Posts made in June, 2011

Resolutions Reviewed

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in About Me, Photography, Pottery, Teaching | 2 comments

As a true Resolutionist, I couldn’t let the end of June pass without a status review of my 2011 resolutions (it is a neurotic burden).  June is the half-way mark after all.   So here it is: Better Pots – The general focus for 2011 is practice and refinement.  The shows that we have planned are providing plenty of opportunity for me to be purposeful and mindful when I make pots.  I feel like I have so many pots to make, so I make the same pot multiple times with the same surface treatment.  It gives me lots of opportunity to refine and tweak things.  I am having a lot of fun because I have a goal and I feel like I have time to achieve it. Improve Classes: I am trying to improve class instruction and bring more interesting projects to the ceramics class.  I am more consistent about bringing finished pots to class to inspire the potters to work on the projects – some of the class projects have been more successful than others.  I have been conscientiously watching how I make pots while I throw on my own.  Then I practice explaining the process – it means I talk to myself a lot but it has increased my awareness of how to articulate movements. Photography:  I want to take photographs that capture the pots as they are.  I think I have gotten better – mostly that is because I shoot in natural light.  I recently hit an obstacle – I broke both cameras.  I am planning to purchase another this week.  I haven’t read a photography book but I will do that after I get the new camera. Drawing:  I have a book that I want to work through to prepare for a pottery workshop in August.  The workshop is approaching fast and the book is unread…. Blog:  I intended to write 2 entries/week to keep the website from feeling stagnant.  I have managed to sustain the goal and I really enjoy the challenge of writing and editing.  It is more satisfying than I would have thought – sometimes it is hard to come up with a topic and other times I feel like there are so many things I could write on.  I am really encouraged by the feedback and critiques I have received which have often helped me see things from a different perspective. Thank you to everyone who checks in with this blog.  I am very touched that you choose to spend time reading my thoughts and...

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Weekend Retreat

Posted by on Jun 27, 2011 in About Me, Sous-potter | 1 comment

My friend came for the weekend.  As Jeff was away and Julie went out of town, I thought it would be fun to have a retreat weekend.  I invited her and her dog on the condition that it would be a work retreat.  She oil paints and I have a lot of pottery to make.  And, I am a sucker for a theme – so declaring a Retreat Weekend felt like a good idea. It was fun; and, Braum had a blast playing with his friend – it was dog-wrestling mania all weekend long.  We took a walk, drank coffee, had snacks, and even watched a movie (How to Train Your Dragon – which was really cute).  And, we both spent time working.  She set up in my dining room and I worked in my studio. I worked on a list of orders, straightened the studio, and wedged clay.  It wasn’t an overly productive weekend but very satisfying.  I like working and it was nice to know that she was entertained while I was throwing.   It was also nice having a bit of structure to the weekend.  I planned the meals in advance – nothing special by my standards, basic food that was prepared quickly.  But, the company made it even more...

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Potter’s Tool Kit – Studio Tools

