Thursday, March 29, 2012


 I never show you pictures of my studio space at Beech Grove Clay Works because -

Well, because it looks like this:

But Kelly Daniels, whose blog I've been following since her Kickstarter for her Penland trip got funded, posted a picture of how messy her space is after just one week. And I thought Yay! I'm not the only one! And it gave me the courage to share my space with you guys.

And here is my old school Pinterest board;)

So my space is not hip or cool looking at all, and there's stuff everywhere, but I'm grateful to have it:D I kind of feel like, as long as I know where everything is, and I have a little space to work, I don't mind mess and clutter. I once had a teacher tell me that there are two kinds of people - people who are externally organized, and people who are internally organized. My keys may not hang on a neat little peg, but if you ask me where they are, I can tell you (usually) that they are under that pile of papers in the corner. If you try to clean up for me, I'll never find anything! Yeah, that teacher's quote stuck with me, because it made me feel less crappy about myself. I do try, but I'm just not a naturally neat person.

What about you? What does your workspace look like? Is it organized and inviting? Or a big ole' mess like mine? Which do you prefer? Which type of person are you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Maggie Moo's Blue-green glaze

This glaze recipe is adapted from a combination of a Mastering Cone 6 Glazes base glaze and Maggie Schlebecker's blue-green glaze recipe. It is cone 6 oxidation, and I've been told it produces some red in a really good reduction atmosphere, though I've never tried it. You can adjust the percentage of copper, tin, and zinc to produce a range of color from a pale mint to a deep sea green. Varying the amount of tin and zinc will affect the opacity of the glaze and make it milkier the more you add. Overdoing it on the copper could cause leaching, so going over 5% is probably not a good idea, but otherwise this base is extremely stable and food safe.

Maggie Moo's Blue-Green glaze #5

Custer Spar  20.0
Ferro Frit 3134 20.0
Wollastonite 10.0
EPK 21.0
Talc 11.5
Silica 17.5
Total 100.0

Add Tin Oxide 3.96
Zinc Oxide 2.45
Copper Carb 3.21 (or Black Copper Oxide 2.14)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baby plates for babycakes

Hey look! I remembered to bring my camera to the studio with me for once!

Finally, FINALLY got a big dipping bucket of the new recipe for Maggie Moo's Blue-Green glaze mixed up. I am super happy with this version, and it looks fantastic layered with all the other studio glazes. Thanks to Maggie Schlebecker who did her school science fair project on glaze testing and provided us with her recipe. Hooray girls and science!

I got a cake plate out of the kiln, which warped just as I expected. We have been working on making a cake plate in my Tuesday night class that could double as a chip and dip when flipped over, but the bowl as a base just isn't enough support to keep the plate part from warping in the kiln (especially when you use porcelain, like me). It's not completely horrible, but I do want to refire it because I'm not satisfied with the glaze application. I will probably use it for Maddy's birthday party if I can improve the glaze on it.

Why yes, that is a birthday gator! Or a crocodile, which ever you prefer.

These are kid's plates I'm working on. One is for Maddy! I can't wait until she's old enough to use it! I'm going to get them painted today. I cannot wait to make more of these. They're so fun!

Last but not least, I got my painted pendants out of the kiln. What do you think? I keep wanting to sit down and roll out more of these, and do some different shapes, but I haven't had the time. Maybe after the baby party extravaganza?

If anyone is interested in the glaze recipe for the Maggie Moo glaze, let me know. I'd be happy to share!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Playing catch up

Everyone jokes now a days about how this generation is so attached to their smart phones and digital devices that they burst into tears if they can't find their iPhone for a day. I had no idea I was one of those people until I got my iPhone good and lost this weekend. It's been missing since Saturday morning, and though I haven't fallen to the ground sobbing yet, I really am kind of lost without it. I had no idea I was so dependent on that thing.

I managed to take some pics this week in the studio and of my girl outside enjoying the weather, and I thankfully uploaded them before I misplaced my phone. Argh! Now I have to actually charge my real camera, and I have to use the landline to make phone calls, and I can't check in when I go to the movies or check my friend's status messages every 5 minutes! HOW WILL I LET MY FRIENDS KNOW INSTANTANEOUSLY HOW MUCH I ENJOYED THE HUNGER GAMES???

