Insta-updates

Monday, December 21, 2009

[finished work]

















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This one is not mine, but made by my Krystal.  Nice, eh?

This may be it for the year...

I spent about 40 minutes in the studio Saturday afternoon taking care of some odds and ends.  To be honest, Krystal was the most productive of the two of us as she went to town with some trimming:

Trimming like a champion.

All I did was move stuff to and from one shelf to another.  I've got some more stuff that needs to be glazed, and got some new pots out of the kiln.  I also found some time yesterday, while the sun was shining, to shoot some "official" pictures of my newer pots.  Which was nice, cause it seems like I don't get to enjoy a whole lot of sunshine lately.  I'm not a real photographer, so my "official" pictures aren't much better than the snapshots that usually end up here, but they are a little nicer.  So be on the lookout for those.

I think I'm signing out for the week now as well - I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas (if applicable) and a safe and happy New Year (which is almost universally applicable)!


Bisqued and ready to be glazed.

This one turned out better than the last.

These are a little more kitsch than I like to do, but it's for family.  That said, if you have need of a personalized pet dish, just let me know and I'll get on that for you.  In that case, Kitsch would be my middle name. 

And I'm just plain excited about these.

Beautiful.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Throwing

Wednesday into the studio - off to a bad start.  Came in to find new pots, or specifically the new mountain vase.  And I'm not pleased.  For my own reasons.  Anyhow, that put me in a sour mood to start, and affected the throwing a bit.



New Pots

I spent my first thirty minutes in the studio slightly miffed about this and that and as a result had several failed throws before I was able to move on to something more productive, which worked out alright.  These are mostly larger pieces, and if large is all I'm able to produce, I guess there are worse problems to have.  The vases have been coming quickly and with less trouble than ever before, and that's a plus.  Though I seem to be having a harder time with bowls lately.  Perhaps because the only bowls I can currently justify throwing are commissions requiring nontraditional (at least for me) shapes.  But as you can see below, I got this one to come out alright, too.


Large flared bowl - 16" across, 6" tall

Mid-Large vase.  Didn't measure it.  I think it's about 14" tall.

Bigger vase - plenty of clay to be trimmed out of the foot to shape for a more dynamic form.  This one's about 18" tall, I think.

These vases here aren't flawless - they're a little bit bottom-heavy, but not much, compared to where I was even a year ago, and that's exciting.  Both of these were thrown in one sitting, while I normally (used to) had to let them firm up a bit before really working on any shaping to the neck or rim.  So, baby steps. 

The other plus to these bigger pieces is that if I need to wrap them up tightly and leave them be for a week, I trust that I can come back to them and find them still workable (or at the very least, trimmable).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glazing and a new clay.

Sunday studio time again, with two pictures.  I spent most of my time glazing these pots:

With any luck they should be fired and ready to travel in time for the holidays.  Here's hoping, right?  While I was there, our VP Tom (whose duties include facilities/materials upkeep/inventory) asked me if I'd be willing to throw with a new clay he picked up at our supplier's while he was down there last week.  The clay in question is ^5 Red B-Mix, and the pots I threw can be seen below.




B-Mix, if you'll remember, is the super-throwable white clay I started using a couple months ago.  So when Tom asked me if I'd be willing to throw half a bag (~12 pounds), I was more than willing.  Mostly he wanted an alternative opinion on its throwability, as well as somebody willing to dome some glaze testing on it.  So here's four little vases, and I still have about four pounds left to go.  I'm not sure if I'll go back and do a couple vases, or a few little footless bowls. 

After four throws, my opinion is more-or-less positive.  The clay throws nicely, and as red clays go, doesn't stain too badly.  My hands were slightly reddened for most of the day, but I don't see any abnormal coloration today - something I wouldn't be able to say 36 hours after throwing with some of the other red clays the Guild stocks.  Unfortunately for Tom, what he really wanted from the Red B-Mix was a red-body clay that throws smoother than the others we have.  Which it does.  But not by much.

Traditional B-mix is a very fine clay, the slurry from throwing is silty at its worst, and it trims like butter.  The Red B-Mix, in addition to colorants, has a little grog added, and it was definitely noticable.  Not as bad a SB-Red or Santa Fe, but not even close to standard B-Mix.  And it seemed a little more coarse even than the Spec-Buff stoneware that I normally throw with.  Which could be wrong, but it's just my take on it.  So that's my review of the Red B-Mix, and that's it for today.

