Getting ready to show and sell.


Start of the holiday season marks my busiest most stressful time of the year—preparing for the shows and sales leading up to Christmas week. Instead of thinking about festive decorations, organizing favorite holiday recipes and making a list of what I’d like to receive, I am elbow deep in mud, glazes and covered in price tags.

No complaints though…except for the gift list. I prepare the these weeks with anticipation of how people will like my new pieces. And I have some exciting new pieces!

These are exciting time for artists who show and sell. To get feedback and comments, to see how people handle each piece. It’s disappointing when people walk past my work and not touch them. I think most are afraid to touch or think that they would be obligated to buy once touched. Artists love to talk about their work. To share the thoughts of how or why they made them. Most of us work in small little studio on their own with Pandora playing in the background. We want people to talk to. So next time you are at an art show, be engaged, be social. Ask for the story, and there’s always a story.

Visit me at Art in Clay Ceramic Show and Sale presented by Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild on Nov 16-17, 10am – 5pm at Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto.

IMG_4600

Carved Globe Ornaments: $18 each. Available in bronze, black, red.
Watering Vessels: $65 each.Orders placed by 12/1 will deliver in time for Xmas!

Advertisements

Into the fire…on the beach!


I’m very excited to share my latest pit fire with the help of photos from a fellow pit fire participant’s photos–cuz I was too busy playing with fire.

Our scheduled OVCAG-Orchard Valley Ceramics Art Guild-September Pit Fire Workshop was managed by me and I must say it went very smooth…thank goodness!

Twin Lakes Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
Lovely beach with many fire rings that come in very handy. But the ashes need to be shoveled out first…at least about 2 feet. Lance dug out 3 feet and I believe it helped to give better reduction effects on my pot.

I arrived at the Santa Cruz Twin Lakes Beach with my very handsome muscle man, otherwise known as My Husband Lance in tow. And he did a magnificent job of digging out the fire pit!

Pitfire02_fillingup
Then the cowpies to cover all the pots.
Then newspaper and kindling and then tent the fire wood on top before lighting.

We piled on the wood collected from a local sawmill who generously donated their scraps.

Pitfire03_Lighting
Note how the fire wood is piled in a tent style. It’s to make sure that the pit is lit evenly. We piled as much wood as possible initially and filled in as it starts to die down.

And because I like to play with fire, I added a few more when I noticed some empty spots. Wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any exposed pots during the firing. Boy, it was HOT!

Pitfire04_adding
The flames were super high and really hot. I recommend using Kiln gloves or at least a very long tongs when working with the fire. As you see, I had neither! Notice also the mound of ashes and sand next to the pit?

Now the hard part…letting it burn.

Pitfire05_lit
We noticed that there were active flames only on one side, but it moved across the pit as it burned through. Giving the air to burn with the tented wood pile helps this greatly versus just throwing in the logs like a regular camp fire.

And wait…

Pitfire06_redhot
A bit over an hour has passed and the fire is dying down, but it’s still very hot and under the ashen wood, there were still active flames.

Trying to look like we are waiting patiently…

Pitfire08_waiting
pitfire07_peeking That’s my Muscle Man Otherwise Known As My Husband Lance. And fellow pit fire crew, Guo Feng and Joan Lin.

Lunch time! We came prepared with pot luck food…pastries, hot coffee, chips and dip, cold cuts, cold peanut sesame noodles and lots of fruit. We could have fed 10 more people!

Pitfire09_picnic
Can’t have a beach pit fire without the right provisions! Shade and food!

After about 2.5 hours, we started to get way too eager and decided to move the embers around to speed up the cooling process.

pitfire10_ashes
This is Guo’s pit. She used white stoneware and used clear and stained terra sigilata. While loading the pit, she also sprinkled Red Iron Oxide to the tops of the pieces. Great blacks on the bottom and spotted browns from the iron oxide showed well on the top.
Pitfire11_cooling
Yes, little miss impatient Miki took pots out of the pit while it was still very very hot…it was tinking loudly…not a good sign but all worked out.

And my pit. Great black and lots of color flashes from the Salt and Copper Carbonate. It was the deepest pit and burned longer than the others, and the results were beautiful!

IMG_4173
I wanted to take this driftwood home so I could take all my pit fire pots, but alas…

And back in my studio, the other pots.

Notice the difference between the smaller ones in the middle and the bigger ones. I started get bored with the pebble burnishing and so the bigger ones only got 2 phase burnishing while the little ones had 3 phase burnishing… 1. at leather hard, 2. at green and 3. at bone dry with canola oil. Once these are finished with floor wax polishing, I hope they even out, but in the future, I won’t be as lazy!

IMG_4178
I pebble finish all my pots. Take a very smooth river stone and softly rub the pots in small circles until they get super shiny. This photo is a reminder for me to not be lazy with my efforts because the results don’t lie.

We started at 7:00 am and left the beach at 1:45 pm which included cleaning up and packing up the car. Super efficient and got great results. A very happy crew!

PitFIre13_Group
Jim, Guo Feng, Megan George, Joan Lin, Miki Shim-Rutter, Irene Jenkins.

Photos by Lance and Jim! Thank you!

New Teapots…Finally!


DSC_0053 DSC_0066 DSC_0056

Finished teapots using the techniques acquired from the George Dymesich’s Teapot Workshop…was that in May or June?

Bulbous body, lugged-on handles and flat top lids that sit on top of the lip versus my usual with was a recessed top for the lit to sit within.

I have a couple of more colors and a total of 12 teapot currently but some didn’t photograph well and some don’t have handles yet…couldn’t decide whether to continue with the hand-made bamboo handles or the store bought ones.

I have a beautiful copper teapot and a cobalt one that I’m eager to put the finishing touches.

These are definitely going to be available for sale on Etsy and the others will be on display at the next sale with Blossom Hill Craft’s Fall Sale on September 14th in Los Gatos.

Teapots are thrown on the wheel with Navaho Wheel mid-range red clay fired to cone 5, using food safe liner glaze and exterior glaze. Hand-washing teapots are recommended for use with tea. Maximum capacity of around 24-30 liquid oz. Keeps warm and holds plenty to share a cup or four!

Something New, Something Timeless

2Frogs Ceramic Arts announces new show and sale dates for Fall/Winter 2013. Featured items are Teapots, Bird Feeder, Water Pitchers and Holiday Accessories and Ornaments.


A quick update on my show/sale schedule for Fall 2013.

I am filling the end of this year with shows and sales, 3 so far. Which means:

  • I am excited to show new work
  • My glazes are working again
  • My shelves are overflowing
  • Can use the extra cash to buy more clay!

SampleSet

Teapots
I’m excited to show my new teapots with techniques learned from the teapot workshop with George Dymesich and new glazes I’ve been perfecting. Look for new posts soon to see my progress with theses.

Bird FeedersYou have seen a few glimpses of these in previous posts and a few on my Etsy shop. I will have a few more in different designs and colors. I’m sure there will be ones you will have to have in your own bird sanctuary.

Water PitchersThese high-capacity vessels are slab formed and as functional as beautiful. Inspired by my need to water my indoor plants, they easily go from holding a bouquet of your favorite flowers to pouring a refreshing drink at your table.

Mugs, Tumblers and Stuff
I have been experimenting with textures, textures and textures. These will be featured on slab built mugs, cups and other versatile small dishes.

Holiday Ornaments
Last year, I featured little red birds to play around your holiday tree. This year…It’s a surprise. You will have to come to one of my sales to find out. Visit me in person and mention my website, one will be a gift from me to you.

Few of these items will be featured on Etsy as inventory become available so keep checking my 2Frogs/Etsy shop for new pieces if you can’t make one of my shows.

Thanks!

Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery: Fall Sale
September 21-22, 2013
Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery
15900 Blossom Hill Rd. Los Gatos, CA 95032.

OVCAG Art In Clay Show and Sale 2013

Nove
mber 16-17, 2013
Lucy Stern Community Center
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery: Holiday Sale
December 13-15, 2013
Blossom Hill Crafts Pottery
15900 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032.

Invite the birds… at your own risk!


Did I mention we have lots of birds visiting our patio?

Last year, I started making small bird houses in hopes to offer them housing. They tend to stuff themselves into the eaves, overhang near the doors, gutters…you know what I mean.

Dove nesting
Dove Nesting

This little Dove and her mate decided to nest in the overhang right outside our patio door. They hooted, brought twigs of all sizes and dropped them at our steps, not to mention the poop. Well, it didn’t last long, they must have decided that we disturb their peace by enjoying our patio.

Bird House-Portland
Bird House-Portland

This little birdhouse is hanging out in Portland, in the backyard of Uncle Jim. While it looks nice, I haven’t received any reports of birds moving in. Even the one at my patio is only home to occasional spiders who hope to trap bugs.

Moving on to bird feeders.

BirdFeeder_Green2  BirdFeeders_1

While the teapots dry, I move on to hand built forms…one of which becomes bird feeders. Above are a few finished ones using found textures in my treasure box: a woven placemat, leaves, pine needles, a meat tenderizer. Anything goes. Each feeder is made up of 3 slab pieces and a coil for the hanging loop. Using a round biscuit/cookie cutter cut a half circle for the feeding opening. I’ve been having fun using an oxide wash to add depth to the naked clay. It’s another option to surface texture and color without having to glaze every exposed surface.

OxideSample1 OxideSample2 OxideSample3

Simple to complex design, it all works. You can also over glaze like the last photo. So many possibilities, it’s almost too easy to go overboard.

So, bird feeders. It works really well. Too well. What I expected were song birds, that’s what the bird food package said. Variety of Song Birds. We definitely get a variety, small ones and sometimes even the doves try to land on the little ledge. I’ve even seen a squirrel and a crow try to assess an approach to the feeder. It’s small on purpose!

BirdFeeder_WhiteGreen2BirdFeeder_inUse1

Remember when I mentioned that the doves trying to nest made a mess with twigs? We now have bird seed on the patio floor…apparently the feed is a mix of seeds and some birds like some and not the other. So, what we are noticing is that they are digging and spilling out the ones they don’t want. So we have birds—up to 3 on the feeder, and then a few more on the floor.

We definitely have a flurry of excitement now.
Lots of busy birds, and yes, they make lots of noise.

Very early in the morning.

Back to Teapots


Image

This was the last teapot completed successfully in my studio. Sadly, I’ve made at least 8 while in SF, and this is the only one that survived—thanks to a pre-mixed Cone 6 glaze from a bottle, brushed on. Inner liner glaze is my own.

Let’s rewind the clock to Fall of 2012.

September. I finally set up my little studio in the garage of our Redwood Shores townhouse rental, I was excited to continue my teapot making…I was starting to really enjoy the process. Got my little Skutt kiln hooked up after paying the electrician $300 for a special outlet—this we negotiated down from $500! Bought the necessary glazing materials and equipment…this was not cheap either since I couldn’t bring all of my wet glaze materials.

So, fast forward a few weeks… many bisqued teapots, cups and bird houses and other little experiments I was ready to glaze. Mixed up my usual batches of tried and true glazes in test quantities and fired up my kiln to cone 6. They seems to look fine… but it wasn’t. My second glaze firings included those new teapots and every pot came out with blisters! I mentioned this in my previous post, but didn’t get into what happened to my teapot making. Well, I was distraught, so I stopped making teapots…it was too heart breaking. I started hand-building and reformulating glazes and testing, testing, testing—glaze mixtures, clay bodies, temperatures, ramp/hold/cooling schedules. Turns out it was a bisque temperature and kiln load density issue…yes 5 months of testing! At least now, I have several new glazes that work beautifully (also found in previous post).

Fast forward again to this weekend.

