Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CityScape Mugs

I had mentioned the other day that I made some tall mugs that will fit into a cupholder for your morning commute. Well, they got a CityScape deco on them. I had done a similar deco a long time ago using wax, glaze and a wood kiln so we'll see if this heads anywhere.

A Visit From an Old Friend

Thanks to my good friend Bruce, my Soldner foot pedal has been rescued from a deserted studio on Cape Cod. I got my Soldner wheel when I first opened up my studio on the Cape and it quickly replaced my Brent as my main throwing wheel. Subsequently, my Brent became my trusty trimming wheel which gave me the luxury of not having to clean the wheel between throwing/trimming/throwing.

As I mentioned earlier, the Soldner Wheel made it onto the truck but the pedal missed the ride down. I figured, it's 12 years old and I might as well look into getting a new pedal. I quickly learned that a replacement pedal was $531 and I also quickly sent Bruce on a scavenger hunt to find the pedal wherever I had left it.

I returned home from taking Javi to a tennis lesson yesterday evening and found a box had arrived with my trusty pedal....I'm looking forward to getting some pottery made on my trusty old wheel. Thanks Bruce!

And as a bonus...that wasn't the only package that arrived yesterday. Abigail sent down a fantastic care package from Michigan full of pickles and jams made with her crop from her super-garden. Can't wait to try it all! I didn't have the camera with me this morning so the pics of the deliciousness are going to be posted shortly.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mad Monday

This past weekend was the first time that my folks made it out to visit Austin since we moved here. It was great having them in town and it was great to show them our new lives here. We were a little limited in what we could do since Ale had come done with a fever and my mom was recovering from a little knee surgery. That didn't stop us from having a good time though. We even made it out on Sunday to check out Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in 3D. Better yet, we made it out for a nice dinner with everybody on Sunday evening and got to see the bats depart for their nightly feeding from the Congress Street Bridge. That was a first for everyone except Evangelina. I have to say, it was pretty cool and my father who isn't a big fan of bats handled it quite well, although the wine at dinner may have helped.

So, after a few days away from the studio I found everything intact and was able to carve into the bourbon bottles I had made before the weekend came.

I made a few more bottles/jugs this afternoon as well as some large mugs that should fit into car cupholders....something that has become important to me as I now have a morning commute.
My morning got off to a late start as I had to get my car serviced. I had an appointment for 9:40 but they didn't start on my car until an hour later....I complained, they got the car serviced quickly and didn't charge anything for the service. I guess they earned another chance for my business.

I also wasted a bit of time this morning on Twitter and Google hunting down the Drapers' dinnerware. Yes, I know they're only characters on a tv show but, last season I caught a quick glimpse of their cups and saucers and needed to know what it was. I had googled it all back then but there wasn't much about it. A tweet by Lois Aronow got me interested again and in no time the internets had saved the day, Raffia Pattern dinnerware from the Vernon Kilns. I found some plates for sale and a few other items but I'd love to get a couple of cups and saucers. I guess an ebay search is coming later today....Wait!

I found one! Perhaps it's time to make some cups and saucers? And, maybe it's not time wasted but rather corporate research/espionage?

Oh, and I haven't watched last night's episode yet so please no spoilers in comments.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Batter Bowls

Still working on the porcelain stuff. Along with the switch to electric firing is the switch to porcelain. I've always dabbled with it but it's an adjustment to have it be my only clay. I'm starting to enjoy it a little more and the forms are starting to come together. I made a few batter bowls the other day and they got handled up today.
The clay doesn't stay put like I'm used to with stoneware so hanging these handles upside down is letting gravity work with me rather than against me. We'll see how much strain was put on those microscoping little particles once the drying begins. I'm hoping they stay put.

Today is my half day of work because of a ridiculously overscheduled afternoon for the kids....of course, they all go in different directions. At some point I'm hoping to make it back here after dinner for a productive evening. We'll have to test the nighttime commute at some point. That will most likely be tested as we get closer to a deadline. I have a few things scheduled for the fall but they all seem distant now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Working Through It

I feel like I'm slowly moving from making random objects towards entering a working cycle. I think it's partly due to the move but also partly due to the fact that it's been months since I've made new work. I made some monster cappuccino/latte cups that I was planning on "squaring" up but just couldn't bring myself to alter them when the time came to. There are a couple of squared mugs hiding behind the biggest of the latte cups.
I also made some bowls and batter bowls because when things aren't flowing as you'd like them to, what else is there to make besides bowls?
Here are a couple of those small test vases from the other day with some incised lines. I didn't have wax so they didn't get my normal treatment. I'm sure I'll figure out how to get those patterns to stand out under the glaze.

And finally, here's a group of random objects that have came off of the wheel Friday.

The electrician was here today measuring things out and getting everything set so that later this week he can hook up the disconnect box. It won't be long until I have a kiln operational.

