Savannah Clay: 2015

This past summer was filled with lots of travel and ended on prepping for a group show, Savannah Clay: 2015. Since my internship essentially ended at the beginning of the summer (more on that later), I took the free time from school work as an opportunity to make new work for the show. Jessica Broad, a Savannah ceramic artist and my colleague at SCAD, brought a group of eight local clay artists together for this awesome show. The Savannah Clay exhibition was born in 2011 at the City of Savannah’s Cultural Arts Gallery, then traveled to Roswell, GA in 2012, and 2015 brought us another chance to show at the Cultural Arts Gallery once again. The show is a great display of the caliber of ceramic artists that are in Savannah and is up until Sept 25 at the gallery (9 West Henry St., M-F, 9am-5pm). Go check it out!

Savannah Clay ecard

I had decided to take my caged pieces from terracotta to porcelain over a year ago, because I wanted a white canvas of color instead of the intense red. I didn’t know what to expect with this undertaking (porcelain is a moody clay), but I jumped right in. I also wanted to morph from painting on the inside of the cages to doing sculpture work. These are my first real efforts to sculpture just because I’ve never had a reason to sculpt. I am quite happy with the results and will definitely continue to explore it.

I have been wanting to make the “Caged Cheese Platter” for over a year now, and I’m pretty sure some of the parts were sitting in a damp box for that long waiting to be finished. I was inspired to make the platter and the “Caged Teapot, Yunomi, Saucer and Tea Strainer” from my Pin board of Rozenburg ceramics and English creamware. With the help of some spiffy folks at SCAD, I was able to find/make custom shelves for the show made out of acrylic. The caged pieces are displayed by suspending the “lid” of the cage on a plexi shelf above it, in order to view what’s happening on the inside.

I’ve also been sitting on the goal of wanting to make a wall of cups. So taking my recent animal interest (On the Farm cups), I decided push that idea more by playing around with layers of surface. These cups are all wheel thrown, handles pulled, underglazed, carved, stamped, slip trailed, inlaid, watercolored, glazed and lustered. I’ve stopped short of surface treatment in the past, so this time I wanted to push the detail and decoration until I thought it was too much. In actuality, it was just enough. With the help of those same folks at SCAD, I had a great display of frosted acrylic shelves for the show. Here are some studio shots and pre-lighting views of the gallery. If I haven’t said it before, go see the show. You won’t be disappointed…also shameless promotion here, but almost all the pieces are for sale. 😀

Baltimore and Bill

Last quarter finished up nicely, and I had a chance to meet with my advisor to discuss the rest of my classes. I have an internship, one class and then a final project left to finish. Several months ago, I had the crazy idea to try to do an internship with a nationally known clay organization. An internship is an opportunity to do something big and make some great connections, so why not take it, right? Right, so I whittled my options to two choices, Northern Clay Center and Baltimore Clayworks. I approached Clayworks because it’s a little closer, and I had a few connections there already. Long story short, I’ve been working with Clayworks this quarter, and since I am doing a remote/on-site internship, it will extend into the summer as well.

I am working with the Development Director at Clayworks, Emily Sollenberger Dobbins, who just happens to be a past SCAD Arts Administration graduate. What does a development director do? Well, she is a fundraiser, which can include writing grants, requesting donations or hosting events that bring in funds. She also works closely with the other staff and the executive director in order to understand the needs and capabilities of the nonprofit in a big picture way. The development director has to ultimately believe in the mission of the organization while understanding the city and residents and possessing a strong relationship with the donors.

Did I mention that I have one class to take? Guess what class that is? Raising Funds for Nonprofits, aka “how to be a development director.” I admitted to Emily that I didn’t know much about fundraising, but she still agreed to take me on as an intern, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Now, my original feelings towards fundraising were not positive ones. Those normally include discomfort, nervousness and resistance to name a few, but I think that might be because of the limited exposure I have to well-planned fundraising efforts. My thoughts gravitate to childhood Krispy Kreme donut sales, soliciting, or telethons/telemarketing. Meh. These are not examples of what Emily does, and I am now aware of what professional fundraising looks like.

I visited Baltimore last month for the first time, I was energized by the excitement, compassion and dedication of the entire organization. I went to help with their Clayworks BASH! (annual gala) and to be introduced to everyone I have been communicating with so far. My main time will be spent with SCAD is on break, June 1-12. Emily has given me the role as her assistant for one of Clayworks’ annual fundraisers, the Seconds Sale. It will be happening June 5-7, when I’m there, and I’ve been working all quarter to prepare as much as possible before visiting. Have I mentioned how excited I am about this overall experience? 🙂

The weekend after Baltimore, I traveled to Lake City, SC, to be a part of the Artfields event/exhibition. I was accepted into the show last year, and wanted to make a trip before the festivities ended. Now, let’s get some background information about Lake City. It is about 15 mins from my childhood home and where my mom has worked for over 30 years. It was nothing glamorous…seriously; think small town that is mostly rural and becoming slightly urban with a big emphasis on agriculture. Sonic and Wal-Mart (back before they were all super centers) were the big attractions when I was in high school. Now imagine my surprise when I hear about a huge art competition that is happening there two years ago. For various reasons, I only just applied to be a part of the competition this year. So, when I travel to Lake City this March to drop off my work at the selected location, I was amazed by how the downtown area had been transformed since I last visited (maybe 5-8 years ago). There was a wine bar. Enough said.

