Simple yarn bowl looking for fibre artist. Must love yarn and spending time together. Don’t mind Netflix, TV, podcasts, or music as long as we can be close. If interested, meet me at the Edmonton Fibre Frolic at Chasing Fire Studio booth, and we can start our future together.
Leah at Travel Taste Create is featuring artists during her “Let me introduce you” series. I’m so excited and very honoured to be a featured artist! Her assignment for me really made me think: What are my influences? Why do I make what I make? Do I have a philosophy around my own art? Please go take a read – I explain why I can’t stop making buttons and mugs, and how you inspire my work. Travel. Taste. Create.
Saturday was our favourite semi-annual outing! You may know my friend Lori as the cheery and helpful woman at my face-to-face sales table. During the year, we have our seasonal hot date to the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) Show & Sale. This time, we packed up Calgary newbie Jill with us to check out the creativity of the students. The artwork was a mixture of hilarious, provocative, inspiring, technically awe-some and as much as I don’t want a larger house, I do want one with more walls and display areas. There were several pieces that made me think differently about pattern and design, and other pieces that I marveled over the planning and execution. And I regret not buying a linocut of a trash bag. Really. We also took a walk through the ACAD Open House that was happening at the same time. The Open House gave me my new swaggy ACAD hat that keeps my head at perfect temperature during the cold nights in the studio. Please excuse the busted iphone camera selfie but this is as clean as it’ll ever be, so I thought I should capture the moment while I can. The Open House had several interactive components, and we did stop to take part in the observational drawing. A multi-part still life was set up in the middle of the room, and each person could choose their marking tool aka chalk, pastel, conte, charcoal, and take a large piece of paper to a drawing easel and get to it. Lori cracked a joke about the people across from us drawing US, so I decided to do the same. Sadly, my model left halfway through completion, so I tried to finish the drawing without the “observational” component. It was a very freeing exercise to draw rather quickly without hindrance of end goal, then simply recycle the piece. Lori chose a bone from the still life and used a white conte to catch the highlights – she seemed very pleased. Jill, a fan of using pen, really wished that any of us had brought pens. I’m always so envious of the ACAD students but they may be envious of me because I have my own space, my own studio, my own equipment. It’s definitely in the cards tor me to take an extended education course at ACAD, but not quite yet. I’ll keep making things in the studio, reading books, pour over potter forums, and experiment with my own practice until I can be the old gal in the class, asking odd questions about that one time I tried to make a mold and whoa-doggy, I’d like supervision when trying that again.
The Annual Fairview Studios Pottery sale was this past weekend. I dove in because as much as I love to make pottery, and I love to be surrounded by wonderful handmade tableware created by other artists. I’m not exactly joking when I tell people that I sell pots so that I can buy pots. My motto: If you’re going to use it every day, it should be beautiful and inspiring. On that note, my first two purchases at the show were these lovely fish themed narrative bowls. I picked up both available bowls, and they go very well with the foursome of red koi bowls that are already in our cupboard. These beauties were created by Calgary potter Ashley Morrow . Affected by the Calgary floods in 2013, a trout could’ve be swimming through her home at that time as water brought devastation to Calgary and area. The movement of the water, and the visible making/carving lines of the artist thrilled both Jason and I. These have definitely found a loving home with us. When I’m at pottery sales, I’m primarily drawn to techniques that I enjoy, or that are on my list to try in our own studio. For me, clay carving is meditative, and I adore how glazes break over ridges, how glaze pools into lines. Lorraine Chartier’s ware focuses on organic lines, carved deeply into her pots, appealing to both sight and touch. The blue glaze with snippets of brown on the waved curls won me over, and one of her smaller items came home with me. Next up is Festival of Crafts in Calgary Thursday – Sunday where I’m looking for beer steins that would pair nicely with our growlers. We’ll see what we find – or we’ll see what we make when we get home if our stein search is unsuccessful.
We get by with a little help from our friends. In this case, it is my niece (and an artist in her own right) Jill Reynaud at the button table with me. Her eye for texture makes it easier for me to accept help, and she didn’t even flinch when I used the term “aggressively sponge”. I am a control freak when it comes to accepting help in the studio, and up until now my Mom, with a lifetime of artistry under her belt, had been the only other to touch the buttons. There are many that have offered and I’ve always declined because quality control is my #1 priority, and I don’t want to offend helpers by harping at them to “do it my way”. I need for ceramic buttons, diz, pendants, and everything else coming out of the studio to have smooth edges so they never catch or cut yarn. Smoothing every edge and hole is incredibly time intensive, but I personally feel that the final product quality is worth it. With two fibre shows coming up, and custom orders waiting for my attention, getting some help is the only way to get clay beauties into everyone’s hands. The clay gods heard my cries, and Jill arrived, eager to jump in. And I don’t offend her (or if I do, she just smiles and keeps making beautiful things) Thank you, Jill!
The Red Clay Rambler himself, Ben Carter of @carterpottery , at a wonderful workshop at North Mount Pleasant Arts Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Ben is a magnificent instructor, and my own rumination on pattern and proportion as a result will be guiding my next round of bowls. More greatness from Ben can be found on his website Tales of the Red Clay Rambler #ceramics #LifeLongLearning
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.)
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.