Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back to work

After a doctor's appointment this morning, I spent much of today in the studio catching up on pieces that I had left unfinished over the weekend. Brian and I had travelled home to Ohio for a long weekend, spending time with family and friends. It was a great visit- busy as usual when we go home. More on that later...

One of my main tasks today was finishing up several sets of canisters that are for a gallery order. These guys are thrown, stamped, and then get a handbuilt lid. I really enjoy making these pots because even though they have many steps to completion, I like making all the parts work well together. Below is a little snapshot of how to make the lid:

-dust the rim with corn starch so the lid doesn't stick
-cut out a small circular slab to fit inside the galley and pooch down with a sock filled with sand
-once the bottom slab has set up a bit, cut a larger circle out, with a pie-piece cut out
-score and overlap cutout and attach to bottom piece
-create some kind of knob, score and attach
Close up of a finished lid:
Finished canister sets:I also finished up some teapots and started some more small serving pieces with earthenware. It felt good to have a nice, productive day in the studio. I'm becoming more and more aware of my changing pregnant body- I have to take more breaks and stretch or I start to ache! I should probably be doing that anyway.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New little guys

You may remember seeing some little brass owls that I had posted on an earlier entry. They were my grandmas- she had a giant collection of brass figurines that I used to enjoy looking at. Well, at the recent workshop I attended, I made some clay molds of the little guys and here's my first attempt at finishing them. I'm totally in love. I want to make 100's of them- for what? I don't know.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In honor of St. Patrick's Day...

I thought I might share some pictures of a trip 5 friends and I took to Ireland this time in 2004 to visit a friend there who was a missionary. It just happened that the time we were able to go was over St. Patty's Day, so we got an extra little treat to be there for the celebration. I apologize that some of these images transferred funny, but you can get the point...

A couple of boys at one of the parades we saw while in Galway: Here's the whole gang at a random road sign. One of our friends that was with us has "ford" in his last name. So, of course, we made him get out of the car and take a picture at every appropriate sign. Needless to say, there were a lot- we all joined in the fun on this one (we're easily amused):
Our friend Ellen had distant relatives in Ireland that we sought out at the beginning of the trip. Here's their farm:
One of the days we took a small boat out to Innish Boffin- a small island off the western coast of Ireland. It was a great day of hiking (in bogs!) and hanging out. The waters were really really choppy on the way out there. We all were hanging onto anything we could to stay on our feet. We caught our friend Dave unknowingly hanging on to the ladies room door. Classy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Different cups for different needs

I made this great smoothie today and realized after I had poured it into one of my favorite cups that it looked pretty amazing in there. This is one by Ronan Peterson (the cup, not the beverage) who works up in the Chapel Hill area. It's got a great crackley surface and is perfect to hold.

This is my new Kari Radasch mug that I just bought in Atlanta last weekend. Why am I smiling? Well, the top opening is nice and wide and perfect for maximizing the amount of marshmallows floating on top of hot chocolate. And, although you can't see it in the picture, the bottom's nice and wide too, which allows it to sit easily on my quickly enlarging belly shelf.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Past weekend's workshop

As posted earlier, I spent last weekend at a Kari Radasch workshop at Mudfire Studio in Atlanta. It was a great one- nice people (all women!) in the class and Kari was extremely generous with her clay knowledge and techniques. Much of the time was spent watching demos, with a little bit of time to work to get the techniques down. We made lots of molds from items that we had brought along, and a couple of somewhat finished pieces. I dried some of my molds too quickly and may have to remake, but the concepts learned are still there. Here's Kari on the first day showing us how to treat the rim of a shallow bowl once it's taken off the hump mold..
Kari had an interesting way of coil-building her mugs and other pieces. She would layer a couple of coils, stretch them upward and then "throw" them on the banding wheel using her serrated rib to shape and distribute the clay evenly. It left a nice subtle texture on the surface, and had the dual quality of the looseness of a handbuilt piece and the evenness of a thrown piece. These pieces were so sweet that I had to buy one (picture to come....).
Even with all the great techniques learned that will get good use in my studio as well as for my students in upcoming classes, I learned most from Kari's slide lecture. Warning! I may have a hard time articulating exactly was learned: Kari has simple, concrete ideas that she aims to express in her work, and she does so extremely effectively. I tend to overthink or underthink concepts and she does it just right. As a person, she seems very familiar even before you meet her because she expresses herself so well in her work. Does that make sense? I think I need to take some time to intentionally determine what I would like to convey in my work without it being shallow or contrived.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Yesterday was a fun day- it started with heading up to Concord, NC to deliver work to the Cabarrus Arts Council. I'll be the featured artist in their gift shop for the months of March/April. In May I'll give a demonstration/lecture to the council members.

