Sunday, December 26, 2010

great plans for the new year

I am working my way through a plan for 2011. There are some dates and goals that are already set by show dates and trips to races with 'race dave' but the schedule of what pots need to be thrown and when is a bit trickier.
The photo is of my favorite glaze in a 60litre tub and my apron, ankles and shoes.

I have found that there are some pots that people choose more consistently and some price points that everyone seems to be attracted to. I enjoy making a few mugs at a time, all different or course, and having lots of time to work on a handle that suits each mug just so. I really do not enjoy having a whole damp shelf of mugs to turn and handle before sunrise (or passing out) leading up to a show or the start of a Market season. It seems a bit like a job on those late nights and less like an art (small 'a' or not {'A}).

Part of the plan for this week between Xmas and New Years, that everyone seems to sleep through, is to decide what work needs to be done to get ready for the next year of studio life. I have already taken the old canvas off my wedging table and about a million staples and replaced it with an old piece of material that I have made all sorts of things out of. The material is a bit more fine than the last one and it leaves a very smooth impression on the clay that touches it, the stapling was again more than sufficient and I even learned from the last time (5 years ago) to pre-stretch the material all the way across the back before stretching it forward. Such small things show my neuroplasticity, hahhaa.

I also did a big clay order and clearly marked the date on each of the 18 boxes so I can use them up in order before they get a little old. I need to make a nice wooden sign to hang on the sign post that handy dave dug and concreted into the front yard for me. The old sign is plastic and says that I am riding to the Farmers' Market but I just want one to say the pottery name and be very water tolerant. I painted on a plywood one when I first started and the paint adhesion did not tolerate 6 months of rain, what?? who said it rains here.... we seem to have moved our house very close to a large lake that is now surrounding my raised garden beds.

I also have to make a 55litre batch of my major glazes, which includes getting all of the ingredients from the potters' supply, and I need to figure out the blue that I have been trying to adjust for the last few months. I am very tired of it! It shows everything from the time you hold each pot in the glaze (how much glaze is absorbed) to the dampness of the pot where it was previously dipped another glaze, just where the two glazes meet it is very thin (not taking up enough glaze) and it drives me nuts.

I also am going to go up to Ladysmith again for the clay chat with Mary Fox on the 9th of January and my new clay friend Franziska said she would come along. Race dave gave me a gps watch that shows how far I have gone and how hard I was working to get there so I have a way of measuring my progress towards better cardiovascular health. I ran the bridge loop (which I now know is 7.11 kms) and it took 51 minutes but my legs felt very stiff and sore as I had done a back to back 22km bike and then 7km run a few days before, so the heartrate results weren't very good.

On the same health vein, nurse dave and I went over to Vancouver and went to see the body world cadaver show and were reminded, from our college days, how very vulnerable our bodies are to our own inactivity and fat. It is so painfully clear how much better I feel when I have worked my body hard and how stiff and fat I feel when I have chosen not to. The $3 chin up bar in the glaze studio is very important to my upper body not curving over the wheel head as I throw and keeping my wrists pain free. I also got a thick pair of firm foam shoes to wear at the wheel to make sure that my legs are resting and not torquing my plantar fascia.

The new year is going to be a time to enjoy the decisions I have already made towards my dreams and goals of being a full time potter (for the 6th year) and of being strong in body and mind. I stole away for a few hours while over in Vancouver at the fabulous public library and scramble sketched as many cool pot ideas into my scrap book as I could! I will have to try some ideas and use the sketches to stimulate my creative juices in my regular work to continue the evolution.

I had a few sweet customers carefully say that my work has really progressed in the last few years without saying that my pots used to suck but saying that the latest work is pleasant and somehow coming into it's own.

