04
Apr

not buttons

An artist needs to be taken by the wind of creativity when it blows. Tiny mushroom houses for a tiny terrarium project: Then on to Scottish thistle pendants. The prototype is on the left.   I have to zip off to mail some parcels! Happy SPRING!

31
Jan

locations far and wide

I’ve finished wrapping up tonight’s packages and tomorrow, I’ll visit the ladies at my post outlet and send these off to locations across North America.  While I was on the phone and marveling about the variety of places I address packages, my mom said “wouldn’t it be interesting to map all the places where you’ve sent buttons?” She was completely right. I wonder often where my buttons and other items live, what they’re doing and if they miss me. If they’ve found the perfect cardigan to secure or are guarding the place in a treasured book. While I have crazy imaginative dreams about the things that have zipped off through the mail, I opened Google maps and started entering city names. This is a graphic representing every unique location that I’ve mailed buttons since April 2012: I love seeing all those little blue dot but now I want to make it my goal to get the people in Wyoming wearing my buttons. Wyoming is a large place and it’s chilly, perfect for a sweater and perfect for buttons. The day I send a package to Wyoming will be a day of intense celebration. Oooh Iceland would look so much more beautiful with a little blue marker too! But, I’ll keep my goal WYOMING and for next anniversary, ICELAND. The one year anniversary of my online shop is in 68 days. SIXTY EIGHT! I’ve had 63 sales directly through my shop and I really want to hit 100 online sales before my anniversary so I’m offering a 10% off coupon code in February. Enter CELEBRATE at checkout! I hope to be mailing a package to you soon (especially if you live in Wyoming).   (note: an updated map is located HERE.)

16
Jan

heart warmers

just one more row Chasing Fire Studio was mentioned on the “Just One More Row” podcast! Dana and Brittany are fibre artists in Tennessee that discuss everything to do with knit, crochet, spinning and everything that fills our lives in between. Just One More Row -Episode 53 (the Big Mention is at 49:43 or so. I was so excited that I noted the time so I could listen to it again and again!) It’s pretty heart warming to hear positive words from these great ladies. —- ETSY I host my online shop in a community called Etsy. It is a collection of handmade, vintage and suppliers online. Not only do I sell, I spend so much time browsing and buying too. I’m a huge fan of the Discovery television show Mythbusters. The stars, Jamie and Adam, are amazing makers and scientists in their own rights. I love to watch science + making + art because all three of these are also passions in my own life. When I found out today that Adam Savage is a regular customer at Etsy? (swoon)  Adam talks about the Etsy community, the artistry, the customer service and the personal touch of hand made items. Being an artisan on Etsy is wonderful and having Adam mention us with such high regard is my second heart warming moment of the day. I can’t wait for the day he wants ceramic buttons. The article to go with the video is here.

15
Jan

art to accent art

More photos of buttons in action! Get a load of these adorable little models. (and check out the buttons on those sweaters! They match perfectly!) These sweaters were knit by Tabitha Rose from Harrodsburg, KY using her own hand dyed yarn. I posted photos of these in November however they are even more beautiful when seen in action. From Tabitha: “The yarn was my Wishfox Dyeworks Arctic Fox Aran, and its 100% superwash bfl, squishy and awesome. 182yd/100g. It took less than one skein for the orange sweater, and I used 2 for the brown/teal, but there are substantial leftovers. The orange is approx 2t, and the brown approx 3-4t. I made the patterns up as I went along, but I’m hoping to get them written up sometime soon. I’m a stay at home mother of one from Central KY. I do all the dyeing and fiber processing myself, in my living room and kitchen, and really put my heart into all of it.” January 1, 2013 was Tabitha’s one year anniversary so please visit her online shop and wish her happy anniversary. To celebrate one year in business, she is offering a special January coupon code “YearOne” for 10% off your order. Enter the coupon code at checkout.

13
Jan

personalized

Typography is so fun. New items in the shop – custom orders for monogrammed mugs. Here is a preview of mugs that are in process:

02
Jan

new buttons in shop

Happy 2013! To celebrate, I’ve added new buttons to the shop: Swing by for a visit. Which are your favourites? What would you like to see in 2013? Cheers -Cara

