Monday, June 30, 2008

Kiln and Whistles

I've been steadily working in clay whistles, four holes. Most are coming out now. Last night I made one and the first time I poked the mouthpiece it worked. Then I did something and it stopped tooting. It took about 1/2 hour of working on it before it worked again. What happened? I dunno.

I have the kiln running today (into the night). I spent most of the day glazing a bowl. Yes. A Bowl. One. One very big bowl. It was tedious. But it was also relaxing. I was trying to be meticulous in getting the glaze 'in' the lines. I think I did well but the kiln will show up if it really was a good job or not.

... and here is the final glazed whistle. I am extremely critical of how it sounds. I prefer to barely blow into a whistle and hear sound, with this I have to make really give a good puff. The four finger holes are useless. I can't hear a pitch difference when holding any of them down (or up) ... I really do like the design, however.

How big is it? It fits easily into the palm of one's hand. Click on the photo for a closer look and hey, thanks for looking!

6 'Hearts' in an Hour!

This afternoon I noticed a bunch of new hearts on one of my beads and also noticed that they all happened early 2am or so around my time zone. I went over to check the Flickr Front Pagers area and sure enough ... my beads were in a treasury that made the front page of Etsy ... and one of the wonderful Mud Teamers captured it for the rest of us!!!


Friday, June 27, 2008


This treasury made it to the front page of Etsy. I put an orange box around my beads. It's always great to make the front page!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Continuing With Clay Whistles

And the saga continues .... by this time all I want to do is make each whistle sound the best it can sound and the decoration is going to come in second until I can. It's been hit or miss for several days with more misses than hits.

For two hours I would poke and prod and reapply clay over the holes, only to poke again. There is a systematic way of doing these and I have been determined to find it.

I began by making the mouthpiece separate from the body of the whistle, and placing it on, finding the happy sound, and attaching it at that point. Still ... I couldn't figure out what or why it was working correcting. I'm the sort of person who reads directions, doesn't get it but tries anyway, then tries again, then rereads the directions, then tries again over and over again. After three days I began once again googling clay whistles and reread everything.

This time I saw something I had missed before. The suggestion was to hold the whistle up to the light and look through the mouthpiece to the 45% beveled hole in the whistle. It had to be exactly in the middle for the wind to break correctly.

Who knew I needed to be told to break wind correctly? (those with good taste and class are hereby directed to ignore that tacky bad) I am having more successes now than failures.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Getting Ready to Bisque

... and after I bisque, I can glaze! I can't wait! Here are a few older beads that I plan on listing this week on Etsy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clay Whistle: A River Rock Look

This was to see if I could decorate a bit as well as make the decorations a bit functional. One thing that makes these clay whistles hard to play, is that it is hard to keep one's fingers firmly in place on the holes.

When playing a melody, it is hard to refind a hole. So I thought I might be able, with a bit of forethought, make these holes easier to find. However, the hands that play this must be small, because it dawned on me afterwards, that MY fingers won't be able to reach the holes well after the clay shrinks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clay Whistle: An Animalistic Look

Here is another whistle in this series. It is by far the prettiest, and surprisingly enough, it also has the best sound. This also has four holes.

I used some simple studio stamps of flowers to texture it, and the mouthpiece is simply hand rolled and wedged together. I was thinking of the curl of tubas and trumpets as I was squishing the clay together.

Here is the bottom. Three simple feet ... of course this contradicts the whole animalistic approach because most animals have four feet, not three. Oh well ... this thing doesn't have ears or eyes, either.

Animals also don't have flower textures imprinted on them....but then, does art really have to imitate life? Nah!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Clay Frog Whistle: An Organic Look ...

Here is a frog clay whistle (top and bottom). The base is wheel thrown (see previous post). The frog is from a mold that I I made from a small toy frog one of the kids brought home a gazillion years ago. The holes are supposed to resemble plant material. We'll see what I can do when I glaze it.

The most exciting thing about this whistle is that it has FOUR holes! And I can play ACTUAL songs on it (Like Happy Birthday to You and Old Suzanna).

