Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jeweled and Gem

What do you think of my new jewel toned glazes? They're pretty luscious aren't they? Or at least thats what comes to my mind when I look at them. Luscious, rich, delicious... food words. Maybe I'm just hungry every time I look at them. But seriously, who wouldn't be hungry looking at these pieces? They are clearly made for food. Clearly longing and waiting to serve slices of cheesecake, pour dark chocolate ganache, hold a handful of berries, plate your favorite cheeses.. endless options. Hungry yet?
All these pieces will be heading into my shop. Which brings me right to shop talk. Let's talk shop. There are some changes ahead, or rather already in the works. Here's the new plan:
New items will be listed twice monthly, only (at www.suiteonestudio.com). This will be less for you all to keep up with, and also a more organized way for me to work. As most of you already know I am a one-woman-everything. I make each piece by hand, make every glaze from scratch, fire all my own work twice, maintain and repair my studio equipment, pack and ship orders, all of it. The idea is this new plan will make certain days my "firing days," others my "making days," "shipping days," etc. The old plan was an "everything day" every single day. Basically, barely managed chaos. Well, no more.
Sales will happen twice a month as well. These sales will be for selected, designated, markdown items only. Storewide sales will happen on rare announced occasions. Sale announcements will happen through the newsletter: www.suiteonestudio.com (found on the bottom right of the homepage) and all my social media platforms. If we're not already friends, come find me!: TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest. And yes, my Instagram feed is all pottery, kitties and puppies. I can't help it, it's what I love.
My Etsy shop will remain in operation, but very limitedly. The selection of items will be greater here, at www.suiteonestudio.com and in many cases 10% cheaper here than on Etsy. I'm doing this to entice you to move over here with me. Yup, I'm being that transparent. Come shop and hangout with me here on my dot com. You'll love it. Promise. And if you don't, tell me. It is really helpful for me to understand the site experience you have as a visitor, blog reader, shopper. Help me make this site awesome.
I think that about covers everything. Lots of changes, but they're all exciting, forward bound jumps. The new plan will (hopefully) make things clearer and more organized (for you and for me) and it will offer consistency delivered oh-so-conveniently right to your inbox! Be sure to join my growing subscriber list to be among the first to know about shop updates and sale announcements! (Bottom right of the page: www.suiteonestudio.com) Thanks again and again for your continued support! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Earlier today I pulled together the above items for a client and snapped a quick photo for her consideration. We were discussing items for the cover of a popular magazine, which my work may just appear on next fall! While that is certainly quite a ways away, the collection of pulled items really got me excited right now!

I love the varied shades of blue, the elegant scalloped edges of the bowls in the back left corner, and the rustic texture of the modern trays. The irregular stripes are fun and bring in a playful element, while the items in the front feature straight lines and even edges. Without intention this quick photo captures everything I want my work to be. I hit a couple of my favorite, seemingly contradictory elements: Modern yet classic, refined yet rustic, organic yet controlled.

Simply, these pieces are sophisticated yet approachable, which got me thinking about Terrain's latest collection. Their Fall 2012 collection captures those same aesthetics and comforts, all with that beautifully cohesive blue theme. Below are some of my favorite items from their Fall 2012 collection. (And yes, I did include the Cobalt tray I made for them. I can't help it, I love that tray!) Can't you just imagine a table decked out in all these fabulous blue hued textures and materials?

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Work: Fall 2012

Introducing the start of my Fall 2012 Collection:

It's all about food this season. I've created a line of simple, modern and organic ceramic serving surfaces for all your favorite food centered traditions. New work this season includes: cake stands, baking dishes, pour bowls and serving trays. Soft, subtle colors, creamy whites and icy blues make up the palette of my latest collection. New work will be added to my shop this week. Stay tuned!

In the meantime I'd love to know what you think of these new items! Thanks in advance for taking a moment to comment!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Psssssst.... Sneak Peek!

