Monday, July 30, 2012

Here's the cup I was talking about

It took 4 days for the mobile e-mail I sent to get into my draft list, but here it is finally. The other cup is still in limbo somewhere.

Now What Do I Do?

As you may recall, I made my first (and only, so far) sale via Etsy back in May. I got it out the door and on the way to the Bronx about 2 days after the purchase was made and I thought that would be the end of it. Well, last week I got a notice that there was a package waiting for me at the post office. I couldn't figure out what it might be, but when I got to the post office on Saturday, I discovered that the very same box I sent off to NYC in MAY, just came back to me unclaimed. What am I to do? I had to cover the return postage (~$14), I have tried to contact the purchaser, but the only way I have to contact them is through the conversations on Etsy, they did not put an e-mail address or phone number or anything in their profile. I have asked if they actually do want this piece, and that if they do, there would be an additional $14 in postage, but I would be more than happy to send it to them again. What do I do if they don't contact me? Am I obliged to refund the money? It took 2 months for this to get back to me, and the money is now long spent (they paid by PayPal, and I have since made other online purchases like e-books, etc.

If anyone out there has any advice, or has had something similar happen to them, I would appreciate any feedback.

I guess I will put this little jar back on the shelf, but keep it as “SOLD” for a while in case they do get back to me and do want it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

2 new pots up on Etsy

I have listed another shellac resisted teabowl and a coffee mug on Etsy. For some reason, when I send the pictures to my blog via my iphone, they are not showing up in my post list, so you will have to look to your right, and you will see all of my Etsy pots for sale. I will have to load the pictures when I am sitting down with my actual computer tonight.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

So Tired

To many lat nights. I am so tired I actually feel drunk. My eyes wont stay focused and I am feeling nauseous. Not sure if the coffee is making it worse, or has just not kicked in yet. I normally get, on average, 8 hours of sleep, I sleep like the dead and have no trouble getting to sleep. For the last 3 or 4 nights I have not been getting my 8 hours. It has been more like 6. One or two nights like that is OK, but today I am done. I need a nap and it's not even 10am. I have to teach a class tonight, so it should be interesting to see how I manage.

I remember as a small child that sleep was the last thing I wanted to do. I recall my Mum trying to get me to nap and in the end had to “nap” with me and pin me down with her arm. Well, she soon fell asleep and I was able to squirm out from under her and then I was free. Now, as an adult of 41 years, I can honestly say that sleep is one thing I would never give up. I know for sure that if anyone ever wanted to torture me for information, all they would have to do is deprive me of a few precious hours and I would spill the beans. My career as a spy is over before it ever began :)

Another year older

Yup, it's my birthday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Memorial plaque

My parents were in Melfort Saskatchewan this past weekend and sent me this photo of the memorial plaque I made for my Grandmother's ashes that are buried there next to the Eastman family that raised her. I am actually really quite surprised that it has done so well. It is exposed to the rain, sun, snow & freezing cold weather that Saskatchewan gets. It has been exposed to about 3 winters now and no cracking or anything. So if you are looking for a material that will withstand the rigours of being outside, Laguna cone 5 Bmix (fired to cone 6) will do the job. The glaze itself is crazed, but this glaze naturally does that, so no big deal there either.

2 days in a row, I think that is a record

I managed to post items to Etsy 2 days in a row. I do believe that is a record for me. Mind you, I only managed to post 1 little cup last night, but it's better than nothing. It is the picture taking and photo editing that really bogs me down. I am using programs that I am not really well versed in and every time I open my lap top I scratch my head and say "now how did I do that last time?" I usually stumble upon the correct process eventually, but it always seems a trial and error kind of thing. On top of that I had to charge my camera's battery before I could download the images to the computer directly, so that delayed me by an hour or 2 as well. So here it is, the one little lonely teabowl. I really do love this one. The glaze (although a commercial concoction) really feels nice, it is a silky satin mat and just feels really good in the hand. I almost didn't post it, but what do I need with another little bowl? My cupboards are FULL of them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The last few days

