Tuesday, October 18, 2011

For a Good Cause

Coming up here in Tampa on November 5th is the annual Zoofari at Lowry Park Zoo. It's a fundraising event for the Zoo. Lowry Park Zoo is a fun place to visit and has great activities for the kiddos. This year I'll be participating in their Artfari and will be selling my wares during the Zoofari event. It runs from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm. As part of the deal to get a reduced price for the space, artists were asked to donate a piece of art for the silent auction. The piece had to be animal themed, best to relate to the zoo theme. So I went to work on a tic tac toe game using tiggers. Orange and white tigers to be exact. Hopefully someone attending will fall in love and bid high on this piece. Just so we're clear, I used no molds in the making of this piece, just my two little hands. I did roll out the clay for the board, but it was all from moist clay. Each tiger is slightly different from the next because they were human formed... I'm not a machine!!! Maybe a dancing machine, but not a ceramic machine.


I know that man's evolution was slow to get us to where we are today, standing upright, able to type our thoughts on the computer and read the hundreds of e-mails that we receive on a daily basis. In artwork there's an evolution as well. I've realized that the evolution of my teapots has been a slow one, not quite as slow as the evolution of man, but slow none the less. I've been making some minor tweeks to my fishy teapots lately. The most recent tweek is to try to give the girls more movement. Almost a feeling that they're trying to jump out of the water. I'm making their base section taller so that I can get more clearance on the tails and making a more exagerated turn of the head. These changes, I think, give the girls more personality. I've been on a roll with teapot making and have one new one that I just finished, one that's drying post-construction, and components for two more under plastic. It helps to make the new teapots close in time so that my thought process continues it's momentum. These changes may be so minor that to the eye of the beholder that it may not be apparent, but to me I see these modifications as a step on the path to evolution.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ho Ho Ho - Here We Go Again

Every year around this time, I start to feel a little twinge of panic.  The holiday shows and markets are starting to gear up and I'm worried I won't have enough, mugs, fish, cats, pendants, teapots, and ornaments for the shows.  So I thrust myself into high gear and work hard to get my inventories up.  One thing that's going to help me this year is the addition of the travel mug and tumblers.  These are different from my usual pieces because they're not wheel-thrown, they are mold made bisqued pieces that I purchased from my glaze supplier.  The mugs and tumblers come with plastic lids and all that I have to do is glaze and fire them!  So far, I'm thrilled.  The lids fit perfectly and I'm having absolutely no problems with the glazes fitting well with the clay body.  The art that I bring to the blank white canvas is my glazing and these are definitely unique.  Enviro-friendly because they can be used over and over.  They fit perfectly into cup holders and can brighten up any space and bring a smile to your face (made a rhyme).  So as my twinge of panic starts to hit me, I can breathe a little easier knowing that I have my travelers line of mugs and tumblers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

PhotoEZ Is Really Easy

I love finding happy diversions. I always think about the animated film "Up" and the dog that was in the commercials (I never saw the film) he apparently is able to talk with the help of a device that's strapped to his throat. He's having a conversation with the young boy and breaks in his conversation to look away quickly and shout "squirrel!" Well for the past two weeks I've been chasing the squirrel and having a blast.

I read about the PhotoEZ Silk Screen Stencil kit over a year ago and held onto the magazine, because I knew one day (procrastinatoritis) I should probably buy the kit. I decided that the time was right when I was slated to lead a low-fire glaze workshop and thought that this would be a fun project for the class. Of course I tore through all of my magazines and could not find the one with the article. So I hit the Internet, holder of everything in the universe, and found the PhotoEZ Starter Kits for sale on Ebay. Placed my bid and anxiously awaited the outcome. I was high bidder and my kit was delivered in lightning speed.

One of the best parts about this kit are the instructions. This company does a fantastic job at giving you all of the information that you need to successfully create a stencil in less than one hour, ready to use. The most important ingredient is a bright sunny day, slightly cloudy - you'll have to run tests for exposure time. Anxious for a bright sunny day, I went to work figuring out what images I would use for my first stencil. The image should be black and white and the black should be heavily saturated so that the light will be 100% blocked. You will either have to print out your image on your printer or draw it directly on the paper. The company is very specific regarding the type of paper to use. It should be 20 pound paper with 88 brightness or less. Remember, the light has to get through the white areas so the less bright the better. I chose to print my images from the computer so I used a couple of photographs first. I used a photo of a marbled white butterfly and made some adjustments in photoshop to increase the contrast, I did the same with a photo that I took of a cardinal sitting in a tree in our neighborhood, changed it from color to black and white and then ramped up the contrast so that it was now black and white, I played around with PhotoShop to get it to where I wanted it to be. Then I made a fat Sharpie drawing on heavy paper and scanned it into my computer. The only thing that I had to do here was resize it. I was able to make three different versions of this butterfly, one each large, medium and small sized.

