Monday, March 17, 2014

Making a Foam Trimming Bat

We all have projects that sit around that aren't accomplished until we have a need for them.  That is the situation I found myself in today. 

 A couple of days ago I threw large 3 1/2 pound bowls that were too wide and they didn't fit well on my Giffin Grip.  The rims were shaped in such a way that I didn't want to use clay to hold them in place for fear of distorting the rim... thus the need for the foam bat.  I have seen the "foam trimming bats" for sale in the pottery supply stores and even used them in classes I have taken but never had the need for one until today. As I looked around my studio I found all the components to make one.

For the non-potter... the foam bat will grip the rims of leather hard pieces and holds them in place for trimming.  The foam bat has concentric rings to make for easy centering.  These are great for delicate rims.

The needed items are:

a bat for your pottery wheel
dense craft foam, mine is 2 inches thick
glue suitable for the bat and foam, I used Gorilla Glue
knife to cut foam with

I first glued the foam to my bat with Gorilla Glue following the instructions on the bottle.  I let this dry with a few books placed on top to ensure attachment.

Next, after I was pleasantly surprised that it stuck, I cut the foam with my Hubby's electric knife... shhhh, please don't tell him. I did run it through the dishwasher so it should be OK... right??

Using the electric knife was like cutting through soft butter... quick and easy, no fuss no muss.

I then took it for a whirl on the wheel were I made concentric circles with a permanent marker as the bat spinned...

and voila... one foam trimming bat ready for use...

Until next time...
Peace and Light

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

First Etsy Treasury List

Good morning... and what a good morning it is!

Imagine my surprise...  sitting at the breakfast table sipping my cup of tea, managing my daughter as she gets ready for school, perusing the newspaper and scrolling through my e-mails and I came across this...

An Etsy Treasury Listing called Round about... featuring my Handcrafted Green Mixing Bowl with Pour Rim.

Wow... what a wonderful finding!

This has given me the affirmation that I'm moving and creating in the right direction.  I love making pottery and I can see that all the hard work and effort being put into my business is shining through.

Until next time... Peace and light!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's the little things...

For a while now, I have been having trouble when trimming most of my pieces.  They all seemed kind of wonky or completely off centered and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was doing wrong. 
When throwing there are certain steps one goes through.  First to center... then to open up... make your first pull... compress rim... second pull and so on.  I throw almost everyday for hours at a time.  I know the steps.  It is a repetitive process that you go through until you no longer think about the steps and it becomes second nature... but I was still having trouble... but only saw it when I went to trim my piece.  It's not noticeable when you look at finished pieces, it was mainly items that were two pieces that needed to fit within each other that I seemed to have the most trouble with.

My potter friend is opening a great new place for potters in San Antonio called Alamo City Pottery Workshop. She has been posting her progress on Facebook as they finish construction, add equipment and such.  The other day they were installing new throwing wheels and mentioned to double check your wheel to make sure it is level otherwise you will throw off centered.  

Now I'm reading this in the morning... still in my pj's and bunny slippers having my cup of tea. I run to my studio and pull out my Hubby's level and check my wheel head... and guess what??? DUH!!!  My wheel head was unlevel, very unlevel.  Needless to say I felt so foolish.  Well today I broke out the saw and a few scrap pieces of wood and fixed it.  I am now completely level... front to back and side to side. 
To check myself I threw a series of garlic/shallot keepers with lids... what a difference.  I could feel it immediately. Many thanks to April!!
Once again... it's the little things that can have the biggest impact. 
Until next time... Peace and light.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Back on the horse again...

