About The Artist

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I am a jeweler, a potter...an artist I suppose. I have been creating hemp, glass bead and wire jewelry since 1996 but have only been throwing pottery since the Spring of 2008. I plan to open my own gallery and workshop within the next five years but for now I make my work out of my home and sell in galleries and online. I sell my work to feed my hobby and because I am running out of room for my creations in the house. My art, like this blog, is in it's beginning stages and I hope that as my reader you will join me in my journey as an artist and enjoy it as much as I know I will!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My New (New To Me Anyway) Kiln

A friend of my mothers, Tiffany, sold me my pottery wheel nearly two years ago and recently offered me a kiln. She purchased the two together but was unsure if the kiln even worked and when I first bought the wheel I didn't have the space for the kiln as well. However, now that I have moved in to my own house I have the whole basement as a studio and was hunting for a kiln when Tiffany offered to let me have hers. She did not want to sell it in case it didn't work but did not have a use for it herself so I decided to take it and give it a shot.

This kiln is a very old Duncan kiln. Duncan was bought out my Paragon and are no longer made but from what I read they are decent kilns. Paragon still sells parts for these kilns and even had a manual for my specific model on their website so I was happy I had some guidance.

The kiln was designed as an energy-saving kiln and is made out of what seems like a heavy-duty styrofoam that supposedly NASA uses as isolation. It is very lightweight and small. It is a manual kiln so I will have to fire on nights or weekends since it cannot be left unattended. That part of it is not ideal but I can make it work.

I brought the kiln home about two weeks ago and have read the manual cover to cover. Tiffany even turned the kiln on before I picked it up and said it did get hot so it does work. I just haven't been able to find the time to try it out for myself.

As I wrote in my previous blog, I plan to never again fire work at the Odyssey so I am banking on learning this kiln well enough to use for all of my work. As I said, it is very small and will most likely only fire two or three of my pieces at a time but I never make more than that at a time anyway so I think it will suffice.

So I vow that now that my special orders are complete I will take some time to enjoy the holidays and then learn how to use my new kiln. It seems like quite a process and I feel like I will learn the most from trial and error but I am up for the task and I look forward to learning how to fire my own work. So have a Merry Christmas my readers, and keep checking in after the holidays and I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Finished Flowers!

There is no better feeling than knowing I did a job well and making a customer happy. So last night when my friend, Greg, picked up his special Christmas order and loved the final result, I was thrilled!

Greg ordered a half-dozen clay lilies from me over a month ago as a Christmas present for his girlfriend. They are her favorite flower and these lilies will never wilt so I thought it was a wonderful gift idea. I was excited to take on the task of making clay flowers, something I had never done before. Though, as usual, the process of making this order was anything but smooth.

I find that with special orders I tend to really stress out. I am always so worried about having a deadline for a piece and I hate that I have to rely on the people at the Odyssey to fire my work on time. This order was no exception.
I made the first set of lilies without a hitch and they turned out beautifully in their beginning stages. However transporting them when bone dry proved to be an issue and one of the original five broke during transportation. So I made two more in an attempt to get at least one replacement from them and they both broke as well, those even before I got them out of the house. So I finally wised up and made two more replacements and brought them to the Odyssey while they were still wet and let them dry at the studio. Those two both survived their first firing!
What stressed me out the most though, was that the final two lilies did not come out of their first firing until Thursday of last week! So I went that day and glazed them and prayed they would come out of their glaze firing on time! I couldn't pick them up any later than Wednesday because they still needed painting and I was supposed to be going to Waynesville for Christmas vacation. And Greg had wanted to pick them up Monday which made it even more stressful! Luckily Greg is a good friend and when I explained the situation he assured me that I had time. However, Monday afternoon I dropped by the studio, doubtful that the flowers would be ready, and found them on the glaze shelf ready for pick up!

So last night I painted the final two lilies and baked all six flowers to seal the paint. Greg came over just as they were cooling and he loved them! He said he knew where to go from now on if he had more gift ideas.

I still cannot believe how well the lilies turned out! They were a lot of work but so much fun and now I can add clay flowers to my portfolio. And I also have some great news...the two final lilies were also the last pieces I will have fired at the Odyssey because I now have my own kiln! I used the Odyssey to get this final piece finished but from here on out I will be doing all my own glazing and firing!

So this final piece of which I relied on the Odyssey's help to complete was a success and a great way to start a new chapter in learning this craft. Merry Chirstmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Table at the Holiday Bazaar

Just thought I would share a photo of me and my table at the holiday bazaar this past weekend. Very colorful to say the least!

