Tuesday, August 26, 2008

all in a day...

And such a day! I'm waiting for a break in the rain so I can take Lissa for a walk before we head home, so thought it would be a good time to share some of the events of the day.

These were the highlights of what was scheduled. Glenda is the newest member of Team Crazy Green, offering 'gentle accounting for artists', and that it is. We bookended the day together, in the morning meeting to figure out if she could help me, and then she came back tonight to help clean up my accounts for a review later this week. As soon as I get a good link to her site, I'll add it to my links - she rocks!

After our meeting, I took a few tumblers over to Krug to do some test shots. I think with a little camera fidgeting, I'll be able to get some really good shots so I made an appointment to shoot some of the load I'll fire next week.

This is a nice little collection showing variations on my series of brushwork tumblers. The two outside tumblers were fired in the soda kiln, one just nekkid clay outside (left) and the other between layers of shino glaze. The one in the center was thickly applied shinos fired in pretty heavy reduction. Got some good crawl and this was one of the 'melt down' survivors.

The gas kiln holding the Empty Bowls load was too hot to open all the way, but I peeked before going to the first Bowl Project class and it looked good - forgot the camera all times at the kiln, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Happy with the glazes, happy with the firing!

- John Hartom opening the Empty Bowl Project

And speaking of the Bowl Project, we kicked off in great style today with our first guest potter - Linda McFarling(link is to Spruce Pine Potters Market - go see it in October!). I first joined the Bowl Project class two years ago, a few months after my Asheville arrival and just a few weeks before I was offered the Residency. In another nice, karmic touch to the end of my Residency, Linda was the first guest potter in that class as well as this one, and I'm as rapt by her demos now as I was then, and as I ever will be. Plus, she demo-ed my favorite new technique of fluting!

But even before class, I got to Odyssey with just enough time to glaze a handful of bowls that will go into Akira Satake's next firing. He kindly invited me to put bowls in and join the firing this week, and I'm heading out there Wednesday evening to keep him company during the mid-evening shift.

So after class, John and I headed over to unload the kiln, and fortune smiled upon us in the form of Beth Flanagan, to whom I'm passing the Odyssey Empty Bowls czar-ship, and Kate Reis, seemingly innocent bystander at the right place at the right time. They were both willing and available to come along and they helped unload the kiln in record time. Bowls are all packed and ready for the trip to Michigan!

I got in a little catch up book work before Glenda came back, and there we have the day's list just about accomplished in order!

What's not on the list is 'throw enough flat bottomed things that will dry by Thursday to fill one more bisque' and 'trim everything you threw yesterday that needs trimming'. I did get everything trimmed, with just one platter fatality. I got a few more tumblers and cups thrown, but with the arrival of the long-awaited rains comes the 'runningthroughjello' slow down of all drying in the studio. Fans will stay on tonight and tomorrow I'll set up my little make-shift drying lamps again, but I fear I won't have a full bisque to run on Thursday. I'll run something, just to get more pieces in this kiln, but I don't think the trays and platters will make it.

The other visitor to the studio tonight was an unexpected delight. I still don't have a screen for the front door, and the sprinkly-rain breeze was just too nice to close the door after dark so the bugs were invited in. In what both Glenda and I took to be a very good omen for the studio, life, the universe and everything, a nocturnal preying mantis came in to hang out for a while:

He was very kind and patient while I jockeyed for the best photo angle, and a bit later I looked back over to see him still there and 'praying'
...no doubt for world peace and the overall success of Crazy Green Studios, which is pretty much what I pray for every day. I shut the door when the heavy rains came, and he was gone from his perch, so he's either on his way to spread blessings elsewhere or hunkered down somewhere else in the studio.

And I'll leave you tonight with the face that gazes at me now, so patiently waiting to go frolick in the rain. It's not letting up so we're going for a little wade and turning in...good night!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

taking in the day

This is still technically part of the end of a crazy busy week, and yet it's the most relaxed I've been in a while. A flurry of throwing to fill another kiln, which of course meant one day where the phone rang every 10 minutes and everything I put on the wheel ended up in the reclaim pile, adding to the frustration and panic that I wouldn't fill the kiln to fire to fill again to fire to fill the gas kiln at the end of next week. Well it was a bit loose at the top, but the bisque ran last night, so I'll be throwing crazy to fill at least one more in the next week before the glazing fun begins. And now I know I'll have work from a couple of other potters to fill out spaces if needed, which of course means I'll have more than enough! Is there ever such a thing as throwing without a deadline?

