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.