Still waiting

Here’s a fun little ewer from my last firing

It hasn’t been a really productive week for me in the studio. I did manage to get most of my kiln repairs completed, but am still waiting for the new vent I ordered. Due to a mix-up with the order it probably won’t be delivered until early next week, so I won’t get the kiln all back together until later in the week. During my wait for parts, I’ve filled all my shelves and spare tables with green, bisque and glazed ware (as well as kiln sections). My kiln shelves have a nice white coat of kiln wash waiting to be put to use. I’d hope to get some of the stuff that is sitting fired and ready for my upcoming art tour next weekend, but that doesn’t sound too realistic right now.

On the positive side, it was a beautiful Spring Minnesota day with lots of sun and 70 degree temperatures. This evening as it cools, the neighbors have an oak fire in the back yard that smells great. I’m all caught up on my paper and computer work, ready for a weekend of glazing.
Remember to stop in and see me during the Bluff Country Art Tour next weekend. Be well

One thing after another…

My husband is rarely home when I leave home. He’s an earlier riser and beats me out the door everyday. Yesterday he didn’t. I left before him. And hit his vehicle as I backed out of the garage. I didn’t even look for anything behind me, because I’m so used to not having to. Big sigh and head shake. Stupid, stupid, stupid. That will teach him for sleeping in.

Later that day, while running a glaze load, I realized my kiln was running way behind in the firing schedule. After watching it much more closely for a little bit I discovered that one of the elements wasn’t working and it didn’t appear this load would make its temperature. Now that its cool and I unloaded the very under fired glaze ware, I can see the very obvious failure of the element. See the dark spot on the element? It is broken there.


I’ve had a few other kiln maintenance items I’ve wanted to do, so this is a good time to get to them. I ordered up replacement elements, thermocouples, and element holders as well as peep hole plug since I’ve broken two of the three. Now its just time to wait until the parts arrive so I can put everything back together.

Since I have stacks of green ware, bisque ware and now under fired glaze ware sitting around everywhere (my studio space is small), I thought I’d mix some glazes I’m getting low on instead of making more ware to sit around waiting for a functional kiln. I’d purchased all the chemicals I needed months ago anticipating a time when glazes would need to be replenished. Or did I?? Both glazes I started were missing one ingredient. So… now their both sitting incomplete waiting for more chemicals to arrive. I’ll keep the UPS man busy this week.

I’m hesitant to start anything else so I thought I’d write this post and take the rest of the day off. Tomorrow is another day and maybe more things will work out then.

Thanks for visiting – Be well.

Studio Happenings


I haven’t been feeling so good for the last couple weeks so today was really my first opportunity to get some work done in the studio. Over the past couple months; I’ve bisque fired hundreds of pieces. Today, I began glazing and still have a long way to go.


A customer who has several horses asked me to make a collection of horse hair raku pieces using hair from their horses. The new house they are building has a perfect niche to feature this collection. I haven’t done any raku in several years, so it’s a very exciting diversion from what I’ve been working on lately. Here is a photo of several of the pieces I threw today. I still have three more to throw tomorrow to complete the collection.




This winter has been a productive time for me getting many of the items I’ll sell this summer thrown. Soon they’ll be glazed and then I look forward to working on some larger, more creative pieces. Cleaning the studio wouldn’t hurt either, but that’s not much fun so it’s easy to put off.

Thanks for stopping by. Visit again soon.

I’m a Wimp!

My less than stellar progress this week in the studio is mostly because I’m a wimp. I hate the cold. I can get past temps in the 20’s and get lots done. But below 0 and I’m toast. I just want to curl up on my couch with my blanket and hot chocolate. No way, no how, am I going out in the studio (a well heated space that is often warmer than our house when the kiln is running) to do anything.

It’s was -30 °F this morning here in the frozen north. That’s said “30 below” not “negative 30” if you’re not from a place that see temps like that.

The weatherman says we’re going to see a warm up the next couple days so I’m looking forward to that and getting back in the studio away from my blanket and hot chocolate (my butt doesn’t need much more of that). It’s supposed to get to around 30°F this weekend which will be a 60° warm up and it will still be below freezing. Minnesotans are pretty hardy folks, but this is ridiculous.

