Sunday, December 7, 2008


Well, it happened - I finally glazed some pots. And, well, there were some good things and some bad. I'll start with the good: we were having some trouble with the Deb's Clear blistering, but that didn't seem to happen with this round of work (yea!). I applied the glaze considerably thinner than we had before, so I'm thinking application may have been the culprit. Secondly, the Deb's with copper (6%) and Iron (3%) gave a lovely warm green that I used on the the tractor bowl. I think that glaze is definitely a keeper. I also really like the Amber (which is the G-76 Amber) and will continue to use that glaze as well...

Now onto the not so great results. First off, and I should have tested these ages ago, the underglazes were far more vibrant and flat than I had anticipated. They give the pots (the whale bowl in particular) a paint-by-number feel that I am not particularly keen on. On the other hand, now I know what to expect and I can adjust my usage of these underglazes accordingly (and maybe nix them, in fact!). I've also realized that the slip base is far too white for my taste, but I think that is easy enough to fix with the adddition of a little colorant.

On the bright side, I now have a good deal of information about how these glazes worked and what I need to change. I'm still in pursuit of a runny clear that I can add colorants to that will bleed outside of my drawings. I think I should play with inlaying some glaze into my drawings as well - it would be great if the illustrations themselves could blur and bleed a bit.

Okay, that's it for now. Given that my class is over and I don't move into my new studio space until January, my posts may be a little few and far between this month. It'll be good to get back in the studio and start on my next phase of clay research!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December already??

It's hard to believe that 2009 is now less than one month away, but exciting to be heading toward the fresh start of a new year. There will certainly be a lot of excitement to kick off January as I move into my new private studio space at Northern Clay Center(!!). I just found out shortly before Thanksgiving that there was a small spot available, and could be mine if I wanted. I've spent some time thinking seriously about my career in clay and trying to develop a good budget covering all of my expenses. I've certainly been using a different part of my brain these past few weeks...

The glaze calc class ends this Thursday, I'm hoping to get in some pots so that I have at least a few finished pieces to show for the last two months of work. I'll be sure to post pictures as soon as the firing is out.

I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


It's official - bowls are an entirely different beast when it comes to decoration. Give me a convex cup or a slightly concave plate and I'm good to go, but a deep bowl??!! Using my paper stencils was definitely a challenge inside these bowls - they really wanted to buckle and distort as I wet them. I'm also not as thrilled with the farm field texture on the exterior of these pots - I feel like they need something else on the outside. Creating that pattern is so meditative for me, I'd love to come up with some others that I feel are as effective. The farm field works so well because it ties into both my thoughts on food and consumption and the whole idea of energy as ethanol. I've been racking my brain for another pattern that can say as much as simply, but nothing has struck yet... any ideas for me??

All in all, I feel like these were a good first go, but I need to resolve the exterior on the next round. I'm hoping I can get these through in time to take them home to my mom for the holidays - I've owed her some bowls for ages now.

Juice Cups

I've decided that it's time to move on from the plates and try hand building and decorating some new forms. Plates lend themselves pretty naturally to the way I'm working right now, but it would be wonderful to have a broader body of hand built forms to pull from. The cups below were my first go so I kept them pretty simple. I'm not in love with the proportions, but it was fun to break up the form and try out some of the ideas I've been playing with in the round. I think today will be spent playing with cutting paper templates - I'd like to have a cup form with a bit more of an hourglass figure - these feel a little like soup cans! I wouldn't be surprised if I end up back on the wheel at some point, there are some shapes that are just so much easier to kick out on a wheel than by hand. And with all the time I'm spending decorating, anywhere I can cut down on labor is valuable... Next up - bowls!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I just got some very exciting news... I am now part of a permanent collection! I had work accepted into the It's Only Clay exhibition earlier this year and in addition to being a new member of the BSU Margaret Hallow Collection I also won 1st place in the exhibit!! So exciting... For more info on the show check out this web page.

