Thursday, December 22, 2011

And to all a GOOD night!

Happy Holidays from Big Dog Pots. We thank everyone who supported us this year. We thank our clay ladies of the Wednesday studio tribe. We thank our family for their continued support. We thank our new pups for their loving visits to the studio.

As we head into 2012 we are thankful!

Check our new show schedule in January for some new locations, and new dates.

Wishing you and yours a VERY happy holiday season and a VERY muddy new year!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Heading Into the Holidays

WOW! Time and mud have been flying here at Big Dog Pots. We are now officially into the November CRUNCH! I have been working quite hard this month and have a LOT of pieces to show for it.

Due to the economy, I have decided to add a few more smaller items so that customers will have plenty of lower prices pieces to choose from for their holiday gift giving.

Hopefully, the new additions will be a big success! So far the response has been great and sales have been brisk.

Wishing you happy holiday shopping, please stop by my next show and say hi.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Fungus Among Us!

New to the Big Dog Pots neighborhood this fall are these fabulous looking mushrooms. They have flourished this year due to all the wet weather we have had over the past few weeks. These beauties are growing at the base of a large tree right outside a window in my studio. They have been lovely to look at. I have enjoyed their layering, and their asymmetrical growth pattern. The color has been magnificent!

Thanks Mother Nature, we appreciate your dropping these little wonders in our neck of the woods.

WARNING: Do not eat wild mushrooms! Even though they make look wonderful, or even just like the ones you can buy in the store, don't!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In The Pink

Daisy and Max are enjoying some explore time on the second floor of the house. Potty training has gone fairly well, and every now and then the gate is removed from the stairs. The other day when they were "free" they went to explore my daughter's room. I think they like the "fuzzy" bed.

Later that day, the gate was back up. You can see the smart cat in the house likes to snooze JUST beyond their reach, but still in plain sight.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Haymarket Day Festival Pictures :)

Haymarket Day Festival

Well, lost of lessons learned yesterday at the Haymarket Day Festival. Thanks to everyone who helped to make the day a success. Haymarket put on a wonderful parade including fantastic police motorcyclists and fun unicyclists! Very fun to watch from our prime vantage point.

We got there VERY early and set up in the gray morning sky's. All the vendors were hoping that the clouds would burn off and the sun would come out as the weather had predicted. But it was not to be.

We were quite chilly for all but the last hour of the day when the sun finally came out.

Haymarket citizens never let the weather dampen their attendance. Even during the brief rain on and off, there were a steady flow of people coming by to check out our tent and see all the new things for the 2011 season.

Very new this year was a visit by the UBER puppies! Max and Daisy made their grand entrance around 2pm and stayed until the last box was packed away. It was so wonderful to have them there. After they made their rounds of all the vendors and got some much needed snacks, they stayed in a portable pen right next to my tent. I have to say, they were a bigger draw than I was! EVERYONE wanted to know if they were "for sale". "Absolutely NOT" was my standard answer :). They also wanted to know what kind of dogs they were (schnorkies); their names; and if they could be petted.

We were so proud of their them. They were wonderful. Calm, affectionate, wonderful letting LOTS of kids pet them, and just all around PERFECT!

We enjoyed the show. The lessons learned were BRING MORE LAYERS! We were frozen most of the day. Otherwise, it was a great day and we hope to be back.

Thank you Haymarket!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Much Needed Maintenance

Well, as I prepare for the fall rush, it was time for some much needed maintenance in the studio. Besides regularly vacuuming and cleaning the floor, it is also very important to keep your kiln running well. A part of the kiln's day to day operation is applying a coating of kiln wash to the shelves and floor of the kiln. Kiln wash provides a separator between the pottery pieces and the shelf board. Kiln wash is also used in kilns which are fired for glass fusing. It works in much the same way, providing a barrier between the fused glass piece and the kiln shelf, a separator.

The best part about maintenance at Big Dog Pots is that it is rarely done all alone. One animal or another is always walking by or through to see what I am up to. It was a great day today, perfect for applying kiln wash to my kiln shelves.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Off to the Big City Today...

While school for my older child has still not started we are taking advantage of some free time and meeting family for a little luncheon in the Big City. We don't often go into the fray preferring our quiet little corner of the world. But sometimes you have to branch out.

