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Monday, August 29, 2011

All Right! First Glaze Firing!

Due to my recent move I spent the weekend kiln firing rather than fighting Hurricane Irene! Very thankful it was not as bad as it was hyped up to be...thats usually the case. Hopefully everyone fared as well as my friends and family!

I recently ordered some new glazes......slowly one at a time I am getting these 5 gallon buckets. I am so grateful that I can just dip! I HATE HATE HATE HATTTTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE glazing so being able to just dip is SO AMAZING! On top of that, I put together this mixer and wow......I highly recommend it! Usually on glaze mixing day, I spend most of it laying in bed waiting for my arms and back to stop throbbing. This day I spent the afternoon making work! Here it is in action:


And heres my first nice bowl from the new studio. Something very very gratifying about making big bowls!

Goblets and (espresso) shot glasses! Thats the bark carving I've been loving. The mugs with this carving are very fun too! I think it fits with the Colorado vibe. People here love natural things, like trees!

Some new glazes in action......

 Proof of test tiles! I've only done this once in my life, in the class this summer. The inspiration from that convinced me to go ahead and do it again since I've got some new glazes, very worthwhile! Found some cool ones and some that I thought would have been cool weren't. So nice to have a jumping point for future work!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh Colorado!

So MFS Ceramics is slowly getting going again. A lot of changes have taken place.

First of all, getting used to the Colorado air has been .....challenging. DRY AIR. For the love of all things cute and cuddly puppies, will I ever learn that everything is ready to trim about ...2 seconds after you throw it? I mean its not 2 seconds but if you leave something not totally covered overnight, its almost always too dry to trim the next day. Its made for some frustrating days!

Second, I got a Giffin Grip! It is amazing but I just wish everything was tighter. It holds but I feel like for the pieces that are not totally centered, they like to wobbly obbly a little bit. Still a great thing to have and trimming bowls has been nothing but magic.

Third, my style is evolving by leaps and bounds. I was focused on making nature and tree inspired work which has been really fun and I should continue in this direction. I've also started what I am calling mod-esque. Big exaggerated shapes and strange alterations! Both are challenging. Once you start creating a style you can't just throw whatever. I'd really like to be able to sit down and say today I am throwing things that look like trees or today I am throwing things that look like IKEA. Some might say this is a bad idea but I'm going for it!

Last, I was lucky to score an awesome part time job which allows me to also pursue ceramics, Never thought it would happen again after graduate school but apparently I have really good karma. No idea where it comes from.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Potters are People!

Colorado has a different vibe from other places. It really is a people place. People like other people here. A lot. I believe my work will sell simply because people like me. Which certainly happened before but apparently it happens with strangers here. I was asked to participate in a "Perfectly Imperfect" sale next weekend in essence, because I am a lot of fun to be around. I'll flipping take it! My first sale out here!

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures but it just seems weird in a class to take pictures of work in progress. I finished the fish monster vase and am waiting to glaze it after I know how some glazes turn out. .....basically I am actually doing test tiles. Something is seriously out of whack here....!

I also have started branching out and learning new techniques. Well, actually my wonderful teachers have been demonstrating new things and inspiring me to try them as well. Which at first was a challenge, but I've had fun incorporating it in my work. We have done stamping, screen printing, sgrafitto(?), and slip trailing. Awesome! Trees have also become a big part of my work, maybe because I've been having so much fun doing this:

Now its off for a morning of rock climbing and an afternoon of mountain biking! All inspiration for my work!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Coming in August 2011....


Some really cool guy in Louisville, CO is renting out an extra bedroom and an entire flipping room in his garage for lets just say, a really good price. The house is rustic with some pretty retro features but absolutely perfect for a nice inspiring place. A nice patio, a nice sunroom, a private clawfoot tub, a wood heater, an owl's nest, I'm thinking my pottery is about to head in a very awesome direction!

Life is Colorado is amazing, I feel like everyday I wake up and despite the abnormal amount of stress I am under, I feel like I live in this really great fairytale.

I am taking a class at the Boulder Potters Guild which is awesome because one instructor has a great personality and the other one is actually the older version of me. Apparently you can be a cyclist, have a job, have kids(even as a single mom), and be a potter.