I took a hands-on Ultimate Teapot Workshop with George Dymesich offered by OVCAG at Higher Fire in San Jose. Well, I think my groove is coming back. George was a very patient and thorough teacher, showing each step with explanation of why certain techniques are used, both functional and aesthetic concepts. All this time, I didn’t understand why there is a hole in the lid! It’s to allow liquid to flow without gurgling. AHA! There were many other Aha! moments throughout the day. Not only from George’s instructions, but from working with 10 other fellow potters learning, encouraging and inspiring from each other. Seeing little home made tools and shortcuts like: a little painter’s sponge bought at HomeDepot stuck at the end of a stick works so much better than ones you buy from the clay store! And I learned how to use a throwing stick on the inside of a pot to give volume…and I successfully threw a 5 pound clay pot!

Now I should have some photos of my hard work…nope. Packed it up in the trunk at the end of the day, got home and while unloading my pieces, dropped it on my garage floor. FLOP!

IMG_3673

Two things learned by dropping my teapots on the floor:
1. Got over my “precious pot” syndrome. It’s the “don’t cry over spilled milk” for potters. Kind of.
2. My throwing is getting better, even walls, mostly. Still need to work on not thinning out at the rim.

Back to the wheel.

Glazes, Slabs & Textures


Wow, my last post was a long time ago.

I did take a break after the Art In Clay Sale in Palo Alto with the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild. It was a great experience, 72 clay artist presented their work and every one as unique as they are. Everything from everyday coffee mugs to sculptural figures, mini tea pots to giant outdoor ceramic garden slug that was 10 feet long!

I showed my pottery brought over from Chicago as well as my new bird houses thrown on the wheel. And in to celebrate the winter holidays approaching, I also made little ceramic bird ornaments. Those were a HIT!

IMG_4102 IMG_4100

So Glazes.
I began mixing my glazes again in my studio and as you see above, it did not work very well. It was awful. Every batch of my trusted glazed were blistering. Same recipe, same clay, same temperature and still no. So I tested a few more glazes, and the test tiles came out fine, but when moved to the big final pieces, still blisters. So, many months of struggling, giving up and trying pre mixed glazes out of a bottle, I finally got the recipe right. Only 5 months of anguish!

It wasn’t my glaze recipe. It was the bisque temperature and load density. I played with too many variables…new clay bodies, temperature and time shifts, load variations. But the one I didn’t try was firing my bisque higher for my red clay body. Since it has more impure particles, it needed more heat to burn out so that in the glaze firing , it doesn’t try to escape into my glaze surface. So, solution: Bisque to Cone 02=beautiful glaze finish.

I did end up with new glaze formulas in the process. See below.

Feeder_Sm_WhtGrn1b Feeder_Sm_WhtGrn1c LgPitcher_GreenWhite1c Pitcher_LtGreenOxide1d

Maybe in following posts, I will share my recipe secrets, but it’s really not that secret, what I’ve modified in these are more the application process and allowing the clay body’s natural color to show through to enhance overall appearance and depth to texture.

So, Slabs & Textures!

I always thought that I didn’t have a talent for hand building clay pots. I looked at the slab of clay as a painter may look upon a white stretch of canvas. Some see possibilities and some see white canvas. I saw slab of clay.

Enter Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild… Mold making workshop with Jamie Meador, Art In Clay Artists, Jill Getzan‘s rain sticks, Lynn Wood‘s Slaberation workshop at Clay Carnival at Clay Planet.What do they all have in common? Texture. Everywhere!

Enter my patio garden…We don’t have a back yard yet, still renting in the bay area, so we have a stone slab patio garden with succulents in pots and a few indoor house plants. I needed a watering can and didn’t want to resort to a generic plastic watering can. “Well, I can make it myself with clay!” 2 months of experimenting….

LgPitcher_GreenOxide1a Pitcher_GreenOxide1b Pitcher_LtGreenOxide1a

Oh, and I forgot to mention the beauty of the oxide wash! These are the results of the Manganese Oxide wash in various solution ratio and wiping power. These photos aren’t very good, I need to find my sweep again but I am quite happy with how they turned out. These can be found on my etsy store.

Would love to hear your thoughts and encouragement.