Monday, March 26, 2007

ta da!

No tears, but more than one little dance of joy, to the amusement of my husband, whom I dragged along to offer moral support as I unloaded the kiln after we dropped the girls off at school today. There is plenty I'm not delighted about, but, despite the kiln getting much hotter than I planned (the cone 7 indicator flopped right over, and I was aiming for 6), nothing exploded or melted or fried.

My blue is more of a teal (those duckies are swimming in an algae-laden pond!), my "mottled green" has more texture to its mottling than I planned on, and a couple of pieces had a bit of crawling. I'll do some things different next time, but, still, they're rather lovely. My test tiles for the low-fire underglazes look promising; lots of colors stayed bright. The clear glaze I found online and mixed with some fudging (my first!) worked beautifully--no crazing!

La de da de la ta da!

The pottery instructor wanted me to keep the pots there to show his advanced students this afternoon, but this evening I'll start to post them in my shop :)! (after calling my sister to see what she wants). GRIN! One little peek is above: the sweetest of the new hedgehogs. Below, his purple petunia stamp. More for my wee collection!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

spring projects

(I just don't want to go to bed, do I?)

Inspired by the Easter decorations photo set on the talented Hilary Lang's website, I thought I'd post some of my favorite creations this season. Spring and Easter. The girls gave me great little suggestions for sets they want me to make them for their baskets; coming soon!

Springtime is such a joy. We moved into a new house at the end of last summer, so all of the starting-to-bloom bulbs planted by previous occupants are delightful surprises. Color we've seen so far: purple crocuses and white snowdrops. Marian has been especially tickled.

biting my nails...

In the studio until nearly midnight again, working on dozens of test tiles (I think it was 72) and starting my first all-by-myself (no instructors or student interns around at that hour) kiln load. Starting the thing is just a matter of pushing a few buttons, but I'm sure that doing it myself will curse it. I chose the oh-so-custom options of a 15 minute soak and a "medium" ramp. Also made my own cone 6 clear glaze, guessing on one ingredient (eek) and chose to fire at cone 6 rather than cone 5 (my glazes are supposed to work at both temperatures) in hopes of glossier results, though it can also mean melted or pitted (burnt) results if I'm wrong. That's the "art" of it, right? My studio in Nashville fired cone 6, so I think I'm just more comfortable there, although I'm using different clay (Standard's cone 5 B-mix) and glazes (Standard rather than Opulence).

Tomorrow I will most certainly start crying when I open the kiln. A big moment...and I'm afraid these pots are my babies. Tears of joy or despair? How much time will I decide to waste trying to salvage....ah, the you feel it with me?

I really should run tests impatient.

The first Annual Furryville School Program

When I was in high school, my younger siblings spent hours building houses for their Furskins: little bear figures with a fairly short-lived retail time. My brother Justin, who wove a magic spell over Camie and Paul for years that entranced them into whatever play he championed, led the younger siblings in elaborate cardboard constructions and multi-media explorations with wee furniture and household goods. Parts of those houses lived in our basement for nearly a decade, representing too much young creativity and sibling bonding to be carelessly trashed. Though quite an imaginative constructor in my day, I was too busy with high school big girl stuff to be involved, but was routinely given tours of the latest additions and have always admired the longevity of their fascination.

My own girls are starting a construction tradition of their own with their Furryville animals, which enjoyed two seasons of being featured in TargetToys, but have met a similar passage into play history. I perversely like it that way; hype usually turns me in the other direction (Harry Potter being a notable exception :) ). Rather than buying some of the accessory sets, I've helped the girls construct a schoolroom and grocery with origami boxes (desks, bookcases, retail counter, shopping carts, grocery bags, cooler, food shelves and displays), small stapled books, black paper chalkboards, and a few carts' worth of tiny Sculpey food (keep in mind that Furryville animals' growth tops out at 2", so the scale is impressively bitty, even for us). All of this fits in one small, flat box, and comes out every month or so for a grand "set up" and 2 or 3 days of play. This weekend, my daughter Audrey (8) really outdid herself in the elaborate level of play. Marian (5) ran the grocery and Audrey was school master. Music, art, and dance studios were carefully set up for the animal students' "socials" (what she calls their enrichment classes, "I don't know why, I just like it!"), and the students rotated through each "afternoon" in frenetic preparation for the "First Annual Furryville School Program." I was the art teacher, a beret-ed raccoon whose enthusiastic accent kept changing (Audrey said it was okay, because he had been traveling the world in his artistic studies). We sculpted goats yesterday when I needed to finish some for my stoneware mugs, and sewed bunnies today when I needed a couple of finishing touches to get them ready for the shop. Both were more or less appropriate for the program's theme: "Farm Animals." The set was Marian's wooden horse stable (a deal from Lillian Vernon), and there was square dancing, dialogue that remained remarkably similar from dress rehearsal to drag-Dad-in final performance, elaborate stage decorations drawn from several other playsets, an audience of 48+ tiny Hamtaro figures (another toy-no-more that we love; still available on eBay from Hong Kong!), and a rousing rendition of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" for the audience to join in on.

Mornings like this are why I love toys!

Friday, March 23, 2007

good and muddy

Worked on glazing pots in the studio until midnight yesterday.
What I started with:

a closer peek at the springtime fauna:

Chalky glazed works. I love this plum shelf in the studio!