Saturday, August 25, 2012

Out of the Kiln 8/21/12

First, I'd like to share the first of the group of test mugs with you.  Same wonky style that twists and turns, but with the addition of my different textures.  Also noteworthy is the shape of the mug.  Not too obvious in these photos, but I am loving the improved height and width ratio.  Much, much better for holding your favorite drink without sacrificing whimsy.

Also, out of the kiln this round were some absolutely gorgeous tree pieces.  Two of them, my favorites, are done in the new stained glass inspired style.  One is a tree cut out!  And the fourth is a two-toned tree bowl.  On a fun note, these "out of the kiln" pictures were taken inside the kiln!

No firing would be complete without some hearts and pendants.  Here is the mix that came through this round.
Phew!  The first of many for the next several weeks.  Inventory build for the holidays has begun!

Out of the Kiln 8/17/12

A long awaited, by me anyway, kiln firing unloaded today. I typically fire my work at Cone 10, or approximately 2400 degrees for the non-ceramic artist, but my pieces today fired to Cone 5, approximately 2200 degrees.

You might think the temperature difference seems minor, but how hot the kiln goes effects everything about a piece from glaze color and effect to construction of the piece.

These tree cut-outs have been in progress for what seems like forever.  Due to the delicate nature of the piece construction, I choose to fire them at the lower temperature of Cone 5 to ensure that the pieces didn't slump or crack in glaze firing.  These pieces have actually fired a few times with just yuck glaze results, but I think these combinations have finally hit the nail on the head.  Check them out!

Also in this firing was a super wide platter.  It was so wide that I worried a bit about slumping at Cone 10.  I really like how this piece came out.  Shades of greens and ambers all ready for fall!
Last, but not least, the results of my Cone 5 clay samples experiments.  If you remember, I had created the dubiously titled Bacon Barrel Bowl and Hearts with Scraps from some clay samples I have received.  The clay in these pieces has materials that would breakdown if fired too hot (not all clay can withstand higher temperatures).  I really love the red colors of these clays.  I only took one picture of the group, so not a lot of detail.  Sorry!  The hearts came out of the best.  I'm adding twine to them for some great rustic hearts!

This is the first in a new series of Out of the Kiln photo blog posts!  Come back often to check out more!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Foreign Land

Merely walking through the door of my neighborhood Home Depot tends to perplex and confound the most helpful sales associates.  I love Home Depot.  It is a completely strange and wondrous place.

I grew up with a father who always had some kind of woodworking project and a brother who is super mechanically inclined, however there is very little I know or understand about home improvement.  Don't take that statement to mean that I don't own power tools because I do.

I do own power tools.  That doesn't mean I really know how to use them.

Home Depot must have a checklist it hands out to its associates to identify people like me.  From their cautious approach when asking if I need assistance, it is clear that the label, "She has no idea what she's doing," is in block letters across my forehead.

Little do they know that I go to their store exactly because I have no idea what I'm doing.  I wander up and down every aisle.  Yep, that's right, every ... single ... aisle.

It isn't that I don't know what I'm trying to find be it a new display set-up or a texture tool or twine.

My "I need to buy this" thought isn't as fully formed as other shoppers at this popular home improvement store.  You see, I don't know walking into the store how my thought will translate into my purchase.  An item's intended purpose means little to me hence the wandering up and down every aisle.

"I'll know it when I see it," I routinely say to the more persistent sales associates.

I think that phrase strikes fear in their hearts.  I can just imagine them thinking, "God, she has no idea what she's doing.  I hope she doesn't wander over by the cutting station in lumber."

Of course, I do visit the cutting station.   The fifty-one cent bin is right across from it.  The scraps of wood in that bin are often the perfect size and shape.  Its the only place in the entire store I can find without help.
I've always been a tourist.  In fact, I've always been the kind of tourist that everyone hates with hundreds of pictures when just a few would do.  My tourist tendencies are totally paying off these days.

"Oooo, look at that" is a great mentality to have when seeking artistic inspiration.

I highly recommend clearing out any preconceived notions and taking a little tourist jaunt to a "foreign land" for yourself.  You might, okay you will get a few strange looks, but you just might learn something.  Don't worry I won't tell anyone if you take pictures.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
-Juliet, From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

What's in a name?  Or really, what's in a title?  That is the question I've been asking myself lately.