The new stress of a demanding job has manifested itself in the form of vibrant designs and creatures in my work. My mugs are all carved almost to the point of destruction and I am in the process of turning what is probably the best vase I have ever thrown in one piece into a monster fish. And I am loving. every. second!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The last post before Colorado?

So I keep saying I am so busy and can't get in the studio blah blah blah.....gosh it is so true!

Saturday was my last day throwing, today was the last day trimming! Tomorrow I will participate in a some glazing! The past 3 months have been interesting, it has been great to have seen so much improvement and had so much fun! Ive been trying to make bottles since I first started throwing and could never really do it. Finally made this guy. Hes actually fairly light and though not big, I think its a nice shape. Start small, then get bigger!

I also started working with the bicycle chain. Its tough to find a way to get the pattern deep enough to show up in the glaze firing. Maybe I should use a clear glaze? Seems the rustic cyclist type might like being able to see the clay...maybe if I did it with red clay! Oh I wish I had more time!

Its also a bigger shape so it can be used as a beer mug. Apparently cyclists love their beer in Colorado. Did I mention I'm moving there? Where the wind whispers in your ear and the wilderness is only a hop and skip away?

I also had a request from my dad, aka, number one fan and critic to make 4 matching mugs with sea horses. If you have never looked for a mini seahorse to make a plaster mold of, it is insanely hard. Even in a coastal town, I was unsuccessful. So the first picture is where I actually threw 6 similar shaped mugs. 3 months ago I would throw 10 mugs to try and get 2 matching ones. (improvement is a really great thing)

The other picture is the drawn design. These guys will eventually be glazed with a blue green mixture.

Hopefully you like these dad!
In 6 days I leave for Boulder. I am planning on taking a pottery class this summer at the Boulder Potter's Guild. They wont return my phone calls so I'm just going to send a check and show up for class! I also think I might take a woodworking class. My new 10 year plan involves the ability to hunt and live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no use for modern technology. This is going to be so fun!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Milestone!

For the first time EVER, I opened up a glaze firing to find out that everything is not only usable, but SELLABLE. Didn't really ever think it would happen. But it did! So here is the load and some pieces. My kiln is small so that somewhat takes away from the accomplishment but oh well! It makes me happy!

Its been interesting to read the MFA debate about whether it prepares artists for the real world or not. In a way its made me thankful that pottery for me is a hobby and its nice that sometimes I can sell what I would have made anyway to go towards real life expenses such as MOVING TO COLORADO. Its nice that I have the freedom to make what I want, whenever I want and don't feel directed by any market other than my own heart and soul! Gosh that was cheesy and I know I would probably jump at the chance to make a living as a potter but for now, its been a great escape from the stress of everyday life!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Etsy Sale and the Start of Cycling Season

The last glaze firing was an effort in patience. I patiently waxed each piece and made sure there were no drips or unwaxed spots. I also glazed very slowly and then took the time to wipe each bottom dry and took care not to touch anything until the glaze was dry. actually paid off!!!!!

Most of what came out of the kiln found itself directly onto Etsy! A mug sold hours after posting. I now know what glaze everyone is after, many of my friends really like the same thing. Luckily, I have a lot of it left! Here is the mug that sold:

Sadly, the kitchen utensil holder has a crack in it, but I decided to list my first seconds piece and put it on Etsy anyway since it doesn't change or hurt its function, or its beauty. I wish I knew where the quote was from so I could credit them, but an artist said they like imperfection because you can tell a human made it. So. True.

A few goblets also came out well. Some cracked where the foot is attached but I believe this is a function of adding the foot when the top part is too dry. Timing is everything. Learning this slowly, but learning it nonetheless.

Ahhh, and my other non work related love, CYCLING. I race bicycles and at many points in my life I have daydreamed about going pro. Now its one of those things where I want to train and put my all into it, but if I never make it to the pros I won't feel like a failure. My cycling buddy blames it on being too content with life. Trying to decide if being content with life is a compliment when settling in life is such an insult. I imagine if I stopped ceramics and put more effort into being rested for training and training, I would be a much better cyclist. I also imagine that if I stopped cycling and put all my effort into art, I would be a much better artist. Is it better to be content with both or really successful at one or the other? I could also try harder to win the lottery because I suspect if I did not have to work, I probably could do both. I keep playing but my numbers just never seem to come up......!