I found that the easiest way to make a four hole whistle was to make the holes before making the mouthpiece. Before I was making the mouthpiece first, then poking a hole, then adjusting the hole, and so on. This way is SO much easier.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Revisiting Clay Whistles

How Much Wood Must a Woodchuck Chuck before a Woodchuck could Chuck Wood .... as a child I thought that was the silliest rhyme ever! However, as an adult, I'm beginning to see the bit of hard truth that it teaches. Let's rephrase this: how many clay whistles will I have to make before I get really good at it?

Well, maybe this tray is a start. I threw all these small enclosed forms this afternoon and tomorrow I will attach mouthpieces, poke holes, and begin the process anew.

Bead Whistles

I've been making small bead whistles. I took a 20 mm round and after it hardened a bit, scooped out the insides, added a mouthpiece, and formed the holes.

The first one, was easy. The second took me about 20 tries to get it to sound correctly. Even now, it's not very good. The third sounds okay, but not as nice as the first.

I keep making variations of these. I'd like to just be able to poke the holes just right every time. Unfortunately, it seems like the first time I make holes for these whistles (no matter what the size), I do great. After that, it's a struggle.

Nonetheless, I'm still fascinated with these small toys/beads and plan to keep working on them.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bead Carvings

I was wandering around on the Etsy Mud Team thread and one of the members posted a link to this woman's shop. It is a cuff made from pvc, carved. So so beautiful!

The detail is incredible. I can't believe someone could do this with a knife. This woman's cuts are so perfect that I would feel perfectly safe is she were the only person available to cut out my bursting appendix.

This got me thinking about how to transfer this type of art to clay. The best way to attend a seminar for free these days is log onto ..... You Tube. How do you learn something new? YOU TUBE! It suddenly occurs to me that my last sentence could be a great jingle.

How do you learn something new?

(and for the 'you tube' shout someone could jump out of a big tube, like a parody of being born....)

This is why I think I must have some sort of attention deficiency thing-ee .... I'm coming up with jingles instead of sticking to the subject on hand ... bead carving.

SO ..... (back on track) ... I went to you tube and found this video on fruit carving. Watermelon is not exactly the same consistency as clay but when leather hard, comes close. Watermelon is also somewhat round ... hey ... LIKE a BEAD! So what could I learn? Well, this was very cool! Watch it!

Off I went to make my own 'bead watermelon'. I hand rolled about 20 white porcelain balls before I thought about the contrast of light and dark. So I handrolled about 20 brown stoneware clay balls too.

It was time to roll thin sheets of white and brown to enclose each ball with (watermelon is red with green on top) and it dawned on me at that particular moment that I could have used that colored porcelain that I spent a fortune on last month. Then sanity took hold .... iffn' this experiment didn't work out, no big deal. If it does do well, THEN I'll use the expensive colored porcelain for future carvings.

I began by enclosing a white stoneware porcelain with a brown stoneware clay and visa versa. Because these clays both mature at the same temperature, they have about the same amount of shrinkage.

I put everything in one area on my living room floor in front of the tv ... always the tv ...even when it is not on: the tv! I would use the table in my studio if the table wasn't already completely full of other projects.

Ahem ... I have the two paper plates to put the two differently colored beads. The paper towels for .... whatever. And the small container of water to keep my fingers moistened.

I figured this would be similar to the same process as covering a polymer bead.

I began by cutting into the clay with a triangle shaped cutting tool that I already had! At this point I'm thinking I might have better luck with a watermelon and I'm also relieved I wasn't using the expensive colored porcelain. It dawns on me that the clay is not hard enough to work with. I set it aside and roll the messed up clay into little marble beads. Waste not want not. A transparent colored glaze would show the marbled clay underneath very prettily.

While I waited for the clay to harden, I got to looking at a small slab of clay and wondering what that tool would look like on it. Then I thought MUST CUT CIRCLES. I moistened the circles and put them on both sides of the brown round and thought it looked like a hamburger. I took a tool and put triangles on the sides and added dots. Then I thought it needed more dots. So I added more. Then I tapped it on all six sides so it was square. Hamburgers aren't square. Good job!

