Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fairview Pottery Sale - Fall 2015 - NEW LOCATION, NEW DAY, NEW TIME!!!

In case you were wondering, the sale info is below. Note that the location has changed, as has the day and time.

Little bowls are for the birds

I was recently approached to see if I could make 100 little bowls to be used as canary nests. The bowl itself is simple, it is the dimensions that need to be pretty accurate. The bowl fits into a round wire hanger that sits under the rim of the bowl so that it can be hung in the bird cage with a round piece of what looks like felt, or something similar, to act as a liner for the nest. The hanger is a fixed size, so the bowls can't vary much in diameter. They also have a few holes punched into the bottom. Easy Peasy, right? I have a fired bowl to use as a reference, but as it has already shrunk, I can't use it for accurate measurements, so instead I used calipers and eyeballed an additional 1/3" on either side of the bowl. I am using a plainsman terracotta and they provide excellent data on all of their clays regarding shrinkage rates and the clay I am using has an approximate shrinkage rate of 9% going from wet to fired (^04). I plunked 22 pounds on the wheel this past Saturday and threw 23 bowls off the hump. That took about 1 hour to do, give or take. I then threw another 23 bowls on Sunday from the remaining 22 pounds. So in 2 hours, I threw 46 bowls, it took another 10 or 15 minutes to thumb the bottoms and punch 3 holes at the bottom of each one. What I am really amazed with is how accurate I was throwing of the hump as I don't do a lot of this type of repeat ware, I usually wedge individual balls of clay for the piece unless it is lids and spouts. I throw those off the hump all the time. There were a few that were smaller and a few that were larger than the average, but that was mostly depth, the width did not vary much as I had the calipers to guide me. There is no way that I was going to wedge 100 1 lb balls of clay for this, the profit margin is pretty skinny, if present at all, so I needed to save time by not wedging and not trimming. The first 46 are drying now and I will soon know if my measurements were correct, fingers crossed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another new body

I picked up a new ^6 clay body on the weekend. It is black and it fires black, should be interresting. It was a pleasure to throw, very smooth and very plastic. I was able to achieve height and width without much difficulty too. I guess it is not recommended for heating in the microwave as it contains black iron oxide. I guess I wont be making mugs out of it, but I did get a casserole, 6 coin banks, 1 large bowl and a pitcher thrown out of just over half a box. I will trim tomorrow night, we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Changing Seasons and Clay

I took this shot of the the evening sky just at sunset on Friday night looking towards the west. Autumn can make for the most beautiful and turbulent skies. It has been a bit turbulent inside the studio too. I have been spending every spare moment I can in there making, glazing and firing as much work as possible before the big sales at the end of November. There was some drama for a few weeks at the studio when our clay supply chain broke down for a while. I wont go into those details, but the end result was that the studio was without clay for about 3 weeks. Our clay supplier ended up getting some clay from out east to tide their customers over until they worked out their supply issues. I took a box of Tuckers Mid White and half a box of the Tucker's Bright White to test. I find it very gooey in comparison to Plainsman Clays and there really is no comparison to BMix. I don't use Plainsman much, but I spotted the differences right away. This clay sits right back down on the wheel and will slump very easily and any height is hard won. It will take me a while to get used to these differences and I think heavy trimming will be required to achieve the lightness I am used to. I'll know more when these pieces get fired. If they take the glazes well, if the body really is as white as they say, etc etc. for now, I am on the fence with it.
This pitcher was thrown from the Mid White.There was a lot of trimming involved with this one to achieve both a pleasing shape as well as to make it usable. It still has some heft, but not nearly what it was.

Monday, September 14, 2015


I know, I know, I'm a lazy blogger, but I am also a very busy potter. I guess that is excuse enough. Anyway, I have been busy getting my stuff together for the big sale season in November. It's going to be tight, but we'll do it. I have been having mini panic attacks thinking about everything and worrying that I will not have enough product to sell at the Festival of Crafts as well as at my regular Fairview Studios sale. I keep making mugs, but I never seem to have enough. I keep firing, but I never seem to have enough. I am sure it will be OK, I always have this issue with 2nd guessing myself. I am just going to wing it and see how it goes I guess. This globe vase and this bowl are examples of some of the black and white translucent porcelain I have been working on:
This is the rear view of my car...I guess it explains the sucky gas mileage!

