Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Trade

I am so excited. I was able to make a trade with a fellow artist named Jill Oldenski. She makes wonderfully artistic dolls. I had wanted to score one of Jill's dolls for a while and suddenly when she admired some of my new plates and bowls the idea came to me - "how 'bout a trade?" Thankfully, Jill was up for it so I was able to score this beautiful custom doll for our neice, Samantha. She's complete with butterflies, in pinks and purples, Sammie's favorite colors. And, I just love the pink tennies. Jill even made an ID necklace! I just love this doll. It's going to be hard to give her up when I see Sammie next week. Jill's dolls can be found at Florida Craftsmen Gallery in St. Petersburg, FL, as well as A Little Room For Art, on Pass-A-Grille Beach.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Invitational Teapot Show

A couple of the girls are holidaying out in Steamboat Springs Colorado for the Invitational Teapot Show. I'm envious that they are able to get out to Steamboat this time of the year without me, but they're in great company. The show opens this evening and runs for two months. There are some absolutely wonderful teapots that have been accepted into this show, that was curated by Deb Babcock. I'm honored that I was asked to send some of my "girls" to be part of this fabulous show.

Here's a link to the show information.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Birthday and Christmas All Rolled Into One

I was able to open yesterday's glaze firing first thing this morning and it was a wonderful gift! The kiln gods smiled at me because everthing came out great. All of the pieces in the kiln are earmarked either for custom orders or a gallery. The one piece that doesn't already have a home is this 3-legged dish. I am so happy with the color cominations, the miracle of my steady hand when painting the dark blue, that I didn't smudge anything when I was dipping it in the clear glaze and extremely grateful for my Air Pen for helping me paint the scales. Tomorrow's my birthday but I got my present today!
Disclaimer: No fish were harmed in the making of this dish.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How I Do What I Do

Today's post is a pictorial of some of the steps in making one of my Fishy Ring Teapots. These photos pick up after the two main components have been slowly drying under plastic for a couple of weeks. After trimming the ring and cleaning up the base I go to work. This teapot will be a Blingity teapot with rhinestone studded sunglasses, earrings and beaded tendrils off her dorsal fin. I'm not sure yet which fish her glazing will be based on just yet. Now she's under plastic for a slow drying. From lumps of clay to finished teapot, these usually take about 5-6 weeks to complete.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good Morning!

What an incredible surprise I had when I went outside day before yesterday to see my husband off to work and let our dog out for morning relief. I just had to stand there frozen watching the colors change. I'd love to be able to recreate these colors one day on clay. After being snapped back to reality I realized that I had to run in and get my camera and take advantage of these fleeting moments before the sun came up any more and transformed the clouds to white. On one of the shots there's a sliver of the moon showing. See if you can spot the moon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The mug is such a personal form of pottery. Most folks have their favorite. It could be that the handle fits well with their hand, or there's a special place to rest their thumb, or perfect balance, or a great tactile feel with the glaze, color, size and the list can go on and on. For that reason, a simple form like the mug can be a tough one to get just right.

Up until a year ago I was never a big mug maker. It was always a challenge for me to get the handles just right, the size perfect, and the decoration the way I wanted it. I felt the best thing to do was just to not include mugs in my repetoir. A year ago all of this changed. The Etsy Mud Team had it's 2nd annual mug swap. It's an anonymous swap, almost like a Secret Santa, and because of the number of incredibly talented potters on the Mud Team, I was sure to get a winner.

This exercise got me to thinking that I should try to improve on my mugs to give them a bit more style and I'm happy to say that the designs are evolving. I'm happy with the last batch that will be at Florida Craftsmen for the Holiday Show in St. Pete, FL. And I've started another batch. I'm enjoying the fact that I can take the same elements that I use on larger pieces like bowls and plates and translate those design elements onto the mugs. My goal for the next month is to make at least one mug every day. I think it's going to be like eating Lay's potato chips, I can't just make one!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Labor of Love

Sometimes I get requests to make special things for people and it's a challenge because it's something new to me and I have to figure out how to make it. Sometimes it's a little stressful to make special orders because the requestor has an idea in their head of what they want and my fear is that my vision isn't in line with theirs. There's always that moment when I hold my breath as the requestor takes that first look at the finished piece.

Well, recently I completed a special order. This was a teapot that my mother-in-law asked me to make. The teapot is a gift for a very special lady and the making of the teapot turned into a labor of love. This special lady loves pink so the main color had to be pink.