I have actually been a bit more productive lately. I guess with the heat starting to become more bearable and less humidity in the air I have more energy. I was able to load a bisque on Friday night, in anticipation of being able to fire a glaze load this week, but the last element in the kiln that had not been replaced yet, finally shuffled off it's mortal coil (pun intended) last week, the element is on order, but did not arrive on Friday, so hopefully tomorrow (fingers crossed). I also threw a bunch of the square plates, and trimmed them up. They have all had the slip/shellac treatment and are now drying under wraps. There were a couple squared off teapots. They are actually quite round, but the bottom comes out quite square and then I cut out feet at each corner. I should record the process and post it one of these days. I also took a few pictures, and will take more, of finished work and posted to Etsy (see last post). I updated my facebook account finally. I think I was the last person in the FB universe to update the new (to me) settings. It seems I am an antisocial networker.

I glazed the fire bowl and am again, just waiting for the element so that I can fire it. My fingers are really crossed with this one as there are a few things that could go wrong, and as it is a custom piece, it is marked for death by that fact alone. I just have to take deep breaths and pray to the kiln gods. I should have made 2 to be on the safe side, but I did not.

Here are a few pics of some of the pots that went into the bisque, including some of the square shellacked plates with various designs. I am especially fond of the leaf pattern and have begun working more along that line. It takes way less time to do than the trees, as the spirals take a really steady hand and a lot of patience. I also like the 1 big spirally thing with the stripes running behind it. It kind of reminds me of a seedling just poking it's head out of the ground. Apparently I am thinking of all things natural and organic when I am doing these. I don't really start with anything particular in mind, but I always seem to end up with these kinds of designs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Pots on Etsy

I finally got around to posting a few new pots on Etsy. Just 4, but better than nothing. Here are a few images.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

doldrums and other stuff

I'm feeling like I'm at a creative loss right now (bored?). The summer is half over and I don't have any pending projects, except the redo of the 2 mugs for the custom order that did not turn out properly, and the fire bowl that is waiting for a bisque (plan is for this weekend). I'm not working on Saturdays, so that leaves a lot of extra time in the studio, but without a clear direction, I end up aimlessly puttering around. Perhaps I should use this “down” time to clean up my storage areas, wipe down shelves, throw crap out, reclaim clay....but it has been too hot to contemplate that kind of activity. The doors were all wide open on Friday night and all the fans were on full blast, but the kiln that was cooling off was impeding the cooling of the studio as well as my motivation level. I should note that the heat was last week and weekend, but this week is much cooler now, but still quite humid. Instead of 30 degrees (celcius) and feeling like 33 with the humidity, it is 23 and feels like 30. So a bit more bearable. It still feels like a pool locker room outside though. Just a bit moist out.

Things are changing a little at the studio. We finally got rid of the 40 cu.ft. gas kiln that had been hogging space at the front by the big loading door. When we moved to this new location, we had to give up high fired reduction :( and move to cone 6 electric. The cost of hooking up the gas in this location was insane, mostly due to the number of inspections required (civic, Provincial & Federal.due to the number of burners and the btu's involved) Anyway, for the past 3 years the “beast” has been sitting at the front of the shop waiting for someone to take it to a new home. Well, someone took it last week, and it is off to a better, more productive life. We will now have room to get the spray booth operational. We are going to vent it through a contraption that Dave put together consisting of a fan, a compressor and a block of a half dozen or so furnace filters. The filters will be removable so that as they begin to get clogged, they can be pulled out singly and replaced with fresh ones. It's not as “cool” as the waterfall booth at Medalta, but then for the amount of spraying we will be doing, this is more than adequate. What else am I up to? Well, I am cleaning my condo and then organizing my back bedroom/storage room/photography area/catch all room. I really really really need to get some photographs taken of my more recent work so that I can upload it to Etsy (currently the shelves are bare there). The cleaning bug was begun in response to the condo board needing access to my water shut off valves to ensure that they are up to code. This requires a plumber coming in to look at them. My momma done taught me to always have a clean home when there are visitors, and right now it is not fit for neither man nor beast, good thing I'm not a man, or a beast. It should be noted that my momma also done taught me how to clean, but I am never home very much and very lazy, so this is a sporadic, once in a blue moon thing for me. However, if you ever come to visit, rest assured that I will clean before you come, just give me a little notice ;). Mum, if you are reading this, just close your eyes and pretend you didn't.

