Thursday, January 31, 2008

the cat came back

Not exactly the next day, more like 3 stress filled days later. He zipped past my studio door. I went outside to find him shivering on the front steps, covered in soot and hungry. I am SO glad he is home. Taz is beside himself and would like Napoleon to stop eating and come down off the washing machine and wrestle.



Napoleon has been missing since the evening of Tuesday February 29th. He is much loved by his family and greatly missed. He is very friendly and will usually come when called. If you have seen this cat or have any information please call Cheryl or Matthew at

Very, very worried.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

feeling bloated

Well, this is what happens to 340GS when it is fired to cone 6 (without a bisque firing), then glazed and fired to cone 6 again. Lots of bloating, big bubbles, small bubbles, bubbles, bubbles everwhere. Oh, and the glaze is thin and looks like crap. On a plus note, the porcelain pieces all survived and look great so all is not lost.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

etsy makes me smile

Turquoise bag by bespokeboutique

I made some resolutions at the start of the new year and they all seem to be going pretty well. However, I really like fashion and design and I find that this does not fit well with the 'buy no stuff' aspect of my new world view. So how do I fill this void you ask? I read an awful lot of fashion and design blogs, much more current and much less involved with the huge advertisers than magazines and hey, no paper! But that doesn't always do it. I go to the thrift stores weekly and find an awful lot, if not most of my clothing there (thanks Mom for teaching me to sew oh so long ago). And finally, when I want something new that I can't find thrifting or make to my stringent standards, I head to Etsy. If you are going to buy, buy hand-made. These are artists who use their ingenuity and creativity to make unique items by hand. You buy something from Etsy and you are helping an artist, supporting the artistic community as a whole, and being a unique individual. I decided that I wanted a new bag for spring. I have a beautiful giant red bag that my mom bought for me that is a great winter bag, I have about 20 other bags that serve various purposes through the season, but I don't have a big turquoise bag for spring/summer. Exactly what I found on Etsy this morning. I haven't ordered it yet, but I am hopeful that if it sells I can still have another one made for me. Etsy warms my heart as well. I have an etsy shop, people can select you as a favorite, you can see who likes your stuff, it makes me feel good. Etsy is the greatest! Go there, look around, enjoy yourself.

Off to make porcelain teapots.

Monday, January 28, 2008

waking to panic

Kiln god please be kind.

Pray for us!

Drifting off to sleep, my mind floating peacefully (you know that slipping feeling right before you fall deeply asleep), then bolt upright with every part of my mind screaming SHIT!!!!!

I had loaded my kiln in the morning and given the very cold temperatures of late I had neglected to open the window in the smallish kiln building. I was going to go back to it later in the day but totally forgot. Matt being awoken by my panicky actions offered to go out to the kiln and vent the window for me. As I calculated how long it had been since I started the firing (picture sleepy girl visualizing the steps associated with programming an electric kiln). I realized that I had programmed my lovely kiln for a cone 6 firing. I was doing a bisque firing. Shit, shit, shit. I then ran over everything that I had in the kiln - let's see: 50 porcelain tea lights, a set of 12 lunch plates, 8 covered jars, umpteen coffee mugs. My mind spent the rest of the night trying to remember if I had read anything about (almost) vitrified clay being able to take a glaze. I did not sleep well.

I ignored my kiln entirely for about 3 days because it was just too depressing to think about much less unload.

Today I unloaded it and if I didn't think glaze was necessary I would be quite pleased with how everything looks. All of the porcelain, being the reliable stuff it is (Frost) totally vitrified. Would be fine except I want all of these tea lights to have decals on them so glaze is absolutely necessary. The Plainsman 340GS looks fabulous with all of the manganes specks, but it is too rough to remain unglazed.

Ok chin up, time to experiment...

For your own future reference, clay that has been fired to the cone it is intended to be fired to does not take glaze well. I held it in for a full count of slow 20, it ran like crazy and took FOREVER to dry. The jury is still out on whether it worked on the porcelain as it is still not dry and I dipped it several hours ago. I will let you know if the end result is ok once the firing is complete. My greatest fear now is that the glaze will all run down the sides of the pots and fuse to my shelves. But it shouldn't do this right?