I've tried a few different porcelains so far and as of now I'm most happy with the least convenient...for me. Matt & Dave's Clay has been really nice. I'll leave the detailed analysis up to the porcelain pros like Jim & Jeff. There is a clay supply about 5 minutes down the road from my studio which I was hoping would have a clay body that I would fall in love with but that hasn't happened. It will be convenient though since steady readers of the blog know that I am sometimes without the main ingredient of a glaze while I mix up a batch. On the Cape that was a slight problem since the closest clay supply was 1.5 hours away. I still have yet to try Coleman Porcelain that a clay supply in San Antonio carries. I would assume that by next week I'll have a decision made as to which clay body I'll stick with for a while. Matt from Matt & Dave's has been very helpful in figuring out a cost effective way to get a larger amount of clay down here so it is still a likely option I'll end up with that clay body. I don't particularly mind paying a premium for good clay, I mean seriously...are material costs our main issue as functional potters?

Well, tomorrow I'll be finishing those bowls and getting handles on those cups and then it's time to settle into a cycle...won't be long now.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm still trying out clays and testing my surroundings. I made a short run of small flat bottomed bowls this morning and because of the a/c in here I'll be able to finish them up before I head home this evening. (sorry about the blurry pic)

I was also trying to work out some new variations on little vases and I decided to go the Michael Kline route and make some 1 to 1.5 pound versions. These will probably get a little bigger but not much since I don't have my big gas kiln to fill any longer. Something here will probably evolve into a small bud vase, something I haven't really made in years.
So many new things to get used to. I think the smaller kiln will be nice as I'm able to work through the cycle a little quicker than I'm used to.

The other thing I realized was something that I twittered about earlier today. Until now I've been able to sneak into the studio quite easily over the weekend. Spending 45 minutes in the studio putting some handles on mugs on a Sunday while the kids did a project was a no brainer. With my studio across town I no longer have that same luxury. I feel like I may be complaining a little too much. I've got a few hours left to get something done so I should do that.

I'm sure that coming in here next week will go a little more smoothly than things went this week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Space, New Work

Other than a few mugs, the gravy boats/batter bowls above are among the first pieces I've made here in Austin. I'm adjusting to a bunch of new variables and hopefully by next week I'll have actually figured a few things out.

This is the first new space I've worked in for almost 12 years. I'm a creature of habit so it's going to take me some time to get used to the new surroundings. Seriously, I have I think 8 or 10 of the same gray t-shirts that I've been wearing for the past 3 years. You can find me either in jeans and one of those t-shirts or shorts and one of those t-shirts. I can and do dress up on occasion but for everyday's that t-shirt...or perhaps a 9 year old standard ceramics supply t-shirt given to me. That could be genetic, my dad has been wearing khaki's and a blue oxford shirt since 8th grade and on my mother's side, my grandfather wasn't exactly known for his fashion sense and often wore mis-matched suits to the office.

Needless to say, it's going to take me a little while to get used to the new creative surroundings.
It's a great space but I'm trying to get used to it. I'm getting used to a commute across town instead of downstairs and down the hall. I'm trying out some new clays including, the blogosphere's newest sensation, Porcelain for the People. clay, new studio, new studio's a lot for this creature of habit. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all works out. Better get back to work.

Oh...and I left my foot pedal for my Soldner Wheel back on the Cape. I'm missing that more than most things that I've forgotten. I've been throwing on my Brent, which for 12 years I've used for trimming. I'm going to call a friend and see if they can find the pedal in my studio and ship it down so I can have one thing feel normal here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Art of Tea

I was invited to a Teapot show coming up in Rockville, MD. I don't have a picture of my teapot yet because it is still inside one of the many boxes which I'm going to unpack over at my studio this weekend. I guess I now know what my first order of business in the new studio will And, the second order of business will be to pack that teapot back up and ship it back East.

Here's the link to a blog they started for the show. I'm in some great company with some wonderful teapots.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Slipcast Blog

For those who haven't checked out Slipcast: The Ceramics Blog yet, you're missing out. I'm loving these plates that were featured recently.

I haven't tried porcelain from Matt & Dave's Clay yet but once I get my studio up and running I intend to get a sample batch and see if it's as great as I keep hearing it is.

Here We Go!

I had hoped to get a studio together by October 1st. For the first time in my life as a professional potter I'm ahead of schedule. I just signed a lease for this great studio space in East Austin. It's in a brand new live/work condo development called Cobra Studios. The woman I'm leasing the unit from is a painter and had planned to use it herself but luckily for me decided to lease it out instead.

Here are a few pics. I'm planning to move everything in by Friday and hopefully I'll be fully operational by sometime next week.

Here is the main space of the workshop. I'll probably have the wheels, table and shelving set up here.
This is the back area. I'll set it with shelves and a table for glazing.
Here's another view of the back area. I have an electrician coming in to wire up a disconnect box for the kiln along that back wall.
Here's a view from the main are out to the common area of the complex. There are 4 buildings around this courtyard. If it ever rains again in Austin, those giant tanks are supposed to hold the water to use around the complex.

Someone was nice enough to put a leaf imprint in the concrete during construction.

So, now that I have a space and will begin life as a potter again, perhaps posting will resume on a more regular basis.