I will be in the studio once or twice more this week and should have plenty of new pots to shoot and show before I take some time off for the holidays.  Not that I wouldn't love to spend Christmas Day in the studio, but I don't think I'd want to spend Christmas Day in the studio...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Briefly...

I don't have a whole lot to say on this Friday, except that it's been frigidly cold here all week (living in Colorado these couple years has made me soft - this is nothing to a good old Iowa winter!) and I haven't spent too much time in the studio.  Brief visit on Sunday allowed for some throwing and trimming, one stop on Tuesday to get some dried pots onto the firing carts, and an hour in glazing last night.  More glazing to come this weekend, and hopefully some pictures of pretty finished pots shortly after that.  I've still been working slower lately, trying not to throw any more than I've already sold or plan on gifting away.  But that's alright.  It's far to easy to let schedules and plans and appointments get away from you at this time of year, so trying to bring it down a bit is a good thing, overall.  So there you have it.  That's really all from me (aside from the following captions), so have a good weekend!

Some white vases, thrown on Sunday. 

Green vase.  I really enjoyed this result earlier this fall and this is the last of my red clay, so probably the last of this style.

Friday, December 4, 2009

News and Pots

Could have updated yesterday, but that didn't happen.  So today I have some news and some pots.

I'm excited to announce that, at least for a trial period, my pottery will be available for purchase online through Etsy, "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade."  You can visit my store here, or search for "LLPottery," or find your way there through the panel on the side of the page.  I only have a few things listed at this point, but I hope to add a few more and see what happens.  If you have seen a piece of work on the site before that you're interested in, just leave a comment and I could certainly make an effort to get that added to my online store for you. 

Enough news, now onto the pots.  I got to spend a couple hours in the studio Wednesday night and they were mostly productive.  I've got a new commission that I'm trying to sort out on account of it being a rather new shape for me.  In that event, even the failed throws are valuable in learning what I'm doing wrong, and how to approach the piece the next time.  I'll get there.  In the meantime, here's what I accomplished:

My last throw of the night, after the unsuccessful attempts at the commissioned piece.  I had to leave on a high note.  I'm feeling alright about this vase.  I think I'll give it some mountains.

This guy is still hanging out waiting for his mountains to show up...

And these pots are happy to have mountains and lids.  I think they're just too cute.

That's it from me for this week.  Have a good weekend, and don't forget to let me know if there's anything you'd like to see in my Etsy shop!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pots and Berries

I had a quiet time in the studio last night.  Not that the studio was quiet, but just that I was.  Special thanks to Hide for letting me work in the corner while he taught his class!  They're in the midst of a four week mini-class to introduce throwing, and they're really cranking stuff out!  Making me feel like a slacker, now that I'm intentionally slowing myself down just a little bit.

I stayed with predominately dry work, specifically trimming, slipping, and decorating.  As opposed to throwing, which tends to be wet and exponentially messier than the aforementioned activities, no matter how neatly you find you are able to throw.  Here's a quick rundown of my accomplishments:

A little dogdish action.

Mountain jars.  There's two more of these that are still awaiting their mountains.  Do we think I can have these commissions done before Christmas?  I think it's looking promising.

Lids for the jars - or small bowls.  I should be able to get these trimmed tonight.  Definitely not the easiest way to make lids, but I think it's my prefered method.

That was pretty much it.  I got 90 solid "working" minutes in, I think, before clean-up, and then I had to dash off to take Krystal salsa dancing.  Because that's what us cool people do on Tuesday nights in FoCo.

On an unrelated note, you may have noticed that there are two panels of ads on my site (to your right, and at the bottom of the page).  I put them there mostly as an experiment (I've made almost $5 this year!), and they're provided by a Google service called AdSense, which generates the ads based on whatever it is I talk about.  Normally they cycle between pottery suppliers, paint-your-own studios, and Pottery Barn, but today I pulled up my site to find an ad for Driscoll's, who claim, and follow through, to provide "The Finest Berries in the World."  It is officially the highlight of my Wednesday thus far. 

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it before, but I truly love blueberries (note: I did mention it, once, on July 23, 2009, but I'm not sure that explains the ad's presence).  As a child, I think I claimed these tiny fruits as my favorite food, and I rediscovered my passion for them this summer when peak season came and we could pick them up at unreasonably low prices.  I'm pretty sure the best I saw was a 5# box for $8.88 at our local King Soopers, which was almost too good to pass on, but I'm not sure that even I could have cleaned up five pounds before they started to go bad.  We never had less than two pints of blueberries in our fridge, and I savored them by the handful all summer long.

