Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gearing up for a New Year...

As the final days that will bring in the New Year are quickly approaching, I'm feeling really good about what 2012 will bring.  I feel I made a lot of progress in 2011 for my ceramics career, and now that I have an understanding for applying to shows and displaying my pottery in fairs, I want to try to tackle even more projects in 2012.  I told Josh about a few of my goals last night, and he essentially told me that I should be wary of taking on too much.  I feel as if I've had a good amount of extra time on the weekends that wasn't spent accomplishing things; just me being very lazy, so I think I shouldn't be overwhelmed...maybe. :)

A few of the things I have lined up for 2012:

~I mentioned that I was accepted into a cup show in Baltimore, and I was also accepted into one at The Clay Gallery in Ann Arbor, MI.

~My gallery in Savannah has decided to not renew their lease on the space, so I am trying to sell my work in other places.  I applied to be a member of Kobo Gallery in City Market.  It's a co-op, so I have to pay a monthly fee if I am accepted, but I think it will be a good opportunity to sell my work.

~Jessica Broad and I are applying to an art festival in Hilton Head, SC in April.  We'll find out near the end of January if we were accepted. Before the Merry Art Market was finished, we took an image of our "booth setup." Check it out:

~I will be teaching at Savannah's Clay Spot on Monday nights again.  I already have 4 people signed up for their spots.  I'm pretty excited, because I want to try a new teaching style that I haven't used.

~I wanted to have 10-12 new portfolio pieces completed that I could submit for grad school applications before the Holidays were over.  I have started, but not finished a single one.  I have the ideas present, so I just need to sit down a make, make, make.  So that is on the agenda for 2012 as well.  I need to look into what the deadlines are for applications pretty soon.

~I also need to create work for 3-4 potential group shows. I actually just remembered those.

Those are a few of my resolutions for 2012, but to step back into this year, guess what came in the mail yesterday?!

I'm very excited to make a mold of this super sized wine glass.  Since my casting slip shrinks so much, I knew that I should find something larger than a normal wine glass to create my mold.  I got this along with a copy of Mold Making & Slip Casting by Andrew Martin- a book I've wanted for a long time.  I'm starting to realize that I'm a big fan of taking familiar objects and recreating them in clay.  I've pondered the idea of creating my own line of jars and glasses and selling them on Etsy.  There is another artist (Meredith Host) who has 2 separate lines of work that she uses for galleries and for art fairs.  I think these would be fun to decorate and sell.  I also looked into super sized martini and margarita glass.  I love booze! :)

I have a few things I want to finish before Josh and I pack up and head to Florence, SC, for Christmas.  I have half of a kiln filled with glaze/bisque.  I am trying to figure out my kiln loading/scheduling for using two clay bodies that fire at different temps.  Thankfully there are some cross overs (ex: I can fire decals on ^6 clay at ^04), so it shouldn't be that difficult, but I know that firing a glaze and a bisque in one kiln can have it's consequences. I'm venting the kiln (leaving the lid partially open throughout the firing), so we'll see how that turns out.  I also have some things being fired at Lisa's that are lovely little presents for some happy people.

Oh and I finally made a mold for a larger cloud plate for the Birds and Clouds Dinnerware.  I hope to have one of those and a bowl made for Uncommon Goods before the New Year, so they can decide if they want my pieces or not.

I hope that everyone's Christmas is exceptional and that the ending of the old year captures the hope and anticipation of the new.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Final Merry Art Market

The conclusion of the Merry Art Market was the most successful yet! It was filled with holiday tunes, decadent treats, and the mingling of artists with their customers.  I think the best thing was that after the sale there were mimosas and bartering.  Talk about my type of afternoon! I got the most wonderful gifts, um, for myself. :D  Two wonderful wooden cutting boards, a wooden wine stopper, ceramic necklace, two ceramic cups and a bowl, a ceramic plate, and a ceramic candy dish.  Potentially, I will also add earrings and a purse to all this.  Greatest thing was that it was all handmade!  Oh and I wasn't completely greedy, a few of those things will go to other people.  Just a few though. ;-)  I don't want to give up all my goodies.