I think I need to do something about my brain, it doesn't seem to be functioning up to speed lately. I need brain vitamins, or maybe more protein. Hmmmmm. I like the way that sounds, brain vitamins. I would buy that product.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

not feeling the love

Almost teenagers are difficult. That's all I've got the energy to blog today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

feeling the love

The sun is shining, my studio is warm and lovely. I am pretending that it is summer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Help, I have been kidnapped by the procrastination faeries!


I have been using my modified studio hours and have done a (mostly) good job of being in the studio when I am supposed to. This has worked well as I have had customers. However I am having a really hard time getting onto that pottery wheel. I have my excuses, it is really cold in my studio right now, my hands are stiff and aren't working well, I have a wedding to plan, etc., etc.. So far today instead of making little jewel porcelain teapots as intended I have:

1. Ordered a bunch of free supplies from vistaprint (I LOVE that company) - fridge magnets, fridge magnet calendars, business cards, postcards, address stamp, sticky notes and a t-shirt. All free. I just had to pay for shipping and one photo upload, a very, very good deal. They always seem to send me these too-good-to-be-true offers right around the time I need more things (business cards as well as postcards to publicize my NEW WORK showing at my gallery April 12th and 13th). Seriously, all of that stuff for $20, right to my post box.

2. Thought endlessly about what will be comprising my NEW WORK collection that I will be showcasing in the aformentioned gallery showing. I am truly excited and inspired about this, think beautiful, shiny, porcelain jewel-like vessels. Of course this still hasn't inspired my butt to sit at my wheel.

3. Checked facebook and my email obsessively in case I have heard back from my friend Heidi regarding her new job, or Suzanne from the Kingfisher Resort and Spa where Matthew and I will be getting married in August.

4. Read all of the blogs that I enjoy so much. Reflected a great deal on natural light and photography. Decided that I really want a Pentax digital SLR that will fit all of my old pentax lenses. Decided that I can't justify the expense and must try harder to take good photos with the digital camera I have.

5. Gone to the pet shop to see if they have any neon tetras in stock now. Our aquarium is doing well as are all of the inhabitants. They seem to have formed little attachments (schools I suppose) except the neon who just looks sad and little and lonely. I am going to purchase 3 little friends for him as soon as more are in stock.

6. Cleaned up all of my greenware so that it is ready for the bisque firing that will occur later this week.

7. Set out all of the bits that I need to do the handbuilding I plan to work on tomorrow while my students are working on their projects.

All worthy of my time, none of them what I am really supposed to be doing today. My calendar very distinctly says that I will be throwing porcelain teapots today. Hmmmm...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

my space

I was reading Carole Epp's blog today and she was talking about studio spaces. I find other people's set-up fascinating and am always drawn to those books the show actual studio spaces alongside the work made in the spaces. I was reflecting on the studio spaces of my past. I started in my kitchen, proceeded to a very small but adorable shed space attached to the garage near a house I was renting, then to my very large, but very dark basement and now I am in a beautiful, bright, warm renovated garage attached to my house. My dream studio space belongs to Karin Erikson who also makes the most beautiful porcelain work. Her new shop is called Manos and she is one very talented woman. Below are some more pictures of my current studio space, in black and white for a little change of pace.

The space is smaller that I would like, but I am definitely not complaining as it is by far the very best space I have ever had and it is all mine.

The gallery space takes up about 1/4 of the room and this seems to work for display purposes.

I am thinking that I want to paint the entire studio in turquoise although I really like the clean look of the matte white walls. Of course you can't see this in a black and white photo.

My computer sits on my wrapping station and has a full view out the large windows of the ski hill and the main road in town. This is a lifesaver for me as I dread winter and this view gives me the maximum amount of sunshine possible.

