Thursday, August 25, 2016

Marbling technique - learning curves :)

Hello!

I am excited, I just pulled another successful load from my kiln. In it I had 6 marbled cups, a flower pot with plate, and a plate, bowl, cup combo. Well, and a tall vase, but that was just for me - it has a crack in the bottom that does not go all the way through - i will keep it because it still looks good and is functional, just not sell worthy :)

I am excited overall with how the marbling came out, or agateware, people call it different things. I think of it as marbled.

Some lessons learned from it - go far darker, for bolder. I had gotten a light blue and a medium blue. The medium came out decent, but the light blue is barely visible. Part of that is also related to my stingy ways - again, a learning curve here. I had only gotten 1/4 pound bag of each stain, and used it sparingly, wanting to make it last. The reality of that is, I got 6 cups (2 barely visible) and I used it to make several other pieces (probably 6 other pieces) but it was so faint that I will just glaxe over it like normal. So lesson learned, go for darker, and do not be stingy!

I already ordered a new blue, one that was slightly cheaper so I got a full pound for only slightly more. It is between a medium blue and dark blue, so hopefully it being slightly darker and also me using more of the stain will make some pieces that POP! :) We will see :) I am loving it in general, but do want to work on making pieces that have a more pronounced pop of color. I would also like to expand and get some other colors, but getting the stain can be expensive, so we will see how it goes. Overall though, I am really happy with how this wave of cups came out. Sure, I need to work on my form and proportions, but hey, I am happy!

I also created a plate, cup, bowl combo on a whim with a splatter of blue, green, and purple on it, and LOVE how it came out! I did this random splatter because I am very low on my green, and I was like, huh, why not try that? And I really enjoy how it came out. I think I will do more like this in the future, with different color combos - I am thinking yellow, orange and red (not that I have a red), things like that. Anywho, happy overall with how it came out! :)

*** I initially planned on posting this during the first week of August, and my internet was being wonky so I did not post it, and just realized it as I came on to post again. So this is three weeks late, and I have included some photos from this discussed firing, as well as a firing that occurred after the one mentioned above.





New projects and transitions

It has been a while since I have posted, a couple weeks. Some really wonderful things have been happening with my pottery, while simultaneously I have been pulled many different directions; making it hard to accomplish all that I would like.

I made several new sales through the Creatively Maine Pop-Up shop that I am part of, which is wonderful. It was spurred by my decision to start a sale at the shop - 20% off for the rest of the time that my items were at the shop (through the end of the month until the shop closes). I started that back almost 3 weeks ago, so it has helped with sales, which is always the goal!

The big news from the shop is that I received two custom orders. One individual who wants a set - 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs. The other would like 4 plates and 4 bowls. I am SUPER excited about these orders, because they are the first large orders I have received. I am nervous about these orders, because they are large, and because I am still learning with my throwing and being able to produce items that are the same shape and size - that is HARD. I have made the 8 bowls, and have them in the kiln as we speak with the glaze firing. I have the plates and mugs drying and readying for the bisque firing tomorrow, and then plan to do glaze firings over the weekend into monday. My worry is that I underestimated how much clay I would need, and am currently completely out of clay. I have some on the way, but at this point it is too late for it to be helpful for me to get pieces done by the identified deadline. So if any of the pieces have an issue... then I do not know what to do. So cross your fingers that things go great! :) The other struggle was that I was given a short time frame (in the pottery world at least) where I had to make, dry, bisque fire, glaze, and then glaze fire all these 20 pieces in just over a 2 week span. So needless to say, the combination of the time crunch, my internal worry over the pieces being "similar" enough, and the reality that I am transitioning back to work full time next week (and have had to work 1 - 3 days a week for the past 3 weeks leading up to school starting) has left me stressed. Regardless, I am hopeful that everything will come out well, and that the individuals who placed the orders will be happy and will see that even if the pieces are not exactly the same size that they were at least made with my full heart and soul and intent.