Monday, December 14, 2009

One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure

Since I first began making jewelry I often made pieces that did not necessarily appeal to my personal style and taste. This is because I know that no two people have the same taste and something I may not find to my liking may suit another person perfectly. However, I have not had this mentality so much with my pottery, at least intentionally.

With each piece of pottery I have an idea of how I want it to look and each piece tends to be, if it turns out the way I had originally pictured, something I would keep for myself if I had the room for the piece and so forth. Yet often times by the time a piece is finished I am no longer satisfied with it. I am a perfectionist through and through and pottery is not a perfectionist's art. Glazing is an extremely unpredictable part of the whole pottery process and more often than not I am unhappy with the result of my glazing. It is an art in itself that I do not enjoy nor have I even begun to master. Yet what appeals to me is not often what appeals to everyone and once in a while a person's taste will surprise you.

This weekend at the holiday bazaar I priced many of my pieces to sell sell sell. I wanted to move my older inventory to make room for newer, better pieces. I feel like my work has improved a lot and I have decided to focus more of my time of my Sand and Sea pieces that I know are unique and that I do well. So this weekend I was hoping to sell my older work and priced it very low to get rid of it. There were even a few pieces I have decided to donate because, after staring at them all day Saturday at the sale, I cannot stand to have them around anymore. Some of my older work is just terrible!

However, one piece that I planned to donate once the day was done actually sold at the bazaar! A woman with her two children approached my table and decided to get a Christmas gift for their grandmother. Apparently she loves mugs and the woman and her children chose my "Swamp Turtle" mug that I made at the beginning of last year. This mug would have been a great piece, in my opinion, if the glaze had not come out as it did. But the glaze was one that could either be a very pretty green or a very ugly brown and this particular piece came out the ugly brown. The glaze also ran a lot and ultimately came out look like it was pulled out of a swamp. See the photo below.
I vented about this piece is an earlier blog and about how I was so upset with the glazing. Yet now, a little over a year later, this mug has found its home and it was not in a Goodwill store. I guess the saying is true, "one man's junk is another man's treasure."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Bazaar

Last week I was looking up information for The Big Crafty, a craft show my mom and I went to at Pack Place and I found out about the Women's Wellness and Education Center hosting their first annual Holiday Bazaar. The fee to be in the show was very minimal and on a whim I decided to enter the show! It turned out the deadline to enter was November 20th but an artist had dropped out and I got her spot so I think it was meant to be.

I never do anything on a whim, especially something that takes a lot of work and organization, so ultimately this endeavored has caused me a lot of stress. The good thing was I had so much inventory built up I didn't even make any new pieces for the show, which was my main reason for signing up. There's no way I would have had time to make inventory. And to be honest I'm hopeful that a lot of my older inventory can be moved at this show, some pieces I've had entirely too long. So I've priced to sell and hope to leave with very little.

I spent all week preparing and finally finished everything up last night. Every night this week I've had something to do to prepare, from pricing and inventory to finding a table and getting change. Its been hectic (I've been entirely too busy to even write about it until now) but now I can't wait to see how it all goes!

Tonight I'll be heading to the center to set up from 5:00 to 8:00 and then the show goes from 10:00 to 6:00 tomorrow. So check out the website and stop by if you can, it should be a great bazaar!

Have a Happy Heart

Whenever I'm doing something I don't want to do my mother always asks me if I have a "Happy Heart." She got the saying from a friend and uses it all the time. She says we should strive to have a happy heart in all that we do. So with each piece I make, jewelry or pottery, I try to remind myself to have a happy heart during the process.

Usually this is not a difficult thing to do since I love making pottery and jewelry. However, I recently completed a piece where, during the entire creative process, I never once had a happy heart. I won't go into detail as to why but let's just say I've decided to re-think taking special orders after this one.

So, remember the special order teapot I made back in November? Well that's the piece I've been referring to. From the beginning I struggled to put the teapot together, having issues throwing the pot on the wheel and then having the original spout dry too quickly to attach to the pot. It was one problem after another.

I did finally get the piece together though and was pleased with it at it's green ware stage.

But of course once it was bone dry the teapot was very fragile and in transportation to the Odyssey, the mouse's tail broke off and required repair. And that was not where the problems ended, oh no. It made it through bisque firing but then I glazed it with Floating Blue and after firing it came out brown.

