New Inventory Delivery

One of my favorite sales venues is Simple Soaps for Simple Folks in Dover Minnesota.  Before you even step in the door, you can smell all the awesome fragrances Shanna (owner and soap maker) uses in her fabulous goats milk soaps.  I stop on the doorstep, breathe in all the wonderful scents and step in to a warm, inviting shop with ever changing inventory.  


Shanna and I met a few years ago and have enjoyed discussing our upcoming events and the trials and tribulations of being a small business owner.  I try on all the hats in the shop wishing I was a hat person, smell all the soaps and thoroughly enjoy my visit,  

Earlier this week, I delivered new inventory to the shop, still didn’t find a hat that looks good on my head and picked up a new bar of Pomegranate soap for the shower.  


Stop in at Simple Soaps for Simple Folks and see everything this welcoming shop has to offer.

Raku Experience

During one of our earlier Lanesboro Area Art Trail events this year, I had a group of studio visitors at the studio participate in a raku firing. It got me thinking – maybe that would be a great addition to our Art Trail weekends.  

With three events remaining this fall, I’ll be offering a Raku Experience workshop during Lanesboro Area Art Trail weekends.  These workshops are targeted at folks with little or no pottery experience.  Each attendee will glaze a pre-made ornament, participate in the raku firing and take their ornament home that same day.

 More information is available by visiting the Raku Experience page on this blog.  Click HERE
 

June Woodfiring – Unloading

Wow – it’s been a while huh?  Realized I hadn’t posted the results from my woodfire in late June so I’m getting all caught up. 🙂

When we closed up the kiln at the end of the firing, I knew we wouldn’t be unloading for quite a while since our grandkids were coming to visit and we wanted to wait to do the unloading while they were here.  


Once my helpers were here, we were able to get this kiln unloaded and see all the fun things inside.


Here are a few of my favorites

 


This firing had lots of great ash action especially those things closest to the fire box.  This mug turned out super gorgeous, but was unfortunately very stuck to the shelf.  It’s currently on my seconds table due to the amount of grinding needed to free it. 

All in all, it was a wonderful firing and I was so fortunate to be able to unload when I had such great help available. 

June Woodfiring

A few years ago, we were younger and more naive woodfiring.  We fired the kiln over the weekend that followed the 4th of July.  It ended up being a very hot, humid weekend with no breeze made so much worse by the fact that we were standing in close proximity to the kiln as it reached it’s peak temp the same time the day reached it’s peak temp.  After that firing we vowed to never fire in July again.  


Now a few years down the road, we are older and wiser in our woodfiring practices.  We’ve adjusted our firing schedule so we encounter the top temp of the kiln through the night to take advantage of the cooler air temps.  A large barn fan has become a wonderful breeze in the kiln shed on days when nature isn’t providing one.  And by keeping our firings to primarily spring and fall of the year we avoid the super cold of Minnesota winters and the hot, humid days of Minnesota summers.  

So what was I thinking when I scheduled a firing for the last weekend in June??? Isn’t that pretty much the same as July???  Anyway…

 For the most part the firing went well.  There were some unusual happenings but overall, I feel really good about the anticipated results.  

We experienced torrential rains, then sunshine and humidity, and back to the rains again through the entire firing.  We lost power for approximately 3 hours during the night and had to use a collection of solar lights from the garden as the only light (other than the firebox of course) in the kiln shed.  The following morning was beautiful.  And we finished just before another storm blew in to start the days downpour/sunshine rotation all over again.  


Can’t wait to unload and see how everything looks.

Done

Even with a short power outage just when I was ready to start a bisque firing, I managed to get a couple rhubarb leaf platters complete for the upcoming Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro Minnesota.  

Normally, it takes me several weeks to see the end results of projects I’ve started, but this time it worked out really well that I had nearly a kiln load of stuff already complete and could just sneak these platters into that load and get them done in just one week.  

The festival is tomorrow and hopefully, these platters will find new homes then.  But I’ll definitely be making more.  In addition to the green they are glazed in, I painted a stripe of raspberry glaze into the vein indentations to give them a little different color.  Was hoping for a little of the red color to show, but it’s more a darker blue/green.  Still worked out nicely.

