Sunday, October 28, 2007

another busy weekend

I am really exhausted tonight. Probably not a good time to try to create a post. I spent Saturday at the Texas Clay Festival in Gruene, TX with hundreds of potters and collectors. The day was glorious and pots wonderful. I went by myself so I was free to wander as long as I liked through the 50 displays and back again and again! I saw work of potters I had not seen before. Saw some friends, too, that I enjoyed chatting with. One friend asked me what I liked best of what I had seen. I was taken back a bit. I had not thought in those terms during my morning stroll through the displays. But I decided I should have been looking more closely, more conscientiously. So I started my rounds all over again asking myself if I was fond of these pots and if so why. I did not bother asking the same question of the pots I was not fond of--maybe I should have. But it did make my rounds richer for me. I think I came home with more than I had in the past. I was not buying work. I am facing packing up and cleaning out in the immediate future so bringing more into the house that has to be packed and moved is not appealing! It might be a mistake to be bringing home ideas of work I want to try my hand at--since I should be packing my studio instead.

Today I went to Waring, TX to participate in the fall festival at the Guadalupe Crossing Market. Again, a beautiful day. There were not hundreds of people there but it did feel more personal. It seemed that most, but not all, visitors had some connection with someone at the gallery. The gallery had several of their artists there to meet customers and visitors. It had such a nice, country, down-home feeling. I enjoyed being part of the celebration and grateful to have been included. But I am mighty tired tonight!

Many friends and family ask me regularly, "Have you started packing?" Well, as of this week I will be able to respond, "Yes!" As that will be my focus for the next 2 months!

Monday, October 22, 2007

full steam ahead

It was a busy week. After 3 years of negotiation, the property on which we live along with other members of Jim's family has finally been approved for re-zoning--from residential to commercial. It is good news and bad news. Good because it means the sale of the 30+ acres will close shortly and we will be able to close on the house we have found to move into. It means a lot to my in-laws to be able to liquidate this property and move into a retirement home where Jim's mother will be cared for with little demand on her and allow his father a little freedom from his care-taking responsibilities. Bad news because we really did not want to give up our home which we built 28 years ago. But it feels like just good news because it has dragged on so long we are relieved to have some finality about the change. So now it is time to start packing--almost! Gotta get those two closing accomplished first!

The potters guild sale was Saturday. It was a beautiful day--though we were inside and did not really get to enjoy it. But there did not seem to be a good crowd at the show--maybe it was just too pretty a day to be indoors! I sold some pots and got to see lots of friends so it was a good day.

I had planned to close up the studio once the guild sale was over and focus on packing and moving. But, I spent some time with a potter friend yesterday looking at her glaze tests and talking about her processes for glazing and decorating. Well, I came home wanting to clean up the studio and make some of the glazes she shared with me and do some glaze over-lapping experiments--that is much more attractive to me than starting to pack. Oh, dear...
We are going to make the garage into a studio and I have to plan it out. I want to get the best advantage out of the space but am not satisfied with my plans so far. Need to think outside-the-box to get everything to fit into-the-garage! So I am off to pack? pot? plan? full steam ahead!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

oops, time flies

I am amazed to see how long it has been since I last posted. It does not seem so long because I've been talking to my blog readers for days now! I have had so many things I wanted to write about but have not found the time to sit down and put it into words--and I don't have any new pictures to post.
I've been thinking about how much I appreciate the opportunity to see into other potters lives (through their blogs) and how interesting it is to discover the commonality among us potters. It seems that our inner experiences are incredibly similar in spite of the wide discrepancies in experience, skill and talent. Even the potters who produce fabulous work write about pressures to produce work on time, of good quality and wide appeal. In a way, I guess I most enjoy reading about the disappointments and challenges because they reassure me that I can keep on struggling and not fret too much over my own failures.
I will have a booth in our guild's pottery sale Saturday. I have really struggled to get work made for this show even though I've known about it for months. It seemed just like the year-end theme for a college course: you know all semester or year that it will be due in May. Yet for some reason (or none) you can't determine the subject and how to develop it until there is almost no time left. Then finally you are off and running just hoping that you get to the finish line before the due date has passed. That is how it has felt these last couple of months. I seemed unable to produce anything until just a week or so ago. I've had to have the kiln running non-stop--and of course that is when it began not firing just right. It has fired so consistently ever since I got it 2 1/2 years ago but now it is very inconsistent. Well, I take care of that after the move. For now, just gotta get the work done and packed for the show on Saturday.