Monday, July 27, 2015


Wow, it has been almost 2 months since my last post. My only excuse is that life got busy. I had another leak in my condo last week that was completely the fault of shoddy workmanship. the solder at the connection to the shower diverter starter leaking due to a plumber that just did not care enough. That was taken care of last week, but I spend most of it at my parent's house while the fans were blowing in my unit to dry out the wall and the floor. There is an area about 2x3 feet that has a bit of a bow in it. I am not sure if I should get this "fixed", as it is engineered hardwood that is all glued together. once you cut bits out of it, it ruins the integrity of the floor. I can only tell that the bow is there because I know that there was a leak and where to look for it... Now, as for pottery, it has been so warm and muggy here in Calgary that the thought of throwing anything while kilns are cooling and the temp outside has been 28 plus degrees, has been less than tempting. I went in yesterday to get a few things done though. It was much cooler and way less sweaty. I began with mugs and then moved on to a few bowls. These were poked and prodded into submission by a couple of new texture ribs and bits of a mug that did not survive. I just pulled wads off the lump of dead mug and stuck them on the textured bowl. They are not my normal, that's for sure. I love texture, I am just not good at that spontaneous, fresh look. I need to practice a bit more for them to just spring forth without much prodding.

Monday, June 8, 2015

All carved up

Now that I have committed myself financially to the festival of crafts in the fall, I need to commit mentally and physically. I began my weekend on Friday afternoon by throwing a few mugs, trimming what needed trimming and carving a few mugs. I worked one of the last few Saturdays left before the summer at Ceramics Canada so I was only able to finish off the last few mugs that were to be carved that afternoon. Sunday however was the day to throw and carve en mass. I made mugs and casseroles, and carved a ton of ramekins. OK, only 7 ramekins, but they take about 20 minutes each to carve, not counting the time to slip them up with black terra sig. It is amazing how much does NOT get done in the studio though, even when I have a list of TO DO's. I usually arrive at 9am on Sundays and am generally there until at least 2pm, although this Sunday I was there until 4:30 ish. I only managed to throw 7 mugs and 2 casseroles, I think I will need to step up the production rate if I am going to have enough to fill my shelves. This will mean less talking I think. The sale may be over 5 months away, but I will need to get the majority of my stock made and glazed this summer so I don't run into any snags getting things fired in the fall. The student sale takes priority at the studio, so my firings will need to be worked in and around the student work.
This image is just a sampling of what I have been working on. I have changed my mug shape a wee bit, and the handles are way more substantial. The designs are different, yet similar to the ones in the past. I have to find a good pattern or 2 that is simple to lay out and carve, yet still engaging to the eye. The time it takes to carve some of them is way too long, especially if I actually want to make a profit or even break even on this. I should note that these are all free hand, no actual pattern is used, it all comes out of my brain. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. The top right hand mug for instance is not really working for me in terms of the pattern, I do like the bottom 2 though. 
I will finally be able to spend more time in the studio as of July 4th. Ceramics Canada does not open on the weekends during the summer, so I should be able to put some long hours in over those 9 hot, sweaty weeks.

Friday, June 5, 2015

UH OH...What Have I Done?!?

The title sounds a bit ominous, but in reality, it is just my inner doubter/critic in me.

I have news and it is probably good!

I have been accepted into and I have just signed the contract and paid the first installment for ......the 2015 Festival of Crafts at the BMO Centre in Calgary.

This is a very daunting challenge I have set myself. I need to make, make, make until my fingers fall off and run away, tie a grindstone to my head, etc. I have 5 months and a bit to make and carve all the pots I can possibly make before this show.

Have I gotten myself in too deep? Who knows, I sure don't, and I wont know until it is too late anyway, so I am just going to jump head first into the deep end and hope there are no hidden rocks or sharks under the surface. Other people do these things, so I should be able to too, right?

I think the only other thing I need to do besides make lots of pots is to get myself liability insurance. I'm fairly certain that my booth will be injury free, but you never know, someone could pull my display shelves down and die from a thousand small cuts from all the broken pottery...

Wish me luck, I think I will need it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Catching up

The Fairview Studios Spring Pottery sale is over for another year and it looks like we may be in for a change of venue for the next fall sale, so stay tuned for more info to come shortly. Anyway, now that the craziness of the sale is over, I can concentrate on pots. As you can see, I have been up to a whole lot of carving and scratching, and there is more than what you see here. I have even been messing around with slip inlay, or mishima as well as making a whole load of large bowls and platters. Finally, mug handles. They have always been the bane of my existence. I used to hate making them, but not so much now. I am however, always on the search for that "perfect" handle. I think I like these ones. they are substantial, you can't mistake them for anything else. I think Mick Casson said something about how your handles should always make themselves known. That they shouldn't be an afterthought. I agree that wimpy handles that just hang onto the pot like a piece of lint are horrible. Handles should be HANDLES and as that is probably the area that most hands will touch and feel, a well made handle is almost priceless. I love a pulled handle the best, to me they feel like they belong in the hand. Sharp edges are not my thing, thin strappy handles are not my thing, but a lovely pulled handle is something else. I could hold a mug and stroke the handle all day long until I could identify it blindfolded.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Inside the Garbage Can

I think this picture pretty much says it all. The glaze ran and ran and ran...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring Pottery Sale!

