More Candles and Better Pictures

This past weekend I turned some of the pieces with minor glaze imperfections from my last firings into candles. They turned out so lovey <3 I’ve already sold 4 of the 7. The rest are up for sale here.

I have been looking for a better way to take pictures of my work lately. I just haven’t been feeling my old method and have been looking for a way to capture the depth of the glazes better. Today was a bright, sunny day so I tried taking pictures outside on an old stump in our back yard. I am super happy with the results! It was much easier to photograph this way too, so bonus 😀

This large cinnamon candle is a stand out to me from the bunch. It smells like a stick of pure cinnamon and looks like toasted marshmallows dripped over the edge. It just feels so cozy to me with winter coming and the holidays upon us. Sorry, it is one of the pieces I sold right away.

This one is also drippy and cute, and still available. (Sold)

Don’t forget I have all my old work on sale 30% off right now also! This beauty is only $14.00 + s&h.

I have plans for a low fire this week and I will hopefully finish up a few vases and planters in that. I might be making a couple more candles as well. Thanks for all the love and support!

Improvement

Hello 🙂 It looks like it’s time to write an update!  Ever since Cheeseburger in Caseville I have been hard at work in the studio.  I’ve been focusing on functional ware and have been seeing vast improvement all around with my work. Everything is lighter, my forms and decoration are progressing, and most importantly I am getting a much better grasp on what it takes to run a good cone 6 oxidation firing in an electric kiln. My two most recent firings produced a lot of good results. I have new cups, mugs and bowls up for sale here. All my older stuff is on sale 30% off for the holidays too!

One of my favorite new pieces is this beautiful mug.

The purple on the inside is just stunning and the drippy glaze is even more gorgeous in person than I could capture in the picture. Porcelain is really starting to grow on me. I may be making the switch to using it for all, or at least most of, my functional ware in the future.

Another lovey piece I recently finished is this wide mug. If you can’t tell I’m a fan of drippy glazes 🙂

One thing I’ve been working on is adjusting the size of my work. Previous pieces I have made seemed to be a little too big. I think I’ve hit on just the right sizes now though. These wide mugs would be wonderful for a rich hot cocoa or a hot bowl of soup.

Most of my new work consists of cups, mugs and bowls, but I did have one larger piece work out. This serving dish was a bit of an experiment for me that turned out so nice 🙂

While I’m sharing pieces I have to show off the garlic keeper I made for myself. I really just love it <3 It turned out exactly like I wanted it to. I will be making more like it in the future to sell for sure.

I currently have a  handful of pieces set aside that I will be making more candles out of in the next week or two. I have plans to try a low fire soon as well (fingers crossed on that one). I am hoping to low fire some vases and planters I started a while back. I’ll post about these projects as they happen. I’m often most up to date on my instagram (there’s a link to it on the side of this page if you’re interested). Again, don’t forget about the 30% off sale. This striking pit fired pot is only $21.00!

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season <3 Much Love <3 and thanks for the support!

 

 

 

 

Cheeseburger in Caseville 2017

Yesterday we returned home from our working vacation at the Cheeseburger in Caseville festival. My husband and I took our two little dogs up to the thumb of Michigan with us this time. We stayed in a little camper set back in a wooded area right in Caseville for the festival.

Our little Farnsworth enjoying the lake air coming in from the Marina.

The dogs loved staying in the woods for a few days, as did my hubby and I. We were even able to make ourselves some veggie cheeseburgers, Boca burgers over the fire with Daiya cheese melted on top 😉 It’s nice to get away, even when it’s not all play 🙂

Right before we left I was able to run a glaze firing. I’d say it went better than previous firings. I am getting know my kiln better and the firings are improving. I was able to snap a picture of my favorite little cup before it was packed up and sold.

This little cup turned out pretty nice 🙂

For the second year in a row I was lucky enough to be able to set up and sell my work at the Wooded Island Sports Grill. We came to town with five boxes of my pottery and went home with only two. I’m so thankful to everyone that picked up some pottery from me. It was nice to get some practice selling and hear what people thought about my work as well.