Monday, October 08, 2007

what a great day!

I really enjoyed my day with Ruthanne Tudball. Besides being a fabulous potter she is a lovely, charming lady! And generous, too. The above are some pieces of her work that she bought to show and to sell. Then she demonstrated making each of these pieces in great detail. So here is a little outline of the evolution of the charming bottle you see on the left.

She throws a nice bottle.
Then squeezes it between to small masonite boards.
With her 'cheese cutter' she cuts her classic swirls into the soft clay.
She adds a 'kick' in the skirt...
and lugs for 'arms'.
Voila! Here it is!
It is so exciting to watch someone work with clay who has such confidence and such an alive relationship with the clay. She does all sorts of manipulation of the clay while it is still soft on the wheel--no time letting it set up and no use of a heat gun to dry it out. She stresses that she is not working with wet clay--she does not add much water as she works--but soft clay. Yet, in spite of all the handling of the soft objects there is no indication of that handling--no finger marks or indentions in the clay other than what she wants there!

Her opening piece was my favorite--though I do love the bottle:
I am sorry it is not a better shot--it is such a graceful form! Ruthanne talked about the value of drawing for any artist--it trains one to see. She does life drawings--has for years--and in August had her first showing of the drawings. She did not draw with the intention of showing her drawings but just for her own development. Can't you see the dancer in this pot!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

exciting opportunity

I just learned, almost too late, that Ruthanne Tudball will be giving a demonstration and slide presentation on Sunday in Austin. I've long admired her work. She has published a book on salt/soda firing and for that she is widely known. She is American by birth and English by marriage. She got interested in clay after moving to England in the late '60s.

A blogging buddy in England speaks highly of her work, too. So when I heard about the possibility of seeing her work I jumped at the chance. Fortunately, there is still room--because it is a demo and not a hands-on workshop which is always very limited.

My interest in this event is enhanced by the focus on throwing and how she works in such a way that she does little or no trimming once the piece is off the wheel. Her work has a very fresh and relaxed look because of the way she works on the wheel and I am intrigued to learn something about that, too. I am really looking forward to this special opportunity.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Well, I say I am pushing to get work made for Clay Ole but I seem to find lots of distractions! Last night I found a very pleasant distraction. I had heard that there was a used slab roller for sale--I've been longing for one but they are so expensive that it had been pushed to the back burner. Disregarding caution, I called and made an appointment to go see it. I had not even gotten into the house before the owner and I were discovering personal connections that went back 40 years! It really was quite incredible.

Leaving aside those personal connections, of great interest to me was her connection to Harding Black, the San Antonio potter who made a name for himself through his exploration of glazes. I remember hearing of the potter Harding Black when I was young but since I had no connection to clay or pottery-making at that time it had little significance for me. Over the last 4 years I've heard references to Harding Black frequently and his outstanding work with glazes. Several months ago I acquired a video of Harding working in his studio and recounting how he got into clay work and what it has meant to him.

I was amazed to learn that my hostess was instrumental in making the TV show/video in the '90s. She has several pieces of his work and wonderful stories to tell of his generosity and gentle nature. She also has several of his glaze recipes which she has offered to share with me!

Recently my niece had mentioned to me that she and her husband received a piece of Harding Black pottery as a wedding gift a few years ago! It is intriguing to me that she mentions that and then a week or so later I have this encounter with that potter's life and work. Isn't life wonderful!