Sometimes during the making of teapots, there are mis-steps. There'll be a little cracking that I have to repair or, the glaze will creep or crawl a little so I'll have to re-fire. But, not with this piece. It was almost as if this teapot wanted to be born and wasn't going to give me any problems. As with every teapot that I make, my last one is always my favorite. True to course this is now my favorite teapot.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Group Show

Very exciting! This coming Friday, October 3rd is the opening of a group show for the Westchase Artist's Society. A local group of artists with different disciplines, paint, photography, sculpture, mixed media, jewelry and of course, me representing clay. This will be my first show that I'll have some of my butterfly photography and I'm excited to see them up on a gallery wall. In addition to three photographs Rosalita my Corporate Greeter will also be part of the show. I figured that she needed some time out and about and what better setting that a show?
The show is going to be at the Great Art and Frame Gallery, which is a wonderful gallery owned by Joose Hadley, a fine painter in her own right. Our openings are always fun and if you're in the area be sure to stop on by.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Kiln Opening

One thing that potter's share, doesn't matter what type of clay, whether you mix your own glazes or use commercial premixed glazes, whether you form works by hand or throw on the potter's wheel, we all share the joys of a kiln opening.

After working diligently, for sometimes weeks, on a piece the culmination of our efforts comes on the day of the kiln opening. If it's a group kiln load there's usually a celebration that has food as an ingredient. There are oo's and ah's shared and usually an informal critique of what went right and what went not so right.

As a solo potter, I rarely have anyone around with the exception of our dog, sometimes my husband, to share my joy and sorrow over the kiln opening. So, my kiln opening party has to be a virtual one shared with potter friends over the net. Thank goodness for the internet!

Why are we so excited about kiln openings? What's the big deal? Well, for me it's all about working on a piece for sometimes weeks. I often wish that I could just stop after the glaze painting is finished. Sometimes the load is magnificent, everything is perfect and the kiln goddess was smiling down on me. Other times there are problems. So many variables can come into play, heat, circulation, dust in the glaze, venting, and the list goes on and on. We have this point in time when the piece either makes it or breaks it. Stress levels rise even more when there are pieces in the load that are part of an order. If something goes wrong it sets back the schedule and at the holidays this can be critical.

We never want to trash a piece, especially if a lot of time went into it. But one thing that I learned from the college experience is that each piece is a learning process. Even if it gets thrown into the shard bucket a lesson of some sort was learned.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Butterflies Flutter By

Another day of spectacular visitors to our garden. I was in awe of this guy that had to get a belly full. He kept going from flower to flower. The butterfly is a Gulf Fritillary. They are spectacular. The top of their wings are totally different than the bottom and so much fun to watch. This was another pristine butterfly, no signs of fights with wasps or the winds. A real beauty. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Exotic Teapot

I was contacted by a freelance writer about a possible spot in a blog called the Exotic Teapot. What a nice surprise. Two of my girls were featured in the August 25th post. Here's the link http://www.exoticteapot.co.uk/en/myblog/index.html

If you're a fan of teapots, you'll enjoy strolling though this blog.

For a little bit of background on my two teapots that are featured, the one entitled Humuhumunukunukuapuaa was inspired by a trip to Maui a few years ago. The Humuhumu is the state fish of Hawaii. We went snorkeling at a great spot called Molekini and saw one up close. They're also called Reef Trigger Fish, but I prefer their Hawaiian name. The Blingity Bling Bling teapot was the third in a series of blinged up teapots and the fish that I based her on is one whose picture I took at the Florida Aquarium, it's called the Pixie Hawkfish.

Be sure to check out the Exotic Teapot blog. It's a lot of fun even if you're not a teapot aficionado.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Garden Visitors

Sometimes I get lucky and have my camera handy, or if not handy at least close enough. I've had a few days when my timing was right and the lunchtime visitors were too hungry to care about me. Our visitors the other day were a group of three White Peacock butterflies. In the past I haven't been lucky enough to catch them when they're young. It seemed like every time I'd photograph one, when I enlarged the photo there'd be telltail signs of age, beat up and shredded wings. Well, the three that came for lunch looked like they may have just come out of their coccoons. Their colors were vivid and their wings showed no signs of age. Oh to be a young butterfly enjoying the lantana blossoms in the sun.

Monday, August 25, 2008

And the answer is...

I don't know.

Now the question - "When is my episode of That's Clever! going to air?" It's been so long since the filming that I often forget that it ever happened.

Traveling back through my time machine to the evening of November 17, 2006. We had just come in from an evening out and I was checking e-mails. I had one that had in the Subject line "HGTV Inquiry (seeking FL artists). Well, I was frozen, as if I had just gazed upon Medusa. After I was able to breathe and had read and re-read the e-mail that was sent from one of the Segment Producers that worked for Weller-Grossman production company, I yelled out to my husband, "you're not going to believe this!" I read the e-mail to him, which was an invitation to apply for a spot on the show That's Clever! I asked him what he thought. We both agreed that I should go for it. So I immediately put together my application. Now mind you, this original e-mail came to me from out of the blue. Even the producer couldn't remember how she found me, but it was through a search on the internet.

Well, after submitting the application and photos, I went through a phone interview with the producer. On December 11, 2006 I received an e-mail letting me know that the "pitch" was approved by HGTV. The green light was given to set up the shoot. Now the way that the production company works filming, they visit a city and set up 18 shoots for the time that they're in town. Each day there are two shoots. It's basically a blitz.