Anyway, I spent some time catching up a bit on my own work at the studio after mixing a new dipping glaze and doing some test tiles. I didn't realize how much half finished stuff had piled up in my space. I made two scallop edged plates that I intend to decorate, and one of them is to commemorate Maddy's 1st birthday. We're having a real party for her April 1st that's a cardboard box extravaganza and playdate. Unfortunately we are antisocial people and only know a handful of parents with babies, so I'm thinking it's going to be a sparsely attended affair, at least by baby to adult ratio standards. I feel like going to the park and finding random people with babies, and just dragging them to our house. Here! Come play with my baby! Before she becomes an antisocial recluse like us! NO REALLY WE'RE NOT CREEPY STALKERS I SWEAR

I'll probably write again post baby party, as my mother-in-law and I are preoccupied with getting ready for that, plus this is the last week of the session at Beech Grove. Hopefully I'll be back with lots of adorable pics, taken with a real honest-to-God camera, and maybe even my phone if I can freakin' find it.

Btw, just a heads up: if you have the Find My iPhone app, it works great until you turn off your phone. Stupid phone.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Madeleine

Today is Maddy's birthday. Much like every other parent out there, I find myself marveling at how quickly the time has passed. Much like every parent out there, I find myself wanting the world she grows up in to be a better one than it is.

I've been reading a lot about human rights, been reading bell hooks and a lot of blogs, and following all the women's rights issues that are being stirred up by the upcoming election, and also the continuing turmoil in Egypt and the women who are being abused and violated because they speak out, and the case of Trayvon Martin, the young black kid who was shot for walking through the wrong neighborhood at night with a bag of skittles and a can of tea. Some days I'm just infuriated, and sad, and overwhelmed. But I want the world to be better than it is, and I believe that the best way to do that is to educate myself, and to be a better person. I cannot change what's outside without addressing what is inside. I cannot raise my child to be open and loving and respectful of all peoples if I do not set that example for her myself.

A friend of mine posted a link to a blog post about bullying, and a letter the blogger has written to her young son to read when he is older. It is beautiful, and so full of love, and it is so apt right now. Because if the world is to be a place where everyone is ACTUALLY EQUAL, regardless of their sex, race, social status, culture, religion, body type, clothing, or any other feature we choose to prejudge others on, it has to begin with us, and with our children. I want to share it with you, because I think it may be the most awesome thing I've read in a long time. It being Maddy's birthday, I may just write a letter to her myself.

A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On

Happy Birthday, babycakes:)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A perfect week

Two new plates, still cooling. (I had to peek.)
My sister-in-laws rockin' their 20's garb for a theme party. I got very into helping them put together these outfits. We referenced Pinterest a lot;) Don't they look cute?
The infamous Josie cat, getting some good morning rubbies today.
The Chinese Magnolia across the street. I look forward to seeing this out the front window every spring.
So many nice and lovely and fun things have happened this week, and I have neglected to blog because I've been too busy enjoying them. The end of a perfect spring day would come, and I'd snuggle Maddy and put her to bed, and have a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and not feel inclined to sit in front of a computer screen to write. I feel like I need to pick up my paper journal again. Writing in a pretty hardbound book feels like bliss. Blogging feels like work sometimes.

I feel a little guilty for enjoying this perfect spring weather all week (blue skies, blooming trees, 70-80 degrees and a breeze blowing) when it's so early in the year. I keep thinking, oh god, it's global warming, this summer is going to be brutal if the weather is this nice in March. I have to tell myself to shut up and enjoy it. It's not like I can control the weather!

Maddy and I have been going for walks daily, partially in an effort to get in shape (that's me, not her!), and partially because it's too beautiful out to stay indoors. Maddy was pretty grumpy earlier in the week, and was shooting surly glances at everyone we met, but then her new tooth came thru, and she's a much happier girl now. Her birthday is coming up this week (can you believe it's been a year?!?), so I've been planning her cardboard box themed birthday party. God bless Pinterest, right?

I went to an artist talk on Wednesday given by my former instructor Lesley Baker, which I really enjoyed. It was a very intimate gathering of mostly artists and a couple art lovers, and we sat in a round table kind of fashion to listen to Lesley talk about her life and work. It was great to finally hear her talk about her influences and processes after having her as a teacher, where she was very careful not to share too much of her work with us so we wouldn't be too influenced by it. Lesley has recently updated her website, and will be adding pictures from her solo show (un)Naturals very soon, so you should definitely check it out. She also had a large installation called Bull in a China Shop on display during the Super Bowl that got some national press, which is very cool. I really can't do the installation justice talking about it here, you have to see it in person (which you can thru the end of the month at Wug Laku's Studio and Garage, if you happen to be in Indy). I know I'm biased because she was my teacher, but I love her work so much. She's been a major influence on me in a lot of ways.

That's enough typing for today! I'm hoping to get at least a couple things listed on Etsy, but who knows if that will really happen. Maddy will be waking up any minute now, I suspect. Maybe during nap time...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Handbuilding and painting

Don't I write the most exciting blog titles?

Here are some of the results of my hand building efforts. A long time back I started making a rocketship jar, but the fins kept breaking and I scrapped it. I've got three of these in progress now. I will have to do some major clean up in the interior if I want these to be jars, and walls are super thick and heavy. I can't seem to allow myself to make a sculpture just to be a sculpture. I guess I just love containers, and all I can think of is all the cool things that could be hidden inside that space! A place to hide secrets and treasures... Maybe one can be a jar with a doll inside, and one could be a kind of nichos or shadow box with a hole in the side, maybe with a little space drama going on inside? I feel like I could play around a bit with three of these at my disposal. Depending on how my demo progresses today, I may have four. But four is no good, because I hate odd numbers, so maybe I'll build 2 more.

I started painting my bear mask that I made back in my Christmas kids class. My plan is to go over the top girly with it. I wanted to have it ready for my gallery show so I could wear it all night. It probably wouldn't be very comfortable though, and it is heavy. It will probably end up on the wall.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hand building workshop

Stephen gave a workshop on Sunday to demonstrate some of his hand building techniques. It was incredibly helpful, and I learned a lot. His handbuilding method is pretty fast and efficient, and seems to make a really strong build. Of course, he stressed slow and controlled drying, and not rushing the piece as it gets too large to support itself. Definitely a slower process than throwing, but not as tedious as slipping and scoring a lot of perfectly rolled coils!
Showing us some of his favorite tools.

He showed us a lot of his favorite tools, many of which are hand made. I love seeing new and creative pottery tools. One was a large trimming tool made from a sharpened metal band attached to a dowel. Another good one was a long stick with a semi-circle shape routed out the end, used for shaping nice, round ring foots.

Shaping tool, being used here  to make a texture design in a small slab.

One of his new press molds, part of a new process he's just trying out.

Showing us a more efficient coiling shape - tapering the top of each coil so you get a larger amount of clay surface connection when you smooth them into each other.

A base slab for a coil sculpture. The shape was made by tracing the green rib tool twice.

Starting the build.

Inner column in the base to support the balloon form.
Stephen showing how he sketches to plan his sculptures.
A press mold base for a second sculpture.
Coil building a balloon on the press mold base.
Talking about the proportion limitations for building a balanced piece.
Two small sculptures half finished by the end of the workshop.
I had planned to cover coil building in class this week, so I was able to intergrate some of his tips into my demo Monday night. I started two small sculptures of rocket ships as a demonstration. I forgot to take pics, but I'll be working on them some more tonight, so I'll share my progress.

Hope you enjoyed seeing these pics as much as I enjoyed the demo!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Closing reception - Stephen Wolochowicz

This past Saturday was the closing reception for Stephen Wolochowicz's work in our gallery at Beech Grove Clay Works. We were really honored to have a sculptor of his caliber exhibit his work here. He gave a slide lecture and talked a little about some of the work he's made past and present, and what his inspirations are. I always enjoy hearing artists speak about their work, what's going on in their heads when they make a specific piece, and what the process was. He's made large scale sculptures that were taller than him and weighed 750 lbs! We got to see examples of small scale functional work that he's made as well - little "Shot Glasses for the Masses" shaped like little oil drums with oil slicks as a serving tray. I like that even the most abstract non-figurative sculptor is pulled back to making some functional work now and again by the material. And it's cool to see cups that look fully integrated into his body of work and aesthetic.

Stephen is very inspired by "cartoon aesthetics" married with industrial forms. I can definitely get into a sculptor who's inspired by Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. 
Stephen talking about his large scale sculpture installation.
Mine field installation
Mine field installation - one of several.
Oil drum tumblers
A very cool slip cast series where he cast each cup from the previous one. Each cast shrunk after firing, so the form degenerated with each generation, until it became a tiny wobbly little blob of a cup.
Current body of work - his "Inflation" series.
Wood fired piece
The show in our gallery.
I wasn't sure how the slide lecture would go, since Stephen is used to speaking in a more academic setting, and we're a pretty informal community studio. It went wonderfully, and Stephen was engaging and interesting to listen to. Everyone asked a lot of questions, which is always a good sign. I think artist talks might become a regular thing at our openings, so we can learn more about the people whose work we feature. 

Tomorrow I will post pictures from the workshop Stephen gave on Sunday, so you can see a little bit of how he builds his forms. Very cool stuff! Check out more of Stephen's work on his website at