Related to the pop-up shop, I have a new "custom" order from one of the owners, who is requesting me to make her 12 or so soap dishes. I made her 7 different types/examples, and she is going to pick out which she likes best and have me make her some soap dishes that she can sell with her hand made soap, which is exciting :)

I did an event over this past weekend and sold some pottery. It was not a craft fair, but a local event that was not geared at crafts, so I was happy that I did have some sales (even though I would have loved more). My goal once I have my custom orders taken care of, and once I have everything back from the pop - up shop (Which closes a week from today) is to put all my items back on Etsy, and then to start researching what craft Fairs I can be part of this fall/winter to make some sales going into the holiday season. I feel like I am more likely to make sales at craft fairs because I feel like people might buy my items as gifts for others. My goal over the next couple of months is to really narrow down my focus on a couple select items - people really want mugs, in particular LARGE mugs. So i am going to work on making a bunch of variations of large mugs. I have also sold every chip n' dip platter that I have made, so I need to make some more of those. Beyond that, I will have to think about identifying a couple other options/key items to focus on as the fall approaches.

A worry I have is that I am headed back to work next week. I have been lucky to have the summer off to be so active with pottery. But it is time, and school is calling, and I start working with students again starting next week. Tomorrow is my official last day "off" of summer. But overall, I Cannot complain, it has been a great one :) But I do hope that me transitioning back to work does not lead to me not throwing or creating art; I think it will just have to be a balancing process.

The only photo today is of the soap dishes
, but I will plan to pop on in a couple of days once I have the full sets complete to post photos of the finished product :)


Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Pieces!

Hello!

I pulled four new pieces from my kiln this morning - (well, 9 actually, but two were just experiments. and three were the bottom pieces of flower pots, so 4 complete pieces to post).

 

Three flower pots - I did them all the same "style", hoping that people would want matching flower pots. I really like how they came out. :)

Beyond that, there was a large (for me/my throwing) bowl, that I painted in a spiral pattern. I really love how it came out as well.

I have been throwing pieces on the wheel that are mixed clay - stained with light and medium blue. I am not able at this point to fully see how much the patterns are showing up, but I am hopeful that once I fire them it will show up even better - right now the clay before it is fired is a gray. Once it is bisque fired I am hopeful that the stains will stand out even more! I am planning to throw some more today, and hope to fire these pieces next week - hopefully monday! :)

Anywho, I will probably drop these pieces off at the pop-up shop, unless someone says that they see my pieces and would like to purchase them online. That happens at times, which is nice! :)










Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Time to get glazing! :)

Hello!

I just pulled some new items from the kiln and am ready to get into glazing mode. When I get glazing I tend to get into a groove, and get everything glazed relatively quick, so hopefully I will be able to fire the glazed pieces this Thursday (I am gone tomorrow, so am unable to fire then).

The items consist of three flower pots (pot and plate underneath), three bowls, a cup, a vase, and a votive that has a heart on it. My kiln is not huge, so there is a chance I will not be able to get all of those glazed pieces in. But I am looking forward to sitting down this afternoon and glazing my happy little heart away!

Some other good news - I got new clay and also got my mason stains in the mail. I threw a couple pieces yesterday and then again today. I took the stain (which comes as a powder, but I add a little water) and mixed it with some of the clay. Then I split it, putting half the colored clay with half regular clay, so that when I throw it, it *should* mix and give me a marbled look once fired  - a white base with light or medium blue swirls throughout. I have six pieces upstairs now, but am having a hard time telling if the marbling is there - i see slight bits of the stain, but not as much as I expected. I think that it is just going to be a thing I need to try a bunch before I get the hang of it - there is a chance that I need to use a lot more of the stain than i am, which means If i like the way it comes out, i need to be ordering more stain (as I only got a little of the light blue and medium blue). And I also think the stain is not going to show up well until it is bisque fired. So - fingers crossed - hopefully i get get more pieces made with enough of the stain showing to do a firing soon, so I can post some photos of how it comes out! I am REALLY wanting this to work, because I think similar pieces I have seen others post are beautiful, so I hope to get a better grasp of how to make it possible! :)

