Friday, January 17, 2014

I've Moved my Blog to my Website- Please Do Visit!

With my website working well, I have added this blog to that site. If you found this blog through your old link, or through any other link, please try the new location!

You can bookmark the new site instead of this one, for more posts about the thoughts and working life of a basement potter.

Thanks so much for your attention until now! I look forward to your thoughts and comments on the blog, as ever.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Intro to the Women Working with Clay Symposium 2013

Tinker Mountain Arts Women Working with Clay Symposium at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia, June 10-13, 2013. (Donna Polseno, originator and coordinator. Moira Vincentelli, Wales, keynote)

My head is still spinning and the experiences are going to take some processing. Because we were only 38 attendees at this intense symposium, up close and personal to the activity, absorbing and sharing sights, ideas, techniques, discussions, images and insights at an astounding rate, here is the broadest overview, in intro.

Five women artists creating with clay worked through the days (Monday afternoon through Thursday morning) of the symposium, interacting in ways that allowed the attendees to watch, talk, photograph, ask, think, speculate. Yowza. I may be temporarily losing my marbles, because there was so much to gather.  I will give you some words and photos, and hope you will connect the dots...and remember, click on any photo for a larger image.

(Below) Sandy Simon (Trax Gallery, Berkeley). Spontaneity laced with practical experience. Red earthenware, white slip, nichrome wire, potter's wheel. Vessels nearly complete right on the wheel. Marketing. Advice. No fear. Adventure.

Sandy adding a wire & button handle right on the damp pot
A tray of Sandy Simon's pots

(Below) Stacy Snyder: Architecture and textured clay. Potter's wheel. Altering, squaring off. Added surface images. Discussion of the balance of motherhood and making art. Purposeful.
Stacy throwing a form she will dramatically alter

Stacy Snyder house jar with decals applied

(Below) Charity Woodard-Davis: Wood-fire. Porcelain. Slip that flashes orange in the kiln. Contradictions: Formality/organic shapes. Meticulously made vessels/entrusted to the  prolonged vagaries of the wood-fired kiln environment. Fiercely magnificent work. (I bought a marvelous cup, not shown.)
Charity Davis-Woodard assembling a ewer

Charity's cup, just assembled

(Below) Cheryl Ann Thomas: Teeny tiny coils pinched from porcelain clay. Non-vessels with vessel-like conical structures when first crafted. So thin, so textured with tiny undulations. Delicate walls folding and falling into sculpture in the deforming heat of the kiln. Slow, patient construction then ceding to the kiln the right to distort quickly and capriciously. Elegant and so crazy it made sense. Sheer outrageous simplicity. Rules + breaking rules = half-controlled half-uncontrolled.  Surprise!
Cheryl Ann Thomas begins constructing her  sculpture

Cheryl Ann's sculpture rises slowly from tiny coils

(Below) Adrian Arleo: Woman figure pinched out of big, fat coils over two days. Groggy, nylon-fiber-reinforced clay. No blueprints, no rulers, figure constructed from the bottom up to the head. Deftness. Strength. That certain unseen something in an artist's head that emerges through the medium.
Adrian working on a figure, starting at the bottom & working upward
The seated figure begins to get legs

All five differed from one another so much.  Clay is servant to individual goals. The artists, well-versed and exceptionally connected to the medium and techniques they were using, each took us into their own clay stories. We attendees each had our own stories and some of this we shared with each other as well over the 3 days. It was a seizure of so much muchness I will have to parse it over time.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Glaze Tests Unloaded From the Kiln

New: Porcelain 213 from Standard Clay, Cone 6 white clay ("Cone" is essentially a temperature indicator; Cone 6 means the kiln will heat to about 2235 degrees F to bring this particular clay to maturity)

Old: Cone 6 stoneware glazes I've been using for a long time

Hypothesis: These stoneware glazes will work just as well on the porcelain as they did on the stoneware, since the temp is the same, except run a little more and be brighter on the denser, whiter porcelain body. Unknown: whether the glazes will craze (form little crackles) on the porcelain where they didn't on the stoneware; opposite might also be true- where the glazes crazed on the stoneware, they might not on porcelain.

