You can often find me here

You can often find me here

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Let's Get Small!

In my best Steve Martin voice, "Let's get small!"  
Some spoon rests from the last glaze fire.

I knew last Saturday that I probably wouldn't make it back to the studio for a few days.  We were forecast to get somewhere between 4 and 8 inches of snow beginning late Saturday night and all day on Sunday.  In case you don't know, this is a big deal in my part of the world.  We don't usually get significant snowfall and certainly not in December.  

I made some small things that would not require me to do anything else to them before they dried.  
I hope these soap dishes will turn out ok.  Some of them may be too small when they are done to hold a bar of soap, but there's always other uses for little dishes.

I also threw some small vases.  It had been a while since I'd made anything this size.  I had fun playing with shapes.

We ended up with about 4 or 5 inches of the white stuff after all. It was enough snow that I was content to stay home and inside all day on Sunday.  I ventured outside and contemplated driving in to town to check on the studio on Monday (school was closed - woo hoo!)  I got the car stuck on the driveway and changed my mind though.  I managed to get out of the driveway and safely onto the nicely cleared road this morning and everything at the studio was just fine. 

While snowed in, I cooked breakfast and used my bacon cooker.
It works great.  The bacon doesn't sit in the drippings as it cooks and when you are finished, you pour off the grease and put the cooker in the dish washer!

Since it's been a long time (again) since I updated you on what was going on at the studio, so here are some things...

New paint and new sign on the building!  I put the middle picture in there for comparison.
If the weather ever is nice again, I'll get a good shot of the whole new look.

Here are some shots of the most recently finished pieces:
Cake pans.  I still have 2 of these available for sale.

Large leaf platter.  The green glaze did something kind of interesting there on the bottom where it overlapped.  The leaf is more subtle on this one.  I didn't stain it and block it out with wax resist. In person, one can clearly see the leaf through the green glaze.

A not so subtle leaf design in a plate. I love this combination of blue glaze and he red/brown stain on the leaf.

Believe it or not, it is time to start putting 2019 on the bottom of pots.  Everything that I'm making this week won't get glaze fired until the new year!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

My, My How Time Flies

I cannot believe that it has been two solid months since I wrote a blog post.  I realize that I am making excuses, but I have a good one. 

I am teaching four online classes this semester.  Yes, four.  F-O-U-R.  Every semester it seems there is something strange about how my classes work out.  This semester I have four onlines and only one seated class.  It is going well, but I spend all day at work every day sitting at my computer.  I respond to student emails and answer questions and even hand grade their written work all at my computer.  Technology is wonderful that way.  As a result, I have not been able to make myself sit down at the computer when I'm at home to do anything.  Thus, no new posts here.  

I would promise to do better, but realistically I probably will not do better.  Let us just skip the empty promises this time and move on to what I can share right now.  

First of all, the Carolina Pottery Festival is this Saturday!  Hours are 10am to 4pm at the LeGrand Center in Shelby.  It is worth the $5 admission to see the wide variety of work.  I would love to see you there!  

About a month ago, I realized that this was happening again (as it does on the first Saturday of November every year) and I was not even close to prepared for it.  Pottery panic ensued.  Since September 26, we have been working in high gear at A Griffin Pottery.  I think the kiln has been fired 4 or 5 times already (previously unheard of in my studio), and I have another glaze fire to load up tonight after I finish glazing my last pieces.  I was not the only one who did not have as much work ready as she felt like she needed.  Gail and Lisa have both been right there with me frantically churning out the work. 

I made mugs...

soup bowls...

and bunches of other things that I did not stop to take pictures of. (Sorry.  I ended that sentence with a preposition.  I am exhausted.  Cut me some slack.)

All these things will be at the festival on Saturday.

We have experienced lots of rain and some wind due to two different hurricanes in September and October (Who am I kidding?  I can not remember when those storms were except that they were not this week or last week.) that have blown through our area.  The second one brought down this limb.  Only minor damage to a couple of cars that were parked there.  We were really lucky. 

Perhaps most exciting thing that has happened since I last posted here is that some long needed work to spruce up the outside of the building began.  This is further proof that when one thinks that one cannot do one more thing because she is too busy, that is when that one more thing will have to happen.  (Did you follow that?)