It is interesting that I can pick up ideas for pieces in the strangest places. Looking at a texture, a fabric design, even the wave of someones hair style. Sounds strange but when I am out and about I get lots of ideas.

Like so many artists, I carry around a little idea notepad and jot things down constantly. My notepad is almost full as it was a Hello Kitty pad that I stole from my daughter. It has served me well, and I think after today it will retire to the studio to be picked up again and again for ideas.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mornings with the Ladies Of the Mud

Wednesdays are my "mornings with the ladies of the mud".

During 2007, I started my odyssey in the realm of pottery by walking into a local community studio and buying a bag of clay. Miss Amber was in charge of the studio at that point. She is a lovely person, a wonderfully patient teacher, and was a tremendous source of information as I began my adventure into clay.

Along with Miss Amber there were Mary, Mary, Mary, Barbara and Trixie, as well as many other interesting and talented hobby artists who came in and out of the studio.

The studio was a wonderful refuge for me and I continually looked forward to going and being with the "Ladies of the Mud".

Well times have moved on and several of the ladies have also gone on to other adventures including new babies, new travels, and new hobbies.

True to form, I was probably the most rambunctious of the crew and always pushed that envelop! But everyone was so patient with my eccentricities and my need for perfection.

The studio closed for renovations and due to budget problems remained closed for much longer than we thought. It finally reopened and I decided to give being "in charge" a try. So, I was hired and trained by the local jurisdiction and put on the payroll as a part time teacher/employee.

So, as I like to say "the monkey is now running this zoo!"

When the registration level for the independent study group fell and there weren't enough to go forward and pay my "salary", I jumped at the chance to do it for free. So here I am each Wednesday (family obligations permitting) in the basement of the old school gym chit chatting with the Ladies and enjoying sharing our journey in the mud.

Local community studios are a wonderful resource for the public to give the medium a try, and who knows you might even make a few new friends along the way!

Thanks to my Ladies for their patience with me, I really enjoy our Wednesdays. See you all next week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New School Year Begins!

The house is silent. #2 child is at her first day of Middle School, complete with Hello Kitty lunchbox and sandals (open toed shoes were never allowed in elementary school) but really it is all about the LOCKER. #1 child is sound asleep after completing his first run in a local community theater production. Incredibly supportive husband is tucked away in a conference room at work.

What's a potter to do?

I was contacted by our local kennel club and asked to join in a show that will take place on Main Street next Friday night. It was lovely to be thought of by the kennel club and I am looking forward to my inaugural show of the fall 2011 season. My summer "work" schedule has certainly lacked due to play practices, day camps, trips to the vet for our 2 new puppies, and trips to visit family. Unfortunately not too much was accomplished. But I am hoping to have a major growth spurt of my own and get back to it.

So, enough of this posting "stuff"...back to the mud!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Before and After...

As promised, I am sharing the before and after photos of a recent paisley textured vase. I must say I was a little disappointed with the final piece. It is very nice, and there is nothing wrong with it, at all, in fact technically, it is one of my best. But, all along the process, I thought the clay was lighter! I glazed it and expected one outcome, and low and behold the finished product was much darker than I had envisioned. The glazes that I chose were subtle, and therefore are not as dramatic as I had thought they would have been on a lighter clay.

It is all a part of the process. I just forgot that I had used this particular clay on this piece. All a part of the ongoing learning curve.

I think with pottery, the curve goes on....and on....and on.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


PHEW!! It is wicked HOT here. All these triple digits are squashing my creative spirit. I have taken a short recess from the studio while some pieces are drying and while I am waiting...I have started to go back through some old videos and books about pottery. These are things that I bought a little while back.

When I first looked at them, I didn't quite understand what they were saying to me. Now with a few years under my belt the "tips and tricks" are making more sense. I will be giving some of them a try in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, here is a sweet face to keep my place until I get back to blogging again!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Process

We have been given a little break from the intense heat this summer. So, I took the opportunity to get back into the studio. This is a nice piece that is in process. It is structurally quite sturdy, and I am loving the paisley and daisy impressions. I will post a finished photo in a few weeks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Storing Up for the Long Winter Ahead

It has been a busy couple of weeks in the studio. I am busy with overseeing a wonderful group of ladies at a local pottery studio one morning a week. I refer to myself as the "monkey who is now running the zoo". We enjoy each other and have been potting together for about 4 years now. So, it is a nice time to be with friends.