Oh! And I had a nice and wonderful surprise in my e-mail the other day - someone had bought some items of mine from the Creatively Maine Pop-Up shop, and had e-mailed me a photo of my pieces in use at her home! It was a really wonderful sight to see, and a great e-mail to receive! :) 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hello! I threw a couple pieces this morning on the wheel, and then took some photos of pieces I threw the other day. I should be able to do a firing of these pieces at the end of the week/weekend, and then can do some more glazing :)


At this point I am now waiting for new clay to arrive and for my mason stains to arrive  - I am very eager to try out the marbling effect!! And, of course, once I do I will make sure to post some photos of it :)










Monday, July 18, 2016




Hello!

I am headed to Creatively Maine in Bucksport this morning to drop off my latest round of pieces. I am hopeful that people will enjoy them! I have 4 sets (a plate, cup, and bowl), two flower pots, a small bowl and cup.

I also just ordered a new wave of clay, and with it some stains. There are several people I follow on instagram that do these beautiful marbled pieces, and I was up at 2:30 this morning (unable to sleep) mystified and intent on learning how they achieve such beautiful pieces! I found that there are several different techniques that people are using, but the one that looks easiest for where I am starting would be to get stains.

The process involves taking a power mixture, adding water, and making a paste. You then section off some clay body and create a shallow bowl in the clay, adding the mixture. Then you knead the clay, the color blending in the more it is mixed. Once you have some clay that is one color, you can take a combination of that clay and the white clay base and create a ball to throw with. The process of throwing will lead to mixed and marbled clay, with an interesting and one of a kind pattern every time. I am SUPER excited to try this process, and even though I am sure it will be a learning process, I am hopeful that I will like it.

Once you have made the piece you then use a rib and carefully take off the outer layer of clay, which helps reveal the marbled clay underneath. I ordered some light and dark blue to mess around with, and hope that if it works out well I can invest in more colors over time.

Fingers crossed! :)

I also find that several of the people I follow on instagram are doing slip casing versus throwing on the wheel. I think I need to remind myself of this, as it is a different kind of art - still with its own challenges! My art is wheel thrown and hand built, which does not lend to consistency as much. So I need to remind myself of that, and need to allow for the inconsistencies that are going to occur, in particular while I am still learning and growing as a potter.

Anywho, more information to come! :)







Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sets of Pottery

I've recently been working on consistency within my throwing, and on making sets. Below are some examples of my first attempts at this - all four sets will be going to the Creatively Maine Pop-Up shop in Bucksport, if you are interested in purchasing!






Red Sunset Ceramics!

Hello :)

Since I was in high school and fell in love with the pottery wheel I have dreamed of getting my own wheel and kiln and being able to start making my own pottery at home.

Just a couple months ago, I made it a reality.

While it has not been a fast or easy beginning, I am getting my feet off the ground and learning a lot. When I was younger I learned to throw. Now I am learning what it means to own a kiln (in particular a used one that is at least 15 years old... more than that actually?) and I am learning about the ups and downs of selling my created work. I think I always assumed that once I made the pottery, it would, you know, just SELL. I am learning that it is not quite that easy. But again, I am learning, and that is the start of everything.

I was lucky enough to be asked to be part of a summer pop-up shop that focuses on Maine made local crafts. It is open for two months, and started July 1st. If you are interested in seeing my work and the artwork of other local Maine artists, please visit the Creatively Maine Pop-Up in Bucksport, Maine at 74 Main Street, Suite 100, Bucksport, ME; contact them by phone at (207) 323-4982; or online at https://www.facebook.com/creativelymaine/