To give you a better idea of how overwhelmed I was by Artfields, let me tell you about the judges. For the review panel 2015, there was the Director of the GA Museum of Art, Director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the President and founder of Leslie Rankow Fine Arts, a New York based art advisory firm for collectors of contemporary, modern and American art. There is another panel of five other judges with similar credentials. These are serious professionals from their respective fields, and they are coming to Lake City to judge an art show? I was still in some disbelief, but I continued to be impressed throughout my trip there that weekend. Let me give you a quick tour of some of the 400 pieces of artwork that caught my attention.

The artwork was outstanding—engaging content that was beautifully crafted and well-presented. Like the judges, the artists are all professionals from different backgrounds and using different mediums. I tended to be attracted to the 3-D and ceramic-based mediums, but I’m biased what can I say? Oh, and did I mention that all of these artists were competing for $100,000 worth of prizes? The top winner was given $50,000. Check out the Artfields website to see the winners. It would have been really nice to win, but I got the chance to hang out with my mom and see the incredible way that art can transform a community.

My piece was on display in Main Street Mercantile (whose manager is my high school best friend’s mom), and I got to see a lot of familiar and new faces. One new face was an artist, Tiffany Thomas, who was selling her ceramics in a Farmers and Artisan Market that was coinciding with Artfields. I scored a delightful new cup and was encouraged meeting a new potter near my hometown. So what could make this day better (besides the obvious 50k)? How about meeting Bill Murray?! Rumor is that he was there because he has a home in Charleston, SC, and is friends with the sponsor of Artfields, who also has a house in Charleston. Yeah, I was wet-my-pants excited. Literally, I went in the store where my piece was on display to use the restroom, heard Bill was across the street at the aforementioned wine bar, forgot all about the restroom and dragged my mom with me to be that obnoxious fan girl who asks to take an awkward picture with him. It was THE.BEST.DAY.EVER.

A Whirl of Activity

It has been some time since I’ve collected my thoughts enough to write about the clay happenings for MFWH, but I am finally ready to spill about my latest adventures.  Here’s a broad overview of what’s been happening since I last wrote:

  • I participated in the Isle of Hope Art and Music Festival back in October 2014, and bought a tent!
  • You could find me at the Merry Art Market after Thanksgiving for Shop Small Saturday.
  • Opened a pop-up shop for one night with Jessica Broad and Elmer Ramos for the December Art March Savannah on Desoto Row.
  • I turned another year older and celebrated by heading to the Grand Caymans and Mexico on a boat.
  • Traveled some more in December from SC, NC, TN, KY then back to GA to visit some awesome friends and family.
  • As the new year rolled in, I also started another quarter at SCAD, but this time I took a fun studio elective – Drawing for Illustrators.
  • Enrolled in a 6 week Metalsmithing class in January at S.P.A.C.E. in Savannah (our Cultural Affairs Department), and learned from the very talented Christi Reiterman.
  • Got accepted into the Artfields Exhibition/Event near my hometown in Lake City, SC, which will be happening April 24-May 2.
  • Attended a fun BIG wheel throwing workshop with Jeff Blandford at S.P.A.C.E. in Savannah.  He taught us the basics of how to throw a 100 lb bowl on the wheel.

It’s been a pretty great start to 2015 so far. I’ve really enjoyed going back to the ideas and conception of my art.  Having an entire quarter to reflect and develop my drawing skills, revisit color theory and learn some metal working skills has been incredible. I am hoping that I can plug some of these musings into my clay work relatively soon (Spring Break is approaching!). I have many more exciting things to mention, but they will be reserved for future posts.

Changes

Changes is my favorite Harry Dresden book by Jim Butcher.  If you don’t know about Harry Dresden, you should.  Dresden is a PI wizard working in modern day Chicago who encounters enemies that are usually stronger and way out of his magical league.  He is a smart ass who loves referencing “Hells Bells,” and in one of my favorite scenes goes into battle blaring the “Ride of the Valkyries” as his overture.  After reading all 15 books in the series a few years back, #16 was released this May.  A friend and I decided that we should go back and review them, so I started listening to each of the books; I’m currently on Changes which is #12.  I’m still figuring out why it’s my favorite, but it might have something to do with Dresden facing some fairly huge changes in his life and still coming out on top.

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None of the things in my life currently compare to his, although I am making my first trip to Mexico soon and believe me Chichén Itzá was the first place I wanted to go (Harry defeats some bad mojo there), but more on that later.  Anyways, my mind has been considering different types of changes that happen around this time of year.  It’s so refreshing to me when the weather shifts from unbearably hot to a comfortable cool.  It marks one of my favorite times of change, back to school.  New class schedules, new students, new clothes and hair, and even new supplies (pencils, pens, notebooks, textbooks) are all invigorating in their own way.  Normally people talk about change with negative connotations attached to it, but change can be positive too.

After completing a year of my Masters degree, I started thinking about the decision I made to change my life last Fall.  I’ve had several people ask me what I plan to do with my degree, so after completing a year of courses and becoming more informed myself, I wanted to write a blog about my life with arts administration.

My first class, man, it was difficult.  I almost quit around midterm, but my professor was pretty awesome and encouraged me to stick through it.  After that, every other class has had its own levels of difficulty, but has been notably easier.  It was a struggle getting used to a school schedule after being away from academics after five years. Particularly balancing school, work, life and studio was a bit of a shock to me.  I still struggle sometimes, but overall I feel accomplished.  I know that last year I was desperately needing a change in my life in order to break up the monotony of things and pursuing this degree has given me that.

