Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good-bye 2015

We're sure happy to see the hind end of 2015 in this household - and don't let the door smack you on the ass on the way out!

I am very much looking forward to 2016 .... I've started with some inquiries re getting back into the co-op gallery in town where I was in 2014. My renewed attempt at selling from my home gallery this past year was a bit of a bomb - I really like the personal sales factor when it comes to my pots so this makes me sad. I had hoped the guest house business would bring in more customers but not so. With everything that goes on in my life, I am challenged to keep regular hours which I am pretty sure is a big factor along with my out of town location. My goal in 2016 will be to make enough stock to keep a few pieces here at the studio for drop-ins and find a way to take the remainder of the pots 'to town' to one location or more.

I really enjoyed reading this blog post by Whitney Smith this morning .... the way of the half assed  .... as a result of her inspiration I am going to half ass my way into 2016 by getting doing something pottery studio related this weekend .... for sure studio cleanup and toss out (don't all potters start their new production cycles this way? :>)), maybe getting my inventory chores off my plate early, for sure putting clay on to soften and by next week I definitely should be able to get on with making a pot or two ..... yessss!

And since weather was a big topic in 2015, I'll end the last post of the year with pics of the gorgeous last day of the year .... doing what we get to do everyday .... walking the dogs down at the Lang Creek estuary ....

Up the Creek

Looking out towards the ocean

Across the pond

Happy New Year from Lily & Dash!

and a Happy New Year from me to all of you in potter blog land .... talk to you again in 2016!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Whine and Bitch

The other day I read something on potter Lori Watt's blog (Fine Mess Blog) that kinda whacked me upside the head ... A customer, who was placing an order, asked Lori "Are you a typical potter?" and when she hesitated, he added "Potters are always late" ... huh? wow! we are?! .... whew!, and I thought it was just me. I am so happy to hear I have the company of all you other 'always late' potters out there!

So with that thought setting the stage, you can now imagine how my week is going as I get ready for my two favourite 'Christmas Craft Fairs', both of which happen on the same weekend .... this weekend ... yeah, no, I couldn't keep it simple and just pick one. Since last Fri I've done a bisque fire, glazed everything including several pots leftover from Aug's production run, completed one glaze fire and am now in the middle of my second glaze fire. I've mock set up and divvied up the shelving and only have a ton of little details (times two), to take care of before heading out to do set up tomorrow eve with my sister cousin, Laura, who is going to booth sit at one of the venues for me ... I am smart enough to know I can't be in two places at one time :))

OK ... enough with the whining .... I did get some sweet pots out of the first glaze fire.

Now for the bitch ... the transparent glaze you see is from John Britt's great new book - The Complete Guide to Mid-Range Glazes. The two colours shown here are called Campana Green and Grey, attributed to Jeff Campana. I just love, love, love the silky, buttery feeling of this glaze and fabulous way it puddles and pools without running off the pot. It checked all the boxes at testing time but I did hit a snag in production. Spodumene! .... do you guys know about ol' Spod? I've encountered this problem before with a glaze that's been around for a long while, that also uses Spod, called Nutmeg. When you mix the glaze it looks like you dumped dish soap in it ... you get bubbly froth that becomes popped bubbly froth on the pot and then ultimately, lovely (not!) bubbly pinholes on the finished pot. When I did my Campana glaze tests, it didn't happen. Huh!, I thought, maybe 'they' fixed ol' Spod. However, when it came time to make a production sized bucket, I had to buy a new bag of Spodumene. For pottery neophytes reading this, glaze (and clay) materials have varying sources (the many 'theys' I referred to previously) - different countries, different mines within countries. Normally it's not a huge deal. However, it turns out Spodumene is one of those materials where source does matter. My new bag of Spod brought back the old problem ... bubbly froth. I found the solution on Digitalfire .... wash and dry the Spod .... or from another source .... let the glaze sit, take off water and replace water over time .... neither of which I had time for right now .... and to be honest, both solutions just piss me off. Really!? ... isn't this a quality assurance issue ... shouldn't the product at least come with the warning 'wash me first'! I ended up going with a Marcia Selsor suggestion I found on Ceramic Arts Daily forums. It's what I did previously with Nutmeg ... spritz the bubbled glaze surface with isopropanol (rubbing alcohol). It sorta does the trick but in a newly mixed glaze doesn't help with the bubbles lurking under the glaze surface .... long (sorry, too long) story short, I dipped the pots quicker than I normally would to avoid too many below surface bubbles, resulting in too thin glaze application over textured areas on some of the pots. They feel a bit rough so I am debating re-glazing but that in itself has issues, especially with B-Mix, which is the white clay I use .... oops!, there I go ... bitchin' again ;>)

Ending on an up note ... as usual, my two standard glaze combos, didn't disappoint.