After that, I headed to Davidson to have lunch with my good friend Alyssa and her sweet daughter Earle (who's probably the cleverist almost 4 year old I've ever met). It was fun to catch up and see what she's been up to in her studio. Alyssa's been focusing on some really cool collages/drawings at the time and in the fall she'll be heading up to Minnesota for the McKnight Fellowship at the Northern Clay Center. She's a rock star, basically.

This afternoon I'm excited to head down to Atlanta for a workshop with Kari Radasch. It's a short one, but I suspect I'll learn a lot. I've admired Kari's work for some time and have many questions for her. She recently had a major change in her body of work and I'm curious to see what kind of reactions she had during that process. I enjoy taking workshops for mainly 2 reasons: they inform my work and enhance my teaching.

As part of the workshop, Kari asked us students to look for things around the house that would be good to use to make molds. I don't really have many serving pieces that aren't handmade, so I headed to one of my favorite thrift stores- the Habitat Restore to look for some goodies. Here's what I came up with:
Aside from the little brass owls, I got all that great stuff for $8. What a deal.

These little guys actually came off my mantle. I've been wanting to make a mold or something out of these for some time because they have great sentimental value. My grandmother used to have a very large collection of brass critters that my sister and I would always rearrange whenever we went over to her house, just to tease her. These guys had their own shelf and we would turn them around to face the wall and she would act "mad" at us, and we thought it was so funny.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'm a big dork and I don't care...

A couple years ago, I remember having a conversation with Brian's cousin about how he will sometimes exercise while on the job. Steve's a construction worker, so he said that sometimes he would run to his truck from inside when he needed a tool or run to the woodpile, etc. Well, on Tuesday I missed my morning workout and it was too rainy to take a walk outside, so I figured, "why can't I do a workplace workout?" Obviously I wasn't going to run laps around my slabroller, and I was glazing. One of the first steps for me while glazing is to brush on black glaze in the textured areas of my pots (which is pretty much everywhere). Since it doesn't require a lot of precise marking, I felt like maybe I could fit in a little movement. So my brilliant solution was to march in place while brushing.

Needless to say, about 1 canister set and 8 mugs into it I looked down and happened to notice how ridiculous I must have looked. There I was, latex-gloved, belly sticking out of a too small shirt, marching and glazing in my studio. I started laughing so hard that I had to sit down- thank goodness no one was there to witness this in person, but I am considering making a video: "Low-impact studio aerobics." Look for it soon in a video store near you!

Here's what the pots look like once I wipe them down- the black glaze ends up really highlighting those textures. I then brush and pour more oxides and glazes on top.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Empty Bowls Event

This past Friday was the Second Harvest Food Bank's empty bowls event. People can purchase a ticket in advance that gets them a yummy lunch, free bowl and afternoon entertainment. This event has been so successful over the past couple of years that it sells out long before the event is held, which is so exciting for the mission of Second Harvest!

This year Clayworks, the studio where I teach, provided 280 bowls! Students, studio artists and instructors pitched in. Julie, Adrienne and I were there for the event to promote Clayworks and do a little bit of demonstrating. Well, I did the demo, Julie was my posse (as she said). Adrienne took the pictures, that's why she's not in any of them. It was fun to be there and see the different bowls that people picked.