"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)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Opening the kiln

We fired again last night, the 28th, and opened the kiln tonight, the 29th. Here you can see the glazed pots loaded ready to fire and then the finished results. If you count the number of rows of electric kiln elements (the horizontal stripes) in the photo above and compare with the photo below, you'll see the evidence of the 10% shrinkage the pots typically make.

One of our cats, Powder, helped pick the best of the kiln.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Unloading kiln

We unloaded the last firing. The kiln has to be slowly cooled for 12 hrs. before we prop open the lid to facilitate the process. Once it is around 250 degrees, we open the lid all the way.

Then using hot pads, we carefully unload the top shelves, remove those shelves and allow the next section to cool off. Eventually all the pots and shelves are removed from the kiln. This kiln was filled with our 'Classics' for orders and anticipated sales at our final two retail shows in October.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Steve has been glazing the bisque pots for several days now. The photo on the left shows the kiln almost loaded; the one on the right is completely loaded. We are firing tonight.

Here are some closeups of some of the process. You can see him applying wax over the buds on a 'Classics' pot that he has already painted with our yellow glaze. Waxing will protect the yellow glaze from color contamination when he dips the pot into the bucket of green glaze. After waxing over the yellow bud, the pots are turned over and a clear glaze is painted on all the bottoms over the signature(s) being careful not to paint glaze on the actual foot of the pot. Then the bottoms are waxed including the foot.

Once the wax is dry, the pots are ready for the inside glazing which is done by pouring the glaze in, swirling it around so it covers and pouring it out.

then the entire pot is carefully dipped into the bucket of glaze

and any glaze that remains on the waxed foot or yellow buds is wiped off carefully.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Busy Sunday

Today has been a busy day. Steve is throwing again while his decorated pots are drying. I finished the second holly and am getting ready to decorate a thistle. Here are some photos I just took.

Sometimes customers notice that the sizes of our production pieces aren't what we have described online. This pile of clay balls shows you the difference between the amount of clay used to make a Small or $120 pot and the amount used for some of our medium special pots.
All the "Small" size of pots are made individually from the same amount of clay. The same goes for the "Mediums" and other sizes. What makes the variation between different pots of the same size description is humidity in the studio, moisture in the clay and Steve's ability on that day to manipulate those factors! When the clay is too wet, it has less 'body' so it doesn't throw as well. If the weather is too humid, the clay absorbs some of that moisture and doesn't set up as quickly while throwing. In both those scenarios, Steve may throw a pot with thicker walls and not as tall. This variation is the reason we request that customers wanting 2 similar pieces order them at the same time rather than our attempting to match an existing finished pot. On the other hand, humid weather is great for decorating pots because they don't dry too fast while we are working on them.

Here are the completely decorated hollies I've been working on. If the pots are drying fast, we turn them over after a while so the bottoms don't crack from uneven drying.

and the thistle I am starting now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Special Holiday Holly

Being a potter full time involves some business as well as making pots. Working for yourselves means you are responsible for all the many varied parts of a business. This week I packed orders which I then took to UPS in Kingston about 40 minutes from here. I also spent some time in the office working on invoicing those sent orders, bringing the books up to date, applying to art fairs and making some calls to our wholesale galleries. It is all a part of being a viable business. Fortunately I grew up in a family business so it really is natural for me to play with my own business only the stakes are higher!
I finally got back into the studio today (where Steve has been all along!) to work on a new piece that I wanted to make for the upcoming holidays. I've always thought it would be interesting to advertise just one pot in a magazine like the "New Yorker" for the holidays.You see those kind of ads in the margins all the time and wonder 'Is that a good idea?' Well, of course, I think that would be too much of a gamble for the two of us. First, it probably costs too much and secondly we might not be able to make all the orders in a timely manner. I think you definitely would need to be prepared to win even if you lost. It is a bit late to make a stock of one item as a venture for this year. However, I am going ahead with the idea of making a special holiday piece and will offer it on our website(and here on our blog) if it comes out nicely. I decided on making something with Holly as a theme this year because it represents bright good humor in evergreen. I actually have 3 holly bushes in my garden, photos shown. The last photo is, of course, the pot in the making.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Unloading the Kiln

We fired the kiln on Thursday night and unloaded it this morning. It has to cool at least 12 hours.
Some people have inquired as to how many pieces fit in a kiln load. Since our pots vary so much in size, the number of pieces that fit in a firing varies also. Here is what fit in this last firing:

The second photo is of the ginger that I was working on earlier.