You can see a hint of the blue is was supposed to be on the spout of the teapot. It would have been beautiful. I guess the glaze was not mixed well and it was my fault for not paying better attention. It had been fairly thin but I didn't think much of it until I saw the teapot. I was aggravated, to say the least, and at that point felt like throwing the teapot at a wall. Luckily I refrained and instead, I hand-painted the entire piece.

The piece is still functional but is brown on the inside in order for that to be the case. The paint I use is not food safe, though it is dishwasher safe which seems a little silly to me, so I could not paint the inside. I am pleased with the end result though and am bringing it to the client tonight is hopes that she will find it satisfactory as well. If she does not, I may throw the teapot at her.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preparing for Christmas

So has anyone else failed to notice that Christmas is only a month away? No? Well I did...until this week, and now I'm rushing to stock galleries for Black Friday and the Christmas season! Last night I spent several hours making bottle cap jewelry for Pura Vida since those seem to be my best sellers in the downtown Asheville shop. I can't seem to make pieces fast enough for that gallery!

I ended up trying out a new design idea last night too, which turned out better than I could have hoped for and I'm totally psyched! I haven't made jewelry in so long it was exciting to have pieces come out so well.


I decided to put the pop tabs to use by using them as the chain for bottle cap charms. It took several attempts before I found a weave that worked but once I got the right pattern there was no stopping me. I was on a roll and by the end of the night had made two necklaces like the one above, a macrame necklace with bottle cap charm, two bracelets and four sets of earrings. 

Unfortunately the next step is recording the new inventory and pricing everything, two of my least favorite parts of running this business. I got everything organized though and will hopefully be dropping off the jewelry tomorrow.

I'll also be selling my pottery in Affairs of the Heart in Waynesville after this weekend. I spent some time pricing and organizing inventory I don't have listed on Etsy to bring home Saturday. I hope to get rid of some of my older inventory to make room for my newer pieces.

I am still hunting for a kiln but will be looking at one in Waynesville on Sunday. I had to bring my two special orders to be fired at the Odyssey though and will glaze them there as well to have them ready by Christmas. I am determined though that they will be the final pieces I will have fired outside of my home. 

So I am slowly feeling prepared for Christmas. I feel that after the weekend the galleries will be better stocked with my work and hopefully I'll have some decent sales through the holidays. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shop Local

SilverWear ClayWorks made the top line of the Etsy "Shop Local: Asheville" page today when I listed six new items for sale!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Special Orders

Lately several special orders have been made and I've had so much fun filling them I thought I'd share a few pictures of the works-in-progress:

This is a cute little teapot with a mouse on the lid. Its the first teapot I've thrown in a while, and the first in the new house. I'm really happy with how the mouse turned out and I can't wait to get it glazed and fired!

The second order is for a Christmas present for my friend Greg's new girlfriend. He requested I make some Calla Lilies. I've never thought I was very good at hand-building but they're fairly simple flowers so I figured it was worth a try. I cannot begin to express how happy I am with how they've turned out! They're currently drying in the basement and these are another project I cannot wait to finish to see how they turn out!

Oh, and of course throughout my entire creative process, my trusty sidekick was there to support and encourage.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Inspiration and New Techniques

This past Saturday I went to the Dillsboro Pottery Festival. I love going to craft shows and festivals with local artists to get ideas and admire other artist's work. It always motivates me to create and inspires so many wonderful ideas!

The memory card in my camera was unfortunately nearly full when I arrived on Saturday and I did not take a lot of photos at the festival. There were so many wonderful potters I was disappointed I did not get more photos but I still thought I would share these two photos I did take of some of my favorite pieces:

The photo on the left shows some simple coffee mugs with adorable little frogs on the handles. These remind of my some of my "Clay Mates" and were right up my ally! On the right are pieces I admired last year and saw Friday night in Twigs and Leaves, one of my favorite shops in downtown Waynesville. I knew the artist, Michael Lalone, would have his work at the festival again this year. I was able to speak with him for quite a while last year and he told me the texture he has on these pieces is from a special glaze he buys online. I really want to try using this glaze and may experiment with it once I have my own studio complete and learn a little bit more about glazing.

As I said, there were many wonderful artists there. I recognized Joy Tanner, a local artist who's blog I've followed for a little while now. I also saw the amazing Terrance Painter and his incredible work that I have admired even before having ever become a potter myself.