This degree is geared towards understanding the business side of the art world, not just creating.  It took me awhile to realize that most of my classmates aren’t personally interested in creating their own artwork.  (One friend told me, “We [arts administrators] like to dabble, but we’re not making a career from our artwork.”)  I originally started this degree to serve me in the business side of my ceramic career.  I wanted to learn about accounting or copyright laws that pertain to me as a small arts business owner, but it has become much more now.  The Arts Administration (AADM) masters program at SCAD is focused more towards nonprofit organizations (which are what schools, museums and other arts organizations normally are) than for profit (what I would be being a full time artist).  So far I have learned bits and pieces of the following:

  • how to dissect and analyze an organization’s performance based on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • how to market and promote an organization by strategically targeting specific groups within a community
  • basic accounting methods and the standards and ethics that guide the laws behind those methods
  • how to write and conduct myself in a professional manner
  • what my resume and personal statement should look like to stand out
  • copyright and trademark laws and first amendment rights pertaining to arts organizations

There’s much more that I could add to that list, but those are just covering the first memories from all the classes I’ve had so far.  At first, I thought that I might have to force myself to get through these courses, but I have sincerely enjoyed most of what I have learned so far.  One of the best things is listening to the news or reading articles dealing with politics or business jargon and ACTUALLY understanding what the heck they are saying.  I’m not always on top of my class reading for each week, and I have procrastinated to the point of panic a few times, but this quarter, I am thoroughly enjoying learning about Legal Issues in the Arts.  The course content is really interesting, and I found myself researching high profile Supreme Court cases just for fun one day.  I felt I was reaching some ultimate nerdom, which made me happy.

Left to take is a class about fundraising/grant writing, then all I have left is an elective, internship, and my thesis work.  I was hoping that I could potentially do a long distance internship with a clay organization, but I’m still working through those details.  I am planning to dedicate my thesis to working with Savannah’s Clay Spot.  After that, the world is my oyster.  I eventually see myself being a development or community arts director of some ceramics nonprofit organization.  I really want to help further the education of ceramic arts and not just to enrolled students, but to the under served communities as well.  I like the idea of giving back to people and not just trying to market my work as a ceramist.  I don’t ever intend to push my pottery making to the side lines in order to become an arts administrator, but I think I would enjoy balancing the two.

So those are the changes that I see happening in my future, but for now I am content working with the ceramics department at SCAD and learning about what it means to be an arts administrator.  I have had some good progress in my studio too.  I have a few events approaching that will cause me to be spending more time there, so expect pictures and another blog post soon about the studio happenings.

Art to Table

Things change.  What’s amazing is when things change, and you don’t realize it.  I am participating in an upcoming show, Art to Table, and for it, I needed to provide images of my work.  I began looking back over my work from the past few years, and it’s incredible what a little time and focus can achieve.

I’ve been creating for this show for the past month (sketching, making molds, and such).  I’ve gathered inspiration from many things, but mainly from my best friend’s daughter, Roxie (who is also dubbed “my niece,” although there is no blood relation).  When these folks come to hang with me in Savannah, I am intrigued by Roxie’s energy and enthusiasm for new things.  Oh, and there are the heart melting moments, like when I was cuddling with her one night while putting her to bed, and she tells me, “I love you, Aunt Mitzi.” Oy!  Such a cutie; so I knew that I should find a way to inject my work with more innocence and child-like energy.

Flying a kite.

Flying a kite.

 

Roxie is almost 3, and she likes to draw.  So I asked her mom to email me some jpegs of her doodles with line variation (crayon, pen, pencil, and marker).  I bought a silk screening kit, and bam, doodles on pots magic happened.  When I was testing the drawings, I knew that color would play a big part in the effect of the piece, so I printed with a few different colors.  I also tested to see whether printing directly on the pot or printing on newspaper then transferring onto the pot would be more successful (they’re both useful depending on what you want to do). What I learned is that I really like using a white underglaze (which needs to be thick in order to print with fyi), but I will know for sure if I like the results tomorrow.  I just fired a glaze kiln last night with all my recent work.  Here’s some images of that, and some of the latest things I’ve been doing in my studio.

My molds work wonderfully!  I completed a spoon mold and attempted a lid.  I’m still working out the kinks with the lid, so not a lot of lidded things this time, but I did make lots of cups and spoons.  All of this would not have been possible without using a mold.  I am overwhelmed by how well mold making works with my current life schedule, and I’m excited to make more.

Another exciting thing is that this time I’m using hi-temp wire in my pots as decoration.  Mainly this was a leap of faith, because I haven’t tested it with my clay body, but it seems to be holding up nicely.  The vase (pictured above) is probably one of my most favorite pieces I have made so far.  (If you’re interested in seeing this in action, check out my Instagram. I’m mndavis1584)

So, about the show, Art to Table. It’s is organized by one of my best friends, Melissa Meyers.  She is completing her thesis at SCAD in Arts Administration. (She’s actually the one who got me interested in starting my master’s degree in the same thing!)  Melissa is such a huge supporter of clay (and a pretty talented maker as well).  Together she and the incredible group of professional ceramic women artists (who’ve shown in Savannah together previously) make up Art to Table.  The group consists of Lisa Bradley, Jessica Broad, Rebecca Sipper, and myself.  I’m really excited about this show, and if I don’t get to see you this Friday night from 6-9:00pm, then the show is available online.  Either way, go check it out!