I made three buttons and a pendant out of four of the circles. I will glaze one side of the rest of them and glue a magnet on the back to use as thank you gifts for customers who buy mugs over at my pottery store.

I ended up getting three of the brown balls covered before the thin white slab became too hardened to work with. I tried moistening it, but it just wasn't the same. So instead I played with how those white strips contrasted with the brown clay. Fun!

(sidenote: couldn't help it. Sculpted an animal head. What do you think? Pig? Dog?)

I'm still waiting for that clay to harden enough to begin carving it. So while I wait I keep playing with other things and I came up with this next.

Since it was lunchtime, I washed up and made a steak burrito for lunch. I watched this You Tube video for inspiration. I googled "Carving pottery" and found this:

So ... maybe I should have just painted the outside of each bead with slip .... NAH!

Even though my bead carvings didn't come out anything like the watermelon carving in the video, I did learn a lot about working with two different colors/types of clay and also about carving in general. Below is what I ended up with. As you can see there is a lot of experimentation going on. And as I'm looking at these again I'm thinking about how much they remind me of chocolate .... mmmm.... chocolate.


And here is a finished Carved Bead.

Pottery School

This is great stuff.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Post NYC

Manhattan last week was a blast. I came home with lots of new bead ideas. There's something about being in a different place for a few days that energizes and inspires.

To the left is a ceramic bead I made a while back. It has lots of little dots. First there are teeny tiny cobalt blue dots embedded in the blue glaze, and then on top of the blue glaze is an raised orange slip.

The teeny periwinkle blue beads are glass beads I made on a small rod. I have lots of these smallish beads here and there that I have made at one time or the other.

Pottery Workshops

I got this off the Yahoo Pottery Basics mailing list that I subscribe too. There are many workshops I would love to attend on this list. I am adding it here in the event someone is looking for workshops in their area....and in the event that maybe I can go to one of these later this year....or at least dream about it.

I suppose if the workshop title, teacher, and city is googled, the information will pop up. Gotta love that Google!


2008-06-06 Susan D. Harris, Surface & Substance - Layton, NJ
2008-06-06 Les Manning, "Aesthetics of Ceramic Form" - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-06-06 Chris Campbell, Colored Clay & Slips - Newport News, PA
2008-06-06 Gina Mars, Fong Choo & Sara Patterson - Port Washington, NY
2008-06-06 Cynthia Consentino "Figure Stories" - Decatur, GA
2008-06-07 Stephani Stephenson, Tile & Architectural - Encinitas, CA
2008-06-08 Michael Connelly, "Soda fired utilitarian pottery" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-06-09 McKenzie Smith workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-06-09 Mark Pharis, "Handbuilt Pots" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-06-09 Gordon Hutchens, Special Effects Glazes - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-06-09 Tom Coleman, Mastering Porcelain - Las Vegas, NV
2008-06-12 Paul Lewing - Tile: Making, Decorating, Marketing - Jackson Hole, WY
2008-06-13 Anat Shiftan, Ceramics: The Still Life, Layton, NJ
2008-06-13 2nd Annual PotteryBasics Workshop - Brevard, NC
2008-06-13 Charlie & Linda Riggs - Oxford, OH
2008-06-15 Hayne Bayless, Handbuilding/ Extruding - Sewanee, TN
2008-06-15 Val Cushing, "Functional Pottery" - Sewanee, TN
2008-06-15 Hayne Bayless - Extruding and Slab Rolling - Sewanee, TN
2008-06-16 Jill Allen workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-06-16 Drawn to the Surface, Helena, MT
2008-06-16 Stan Welsh, "Ceramic Head Constructions" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-06-16 Vince Pitelka, "Handbuilding: Tricks of the Trade" - Fraser CO
2008-06-20 Kathryn Finnerty, I am Fancy & so can you - Layton, NJ
2008-06-20 Michael Sherrill, Extrusion - Las Vegas, NV
2008-06-21 Melanie Brown - "Teapot" - Arlington, VA
2008-06-22 Ellen Shankin, "Useful Pots" - Sewanee, TN
2008-06-22 Malcolm Davis, "Shinos in the Fire" - Sewanee, TN
2008-06-23 Brad Schwieger, "Soda Firing & the Sculptural Vessel" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-06-23 Akira Satake workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-06-23 Aysha Peltz - "Capturing the Clay Moment" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-06-25 Amy Kline, Sculpting Porcelain - Las Vegas, NV
2008-06-27 Island Clay - Naked Raku, Saggar, Pit & Salt - Garden City, NY
2008-06-27 Beverly Mayeri-Small Heads- Sculpture- southern OR
2008-06-28 Matt Towers, "Patterned Porcelain Pots" - Canton, CT
2008-06-29 Kristin Muller, "Into the Tuscan Fire" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-06-30 Paul Lewing, China Painting - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-06-30 Jill Oberman & Sam Harvey, "Slab & Coil" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-06-30 Robin Hopper, Glaze & Colour - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-06-30 Grace Nickel, Architectural Ceramics - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-06-30 Warren Mather - "Digital Imaging on Clay" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-06-30 Gay Smith, Making Lively Pots - Victoria, BC, Canada