I don't know if Driscoll's are the best berries in the world (Minnesota wild blueberries are a whole different beast in my book, for the record), but they are the most readily available, and always flavorful, and I am more than happy to have had their advertisement grace my blog.  We, as a household, also support their endeavors in the form of raspberries and strawberries as well (Krystal goes through at least a pound of the strawberry goodness every week).  I also appreciate Driscoll's for their reasonably priced organic berries as well, and will happily vouch for the superior quality of organic vs. traditional berries.  They are, in fact, juicier, more flavorful, and less likely to go mushy in your fridge.  Although that last one may be the only objective judgment in the bunch.

In any event, check out the Driscoll's website, because it's loaded with all sorts of fun stuff like recipes (pork belly w/blueberry compote, anyone?), history, farming techniques, and even the ability to track from whence your berries came.  Craziness.

Here ends my ode to the indigo goodness we call blueberries.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Some Pots

I finally got the camera out while I was at the studio.  For all the good it did.  But I have a couple pictures to share with you.  Nothing too exciting to report at this point.  I spent some time throwing lids for some little mountain jars that have been requested, as well as slipping and trimming a few things on Sunday afternoon.  Not a particularly long bit of throwing, but we had placed to go and Christmas Trees to decorate...

Here's a bowl I finished up on Sunday and is now ready to be bisqued:

Monday is normally a studio night for me as well, but I had a couple of related errands to run and so I really only had a small amount of time to spend in the studio when all was said and done.  But I did have time to put some mountains together.  Here's a shot of the vase (two sides) that I finished up last night:

So that guy is drying so it can be fired, and I've got a couple more of these in the works.  I may be back to working on some stuff tonight too.  I'm trying not to overwork myself, or get too stressed out, but I do have a few things that I'd like to get all finished up before Christmas and about the only thing I really have control of is how quickly I throw, trim, decorate, and dry the pots, so the sooner I can get that done the less I (should) have to worry about firing schedules.  But beggars can't be choosers, so we'll just wait and see what happens.

That's it for now.  I just finished up a tasty lunch made of Thanksgiving Day leftovers and it was delightful.  Special thanks to my mother, the only reader who left a note of thankfulness on my last post.  The rest of you readers must not be particularly grateful. 

That's it for now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I did get to throw some pots last night.  Working on getting some pots ready for mountains, as well as a few more of the mountain jars with lids.  But I'm a schmuck and didn't take any pictures.  And by "schmuck" I mean that I try to clean up efficiently and quickly and by the time I realize I've forgotten to document my work, everything is covered in plastic and back on the shelf.  I thought about taking a picture of all my covered work for your entertainment, but thought that a shelf full of grocery-bag-covered shepes would be less than fascinating.  So I have, instead, for your enjoyment this gem which seems to be popping up everywhere online today.  And by everywhere, I mean that at least 2 aquaintances have already Facebooked* it.

So there you have it.  The Muppets do Queen. Up next on the agenda (sometime in the next few weeks) is a healthy dose of The Muppets do Dickens

We've got Krystal's folks in town for the holiday weekend, so there won't be any studio updates until next week.  Just turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, more turkey, and pies.  Oh, and the giving of thanks.  This year I'm thankful for the another year of relative health, for a warm home and stocked pantry, for family and friends and those in between who are so wonderful to us, for my wonderful wife Krystal who supports my artistic ambitions and shares me with the studio, and I'm thankful to God without whom I don't think I could count these blessings.  What are you thankful for?  Leave a note in the comments, if you feel like sharing.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day (weekend), and to my non-American readers, have a happy Thursday (and feel free to be thankful as well).

*I debated "Facebooked" vs. "Facebook-ed," but it's a real verb now.  Kinda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend

Threw some pots this weekend.  Nothing too exciting.  Another vase that should receive some mountains.  A couple more small Christmas gifts and special orders.  One I'm particularly looking forward to is a plate for fellow Guilder Patrick Reddick that will be specially decorated to feature a sgraffito-ed squirrel.  I'm not entirely sure how we got to this point, but while in the studio last week I think we had a situation of boys being boys and discussing ridiculous pottery and he said he'd really like to see me put a squirrel on something, and I said, "I think that can be arranged."  So he will be getting the one and only limited edition run of one squirrel plate.  Unless it turns out spectacularly, in which case there may be more squirrels in the future.

But that's unlikely.