Me, selling some pots 😉

Selling some work means I have room on my shelves to make more and some money for supplies. I’m pretty pumped to move forward and I’m working out some new ideas. I’ll continue sharing as ideas become reality. Instagram is where I stay most up to date on the happenings in my studio if you’re interested. Again, thank you to all who stopped by, bought some work from me and support what I do. Much Love <3

Selling at Cheeseburger Thursday-Saturday

I will be selling my pottery at the Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival this Thursday-Saturday. I will have a little set up in front of the Wooded Island Sports Grill from 4:00pm-8:00pm on those days. Stop by if you’d like to check out my work in person. <3

2nd Pit Firing 2017

Last weekend my husband and I dug out the fire pit, chopped a bunch of wood and ran our second pit firing this summer.  I’m more than pleased with the results and all the new pots are now up for sale here.

New Pots!

The atmosphere in the pit was a bit more subdued this time.

Pots in the pit before the fire

I think it fired a little cooler than our previous fire this summer.

The pit after the fire burned down

The pots that came out of this firing are over all very black and white, but I am really digging the subtle lines and gentle splashes of color amid the smokey greys.

One of my favorites <3

I experimented with some carved pots too.

Loving that splash of red <3

I could share so many pots from this firing. It’s hard to pick the highlights for this post. I’ll share just one more. This pot is the smallest one put in the flames, but it caught both my eye and my husband’s right away when we pulled it out.

That yellow <3

It feels nice to be sharing some success and not struggles this time 🙂 I’m hoping to fit another pit firing in before the weather gets too cold, but we’ll see what happens. I’m currently in a rush to get everything finished up before we head up for the Cheeseburger in Caseville festival. I’m working on some shot glasses among other things, and  I will be running  a glaze firing soon.

I will for sure be up at the Wooded Island Sports Grill with a lot of pottery to sell on August 17th, 18th and 19th from 4:00pm-8:00pm. Thanks and take care <3

 

Candles

I have made some candles ;D They’re for sale here!

In my previous post I talked about how I had some glaze defect problems with my last firing. The glaze defects made these otherwise beautiful pieces not food safe. Thankfully my mom gave me the great idea to make candles out of them instead. Turn the lemons into lemonade if you will, and cute lemonade at that 🙂

I love how these candles turned out and I’m sure I will continue to work on my candle making skills in the future. They are made of soy wax. Some of them are scented with essential oils and some are unscented. I think this citrus scented one is my favorite in both looks and scent.

Besides the candles I am currently working on some shot glasses and drinking cups for the Cheeseburger in Caseville festival. The plan is to set up a little stand at the Wooded Island Sports Grill like last year. I will be there selling in the afternoon/evenings on the 17th, 18th and 19th next month. Hopefully the shot glasses I’m working on will turn out, but no matter what I have some great pieces I’m hoping to find new homes for 🙂 I’ll put out more info as the festival gets closer. Thanks for the support and much love <3

New Work and Annoying Pottery Problems

I ran a glaze firing in my electric kiln last week. I’d say I got mixed results, but ended up with some nice pieces and lots of information. The new functional ware is up in the shop here. This bowl mug is by far my favorite this time 🙂

I would say I got mixed results because I’m dealing with some common potter problems. When you run a glaze firing there are a number of things that can go wrong. Two of the most common glaze defects are pinholes and blisters. I have been seeing both on my work and it’s super frustrating. I put in a lot of time and effort creating my pieces and carefully glazing them. When I open up a freshly fired kiln only to see glaze defects it’s disheartening.

For example, I created two pitchers for this last firing.

They both ended up having gorgeous glaze combinations, but they have too many defects for me to feel comfortable selling them due to major blistering on the inside and out.