Conclusion: Very slightly more running where two glazes meet. Colors brighter as expected. (Time to discard the Licorice Black which doesn't like the porcelain.) Underglazes have great potential for added color under Elaine's Clear. So far Elaine's looks like it isn't crazing on the did on the stoneware.
Gut reaction: Good!

an array of color

Dragon Lady was still at 255 degrees Fahrenheit when I unloaded the ware. Hence the gloves.
Except for the bigger blue bowl, these test pieces were all thrown from 1-lb to 1-lb 2-oz balls of clay. I gave the pots free-and-easy ridges and bulges for the glazes to find their way into higher and lower areas. Randy's Red got busy in the ups and downs and ins and outs of this bowl:

Randy's Red went all groovy

and Price Green had a nice time with this one:
Price Green with Randy's Red at the rim

Chinese Blue-Green and Nutmeg were quiet and soft on this mug:
Come upstairs to my kitchen, you muggy thang

I played with Shelley's Blue speckles (used a mouth atomizer) on the Chinese Blue-Green bowl. Shelley's Blue, as you can see from the topmost photo in this post, will knock your eyes out because the cobalt blue is so strong. Some love it, but I prefer just a touch of Shelley's instead. This looks like old-time spatterware:
Chinese Blue-Green with speckles of Shelley's Blue

This is the first of a group of tiny hand pleasers that I've glazed, with Randy's Red. Hello, hedgehog.
Little Hedgehog

I had 10 stripey test pots, which were cylinders thrown without bottoms and brushed with stripes of underglaze in various colors. Bright commercial underglazes used to be able to stand only several hundred degrees of temperature below Cone 6, but they are now being formulated to hold up to higher temps than they used to. Two that were especially good were a strong red and a strong orange that are true and glossy under the clear glaze. Several more, like chartreuse and salmon, stayed very slightly matte but I think they will be workable.

The purpose of these underglazes is to add otherwise hard-to-get bright colors to my palette. I am going to experiment with underglaze designs next, using paper templates and freehand brushwork. Stay tuned!

It's already been a very interesting morning in the studio.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Poetry Pottery


Purring like a cat, the heat pipes
gurgle on-and-off rhythm, a
breathing rhythm overhead
rumbling like a living pet
and music's on in the studio
while clay shavings peel away beneath
my trimming tool like
skin off an apple, and
the bottom of a cereal bowl
is shaped and smoothed.
Phone rings and I don't answer.
Rather hear the purring
of the pipes, my potter's wheel turning,
these blues thumping and wailing
than break it with nowhere chatter.
I love this dusty vault
this cluttered order
these spinning bowls one then
another. Conversations
between the senses.

(copyright Mimi Stadler 2012)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Waxing and Waiting...or, Little Pot Feet

The last thing I did in the studio was this past Tuesday...Just half an hour spent, to get these porcelain test-pot feet brushed with a thin coat of wax in preparation for glazing. That's all. This time of year, I'm all about prepping for a holiday instead. I'll be able to get back to the pots in a little over a week from now. ...They're so patient. Much more patient than I am!
1-lb porcelain test pieces

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Seder Plate

Busy cooking for the Passover holiday! There's nothing like a clean house and wonderful meals as the accompaniment to spiritual events.

Double-rim Seder plate, underglaze brushwork, cone 6 white stoneware, oxidation fired, 2012.

Here is a Seder plate of recent vintage. If you have patience to wait a whole 30 seconds (slow load) it's there in the Gallery>Judaica section of my website along with others, at (If you want this one, or any other works from my site, email me; my site is due for an overhaul.)

Working on a new plate design for next year, because ideas have to stay fresh to make the work most fulfilling!

Have a wonderful, spiritual season.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Roadside Seating

Taking a walk with my husband this evening, we came upon this little item, set out by the roadside for tomorrow's trash pickup.
roadside find!
It was in perfect shape. I rang the doorbell, told the woman of the house that I could use it in my studio, and confirmed it was free for the taking. It had lived in her attic, she said. She had sat on it maybe once.

H carried it home for me. It inspired him to tease about how he's lugged rocks for me (in my own defense, gorgeous rocks) down a few mountain hikes over the years, and boxes and boxes of clay down the steps to my studio.

It's an inch or so taller than I like- the cheapazoid, beat up wood ones I've had for a couple of decades are the perfect height- but this one's better looking. H might tease me about hauling home random stuff I find, but this one is really is more long-term useful than, say, the "texture objects" I bring home like tree bark and woven fabric and pieces of corrugated cardboard that get used only once or twice. (I tossed out four big bags full of "texture stuff" during the studio remodel.) This one promises to be useful for a long time.