But it was not just the artists and their work that I go to see at this festival. Unlike all the other shows I go to see throughout the year, this festival offers something more. At the Dillsboro Pottery Festival there are demonstrations going on all day long. I get to see potters throw, glaze and fire their work and learn new techniques and tricks.

One of the demos I thought was fun to watch was this potter has he used a kick-wheel to throw small pots and vases:

One of the demos I enjoyed so much last year and got to see more of this year was the Raku firing demonstration. My family and I stood and watched nearly the entire process of a Raku firing. I love Raku and am amazed at how beautiful horse hair and feathers look burned into a pot.

And like last year, the demonstrator throwing near the front entrance showed techniques for throwing an decorating that I have never seen before. Last year the man showed how he cuts into the rim of his pieces to make them look like waves, a technique I have used on many of my Sand and Sea bowls. This year a potter from California, Trent Berning, demonstrated how he decorates the outside of his pieces by manipulating them while they are still wet and on the wheel.

It's hard to explain how he did it but I was able to watch him throw for quite a while so I got a good idea of his techniques and plan to try it on a few pieces of my own soon.

So the trip to Dillsboro was well worth it again this year. It was a beautiful day, I learned some new throwing and firing techniques and found some inspiration and motivation to create some new pieces of my own.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Featured on Treasury West Etsy Page!

Today my turtle bowl was also featured on Treasury West's Etsy page!

She did a search for Ruby, Sage, Red, Turquoise and Green and my turtle bowl showed up!

Etsy Showcase!

Today my pottery is listed on an Etsy showcase! Here is what the page looks like with my turtle bowl at the top!

This has already more than doubled the views I had on this piece and it is only 10am. The showcase lasts 24 hours!

If you want to see the page for yourself go to Etsy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Pieces Made In The New Home!

I finally sat down at my wheel on Tuesday night and threw my first pieces in my new home! I had been at work that afternoon and was getting restless (we just got through the 10/15 extension deadline so now work is REALLY slow) and all I could think about was throwing on my wheel. I hadn't felt this motivated to throw in a long time so I decided to go with it. I took off work at 2 p.m. and went straight home where I threw on some old clothes and started playing in the mud.
It felt so good to be back on the wheel. It's like riding a bike, you never loose the knowledge and experience you've gained and the skills you've mastered never seem to fade. I can still center a piece of clay fairly easily and I still struggle to open up my pots, I also still make my bowls too thin at the base. Some things never change.
My ideas have not changed much either and I went to my studio with a plan and a piece in mind. Of course, I wanted to make another turtle bowl. Only this time I wanted to make a sea turtle. I've tried in the past and been unsuccessful but with my new-found motivation I felt like I could accomplish it this time around. So I threw a few pieces, attempting to make a good sized bowl for my turtle shell. I failed a couple times and made a few pieces that weren't large enough and I ended up combining these two bowls into one:

I also made a rockin' lidded jar, probably my best to date. And I didn't even measure the lid!

But the highlight of my evening was finally getting the bowl I needed for my turtle. And last night, once the pieces were all leather hard, I completed my latest Clay Critter. I call him "Crush" from my favorite character from Finding Nemo:

I can't wait to glaze and fire him but I'm afraid I will have to wait for a while because I'm going to fire him in my own kiln. I don't want to transport him or give anyone but myself an opportunity to mess him up. I am currently looking to buy a kiln though, I'm going to look at one next week and keep checking Craig's List for new listings. So hopefully Crush will not have to wait too long to be completed.

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Studio Space!

So if you read my last blog you know that I've been moving a lot. I left the wonderful little basement pottery studio and office/jewelry workspace on Hendersonville road. I spent the summer in Bearwood with carpeted floors and therefore no way of throwing on my pottery wheel.
It was an emotionally draining summer and one where I lacked the motivation to do pretty much anything. Needless to say, I made nothing along the lines of jewelry or pottery. In fact, I haven't touched a piece of clay or a glass bead since May. Life has been too hectic for me to have any time for my hobbies.

Things are better now though, actually the best they've ever been! I decided not to move to Raleigh so I spent most of the summer house hunting and I bought a house! I closed August 24th and now, in the middle of October, have finally gotten the house in order and where I want it to be. I am fully unpacked, organized and even have the place decorated to my liking! And the best part is I found a house with not only an office but also a full basement so I have both a jewelry workspace and pottery studio!

Here is my jewelry desk set up in the new office and my pottery on display:

My roll top desk is across the room so I use the same chair and can roll is around the room to my various drawers full of jewelry supplies, same as in the Hendersonville House office. Its a nice set up, small but it works. I plan to hang up some small tackle boxs for my beads on the wall above the jewelry desk.

