Thursday, December 10, 2009

As it gets closer and closer to Christmas and the end of 2009, I start to reflect on how I spent my time. It seems like I have been making Christmas ornaments all year long!

One of the best things to come out of this year is making new friends and getting to know older friends and acquaintances better. There have been ups and downs and back ups again. And I truly believe that the downs help us appreciate the ups. All the while, I've been so lucky to be able to live my dream life: creating things with my hands. As I sit drinking my morning decaf out of my handmade mug, that I made, I want to wish all who might read this blog a happy holiday season, health and good friends and family and peace.

Judy B. Freeman


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That's Clever!

Well, my heartrate is back to normal, the anticipation of nearly 3 years is finished, all that's left are the hoards of fans and paparazi that will be chasing me for autographs and interviews. My segment on HGTV's That's Clever aired this morning. What took six hours to film, clipped down to a little over six minutes. Thankfully the editors took out my flubs, and oh there were a lot of flubs. My husband reminded me that I haven't made a cat bank since the filming. I also don't think that I have ever seen my garagio look so clean and neat, nor do I think I ever will see it look so clean and neat. It's fun to be able to share a look into how I spend my time.

The cat that the bank is based on is Jazmin, a petite calico that we once had, or should I say, she had us. I still love making cats, and as you can see from the background shots, I was big into butterflies and fish teapots back then too. I've inserted a link to a video that I took of the show, just in case you missed it.

So, for my friends and family that encouraged me, and asked every so often, "so what's up with your show?" I can now finally say, the show did go on!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

HGTV That's Clever!

I have an air date! I can't believe it, but they didn't lose the tape, or whatever they use these days to film TV shows. Anyway, set your DVR's for HGTV at 7:30 am e/p on October 13, 2009. It's going to be fun to see how they transform 6 hours of grueling work into 6 minutes of air time. Also, anxious to see how they were able to make me sound coherent. Oh dear, I hope they were able to make me sound coherent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Non-potters probably have no idea the angst that's involved in the multi-step process of creating. Especially when you start to work on a piece that you become emotionally attached to. My most recent attachment is to a new teapot called Girls' Night Out - Lola and Sonya Out On The Town. I started this teapot with the thought of reviving one of my old teapot themes, fish with a pelican. As I got further and further into the creation of Lola and Sonya, I started thinking of more ways to make them glitzy, blingy, and fabuloso.

The easy part was to construct the teapot, this is a relatively safe phase of the process. Yes, things can go wrong at this stage, but only a few hours have been invested and I can always start from scratch. Once sufficiently dry, the teapot goes into the kiln for it's first firing. Another precarious stage in the process, when there is the potential for exploding clay or cracking. No problems with the bisque firing, so I pushed on to begin the glazing. This was when I started to feel my connection strengthening. I started to worry about whether glazes were going to run, how I was going to connect the necklaces, etc. etc. Final step prior to the glaze firing was to do a quick dip in clear glaze. This is when I can really screw things up, by smudging the colored underglazes, or having too thick a layer of the clear glaze. Oh the agony. But I pushed on. Yesterday, I loaded the glaze kiln with goodies. I always approach a kiln load with pessimistic optimism. Knowing that stuff can go wrong, but hoping that "stuff" doesn't happen. As the kiln was firing just prior to the shut off, I heard a noise. It sounded like maybe something tipped over. There was no way I could lift the lid, so I had to just imagine what it could be. Could one of the pieces have shifted off it's stilts and toppled over and then taken out another piece with it? My imagine ran wild and with 17 hours to go before I could open the kiln up, it was an evening of trying to find ways to get my mind off the kiln. This morning I was up bright and early, out to the studio and opened up the kiln. No problems with the top shelf, no problems with the second level, no problems with the third level, no problems with the bottom shelf. I have no idea what the noise was, but I have to remember this for the future. Don't fret over the unknown. And with clay, don't fret at all because there's always another one in my hands.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Color Combinations