Then, the bright sunny day came and I was able to run my first series of tests. The company provides small swatches so that you can test for exposure time. I was able to determine that in our full sun about 5 minutes was all that was needed. I went into our guest bathroom with the door open providing just enough light so that I could set things up. The kit comes with a black board, a clear plexi sheet, clips, stencil sheets, squeege, vinyl net, a few sheets of paper, two sheets of clear film, and instructions. You first place the image on the plexi image side up, then remove the protective film from the stencil sheet (this is the hardest part of the whole process). Once you have the film off place the sheet where you want it on your image shiny side down, then put the black board on top, making a sandwich of your image and film. Place the clips around the sandwich and I wrapped the whole thing in a towel. You want to transport the frame outside for exposure. Keep a close eye on the clock! Once the exposure time is up, wrap it back up in a towel and bring it inside. The film gets placed in a tub of water, I used a large Tupperware container. The room should be dimly lit. You'll soak for at least 15 minutes. When the soak time is up, you'll run the film under running water to remove the areas that were covered in black. This is where the plastic net comes in, you'll place the film on the net and use a soft brush to remove what needs to come off. I used the high resolution film and the instructions say that it can be more difficult to remove all of the film on the high res film. Keep working it until you get all of the film removed, you want to be able to see the small white threads. This will help you to have a better image. Next step is to blot the film dry and place it back in the sun to dry. This last step hardens the stencil and makes it durable.

Now with the stencil magically created, I was able to go to work actually using the stencil. I used bisque tiles first and the cardinal image was my first attempt. I watered down my underglaze so that I could create a watercolor type wash effect for the background, then I taped, using blue painter's tape, the stencil and using the squeege provided I laid down some black underglaze and drew it over the stencil. I lifted up a corner to see if all was ok and it was, so I removed the entire stencil and tape, then I filled in the cardinal with a red underglaze. Then applied three coats of clear glaze and fired the tile. I went through similar steps to use the stencil on the mug shown. I've used a combination of squeegee and using a stiff brush to lay down the glaze. It can be a bit tricky with some of my mugs that have a lot of curves to them, but with the help of the blue tape, and flexibility of the screens, it's possible.

Besides being such a quick process, one of the really cool parts of this whole thing is that there are no special chemicals required, just good old H2O (well I guess that's a chemical if you want to get picky). Most think that the obvious use for these screens is tee shirt silk screens using ink versus glazes on clay. And I challenge you to find even more uses for these cool screens.
I'm really happy to report that this kit gets my seal of approval. If you want to get more information, their website is http://www.ezscreenprint.com/

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Procrastination of Penelope

More proof that I can be a terrible procrastinator. Poor Penelope took over a year to complete. The worst part about this habitual procrastination is that Penelope is for a friend. One of the most important things that you should not say to a procrastinator is, "there's no rush." Poor Penelope is a replacement for Penelope #1 that suffered an accident. I took posession of the broken Penelope so that I would have a model to work from. The broken Penelope #1 got shifted around my studio for months. First inside a plastic bag, then actually out on the shelf, taped together. Finally with my New Year's resolution - trying to kick my procrastinating ways, I resolved myself to begin work on Penelope #2. I was elated when I finished her construction, overjoyed when she made it through the first firing, ecstatic when I glazed her and beside myself when I took her out of the kiln and attached her heart-shaped name tag (the only part of Penelope #1 that was salvagable). Now as I look at Penelope #2, she is a milestone, showing me that I can make it through the 12-step program for procrastinators. Help me kick the habit. Do not become an enabler. Do not ever say to me, "There's no rush."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Marvelous Muggy Monday

Hey it's muggy in here! As I drink my decaf this morning from one of my favorite mugs, made by one of my favorite potters I think I better give him a shout out on Marvelous Muggy Monday. Keith Philips' Etsy shop was one of the first that I stumbled upon when I first discovered Etsy. I really love to see how artists embrace their medium and incoporate new twists that add that extra special touch. Keith is a fabulously skilled potter and has such a great eye for form and function. Taking the process one step further with his creation of laser decals gives his work that extra special touch. So this week's Marvelous Monday Mug Maker is Keith Philips. Visit his shop, buy from his shop, enjoy your morning with one of Keith's mugs.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Going to the Dogs

On one of my drying racks sit three dogs. I don't usually make dogs because there are so many breeds. I will, however, make dogs on special request. And, just by coincidence I had a few special requests for dogs. Over the past few days I hunkered down and constructed three dogs. One's a dog mug (I've never made a dog mug before), one is a dog bell and one is a large dog figurine with bits of clay inside so he'll kind of be like a rattle dog. These three requests have made me step out of my comfort zone a bit. I tend to get on a roll sometimes and stick to my main themes of mugs, cats and fish. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get my creative juices flowing and if all goes well with drying and firing, I'll have three new dogs going to three happy families. And that makes me happy.

