Thursday, January 24, 2008

Love and Chocolate

The only thing better than being in love is when the person you're in love with brings you chocolate! Love can be intoxicating or stabilizing. It can make you fly or give a firm foundation. Love is the best gift, and often the only gift, we can offer. Chocolate is a close second.

This handmade tumbler, sadly, is not made of chocolate. It is, however, created with love in our studio; it is wheel thrown and glazed in a chocolate brown with a sweet red heart.

New items are still being added to the Etsy Love Challenge. Here a a few more favorites. You can click the photos for more information or to visit their stores.

Jim Bridgeman of Bridgeman Studios has a whole line of these amazing ceramic balloon hearts.

This cut paper art from Crafterall is so sweet.

Everything Lesperance Tile does is worthy of talking about.
This tile is no exception!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Etsy Love Challenge

Love is in the air with Valentine's Day around the corner and Etsy is having an Etsy Love Challenge. We are challenged to make items that tell a story and here is my entry.
Young Henry was quite taken with sweet Emily, but he was too shy to approach her. Emily had noticed Henry, but she had never even held hands with a boy and she could not meet his gaze.

Henry was convinced that Emily wanted nothing to do with him, so he tried hard to ignore her and when his friends were around he laughed and joked a little too loudly.

Emily's friends told her that Henry had a crush on her, but she was afraid that all those jokes that kept him laughing were about her. She plucked her mother's flowers when ever she walked past, asking each bloom whether or not he loved her, dropping petals like Hansel and Gretel's trail everywhere she went.

Mother was getting quite upset that her garden was looking so bare. She had a local potter make these cups and instructed Emily to reach into the cupboard with her eyes closed each day and she would know how he felt by the cup she chose.

Emily's mother was a smart one, so after a few days she removed the LOVES ME NOT cup from the cupboard. After three days of choosing LOVES ME, Emily believed it. She found the courage to meet Henry's gaze and he knew in one look that she LOVES ME.

Now here are some of my favorites from the challenge so far. Click on the photos to find out more about each entry.

This Valentine's Day card from Gigi Phillips is too cute! She makes the little figures in the cards and them creates the scenes to photograph them in.

This original drawing from the Pairabirds says so much with the minimum of lines.

Studio Elan always impresses me with her perfection of form and gorgeous glazing.
This cup is no exception.

This original painting from TP Design, an artist from my home town of Dallas, is all about love... love for your fellow human beings and love for your planet. It is painted on repurposed wood and reads, "The greatest of these is love."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I think I'm in love!

I posted this dish a week or two ago in the leather hard stage. Often, this is the romantic stage with pottery. Either you are in love with your piece - it is smooth, dark, and cool but still flexible enough to bend to your will; or you hate it. Occasionally you might let the hated ones grow on you, but by the time they are bone dry, you should know whether or not the relationship will work.So, this little guy passed the love test and went on to be bisque fired and then glazed and fired again. Sometimes, at this stage, you fall right back out of love. Some pieces go bad in the glaze firing and disappoint you with blisters or pinholes or even (gasp) cracking. I always wonder what I did to make them hurt me so. But this little guy was true to my heart and came out perfect!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Neti (Snot) Pots

So, neti pots have been around forever. I mean, a thousand years or more. So why is it that some corporation feels that they should be able to trademark the term "Neti Pot"? The trademark has been applied for and is temporarily live, but the government has not determined that the term is trademarkable. (I might have made that word up.) Still, the company is putting Neti Pot™ on all their boxes.

In the meantime, I have to figure out what to call my pots used for the practice of Jala Neti, also known as nasal irrigation or sinus cleansing. Right now I am happy with the term "Snot Pot" and my first Snot Pots are out of the kiln!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The Etsy Mud Team has regular challenges that encourage members to try new things and step outside their comfort zone. The January challenge is a salt and pepper shaker challenge and members have been trying all sorts of designs.

Antonia turned many of us on to a stopperless salt shaker design that dispenses salt from the bottom. (Note the suggestive last image in her listing.) The shaker is thrown in one piece with a funnel going up the center. The shaker is filled and emptied through this funnel.

I decided to try throwing a stopperless shaker and had a good time with it. I wanted the sides of the shaker to be carved, using our wave stamp as inspiration. When I shared this with Alex, he wanted to do the carving. We decided by collaborating on this project, we could both participate in the challenge. So... here is our entry! It is ready to go into the kiln for the bisque firing and then we'll pray the glazing is spectacular.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

We've Been Picassoed

Cynthia of Colorado Art Studio, a friend of ours in our blog ring and on the Etsy Mud Team, had a fun blog post this week with a self portrait, Picasso style. She had created it at Mr. Picassohead - a fun web site where you can make your own Picassohead painting. Of course I was distracted by the opportunity to play there! Here are the results - mine looks far more sophisticated than I ever do and Alex's looks a little scary.

