Sunday, March 28, 2010

One fancy-pants firing!

Today we unloaded the gas kiln and wow! did we get some major color going on! Almost too much. All of Maryanne's bowls, that I glazed, collectively looked like a rainbow threw up. Singly they were quite gorgeous! We are trying to figure out what type of clay we want to use for our collaboration so this batch was all done in white stoneware. The same glazes can look quite different on different clays so none of them came out quite like they did in the last batch, which were all done in a brown clay. While I love the bright colors of this batch I think I prefer the more earthy feel of the darker clay. We will probably do a little of both.

I wish there wasn't so much glare in these photos because you really can't see just how intense they really are. The reds in this firing came out SO FREAKING RED! On fire, I tell you!

I really like how this bowl came out. I'm not entirely sure what I did. I seem to be making a real habit of not taking notes when I glaze, something I need to stop doing until I figure out what combinations I want to use.

This is the red I'm talking about. It's called Burn Your Retinas Red. OK, not really, but man, if you could fully see the intensity of this color paired with the touches of vibrant purple/blue that appear here and there... gorgeous!

I tried this blue combo on a few pieces and I think I am happy with it, though I'm not entirely sold on it.

This one is gorgeous, but yet again, not a clue what I did. I know what three of the glazes are but the fourth has me stumped.

So that's my show and tell from this firing. Thank you to everyone who has taken a moment to take my pottery poll. If you haven't yet, please feel free to do so (look to the right of this post). Your input has been wonderful! I am writing down all your suggestions and passing them on to Maryanne. :)
(That's my foot in the bottom left corner of the above photo. Doesn't it look like I only have one leg? I'm like a pottery pirate... arrrg!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

I know why the caged bird wears earrings...

It hit me today that my first show of the year is only two weeks away. Yikes! How did that happen? I've been enjoying the last several months of non-showness. From here on out I have a pretty steady string of shows clear up until the holidays.

I never did get my new table coverings made. Or my banner (that I meant to make last year). And I desperately need to get a serious, grown-up tent (this is the one I want - I figure if I put it out in the universe then maybe it will magically appear - right?:). I also wanted to lighten up my Summer display a bit so a few months ago I found these sweet bird cagey things and though "Hey, those would make awesome earring displays!"

But now I'm not so sure they are going to work. Perhaps for small shows but I think at larger, busier shows they might not be practical. I would need to price all the earrings the same, for one. And they aren't as visible as they are when I display them on my cards. I don't know, what do you guys think? As a shopper would you be drawn to this type of display or would you prefer to have things more organized and right in front of you? I tired to think about what I like when I shop in other jewelry maker's booths and I think I might be more drawn to this type of display. There is something fun about being able to run your fingers through the earrings and see them hanging like little magical wind chimes. But that might just be me. Let me know what you think!

They are cute, aren't they? Even if I don't use them in my set-up they work great as a place to hang my earrings as I finish making them. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pottery poll

Today in the studio I spoke with Maryanne, the potter who threw the bowl that I glazed in the last post. I ran the idea by her of possibly collaborating on a line of pottery and, happily, she said "Sure, I'm game!" So, I thought I would put up a poll (look to your right) to get an idea of what types of forms people would be inclined to buy online. We would primarily be selling online since both of us do shows with our own work and really don't have the room to be cramming in a new line of pots.

So please be so kind as to take my poll and let us know what kind of pieces you might be interested in. Maryanne can throw anything. I mean it. I listed a very limited bunch of forms so please(!) feel free to leave a comment and let me know if there are other pieces that would really float your boat. Also, you can select all of the pieces that you would be interested in, not just one, so go for it!

Please invite others to take the poll! The more input the better! This info will be so helpful to not only me and M but to other potters thinking about selling online as well. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Glazy glaze..glaze...QUACK!

Yesterday was a wonderful rainy day here in upstate NY and I spent nearly all of it in the studio glazing bowls. Every year the studio where I work donates around 200-250 soup bowls to the Empty Bowls project. My contribution to the project comes in the way of glazing. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I love, love, LOVE to glaze and I relish the opportunity to glaze things that are bigger than a quarter. :) My friend, Maryanne (who happens to run the studio) is a production potter who throws bowls in a matter of minutes. I love her bowls. They were meant for me to glaze. So she throws and I glaze. Yay! Above is one of her bowls that I glazed from the last gas firing. I was so thrilled with the outcome that I set out to try to recreate the same look. We shall see if it works - you never really know when it comes to reduction firing.

Here are some of the bowls in their "before" state. I'll try to get an "after" later in the week after we fire them.

This bowl above was done in a similar way to the bowl below. I didn't write down what exact glazes I used in the finished bowl (a big no-no) so I had to take a guess as to what glazes I used. Usually I pride myself on being able to identify any glaze combination but this one did have me a little stumped (but I think I got it... maybe).

I loved this bowl so much that I promised to glaze a zillion more if I could keep it. :)

And you know it's Spring when the ducks return to the studio! This little sweetie was staring at me through the door. She seemed to remember that last year I fed her crackers so I scrounged around the studio and came up with some Fritos for her. Not the best duck diet, but she was pretty pleased. Her boy must have been out scouting for nest building property. Like a good duck-boy should. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The whole in parts

I ended up staying in Long Island a little longer than planned. It wasn't the best trip ever. It started with a four hour(!) traffic jam just outside of NYC. It rained hard on and off. I watched people in cars until I couldn't stand it any more...fat three year olds on cell phones, young college students reading newspapers, old couples arguing about the traffic situation, creepy guys smiling and nodding to me, a truck with flames painted on the hood who wouldn't let anyone pass him NO MATTER WHAT. (I liked him and together we kept the bald dude in a Mercedes from trying to sneak up the side.) By the time I reached the George Washington Bridge I was starving and had to use the bathroom in the worst way. Little did the chatty toll booth woman know that I was ready to donate my bladder science. To make matters even worse I was driving a borrowed truck that had all the giddyup of a vintage riding lawnmower. During the times when traffic was moving nicely along I was there with my foot all the way down on the gas pedal barely going over 55. Sigh...

The actual visit wasn't much better. Unfortunately my grandmother had to be taken to the hospital due to a collapsed lung and my grandfather was very confused by all the packing and moving that was going on. It was hard to see their house in such an altered state. It was hard to walk around and choose which items I wanted, which things had the most meaning to me. I used to think that everything in that house had meaning to me but then I realized that everything has to stay in that house to maintain the meaning. It is the whole, not the parts. My brother and I looked through hundreds of paintings, remembering when some were first painted, remembering the stories behind others. I selected pieces that had personal meaning to me and I look forward to sharing some of them with you one day. Both of my grandparent's are incredible artists, still.

The ride home was clear and sunny.

In other news, I am trying to get back into the swing of things. I listed some new pieces in the shop today, one of which is this bracelet with this amazing glaze. I mixed up the dark teal glaze a while ago and was not impressed with it. On its own it is pretty blah, but when layered with other glazes it does very cool things!

This is a pair of one-of-kind earrings. They are little mismatched and wonky - I love them.

This has remained one of my favorite designs. It is so delicate and feminine and in my "dirty" turquoise glaze it is just yummy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some Extra pretties and a big thanks!

A big bunch of thanks goes out to everyone who commented or mailed me about my last post. I truly appreciate your support and I know that you all understand where I am coming from. It's unfortunate that this has to be a topic that makes the rotation every now and then but I guess it is just to be expected. I don't make accusations lightly. I labor over whether or not to say anything at all and I would never accuse anyone of copying unless I felt that there was enough history there to back up my feelings.

Anyhoo, the photo above shows the next phase of some of the pieces I shared with you a few days ago. I just took them out of the kiln this morning. I love the colors and I can't wait to complete them! I hope everything works the way I want it to...we shall see.

I put some lovely things in the Extra shop today! These are a little different, most of the pieces are cabochons. And they are big. I've had some requests for cabs so I hope you cab-lovers out there like these. Let me know if you want smaller pieces - I tend to like big so that is what I made this time around.

The leaf pieces were another request. Leaves tend to be a bit of a cliche in the world of pottery. I think everyone and their neighbor has pressed some leaves into clay at one point or another. But they are pretty, so there! These leaves came from a tree in front of Collegetown Bagels in Ithaca, NY. I carried them around for hours. :)

This batch has a few of the new textured pieces I was playing around with. Someone said that they look like guitar picks - I thought that was pretty funny! They do! But they are a bit bigger. I just love how they look glazed. I will have to give these a go in my own jewelry in the near future, for sure. All of these pieces can be found in my Extra shop.

I'll be heading down to Long Island bright and early in the morning. My family is in the process of moving my grandparents upstate to live with my mother. For the first time in my life they will be living near me and I truly look forward to that. But packing up their house... a house that was my magical escape place as a child... well, that is not so easy. For me at least. I don't know if anyone else is having such a hard time with it, but I am a sentimental girl...
I'll return on Tuesday. Until me meet again...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Three pages

Several years ago when I was going through a rather difficult time in my life I began the practice of waking up each morning and writing. Writing by hand my thoughts, my lack of thoughts, the first thing that came into my mind, anything at all - sometimes it made sense and other times it was complete gibberish. I filled three pages each day. I would write before I did anything else, emptying my brain of all the clutter that had accumulated during the unconscious hours. For me, that is a lot of clutter. My mind is more active at goes into hyperdrive working out problems, solving math equations, staging reunions with old friends, dreaming up the next big idea... It's not uncommon for me to wake up feeling exhausted yet glad to be out of my own head.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my over-active mind. It makes me crazy that it rarely turns off. But I love that it rarely turns off. It's been my saving grace, the one thing that has been consistent throughout my life. Like an old annoying, nagging friend that only has my best interests at heart. It keeps my secrets but never lets me forget my mistakes. It dreams big and helps me to follow through. It's cocky because it's confident (and has therefore earned its right to be cocky). Its connection to my heart is a strong one and it will defend its honor like no one else. Yes, I am talking about my mind as though it were a separate entity. Sometimes I think it is.

Lately, my mind doesn't know where to go or how to empty out. It's so full of clutter, both good and bad. The good: creative thoughts, fresh ideas, a constant flow of newness. The bad: other people's lack of those things. I walked into a large chain crafts store the other day and came face to face with jewelry components that look just like some that I make. No, they are not made of clay, they are metal, and there are slight changes, but I know my ideas when I see them. And I know the manufacturer friended me on Facebook several months ago, out of the blue. They know who I am and now I know what they are all about. And it's disappointing to say the least.

It's hard to say what is more disheartening - being ripped off by a large corporation or by an individual person. The next day I logged into Etsy and came face to face with a copy of one of my oldest and best-selling designs being made by someone else. This is a person who has done this in the past so it comes as no surprise. Her lack of imagination is well documented. This is something I really can't get my mind around. I mean, why would someone want to make something the same as someone else? Do they want the whole world to know that they are not capable of coming up with their own ideas? I realize the temptation is there. I make molds from all types of things from buttons to stampings... anything that has a design that is in the public domain. Public domain means that no one owns the rights to them so any artist can come along and do what they want with it. HOWEVER (!), what they do with it then becomes THEIRS. That is where original thought comes into play. If you did not think of doing it, then don't do it.

But I've said all this before. It's nothing new. Copying isn't new and it will continue. And I will continue to bring attention to it because my original ideas are worth defending. And my mind won't give me any peace if I don't say something. Until the day comes when people develop a sense of respect for the work and ideas of others and acquire some dignity of their own, I will keep writing my three pages. Which means I'll be writing three pages for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneak peek

I had a great day in the studio. I was so anxious to get there and get to work, it was kind of maddening. I don't always like to give sneak peeks at things I am working on but this week is brimming over with ideas and like a five year old, I wanted to have a little show and tell.

Above are some silhouettes that I am very, incredibly(!) excited about. This is just one of them, there will be more. I have a very specific project in mind for them, but I am sure I will make some simple necklaces and brooches with them as well.

I wonder if anyone can guess what the above pieces are all about? Like the silhouettes I have a bigger idea in mind for these components but I am sure I will simplify things a bit. I tend to come up with grand, bordering on absurd, ideas and always pare them down to something that is actually wearable. I guess my first ideas are the"runway" ideas. Like the ridiculous creations that designers debut in Paris and then the knock-off designers come in and make a wearable version to sell at Target. I suppose that the reality is that no one actually wants to wear a taxidermied Marmot on their head.

Huh. Where was I going with this... anyway...

These triangles are nothing more than me playing around some new texturing tools. Not all that exciting, but I think they will take glaze nicely and quite possibly become my favorite thing of the moment.

So that's my stuff. Hope you liked it. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mighty Brighty Lighty is Alrighty!

I read a review recently of the Mighty Bright Vusion Craft Light and knew right away I had to get one. It came today and I am so pleased with it! It's tiny, it's bright, it's portable, it's flexible, it can run on batteries, IT'S PURPLE!, it has magnification, it has a magnet on the bottom to stick it to metal surfaces, it can be clipped on to anything, it has two super bright LED lights.... it is my dream craft light. I can die happy now.