Posted by on Jun 25, 2011 in About Me, Review, Tools | 0 comments

Acquiring tools will not make better pots – practicing with them will. Every potter has a set of core tools – tools that she uses consistently in her tool kit.  But, there are also some tools that are too large to fit in most portable kits.  These are the studio tools.  Even when I didn’t have my own studio, I owned several studio tools because the art centers didn’t supply them. Tile Bat Tile Bat System – This is a great and affordable alternative to plastic and plaster bats.  I ordered it from Pottery Supply House; it comes with one tile so I purchased an additional box of tiles.  I sealed the tile bat (well I had my generous father seal the tile bat) with polyurethane.  I used a sharpie to mark the one corner of the bat and the corner of each tile (I used my initials since I often use the tiles in other studios); this allows me to re-align the tiles in the same orientation.  It takes a while to season the tiles and throwing with a lot of water can cause the pots to slip on the tile.  But, the tiles take up less shelf space; and, if I don’t want to undercut a pot, it will pop off the tile as it dries.  Since majority of the pots that I throw have base-diameters that are less than 6″, the tile bat is ideal. Test Sieve – This is an indespensible tool for every potter because it is perfect for sieving a pint of glaze.  It is portable and worth carrying for glazing sessions.  I also have a set of 14″ sieve basins that I bought from PSH that are very affordable and have held up well.  But, I feel like I waste a lot of glaze if I sieve a pint because there is so much residual glaze left in the large surface area of the basin. Dremmel tool – I stole Jeff’s dremmel (he wasn’t using it and now it is being used for a higher calling).  This is great for smoothing bottoms and edges of bisqueware or glaze-ware.  It is also handy for buffing out nicks in ribs. Banding Wheel Turn Table – I didn’t purchase a banding wheel until I found a heavy duty one at an affordable price.  And, when I did, I bought 2.  Some of the less expensive banding wheels are light weight aluminum and don’t turn easily.  This particular banding wheel is as good as the more expensive Shimpo banding wheels.  Banding wheels are very helpful when decorating a pot or attaching appendages (like spouts and handles).  I purchased mine from Daven’s Cermaic Center in Atlanta; I haven’t seen it at a lower price elsewhere but their on-line catalog is cumbersome. Giffin Grip Giffin Grip – The most controversial tool in a potter’s kit.  Apparently, this tool inspires vigorous philosophical debate.  But, as I love multiples, I find it to be a valuable tool for saving time.  It has limitations and is not the answer for every pot; but what it does, it does well.  And, although it is pricey, I believe it to be worth the...

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Having a Partner

Posted by on Jun 22, 2011 in A Bit Off Center, About Me, Parnter, Teaching | 2 comments

Julie and I met at a community art center while taking pottery classes; and, in 2008, we started working together.  Working with a partner has been great because I have made more pottery, tried more glazes, attended a lot of workshops, and started selling in stores and shows.  By partnering with Julie, I have gone further in ceramics in a shorter time because she pushes me more than I would push myself – if left to my own devices I would lie on the couch for a large portion of my life. Julie is kind, direct, honest, hard working, high energy, driven, and generous.  She is also brave – she will try a lot of things that I wouldn’t give a second thought.  She began teaching adult pottery classes before I did; in fact, she encouraged me to teach before I felt confident.  Julie isn’t intimidated by colors the way I am – she is bold and will try combinations on pots rather than testing them first and she has a great natural sense of aesthetics. She is fun but focused.  I think I am slack but she says she is the slacker.  I guess since we both have that perspective, it works out.  She handles a lot of things that I am not good at – marketing, PR, interfacing with clients.  And, she humors me as I handle the administrative tasks – things she could do but doesn’t enjoy. Our pots are collaborative which means that there is a lot of discussion and compromising.  Having a partner forces me to articulate what I want to do or why I am doing it – which makes my ideas tangible.  Often, this process helps me understand my ideas better and develop new ones. There may come a time when we need to have some space to develop our individual aesthetics but that isn’t now.  For the moment, we have common goals and rely on each other to accomplish those goals.  I have a partner but I also have a friend – and I am very thankful that the Lord brought her into my life.  So today I will eat cake in her honor – Happy Birthday,...

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Show Season

Posted by on Jun 18, 2011 in About Me, Craft Show, Multiples, Selling Pottery, Teabowl, Wine Coaster | 2 comments

Big news… A Bit Off Center has been accepted into the Autumn Leaves Festival which is a HUGE craft show and festival in Mt. Airy, NC.  This is exciting and a bit intimidating. Shows are to potters as races are to runners.  Runners run; but, they are most focused when there is a 5k on the horizon.  This is what preparing for shows feels to me.  I plan inventory goals and then start to throw and glaze until the big day.  Or, in the case of Autumn Leaves Festival, I throw and glaze until the big 3 day weekend. If we are accepted into all the shows that we have applied to, then this will be our largest show season yet.  That means I have a lot of pots to make – Exciting!  I will be well on my way to accumulating my 10,000 hours of practice. There is something compulsive in me that loves to quantify things so when I first read about the 10,000 hour rule, I was really encouraged – I can be a master potter if I practice and strive to improve for 10,000 hours!  Which is even more reason to make the multiples that I  love.  And, making multiples gives me an opportunity to improve my technique and freedom to explore variations.  Also, having inventory goals and show dates really focuses me and takes away the luxury of slothfulness – or at least I hope that...

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