Now that I've got all my crankies out, I'll get on with the day :>))

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One for the record books ...

A blogger friend gave me a poke the other day. I, like her, have been pretty much absent from the Blogosphere this past year .... I've only made 2 posts in 10 months. She reappeared last week and poked me to do the same so I am rising to the bait .... here's to you, Sandy ... fishing metaphor intended ;>)) .... 

This year has been one for the record books .... we started the year with the completion of a 6 month renovation project on our next door cottage. We followed that with our new adventure into the short term vacation rental market ... AirBnB, VRBO sorta thing. Into that mix toss in a wrecked back (hubby) that included, (in retrospect) an almost comedic chaotic pickup by ambulance for transport to hospital .... picture Gramma Daycare Day ... a bewildered one yr old trying to figure out what's going on with Gramps and 2 strangers in uniform, 2 crazy barking (big) dogs trying to figure out the same thing, 2 smallish ambulance folks calling for backup to get my not so small hubby down a flight of stairs ... yup!, you get the picture. After good drugs, Hubby remembers none of it. It's pretty much etched into my mind. On the serious side, it turned out to be a serendipitous occasion. The CT scan of his back found a misshapen kidney which led to further tests, which finally lead to a mid Aug diagnosis of kidney cancer. It's all good now ... after surgery in late Sept to remove his kidney, he got the all clear from the specialist last Fri and we celebrated his 65th birthday two days later .... A big woohoo!!

In and amongst hubby's health issues, I turned 60, celebrated with a trip to NYC with my good friend Sue, made a few pots, tried to fend off the weather driven home invasion of early fruits and veggies from the garden of the ailing gardener, made and sold a few pots (annual Studio Tour), hosted vacation rental guests (sold them a few pots), had daughter, son-in-law, 3 grandsons and 2 grand dogs (also big), move in the end of Aug with the commencement of their house renovations, made a few pots, had youngest (son) decide to leave the city and join us in our little town (yipppeeee!), made a few pots, went to the city to help him get his condo ready to sell and then made a few pots .... whewwww! Last week the kids moved into other temporary accommodations for a few weeks prior to getting back into their house. We have one more trip to make to the city to help move our son but finally, things are beginning to calm down enough I can catch my breath ... of course just in time for the 'you know what' season to commence. 

So that's why blogging has taken a backseat .... my crazy life, being a crazy wife (and mother/grandmother) and a crazy potter .... I am so looking forward to getting in some real studio time but I expect that won't really happen until the new year. Fingers crossed, I should have enough pots, after firings are done, for the two Christmas Craft Fairs I've committed to in Nov. Other than that hubby and I are ready to show 2015 the door, taking with us the reminder that life is damn short!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It's feeling apocalyptic around here today ....

We live in southwestern BC, Canada ... a temperate rain forest area ... blessed with large forests of Douglas Fir, Western Cedars, Hemlock and Spruce, fed and sustained by plenty of rain. We see the the occasional snow down below but we always have ski hills full of snow in our beautiful mountains. This year there was hardly any ... our ski hill across the pond which often has record snowfalls had to close half way thru the season due to NO snow! Our rivers, normally fed by melting snow packs into June at least, don't have that extra cushion to see them thru the summer season. I so, so hope this year is an anomaly and not a glimpse into the future. Really, can anyone still be a climate change deny-er? Yes, we can debate the man-made versus natural course of events aspects of it but regardless, it is here and it is more than a little scary.

In an area that normally sees 77 mm (3 in) of precip in May and 68 mm (2.7 in) in June, this year we've only had 12 mm in May and 18 mm in June. The sun has been blazing down for several weeks with no end in sight. We are tinder dry with several forest fires in areas around us. This morning we awoke to this ...

along with ash falling around like a grey snow flurries ...

 ... And this pic of the sun was taken later in the morning .... It's the little orange dot at the top of the photo.  .. It's just plain eerie! I feel like I'm wearing those sunglasses that turn everything yellow!