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. " -Henry David Thoreau

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wow, this is the longest and most drawn out post ever!

Whew! Another rough week, looking forward to the end of the semester and GRADUATING!

Several really awesome things happened this week in the world of MFS Ceramics. The first being selling 3 vases to a TOTAL STRANGER on Etsy. I know this is what happens on Etsy but my other two sales were to people I know and well, when its someone you don't know, they really are just buying it because they like it. And  if you can't get excited about things then what is the point???!!!!! So I did some serious packaging and off they went!

I also learned that if I make mugs in smaller groups, I can really spend some time on the handles and not try to rush through. Here are two pictures of some mugs I am a fan of. (I know I am SUPPOSED to like my work but any artist knows that usually you are your own worst critic.) So check these puppies out!

I am still enjoying carving on pieces. I was pretty happy with these two handles as well. Ceramics is so much about timing. Trimming the piece at the right time, letting pulled handles dry for the right amount of time before attaching, just letting things dry out in general......!

I started making some wide low vases as well. Its a fun form to make and I am a big fan of cooking and storing cooking utensils in pretty things in the kitchen. Other than my Aunt Sally's work, my only handmade ceramic piece is by Tom Hoffman. He left a really awesome vase in my school's studio and my professor told me I could have it. Now it sits on the counter holding every cooking utensil you could ever imagine. So maybe other people like this practice too? Guess we will find out.

Here is my second attempt at making a pretty kitchen utensil holder. The first one is what I would put in the group of "looks like a 4th grade art project." This one is more like 7th or 8th grade.

And in the reclaim battle update, I am totally winning! I am down to about 25 lbs of reclaim in the bin and have used almost all of my wedged reclaim. Trying to get all the clay used and first before I move. Look how great the weather was here this week! And my great studio work table!

I did two glaze firings this week. I know I only have a handful of readers but I wonder if they ever look and wonder what happens to all those great pieces. I post pictures of greenware only to never be seen again. You know what happens to them...GLAZING. Glazing and I don't get along very well and I tend to mess up a lot of pieces. Like handles though, I will probably get tired of messing my pieces up and eventually decide to slow down and let my perfectionism rage before the pieces go into the kiln and not after when I end up refusing to let anyone see them. Here is my desk of pieces acceptable for selling! Etsy should get an update tomorrow!

Notice that chip and dip platter back there?! First successful one! In celebration, I leave you with a picture of the best studio mascot ever!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jars, and Updated Etsy!

 Oh the Spring time! Thank goodness! No longer freezing in my garagio!  In celebration of pushing myself to become a better potter, I have delved into the world of things other than mugs and bowls. I can tell I have grown as a potter because when I first made lidded jars 3 years ago, they looked nothing like this. Imagine the most unappealing blob shape you can and then imagine some sort of strange flat saucer orbiting around the top somewhere.As you can see, these certainly have ample room for improvement, but the lids fit for the most part. I'd like to work on some new decorating techniques to add some "umph" so that is coming. Sometime in the next 5 weeks before I move my entire life to Boulder.

 Here is one my attempts at decoration. I'm hoping the glaze will kind of smooth it over, without eliminating it. I've actually started thinking about different glazes while I make the piece rather than as an afterthought. Slow, thoughtful contemplation will create beautiful pieces. Must.....Work....On....This! I'm also working on getting a lip that really holds that lid in place. The one on the left is what I'm really going for. Ever been walking with something and the top slides off and shatters to the floor? Its always a bummer!

And here is one of the 6 vases I made in my class at Fat Cat. It was so nice to have so many glaze choices! It seems to make sense to become a member to have access to glazes. Oh if only money grew on trees!

Also updated the Etsy site this morning! 

Time to go hit the studio! And then the beach with friends! I feel so very very blessed to have the great friends that I do! :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Real Sized Goblets, Jars, and a Spider!