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A Yogi’s Perspective on Clay

I’ve been spending this weekend in my studio, and it’s been nice because three months have passed since I’ve invested time in my own work.  I’ve been doing many other things, much of which was a Promoting the Arts class where I learned lots of marketing and advertising information (post on that later).

I’ve been pondering what my next step in my studio would be, and if I am to be honest, I’ve felt slightly stagnant and unmotivated.  I really like where my latest functional pieces are heading.  The initial discovery of the form is exciting and growing my skills on the wheel is also pretty great,but I get bored by the repetition of throwing the same form, pulling handles and making lids.  My favorite part of the process is drawing doodles and decorating.

In yoga, my teachers emphasize, “This is your practice.  If you’re not having fun or if you’re uncomfortable, try a different position. Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Have no judgement.” I’ve been practicing yoga for almost a year now, and these ideas have a way of infiltrating daily life, not just when I’m on my mat.  I work full time, have a personal life and now I’m striving towards a Master of Arts degree.  Long story short, I need a quicker process.

My lidded mugs take so much work.  Days to consider making, drying, decorating and more controlled drying, so I decided to make a few molds.  It’s pretty exciting.  I’m now waiting on the molds to dry so I can test to see if the shape is what I want.  I’ve been hesitant to use molds for my work because I love the potter’s wheel, and I like how each piece is unique.  Yet, my current daily life doesn’t accommodate these desires.  I feel like my mug form is something I’m going to stick to for awhile, so making a mold makes sense.  I plan on making the lid as soon as I cast my mug and handle.

I’ve decided that “potter” is a title I need to make my own, just like yogi.  There are ways I can bend and stretch, but my body also has limitations.  Same thing for my art.  I’ve had an idea of what my studio practice should look like for awhile (production potter has always had that glamorous appeal).  I read articles and heard ways of how other artists conduct their creative endeavors.  They have served as examples of how to keep excitement and dedication to my craft, but I need to remember that my studio practice needs to fit my life.

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Remaking a Remake

WARNING:
This post is technical and may bore some people to tears.
Clay nerds…rejoice!

On my cleaned work table in the most recent post, you may recognize this cloud bowl.

I made more space on my work table.

I made more space on my work table.

If you don’t remember this guy, here are some images to trigger your memory.

Still nothing? Well, I designed this bowl with the help of Justin Hopkins who is SCAD’s Rapid Prototyping Operations Manager.  Originally I made the mold for a class demonstration, and I didn’t really think things through, and it was bad for various reasons.  I remade it, and probably made it again.  The main problems with my old mold:

  1. I had a big gaping hole on the bottom of my cast bowl that I needed to fill every time I poured.
  2. My seams/undercut lines were not well defined so the clay would leak through in some spots.

This final time, I’m happy with the mold.  Here are some images from making the new mold.

Sometimes mold making can be as difficult, if not more so than wheel throwing or hand-building with clay.  In undergrad I had the impression that slip casting was a way of taking a short-cut and the industry’s way of taking the hand-made/heartfelt love out of a product.  I now know this is not 100% true.  An artist will have many reasons for using a mold, but for many ceramicists, making molds and casting are just other tools in the toolbox.  Sometimes our ideas are so complex, that in order to create pieces with integrity and attention to detail we have to use alternative building methods. This is the case with this piece.

Back to the mold making process…I already had made this mold.  So in order to remake it better, I used the old  bottom part and inserted my new yellow prototype, and built up the seam/undercut line with plasticine (oil based clay which you can easily make with 50%  ball clay+ 50% epk+vaseline to combine). For my fence, I used cottle boards (which you can easily make with laminated boards-which are FREE from counter top manufacturers-and 1x2s…see this video for more info) and triangular wedges of clay to subtract unnecessary plaster weight. After making sure the mold was soaped and sealed, I was ready to pour the plaster.

**Really make sure your seams are tight and you really sealed the surface of the plaster.  Plaster loves plaster, so in order to get this thing apart later, you need to make sure it will release.  I like to apply 4 baths of Murphy’s Oil to the surface of the plaster.  How to bathe: apply soap with a brush and swirl around on the surface of the plaster with a small amount of water to create a lather.  Using a damp sponge, wipe away the bubbles.  Repeat 4x. I would not leave straightforward soap on the surface of anything because it creates what I call “old man wrinkles.” The soap basically resists the plaster and mars the surface of your mold.  You’ll know it when you see it.**

After weighing my plaster according to this formula,

volume of space to fill/80=quarts of water     AND     quarts of water*2.85=lbs of plaster

I mixed the plaster in a bucket, which can be done in one of two ways. I use my buckets for multiple uses in my studio, so I don’t want the plaster to adhere to the surface.  For quick and easy clean up, you can line the bucket with a plastic bag, but I would use my hand to mix the plaster.  The other way is to use a multiple speed drill to mix which will ensure consistent and incorporated plaster, but you have to be quick and confident in clean up.  I don’t suggest using both because…well the bag will tangle into the drill and tear a hole in the bag, and you will just be left in a messy situation (I will not admit to speaking from experience here).

Remember to take care of your tools.  Plaster and water will destroy tools, so after washing give them some lube love with some WD 40 or grease.  After I remade the top of my mold, I remade the bottom too. The bottom was where I added some love.  I made a plaster plug (after being inspired by this article) so that after I drained the slip from my mold I could plug the sprue and flip the mold over to avoid having a cavity in my finished casting.