So that's it for now - no pictures from the studio work, but I should be in there at least one more night this week before the holiday is upon us.  Since I have no pictures from this weekend's studio time, I'll leave you with a photo from our trip down to The Springs and Garden of the Gods.  It was a brief little jaunt in the afternoon with Krystal and our friend Katie, but it was fun and enjoyable.  So here's a picture.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Show Review and Back in the Studio

Well, I went another week between posting.  But sometimes that just happens. 

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who came out to the Northern Colorado Potters Guild 6th Annual Holiday Show and Sale, and a very special thanks to those who took home a piece of my pottery!  It was a very fun event and I don't think anybody let the weather get them down.

Here are just a couple photos from my display - it turned out that I never got a chance to take any more than this, as I stayed relatively busy all weekend.  But I have here for you the top-shelf of the display, after Krystal's help, as well as a sample shelf with my artist's statement, and a close-up of some vases hanging out together.


I think my favorite part of these sales is the opportunity to meet new people and talk about my work, and art in general, and experience that exchange wherein I am more excited to know a little bit more about just who is taking my art home, and they can feel even more attached to the art knowing a little more where (whom) it came from.

A Brief Lesson in Grammar: Whom is correct, by the way.  The simple trick to know this is that "whom" corresponds to "him/her," while "who" corresponds to "he/she."  To say, "The pottery came from he" would be incorrect, therefore you would not ask "From who did that pottery come?" (Though nobody I know really speaks like that, given the proclivity of midwesterners to leave prepositions hanging at the end of their sentences - just see the end of the above paragraph.)  The correct question would be "From whom did that pottery come?"  However, it would be appropriate to say "Who made that pottery?"  Because were really changing the nature of the question there.

Many apologies for that interuption.  So, as I was saying, I enjoy the interactions, and getting to talk at length about my pottery, and my process, and my inspiration, and why don't I glaze the outside of your pots?  Being my second year participating in this sale, it was also fun to meet folks who took home a piece of my pottery last year and came back looking for me specifically.  First of all, that just makes a guy feel good.  But it goes deeper than that to a feeling, however superficial, that there is some longevity to your connection. 

When you spend an entire weekend hanging out by your wares, you also develop a stronger sense of what people are really drawn to.  I can think of several pieces that sat out all weekend and were not once touched.  Not too many, but more than a few.  Other pieces were picked up and handled over and over again before the right person found it.  And some people are immediately drawn to a specific piece, pick it up, and hold it in their hands for five or ten minutes while asking me about it.  Those are the pots that never get put back on the shelf.  It was a no-brainer that these were the pots to fly off the shelves this time around:

Colorado, mountains, vases, and the holidays right around the corner: did anybody else think these would last long?  I started out with only 6 of these mountain pots: two little lidded jars, and four vases of assorted size.  And they were all sold by 10:30 on Saturday morning.  I'm going to be making more of them because they were fun, different, and apparently the sell like hotcakes.

So, one more time, a very special thanks to everyone that came out, and especially to those who were able to take some pottery home.

I got back into the studio right away on Monday night, althought it is time to slow down my production.  While I sold very well in this sale, I had even more pots leftover (mostly because when I get throwing, I can really crank them out).  Maybe I should feature a daily pot on here in hopes that someone online will want to buy it from me?  It may have merit...

So, I'm back in the studio, at a slower pace than normal, with a focus on Christmas gifts and special orders.   And maybe some things that will just be fun.  I'd like to do another couple of larger vases this winter, perhaps nice, mountainy ones.  Here's a peak at what I've had going on this week: 

Bowl, and a dog dish.  Hopefully Dolli hasn't learned to use the internet, because this would really ruin the element of surprise that makes gifts so special...

Small vase form.

Larger (medium) vase - this one will get mountains.

So, that's it for now.  If I get on the ball, maybe you can look forward to featured pottery for sale.  Have a great weekend!

(p.s.: I still haven't stopped listening to Hello, Hurricane.  I'm thinking it's officially my album of the year.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Preview

It turns out all my pictures of the set-up for the sale were from before Krystal came in and gave me some much needed advice on display.  Sometimes I just get too close to my work and have trouble sorting some of the visual issues out.  Her input is invaluable, and that applies to the creation/direction of my work as well as display issues.  Darling: thank you!

Instead, here's a preview of some of the work that came out of the last few kilns, mostly some vases and a couple big plates. 



And just for fun, here's a snippet of one shelf of display... now, off to the sale!  Hope to see you/hope I saw you there!