Have a great weekend all.

Under Pressure

Next week, I’m participating in Rhubarb Festival in Lanesboro Minnesota mostly to promote the upcoming Lanesboro Area Art Trail.  One of the requriements of being a vendor at Rhubarb Festival is that your product be in some way related to rhubarb.  Hmmm… 

I have a green glaze that is similar in color to rhubarb, my bowls work excellent to hold cut up rhubarb and my tall vases work great as a display for rhubarb stems & leaves.  But that didn’t seem like enough of a tie to rhubarb to me, so today I’m working on some serving plates that are definitely rhubarb themed.  

Now to get them made, dried, fired and glazed by next weekend.  It’s definitely possible.     

Have a great weekend all.

It’s a Wrap

Ahhhh… sitting with my feet up just basking in the feeling of having a big event behind me.

Yesterday was the last day of our annual Bluff Country Studio Art Tour.  While the event is just one weekend, we’ve managed to make it into a multi-week event here at the studio.  You know how it gets – it starts out a simple thing and then you gradually keep making it more and more and before you know it… it’s taking up several weeks of your life.  But I love it!!  It’s the kick off to our summer sale season so worth starting out big, right?

The weekend before the tour, we fired to wood kiln so it could be opened during the tour with a kiln opening and pizza party.  It’s always fun to be able to share the pleasure of opening a kiln and the surprise and wonder discovering what is found inside.  

So, on Saturday evening, with the help of a great group of friends, we unloaded the kiln fired the previous weekend and it was fabulous to see the results.  The firing was longer than usual and the results were wonderful.  The occasional peek inside while it was cooling did not do this load justice.  

 
Here are some photos of a few of my favorites.

Ok – no more time for basking.  It’s time to get back to work again.  Be well.  Have a great week.

The Morning After…Woodfiring

It’s the morning after a woodfiring.  I’ve gotten a good nights sleep, my morning caffeine, the second coating of lotion on my heat dried skin, assessed the injuries incurred during firing and gotten a second round of Ibuprofen into my system.  Just an hour away from being right as rain.  🙂

Having now completed our 11th firing I feel like we’ve arrived at a process that works well for us.  Instead of doing everything in one four day weekend, we’ve spread the tasks out a bit.  One weekend I glaze everything I think will fit in the kiln and then some.  The following Friday is spent wadding the pots and loading the kiln.  Then after a good nights sleep, Saturday morning the kiln is lit and we  fire into mid-day Sunday.  The weekend after that we unload.  



It’s a lot of work but so worth it.  Today, I’ll be loading a glaze load in the electric kiln to get one more load done for the the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour next weekend.  I’m a potter, it’s what we do – always have one more load to get done before something. 

Have a great week. 

ps – 
Peeking in the wood kiln will begin on Wednesday and it will be unloaded on Saturday evening during our kiln opening party.

A Fun Challenge

Yesterday Glynnis Lessing posted this video on her Facebook encouraging followers to try out the technique on their own. 


Harlan House RCA – Canadian potter at the throwing wheel. from Harlan House on Vimeo.

At the end of my time throwing today, I had about 5 pounds of clay left, so I figured I’d give it a try.  It’s not as big as the one made in the video but it seemed to work pretty well for me.   Since I didn’t have a throwing stick or dowel, I ended up using the handle of my long handled sponge. This was a great challenge and I hope to try this technique again in the next couple weeks. 

Give it a try.

Turquoise Glaze Test

A couple weeks ago, I mixed up a small batch of a glaze I’ve been meaning to try for a while.  I’ve had a great cone 10 Turquoise glaze really wanted to have something similar looking for cone 6 electric. Yesterday I ran the electric kiln and had a chance to run some tests tiles to see how the glaze performed.  

The test tiles seemed to turn out pretty well, but the glaze on this test mug didn’t see to do as well. The mug is made from a white cone 6 stoneware, where as the test tiles are buff stoneware coated with white slip.  I’ll need to test this glaze further to see if I can isolate why the mug bubbled so badly and the tiles didn’t.  
Something to working on tomorrow I guess.  Have a great week.