To make the plug: I used a little cone shaped nugget of clay that I threw on the wheel and placed it on the base of my prototype before pouring the plaster.  Once the plaster had set, I cleaned away the rough edges by rasping and sanding the plaster.  I then gave the cavity a bath in Murphy’s and poured a small quantity of plaster inside.  I quickly inserted wire “hook” so I could remove the plug easily.  It is delightful now!

“Wintery” Staycation.

I recently finished up a lovely “winter” vacation at the beginning of December where I ate too much great food and drank too much wine, but I feel rejuvenated nonetheless.  I mostly stayed home and worked in my studio.  If you know anything about the weather in the South, you know that snow is as elusive as a sparkly, magical unicorn, so we have a hard time believing they both exist.  There were a few studio nights where I needed a space heater, but most days were spent with my garage door wide open and the perfect sun and sky shining in on me.   It was quite idyllic, but it seriously shouldn’t be 80°F in December.

I participated in the Merry Art Market at Savannah’s Clay Spot and the Holiday Pop-up Shop, so I needed to make some new work.  The opening for the Holiday Pop-Up shop was on my birthday, so I spent my night in downtown Savannah gallery hopping.  It was really nice.

As far as studio work goes, I finished up some mugs and saucers that were lingering on my workspace, and started making new tumblers and wine cups.  I am having a really great time making things in my studio, and I considered not taking a class this quarter so that I will have time to play in my studio, but I am going to try to tackle both again.  Since I feel as if my forms have progressed to a point where I am happy with them, I want to focus on developing a color palette.  My idea is to have a light and dark clay body.  Not sure where this will take me, but it’s exciting!

 

Acorns, platters, and final week of school

I believe there is nothing more gratifying than accomplishing big goals.  Recently, I finished a commission (with a really skinny deadline) and completed my first class of grad school (and got an A!).  In addition to those things, it was a glorious quarter with our ceramic arts students at SCAD and I even participated in a few shows.  I’d say a pretty good Fall overall.

Acorn and Platter Project Deets:
Thanks to Lorna Meaden, I was inspired to finally purchase a propane torch, and it was extremely helpful with this commission.  After doing some research on acorns, I wanted to create a drastic difference in texture between the top and bottom.  I found some AHMAZING burlap at Wal-Mart (I have about a yard left of it, so I need to figure out some way of display it…because let’s face it, it’s fantastic).  My first acorn was made of red terra cotta, but once I learned that SCAD events also wanted three 12″ platters, I convinced them to let me make them from my porcelaneous clay.  I threw the bottom (or seed) part of the acorn, then hand-built the tops.  I made a small wheel thrown hump mold that I dried quickly and placed plastic over so I could shape the lids and quickly remove them.  I pinched the edges of the tops, stamped the bottom with a hand carved SCAD logo, slip/scored top to the bottom, attached a little twig on the top and bam.  Tiny acorn nugget.

A piece of advice.  ALWAYS MAKE EXTRA. Don’t even question it.  Especially working on a tight deadline, things have a greater tendency to go wrong.  After working with this cone 6 white clay for over a year now, I would like to think that I know its limits fairly well.  I damaged the first platter transporting it back and forth from studio to SCAD for approval.  I patched it, but I knew I should make a fourth.  This is how it went: Saturday-throw platter, Saturday night-force dry and trim platter, Sunday-wax, decorate, and bisque? Waay too much for this type of piece.  I’ve pushed smaller pieces, but not something that big.  Needless to say, there was a tiny crack after the bisque; really big crack after the glaze.  Thankfully, the platter I patched survived, so I had a back up.  Also, I made 10 extra acorns; 4 died, and SCAD wanted the other 6.  See, once again, making extra proved beneficial.

Other things I learned from this commission:

  1. Mishima is much easier with wax resist; seriously, it will change your life.  Mistake #1: I was in such a hurry with my first platter that I had already incised my lines and applied slip onto the platter before I remembered to put on wax resist.
  2. Mistake #2: Acorns roll.  I write this as I amusingly remember spraying the glaze on 60 bisqued acorns.  The ones on the outside flew all over my studio floor because of the air pressure from the spray gun.  It was funny and sad all at once.  I would forget which sides I had sprayed, and I was afraid of making the glaze too thick.  I made it too thin in the end and had to painstakingly reglaze all the acorns by hand, one by one.  Would have been much easier if I had just done that in the beginning.

One more thing, ::steps up on platform:: I HATE stilts.  Hate them.  If you don’t know what they are, here is an image.  KPXL38Students are always wanting to glaze their bottoms, and stilt their pieces.  I warn them by saying it seems like a cool idea, but it will be more work for you in the end.  Stilts make the pieces unstable, so they are more likely to fall over and “kiss” someone else’s work in the kiln, they are a complete and utter danger zone for your fingers and eyeballs when you try to remove them from your piece after firing, and you have to grind those tiny little spot afterwards if you don’t want others to experience the danger zone.  Hate. Hate. Hate.  So let’s imagine my emotions after working a full day at SCAD, come home to glaze and clean all my pieces, and have to spend over an hour loading the kiln because of these little bastard stilts.  ::steps down from platform:: It was a necessary evil though, because how else am I going to fully glaze the acorns?

Final project for Principles of Arts Administration was submitted Thursday night, commission was completed on Friday morning and Friday night was the opening to a local all female show “Arraigada.” It was a whirlwind of a week, but it was met with much celebration including but not limited to: two Starbucks venti specialty coffees (Caramel Brûlée and Gingerbread Latte-both are sensational), a deluxe pedicure, a bottle of wine, delicious food, a nap and a shopping extravaganza.

