Sunday, July 27, 2008

starting to look like a studio...

Today I took a slightly less crazed pace as compared to the rest of the week. The old studio is just about worthy of another picture, as it's getting to be more and more empty, and yet oddly, it looks smaller to me the more I take out of it. Not so oddly, the new studio also seems smaller the more and more I put into it! So after a nice romp in the park with Lissa, I left her in the relative cool of the house while I packed up another car load of stuff from the old studio. Found some test tiles that'll be handy when the kiln starts firing, a few empty buckets (oh what a treat to find an EMPTY bucket!) and more tools for the student stash, among the boxes that made the trip west.

And I will do more pics soon, but here are a few quickies:

wedge central

Between the flourescent lighting and my inability to get the white balance to stay put on my camera, things just seem to come out a bit yellow. But it's still a beauty of a wedging table under any tint. You can just make out the detail of the legs that show they came from an old bowling alley, and this puppy is solid. I may have to buy the building and the land it's on to avoid moving it once the plaster is in. Among next week's projects is making the mold and pouring the plaster for the two sides.

oh how I love these shelves!

The ware shelves going in really made a difference in getting this end of the studio set up, and in getting me back on the wheel. More pictures later will show the wheels more in place, but the great thing about these shelves, that you may be able to see, is that all the attached holders on the side give me a lot of options on height between shelves, and each layer is two shelves deep. My first attempts at the wheel with the wedge worthy clay on hand are on the shelves. And you can see part of the magnet strips I put up on the wall next to my wheel for some of my tools. I've got more plans for that little corner of my world to come...

pugger in progress, kiln ready for action!

And in another corner of the world, two big players just about ready to start the game. The kiln and vent are all hooked up, thanks in large part to my wonderful landlord Mimi and her fabulous power tools and generous help! Tomorrow I make another fun shopping trip to Highwater for shelves, cones, posts, etc. and then the test firing. Tomorrow I also call the nice folks at Peter Pugger to talk me through a couple of things on my little cutie before giving him the test run as well.

And tomorrow I'll pick up a phone for the new service at the studio, which should hopefully arrive as well (router for service), and then to revise some work on cards, work up flyers and other promotional on the class schedule, pricing and open studio hours...try to get the online bank to talk to my QuickBooks one last time before updating it all manually to get the reports I need...and in my spare time throw more pots to fill the first bisque, catch up on orders and start making ware for OrganicFest in September. But first, a walk in the park...peace.

humming right along...

I know I'm late with updates, but it's been a busy yet fruitful week. A few more things to put together and move into place and I'll do another photo round. Till then, it's not easy to see clearly, but I was thrilled to see my first hummingbird moth having a little buffet in the flowers outside my studio door. I had never heard of one before that - Annie & Dan stopped by to put some pallets next to the building for next week's storage shelf (those'll be in next week's update), and they saw him first.

When we first saw this little guy, he seemed to be hovering for generous helpings at each bloom, but of course when I had the camera in hand it seemed like someone sped up the film. I tried to get a profile shot, that really shows the 'hummingbird' look, but he just wasn't playing! I love how you can see the shadow of one wing on the left.

Ok, break's over, time to test the kiln and put together the pugger.

Monday, July 21, 2008

the week in review...

How does the time go so quickly?! This week was busy in ways that kept me out of the new studio, so the earnest crawl toward the finish line (which is really the starting line) continues.

When I left you, I believe the kiln was firing pre-Guild Craft Fair. I mainly had some tumblers and a few small plates from old demos and tests. Everything just about fit neatly on one shelf. The firing was a good one, with the exception of the earthenware platter that was cone 10 glazed and loaded on the top shelf...just above my shelf! I was not the only victim, but I got my fair share of 'the blob'. I wasn't too heartbroken over the plates. They were tests and I mainly used them for a glaze test. The tumblers were a pity, but the backsides that have gooey shino crawl and carbon spotting will be great for the mosaic sign.

oooohhhhh so melty! I know they say blue sells, but I don't think this is quite the idea...

So the upside was there was less to inventory for the show! It's hard to get too upset about this. Luckily it wasn't a commission under tight deadline, and while nobody wants or intends this to ever happen, it happens in a community studio where all manner of clay is being fired. And you know the maker of the big blue/red blob never intended to put earthenware in a cone 10 kiln, and she (that's as far as I'll go in naming names!) feels far worse than I ever will about this particular loss. Moving on...(and if she's reading this, so should she!)...

