Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Solo Show Number Ten

10th Annual Solo Pottery Show
November 29th, 2014
@ the Mercury Theatre 
331 Brae Road, Duncan, BC
10 am to 6 pm
** to find us: take Trunk Road into downtown Duncan, turn right onto Brae Road right across from Lordco, before the carwash :) ** 


It's that time of year again, the garden is put to bed for the rainy season, the wet wind starts to bite and the forests turn back to their rich green that can only happen on the islands. My show is a great event every year for several reasons; it's the only time I sell my seconds (the flawed pots that don't meet my strict standards), it's the only time that all my pots are together in one place, and it is a really great time to meet and chat with all my customers. 
My solo show is only one day this year due to the fact that all three venues I found to rent had already been rented out on the Sundays. Because of this, I have decided to extend the hours on the Saturday to 10 am to 6 pm so everyone can stop by early, on their lunch break or after work. 

The fall weather makes me want to curl up with a warm mug and a pretty little bowl of apple crisp. I am doing craft fairs each weekend, teaching both here and at the HUB managing what extra jobs I can at the HUB studio. The tot and i are outside everyday getting some fresh air.

I am also at the Waldorf School on November 22nd from 10 am to 3 pm, outside under the tent. for more information :)
On December 6th, I will be at the Providence Farm Christmas Show from 9 am to 3 pm at the beautiful historic farm. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Knit City

That's right! We are going to Knit City!!

Trial By Fire Pottery is packing up all the pots in the studio and taking them on the ferry to the big city for this amazing event on October 4th and 5th. 

I guess that means me. I am going to Vancouver for two reasons, Knit CIty of course and for a vacation with my sisters, three birth sisters and one that married my brother, yes, that means that I am one of 5 children. The youngest, tallest and least like the rest if you were trying to pick us out of a lineup. However, when you get us all together, you will see the gaps in our speech, the exact same grins and the joie-de-vivre that will mean that if you are at the coffee shop table beside ours-- you willl conclude it'd be best to laugh along or at least smile as you take your coffee to go:)
**dead sexy little mug** (sorry it's sold)

I have been making small batchs of knitting bowls, some plain and some a bit more extravagant, some with the swirly slot for your wool to easily pull from, the dedicated smooth round opening that means you're committed to the ball and the plain elegant ones without holes. They will be in my whole colour pallett and with my careful attention to detail that has brought back the repeat customers these last ten years.
**photo of a dinner set that i made as ordered for a repeat customer in whiterock**

I have made taller ones for those who like to place their knitting standing up with the ball tucked away  underneath, away from the evil gaze of the family pet, and lower wider bottomed ones for those that knit right out of the machine balled wool that feeds from the inside and needs room to lie down. 
**photo of jugs, special order sushi bowls and taller knitting bowls**

I was encouraged to join the event when I saw that there were two other artists from the Cowichan Valley going as well, and woudn't you know it; we all know each other! Small world of artisans here in the land of afordable homes and giant gardens full of food.
**photo of my DAILY (?!!?!) haul of volounteer (unplanted/free range) tomatoes, after i filled the freezer, dehydrated a zillion, made pizza sauce X10, made traditional italian "conserva" aka tomatoe paste X10 I also managed to trade them for a case of peaches, some children's books, goodwill and several hugs, honestly though now i am looking forward to having the plants die off**

Monday, July 7, 2014


     We are still not settled into our old routine. We were away for a week at the wedding of racer dave's best friend growing up. It was a super small, very emotional and pretty wedding. The bride actually hand made little gift bags for all the little kids that were going to attend with a bottle of water, crayons, a book about the wedding, a name tag and a tiny story book about 'mr bump'. It was very thoughtful and our little 19 month old was happy to nibble on the food, clap when everyone else clapped and run around in the cooling evening air. He also managed to convince the bartender to play a primitive form of catch where the little guy would chuck the soft (handmade from a sock) ball as far as he could and then run away laughing while the senior guy went to get it and chuck it back.
It just turned hot here which is pretty hard on the locals who enoy a monthly temperature spread of about five degrees the rest of the year. It hit 32 today and we had to go into town for an apointment and decided to walk with a friend. The tot was fine in his sun shielded chariot with the vented top and sides open while we chatted, sweated and walked the pathways and back roads of our little town.  The bike ride into town is always easy (downhill) and the ride home has half a dozen options for hard, really hard, medium and 'chill'. I decided to stick to the pathway and then take the chill hill home to be extra kind to myself in this heat.
The pottery studio has been a bit neglected for a few days as we have been taking in the first big bulk of our yard food. Daddy picked a gallon of black currents which i made into a crisp and three jars of syrup. I made some bbq sauce out of rhubarb today to go along with the baked pork loin. Tot and i picked a basket of peas that we shelled, blanched and froze this morning. 
Tonight was dave's night to have the tot and do the bath and bed routines while i worked in the studio so i decided to glaze some large jugs that I have bisqued before we went on vacation. They look good and have a little splash of extra colour that should melt in nicely in the fire. 
We have been making a lot of headway at the new community pottery centre here in Duncan. We had a fantastic fundraiser and have had several work bees to paint, clean up, hang the chalkboard, strip down the huge old wooden pillars, and plan our next steps. As it turns out, we have stored all of our donated wheels and kilns in a rat infested barn that may have been just the right opportunity to eat all the wiring out of them.......we shall see.
When race dave is in the lake swimming a couple of kilometres, tot and i have been packing up the canoe that i rebuilt for my 30th birthday and doing a peaceful mama and baby paddle around the lake. Race dave then gets out of the water and rides home while i pack the canoe back up to the car (he bought me portage wheels recently) and then tot and I tie it down and drive home. (he mostly tries to stay out of the way....sort of)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to Be a Potter and a Mom

