"The chief source of art is man's pleasure in his daily work, which expresses itself and is embodied in that art itself."
William Morris (1834-1896)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from home!
I wanted to share our annual Woodstock Santa Claus event with you but wouldn't you know, the camera's batteries went dead before Santa got there!! (We've been working diligently on photographing our work so we can upgrade our website with more closeups.) So we are calling on your faith that Santa did arrive and in style.... Each year he comes in a different vehicle. This year they built a cabin on the flatbed and Santa came up the chimney to the roof, preceded by sparkling dust!
I did get photos of the caroling we all joined in. The old Dutch church on the Village Green always has a brass band and choir leading the crowd in carols while we wait for Santa's arrival.

Woodstockers have a sense of humor. Many donned Santa hats, some with moving sparkles or reindeer antlers. The most uniquely Woodstocker, of course, were the ones that gave Santa the peace sign. Again, if only the camera would have worked!

It doesn't stop us from wishing you all the very best this holiday (whether or not you believe in Santa!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Completion of Tile Floor

The tile floor is completed and looks like it has always been there. Our living room is finally back in order. Now we can sit and admire the orchids as they bloom this winter.

This one, a favorite, is not in the first photo. It is next to me as I photograph. That's Cymbidium 'Golden Elf'.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tile Floor

I've mentioned in an earlier post that we are trying to tile part of our living room floor. Most of the flooring is white oak but we needed to put something besides wood on the part of the floor that all my orchids are on since they are misted daily. (Yes, I know I should have a greenhouse, but....) Then again the wood stove is in the center of the northeast wall so having a wood floor instead of an official hearth was also not great. So we long ago decided to make our own tiles and create an L shape along the side of the living room by the stove and by the windows where the plants are. We already had been making some field & decorative tiles for others on a very small scale. Because we are not "tilemakers" per se, we are not set up to mass produce tiles, ie... we should be ram pressing tiles for efficiency or slab rolling them for uniqueness. Instead, we have made our own plaster molds around forms in this case made from plywood. Solid casting tiles is not the usual way to go but it works for us for a small production. The decorated tiles we sell at art fairs were made by Cherie sculpting images in bas relief on the surface of a cast tile and then making a mold around that.

For this home improvement project, we had to cast a whole lot of field tiles. It seems like we've been doing this forever! Now that we are nearing the end of the project, I thought you might like to see some photos. Some of these were posted earlier; I've repeated them here just to have a continuity.

The photos above are all about solid casting a tile form. We mix our own porcelain slip which you see Steve pouring into the molds. Each mold has two holes on one side, one into which the slip is poured and the other where the slip comes out after it has completely filled the cavity. Slip is kept in the two funnels during the casting time to create a pressure of sorts. Once the appropriate time is up, the funnels and extra slip is removed and the tile remains in the closed mold until the plaster has absorbed the water from the clay. When the mold can be released from the back side, the tile has set up enough to plug the two holes. After some more set up time, the tiles are flipped out onto a plaster bat to set up further before we handle them without misshaping them.

This photo is of Steve cutting special sizes for around the stove and windows. We did not cut them after they were fired. It was easier for us to do custom make the shapes needed and it produced a smoother edge. Here are some drying on a rack with others behind them that have been glazed and ready to fire and one finished one.

Now for the laying of the tiles:
We put down tile board last year (!) This summer we finally had accumulated enough tiles to lay them out and see how they looked. We started in the corner.

Once we determined that we had almost enough tile to complete the installation,
Steve set the tile with adhesive.

To determine whether the grout color was to our liking, we made a mock up.

Grouting the tile was quite a messy job....let Cherie do that!

Grout is done. We are now waiting for it to dry before sealing the entire floor. Then of course there is some finishing to do, like the edging between the wood and the tile. We'll post some more photos when the floor is done and we've moved back into our living room!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Return from Florida

We've returned from our Florida fair and family holiday visits. We hope you all had a wonderful holiday too. The 30-50 mph winds and no cable service greeted us but hey! it is definitely not Florida here...or is it? There weren't any hurricane type gusts of wind down there!
We took a chance on a show in St. Petersburg on the Gulf mid coast across the Tampa Bay from where my folks live, CraftArt2009. How was it? beautiful, lovely weather, good artisans, good food and hospitality but no buying crowd........ so it was disappointing... Russian roulette at best. Fortunately, we did make expenses and combined it with a family visit so it served its purpose. However, for a true test of how we would do at a Florida show, we'll rely on Winterpark in 2010. Winterpark is a very well established show so we would expect it to have a good buying clientele (i.e..people that wait for that particular show to purchase beautiful hand crafted objects for their homes and as gifts). CraftArt2009 had one strong recommendation in a trade magazine.
Our pots looked great! We even tried to wax local by placing palmetto in our wall pockets rather than the usual long grass. Instead, there were quite a few New Yorkers who stopped by recognizing our listed address in Saugerties!

Just look at that pedestal bowl in the front right corner .... Wow!
Here is a measure though of our sales: the crowd was so thin that we had time to add up the value of the pots we had on display. That is a first! a first in over 30 years!! Any idea? Give me a guess in the comment area... come on.......

Now for the drive there, we got stir crazy and stopped for a mile walk in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge in Summerton, SC. It is so close to 95 that it was a blessing for sure. The landscapes were beautiful and could inspire some landscape pieces for next year.

Doesn't this Spanish moss remind you of Newcomb pottery from Louisanna?

After the show, we meandered over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the other side of the bay and found that the locals on Anna Marie Island had already set up their sandcastles for holiday viewing.

Then on the way home, we drove through some luscious scenery in SE Georgia. What a beautiful and varied country this is! We counted our thanksgivings!

all except for the green boiled peanuts....ew!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kiln Firing 11/16/09

It is difficult to choose the best of the kiln. Sometimes all the pots look equally beautiful but the newest pieces will be the ones that make the top grade. That's because they are special to us for pleasing us with their success. It could be a new glaze, new glaze combination, a new form or just a perfect balance between form and glaze that captures our appreciation. Sometimes the artists' pick of the kiln really should be two pieces... a toss up! Well, that is the case tonight. I can't choose between these two. The bowl is a new shape Steve threw and large as well. It also has our new glaze on a geometric design....very handsome.

However, I have to show you this white lotus. It is gorgeous.

So there you have it ... two for one, so to speak....
We leave for Florida now and will catch up with you on our return.....
Have a good Thanksgiving. We are grateful for your support.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The pedestal process

We are working overtime to get pots to take to a show in St. Petersburg, Florida this coming weekend. Last night was another glaze firing and there is yet one more before we leave on Wednesday.

This one had the bowl for the pedestal I raved about last post. Here are a few snapshots of the finished piece and a lot of photos of working with the pedestal. Enjoy!

If you take a look at the slide show ('November Pot of the Month') I posted at the beginning of the month, you'll see the throwing process involved in building up a tall piece. Here you'll see the difficulty in just handling large pieces without breaking them. The two photos above capture the before and after decorating.

Because they are so fragile when dry and not fired, Steve placed the pedestal in the kiln to dry slowly (without the heat). The weight alone would require too much tension in handling for a dry piece.

This is the bowl that will sit on top of the pedestal drying on plaster. They were made separately.

The pedestal has been through the first firing and is ready to glaze.

Ready to fire.