In other news:

  • I recently fired some pieces that a BFF made from crocheting yarn and dipping in my cone 6 slip.  That first image is what I found on my kiln shelves.  The kiln was not overfired or mistakenly dipped into a glaze.  The only conclusion I can draw is that there had a be a flux in the yarn.  That was a very interesting result that warrants more exploration.
  • It’s been 5 years at SCAD.  I would normally get a bit restless at this thought, because I don’t feel like Savannah is our permanent “home.” I never expected to be in Savannah this long, but I have developed so much as a person and as an artist doing something I love, and that is pretty cool.
  • The “Arraigada” opening was really fun.  It was great to be part of a show with such talented female artists.
  • It was surprising that even after I finished everything that needed to be completed, I still felt like I needed to be doing something.  I decided on Saturday that I needed to get out of the house and have some retail therapy.  It was welcomed with much red wine.
  • My next project is finishing up some pieces for the shows and markets that I am part of in December.  Spoons are done, now to the other stuff.

More to come soon!

On Maintaining Sanity

Wow.  A lot has happened since I last posted.  Mostly that eight weeks have passed, so I only have two weeks left of my Arts Administration class, and I’m already thinking of ways to celebrate.  I feel as if this quarter has taught me a lot, and not just about Arts Admin.  Getting into a groove with school, work, life, and my studio has been a challenge.  Being busy isn’t a bad thing, I just have to learn how to adjust (which I’m still learning how to do).  I was talking to a Bestie recently, and I looked at her and said,

“I expect you to tell me if I go crazy and I don’t realize it.”

Lately, there have been some days where I was incapable of processing normal thought.  There was so much in my mind, that it couldn’t happen; so I would start saying weird things…like socially awkward things.  (This is really not new, but it emerges more so when I’m overwhelmed.)  So I can see where family and friends would be concerned. 🙂

These are some things that are helping me work through the stress:

  • Yoga is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s like taking a Xanax; however, the results are longer lasting and a lot better for you.  I am not great at it YET.  What helps though, is remembering that stillness that I experience in savasana for those times when I feel the anxiety approaching.  The stress can be suffocating, but if I can breathe and focus on nothing, I begin to relax.
  • Hanging out with family and friends.
  • Listening to quirky awesome music.  Lately my fav Pandora station is Electric Tiger Lily.  Create it now, you will be happy you did.  Laura Marling radio is also another good one that has helped me this quarter.
  • Studio time has a calming affect if I’m not trying to meet a deadline.  Just doodling away on the clay while watching something awesome on Netflix (Dr. Who is my current obsession).
  • Great weather and sunshine.  Sometimes at work I have to leave the building on my lunch and experience the outdoors.
  • And finally, if you know me, even remotely, you know I should have put this one first on the list, but it’s more epic on the finale I feel…there’s this stuff call wine.  I can get my discussion questions for school done in a fabulous fashion when I’m drinking something dry, be it red or white.  My family actually got me wine for Christmas last year.  This is a gift that never get old.  For reelz.

So that has been my life lately, doing work in addition to some of the aforementioned bullet-pointed items.

In other news, I shipped my work to Baltimore!  It felt really good to get that checked off the list.  One of my platters was featured on the email blast for Winterfest (see image below). 🙂  I feel as if my packing job was pretty awesome, but there is always a bit of uncertainty when sending the past few months of your life away in a cardboard box.  Did you know Fedex was open 24hrs during the week in some locations?  That blew my mind.

This show is pretty awesome.  There are images of the artists’ work on the Clayworks website (you can see a few extra pieces that I shipped to them as well).  I’m pretty stoked about getting my more recent work out and about and being part of such an amazing group of artists!  I’m sharing it with the following people:

  • DANIEL BELLOW (MA)baltimore claywork
  • MARY KAY BOTKINS (IL),
  • MITZI DAVIS (GA),
  • ADAM FIELD (CO),
  • URSULA FRIES-HERFORT (NH),
  • WALTER HYLECK (KY),
  • BEN KRUPKA (MA),
  • JUSTIN LAMBERT (FL),
  • CLAY LEONARD (OH),
  • LISA ORR (TX), B
  • RANDON PHILLIPS (TX),
  • MIKE PONESS (MD),
  • GRACE SHEESE (IL),
  • WILLI SINGLETON (PA),
  • MATTHEW SMITH (NC),
  • MIKE STRUMBAS (CO),
  • NATALIE TORNATORE (MN)

In other clay related news, I’ve been working on some extra pieces that I wasn’t able to finish since school started.  Amazingly, I have been able to keep them leather hard, and I hope to get those finished soon because I am participating in the Merry Art Market in December, and I have been asked to do a traveling holiday show here in Savannah.  I am also doing another craft fair this weekend called Land-lovers’ Artisan Market at the Landings in Savannah.  I am sadly not going to have any of my most recent work available here, but I do have a pretty good inventory of older pieces that I will try to pawn off on some unsuspecting individual. 😉

I was also recently commissioned by SCAD to create some acorns and serving dishes.  I can not tell you how exciting this is.  As soon as I got the email, I was like, “Yes!  There is no possible way I can turn down making clay acorns.”  I will have images of the process and results soon, but I don’t really want to share and ruin a surprise for someone who may be receiving these awesome goodies.  I’ve really got to say that for the summer to have been so quiet, the fall is bringing a lot of opportunities, and I’m hoping to keep up with the demand.   I am firing a kiln right now that has one of these little guys and I can’t wait to see how the final results turn out.  Oh, what the heck.  I have to show you.  Here is a peek of the latest prototype.