Below you'll see an image of the two pieces that were in the show, the espresso trio was what got all the attention. This was the very last piece that I completed before we left Pittsburgh, it's good to know that I'm heading in a direction that people respond to. I wonder how my new work will be received - I suppose I need to actually glaze some of them to find out. I just got some more test results out of the kiln, I'm hoping to sort through them all tomorrow and make some decisions about how to move forward - only two classes left...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More for Testin'

Here are a few more baby test plates to try out some of the myriad glazes that I'm accumulating in the studio. I should take some photos of my test tiles, I keep meaning to do that... Tomorrow!
I would write more, but I'm pooped. Been up since 5:30 - it's time for B-E-D.
More soon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's voting day! I'm heading out to the polls after a few days of canvassing for the Obama campaign... keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out for the Democrats this year. We've certainly got a beautiful day for voting.

I've gotten a number of tiles out of the test kiln and some promising new directions to pursue. At some point I'll try to take some photos of the tiles and post them online...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back to Food

So I'm pretty excited about this next plate. I've been back to reading Michael Pollen and thinking about food production, oil and pollution. One of the components of that food/oil chain is in the pesticides used on crops. Hence the crop dusting imagery on this salad plate (which I was planning to pair with the grain truck plate). I'm hoping that I can fire this guy on an angle with some runny glaze that will look like pesticide spraying from the plane... we'll see if I can pull it off. I have this vision of place settings where the pieces all relate and touch on different aspects of food, food production, oil and energy. I'm still working out where these ideas are going but I feel like I've made some real progress in this past month (which is a relief after such an extended break this year!). Now that I've finished decorating the last round of plates I made, I think it's time to work in some new shapes. I'd like to develop some bowls and cups to go along with the plates, but I'm anticipating those could prove more challenging than the flat, canvas-like surface a plate provides. Maybe some wider and shallower bowls would do the trick. The cups are a little harder to envision - looks like I need to head back to my sketchbook.

I had a few minutes today to look at the huge box of test tiles - I can't wait to get them all spread out to really examine what's going on. Mel just passed along two more recipes for me to try that I think Ayumi uses on her work - she definitely gets that runny color I'm looking for.

Hopefully I'll have some winners in this group of test glazes and we can start moving forward with some actual plate-glazing! I have a feeling there is a lot more testing in my future though...

Friday, October 24, 2008

New and Improved...

I remade the housing salad plate today and I think I like it better than the first version. Practice makes perfect, right?? I had intended to have one remaining house with lights on in the first plate, but I got distracted and painted it black. I think that little change really improves the overall impression of this piece and makes it tell more of a story than the first one did.

I'm also working on a partner to the grain truck plate, I'll hopefully post that one tomorrow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Next up... back to trucks. This is a grain carrier, and was a PAIN to make a stencil of! But... I think the time and energy spent cutting these stencils are worth the outcome. I decided that there was plenty going on with the truck and all it needed was a little glimpse of the red clay with the sun up on the right. Again, it will be a different story to see these glazed, but I'm excited about what's happening in the raw state. I have plans for a side plate with a crop dusting plane...

Okay, I'm off to class!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


So I was doing my usual pottery schlep today - the photo below demonstrates why it can be a pain to haul delicate things around. I had three of these plates with me, two of which were un-decorated. Of course the one that broke was nearly complete... You gotta love ceramics!! At least I know I can make another one and hopefully improve upon the design.

My glaze class at NCC is really kicking into high gear. I have over 80 test tiles waiting to be fired (phew!) and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something (anything!!) turns out. I've got a number of colorant tests going into this kiln as well as some more base glaze tiles. I think I'm narrowing in on something that will work, but I've still got some crazing issues to sort out. Scott suggested revisiting the glaze I was tinkering with at PCA which I realize should have been done at the very beginning... But, it's mixed now and hopefully will yeild some helpful results.

Hopefully I'll post some pictures of whole plates at some point soon...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Housing Continued

Here is another variation on the housing theme... whoo-boy are these time consuming! I'm liking the results here in the raw state, but I can't wait to see some of them glazed. I'm hoping that the white underglaze on the the white slip will be a bit more subtle than it is now, and that the drawings pop on the white background. The suv on this plate is so exciting for me right now (I love paper resist!!), but having some finished pots will help me see how to move forward - at this point I have no idea what will work out and what won't.

suburbia plate

suburbia plate (back)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Housing Plate

I know that it's on the minds of everyone these days, but I can't seem to take my thoughts off of our faltering economy and plummeting housing market. My "housing bubble" plate below is a continuation of my politically-themed work and an exploration of our current crisis. I'd love to turn these into a dinner set, but I'm torn as to how the decoration between the pieces should relate. I feel like if all of the components were this detailed, the dinner table would feel cluttered and busy! I think I need to work on ways to balance the detailed with the more simple, but I just love filling up all of the space...

We managed to load a glaze kiln in the glaze chemistry class I'm taking at NCC. I've got about 25 clear bases in the kiln. I can't WAIT to see the results so that I can start playing with some color. I'm thinking that the white block with the vulture and the area with the oil rig on the plate below will get a colored transparent glaze and the rest of the piece will be clear. I also need to start playing with coloring the slip - I think it could really warm up these pots a bit if I had a less stark white slip base. Yea experiements!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Next Round

To continue on my camera-happy phone adventure, here is a look at my latest plate. These past two plates are pretty directly from my sketchbook (see this post), and I need to devote some sketchbook time to developing some new image combinations. I'm building up a healthy collection of imagery for stencils and line drawings, so I should have plenty of inspiration. I have yet to use a number of the drawings - I'm pretty excited about the powerlines I recently drew. And with the current state of affairs in the world there is certainly plenty to talk and think about. I've been pondering a series of "presidential cups" with the faces of all the US presidents. And the cows, I've got to get back to the cows!! Lots to work on... I'll get back with some follow-up posts as soon as some of these plates are glaze fired.

The plate ready for bisque...

A close up of the farm field texture with slip slightly sanded away.

Detail of the off shore oil rig stencil

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My sister is my hero!

So I've been moaning and groaning about not having a camera to document my new work in progress for my blog. I realized while working the other afternoon that I DO in fact have a camera and it's almost always with me. My phone! I was momentarily elated until I realized I had no way to get the photos from the camera to my blog... boo. Enter my brilliant, techno-savvy sister who talked me through how to e-mail the photos to myself. yea! Now I can keep everyone updated on my progress and not worry about bringing a camera along to the studio... Here is a peek at some of my latest low fire work.

The start of a "history of energy" plate

A finished version...

Another variation on the same theme (I think I like the trees better in this one, but the whale better in the first...)

Oil and commodity cookie plates

I'd still like to figure out a "real" camera at some point soon, but for now, this is a fantastic solution. Back to blogging regularly!! Thanks, Maddie

Monday, September 22, 2008

And so it begins...

My class at Northern Clay finally started last week! Hurray! I've been in the studio a fair bit taking advantage of the open work times. I'm ready to be learning more about glazes, that's for sure... For some reason, I've had the urge to handbuild rather than work on the wheel this past week, so I've embraced the feeling and am building away. It's funny to think that as a college student I *thought* I had no interest in handbuilding. I still love the wheel, don't get me wrong, but I'm enjoying the looseness of working by hand. Although, I spent the weekend between the two World Ceramics: Transforming Women's Traditions exhibits and I can't believe the skill of some of those women handbuilders. While I completely appreciate (and am in awe of) the possibiltiy for handbuilding to be this exact, for me it encourages a more organic and relaxed approach. We'll see how long it is before I'm pulling my hair out because I just can't get something round... I'm currently working on a series of small plates to test out some ideas with underglazes and paper resist. Still no camera yet, but I'll post pictures as soon as I have a way to take some! For now you'll have to settle for one of the exquisit (handbulit!) pieces from the NCC women in clay exhibition:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Writing Continued...

To continue on my writing theme, Mel loaned me an excellent book called Writing the Artist Statement. I burned through the first section and have just come up against my first timed writing assignment... I'm looking forward to working through these exercises and the process of thinking carefully about what I create and why - who knows what will surface!

And a little non-ceramic related side note: Aaron teaches his first Intro to Microeconomics course at Carleton today - go Aaron, go!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thoughts on Writing

One of the many long-term benefits I can see to keeping a regular blog is the frequent opportunity to practice writing. I spend a great deal of time expressing myself visually but I know written words can play a powerful role for me, my peers and my customers, if used effectively. I immediately think of my artist statement (which I sorely need to update), but also the world of magazine articles. I'm slowly developing an understanding that success in the arts hinges largely on promotion - an article is a great way to explain to the community what inspires you, where you've come from and where you're going.

I found a thoughtful post (and blog in general called Two For Joy) focused on choosing and using words. I certainly rely on a safe cache of language and could benefit from critically thinking about how I express myself verbally. I think in the end taking time and care in writing (and making it a regular habit) will solidify my ideas about my work and help to spur new directions.