A big part of being a ceramic artist, or any kind of artist for that matter, is color. The choice of color, the combination of colors, and how we use them can make or break a piece. Working hours or days on a piece can come to ruin if we don't get the colors just right. Lately I've fallen in love with the glaze color combination of a truly red red and a wonderful soft yellow orange. Both are from the Duncan Ceramics line of glazes called Concepts. The red that I love is called Really Red and the yellow orange is called Safron. I now am driven to make a day's worth of bowls and plates to use the two colors on. These are the first of the bowls that came out of my last kiln load.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

As I scroll through my recent posts I realize that my blog's name, Butterfly Farm Pottery, makes it look like the Fish have taken over the Farm. I have three major themes that I work with, Fish, (no major mental leap there) Cats and Butterflies. There are times when the mood strikes me to just make butterfly themed pieces and then there are times like now, when all I want to make are fish. I often feel like a person with multiple personality disorder. Just to give the butterflies some face time, I'm posting a photo of a recent Monarch Butterfly serving dish. It's an evolved piece and is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Old Teapots

I just finished two fishy teapots that are remakes. This version of "Mandy" is my favorite. I lucked out when I looked through my stash of beads and found the perfect hank to use for her beaded wire embellishment. I was equally lucky to have an ample supply of buttons for "Button..."

Pictured on the top is "Mandy" and of course every time I type her name I hear Barry Mannilow singing in my ear. And, on the bottom is "Button, Button, Who's Got the Buttons?"

Both teapots are made from soft earthenware clay that started out as two forms thrown on the potter's wheel.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Southeastern Guide Dogs

There are definitely days when I feel like I have a split personality. During the weekdays I'm "Pottery Chick" hard at work getting dirty with the clay and glazes. On the weekends I shed my muddy clothes and put on blue jeans, boots, a Harley Tee and a helment and jump on the back of my sweet husband's Ultra Classic Harley Davidson. This past Saturday our HOG Chapter took a very special ride to Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD). SEGD has been the recipient of our chapter's fund raisers for a number of years. Every year we take a couple of rides to SEGD to tour the facility, see the dogs in training and play with the puppies. It's a lot of fun to see burly, ex-teamsters cuddling up to little puppies. It's an activity that everyone in the group loves. Some of our riders also got to put on black-out glasses and let a guide dog lead them on a pathway. It's a very interesting feeling to surrender and trust the dog.

But, SEGD isn't just about raising puppies. It's a long involved process to raise and train a guide dog. The entire process costs SEGD $60,000 per dog and they don't receive any federal funding! The money comes solely from donations from individuals like our HOG members as well as from businesses. SEGD is a premier facility, one of only a few in the country. They started out in the early '80s with no facility and no dogs, just an idea and they've made it work.

The dogs used are ones that come from specific breeders to make sure that certain traits that they want are there and those that they don't want are not. Labs and Goldadors (a mix between Lab and Retriever) were the puppies that we got to play with this time. SEGD also tries to keep the cost of maintenance down for the recipient. Dogs that would require special grooming are not an option. Sorry, no poodles here.

The process of turning a puppy into a guide dog doesn't happen overnight. Once the puppies get to a certain age, they are outsourced to volunteer homes. The idea is to socialize the puppies and make them comfortable in every environment that they might have to go into as a guide dog. The host is given a jacket that the dog will wear when they go out and about. The jacket has the SEGD logo and the words "Puppy In Training." Most public establishments will honor the jacket and allow the puppy to enter. The hosts are encouraged to take the puppy with them just about everywhere they go. After this training phase is over, the puppy is returned to SEGD for final training. This is the nitty gritty. The dogs learn "intelligent disobedience." The dog has to be smart enough to know that if the master says "forward" and there are cars coming, the dog should stay not go foward. There are a number of commands and situations that the puppies are put through in their training. SEGD has a wonderful complex that has mock bridges and bus stops. But that can't take the place of a busy downtown street, so the pups are taken to downtown Tampa to navigate the downtown traffic. Each dog is assessed for traits, such as the speed that the dog walks. There are some dogs that don't make the grade as a guide dog and are evaluated for companion dogs.