The load in went well at the Civic Center. We ended up with extra space at the last minute, and scary, wobbly shelves aside it was one of the best set ups we've been able to do with this group of artists. We decided to just add a handbuilding table for demos, and it made a big difference in the layout.

Sarah & Joey ready for the masses

Also this week there was an artists' reception for the Mission Hospital benefit. I already posted a pic of the mask I made, but look what Blackbird Frame & Art did with it:

a whole new piece!

I don't think the picture does it justice - it really transformed it to another piece, and I love it. All the masks looked great. I didn't have my camera, this came thanks to 'Constancetheofficialphotographer', but the masks may still be at Blackbird Frame & Art on Lexington if anyone's in the area.

The reception was lovely, and my beginner wheel class kindly let class start a half hour later so I could attend, and one of my students even made it to the event as well!

Next week I'll have pictures of my class - they rock. And they're working hard to get everything they can out of this little five week intro!

Other week events in and around the Guild ware shelves were finished and Alex delivered and installed them on Friday. I'll snap a picture of those when I finish later today. Right now I'm taking a breather (literally) from applying bio-poly to the shelves, and waiting for Jimmy to finish installing the outlet for the kiln. I think I'm back to venting the kiln up and out the window, but I may have to get a longer piece of the vent tubing. Once this is done, I can get a work table in for glaze mixing and storage, then get the kiln furniture. I'll clean up all the install messes and perhaps make a trip to Lowes.

As fun as spending all this money is, I'm really REALLY ready to get busy and see some of it start coming back in the door.

The week ended with most of the focus on the Craft Fair. Our overall booth sales were down from last year, but a few of us did pretty well. I'm not one of those few, and it's frustrating to not even make basic costs, but like a kiln meltdown, I think the best thing is to assess, take note of what needs be noted and move on. I didn't have a lot to take, and with a group of six artists of such different styles, it's hard to know what draws people into the booth. A lot of fondling and appreciating, but not much buying. I do think having a larger quantity tends to make more sales, and if this were a show I'd be doing again I may make a bigger note of things, but it's my last as a Resident. I may have already said this, but I don't think I'm at the point where I'll apply to the Craft Guild just yet. I feel like my focus has been in the experience of the Residency, and now I need to focus on what I'll be doing. Part of that is teaching, so the next year will tell me what among my passions - the teaching, the commissions, my own work - will take the strongest lead.

I did end the weekend with some cool stuff though. I bought a very cute little bowl from fellow-RA Courtney Murphy, and made a very nice trade with super-RA Joey Sheehan for a sweet little bowl and some shot cups. And on top of that I scored a pilsner glass just for giving him a ride home! I would pepper the blog with pictures of those as well, but I forgot to charge the battery.

So as soon as I can clean up all this construction and re-struction, I'm back to work! Commissions that have been patiently waiting need filling, and my next show isn't until September, but that's soon enough and this time I'll be filling the booth myself.

Perfect timing - the electrical work is just about done and now it's time to get seriously busy! peace.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

weekend roundup

I am uber-bummed that I didn't make it up to Bandana Pottery to see work I so admire and meet those talented folks behind it. Finishing the mask and getting work glazed for tomorrow's pre-Craft Guild firing ran me late enough to matter for a field trip an hour away. I didn't have the camera with me at Odyssey when I was glazing, but here's a quick look at the rest of the weekend:

Saturday morning at the downtown City Market is quickly becoming a weekly meet up for me, Holly and Heather. I was going to get a picture of the three of us with Heather's cutie-pie twin puppies (Benny & JoonBug), but after snapping the blueberries, I was too busy grabbing samples and filling my own market bags. What a bounty we have, and we always run into other friends, and meeting the farmers is like meeting another old friend. The blueberry bowl, by the way, is a farm family heirloom itself and was previously used as a baby bathtub (as told to me by one who has been in the tub!).

The lemon cucumbers are one of my new favorites. Somehow they've eluded me until this year, but now we're fast friends and I'm munching the one on the right as I type this.

The rest of Saturday was running errands, picking up supplies, moving pots, brushes, etc. to prep for glazing, and the first half of glazing.

Sunday I thought I'd try again for the field trip, but morning errands ran long and once back to the studio, the brushwork would not be rushed. I did run home and get the camera to go check out the Big Crafty up the street at the Grey Eagle and see some friends and a lot of funkadelic work. It was nicely packed, which was great for the artists but not so for taking pictures!