So that is how I will end this year, with my plans and my positive decisions paying off in my pots, the pottery itself and in my physical strength and ability to tolerate and, dare I say, enjoy the endless hours in a 7 'foot' by 11 'foot' throwing studio. I have no resolutions but more powerful always is the results of the conscious work of the last year and the happiness that they bring knowing that anything is possible to those who work their asses off!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quick Photo Update

Hello Pottery Friends,

This is a photo of the display that we set up for my Solo Show in November. Barbara Sobon spent quite a few hours on the friday night helping place the pots and Dave and I adjusted all the tables while pots left for a new home and needed to be snugged up. I have to go out in the rain and muck to take some pots to Coffee on the Moon and Black Coffee out at Whippletree Junction. The whole ride is about 20kms and we are getting about 50ml of rain today and I will have to rinse off my bike and oil it again after last night's deep clean. As I have said many takes a very secure woman to wear poofy blue rubber pants out in public. I will take a photo of the extra large teapot that I made last night, it seemed to need a couple of squares on it to complete it. Stay warm and try to relax this last few days before merry ho ho!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The last few days before santa

Today was a great day with a few groups of people calling and making a time to come and see the gallery for a few gifts and gift certificates for lessons. It is always nice to have people come to the studio as it means that all of my work is on display with the new lights that I finished installing and the customers can take their time to pick up each pot and find the perfect one for themselves or a friend.

(the photo is of some flowers sweet dave brought for me, put in a vase that i made and put them on the wheel for me to find when i got home)((ps YES my studio floor is almost always THAT clean, i love my lungs!!!))

It is always nice to give the customer a little break on the price as I am also not paying to attend a Show or Market and of course I don't have to haul my work around town and the Valley. The one light that is in the gallery is poor despite any bulb that I can find (of course the one I have is very efficient but the sconce seems to contain most of it) so I was moaning about it to a friend and she suggested that I string a plain set of white xmas lights around the shelves and turn them on as needed.

I bought a box of lights and gave it a try! What a difference the lights make to the pots, now they sparkle with little points of light and it was worth the hours of nailing those tiny nails into the shelf supports and then bending them all over to hold the lights away from sight. The strings of lights are all tucked away and only a few bulbs are showing which look nice too.

I wanted to update today to let people know that they can call me (([746-6893]))to make an appointment to view the TINY gallery or just stop by Hawkes Blvd (off Somenos Road) as I only leave the studio a few times a week.

See you soon, thanks for all the local purchases this year and I can't wait to start making my new work for 2011, onward and pot-ward! The mud kind not the combustible stuff, hahaha.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tozan Wood Fired Anagama Kiln, Cedar BC

For a potter who works very hard making pots and loading kilns for a living and spends lots of long hours alone in the studio what kind of adventure day is there out there? Long hours wadding, loading and firing a huge wood fired kiln, of course!! I emailed the Tozan Kiln society last week and asked if they were going to have a firing any time soon and found out they were indeed! I went out to the Kamagawa Campus (which was remarkably hard to find) and met Ruth, Robert and Flora who were setting up to wad about a zillion kids clay works that needed to go in the kiln.

They had made up the wadding and prepared a lot before I got there and so I was there to help with the donkey work and wadding on the thursday and went out again friday to help load the Anagama kiln. They only had enough work to fill the doagie part (the first section of the 5) but it holds a lot of work and took quite some time to get ready then they bricked in the door and Flora and I spent the rest of the evening trying to heat up and dry out the huge dragon so that it would fire. I tended a tiny fire in the base on the chimney to try to start some air movement towards that end and start a draw.

I stayed and worked on the firing until 10pm, as I had to go get nurse dave from work and get some sleep so I could to get up early and pack the pots and trailer for the Market saturday morning. I smelled like a serious bushfire when I got home and spent a while with the loofa in the shower before bed and used an old firefighting trick of washing my hair and rinsing then washing again and leaving the shampoo in for a while to cut the smell of the smoke before the conditioner.

The fire was fascinating and the kiln was a work of art and history that should be a national treasure! It is a pure act of passion that built it and many small acts or heroism that keeps it alive and working. The College that allows use of the land for such a huge kiln and associated activities must see a great value in the kiln to be so welcoming!