I also got into a cup show at the Baltimore Clay Works.  I also got a parking ticket, but that is beside the point.  Yesterday was a great day.  I will share a few images of the final table set up.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merry Markets and Winter Whines

Hello, hello.  It's been a really long time, but I blame that on the Holidays. :)
A few updates:

Tomorrow night is the opening reception for the SCAD Small Works 2011.  I have a few pieces in the show this year.  It's typically a great show for the holidays because of the affordable nature of the artwork. 

Last Saturday was the first Merry Market.  It was quite delightful.  There was a lot of really great work that included: ceramic cups, plates, bowls, pitchers, teapots; wooden salt and pepper grinders and cutting boards; jewelry; framed stained glass; paintings; photographs; mixed media holiday ornaments and ceramic garden sculpture.  It was really bright and colorful.  I took a lot of photos, but I am only going to post a few.  All of the images are on my facebook, so you can view the rest there.  It is the first year for the sale, so in spite of our attempts to bombard people with flyers and lure them in with tasty cookies and cider, it seemed that after lunch, the crowd died down.  We are hoping that people were just waiting until the next weekends to spend all of their money on Christmas gifts. :)  I have ceramic ornaments in the kiln right now, that will hopefully make it out in time for the sale this Saturday.  

My table.

View entering Market.

Jessica Broad's table. She's so cool.

Overview of the sale.

Steve (wood), Stephanie (ceramics), and Jessica's (ceramics) table.

In other news, I didn't win the ceramic competition with Uncommon Goods.  I think I lost the voting by a good 200 votes.  Apparently, I really don't have that many friends. :D  However, I was contacted by Uncommon Goods this past week because they are interested in selling two of my pieces from my Birds and Clouds dinnerware set.  I need to make a few more molds before I can get started on the project, but I am really excited by the opportunity and interested to see how easy/difficult it will be to work with a company. 

And the largest project that is underway, is at work.  Alexander Hall is getting a makeover during Winter break, so that means lots of loud noises and strange smells that are not pleasant.  My old office was destroyed and rebuilt, and given to someone else altogether.  I am going to be moving into what is supposed to be a more awesome location come January.  Until then, the computer access has been weird, so the entries may not get any more consistent until I have a stable environment again. :)

Happy Holidays everyone and support local artists by giving the gift of handmade!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Silk screening and stress tests

I'm going to try to squeeze in a quick blog before bed.  I just finished silk screening over 30 bags for a few holidays sales that I'm doing.  I am trying to get the hang of silk screening on 3-D forms, and it's been a little frustrating because I really don't know what I'm doing.  Honestly, it seems pretty simple in theory, but I decided to try printing on a flatter surface to get the hang of the technique.  It was wonderful.  I did all of these tonight.  (I will post images of the process later.)

 In other exciting news, I found a recipe for a cone 6 casting slip.  And so far, so good.  I'm going to have to experiment with glazes soon, but I did an absorption test and it weighed 200 grams before and after a night of soaking in water. That means the clay is vitreous, which in the world of all things functional, is a very good thing.

Another test I did was a stress (thermal shock) test.  I took the finished piece from extreme temperatures in a short amount of time.  First from boiling water in the microwave to freezing in my fridge.  This also was a success!  

I ordered some cone 6 glazes a few weeks ago, but my supplier experienced a fire.  I put another order in today, and hopefully it will make it here before too much of my vacation is over.  Now all I have to do is figure out how I'm going to get some glaze tests done, considering I have no slip cast work bisqued. :/

Friday, November 11, 2011

Visiting Artist: Jim Dugan

We had a visiting artist this week (of course it's right before finals) and that means there are 2-3 days of indulging in fantastic food, staying out late having great conversation, and watching lots of great ceramic work being made.  All of these things are really awesome, but it tends to get a little stressful I have obligations like work at SCAD, work in the studio, and work at home.

Jim Dugan was our visiting artist.  He is the wood kiln manager, resident artist director, and instructor from the Baltimore Clayworks.  Watching him work and listening to him speak about his pottery was immensely inspiring.  I want to say that he was one of my favorite visiting artists that we have had here at SCAD.  Just to see an actual potter be so prolific and just make really great pots was so energizing that I went home last night with every intention of just relaxing and taking a breather, but instead I worked in my studio.

