Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Video of Me Creating a Bead - BACKWARDS

Hi everyone .... thought I'd share a video I made of a bead a while back.  I'm still working on the lighting to see if I can figure out how to have everything show up brighter.  In the meantime ...enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bisque firing

Finally got it all loaded. Beads on top, mugs all the way down, first firing. If you scroll down on my Instagram you will see the mugs I've been creating all summer...

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Shabby Chic Mug

This mug has been through many many firings since my last post!  The first fire was to bisque fire.  Next I coated with a clear glaze and fired again in my small test kiln. The clear glaze crawled horribly.  I do not have the words for the sad emotions that went through me when I picked this up out of the kiln.  I liked the inside. Just not the outside.

I recoated with clear glaze and fired again a cone hotter.  It helped a teeny bit ... but not much.  I decided it was because the manual fire with the kiln setter didn't provide much of a soak. 

I went ahead and (stupid is as stupid does) glazed the others and fired all of them in my big kiln thinking the soak at the end would help.

Nope. I was left with a batch full of scratchy crawly glazed mugs with underglazes that had considerably faded.

I went to the auto store down the street and bought various grades of sanders: 60 grit, 100 grit, 320 grit, and 500 grit. I got to work, using olive oil as a sanding medium to keep the dust out of the air.

It worked!  I ended up with the neatest strange kind of thick satin glaze on all my mugs.  NOTE TO SELF:  Do not use clear glaze on red stoneware with underglazes.That was a lot of sanding!

Ok.Got it.

At last it was time to attach the iron oxide laser decals.  I choose four of my (current) favorite daisy characters.  I refired and when it emerged from the kiln I decided that the zig-zaggy black lines were too dark and overwhelmed the daisy figures. Luckily, I own a large collection of commercial decals and immediately a certain all-over pattern came to mind that would give the entire mug a shabby chic look.  I attached them over the vertical bars and fired again. Voila! It worked.

Here is the result:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Voice in Art - My Particular Style?

I have been so enthralled with watching Periscopes (if you don't have the app get it) in which potters talk about the behind the scenes ideas in how to develop as an artist.  There have been so many I have watched, but in particular there are two I happened to watch about voice and style.  I was struck by what Lisa LaPella said in one of her scopes. I can't remember exactly what she said but I ran for my neglected sketchbook and I started to make a list of things I love to do when making beads:

1. Bright colors
2. Repeating patterns
3. Drawing flowers to represent people in my life
4. Iron oxide decals
5. Applying and texturing sprigs

My background: I grew up in the southwest and the late 60s and 70s ...love all things mid-century.  Being eclectic, it's been especially hard for my pottery to develop a particular style because I do love so many different ideas/colors/techniques .... later that evening I listened to Jessica Putnam Phillips and her story about how her particular style developed out of her life in the military. Her focus was on the women who serve our country and I was further convinced that whatever I focus on that it must be something that is personally important to me.

 I examined my recent green-ware mugs (red stoneware clay) I've been working on and wondered how I could bring some cohesiveness to my art.  I went through this list and began sketching ....  I wanted to draw lines in a curved downward position to emphasize the drawing as well as emphasize the curvy mug shape ... I wanted to fill some of the same background in other areas with small hand drawn daisies ... bright colors (check), repeating pattern (check) ...applying and texturing sprigs (too late for that at this stage, maybe next time).

Because this mug is a red stoneware, I had to figure out the firings ...all that under-glaze, over-glaze, and decals!  I decided to start out with the under-glazes. How many firings would I have to have?

I finally decided that if I timed it right that I would only have to have three: one for the bisque fire with under-glazes already applied, one for the clear glaze firing, and one final firing for the hand-drawn iron oxide decals.

When I finished with the under-glazes I started laughing because I had been thinking about the repeating patterns in the stripes but it didn't actually dawn on me that it was kind of a 'southwestern-y' type pattern until it was finished.  I had written that down for one of my background influences, but it came out all on its own.

I began sketching again and as I did, I thought of my mother.  She has always been such a strong and bold figure in my life.  I usually draw daisies but she doesn't remind me of a daisy, she's more of a zinnia.

