Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas Shopping????

My last show of the season is coming up in a couple of weeks! On Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, I'll be at the 21st Annual City of Falls Church Holiday Gift & Craft Show. In addition to the 50 crafters and merchants there will be entertainment for the little ones, including a visit from Santa! For more information, check out or call 703-248-5027.

I will be in my usual spot: booth 50 upstairs. Come by and say hi!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tantalizing Thursday Temptations

Thought I'd put up some pottery from Etsy Mud Team members for you to feast your eyes (pottery porn!). Today's highlights are: 


A trio of Snow Bell Christmas Ornaments from Botanic2Ceramic. A trio of heavenly bells to tinkle in your home. Each one of them has a slightly different tone. Made of porcelain. They were rubbed with oxides before the final firing. Each one is approx 2" x 2". ( $28)

A yarn bowl from Judith Frederick at ClayCrazy Pottery. This hearts yarn bowl is made of buff stoneware clay and is wheel thrown and trimmed by hand. Judy cuts the heart out by hand and smooths all the edges to ensure the yarn does not drag on the surface. It measures 5.75 inches across at the top and 2.5 inches high and holds an average skein of yarn. ($45)

An Alphabet Bowl - Letter K for Kangaroo - from Karen Fiorino at ClayLick Pottery. all hand thrown from red earthenware pottery clay and decorated with Majolica glaze using bright colors. Each bowl has a fanciful type face for the letters and something that corresponds to it (in this case a kangaroo). The outside of the bowl is decorated in turquoise blue with lots of little cobalt blue dots. Each is signed and dated. SIZE: 5.75" x 2" ( 14.7 cm x 5 cm). ($30)

 A Mandala bowl from Fire n Flux. This bowl features a sgraffito (meaning to scratch, where the design is carved through the layer of colored slip to reveal the clay beneath) design. It was hand thrown on the potters wheel, then a few layers of light blue engobe were painted on, a dark blue engobe was also painted on top with a fan brush to give the color some variance. Once this was dry, the mandala pattern was hand carved.This is completely food dishwasher and microwave safe. It's 2" (5.1cm) tall and 6 5/8" (16.8cm) wide. ($28)

Southern Fried Okra framed tile by Lisa Sowers Finley of LASPottery. This tile is handcrafted from slabs of earthenware clay. After a bisque fire, the tile is painted with black stain and sponged off leaving black in the details. Then it is painted with a translucent celadon green glaze and fired again at a high temperature. The tile is mounted into this shadow box frame that is stained with beeswax and linseed oil. The back is finished with eye screws and wire to hang the frame. This framed tile can also stand alone on a shelf. Size: 8" (20cm) X 8" x 1.5" (4cm). ($38)

And here's a little something from my shop:

This ceramic fruit bowl is the perfect addition to your kitchen. Use it as fruit bowl or colander for rinsing and serving berries, grapes, cherries and other fruits and vegetables. The glaze is a great complement to any kitchen decor. This fruit bowl is 9 1/2 inches in diameter, 4 inches tall and 3 1/2 inches deep.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Banner!

What do you think of my new banner!

My talented daughter Andrea made it this afternoon. It took her almost not time to get it done and I'm so happy with it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

August already???

Summer is flying by... here it is, already August!

Bucket full of wedding favors!
I spent July hard at work making wedding favors. A bride-to-be in Canada found a photo online of the small vases I made as wedding favors for my daughter's wedding in 2006 and asked for something similar. She liked my existing glazes but also asked for some in amethyst. Not wanting to start experimenting with glazes, I got some amethyst glaze from Laguna at my local supplier (Tin Barn Pottery at Manassas Clay in Manassas, VA). It turned out so well that I went back for more. I think that this fall there are going to be a lot of yarn bowls glazed in amethyst! It's a beautiful satin matte glaze that breaks into lavender as well.

Lots of little vases!
So far I have resisted commercial glazes but this will be my second commercial glaze. I'm already using a satin white that I think is also from Laguna (not sure since I get them at Tin Barn Pottery). As I'm getting older I'm starting to see the advantage of not trying to reinvent the wheel. I never thought for a minute that to be a potter I needed to dig my own clay (although it would be cool to do it once!), so why do I think I must mix my own glazes?

Oh, I'm not going to stop using my tried and true glazes... but from now on, I think that I won't snub my nose at what's already available and will start to make things easier on myself by relying on commercial glazes when the need arises. I want to spend my time throwing and making, not fussing with glazes! What do you all think?

Amethyst glaze by Laguna

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cleaning the pugmill

1. See hard lumps around edges
I've had the Bluebird pugmill for 3 years now. It's a 1999 model that I bought used. I don't think I would have been able to continue reclaiming clay without it because it was causing too much strain on my wrists. Now, I put all my clay through the pugmill and then give it a couple of wedging turns and I'm ready to go.

A few months ago I started to get hard (very hard) and dry (very dry) lumps in with my pugged clay. I could ignore these pieces while throwing but they would end up as sharp bits on the bottom of pots or as dimples on the sides of pots. I could remove them while throwing and then fill in the hole left, but this would invariably throw my pot off center, and who wants to be doing that anyway?

2. Barrel removed. Making a mess.
Melissa Schooley of Raging Bowl had the same problem, but from her blog descriptions, it was much worse than mine. Check out her saga with pugmill "barnacles" here.

3. Barrel off motor box
So, I decided that the first step I needed to take was to clean out my pugmill. Here's what I had to do:

1. Turn on the pugmill and let it run until it has pushed out all the clay that it will. Add 1 pint of water when running the last amount of clay to help lubricate the barrel and make removal easier.
2. Switch the pugmill off and unplug it.
3. Unbolt the nozzle end. Run a wire between the nozzle and the barrel. Remove the nozzle end and clean. In the picture (1) you can see the hard lumps on the outer edges of the clay, especially at the bottom.
4. Use pliers to release the spring from the rod in the vacuum chamber.
4. Chris power washing the barrel.
5. Unfasten bolts holding barrel to motor box and front supports (3).
6. Remove barrel and scrape clean.
7. Scrape blades and shaft.

Of course, you're going to make a mess, especially when you remove the barrel. Be prepared for this. I wasn't and got splatter all over everything (2)

The best way found to remove the gunk from the barrel and nozzle was with a power washer (4). Once you've got it as clean as it's going to get, work backwards and put the thing together again. At this point you're going to wish that you had kept track of the screws as you were taking them off! 

5. Cleaned out nozzle.
This is as clean as we were able to get it (5 and 6). The red stuff is the red clay that the previous owner used, it's not rust. But we couldn't get it off... it was almost like paint. You can see the pitted places where the hard lumps form. You can read more about this in Melissa's blog. Apparently there's some sort of reaction between the aluminum alloys of the barrel and the materials in the clay.

6. Cleaned out vacuum chamber.
I always put wet sponges at the end of the nozzle and over the hopper and cover the pugmill in many layers of plastic when I'm not using it. But reading the manual more carefully I noticed the following tip: "Periodically add a cup of water to the hopper and slot in the vacuum chamber." I am doing that regularly now. My theory is that if the clay is nice and wet it will not form hard lumps along the outside of the clay log. So far, so good.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Reycling Clay

 I love my pugmill! It has really made recycling clay so much easier.

This is how clay gets recyled in my studio. I reuse the bags that the clay comes in to line a bucket that sits next to my wheel. As I work all the scraps that don't end up in the slop bucket go into this bucket. Periodically, I empty the contents of the slop bucket into the recycle bucket as well to hydrate the dried clay. 

Once the bag starts getting heavy I know it's time for the second step. I line a cat litterpan with some of the dirty towels in the studio and pour the contents of the bag into it. I cover it up with other towels and slip the pan under the work table. It will stay there for as long as it takes (depending on the heat/humidity) for the clay to be dry enough to wedge. 

At this point, if I'm not ready to put it through the pug mill I cut it up into manageable pieces and put it in a plastic bag to make sure that it doesn't dry out too much. Then it's into the pugmill! And out come these great logs of clay that only require a couple of turns wedging and they're ready to go!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

It Happened Again!

Yes, it happened again! The wrens built a nest inside the studio. Can you see it tucked in there between the cassette tapes (yes, I still play cassette tapes!) and the white box? 

I had to leave the studio door open one night because I was firing the kiln. The next day I didn't get out to the studio until after lunch. By then the nest was halfway built and I didn't have the heart to just lock them out. The male and the female took turns screeching at me and coming in with bits of twigs and pollen and in one day had finished the nest.

I didn't hear or see anything for the next few days so I assumed that they didn't like my presence and had abandoned the nest. I was so sure of it that one night I locked the door. Bad idea! The next day, the wren flew out as soon as the door was opened and there were all manner of things on the floor: boxes of sitter cones strewn about, small jars of underglaze... and, of course, bird poop all over.

So the door stays open. Today, a couple of beady eyes with a white stripe over them were peeking out at me from inside the nest. The white stripe over the eye means that it's a Carolina wren. So now it's been about a week so I expect that the eggs will hatch in another week or so. Then it takes the babies a couple of weeks to fledge.

The bad news is that I don't think I'll be firing the kiln until the baby birds are gone.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Glynt Pottery Now in Del Ray!

Great News! My pottery is now available at A Show of Hands in the Del Ray section of Alexandria. You can currently find yarn and berry bowls, brie bakers, lamps and more items there. Visit  A Show of Hands at 2301 Mt Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia (22301).
The shop is open daily except Mondays. Store hours are: 
Tue - Fri: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Monday, April 1, 2013

How does she do that?

Today, I thought I'd show you how I glaze my striped mugs. These mugs are glazed in black on the outside and in another (usually lighter) color on the inside. This inside glaze is also used on the top third of the outside of the mug and in the stripes. It's easier if you just see what I mean.

Step 1: Prepare bisqued mug

That means, wash it to get all the clay dust off and then wax the bottom.

Step 2: Glaze the inside in the color of the stripes.

If any glaze drips on the outside, scrape it off with a metal rib or knife once the glaze is dry and wipe off with a clean sponge if necessary.

Step 3: Apply a masking tape to form the lines.

I use electrical tape because I find it gives me good coverage. However, electrical tape tends to stretch slightly as you pull it off so tape the top edge down, pull the tape to the bottom and relax it a bit to let spring back. Then tape the bottom edge down and cut with a scalpel or X-acto knife. You end up with mugs that look like this. Note the glaze on the inside.

Step 4: Glaze the outside in the dark or contrasting glaze.

Simply dip the mug in the contrasting glaze as far as you want it to go, usually as high as the top of the electrical tape or a little lower. [As you can see, you can use this system for items other than mugs.]

Step 5: Brush wax resist on the contrasting glaze.

The point here is to cover the edges of  the electrical tape on both sides so that when you glaze the stripes you don't smudge the contrasting (in this case, black) glaze. I don't cover all the glazed portions because I use a brush to paint on the glaze in the stripes. If you would rather dip the whole mug in the glaze, then you would have to cover the entire (black) glazed surface in wax. I use Highwater Clay's Mobil Wax because I like the way it spreads on easily without clumping. 

Step 6: Peel off the electrical tape.

Use the tip of a needle tool, scalpel or knife to lift up the edge of the tape and begin pulling it off. Do this slowly. If the wax starts to come up with the tape, stop! and use your scalpel to lightly cut the wax at the edges of the tape so only the tape comes up. You will get very crisp lines with contrasting (black) glaze. However, if some glaze bled into the stripe, use your scalpel to carefully scrape it  and a stiff brush to get it off.

Step 7: Glaze the stripes.

