What I Made in 2018

Here’s a quick look at the main body of work I made this year.

I’d been developing a glaze combination I really liked for a while, and I decided to make a lot of simple pieces in various shapes that would showcase these glazes beautifully.  I’m always attracted to things that match and don’t match at the same time, things that obviously go together yet are slightly different (peek inside my kitchen cabinets to view a motley assortment of dishes, please).

I made a big push to get a lot of things made earlier in the year, precipitated by a rather sudden decision for our family to move.  This meant leaving the studio I’ve been using for 8 years to glaze and fire my work, and all my internet research (and a few conversations) did not reveal a studio in our new area that had the same kind of kiln available for me to get the effects I wanted.  So I decided to use up all my remaining clay doing just the one beautiful thing I wanted to do.

The look consists of a range of colors created by glazes poured, dipped, and sprayed onto the pots.  The inner glaze is an red-iron-oxide rich red that works really well for food contact (non-toxic of course, but also smooth and attractive).  I coated the inside and the rim of the pot, since the glaze on the rim will run into the outer glazes and create new colors.

The first outer glaze, a soft matte white which mingles beautifully with other glazes, I applied by dipping the pot in 2/3 to 3/4 up the sides.  Then I sprayed a light blue (turquoise or teal, depending on the firing) on the remaining bare clay at the top of the pot, overlapping it with both the lower and rim glazes.

 

The final touch was a simple ash glaze which I mixed myself from local wood ash (I used oak ash for a while, and when that ran out I used pine).  It took me some work to get it just right, because ash makes glazes run down; this is why I love ash glazes, but it can also get you into trouble if you’re overzealous with its application (I did have a few pieces with glaze that ran too much and stuck the pots to the kiln shelves).  I sprayed this ash glaze over the blue glaze.  I wanted that beautiful blending of colors, and I wanted to see what new colors would be created in the mysterious atmosphere of the kiln.

 

I’ve been very happy with both the relative uniformity and the variation in this series (like I said, matching and not matching!).  I made a few pieces to keep myself, and the rest will be available as (literally) limited-edition works in my Etsy shop by December 3rd.  Since it was quite a learning experience, a few slightly flawed pieces are also available at a reduced price.  I’m running a facebook preview sale this week and can make that link available on request as well.

I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m glad to have been able to make this work and I hope some of you love it too!

 

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Where I’ve Been

Oh my.

I’ve been doing SO much.  So much that I can’t post it all.  So much that is exciting and new and beautiful, and at the same time nothing new under the sun (part of the beauty of it! As mentioned before, I love functional ware.  Nothing beats a favorite mug or cereal bowl).

I encourage you to hop on over to my Etsy shop to see some of my new things!  There is even more in the works, and even more that I haven’t had time to create formal Etsy listings for (I had to make this impromptu facebook album for the overflow, intending to get all of these things on Etsy eventually, but making them available in the meantime).

I’ve joined Instagram, which is a really do-able way for me to participate in social media since it requires only one picture and a caption if you want.  I really like it (although I do have many, many curmudgeonly thoughts about social media and the internets in general, but whatareyougonnado in this day and age?).  Follow me or just visit me there if you want to!

I’ve rearranged the rhythm of my life to welcome pottery back into it.  I’m pretty tired most days, but happy.

From Scratch

“Make it from scratch!” is my modus operandi for almost everything.  I ask, can it be cooked, sewn, written, built, or otherwise fabricated by means within my power, and if so, will it be better than something I could buy ready-made?  The answer to both questions is often “yes” (read this as an insult to most mass-made objects, not me bragging about my skills).  I often sacrifice extra time to make my own whatever.  Is it any surprise that sometimes life is really hard?

I feel like I’m starting from scratch, from the bottom, in my studio again.  According to my image of myself, this should be exactly what I want–but it seems that through not working for a time, I made more work for myself.

For one thing, it’s a new studio in a new house.  For another, it’s been over two years since I made anything out of clay.  The time between then and now has been so full of good things, but also many heartaches, and just plain crazy normal life stuff.  I don’t feel bad about the time elapsed, and don’t necessarily mourn the loss of the pottery I could have made during it.  It’s a season that had to pass in the way it did, and I’m grateful for the relief of having had one less thing going on.

In this new, and possibly brighter, season of my life, I am starting over.  I’ve found all my pottery supplies and tools and set up shop.  Every time I work in here things fall into place a little better.

Some things are weird: I have no sink yet (we have to install one), there is almost no natural light (my previous home studios were well-supplied with large windows), and all my beautiful moist clay dried up and molded (come on!).  My muscle memory has not yet reminded me which tools I liked best and how to use them.

For now, I can use a bucket of water, dream of brighter days and new lighting, and soak, chop up, soak again, let dry, and re-knead that old clay into usable condition (just as much hard work as it sounds like).  And just keep working until I get it back, whatever it is that tells my hands how to hold tools and move gracefully to form that darn clay.

 

Little World

Here’s a post I wrote over 2 years ago, and today feel compelled to share, unedited.  I still feel much the same, even though some of the specifics are different now.  (Pictures are more recent.)

It’s a small life.  Days are long sometimes, yet there is so little time . . . but lots happens anyway.

I’ve put my Etsy shop on vacation until the holiday season.  Keeping up with all the things has just proved to be too much for me.  I’m sticking to some simple goals:  make a few pots every week, have some nice new things by the fall, and post them on Etsy starting in October.  It looks like Windfall Arts will be a more seasonal venture for me while I have a little one.  And that’s okay with me (although this has not come without tears).

Life needs time for other things.  For putting up apple butter after a gift of summer-fallen fruit, for making pesto from the buckets of basil you planted, for knitting something beautiful for yourself or a friend.  Most of all, for reading book after book after book (not necessarily different ones) to the little one who brings them to you and climbs up on your lap, for walking to the park, for putting the high chair in the open patio doorway and feeling the breeze, for watering the garden and accidentally spraying the little one who really really wants you to, for making funny faces and hearing that little laugh bubble up again and again, for feeling what this new love does to your heart.

I realize over and over why I can’t keep my business going full-time.  The art will (mostly) wait, but this is going so fast.  So very fast.

Skill/Serendipity

As you might know if you’ve seen my recent posts on facebook, I’ve got some new things in the works.  There is great excitement here in my messy little studio.

I feel grateful and triumphant in a couple of different ways.  To be making things at all is a huge victory over all the distractions, both inherent to life and created by me.  (Credit here must go to my husband for cooking and watching a toddler at the same time so I can work.)  To be making different things than I was making pre-baby, fewer of them so that I can take the time to make them really wonderful: this is refreshing and life-giving.

And it’s always fun to have new stuff.

It should be mentioned that these are process photos—pots in raw clay form (in this case porcelain), the photos usually taken right when I’ve put the finishing touches to them and am most excited.  They still need to dry out, then be fired, glazed, and fired again.

I have noticed something about myself—I love having a finished product.  Much of my happiness in creating objects in assorted media is in seeing them completed, and in a sense having checked them off a list (I am a list-maker).  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the processes; I just like getting things done, and I like having them.

But pottery is an exception to some degree.  The process is very satisfying; each stage is a tiny completion in itself.  The whole span from lump of clay to finished, glass-coated piece is long—but it comes in nice meaty sections, each of which has its own inherent creative decisions and start-to-finish nothing-to-something satisfactions.  And then when you get that piece back, out of the kiln, you turn it around in your hands and see all the facets that you did and didn’t expect.  You see how each of the processes, fluid or exact—knead, throw, build, carve, stamp, add handles, smooth, twist, stretch, dry, fire, glaze, fire—have layered and melded together, laboring to make this condensed and hardened final beautiful thing.  Some of it you did, by skill or by some serendipitous movement of hand, and some of it was done for you by the unknowable chemistry of the kiln.  Some of it is what you knew you wanted all along, and some of it is new and lovely.  So there is grace and gratefulness, as well as that tiny happy pride.

Getting to use the finished piece doesn’t hurt either, especially if it holds coffee.  And speaking of being finished, I’ll start glazing and firing these up in September. Pictures to follow.

 

 

 

Botanical

It’s not original at all, not very complicated nor requiring much creative power to make it work.  I’ve seen plenty of other artists use plant impressions in their pieces.  But I’m not too worried about being a pathfinder or trailblazer right now, just about trying something new-for-me that I will love and that will expand my sense of the possible.

And who needs edgy or boundary-pushing when the print of a leaf is so delicate and alive?  I can’t go outside without seeing some shape, some quiver of branch, some whorled bud or seed that is a complete revelation, a complete beauty in itself, though I may have known and noted the plant before.  All is old.  All is new.  Something of freshness in every rendering of a time-honored theme.

Make on.

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June

Here we are.

We are like little magpies these days, collecting color and taste and texture for our book of life.  Reading and strawberry picking and seven-foot tomato plants.  Coffee and jam-making and homemade swimming pools.  Having close church friends over for a vehement yet unheated discussion.  These are the people we are—trading food and stories with the neighbors, exulting in the unseasonably cool weather, not quite finding time for All The Things—some of who we want to be; some of the longing for what we wish to come.

All this beauty and also difficulty.  Trying to be good to each other, succeeding then failing and asking for grace again, knowing this is how it always will be, world without end.  Feeling God’s love filter down to us through the mesh of hardness we put around ourselves, reaching us anyway, reaching this little one too.

Salt and sweet, hard yet beautiful life.

May

Things have come up nicely.  This is our 4th year of growing edibles (2nd year of raised beds and not just pots), and work and patience are starting to pay off!  So far we have radishes, arugula, 2 kales, some scattered peas for snacking on, and lots of herbs.  It’s enough for now.  Besides that, toddlers are notorious garden pests.

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