2013-11-10 13.29.04

How adorable is that?!  Like seriously, this may have to become a thing.  🙂  How cute would that be for a wedding present and instead of SCAD, let it say the marriage date?  The hubs and I need one just so we can remember when we were married.  Those are enough words for now.  More to come soon at a more frequent pace…hopefully. 😉

Where is my mind?

Way out in the water…possibly swimmin’.  At least that’s kinda how it feels these days.  For those of you that don’t know, grad school is hard.  I’ve been friends with people who have been in grad school and I feel as if they left me out of a really big secret.  I have about 100 pages of material to read, two essays to write, and discussions to participate in this week alone.  THAT IS FOR ONLY ONE CLASS. Yeah.  So be warned future grad schoolers out there, you will have to earn your degree.

However, even though I complain, I am learning really good information that I know I will be able to apply to my career.  It’s a lot of reading and writing though, and that’s something I’m not used to doing.  I walked into my studio this morning to get something out of storage, and I had a feeling of nostalgia.  I spent a lot of time in my studio at the beginning of this month and I became attached to that environment.  It’s going to take some time, but I know I’m gonna have to work out a schedule.

Did I mention I completed my work for Winterfest?  Yup, one proud lady here.  Here are a few snapshots.  For more images, check out my “In the Clouds” series in my portfolio.

In other news, Local Dishes was a hit.  Like usual, I forgot to take any images, so I will have to visit Starland before the show comes down.  I actually just got word that the owners want to keep the show on display until the end of October, so go see it (while you’re in Savannah) if you haven’t.  That same night our group had a table at the Indie Arts Bazaar as well.  It was a pretty stellar night, but moving back and forth between venues was a bit chaotic.  Also, that weekend I planned to travel to Atlanta with a friend, Melissa Meyers, to attend the Lorna Meaden workshop at Roswell Art Center West.  Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted after the first day of the workshop on Saturday, but I was inspired by Lorna’s deft creativity.  Her sense of style is so well developed that it left me wanting to lock myself in my studio just  to “make.”  Here are some images from her demos.

What would a trip to Atlanta be without hitting up the Trader Joe’s? Melissa and I cleared out two TJ stocks of Fragolin wine.  It’s pretty amazing, even if it reminds me of a Deana Carter song. Also, The Flying Biscuit dreamy grits are the bee’s knees.  Oh and another excellent purchase was my Lorna Meaden mug, which is awesomely accessorized by an IKEA loose leaf tea holder that Melissa grabbed for me.

Another exciting thing, was that while I was there, I also ran into a few other Shorter University graduates.  James Davis (current MFA candidate at U of Alabama), Micah Cain (Assistant Professor of Art at Shorter U), and Ian Childers (Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Mississippi Women’s U). Here’s some love for those fellas’ awesome ceramics. (Ian actually just tagged some of his chicken heads in downtown Savannah, so be watchful.  I have yet to spot one.)

Overall, it’s been a pretty great summer, and I am looking forward to what Fall is bringing. I can already feel the change in the weather, so I’m super excited!

Work, shows, and school

Great news: I have been accepted to SCAD’s Arts Administration MA program!  Not only to I know a lot more about Bernard Leach, but by writing that paper for the portfolio, I also had a good refresher of the Turabian writing style.  (In the previous post I mentioned I needed a 10-page research paper for my portfolio, so I decided to write it about “the father of East and West.”  I highly advise anyone who wants to learn more about Leach to read Emmanuel Cooper’s biography of his life.  It’s a good and occassionally scandalous read.)  I learned Turabian awhile ago when I was in my first undergraduate school, and I hated it then.  However, I feel as if Kate (Turabian) isn’t so bad now, and I’m pretty excited to learn new information, so I can’t wait to start my first class.

I’ve been recently focusing on getting work completed for the Winterfest Exhibition at the Baltimore Clayworks.  I finally finished my oblong serving dishes from ages ago and I’ve been making more lidded mugs and saucers.  I am also going to make some more bowls, spoons, cups, and possibly plates.  I am finding that these lidded mugs are absorbing a large amount of my time, so I am going to try to simplify the rest of the work in order to meet the deadline for submissions.  Here are some studio shots:

I borrowed two lithography etching needles from a student who was in my SCAD faculty/staff wheel throwing workshop, and I finally got to use them.  Let me just say, I’ve never had so much fun carving. It is seriously the most comfortable tool I have ever used and because the needles are varying thickness, you can get a really delicate line or a broader one.  I just purchased 4 of my own.  I feel this is going to make my work a lot more complicated (I stayed up until midnight in my studio the other night because I was so involved in carving), but I do enjoy it!

In other news, I am part of an exhibition at Starland Cafe in Savannah.   I will have some of my serving dishes and mugs on display there.  The opening will be Sept 6, 6-9pm.  Be there if you can!