I put some glaze in a small bowl so as not to have to keep going back to the large bucket. Then I load up a brush with glaze and carefully fill in the stripes. I usually do three layers of glaze for adequate coverage and to ensure that I don't get any brush strokes.

Step 8: Glaze the top of the mug.

By now, the glaze that you used for the inside of the mug and on the stripes has probably settled so remember to stir it up again. Then, holding the mug by the bottom, dip it into the glaze up to the demarcation where the contrasting glaze begins. Check to make sure that you've also glazed the handle all the way.

And there you are! Follow your usual steps before putting it in the kiln. I usually rub any drips off with my finger and heal any pinholes that may have appeared. I also double check that the foot is clean and, if needed, clean off any glaze that may be on top of the waxed portions.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Looking for Connections and Inspiration

Stella, Laura and me in Colonia
In early March I went back *home* to Uruguay to spend a week reestablishing family connections and looking for much-needed inspiration. Part 1 of this search: Colonia del Sacramento, which was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 and is on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
Small dish by Ariel Chape
I spent a spectacular day with my sister, Stella, my niece, Laura, and my nephew, Gonzalo walking the cobblestone streets of this old city that sits directly across from Buenos Aires. Inspiration was everywhere: the chattering of flocks of parakeets in the palm trees and the buzzing of hummingbirds; the patterns of the cobblestones and ancient stone buildings; the deep colors of the bougainvillea; the swift currents of the Uruguay and Paraná rivers as they come together to form the estuary of the Río de la Plata; and the warmth of the sun on a clear, warm day.  My inspirational purchase of the day was a sweet little dish made by Ariel Chape that I bought at a craft shop run by the Grupo Artesanal de Colonia.

Franco, Gonzalo, Leo, Laura and me

The next day we went east. Gonzalo drove again and this time we were joined by his wife Leonor and Laura's son Franco. It was another lovely day that took us off the main highway at the coastal town of Solis where we instead followed route 10 through all the small coastal beach towns: Bella Vista, Las Flores, Playa Verde, Playa Hermosa... I decided then that any of those beach towns would be the ideal place for the Southern Hemisphere branch of Glynt Pottery! 
Gonzalo, Laura and me

Small dish from Casapueblo
From there we continued on to Piriápolis and Punta del Este. I found inspiration in the calm sea and a walk on the beach after lunch; the magnificent art deco style of the Argentino Hotel built in 1930; and a visit to Casapueblo, which is at once a hotel, a restaurant and a museum housing the work of Carlos Páez Vilaró. My inspirational purchase was another small ceramic dish.

Stella, Laura, María, Franco and Victoria
Finally, we took a tour of Montevideo in a double-decker tourist bus. This time we were joined by niece María José and her beautiful 5-year old, María Victoria, who christened me *Tutú*. This was an emotional tour through the city of my birth that took us through places I remembered, including our old neighborhood. The inspiration was more personal this time: the fountain where Dad used to take us to float our wooden boats; the art deco building that housed Casa Soler (scroll down when this link opens for a series of photos of this magnificent building); Pocitos beach where we used to go on lazy summer weekends. The trip ended at Mercado del Puerto in the port of Montevideo where I bought one last pottery inspiration. This raku bowl really spoke to me with its very organic form and deep colors. The bowl is made by potter Victoria Vazquez Young and I purchased it at Acatrás del Mercado.

So I came back renewed, with a new sense of family connections and love, kissed by the southern sun, and feeling that everything had come full circle: finally home after going home!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's going on?

Not much is going on. Just trying to stay warm. I'm really all done with this cold, gray weather. That's why I'm leaving tomorrow for a 10-day trip "home" to Uruguay. I feel better just googling the weather there... in the 80s and sunny: just what the doctor ordered!

I have been busy making lots of berry bowls and some yarn bowls, as usual. I'm also trying my hand at making essential oil diffusers. I tried 3 designs and will leave it up to the customer who asked me to make them to tell me which one works best. I really enjoy these collaborations with my customers!

I also tried my hand at making a house. Unfortunately it wasn't ready in time to enter it into the Etsy Mud Team Challenge, but I really had fun making it, although I don't know how it will look glazed. I think I'll be trying my hand at more of these in the future. BTW, voting in the challenge goes on until midnight on March 2, so go vote and get a 20% discount coupon for participating Etsy potters (including Glynt Pottery)!
The other I did was to, finally, test all my glazes against each other. I think I have 130-something test tiles. Now I have a sample of what every glaze look like underneath and on top of every other glaze. I don't know why I never did this before! 


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Kiln Wash

Old shelves
Cleaning kiln shelves is one of my least favorite things to do. But lately that chore has become less of a hassle thanks to John Britt's Super-Awesome No-Crack Kiln Wash. I had some shelves that I was ready to throw out because they had over 10 years of kiln wash build up. The minute I put the wash on it would start cracking and flying all over the kiln, getting on fired pots... It was a disaster! 
John Britt's kiln wash is amazing. Not only are my new shelves protected and looking good, but the nasty old shelves with all their old cracked wash are back in working order. This wash covers the old wash so it isn't a problem any more.

Here's the recipe: 

Super-Awesome No-Crack Kiln Wash


Alumina Hydrate

Calcined EPK Kaolin

EPK Kaolin



G-200 Feldspar

1 – 2%
Shelves w/ wash drying in the sun

And you can read all about it in John's article, The Many Layers of Kiln Wash.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Season of the Witch

This box became a honey jar.
I make pots and imagine the kind of life they will live when they find their home. But, more often than not, they go on to live completely different lives than the ones I envision. I make and sell a lot of brie bakers and imagine them serving delicious brie cheese with all kinds of scrumptious toppings, but a friend thinks that her brie baker makes a perfect sandwich plate! I make small boxes that I imagine will serve as jewelry keeps, but this box went on to a life as a honey jar.

 Last year, on the drive back from the Utilitarian Clay Conference (at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts), Donovan came on the car radio singing Season of the Witch. That is a great song and I've always liked Donovan! As I was driving north on I-81, I decided to make a Season of the Witch yarn bowl. The bowl I made had the words "you've got to pick up every stitch" on the outside and cutouts of two rabbits running. I finished the bowl just in time for the City of Fairfax Holiday Show. I never took proper photos of the yarn bowl because I thought it would be an item that people might chuckle over but not buy... I figured I had plenty of time to take photos.

Here's the Season of the Witch bowl
Well, the bowl sold the first day of the show to a lady who didn't get the Donovan reference at all. But she thought it would make the perfect gift for a friend who just started to learn to knit. "This will remind her to pick up every stitch," she said. I thought about telling her about Donovan... but didn't.

I wonder if that yarn bowl will ever encounter someone who'll say: "Wait a minute! ... pick up every stitch... two rabbits (running in a ditch)... must be the Season of the Witch!" I hope so!     

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Artist's Way

My 1994 copy of The Artist's Way, a gift from Jane Cullum
A group of Etsy potters who are members of the Etsy Mud Team have decided to form a "sacred circle" and start working Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way together. This is a wonderful opportunity for me because I started doing it by myself many years ago (1994!) but never got all the way through to the end. Now, I look forward to working through the resistance with the support of this great group of friends!

For those interested, Julia Cameron also has a website and I believe that she runs some groups and forums through it.

Looking forward to a year of unblocking creativity and letting it flow! Morning pages: here I come!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ceramic Prep Bowls

A set of 3 small ceramic prep bowls will add the perfect touch to any kitchen. Use them for your ingredients while cooking or as individual dip bowls with your favorite olive oil or dip.

The bowls are about 2 inches tall, 1 1/2 inches deep and about 4 inches in diameter. They hold 1/2 cup (4 oz).

Use them also as trinket or catch-all bowls for your rings or pocket change.