R-L: Jenny Carpenter & Sarah Danforth (Astro-Turf RULES!), Dawn Dalto -
I tried to take a pic of her partner Les Powell's booth but couldn't get far enough away to get the shot!

Holly & mosaic, cobbler with market
blackberries in front.

On the way home I stopped by to share some cobbler with Holly, who was working on an 'old school' mosaic in her yard. I meant to take some pictures of Studio de la Chouffe in progress, but instead ate cobbler. When her son comes home from Europe in August, work will begin again and we'll finish the slip straw and start plastering the outside. Stay tuned for those pics!

So not much new at the new studio, but tomorrow will be a big day if everything gets done, and since Joey will be driving the firing at Odyssey, I should be able to do some work of my own at the Crazy Green homestead. And tomorrow I'll deliver the mask:

'john lennon glasses'
for Mission Hospital benefit

I ended up making the glass frames as I never did find any...what are the odds that you can't score a pair of 'John Lennon' glasses in Asheville?! I'm sure I'll find them by the tens now that this is done. I think it works fine without them too, but once pal Holly named the piece for me, I wanted to make sure they made it in. I tried to find a link for the benefit, but it eludes me. I'll try capturing the evite and post it separately. There is a preview party next week at Blackbird Frame & Art - later post too.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

happy, happy, joy, joy

Among all the other remarkable things that were accomplished today, the most satisfying was finally getting back on my wheel, if only for an hour or so, and throwing in the new studio.

gotta work on the white balance

I know the picture looks like I'm backed into the corner but it's a bit of an optical illusion. The wheel is in the corner, but I think it's the cart in front of the wheel that makes it look small. From my perspective, I've got the whole studio in front of me and it's very open. Felt gooooood. I didn't have too much time, so I just played around a bit. I had the shot cups already in the wet box ready to trim, and then another lump of reclaim. I threw all the bottles off the mound, some flat bottomed and some to be trimmed out later. I even got a wonky little tray with the scraps, which as I write this I remember I left uncovered on the plaster, so it shall be a dry, wonky little tray when I get back in tomorrow. Just before the picture was taken, Lissa moved, but she's decided her favorite place to be when I throw is on the floor in the corner behind the wheel. She's a mama's girl!

my wheel, my studio
happy, happy, joy, joy

Other notable events for the day include getting the electric kiln delivered, thanks Bob again for your help and your truck, and thanks Beth for coming along to see the studio just in time to help move the kiln! The kiln placement motivated all sorts of other domino moving and reorganizing, but nothing actually put together yet (cue electrician, vent install and reassembly please).

Annie & Dan came by with quotes for the work tables and storage loft, and now those are under way. And that visit motivated more cleaning and moving things around that opened up the wheel area a bit. Actually, walking in the door motivates moving things around at this point.

The weekend will be split between studios. Sunday I'll load the gas kiln with Joey for a pre-Craft Guild fair firing, so I need to excavate all available bisque for glazing from the Odyssey studio. While I'm at it, that studio needs some serious attention to make it again functional for the next few months, and as I realized today I need to bring some of my tools over to the new studio to make that one more functional as well, although it was fun working with found tools I don't usually use and/or may have had another intent. And now I have a starter on the student tools!

sweet dreams..

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Throw a bowl for Empty Bowls!

Today I went up to Burnsville to John Hartom's studio to throw bowls for Empty Bowls. My pal Becca Floyd came along, and with a stunning view in front of us, Tilly the wonder dog brazenly taking on Lissa the ambivalent snoozer, fun chat and a delightful lunch break, we managed to produce some bowls that will be used for a variety of Empty Bowl projects.

John & Becca hard a work ...the view from the wheels

It was also a special treat because John is kindly letting me keep my standing kick wheel at his studio while my own studio is under development. This was the second time I've used it since he also kindly picked it up from Oddfellows Antiques where I bought it, after he (John again) kindly passed on to me, at his wife Lisa's suggestion, that it was there for sale. They are indeed very kind folk! I had planned to give Lisa the first piece I threw on that wheel, but John keeps taking them all for Empty Bowls...guess I gotta throw a bottle or something else.

my wheel...isn't it yummy?!