Little Shop In Dover

Last Sunday, I dropped off pottery at a fun little shop in Dover Minnesota called Simple Soaps for Simple folks.  the owner of the shop Shanna and I met a couple years ago and I’ve greatly enjoyed occasionally having my pottery in her shop.  

If you find your self in southeastern Minnesota, I encourage you to top by the shop, check out Shanna’s soaps and all the other gorgeous crafts items she has for sale.  You might even find a great new piece of pottery you just gotta have.   

To follow simple Soaps for Simple Folks on Facebook click HERE

When The Fortune Cookie Speaks…

you should listen!!

So… after leaving my full-time job at the beginning of the year, I’ve been working part-time as a contractor for my former employer until they have a new hire in place.  With the additional studio time I’ve had available I’ve been busy making lots of the pieces that potters sell lots of – cups, mugs, bowls, baking dishes, those kinds of things. And while there is always a touch of creativity in them for the most part they don’t feel like a creative task to me.  

At the end of my work week yesterday, I was in a little funk, feeling like I really needed a creative kick in the pants and should take a break from the inventory building phase I’ve been in to do a few more creative pieces for a while. Of course I didn’t get right into that and instead decided on getting take out from a local Asian restaurant.

Apparently… the universe thinks I should be spending my studio time more creatively too.  Today’s activities will including finishing up the things I already have on drying boards, yoga, grocery shopping and then back in the studio for some creative work.

Hope you have a creative day as well. 

Firing With Friends

My friend Colleen Riley of Eureka Pots has been working on developing some cone 6 glazes to compliment her existing cone 10 soda line of glazes.  Since I had a cone 6 firing planned earlier this week, I invited Colleen to throw some of her tests in with my firing.  She’s got some great glazes in the works, and its going to be really difficult for her to narrow it down. 

Colleen reviewing her results



Berry bowls have been on my to do list lately so I had several in this kiln load as well as some mugs.  Ya can never have enough mugs.  

Have a great day.

Glazing Day

I’ve been throwing lots of pots lately, which I bisque and then store up to glaze just before spring sales start.  I do, however, have a couple orders I need to get out of here soon, so I decided to run a couple glaze firings through the electric kiln next week.  


Pots have been cleaned, the bottoms waxed and now it’s time to start glazing.  Hoping to run the first load on Monday.  

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

The Devil is in the Details

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “the devil is in the details” is derived from an earlier phrase “God is in the details” but generally it means details are important.

When I’m low on inventory or need to produce a larger body of work, I’m sometimes tempted to not spend as much time on details as I’d like.  With a greater amount of time to create pottery in 2014, one of my many goals is focusing on and refining details

Here is a collection of photos of details from past pots. 

Frozen Pots

As some of you may have read yesterday, anything freezable in my studio was frozen when I woke up.  The door had been left open and the heater couldn’t keep up with the -20F temps outside.

I had a lot of ware on drying boards and was a little concerned with how it might deal with freezing and then thawing again. So far, the bowls I’d thrown the day before seem to be doing well.  I trimmed them up today and though I’d planned to carve their rims, I decided to just leave them uncarved instead of putting more time into them just in case they did have some problem that hadn’t shown up yet.  

I also had a couple dozen mugs in two different shapes on drying boards.  They had been trimmed and handled a few days ago and were covered in plastic to slow dry.  When I first checked them yesterday they had significant ice crystals that had formed on them.  

frozen mug

Today, I checked them again and most of them are doing OK, but I notice several had developed fissures in the clay.  And I think it’s only on this one style of mug.  The other rounder, fuller shapes so far aren’t exhibiting any of these fissures. The clay is still soft enough I can work these fissures out with my thumb, but I’m pretty sure they will return once it is fired. 

fissures after mug thawed and began to dry


Anyway, while I don’t think this is something I’d ever intend to do, it has been a great learning opportunity on what happens when water is forced out of clay under freezing conditions.  And of course an excellent reminder to make sure the door is tightly closed before going to bed.  Just goes to show, we’re never too old to learn.  

Be well.  And make sure your doors are closed!!