2008-07-02 Lisa Orr, Soft Pots - Las Vegas, NV
2008-07-04 Phil Rogers, Salt Glaze - Layton, NJ
2008-07-05 Conner Burns, Organic Forms - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-05 Bob Kingsmill, Masks - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-05 Joe Brecha, Alternative Raku Techniques - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-07 Paul Wisotzky - "Beginning Throwing" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-07-07 Gay Smith - "Put a Lid on It" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-07-07 Billy Ray Mangham, Raku Sculpture - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-07 Sandra Black, Illuminate - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-07 Gary Holt, Unusual Colour Effects - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-07 Vincent Massey, Using Moulds - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-07 Randy Brodnax, Firing Techniques - Victoria, BC, Canada
2008-07-07 Janis Mars Wunderlich workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-07-07 Richard Notkin, "Social/Political Commentary" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-07-09 Josh DeWeese, Beyond Brown - Helena, MT
2008-07-09 Annie Chrietzberg workshop - Mendocino, CA
2008-07-11 Bill Van Gilder
2008-07-11 Jim Chaney, Sake Bottles - Layton, NJ
2008-07-11 Dennis Meiners-Handbuildin g with Slabs-southern OR
2008-07-11 John Britt, Glaze and Firing Workshop - Bakersville, NC
2008-07-12 John Rohlfing, "Hand Built Sculptural Vessels" - Canton, CT
2008-07-14 Holly Walker workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-07-14 Tip Toland, "Self Portrait" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-07-14 Sheryl Zacharie - "Handbuilding Sculptural Vessels" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-07-14 5 Day Glaze Re-Jim Robinson,Bonnie Morgan, Dennis Meiners - Formulation -southern OR
2008-07-16 Pietro Maddalena, "Throwing for Advanced" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-07-16 Red-Hot REDS!, Firing reds in Geil kiln - Las Vegas, NV
2008-07-18 Michael Flynn, Dynamic Relationships - Layton, NJ
2008-07-21 Posey Bacopoulos, "Majolica on Terra Cotta" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-07-21 Conner Burns workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-07-21 John Britt, Basic Glaze Chemistry and Raw Materials Workshop - Bakersville, NC
2008-07-23 Mark Shapiro - "Making Better Pots" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-07-25 Leslie Lee- Non-fired Finishes & Stuctures for Sculpture -southern OR
2008-07-25 Paul Lewing "Water Based China Painting" - Decatur, GA
2008-07-26 Tim Scull, "Fire and Smoke" - Canton, CT
2008-07-27 Luca Tripaldi, "Smoke firing" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-07-28 Meredith Brickell workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-07-28 Anne Goldberg - "Intermediate Throwing" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-07-28 John & Andrea Gill, "Handbuilding Vessels" - Anderson Ranch, CO


