Showing posts with label ceramics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ceramics. Show all posts

Monday, July 7, 2014

TEEN Classes ...

Living in rural Virginia is such a wonderful experience for families.
It is a peaceful, easy going way to raise children.  When those kids reach the teen years, it is wonderful to have alternative activities with which they can participate. Pottery is a great outlet for the busy and sometimes complex lives of our teens.  With pottery there are no grades, no exams, no recitals, no special equipment or uniforms to complicate the experience.
Pottery is a wonderful leveling activity.  No matter if you are the quarterback, the math whiz or a shy quiet student, every teen can enjoy the experience of working with clay. Each teen will walk away from their clay experience with new insight the art form, and may find a passion and talent they never knew was there.

At Big Dog Pots Pottery we will begin offering a TEEN CLASS on Friday evenings from 6:30-8:30 pm starting in September. We will go back and forth between both hand building and working with the wheel and will explore all the basics of both forms of working with clay.

Classes will be kept small so that each student can receive personalized instruction in a positive and welcoming environment.

Our first class will begin on Friday, September 5th and will run in four (4) week sessions.  Sign up will be on a first come basis.  Please contact the Studio with any questions (540) 364-2834.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Down to Earth....

As we are closing in on the last few days of bringing the construction phase of our "little project" to a conclusion. I am beginning to think in earnest about all the details of what, where and why in setting up the Studio and Gallery.  We have made some last minute changes, and I am thinking that the changes will work well and allow for lots of interesting opportunities.

First up is the actual layout.  We decided that in order to better use space and keep the actual creation processes on tile surfaces (think muddy here), we will be adding some additional Gallery space.  This will serve several purposes, first to encourage visitors to feel welcome past the first two rooms and encourage them to go "behind the scenes" into areas of the Studio where work will be in progress. Second it will allow for additional area for sales of both work by our Studio Artists, as well as some of my favorite non-pottery art work which I have discovered along my journey into mud.

Having participated in many Fine Art Shows over the past 7 years, I had the joy of meeting and getting to know several artists who create phenomenal work, and yet like me they strive to keep their prices down to earth and affordable.

Yes, there will be a few items that will be in higher price ranges, but overall everything in the Gallery will be affordable art for everyday, or for that special day when something unique is needed. All of the pieces that I create will be available for custom order with choices of text, impression, clay base and glaze colors.

It is my hope that the Studio will be a welcoming and friendly place where people look forward to come and explore being creative, or come looking for unique creations.

In the meantime, we are setting up all the needed "number things" book keeping, scheduling, ordering, and ultimately, very soon  MOVING IN AND SETTING UP !!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coming Back Down to Earth.....or MUD!

It has been an exciting time here for sure.  With the purchase of our new studio property and renovations getting ready to begin, I have returned to the studio, and returned to the mud.

When I first started with pottery, the clay that I used was a warm red brown.  Clay is found in many different types, colors, and consistencies and all of these work in different ways depending upon your application.

It happened that the first bag of clay available to me at the time was red brown, and so that is what I started with.

As I begin my pieces in clay, I visualize the end result.  So that when I begin, I know what clay I want to use.  Clay responds differently all along the process.  Some clay is more malleable and as such may not be good for hand building projects, some clay has more grog (sediment) in it and may just work wonders for particular throwing applications or three dimensional projects.  But all clay respond differently to glazes.  I made this little informational reference for my customers so that they could visualize how their clay choice would impact the end result of their custom pieces.  I learned a long time ago that it is always easier to start with a draft, this visual has been quite helpful.

I received a new custom order just yesterday, and seeing as the wedding is just around the corner, I decided to go ahead and get these trays underway.  They are going to be Wedding Thank You gifts from the bride and groom to their parents, and the wedding with be at a beach venue.  The bride and groom picked red brown clay, and a wonderful crab impression at the center piece.  These trays are still wet, but are well on their way to becoming a family keepsake.  They are a joy to make and I am looking forward to how these will come out.  The bride and groom have not decided on their glazes just yet, and that is part of the fun of custom orders, I get to create someone else's vision.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

I have been struggling with presenting my pendants in photographs on my ETSY site.  When I take my pendants with me to shows they are a BIG seller, but my sales on ETSY have been lacking.  I know the problem is my photographs and so I set off to find a better way to present them.  I did a LOT of research, and did a LOT of trial and error photographing in various lights, various settings, but I think I have found a fairly simple way to photograph these pieces that hopefully should be able to be consistent as I move forward.

Here is the picture of the first listing I posted on ETSY.  I really like these stones and when I look at them, they appear to be a wonderful contrast for my pendants.  But when I get the pictures loaded onto the ETSY site, a LOT is lost in the translation.

