Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy New Year!

As 2009 draws to an end, I'd like to thank the many many people who have given me their support and helped make this year a successful one. The wonderful friends who so generously share their advice and expertise, as well as lend an ear when one is needed. The great customers who appreciate my work and keep me busy year-round. My family members who are my greatest fans. And all those who are quick with a comment or good wishes.

To all, my heartfelt thanks and wishes for a bright, blessed and hopeful 2010!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A New Work Area

I don't have a large studio so finding a place to put all my inventory, to organize and pack pots to take to shows or to Manassas Clay or to ship Etsy purchases has always been a big problem for me. I was struggling with my boxes following the last of the shows when my husband peeked into my study and said "What you need are some shelves" and off he went! Before I knew it, there he was, with the boards and the tools putting shelves up on the wall!

Now I can see what I have, I know where things are and I can easily find something that just sold on Etsy. Thanks Chris!!!

Here's a picture of the work in progress:

And here's the end result! My study seems huge now... The table is not all cluttered, making it easier to weigh and ship items that sell. And I have a perfect place for taking photos of my work.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Doing a Hundred Things at a Time...

I am still unpacking and checking inventory following last week-end's show in Fairfax, Virginia. After taking time off to cook the vegetarian food for our Thanksgiving get-together, I am back to listing new items in my Etsy shop and deciding which items to take to the store in Manassas and which ones to pack for the Falls Church show next week-end. This means that my house looks like a pottery explosion: pots, mugs, vases, plates, brie bakers, olive dishes, casseroles... everywhere! I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband and also lucky that the fridge is full of Thanksgiving leftovers and I haven't had to worry about anything other than the shows.

Here is one of the items I just listed on Etsy. I am very pleased with the way this little dish turned out! I used a crotched doilly to impress the pattern on a slab of clay and then molded it. I am especially happy with the way the glaze pooled in the indentations.

I am also happy with these mugs because of the way they show the movement that takes place during the forming of the piece on the wheel and reminds us that this "stoneware" was once nothing but soft, squishy mud!

Next, I'll be at the 17th Annual City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show:

Saturday, December 5 ~~ 9am to 4pm
Sunday, December 6 ~~ 11am to 4 pm
Falls Church Community Center
223 Little Falls Street
Falls Church, Virginia

There will be 60 crafters and bakers selling handmade items. Children's activities will available and lunch will also be available for purchase.

Look for Glynt Pottery in Booth #50 upstairs!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Featured in a Gift Guide

I was excited to find out today that my little angels with the blue lace wings are being featured in Etsy's Ornaments Gift Guide. Click on the link and see all the beautiful ornaments that so many talented Etsians have for sale. This is the second time in the past two months that I find myself in an Etsy Gift Guide! I feel like I have finally "arrived" since I had not been featured in anything before. It's a great feeling!

It's just more good news to add to the great weekend sale at the City of Fairfax 23 Annual Holiday Craft Show. My husband was a real trooper, getting up at 5am to drive the truck to the venue and help me set up. Then, daughter Bibi arrived to help. She is an enthusiastic greeter, organizing the display to show my wares to the best advantage and closing many a sale. Despite her pregnant belly, daughter Andi came to help on the second day of the show, and Bibi showed up again (surprise!) so the 3 of us had a wonderful time!

I was very pleased to have several repeat customers who came by because they got my postcard. Including a lady who walked into the booth and announced that she had come to buy "the lamp that was on the postcard." (See below the beautiful postcard that Andi made for me.)

I was also happy to meet another Etsy seller and member of the Etsy Mud Team, Suzanne Rehbok of Flying Pig Pottery in Greensboro, NC. I got this beautiful mug from her to add to my ever-expanding mug collection:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

City of Fairfax Holiday Craft Show

The City of Fairfax is holding its Holiday Craft Show this coming Saturday and Sunday (November 21 and 22) at Fairfax High School (3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, Virginia). This show, which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year, has a very loyal following and organizers expect a crowd of 8000.

The admissions process begins in January of each year and the participating artists are chosen by a panel of local artists, art teachers and a craft shopper. More than 500 artists applied in 2009 about 230 were selected.

