that I finally connected with the creeping-up of my dosage of the weed gummies (legal in Maine) that help me sleep. For a couple of years, I've been taking a 5 mg dose nightly, & sleep-wise, it's been magical: I fall asleep & I stay asleep for 7-8 hours. In March, trying for a bargain, I bought a bag of 20 mg gummies, thinking I would cut them in 1/4s; but sometimes I forgot & bit them in half. Once or twice i even took a whole one. This bumped up my tolerance FAST & as a result I was taking a lot more than previously. Turns out that stereotype about weed is at least partly true, or true in some cases. It interferes with dopamine production - dopamine being both the motivation & reward hormone for accomplishment. I knew it didn't feel like my normal depressive episode, because there was no attendant Black Despair - I just felt no desire to do anything, and no little zing of satisfaction when I did manage to get something accomplished. None of usual tricks to break my low mood cycle worked. I went through my days feeling like I was dragging a jersey barrier behind me. 

Anyway! A couple weeks ago I dropped back down to my micro-dose, and my attitude & energy levels returned to normal, but by then I was badly behind on tasks that needed to be done. Now I am scrambling to catch up, but some things I am just going to have to let slide. 

Not the summer studio, though! That will get done today. I also have mugs that need handles & decoration, & a few shelves left to grind & wash. I hope you find some time to get outside today, & do something more fun than grinding kiln shelves! 


Portland Pottery on MaineLife

Friday, April 26, 2024

Three Days in the Studio

 Yesterday, today, & tomorrow

  • Yesterday: was not a big day, work-wise! I addressed & sent out postcards for the Pottery Tour*, answered a few emails, & taught a class. What can I say? I had a new book. 
  • Today: will be a bigger day! I need to mow the lawn (only a studio activity because I need the yard to look nice for the tour,) finish scraping kiln shelves, start sorting & pricing pots for the tour, create some social media posts about it, & make mugs upcoming orders. 
  • Tomorrow: finish those mugs, create a post for my Patreon page, mix glazes, more pottery tour posts. 

*If you think you might do the pottery tour, visit the site! You can choose which studios you want to visit & the Plan My Tour app will build a map for you. Just click the red "add to trip" button on the right, for the studio you'd like to see. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Embedded Contrasting Clay: A Slab Built Serving Dish

Made this loose checkerboard pattern dish with my Thursday night class! If you try this in your studio, make sure the shrinkage rates of the claybodies are compatible. 

If you enjoy this content, consider joining my Patreon page


Friday, April 19, 2024

Finishing The 6-Pound Pasta Bowls

 I've got a new video on my Patreon on page for Pottery Patrons: Trimming & decorating the 6-pound pasta bowls I threw last weekend. Check it out here: 

New video for Pottery Patrons: trimming & decorating the 6-pound pasta bowl

Monday, April 15, 2024

New Video: Throwing a 6-Pound Pasta Bowl

There's a new video available for Pottery Patrons on my Patreon page! It's a wheel throwing demo on larger pieces, in this case a 6-pound pasta bowl. There's info on centering, opening, and pulling up larger pieces. Check it out here!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

One Month to the Tour!

The month of April is busier for me than the month of November. It wasn't always like this! About 12 years ago - or 13, depending on how you count - I started an event called the Maine Pottery Tour, intended to showcase the incredible well of talent of Maine's community of ceramic artists. 

This year we have 71 participating studios, over 100 artists - the largest tour so far. It's been a long road, getting from there to here. I'm proud & excited about the success of the tour, and also exhausted, if I'm honest. The bigger it gets, the more work it is. I have a lot more help than I did those first few years - Ellen McCarthy of Peeper Pond Studio has been amazing, as has Milly Welsh of Zwellyn Pottery, whose secret identity is a wed developer - Milly built the Maine Pottery Tour website, and this year has made for use an incredible app to help visitor plan their pottery tour weekend. They are donating their time -as am I - so if you feel like showing them some love on their Facebook pages, you'd be doing me a solid. 

As often happens in April, I am a little stressed. I've got to complete two firings between now & then - one that I am loading today - and schedule social media posts on all fronts, and do a number of ad buys both online & in print newspapers. As usual - maybe more than usual - I feel like I am falling down on the job. I keep reminding myself: there are ONE HUNDRED artists on the tour. All of them are (or should be!) promoting, too. It's not all down to me. 

Actually pretty good message to carry into the rest of my life: it's not all down to me. There are other people pulling their oars, too; if I need to stop & catch my breath, nothing terrible will happen. In fact, that's what I've been doing, as I write this: taking a break from loading the kiln. It's chilly out today, although pretty seasonal, & after our two big spring storms, it's a mudpocalypse out by the kiln. Gotta hope for a dry stretch, coming up to the tour. 

Back to it! I expect to unload Tuesday - Patreon subscribers at the Medici level (& up) get first access. Oh & speaking of! Subscribers at the Pottery Patron level get 10% off in-person purchases during the Maine Pottery Tour. Click the link to learn more.  

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Another Spring Snow!

After a virtually snow-free winter, we've gotten clobbered by TWO big early-spring snow storms, but honestly? I don't mind. I feel for the folks who have lost power, of course, and that's about 20% of the state of Maine. But for me? There's something about a snow day. All your errands & obligations will just have to wait. It's enforced downtime, which is the only downtime some of us feel entirely comfortable taking. 
The charm wears thin, & those put-off tasks start to pile up if it happens too often, but two per winter spring is an acceptable number - especially when I know warm weather will make it all go away within a few days.
So, what will I do with my snow day? Make spaghetti sauce in the crock pot, & go into the studio to glaze. Still hoping to fire this weekend!

One month until the Maine Pottery Tour! If you haven't checked out the new Plan My Tour app on the website, you should! Just choose the studio you want to visit, and Plan My Tour will make a map for you. 

Anyway! Off to glaze. I hope you still have power, that you are warm & safe & dry wherever you are. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

Last Things before the Bisque!

Just before the bisque firing is when all the little stuff gets made: refrigerator magnets, button, ornaments, stuff like that, while I am waiting for the bigger items to dry enough to fire. Today it was soap dishes. These are fun & easy to make, and fit between big bowls to prevent wasted space in the kiln. 

I start with an oval ball of clay, like an oversized potato, then cut it in half with a curly wire - you know the kind, they are shaped like a stretched spring, and actually you can make one yourself by stretching a spring! But I got mine from Mudtools.  The wire leaves an undulating texture on the surface of the clay,'

I then stretch each half of the ball until it's about 3/8" thick, and pat in the sides to make them curve upward, giving it a bit of dish. 

You can see a video of this process (free!) at my Patreon page. Check it out!