I have also been looking to the fall and winter schedule, signing up for shows, and making new and different pieces. My last kiln run was one of my best with only one piece needing to be re-done. It was a re-do to begin with, so seeing as it already had a bad glaze day to begin with, what I added to it didn't really count.

Here is a picture of a new leaf combination that I am quite pleased with how the finished pieces turned out.

Coming soon a special vase that I have been working on. It is at the leather hard stage now, so it is still a ways off from sharing here, but it may turn out to be something quite spectacular.

I will keep you posted!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, June 24th National Take Your Dog to Work Day

There has been a lot of discussion in pottery circles about having a dog, or other pets in the studio with you. There is a great deal of concern about having our fluffy friends spending so much time on the floor of a potentially caustic environment. Although, I do not use leaded materials in my studio, I am sure that just based on the amount of dust and dirt, and general mess that accumulates in my studio in an average week, there is room for concern.

Now with two new puppies in my life, I am readdressing the issue. I spoke with a potter in North Carolina while in her studio, and I was struck by how CLEAN everything was! Now, I am not the cleanest potter in the world, but this was SUPER clean. I asked her how she did it, how did she keep the environment SO CLEAN.

Being that I was not asking about POTTERY secrets, but CLEANING secrets, she "came clean" with ALL the information (you potters out there know EXACTLY what I am talking about here).

She used a wet/dry vacuum and then a steam cleaner for the floors. So wanting to be just like her, I purchased a steam cleaner. I must say, it has done a great job of helping me to keep the studio floors cleaner.

I am not as anxious to have my wonderful pups in there with me now. I have great cross ventilation, an air purifier running 24/7, and I am not steam cleaning my floors in addition to regular vacuuming with a HEPA filter.

So, I feel confident to post, that on Friday, June 24th, my two wonderful puppies came to work with me. Of course they come everyday, but I thought I would be like everyone else, and have them come on the one day that they are socially expected to be there.

Do you bring pets to your studio? How do you prepare the area for them? Do you have concerns about materials in your studio? How do you clean your studio? All comments, suggestions, concerns are welcome!

Saturday, June 4, 2011



This word just does not sit well with me. I know it has a particular meaning, and when mentioned in "pottery" circles, those involved know right away what you are referencing. But to me, it is just a "too much" type of word. Maybe ostentatious would be more like what I feel when I hear it. I just get that "turned off" feeling.

Yes, I know it is an ancient word, with many and varied meanings, but I just don't use it. It isn't a comfortable word for me to use about my work.

There are several other similar "pottery" words that I do not feel comfortable using like "ceramics", "artist" and others. To me, I am a potter. Plain, simple, no big words, just mud.

Here are some holders that I made for my niece's wedding. In some circles they are vessels, in my world they are holders. They hold air, food, flowers, or whatever someone would like to put into them.

I was generally pleased with how they turned out. They were all first attempts and as such, ALL of them I would do differently a second time around. But all in all they held the flowers well.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The New "Big Dogs"

Here they are! Max and Daisy joined the Big Dog family the first week in May. They are litter-mates and are ADORABLE! They came from western Virginia and all of us here at Big Dog Pots are completely in love with these two Schnorkies (Schnauzer/Yorkie mix).

It has been 20 years since we have had a puppy. So even though we are a bit rusty, it is all coming back to us.

These two are keeping us busy and entertained.

We just completed a 1200 mile trip to a family wedding and they came with us and did very well.

We are lucky to have a professional dog trainer close by and will begin our "puppy training" with her later this week. We have never used a professional before, so we are hopeful that these two pups will have an extraordinary beginning.

More on the adventures of Daisy and Max will follow.

For now, I will say that Max appears to be settling in as a perfect Studio Dog. He follows me everywhere and when I am in the studio, he curls up next to me.

It is wonderful to have a new buddy in the studio.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Well, it seems to be official around here. Spring has arrived. The daffodils are blooming, the crocuses have come and gone, the tulips are popping up, the forsythia are in full glory, and you can hear the chirping of birds in the woods.

Some of my trusty perennials have popped back up and I am already using their leaves for some Spring pieces.

This was my first "chip and dip" piece, and it flew off the shelf at my last show. Happily it landed in the possession of a new and great friend. Happy dipping! You know who you are :).

