Join me on the adventure of starting my own business

Some Practice Photos

I was taking some pottery photos the other day for practice. Since photography is not a talent of mine, much practice is needed! 🙂 But the photos are slowly improving, so I am happy.

Happy October 1st everyone! Make it a fantastic day!

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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!

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.

Some days (or weeks) things do not gel, no matter how much you would like them to. I try to keep in mind that these are first world problems; they are not earth-shattering, and should not get me down. But it doesn’t always work.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that I have all the essentials of a good life. I’ve got a roof over my head, food in the pantry, and a fantastic husband I love dearly. But, when you finally decide to go after a dream, you want things to happen – like NOW. You know? And when things don’t fall into place as quickly or smoothly as planned, well… let’s just say I have never been a very patient person anyway.

So, what has me griping, you wonder?

I am still waiting for my firing that should have been completed by last Friday. Since I do not have my own kiln yet, I have paid a studio for use of theirs. Which I am not allowed to run. So far, it looks like firing won’t even be completed by THIS Friday. Needless to say, I am currently not impressed with their service.

I am also using new glazes for this firing. Without familiarity of how they finish, or how much these glazes run, self doubt and paranoia are intensifying more with each passing (unfired) day. I am having visions of glazes running down kiln shelves, and ending up with a batch of the ugliest pots known to man. Could it happen? Sure. Is it a realistically likely scenario? Probably not. Does knowing this stop me from thinking it? Heck, no!

What would keep my mind off these things is throwing more pots. But it’s been so rainy and humid lately that I can’t get my recycled clay to dry out enough into a good throwing consistency. For every day I get of beautiful throwing, I seem to get another two of yucky, over-wet recycling mess. And throwing a few dozen plates just won’t do it for me.

Adding to that the usual personal finance issues, some new extended family issues, and another day that looks like rain – we can safely say that I am having difficulty maintaining a positive attitude today.

Sigh! Hopefully, some of you out there know what it’s like. And those of you hitting roadblocks (large or small) while following your dreams can know you are not alone. I’m not looking for pity here, but needed to vent a little. Venting, in small doses, sometimes makes it easier to move forward.

As my grandmother used to say, “This too shall pass”. I would just like to add to that bit of wisdom “Please hurry up already!”.

Coolest of the Cool

Stumbled upon info about a potter I had never heard of before. No clue how I did not know about this woman, but now that I do… OH. MY. GOD. Her name is Beatrice Wood, and although she is no longer with us, Ms. Wood ROCKS!

Beatrice Wood (March 3, 1893 – March 12, 1998) was the daughter of wealthy socialites, and against her parents’ wishes, she pursued a life in the arts. She moved from California to Paris, to study painting and then theater. Several of her drawings and paintings were published in a magazine she helped start, and during World War I, she came to New York City and preformed with a French repertory company.  She hobnobbed with many of the influential artists and writers of the early 20th century, and apparently was also quite a swinger in the relationship department.

When in her early 40s, Beatrice bought a set of plates, and wanted a matching teapot. When she couldn’t find one, she decided to make one herself. So, with no knowledge of pottery whatsoever, she took a local weekend class with that intention. Biographies I have read do not say if she ever actually made the teapot, but she was bitten by the bug, and proceeded create ceramics for the rest of her very long life (she died at 105!).

This fantastic woman not only learned a craft and started a brand new career well into her 40s, but she threw pots until she was 104 years old! She never lost her love of creating. Never lost the wonder and joy of it. She said she loved to peek in the kiln early in the morning before opening it; that the excitement of it was better than owning diamonds.

Beatrice Wood is inspiring in so many ways! Painter, actress, potter, teacher… She went after what she wanted, no matter what anyone else thought. Beatrice did not blindly follow the pack and stick to what tradition or society dictated. She loved what she did, and had a very distinguished career doing it. She taught others, and yet, she never stopped learning.

I hope to borrow a page out of her book – I think most of us could. To live and love with such exuberance, passion, and freedom is what truly gives richness and meaning to our existence.

Here is a fairly short YouTube video about Beatrice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxv8k6g3i-A

And here are some examples of her work: http://www.beatricewood.com/secondary_market/index.html

I hope you are as inspired as I am. Have a fantastic day! And if there is something you really want, go after it tenaciously à la Beatrice Wood!