2008-08-01 Kathryn Finnerty- "Make it Fancy"- southern Oregon
2008-08-01 Liz Zlot Summerfield "Elegant and Intimate" - Decatur, GA
2008-08-01 John Britt, Kiln Building Workshop - Bakersville, NC
2008-08-02 Ben Owen III, Throwing Large Pots - Las Vegas, NV
2008-08-03 Frank Giorgini, "Play the Clay" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-08-04 Anne Goldberg - Salt/Soda firing - Cape Cod, MA
2008-08-04 Andy Brayman & Christa Assad, Basic Pottery - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-08-04 Gertrude Graham Smith workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-08-04 Walter McConnell & Linda Sormin - Helena, MT
2008-08-11 Mitch Lyons - "Clay Printing" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-08-11 Doug Casebeer, Val Cushing & Alleghany Meadows - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-08-11 Tip Toland workshop - Asheville, NC
2008-08-16 Paul Chaleff, "Throwing Gigantic Pots" - Canton, CT
2008-08-16 Adrian Arleo "Enriching the Figure" - Decatur, GA
2008-08-17 David Gary Wright, "Invention with Clay" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-08-18 Kevin Crowe - "Off the Path" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-08-18 Juan Quezada & Michael Wisner, "Mata Ortiz" - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-08-18 Charity Davis-Woodard & Lorna Meaden - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-08-22 Ron Myers, Surface Enrichment - Helena, MT
2008-08-23 Annie Chrietzberg workshop - Telluride, CO
2008-08-23 Li Chao - Chinese Pottery Brushwork - Lancaster, PA
2008-08-25 James Brunelle, Jr. - "Ceremonial Vessels & Primitive Firing" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-08-30 Naked Raku and Saggar Workshop - Bloomington, IN
2008-08-31 Jane Hamlyn, "Salt Firing" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-08-31 Charlie & Linda Riggs - Brasstown, NC


2008-09-01 Malcolm Davis - "Capturing Carbon" - Cape Cod, MA
2008-09-06 Tom & Elaine Coleman - Throwing, Altering & Carving - Lancaster, PA
2008-09-06 Mary Barringer, David Pinto & Sam Clarkson - Anderson Ranch, CO
2008-09-06 Patti Warashina, Human Nature - Helena, MT
2008-09-13 Marcha Selson, Steve Fabrico, Gina Mars & Dan Christoffel - Long Island, NY
2008-09-14 Ellen Shankin, "Useful Pots" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-09-15 Donavan Palmquist - Wood Kiln Building & Firing - Cape Cod
2008-09-19 Potters Council - SURFACE, FORM & SUBSTANCE - Indianapolis, IN
2008-09-20 Linda Arbuckle, Surface Decoration - Sunnyvale, CA
2008-09-25 Phil Jenkins - There's more than one way to throw clay - Jackson Hole, WY
2008-09-27 Wally Asselberghs workshop - Ottignies, Belgium
2008-09-27 Naked Clay: Investigations in Alternative Firing Techniques - Bloomington, IN
2008-09-28 Malcolm Davis, "Under the Tuscan Soot" - Tuscany, Italy


2008-10-01 Conner Burns, The Vessel in Fabulous Form - Las Vegas, NV
2008-10-04 Annette Gates "Handbuilding with Porcelain" - Decatur, GA
2008-10-08 Jack Troy, Wood/Soda Fire & Throwing - Las Vegas, NV
2008-10-12 Mitch Lyons, "Clay Printing" - Tuscany, Italy
2008-10-13 Vince Pitelka - "Colored Clay" - Tuscon, AZ
2008-10-17 Beth Cavener Sticther, "The Wilderness Within" - Port Chester, NY
2008-10-17 Paul Andrew Wandless "Image Transfer Techniques" - Decatur, GA
2008-10-18 Charlie & Linda Riggs - Orlando, FL
2008-10-31 Richard Notkin - Ceramic Art/Sculptural Teapots - Tuscon, AZ


2008-11-07 Lisa Clague "Dreaming in Clay with Metal" - Decatur, GA