 Check out this little guy hiding in my studio. Wonder what kind he is, hopefully not poisonous!

Working has been tough this week, school has picked up and that fire that makes me want to win every single bike race ever has started burning. This basically means on days that I have tough workouts, I am practically useless afterwards. Yesterday I was lucky to get 3 jars trimmed and 6 goblets completed!

I am liking the jars. I can tell my throwing ability has improved because the lids match the bottoms and I only threw one for each. I used to throw about 5 lids for every bottom and simply hope that one might fit. Heres to hoping for no warpage in the firings!

 Those balls are the start of the bottom part of the Goblet. A classmate at school told me he wanted one. I honestly thought these would be beyond my ability. You have to throw in two pieces and both pieces have to absolutely be centered. So you start with the cup part, trim off the excess, and attach the little ball.
 Center the ball on the bottom of the cup, and tada! You can now create your pedastool!

This is my favorite one. Of the 6, I only like about 3. But 50% is pretty good for the first time around. Next set I might work on some more uniformity. Which is always a challenge!

Work is building up, I have been trying to get a variety of shapes and sizes to really pack a full kiln. Looks like I might be able to fill up two once all this work dries. Also considering getting some new glazes still...contemplation, contemplation, contemplation!

In other news, I found a place to live in Boulder! I will have a downstairs bedroom and living room with my own bathroom! That is crazy! Also, my dog will have other dogs to play with and a huuuuuge yard. And the people there seem pretty nice too! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chip and Dip Disasters and New Mugs!

The tragedy that is chip n dip platters. I've made three in the past couple of weeks, all three have significant defects. One must have dried uneven and by the time it came out of the kiln had a nice crack right in the middle. One had the dip part slide out from the big bowl and crack during the glaze firing. The last was the result of a poor glaze job! BAH!

So I am reattempting on two bowls this week. I really like these things and I want them to work!

So here I have moved the smaller bowl in slightly from the last one. I hope it is not too far in though! Only time will tell. I added some little coil braces underneath to help support it from falling in.
If you look closely theres some writing on my hand reminding me to bring in one of my mugs for my fellow GTAer Logan. Officially sold my second mug! All right!

So anyway, hopefully these coils will help. I did a second platter with the smaller bowl cut right through the middle of the wall of the big bowl with even more coils. Hoping its not too heavy. They are both wrapped up tightly right now to dry very very slowly.

I also threw 14 mugs on Friday and Saturday and those were ready for trimming last night. Never again will I leave that many mugs to add handles to all at once. I despise adding handles with a burning passion. BURNING. I do think I am getting better, they are looking cleaner and smoother but it takes! I did some decorations on a few which was actually really fun. Will probably see more of this!

Like I said in my last post I just like the way it feels! Like there is definitely something there!

I also wanted to make some cereal/coffee sets. Shummy!

Next week I get all my work from the Fat Cat Pottery class! 2 teapots, 6 small/medium vases, and 2 big bowls! It was great to have all the options for glazing. I am feeling antsy to add some new colors at home......!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Big bowls and mini goblets!

I made this big bowl which I knew I might not be able to trim but like I have said before, making big bowls is ohsoexciting! Here it is, leather hard, almost too big to fit on my wheel.

So I propped this puppy up on some clay balls....


Tada! I think those little undulations are from the clay balls but I straightened them out as best as I could, hopefully they won't be too noticeable once glazed and fired.

While in Colorado, I went to a lot of breweries and they all had these fun little beer tasting glasses. I think they would be really fun in clay so I started experimenting with these a little bit. Throwing small things is actually almost harder for me than large. Everything must be precise.

Originally I made two pieces, the bowl, and a pedestal.

Then I trimmed the bowl portion and connected them. But I also threw the foot onto one and I like the way that turned out, and I believe it was easier.

In this picture you can compare the two, I think it will be easier to get a clean form throwing the foot straight from the bottom. I've got about 50 lbs of fresh and ready reclaim clay that will go towards these. Not all 50 lbs though.....that would be about 125 glasses.