Zinnias have a strong stalk and hefty leaves.  They are showy as all get all (my mother refused to leave the house unless her hair was perfectly coiffed).  I grew in her womb and now that I'm grown, all that she is continually grows out from me.  I mean, who doesn't look in the mirror at some point and see their own mother in the morning or find themselves saying those same phrases they never thought they would say?  "Six of one and a half dozen of the other" and so on and so forth.  It dawned on me that the roots of her 'zinnia' could be anchored on top the 'belly button' potter mark, because her roots are intertwined in every aspect of my life (whether I like it or not).  Note the tension in the mother/daughter relationship.  Last time I was with her, I was helping her eat and she muttered, quite loudly, "Well, isn't this just a fine mother/daughter moment".   My mother's best humor comes out in her sarcasm. I laughed so hard. Then I cried. Then she cried.  When we wiped our tears, I handed her the fork.  "You can just feed yourself then," I said.  She picked up the fork and finished her supper.  It really was a fine mother/daughter moment.  I treasure it.

 I am looking forward to enjoying my morning coffee out of this mug. I plan to make more and I don't know how long I will make them.  Styles grow and 'voice' changes. Is this my 'style'?  Have I found my 'voice'?  I don't know.  But I do know that I am emotionally attached to this work and that doesn't happen often with the pottery -- it does with my beads I create, but not often the pottery and perhaps it is because when I am creating beads I am often thinking about things that are going on in my life and when I have made pottery in the past I have thought, "Is this going to sell or simply take up space on my shelves?"

Maybe developing your own 'voice' starts with asking yourself questions.  Thank you Lisa and Jessica for your thoughtful scopes.  There are others who have scoped on this topic, but these were the two I happened to watch.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Happy New Year!

Ok, so it is May.  Not January.  What does that say about me?  I've been busy in my new studio  It is insulated and has a heating/cooling unit.  There was electric out there and so hubby ran a few outlets for me so I could plug in the wheel or the pugmill as needed. 

It has a 'modern' feel to it. It's not big, only 10 x 12.  I have everything on wheels (except for the wheel) and if I am working on handbuilding, I can move everything over to one side or the other fairly easy.

I put in an air filtering machine that runs 24 hours a day and at the end of each session I put away scraps, clean off the wheel or table, and right before closing the door, I fill up my Scooba's tank with water and set it loose. 

In the morning when I go back out to the studio, the floor is dust free, the air is dust free and I'm ready to go again.

I've always been relatively clean in my home studio because ceramic dust is very dangerous.   I joke that this is my 3rd studio. Studio 1.0 was the corner of my hallway. No kidding.  I had my wheel shoved there and kept my clay and tools underneath.  I would clear off the dining room table to set things and couldn't make much at one time.

Then my son moved away to college and I took over his room (Studio 2.0) and I've been happy there, mostly.  But I got into metal work and soon the space really dwindled.  Between the tools for that and the pottery clay, it was hard to keep certain things dry when other certain things needed to be wet.

Now I actually have two studios. Studio 2.0 is now used exclusively for shipping, storage, photography, and metal work.  All the pottery stuff is in the (as my hubby calls it) "She Shed".

Wanna see the inside?  It's girly... Girly Whirly.  I love avocado/peridot green.  And I adore turquoise blue.  And I couldn't decide.  So I painted each color on opposite walls. I have since moved the pottery wheel around and the arrangement is completely different.  I used a brick red as an accent color.  I will have to find a picture of that later.

So .... about the time we started this project my mother suffered a major stroke.  That's the sad part.  She's never probably going to walk again because she lost use of her right arm and leg. Her speech is spotty. Every so often she can say a few words.   

Here's where I proselytize about stokes. They are 85% preventable.  Take the baby aspirin at night with 8 ounces of water.  This thins the blood so that clots don't form.  Exercise a few times each week at least 20 minutes to get the heart rate up.  And here's the most important thing: STOP SMOKING!

Okay. I'm done.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Glazing Chowder Mugs

I had this fun project of making chowder mugs.  I was going to make 6 mugs about 24 ounces each and these are the photos of that progress.

First I had to figure out about how  big to throw them.  I had a couple of false starts but eventually got close.  I am definitely not a production potter, so these are not exactly exactly the same size, but they are close enough.

After they were thrown, I put them into the kiln for their first firing. Unfortunately one had a small crack around the top of the handle after it was finished, so I had to trash that and do another one.  Another week or so passed and it was fired.

Finally there were six again.  The next step was the glazing.  First I sanded for rough spots, especially around the handle.  If I get it too smooth the glaze runs like crazy so it is a definite balancing act.  Then I rinsed off the mug so that there will be no dust. 