The front treadle on the wheel is great, I can change legs when I get tired. It seems to be just the right height for me, and I really like the rhythym of the kick. Definitely for soft clay! I had wedged a couple of balls early on that would be fine on an electric, then found softer clay and prepped more of those that I threw first. When I got to one of the first balls, it was not pretty. A very wonky bowl resulted.

some of our fruits...

It's always a lot of fun throwing - and it's a challenge for those of us who insist on putting trimmed feet on our bowls as a matter of course. At John's studio, the focus is usually to throw bowls that don't need trimming, so we can spend more time throwing more bowls! We usually leave before the bowls are dry enough to handle, so John cleans, alters, decorates and stamps those that we throw, then bisques them. When he gets a kiln load, he fires the kiln that Tracy Dotson helped him build and then the bowls go to various Empty Bowls events in the area and around the country.

If you don't already know about this event, find one near you! If you're within my reach, you're lucky if I haven't already hit you up for a bowl or to buy a ticket! The Asheville event happens every year on World Food Day, October 16, although there are lots of other events in and around the area at other schools, studios and art centers. If you want to find a way to make a tangible difference in your community in helping to raise awareness of hunger issues and feeding people, you can join or start your own Empty Bowls event (go back to the link at the top of the's all there!). Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville will host an Empty Bowls Project class starting in mid August. John moderates the class and brings in guest artists to demo bowl making and decorating each week, and Highwater Clays donates all the clay and firings. For a modest lab fee, participants get mini workshops with some of the areas most talented artists, and all the bowls go to the October event that benefits Manna Food Bank. Keep an eye on Odyssey's website or call to find out when registration opens, as that class always fills fast. Becca Floyd signed on today to be one of the guest artists, and you know I'll post the full roster once it's nailed down! Stay tuned, and go make a bowl! xoxo

Monday, July 7, 2008


the studio...are we still in the before?

Ok, so this may not look like progress, but it is! With the help of two guys and a truck...not the established business, but actually two guys and a truck, I was able to move the majority of my studio furniture, equipment and all sorts of odds and ends into the new space.

my heroic hired hands, Joey & Bob

I even got my wheel in, thanks guys! Haven't been on it to throw yet - still need to put the sink trap in, but that will happen this week.

gas kiln, going into hibernation

I also picked up the gas kiln, and along with a couple of raku kilns and other parts, it's now stored on the grounds of Studio de la Chouffe, courtesy of Holly (visitor from an earlier post).

my #1 assistant and studio mascot, Lissa, hard at work supervising the re-organization

A trip to Lowe's later for hardware, and new shelves are up, secured and already full! The empty tubs in front of the sink will be part of the trap, and the leaning tower of boxes behind Lissa are accumulated clay scraps eagerly awaiting the arrival of the pug mill.

thanks to Jillian for the white shelf and the shelf next to the sink (and also a grinder!), thanks to Alan from CraigsList for the chrome shelves, thanks to my landlord Mimi for the use of her slab roller (resting on a cart on the right). thanks to Lissa for keeping after me to get all this done!

I'll check on the electric kiln tomorrow, and hopefully that will go in at the end of the week. Might get internet and phone service scheduled as well, and one more trip to Lowe's for the rest of the sink trap parts, schedule the electrician in for the kiln and get the venting hooked up and we'll be off to the races!

Another day closer, and another day very grateful!

and another day dog-tired!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

a little plug for my sponsors...

Mountain Biz Works, of which I am a proud member and beneficiary of their incredible small business services, is having a gala fund raiser! I've donated a piece for their silent auction, and I may be calling on some of my other friends in the arts for donations, so heads up!

Click on the link above to get more information on the event (Thursday, September 18 at the Orange Peel), as well as more information on Mountain Biz Works.

Other blog updates - I just got a link to my friend Jen's blog for her business, Jenafusion. Check it out for some really cool handmade items using mainly recycled materials.

Today was busy and productive, but alas no pictures! Got a little more moved over to the new space, paid some bills, got some help scheduled for the weekend to do a lot of the big moving, did some tailgate shopping, met with Jane, hiked with Lissa, went bowling with my roommate and now settling in to update the books for the month. Nope, didn't get into the studio to throw, and had to just call it at one point rather than beat my head against the wall for not doing it. Tomorrow is early morning hike, into the studio to work on platters, then late lunch with Anne & Steve who are camping nearby in Pisgah.

Off to the books...peace