I went by the studio this morning to grab some things for the day and learned that when I'm not there at the top of the firing to have all the windows and door open, it can get quite warm!

It's a cooler day here, and that was the top of the firing so I'm sure it's cooled down a good bit by now.

The rest of the week included glazing a kiln load of bowls with John Hartom that I'm firing today for Empty Bowls. Once a year he drives a truck load of bowls half way to Michigan, meets a volunteer for lunch, moves the bowls to the volunteer's truck and comes home. The bowls go to an event where they're sold for Empty Bowls and to benefit local food banks. Because of the timing, he needed a kiln other than his own to fire these in, and I welcomed the chance to get a firing in to kind of re-acquaint myself with this kiln. Now that I'm just about out of the Residency, I'm firing all my cone 10 work at WestFire Studio in West Asheville, home to pottery by Laura Somervill and approximately 5 blocks from my studio. And using this firing to get to know the kiln again doesn't mean this load is 'disposable' by any means. I'm confident of the firing, but just need a reminder on what the glazes are here and what they do. I'll make new ones from time to time, but there's a nice range here and they always look different kiln to kiln. Having a couple hundred bowls to sample glaze combos and decorating techniques on is a nice warm up to be sure.

So along with the week of frantic throwing at my studio, Thursday was a day of glazing and loading, with the finish up on Friday and firing today. Friday was also cleaning day at Odyssey - cleaning the school side before the new class session begins. And my last as a Resident - although we did confirm that this group of Residents, that I've been so happy to be a part of, will have a group show in the Odyssey gallery in November during Stroll...

As for today, rather than trying jump back and forth from here to my studio to throw in what's probably still a pretty toasty space, I decided to relax and enjoy the rhythym of the firing. Oh, and do some web research on marketing, work on class schedules, outline a holiday show, research submission dates for shows and calls for entry, work on brochures and cards, look up some glaze recipes and read from the stack of old Clay Times in Laura's studio. You know, relaxing stuff. At one point I even took a nap, waking to the site of the newly winterized ceiling in Laura's garage studio:

kind of like brain matter from the Michelin Man...

And to get online, I take my camp chair to the end of the driveway and sit next to the jade tree so I can get the signal (yes, here in West Asheville, jade trees have wireless signals, but you knew that). Just sitting here, feeling the delicious breeze and listening to all the sounds of the neighborhood: dogs yapping, all the birds - I'm not very versed in this, but there are a couple of different chirpers, a 'wooooo-er'... and I think a chicken - neighbors calling across the lawn and then there's that breeze again. All the crazy busy will actually still be there waiting for me, but right now I think I'll just be happy hanging out with the jade tree. It's got some nice patterns on the trunk that are worth study...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

a fine day

A full day in the studio. What a thought, and yet it seems that it's been like the holy grail, to have a full day in the studio with no other distractions or diversions. And even though the diversions and distractions are all studio related...paying bills, working on marketing materials, moving things (still!) from the old studio, picking up supplies...but a full day in the studio!

It is all about organizing time, and even with distractions and diversions over the week, I managed to get the first bisque filled, a whole mess of clay pugged and closed in on catching up on orders and fulfillments that have been patiently waiting.
I'm still in that honeymoon period where almost everything that happens in this studio is a milestone...my first rack of drying ware, my first bisque, my first mopping...it takes so little to please and entertain me, maybe I should get out more...

first bisque, almost ready to go!

So yesterday was a blissfull full day in the studio, and the kiln was still firing when I got here in the morning, so I had all windows and the door open to take advantage of the nice breezes. Gotta get a screen for the door so I can leave it open at night too and avoid the buggies. It did get a little warm in the late afternoon after the kiln shut off, but with the mini fans on me and the dog and an occasional squirt down with the spray bottle (more the dog than me on that one), it was very pleasant. I finished pugging almost all of the reclaim I brought over so far from the old studio, finished organizing some studio furniture, created a make-shift drying lamp to help the drying keep up with the throwing and threw a nice chunk of the newly pugged clay.

new kiln furniture in a new home (nice view out the window too!)...and still finding homes for dry ingredients. These cans of silica were part of a gift from a friend who essentially gave me her old studio before I left DC...and I'm still going through some of the ingredients! Thanks again Kathy!