I tend to "title," and I use that word loosely here, my pieces descriptively.  This piece is part of the series inspired by [insert inspiration here], is a [bowl, platter, ?] and is green or some other color.

Does this tell you, my fans, anything about the piece?  Sure, it gives you a factual description.  What you see is what you get kind of thing.

Recently, I've had the pleasure of being introduced to the work of Shannan and Jacqueline from Ellorias Boutique.  They are the creators of wonderful jewelry as you can see from the necklace below.
Photo courtesy of and copyrighted by Ellorias Boutique

Shannan and Jacqueline, like many artists, title their work.  This necklace, for example, is the Sapphira Necklace.  The thing that stuck me most when I first encountered this piece, other than how beautiful it is, was the title.  Why the Sapphira Necklace?  I searched the description for a clue to learn that the this necklace features beads handcrafted to reflect botanical DNA structures ... yet no mention of Sapphira.

Exploring the rest of their work online, I believe that Shannan and Jacqueline have series of pieces similar to me.  They give those series titles, but the titles they choose are typically based on a female name and are wrapped in mystery.  At least they are to me.  I have absolutely no idea why or how the name Sapphira is linked to this particular design series.  I even looked up Sapphira on Wikipedia I was so intrigued with little to aid my deduction efforts.

How different an approach to naming than I use.  When I title a series it is with a fairly straightforward name like "Stained Glass Inspired" or "Mad Hatter Inspired" or simply "Tree."
Descriptive and informative, yet nothing to whet the imagination of my customers.  No mystery.  My inspiration is front and center.
Nothing to allow you, interacting with my work, to pause and maybe wonder ... to apply your own thoughts and interpretations.
I'm tempted to tell myself that I should follow Juliet's advice that no thing or person is improved or made better by a name.
Yet I find that I much prefer the approach of Ellorias Boutique.  They have left me to wonder and fill in the blanks for myself with their title.  Is it just a name they like?  Does the story of Sapphira I found on Wikipedia somehow tie in?  I don't know.
I've seen customers interact with my work at art shows where there is no description or title box handy ... just space, glorious space to apply their own experiences and perceptions to the piece.

Sorry Juliet, but I think I need to re-do my titles.

Ellorias Boutique is just one of many vendors participating in September's CRAFTfest.  Be sure to check out their stall!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eight Dollars, Sixteen Cents

I’ve heard about this thing called CRAFTfest for several months now.  Social media at its finest, you know.  I had checked out the links and thought, hmm ... I should sign-up for that.  And then never did.  That is until last month.

It has been an overwhelming experience.  Don’t believe me, check it out.
  • I’ve met so many talented people from all over the world that I’ve simply lost count. 
  •  I’ve gotten introduced to so many social media sites I’ve never even heard of … Wanelo, Whosin, Craft Juice, Behance, ??? … my head hurts trying to remember all of the names of them. 
  •  I’ve received so many social media marketing tips that I started writing them all down and organizing them old-school fashion on legal paper. 
  •  I’m in the process of uploading every piece of inventory I have into my Etsy shop, so I can have them ready to set-up in my CRAFTfest stall. 
  •  I visited my forgotten Twitter account and actually started posting tweets.
  • I linked my blog and newly created Behance portfolio to my LinkedIn account.
My head spins just thinking about it all especially when I know there are things I’ve forgotten in my list.  I wouldn’t trade the craziness for anything.  I feel like I’m actually on the right track with the online portion of my business for the first time.  I even have the social media stat improvements to show for all my efforts.

Let me tell you more about the inspiration, if you will, behind all this flurry of activity:  CRAFTfest.

CRAFTfest is a week long online art and craft show.  The next show runs from September 1st through September 8th.  Unlike other shows I participate in my stall is set-up and ready to be viewed 24/7 during the event.  Psst … a little secret?  It’s actually up and active now if you want to stop by to browse.

Not local?   

No problem!  The event is online and shipping is available to anywhere in the world.


No problem!  Just let me know to knock off the shipping fees.  I’m happy to meet you with your purchase.


Optional!  Although not if you’re meeting me to pick up a purchase.  : )

So, put aside some time the first week of September and come browse through the stalls of the 155 and counting confirmed stall holders.  Stall holders come from around the world and offer a wide range of products.

To Rachael at Jewellery By Jora

There is something for everyone including JillyBeanPottery fans.  I think it just might be the best $8.16 I've ever spent.