We are still here…

I haven’t checked in for awhile. We are still here and working hard for the final push to get to our biggest show of the year next month. Jeff threw fifty mugs the other night. He decided that I would pull the handles on all of the straight sided mugs and he would do the altered mugs. I was very hesitant about putting my handles on his mugs. He wasn’t concerned a bit. I tried my best to make them look more like his. In the end they were a combination of the two!

Aside from pottery work, we are really enjoying our land this year. We have quite a few tomato plants that are just starting to give us fruit, and along with the herbs and flowers, we feel like we are super fortunate. Most of our gardening is still happening in the front yard, but Jeff has spent many evenings reclaiming the over grown back acre. Last evening Jeff took me out back to show me the maypops that are blooming out there.

This is a southern climbing vine that I was not familiar with until we moved to this house. It’s also known as purple passion flower. It produces a small egg sized fruit… Jeff says it tastes like bubblegum!

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Deadlines

We (especially Jeff) are working hard to get the pots we need done for the League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair next month. This is Jeff’s gig. It’s his work at this show. I become the assistant during the month of July. We usually have a good idea of what will sell. Bowls are always a winner. Big bowls often go first.

 It’s been hot the last couple of days and we are really appreciative of working in an air conditioned studio. It sure makes life easier.

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Summers Bounty

 We’ve got blackberries…

Loads of them! The original owner of our home planted them many years ago. They were all over grown in the back portion of our land. Jeff has gone out and whacked the weeds and brush a number of times over the past two years. This season they have really taken off.

We went out during the sweltering heat on the Fourth of July and picked a good size bowl full. There will be plenty more in the days to come. The downside of blackberries are thorns and bugs. I pretty much suited up in long pants, tall boots, and bug spray. The boots were my “snake protection”. I will admit to being a little afraid of snakes, more so the poisonous variety.

Jeff has planted a couple blueberry bushes this year. It will be a few years before we have enough to really do some picking, and we are really looking forward to it. Our goal for next year is to be able to have our vegetable garden out there too.

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Seeing Stars

A couple of months ago I had an order for a personalized piggy bank with a couple of stars stamped on the side. I didn’t have a star stamp, so I made one for the order figuring I may eventually use it again. Last week when I was finished making pigs for orders I decided to have some fun with the star stamp. Since the 4th of July holiday was just around the corner…

The star spangled, patriotic piggy bank came into being!

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The Digital Age and the Aging…

My parents, over the years, have often lamented that everyone takes pictures at family gatherings but they never get to seen them. The photos stay on peoples phones or computers, some are uploaded to facebook, but the older generation that aren’t online, are often left out.
I decided to do something about that on Father’s Day.
I created a journal, scrapbook, photo album, or whatever you want to call it… for my Dad.

 I incorporated art work with a few old photos, as well as more recent digital pics that he has only been able to view on someone’s phone.

Many were from the last year that my mother was with us for family gatherings.
I included photos from his big adventure to North Carolina in 2016.

And his 90th birthday celebration!!!
Included with the journal was a glue stick so that he can add more photos and artwork.  I am going to encourage other family members to print some of those photos on their phones and cameras, and send them his way. I hope they will include a story to go along with them. I know that it will brighten his days.

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The Large Platter Project

 This was installation week for Jeff’s platter project at the Belle Meade Retirement community in Southern Pines, NC. The resort community is undergoing a dining room renovation and Jeff was commissioned to create sixteen, 16″ platters to be hung on two walls.

Hanging these was not an easy job. It took Jeff about a day and half to complete the installation. These are heavy platters and needed to be securely attached to the walls.
The design team was great to work with and the sub-contractors on site were always helpful.

Jeff is planning to go back for a final photo shoot once the furniture is installed.

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Black and White

I have been talking about mixing some black slip for a few years now. I actually mixed a small amount three years ago, but didn’t had enough mason stain and the results were blah. This weekend I decided to give it another try. I added 25% stain. It looks pretty black. We shall see how it fires on this test bowl, thrown with B-Mix.
This weekend I had a night to myself. Jeff went off to STARworks for the evening session of the NC Wood Fire Conference and I was feeling anti-social. I settled in on the sofa for an evening of Netflix. If you haven’t seen the series “Abstact – The Art of Design”, I recommend you take a look. So far I have only watched the first episode and it was very good. So good that I even took notes!
Here is a quote from the artist featured in episode one:

“It’s about showing up and getting started.” – Christopher Niemann

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And The Door Comes Down…

The pigs are gasping for fresh air!
This firing had a very creative stack. Jeff has a commission for an installation of sixteen, 16″ platters, to be installed on a wall in the dining room of a new assisted living facility in Pinehurst. There were twelve in this firing. Flat things are often problematic.
We utilized plate setters to squeeze in smaller items and student pots.
Overall it was a great firing.

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Remember “Big Magic”?

Some of you may remember the blog post I wrote after reading the book “Big Magic”. If you missed that post, you can find it here. At the time I was struggling with being known as the piggy bank potter. I vowed to take some time this year to work on more creative things, while continuing to think of piggy bank making as my day job. Here we are in June, at the half way point of 2017. I thought I would check in and write about how things have been going.

The piggy banks are still selling well, and I really do enjoy making them. Etsy, in general, has been very good to both Jeff and I this year. As for my creative pursuits… I am feeling like I am not following through 100% of my goal.

But I am not giving up!

A few weeks back I read a blog post by ceramic artist Whitney Smith. She mentioned rediscovering gel pens, more specifically using white gel pens on dark card stock. The line quality with this pen reminded me immediately of sgraffito. I thought, what a great way to work out designs for clay on paper! I was able to find the pens in a nearby craft store. I cut card stock into smaller pieces, some in varying sizes, and went to work. My goal has been to do a few of these each week. I have found the perfect time to work on these “small works of art”, is when dinner is simmering on the stove or roasting in the oven. Time I might otherwise be wasting on facebook.

My goals for this project are threefold. The first is to discover some new patterns for carving in clay. Second, I will have some “small art” to send off with letters to my Dad. Getting mail is the highlight of his day. Third, I am going to start a new art journal. I have gotten out of this practice and it’s something I need to return to.

I will revisit my plan via a blog post in a few months, and honestly report if I have been following through on my plans and ideas.

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…Better Living Through Handmade Pottery.