Here is a little sneak peek for you all! These are some of the items I have been working on for a new wholesale contract. I'll be sharing details about just exactly where these pieces are heading soon! Until then, enjoy this little behind the scenes sneak peek!:

It's all about tableware and serving trays this time! The forms are organic and textured, with altered rims and smooth, unglazed bottoms. The colors are subtle and quiet enough to transition through the seasons, while still bringing a little pop of color to the table. The entire collection is cohesive and beautiful in its simplicity. I can't wait to share the big reveal with you all in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rainy Studio Days

Summer was a blur of rainy days, making pottery and firing the kiln. I've been working on very exciting orders since May, back to back to back awesomeness. It's been fun, and it's been exhausting. Not monotonous work, but continual work. Each day I continue the process where it was paused the day before. My studio has been in a constant state of motion. Clay and materials cycling in and pots cycling out. I'm not quite at a point of full reflection, as that would suggest an end, a true stopping point, but as several orders are closing in upon completion reflection is close.

I'm beginning to notice the amount of work I've created over the past few months. It's all still a little foggy, but I do know I've made a lot of pottery. A lot, a lot, a lot of pottery. To my astonishment I'm realizing this summer that I made inventory nearing the figure I previously produced for the entire year of 2011, all in just 12 weeks. A few more weeks of work and then I'll be ready to fully look back at the summer and really appreciate all I accomplished. Until then I'm enjoying stolen moments of quiet and restfulness, while maintaining much needed momentum. Just one last push of effort and this initial work will all be behind me, but the possibilities this work will bring, well that's only just beginning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inspiration to Realization

I've been working all summer on an incredible project. This is the sort of thing that you dream of as an artist; A chance to be connected (in any possible way) to one of the Great artists.

This artist holds particular significance for me as a ceramic artist, because he has successfully elevated a "craft" material well beyond it's expected potential to create a body of work that is recognized and appreciated as the fine art that it is.

Glass artist, Dale Chihuly's newest exhibition: Chihuly Garden and Glass opened this past May at the Space Needle in Seattle Washington. I have been commissioned to create a set of 48 bowls which will be included at the exhibition's gift shop. I am schoolgirl giddy about this opportunity! Really without words. Grinning as I type this and still without any real articulation. Just so happy.

Chihuly Garden and Glass photo: http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/glasshouse

In 2007 I sketched a series of bowls which were a total departure from the work I was making. These pieces were organic, shapely and delightfully off center. The focus of these pieces was to extract the basic function of the form, in this case a bowl to create a piece of art by the stacking and nesting of multiple various sized bowls. I wanted the clay to remain clay, not a tightly controlled material thrown with machine like precision, but thin, carefully thrown pieces which celebrated the natural quality of the clay, that is the inherent movement of the clay. Clay that was guided, clay that was in control, not controlled. In many ways these sketches were the beginning of my current work.

(Sketchbook February 2007)

 Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibition photo: http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/glasshouse

Amazing, isn't it? After studying glassblowing (briefly and angrily-- I hate being hot) I am able to appreciate the delicate beauty of these glass sculptures on another level, a level deeper even  than the notable reverence I used to feel. Now I am just speechless. Absolutely no words. Glassblowers everywhere you impress me.

Below are studio shots of the commissioned bowls I made for the exhibition's gift shop:

Truly living my dreams.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Brick by Brick

Where to begin? Well for those of you who have been following for some time, you know I have a pretty tiny little kiln that I fire nearly around the clock to maintain the flow of my business. There are still tumultuous times, but for the most part I have fallen into a routine of running that little pottery cooker that seems to work, at least for now.

When I bought this kiln in the Spring of 2010 it was brand new, shiny and perfect. It was small, and smaller even than the kiln I had before, but it seemed a practical size that I could grow with. I'm a dreamer and my dreams for my business, though somewhat loose have always been big. I was positive that I was accounting for "big" when I purchased this kiln. For about six months I was right. It was a struggle to fill the kiln and I fired only a few times a month, often sneaking friends' and students' pots into my personal firings just to fill the kiln.