On the one hand, cool I get a couple of pretty pitchers to use personally. On the other hand, I want to smash them in my frustration! Unfortunately it was more than just these two pitchers that came out of the kiln blistered. Fortunately, a lot of the other work is usable in one way or another. I don’t like to sell work with lots of glaze defects if it’s going to be used for food or drink. It isn’t a big deal if the work is more decorative though, like vases and the candles I am working on.

So, after the initial disappointment of things not turning out the way I had hoped I went into research mode. I don’t need to go into all the details here. Glaze firing is more complected than one might think, even in an electric kiln. Suffice it to say, I now have a plan for the next glaze firing that I think will reduce/eliminate the pinholes and blisters. I will probably always be learning more in this craft, but ultimately the mistakes only push me to improve.

Looking forward I have plans for another pit firing in a week or so. I think the candles that are in the works will be pretty neat. I’m also thinking of making more mugs, bowls, cups, vases, pitchers and the like. I’m just going to keep moving forward!

Thanks for the support <3

 

First Pit Firing of 2017

It’s summer time, and to me that means it’s time to pit fire! Last weekend we were able to finally fire the first of the pots I have been stock piling all winter. I’m really happy with the results we achieved. I learned a lot and ended up with some awesome pieces. I just finished putting all the pots up for sale and you can check them out here. Just like the firing we did last year my favorite piece is a collaboration between my husband and I. I created the pot and he wrapped copper wire around it to create an eye catching design.

My favorite piece from our first pit firing 2017.

Pit firing is a very old method of finishing pottery. Probably the oldest method. and there are different variations of the technique that different potters use today. I’m still refining the process for myself, but I enjoy this kind of firing immensely and I’m seeing good results.

After I create the pots I bisque fire them to cone 018 (around 1320°F-1350°F) in my electric kiln. This is actually a pretty low temperature which keeps the surface of the pots more porous, but still hardens and drys the clay out in preparation for the pit.

After the pots come out of the bisque it’s time to prepare the pit. We fire in my father in law’s fire pit. We dig it out extra deep, somewhere between 2 and 3 feet. Then we make sure the bottom of the pit is free of any rocks and is as dry as possible. I started a small fire to dry out the bottom this time because we dug the pit out the day before we fired the pots.

Next I covered the bottom of the pit in a thick layer of saw dust. I mixed  1 part copper carbonate to 2 parts salt in with the saw dust. I’ve heard of this mixture being called “magic dust”. It helps add color to the pots. A lot of the reds and pinks are created because of it.

After I got the bottom of the pit prepared I placed the pots in with other colorants scattered around and under them. A few of the things I’ve used for colorants are coffee grounds, iron nails, dried grass clippings, cobalt carbonate and  steel wool. When the pit gets really hot, these colorants create the reds, pinks, oranges, browns, yellows, blues and other interesting effects on the pots surfaces. The way the pots are placed in the pit has an effect on them as well so I put some on their sides and some sit more upright. It’s fun to play around with 🙂 

On top of the pots I put a good layer of news paper and other bits of junk mail. This helps protect the pots and get the fire burning.

After the paper layer it’s time for the wood. I’m so thankful that my hubby not only enjoys splitting wood, but is also really good at it. I would have a very hard time doing this kind of firing with out him. 

He made a lot of small pieces of wood for me out of much larger pieces 🙂 I stacked the wood carefully and as even as I could on top of the paper layer in the pit. 

Then we lit it on fire!

Once it’s on fire it’s best to not breathe in the smoke. We let the fire burn down and check the process every hour or so. It gets really exciting when you start to see the pots peaking through the ash. After the fire burnt down all the way I got my first glimpse of how things turned out.

We covered the pit with a metal cover that my husband fashioned to let things cool slowly and keep the dew off over night. The next day it was time to pull the pots out 😀 My husband and I always call these moments Christmas. Pulling the pots out of the pit, or out of a glaze fired kiln, is just the best! They were barely cool enough, but I just couldn’t wait.