It's been really busy week, and I don't feel as if I've spent time at home.  I'm a real home body and I need time to mellow out, or else I get cranky.  I've managed to keep the crank to a minimum, but barely. :)  We also just had a raku firing today with the Ceramics Club.  Open studio at Alexander Hall is tonight.  Final glaze kilns will be firing off tonight.  The Ceramics Club is giving a demonstration tomorrow at the Student Expo (I have to make sure the wheels go there and make it back in one piece). SECAC is in town and the final lecture is in Alexander Hall tomorrow night (so I have to make sure the facilities look top notch). And then finals are next week.  I will definitely be taking some time off during Thanksgiving to work on some projects that I have yet to complete.  ::sighs::

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From the first date to the marriage

I'm not sure if I have detailed how I got started on this road being a ceramic artist, but I should have, so I will be nostalgic for this entry...

Setting: 2001-2003, Hannah Pamplico High School Art Class, Pamplico, SC
This is where I began to dabble in ceramics.  My mom still has the first heavy, lumpy pot I ever made in her living room (see image below). I thought it was pretty good for someone who knew nothing about ceramics.

Setting: 2003, North Greenville University Clay Studio (aka the dank, dark spot underneath the Caf), Tigerville, SC
This is where it happened.  It was when the magic and tears began.  I didn't originally go to college for Art, so I took my first Sculpture class Fall of Freshman year just for the heck of it.  I worked with clay (see Greek Vase below, if you notice the cracks, it's from where the walls kinda exploded off), but the actual world altering stuff began in 2004 when I enrolled in my first Wheel Throwing class.  I learned how the center, pull, and trim, and I made some of the nicest 6" tall cylinders in my class.  Oh, did I mention the tears?  Yeah, I ended up storming out the the studio one night because I couldn't get the damn clay centered.  I cried because I was so intrigued at the process and I wanted to be great at it, but I sucked.  NGU didn't have an Art major, but I knew I couldn't do any thing else.  I ended up transferring to my clay teacher's alma mater.

Setting: 2006, Shorter University Art House, Rome, GA
I arrived at yet another small Art Program (in my graduating class there were 4 other Art students), but it ended up being a great school to study ceramics.  I had free reign with the salt, raku, and gas kilns.  The anagama involved a bit more work and I never have seemed to like the aesthetic for my pieces, but I loved the process. I learned how to do things on my own, and take risks.

Setting: 2008-Present, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA
I feel like these past three years at SCAD has been my grad school in a way.  I've learned more technical skills and more about the business of art.  I can't wait until the actual grad school.  I plan to start applying next year.  I'm glad that this career found me, because I still love ceramics just as much as when I pulled my first successful cylinder on the wheel. I really can't imagine doing anything else.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Off to North Carolina

It's always hard to sum up a weekend into one word.  People always ask "How was your weekend?" and I always say something that is easy like "good," "okay," or "fine." I'm not implying that my weekend was "bad" or "good," but I may need to think about how this past weekend was for a moment to come up with an accurate term.

Since the "Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery Competition" (which will be known from now on as NASC) was in Fayetteville, NC, and I have extended family there, I decided to grab my mom and sister and take a road trip.  Let me interject this here, and I won't really rant or describe why this is, but my family is crazy.  If you combine my immediate family with my extended family, the madness is slightly overwhelming.  With that said, I went to NC to see the show and to see family that I haven't visited in almost 5 years.  For some reason, I also had the anticipation of winning a prize at the NASC.  What really built the excitement was before I left, I checked the Cape Fear website to see if there were any new announcements about the show, and saw that they used the image of my teapot for the NASC.  I interpreted that as someone thinks your teapot is great and you are going to win something!!!  But I didn't.  It was a disappointment, but (here is where the family comes into play) when there is so much craziness around you, it provides enough of distraction for a few days, that you really don't remember the feeling of disappointment after everything settles down.

The show looked really great, and the functional pieces that won awards were truly deserving of them.  There were works from all over the US in the NASC.  I had some qualms about how my dinnerware set was displayed, but I'm sure that happens to everyone.  I was snapping some images of everything when I was instructed that I couldn't, so I only got images of my works to show off.  Another thing, the Cape Fear Gallery is in a really good location in downtown Fayetteville, but there was no one there at 12pm on a Saturday.  I guess it is one of those downtown areas that doesn't see much action.  It was really a foreign concept, considering downtown Savannah is ALWAYS bustling.