What a few days it has been.  Saturday it was in the 80's and my Hubby and I packed the truck for the Ripe Farmers Market for Sunday.  What a drastic change in weather... Sunday was cold, wet, windy and in the 40's. Thankfully the Ripe team moved us indoors but needless to say there weren't many customers that came out and I certainly understood why.
This morning I woke up with every intention of being in the studio creating away but the weather just didn't play along.  While it was in the 40's, I just didn't want to be in the studio freezing... especially after having 80 degrees just a few short days ago.  So when you are given frozen lemons...
Today I took advantage of the weather and stayed in.  I spent all day uploading photos taken from yesterday, creating listings for my online shop and attempting to do some marketing on Facebook, +Google and Twitter.
10 hours later... I'm done for the night... but I'm back on the horse again!!!
Until next time, Peace and light

Friday, January 31, 2014

Working Mom vs Stay at Home Mom... Empower one another!!

It's early morning... 6:05 and here I sit enjoying my first cup of tea, in my new mug from The Potter's House by Mary K. I am involved with a pottery group and we recently had a pottery swap.  This mug was from my swap buddy!! 

While I "half asleep manage" my youngest daughter to get ready for school and I with my cup of tea in hand, read my new San Antonio Magazine, an article catches my eye... about Christina Coker - Mom and Blogger of "Champagne taste on a Beer Budget" ... and it got me thinking.

Recently, there has been some "new" scuttle about a recent Blog post that hit the airways and print press nationwide... the very old "Stay at Home Moms vs Working Mothers".  We have all seen these... they are everywhere... in the newspaper, magazines, blogs, news and even directly from people we encounter.  WHY?????

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was an Insurance Agent for a large commercial insurance company in Atlanta Georgia. I juggled work, kids, home, husband and life... as we all do.  Early in our marriage, my husband and I decided that I would no longer work outside of the home for a variety of reasons.  Being from the corporate world I approached my "new job" like an outside job...  well... that completely turned my life upside down and into the best career I could ever want.  While no one has recently asked my opinion... I'd like to weigh in on this topic seeing that I have been able to enjoy both lifestyles...

I believe there is a need for both. No I'm not trying to be politically correct or sit on the fence.  I am totally for empowering woman, no matter what they choose... I refuse to judge another woman's choice, if she has one, on whether she wants to work outside the home, work from home or her home is her job.  That's not to say that a working mother's home is not her job... she has to do both... usually without a nanny, chef, house cleaner, pool boy, dog walker, tutor, personal shopper or a number of any other positions we as home managers handle each and every day... and to that I give her a standing ovation over and over. 

For me though, I found my outside career and home life budded heads quite a bit.  My company didn't like that I needed to leave at 5 to pick the kids up from day care.  They wanted to see a "committed" employee and to them that meant staying later than 5pm. It didn't matter that I worked through breaks, didn't chit chat through out the day, waste time with doing personal business on company time, took on work from others that were behind... it was always that staying after hours! ARRRGGG!  To me when I left at 5 pm I was starting my full-time job... taking care of my family.

I am one of the lucky ones though, I am able to choose what I want to do, because of the support of my husband and have to tell you... I love my current position.  When I worked full time I struggled caring for my family and home the way I wanted to mainly because of the time involved - there just never seemed to be enough time for me.  Being the CEO of my Household, yes I am - see my Facebook page, completely satisfies me and challenges me.  Yes, there are times I miss the corporate world... the hour long lunches, adult conversations, using the bathroom uninterrupted, my beautiful and feminine power suits, the shoes - ahh... the shoes, those beautiful high heels... but... not often. 

Today, my wardrobe consists of jeans, a t-shirt and I'm usually barefoot... OK, I'm always barefoot... and I've never been happier or more at peace in my life and that effects my family.  That whole "happy wife, happy life" and "if momma's not happy, no one is happy" is sooo true, at least for me.  I love my family, I love my life. 

Moms that are home managers should be able to say that without fear of the inevitable "oh, so you don't work then" crass comments, just as women that chose to work outside of the home shouldn't be looked at as "selfish and uncaring". We need to praise each other, respect each other, empower each other, because truth be told, we need each other and we rely on each other.

I wear my "Stay-at-Home" badge proudly, like Christina and just as every career woman should wear her "Working Mom" badge proudly.  Imagine what we women could accomplish by empowering each other instead of putting each other down because one chooses to care for ones family or pursues a career, either by choice or necessity.  This negativity keeps all of us in bondage of reaching our true potential as a group... as a group of inspirational, nurturing, hard working, hard charging, never quit women!!

