New Show, New Things, New Loves

First of all, let’s celebrate the beautiful weather that has been gracing the Midwest!  Welcome, fall.

Next, Windfall Arts has another gig this weekend–the Midtown Alley Street Fest!  I’ll be part of the Open Air Market, selling from 10-5 on Saturday, October 1.  Come if you can!

(And a quick insert for those of you wonderful faithfuls who haven’t heard how my last show went–it was awesome!  A great first festival experience.  Which I’ve been way too tired to write about;  I’ll get to it eventually.)

One reason I’m excited about this weekend is that I’ll be debuting a new item:  earrings made with my own ceramic beads. I have to say–I’m pretty pleased with how these have been turning out.  I’m not trying to do anything too fancy, but I am enjoying the grown-up version of something I used to do as a young person–then, it was mostly plastic beads and star, heart, and unicorn shapes in bright colors; now, along with my handmade beads, I like wood,  stone, and glass.I’m using several colors of wire to accentuate the varied glazes on the big beads.In the words of my dad, I’m having way too much fun.

This is a problem because I’ve been telling myself that I’m not going to get too much into jewelry, the reason being that pottery is my first love (in importance, not chronologically), and I don’t want to be the Clay Bead Jewelry Lady.  Also, I don’t want to drop a lot of money on supplies for yet another type of craft, and divide my attentions from my true profession.  Divided attentions between too many interests has been my life, thankfully much ameliorated by my realizing that if there was ONE THING, pottery was it.  So I guess jewelry is like the old boyfriend who shows up after you marry your real true love and tries to win you back (not a real-life metaphor).

That said, you can still be friends with the old boyfriend.

Anyway, I’m thankful to get to create every day, and I’m proud of my creations, so come out to Midtown Alley this Saturday and browse my booth!  Life is good.

Coming Soon . . .

Well, I officially have two days to tie up all the loose ends, finish planning my booth display, and price and pack up my pottery for the Schlafly Art Outside Alternative Art Fair!  Then it’s a crazy weekend of camping out in the rain (weather.com currently says scattered thunderstorms all three days of the festival . . . ah, well, I’m always hoping for rain, so this is what I get)–and hopefully selling lots and lots of pottery to the droves of people who will undoubtedly still show up in a downpour, come to my booth for refuge, and fall in love with my art.

I realized I haven’t shared much of my finished work with you, the stuff I’ve been so busy making and talking about, so here’s a sampling of some things I’m taking this weekend.  Thanks for looking, friends!

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Life!

I wake up this morning with my mind alive and worried about everything–tasks that I forgot to write down last night, loose-end issues I can’t deal with until the work week, the important small-business nuts and bolts I’ve been trying to take care of, the ever-present question of how I turn my pottery into a living, and, dare I say?, uncharitable thoughts about a couple of people I’ve had to deal with this week (none of you, dear readers, none of you).

Add to that the fact that I’m a serious hot-weather weakling, and our air-conditioned and ceiling-fanned bedroom already felt like it was 110°.  Autumn, come quickly.

I drag my sorry self to chores, one being to water the plants on the balcony, a joy in any weather but this.  Outside, it is 208° already.  But look what is there to greet me!

 

The deepest-purple, most velvety magenta-streaked white-throated little morning glory.

“The year’s at the spring,

And day’s at the morn;

Morning’s at seven;

The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn;

God’s in His heaven–

All’s right with the world!”

(Robert Browning)

It’s going to be a hard week of hard work leading up to next weekend’s show, but I can do it (with help), and it will be worth it.

One Week!

Yay! Yay! Yay!

I invite you, if you’re in or near St. Louis, to come check out this festival.  This will be my first year there–I hear it’s great, and I’ve seen the works of a few of the participating artists, and they are gorgeous (see this gallery of work examples).  My booth will have lots of new things for sale, notably some of my newest teapots, ripple bowls (in varying sizes), dripless pitchers, and of course my embossed handbuilt mugs.  I’m so excited to show it all off!

A Little Preview . . .

Happiness is a tableful of new pots! And a counterful, and a floorful . . .

I just can’t contain my excitement!  Yesterday’s kiln unloading yielded a lot of new and wonderful things, which ideally I would have beautifully photographed today to share with you in high style.  Alas, I’m at the end of the time I have to make pots for my show in two weeks (drying and two firings will take that long), so the day was otherwise spent–but I just had to catch the end of the daylight to give you a few photos.

One of my new "ripple" bowls! I'm loving the red on the inside . . .

. . . and the lighter-colored exterior. I'm also becoming a big fan of sprayed glazes and the color gradients that are possible.

Another serving bowl. The white interior glaze is hard to capture--it has a subtle iridescence, tinged with a bit of pink (partly because of the red glaze I tend to accent with) and blue.

Yay teapots!

Excited about these, although I didn't have time to make as many as I wanted to: little planters with built-in trays! For your sunny windowsill.

Thanks for letting me share, as always.

Good Things.

Things that are making me happy lately:

The first flower in my balcony garden.

Some rainy and cool days.

This guy.

. . . who brought me flowers for our 4th anniversary.

The tiny blue dots on this bowl.

Some sweet and cheery new mugs . . .

The discovery of a new glaze combination that blushes slightly on the edges of the gray . . .

Successfully growing peppermint from seed, when at least two books said it can't be done. Ha!

More peppermint, grown from cuttings.

More morning glories on the way! These will be purple. The buds are oh-so-sweet and tiny.

The twining of vines onto my balcony rails.

My tiny succulent garden grown from random pinched-off pieces! The knowledge that succulents are everywhere and can be easily grown has changed my world. Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law for this information--now I can't stop looking everywhere for some to pinch.

An abundance of vines growing up my homemade (ghetto) wire trellis (not pictured in its entirety in order to preserve some semblance of respectability).

Basil!

The promise of more pots to love.

The daily use of my favorite household appliance.

A beautiful new texture pattern!

I’m feeling very blessed and thankful, especially that I have been accepted for inclusion in the Schlafly Art Outside Alternative Art Fair, happening in less than three weeks!  I have so much to do, but I’m starting to get very excited to launch my art fair career.  Putting together a killer display in the next two weeks is top priority (aside from making the most pottery I possibly can).

At any rate, readers, thank you for your support (there are many kinds)!  Life is good.

A New Wave of Teapots

Can I say, without seeming self-centered, that my new teapots are beautiful?

Let me share.  And please believe that this is not an I’m-awesome post–this is an I-love-my-job and I’m-so-happy-to-be-doing-what-I-love post.  Also, I work alone and don’t often get to share how excited I am when something turns out well–so thanks for letting me!

Possibly the #1 improvement I’ve made in my technique is that I now thicken the handle attachments with a little extra clay.  (I do this on all handles, not just on teapots.)  This strengthens the joint physically and also visually, so you feel more secure when handling the pot, especially if it has hot water in it.  I’ve had many fewer surface cracks since making this improvement (note: I’ve never had a handle break as a result of a surface crack; they’re just ugly and embarrassing).

So anyway, here are a few raw porcelain teapots which will be glazed and fired in a couple weeks.  I’ve been playing with different ways of doing handles, although obviously I love the loop-handle (over-the-top) style.

The above is an example of my new applique technique–I’ll take pieces of textured clay and add them to smooth wheel-thrown surfaces.  I’m just in the experimental stages right now, but have had some nice results.  Depending on the glaze I use on this, the textured areas will blend in a little more.

This one I’m pretty excited about.  I’m not such a sculptor, but I love the sculptural element to the cut handle.

The word “vegetal” comes to mind.

Yay!  So excited to see these done.  Now I have to do the work of choosing glazes . . .

Here are a couple more of the first results of my new wave of teapots–these are the first two I used the applique technique on (In my head, I call these my “hybrid” teapots–with both wheel-thrown and handbuilt elements.  Dorky, yes.).  They’re both stoneware, and more earthy-looking than the above porcelain teapots will be.

This one pours well.  I tested it today.

I’m excited about the future.

A Mostly Monochromatic Montage

I’m in preparation for my first art fair (the Schlafly Art Outside Alternative Art Fair) which is exciting to me because I actually had to apply and be accepted to participate.  Yay!  Major confidence-boost.  Also, it’s a juried fair (not that I expect any prizes, being a newbie), and will hopefully be profitable for my little business.

Here’s a little slideshow of my newest creations, pre- drying and firing.  Imagine them in beautiful colors.  I’m so excited about the direction my work is going!

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Show Weekend!

Today I am in the last throes of preparing for a two-day show.  I’m excited–it’s the first time I’ve really put together a display, and it’s a fun chance to let my aesthetic vision come to life.

Last time, I just threw every pot I’d brought out onto a table and hoped for the best.  Now I’m getting savvy (read: savvier than I was).  My theory is that the best thing is not to display all I’ve got–in a desperate bid for attention from any passer-by with a twenty-dollar-bill–but to show fewer items to their best advantage, and replenish them as they sell.

I’m also thinking about colors, shapes, and general impressions:  this hearkens back to a helpful blog post I read about the concept of branding.  Branding involves making every manifestation of your business match the others, so as to be recognizable–your business card, website, blog, packaging, etc.–so that your unique vision comes across and helps people remember you.

This is getting into the business side of things, but I find I have to think about it more and more.  I can’t just make art; I have to sell it.  The more I do this, though, the more all of it seems to go together–me, my art, the business.  I do love it all.  (I’m probably only saying this because I haven’t had any nasty customers yet.  Ha!  Future self, read this and shed a tear for innocence.)

With the view of fitting my booth display into The Look of Windfall Arts, I’ve made myself a new sign to announce my business name boldly and artfully, I’ve redesigned my business cards to reflect the look of my Etsy shop, and I will be using glass bottles, old books, and bare branches as display elements (did I mention that thrift is part of my aesthetic sensibility?).  I can’t wait to share pictures!

I should mention that a lot of this effort of cohesion is easy for me–most of my vision for my business stems directly out of what I think looks cool and is awesome–I read books, save bottles and jars (“just in case”), and decorate my walls with branches.  Your business should reflect who you are, and I’m taking that seriously.  And thriftily.

As I write, the huge batch of pots that came out of the kiln yesterday is quietly pinging–a tiny little crackling sound they make as glazes and clay settle into existence in their final form.

I love my creations.  I am so blessed.

I’ll leave you with a little slideshow of some of my favorite new things.  I’ll be getting some of these posted in my Etsy shop after my crazy weekend is over!  (Oh, and after my Much-Needed Monday Off.)  Apologies for the dim lighting which does not show off these brilliant glazes to the best advantage.

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New Designs

I’m short on time as I crunch for next weekend’s show, but I wanted to share my most recent kiln haul!  There were several pleasant surprises–a pitcher I tried a new glaze combination on, my first experimental serving boat, and a batter bowl.  This batch also included a lot of my new embossed porcelain soap dishes (which my friends at Harvest Home Farm are selling, along with their homemade soap, in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Saturday farmers’ market!).

Again, I won’t be posting these to my Etsy shop until after the 26th of June, but if you’d like me to make an exception for a certain piece just leave a comment or shoot me a message at rachelmillermakespottery [at] gmail [dot] com.

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