Lots of practice still needed but things are getting better. I threw 6 matching mugs in 30 minutes Saturday afternoon. But they still need to be trimmed and handled. Oh handling how I absolutely despise thee. Looking forward to adding some sort of pattern or stamping to them. There is nothing more satisfying than texture in your hand! Except maybe getting a job in Boulder. Which happened! Going to be a great summer!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I spent the last 5 days in Colorado, hence why there are no blog posts and I went almost a week without throwing anything!

Colorado was amazing. Everyone told me I would love it and I didn't doubt them, I just didn't really know how much the mountains would speak to me and whisper sweet nothings into my soul. I know it sounds cheesy, but so does everything great in life anyway. And check out this picture, I know its not just me, the mountains are GLOWING.

Here are my dad and brother. Gosh they are really great people for coming out. And they never once got tired of me saying, "Look at the mountains!" Which I may have said exactly 374 times in 5 days.

And here is a bigger picture of the area...look how high those runs are! It takes a freaking hour to get down! Not really, but it does take a lot longer than it does in North Carolina and I never went on anything other than a Green Run. There is one super chair that actually goes up to about 13,000 feet. That is really really high. Just in case you were wondering....

On the last day, we went to Boulder for my job interview and I discovered that 5 minutes from downtown Boulder lies this gem of a park. It was about 50 degrees and sunny downtown, but up here it was flurrying. Amazing.

So much nature and civilization all mixed together. I don't have any pictures of Denver but it was equally great. Even though I love the mountains and being in the middle of nowhere, I also like being surrounded by people and events. And everyone in Denver seems pretty great.

The decision to move to Colorado is a no-brainer. Some stuff will be stressful; trying to find a job, trying to get my house rented, trying to find new housing, just general moving....but ultimately I will be in a really great place. I imagine this is one of the only points in life where I'm not really tied down by anything. So why not!?

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."-Mark Twain

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MFS Ceramics has arrived!

Whew....this has been a pretty intense spring break. I have a history of intense spring breaks. Its always a balancing act of trying to get work done and also experience life to the absolute fullest extent possible...there is way too much Type A personality running through my veins.

First of all, I have things listed on Etsy! Along with the thousands and thousands of other potters! However, its there and available for the masses! I made my first sale last night. Granted, it was my cousin, but a sale is a sale and there is proof that someone will pay money for things I make! I was also super excited to know that the fees on Etsy are beyond reasonable. They scraped a mere $0.53 off a $15.00 purchase. Paypal gets $0.96 off a $22.00 transaction. Compared to the 15% that Amazon gets, this is pretty dang awesome. Here is the mug I will be figuring out how to package and send to Charleston today.

So that was the exciting part. Now I get to explain how it all came together! First of all, Tuesday night I was sure I somehow destroyed or sabotaged my kiln. A pretty steady stream of smoke was coming out of the top peephole so I shut everything off. Upon further investigation, I assumed it was something evaporating out of the glaze and turned everything back on and kept the firing going. I used Amaco PC Seaweed for the first time and put a pretty heavy coating on the inside of a big bowl and I think that could have done it. Thankfully when I opened the kiln the next morning, everything was fired, and nothing looked like it was having problems. Here is how the seaweed turned out:

There was also a fun undertaking of figuring out how to photograph these puppies. I went and bought a nice backdrop sheet which I think was well worth it. Originally I tried to set this up on a table but there was not enough room so I moved to the floor. Here is the set up (the dog plays a very important role in keeping good energy in the room):

A little fun fact about me is that I used to work in a portrait studio. I now realize why so many professional photographers adamantly detest these things. The one I was at had everything completely set up for me, the camera is even attached to a tripod which does not move. THAT was WAY easier than trying to set this up myself. But this will work for now, I know a few photographers here so if I ever get to the point of needing something higher quality, I know where to go!

Here are the two sets of mugs listed on Etsy.
And then my favorite...Love Bees!!!!
Tomorrow it is off to Colorado to figure out if I am really going to move there. Leave the studio I've set up, the friends I've made, the life I built here. Pretty scary but sometimes you've got to take risks for big payoffs!