Now, let's fast forward to my latest picture for this piece, I think showing them side by side really shows the difference lighting and background can make.

This is my second attempt at photographing the same pendant.

All I have to say is YEAH!!!  The color, dimension, relief and glaze are really represented so much better in the second photograph.  In the first picture the dimensional aspects of the piece were really lost and the piece appeared to have almost no relief.  In the second picture, I think you can really see the texture of the piece.

The solution was fairly simple.  I waited for a clear sunny day and found a monotone background, that was not black, set up the piece so that the sun was fully shinning on it, but there was no glare shinning off the piece, and I got to shoot away.

Here is the direct link for the ETSY listing for this fabulous and unique piece:

While no two of pendants come out exactly the same, I am able to make sets for special occasions like weddings, birthdays, family celebrations and other special gatherings.  Here is a direct link to my ETSY shop listing for custom pendants:

Hopefully, these new pictures will help to show my customers the true nature of my pieces, I think in this instance, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 Lessons Learned.....

Santa Hawaii Style
Who knew that 6 years ago I would be blogging about pottery.  6 years ago I was far from where I am now, but I am so thankful for the wonderful opportunities pottery has brought into my life, and for the whole range of new people it has also brought to me.  You know who you are out there, and I sincerely appreciate you, thank you for all you do!

2012 has been a year of expansion and learning here at Big Dog Pots.  I entered into several new retail venues, and am in discussions with a few more to come online in early 2013.  As a result of my new found brick and mortar locations, I have cut back on the number of shows that I attend.  2013 will see even further pairing down of my show schedule to 3 shows total, perhaps even less.

Being able to leave the show circuit has been a learning experience.  It is wonderful to interact with customers in the show setting to get their feedback and ideas on my pieces, and also to receive new ideas from people who stop by my booth and ask "have you ever seen one of those....." or "my grandmother had a ...." and the ever present "can you make me.....".

In exchange for this valuable feedback, I have been able to save wear and tear on Me!  Shows are exhausting to participate in.  Crafters arrive at 0-dark-hundred, spend about an hour and a half setting up, sit throughout the entire day, (or two, or three), then carefully pack out making sure they are ready to set up the next time, and are able to inventory what they need to create what has been depleted. Also saved is working on someone else's schedule of when you have to arrive, leave, and how to participate.  Most of those are not really issues for me, but occasionally you are placed next to the noisy vendor, the vendor with the wafting perfume, or the vendor who thinks they are a superhero and sets up their booth with such a flurry you are terrified that they will take out half of your display in the process.  For the most part, I have met lovely vendors, and have been lucky enough to be situated near some very nice people.  Many of whom have now become good friends.

What I have learned this year also extended in to the "World of ETSY".  I had tried to create a shop on ETSY about 3 years ago and found the programming not user friendly.  I always say "I am mud savvy, not computer literate".  So after being encouraged by many, many customers that "you really need to be on ETSY", I took the plunge again.  I found this time around that the minds behind ETSY had taken numerous steps to make it more user friendly.  I still have problems figuring out the details of some aspects of how it really works, but I have a shop, I have made sales, I have made custom orders, and I now have an ETSY presence.  The down side to ETSY is that it is time deceptively time consuming.  Photographing, editing, posting, monitoring, communicating, shipping, all take time away from not only making pottery, but living an everyday life.  For now, I will continue my efforts on ETSY, but am reconsidering they types of things I offer and will continue to alter various types of items available.


Something I have avoided.
I do see the value of making multiples.  Time saving, work saving, money saving.  I will begin to make multiples, but in a "Big Dog Pots" way.  My multiples will be unique.


Something I must do for next Christmas.
As the stars aligned, I was entering into various retail venues in late October.  The pieces I had made all year for the Holiday Season were all downloaded into brick and mortar stores.  So, come Christmas, I was really depleted and did not have enough items that were ready to ship.  Next year will be different, and hopefully as a result more successful.


As I am expanding, I have found that it is becoming more difficult to donate 100% of my proceeds to my favorite animal rescue groups.  While my level of giving to these groups will remain constant, or in some instances will increase, I now find that I do need some funds to maintain my equipment, pay electricity for the increased number of kiln runs, purchase basic materials, and the gas needed to drive the hour each way to the nearest pottery supplier.  As a result, my website, ETSY site, and everywhere else now says that I "donate a portion of my proceeds to animal rescue groups in my hometown."  I wanted to be honest, the past 6 years I was able to donate 100%.  From this point forward, that percentage will have to fluctuate.

