Sunday, April 29, 2007

on the spot

A week or so ago a woman called and asked if I would come to her church to do a pottery demonstration. I knew that it was not uncommon for churches to ask a potter to do this--there is a reference in Jeremiah comparing the potter's work on the wheel to God's work in our lives. I also knew it is hard to get a volunteer for these events. Some how I let all that persuade me to agree to do the demonstration if she could provide a wheel--I did not want to risk damaging my wheel by moving it. She did find a portable wheel. Of course, by then I was sorry I had agreed to participate. Then I remembered that she had said that the church is in Castroville (about 35 miles from my home), that they wanted me to be there Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and that she had said, "we only need about a 5 minute demo". How foolish can I be? But I had committed and I would keep my promise.

My demos were yesterday and today. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it all was. It is a young church, still growing, many attractive young people very involved in the work of the church. I was perched on the right-hand end of the wide stage facing forward, away from the congregation--they were seeing a 3/4 view of me and my work. I was left to throw my pots through all of the service (I had squawked a bit at the suggestion of a 5 minute demo). The comparison of the work of God on our lives to the work of the potter at the wheel was made a couple of times but other wise I felt quite inconspicuous. And I very much enjoyed listening to the teachings on spiritual formation while I threw my pots.

Friday, April 27, 2007

showing off

I am excited about a bowl I carved yesterday. The challenge will be getting it fired wihtout it cracking. But for now, I am excited:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

the old saw

Where did that phrase come from? But anyway, it is right, the old saw that says if you are blocked just get out into the studio and do something--anything. And sure enough it turns the juices on, ultimately!

I am on a kind of roll. I have a lot of things in the works--not ready to show them off--but it has me pretty excited. I've got some pots to glaze and quite a few to bisque fire. But what has me kind of excited is that some of the pieces that are ready for the bisque fire have serious decoration work already in the works.

And I have lots of 'experimental' work going on. That is where growth comes from--playing around, experimenting, just trying something out to see what will happen if...

Not much of a post, but like just getting oneself into the studio, it is something and it may get me started!

Friday, April 20, 2007


Silence can be a good thing...and it can be a real bore! I've been wondering about my own silence recently. Have I not posted anything in the last couple of weeks because I don't have anything to say or because I don't want to say publicly what I do have to say? Probably the latter though I laugh at myself for such a thought since I know very well how non-applicable the word public is to my blog! But I have not wanted to talk here about my block in the studio nor the little steps to overcome it that I have made recently. But in my pottery journal I have written rather extensively about both!

Perhaps it has to do with the experimental stage I find myself in right now. I am trying to find my path, as it were, through all the possibilities that are available to me right now. I had decided on some glazes I wanted to make in large quantities. Even made a list of ingredients I needed and went to Clayworld to collect them. Then when I went out to the studio yesterday to start mixing up the glazes I did a 180 degree turn around and decided that I was NOT going to make more glazes. I am going to empty out all the little containers I have of 'test glazes' first. I wish I could select a tidy little collection of glazes--maybe 6 or 8 glazes--and just stick with those. But I just can't be that determinate. Because I don't really know what I want to make--so I need all possibilities at my fingertips. But that does not help either! And the indecision is not limited to glazes. I tried to make a little list of 'things to make' and it is a LONG list of things to make--again I can't make up my mind what to focus on.

Recently I acquired a collection of Ceramics Monthly magazines from the 1980s ad 1990s. I was surprised to see that well known potters are making the same pots today that they were shown making 20 years ago. I just acquired a beautiful book of the work of potter Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. Her work is elegantly simple--so appealing to me--and she has been making the same pots for years.

I long to be committed to something enough to make it over and over again, striving for greater refinement of the basic concept. Someone asked me once if I made anything else besides bowls. I took that to be a criticism. Perhaps I should go back to making just bowls unabashedly!

Monday, April 09, 2007


The kiln-god was busy in my behalf over the weekend. I had nightmares of the lids being glazed to the pots and repeatedly called on the kiln-god to protect the two casseroles. You can not imagine my surprise or my delight when I reached into the warm kiln Sunday morning and hesitantly tried to lift the lid on the closest casserole--and it came right up--not even slightly stuck! Oh, my gosh, and then the same experience with the other casserole! And besides that, the glazes were nice and even--I'm so tired of getting 'curtaining' on all my glazed pieces. I had sprayed the casseroles and the covering was great.

Next firing I am going to try including the whole kiln load in my pleas for the kiln-god's intervention! Those two casseroles that I was so concerned about and which seem to have been protected by a greater power were the only unmitigated joys! One of my experimental platters cracked across the mid-section, another slumped a bit in the middle, and the third did not take the glaze as well as did the casseroles. I had 9 rice bowls in the firing that I used as glaze test pieces. I put 2 different glazes on each so I could see how the glaze did on larger pieces, how they overlapped and how the various combinations might work together. Well, I can see how they work on larger pieces but none of the combinations is very attractive. Though I gained more than lost on that experiment, they could have come out as little jewels and they did not!

Friday, April 06, 2007

finally firing

I thought I would be glazing on Wednesday. I started carrying pieces to be glazed out to the carport where I would spray glaze. But I didn't get very far. So I planned to do the glazing on Thursday. Thursday morning I took my glazes and equipment I would use to the carport--that is many trips in and out of the house. But I had a couple of commitments mid-day and by the time I got home there was no point in starting the glazing then. So today, Friday, I finally started on the glazing. I began about 9:30 am--that is about as early as I start anything--and had finished the glazing, the kiln loading, and the putting-away-everything by about 7:30 pm! A LONG day!

I am familiar with the tradition of making a 'kiln god' to guard over and bless each firing. And that appeals to me. And I always intend to make a kiln god and participate in the tradition on the next firing. But by the time I get the kiln loaded I am so exhausted and relieved I never remember to do the kiln-god thing. This week I saw a film from Japan--all in Japanese--which showed the beginning of a kiln firing in which all the participants bowed to the kiln and went through a little ritual of thanksgiving for the clay and request for blessing on the firing. I determined, again, to do something in that vein with my next firing. But I did not. I was so intent on cleaning up--a huge job--before I collapsed that I never gave it a thought until just now as I began to write about starting this firing. Is it too late to request a blessing on this firing? I do so hope to have happy results when I open the kiln on Sunday.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I just unloaded the bisque firing. Bisque firings are usually not very special. No color, nothing final, just a step along the way. But this was exciting BECAUSE I had expected several of the handbuilt pieces--and my little squash pot that I dropped and badly dented--to have cracks and worse. But, amazing, no cracks! Everything is intact!

Today I mixed up 7 glazes to try out on this bisque batch. Can't do anything tomorrow as I am working at SSAC in the morning and doing grandmother duty in the afternoon. So I can't glaze until Wednesday--when it is expected to be raining. Today was gorgeous, a great day to set up outside to spray glaze but the pieces were not ready nor the glazes. Hope the predictions for rain on Wednesday are off by a day or two. I'd love to get these glazed and into the glaze firing this week.

Speaking of rain--we have had SO much rain. Hard to get my greenware dry enough to fire. But every living thing outside is very happy about it. The whole world is a wonderful green--makes you happy just to look outside!