I am proud to be participating in this show this year! I will be in booth #199 in the gym and will be bringing all my latest work, including plenty of brie bakers (a year-round favorite item), mugs and bowls, as well as ornaments.

The show is from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sunday. Admission is $5 per day or $8 for a two-day ticket (persons under 18 are admitted free of charge).

In addition to juried crafters there will also be gourmet food vendors so come on by and make a day of it!

This fabulous postcard was made for me by talented daughter, Andrea. Check out her new Holiday designs in her etsy shop, agephotocards, and order your Holiday card today!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kiln Opening !!

I think that this is going to be my last firing before the big shows this month and next... I had a nice firing yesterday and I emptied the kiln today and filled it back up, so it's running again with the last batch. As usual, there were four little trinket dishes I couldn't fit into the load... there is always something that I can't get in the kiln! But I was able to fire all the brie bakers/paté dishes which were my biggest concern since they sell quickly. So here are the results, top to bottom:

Top Shelf: Brie bakers/paté dishes, olive dishes, lace-impressed dish and one so-so result. I put three little feet on the black trinket dish, but it slumped and distorted a bit. Next time, I think I have to put the little feet further apart.

Second Shelf: A nice little casserole and two matching bowls. I really like the way these turned out. My red iron oxide glaze continues to come out more on the red side, which is how I like it. I'm really pleased with the combination with the yellow glaze! The green and blue votive candle holders and wine chiller are darker than usual because they are made with warm brown clay rather than the usual white stoneware, which gives the glazes a completely different look.

Third and Fourth Shelves: Nothing particularly new here. The green and blue glazes continue to perform. And there's the last of the Starry Night lamps... I should have made more as two have already sold.

Bottom Shelf: Something new here. I pressed some leaves into the still-wet clay of three brie bakers (this is, after all, the time of year for being entranced by the leaves falling all around). Then, instead of painting a design over the white glaze as I usually do, I did so on the bisqued pieces. The colors went right into the impressions left by the leaves, accentuating them. Then I put the clear glaze over the top. I am very pleased with these results!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bells and Angels

My Etsy Mud Team friend, Barbara Dunshee, makes beautiful work and she also teaches ceramics. She recently posted some videos on her blog showing how to make her porcelain bells. I thought I might want to try making them at some point but was not in any hurry to start experimenting with new items right when I'm in the midsts of getting ready for the Fall shows. But I was making some trays and found myself with small slabs of stoneware at hand, so I took the first steps in making Barbara's bells: I cut a circle of clay and then I divided it in half diagonally to make two bells... The pottery fairies must have been twirling around my studio because I didn't end up making bells. This is what happened instead:

A parade of tiny little angels! I don't know if they'll survive the firing... but they're mighty cute!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Soup Time!

It's really getting chilly outside! Time to warm up with a nice bowl of soup. Here are some of the soup bowls currently available in my Etsy store:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 10 Kiln Opening

Getting ready for the Holiday Season! Here's the latest kiln opening... a lot of ornaments, as you can see! I am partial to the trees, large and small, because they are a great symbol of Winter. They have quite a few uses, not just as ornaments. My favorite is to use the small trees as name tags on presents since you can write on the back of them with a Sharpie.

A small disaster on this shelf: I made a piggy bank prototype and broke it's ear when it was already bisqued. I decided to try and see if I could "glue" it back on with glaze. The thought actually crossed my mind that as the glaze melted the ear could begin to slide off the piggy... and, of course, it did... coming to rest on the lip of the mug next to it.

This shelf also shows a couple of salt pigs I made for a friend (a new item for me), as well as a new direction for my lamps. Instead of making them cylindrical, this time I made them as closed forms and carved a crecent moon and lots and lots of stars.

And... I'm loving the green oval dish with the textured rim!

I fired this load a bit hotter than usual and you can really see the results in my green and blue glazes on this shelf.

Almost to the bottom! I like the way the creamer came out with the white interior.

Here's the bottom shelf! I don't know if you can see the difference in the green glaze on the teapot and on the oval cylindrical lamp... Interesting how the far side of the kiln was much hotter and what a difference that makes on the glaze.

That's it for now! Keep an eye on my Etsy store, I'll be listing these items soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Great Week on Etsy!

This lamp was featured in two Etsy treasuries this week and is currently on the Etsy Artful Entertainment Gift Guide!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Listings!

I've been very busy listing new things in my Etsy store this week. I have 126 items for sale and will probably be adding a few more things in the next couple of days.

I made several sets of "word" bowls, including soup bowls, rice bowls and ice cream bowls, as well as a set of alphabet bowls. Also listed several really nice platters and a whole lot of brie bakers and olive dishes, as well as some mugs, boxes, and vases.

Come by for a visit and help me get to 500 hearts!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Handcrafted Mugs at Walmart for $3

Went to Wal-Mart today to get a gift for my grandson’s birthday and took a stroll along the housewares section looking for the “$3 mug” someone had mentioned. I found it. Here’s one version of it: there are 10 different styles/glazes/colors. And, actually, it’s not $3, it’s $2.46, 80 cents cheaper than the birthday greeting card I got for Alex’s 2nd birthday. A 16-piece (dishes, bowls, mugs) costs $40. There’s also an $11 stoneware baking pan, a $6 pie pan and a $13 covered casserole. All of it made in China, of course. There’s no way that I can compete with those prices!

Until now I highlighted the “handmade” character of my work. I am the only person involved in the entire process in my studio, from wedging the clay to throwing the piece to mixing glazes to firing to marketing and shipping. However, as the photo shows, now Wal-Mart is selling stoneware pieces made in China that are prominently marked with a sticker that states “Handcrafted: Special Glazing Technique Makes Every Piece Unique.” Wow! This blows me away!

These pieces are not unattractive and they make it possible for people who can’t afford my $18-$24 mugs to enjoy stoneware pieces in any of 10 designs. But they make me sad. Maybe I’ve become a pottery snob, but I feel that they lack soul. The Chinese “hand crafter” has left no indication of his/her presence on this mug; there’s nowhere on the mug that you can say “Aha! Here’s the mark of the maker’s hand!” When I first started this blog, my first postings were about this idea of the importance of handmade pots. I quoted Carla Needleman’s notion that “a mug can save the world.” Now, faced with this reality, the only response I can come up with is to continue to make my pots with even more passion and trust that there are enough people who want to own handmade pots as much as I want to make them. Or, as Kevin Crowe, has said “making pots has become an act of civil disobedience!”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Glynt Pottery @ Manassas Clay

This is my current display at Manassas Clay (in Manassas, Virginia). This month I'm highlighting platters, as well as brie bakers and "sweetheart" vases. On the top left are two large platters in a tomato red glaze. With the small bowls featured below each platter, they would be ideal for veggies or chips and dip. The platter on the bottom left has a rustic feel because of the different type of clay used. This platter is a bit deeper than the red ones and could be used for pasta or a salad. The green platter on the middle far right is similarly deeper than the red ones and comes accompanied by two plates
The "sweetheart" vases are on the top shelf (and one on the bottom shelf in front of the brown plattter). I started making these as gifts for my daughters' wedding anniversaries (all 3 of my married daughters have anniversaries in the Spring within a period of 3 weeks!). These are two small bud vases that have been smooshed together and are now inseparable!
I only have 3 brie bakers left at the shop right now as the 2 others sold before I could take the photo! But there are many more brie bakers where those came from!
Other items are the highly textured hand-built boxes, vases and tray and the 3 small soy bottles.
Hope you'll have a chance to visit Manassas Clay soon!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Featured in Mellow Tones!

I am being featured in Mellow Tones: Handmade Shopping Guide with this pitcher and tumbler set:

And, oh yes!, the summer clearance sale is still going on in my etsy shop. Don't miss your chance to take advantage of significant discounts on all my pieces!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Huge Summer Pottery Sale

It's summer, time to start clearing out inventory! Everything (and I mean everything!) in my Etsy shop is now on sale. Discounts range from 9% to 61%. This fabulous gas-fired lamp is on sale for $50 (discounted by 17%). Other lamps are marked down even more!

Most mugs are now half-priced!

And, can you believe that this cute casserole dish is only $18?

Also, mark your calendars for the Kiln Club Clearance Sale on Saturday, August 1, 2009, at Bethesda Elementary School (7600 Arlington Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814). Check my website for more details and additional local sales.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kiln Opening!

