Friday, April 29, 2011

Palm Pots

I loaned some planters to the First Presbyterian church in Libertyville for use in their Palm Sunday services. Carl Sokoloski did a great job of setting up the displays, and gave me a nice mention in the church bulletin. Thanks, Carl!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kohler Art Center Fair

Oh happy day! Today I received notice that I have been accepted into the Kohler Art Center's Midsummer Festival of the Arts! I am very excited about this fair, because from what I've heard they really treat the artists well. Plus Kohler is a giant in the ceramics manufacturing world and they have an awesome collection of  ceramic art at the center. Hope to see you at the show!

For those of your that haven't been to the Kohler Art Center, it's worth the trip just to see the restrooms. Each was designed by ceramic artists of very different styles, and they are all amazing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Delayed Again!

For the umpteenth time, an art fair to which I have applied has decided to take a few extra days to finish the jurying. Aaaugh! This time it's the Kohler Midsummer Festival of the Arts. They were supposed to email acceptance/ rejection letters today, but instead they sent an email that said the results won't be ready until Monday due to the large number of entries. That worries me. More competition is bad! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stacked Planters

When I throw large planters, like 25 pounds or more, I make them in 2 or more sections. If I want them to join seamlessly, I stack the two sections immediately after throwing them, do a couple of pulls and then stretch them into the form I want. The seam never shows and never comes apart. But sometimes I want the joint to show. Here are some photos showing that process:

First I thrown the base piece. Note the thick rim. It gives me a nice wide area on which to attach the top section, and will also be a design element in the finished piece. I let this piece set up to soft-leather- hard before attaching the top. This particular base piece was made with about 12 pounds of Standard 553 Buff clay. It's a little groggier than what I normally like to use, but it throws very nicely.

Next I throw the top section, leaving it about 3/4 of and inch thick. It will be pulled and thinned after I attach it to the base. I usually make this in a cone shape, because it's easier than opening it really wide, and it's more stable once I attach it to the base. There is no bottom to this section. It's just a ring.

After scraping all the slurry off of the top ring and scoring the rims of both sections, I flip the top ring over and place it on the bottom section. Then I cut off the bat and work the two pieces together, making sure they are well joined.

I like to clean up and refine the lip before I start pulling the top section. It's easier to deal with it while the wall is still thick and stable. Then I pull the top section to thin it out, and shape it to achieve the final form.

To make 35-45 pound pieces, I will throw the base section with two 12-13 pounds pieces, joined seamlessly, then add another section using this method once it has set up a bit. In theory, I could keep adding sections. The problem is that they don't always stay perfectly centered as I work upward, and it would be very difficult to control if there was too much wobble.

This method also works very well with smaller pieces. My students often do stacked forms with 5-8 pound sections, because that's all they can center. It allows them to make much larger pieces than they could in one piece. Give it a try!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I started throwing large planters this week, in preparation for my 7th Annual Garden Sale. This year's sale will be held on May 14th from 9am-5pm, with a planter-only pre-sale on May 7th. For those of you not familiar with my garden sale: I make and sell stoneware and porcelain planters of all sizes, and my gardening-expert friend Judi Hendricks sells annuals and herbs. The big bonus is that Judi will create beautiful arrangements in your newly purchased planters so you don't have to mess with the planting when you get home. Pots from previous year's sales may also be brought in to be planted. It's a fun event and a great way to kick off Spring.

These planters are made with Standard Ceramic Supply's #306 brown stoneware clay. It's an awesome clay body that I've never had a single problem with. I've used it for cone 8 oxidation and cone 10 reduction, and it never warps or cracks, even on these large pieces.

My large planters vary in size from 25-45 pounds, made by assembling wet sections and pulling and shaping them. A 3 piece, 32 pounder takes about 20 minutes. I'll often add another ring to the top after letting it set up a bit over night. Using this method I never have to center more than 15 pounds at a time, which really cuts back on the wear and tear on my wrists. Plus a generally get larger, thinner pots than if I did them in bigger pieces. I'll post some pictures soon showing the process.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mt. Mary Starving Artists' Show

This weekend I received an acceptance letter to the Mount Mary College Alumnae Association Starving Artists' Show! This is one of the shows I really, really wanted to get into this summer. It's supposed to be totally crazy, and it's only a one day show. Apparently people tailgate for several hours before the show opens at 10am, and then they come running. One of my friends said she does as well as most 2 day shows! Upon checking out their website, I found that it's ranked #61 in the top 100 fine art fairs in the country by Art Fair Source Book, which ranks shows based on gross sales. So it promises to be a very exciting and (hopefully) profitable day. Time to start making pots!

P.S.- One of my students also got into the show! Way to go Linda Zepere!

Intuit GoPayment Part II

Today I received my new credit card swiper to use with my Motorola Droid phone. I had to make a quick call to customer service to figure out how to use it, but that only took a minute and it's working great! Turns out you have to enter the sale amount before swiping the card, which is the opposite of most card readers.

It's an amazingly simple little machine- it just plugs into the headphone jack. The only annoying thing about it so far is that I have to take the protective case off the phone in order to get the swiper to plug in all the way. On the plus side, it has a long strap attached to it so it will be harder to lose, and has a little plastic case to store it in. I think it's going to work very well at the summer art fairs. The only problem will be if I don't have a cell phone signal at the fair.....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Web Hosting Dilemma

Today I spent an hour doing 30 minutes of updating on my web site. GoDaddy has been hosting my site for about 6 years now, and while I never have any trouble with the site going down, or with customer service, their online site builder is totally buggy. I have to do everything 2 or 3 times to get it to work properly. And it seems to get worse every time they make 'upgrades' to the system. I don't know if it's because I'm using a Mac, or if it's a pain in the butt for everyone, but I've tried 4 different browsers, and none of them seem to fix the problems. So I'm in the market for a new site hosting company with an online builder. I'm trying out Intuit's system, and so far it seems to work pretty well, however their pricing may be an issue. Time to run some numbers...