So to sum up, I didn't win a prize, but the show looked great.  When you have a crazy family that gets into Facebook photo wars and introduces you to interesting Indian food, there isn't much time for contemplating disappointment.  Also, I was reminded of how good my Aunt's chicken and dumplins are and they pretty much put us all in a sleepy state of comfort.

In essence, I think that this weekend was very "reminding." I was reminded not to count my chickens before they hatch.  I was reminded that not all crazy is bad. I was also reminded that I still have a lot more exploring to do on my body of work. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's hard being busy...

Whirlwind of a week!  In order to update everything, I figure breaking this down on a day-to-day basis would be best.

Sunday: I've started doing "Open Studio" on Sundays from 12-4pm at Savannah's Clay Spot for Lisa Bradley.  It was really great meeting new people and I also started working with cone 6 Helios porcelain from Highwater Clay. It was interesting to throw because I only worked with a porcelanious body briefly in undergrad.  Since then it was stoneware or low-fire.  I mixed a batch of cone 6 porcelain casting slip as well to test the durability of the clay in modern appliances.  My goal is to have a casting slip that is highly functional and doesn't crack for any apparent reason.  My only concern with this new body is the shrinkage.  I would like to continue to make mason jars, but I don't know how it would effect the size of the jar.  To be honest having a tiny mason jar might be the bee's knees. :)

Monday-Wednesday afternoon: Monday morning started off at a relaxed pace; however, I quickly remembered that I had two different sets of work due to be submitted at galleries by Friday.  One was going to Minnesota.  Interjection about this piece.  A few weeks ago, I visited my gallery in town only to discover I had sold a few pieces.  One was a yellow teapot.  I came home to find a notification from the "It's Only Clay" juried show in Bemidji, MN, as well.  I fully anticipated none of my pieces being accepted, but, yes, that damn little yellow teapot was the only one accepted.  (Have a learned my lesson about submitting pieces I don't have in stock?  We'll see, we'll see.)  So, in a frenzy, I construct another one and slide it into firings with scheduled student work to be fired.  I couldn't use the test kiln to glaze the little guy cause my boss was doing piggy back firings with it, so I resorted to waiting for the longer firings.  Resume to Monday, my teapot came out looking just like the other.  See here:

There are nuances between the two (the difference in color is only due to the image quality), but I was pretty happy with the result.  I sit down to my to calculate shipping time and holy crap, this pot is going to MN!  It's going to take 3 days to get there!  I firmly REFUSE to ship anything that is costlier than ground shipping.  Needless, to say it made it in time, and hopefully all in one piece.

I also had to ship two other sets of work to the "Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery Competition" in Fayetteville, NC.  Obviously, I have more time to package these pieces, because it only takes one day to get there.  My only concern here is that I am really nervous about my teapot breaking because it is a tricky construction.

(I was sleeping in this morning and got a strange phone call and I was scared it was one of the galleries calling to say that my pieces had wasn't, but still.)  Since this show is a pottery competition, there are prizes, and I really hope this piece will be a winner of something.  I won't be able to make it to the opening on Friday, October 28, but I will be visiting the gallery that weekend with my family to see the show, so maybe it will be a joyous celebration!

Wednesday afternoon-Thursday night: I have mentioned that Yves is doing a commission for the new SCAD Museum of Art.  Well, this week all of the pieces came out of the bisque and were ready to be glazed.  There were well over a 100 of these varying shapes.  I worked close to 10 hours after work in 2 days.  Have I revealed that I am a gal who needs her 8-10 hrs of sleep?  I had a rough week waking up and getting to work on time.  I thought the project was over Thursday night, but I think that he might need me this weekend for some finishing touches.  I know we are both ready to breathe a sigh of relief with this project.  It has been extremely too stressful. 

Friday morning: Raku time rolls around again and I forgot to refill the propane tanks and scrape/kiln wash the shelves.  I needed to be at work at 7am to get stuff done for the event at 8am.  Hmm, have I revealed that I am a gal who needs her sleep?  Definitely woke up at 7:22am.  Disastrous morning and no details needed, but grounds in the coffee, driving over curbs, and cussing other drivers were involved.  Yesterday, ended up being pretty great, but I really enjoyed the bottle of wine and Fresh Market apple pie/ice cream last night after this week.  I think I might go enjoy another piece now, and of course, go for a run later. ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011


I recently discovered these awesome pots by Peter Karner and I thought I would share.  He lives in the mountains of Southwest Colorado working as a full-time potter. Peter's pots are are thrown, thrown and altered, or hand-built.  To create his patterns he uses wax resist, latex, dipping, and brushwork on bisqued pots.  The pots are then high-fired in a heavy reduction atmosphere with the intent of trapping carbon in the base glaze.  He gets my fantastic ceramics vote for this week!

