Monday, September 26, 2011

Peering From Under the Brim

Have to grow into some of these hats a potter wears...

Videographer. Turns out one needs more clean hands than I possess when attempting to film videos of oneself making pottery. Will need a guest videographer from time to time. Especially a videographer able to get to iMovie and edit! Will trade wheel time. (Apply to potter for opportunity.)

Gallery owner: It's true, dust and disorder make a poor setting for clean, shiny pots. Also, people visiting the in-person gallery (my euphemism for a certain pottery-filled portion of our basement) expect price tags on the pots. Why, I don’t know… I price-stickered lots of pots yesterday, dusted shelves, and removed the ironing board from the "gallery." Will need helpful husband to move junk out of the basement for me very soon so all euphemisms can be done away with, and a real gallery, without quotation marks, will materialize. Brought helpful husband downstairs to visualize this yesterday, Step One.

Website marketer or, PR department: “Hello. I'm a potter. How are you? I have a website. If you get the chance, you should go there. It’s really pretty. And everything there is for sale." Ew. There has to be a more professional way. Informing one person at a time is a pretty slow way to go, too. Will need excellent advice from Number One Son, Marketing Expert.

Like all things, these are sorting themselves out inch by inch. The "hat rack" is crammed with new hats that are still too big.

New goals arise weekly. If I fall a bit behind on the blog, it's because I can't see under the big ol' hat that's fallen over my eyes.

Happy and sweet new year, Shana Tova u’Metuka! May it be healthy, fulfilling and prosperous all around!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Working on a Video

I hinted so hard before Chanukah. My family got the hint and bought me a Flip video camera. I tried a few times to take my own video footage. With pottery in your hands, it's hard to get up and set the camera on Zoom or pan out for a broader shot. I let it rest, hoping for a guest videographer. Eventually, my great nephew Yoni came and took some footage.

(I need staff who will show up now and then and do this sort of thing.)

Yoni came back to teach me how to edit the video in iMovie. I think I got the basics down. We will see, when I finally settle down to do a good job with it.

Two of the honey jars on my website have starring roles in this 2-minute video. You will be able to watch how the raised decoration on them is done. This one (looks like apple pie to me)

and this one

with its stylized birch branch design.

The video editing technology is not too complicated, I think. As Yoni showed me, a bit of explanation goes a long, long way.

It's as my son said to me a few years back. People of my generation are afraid of technology. (OK, some of you may be the exception to the rule.) His generation explores it fearlessly. Let's see how I do...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why This Pot is a Second, or, the Slip-n-Slide of Glazing

Some have asked me about this bowl, recently mentioned as being so bad. They said they kind of liked it:

It isn't bad outside except for the uneven glaze smoosh at the top. It is stamped with decoration from a swirl stamp I made a while back, and the swirls became sort of naive-style flowers blooming in a sea of grass. So far, so good. It had the grace to dry nicely, fired well to bisque, and was glaze time.

I got all fancy and did some dipping in nutmeg, then wax resist overpainting to keep the grass delineated. So far good, right? Then an inside pour and outside dip in the celadon green for the rest of the bowl, and that's where I started to mess up. The new coat was too thin. I should have held it longer in the wet glaze to absorb more. It came out of the kiln a little rough to the touch and looking a bit pale.

Re-glazing is not an easy feat because the pot isn't porous any more and won't absorb the new coat. A very thin coat will dry on it if you hit it quick with a heat gun, but results are hardly worth the effort. But this was a nice bowl and I hated to sideline it. I decided to use a handy dandy tip I'd read years ago but never tried.

Brilliant tip: Coat the shiny surface with a layer of Elmer's glue and let it dry. Glaze over that. A thick enough coat should stick.

Sure enough, it worked. Into the kiln went the glue coated, re-glazed pot. Hotter and hotter rose the temp inside the kiln. Out of sight, the bowl rose to red heat. And as the glaze melted, it ran on a glue Slip-n-Slide, down into a weirdly shaped pool in the bottom of the bowl.

There you have it.
Another one for the next Seconds sale...?

Addendum: September 18. Reglazed the bowl a second time. No Elmer's glue this time, just a very soft paintbrush and a dark green glaze that had been thickening in its bucket, forgotten for some months. The key is to use a really thick glaze, I guess, that glides on and doesn't run off again. Because now this bowl is no longer destined for the Seconds shelf. It is now fully moss colored inside, a greeny-brown like a fallen log.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Honey jars here! Get your fresh new honey jars!
And they're pretty sweet, too.

The shellac resist technique I mentioned here produced the elegant raised design with its nice crisp edge. This celadon green breaks lighter over the raised edges and pools slightly into the indentations, so it is a perfect choice of glaze type for shellac-resist decorated ware.

This next jar is really pretty, but the rich blue glaze covered the raised leaf design just a bit too much. It's still a beauty, and I'm very happy with it, but they were very nice leaves... Next time, a less opaque glaze would be even better. Maybe even just thinning the wet glaze a bit could do the trick:

Meanwhile, these honey jars and lots of other handmade stoneware vessels are for sale on my website, with another red honey jar (nice one! love that red!) coming as soon as I glaze the matching plate, and some interesting bowls tomorrow. After some more glaze work and another firing, I plan to have more by next Thursday! Adreneline.

Thanks for following my blog so far. It's great to know that though I work in the basement on my own, there are those interested in seeing what goes on there and I am far from alone. I am going to slip in a plug here... If you like the pieces you see on my website, (which you see a small sample of here from time to time) would you be kind enough to pass the URL to friends, by phone, Twitter, Facebook, face time, or other vehicles a kickwheel potter has no clue about? I would really appreciate it. This blog is about a potter's processes more than about the commerce of the craft, but it is true that commerce funds the process. I'm a really big fan of customers, and who knows which of your friends and family might be interested? As always, it is found at Onward and upward, and sweet times to all of you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fixed Website, Ready to Load Up New Work

The Checkout and Contact pages are working now on my new pottery website! Just in time, too. What good was an e-shop without these? Not that much, if you want to know.

Tomorrow: photographing new work and putting it up on the site!

Have a look there tomorrow evening for pictures of some very nice new honey jars, fresh out of the kiln and ready for Rosh Hashana. You will also see that beautiful red bowl, a funky nutmeg and green serving dish, and assorted little pitchers, among other wheel-thrown and handbuilt things. The mini-pitchers, for those inclined, double as great "kiddush middlemen." (Feel free to ask me about that!)

Opening the Next Kiln

It is so hard waiting for that kiln to be cool enough to open!
I waited all day today, doing maintenance and business sort of things, but around 4:30 in the afternoon, had to see how those honey jars worked out. I handled the hot shelves and pots with kiln gloves on.
Some things made me very happy, some things...let's just say I am kept from getting too proud for good reasons; but the rest came closer to the happy side today.

Those red pieces!! Ooh la la! A really good bowl:

And this honey of a pot:

These two red pots were decorated in the raw state with shellac resist- you can read about it here.

But this sadly disastrous bowl! It wasn't so bad outside. But inside- Bleagh. It was an experiment that failed. Maybe more on that another day:

Still having to eat a slice of humble pie with most kiln loads, but I'll take a few bad ones if the rest are as good as those reds!