30
Dec

facebook

We’re now on Facebook! I’ll be keeping the Facebook page and this website somewhat diverse however I’ll be sure to post sales and events in both places. Come on over and give us a like  and add us to your feed if you’d like to keep up with what’s going on in the studio such as kiln peeks, works in progress and receive updates when items are posted in the shop. In other news, buttons are making their way into the shop after a fabulous Christmas holiday filled with family, friends and perogies! I’ve been spending more time making mugs and less time photographing and listing buttons. I do slowly get them done every other day but I’m rather obsessed at the wheel right now. Not only do I have some inspiring custom orders on my plate but I need to give myself a late Christmas gift.  My favourite mug that I’ve ever made is still in daily use but I live in fear of it bouncing off the concrete in the studio and smashing into a thousand pieces. In 2004, I kept only two of this style and the second lost it’s handle last year in a tragic coffee, baby, frying pan juggling act that proved to be ill advised. (The baby is fine. The mug is not.) I’m attempting to create similar friends for the Last 2004 Mug. If I can recreate this shape, my first attempt shown above, then I can make a set, and then I can stop fretting because if one breaks, there will always be another for my hands to cradle. Cheers; -Cara

22
Dec

new marks up!

I hope Santa is bringing you books because I have book bling. Nine new bookmarks were just loaded in the shop and please use coupon code ApocalypseNow for 15% off any order until the end of December!  

16
Dec

a barn full of good things

I’m just back from the Barn Bazaar: Christmas with a Conscience market. Well, not “just” back – I’ve had a snuggle with my little guy, a wonderful meal with my husband and a beverage to sip on with my feet up before coming to tell you all about my afternoon at the market. My day was great. Really great. The morning was spent with a coffee and packing paper,  securing all my pretties, wondering if they’d be coming home again. I love everything I sell, I really do. I have to repeat to myself “I can make more” and although that’s not entirely true because each piece is beautiful at the whim of the Kiln Gods, I know it’s right to let go. I could very well end up as a ceramics hoarder if not for watching people fall in love with what I make. So many times today, someone would come by and touch a piece with that special smile, then wander off, only to return later to make it their own. Even better is the instant, and often loud, joy as someone spots a set of buttons or mug and squeals with delight. That reaction makes my heart soar. It’s easy to love being an artist when there’s events like the Barn Bazaar. Heart warming, laughter having, smile sharing, friend meeting great with fair trade and local artisans that really love what they do. I was able to meet most of the vendors and eyes would flare with excitement when they talked about their wares.  My amazing friend Lori came with me for support and I’m grateful that she was there because the sale was quite steady even before the doors officially opened. As people came by, I was overwhelmed with how lovely and friendly each person was. I even found a few other button fanatics! Most of the mugs I brought along found their way to new loving homes, (one went to the giant-hearted lady of Sowers of Jireh) as did the wee bowls, and more pendants, buttons and bookmarks to count. I was lucky to be next to the wonderful scents of Sweet Cheeks Skin Care – yes, I did score myself some chocolate goat’s milk soap! I’m very hopeful that I’ll be invited back next year. I had so much fun and it was uplifting to meet people that put the priority on spending their money with fair trade and local artisans. For now, I’m going to head to bed to dream of laughing with the new friends at the Barn. ——————- Note: The Etsy Shop is OPEN.  I’ll be photographing and listing new items starting Dec 17 including pendants, bookmarks, large centerpiece buttons and some luscious cufflinks for my Dec 21 Solstice / Apocalypse sale. Use coupon code ApocalypseNow for 15% off your order this week.

10
Dec

Barn Bazaar: Christmas with a Conscience

Come join me and my new friends at the Shawnessy Barn on December 16, 2012 between 2:30 and 5:30pm. We’ll be handmade and fair trading it up at the Barn Bazaar. Do some last minute Christmas shopping and come say hi! Note – On Dec 16, my etsy store will be taken offline for the day and will return on Dec 17.

09
Dec

the kiln, she is hot

Today is glaze firing day! I load the kiln as I finish items so this morning when the last item went in, it was time to crank up the heat and start the cycle. I loaded four shelves that look much like this one: After the horrific failure of the jewelry stand during the last firing leaving pieces permanently fused and nicked, I’ve gone back to glazing only one side of the buttons so they can lay down for glaze fire. Buttons are just as functional with only the showing side fired so I’m at peace with this decision. I wanted to glaze both sides of pendants for the sheer vanity of it however, until I have a new secure jewelry stand for firing, they will also be glazed one side only.  I have some mugs, stands, pendants and bowls in this kiln load as well. I don’t know how I’m going to wait for it to be finished. During the third of nine hours of firing, I was closing the top vent and took this photo for your viewing pleasure. Looks toasty, doesn’t it?: I’m counting down the hours to unpack this baby tomorrow evening! I guess it’s time to go straighten up the neglected house while I wait.