I cleaned the ash off the outside and insides of the pots with a clean rag. Then I brought them home and polished them up with some furniture wax to create a nice finish and protect the pots from the moisture in the atmosphere. If you’re interested in how I finish the pots up and how to care for them over time please check out my pit fired pottery care guide.

I can not wait to do this process again. I have some very cool pots waiting in my studio to be pit fired and am expecting even cooler results next time around. I am planning at least one more pit firing this summer, but I would love to get 2 or 3 more in before the weather gets cold. I’m almost ready to do another mid-range glaze firing as well so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks. As always thanks so much for your interest and support <3

 

Bowls, Mugs and a Vase

We had another firing of my electric kiln and there was definite improvement 🙂 I did have a casualty involving 2 mugs, and a few minor glaze issues. Over all things went well though. I now have some nice new work up for sale. 7 Bowls, 5 mugs and 1 vase.

You can shop all my work by clicking on the Shop tab on the main menu above (or click here).

I also have some cool news to share. I have started working on ceramics full time! I’m excited to be devoting myself to my craft and to continue in the direction I’m heading.

There will be more bowls, mugs and vases being made soon. I also think we will be doing a pit firing in the near future. I’ve been waiting all winter for that! Planters, cups, pitchers and candles are some things I’m thinking of exploring next.

Thanks for the support <3

The Process

This isn’t easy for me. I happen to be a quite a perfectionist. I enjoy sharing my triumphs and my steps towards my goals. I don’t feel comfortable sharing the set backs and bumps along the way. I have come to realize that it’s healthy for me to share the good and the bad though, because it’s all part of the process.

Yesterday I put a lot of my work and effort into a glaze firing. For me this is a big deal. I haven’t been in a position where I’ve been able to fire my kiln, especially glaze fire (cone 5/6), until quite recently. This is the first time we’ve fired it for a glaze firing since moving it to our garage too. I have a good amount of time and experience in the throwing and creating part of ceramics, but I have a bit less experience when it comes to glazing and firing.

After two days of glazing work that I had made over the past few months I gave it a go. One thing about ceramics is you never quite know what is going to happen in the kiln. Once it’s loaded and you start firing all you can do is hope for the best. This time was not the best.

The planter pictured above is the same one that is in the middle of all the mugs in the picture of the loaded kiln. The clay body that I used to make the hanging planters apparently isn’t made to be fired to cone 5. When a clay body is over fired it starts to slump and melt. Unfortunately this planter slumped right onto half of my mugs. When glazes melt together there isn’t much you can do about it. My husband was able to clean up some of the mugs that were only messed up on the handles for us to keep and use personally, but they look a little rough. Some were just not salvageable.

I fired 4 hanging planters and they all melted and slumped. Just for the record I had fired this clay body in the previous glaze firing we had done when the kiln was at my sister in laws house. It made it through fine, but the kiln fired much differently over there and might not have quite hit the cone 5 temperature. I have learned my lesson.

Bubbled, melted and messed up hanging planter.
Hanging planter that melted to the kiln shelf. Good thing I had a nice layer of kiln wash on the shelf.

I was pretty bummed when we opened the kiln today. It’s always exciting to see what happened in the firing process, but you hope to see more good results than bad ones. That is the process though. The creative process doesn’t move in a straight line forward. It’s often a winding path and you might need to backtrack sometimes to move forward.

So, I pick myself up and move forward. What did I learn? Actually, I got a lot of information from this firing. Obviously I learned that the clay body I used for the hanging planters needs to be low fired. I also learned that with the new set up in our garage the kiln can easily hit temperature. I got good results from my glazes because of this. My mugs ended up being a nice big size in the end too  (clay shrinks as it drys so a piece will get smaller though out the firing process). I obtained good information to work with in the future and it wasn’t a total loss. I did end up with 6 mugs that turned out nice. That included one I was asked to make by a family member. I’m happy about that.

The mugs that turned out 🙂

I am currently working on some nice soup bowls and will be making more mugs soon as well. I’m still learning as I go. Thanks for the support <3