Monday, December 9, 2013

Setting Goals for 2014


The end of the year is quickly closing in.  I believe that today will be the last day of actually throwing clay.  I will have a load ready for a bisque firing tomorrow and will then proceed to a glaze load on Friday... just in time for my last show of the year on Sunday the 15th.

This past Sunday I started to reflect back on this year... my journey from where I started to where I am today.  I have to admit I am pretty happy about the steady progression I have made and with anticipatation of where I'll be at the end of next year... and on that thought, I start focusing on my goals for 2014.

So with paper and pen in hand I started writing them out... with bullets and sub-sections no less.  First up were new forms I wanted to master, new social media outlets I would like to tackle, tweaking my photo skills, sale opportunities outside of online and shows and ending, as every home manager does, with a shopping list... for both potting and the holiday menus. 


Now with the Holiday season is fast approaching, kids will soon be vacationing from school, family flying in from both coasts and just some much needed down time... without the alarm clock, I look forward to getting into the Holiday spirit of decorating, baking and quality family time.

I look forward to diving into my goals next year... well at least until after my daughter goes back to school in January... then keep an eye out... new things are on the horizon.

For those with small children... I say that loosely, as we adults have more fun than the kids... Norad tracks Santa starting at midnight of December 23rd, so check it out when you wake up Christmas Eve morning.  http://www.noradsanta.org/

I wish everyone a joyous and blessed Christmas.





Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everything Coming Together


Click, click, click...

After the death last year of my best friend of 24 years I did some serious soul searching.  After flopping around for 5 months and with the love and support of my husband and family I got serious and jumped in feet first and started my pottery business in January of this year. 
 
With the help of my cousin Pam - positive affirmations http://chalkandslate.etsy.com and my cousin Jay... groovy geek, he directed me with the ins and outs of the techno world and a little marketing 101...





I am proud to say that I have created a website www.mudfirepottery.com, a blog, a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/mudfirepottery, an Etsy store, that's actually sold a few things http://mudfirepottery.etsy.com, a Goggle + account and have been successful in showing my work at an upscale resort and spa farmers' and artisan market.  Click!

I never would have thought I would be where I am after such a short time.  The biggest obstacle was my insecurities... would anyone like my stuff.  Again, with the support of my family and the prayers of my Woman's Bible Study group I am slowly overcoming those insecurities... to the point of accepting a request to give a pottery lesson to my daughters Art teachers!  Click!

This past year... in between studying marketing 101, photography 101, researching and building a light box/light tent, juggling family duties, carpool duties, caring for my oldest daughter's dog while she was deployed for 9 months (she is in the Navy), babying my Bird of Paradise so I have more than one bloom this summer and a million other chores and tasks... I found time to escape into my studio and concentrate on my throwing technique.  One of my highlights was throwing the perfect 5 lb bowl, you know the one without the beginner hump in the bottom I just could get over.  After that, things just seemed to fall into place... Click! 
 

Well almost... using a new glaze for a first time on your perfect 5 lb bowl, not a good thing.  Lesson learned - test - test - test.  Yes there have been a lot of lessons learned and that's a good thing.  There is no growth without mistakes.

Click, click, click...

Until next time, Peace and light

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flippity Floppity...

I just hate when life gets in the way of potting!!

Not being able to get into the studio these last couple of weeks has me going through withdrawals... so while the Hubby is away, potting has been the play.  It's not that I don't pot when my Hubby is home, I do, all the time, it's just... lets just say that I've let my home management duties slide a bit... you know - takeout and paper plates. 

So these past 48 hours I have been able to spread out and utilize his car bay without having to put everything up at the end of the day... my actual studio space is only 4 feet wide by 20 feet long.  His empty car bay allows me to set up the saw horses with planks and lots of freshly thrown pots.  After all... we are making progress, our last house had a 3 car garage and we could never park in it, now at least (through purging "cough cough" and 2 self storage unit) he can park his car inside.  Where there is a will, there is always a way...


Not wanting to chase my tail, I've started making a list of projects that I want to focus on each time I am in the studio.  This has helped me round out my "collection".  Now that I know what pieces I want to include... I just need to make them in a larger quantities than I have been.  It seems a dozen or so of each piece is working just fine for now. 

Then there is that once-in-awhile overworked piece that just... flops!  I am so thankful for U-Tube and David Cuzick.  Because of his video I now have an art piece instead of more clay to reclaim.

Yes... my flopped bowl is hanging upside down between 2 planks, drying enough so I can flip it back, right side up and hold its shape... and according to my "resident apprentice" aka my daughter... it's the coolest bowl she has ever seen.

On the agenda for the next 48 hours with no Hubby... making a dent in the "list".

Until next time.
Peace and light.