06
Dec

The Sorting

After the buttons, pendants and other pieces have gone through the kiln once, it’s time for glazing. I spend an embarrassingly long time in this stage: THE SORTING. I lay pages with glaze names and I start to sort the 400-500 buttons. They are separated into sets based on their thickness, pattern and, well, my gut. As I group them with their permanent partners, I look at the glaze sheets and try to find where each set fits. Some glazes show off my stamp and texture detail, others mix better with others, some glazes serious, some playful. Some very popular (hello MidRain!) so I weigh the sorting in its favour. A glaze or two might be new so I’m cautious to be sure I’m not assigning too many sets to an untested glaze.  Some pieces I have made with a very specific glaze combination in mind and I check my notebook to separate these correctly. Once they’re all sorted, my notes double checked, my list of custom orders verified, I take a photo of the table and I go to bed. Goodnight little buttons. Glazing begins tomorrow!

04
Dec

cuff links

Remember back in June when I had sent a friend a pair of cufflinks to test drive? As of Thanksgiving, we were calling it a roaring success. Here’s a clip of those beta links at an autumn wedding: The wearer is very impressed with them, and they took a solid beating without so much as a scratch. They also had a rip roaring time at the wedding – maybe that’s not to the credit of the links… but maybe it is! I’ve added four sets to the shop and I’m working on several others for the kiln fire due to be completed Dec 14. The red spiral set that have already been claimed are a perfect match to a red power tie to take on the most daunting of clients so I’ll be glazing several sets red. I love when a plan comes together…

02
Dec

underglazing

I picked up some really cool underglazes recently. These are the Amaco Semi-Moist Underglazes  (“SMUG”) and they go on like watercolour paint. I experimented on some porcelain and the colour on the leather clay before firing was the exact colour after bisque. Spot on. I’m completely amazed because this is a thing that never ever happens in ceramics in my experience. The colour that goes on is usually not even remotely related to what you end up with. Here’s an example of a pot before and after glazing. This is what it looks like just before going into the kiln, and just after it comes out to show that really, a potter has not a clue what it will look like until it’s all said and done. Glazing is my least favourite phase in ceramics because a few minutes applying glaze incorrectly can leave a piece unusable or… just plain ugly :   Not only do the glazes look different before and after firing, layering glazes changes them drastically and a potter cannot rely on the basics of paint colour theory to give them any idea what will happen. Blue + Yellow does not equal green in mid to high fire ceramics. In the kiln, glazes with usually copper or barium in the presence of oxygen = green end colour. To make things a little more interesting, the sequence in which you layer different glazes also matters to the end result. In this example from Mayco, the technician layered two glazes on the plate, first dipping one side and then rotating the plate to dip the other glaze to overlap the first. On the first plate, she dipped the red first, then dipped the blue overlapping. In the second photo, she dipped the blue onto the plate first, then dipped the red overlapping. Note the crazy crystals that formed when the blue was put over the red and the different result from layering in a different sequence. Glazing, she be an exercise in practice, requiring detailed notations on exactly how and in what order the glazes were brushed or dipped. Because I want to be able to reproduce results if they turn out really inspiring, I take incredibly detailed notes when glazing. Now these underglazes are making my heart flutter. The blue, yellow, green, purple and oranges on my test piece made it through green to bisque without a hint of change. Now that I’m turning up the heat 250 degrees C to 1240 C for a cone 6 glaze firing and I’m very eager to see how they do. Between my black underglaze pencil and the SMUGs, the effects that I’m getting are ones I’ve always dreamed of achieving in ceramics.  I’m drawn to charcoal shading and dark lines, light accents of variegated colour and a vast sea of negative space to frame designs. My challenge has been that I want mid to high fire ceramics because of longevity of the end product (they don’t call it stoneware for nothing). However, in the highter temps, colours run or subtle colours “burn off”, disappearing as the temp rises in the kiln, never to return. I wanted something simple in design, lightly tinted with colour with a feeling of watercolour paint on this sample set of mugs. I used the underglazes and underglaze pencil to echo an earlier design I’d etched into tea cups. I’m very pleased. I love Ceramics Canada for being able to order the SMUGs for me so I could avoid a $23 shipping fee. Cross your fingers that these mugs look exactly the same once they arise from the glaze firing. I’m more than a little enamoured with the design.

30
Nov

glazes

I currently have the following glazes available: Sandstone Matte Chocolate   Choco + Sandstone Red Gunmetal Matte Green Crystal Green Turquoise Frost Shiny Clear Pink or Navy Blue: