Friday, May 29, 2009

Psychedelic Pot

No, not that kind of psychedelic pot.

Here’s a drawing of a jar using Crayola crayons from Macaroni Grill that I found in my office. How do I know they came from Macaroni? Because instead of being blue, green, and violet, they were Bleu Cheese, Eggplant, and Florentine. Although, I think the blue is really more of a cerulean than a true blue, at least by Crayola’s standards.

Haven’t been in the studio since Tuesday – been spending too much time doing fun things like going to No Doubt concerts and playing in the garden. Hopefully will do some potting this weekend, when I’m not doing sweet things like whitewater rafting and cheering for the Rockies


Rockies didn't happen for us - too much on our plate for the weekend. But rafting was an amazing adventure. I'll probably post a picture later. Definitely didn't say in the raft the whole time...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

J'ai oubliƩ encore mon appareil photo...

...donc, il n'y a pas des photos de pottery.

(I forgot my camera again , so there's no pictures of pottery)

I did go to the studio last night for some trimming, and some glazing. I'm working with a couple options for actually using glaze on the outside of my pots. Gasp! I think it's a good decision overall. I don't think this means that everything from now on will be glazed, but I should have some more color in my palette. Which won't hurt.

So, trimming and decorating some fundraiser plates, a medium sized bowl, and a healthy round of glazing. That was pretty much the order of the evening.

In lieu of pottery photos, here's a couple of pictures from our Memorial Day weekend. We escaped for some much needed respite in the mountains. Cause living in the city makes me a little crazy.

Sunday: looking up the mountain. Twin Sisters, in Rocky Mountain National Park. We stopped shy of summit on account of thunder. In case of thunder, being below the tree-line is a good idea.

Sunday: looking across the valley to Mt. Meeker and Long's Peak. Can't you see them? By the time we came down the mountain, we couldn't either. Big, ugly, black clouds. There's nothing quite like a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm... especially when you're on the mountain.

Monday: Back in the mountains for some hiking and climbing with friends. Much drier, moderately warmer.

Monday: my wife is super cool. Yeah, she's the one on the rock. Little spider monkey, she.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vases, Plates, and Cups

I convinced Krystal to join me in the studio for an hour or so last night. Finished up a couple vase or two and threw some more plates for the upcoming Fundraiser. Here's the details on that event:

Potters' Palette: Flavors Around the World
Saturday, June 20, 2009 ~ 5:00 - 9:00 PM ~ Ticket Price: $60
Ticket will include your choice of an appetizer plate to be used over the evening, plus an art piece of your choosing valued at least $40.* The evening will feature gourmet appetizers and a guided wine tasting. Additional beverages and clay tumblers/cups will be available for purchase. To order tickets, call 970.204.4809
*Selection order will be drawn at random - the right to the first 5 picks will be auctioned off*

But enough about that. Here's some pictures taken in the studio last night. There was also a bisque being unloaded, so I'll have more stuff to glaze soon. I've got about 20 pieces that need to be glazed, and I'm sure I'll get around to it eventually, but it's not my favorite thing to do. So, some pictures.

Vases. 10-12 inches tall.

Hey look - I got a haircut. And that's clay on my arm, not leprosy. Checking out my signature on the bottom of that vase. "Yup, looks like I spelled it right!"

Fundraiser plates - I'm pleased. I like the blue in that plate on the right.

Fundraiser cups. I made them to match the plates, but it turns out we're selling these inside at an additional cost. If you buy a clay cup that night, you'll get a complimentary refill of wine or beer of your choice. They also make great toothbrush holders...

That's it for now. I'll be out of the studio, most likely, until next Tuesday or so. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, have safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

About an uncle.

I was in the studio last night for a little while, most of which was spent in a meeting regarding our upcoming Guild fundraiser event. Not the way I like my time to be spent generally, but being there was the responsible thing to do. I'll try to convince myself it was worth it.

I spent some time working on a couple chalices, one of which will be part of a communion set order, as well as the paten, or plate, to accompany it. I also finished up another one of my vases and glazed a couple of pieces. I forgot to take my camera, so no pictures. Sorry. Maybe next time.

Also on the agenda in the near future is the necessary shooting and posting of new work. I did come home from the studio with a half dozen freshly fired pieces last week, and there was a batch of work at the end of April that went straight to sale without photography. Sadly, I still have most of those!

In the meantime, here's a pot that I didn't make. This is a piece by my late uncle, Timothy Langholz. Tim was an extremely gifted artist and a prolific potter, selling his wares nationally at fine arts and crafts festivals. Tim's work was extremely unique, and decorated with a geometric precision that makes my head hurt. This piece is titled "Hiding Cat," and is featured on his website, which his family has kept online in his memory.

I had the opportunity to "work" with Tim on two distinct occasions - work used lightly, as work and play were never clear distinctions in Tim's world.

First, when I was thirteen, I spent a day with Tim in his rural studio in Northeast Iowa. I tried my hand at the wheel, which was quite unsuccessful, and then spent the better part of an afternoon decorating a trio of large chargers that Tim had thrown earlier that week. One of these is in our home and will be for a long time, and the other two I believe are still in my parents' possession.

Last, Tim invited me to accompany him in July 2008 while he exhibited at the Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver. I spent four days with him, setting up, tending booth, making friends with our neighbors. It was an amazing experience of fun and learning, and hard work. Tim wasn't sure what my duties would be in helping him out - he told me originally that my primary responsibility was to provide him company and help allay the boredom and anxiety that can creep up on you if a sale is slow.

I must not have been too bad of a helping hand. The first day started pretty menially - fetching coffee, carrying bins of pots, unloading bins of pots, storing bins of pots... A few hours in he was letting me handle most sales - while I was dealing with money and packing up purchased pottery, he could converse freely with newfound patrons. By that afternoon, he would leave me for 10 or 15 minutes at a time to man the booth while he perused the neighboring artists.

By midmorning the next day, I would turn around and find Tim missing without a word - fully entrusted with his tent and his pots. Sometimes he'd be gone an hour at a time. By setup on the third day, he was letting me price his work and arrange the display in the tent. My grandmother, who lived in the same town as Tim, later told me that he talked for weeks about how much fun it was to have me around, and how helpful I was. I'm glad he told her so.

I learned a lot that weekend - about what it takes to be a successful artist, the work and stress that accompanies a show, how to relate to those who appreciate your work. He called that, "Poking people, to see what kind of noise they'll make." Sometimes they're intrigued by you, or your work. And sometimes you get a scowl as they scutter away. I learned more about he proper display of work, about the adequate care and feeding of pots whilst on the road. I learned a few little games that can help you pass the time on a hot July day.

When Tim passed away last fall, I kept coming back to my recollections of that weekend in Denver, and all the people we met, all the people who took his pots home. Many brief interactions, and some lifelong connections. A woman who had bought work from Tim in Minnesota, and Arizona, and found him in Colorado. A young man just passing through on his way to a friend's wedding cross-country who couldn't pass up the vase featuring the cat-butt. Garry, the photographer 2 tents town who praised us for our strong, German surname. Every person who lined up a dozen tiny bowls comparing and contrasting the designs, trying to find the right match. The folks that couldn't buy anything, but were amazed by his work and so interested in talking with us about the pottery.

Such small interactions, such important connections. To share your work, your art, your passion, with another person - to relate, to converse, to send home with them a piece of yourself in clay form - this is what is amazing about being the artist. Whether you sell two pots or two hundred, whether it's a $500 vase or a mug you pass on to a friend, complimentary. I think these connections are what it's all about.

Tim definitely made that connection with the people who own his pots. He is, and will be, greatly missed.

(Thanks for indulging me in my lunch-hour cathartic experience.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Throwing a bowl.

Brief update. Not a whole lot of studio news from this weekend/last week. As mentioned before, my wife (Krystal) graduated on Friday with her Master's Degree (Yeah!), so we had family in town Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun.

I took my mother to the studio with me and threw a couple demonstration pieces. She was a little trigger-happy on the camera, but it's kind of fun to have some step-by-step photos of the pieces coming together. It's a little hard to take those kinds of pictures by yourself. If this is step-by-step, then most of my shots are, at best, pictures of the landings on the stairway of the pottery. Ridiculous analogy.

Here's a few of the progress photos, with narration. This is about one quarter of the pictures taken during the throwing of this piece. And then there were pictures of other things as well. Seriously trigger-happy.

Centering. Working with abour 3 pounds here.


Pulling - the process of moving clay mass from the bottom of the piece to the top. Or, pulling clay out of the bottom to add to the height.

More pulling.

More pulling, and starting to move it into more of a bowl shape.

After almost every pull, I level/compress the top rim of the piece. Doing this can re-center any minor warbles as the piece gets wider/taller, and it also makes sure the lip ends with a uniform thickness and is level - all very important things.

Using a wooden kidney-shaped rib inside, along with a flexible metal rib on the outside, to shape the bowl to a nice, smoth curve.

Chamoising the lip now that the bowl is done - same as leveling after every pull, plus the chamois is a great tool for shaping lips and rims. Adds definition and shape while compressing/toning the clay. I feel like I'm advertising a home gym - "Adds definition and shape while toning!"

Undercutting the foot of the bowl. This will make it easier to cut off the bat with my wire tool, plus creates an evenly round starting point for the future trimming of the foot.

Voila, un bol!

Lastly, here's me showing off a large, bisqued bowl, followed by a shot of me decorating a vase. No, this bowl is not the one that you just witnessed me throwing above. Just in case anyone was going to ask.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Completely unrelated.

On a completely unrelated note (as in, no pottery involved), check this out. I've been a fan and advocate of Sharpies since I was 14. This is super cool. And kind of trippy.