So, as I enter into my 6th year in this endeavor, I continue to learn, continue to be inspired, continue to create and be passionate about making pottery.  All in all, it has been a very good year!

Happy Holidays 2012

Elf Daisy

Santa Max
Happy Holidays From Big Dog Pots!
Wishing you all the best this Holiday Season and in the coming New Year.
We give thanks as we end enter our 6th year
for the friends and family who have graciously supported our efforts.  We give thanks to all who give their time, energy and spirit
to the protection, care and love of animals everywhere.
Consider adopting your next pet, 
change a life forever.

Monday, August 20, 2012


After taking a break of several years from ETSY, I decided to go back and try again. I will admit, I am computer and internet challenged. ETSY, does make certain aspects of running a store very easy for the novice, but I still find it daunting and challenging. I am a child of the '60s and '70s and not a computer whiz kid. So, I have done my best. Please have a look around my ETSY store, and let me know what you think. You can comment thru a "convo", send me an email, or even go to my new Facebook page and make a comment there. See

Friday, May 4, 2012

Summer....Selling Shells by the Seashore...

It has been a busy Spring here at Big Dog Pots. We are almost finished with the construction of an additional building next to our studio. The new building is almost the same size as the studio, but will not have electricity. We have outgrown our studio over the past few years and need the new space for storage, believe it or not! In the meantime, I have been very interested in sea creatures lately. My pieces are now being sold at Old Town Hardware in Old Town Alexandria. Look for Big Dog Pots in their Home Decor section. The good citizens of Old Town live right on the Potomac and have a proud maritime history. To this end, I have been searching for just the right pieces to create life like molds for all sorts of sea creatures. The pictures in this post are showing a couple of my latest finds incorporated into functional pieces. As I have said before, I LOVE texture. Realistic texture with creatures from the sea seemed a logical extension. Also new at Big Dog Pots is a move toward dipped glazing. I have always hand painted my pieces, but I find with the increase in demand, I am finding dipped glazes to be more economical with my time....and energy :). Once these pieces are glazed I will post follow up photos. Enjoy the changing of the seasons as we turn toward Summer. I will be at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival over Memorial Day weekend. Come by and say hello! Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Projects, New Glazes, Lots of FUN!!

Well, as I take a big stride into 2012, I have brought a few new project ideas along with me. The first are new yarn bowls! I first saw these on another potter's website and thought I would have my own go at these interesting forms. I have had some successes, but am still trying to figure out how to control warping once the bowls are cut. I am working on creating my own system, to see if I can get more uniform results after the cutting is complete.

The second new kid on the block are my new "Jewelry Keepers". They are meant to hold your everyday pieces which come off at night and they go right back on the next morning. I figure there is a reason why we wear certain pieces on most days, it must be because they are a favorite! So instead of tucking them away inside a larger jewelry box, only to have to fish them out the next morning, I thought these new "Jewelry Keepers" would come in handy. I know I love mine!

So after completing my first show of the season in Leesburg, Virginia. I am settling down to teaching some classes, working on some special orders, and restocking a few specialty stores who so graciously carry my pieces.

Thanks for stopping by, check back again soon!

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!

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.

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Me and Mud....A Survey

Trying a new trick here, seeing if I can do an online survey.

If you would like, please participate.


Thursday, October 14, 2010


Had lunch with a new friend yesterday. We seemed to "just click". I have found in this second half of my life, that friends are hard to come by, and not always what they appear. So, I am thankful for a new one that comes into my life, and hopeful that old ones stay near, and dear.

Pottery is also a relatively new friend. A place to loose myself from the day to day. A place to create something that is all my own. A place to be daring and try things I would never have imagined I could do. A place to be hopeful and peaceful.

Combinations of glazes are like friends to me. Some have become constant and abiding. Some are fickle and are only there under the best of conditions. Some seem to return only during the worst of kiln runs and then disappear.

I have learned that glaze combinations, like friends, are unique. They live within the parameters of their relationships, sometimes they expand, sometimes contract, but that the basics of the relationships are constant. Old combinations loose their value as talent and experience move forward. But those old combinations are the important building blocks for all the new ones.

So to my friends, both human and chemical, I say thanks for being in my life. You are valued, you are needed, and I truly appreciate our time together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Well, I have redoubled my efforts at and have started selling a new line of beaded pendants online (you can visit the site at I have had a number of looks in the past 24 hours since I launched it, but no purchases. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

The only problem with Etsy is that it is addictive! I always feel like I have to check it to see if there are any questions, or requests. But I guess the extra effort will continue to keep me out of trouble.