As my current career is ever changing soon I will be heading up a new department... caretaker of elderly parent.  Not yet, thank goodness, but soon.  Kids and elderly parent... always a woman... up for any challenge that comes my way.

Thanks for reading my non-pottery blog today.  The kiln is cooling down from a glaze fire and as every potter does... I peeked!  Looks good, can't wait until this evening to unpack and see how all came out.

Peace and light

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Media Savviness

At the end of last year while attending my daughter's swim meet I started writing down my 2014 goals for my studio and business.  Top of the list...  to become more media savvy.

Every week I drive a carpool for my daughter and a few of the neighborhood kids that swim on a club team.  Each time it's my turn, I turn the radio way down low, pretend I'm not listening and eavesdrop on the girls, 13 year olds... the boys sit in the back and aren't quite as savvy as the girls are... they are 8 and 9.  I must say I have picked up quite a bit about Instagram (their fav) and Twitter. 

Seeing that they very confidently navigate the media apps with ease... and with only their thumbs... I thought about the commercial "if a caveman can do it".  Well... I must predate a caveman because there is definitely a learning curve... but lo and behold friends, I persevered and I now have... drum roll please... a Twitter account; @mudfirepottery, and an Instagram account; mudfirepottery.  So... if you are so inclined... feel free to follow me. You will be able to see the creative process up close.

I'm still getting a handle on using these apps but I can say with some certainty it's easy to snap a picture with my phone while I'm in the studio and post to Instagram... which allows me attach to Facebook and Twitter all in one tap of the post button. 

A special thank you to Cami, Marci and Lexi... my tutors.

Until next time,
Peace and Light

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Welcome 2014... Time To Get Organized

While I absolutely love the Holidays... it is a happy day when vacation is over and everyone is back to their routine and I can get back into the studio.  The last few days I have been cleaning and re-arranging the studio to make it flow a bit better and with such a small space... organization is absolutely key!

This is the whole studio.  It measures 4 feet by 20 feet, it's the garage bumpout, and I use every inch available.  On the far left is my main work bench.  I cut, wedge and weigh out my clay here.  Above the bench I store my stereo, reference books and bins filled with stamps, cutters, textured mats and just about anything needed for slab work.  Molds and such are kept in bins under the bench.

I work with both white and dark clay so I have a plywood board the depth of the bench that I use for the dark clay and white clay is used directly on the bench.
Next is my "glaze bench".  Buckets of  gaze are stored underneath and on top I have all my hand tools, brushes and cordless house phone. Two bar stools on each side are perfect for myself and my daughter for glazing or hand building.  The bench was a gift from a neighbor.  He was getting ready to throw it out and I was in the right place at the right time.  My Hubby added an old island counter top that we saved from a previous kitchen renovation.

Then my wheel... such a work horse.  I may not see it cleaner than it is right now!  Everything is quite handy.  I have a shelving unit to the left that I store my bats on the bottom and wonderbat, giffin grip and electric skillet for wax on the top.  The middle shelves keep greenware safe while drying out.
... and Bertha,  my big beautiful Skutt 1027.  She is vented through the garage wall. We were lucky enough to have a vent opening already there so no construction!

To divide the garage ever so fairly, the slab roller fits perfectly.  The Hubby even built a wheeled cart that stores my clay underneath.  Very easy for me to maneuvere.

Another find... actually the Hubby found 2... wheeled office file carts.  I store ware boards and plastic sheeting.  This one fits between the work bench and glaze bench so Hubby can park his car inside.

Now with everything put away, there is more than enough room for Hubby to park his car... but once he is gone, the sawhorses and planks come out and it's play time!!

Thank you for taking a tour of my studio and I hope others will find encouragement that you don't need a large space to have everything one needs to be a studio potter.

Until next time... Peace and Light!