Then in Fall of 2010 I moved to North Carolina and decided I wasn't going to get a "real job." My solution was to instead make a ton of pottery and sell a ton of pottery, and in the middle of those two steps, fire a ton of pottery. I still stubbornly held onto the notion that my little kiln was actually not so little, but rather: economical, practical and underestimated.

Okay, so now a year and a half later I have more than realized my little kiln is teensy. I've been trying to see my business growth and the resulting perception that my kiln is shrinking as a good thing, and truly it is, so I don't really need that kind reassurance, but I am going to share with you all that I have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I'm not (surprisingly) overwhelmed by my expanding business and the orders which continue to pour in. I am enjoying that part tremendously. I love to be busy, I love a challenge and I love the feeling of directly creating something successful and valued. Thankfully these qualities work well in business. I am however overwhelmed because of my kiln.

(This is an older photo, I could now probably double the number of pots loaded in this crazy looking bisque.)

I need a bigger kiln. A really big kiln which will support what is growing into a really big business. I realized the other day that my business and current kiln situation is basically like trying to run a growing restaurant from a toaster oven. No fancy oven or stovetop equipment. Worldwide customers, a growing list of wholesale and commission contracts, and a toaster oven. While I can more than keep up on the making end, I am falling behind on the firing end. It is upsetting to feel something close to failure creeping in simply because of equipment, and not because of ability, capability or willingness. But this isn't a sad story, I promise.

I have been researching new, large kilns for some time and they are several thousands of dollars. Sad face. That's a lot of money. I was too discouraged to purchase a used kiln after my last used kiln overfired and failed, so I haven't even been looking at used kilns. Used was simply out of the question. My outlook may have just changed. Three weeks ago my little kiln began to have problems. Elements were replaced and a few firings later issues arouse again. New thermocouples and a few more elements and the kiln should have been in tip top shape, at this point nearly every essential heating component was brand new. Then the major disaster happened. The top element ends fused together during the firing and ended up completely melting the element beneath it. I had never seen this kind of kiln damage, even after my last kiln severely overfired (bad wiring actually done by an electrician) which melted pots into puddles of glass, resulting in this kiln's reassignment to Raku Kiln.

(Kiln interior: failed and melted element. Damaged holders, damaged bricks and shelves. The puddle of liquid used to be an element. The damage was to the entire ring, ruining nearly all the bricks and element holders, in addition to the downward damage shown.)

(Failed thermocouple)

(Cracked Ceramic Terminal Block which resulted in loose wires.)

The entire kiln needed to be disassembled and rebuilt. I ordered and received firebricks in the mail, pre-fit with holders. New elements and a new terminal block were also installed. When I say "I rebuilt the kiln", I mean rebuilt. Propane torch, bolt cutters, heavy duty electric grinder, a gazillion screwdrivers, sander, pliers, tons of safety equipment and seven hours of two person work later, Kim and I had completely rebuilt the kiln, brick by brick.

(New parts sent free of charge from L&L. Thankful for the factory warranty and incredible customer service.)

With these humungous kiln repairs behind me and my first (fingers crossed) successful, loaded firing underway right now (1,556 degrees Fahrenheit at last check) I am feeling much more confident about my future kiln upgrades. I am scouring Craigslist and ebay looking now at used kilns rather than new. A fraction of the price these kilns are seeming well within my reach by the Fall. And now that I have an oh, so complete understanding of every, single, tiny part in a kiln I feel comfortable purchasing a second hand piece of equipment that may just need some TLC.

My dad said it best when all these kiln problems first happened, "Just imagine all you'll learn from this! Having the knowledge and understanding of the electrical workings of a kiln is invaluable. You're learning what would otherwise be a very expensive skill to learn, simply by being on the job!" Honestly at the time I was on the other end of the phone rolling my eyes. Now however I completely share his opinion!