April Firing

It’s a tradition for us.  The Bluff Country Studio Art Tour is held the last full weekend in April and we fire the wood kiln just before it so we can have a full kiln of work to unload the Saturday evening of the event with a big party.  And this year was no different.  The weather was a little cooler than we’d hoped for, but you have to take what you get.

We had a wonderful crowd for the kiln opening party and love all the help unloading the kiln.  Thanks everybody for making this firing and the tour a wonderful success.

Summer

This is my first summer as a fully self employed person.  I’d previously spent many years working full time doing other things while being a potter part time as well.  Beginning as a young teen I worked summers full time while school was out and upon graduation, began a full time job. Working through the summers my entire adult life as well. So…it’s tempting to spend most of this summer like most the others of my life immersed in my work (though now more enjoyable work).  

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So…I’ve Been Thinking

This is usually the time that my husband, roadie and employee of the year says “Uh oh!”

A few weeks ago I attended a work session/dinner put on by our local art’s organization.  We were asked several questions about arts in our community and the results of our discussion would be used to create a performance to be presented at the upcoming Rural Arts and Culture Summit in June.  Liked the idea… but since then have been kicking around some of the discussion topics in my head.  

April 2015 Firing

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Nick DeVries Workshop

Last weekend I attended a Fundamentals of Design in Clay workshop lead by Nick DeVries  at the Edina Art Center.  It was a great time and very educational.  Edina Art Center has a wonderful facility and always puts on equally wonderful special events.  

Principles and elements of design as they relate to creating works in clay were the primary lessons of the workshop and the concepts were made clear while watching Nick demonstrate his very unique processes.  

Most of Nick’s work is thrown rather thick and his shapes refined by the use of a rasp.  Using this process, he often makes squared shapes out of round and uses the subtle texture left by the rasp to give his pieces a great textural feel.  Nick’s additional stamped and carved design elements along with his gorgeous matte oxidation glazes finish the pieces off perfectly.

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Winter Wood Firing

Last Monday, Becky Brandow of Willow Avenue Pottery joined me to unload the wood kiln we’d fired the weekend before.  Between the firing and pizza party we had during the firing, I didn’t manage to get any photos of the firing itself.  Didn’t even get my traditional pic of the loaded kiln before we brick up the door.  Apparently I don’t deal well with distractions.  Oh well…the photos would have looked just like my previous firings anyway.

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Getting Started In The New Year

Like so many other artists, I like to take a bit of a break through the holidays to enjoy the season and my family.  We had a great Christmas and fun with friends on New Year’s Eve.  And just before settling into the studio for the winter, potter friend Becky Brandow of Willow Avenue Pottery in Iowa visited for a couple days.  It was two days of potter shopping (Continental Clay, Ikea, The Container Store and Northern Clay Center), discussion of glazes to test in the woodfiriing we’ll be doing in February and just plain lots of fun.  

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Long Overdue

I’ve been distracted by holiday goings-on and neglected to post photos from my last woodfiring.  Fortunately… I know you’re a patient bunch.  

We fired the kiln on Thanksgiving, finishing up on Black Friday.  The following Wednesday, I quickly snapped my after photo and unloaded so I could have the pots ready for my Holiday Mud and Suds Sale that Friday.  A little whirlwind like, but the timing worked out great.

There was a great deal of turquoise in this load which is always a popular color.

Also in this firing, I was testing some decals I’d applied to the pots while leatherhard.   The decals are printed on decal paper with a black only laser printer so really any black/white design would work.  Lots of people apply decals to pieces after glaze firing, but I kind of want to get a subtle iron effect without adding an additional firing.I like the possibilities, and will probably have a few more tests in my next firing before deciding if I want to make the process part of my regular work.  

 And here are a few of my favorites from this firing. Many are available in my Etsy shop.

 
 
 
 
 

To transport the pots home for the sale, I packed them in bins in the back of the truck with bubble wrap and newspaper between the pieces.  I transport pots like this all the time with no problems.  HOWEVER… I’ve never gone over a speed bump quite like the one I experienced in the parking lot of a craft shop I stopped at to quickly pick up some ribbon for the ornaments in the firing.  It was a monster of a bump.  Upon unpacking the pots, here is what I found.

There were some choice word heard in the studio that day.  Fortunately there were no sailors around to be embarrassed by my language.  All these pieces have found a new purpose with several mosaic artists so I’m trying to see this as a silver lining kind of experience.

Enjoy your holidays everybody!!

The Day After A Firing

For lots of people it’s Small Business Saturday.  But for me it’s the day after a firing so I’m having a Peek In A Cooling Kiln Day or Melt Your Flashlight Day.  I’ve done both today and will continue to peek in the kiln with a different flashlight and try to remember not to place the light so close to the peek hole.  


Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and successful Small Business Saturday. 

In the home stretch

This past weekend we had our last event at the Lanesboro studio and have official closed the studio for the winter.  Having received our first significant snow for the season, I’m busy getting indoor things done today.

Like addressing post cards for my last sale of the season, photographing pots for my Etsy shop, and anything else I can think of to avoid having to shovel the driveway.  Maybe while I’m doing this, the sun will come up and melt everything so I won’t have to shovel.  It could happen.  

Anyway… also getting some glazing done for my next wood firing coming up in a couple weeks.  Lots of mugs in this load because I always seem to be short on mugs.  

Dots, stripes, swirls and panels – the most popular designs.

Thanks so much to everyone who has served or is serving.  Your sacrifices are greatly appreciate.  Have a great Veterans Day.
 

Ornament Extravaganza

I hate to admit it, but Christmas is right around the corner.  Which means I need to get to work on some ornament.  The last few days I’ve been working on some snowflake ornaments. 

 After rolling out slabs of Continental Clay’s B-Clay, the ornaments are cut out using a snowflake shaped cookie cutter.  When leather hard, slip in a squeeze bottle is used to make the raised design.  Then the snowflake is glazed with my studio white liner glaze and wood fired.  Ornaments fit in all the nooks and crannies between the other work in the kiln filling up all the gaps that would otherwise be wasted space. 

Other designs include angels, stars, trees and a studio visitor this week made these greyhound ornaments and pendants. 

New Studio Toy

There is nothing more fun than getting and putting a new studio toy… I mean tool into use.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a small pugmill.  After several years of bagging up my trimmings and storing them in every studio nook and cranny, I can finally process the trimmings into usable clay again. 

The first batch of reclaim was a bit wetter than I’d have liked, but it was just BEAUTIFUL!!! If you’ve never used a pugmill, it’s an amazingly useful piece of studio equipment.  Clay scrap and water go into the hopper and mixed for 15-20 minutes.  The mixture is de-aired with the vacuum pump and then pressed out through an extruder as usable clay.  

Only about 500 more pounds of clay scraps to go.  More playing tomorrow.