Monday, February 28, 2011

What is Next?

Something about the last few weeks has really put me in one of those deep reflecting sort of moods. I have been thinking a lot about the future. Short term, long term.. all of it.. and pretty much all at once. You know, maybe it was turning 25? That did just happen, and I guess is sort of a mile stone. Well, at 25 I feel very fortunate and all in all very happy. I recognize how lucky I am to wake up each day and work for myself pursuing my passion. This recognition is at times my largest motivation.

I will be honest, sometimes this is the only motivation. There are days when I wake up and don't particularly feel like sitting down with my hands in clay all day. Days I loathe the dirt, dust and mucky water I am surrounded by, or covered in! These are the days when I become obsessed with cleaning every splatter of clay from the wall as it happens (grumbling the entire time). The same days that I am frustrated that my pants are once again covered in clay after trying to be so careful! On these days I can literally feel the clay drying out my poor hands and wrinkling them into deformity prematurely. These are perhaps my lowest moments. Even typing this out I am aware how silly these complaints are.

I have worked several different jobs, all of which had qualities I disliked much more than the clay splatters, or the need to change wardrobe three times a day. I really do love my job, even in the "low" moments. I love that I can make every decision on my own. Some days I work in my favorite dresses, other days pajamas. I can take lunch whenever I want and never come back from my lunch break if I decide I would rather say, enjoy the nice day and go to the park. Working now at 12:30 am is possible, just like 10 am, 2 pm or 8 pm. I work when I want to work, how I want to work. I know I am lucky. I also know that this is the way I want to work forever.

So while I know that I want to always work for myself making pottery, I still feel largely uncertain about a lot of the details. Basically, I am not sure where I am going next. Almost everything I have achieved in the last few years has come together one day at a time. The path has been gradually established, and it led me to where my heart already was. Likely the future will unfold in the same manner and this is all a very layered lesson in patience. It is however this unknown next step which is the fixation of my recent deep reflecting and inability to sleep through the night. Realizing now that it is nearly 1 o'clock in the morning I am deciding that the work day is over and that it is definitely time for bed. For now, I know that sleep is next. The rest I will take one day at a time!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Think Pink

My quest for new glazes has led me to searching through endless formulas online and in the dusty pottery books I keep stacked in my studio. Dusty, because I do not open them as often as I should, but also because dust just comes with the territory when you have a ceramic studio. I found another potter's description of her personal glaze search for "candy-colored glazes". I think this is the perfect phrase for exactly what I am looking for as well! I have kept this phrase in the back of my mind like a happy little song for weeks as I have rummaged through tons of formulas.

In my search for new glazes I needed to first determine what kind of glazes I prefer. I love translucent glazes. I love allowing the clay to shine through the glaze, as a subtle though integral part of the final visual product. I also love the history of translucent glazes, specifically blue-green celadon glazes of ancient China. Those pale shades are both elegant and simple; the perfect companion to the simple elegance of porcelain. Celadons are iron based glazes which surprisingly begin brick red! Once fired in a reduction atmosphere (usually in a gas kiln) the brick red coloring turns into soft, gentle blue-green! Kiln magic! Well, actually some pretty intense molecular chemistry. But, we will leave it at magic.

Now, unfortunately I do not have a gas kiln. If I did I would just make the tried and true glazes I love from college. No such luck. I do however have an electric kiln. Firing in an electric kiln is referred to as an oxidation firing. This is the opposite of a reduction firing. Like, literally the opposite. The worlds of reduction and oxidation are completely separate. Few materials remain stable and unchanged when compared between the two kiln atmospheres.

The red iron glazes which transform into beautiful shades of pastel turquoise in reduction do not undergo the same luxurious transformation in oxidation. Brick red iron based glazes stay brick red in an oxidation firing. Bummer! No yummy blue-greens. It is not all bad though! Electric kilns are wonderful tools. And, after three years of owning my own I am confidentially able to say I love firing in oxidation. The only issue is that I am still searching for my long lost celadons. I am now putting my glaze mixing skills to use and learning new ways to get these pretty "candy-colored glazes."

Happily I have found a gorgeous Caribbean Blue glaze which is now a part of my signature studio glazes. I am experimenting further with some other colorants. I have a buttery, golden yellow in the works along with some rosey pinks! Here are some tests from my last firing:

I used a formula I found online which allowed the pinks to remain even past cone 6. This is a pretty tricky feat. My complaints about the pink glazes are primarily about the texture of the glaze. I prefer glossy flat glazes. The lighter pink which was made with 5% of the colorant as opposed to the darker, 10% pink is a bit close to the texture I prefer. My thoughts are that the 10%  colorant was too much against the other ingredients. Next time around I am going to increase the Silica and test until I find the right balance between color and shine. Other small complaint about the dark pink-- I fired this test upside down on accident! It was the last thing I loaded into the kiln and obviously my brain was done. The ugly white stuff you see towards the point of the test piece is kiln wash from one of my shelves. Ooops!