I applied black underglaze ink into the initials of my 'belly button' potter mark and also to the bottom. 

The next step is to wax the bottom of the mug as well as the "belly button'.

I have a small baking pan that I very slowly melt wax over the stove.  I have the exhaust fan going because the fumes from the wax are toxic. 

The worst part about waxing is the ever present peril of dripping wax on the sides.  If that happens (and it does very frequently), I scrape off the wax with a sharp razor and sand the area. If the wax is not completely gone the glaze will not stick to that area.

I don't want the glaze to stick to the bottom of the mug. If there is glaze at the bottom of the mug, the mug will stick to the kiln shelf. The glaze is basically glass on top of the pottery which when it is fully matured, i.e., 'vitrified' also has the same chemical properties as glass.  I like to think of a vitrified piece of pottery as opaque glass. 

Here they are, completely waxed and ready to be dipped into the container of glaze.

I don't have a big enough container to dip the entire mug, so I decided to half dip one side and then half dip the other. 

You may notice that there are more than six mugs. That is because I did a few extra in case something awful happened during firing, that I would have enough for my custom order.

I am using a glaze that I mixed up via the book "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes" ...it is a High Calcium Semi-Matte glaze with the recommended amount of cobalt carbonate in an amount that will not leach into the food.

Poisoning your customers is never a good idea.  ;)

The next morning I placed them all in my digital kiln and set it to fire all day. I use the 5 phase firing ramping schedule found in the back of the book, "Mastering Cone Six Glazes". 

The first time to program a digital kiln is a bit nerve racking, it's true.  However, once the firing schedule is programmed, it stays there under 'user one' and is a piece of cake to refire. 

The kiln fired all day and shut off about 9 pm that night.  The next day about 5 pm I was able to crack the kiln open and about 9 pm that night unloaded it.  I think these turned out nicely. Do you?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Custom Mug

 It's super fun when someone messages and says, "Hey, I want a mug.  I don't care what shape or color. I just want it to hold a certain amount of liquid....but I want it to have surface decoration like you do with your beads."  (not an exact quote of course, but a fair simulation)
 I had my doubts about the design, about the color scheme. I agonized over it more than a few times.

I toyed with the idea of bright red daisies against a yellow background.

I toyed with the idea of a simple clear glaze over the entire mug.

In the end, this is what I decided.
 The surprise inside reminded me of the "Party in a Cup" series I created when first starting making pottery.

I always meant to do more of those ...so it's nice that there is a bit of a party going on in the bottom of this mug.

The bottom developed a teeny surface crack in the bottom during the firing.  It poses no problems.

When I put this in the microwave on high for two minutes, the handle was cool to the touch (score)!


Near the bottom of the belly is my potter mark, my three initials stamped into the clay.

Had a great time with this custom order. I always say, "I don't do custom orders."  But if you want a mug and you trust me with the design and implementation, I'm game if you are.

How much does it hold? It holds 3 cups of liquid comfortably (24 ounces). 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Slip Goo

I had this idea to cover the surface of this very big mug with white porcelain slip ...then I could use underglazes and get all painterly artistic about the decorating aspect of it all.  Yeah, good idea!  Except the slip was quite gooey and the brush wasn't really working.  I did the best I could. I went back and reshaped it a bit. It's drying now.  I'll trim and attach a handle later.

I couldn't help but think this would be a lovely teapot, so that's what I did. I ended up forming it into a teapot.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Math and Custom Orders

I say all the time, "NO ... I don't do custom orders...."  .... that is because, well, I don't work well under stress.  That's just how I am.

However, when I have conversations that go something like this:

Can you make (fill in the blank) and take as much time as you need ......


I want this to do that, and I don't care what it looks like afterward, you decide.

OK  ...yeah, that I can do ....

I got a request to make some 24 ounce chowder mugs and in the process of doing those, got another request for a 24 ounce mug .... and the above requests were met with a lot of smiles on my part.

I started immediately and have some decent size mugs drying on the shelf, right now! But I really don't know how much they are going to hold so I got to wondering and thought surely there are some online calculators that can determine volume for me and yay, there were. 

First I had to find a calculator to figure out how much something vertical would hold:


And because it was a large volume calculator, I had to convert the gallons to ounces. I typed Gallons to Ounces into google and a calculator popped up.

