Monday, March 30, 2009

more glazing fun

This week I'm putting some things in a kiln with a friend, and whether it's a full load or a 1/4 load, it still seems to require similar amounts of time away from the studio. It does make one yearn for the day when all aspects of the potterly life are within reach of each other without packing, piling, driving and splitting time and attentions! But this firing is yet another opportunity to get that shino glaze right, so when my larger firing comes later in April, I can fire those plates for Holly & Chad and they can finally enjoy their wedding gifts! And I'll also have several pieces for Sparrow Spa, which makes more room on the studio shelves for the rest of the order!

Another piece of fun in this kiln is a little sagger test. I've been reading and hearing about firing shinos in a sagger, and I intend to try that out, but right now the only sagger I have was used with salt inside, and since we needed a few kiln fillers, I decided to try a little fun with another salt sagger. The last time used this, it was supposed to go into a wood kiln, but got bumped for lack of space, so since the salt was tightly sealed inside the sagger, I stuck it into the next reduction kiln opportunity. Here are the bowls from that experiement:

They were unglazed stoneware, with two little thimbles of salt. It's easy to see where they got the flashing, and the thin walls warped just so to make them really interesting. I still love these, and had them on display in the cooked sagger in my studio. Now they sit on the shelf, and the sagger is at the glaze studio. I'll take some before pictures and later this week when we unload show the whole adventure. And then I'll start making some saggers for the shino tests in the April kiln - little shot cups, each with their own sagger/gift box!

Back to the Monday: update the books, finish glazing, put handles on some mugs, finish the postcard for the May show at Clingman...where did I put that list?...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

time for a grateful break...

I think I remember a time when there were periods of crazy busy intermittently dispersed throughout the year. Now it seems more like moments of calm, intermittently dispersed throughout the year! But whenever the brink rears itself into view, I know it's time to take a moment, breathe and remember how grateful I am to be in the mix at all!

Today's reflections go to my much appreciated studio assistants.

Heather and Micah each come in one day a week and help keep the floors cleaned, drains cleared, clay stocked, me prepped and little projects done. They don't get in much else during the week for their own work, such is the delicate balance of keeping the bills paid and keeping time in the studio, but I'm happy that I can at least provide them that place to go when they can carve out the time. I am also grateful that the harder I work, the more time it puts me in the studio, and watching them reminds me of my years working in theater when having essentially two full time jobs was the norm (the job that paid the bills, then another 40-60 hour week in theater).

it's kind of a 'chicken & egg' quandry to know where it all starts...but here are the scraps (and non-survivors) of a recent trim session...

... that Heather turns into beautifully pugged logs ...

... that Micah wedges into beautifully portioned balls...

... that allows me to just sit and throw between answering calls, emails, planning marketing, doing the books, teaching students, packing orders and all the other things that come with the business end of 'the business'...

...that will then be trimmed to jump back into the clay 'cycle of life'!

So here's to my helpers, thanks for all you do, now get in here and throw something for yourself!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Crazy Green Studios & East West Asheville to host Empty Bowls Event for MANNA FoodBank!

Join us at Crazy Green Studios for a hands-on event to benefit MANNA FoodBank on Saturday, April 11, 2009.

The event will run from 10am - 3pm, and will offer many ways for you to support MANNA FoodBank, learn about what they're doing to end hunger in Western North Carolina, and how you can help:

* decorate a bowl that will be used in the annual Empty Bowls luncheon on World Food Day
* purchase a t-shirt from Imagine/RENDER to support Empty Bowls
* bring some canned food or other non-perishables for MANNA FoodBank
* purchase beautiful handmade pottery - all proceeds go directly to MANNA FoodBank

Representatives and information will also be on hand from both MANNA FoodBank and Imagine/RENDER, so you can learn more about how hunger issues affect our community and how easily you can help.

Crazy Green Studios is located at 15B Domino Lane, site of the upcoming 2nd Saturday Artist Market. For more information, contact Lori at Crazy Green Studios (lori 'at'

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2nd Saturday Artist Market!!