The rest of the group of fire workers fed the flaming dragon constantly until sometime sunday morning and they all closed in the kiln (the air ports, fire box mouth and the chimney dampers) to hold the heat in as it cools down and they are planning on opening it thursday at 5pm. I will ride out to Cedar thursday after yoga and help with the tables and take down. I will also take a few more photos and put up one of the chiminea that I fired in there. I wasn't going to take it up there but I realized that the clay had been a cone 9-11 range and that it just might survive. It cost a small fortune to put the big girl in the anagama kiln which was calculated after it was inside the dragon but it will be a lovely work of art if it survives.

Now back to work and I am on to working on the down time list of chores that I haven't been able to get done during the prechristmas workathon. I am going to go get new canvas for my wedging table as I have been having to avoid wedging on two areas because the threads are all that's left and they are breaking. There are at least a box of industrial staples holding the old canvas on the table so I have to carefully decide if I am going to take the old one off before I put the new one on of if I should just cover over it. I'm trying to think about that for holding the water in longer with two layers or if the two canvas sheets would bind to each other and wear out more quickly.

I also need to make a better sign for the house studio, I have been through many manifestations but the ones made of paint on wood melt off in the rainy six months and the plastic commercial one I have up right now isn't right either. I think I want to make a new wood one (I have scavenged a few nice big pieces) but to burn/brand the letters into it and then seal the wood so it would last longer. Of course, that is completely new to me but since I was tiny I believed I could do anything so little stops me these days. Talk soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Take a break from cash collection

The peaceful part of the work routine has returned. I experience a weird gap in my life/meaning when I am busy with all the sales and shows because, through many hours of discussion with patient Dave, we have realized that I am not motivated by money. The acquisition of cash holds no happy thoughts for me. Sure it pays the mortgage and means that I am not required to find an alternate source of the coloured bills but not much else. So when I am away from the clay and studio life I am sort of set adrift. Maybe I measure my worth in each pot that I throw, truth is an odd snack with this morning's coffee.

So, we were down in victoria last week getting the perfect sized bags to send home pottery in, and we always spend an hour or two in the book shops whenever we can and I found a book called "Art and Fear" and have been unable to process how exactly the author, David Bayles, is able to dig into my brain! He chats frankly about all the guck that has been building up in my head about whether I am actually and "Artist" or an "artisan" or whether I am a "craftsperson".....strangely the answer might be that no one cares and all theses titles are crap.

Now, I haven't read the whole book but it seems like the point he's made so far is that the only assessment of your progress in the art that you make is THE ART THAT YOU MADE. Such an interesting idea, that we need to make the work to see if we can make the work we are meant to make. The gallery owner who sneers at your work is not the person who has an valid opinion, like the woman who surveyed my table of pots and asked if I could just pick out the work in the colours that would "really sell"!!

The pot that you made last week is the one to teach or show you what you were doing and paying attention to last week. The book also makes a huge, loud statement that you are the reason for each piece of art, each practice hour you spent learning that work on the piano is a direct source of polish when it is finally performed live for others!

Anyway, I made a few really nice smaller bowls, little humble things for the morning eggs or making pesto and trimmed them yesterday. The bowls were straight from my soul and had no self awareness at all, like the best pots to make can be, they were not thinking of themselves. All too art'y' for some but suffice it to say the money is out of the way and the pots are starting to flow through me again which is such a great feeling.

This week will find me out in Cedar at the Tozan kiln to see how it is done, how pots are wadded and the thoughts put into loading the big dragon, and then I plan on staying to help with the firing as much as I can without missing the Market on saturday. I will take a lot of photos and put them up here when I get back and showered up.... as those who know about my will be interesting to be back staring into the actual's been a long time.....
PS the photo is from inside the studio, of a tiny frog, who was taking also taking a break during a huge rain storm, also notice the bike to work shirt!!