It's that time of year again. The Fairview Studios Potters have been working hard all winter and now its time to see what they have created and maybe buy a few pots too.

There is one small change to the sale this year. We will no longer be accepting cheques as a payment type. That being said, we are moving into the 21st century and will be taking Visa, MasterCard and American Express and those transactions will no longer be done using the antiquated imprinter with the carbon copy slips. We will be going DIGITAL. Of course, CASH is best, we like cash.

So without further ado...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Take it to the bank

I posted some banks that I was in the process of making a little while ago, but then did not get the finished result posted. Here is one bird bank and the octopi bank that I made for my nephew. The rest will follow as I get them glazed and photographed.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Running out of time

It's been a while since my last post, so here is a quick update. As you can see from the picture above, I have some "new to me" modular display shelves. My friend Susan offered this system to me for free, as it was just gathering dust in her garage. I took her up on the offer and loaded my car with a ton of shelves and uprights. I put up this 7' section last week so that I could take pictures for a sale application. There are many more sections to this, and all of various heights, but I think this will work for application purposes. I have since installed some LED lights on the underside of a few of the shelves as well as a few clip on goose neck LED lights to illuminate the pots. I ordered that banner a while ago and I think it will work just fine with this display. Of course it will not be attached to the shelves, but hung in front of the table at the sale (assuming I am accepted that is). My next task is to take good quality pictures of a few pots, but first I needed to find a battery charger for my camera battery. The original charger was lost in the flood and I have since tried a couple of times to find one that will replace it, but apparently it is not so easy to find an actual Nikon charger without buying a whole new camera. I purchased a universal charger a while ago but it failed after a while, as did the replacement I got. Now I have a different one that seems to be doing the job. We'll see how long it lasts. I also had to re fire a glaze load as it was seriously under fired when an element died mid fire. There were a lot of good pots in there, so I am hoping that everything works out and doesn't just get worse. I will need these for the picture taking mentioned above. I borrowed a photo cube from a friend of mine a little while ago and I have finally gotten around to testing it out. I was only using my iphone for these shots and the lighting was less than optimal, but still OK results. 
Looks like my weekend will be filled with working, potting, making a family dinner (that's my fault, I offered), more potting and hopefully getting some more pictures taken. I need to get that application off before the end of the month. I just looked at the calendar and YIKES, May is only 2 weeks away.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I have been working on a few miscellaneous items in the studio. I almost destroyed this pitcher while trimming. I trim them the right way up and then roll the base on a table to develop the "foot" and just smooth the bottom. I guess I trimmed it a tad thin in one spot and while rolling the bottom, it started to bulge out at that thin spot. Upon closer examination, it was not so much thin, as just too damp to support the downward pressure while rolling. I coaxed it back into shape though and managed to get a decent handle attached. I threw some tall mugs, a couple of coffee pour overs to test how fluting would work on the inside to aid the brew. I am not really sure that these channels are necessary, but the internet says so, so it must be true. I was also asked to make a large piggy bank for my nephew and since I already had money banks on my mind, I jumped right in and threw a half dozen or so of various sizes and shapes. I did one traditional pig, but then thought that was too ordinary. I had been thinking of a conical, hut shaped bank with various animal sculptures on top and while discussing ideas with my sister, the idea of an octopus came up. She had no idea what I would do, and so after a few birds, I made this 8 tentacled money bank. I hope it works.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Catching up in the studio

On top of what has been going on at my condo, I have been busily beavering away in the studio. Here is a quick rundown of some of what has been going on since my last glazing frenzy

here are some of the pots from that last glaze marathon

This is a cup and saucer for a potential project, possibly more to follow on that, we'll see.

Because I never make coffee pots, I thought I would change that

Must have teapots 

More scratching as always


White on white scratching, front and back

That's it for now.

Deja vu

I went down to my condo last night after work and took some pictures. They seem vaguely familiar (HA HA). As you may recall, it was at this stage of completion back in October last year, but then disaster struck, again, and the kitchen and floor had to be ripped out due to an influx of mystery water. The new contractor that we hired still has to paint some areas that needed new drywall, install new baseboards and do a final clean. There are some cabinet doors and drawers that were also damaged and will need to be replaced or repaired, but other than that, it is almost done. I am hoping that it will only take 1 more week or even less. I could live with the damaged cabinet doors and wait for the new or repaired ones to be delivered. I don't care, I just want to move home.