Local Dishes_poster

A Recapitulation part 2

Since the wee baby plants are maturing, I have had more time to spend in my studio.  I tested quite a few glazes recently, in hopes of finding a really nice satin matt.  I found a winner on the Digitalfire website (incredible resource for glaze makers out there).  Here’s the recipe:

Cone 6 Satin Matt Glaze Base
Wollastonite  27
Frit 3124         36
EPK                  35
Silica                 5

I love the results.  I also tested another clear base glaze with my clay body and it was incredible directly out of the kiln, but then it started crazing.  The problem with my old clear was that when it was applied too thickly it crawled.  That is more of an application problem rather than a formula/fit issue like crazing, so I’ve decided to continue working through the crawling issue, rather than discarding what I have.  One of my solutions is to buy a paint sprayer.  Spraying a glaze helps me to control the thickness a bit better and allows me to coat an entire piece evenly when I only have a small amount of a particular glaze.  By doing some research and having some knowledge on air compressors, I know that they can be frustrating if small and cheap, and expensive and loud if large.  I weighed my options, but with talking to my boss, he suggested I use a paint sprayer.  I did some research and it seems to fit…

(a few days later..)

I got the paint sprayer and it’s INCREDIBLE.  It’s quiet, powerful enough for my glazes, and there’s not much overspray.  The small amount that was present was easily reclaimed by squeegeeing the excess glaze off of a tarp I laid down.

If you can recall these guys:

Teacup handles.

We ended up moving before I could get a chance to glaze them.  I have plans to arrange a date with them and my sprayer later this week.  So finished results should come soon.  In other news, if I haven’t mentioned this before, I was invited by the Baltimore Clayworks to participate in their Winterfest.  This is their “utilitarian ceramics holiday invitational celebrating the gift of art [that] features established and emerging ceramic artists.”  It’s about 2 months long and it’s a HUGE honor.  Like seriously…a little overwhelmed they would want me.  So I’m currently working in my studio on some more lidded mugs and saucers.  Here’s a progress shot:

20130722_103124

Mugs to be handled and lidded.

Each artist is expected to have 10-15 pieces (including some sets).  I really need to get my rear in gear because images are due Sept. 7.  Speaking of Sept. 7, I am applying to graduate school and that is the day I hope to start.  I am applying to SCAD’s e-Learning Arts Administration program because I decided I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity while I have it available.  Long story short, I had some what of a mini internal crisis a few months ago where I realized that I needed to give myself more direction, something to focus on while I am in Savannah waiting for the husband to complete his degree.  I have always wanted to pursue Ceramics for my MFA, and that alone.  Talking to a good friend, I realized that if I could apply the arts administration towards assisting a clay studio or some ceramics non-profit program then I would be happy as pie (or as happy as pie makes me at least).  So, I am currently in the application stage.  Part of the portfolio is a 10 page research paper.  Well, this girl doesn’t have one that is up to par with what she feels should represent her as a student, so I’m writing one. My friend suggested that I write about something I am interested in, so my paper will be on Bernard Leach.  I’m pretty into reading A Potter’s Book right now, and I hope to finish this paper within the next few weeks so I can check that off of my “to do list” (which is growing daily).

I am also currently teaching two wheel throwing workshops at SCAD for faculty and staff, and I’m loving it.  I really feel as if I’m growing as an instructor, and I could still possibly see myself teaching one day, but I’m not sure yet.  Last night my students were a blast, and I noticed one student in particular who had a unique sense of style when throwing.

I’m taking all of these goals one day at a time and trying to be more consistent working in my studio while keeping an awareness of my body.  Yoga has been a great form of exercise for me and keeps my energy up try to accomplish something.  It also helps to keep my stress under control so that I don’t get overwhelmed.  I hoping that this excellent combination will keep me on track.  I have great expectations for myself for the next few months!

A Recapitulation

Well, hello.  Summer is here in full swing and I must share how I’ve been occupying my time.  It hasn’t all been spent on my art, but it has been equally as satisfying. Let me share a few images first (those always seem to be the best way of explaining things).

Isn’t is so colorful and gorgeous?!  Growing up, my family always had some sort of garden growing over at least an acre of land.  Squash, beans, peas, tomatoes, corn, okra, you name it (I even remember peanuts one year).  I was never really active in the planting and managing part, but when it came time to shell beans and shuck corn, they made us earn what we ate.  I haven’t managed to grow a nice garden on my own yet, but since we’ve moved to what seems like an ideal gardening location, having one was on my to do list.

I am super proud of my cucumber and tomato plant that are producing fruit, but I do believe I am most proud of my herbs because I can reap their benefits more quickly than fruits/veggies.  I am growing cilantro, oregano, cat grass (not really a human herb, but perhaps one for the kitty?), rosemary, basil, spearmint, and dill. In the fruit/veg department I have jalapenos, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, blueberries, apples, and an attempt at an avocado.  For the most part, the plants have been grown from seeds or are rehab plants (the rosemary in one of the images that is dry and brown is a test to see if it still has life).  I think I am most proud of that; there’s so much love that is invested into them (and yes, I talk to my plants).  I feel like I’ve learned a lot about growing and my environment…mostly is that it takes a lot of my time in the beginning.

In other news, I have taken a fascination with practicing yoga.  I try to devote at least 3 hours a week to it, more if I can manage.  It is quite amazing how it’s changing my life.  My body feels incredible and I am much happier all around.  I found a wonderful yoga studio in Richmond Hill called Awakening Yoga Studio.  I am a big fan of Tuesday night Vinyasa with Antoinette Louw (if you live in the area you should check it out).

Am I becoming the stereotypical hippie ceramist?  Maybe, but probably not. I don’t think my mentality will ever allow me to be relaxed enough to fall into that category, but it’s sure nice not carrying around so much stress.  There’s more to my adventures as of late, but I do believe that belongs in a separate post. 🙂  Stay tuned for part 2.