Today will be trimming and more throwing (and always more cleaning!), and with any luck another full kiln load will be drying by the time I unload the bisque later today. Another couple of loads and I'll be ready for the glaze kiln on Labor Day weekend.

out of the pugger, onto the wheel then on the shelves

Back to it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

North Carolina Pottery Center

don't click there...click HERE!

Just a little heads up on a way you can get some fabulous pottery and help out the North Carolina Pottery Center.

If you don't know what's going on at NCPC, click the link above and read about it before you make your purchase. And if you haven't already, go ahead and join up too - I did! peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

prayer of gratitude...

Yo, tho I walk through the valley of old scraps, weird clay out of the box and wet slop,
I fear not, for I have a pugmill!

my hero!

I fired it up today, and the crowd roared and the angels sang...and the dog barked, but that's because there are dogs on the roof across the parking lot and they seem to be having an ongoing conversation.

The pugger is good. I started out just to throw my butt off today, but bag one of clay proved to be just odd enough out of the box that I decided to detour into the pug world. I did two small batches, and I think I'm getting the hang of how it wants to be treated, although I may call the company in the morning just to make sure I've got all my settings good. I've got enough old dry, leather hard and wet slop to mix up to a just right consistency, and the first batch of 'Lori's Mystery Clay' is on the shelves drying.

mystery clay drying on the shelves, and a glimpse of the new storage shelf overhead

I'm still finishing up orders and refills, but I'm thinking ahead to what I want to put together for the show in early September. One thing that sticks in my mind from the workshop last week is working in series. This isn't new, Becca has made that plea in every class I've taken with her, and it's something I know I want and need to do. Now that the last workshop is over for me as resident, I need to start making the transition away from playing with all these cool techniques and working in a more focused way with one or two until I decide if it's a keeper or not. The teaching will keep other things fresh, but my work has to come out of this big pile o' scraps at some point!

Testing out the mystery clay gave me a chance to work on some forms I want to do in series. Since I don't know how this will fire, I won't use it for any orders in process, but I did start a few new commissions with it, and I also started a few forms I want to do in series. If you look closely you can see some new mug forms. Certainly influenced by the workshop, but a shape I've been wanting to get back to.

That's it for tonight - back to the wheel. My wonderful roommate is giving me a spa treatment tomorrow, and I've had to promise to 'chill out' after I do it, which means no hands in clay, but at least I'll catch up on my books and get emails answered. So tonight will be later to get more things trimmed and more into the kiln for a firing. xoxo

Saturday, August 9, 2008

whadda week!

I admit it was hard at first to know I'd be out of the new studio for the whole week, but once the workshop started, I was both too busy and having too much fun to notice, and by the end of each day I was too tired to care. It was great to finally meet Gay Smith, and the workshop was wonderful. I really like the way she presented and paced everything, and I got so much from the week. We had plenty of demo, plenty of wheel work and plenty of discussion, and nothing seemed rushed or drawn out. I think I got as much out of it from the standpoint of watching how she taught as much as what she taught.

Thursday afternoon chat session, Gay Smith facing camera in yellow

And we fired the soda kiln! Thankfully, Heather was asked to assist with me for the week, and drawing on her experience pre-Odyssey as well as our experience in the couple of firings we've had with this kiln really made a difference, plus I think it was a great benefit to her as she prepares to fire it twice more for her upcoming class. Lots of good information, and best of all, nothing fell in, over, out or apart, and nothing burned down. Some may chuckle at that, others will nod knowingly...still others may well breathe a sign of relief! Overall the firing was pretty darned good for a workshop firing where folks bring in various bisqued clay and try new decorating and glazing techniques.

front stack & back stack

I'll take some pictures of what I fired after I clean it up. I mainly re-tested some brushwork I started in the McKenzie Smith workshop, and added in more pieces with surface texture. One of the glazes we used is a copper green that I love to fire in reduction (go fig), and in the soda it does something very different. And I even got some pieces thrown during the week, revisiting some faceting and playing with fluting, which had always eluded me. Not sure it's meeting me head on yet, but we're in the same area code. So worth taking a week off!