Check out this before and after.  Well, it's an after and before, but you get what I am trying to show you.  The building looks amazing!

Obviously, we are not finished.  I have to get the "stuff" back up on the outside now that the new paint is on. (Again with the preposition. Yikes!)  There will be a new sign soon too. Once that goes up, I'll get this guy back up and we will be all set.

For now, he is content to hang out inside where he is safe.

 Oh yeah, we have a new door knob on the bathroom door too.  I no longer have to worry about someone getting stuck in the bathroom because the door knob broke.  The knob broke on Sunday afternoon.  Lucky for me, I was on the outside and not the inside.

BIG thank you to my "handy" husband, Jeff for replacing this today.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cake Plates, Sponges, and Glaze Messes, OH MY!

What's wrong with this picture?  

That birthday cake is on one of my dinner plates instead of the pottery cake plate that I normally use.  That plate cracked last time I used it, so it was time to toss it out.  Because I know you are wondering, it was a pecan praline buttermilk pound cake and it was delicious even though I used twice as much butter as the recipe called for.  Oops!

So it is time that I made some more cake plates.
I am hopeful that these will work out.  I struggle with getting the size right.  They need to be mostly flat with just a little bit of lift on the outer edge (to catch stray icing).  I put some rings on them to help center the cake (I'm thoughtful that way).  They have to fit inside a cake carrier, so they have to be big enough for a 9 or 10 inch cake but small enough that the lid will fit on the carrier.

In other random things, I wore out my favorite sponge recently.
The one on the bottom I've been using for years and it has gotten really ratty.  You guys know how sentimental I am about some of the pottery stuff, so you won't be too surprised when I tell you that I am sad about my sponge and can't quite throw it out yet.  Allen gave me that sponge.  I think they must have thrown it in on one of his orders at Carolina Clay Connection and he didn't like it.  I happened to be in the studio that day, so he gave it to me.  I've used it ever since.

I want to share a not so good thing that happened in the last glaze fire.
The glaze on these mugs ran and stuck to the shelf.  I HATE it when that happens.  I should have checked the glaze, because the green was WAY too thick.  I made a great big mess.  I was in a hurry and didn't take the time to do it right.  You would think I would learn!  Notice the white on the bottom.  That is the kiln wash that I put on the shelves.  It served its purpose.  The kiln wash protects the shelf by keeping the piece from sticking when there are glaze accidents like this one.

This is how you fix that kind of mess.
You have to grind the extra glaze off the bottom.  I'll also have a little shelf repair to do, but that's a chore for another day.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Whirl Wind

The past several weeks have been a whirl wind of busy-ness.  I went back to work on July 9.  I've been helping my Mom and Dad get ready to move for what feels like an eternity but has really only been since late June.  (Please don't ask me to move any more furniture.)  Classes started on Aug 16. That was also the first day of games for the American Legion World Series.  I was pretty busy with the World Series beginning on Aug 13 and going through our team's last game on Aug 20.  In between, there's not been a lot of time for pottery or energy for writing blogs. 

Jeff and I volunteer with the World Series every year as part of a group that hosts one of the teams.  We always host the winner of the Great Lakes Region.  As a result, we now have friends from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana.  I'm frustrated each year that I can't be more involved, but the series coincides with the beginning of our semester.  Sometimes I'm doing well just to be able to get to the games when our guys play.  This year I thought I would be completely out of it since Mom and Dad were supposed to move during that week too.  Due to an untimely injury (Mom broke her ankle), the move had to be postponed for a few weeks.  As a result, I was able to do more with the Series than I thought I would.

Over the past eight years or so, the team from Midland, Michigan has earned the right to play in the World Series five or six times.  As a result, we have built relationships with those coaches over the years, and by extension also their families.  It is SO COOL!

How does this relate to pottery?  Hang on!  I'm getting there.

I invited Coach Ben Wright's family (Cindy, his mom; Jolee, his sister; and Addysen and Kipten, his niece and nephew) to come over to the pottery studio one of the days that the team didn't play until later in the afternoon. In addition to showing them all around, I made a few pieces so the kids could see how pottery is made.  The pictures that follow are all courtesy of Cindy Wright and Jolee Throop. 