It retails for $24.99 but.... you can purchase it through JoAnn Fabrics and use one of their 50% off coupons (found right on their website). I tried to find it in one of their stores but was told that it is probably only available in their super stores. Then I went to AC Moore only to be told the same thing. Michaels doesn't carry it at all. So, I ordered it online and waited for what felt like a lifetime (JoAnn's seriously needs to speed up their shipping!). But it's here now and I am happy. Yay!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stringing wire. Who knew? (AND a giveaway!)

Several weeks ago I made an impassioned call to my friend, Lorelei, from a local crafts shop. "What is this stringing wire stuff and what kind do I get?!! What are crimp beads? I need a special tool for them??" OK, so I wasn't that incredibly ignorant, just mostly. I've been wanting to add a little flexibility to some of my pieces so stringing wire seemed like a good idea and now I'm loving the stuff. Nothing like being late to the party, eh? The only problem I've encountered is feeling like each finger is the size of a Genoa salami when trying to string seed beads. Seriously, I don't know how you seed bead weaver people do it! The small amount I used on this acanthus bracelet (above) nearly drove me out of my mind and made me long for some neon colored pony beads.

Anyhoo, this bracelet includes three of my own porcelain components and various glass, wood and natural stone beads. It was fun and fast to make so I foresee much stringing wire in my future. Thanks for the help, L!

In other news, WOW, has my new Facebook fan page been growing! A big thank you to everyone who has become a fan! It has been quite unexpected so in celebration I am going to have a giveaway AND something I am calling a Flash Sale. The necklace shown above is going to be the giveaway prize. Just as soon as I finish this blog post I will post the giveaway on my fan page - so run on over and become a fan so that you can enter. :) The Flash Sale is going to be a short one-day sale in my jewelry shop and free shipping in my Extra shop. Again, you have to be a Fan to take advantage so check out the details on my page. Hurry, hurry!! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Be my fan! Please.

So, I finally made my Facebook fan page public! I started working on it a long time ago and then kind of forgot about it and then started up again and then got tired of uploading photos....sooooo...I just decided to make it public and worry about making it all fancy and stuff as I go along. As of this moment I am my only (and biggest) fan. So sad, so I am hoping some of you might want to join me! Click here to become a fan of the Roundest Rabbit (except for Petey) on the planet! I plan on having special offers and exclusive sales for fans now and then so be sure to join and please spread the word! :)

In other news, I have been putting a lot of new things in the shop. The four leaf clover necklace above is particularly lovely, and it's the only one I made for some unknown reason (not sure where my head was at that moment). I probably won't have any more ready before St. Patrick's Day, unfortunately, though I will try.

This pair is called Modern Cabbage Roses - they are wonderfully dimensional!

This pair of Harlequins feature another new glaze that I've been testing. It's a glaze for the gas kiln so that means the results may vary from firing to firing. This was the first time I tested it and I am pretty happy with the results.

I call these Folk Art Lotus. They have a nice old-timey feel to them, especially when glazed in black and white.

This new Triangular Hoop style is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. And the antique patina glaze still makes me giddy!

Isn't this pair fabulously flirty? They remind me of the twirling dress of a Spanish dancer - so that's why they are called Spanish Fans (ok, fans are not dresses, but you get it..).

And finally, this pair is made with pieces I made from molds made from buttons I bought when I was in London with Lorelei last September. They are called Jubilee and I love them so. (I want to go back to to London in the worst way...)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost in the land of glaze...

Huh. I guess I have been away from the old blog longer than I thought. I'm not sure how that happened. I've been lost in the land of glaze for a while - guess I lost all track of time.

First up I wanted to highlight the new issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry. As usual, it is a gorgeous issue! There is a little for everyone, no matter what media or style you may work in. My friend, Shannon LeVart, has TWO excellent articles, there is a great interview with Stephanie Lee (someone whose work has been very inspiring to me) and Carla Reiter (whose knitted metal jewelry is astounding!) and a new section called From the Boutique which is a gallery of work with quick, simple instructions at the end. And there is my article, Winter Wedding. This is the article that got bumped from the Winter issue (thus the Winter Wedding name) but has now landed in the Spring issue. My article that was supposed to be in the Spring issue got bumped to the Summer issue, so I may have two articles in that one, but we shall see.

Anyway, I'm rambling. On to the glazing! We did a firing in the gas kiln this past weekend and I am very pleased with my pieces. I really had fun glazing. I worked completely randomly, not paying attention to what I was mixing with what. I put zero thought into the placement and color combinations. Just for the hell of it. Seeing the results was so exciting! Below are a few of my favorites. (These are large pieces that will be made into pendants - they measure 2 1/2" in width by 2 1/4" long.)