Festive Friday

Festive Friday comes a few hours late this week. Too much work in the garagio to sit down at the computer. But with the weekend comes some time to play catch up. And this week's Festive Friday offering is from the Etsy shop of Katherine Mathisen, also known as Mudgoddess. Her shop can be found at http://www.mudgoddess.etsy.com/

Katherine does some pretty amazing things with clay. I've had the pleasure to see Katherine's work in person, since she's a Floridian and has work in local Tampa Bay galleries. So in honor of the upcoming holiday I'm sharing some of Katherine's wonderful hearts.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

For the second installment of Teapot Tuesday I present another one of the three teapots that I submitted to the Mad Hatter's Teaparty in West Palm. I have to give the girls a little face time.
This teapot is inspired by the Crescent Wrasse. I have a wonderful reference book that I use for inspiration, it's "Coral Reef Fishes" by Edwald Lieske and Robert Myers. It's covered with glaze and bookmarked to the hilt, but continues to be my all time favorite book. I've collected several other books, but this one provides the most comprehensive examples of reef fishes. This was one of the best gifts that my dear husband has surprised me with.
Anyway, this fish teapot is special for a couple of reasons: her beads that are wired and adorn her dorsal fin are handmade versus store-bought. Her earrings are the same, handmade stamped ceramic beads. I'm starting to say to myself, "why not?" It's a little extra work to glaze and set them up for the firing but in the long run I think it makes her a more cohesive piece. Her head is slightly turned as if trying to keep up with the conversation. She's not a party girl, no rhinestone studded sunglasses and no traveling companion in the form of a pelican. Just sweet and simple. I was a bit selective for this one because I really think the fish markings are so outstanding, I didn't want to create any distractions.
So, hopefully this sweety will be swimming her way down to West Palm for the Teaparty. I live vicariously through the travels of my creations.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marvelous Muggy Monday

It's week two of Marvelous Muggy Monday and today's mugs are brought to you by the fantastic Clay Lick Creek Pottery. Karen's fantastic whimsical, majolica pottery has become a big favorite of mine. She is a powerhouse and thankfully creates non-stop. You can check out Karen's Etsy shop at:

I've snagged a few examples of Karen's fantastic mugs to share. I hope that they help to brighten your day!!! Enjoy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Festive Friday

So many people celebrate when Friday comes. It's the end of the traditional work-week, start of the weekend that so many people work so hard to finally get some down time. However you spend your Fridays I wanted to share one of the happiest shops on Etsy. This artist is Charity Elise and her Etsy shop is jam packed with things that are sure to make you smile. So for Festive Friday, check out Charity's shop!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An Artful Thank You Thursday

I skipped Wednesday, but came up with an idea for Thursday. I know that Thanksgiving comes once a year, but I just felt like it was necessary today to give thanks.

♥Thanks to all of the co-op galleries that have agreed to include my "stuff" in their shops.

♥Thanks to all of the volunteers that sit and mind the shop, making it possible for the co-ops to stay open.

♥Thanks especially to the wonderful volunteers and staff of Florida Craftsmen and A Little Room for Art, two of my all time favorites.

♥Thanks to those of you out there that have faith that someone that you've never met (namely me) will ship your order when I say that I will. It's a giant leap of faith buying on the internet and I'm grateful to those of you that have taken that leap.

♥Thanks to the EtsyMudTeam for organizing the first annual mug-swap. I hadn't really made too many mugs before the swap and was always a bit scared of making mugs. The swap forced me to move outside of my comfort zone and also spurred me on to continue to make mugs. Over the past few years I've discovered the joy of mug-making.

♥Thanks to my friends and family for your support. It's great to have people cheering you on and you all are great cheerleaders.

♥Thanks to the developers of Etsy.com. I had no idea back in 2007 that it would turn into such a wonderful platform to sell my pottery.

♥ Thanks to my art buddies at the Westchase Artists Society. It's great to have an art club that's in the neighborhood and the incredibly talented members make it a real treat to be a member.

