Monday, June 28, 2010

Boy do I feel dumb...

Yesterday I was at the studio, and I thought to myself "I should take a video of myself throwing with my new phone that takes video". I go get my phone, turn it on and it is charged up and ready to go. I go get a couple of buckets and a lump of clay to prop the phone up on, but when I get back, the phone wont turn on. I try a hard reboot, nothing, so I think, maybe it ran out of juice and I was mistaken thinking it was charged. Oh well, so I continue on throwing, but it is niggling at the back of my brain. So I clean up early, go home and try charging it, nothing, wont turn on. I have only had this phone for a week and a half, what the heck is going on. I get in my car, drive to the Apple Store in Market Mall (takes oh, half an hour in weekend traffic to get there, and it is hot out and my back is starting to sweat). I walk in and it is mayhem, everyone is ooogling the ipads (they are pretty nice) and I finally find a blueshirted apple whiz to help me. She asks if I did a hard reboot, and I tell her that I did and it didn't work, and it wouldn't charge etc...Well, she preformes a hard reboot, just to make sure, and whaddaya know, it turns on. I guess I didn't hold the buttons down for quite the right ammount of time for the hard reboot to work.....doh!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another call...

I got another call yesterday. My mum phoned to let me know that my Grandmother (my Mum’s Mum), passed away around lunch. I guess my Grandparents were a bit famous on their ward. My mum tells me that no one at the hospital was able to recall a case like this where a husband and wife were admitted together at the end of their lives and then dying together. My Grandmother died less than 24 hours after my Grandfather.
I was inspired by a technique I saw on the website. It was a method for printing on clay using lithography techniques. I think I might hunt down some nice photos of both sets of Grandparents, and see if I can incoporated them in my pottery. Maybe everyone in my Family will get a mug with their parent/grandparent on it, who knows.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Sadness

I was teaching last night for Dave, and unfortunately I had my phone on vibrate in my purse, so I did not hear it ring. I didn’t check my messages until I got home around 10:00pm. My mum had been trying to call me since about 5:30 to tell me that my Grandfather (Keith George Angus) had passed away. This is my mum’s Dad, and although we knew his time was coming close, we did not expect him to go before my Grandmother, as her situation seemed much more precarious (Go to my Mum’s blog “Short Musings” for all the details on why they were in the hospital

Anyway, I am still processing it, and thinking about him.

Just to leave this on a somewhat happy note, one memory I have of my Grandfather that describes him to a T (thrifty, resourceful, not fashion savvy) is when my sister Erin, my cousin Shelley and I were out visiting my Grandparents in Burnaby for a week or two when we were kids. I have no idea how old we were. I am thinking that I would have been about 12, Erin 8, and Shelley 7? Anyway, my Grandparents were not ones to let children sit inside and watch TV, or be lazy, they would have us out trimming hedges, or canoeing, or hiking. This particular day was no different, it was a typical rainy day in the Lower Mainland. It was Grey, the clouds were low, and the rain was not ending anytime soon. My Grandparents were bound and determined to take us out hiking in the UBC Forestry Reserve, but none of us had packed rain gear, so we improvised. Grandpa got out some old plastic sheeting that he had used as a drop cloth for painting, folded it in half and cut 3 panels from it, and at the fold, he cut a head hole. We wore them like ponchos, and we tied them at the waist with old rope. The plastic still had paint on it, and it flaked off as we walked.  He never threw anything out, because you never know when you might need it. We must have looked like a troop of Hobos.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Here we go, I’m putting it out there. Ever since I was unceremoniously laid off this past spring, I have been pondering the possibility of trying to make my entire living from pottery. I have been thinking that I might just try out selling my wares online. is one online option I am considering.
Right now, I think my biggest barrier to starting this is knowledge, specifically, business knowledge. Sure, I can make the product, and I can ship the product, but other than that, I don’t know the finer details that I probably should know before embarking on a venture that will make me financially vulnerable (in my eyes anyway). Oh ya, I am a humongous procrastinator, that would be the other barrier :)
I’m pretty sure that unless you have a good reason, and a vision of what you want to achieve, then it will not be as successful. If the only reason is to make money, then it probably won’t be enjoyable either.
My Reason:
I want to have a more personal relationship with my customers, and broaden my customer base. I sell out of a couple of Galleries in the city, and although this is a relatively pain free method of getting your work out there (no overhead etc), there is a lack of connection to the public. I am never sure if what I am making is what will sell, I just take it to the Gallery, cross my fingers, and never get any real feedback from the customer.
I enjoy participating in the semi annual sales that Fairview Studios puts on. You get to meet the customer first hand and find out directly from them what they enjoy about the pottery they are purchasing. The one thing I HATE about these types of events is the strain on the body. It is a lot of work getting ready for a show, and by the end of the day, I am hunched over like an old crone from all the heavy lifting, my feet hurt, I’m starving, and since I had to get up at the crack of before dawn on a Saturday, I’m tired.
My Vision:
To work full time, running the production out of the studio that I currently work out of. I get 24 hour access as I teach there, so that would not be an issue. Turn my condo into my business and marketing nerve centre. I would like to turn my 2nd bedroom into an office and warehouse. I would conduct all transactions from my home, as well as the shipping of all the orders.
My Hopes:
That I can make this a sustainable venture. That doing this gives me the ability to learn more. My thoughts are that by not tying myself down to a traditional 8-5 job, I will be able to attend more workshops and participate in seminars and symposiums in order to expand my skill sets, and let the creative juices flow more.
I know that working for yourself is hard, but if you truly enjoy what you are doing, is it really work?