Spring is a calmer time around here. The real mad dash comes in the fall. So for now, I am enjoying the relative calm.

Some self imposed stress, I have agreed to begin teaching! FUN! I am starting in June with 2 classes. One for 5-8 year olds who will be doing some hand building; and one with 13-15 year olds as we explore just how muddy we can get on the wheel! I am gathering ideas and supplies for both these classes and am trying to find some great summer ideas for us to work on.

PLEASE, send in some suggestions for projects for these age groups. I have several, but I hope to have a handy "idea book" and am always interested in adding new projects.

If all goes well, teaching will become a new addition to the Big Dog Pots studio as I hope to continue to teach a few different classes in the fall.

Check out the class listings, and if the schedule works for you please sign up. Watch for upcoming classes here:

Enjoy the arrival of Spring. Soak in all that GREEN.

Monday, March 28, 2011

FOUND !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is OFFICIAL, I AM that crazy old lady who calls up a hotel to find out what plant that is that is planted just outside of the front entrance! MANY, MANY, thanks to Larry at the Bell Hop desk at the Washington Duke Resort in Durham, North Carolina. I was there yesterday for a family brunch, and upon leaving the Resort, THERE it was. MY mystery plant.

I first encountered this little number in Topsail, North Carolina, a few years back while on vacation. I "borrowed" a number of leaves and they stayed alive for over 6 months in a pitcher of water in my studio. I created a number of bowls and GIGANTIC serving trays using these fabulous leaves, but I could not determine what it was.

Mystery solved! It is a Fatsia. A Japaneese evergreen shrub that may actually tollerate being planted in Virginia. I am going to contact my local landscaping buddy to see if she can get me a Fatsia of my very OWN.

What a way to welcome Spring!

Thanks to Larry, thanks to my local extension office, thanks in advance to my secret landscape buddy, thanks to everyone who contacted me trying to help me identify this leaf, and mostly, thanks to my husband who has put up with my QUEST to FIND THAT LEAF for the past 3 years.

I am at peace, finally.

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Show of 2011

Well, we got our feet wet for 2011. We were at a great fine arts show last weekend and it was a nice success. It was our best spring show yet. So we are optimistic about the rest of 2011. We are in the process of submitting applications for a number of shows. There are a number of new show venues that we are trying this year, and based on how we did last week, we are headed in the right direction!

Friday, January 21, 2011

In the Kiln Today....

I got back into the studio in earnest over the past few weeks, and I am at the point where I will fill my kiln over the weekend and officially begin the 2011 year. I have also started a pottery workshop with a local artist on wheel work. While I don't want my work to look "overly perfect", I am interested in learning more about the wheel so that I have more options to offer that aren't "overly perfect"!

The picture shows a slew of pieces, some hand built and some wheel thrown that are in the starting gate and await the beginning of the firing cycle.

I will post more pictures of these pieces once they have completed the process.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Toy

Well, Santa didn't have this on his list for me, so I put in on myself :). With all the photography I do of my work, I thought it would be nice to have a photography light box. And so, I invested in one.

It is going to make life easier.

I had been using an amusing system of sheets of canvas, lights switched off, and a BIG blanket!!!

It was pretty funny to watch, but not much fun to do.

So, hopefully, this little investment will be quite helpful in the long run.

Back to the mud!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Back to work !!

Happy New Year!!
Here at Big Dog Pots we wish you and yours a happy and healthy 2011.

We welcomed the new year with a hilltop celebration, which included colorful characters, friends (some old and some new), and a fabulous bonfire. It was a great way to ring in 2011!

Now that the New Year is officially here, my "break" from the studio has ended and I am returning in full force with lost of ideas for new things to try and create. I have spent the past few weeks reading journals, researching techniques, and making my list of things to try.

I have also spent the past few weeks beginning to outline my show schedule for 2011. There have been several applications to juried shows that have been compiled and submitted already (yes, I am hyper about meeting deadlines). There have also been several invitations to join some long running shows in the big metropolis to the east of my little country home. Those very gracious invitations are being seriously considered.

So, 2011 is beginning on an up note.

My wish for this year is for my family to be healthy, and for our situation to remain stable.

My new mantra is "boring is good"!!!

Wishing you all the best for a healthy, happy, and boring New Year.

Off to play in the mud,
Mrs. Big Dog