I always start a demonstration with something cylindrical.  It was going well, so I added some texture and gave it a little belly out and a flair at the top to make a nice little vase.

I asked the kids what they wanted me to try next.  A bunny was the first idea. After I explained that I couldn't do a bunny, they settled on a plate. 

I had grabbed a few leaves from the yard before I left the house that morning.  I let Kipten pick the one we would use to decorate the plate.

I explained how I can tell when a piece is completely bone dry and demonstrated the "tongue test". 
Kipten tried it.

And then Addysen.

All in all, I had a wonderful time that morning and I think they did too.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pushing Hard

I talked to my friend Vicki on the phone today and she encouraged me to use this last week of my summer vacation to relax.  She went on to describe what relaxing is since she observed that I am not particularly good at it.  Sleeping in, sitting in my recliner, snacking on nachos, reading books, watching some TV shows, etc. all sound like good ideas.  I'll probably do some of those things too. 

But there is a lot that I planned for myself for this two weeks that I've had free.  Last week, I was in the studio every day.  Every. Day.  It was great! 

I started with these smallish pitchers. Each is about 2 pounds of clay.

Over the next couple of days, I finally got around to making some bacon cookers. I still need to have more of these on hand, but this is a start at least.

I only took a picture of one leaf platter.  I made a couple of other rectangular trays with leaves as well.

Four more pitchers.  These range from 3 to 4 pounds of clay each.

I think there were some mugs that didn't get photographed.

I glazed some.

There were also a few other relatively odious tasks that I had been putting off doing that I forced myself to get done.  I have a new batch of reclaimed clay now and all my kiln shelves are scraped and have a fresh layer of kiln wash.  I. Loathe. Those. Chores. But they are done now!  For the time being, I am going to continue to ignore that other bucket of clay that needs reclaiming.  

This week will be some different.  I'm going to pick up an order of clay and dry glazes in Charlotte in the morning.  Then I'll have to unload all that when I get back.  At some point, I'll need to process the new glazes.  I spent all of today working on some stuff for Buffalo Creek Gallery and I'll need to devote a good chunk of another day to get all that finished up.  Wednesday is July 4, so I should act like it is a holiday.  Then there's some family stuff going on Friday that will probably keep me out of the studio most of that day.  I guess it is a good thing that I got some pots made last week, because it isn't looking all that great for this week.  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer Time, Summer Time

In June, peaches and blueberries in North Carolina are ripe.  I love peaches and blueberries! I eat them every morning with my yogurt and granola.  For a special treat, I made a cobbler earlier this week.  The recipe is EASY.  Start with fruit.  This works with this combination or just peaches.  In the fall, I make it with apples. 

The topping is equal parts Bisquick and sugar.  I don't measure it.  Just dump it in a bowl.  Add some cinnamon.  Again, no measuring.  Mix all that up and sprinkle on the fruit.  Top that with pats of butter.  No skimping on the butter here.  

Bake at 350 for about an hour.  Let it cool just a little bit and serve with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

The baking dish that I use is one of my favorites.  It is a soda fired piece with a cobalt blue liner. I made this one a few years ago.  It was fired it at Ron Philbeck's.  It's not often that I bring things home to use unless they are flawed in some way. This one I just loved, so I decided to keep it.  It makes me happy every time that I use it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Playing Hurt

I finally had a chance to make some pots again this morning.  I'll go back and put handles on the mugs and trim the bowls tomorrow.  

I made all that stuff after I cut my self on a piece of broken pottery.  I know that this doesn't look like much, but it hurt.  It still does.  It also bled quite a bit.  I'll spare you the picture of my handful of blood.
A Band-aid will not stay on a muddy hand.  

In other news, I did some minor kiln repair today. 

I successfully switched out all 3 of the relay switches with only minimal amounts of swearing.

All fixed up and ready to go again.

I also spayed weed killer on all the little plants sprouting up in the cracks in the parking lot. I decided today that there is more cracked concrete than not cracked concrete in my parking lot.  The cracks add character, right?