It is barely July .... we have two and a half months to go before perhaps the Fall season will bring us rain. Not sure what's going to happen with the annual salmon returns (low river, no rain means they won't be able make it up), the forests, the wildlife and our beautiful piece of paradise .... just feeling a little discouraged about it all .... and the mellow yellow sky isn't helping ...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Losing Time

What took me so long?? .... It was only last week I finally glaze fired the pots I talked about in my last post and that post was from a long while ago. Between then and now, in between studio time, there was Christmas, an adventure with the grandsons to Victoria, tax time, getting our guest cottage up and running and in March hubby put his back out. I did get to the studio as much as I could .... enough to fill a bisque kiln but I am vowing to do better, especially since I also made the decision to go back to selling my pots from my own little gallery in the studio. The shelves need pots! But having said that studio time will be taking a backseat again in a week. I am pretty excited to say I am heading out on my first trip to New York City with my friend Sue ... it's in celebration of turning 60. My kids spoiled me silly with show tickets and a helicopter tour .... woohoo!

So it was a bit of an experiment .... both using porcelain and trying a new glaze approach. I am ok with the porcelain, (other than the cost of the clay) but I wasn't so thrilled with the results of the soft matte black exteriors and jewelled transparent interiors ... looked much better in my mind :))

The glaze went on a bit thick on some pots which didn't help ...

Happy I gave it a try ..... but I'll be putting the works of them on the seconds shelf ... 

On the other hand,  I really did like the reaction of some of my standard glazes on the porcelain .... I'll be doing more of that combo .... 

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Date

I've decided trying a new clay with significant property differences must be a bit like dating (it's a guess as I have little or no expertise in dating as I met my hubby at age 16, was married to him by 19 and 40+ years later, am still married to him ;)). 

Why do we potters do it?! .... that is, decide to change what's worked for us for so long .... ie. clay, glazes, approach to work? I've been asking myself that a lot this past few weeks ... especially when I discarded 50% of the pots I threw the first couple of days I was back in the studio, using my new Frost/B-Mix combo. Yikes! I felt like a beginner ... talk about sticky clay and slumpy pots. However, as the discarded clay set back up on the drying bat to a state a fair bit drier than I usually throw with, I had an uh-huh moment .... smack my head! remember!? .... porcelain does not like a lot of water. I was finally able to get my groove back with the stiffer clay. Once I moved onto trimming the pots I realized that this clay also dries faster, be it innate properties or the fact I started with drier clay. Yikes again! .... a trimming frenzy ensued! I did love it's response to texture stamps and carving. The one porcelain gotcha I've seen repeated in my research is joining parts so I am relieved to see so far the handles are staying on the on mugs and the goblet cups haven't fallen off their stems. Today I finished up with the last of the greenware and I'm kinda liking the new beau ;). I can't wait til I get to firing and glazing. I am sure there will be a whole other set of issues to deal with. 

On a whole other topic ... (arachnaphobes stop here) ... we live in a wonderful naturally diverse rural area ... plenty of wildlife and nature just outside the door. In the fall and winter spiders join me in the basement studio. I quite like them as they take care of the ugly bugs that also like to encroach on my territory. I saw an entomologist on the tube a few weeks back who said spiders go indoors looking for love. Well, my spiders have found love again. As often happens this time of year, as I sit at the wheel, I get little tiny visitors rappelling down from the ceiling to check out what I am doing. I feel sad for them when they accidentally ditch into the clay water or mistakenly try to climb the still wet pots.

I most likely won't get to another post for a bit so want to give a Happy Thanksgiving shout out to all my US potter blogger and reader friends. Our Thanksgiving celebration (in Canada it's in October) took place the day after my Dad's funeral. For us this year, it truly was a special Family time. Hope your day is as blessed!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sad Endings, Fresh Beginnings

My Dad passed away the beginning of Oct. The past few months have been somewhat surreal ... life is so complicated at times. 

I am slowly working my way back to the studio. As usual, my procrastination gene has me going back in fits and spurts. But on the positive side, given I have missed all my Fall deadlines for Craft Fairs, Christmas and such, I am taking advantage of the more leisurely approach to my return to do a bit of exploration. I've had 3 boxes of Laguna Frost in my clay cupboard for while now. My research tells me it can be finicky to work with and since translucency is not my aim but whiteness is, I've decided to try a Frost/B-Mix combo (25% B-Mix) to see if that is a viable option. I am envisioning shining jewelled transparent interiors with soft semi matte black exteriors. 

The clay is wedged and waiting ....