I woke up with a start at 2:30 am today thinking that I had forgotten to turn the kiln up to high before going to bed. I guess it's the potter's equivalent of worrying about whether or not the stove is off when you leave the house. There I was in the wee hours of the morning with my flashlight making my way out to the studio. The good news was that I had remembered to turn the kiln up to high and it had fired properly.

The bad news was that I forgot to close the top peephole. This is not so terrible, but it meant that the kiln took longer to get to cone and the pieces on the top shelf that were glazed in Pharsalia Blue were more tan than blue. (I like this glaze for exactly that reason, but most customers like the deeper blue.) One tray (on the far right of the photo) was more tan on the side facing the peephole and blue on the side farther from it, while another that was to the left of the peephole was dark blue because it was not directly in line with the source of cooler air.

I unloaded the kiln this afternoon, after spending a perfectly lovely morning glazing with Jane, Jennifer and Lynn. I don't usually use the words "lovely" and "glazing" in the same sentence; glazing is definately not my favorite endeavor, but any chore gets done quickly in good company!
I should have waited a bit more to unload but, as usual, I am impatient to see the results, especially since I had some new items in this load. Things don't usually go well when I'm impatient and that was the case this time. As I was removing the last shelf, one of the kiln posts got stuck to the bottom of it (this wouldn't have happened if the kiln had been cooler) and, of course, came off in mid-air, crashing down on one of my new pieces and breaking it. Not too happy with myself about that!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Raku, Pit Firing & Post-fired Finishes

As I mentioned earlier, the raku/pit firing workshop was a lot of fun! I am especially happy with the raku results. The vase and the mask were the first two I pulled out of the fire. Then came this wonderful little surprise:
I put the glaze on too thickly and the result was this beautiful bubbly "mess." This is just such a cool little bottle vase! But not everything turned out this well. My last little bottle vase was a big disappointment. I think I know what happened to it: I covered the can too quickly and the combustible material didn't have a chance to really catch fire because when I opened the can most of it was unburned.

Pit Fired
Pit firing was an afterthought. I had focused on making a few pots for the raku fire and did not focus on the pit firing. As a result, I neglected to make suitable pots using a smooth clay body such as B-Mix and I also neglected to burnish the pots. All I had was a couple of vases and a small box that were made using the same clay I had used for the raku firing. No matter, I decided to go ahead and try them out in the trash can "pit." All three pieces turned out really nice: smoky black w/ patches of white where pots touched each other and no smoke was able to get to the clay. Also, a pattern of white dots developed on the pots.

Post-fired Finishes
The last piece was the small box. It came out of the fire looking just lovely: all smoky black with just one area of white. I decided to experiment with post-fired finishes and used metallic gold acrylic paint to embellish three areas on the box where the clay was impressed with a pattern. I also used a clear non-fired glaze on the box. I loved the outcome! However, all is not success stories in my studio. I have an unfortunate tendency toward clumsiness. I dropped the lid of the box and the beautiful impressed knob shattered. Here are the remains of my lovely box:

Another experiment with acrylics turned out a lot more promising. I kind of like the look of this box! I made it following Pam Eisenmann's dry brushing techniques. I have not decided how or if to use a non-fired glaze on it since a previous attempt on another piece yielded a milky look. We'll see what eventually comes of this, but it certainly was a lot of fun to experiment!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Charan Sachar's Color Feature

Charan Sachar is a spectacularly creative potter from Seattle, Washington, who makes pieces inspired by the colors of his native India. Check out his Etsy store and you'll know what I mean. His dancing diva wall sculptures seem to have been taken directly from a Bollywood movie! And the color dance doesn't stop there, even his salt and pepper shakers dance!

His fascination with color has prompted Charan to do a "Color of the Week" feature on his blog. This week's color is buttery cream and Charan has featured one of my platters. Do visit Charan's blog and Etsy site, I promise that you'll be bookmarking them!

Thanks Charan!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Raku and Pit Firing at Pig Pen Pottery

What can be more fun than a bunch of women (and one fellow!) playing with fire?

Last Saturday I joined a group of potters from the Kiln Club for an afternoon of raku and pit firing at Hidden Springs Farm, a pre-revolutionary farmstead that is home to Laura Nichol and Pig Pen Pottery. Laura choreographed our dance around the raku kiln while Mia van Zelst showed us her terra sigillata technique for burnishing pots for sawdust firing.