New Camera?

A few weeks ago my trusty cannon point and shoot digital camera finally decided to die. I've had it for five years now, so I knew the end was coming, but I was hoping it could hang in there for a little longer... Over the past few weeks Aaron and I have tried to flesh out exactly what we want to use our camera for, and how we would improve on our last one. Given that I purchased an ez cube earlier this year, I certainly want to be taking digital images of my work. I'm hearing more and more about how shooting in raw format is helpful for digital slides, and I'd also like a decent macro feature. On the fun side of things, we're both suckers for the video function, and would love playing with a bigger zoom. So, after some poking around and reading lots of reviews, we're down to two cameras: the Cannon Powershot S5 IS and the Olympus SP-560. I'm leaning toward the Olympus, given the ability of that model to shoot in raw format (and that out-of-control 18x zoom!), but the Cannon has a larger sensor size and faster shutter speed. Hmmm.... hard to decide! I think we just need to find a store where we can go try them both out and see what we like up close and personal.

And when it comes to actually getting good shots of my work, I've found a few great sources of information recently. One being Fresh Plums by John Glick and the other a post on a blog I read called the Mudpot. Both have some good info and a few book suggestions which I will definitely have to check out as I have more work to photograph!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clay Weekend

I spent a good portion of my weekend up at the Northern Clay Center checking out all of the amazing potters on display for the annual American Pottery Festival. The quality of the work was just spectacular. The thing I love about going to ceramic shows is that not only do you get to see work that you've often only seen in slides or on the internet, but you get to pick it up and touch it! Such fun... I also caught a glimpse of some of my new favorite pottery stars - Naomi Cleary and Liz Zlot Summerfeld. This morning I took a short (but info-packed) workshop with Gail Kendal, which gave me some great insights into working with low fire clay.

I'm all signed up to take a class with Margaret Bohls at NCC this coming fall -- I can't wait for it to get started so I can get back into the studio and start making pots. The topic is just what I need, too - low fire glaze chemistry. Yea! Hopefully I can clear up some of my pesky glazing problems and get to a place where I have a few glazes I enjoy using and understand well. I am looking forward to the day when I can think clearly about how I am going to glaze a pot before I even begin to throw...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Home

I have neglected this poor blog for far too long now. It's time to get myself back in the habit of updating regularly. Although, even with my sporadic posting habits, it's still an excellent reminder of change and growth. I'm amazed by how easy it is to forget where we start from - this is an ideal place to collect and document ideas, progress and new directions. So even though I've been away for seven months now (geez!) I'm going to jump back into the blogging world as I enter into a new chapter of my ceramic work and my life.

A big part of my blogging absence has to do with Aaron and my relocation from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis. It's scary to say this, but the last time I touched clay was back in March, right before NCECA (double geez!). In all honesty, it's been great to have an extensive break - I think I'm a person who needs time to digest and regroup/recharge away from my medium. But, I'm to the point now where I am itching to get my hands back into clay. Since I still don't quite have a studio lined up, I've been working to coalesce some of the ideas I've been mulling over surrounding food and energy in my sketchbook. Realizing these ideas in clay will probably be an entirely different story all together...

I went down to Carleton (my alma mater) with Aaron last week for the first time since I graduated in 2001. It was amazing to be back on campus and exciting to realize that I will be able to visit on a more regular basis than every seven years! On the way down we stopped to snap some photos of cornfields for me to use in my work. I'd like to get a few good shots of soy and wheat as well so I can work on some commodity themed pots....

While we were in Northfield we also hit up the Steam and Engine show, where we saw our good friend Anne Sawyer sing AND I got to get my fill of tractor pictures. Some of these will definitely be finding their way into my work...

Sunday, February 17, 2008


It's crazy to look back and see that I dipped my toe into the low fire waters last June. I would never have guessed that it's been eight months now! It's taken awhile, but I feel like some things are sinking in and some concrete ideas are taking shape (see the set of tumblers below). Exciting!

What's for Dinner? (view 1)
What's for Dinner? (view 2)

What's for Dinner? (view 3)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What is Art?

Here's your answer - hee hee!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Pancake Fun

Okay, so this isn't exactly ceramic related, but, man, it is funny! Yea pancake olympics!!