I have a new bisque load firing as we speak. It should be finished within an hour or so. I hope to fire a glaze load by Monday. We will see if I can refine the bumpy pinks into glossy, translucent, candy colored pinks! Until then I will be thinking pink!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The High-Heeled Potter

There is something about clay and high-heels that seem immediately contradictory. Surely dirt and stilettos represent opposite ends of the human experience. Well, I love both. I love the feeling of the wet "gooey" clay and the challenge of six inch heels. I still do not understand my passion for clay; Even after a solid six years of working with it day in and day out. The heels I get. I grew up with Barbies and watched every imaginable Disney princess movie. In fact my favorite toy (which I still own) is a Princess Jasmine Barbie Doll. With her knee length silky black hair and golden slippers she was my two loves combined. 

As every teenage story goes, I went through some awkward years and my sense of fashion suffered terribly. In fact, I would like to place the blame for my years of awkwardness on my pleather pants, my obsession with Birkenstocks and gigantic hemp necklaces. Needless to say fashion suffered. Thankfully by college I had out grown several strange phases. Now, at a recently clocked twenty-five I am happy to find many of my earliest treasures once again a part of my wardrobe. I again love bows, lace, black tights and girly dresses. I am tempted at times to put a pair of white lace trimmed ankle socks over my tights like I always did when I was five, but that is one fashion combination I will leave in the past. 

I decided it was time to make my blog a bit more personal. Rather than just post about pottery, pottery, pottery I will now be posting about my life, which goes something a little more like: pottery, pottery, fashion, pottery. As an artist I use the excuse that I am drawn to beauty and good design, and the soft spring robin's egg blue cardigan I bought tonight is both beautiful and well designed. Please don't get the wrong impression, I am not empty headed and debt consumed. I bought five used books today to my one piece of clothing and I live for thrift stores and a good deal!

After returning from New Hampshire I am back on track in the studio. My little Mini Pots line has just launched and is already tremendously popular! Here are some pictures from my studio of me making some Mini Pots. They are really tiny and because of that a surprising challenge to make! My normally adequately delicate touch has proven clumsy on these miniature forms! Practice, practice, practice!

 See my blurry hands? Fast, but not fast enough! The little pot tipped right over!

Happy Sunday! 
 Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Day Giveaway!

I think this is the perfect time of year for a little unexpected cheer. What do you think? The winter months can be a bit drab and slow moving as we all become accustomed to the shortened day-light hours and general lack of pleasantness. I say this with a bit more distaste for winter than my Southern life normally fosters; But, I just spent a week in New Hampshire caught in the middle of a massive snow storm. My love for temperate climates has been strongly reawakened. Now, massive may seem to many an exaggeration, but the two feet of snow I saw fall in three days was more than I have seen in the last nine years altogether, so massive is massively appropriate.

I am tired of shivering and living my days with my lights turned on. I am longing for spring, the privilege of opening my windows and the joyful chirping of birds who I assume are currently in a state of cryogenic freeze. Thankfully, I did see a little family of robins for about ten minutes earlier today before they caught sight of my eager little kitties peering out at them from the window. So, Spring can't be too far away!

In celebration of  the upcoming Springtime I am offering a sweet little set of porcelain love doves to one lucky winner! You may enter into this drawing three easy ways:
Three ways to enter:
1) Become a follower of my Blog:
2) Leave a comment on my Blog about Valentine's Day: I leave this intentionally open-ended, so have fun!
3) Purchase any item from my shop: and leave a message to sender saying "giveaway."
Winner will be selected at random on February 14th, 2011. See Blog for more details! Good luck!

This drawing will take place on February 14th either literally drawn from a hat, or some other equally random cyber version I will learn about between now and then. Valentine's Day like the rest of winter can be a little lack luster, what better way to beat the V-Day blues than by becoming a lucky winner! Be sure to include a valid email address as this is how you will be notified if you are the lucky winner. Best of luck! Have fun!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

100th Sale Celebration!

In celebration of my 100th sale on Etsy I am offering a 10% discount for this week only! Use this coupon code: 100SALE10OFF to receive 10% off any item in my shop! Sale runs February 5- February 12: