Friday, November 20, 2009

Kiln Run...Happy :)

In the brief 2 years that I have been privileged enough to be there when the kiln opens, I have to say, this morning was the BEST so far. There were only one or two pieces that were "yuck", the rest came out as well as I thought, and the ones I was experimenting with actually came out WELL.

It is always a risk to experiment with glaze, but this time, I was fortunate to have a wonderful set of results. I am reviewing what my notes said I did and updating my "tried and true" glaze lists. I am trying to increase the number of glaze combinations that I can use and KNOW how things will turn out. Surprisingly, this is taking longer than I thought. 2 Years for a blue combination (using 4 glazes); and 1 1/2 years for a green combination (using 2 glazes). Now, on to yellow and orange.

I love color in pottery. I know a lot of potters LOVE the natural colors found on our beautiful planet and so a number of potters have a neutral palate that they work with. I think those colors are lovely, and I own a NUMBER of pieces that are glazed that way. I just really enjoy COLOR. Not always bright, but just varied and with the appearance of depth, and yes in other shades other than neutrals.

So, my quest goes on for more "wonderful" combinations. Any suggestions for combinations that you have tried, or have accidentally "found" would be wonderful. Pass them along.

My show schedule is busy for the next 4 weeks, and then the LONG break until March 2010. I was very pleased because I was admitted into a juried show in a very upscale area near my home. I had applied last year and denied, so I must say, I am so pleased to be given a chance this year. I have heard from other artisans that this is "the show" in this region to attend.

Not that I have anything against home businesses, but I am really hoping that this show will just have artisans, selling only what they have made. The traffic is supposed to be quite high, between 3,000-8,000. My proceeds from this show will be going to a local animal humane foundation, so wish me luck!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Well, I had some time to experiment with various green glaze combinations. I think I have hit on a nice combination. It was sort of by accident, but I am quite happy with my result. Let me know what you all think about it.

Life here at Big Dog Pots has been pretty shut down this week. My son and I came down with Swine Flu. Or the Piggy Plague as one of my nephew called it. Luckily we caught it very early and got right on medications within the first 12 hours of symptoms. Everyone in the family showed various symptoms, but my son's were the worse. He is coming along and getting slowly back into his regular routines.

So, I guess this is good news. Now I don't have to worry about going to all these shows and catching Swine Flu!

I have 3 shows in the next 2 weeks and am looking forward to a brisk show season. Hopefully, shoppers will be purchasing this year. Last year my traffic was pretty low, but this fall so far the pace has picked up.

I have decided to support a new organization that I have become aware of recently. It is the Reesie's Project. It is a wonderful group that supports families who need to give up their animals due to financial or health reasons. They also do outreach into the community with coat collections and distributions. Their website is Check in and see what they are all about.

Well, my car is packed and my pieces are ready for the show tomorrow at the Warrenton Boys and Girls club. Off we go!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tick Tock Tick Tock...

Well, I must say, I did this to myself. I make pottery as a hobby. OK, it is really my only "job" other than mom and animal wrangler, but I am lucky, I don't have to make a living from my hobby. I go to various craft fairs and sell my pieces, mainly so I can make more :). My proceeds are donated to local charities that I like to support.

ANYWAY, last October I attended a local 2 day fair at the request of a friend. It was really an awful venue for me. So this year when they asked me to come back I asked if they had done anything to improve the traffic to the vendor area. They said they had come up with a lot of new ways to draw people in, and they did.

Basically, this is a lesson learned! Craft fairs that are tagged onto another event are not going to be a great venue for me. There are about 3-4,000 people who attend the event, but they are really there for the food, kids games, music and other activities. The way the facility is set up it is just not conducive for a good flow to the vendor area.

SO, I spent another 2 days in crafter wasteland and only made one sale at 7 pm on the second day.

Well, it wasn't a total loss. There were 2 other vendors there that gave me a lot of great advice and I have hooked into a couple other shows for next year that are very promising.

So, all in all, although I really didn't like the idea of being inside for such a beautiful weekend, it served its purpose. I learned to choose my venues wisely and to make the most of even the worst of shows!

Thanks to the hosts for this show. You all did all you could, and I know you did. I really appreciated all your efforts and all your hard work to try to get the traffic back to us. I guess you can lead the horse to water but......

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Don't know about you, but September means everything and everyone is back where they belong. My two kids are snuggled into another year at school, my husband is at work, and I have my space to breathe again. I really did not have much time over the summer to work on pottery, which bothered me. But, I did keep a notebook of ideas I wanted to try and also glaze combinations I wanted to test.

I brought back some HUGE leaves from a trip to the ocean, and made a number of free form trays out of them. I already have found a glaze combination that I love to use to highlight leaves, and now, I perfected a multi-layered blue glaze combination. I was so excited to see tray after tray emerge from the kiln all looking like they were supposed to!

Now that I have "mastered" blues, I am moving on to greens! It took me about a year to come up with the "perfect" blues, now I begin on the search for the perfect greens.

Wish me luck.

My first show of the fall is this Saturday. The weather doesn't look like it will cooperate, and I have a firm rule of NOT doing outdoor shows in the rain. The foot traffic just isn't worth all the effort of set up. So we will see if this Saturday is a go or not.

I am enjoying seeing patches of bright red in the woods around me. Although the days are still warm, the red reminds me of the cool and cold that is just around the corner.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome Back!

No Mr. Kotter is not coming by to say hi. It has been too busy of a year. But summer is winding down, kids will be back in school, and I will be hitting the mud HARD.

I just updated my events schedule for the rest of the year, you can check out where I will be at

I also decided I would give Etsy a try. Many people ask if I have a local shop, when I say "no", then they usually follow with "you need to be on Etsy".

SO, I took their advise and have expanded my "computering" and have just created an Etsy shop. You can check that out at

Well, now on to "pot news".

Not sure if I mentioned that I started taking a class in the wheel in Feburary. More of a stop in a chat type thing. But I got to play with mud while it went AROUND in a circle. COOL!!

My teacher was patient, but didn't "get" what I was trying to do. Fortunately, people at my shows "get" it and the wheel items have been flying off the table.

SO, my wonderfully supportive husband of 24 year (and counting) decided I "needed" to get my own. So, I am now the proud owner of a Pacifica GT400. LOVE,LOVE,LOVE this wheel.

I have also expanded my handbuilding to include some new and interesting pieces, including unique communion plates and goblets.

I will post more pictures soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Time to Get MOVING...

Well, I worked out the doubled booking. Let's face it, I need to be at the show I instigated. I am looking forward to being there and sharing my hobby with that part of my "world". I will know most of the people who come by and that will be an interesting experience.

Now, I need to get to it. I have a little under 2 weeks and about half of what I want to take. I have all the darker glazing done, now I need to create items for some of the lighter combinations I have wanted to try. It has been interesting to work with various combinations and layering ideas, and the results have been mixed, but I have discovered some new loves. I have uploaded some of the ones I like, so far.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Crash! Slash! Burn! Do it all over again....

WOW, that kiln can get HOT! I went out to check on a run last week and "peeked" under the lid to see how my prized tray was doing. You know, the one I had to redo because the last time I did it, it was next to another piece that exploded, and so my then prized tray also exploded. Well, I was sure this second time would be a total winner.

Well, let me just tell you, that when your kiln manufacturer says "spring loaded" top, they mean it! Yes, I know I broke the cardinal rule of potters, I peeked...sorry to all I am offending by retelling this all already know what happened.

Yes, I peeked. My wrist was burned by the hot air, I LET GO of the lid for a second and CRASH up it went. SLASH went the two top corners of my prized tray. Terrible.

I have now completed prized tray number 3. It has made it through bisque stage and I will glaze it, fire it and WILL NOT peek. I promise. I will post a picture when it is safely DONE.

I was busy today and tried a few new things using braids. I also recreated a few items I have not made in about a year. They are drying and I will be pleased to see how they turn out.

Interestingly, I have noticed that because I had been sick for 4 months and was not able to work in the studio, my "skills" deteriorated. I think I am now back to where I was before I got sick...I think...or just about. But it was interesting that when I stopped for a while I did loose some of the skills and little "tricks" that I had figured out that you think you will always remember, but I just could not recall.