I also read this today on Carole Epp's blog Musing About Mud
It is about a new venture that Feedlot Studios and Black Bird Studios are working on together. They want to start a ceramic decal printing business and are asking for donations to help get it underway. There is a Calgary connection with Feedlot and I might just give them a few bucks to help out.

Carole also posted this, and I might just have to buy it too. A book on ceramics design, perhaps it will help with my loss of the creative juicy stuff and help me focus my energy for good not evil.

Maybe I should stop reading blogs for a while, I seem to spend money when I do...But then, it is my birthday next week, and what better way to spend your money could there be than on yourself?
Enough, I am off to the studio to teach a class tonight, and then home to wash floors. Sounds like fun hey.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Residency Envy

I'm Soooo Jealous....

I have been reading more than a few blog posts lately regarding artist residencies and the potters that are currently in them, will be in them, or just finished them. I am so green right now.

I sometimes wish that I had a less stable life. One that afforded me the time (although perhaps not the money) to pursue these opportunities without having to worry about how to take a prolonged “holiday” and still have a job when I got back. I guess that is a conundrum for most people. When you have the time, you don't have the money, and when you have the money, time is in short supply. I only get 2 weeks paid holiday a year, so that would need to be banked for a while in order to even think about taking a long sabbatical from work. Other than people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, who can afford to go for any length of time without a pay cheque? I keep trying for the lottery (through work). I don't want to be that schmuck that didn't put in and then they win and you are the only one running the joint when they are all sitting on a beach somewhere drinking mojitos.

The Renaissance guys had some of it right, they had the Patron. I think we need these to come back. To have a wealthy benefactor that supports an artist or artists in what they do, thereby allowing them to focus fully on their ideas and expand their creative horizons without having to worry so much about the mundane things in life that pull our attentions away. I'm just dreaming of course and I'm sure that there were some problems with that system of support. Like what happens when your patron dies, or loses it all in the stock market etc. All I want is someone to pay me to make stuff that I love because they love it, is that too much to ask? I jest of course. The 1% don't want to support me and the other sort of starving artists out there. Unless they do, and we just have not asked them nicely.

Dear Mr. Gates,

I am writing this to you in the hopes that you really need a new dinner service, teapot, coffee mug, soup tureen, casserole... but just can't find what you are looking for. If you could pay my way in the world, I will make you the most KICK A$& dinner service, teapot, coffee mug, soup tureen, casserole... ever.



Do you think it will work?

Probably not.

Back to the Lottery plan it is then.

Monday, July 9, 2012

It’s Here…

Thursday, July 5th was the first “unofficial” night of the Calgary Stampede. On the Thursday evening before the stampede begins they have a “Sneak a Peak” night that lets you get into the grounds to check out all the new and different ways you can spend your money and churn your stomach on the Midway before the official opening on Friday.
I may have mentioned before that I live very close to the grounds. According to Google, I only live (as the crow flies) 777m from the Grandstand (where they hold the Rodeo, the grandstand show, shoot off fire works etc). This is just over ¾’s of a km (just shy of half a mile). If the wind is blowing right I could spit that far. This short distance, and the fact that this is the 100th anniversary of the first Stampede, made for an especially loud evening. I think they also turned all the deep fryers on at the same time. I could smell deep fryer fat on my patio (must have been the mini donuts). The Coca Cola stage was in full swing, the rides were flinging screaming people around and the fireworks were, as promised, very, very loud. Even though I live close, I don’t get to see them. I face the wrong way. So all I get is the noise and perhaps some reflected light off of one of the taller buildings in my area. Not that exciting.

It’s not all bad. I do get to see some funny things while the stampede is in full swing. I was sitting on my patio on Saturday night, just reading a book and listening to the sounds of the inner city when I watched a “cowboy” walk by. Of course he was not a real cowboy. This was one of those urban cowboys that only dress the part for 10 days of the year. Anyway, the path he was describing was not the straight line of the sidewalk, it was more of a meandering swerving back and forth, and he was walking really oddly, more of a jerky shuffle as if his feet didn’t know when his body had stopped and vice versa.