Man decorates basement with $10 worth of Sharpie.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Spent a couple hours in the studio last night. No throwing to speak of, just triming down and decorating pots. Uneventful, overall. Here's pictures of a few of the things touched on. I had 7 or 8 pieces on and off the wheel over the evening; here's pictures of a few of them.

Still needs another coat of slip, and perhaps a bit more shaping before it's too close to done.

Bottle vase with brown slip and arboreal motif.

Nice little lid for this jar.

That's probably it from me for this week. We've got family coming into town tomorrow to celebrate Kystal's graduation (Master of Arts!!! Kudos!), so I probably won't be into the studio until next week. I have some finished pieces to shoot and post - tried some [new] glazes this time around, to mixed results. I'd also like to post some pics of the plates and cups I did for the Guild's June fundraiser - turned out nicely, also with glaze!

Wow, so much glazing! Turning over a new leaf?

I doubt it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Week in Photos :: It's Post #50!!!

The "Week" in Review: May 5 - May 10, 2009

Tuesday (5/5) night was spent trimming and decorating some things, as well as doing a handful of glazings. I'm trying some new-ish things with glazes. As in, actually using some here and there. We'll see what happens with that. Here's some pots that are drying - waiting to be fired.

Thursday (5/7) night was an abbreviated session in the studio. I had some errands to run in preparation for the weekend's show, so I was left with just over an hour to get some work done. So I threw some vases/bottles. I like them. I hope other folks do, too. They're fun to throw, and good practice on a technical level. Here's some of those thrown, as well as a piece started the week before trimmed, slipped, and ready for decorating. I think it's going to get a lid...

The weekend (5/9 - 5/10) was spent out at a sale, which is always a good learning experience, no matter how the outcome. On the whole, it was a good thing - I got to talk to a lot of people about my work, hand out lots of cards, and (at least on Saturday) I got to spend a day in the sun with my lovely wife who was kind enough to join me.

I think it will take this event a few years to get on its feet before it will begin drawing people in specifically looking to buy from and support local artists. Overall, the selling aspect of the sale was on the discouraging side of things - for most of the artists, I would say. Between the economy (which I've heard is not so great right now...) and the newness of the event, most visitors approached the event as more of a show, or exhibition. But, no artist will ever say that visibility is a bad thing, even if the sales don't happen, so the sheer number of visitors was a good thing. And I can't complain - I did sell enough to cover studio costs for the next couple months, which is always good.

The other judge of the success of a sale is whether or not you go home with any empty bins (that were previously full). Due to the sale of vases (which don't pack very well) and a re-organized approach to packing my wares, I was able to come home on Sunday with one empty bin, so I'll call it good.

Thanks to everyone that came out, especially on Sunday when the weather was ominous and the sun not so bright. Here's some pictures from the weekend. Special thanks to Mary, and her crew at the Ute Trail Greenhouse, for hosting the event and working their tails off advertising the event. Thanks also to Robin and Mary, my neighbors in the shrubs for the weekend.

And thanks once again to my lovely Krystal for giving up her Saturday to bask in the sun for 10 hours. Rough life, huh?

Me and my pots.

Pottery - in natural light. Doesn't get any better than that.

And Krystal, early in the day. Pre-sunburn.

I'll be back in the studio tonight, so hopefully another post before the end of the week. New work, etc. Should be fun.

Comments, questions, concerns? Let me know. Also, most of the pieces pictured above (from the weekend's sale) are still available for purchase. If you have any interest in them, let me know.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Artists at the Gardens

Here's the information for the Artists at the Gardens Show & Sale this coming weekend. I'll be hanging out there. You should too! Perfect place to pick up a great Mother's Day gift...

But really, there's going to be a lot of artists there, and it's at a greenhouse, and it's the second weekend in May, and the forecast is calling for sunny and warm, as opposed to gray and just-above-freezing. So, if you're interested, come check it out: Artists at the Gardens at the Ute Trail Greenhouse in Longmont, CO.

It was a cold day...

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Potters Market this past weekend! And to everyone else, I don't blame you for staying indoors!

All things considered, we had a pretty decent number of art fans come out, but between the meteorologic and economic climates, it made for pretty slow sales.

One of the things I like most about these sales events is the opportunity to talk with people about pottery, about art. Whether they end up buying something from me or not, that connection is real fun, and probably worth more in the end.

The good news is, I still have plenty of pots in stock for the show this coming weekend. I don't know if I ever really thought I could be in danger of selling out last weekend, but it was still a minor worry. (This is the part where I was going to put in a comparison worry - something horribly irrational, but witty, and slightly humorous - but the only worries that I could think of are actually quite serious, and not appropriate for witty comparisons). If you have any irrational fears/concerns/worries, please leave them in the comments area. And I'll keep trying to think of something.

So, that's it. Wish me luck this weekend. I don't think I can justify making more pots until I've sold the ones I have...