Tall Vase

One of my customers ordered a tall vase to go into a tall angled space she has in her new home. She’s been very patient, so today I worked on something I think will go very well with the other pieces she’s purchase to fill this angled space. The vase shown is approximately 20″ tall. I’m letting it firm up a bit before trimming and finishing the top. It’s a huge patience test to let it get firm enough yet still be able to work the rim. When it’s done, it will be glazed in a glossy black with beige accent around the bottom. I may do some additional texturing around the base of the neck where I’ve left a small ridge of clay. I haven’t decided yet, and since I have to let it firm up for a while, I’ve got some time to decide. The piece has an interesting shape and I enjoyed the challenge of the tall form.

Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve got three more sales left this season and I’ve been busy getting things ready for the remaining sales and completing orders from previous sales.

My last post had a photo of a square plate I’d done a slip trail design on. Well, here’s the same plate all glazed up. The glaze is a rust color where it’s thinner over the slip and a soft cream color where it’s thicker.

Textured Edge Platter

I’ve been working on some large rectangular platters with a textured edge. After rolling the slabs of clay and shaping them with a plaster mold, I use a loop tool to create the edge texture by removing shallow strips of clay around the entire platter. When glazed, the glaze is thicker in the low spots and thinner in the high spots giving the edge amazing color variations. It’s a simple way to add interest to an otherwise ordinary large flat piece.

Pots for Aromatherapy

My friends at Now and Zen Healing Arts in Lakeville, Minnesota asked if I could make some aromatherapy items they could offer to clients. I’ve been working on some designs for aromatherapy diffusers, both reed diffusers and candle diffusers. Here is a picture of one of several reed diffusers I made today drying on the deck railing. I’ve also been working on a design for a neti pot which is used for nasal irrigation. If you have any healing art needs, please pay my very talented friends at Now and Zen a visit.

Splitting rocks

This weekend I made bowls as I’m running a little low on my inventory of bowls. I’ve shown that here before, so nothing new there.
But what my hard working roadie did was a lot more interesting. He is splitting large limestone slabs to be used to build a retaining wall at the studio. He uses a hammer drill to drill holes in the slabs and then pounds some wedges into the holes using shims to separate the slabs into multiple pieces. It’s pretty cool. Then he moves the smaller pieces (still several hundred pounds) to the other side of the vegetation (weeds) in the background where the wall is being built. The wall will hold the flat spot we’ve (Kevin) graded for a shed to house a kiln.

Finished texture

A while ago, I posted a photo and explanation of one of the ways I textured clay to make my pottery. The photo showed a cob of corn being used to prepare a slab of clay which was being made into a serving plate. Well, here is what the texture turns out like after it is glaze fired. It’s very interesting when used with a glaze that breaks over the texture making different colors where the glaze gets thinner. In the upper center of the photo, the glaze is thinner, near the lower left corner the glaze is thicker and you can see the difference in how the texture appears. The glaze color is called Cream Rust because of the colors it produces where thick or thin. The variations provide a great deal of interest to a piece.

The day before

The day before glazing day is waxing day. As I’ve mentioned before, I produce pottery like many potters, in cycles. First throwing, followed by trimming/altering, bisque firing, waxing, glazing and glaze firing. Yesterday was waxing day. Prior to being glazed, any area of a pot I don’t want glazed receives a light coating of wax. When pots are dipped in the glaze buckets, the wax resists the coating. This is especially important for the bottoms of pots which will rest on the kiln shelf as if they were glazed the glaze would fuse the pot to the shelf. And a mug that’s attached to a kiln shelf isn’t very useful. Wax resist is also useful in decorating pottery by either leaving a portion unglazed or when putting a coat of a different color over a first layer and I want part of the first layer to not be covered.

I’m very grateful for our warming weather and sunny skies right now because it allows me to make use of several long sections of deck railing, as shown in this photo, to dry the waxed pots before moving to the next step of the process.