So, If anyone out there wants to chime in with their two cents about how to make a pottery business work (or not), or want to impart any salient words of wisdom, please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


A little while ago I had mentioned that I was going to be teaching 12 newbies this past Friday night in a one off pottery class for Dave at Fairview. Well, I got an e-mail on Thursday from Dave telling me I was off the hook for teaching that night, as the class had been scheduled for 9:30 AM on Friday, and he just either forgot, or didn’t pay attention to the time when setting up the class. That’s Dave for you, just a little scattered. So no, I did not teach the newbies, I had the night off to do as I pleased. However, I am teaching tonight, and will be again tomorrow night. So, a busy week ahead, I am going to work on my place setting for the “Turning the Tables” show coming up in September. I know what I am going to do, my vision is clear, but my execution might take some tweaking. I am trying to make a place setting consisting of a charger, dinner plate, salad plate, soup/dessert bowl, coffee cup and saucer, and a drinking cup. I am attempting to design this setting after my blue and white “Mountain Bowls”(see “New Pots” April 14), and everything will have a wavy rim, and be blue and white. I have wanted to incorporate lustres with this design for a while, and this is the perfect opportunity. I just want to highlight the rims of the wavy bowls and plates with palladium lustre, so I am bringing some in at Ceramics Canada, and will need to experiment, as I have never used it before. Anyway, the chargers will be my demo tonight, and the dinner plates tomorrow. I am not a production potter by any means, so this will be a bit of a challenge for me. Not the place setting by itself, but the fact that we have to have multiple sets available for the show to sell during the show and to fill orders that might be placed. I just hope I am not stuck with 16 place settings at the end. I would also not be garuanteed to get in the show either, but I would want to have the extras ready just in case. It might seem a bit early to be getting ready for a show that doesn't start until November, but the deadline is September and I am a HUGE procrastinator.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New CCAA show coming up

Check out the Calgary Clay Ars Association website
( ). They are putting on a show at Arts on Atlantic Gallery in Inglewood that will run from November 13-Dec 24(submission deadline is September 13th). It is called Turning the Table, and will primarily feature place settings and other small pieces designed for use at the dinner table (vases, condiment dishes etc...).
All participants must be CCAA members, but it only costs $20 per year for membership. The cost for entry into the show is $20 which allows you to submit one piece or place setting.

another video

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Looks like I can add video now!

These pots are what I have been up to lately. I have been using a slip and sodium silicate mixture to get the texture.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

oh the horror

Well, I was teaching on Tuesday, and I promised I would take pictures of what I have been working on lately, but as it turns out...I forgot, but It wouldn't have mattered anyway, 'cause I would have taken the pictures with my phone, and I guess that when I was getting in my car to go home, I dropped my phone in the parking lot, drove away, and didn't realize I didn't have my phone until I got home and wanted to use it about an hour later. So, I search everywhere, look in the car, but it isn't there, so I drive back to the studio (this is all at 11:30 at night), check the studio, not there. Phone the phone and run outside to see if I can hear it in the car, but before I even get there, I hear/see it ringing and glowing in the dark on the pavement where I was parked earlier. This would have all been ok, except that it has been raining pretty steady for the last couple hours. So I dry the phone off and decide to attempt to dehydrate my phone in a container of dry rice. Worked for my dad's BlackBerry, why not my iphone? Well, it still is not working, and it has been almost 2 days. I went to the nearest Rogers Wireless store last night, got a loaner flip phone. Good grief Charlie Brown, I have to text/e-mail the old school way, so I don't. Anyway, long and the short of it is I get to upgrade to a new iphone 3GS, but it is going to seriously damage my bank account. They should really make water proof phone cases. If the rice method does manage to fix the phone, I will sell it to someone I know would like it. He has a 1st gen iphone from the states that is not nearly as good as the newer models, and his screen is cracked.
I will be teaching a full class of 12 newbies on Friday, but if I get a moment, I will take some pics with my camera and post them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I must be a glutton for punishment. Dave has asked me to teach for him next Friday night. He is having another one off pottery class for a group of 12 women that want to try pottery for the first time ever. OMG, I thought 4 was hard, 12 is going to be insane. I sure hope they don't expect much one on one help. Last week we did the 7 person one off class for a bachelorette party, and that was OK, but I am sure there were some who felt left out, as others tended to monopolise Dave and me.
On top of this, Ceramics Canada is moving to a new accounting system, and they need me to input the data that wont transfer over from their old program to the new program. I think it looks like about 250 pages of inventory quantities and pricing that need to be entered. My poor fingers.
Again, forgot to take pictures last night, but I was too busy. I will do it tonight, as I can dawdle all I want, and no one will be asking me questions (I hope) I did some cool things last night. I have used the method of painting on sodium silicate to a wet cylinder and then expanding that cylinder to create cracks and fissures in the clay but last night I added the sodium silicate to pansy purple slip, painted the slip onto the wet cylinder, let it dry under a hair dryer quickly, drew squiggles and shapes through the slip and then proceeded to expand with a rib. Very interresting results, and I am pretty happy with them. Just have to see how the slip fires, as I have not used this stain before, but from what I have seen, it should turn a multi hued purple, almost irridescent, where the clay is bare, so I will leave the textured clay bare, and glaze the interiors, the necks, and base only, perhaps in a celadon, not sure yet.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

just stuff

So my grandparents are in the hospital (see for the gory details). Needless to say, I am a little torn as to whether I should go out there or not. I live in Calgary, and they live in Port Coquitlam BC (ie: the greater Vancouver area). I love driving to the coast, but it is too long to do if it is just one person, and I grew up learning the fine art of long haul driving from my Dad. Get in the car and drive, don’t stop unless you are on fumes and might run out of gas before you can coast to the pump. “Pee break? I don’t need no stinking pee break.” You say that now, but have you ever been on the Trans Canada coming in to Hope and you know you gotta go, but you know that there is a rest stop on your side of the highway somewhere around Langley. But then there is a delay on the highway, there was a land slide and it’s taking a really long time, and now you really gotta go. Then there is the fact that you lose at least 2 days traveling, and if I went out for the weekend, I would only really be there for 1 day if I left on a Friday. Anyway, I could fly, but my job situation is such that I only get paid for the time that I am there, and it is not cheap to fly, and then you have to get someone to pick you up, but they are all at the hospital. So, you rent a car, and the last time I did that It cost me a fair chunk of change, but now that I think about it, that was for a week, and this would only be for a Friday afternoon to a Sunday afternoon, so 2 days.

Aside from the time and money aspect, ‘cause that is a cold way to think about this, there is the fact that 1) they are pretty out of it, and may not even know that it is me there. 2) I watched my other Grandmother die in the hospital 2 years ago, and that is not something you really want to watch again. If I didn’t like hospitals then, I really don’t like them now. The staff are great, it is just the setting, don’t get me wrong, but It’s full of sick people. 3) I saw my grandparents not too long ago when we were all out there for a family reunion last year, and they were both upright, and doing “ok”.

So, now that I hashed it all out here on the internet, I think I am leaning closer to going out by plane and then renting a car when I get there. The only thing that would get in the way of this plan would be accommodations. I am not sure if my relatives have the room for me out there if all the Kazakoff's (or most of them) are going out right now (These are my cousins), and my mum and aunt are there as well.  So if I decide to go, I will have to put some money on the ‘ol Master Card so they don’t decline me when I book the flight and the car. Still not sure, but we’ll see. I am just waiting for updates from my Mum as she is out there right now, and has the most sense to think of posting updates on her blog. Now that I have said all this, I have checked my e-mail, and my mum doesn't think I should come out, as both my Grandparents are out of it now, and it looks like they are both going down at the same time. This makes it harder

Now for something pottery related. I will be teaching tomorrow night for Dave again. I guess he had to create a new musical group in order for a musician friend from Ireland to be able to play at the Water Valley Folk Festival, and now they need to rehearse. So, I taught for him last Thursday, and the request was tall sectional pots. I have not thrown these in a while, so I kept it to a 2 section pot. Didn’t do a bad job for being a little bit rusty. Last night, someone wanted the same demo, as they saw the result from Thursdays demo and wanted to know how the heck I got it so big (not really big, but bigger than he had thrown so far). So I kicked it up a notch and made it a 3 section long necked urn/bottle/vase (pictures to follow. I never think of them until I start writing about the pictures I didn’t take). So tomorrow night I teach again, and I am not sure I have anything as “exciting” as a 2 or 3 part sectional pot. I need to consider kiln size when throwing these things. The gas kiln was easy as it was a 40cu ft kiln, and could pretty much take whatever we threw at it (no pun intended), but these electric kilns are only 10 cu ft and so require a bit of restraint when throwing large pieces. Maybe I will do some stretched out platters that are thrown as a thick disk, and then peeled off the bat and thrown down on the table to stretch them into an oblong shape.  Who knows, I have a day to decide.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Ok, so I have not finished the teapots with infusers yet, or the chicken cooker, or the cups, or the mugs etc.... They are sitting waiting to be glazed. I will be teaching a lot this week with not much hope of getting them done during those classes either. I taught on Tuesday night, and it was a busy night, very full of questions and "can you show me?", not that I mind, I am not there to work on my own stuff anyway. I will be teaching again on Thursday night and It might be busy, but it is full of long time students, so they usually don't require as much hands on attention, just the demo. It looks like I will also be teaching on Saturday night. This is not normal, as the studio is usually only open until 5:30 on Saturday nights and then it is only open studio time. This will be a bachelorette party for somewhere between 6-8 people. Not sure if they have ever done this before, or if this will be their first kick at the can. They will not be taking anything home, and nothing will be fired, so I guess it is just a night to get muddy for them. I have not been to many bachelorette parties, but I thought it always involved making idiots of yourselves at a dance club, or bar. Anyway, I will be the one teaching, and Dave will be there to "help".
On another note, I asked Dave if it would be alright if I started firing lustres. I was actually prepared for him to come up with every reason why I couldn't, and would then just take the work over to Ceramics Canada to fire there. But, he said, along with the suggestion that I should probably start firing my own kiln loads. So, I am going to get a section of shelving that will house my work that is waiting to fire, and then I will fire it myself. I imagine it will be loading Fridays, firing over night, and unloading on Sundays.I am looking forward to the lustres. I don't want a gold, lustre, I am looking for a silver or palladium lustre to just run around the rims of some of the white and blue bowls and cups to enhance the undulations. In order to not screw them up, I will be buying a book on how to use them as well. Just to make my life a little more frustrating though, I thought I would try a lithography method in order to transfer prints onto clay. I saw the technique on Ceramic Arts Daily, and it looks very simple (ya right, I am sure it just looks that way). I read up a bit on true lithography to better understand why the process works, and we will see what happens. I might even try to incorporate the lithography AND the lustres....sooo many ideas, not enough time...