UPDATE:

Finished Bowl:





Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 23, 2013

Champagne all around...

I did it!  I really did it!  I finally finished my store and hit the "publish" button...   not once but several times.  What a long time coming.  I don't know what my fear was... just fear... fear of being rejected, my product not being worthy... all the typical fears one has with starting a new business venture. 

With each piece of pottery I make... there is a relationship... an intimate relationship; both physical and mental... how the wet clay flows through my fingers as I center the clay, open the clay and pull up the walls.  The curves my fingers make as I alter a piece... as I push out or push in with opposing finger tips.  Each piece is so unique with its own personality. With so much effort put into each piece I suppose its only natural to be a little fearful of rejection.

Then... the pictures.  Easier said than done.  While I can use a camera, I found that taking pictures of each piece was a more than a little daunting.  After studing for months and months I feel like I have a Bachelors in Photography... well maybe an Associates degree... ok, ok, a certificate course in basic photography.  This whole process has been practice and learning on the job.  Thank goodness for Pam Sparks of Expressions with Heart and her tutorial of "Make your own Light Tent".

 http://expressionswithheart.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/make-your-own-light-tent/

Her tutorial made all the difference in my photos.  I made a few alterations such as making mine a little larger for photographing pottery... but everything else was the same.  Here is what mine looks like.


Through a lot of trial and error, I think my skills have improved exponentially over the past 4 days or I'm so tired I don't care at this point.  Time will tell.







The kiln is cooking so I have a couple more days to focus on photographing and listing in my shop.  Next week is glazing and more photographs!!

Until next time,
Peace and Light



Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21, 2013

To market... to market... to market we will go...

I attended Ripe - a Spirited Market at Eilan, in San Antonio the other weekend and attendance was very high... so high that I practically sold out of everything.


Which means... time to replenish stock as well as a few new items.  With the Hubby out of town, Home Manager duties were put on hold this weekend.  Well not completely... had carpool duty in the morning and early afternoon but in between I was able to get a few things thrown.  Friday I finished up the extra large Garlic Keepers, small lace embossed heart shaped dishes, a few small lace embossed leaf bowls and today I focused on French Butter Crocks... they sell so well but they tend to be at times... difficult... therefore, more practice, and patience is needed. I need to use a larger amount of clay for the lids.  Much easier to trim away if necessary, more difficult to add after you find out "Ugg, I need another ounce or two".  Will be doing more of these tomorrow. As Simon Leach says "keep practicing".



On the agenda for the next studio session... throwing more butter crocks and if time permits, a honey pot or two.  So many things to create... so many distractions... but with a little focus... oh so much fun!
 
Peace and Light my friends.
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7, 2013

The Ecstasy.... with a WHOLE lot of Agony.

I threw my first four and a half pound bowl today... no beginners hump... just a perfect graceful curve.


The beautiful Honey Pots... with their perfectly fitting lids.


And then...  the meltdown. 



Lost two juicers...  I just couldn't get the center twist right.  I have watched many U-Tube videos on making juicers but they always seem to stop right when the center is to be carved or twisted.  Finished up 3 more that look like they will do the job but still dissatisfied. More practice needed here.

Lost a spoon rest... I usually leave on the bat with an undercut that the wire will follow through when I do cut it off the bat.  I like for the piece to lose a little of the tackiness before cutting.  It just makes it easier for me to cut off and transfer to a ware board.  With this one I must have not held the wire taught enough and it cut the bottom completely off.  Ugh!

Well maybe not too much agony after all.  At least it happened before firing and I can recycle the clay.  Thank goodness tomorrow is another day... I can't wait to see what I pot up!!

Peace and Love ♥



Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8, 2013

Busy as a bee doesn't even begin to describe me...

I thought... that once school was out and summer was here I would be a potting fool.  What a misguided thought that was.  Between summer swim league for my youngest, Chairperson for concessions for swim team and my family obligations I have been busier that a one legged paper hanger... that is until today.

Today I entered my sanctuary...  hmmmm how nice it was, so relaxing.  I trimmed a few juicers that I started... at what seems like over a month ago and decided to do some slab work.



While I wasn't in the studio long... only a few hours, it was long enough to satisfy my longing and re-center myself... which is just what I needed.

Peace, love and light!




Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3, 2013

Farmer's Market... E-I-E-I-OOOOO...

Yesterday I had my first "showing" at the Legacy Farmer's and Artisian Market.  It was like a wedding... You plan, price, pack... not necessarily in that order but none the less you are over whelmed with preparations... then... it's over, "snap", just like that.

It certainly was an eye opener.  Meeting and speaking with customers gave me great insight as to what they are looking for and what glaze colors are appealing to the masses. I kept a record of what was sold and made notes along the way.   In the lulls of the day my imagination was working overtime with new marketing and display ideas.
 