Truthfully, the last thing I should be doing this morning is creating portraits with this website. My to do list is continually growing and while I tick off things constantly, it feels like things are getting added faster than I can get them done. I had a very unsuccessful day at the wheel yesterday and tossed more than I kept. I suppose days of experimentation are like that, but it got frustrating quickly. Today I will try again and hopefully work out the kinks.

I played on my new felting machine yesterday. I have nothing worth bragging about to show, but it was fun. I made a new felt doll and clothes to give to our preschool music teacher. She sings a song about getting dressed for winter and her felt board doll was beginning to look a little ragged. It's no wonder my to do list keeps growing when I stay sidetracked with little projects. I suppose it is the curse of the creative mind - I am easily distracted.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Perfect Pair

We call these mugs "The Perfect Pair" not because the mugs themselves are perfect, but the pairing of the glazes is. These glazes work together and highlight each other so well. They even bring out aspects in each other that could not be seen before - intense halos on each side of the drip line.

We also think of our marriage as a perfect pairing. Alex and I bring out the best in each other and uncover beauty in each other that was not known before. We have survived grad school, self-employment, kids, and more, but we have remained the best of friends through it all. I love working alongside Alex in the studio. We support, inspire, and critique each other's work. We actually promised to do that in our wedding vows! Anyway, in a not very eloquent way, I am using these mugs as a way to say I am so grateful to have Alex as my partner in life and in the studio.

And remember - this week everything in our Etsy shop is 10% off!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Do you Neti?

My first introduction to Neti was while spending a weekend at our cabin with friends a few years ago. In the morning, Brandon and Misty strolled into the kitchen with matching little teapot looking things and started pouring salt water up their noses. We were shocked and a little grossed out. I mean, we always knew they were a little weird...

Fast forward three years. My mom, who suffers from all sorts of sinus issues, started telling me I needed to do a regular sinus cleansing. Uh-uh. No way. I mean, it hurts so bad to get water up your nose at the pool, right? But this year, in the midst of the Christmas rush, I began to come down with a cold. I could not afford to get sick. We work seven days a week beginning after Thanksgiving and keep going until Christmas Eve.

"Sinus cleansing," Mom said on the phone. Fine. I went to the store and got an ugly plastic bottle that shoots water up my nose. So what happened? I didn't get sick and it didn't hurt. Maybe Misty and Brandon aren't weird, but geniuses! If I had listened three years ago, my winters may have been very different.

Fast forward to two days ago. In the Etsy forums there was a discussion on sinus cleansing. Someone said, "Why to Neti pots have to be so ugly? A good potter could fix this." I smelled a challenge and got started right away. So I made three prototype neti cleansing pots. Of course, I expect them to become even more beautiful after a glaze firing. For now, they look like awkward tea pots that are missing lids.

As for Neti, it originates as the Ayurvedic practice of Jala Neti - a ritual nasal cleansing. It uses a saline solution that closely matches the make up of your tears which is why it doesn't burn. There are many reputed benefits including a reduction of allergy problems, more effective tears, reducing cough and post nasal drip, and more.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Pottery Squared

We are starting off the new year with new work. While I have always loved hand building, we have concentrated on wheel thrown work. At least partly, this is because hand built work can be so time consuming and I tend to think people won't pay what the labor requires.

I am trying to let go of preconceived notions and realize that what we believe is true is not always actually so. So, on that note, we are exploring new ideas and allowing ourselves some time to stray from the bread and butter of wheel thrown work.

Our first wanderings are a line of square dishes. These are not as time consuming as other hand built work and should be reasonably priced. We are using slabs of clay and slumping those slabs into molds. When they are not quite leather hard, we are stamping the rims with our hand carved stamps. I had fun figuring out if Alex's cylindrical wave stamp could make the turn on the rim of a square bowl. It worked out so perfectly you might think I was confident it would work. After the pieces are leather hard, we are adding rather tall feet.

Also coming - perhaps photos tomorrow - are a line of Neti Pottery. If you are not familiar, they are used for the Hindu practice of sinus cleansing. I have recently begun this practice and I am a huge believer... Alex is not so enthusiastic. Our journey into sinus cleansing pots began because another enthusiast remarked, "Why can't Neti Pots look nice? A good potter should work on this." I took it as a challenge and went straight to the wheel.