I have also learned that working all by myself in my studio gets a little lonely. I think my ideal world would be a giant collective studio space where I could talk and feed off the energy of the other artists. This has prompted me to change my shop hours. I can now be consistently found in my studio during the following hours:

Tuesday 10am to 3pm
Wednesday 12pm to 8pm
Thursday 12pm to 5pm
Friday 10am to 1pm
Saturday 12pm to 5pm

This new schedule enables me to get out and be social and do all the day to day errands which seem to be a part of my life. It is new for me starting next week, so I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

teaching day

My students really are brilliant. Here are some jars with lids that were thrown last week and trimmed today. Photos of teapots to come next week. We have fun.

And...the Red Deer Series catalogue (clicking this link will download the catalogue) is online now. Good times to be had and many wonderful instructors and wonderful things to be explored.

Monday, January 14, 2008

apparently I am an aquarium enthusiast, who needed the bathroom reno?

Shiny and new happy fish environment.

Lonely, sad tetra needing friends and a new home.

What I actually did in my studio today. The tea lights have been flying off the shelves and I am restocking. Plans afoot to make vases and add decals to both styles.

My girls were given a pair of fish for Christmas. I was consulted first and in a weak moment (or perhaps I am an enthusiast), I said sure. Well...the fish didn't look happy in the small plastic aquarium they came in and they looked lonely. We researched and found that they (tetras) are community fish and like to swim in schools of 6 or more. This led us to the purchase of a new 10 gallon tank with all the trimmings ($130). I got this all home, set it up and learned more about tetras. Back to the shop to purchase more plants for them to hide in as well as a bubble maker for the snail ($50). Truth be told, the snail is my motivation (more on that later). Day two, the water temperature is only 20 degrees C and the tetras like it around 25 degrees C, so this sent me back to the shop for an aquarium heater, while I was there I also picked up some snail food ($25). We couldn't move the tetras from the old tank to their new home until the tank has cycled for 2 days, then a slow introduction of their new friends over a period of a few days. Sadly we found one of the two tetras floating sideways at the top of the tank Saturday night. Now the remaining fish (Sushi) looks very, very lonely. Tomorrow he/she can move into his/her new home with a new friend, a very cool snail I have already named Sally. My friend Dana (of the amazing knitting and no sleeping) introduced me to her snail (Slimey) a few days ago. Slimey is the coolest thing ever! I will be posting many photos of Sally and the other aquarium inhabitants as I find that I am really enjoying this whole experience (minus the fish death, which makes me feel neglectful and sad). Tomorrow we head to the store to purchase the snail ($5), Wednesday will be about 3 more tetras ($6) and Thursday will be the final 4 tetras. ($8) as well as all the bits needed to keep the water perfect ($30). We should have a very happy aquatic environment containing 8 fish and one incredibly cool snail. Considering the cost of all of this, I am going to forgo my bathroom renovation, I didn't really need new tiles and fixtures anyway. Aquariums are supposed to be very peaceful, relaxing and great stress reducers. Did I mention that the snail crawls around and explores the environment? It searches out the bubbles so that it can fill its shell and go for a ride? How cool is that?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

books and illness

Nothing has happened in my studio today. I closed the doors until 1pm because my flu has turned into a nasty head cold and I again feel like crap. I hate being sick.

I had a wee nap and now feel a bit better which is good as my accountant Isabelle from Numbers and Letters is coming to look at my QuickBooks set-up. Hopefully all is inputted correctly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

cool jars and new items for sale

I have added a lot of new stuff to my Etsy shop. Here are just a few samples of what you can find there. Translucent hand-built tea lights, made with Frost porcelain. Check it out!

One of my photographs taken in Berlin and turned into a ceramic decal. One of my personal favorites.

A set of 4 rice/miso bowls in the red clay I love so much.

Jars with the trimmed lids.

A close-up of my favorite jar.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

trying new things

I am finding a lot of freedom in my January so far. Also of course a lot of financial concern as the craziness of Christmas consumerism screeches to a halt. Despite my fears of a very slow season I already have two dinnerware set orders. I giggle to myself about this as I know that there are so many potters out there who are wholesaleing to big shops and filling 5 figure orders. This is not my world and I don't even add a yet to that statement because I don't think I want it to be my world. I don't have room for that kind of production and I think it would cause me to have a nervous breakdown from the stress of it all. Week one and I am happily sticking to my new schedule: 3 days production + 1 day of studio/business maintenance + 1 day of exploration of new ideas + 1 day of teaching = 6 days of work. Yesterday seemed to be the day of studio/business maintenance, today was exploration of new ideas, tomorrow is teaching which means that the remaining three days will be production. I like my life.

Close-up of the jars I made today. I am experimenting with lids, using my new calipers. I am also trying out carved wells at the bottom of the pots to serve as glaze catches as well as thick slip on the forms themselves. I am thinking that the slip patterning will show nicely under a few of my glazes.

The lids, which will need to be trimmed tomorrow morning before classes start. I guess I will be up early tomorrow. Does anyone else find it really, really difficult to get up in the winter? It is dark, the house is cold, the bed and duvet is so cozy and warm. It just seems wrong to have to get out of it. I always have these visions of crawling back into bed when everyone is gone, but then between 6:30 when I get up and 8:30 when everyone heads out I wake up. I guess that is a good thing.

Monday, January 7, 2008

because they look so colourful

Only photographic evidence remains however...

I adore his big buggy blue eyes.

This is what happens when you take one small, low-to-the-ground puppy and walk around with him during an unseasonably warm melty afternoon.

This is the product of the first day back in my studio. Playing with my new decals, it was a great deal of fun.

This is going to be my reading material for the next few days as I have a collaborate project on the go (metaphysically at this point) with my good and brilliant friend Tracy.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

actual resolutions

More thoughts about how to be a better and happier person in 2008. So here they are:

1. No more plastic - no more plastic bags only paper, no more purchasing of plastic things, it's the thrift store for all of our old kitchen plastic stuff (bad for us although I don't have the heart to just pitch it).
2. Reduce, reuse and recycle - we already do this, but we are switching into hyper vigilant mode and this will be a family affair - the thrift stores are our new best friends and I am teaching my kids to sew (tomorrow is make cool new shirts out of old shirts day). Continue to compost and plant a vegetable garden in the spring.
3. Stop purchasing things. Well, unneccessary things, and if it seems neccessary then we are going to the thrift shop first.

I only want to have resolutions that I can keep. I am interested in hearing about any resolutions you have made for 2008, particularly the ones regarding the environment and our place in it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

rambling about: blogging, apprenticeships, artistic practice and music

Prepare yourself for a long and rambly post today. I have had a million things running through my head and I am feeling very chatty.

I have been reflecting about blogging and bloggers a lot lately. I have a few (listed on the sidebar) that I read almost everyday. People that do interesting things, people that write interesting blogs. I find that in my own blogging my environment has a great deal to do with what and how much I write. When I was on the Coast at Christmas, I posted photos with little commentary. Now, after being home with no kids and Matt at work all day I have acres of things to write about. My conclusion is that most of the bloggers I read (myself included) work from home or from their own studio, they have only their own thoughts and voices all day and this leaves them with a lot of things unsaid and blogging fits this nicely. At least that seems to be the way it works for me. When I am around a lot of people I get my talking and communicating fix through them, when I am not, I blog.

My one-year apprenticeship at Canyon Creek Pottery has ended. The year has flown by and I have learned a great deal. I don't think I can sum up the experience and do it justice so I will just say that if you ever have the chance to enter into an apprenticeship situation, you should. I've learned a lot about every aspect of running a pottery and gallery. I think if I could distill it into a few key points it would be this: 1. always fill your orders on time 2. remember clients and have a special event for them at least once a year (new work, kiln opening etc) 3. coffee mugs always, always, always sell 4. pay attention to the smallest details in every aspect 5. absolutely repay the system by taking an apprentice at some point in your career. Thank you Lee!

I have spent a few days revisiting some of my old art journals and books. I don't think I have narrowed down my plans yet and so will have to keep at it today. I just have so many ideas swirling around in my head. Carole Epp is a potter and blogger that I very much admire (her work, her work ethic, her blogging etc). She recently posted about how she sees a lot of merit in following two (or more) distinct lines of practice. She uses herself (figurative and functional ceramics) as well as several other artists as examples. It is a great post and confirmed to me that I should continue my path making both functional pottery as well as the more sculptural feminist-themed art shows that I love to do. Although, lately I have some ideas percolating in my brain that involve a combination of my two loves. I mean who doesn't want to eat off a plate that is also a feminist rant? So colourful, so witty, so informative. My most wonderful boyfriend gave me a colour scanner for Christmas (he knows me so well). I think this will be playing a very large part in my next body of work. I get so excited just thinking about it!

Now that I am not working outside of my own space anymore I feel like I have so much more time. I have decided to work a 6 day week, Monday through Saturday 10-5. I am going to take Sundays off with my kids and I am going to dedicate one of my 6 studio days to explorations of new ideas. I need to spend some time in advance planning as well. I plan to apply for at least 2 grants and 2 juried events this coming year. I will also be participating in a studio tour with several other local artists. We have tentatively called it "New Work", this of course means that we all need to have new work for this tour. Given that the event is roughly planned for the end of April I probably need to be getting going on that new work.

Thankfully orchestra doesn't start up again until May because I have also signed up to be in the musical. We rehearse twice a week and I am very excited and more than a little anxious. I wish I was better at not being self-consious. I always seem to be wishing that I was better at something else. Usually this happens while I am watching someone do something cool. Last night we watched All That Jazz, all I talked about was how much I wished I could dance. Truly, if we could pick from the talent bag one great 'thing' we could do, I would pick dancing. Next, I would pick singing, then probably playing violin, the list goes on and on. Actually, now that I think about it, probably the best skill would be to not really need much sleep. I crave being one of those people like my friend and knitter extraordinaire Dana. She doesn't really need to sleep. She stays up until 2 or 3 am most nights and then gets up all cheery in the morning with her two very small children. She doesn't ever seem to be tired. I am one of those people who think 9:30 is a reasonable bedtime and that 11pm is crazy late. Maybe I need to start drinking a little coffee in the afternoons... I have joined the musical because I like all the people involved (a very fun group) and I think that I need to push myself in the performing arts direction. Artistic practice should be stretched in all directions possible, (I'll keep telling myself that whenever I am feeling shy).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

2008 hasn't started particularly auspiciously for me. I have the can't drag your ass out of bed flu that is going around. I literally spent all day yesterday in my pj's feeling sorry for myself. Thankfully the kids are all at their other parents houses this week so I didn't need to take care of anyone but myself. I'm feeling a bit better today (Ithink the shower and getting dressed helped) although I think it is going to be another day of rest. In a bid to try to cheer myself up (I find being sick very depressing) I am going to spend the day thinking about things that I like and try to cheer myself up. The summer and fall were crazy busy for me both at home and getting my business launched. I have been compiling a very long 'things to do in January when things slow down' list that I am going to revisit today. I have been feeling kind of scattered regarding the direction my art is going in. I seem to be interested in so many different styles and ideas and I become overwhelmed. I dabble in some then hop to another, then back, then something different yet again. I think I need to really focus my attention on what I want to explore and then explore it until it is resolved. So when I gather my energy again I am going to head into my studio and grab my books and journals and sit with them and a pot of tea and think about direction.

I have never been big on resolutions for the New Year. It always seems like they are taken so lightly that there isn't really a point. I had a friend ask me just a few minutes after midnight 2008 if I had any resolutions and I really couldn't think of a single one. Yesterday, I was visiting my friends blog and he had a link to a site that I have been meaning to visit for a while. It is called The Story of Stuff. It takes about 20 minutes to watch but it is very much worth it and it has given me my resolution for this year: I will consume less this year. Watch the video, send it to others, follow the 10 easy steps to make the world a better place. It's easy.