Monday, November 16, 2009

Pots in Progress

I've been working on a big round of custom orders for the past month or so and thought I'd post a few pictures here.  My timing on this wasn't great, given that the holiday season is upon us, but I needed to get these out the door.  The images are of work which will be heading up to Alaska (hence the theme).  They are about 16" across and have taken me a LONG time to make!  I have four deco'ed and done, and three more to make.  Then I'm on to my Amphicar order! 

Oooh, La La!

Look at this new beauty we got last week at NCC!  I'm in love with the spring loaded lid lifter :)  His name is Bob, and I'm guessing he won't stay so pretty and shiny for long, but he is a welcome addition to our electric kiln family...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two Months?!?

Well, I am hardly on the once a week blogging plan that I swore to at the start of this year. It seems like the longer I let the blog slide, the harder it is to get back up on the horse (and the more monumental it feels the post should be). While my first post in two months may not be of monumental proportions, the pile of clay in the photo to the left (aka Mt. Reclaim) may fit the bill. I've come to find in my two months as studio tech at ncc that reclaiming clay is a lot like doing laundry: a never ending project!

Monday, September 7, 2009

One or both?

So, I'm working a new crop duster design into my line of pots and I can't decide which one works better - crop duster dusting, or crop duster minus the dust. Any preferences??

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quick Question

I'm working on a few show applications and could use some advice on how to best give dimensions. I'll use the work below as an example (a new one fresh from the kiln!!):

Would you give the dimensions as the piece is oriented in the image, or as it is when set flat? In other words, what should the height of the piece be? My initial inclination is to put the dimensions when it is set flat (so 3.5"H x 15" L x 11" W), but as I'm thinking about it that may be a little confusing to someone looking at this image - maybe the height should be 15?? I dunno...

Any thoughts?

More new pots to come soon!!!

New Studio!

It's official, I've moved into my new studio space at Northern Clay Center. It's cozy, but luckily my new studio mate, David Swenson (aka Swen) is easy going... My shelves are filling up fast with pots waiting for decoration, thank goodness the latex resist I ordered from Laguna arrived today!

Below are a few pics from the new space, this is where I'll be spending a lot of time for the next year...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Here we go...

Things are on the move... I swapped over to my new studio space a few days ago (which I am sharing with fellow Fogelberg recipient, David Swenson and will post pictures soon!) and am nearly settled. I managed to fire off a few loads of work amid the chaos of transition, so I'm hoping I can keep the momentum going. Only a few more days now before I officially start working as the new studio tech at NCC. I am excited and nervous! I was looking yesterday at the ginormous gas kiln expertly packed by managers Pete and Irene and I was filled with jittery anticipation... But, once I start, I really won't have any time to be nervous. I'll dive right into the NCC American Pottery Festival, which is their biggest sale and exhibition of the year. People come from all over the country to see work by some of the finest ceramic artists out there working today. There are dinners and openings and workshops to tech. Lots to set up and hopefully little to pack in the end. I worked as a volunteer during the event last year and can't wait to be behind the scenes as a staff person this year.

The images I've posted are from a series of work commissioned by my mother (thanks, mom!) for her friends in Alaska. I included a picture of the moose stamps in my last post and you can see them in action in the top picture. As soon as I get photos taken of all the work fresh out of the kiln, I'll be sure to get a post up here to share...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Persistence and change

I came to Minneapolis last summer with high hopes - my husband would begin teaching at Carleton College in the fall, and I had fingers (and toes!) crossed that I would become the next studio tech at Northern Clay Center. Sadly, the job was not to be mine... So I started out small - taking a glaze calc class in the fall (with the amazingly knowledgable Margaret Bohls!) and setting up a tiny corner of our kitchen as studio space. Lucky for me, there was a private studio open in January, at which point I moved from the student side of the NCC building over to the resident side. While being a resident artist in the studios is lovely, paying for space/firings/materials can be a bit of a burden for an emerging artist. So I applied for a Jerome Fellowship to offset some expenses along with a work-study grant to help get me out to Penland for a workshop with Ayumi Horie. No dice on either. Boo. I was feeling gloomy with the weight of rejections, but at the same time excited about where my work was headed. So, I kept trying, next for the Fogleberg grant at NCC. Low and behold - I got it! And then, my work was accepted into a gallery (Local Elements). Yea! And now the big one: the tech job I applied for a year ago reopened. I applied, and this time the stars aligned. I'll be starting as the new Northern Clay Center studio tech in late August. And the final bit of exciting news - my work was just accepted into the 2010 NCECA invitational exhibition. I won't deny the thrill of floating on this surge of acceptances. But, those rejections are still out there, lingering, waiting to give me another kick in the pants. And while I don't eagerly await the next "no" on the horizon, it's overcoming those hardest rejections, getting back up and trying again, that make these yesses all the sweeter.