Not all work on the new studio stopped during the week. Annie & Dan installed the storage shelf, and I spent a good part of today cleaning up and reorganizing yet again. But it's a lot more satisfying when things are going where they GO, rather than 'over here till I get a...'. More pictures of all that coming soon too. A couple more shelves and odds & ends, and a table for the slab roller and we're good to go.

Also this week, we had the last class for my beginning wheel class. They were such a great group, and working till the last! I'm proud and thrilled of the progress each of them made, some even with missing one or more classes. I'd look forward to having any of them in a class again, and happily a good many of them are going on to the 7 week session at Odyssey for more classes.

I didn't get a picture of everyone, but the early birds are here, from L-R: Helen, checking out her kiln results; Adam, not at all in a posed picture (but what's up with the hair?!), and Mary, Anika & Nelle, proudly showing off their fruits.

Speaking of the next session, I've decided that as tempting as it is, I'm not taking the classes I had planned to take. I'll be assisting with the Bowl Project class, but not taking any others as a student. And I'm ending the Residency just a couple of weeks early to start making the new studio the main focus. Plus, I've got OrganicFest coming up on September 6 and I need to get ready!

So today it was cleaning and organizing, putting things together and prepping for a day of throwing tomorrow...and cleaning. I started loading the kiln, and I've got just over half of it loaded with more greenware drying. With any luck, this load will catch me up on orders and commissions, then the next load can be for OrganicFest.

I smell the rice cooker finishing up, and Lissa smells it too, so off to kitchen pursuits. peace!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

last dash before another pause...

Well this week I got a taste of what getting into a rhythm might be like. There were actually a few days during the week when I only had to be at the new studio, and while there are tons of little details to finish up, I just couldn't take it anymore and had to start throwing again. And a looming kiln to fill at the end of August was another motivation.

I know I promised pictures of my class, but I decided to wait until this week's class - the last one - to get the shots. They've been such a great class, each getting what they need from the short little sampler of a class. And on Friday, camera snugly forgotten on the desk, I hit Biltmore Avenue for all sorts of gallery fun. The Front Gallery at the Asheville Area Arts Council is featuring the artists of Clay Space Coop, along with Tom Pazderka. And down the street at Folk Art Frame & Gallery, a show featuring Clay Space member Kyle Carpenter, along with Michael Kilne and Daniel Johnston. This show is a collaborative effort with the Cloth & Fiber Workshop, which is also featuring work under the theme of 'Exploring Surface Design'. Both shows looked great, although with all the crowds of people you only seem to see at these events, I didn't get as close a look as I'd hoped. And there were several people seen across the room who I wanted to either meet or greet, but by the time I worked my way through, they were gone! But it was a good party, and another bonus was getting to peek in Ariel Gallery, one of my favorites in Asheville, in their brand spanking new space on Biltmore Avenue. Plenty to see in one little block, and Blue Spiral too of course.

This week also saw delivery of my work tables, thanks to Annie & Dan, and they are delicious! The legs are poplar that they harvested on their property, and other than the ply tops, the rest of the lumber is reclaim from some nice palettes courtesy of the glass studio next door.

new tables, new work, tired dog

The tables roll where ever needed, or away when not needed. And they seem to be the perfect height for the pug mill cart, although that's another task that still waits. Next week Annie & Dan come back and will install a storage shelf along one wall of the studio, which will help get a lot of extraneous stuff away and make room for better organization. Next week is also the Gay Smith workshop at Odyssey that I will be working as an assistant. I've been looking forward to the workshop since it was announced, although I admit pangs of really wanting to just hole up in the studio, finish all the details, get caught up on the paperwork and books and 'be open'. But Heather is also assisting, so with any luck I'll get inspired and awed during the day and ride that energy into the new studio and catch up on other work.

Now off to collect some old clay mags from a friend who's moving - good reference tools for future students, and nice to page through for me any time. Then back to Odyssey to finish prepping for the workshop. And then maybe back here...peace.