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Archive for the ‘September’ Category

Getting Closer!

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. But after some delays, I am finally getting closer to my goals. I’ve been doing some glaze experimentation, practicing photography, and throwing, throwing, throwing! My second batch is nearly ready for the kiln, and I fully expect to have my Etsy store up and running before mid-October. Woot woot!

Earlier this week I smashed several pieces of greenware, after giving them careful scrutiny. Got rid of the pots that were overly heavy or seemed slightly crooked or unbalanced. A while back that would have upset me. But this time, it felt strangely liberating to crush up all that dry clay and dump it into my recycling bucket. I would much rather ditch unfired pieces than finished ones. At least with a little water they can be worked again. And I know I can do better!

That’s really what this journey is all about – striving to do and be better. Many things in the world can hold us back, but we should never become our own obstacle. Up until recently, I was my own worst enemy. Who needs a stranger to cut you down, when you can do it so much better to yourself? But that’s no way to live. If you are at all like I was, it’s time to tell that internal critic to shut up, pack his bags, and don’t let the door hit him in the butt on the way out!

I think being in my 40s has changed me for the better. Although I wish I didn’t take so long to wise up, I am extremely grateful that I have! And 42 is a great age to become a first-time entrepreneur!

Now, I must get back to playing in the mud. 🙂

Happy Friday!

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Some Glazing Mistakes

Okay, so a week or so ago, I was telling you all about how disappointed I was with my first glaze firing. Since I am trying to learn from my mistakes, I would welcome any input from you knowledgeable potters out there. Currently, I do not have my own kiln, so I am paying a neighborhood studio for use of their glazes and kiln. Therefore, I cannot do much altering of their glazes, except for application methods and mixing together of colors in small enough batches to use up on my own pots. I will outline the issues I had, then follow with the photographs below.

1- Saki set. Glaze is Scott’s Red. I generally like this glaze, although it tends to lean more towards pink/cranberry. I did have some issues with pinholing (not much, though), and ended up with a large bare spot inside one of the cups. Never had that happen before! Someone suggested that an air bubble during firing could cause this, pushing the glaze up, and making it “fold” over itself. Could this be correct? I am intending to refire these.

2- Creamer. Glazes are Licorice and Panama Red. Since I fired in oxidation, the Panama turns turquoise, which I love. But the Licorice pinholed badly on ALL the pieces I used it on! Is there a way around this, other than maybe adding a layer of clear glaze? I love how the glazes look on the area where they overlap, and would like to do this over an entire pot, but not if it’s going to be totally pockmarked!

3- Goblet. Glazes are Bottle Glass Green, Warm Jade Green (drips), and Nutmeg. My problem with this one was the Nutmeg. It is supposed to be a warm, toasty brown. Instead, I got something that looks underfired, and also looks and feels like sandpaper. I was going for a rough look, but not that rough! I had another piece in the same batch that the Nutmeg did this on, and the studio very graciously refired it for me. But there was no change. The studio assistant was just as perplexed as I am about it.

4- Teabowl. Glass Bottle Green, with Panama Red interior. The interior of this bowl is great! There is a big area where I dripped the Green over the Panama, and the effect is wonderful, although I couldn’t get a good picture of it. But on the outside… sigh! The Green is supposed to be a semi-transparent glaze, but I wasn’t expecting it to leave me bare clay in places! If anyone has any tips for working with this glaze, I sure would appreciate it.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. Have a fantastic remainder of the week!

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A Pot I am Rather Pleased With

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It’s not the greatest photo (still working on that!), but this is one of the few pieces from my recent firing that I like. As a matter of fact, I like this vase quite a bit – drips, imperfections, and all!

The pot was dipped using Falls Creek Shino under Scott’s Red. I like the way the red broke and allows the shino to peek through all over. The inside is just shino. But instead of the cream color you see on the outside, inside is a textured, toasty-looking  brown. You can get the idea by looking at the very top edge of the vase in this photo.

This did not turn out even remotely like I thought it would. I wasn’t going for pink! According to the test tile I had, it should have been a good solid crimson. I am thinking I may have put the Falls Creek on a bit too thickly. But I am calling this one a happy accident!

Life… and Perspective

After a long battle with dementia, my father-in-law passed peacefully in his sleep very early yesterday morning. He was a wonderful, kind, generous, and loving man. He was the best man at our wedding. That should give you a clue as to his character. After all, how many sons have you known to ask their father to be best man?

We miss him already, and will continue to forever. But we are relieved at the same time because his suffering is over.

Dementia is a long, slow, and painful process. In Dad’s case it dragged on for approximately six years. Most people hear the word “dementia” and know that it robs a person of their memories of friends and family.  What they don’t realize is that you forget acquired skills as well, and later lose your ability to perform basic bodily functions. Dad lost his ability to speak very early on. At first we didn’t know the aphasia was due to dementia – rather, we thought he might have had a stroke. Later, he lost his ability to read. Then came more drastic memory loss. And at the very end, he was having trouble swallowing.

He was a proud man though, and even unconsciously, fought this debilitating illness every step of the way. Had he been cognizant, he would have hated what he became. But now, the shackles are removed, and he is flying free. At peace. We love you Dad, and know you are where you need to be.

So, after a few weeks of going back and forth to hospital and hospice, and watching this all play out, do I care that my firing went awfully? Yes. But not nearly as much as I would have even a month ago.

Running glazes, ugly colors, and pinholes are the least of my worries right now. I will have other chances to get it right. Other opportunities to improve. I am trying again, knowing I get another day to be on this earth, and am thankful for it.

So for now, I will just lose myself in the spinning of the wheel and the feel of wet clay. Because the now is what is important. And creating is what makes my soul happy now.  When my soul is happy, it makes me stronger. That strength makes me a better wife to my husband, a better daughter to my mother and mother-in-law, and a better friend to everyone else.

Hug your loved ones. Make sure they know how you feel about them. Then, do what makes your soul sing. Remember the importance of now, and be strong.