Our raku dance was a sight to see as, on Laura's cue, we each pulled our red-hot piece out of the kiln and placed it in a can with flammable material to begin the reduction process. Flames shot up as the hot piece touched the material in the can and we threw in more sawdust before covering the can tightly. Thus starved of oxygen, the fire pulls the chemical oxygen in the clay and glazes before consuming itself. We had great results! I am particularly happy with a mask and a vase that show all the effects of the fire.

The sawdust firing was done with cedar chips in a metal can. I had two vases and a small box in that firing. All three came out beautifully: dark black from the smoke with ghostly white shapes where the pieces touched each other and were thus protected from the effects of the smoke.

At the end of the evening we gathered on the gallery of Laura's house to share a delicious potluck supper (potter's are such great cooks!). My only regret is that I didn't take more photos, but I was too busy having a wonderful time! I got home late in the evening, dirty and smelling of smoke, but very happy with my four raku pots and three pit fired pots. More importantly, it was great to spend an afternoon enjoying the company of such generous potters and partaking of the view and the great food. Oh yes!, and I also brought home a dozen farm-fresh eggs from Laura's chickens.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Manassas Clay Window

I've always said that potters are very selfless, caring and giving people and here's another example: I was supposed to do the window at Manassas Clay during May, but I had been under the weather the month before and was unable to do it. Enter my wonderful friend Jennifer Dinkelmeyer, who was doing the June window. She invited me to share the window with her this month! If you're in the area, please visit Manassas Clay and check out our window!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New ideas and revisiting old techniques

Several things happened in the past few months that have led me revisit handbuilding and heavily textured pieces. First, the Etsy Mud Team had a clay stamp swap and I found myself pressing scraps of clay into everything in my studio to see what textures I could pick up. Then, I attended a presentation by Novie Trump (at a meeting of the Kiln Club), who showed us how she makes her textured niche sculptures. At about the same time I went through all the stuff from my in-law's house and found a treasure trove of doilies and lace. And finally, I attended a presentation by Pam Eisenmann (organized by the Clay Connection), who showed us her post-fired finishes techniques.

So I ran some clay through the slab roller and went to town using all the clay stamps, textured mats, doilies and lace that I had in the studio. The result was these boxes and I can't get enough of them! A couple of them moved in the direction of vases and I was thinking today that I could easily transform them into birdhouses.

Once they are completely dry, I will put them through the first firing. The bisque firing drives off all the water in the clay structure and burns off much of the organic material, hardening it sufficiently so that it is easier to handle during glazing. I don't know how I'm going to glaze them yet, but I will certainly try Pam's technique using acrylics and patinas. The main goal of the process will be to enhance the texture as much as possible.

This is a sort of return to the beginning for me. I used to do a lot of handbuilding when I first started on this clay journey and I also used a lot of texture on my pieces, usually marks made with found objects: shells, pine cones, twigs, buttons, etc. As I became more proficient at the wheel I stopped handbuilding. But, here I am again, revisiting textures and handbuilding.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Couple of Platters

A while back I mentioned attending a workshop by Kevin Crowe and learning a new technique for making plates and platters. Well... I made 9 plates and only 4 made it through the bisque firing. I have since figured out that the problem lies with my trimming process: I am putting too much pressure on the rims when I trim, weakening them enough that they crack during the first firing. Of the 4 that made through the bisque firing, I have 2 glazed and I must say that I'm very happy with the results.

The 10-inch plate was fired to ^6 in my electric kiln. It is glazed in a matte green glaze with a design in shiny yellow running through the middle. The design was made with a piece of lace taken from a linen napkin that belonged to my mother-in-law. I dipped the lace in the yellow glaze and placed it over the top of the green glaze on the plate. Then I saturated the lace by applying more yellow glaze with a brush. There are some blue shades where the two glazes mix.

The 12-inch platter was fired to ^10 in a propane gas kiln. It was glazed in an iron-rich tomate red glaze. The subtle pattern showing some black speckling that you see in the middle is where I poured more glaze after having dipped the platter once so that the glaze is thicker there than in the rest of the piece.

These pieces are currently for sale at Manassas Clay.