So this fall, my studio practice will see a very significant shift. I will go from full time maker to studio tech, teacher, and fogleberg fellow. I'm excited for these opportunities, but nervous about how I will continue to push my own work forward. Luckily, with our move to the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, I am now a mere three minutes by bike from the studio. I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time in the NCC building - which, in all honesty, is exactly what I've been waiting for.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June madness...

I started off this month racing to finish up work for a group show and upcoming applications (amid much drama with elements burning out and packed kiln schedules), zipped off to Seattle, pots in hand, for a wedding on Orcas Island (lovely!!), and I am now in New Jersey visiting with the fam and headed to another wedding tomorrow (number three of four this summer). Such is the season. When I get back to Minneapolis next week, Aaron and I will round out the packed month of June by boxing up our belongings and moving a few miles east to the Seward neighborhood of the city. Come July first, we will be a grand total of four blocks from the Northern Clay Center. I am thrilled (double thrilled!!) by the prospect of walking to the studio, the grocery store and the coffee shop! Aaron doesn't have it quite so easy, he'll be commuting south to Northfield three to four times a week, but at least it's a reverse-commute... I'm hopeful that we'll find a place in the future where we can both walk to work - wishful thinking, I know - but a girl can dream!

On the clay front, I've added some tractors into my line of imagery, and I want to put them all over everything! I love having new stencils to play with and explore. I have endless lists of stamps and stencils yet to make, but the process is a tad (just a tad!) tedious, and so my image arsenal is rather slowly mounting. I really want to get back into the farm animals, cows in particular. And bees, I need some bees in the mix!

I'm still trying to resolve how much color to use in my work as well. I love the little splashes of yellow that the canaries provide and the subtle variation that I can achieve by layering the white slips. The red clay adds another lovely surface, but I'm left wanting a little more. Like some blue... I have a thing for blue, like a lot of folks do. I know that there are some potters out there who think that blue is a cop-out, just an easy way to sell some pots. But, honestly, there's a reason they sell - blue can be so spectacular! So, I'm going to keep testing glazes and continue to slowly build up my surface. There is this delicate line between too much and not enough that I try to tread upon, it can be so hard to know when enough is enough!

So my work over the next few days (besides wedding fun-ness and family time of course!) revolves around those things I manage to neglect when there is clay at my fingertips. Take this blog for example, or my website that could use another round of updating, or my etsy site that needs finishing. I'm excited to have some time to give these things the attention they deserve, and hopeful that I can eventually find a rhythm where they fit more regularly into my schedule. Do any of you clay bloggers out there set aside weekly time for the non-clay activities essential to running a successful business? How would you say your weeks/months are allocated? The more I delve into this clay business, the more I realize that there are a lot of other responsibilities other than just making work. But, all of these things are part of the package, and keeping my toe in all aspects of the business side of things only seems like it will help me in the long run. There are some times though, when I'd just rather make pots and not think about anything else. I stumbled across a great posting by Whitney smith earlier today that outlines one of many things that can get away from you if you're not careful. It was a good reminder that to be successful requires some sort of system - I'm still tinkering with what works best for me, and I while I dread excel spreadsheet days, after I enter all those numbers I feel that much more legit. It's sort of like exercise for me - painful while I'm running, but so satisfying when I'm done. If anyone has any good tips for successful accounting though, I am all ears!

Have a great weekend.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I just unloaded a kiln today in preparation for our spring studio artist sale at Northern Clay Center starting tomorrow. I had a chance to photograph some of the results, so I thought I'd post a few finished pieces up here on the ol' blog. The middle image is of a set of bowls, but in the photograph you completely lose all sense of depth - they just look like little plates... I'm not entirely sure if that's a problem, but certainly something to clarify on a slide list if I'm ever applying for a bowl show!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where have I been???