Texture

Texture adds interest to a pot. A variety of different things can be used to add texture, it’s really only limited by your imagination. In this photo I’ve used a dried cob of field corn to texture a slab before using it to make a serving plate. A few of the other things used frequently in my work is a piece of carpet runner, the grinder from a pencil sharpener, rope around a closet rod and embossed wallpaper. Each adds its own uniqueness and it’s fun to try different things to see the effect.

Large platters

Today I spent making a collection of 16″ platters. Some turned out better than others but generally, I’m very pleased with all of them. My muscles sure hurt at the end of the day, but I think it was worth it. They’ll be gorgeous when they’re glazed.

Plates

A close family member and friend has been waiting patiently for a set of dinner plates to go with the bowls and tumblers he’s already gotten. I’m sure he will be pleased to know that after this plate (and several others in this kiln load) there is only one left to make it through the process. Here’s a picture of the bowls too.

Large

Throwing large things is kind of tricky. Especially when the clay is really wet as mine is now. I did manage to make this bowl by being patient and using a heat gun to keep the clay from becoming saturated with water and sagging. Throwing more large pieces is another one of my goals for the year. I hope my next batch of clay isn’t as wet and I can make larger pieces without needing the heat gun as much.

Glazing Day

Today was glazing day. For several weeks I make pottery, bisque firing as I have a full kiln load. And then when I’ve probably got three or four bisque loads stockpiled, I spend a day or two waxing the foot rings and glazing everything. The kiln gets loaded and the first glaze load starts to make its way up to Cone 6 (approx 2165 degrees F). Most of what gets glazed doesn’t fit in the first glaze firing but there will be several more over the next two weeks. What doesn’t fit gets stacked, wrapped and stored to see how it fits in the next firing. I’ve mentioned this before, but glaze firings are like Christmas. I can’t wait to throw the kiln door open and see how everything turned out. Now I patiently (my husband would argue with this point) wait until Monday to see which piece is the prize of this load. Check back to see what beauties emerge.

Good Example of a Bad Example

It’s a major no no to open the kiln when it’s running. But I can’t help sneaking a peek at the pots while they are firing. This photo was at just over 1500 deg F. The pots are just starting to glow from the heat. A bisque load like this will fire for about 13 hours to Cone 04 (around 1900 deg F). After that it will take about 24 hours to cool back down to room temperature. At that point the kiln can be unloaded. The pieces will be glazed and fired again. The second firing (glaze firing) is the real patience test for me. The entire time the kiln is running, I’m wondering how each piece will turn out. I’ve gotten smarter though, I start the firing so it’s too hot to peek at when I go to bed at night, I have to get to work in the morning so I can’t peek and by the time I get home from work, it’s ready to unload. Unloading the glaze firing is a lot like Christmas for a kid. Ya can’t wait to see what inside the big shiny box.

Necessary Evil

I unloaded a load of bisqueware from the kiln today and realized my kiln shelves are in need of some TLC. Kiln wash is great stuff, but still doesn’t take the place of regular shelf care. Cleaning shelves has to be my least favorite task in creating pottery. But’s its gotta be done. So I scraped the old kiln wash (along with countless glaze spatters) off and applied a nice new coat of kiln wash to the shelves. They look so great all cleaned and newly protected. If only it would last. Shortly, I’ll have a new batch of glaze spatters. Experimenting with glazes is fun, but sometimes it’s the shelves that pay the price. Or is it me since I’m really the one that will have to clean them ultimately anyway? Hmmm.

Yummy

I wanted to make some cards to go with my garlic roasters and wanted to use a photo of a roasted garlic bulb on the front of the cards. So this afternoon I roasted garlic, filling the house with the wonderful aroma. The photos turned out good too. They’ll make nice professional looking cards explaining how to use the garlic roasters. Might need to make something similar for the butter keepers too as I sometimes see people looking confused about how to use them.

Empty Bowls

I was recently contacted by the Rosemount High School Art Teacher regarding an Empty Bowls event their students were holding. They were in need of bowls to be used as part of this fundraising event for hunger programs. I greatly appreciate being included in this worthwhile event and dropped bowls off at the school today. Good luck on the event.