I also saw other sellers naming their Woodland Splendor, and Sparkling Seas. This gave me and my husband quite a chuckle as we came up with our own list of off the wall names for these pendants. But in all seriousness, I did name them, and I did try to name them in some way that actually relates to the piece.

So we will see how it goes......If you want to see the site, check it out at

Friday, July 30, 2010

Being Humbled...

Being a humble person is something most of us aspire to, being humbled is good for the soul. Well, I am not sure if I am a humble person, but I have definitely been humbled a time or two in my life. Pottery offers a whole new arena in which to be humbled. Both by people who pass your work by, and by those who are almost groupies!

I had both experiences in the space of a few days last week and it was an interesting pendulum ride indeed! First the bad humbling....I spent 2 days at an Expo show and really did just awful. I felt bad for the amount of time I invested, and my family invested by supporting me and being there. But it was a learning experience, and I certainly learned the lesson. This show was not artisan oriented and although the demographics were perfect, people came out with other items in mind. I literally had 100 or more people stop, look very carefully at all my pieces, ask a few questions, and yes offer compliments, only to move on with a "I will have to keep this in mind for a gift" for so and so.

On the other end of the humbled spectrum, I happen to wander into a beautiful gallery is a lovely little town in the vicinity of my studio, and after the owner had looked at my website, she inquired if I might let her handle a few pieces. It was like a breath of fresh air had lifted my weary sails.

I had been quite discouraged, but thankfully this lovely gallery owner showed some interest and my spirits were lifted.

When I returned home the positive vibes continued, my email box had 4 invitations to attend events where I hope to be well received.

So, you just never know. I just keep plugging on, and am enjoying the interesting ride. It reminds me of that line from the children's movie Nemo..."just keep swimmin', just keep swimming'". And I do.

To help me along as I navigate through the cloudy waters of potteryville, I posted the fish platter along with this post. It was the first time I attempted this particular platter. It was originally done for a tennis friend of my husband who is from NYC and wanted it for a bagel/brunch server.

It was fun to make, and I will have another go at it later this summer.

Friday, April 2, 2010


WOW!!! It is a wonderful feeling to finally emerge from the winter of 2010. The weather here in rural Virginia is lovely. Mid to upper 70's, clear blue skies, and flowers blooming. This year is a peak year for the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. We are thinking about trying to see them Easter Sunday, early, and maybe miss some crowds? Probably not.

Well, I have been seriously delayed in my pottery efforts. Unfortunately, I had some serious heath problems the past few weeks and have not be able to do much of anything, least of all pottery. But I find that as I am healing and feel more and more like myself, I visualize myself glazing!

Before my troubles began I had just run a full bisque kiln. So, I have a lot of work to do. Normally, I slug through glazing in one VERY long sitting, normally around 8-10 hours. I brush glaze all my pieces, so it takes much longer than dipping. I also have a lot of small intricate pieces that have to be done with TINY brushes in numerous colors of glaze or underglaze, so, it all takes time.

I think overall, it is best to be doing one part of the process at a time. With a small studio, it is easier to create, then bisque, then glaze. Instead of doing various things at the same time. When I glaze I like to finish each piece and immediately load it in the kiln to await firing. I find that if I let glazed pieces settle on a drying shelf invariably something happens and the finished product is a disappointment. So, I am a load and go type of potter. I know everyone has their own way of doing things, and I am always open to learning and hearing about how other potters create their art.

Well, before I can get back into the studio, I have a daughter who has been asking to go ride bikes at the finally, I am going back out into the world.

Enjoy Spring in your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 Off to a Great Start

This Saturday was my first show of 2010. It was nice to get back out there. I was running low, because I was cleared out at Christmas, but I still managed to triple what I made last year. I was very pleased to see the traffic going up. Perhaps that is a sign of a returning economy?

Now, I am back to the studio to generate more pieces. I was pretty well wiped out Saturday. I went with 4 crates, normally I have 5 plus an extra filled, just in case. I came home with 1.5 crates. So things were definitely moving.

Spring has finally come. My bulbs are up and blooming. I always forget from year to year where I have planted bulbs over the past 20 years on this property. It is fun to see things popping up all over.

Well, I had a lot of fun yesterday playing around with two completely different techniques. I was doing some coil work, which I never really do, and really got into it. It was a fun little project and I made a tall oval vase. We will see if it survives firing, and glazing, if it does I will post a picture.

Next I revisited using raw trim pieces. I did this when I first began doing pottery. My first pieces had raw claw embelishments, so it will be interesting to see if I have improved at all. I will post those as well, if they survive.

Well, my next show is April 24th, then my big 2 day show over Memorial Day weekend. So, time is going by, and I need to stock up!

Back to the mud.

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!

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.