It was kind of like having a long conversation interrupted and forgetting where you were in the discussion. It was interesting, but mostly, I am relieved that I am back to where I was last fall. Now, I am just trying to keep moving forward.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Double Booked

Yikes, I have double booked myself. In the same weekend I am supposed to be at a show, I am also supposed to be on a retreat. I wonder how I do these things. You may think I am just a total space case, but there may a reason to my madness.

In addition to being a mom, wife, animal care taker, potter, house maintainer, vehicle maintainer, and child chauffeur, I am also the mom of a child with special needs. This is a development which has come into focus in just last few years.

All those times I have looked at moms who have kids that have "special needs", I always felt for them, but never understood. Unfortunately, I am now walking in those shoes. While my child is wonderful, and surprises me frequently, it has added to our everyday life "schedule" which is the least of the places this has impacted our family. But in case you might be curious, I will share that in addition to school, after school activities, community commitments, friends, family, and church, my special needs child also has a minimum of 5-7 scheduled appointments every week with various specialists that are on our "team".

Creating this "team" could be the subject of its own separate text book.

So, not to be looking for sympathy, for those who have been on the receiving end of our cancellations, realize that lives can be more complicated than they appear on the outside.

So, I double booked in a big way. I feel really awful, again. The show I committed to is actually one I encouraged and requested through a local organization. They adopted the idea and have run with it. For my part, I was to attend and I wanted to donate my proceeds to their organization. While I have other shows that I could attend and then donate to this organization from them, I really wanted to be there in person.

Now, the tough part. Deciding what to do. Back out, but out of which commitment? I cannot tell you how many times I have had to say "backing out" "sorry we can't make it after all" "we really wanted to come, but just can't this time around" "thanks so much for thinking of us, it sounded so fun, but we just have to pass".

Between illness, scheduling, and just sheer exhaustion, this has become a mantra lately. So has "sucks to be me".

No, I am not feeling sorry for myself, or am I looking for sympathy, I just wish the stars would align correctly for a period of time so I can at least focus to keep my schedule straight!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ping Pang, Ding Dang WHAT???

Ping or not to ping, that is my question. Well, I am trying it, we will see where it goes. Being new to the blogging sphere, it is hard to know which way to go in all of this. But we are trying....

This is a test......PING......?????

The Slow Lane...

Well, both kids were sick this week which slowed my progress down quite a bit. After finally becoming healthy myself, it has been hard to get back to the studio and then have to walk back into the slow lane with sick kids. One project I worked on over the winter was to create a sort of photo book of pieces I have liked. I have been reviewing the "book" and am remembering that some of these pieces really did turn out well. I am going to try and recreate them again. Recreating is always problematic, with clay, you NEVER get the same result twice, NEVER. But at least I have some ideas to go with.

The big kiln is loaded with several shelves of underglazed pieces. LOTS of flowers and light colors which is lovely to see as the temperature is steady at 33 degrees with a stiff wind chill.

As I walk my property, I am beginning to see the coming of Spring. My rose bushes have begun to sprout small red shoots off the branches signaling what is to come. I cut my first flower this week, a crocus. It was nice to have it inside at the kitchen sink.

Well, I have enough ideas to keep things going for a while.

Even if I only get out there for an hour a day, I am certain I will get that kiln loaded soon!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Danger Will Robinson!!!

Mechanical failure or human "space case"? That is the question for today. I promised to post some photos of pieces in process....yes, I remember I did. WELL, in my need for CLEAN, I disposed of my camera USB. SO, I can not download at the moment. Luckily, I have one of those - everyone has one- cameras, so I will hopefully be receiving my new plug soon.

Otherwise, I have been underglazing with some interesting results. Yes, I will post later. I have been interrupted in my desire to create with a child who has been sick. But hopefully, tomorrow will bring real alone time, and time to create!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

SHAZAM...there it is...

Well, we are back from the near west. The mountains were mostly grey and snow covered, the trees bare, but there was a soothing, quiet feeling to the area. While enjoying my ride to the top of the tube slide, I began to look up to the sky and there it new idea....trying to create the bare branch look on pottery pieces. I have seen something like this done before, but I am going to give it a try. I already know how I am going to do it, but who knows if it will turn out well, we will see.

Otherwise, the trip was short, but fun. The kids enjoyed skating, swimming, tubing, skiing and snow boarding. I mainly served as logistics coordinator this time around. Even though we are out of that "I need Mommy" stage, my youngest still cannot be left alone, and when her mind changes about an activity, well, let's just say we need to be flexible and have a patient and happy demeanor.

I try my best. This trip in particular was pretty funny. Every activity I said I would participate. Every activity I showed up, was outfitted for the occasion, was on time and ready for action. Every activity was either cut short, never started, or I was requested to take off the equipment and "just walk beside me"!

At some point, I will be able to just strap on skis again and take off for the day, but not quite yet.

Now, you may wonder, well what about the husband? Well, I was really proud of him. He has been a skier all his life. This weekend, he tried snowboarding. He did quite well, and was able to keep up with our son who has been doing it for a few years now. So, I had to let the "men" go and do their thing, while my daughter and I bonded, more!

It was a nice break, but I am glad to be back in the comfort of my own home. I always enjoy coming home again.

Tomorrow, I get back to the studio. I have managed to fill 1/2 of my large kiln with some projects I have done over the past 3 weeks. Hopefully, by the end of this week the kiln will be full and the bisque run will be complete. My first show for the year is March 28th. It is feeling like it will be here before I know it, and then I have 3 more that follow quickly thereafter, so I am feeling the pressure of getting things going. So, off I go... to the mud!

I am looking forward to underglazing some floral pieces that are already in the kiln. They take a long time to make, and need an extra kiln run to complete the process, but they are very popular, and I really love the end result. I will post the pieces as I take them through the process so you can see what goes into making one.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Inspiration Through Exploration

Don't know about you, but I am a country girl. I grew up in the regular old "suburbs", but over my lifetime have gravitated toward rural, uninhabited areas. I have spent time living in cities, and metropolitan areas, but never felt like I could breathe in those places. I was always wondering "when can I get out of here and back to a more peaceful place"?

I know many people are stimulated and find city living quite fulfilling and could never even consider an alternate lifestyle, it just has never been for me.

Many of my pottery pieces are inspired by the colors and textures found in the nature that surround my home. A number of my pieces have been imprinted with leaves, flowers, and shrubbery stems found locally. People who live in these parts recognize their favorite flowers or plants and many purchase items that are made with them. It is a fun thing to walk outside the studio and just hunt and find the items I use to create my pieces. The tray above was created from a local sycamore tree. The tray measured about 14-20 inches, really turned out well, I thought.

It is also interesting that when my husband and I go on "vacations" we tend toward less crowded areas of the world, in general. We also seek out areas of natural beauty. Lucky for me, my husband also tolerates cities, but just doesn't like being there too long. So we are a great match in that area.

This weekend we are headed a little west from our place into an even more remote and uninhabited area. We have not been to this exact spot, but I spent summers in the area as a child at a summer camp. So, it will feel familiar, but still be "new".

We are going skiing and the resort just got a foot of fresh snow earlier this week. So with the temperatures rising a bit, we may just luck out with a nice little break!

Should be fun! I will let you know.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Here in Poor House Hollow.....

Here in Poor House Hollow we are getting through another winter. We have had snow, ice, and wind. Now we are having bone chilling cold! It has been great to get into the studio and think SPRING! I have been working on some new items, and doing some things again that seem to be favorites that customers liked from last year.

So there are lots of florals, and Spring colors, and lighter shades. All of these things help to pass the cold winter days.

I was happy to return to the studio after almost 3 months. I had been sick, but am well on the road to recovery. Don't know about you, but I would much rather wait in my studio for clay to dry then to wait in another doctor's office waiting room! Well, I am thankful to be doing things other than carting myself to appointments.

So, now, I can begin to concentrate on the task at hand.....MUD!!