 
Speaking with other vendors was a treat as well. I found out about other great markets to get involved with along with where they have tried and found success and not so much.
 
With a whole new attitude and confirmation in my creative direction, I feel more energized for what I am creating.
 
Needless to say... I can't wait to see where I'll be next month.  Maybe at a market or crafts fair near you!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22, 2013

The ebb and flow of the Kiln God's...

My firing from May 19th was not what I anticipated.  One of my glazes was applied too thick and ran onto the kiln shelf as well as cracking and breaking the bottom of a few pots.  How disappointed I was.

I feel as though I am on a pottery roller coaster.  One minute I have a whisper of confidence and the next... it's taken away in the quickness of opening the kiln lid... then, given back... with yet another opening of the kiln lid.  That was today.

A tweak here and there... with the assistance of the hydrometer... made all the difference in the glaze performance.  I couldn't be more pleased.




As I start throwing new pieces today I am finding my confidence to be somewhat stoked from this last firing giving way to a more confident peaceful potter.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19, 2013

To dip or not to dip...

The past two days I have been glazing... 

On my recent excursion to Clayworld Clay and Supply I picked up a few new glazes.  A few celedons from Coyote... Sapphire, Aqua and Sedona Sunset...  I want to use these over a little slip trailing, I can't wait to see how they come out  Also, Coyote's Oasis, Pam's Blue and Gun Metal Green.  I'm real excited to see how the GMG works with their Black.

 
Any who... back to the glazing...
 
Breaking out my new glazes like a kid at Christmas with what I already had on hand... I think I came up with a few good combos... I just never thought it would take soooo long to glaze my pots by hand.  It's not as if I've never brushed glazes on before, just not so many pots at one time.  I use two different clays and of course I want to see the effects on both... I just never thought it would take soooo long to glaze my pots by hand. 
 
Needless to say, I pray I have a few good combo's because I can't wait to place an order so I can dip... dip... and dip!!
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 4, 2013

Luck or I’m coming into my own as a potter…

What a wonderful day in the studio. The sun was out, not a cloud in the ski, the temperature was a perfect 78, the wonderful scent of Jasmine lingering in the air and my studio buddies at my feet. As I was trimming and putting the final touches on the pieces I threw this week when Mommy duties interrupted me as it was my turn for swim team carpool.

I have taken pottery lessons over the years, my favorites being at Dunedin Fine Art Center in Dunedin Florida and Sunin Clay Studio here in San Antonio, but I have learned sooo much as an avid viewer of pottery on U-Tube. I love to watch Hsinchuen Lin. He makes everything seem so effortless and is quite the inspiration to the phrase “Hey, maybe I could do that.” I love the pieces he does with chattering. I have tried over and over and over to accomplish that technique to no avail. Then a few weeks ago I was watching a few earlier videos of Muditis, and had a renewed inspiration to once again chatter. Still no luck… until today!

 
The last 3 berry bowls I was working on were just a little past the leather hard stage… Ok maybe a little further than that but you get the idea... worrying of being heavy handed, as I usually am and breaking one, I was a little lighter in my touch and voila…chattering!!! I was so excited I ended up chattering all 3 bowls. Not wanting my exuberance to overtake me, one berry bowl is now just a bowl. I just didn’t want to push my luck putting the drain holes in it.

Again.... still not sure if this is just luck or I'm coming into my own as a potter... time will tell... that is if I can reproduce the effect on another day!

On another note... have no idea why this is coming out with 2 different fonts, while I can carpool like no one's business and pot a bit, I am totally lost on this computer.  Where are the kids when you need them??

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 20,2013

Sunbathing naked...  ahhh to be a pot!



I just finished unloading the bisque load I did this weekend.  I find satisfaction in looking over the pieces to see how I have progressed as a potter as well as were I need additional concentration.  

Tammy Jo Schoppet, the Hobby Pottery, recently posed a question on Facebook about what our "game plan" was for implementing our ideas.  It really started me thinking that perhaps it was time in my "career" to start thinking about that.

As I look through my pottery journals I think I'm doing pretty good.  One journal is more of my creative notes and the other is more of a record keeper... among others such as my kiln journal and glaze journal.  Usually I start with a picture in my mind of what I personally like to use, then, figure out the height and width which will let me know the approximate weight of clay to use.   After flipping through my journal I see that my focus automatically narrows on foodie pieces... garlic keepers, mortar and pestle, juicers, salt cellars, pour bowls, brie bakers, tapas/appetizer plates, cruets and so on...  everything I find myself using on a daily basis cooking and entertaining for my family and friends.

While I realize I am not a production potter as those that responded with using the large chalk/wipe board in their studios... one day I will find the need for the board... right now I am happy that I no longer allow the clay to lead me, I now lead the clay.