After the approval, I had to put together a Steps/Materials Form and sign all sorts of releases. Once both tasks were accomplished on January 6, 2007 I received my list of Step Outs. The step outs are basically a list of the steps in completing the piece with a listing of pieces that need to be made ahead of time. Since they don't shoot in real time, ie. having to wait for the clay to dry, waiting for the kiln to fire, etc., kind of like a cooking show, I had to make a lot of things ahead of time. This was very time consuming. I basically had to make 8 versions of the piece and because of drying and firing times, had to start in December right after the pitch was approved, prior to receiving my list of Step Outs.

Once the production team came to town I had a prep meeting where the producer and director visited to take a look at my studio space, approve wardrobe selections, and gave me directions in how to prep things for the shoot. Basically I had to clean my studio space, cleaner than it has ever been or ever will be again. My shoot was scheduled for January 27, 2007 at 8:00 am. There was a crew of 4, a lighting/camera guy, a sound guy, the director/camera guy and the producer.

Getting ready for the shoot was grueling, but the actual shoot day was arduously grueling. It's amazing how much work you have to go through to come up with 7 minutes on air. The director fed me lines and as the day went on I came down with brain freeze and he had to feed me 4 words at a time. I had a tiny hope that I might not come off looking too crazy. All hopes are gone. My brain freeze caused me to also make some mistakes that I won't reveal prior to the show airing. Just let me say that a well trained eye in sequencing should be on the lookout for slight variations. They were at our house for over six hours. At one point my husband poked his head out and said that I might want to take 5 and have something to eat. Thank God for my darling husband!

My segment was assigned a number. It's 460. This means that I'm in the 400 series of shows. Now, keep in mind that my shoot date was in January, 2007. HGTV has still not aired any of the 400 series of shows. They do still list That's Clever! as an active show, they're just not airing any episodes now. So that's the skinny. I keep forgetting about it, and every so often someone asks me - " So what's up with HGTV?" I guess that's my question too. So what's up with HGTV?

My take-away from this whole experience has been an incredible admiration for anyone that does TV or movies as a career. How people can actually do this for extended periods without melting down is amazing to me and to be able to make it appear effortless is the true miracle. I don't expect to be nominated for a Grammy, and if the show gets cancelled prior to airing, that might not be a bad thing. If or when the show does air, please be kind and remember that I'm not an actor, I'm a potter.

Friday, August 22, 2008


It's so much fun to watch people evolve. We don't have to go through eons to see evolution happen right before our eyes. As a ceramist I'm particularly drawn to the works of fellow potters and it's so much fun to be able to recognize their work without having to look for their name. The internet has made this process so easy. I can stay in touch with what others are doing just by checking in on their online shops or blogs.

One of my favorites is Keith Phillips. Keith is one of those adventurous people who's not afraid to try a new technique. Personally I don't know if he's got a time machine in his studio, because of the volume of work that he produces. An example of one of Keith's new lines is this marvelous mug. If you want to check out more of Keith's work go straight to his Etsy shop at http://www.khphillips.etsy.com/.
An addendum - incredible timing. Today a demonstration video that Keith submitted to Ceramic Arts Daily was released to the world. Ceramic Arts Daily is a daily e-mail and often includes demo videos. Keith's is about the best that I've ever seen. Check Keith's blog for the video. The link to his blog is in my Muddy Bloggers listing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boldly going....

where I've never gone before. I've finally mustered up the courage to post on my blog for the first time! This could become adictive. First let me get the introductions out of the way.

My name is Judy Freeman and I am a clay adict. My first memory of this adiction came when I was in my junior year in college at Florida Atlantic University. Everything just clicked for me. That was back in 1971. It seems like yesterday. After college I started working a series of jobs that had nothing to do with clay. Mostly because my art wouldn't come close to paying the rent. So I worked retail, eventually becoming a store manager, then worked in offices, then for a life insurance company, eventually working my way up to Vice President of Administration. Fancy title for being in charge of customer service and claims. Clay was a necessary for me. Working in clay helped to relieve the stress of the day job and help maintain my sanity. So, fast forward to 2002, my darling husband got a job offer that would mean a move to Tampa, Florida. I was thrilled because it gave me the nudge to leave my job with the insurance company and shift gears. As soon as we moved to Tampa my mind opened up to new ideas. Fish teapots and butterfly bowls were born in Tampa. I had always been making cats, but the fish and butterflies helped to round out my menagerie. It's almost like my mind dumped all of the clutter from the insurance job and I had more RAM for creative thinking. It was quite a high to be driving down the street and have an idea pop into my head. Especially if it was an idea that I found funny, I'd start laughing out loud at myself.

I believe that there are the four "tions" of clay. The motivation - we sometimes need a kick in the pants to get to work. The inspiration - sometimes it comes as a flash, always have a pad and pen handy. The frustration - because sometimes things don't always go as you might expect or hope - be prepared to recycle. And, the elation - when everything comes together and that kiln load is opened and unloaded, there's nothing like seeing the fruits of your labor come together.

I am going to make a concerted effort to post regularly, so check back often for my meanderings.