On the clay front, I was in the studio all weekend, but it was just too hot to do much of anything. I decided to pack it in yesterday when the sweat began to drip down my face while throwing. I did manage to get the 2 extra mugs for the special order glazed and fired. They went into the test kiln, but they came out all gross. The ^5 BMix decided to bloat, and now they have little bumps all over them. I think the test kiln just gets too hot. If I had been able to fire them in a regular kiln load of pots I don’t believe this would have happened. These are the things that happen when you rush clay faster than it wants to go.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Everyone can stop worrying and putting up Lost & Missing posters of something that we have never seen, they found the bozon. That is not a typo, as far as I know, no bozos were harmed in the search for the bozon. For all the non partical physicists out there (me included), in a nutshell, this is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter (no pun intended).

There is this guy named Higgs, and he came up with the Higgs Mechanism and a thingy called the Higgs field that relies on the existence of a subatomic partical called the “Higgs Bozon”. The Higgs Mechanism essentially explains why other elementary particles have mass. If the Bozon had not been found, then the Higgsless models would have been considered as more viable explanations. If these alternatives are anything like going braless, I am sure they are not as supportive as the Higgs mechanism.

I thought kinda hard to get that worked in there somehow, don’t hate me because I pun

What I did for the Canada Day Long Weekend...

Ok, so I'm a little behind with this
On Friday, I met a new customer who is looking for a custom made bowl. He had, and I quote, “a very vivid dream” about the bowl and was looking for someone to create it for him. Apparently it is a “ceremonial fire bowl”. There will be a bowl that will go inside this bowl that will contain the fire, so I don’t have to worry about direct contact with the flame, but I decided to use a really groggy body to help prevent any issues with thermal shock. The bowl itself is fairly simple, ~10” in diameter and ~5-6” tall. There are some specific design elements that he is looking for. He wants 6, equally spaced “people” around the outside. At least I think they are people. Essentially, a “Y” with a circle in the upturned arms of the “Y”. He wants the “people” to be turquoise, and the rest of the bowl to be a medium brown, easy peasy. I threw the bowl on Saturday, trimmed it on Monday and then cut out the “people” from a thin slab of clay and then attached them. I rounded all the harsh corners and I think it looks pretty darned good. I figure it will take about 1 month to finish, as I want to dry it really slowly to avoid inadvertent peeling up or cracking off of the appliqués.

Friday was also the day that I completed the additional 2 mugs for the custom mug order that I delivered last week. They wanted 2 more, but with a raised appliqué with the initials and year. I did everything I could to get them done in one day, as this customer wants them by this Friday (if possible). I really doubt the completion time, but I may be able to squeak it through if I can access a small test kiln to do both the bisque and the glaze. I might be able to sneak them into a student kiln load when Dave isn’t looking.

The customer who wants the custom bowl was more than OK with the 1 month timeline. He was just really happy that I took this project on. I guess he had looked into this a little bit and found it really difficult to find anybody that would do it. Are all the potters out there just so overloaded with work that they are turning it away? I doubt it.

Aside from these 2 custom orders, I threw several large casseroles and cannisters, , and one complete rip off of a “pumpkin” casserole. I had been reading some past blog entries from John Bauman and was inspired to “copy” his method. I have made lots of pumkiny pots before (mostly teapots), but I have always carved out the “lobes” of the pumpkin. I was particularly keen to try out his method of attaching the “knob” which is a pulled handle in the shape of a pumpkin stem. I have always either used a different coloured clay, or glazed the clay a different colour for the handle. John paints on an iron rich slip midway through the pulling process and then continues pulling to incorporate the iron into the clay. Of course he did this without getting any iron on his nice white stoneware pot. Mine looks like it was in the middle of a bloodbath.

Sorry for the blurry pics, they were taken with my iphone and not the new camera.

This is the Fire Bowl (now under wraps for a while to dry)

Here is one of the casseroles (the other ones not pictured were thrown from BMix)

And lastly, a cannister and a pumpkin pot. I wiped it clean for the photograph. . Also, I don't believe John puts the handles on the sides of his pots. His pumpkins are more true to life.