And here is the basement studio:

There's ton's of room in the basement for all of my pottery equipment! I will be going to Lowe's this coming weekend to buy shelves for the wall behind the wheel and also a sink to hook up to the left of the wheel. I am hunting for a kiln as well, which will fit perfectly on the gravel porch in the back yard. And I have a little nook beside the wheel, just outside of the photo above, that I will make a space for glazes. Its the perfect set up!

I haven't thrown yet because I have no sink in the basement and also because I've just been too busy. I wanted to get the house painted and decorated so I could feel settled in before I got back into my hobbies. I am ready to throw again though.

I've displayed some of my finished pieces throughout the house and want to make more. I went with a beach theme throughout the whole house so my Sand and Sea pieces work perfectly with the decor!

To see pictures of the whole house check out my Facebook album.

Keep checking back! I'll be blogging again now that I'm finally settled in and have my own studio space once again!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Moving, Moving and More Moving

This past weekend I moved in to my new apartment for the summer. The lease was up in the "Hendersonville House" and things went south with the roomies so no one wanted to renew the lease. So for the summer I have moved back to Mars Hill and gotten my own apartment. It is amazing finally living alone but it will ultimately be a lonely and boring summer.
See I chose this apartment because I had lived in the complex before, when I was in college. I had an all-tile apartment then and was allowed pets. Well now it is under new management and not the best I might add. I am no longer allowed pets so my baby Samantha is back in Waynesville, at her country home, for the summer (hence the lonely part of the summer). Also, I requested a tiled apartment and got carpet. This means I cannot throw on my pottery wheel all summer long!
So I left my full basement studio and my office/jewelry workspace and everything is now stuffed in one carpeted bedroom in my useless summer apartment. I am a bit bitter.
I do plan on making a lot of jewelry this summer because I still can do that. I may even make some clay beads. My potter wheel is serving as an end table in my living room though, and will remain there until I move again, hopefully in August.
I wanted to move to Raleigh and live with a friend there by the end of the summer but job hunting is not going so well so Plan B is to buy a house here in Asheville. I need to settle down, stop moving every year, find a place to call home for a while. So I'm house hunting now and looking for a house with studio space. I either want a three bedroom place or a house with a basement, shed, garage or office to convert into a studio.
I feel that no matter what, I will end up buying a shed for a kiln and glazes eventually. I want everything on site so I don't have to deal with transporting my work to the Odyssey anymore. If I build a shed big enough for the wheel as well, that will be fine too. But none of that will come until the end of the summer. So for now, I will "go back to my roots" as Tenzie says and stick to jewelry for a while.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Necklace Design

My friend Josh left for the summer to work in Santa Fe. His birthday is at the end of this month but since he won't be here for it I made him a going away/early birthday gift. I sat down one night and came up with this new design. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung and tax season has ended! I survived through April 15th! So that means I'm back on the blogging scene everyone! I took a little break from everything once the season ended, I slept a lot and worked very little. But recently I've been catching up on my reading which included fellow artists' blogs and figured it was time to start writing in my own blog again as well. Also, yesterday I got a check from Pura-Vida, I'd sold two more pairs of bottle cap earrings and a pair of resin bead earring. Needless to say it was some encouragement to start creating again so I drug out the jewelry supplies and came up with this cute new earring design last night:

I also finished up some pottery that has been neglected and sitting patiently on my desk, waiting for my attention, for weeks. I painted the turtle and crab in these two Sand and Sea bowls:

I just can't help it, I love this design so much!

And finally, last night I took photos of all the glass bottom bowls I had originally made for Pura-Vida. I haven't decided if I'm going to list them on Etsy or bring them to Waynesville to sell in a gallery there.

So there you have it, a blog (hopefully) worth the wait. Thanks to all my readers for being so patient with me!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Meet My Little Beach Bum!

After some really busy and stressful weeks filled with tax returns and audits I managed to find some time to play in the clay. I have made this covered Crab dish that I call "Beach Bum."

I have to give my mom credit for the idea of making it a covered dish, I was just going to put the eyes in the bowl. It ended up looking ridiculous with the eyes being attached to the same piece the legs were attached to so I made the lid and put the eyes there. He's currently drying in the basement and I'll take him to be fired once he's bone dry.

24 days until tax season is over! Then there will be many more blogs posted, I promise!