Monday, April 26, 2021

Love and Waiting


I love clay. The smoothness, strength, flexibility, shaping, and painting. I love how it takes texture. Whether I throw it or roll it, I love how it feels. It takes textures of all kinds: leaves, twigs, lace, handprints, footprints, words and more. I can paint on it like a canvas or draw on it like paper or scratch out designs. 

And I love holding it in my hands through the entire process bringing it to life. Running my fingers over it time and time again to smooth edges and add handles and trim sweet little feet. 

I don’t love firing.

I have, over time, made my peace with bisque firing. I used to agonize over it. I worried that my green ware would blow up into tiny pieces. Not only would I lose one piece but, perhaps, others might be shattered just by being in close contact. All it takes is an unknown bubble to cause such destruction. 

But I know this necessary step will give me the opportunity to add more color, texture or meaning to the pieces. And I love that part of the process, too. And after many years of bisque firings under my belt, I see opportunity. 

Glazing and waiting. 

Once I’ve added all my color and my piece is bisque fired, there are only two steps left: glazing and firing. I hate both. 

Mixing and dipping each piece in clear glaze seems really simple. It is and it isn’t. This time around I bought 2 new gallons of clear glaze. It did not look or feel like my old clear glaze even though it was the same brand. It mixed up differently. It covered differently. It dried on the pieces ok, but I am still worried. Why? Because this, is it. 

All I can do now is load my kiln. Turn it on. Turn it up every 2 hours from low to medium to high. 

All the pieces that I’ve loved to throw, roll, trim, shape, paint and texture are in there baking at 2,200 degrees. 

And wait. Until the kiln turns itself off after reaching it’s required temperature. 

And wait. Until the inside kiln temp is as cool as the outside temperature to unload the kiln.

Will the glaze look wonderful? Will my colors and textures and sweet little feet survive?

Will I love each piece? I hope so. But right now, all I can do is wait. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Let the healing begin


Today, the sun shines brightly through my very dirty windows and it’s wonderful. The light and warmth reach me anyway. I see red camellia blossoms and purple lilac buds. My peonies reaching through the dirt and up toward the sky. 

So am I. 

Through the darkness of this year of fear, I’m determined to face toward the light. It’s not easy with all the dire warnings and case counts and vaccination fears still making headlines. But I’m going to focus my eyes, face and body like the plants in my yard: toward the sun. 

Light and bright. 

In the studio, I’m getting ready for my first virtual show. In many ways, it’s the same as getting ready for an onsite show. 

I throw. I roll out clay. I paint on color. I bisque fire. I add layers of color or a wash. I glaze and fire again. This week I’m waiting to get more clear glaze so I can do the final firing. Then I’ll have everything ready for my virtual sale. Also, I’ll be  opening my studio for 3 days for a covid safe in person experience, April 30-May 2. And as always, safe studio appointments, pick up and delivery are alway available. 

Off and now, on again.

Ceramic Showcase and the Gathering of the Guilds was cancelled last year and I missed it a lot. Not just because it’s one of my biggest sales venues but because I missed being part of live gathering of artists. I missed seeing friends, art lovers and other clay artists. I still do. 

A new virtual online show is exciting and a little nerve racking. I only get 4 pictures of my work in the online virtual show gallery, so choosing well is important. Because I have so much work that I want people to see and choose from, I have to find different ways to ‘display’ it. 

From packing and pricing to photography and online platforms.

Ceramic Showcase used to mean spending days pricing, packing and doing inventory. Then there was set up day, sales days and at the end, take down day. I drove to and from the convention center, paid for parking and gas and did in person work shifts. 

A virtual Ceramic Showcase is all online. So preparation is completely different. I have to make sure I show my work in its true form in many different online formats. First, I took multiple pictures of as many examples of my work from teacups to vases to bowls to sculptures. Then, I did some ‘rebranding’ so all my sites have a more consistent look and message.

I redid my Etsy page. 

I rebuilt my website, which was not easy due to changes made by the platform I use. I’ll admit this is the first time since I designed it that I had to get tech help. Thank you tech chat person!And I will be updating my blog pages to show the most current work, too. 

It’s a lot of work, yes. But it’s also a lot of love. 

And that’s how I let my healing begin. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Art touches my life and I hope, yours.

 “I think if I could go back in time and give myself a message, 

it would be to reiterate 

that my value as an artist doesn’t come from how much I create.

I think that mindset is yoked to capitalism.

Being an artist is about how and why 

you touch people’s lives, 

even if it’s one person.

Even if that’s yourself, 

in the process of art making.”

Amanda Gorman’s wise and wonderful words strengthen my soul, heart and mind. Tears well up in my eyes as my head nods up and down. Yes. Yes. 

Making my art is my way to be in the world. It is the way I see, hear, touch and live. Making is not just an activity or talent or job. It is in my nature, my essential soul giving me breath and life and light.  


Loading and unloading my kiln is not my favorite job. It takes many trips carrying a tray loaded with fragile work from my studio inside to my kiln outside. Then there’s the art of logistics and making the puzzle of fitting my work into the kiln. 

I only have so many shelves and so much space. This time, I had 48 pieces to fit into my kiln. Luckily most of them were horizontal pieces. That means I can put in more shelves vertically, giving me more space. 

I fire starting at night, with one ring only on low. The next morning I get up, go out to the freezing garage and turn up all the dials to low. For the rest of the day, I wait for the timer to tell me to go out and turn up the kiln again and again until the cone bends and it shuts itself off. 

The joy of unloading. 

A few days later, when everything has come to an even temperature inside and out, I open my kiln. Unloading is scary and wonderful. 

Many things can happen inside the fiery darkness. Pieces can crack, discolor or blow up. I’ve had all those things happen, so I never assume all will be well until I unload and examine each and every piece. 

This was a load of joyful pieces. New colors bloomed. Butterflies flew out brightly. Healing bowls came out strong, smooth and whole. 

Amanda Gorman is so wonderfully right. 

“Being an artist is about how and why 

you touch people’s lives, 

even if it’s one person.

Even if that’s yourself, 

in the process of art making.”

Making my art not only touches my heart and soul, it makes me feel whole.

So maybe, if my work can bloom, be bright, strong and whole, so can I.  

And maybe so can you.