Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Microwave-Oatmeal Bowls

1/2 cup whole oats
1 cup water or milk or apple juice
a pinch of salt (optional)

Place in microwaveable bowl & cook on high for 2 1/2 minutes
Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more
See if you want another 1/2 minute
Add other good things to eat: nuts, honey, maple syrup, raisins, cut up fruit, cinnamon- and warm up your tummy with breakfast.

OK. You say you've tried this, but the oatmeal climbs up the sides of the bowl and bubbles over while you're busy getting your coffee?

What you need is a bigger bowl. A taller bowl. A microwaveable one that has generous capacity and a yen to contain your oatmeal. (One that later in the day will hold enough tuna salad or a side dish of pasta or veggies for your family of three or four.)
Bowls for microwaving oatmeal...or warming soup...or reheating pasta...a great size for lots of things!

Finished size will be about 7" in diameter x 3.5" tall. No way will your oatmeal be climbing out.

The colors on these oatmeal bowls is still in the raw. After firing, assuming I put clear glaze over them, the back one will be muted orange, the middle row ones chartreuse green and dark peach, and the front pale pink and ice blue. The color will darken and deepen with firing. Or so I am guessing- these are new commercial underglazes that I am trying out under my own glazes.

A homey and extremely useful bowl for fall and winter!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What do You Mean by Show?

Two Sunday shows in a row made this a fairly busy month. Four boxes of pottery are back home, still packed, stacked in boxes in my garage beside the show shelves and stands. Two boxes are empty now.

These two shows are not very much alike.

Show 1: the Potters Guild of New Jersey's annual Fall holiday show, at the Community Presbyterian Church in Mountainside, in its social hall. About 40 of my colleagues showed and sold nothing else but pottery, of all flavors. The show ran two days. I was there only the second day, when it runs for 5 hours. Although our mailing list is 700 addresses long, the crowd was fairly sparse.  I sold 3 moderately priced pieces. You may think that sounds like a bust, but sales were not my main criterion for this show. I went to hang with the potters, which is fun, informative, and supportive. I did not expect much in sales with a roomful of clay competition, although I did expect to make back my table fee plus a little. In short, my expectations were real, and were more than met. A nice thing about this show is that the minimal table fee is the only fee charged, necessary to cover administrative costs. The Guild does not take a percentage. Because there was a table fee, I took home 78% of my sales.

Show 2: The Nanuet Hebrew Center Art Festival in New City, New York, also in the social hall. This is a fundraising show for the Center.
Still lovin' the new banner.

About 30 vendors showed and sold work. There was jewelry of all kinds (it was a very jewelry-heavy show), and handmade wearables and needlework. We had one sculptor, and three potters (including me) showing work both Judaic and non, I sold 9 pieces, not as moderately priced as the ones at Show 1 the Sunday before. My expectations, however, were higher for this show. On the fully enjoyable side, I networked with other vendors/artists and enjoyed shmoozing with browsers, show volunteers, and customers, and I did make sales. I took some emails for my mailing list, which is always good. But this show had twice the table fee of Show 1, and took 20% of my sales in addition. Although I sold a respectable amount considering that this crowd was also pretty sparse, and certainly earned more than at Show 1, I brought home only 51% of my sales.

So when I say "I'm in a show," that means something different every time. At Show 1, low expectations were met and exceeded. At Show 2, higher expectations were not met, but an analysis of the show afterward indicates that I did not factor in projected crowd size or potential spending money in the room. My sales indicate that I really did pretty well before the Hebrew Center took its fee and percentage (and that "pretty well" is a relative thing). My expectations were just too high to be met by these challenging costs. It was an appealing show that I've now done twice and must consider whether I will do again now that I have better perspective.

Another important aspect of shows not reflected in my take-home, is that these venues are good places to test out new products. Here are two tulipieres (many-spouted flower containers) I was showing for the first time. I engaged people in some conversation about these. They had price tags of $110 each and did not sell, but both item and price are experimental. We shall see...
Two different tulipieres, about 11" tall. I put flowers in them at the show to forestall the inevitable "What is that?"

Remember, shows are a small part of what I do. There are also my website sales, and word-of-mouth drop-in shoppers at my studio gallery (now emptied and ready to be painted and set up with new shelves; re-opening date TBA). The reasons to do shows are like journalism's rules; they lead me to some better understanding of who is buying what, when, where, and why, and so help me focus my creativity productively.

More on the business of pottery when the renovated gallery goes back up!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hot From the Kiln! Show Prep

First I took inventory of previously made show stock while the newest load cooled in the kiln. (Remember, as always, you can click on any photo for a bigger image):
14 washing cups & more (with a tulipiere hiding in back)
Then I opened the kiln and began to unload! Still at 250 F but I couldn't wait.
Assembling the kiln load on the floor of the kiln room to assess
Made by candlelight one day during the Superstorm Sandy power outage. Apropos!
Interesting! The Wee Willie Winkie candleholders above (see my post of 11/4) are way cute!

Good form, I think. Very reminiscent of the seashore.

And the freeform pieces (from the previous post) were mostly glazed like these above, kind of a salt-glaze effect. It's a browner color than I expected, due to my red glaze being over the darker clay I used in the week after Superstorm Sandy. For contrast, below is a similar piece, same glaze, on white clay. Quite a difference! I like the one below a lot.
Red glaze on white clay. Liking.