SO ...now I know in order for a mug to hold 24 ounces, it should have a finished height and width of 5 inches high and 3.5 inches wide, and that is being filled 1/2 inch to the top. 

Therefore, I need to throw to 6 inches high and 4 inches wide ...that should do it!

However, the mug in the photo above is not straight up and down.  When it is dry, when it is glazed, when it has shrunk as much as it will shrunk, it will be about 3.25" on the bottom, 5.5" at its widest and 4.5" across the top.  It will be about 3.5" tall.  

But the unfortunate thing about this volume calculator is that it does not take into account the curves involved!  Oh the curves!  The next best thing is to go to Etsy and search for 24 ounce mugs, then see which shapes most likely match mine and see what those measured.

And in less time than it takes me to sneeze (practically) I find that a finished height of 3.25" and 5" wide at the top will do the job nicely. 

I make things really hard on myself at times.  So the question: will this mug on top hold 24 ounces? I think it will.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Glaze Making

I am working on a stable/safe non-toxic cone 6 studio glaze.   I want to end up with three (Light, Medium, and Dark in values) .... I've been meaning to tackle this for a few years but it has take me this long to gather up the chemicals I feel safe working with.  I have a base glaze from Mastering Cone 6 glazes and the safe levels of the colorants. I'll be leaching them anyway, just in case, of course.   Here's a Vine of the supplies and tools I have gathered on my workbench.

Update: 1st Test glaze is made ... It is crazy how nervous I am about using it in my kiln. Crazy crazy. But excited. But nervous. Oooo...the beads will be beautiful, don't you think? What color will they be? I HAVE NO IDEA .... they might be blue or red or green or a bit of yellow or all of it in various hues. Or it could be brown, muddy muddy brown. I used a base glaze (clear) and added colorants in various amounts. I did write it down though so it can be duplicated (well, as much as I am able to duplicate things) ...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Peek At My Upcoming Auctions on Ceramic Art Bead Market

Here is a collage of some upcoming auctions I hope to make over at Ceramic Art Bead Market. I have the photos all done, I am just working on the descriptions at the moment.  Tonight after 9 pm I am going to tally up all the entries for the bead giveaway and announce over there who is the winner.  Because I used up the first comment with an additional photo of the beads, I am planning to use the number 2 and # of entries instead of 1 and the # of entries over at random.org.  Makes sense, right?

And at some point I will start adding these photos as auction listings on Facebook (ceramic art bead market)

Lets see ...what else is going on in the world of pottery? Oh yes, I cleaned my studio so I can again throw on the wheel. I have a custom order for chowder mugs and I am going to make them about 3.5 inches wide and about 7 inches deep, with nice thick handles for holding. That's the plan anyway.  Lets just see how that goes for me, okay, ha ha! 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Cobalt Blue Delicate Scrolls

I have been attempting a glaze match for a couple of years for my Cobalt Blue Delicate Scroll beads that appeared in the book "Bohemian Inspired Jewelry". The bead that is the second from the left is the original.  The third and fourth from the left are previous attempts. The first bead from the left is the newest attempt.  Fail.  I thought yesterday I had finally nailed it .... but this side by side comparison shows differently.  These are all the same porcelain clay body, too.  Who knew there were so many shades of cobalt blue?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Three Little Pigs

My granddaughter is somewhat obsessed with this story...so I am too. Here are the famous little ones along with the mama pig AND the Big Bad Wolf !  Mama Pig started the entire story by deciding it was time for her three piggy sons to move out ...while she gave them good advice, only one followed it.

The Big Bad Wolf is deliciously scary to my granddaughter.  She will suddenly announce, "OH NO, the BIG BAD WOLF" then she will scream and begin to run away.  

This is the second set of these beads I have made.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Come Celebrate With Me

I had a bit of a tease yesterday on my facebook page regarding these beads.

They are especially chosen from the batch that came out of the kiln yesterday.

Today, July 7th, marks 4 years since my very last radiation treatment.

My cancer was removed by surgery and as a precaution, I had 25 radiation treatments and 2 rounds of chemotherapy.  That was in 2011.  And today I am still cancer free.  I have one more year before I am declared by my doctors to be in complete remission, but for right now, I am cancer free.  And that is enough.

Please come celebrate with me!  To win these 27 beads, join the Facebook page Ceramic Art Bead Market .  Leave a comment on the giveaway picture that matches the one above, and in a week I'll use Random.org to pick a winner.