I just noticed that I passed my 100th post - who knew? I think it's great to break into the next 100 posts with an update about the 2nd Saturday Artist Market.

We've had a lot of good response to the Market, but feedback from artists told us that committing to three months of Market at a time was too much to ask, so the application process has been revised so that artists, craftspeople and musicians may apply for individual OR multiple months.

It also took us a little longer to work out the organizational aspects, so to have a stronger opening, we're starting the Market in May. We're excited to open on Mother's Day weekend, expect great weather and hope all readers within reach will come check it out!

May is also Hospice Month, and Market sponsor Care Partners Hospice and Palliative Care will be at the Community Booth for the opening Market.

Any artists interested in applying for booth space, applications are being reviewed on an ongoing basis, and you'll find all the forms and more info by clicking on the logo link above.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

teaching and testing...

One of the fun parts of having open studio access for beginner-ish potters, is the chance and challenge to have mini-classes and lessons on demand. The teaching goes both ways, as I get just as much out of watching new hands and different intuitions, not to mention the questions that come up and the pondering that follows.

And it continues even when I'm by myself, each part of making something in clay gives me the chance to find a new approach and learn more about how I've come to where I've come. This is probably most true in the glazing and firing cycles. Although I've happily entered into the phase of enjoying glazing (I used to dread it), it still feels like every load is full of tests, and maybe that's the way it should always be.

The most recent glazing and firing cycle was filled with such 'tests', and the process and the results gave me many lessons to ponder between now and the next firing. I'd be here all night if I list all of them, but to get them out of my head, I'll hit a few. Glazing lesson I already know: give myself more time so I can lay down the wax resist the night before I put on the cover glaze, and don't rush through it. Other glazing lessons were learned only when I unloaded. Less went into the kiln as a whole, and since a good bit of my work was platters or plates, the real estate was not as evenly populated as it could have been.

Basic lesson I should already know but seem only to have the lightbulb moment recently: make work to fill the kiln - so if I'm putting in a bunch of plates and platters, I should have work that will fit in the open spaces on the shelves between them. Lesson 2 on that: if I'm going to make a bunch of plates and platters, I need to invest in plate setters so the space I take goes up, not out, leaving me more options for mixing flat and tall work on the same shelf. Lesson 3 on that too: get my butt in gear and throw to fill the whole kiln, so I can determine more of what goes where. Unloading lessons highlighted by sage advice by generous mentors: some glazes benefit greatly from being sieved before application.

Unload lesson 2: if you're going to dip 24 mugs into the top of one bucket, you better stay off the phone, pay attention and stir that sucker up between every couple of mugs, or you gets what you gets. What we gets here are collector's mugs for the ChoLo - get 'em while you can, this glaze will not be repeated!

And then there are the intentional test pieces, and when something lovely happens, it takes the sting off many other 'lessons'. This platter is made of a Laguna dark brown clay, one that I had used way back when in DC, and I had fond memories of it. I put some slip on it when I threw it, then did the brush work on top of the bisqued form and added a light shino spray. It's toasty, almost wood-fire-esque.

I am so grateful to have access to a wonderful reduction kiln with full glaze studio (thank you Westfire Studio!!), and I'll be firing there as my primary kiln as long as I'm in my current studio, so I'll have some time to really take heed of these lessons. And some of them will no doubt be reviewed and tested again, like an annoying pop quiz where you KNOW the answers yet only seem to spout them out on the bus later, which is all the more annoying because you know the results you'll see when you get that paper back on Monday (hmmm...perhaps I should revisit latent bitterness at public school testing methods...).

So many lessons that unfold all through the process, and now I'm trying to hang on to the most recently learned wisdom so I might find new lessons in the next kiln - it's always an adventure. There were some really lovely results in this last kiln as well as the 'hmmmmm' pieces, and there are lessons in that as well that I hope I retain for the next go-round!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

First Friday fun ...

I took a quick break between glazing and loading the kiln to dash through a couple of events on Friday.

The first was Art for Food at the Cotton Mill Studios - I didn't have my camera ready at that first stop, but it was a great show, with some proceeds benefiting Manna Food Bank, one of my favorite do-good organizations.