It's always amazing to me how quickly time can slip by. I swear I've posted more often, but it looks like I've transitioned from the once-a-week to the once-a-month blogging plan. But, despite my lack of posting, I've certainly been reading a lot of blogs these days! I think that may be the problem, I use up all of my computer energy reading a number of the wonderful blogs out there and I can't muster up the motivation to write a post myself. But, I've decided I need to get back on the horse and keep up with the posting - I really enjoy having a record of my progress in the studio and the wonderful feedback from this incredible online community. So here goes, back into the blogging waters.

I've been working lately with building up my surface through lots of layering. I think I'm moving in a more subtle direction with the oil related imagery because I feel like that is more true to how it exists in our lives - beneath the surface of a lot the things we rely on. I'm also thinking a lot about memory these days and how our brains are wired to lock onto patterns. So the oil imagery is positioned in a pattern in the background - maybe it will stick in my brain better that way!

Here's an example of my latest work:

And above is a close up of the oil tanker stencil in the background - I'll glaze this with something that will pool slightly in the recessed area so the tankers will appear subtly behind the truck stencil.

The canaries are a new development as well. I've been thinking about the way miners used to use canaries to indicate when conditions became unsafe in a shaft. Which led into how we are often terrible at perceiving when conditions become dangerous or unhealthy. I also enjoy how they are so cheerful and happy looking, but can indicate something ominous. I think these little yellow guys will be playing a significant role in my work from here on out.

And here is the back side...

I've continued to work with the corn series of work as well and am playing with new ways to integrate corn into my work. I have two versions I'm working with right now, one where the corn image is stamped into the surface and another where the corn is sprigged on top. Any opinions on which works better??

This guy is still waiting to be slipped (and I think I may add some wind turbine stencils in there somewhere).

A detail shot of the stamped in corn:

I am in love with the way these guys look on the inside, they make me want to crawl around and explore...
And here's the sprigged version, all slipped and ready for a top coat of stencils:

A detail shot of the sprigged corn:

And the underside...

That's it for now, I hope you all have a great weekend. Up next - glazed and fired pots!

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Work

I had a critique a few weeks ago with a fantastic group of women from the U of MN. They were tough, which is exactly what I need at this point, and had some excellent comments. It took me a few days to digest what we talked about (and I'm still digesting, I guess!), but I've started a new round of work as a result of our conversation. Looking back, I realize I haven't had a critique since I was a senior in college, which is going on eight years ago now! I was definitely due... Here is a glimpse of the new direction I'm taking things - the same ideas, but delivered using a slightly different approach.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fired and Photographed...

I've finally gotten some of my work through the kilns and even managed to take some photos! I had a serious motivator for the photography part though - an application for a Jerome Project Grant through NCC. It was a difficult process, but I'm so glad I went ahead and applied. It's amazing how sitting down to write helps to clarify ideas and to work through some of the kinks in your thought process. Even if the grant doesn't work out, I'm confident that my next round of work will be stronger just from what I gained out of applying.

I also applied for a workshop this summer at Penland with Ayumi Horie. I've never been to Penland (although I feel like I have with all the NC clay bloggers out there), and would love to spend a few weeks in such a ceramic haven. I should be hearing about both of these applications by the end of this month, so keep your fingers crossed!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


My friend Mark left me a fantastic present in my studio the other day:

Why, you may ask, would a girl be so excited about a plastic table cover (besides the fact that they are breezeproof, of course)? Here's one reason:

And the best part is - they're reusable!! The plastic is thin enough that it adheres to the surface of the clay with a little water but then washes up to be used again (and again, and again!). I have six of the trucks cut out and need to invest some time transferring my other shapes into star covered plastic stencils. Here's a truck bowl using the above truck:

It still required a little clean up after the stencil was removed, but all in all, it worked pretty darn well. Certainly better than paper, that's for sure!

Here are a few follow up photos of my work in progress a little further through the process:

Decoed butter dish

Interior of banana split dish

Outside o' split dish

I've got all this work loaded up in the kiln for a bisque firing tomorrow and then hopefully a glaze firing early next week. I am seriously looking forward to having some finished work...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Work...

Wow, so much for posting once a week! While I may not have been posting, I have been making work. I'm hoping to do a bisque firing next week and then glaze soon after that, which means I may actually have some finished pots to share. For now, work in progress will have to do...

Slipped butter dish (this guy is gonna get some cows...)

And underneath the cover

Truck bowls!

Power bowls

Outside o' power bowls

Banana split dish waiting to be decorated (and filled with dessert!!)