Once the dogs finish with their evaluation, a class of recipients is brought in. The facility has a dormatory where they stay. They will be living at SEGD, meeting, getting to know and working with their new dog. The staff does an excellent job of evaluating the recipient and matching their traits with a dog. SEGD also offers follow-up visits. It's not just a "here's your dog, have a good life" at SEGD. If need be they will do a home visit to assist. It's a life-long commitment.

One program that SEGD has recently launched is Paws for Patriots. This program provides guide or companion dogs to returning veterans, at no charge to the vet or the US Government. Our HOG Chapter specifically contributes to the Paws for Patriots program. The local Fox affiliate ran a piece on Paws for Patriots recently. Look to the right of this page for the video.

This was my third visit to SEGD. Every time I learn a little bit more about the organization, and gain a lot more respect for what they do. I wonder if these little pups have any idea of what a noble future they will have ahead of them.
This morning I woke up to news that one of my pieces made it into a Treasury on Etsy and that Treasury made it to the Front Page! It's been a while since my work had FP notoriety and this was a real treat. By the time I was actually up and online the FP had changed, the screen shot is courtesy of What a great way to start the day!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Invasion Continues

I love to load the top shelf of kiln loads with pieces that will make me smile when I open the kiln post firing. Yesterday's opening was a fun one because I staged my fishies so that they'd be pointing my way when the lid was lifted. These fishies aren't done just yet. I spent last night preparing them for their final embellishment, which is curled wire with beads. They aren't just pretty faces, they can also be used as a small photo holder, just slide the photo into the curled wire and there you go! One fun note about this load of fishies is that the fishy on the far right is already earmarked to go on a very long journey to Australia. Luckily this fishy doesn't have to swim, she's going to be flying.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Invasion of the Fishies

There are a few things that excite me about the creative process. One is when I make multiples and how these multiples look together. I've been on a mission to make a lot of my little fishies. The "little" fishies have evolved from larger fish that I've been making for several years. The large fish were specifically made to be mounted on garden stakes, that I call Fish Sticks. Because of the problems associated with shipping the large Fish Sticks, I've limited my outlet for sales to a local co-op gallery called A Little Room For Art. The gallery has a wonderful garden area in the back and it makes a great setting for my Fish Sticks. My goal in making the Little Fishies is to offer a size variety and new lower price point and also perhaps a fish stick that will ship easily. Ideas evolved and from the Fish Stick came the Phishy Photo Holder. I've been trying to make a few fishies any time I sit down to work on a clay project. I really love to see how they look in a group. I'm not yet sure exactly how many "a lot" is in numbers, but I plan to keep making them until I answer that question.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Joy of the Returning Customer

One thing that all of us who sell our creations yearn for and treasure is the returning customer. The person who loves that first purchase so much that they come back for more. The customer who becomes a collector. The fan that passes the word. The buyer that takes the time to let us know that they "love" their new aquisition. We don't create to have boxes and boxes of finished pieces packed away for no one to see. We create for the joy of creating and sharing this joy with folks who have an appreciation for handmade. Now more than ever I'm reminded that in this uncertain economy, every purchase is a well thought out purchase. And. because it's well thought out, the sale means so much more to me. I'm grateful for my returning customers as well as those new folks that I hope will turn into returnng customers. Thanks for your purchases either through galleries, shops or online.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I had been wanting to revisit this fish for a while now. The mood struck me that this particular teapot was right so Bling was reborn. The fish that she's based on is the Rusty Parrot fish and ironically the markings are for the male not the female. I guess that makes her androgynous. Yes, she has rhinestones on her fins and at the corners of her eyes! Bling is currently on display as part of a group show for the month of February at the the Carrollwood Cultural Center, Tampa, Florida. The Meet the Artists reception is Friday, February 13th. If you're in the area, stop on by. We're planning a smashing reception that's sure to be a great start to your Valentine's Day weekend.