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!

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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!

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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!

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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!

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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!

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

Photos by Lance and Jim! Thank you!

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Just for fun…


Having my own personal studio makes me more aware of the time not spent in there. So, I try to find something to do everyday, even if it’s just to wash a bowl or wipe down the work table.

But occasionally, I will sit down, open up a bin of reclaimed clay, wedge it down and start fiddling around with it…and poof! Magic happens. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it happens, I find my happy place again—finding the inspiration to get back in the studio for real productive work.

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These are pinch pots with fun little animal heads and feet added. A friend commented that it would be perfect for her 3 minute eggs. We also used them to serve jam, salt and spices at the table with little pinch spoons and it holds my watch and rings while I work in the studio. Wouldn’t it also be fun to have these around for Easter to hold eggs or candy in their hiding places?

Next: What to do with all of my glaze test tiles?

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!

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.

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.

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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.