A perfect day in my life has a lot to do with what gets done. It is a simple fact of the way I am put together. I like to knock little things off my list all day which gives me an energy boost to move on and get the next thing done. The best way for me to get moving through chores with the tiny man is to choose times to start when he is ready for adventure, fed, clean bum and fresh off a nap. We spend a lot of time in the yard these days which gives me lots of time to garden. The tot will march back and forth around the yard giggling with the puppies and upsetting the gravel. I have primed the garden for a great year with the first set (of many) overwelming weeds is just sprouting :( 

When I need to throw pots, I try to plan a bit ahead so I break the work into parts and negotiate for time. I will cut up and wedge clay the night before so I am able to sit down and start throwing the minute he goes to sleep.  The tot goes to bed at different times between 10am and 2pm so I try not to get my knickers in a knot if I can't get started at a particular time. I will then throw a small batch of pots that I know I can trim later without running out of time. Throwing same weight balls into similar batches also helps my work be more consitant and pleasing in sets. 

The other little bit of magic in getting things done is that Hubby takes the toddler on long runs in the chariot too so I can get uninterupted blocks of time. He also has the little man every saturday (and has had him those days since the very beginning) so I can sell pots at the Farmers' Market and evenings so I can teach my pottery students. Lots of help, planning and determination. Oh, and a small mountain of patience as we all negotiate time swaps! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bad Firing JuJu

Over the holidays, my sister was here from Edmonton and we were out around the valley biking and hiking and kicking butt for ten days. She has a little studio in her basement that she would love to spend more time in and needed a little mud under her fingernails to get her going again.

I thought it was a good idea to fire up my little kiln with a bisque load to see if the repair in the element would work or not. The kindly gentleman, who came to help figure out what the reason was for the kiln not reaching temperature, pulled the broken element pieces out and put in a patch. Now the reason I knew that the kiln wasn't working was because I keep exact firing records so it was super obvious when the firing time went from the consistant 12 hours to 14 or 16 plus! 

The bisque fired up well and my sister was in charge of loading the whole thing while I guided and corrected and made suggestions. It kept to the ideal range of timing and the bisqueware we unloaded the next day was mature and clean looking in colour. The element patch looked unchanged at 1945ºF.

So, based on our little experiment, we waxed and glazed those pots (that were almost all made specially for customer orders) and reloaded the kiln for a glaze fire. I set the dials to 5 and left the lid and holes open to let the steam out for the first few hundred degrees. 

I turned the controller up and closed her up for the top end of the firing cycle. Later that night, I came down to see how the firing was going by looking at the heat colour leaking out. I was not impressed with the heat colour so I added another 2 hours to the overall timer to give a bit more total time to reach 2232ºF. 

It did not shut off in the 14 hours I had put as the max time, adusted up by 2. I added more time. Then I started to get a little freaked out as the heat colour looked right but it hadn't shut off. I knew that if I touched the kiln sitter it would be ruined as the delicate metal rod that reaches into the inferno bends if you look too closely at it when it's that hot. I didn't want to shut of the kiln with the timer because I have come to fundamentally trust the kiln sitter system. Heat melts a little block and as the block deforms the little rod moves which releases the trip mechanism. Pretty neat and simple technology from a few hundred years ago. 

I did a few chores around the studio and came back. The kiln sitter was starting to move so I sat down on the dirty outdoor rug in the carport, and watched like I used to in the old days before I purchased and learned to trust the new bigger kiln that is computer controlled. It did finally trip and I stood up, stretched and went to bed. 
The first shot from the top showed a very dark version of my regular water glaze, this is a bit ominous and I was a bit realieved to see that the child's work was okay.
Shot two revealed the section of the kiln that is missing elements, by design, so it is going to be the cool level. The glazes in this level were closest to how my kiln normally fires.
This shot is a close up of the kiln element section that was replaced. Clearly the element patch that was able to handle 1945º was not able to withstand 2232ºF and burned out like a shooting star. 

the photo above is what they are supposed to look like

these pots were over fired, dead sexy
lower shelf, over fired and still dead sexy
These were the hottest, and super dead freaky sexy.

None of them are for sale as I have kept them for my own kitchen and I don't sell flawed bowls (they have little volcanoes with sharp edges that i will smooth off by hand). 

The next time I blog about this kiln it will be another photo stream including how I changed the elements, where I got them from, how much they cost, how long it took to complete the refit and I promise to leave out all the curse words:)