Throwin’, throwin’, throwin’

That’s what I’ve been up to lately. Recently I’ve had a few custom orders to get done and that’s what I’ve been working on. The things I threw this weekend weren’t drying very quickly after a couple rainy days. So, on Sunday when it was finally sunny with moderate temps, I took a time away from the studio to spend a little time in the woods looking for some morel mushrooms.

I didn’t find any morels since ground foliage is mid-calf high making it nearly impossible to see them, but I did find some other fun things. Here are a few –

Not morels, but cool looking anyway

Jack in the Pulpit
Wild violets blooming

Art Tour Blog Feature

I’m the featured artist on the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour Blog. Click here to read the interview (must have been feeling a little chatty when I was writing the answers).

The 2011 Bluff Country Studio Art Tour will be held April 29 – May 1, 2011 and I can be found at the quaint stone school house called Grubtown School on Co Rd 12 southeast of Lanesboro. Check out the brochure and save the date on your calendar. I’d love to see you there.

Long Weekend

We almost always seem to have some sort of project to accomplish over the weekend and this long holiday weekend is no different. On our list of things to get done this summer after the wood kiln construction was construction of a mud oven. We wanted this mud oven to be in the kiln shed and on casters so it can be moved around and tucked out of the way while the kiln is in use. The photo above is the base for the mud oven.

On top of this will be a layers of leveling sand, insulating fire brick, and high temp brick to create the floor of the oven. Once those are in place, a dome of sand will be molded on top of the floor. Several layers of clay and other insulting material will be spread over the dome of sand to create an igloo shaped outer layer. Once the clay is set up enough to hold it’s shape, the sand is removed.

This oven will be perfect for the wonderful breads Kevin bakes as well as pizza or anything else we want to bake.
Photos of the next phase of oven construction will be posted as I have Internet access, maybe over the weekend but more than likely Monday.

Have a great holiday weekend.

Here’s a pottery photo just justify calling this a pottery blog.

What’s New These Days

“What’s up with Sue”, you ask. “She hasn’t posted anything new here in ages.”

Well, I’ve had a really busy August and finally feel like I can take a breath. My hubby and I went to our studio/farm/cabin in SE Minnesota for the long weekend. The weather was fabulous so we had a great time. Then last night we headed to Wisconsin to have birthday dinner with my son Zack. My baby turned 21 yesterday!! At 6’2″ he’s not really fond of being called my baby – can you tell by the scowl on his face?

Over the weekend I had an opportunity to work on a custom order that has been taking me longer than it should. A customer who previously ordered some horsehair raku pieces has placed another order. One of the reasons it has taken me a while to get to it was because raku clay is very different in color than my normal clay. The raku clay I use is very white while my standard clay is a red/toasty brown. So before I could start the raku pieces I had to clean everything I would use so the standard clay didn’t contaminate the raku. This is probably the cleanest my wedging table has been since it was installed several years ago. (I’m not much of a cleaner which is sometimes a sore subject at home)

Batts and tools also got a good cleaning because even the slightest dark clay could cause a funky shadow on the horse hair raku.

Here are the thrown pieces on drying boards. After drying they’ll be bisqued and then they’ll be ready to go through the raku process. It’s a very dramatic process as red hot pieces are removed from the kiln with large tongs. Horse hair is draped over the red hot pieces. The hair burns and leave a wiry pattern on the piece.

Maybe I’ll have a post with photos about the raku firing in the near future.
Be well.

Vacation Ends

My husband and I have been on vacation for the past week. Not traveling, but not going to our day jobs which is how any good vacation begins anyway. Even though we didn’t go to work each morning, we spent the time working really hard on other things. I delivered pottery to Clover Gallery in Harmony and then spent most of the rest of the week at our studio (Old Crow Studio) in southeastern Minnesota.

Early in the week we sealed the concrete slab in the kiln shed, which sounds pretty harmless. But I managed to get the sealer on my sandals, so rocks stuck to them and then got the sealer between my toes and the sandals so my feet were stuck to the sandals. Sometimes I forget not everything is as easy to wash off as clay. My toes still shine!

After that fun, we painted the studio. When we’d built it several years ago, the beige paint color we’d chosen was nearly identical to the primer that came on the siding so we could hardly tell where we’d painted. Now the paint and primer have aged and faded in the sun and you could see all the places we didn’t paint or have good coverage. So this time we chose a very different color. It was a lot of work, but I really like it. Of course this involved me getting paint on my toes and sandals (and just about everything else) again. Fortunately, that was the extent of complicated work for the week. Then it was throwing some pots, picking berries for jelly and breakfast at the Highland Store. We had a bumper crop of wild black raspberries this year. I could have picked for days, but one family can only eat so much jelly.

Tomorrow it’s back to the day jobs again to earn some cash.

Be well.

Art Tour Follow Up

Last weekend I participated in the Bluff County Studio Art Tour in Southeastern Minnesota. The tour is an annual event where area artists open their studios for visitor, providing demonstrations and sales of their works. Since the driveway to our place is pretty nasty in the unpredictable spring weather, I was fortunate the fun loving folks at Clover Gallery, Sharyl, Carol and Ralph, agreed to host my pottery display in their space. I was joined there by glass artist Suzanne Merkel of LaCrescent. The weekend weather was very cool and rainy, but I think that provided more traffic for the event since people couldn’t do things outside. If you can’t play in the sunny garden, what better way to make the most of a rainy weekend than traveling around visiting the areas artists?

This was my first time participating as an artist in the tour, so it was fun to be on the other side of the event. I was very impressed with the students from Austin Middle School’s Art Club who made the journey to visit many of the studios. The kids were very well behaved, seemed very interested in what the artists were demonstrating and had great questions. I commend their school district for allowing their students the day to attend. What a great learning experience! Here’s a picture of them as Suzanne discussed her glass works with them.

All in all, it was a very successful and fun weekend I look forward to doing again next year. I may even consider having it at our place since we are planning to have the driveway improvements done this summer. We’ll see.
Thanks for visiting – stop by again.

9th Annual Bluff Country Studio Art Tour – Revised images

Who’s tired of hearing about the economy?

I know I am and I’m betting you are too. So… no talk about the economy here. Actually, I’m suggesting an escape that will guarantee you don’t think about the economy or any of the negative, doom and gloom press that goes with it.

The 9th Annual Bluff Country Studio Arts Tour is the weekend of April 24 – 26, 2009 in the beautiful bluff country of southeastern Minnesota. The tour is a rare opportunity when artists open their studios to the public in an areas where the views are consider works of art. Below are images of the inside and outside of the tours brochures.

I’m artist #23, but can be found at Clover Gallery in Harmony, which is participant #22. In the spring, the driveway into our studio is usually pretty muddy so Clover Gallery has agreed to be my host. There will be demonstrations throughout the weekend at many of the locations. I’ll be working on the wheel outdoors if the weather cooperates, or demonstrating texturing techniques inside if it doesn’t.

Please come out to visit me and the many other talented artists participating in the tour while you take a pleasant drive in this historic area.

Out with the Old

Happy New Year everybody!

It’s a time of hope for what the New Year could bring and also a time of reflection. How did last year go? What went really well? What made it work? What could be improved? It’s time to close the books (literally and metaphorically) on 2008 and determine our course of action for the promising New Year.

In 2008, I worked harder at being a potter than I ever have in the past. In spite of poor economic conditions, my sales increased and I’ve added several new and valued customers. I started this blog and have found it and my Etsy shop to be valuable and enjoyable communication and sales tools. Some of my sales venues were better than others and I’ve decided I need to evaluate them on an effort vs. reward level for the upcoming year. For the most part, the goals I’d set for 2008 have been met and exceeded and I feel great about that.

My goals for 2009 have been formulating in my head for months. They include fairly typical goals for any small business. Stuff like, continued sales growth both in numbers and dollars, additional sales venues, attending an educational workshop, use of available technologies to make my job easier – the usual stuff. But one of my most anticipated goals is to get a shed and wood-fire kiln built at Old Crow Studio in the bluff country of SE Minnesota. I’ve been planning and saving for a long time and this summer I hope to accomplish this goal with the help of Master Kiln Builder, Donovan Palmquist.

Until construction season arrives here in the frozen north, I’ll pass my time writing blogs, applying to sales venues, updating my Etsy store and keeping my drying shelves well stock with just thrown pottery.

I hope you check back again to see what’s new here and how I’m doing on my 2009 goals.

Happy New Year to you.