New Teapots…Finally!


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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!

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Fall Sale at Blossom Hill Crafts in September!


Summer is coming to a close, getting my kids ready for the new school year.

It also means I need to get my inventory up for the fall shows/sales.

First one up is Blossom Hill Crafts in Los Gatos, CA. This is my first show with Blossom Hill Crafts, so I’m not sure what I will be bringing. I have new teapots, cups, bird feeders and water pitchers. It all seems a bit disjointed, but I have a few weeks to work on getting it all to look good together.

Those of you who are in town or visiting around that time, do stop by and say hello.

September 21-22, 2013
10:00 am – 5:00 pm each day.

Held indoors at the History Club of Los Gatos
123 Los Gatos Blvd., Los Gatos, CA 95030

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Succulent Garden of Failed Pots


When we moved out here to SF Bay Area, I have fallen in fascination for luscious succulents. There are so many varieties, sizes, colors and textures, it’s hard to choose just a handful. Hence the hour spent at the garden center choosing a few to fill 2 medium sized pots. I picked out little ones knowing they will fill eventually. But me being rather impatient, went back to pick up a few more and stuffed the pot. Well, it’s quite full, one might even say it’s overflowing, but loving it! Some are even blooming pretty flowers.

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A few days ago, we were visiting with a friend who asked about my failed pots…reluctantly, I mentioned I have quite a few waiting for the trash can. She suggested using them to plant succulents after seeing a nursery who had an assortment of succulents arranged in their garden.

I went home and started breaking up a few of my own failed pots, and some not so perfect ones! Again, I noticed how my throwing skill have greatly improved! The walls were even throughout and bottoms were equally sturdy and evenly trimmed. I also noticed how sturdy they were, I had to use a metal hammer and with quite a bit of force. Some just broke in 3 pieces instead of the drain hole I was hoping for.

 

 

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SO!

There you have it. Succulent garden of failed pots. Make sure you hammer out a drainage hole in the bottom. If you have teapots with sturdy handles, maybe even let it hang from the handle and let the spout be your drainage hole.

These failures are beautiful again. Be careful though, you might start breaking up some of your successes just to add to your garden!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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


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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!

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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!

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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.

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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….

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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.