And now it's time to go out and make more mugs!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

Only time will tell if the alliterations take over and I come up with something for every day of the week. But it just seemed too perfect for Tuesday to be Teapot day. So I have a few new teapots on the shelf waiting for word on whether they made the cut for my favorite teapot show of the year, the Mad Hatter's Teaparty over in West Palm at the Armory Art Center. I've had teapots accepted in this annual event for several years now. The cool thing that's started to happen is that some of the attendees of the Teaparty have started to collect my teapots and look for them year after year, or at least that's what I've been told. Because of my New Year's resolution to shed my procrastinating ways, I was able to submit my CD well in advance of the deadline. This is a first for me! I entered the max, three teapots. And I really like these latest three. Today, on Teapot Tuesday, I'm going to share with you one of the three that was submitted.

I can't promise that I'll have another brainstorm and come up with something for Wednesday, but you just never know when the old brain synapses get to firing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Marvelous Muggy Monday

As I sit drinking my morning tea out my of really wonderful mug made by Charan Sacher, I realize that I'd like to share some of his wonderful mugs and start a new series called Marvelous Muggy Monday. Since it's raining outside, what better way to spend the chilly morning than with a warm beverage, be it coffee, tea or hot chocolate. So here are a few of my favorites from Charan's Etsy shop, at http://www.creativewithclay.etsy.com/

Monday, January 10, 2011

Resolve Week Two

As I make it through the first month of the new year, I'm happy to report that my efforts to be less of a procrastinator are holding strong. Proof of this fact can be found in my workspace area that I fondly call the Garagio. Today I cleared out and threw out a bunch of "stuff" that I've been holding onto for years. There was always the thought, "well maybe I can use it... someday." I can see how the act of hoarding can take over for some people. Luckily, I'm not a full-fledged hoarder, I just have slight tendancies in that direction. Mostly because of my artistic endeavors and truly the thought that some day I can use that something in a project. Luckily, now I'm starting to realize that the project will never come so why not get rid of that special something that I've been hanging onto for years?

I continue on my quest to weed out my problem inventory items, smash and sell as a USPS Flat Rate box of pottery shards. Week two's pots have been smashed, the box is packed and photos taken and the listing is up on Etsy. It's such a feeling of acomplishment when I finish up with a box, especially when a mosaic maker buys the listing. Knowing that these ceramic pieces, that either would have continued to take up inventory space or eventually ended up on the trash pile, are going to be given a new life is such a marvelous lift for me. So as I slowly work my way through my inventory I may just make every Monday my pot smashing day. As long as there are mosaic makers that can use my shards I'll keep smashing and listing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions, mostly because when the dust settles and the resolutions are left by the wayside, I don't like carrying the guilt around. So most years I skip the resolutions. But this year, for unknown reasons, I felt compelled to resolve. And, my big, huge, amazing resolution for 2011 is to try to be less of a procrastinator. When I dusted off the cobwebs on my blog, I realized that I have a serious case of procrastinatoritis. I can't believe that I haven't touched my blog since July. Granted the last post about my cowboy boots is pretty spectacular and I love pulling up the blog and seeing the photo of the boots. But seriously... July?!
Anyway, one of my first self-imposed assignments was to get to work on pulling my receipts and invoices to get prepped for tax filing. Mission accomplished! I'm happy to report that when the W-2's and 1099's come in I'll be ready for filing. This opens up new worlds for me in January. What an incredible feeling. One thing that really helped me this past year was to update Quick Books as I made sales so that I was able to use the data for my quarterly state sales tax filings and as a result I had alot less to input at year end. I was also able to work during the year at plugging in my purchase receipts so the task of finishing up was a lot less than it would have been if I had to plug in the whole entire year all at once.

Next, I've been putting off and putting off going through my really, really old inventory as well as pieces that I've been hanging on to that had glaze problems. I like to smash them up and put them up for sale for the mosaic makers on Etsy. I sell them for a price that covers the shipping and listing fees. It's cool for me because I know that they're going to be put to good use and it's certainly better than adding them to the landfill. So this week I had a smash-fest and put together my first Flat Rate USPS Priority Mail box, I listed the box on Etsy and pretty soon after it sold and I was able to send it on it's way to a new life as mosaic pieces. Now my challenge will be to continue the momentum and get another Flat Rate box smashed and listed.

Another major accomplishment - I usually wait until the last day, last hour, last minute to send off submissions for my favorite teapot shows. One show in particular is the Mad Hatter's Tea Party over in West Palm at the Armory Art Center. It looks like this year I'll actually be sending off my entries early!!! I ran a glaze firing a couple of days ago and was able to finish up the embellishments today on two of the teapots. I'm sharing photos of one of the finished teapots in this post. I have a third teapot in today's glaze load and I'll be adding her wire, beads and earrings tomorrow. Even though this is the first week of January in the new year, I'm really liking the feeling of accomplishment and I'm also enjoying the new less frenzied pace. I don't want to set myself up for failure, but it sure would be nice to turn over a new leaf and shed my procrastinatoritis.