 Not sure about this one below. What do you think?
Too much?

But I'm sure about these below- they're very nice!

Liking the color combination...
Compare that tray with the wavy edge with one without, in a different color scheme. Both nice. The front one is a little fancier.
Similar forms, yet different

I'm playing with snakeskin texture on these (below) thrown-slab vessels. Black underglaze under red glaze. Hmm...jury is still out.
Snakeskin texture

Looking down into the bottom of the kiln after unloading the rest...Don't want to subject the tulipieres to thermal shock so they are not yet unloaded. They are sculptural pieces, thrown and assembled from various parts. I will let them cool in the kiln.
Tulipieres...and cups. Complex design next to simple.
Maybe I'll see you at the show on Sunday! Come visit and see the work in person!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Potters Guild Show Results, and Onward!

Sunday was a fun day. Noon to five p.m. I was with the Potters Guild of NJ ( at our annual holiday show and sale.

As shows go, this is lots of fun, although I don't make much money. Some shows are good money and some I do for other reasons; this one's in the second category. In a room with about 39 other potters, it's pretty hard to stand out! I just make what I like to make and set it up as nicely as I can, and assume I'll sell a few good pieces even with all the fine competition of my colleagues. So it went.

I have a new banner!

My colleagues range from fairly new with clay to very experienced. Aesthetics are all over the place, and this is part of the excitement of this show. "Putting on a show" for me is like it was when I was little- let's make up stuff and get people to see it!

Today I am throwing (turning) flat slabs with finger ridges, on my potter's wheel, and laying them out to firm up on sheet rock "boards." I trail a spiral of black underglaze on some of them. When they firm up a little (I am too impatient to wait enough), I toss them in a particular way (with a pulling motion) on the boards, stretching and thinning them by doing this a few times. (The spirals of underglaze stretch, too.) Then I drape them into oval bowls coated inside with canola oil or WD-40 (to prevent them sticking) for support, and do some edge smoothing.
Fast-drying the freeform bowls in their "cradles" on my space heater. Hoping to bisque fire them tomorrow!

It's fun and relatively fast. Kind of like piecrust without the rolling pin. I like the free forms of the resulting bowls. Here's the first one, without the black underglaze.
This one was made from a white clay bat pad I used under bats of brown clay, which caused the darker spiral serendipitously...a story for another day.

If you want some better explanation of this technique, with photos, let me know in Comments, and I'll write up a how-to blog post! Meanwhile, back to the studio. This afternoon I have pieces that are already bisqued, ready to glaze for next Sunday's show in New City, NY!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Glazed Pot Photos + Show Information

Just a quick update.
You saw these appetizer plates and this platter in the raw state in my post from October 12th. Here they are glazed!
Appetizer plates- perfect small serving size; stoneware fired to approx. 2200 F (^6)
Platter, approx. 12.5" x 11", stoneware, black underglaze, three glazes, ^6

You can click on the images to see them better.
Just a teaser: here is a washing cup from the first glaze fire in my new kiln. The glazes came out wonderful.
Washing cup, stoneware, 3 overlapping glazes, ^6

Three-footed Vase, about 10" tall, underglaze, latex resist, 3 overlapping glazes, ^6
Again (as in previous posts), feel free to visit me and see my work at the Potters Guild show this Sunday, November 11, 12-5, 1459 Deer Path, Mountainside, NJ., Community Presbyterian Church (social hall)---assuming the power is on and we can have the show! I will also be at the Nanuet Hebrew Center Arts Festival next Sunday, November 18 at 411 South Little Tor Road,  New City, NY 10956, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From Hurricane Sandy to Wee Willie Winkie

On October 29th, Hurricane Sandy blew out the lights. She forcibly shut appliances and phones. The hum of household motors began a four-day rest. The friendly faint grind of the heat going on stopped cold. Except for the mild ticking of the battery powered wall clock in my studio, all the sounds of electricity underlying life at home became silent.

Even our cellphones did not have reception.

We played Scrabble by candlelight, bundled in layers of clothing.

Half a lifetime ago, when I bought my Lockerbie kickwheel (non-electric), I said, "I can even use it in a power outage!" But I never did. Blackouts rarely last more than a couple of hours.

But Hurricane Sandy left a swath of destruction in our state. The electric company gave an estimate of six days without power (mercifully, our house did not go this long).

The Luddite living inside of me rose weirdly happily to the occasion. Down to the studio with a handful of candles!

And what to make?
Had to bleach out the photo so you could see me in the low light!

Candleholders, of course! Wee Willie Winkie candleholders, in fact!

           "Wee Willie Winkie running through the town
             Up the stairs and down the stairs in his nightgown!
             Tapping at the windows, calling at the locks,
             'Are the babies in their beds? For now it's ten o'clock!'"

In my childhood book of nursery rhymes, this is the candleholder Willie carried:
My friend calls them Jack-Jumped-Over-the-Candlesticks.

 ...and mugs, too! Because when the power goes out and the temperature outside and inside drops, you need, at the very least, candlelight and tea.

I would have fired them in the kiln, too, if only it was not electric...

Look for these among other pottery I will be showing on Sunday, November 11, 12-5 p.m., (assuming the show will not be canceled due to power being out,) at the Potters Guild Show and Sale in the social hall of the Community Presbyterian Church, 1459 Deer Path, Mountainside, NJ.

Keep warm!