So true the words of Joyce Meyers "enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going".  I don't know where I will end up in the wonderful world of pottery but I'm sure going to enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3, 2013

Ya right... easier said than done.

For the past few days I have been working on my website and trying to get everything connected to it and visa versa.   What a task... one I am hardly equipped to handle.  Now I know why web designers get the big bucks!!!  Luckily I have very patient cousins that have been helping me out with this. 

Time for me to get back in the studio and start playing in the clay again... but first a quick detour to the beautiful state of Georgia where my husband and I will be attending our friends daughters wedding.  Nothing like a spring wedding to get the emotional juices flowing.

Until next week...

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013

Since leaving the corporate world in 1999, I have not kept up with the electronic age... to say the least.  I use the computer to check my e-mails, write letters and use Facebook to stay in touch with family scattered around the United States.  My cell phone... well... while I no longer use a flip phone at least I now text... lets just say I'm not as tech savy as I would like... which makes this next jump a little scarey for me... my own webpage.

My cousin assured  me that anyone can do it... made me think of that commercial "any caveman can do it" or perhaps I should rephrase as "cave woman".  So I will press on and keep checking off my goals as I complete and get closer to the finished product... on the business end as well as the creative.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 27, 2013


Working out the kinks...

Since my last blog I took my own advise and have been in the studio almost daily... practicing... and it has paid off.  My technique has improved by leaps and bounds. I also had a couple glaze firings and was able to work out some kinks with my new glazes from Standard Ceramic Supply Co. I absolutely love, love, love the combo of turquois over matt black.


 
 

Thank you "Janice the Potter", please view her U-tube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJtpxkGfbuU

I also started working with a new clay, Buffalo Wallow by Armadillo Clay. It is like "budda". It's so soft and smooth. I usually throw clay with a lot of grog. What a difference. I also love the color... it's a beautiful toasted tan.

Since the stars have aligned for me... with this kiln opening... I may actually have something to sell on my Etsy page!! 

 

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

Practice, practice, practice...  

Having my own studio is absolutely a dream come true.  Being able to see my progression as a potter is fulfilling... as well as frustrating.  My husband says I am over critical of my work... but I see amateur mistakes.  A fellow potter once told me "to tell if someone is an amateur is to look at the details"....  Not the artistic details but the detail details.  Making sure the foot of a piece is clean, edges are not sharp, handles and lugs are appropriate, compress or burnish after trimming... really making sure that when you put your piece up on the shelf, it is truly clean work. 

I think that in my excitement of having the studio and now being able to really work in the craft I have not paid enough attention to the details and it shows at times in the final product.  I think I rushed in with the mentality of starting a business and being a production potter.  I had forgotten that I am at the beginning of my journey... finding my center... my stride of who I am and what really turns me on as a potter.  A production potter... that I'm not...yet!.  While that is a goal, I have a lot to learn and a ways to go...not much... but a ways.

Pottery is all about centering.   Literally and figuratively.  Centering yourself and the clay.  I just need to relax, enjoy myself and....

Practice, practice, practice!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 2, 2013

Today I am doing my first glaze fire...this is where the real magic happens.  It doesn't matter what your pot looks like...if the glaze isn't right... well it can cause one to holler to your brother to send some moonshine on down to soothe ones nerves.  Yup, my brother got the still but I have the recipe book... needless to say family reunions are umm...soothing!  Funny how parents encourage their kids to play together.

The base color I have on hand is shino and I have layered both over and under with colors such as red, mottled blue, blue green and yummy colors like butternut and paprika.  I also rimmed a few with Archies Base but seeing that it runs like my brother's shine I use it very sparingly.  It just mellows the color and causes it to flow... just like me after a sip or two.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 2013

Yesterday was a day of excitement here at the studio... the new kiln was delivered and installed.  I'll be running a test fire today and hopefully my first bisque firing this weekend.

This has all been so surreal.  I never thought that 12 years ago when I took my first pottery lesson I would be here now.  My best friend of 24 years passed away 6 months ago and I have been trying to find my way through.  The path has led me to find a focus... on what I love.  With the support of my husband and family it has led me here... to my studio.

Let my new journey begin...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 2013

Well...this is my first blog ever...as my children would say I'm getting "cool".  Little do they realize I was "cool" before they were even an a thought.  But in the past few days with the excellent tutelage of my cousin Jay, I've turned into one groovy chick with this social media stuff. 

I've had my studio wired for the new kiln arriving on Wed. from Clayworld located here in San Antonio.  I've ordered a Skutt, they seem to be the most idiot proof.  I'll keep you posted on that though.

With my husband and children out of the way I'm heading into the studio.  On today's agenda; getting my hands dirty and making test tiles for my glazes.