Okay, I think I forgot to save this the first time. Argh! Anyway, here are a couple of quick shots of my shelves, full of new stuff. I kinda like some of the new designs.
The day I unload a glaze firing is a good day. It's pottery Christmas. Everything I've been working on for the past month is done, all at once, and I don't really know what it's going to look like.
Pottery is a lengthy process. Throw the pots, trim the pots, alter and embellish the pots. Carry all the pots upstairs and out to the garage, load the kiln, run a bisque fire, unload the kiln, carry everything back down to the basement. Glaze the details, wax the details, pour on the underglaze, paint on the overglaze, document everything because you will forget what you did otherwise. Carry everything out to the garage again. Load the kiln, fire the kiln, check the kiln repeatedly over the ten-hour firing, wait and wait and wait and wait until it's cooled down enough to open the lid. Unload the kiln, carry everything back down to the basement.
That moment when the pots are cool enough to lift out into the light - that is magic. Stressful magic. I get to see all the good and bad glazing decisions; the bowl rims that remember in the fire every warp I unknowingly put into them when they were pliable; Which glazes run, which blend well with each other, how much smaller everything looks once it has been vitrified by a couple thousand degrees of heat.
I have been working since January on pots for the Grand Cities Art Fest and the Art & Wine Walk. My first kiln load came out today - nearly 40 pots. I'm actually pretty slow; I rarely get 20 hours a week in the studio, and those tentacles and so on take for-fricking-ever. Photographing and captioning the pots is a whole other lengthy process, but I'll get them up eventually. Anyway, I will take photos of the shelves tomorrow when there's more light. Right now I'm going to take a lot of meds for my raging head cold (thanks, kids!) and go to bed. Thanks for reading!
I thought I'd just show you folks what my studio looks like. The photo is at the bottom of the page. It's in the basement of our house, with a nice view of, well, snow. The kiln is out in the detached garage, which is great in terms of reducing fire and fume hazards, but makes loading the kiln a long series of precarious trips upstairs and across the backyard, usually with three dogs running tight circles around my feet. Haven't dropped anything yet!
So, what you see in the picture is about one quarter of the basement, and pretty much the entirety of my studio. The heavy desk on the left is perfect for wedging clay and hand-building. I don't actually use the drill press that often, but it's bolted to the desk, so it's staying. The desk came with the house; I have no idea how the previous owners maneuvered it down the stairs. The table on the right is wobblier, but I use it for glazing and keep a piece of canvas on it to reclaim small batches of wet clay. Joe put a plastic globe on top of the bendy white desk lamp and drew on a pupil, which made it AWESOME.
Unsold work goes on the black shelf to the right; unfinished work goes on pine shelves to the left. They're off-screen, but you've probably seen them on Facebook anyway. Last time we cleaned the basement I found Joe's high school photo (adorable) and my William & Mary diploma (Why is it in Latin? I never took Latin), so up they went on the wall, along with a couple of pictures of the kids. Added a cheap wall clock to make sure I don't miss Elliot's bus, and my studio was complete!
This is actually fairly tidy as my workspace goes. I cleaned up all the kindling my dog Martha chews up while I work, and I wiped down the wheel, which doesn't happen every day. The wad of clay on the wheel is waiting to be made into a teapot lid. I took the picture just after I ran upstairs to the kitchen to refill my bucket with warm water (you're not really supposed to throw with warm water, but it's fricking cold in the basement, and running the wheel and the space heater at the same time blows a fuse.) Not having a sink in the basement forces me to get a little exercise while I work. I also don't have a filter on the drain, so instead I have a series of buckets of muddy water in various stages of settling out into clear water and sludge (A.K.A. slip.) I do the same thing with brush-cleaning cups during glazing. I have a five-gallon paint bucket half full of sludge, waiting to be reclaimed as clay next summer.
So, it's all a bit amateur. I'd like to start teaching throwing lessons at some point, but first I'll need to relocate some power tools so I can take over this half of the basement in its entirety. And maybe wipe the mud off the desk drawers.
Well, I've officially had a pottery studio for three months now! I am enjoying it quite a bit. I have found that it takes me about a month to cycle through a kiln-load of work: roughly a week apiece for throwing, altering, firing and glazing. What I need to do now is increase the number of pieces I make each month; the last two firings could have fit another dozen pieces in, and that's just a waste of electricity! Time is always the constraint - there's always other stuff that needs done just as urgently.
What I did not anticipate is how quickly the business side would take over. I am grateful that people are interested in my work and dearly hope that continues, but I also have to remind myself that there are occasionally things I want to make for myself and my family as well. Just for starters, Eemie the box turtle needs a swimming pond, Elliot needs a non-tippy milk cup, and Joe has been hinting heavily for years that he would like gargoyles on the porch posts. And I would like to make something interesting to replace the quart pickle jar I drink icewater out of all day.
If you could make anything you wanted for your home, what would you make? My friend Becky requested some planters that could fit on her narrow kitchen windowsill, and now I have to make myself some too, because frankly it was an awesome idea. A painter at the Art & Wine Walk asked if I ever made incense holders, to which I had to answer,"no, not until now!" I failed to get her name, but I tried to make one this month in her honor, although it doesn't look very much like the french bulldog I was aiming for. If you have an awesome idea of your own, send me an email; I'll give you first dibs on any resulting attempts.
I do not yet have the level of control over my throwing that I aspire to, so when I aim to make something specific it often comes out looking different that I expected. As Wes from the UND clay department says, "the first ten thousand pots are the worst." So while I hope y'all keep coming to me with new ideas, I hope you can remain tolerant of the unpredictable results until I hit that ten-thousand-and-first pot. That's why I call it "dibs" and not "commissions" - so no one feels obliged to buy what didn't come out looking the way they thought it should.
Well, enough computering! I have five hundred pounds of clay waiting for me in the studio. ime to get back to the wheel.
Hey folks, this is going to be kind of a placeholder until I have a chance to sit down and think a bit. I've finally got the website up and running, but I haven't set up an Etsy account yet, and I have a kiln-load of bisqueware waiting to be glazed and re-fired. I am convinced there is a cheaper flat rate for shipping this stuff, so I'll need to go pick some brains at the UPS and USPS offices this week. And I haven't vacuumed up the dog hair in two weeks.
But all that aside, I've had such great responses from friends and family regarding this new site and its contents! I am grateful to you all for your support, friendship and existence.
My friend Mary, who actually knows something about blogging, said this is a good forum for spreading the news about other sites I like. Just off the top of my head, I have a few doozies. When I have more time I will gush about them at length. In the meantime, if you want to see some great art by great people, check these out:
cecebell.com - Cece Bell is a children's book writer and illustrator whose work you NEED to see and read with your kids. My kids consider her a major celebrity and can't believe I am friends with someone so cool. I aspire to be more like her - hard-working, creative, funny and wonderfully weird.
blackwalnutdispatch.com - I consider this an artist's site because my friend Mary Gray is one of my favorite essayists. Her blog is infinitely more entertaining than any garden blog has any right to be. Plus she is many kids' favorite English teacher.
etsy.com/people/julianopottery - George Juliano was my favorite art teacher in high school, and maybe ever. He is a talented painter and potter, as well as a great teacher and person. I will consider myself lucky to someday be half as good as him in any of those areas.