Next was a quick stop at the opening reception of "Ma: The Space Between" at the Asheville Area Arts Council's Front Gallery. The show features yummy wood fired ceramics from Akira Satake and Judith Duff, beautiful textiles from Barbara Zaretsky and gorgeous furniture from Brian Boggs. I did manage to get my camera out for a few quick shots:

we arrived just in time for the fashion show of Barbara Zaretsky's beautiful designs

Akira Satake, behind a Brian Boggs table, holding a Barbara Zaretsky textile and a sweet wood fire piece of Akira's.

I thought I had a shot of one of Judith's pieces in this camera too, but it's not here. Consider that a tease, because it's all worth getting downtown to see!

After an all too quick run through (as usual, it seems), it was back to WestFire Studio to load the kiln. But that's another post...

Friday, March 6, 2009

studio stuff...

It's almost shocking to see my previous post of Lissa rolling in the snow and knowing it was a mere four days ago.

ice melting on the studio skylight, a couple of days ago

Almost shocking, except I live in Asheville, and it's one of the glories of the region to have snow frolicking weather shortly followed by fun in the sun. 60's today, into the 70's over the weekend. Almost wish I could pull my wheel outside!

I am grateful to have the nice weather as later tonight I'll be loading a kiln. I'm building another set of shots from the glazing session, and will post them during the firing. I'm finally at the point where I enjoy glazing, although I'd enjoy it a lot more if it wasn't always squeezed in between 12 other things. There always comes a point where I just don't think I'll finish in time for the load. But that's for the next post -

Here are some shots from around the studio over the week. I started taking pictures of some of the works in progress, then found the light so lovely (it's getting to be that time of year when I don't have to turn the lights on until much later in the day) that I took some shots of what caught my eye. Perhaps not as interesting to anyone else, as I know I have a great fondness for this studio that may only translate as a mother's love, but here they are anyway...

tumblers on a tray - I'm trying to get back to groupings and 'sets' of a sort

a couple of the urn forms I've been playing with,
and fun with a lidded form demo

afternoon skylight action on Scott's shelf
(time to glaze, things are literally piling up!)

well after one, I had to see where the light
from the other skylight was falling...

back lit profiles on the window...
notice how carefully cropped everything is
to hide the messy parts!

Monday, March 2, 2009

snow delay today!

It's beautiful out, but the roads are pretty slick, so the studio will be closed this morning. I'm aiming to get in early this afternoon, but I'm also taking advantage of the slow down to romp in the snow with Lissa and work on the website...stay tuned or give a call before you try to trek over to the studio today. Better yet - get out and make some snow angels!

studio happenings...

First - if any studio members are wondering if we're open today...too soon to tell! I'm on my way out with the dog to investigate the roads, and I'll be there at some point for sure, but it may take me longer to get my usual morning errands done so there may indeed be adjusted hours. If in doubt, call my cell before you come!

well, I was going to post a lovely good-bye to friends Brooke & Greg, who have been in Asheville for the past month or two, and hanging at the studio during parts of that...but the universe and the elements are conspiring to keep them here!

Greg did come in to finish glazing some pieces, and he sat down to get in one more throwing session. And the clay is definitely now in him (if not on him!) - I'm glad to hear he'll continue if and when he ever makes it back to Wisconsin!

And our studio roll call continues with one of our newest members:

Alex came in looking for a place to do some hand building, and he has wasted no time!

In other news, I've been giving my eyes a good exercise in rebuilding the website. It's coming along and perhaps if this turns into a snow day I'll get it finished - but I find myself in that strange place of actually hoping to get some business and work done in spite of the beautiful snow that's slowing everyone down. Gotta find that balance - maybe a romp in the snow with the dog will give me needed perspective...

... I did take a picture of the bushes outside the studio when I left yesterday, but I see out my window that it's so much more picture perfect this morning, so I'm headed out with the dog and camera to get more appropriate documentation of the snow that finally fell! I'll post here if studio hours will be affected today, and if you don't have my cell, call the studio (333-5078) and I'll get that message fairly fast too.

Now go play in the snow!