To see more of his work go here.

They learn how to throw!

About a month or so ago, my niece and nephew came to visit.  I got the opportunity to try to teach them how to throw on the wheel.  I thought I would share the experience and the finished results!

Jayden wedging his clay.
Assisting Jayden with centering.
Attempting to open up the clay.

Sarah doing it all on her own!

Finished pieces. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go...

I realize that I haven't shared much about what my day-to-day work experience is like.  Typically it's a routine of loading kilns, helping students, mixing clay, mixing glazes, creating posters, photographing work, etc., etc.  Lately, however, it has been nothing but making molds.  Oval, square, rectangle, and round platter molds; tall and small cup molds; large, med, and small plate molds; and most recently I became the Chair of the Ceramics Department's assistant making, guess what?...MOLDS!  Yves Paquette (the Chair) was commissioned by SCAD to create a memorial for a student who passed away a few years ago at the new SCAD Museum of Art.  Based on the student's drawings, he is creating ceramic forms that will be installed on a wall that has a water feature.  Oh and did I mention this he only has a month to complete it?  Yeah, that's where I come in.  It's a really awesome experience, but really folks, how much mold making experience does one need?  I am almost positive that I have developed a love-hate relationship with plaster.  I decided to document some of the action and post it in a blog.  These two forms I photographed are two prototypes that Yves might use in the final product.

Creating walls with cottle boards and clamping them together

Readying the prototype and sealing the walls with clay
Poured plaster into cottle boards
Removing the prototype
Completed mold ready for clay

Disillusioned by plaster overload, I saw a ghostly face. It's kinda awesome. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New studio (part 2)

Hello!  My new studio is all set up and I enjoy working in it so much!  I was cooking dinner last night and had some down time, so I walked into the next room to work on some ceramics.  I could monitor the cooking while I was trimming a pot! (Don't worry folks, no contamination here. I made sure my hands are clean when I return :D) Needless to say I love my studio being in the house because I am constantly reminded of pots I have in progress.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New studio.

If you happened upon my most recent, slightly psychotic blog, then you might understand the title for this entry.  I mentioned that I was concerned about this coming winter (which is approaching too slowly for my taste). I knew that last year's winter was very uncomfortable for me and my clay, and I could continue to insulate the shed, but it would be pretty expensive. So, I decided to move my studio indoors.  There are obviously many other benefits to having a studio indoors as opposed to outdoors in a tin building, like lighting, convenience, air conditioning/heat, more electrical outlets, running water, etc.  All of which are reasons I used to convince my husband of why this should happen.  I think the fact that we would save money on the electrical bill sold him, though he is still a little hesitant about me moving clay into the house because clay=mess.  Which is a completely valid point and is still a very large concern.  Well, that and the fact that we have cats that are very curious.

So I've taken some precautionary steps.

First, I moved the litter box and food/water for the little buggers into our extra bathroom.  It's at the opposite side of the house from where my studio will be located.  I will then be able to close off a section of the house when I have ongoing projects that I don't want them to destroy.

Secondly, I ordered a painter's drop cloth to line the carpet.  The cloth has a lining on the back that will not allow the clay to seep through if it's dropped.

Now comes to what I did all weekend: I moved A LOT of stuff.  I packed books, ceramics, tools, and other things into boxes and bags and moved them out of our supposed "dining room" area.  I had converted this spot into more of an office/glazing area anyways because we never used our dining room table.  **Side note: Am I the only artist that has WAY too many sketch books?  I seriously found some from high school.  I think they totaled to about 10-15 books, and most of them were empty.

I now have to clean and move all of my studio things into the house.  Josh is going to help me move the heavier items.  I hope to have everything set up by this weekend so I can start working on a few projects that I have pushed back too far already.  Ooh, I also have a plan for shelving that is super exciting.

Here is the progress so far:

More pictures to come!