Monday, June 24, 2013

June Firing

Well, we squeezed a small firing on June 9th, tried to get the our large pit, but it was a fun challenge in the 4x4.  We opted to continue to work on our firing in fire pits.  They are much smaller, and easier to control, however we do not reach the same temperature range as we do in the large pit, but is much, much faster.  I've decided to call this new firing "Fire Pit Pottery", since it is faster and much lower temp, we increased the amount of colorants to compensate.  Each piece is individually wrapped in paper with the colorants next to the piece and placed in the fire pit.  once the pit is full with fill the gaps with sawdust and small pieces of wood and light it up.

The results are darker than our normal pit fired pieces, but still have the complex layers and patterns.  We did a couple last year this way because of the drought, but have decided to keep the process and continue to play with it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Booth Design

This year we have taken a step back from shows, free up some time to redesign our booth.  It has been a challenge so far, eliminating the tables with skirts and the accordion style shelving.  We wanted to get away from the tables, as they were too long for most vehicles, besides they were beginning to warp and have dips.  The skirts were getting stretched out and needed new elastic.  I cannot complain, I spent less than $60 for the two tables, and I still have the saw horses to use for other things.

The accordion style shelving is very functional, easy to set up, and has stood up to very strong winds without being tied or weighted down.  I have turned down several offers to purchase it, but still keep it around.  You never know when it will come in handy.  It just was not the look I wanted.  I know it sounds rather snobbish, but it didn’t fit in with the look we wanted.  It’s my booth, and I’ll make it how I want it.

The 1st booth set up was out of necessity, very little to no funds and was built as inexpensively as possible.  Now we have a little more money and experience to see what would work for us.  Here are some of our criteria:

1.      Collapsible/ easy to set up and tear town

2.      Light enough to carry, heavy enough to withstand wind gusts

3.      Unique, something that is as unique as our pottery

4.      Storage, still needed to store items in the booth

5.      Must fit in the Expedition and leave room for pottery

6.      Must be affordable, sorry $1200 for basic Pro Panels is out of our range.

I started brainstorming a little over a year ago, and really started to look at other people booth set ups, and searching the internet for ideas.  By last fall I knew I wanted to do something with natural edge wood.  I purchased a 16” locust log and had it milled into planks.  I have since made a set of 70” shelves using 4 of the planks with all their imperfections left to shine and scream uniqueness.  The brackets for this set is down with square tube steel and it is all bolted together, takes about 5-10 mins to set up/take down.

 Now working on some pedestals, this spring’s ice storm was a great source for cross sections of trees.  These will soon be our pedestals.  It was one of the positives from the ice storm in April.  For those of you who know wood, I did kiln dry the cross sections so I could work with them.  That’s an added bonus for having those kilns in the garage.

 We also selected a curtain material to divide a section of the boot to hide the boxes and misc supplies, designed the support system for it and almost ready to test it out on a mock set up.

Lastly still on the hunt for the other shelving set, I have the designs I want.  I just need to figure out how to do it.  Besides I still have firings to do and pots to make for our shows this season.  I will post pictures after the 1st show, until then there are and will be more sneak peaks on our facebook page.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gallery Demo

Well, the past few weeks have been scheduled almost to the minute.  With running the kids from activity to activity, getting the new booth shelves finished, attending a workshop, and now preparing for a gallery show starting in a few hours.

The ice storm a few weeks ago stopped us in our tracks waiting a week for electricity, but we have met all deadlines so far. Whew!  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, our bisque shelves are empty.  I guess the next two days doing demos at the gallery will have to go to replenish the stock.

Also with all the rain, the fire danger may be down enough to allow us to do a pit fire.  We did not do any last year and the selection of pit pots is very limited.  I hope I can get enough thrown before it gets too dry.

Its been several, several weeks since I've spun a pot.  I hope I don't make a fool of myself throwing in front of an audience.  I will have my trash can close just in case.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Well,  its been an interesting fall, pottery has been on a side burner.  With the extreme drought conditions and the fire bans, we did not do our fall pit fire.  Actually we did not do any pit firing this year due to the drought.  I did not have the typically urgency to throw throw throw to get enough pieces for that this year.

We had all three boys in football this year, between that, the board of directors positions I hold, and the W2 having extreme staff shortages, there was not much time to play in the mud.  I have been doing a few stoneware orders, and that has been interesting.  Currently my drying table is full awaiting me to haul it out to the kiln, it will most likely be next week.  I have a 15# platter that's taking it sweet time drying.

One of the orders was slightly challenging and would have been a struggle without modern technology.  I was contact via email for a cookie jar.  I said I could and she describe what she wanted.  I threw several forms and sent pictures of each and she adjusted until I had what she wanted.  I made larger glaze samples of most of the glazes I had, and purchased a few new ones and sent her photos and we together came up with the correct glaze.  Piece was paid via paypal, shipped and is sitting on her doorstep.  We never once met or talked over the phone.  Granted the process took a little longer as the delays between emails, but I'm certain she will love the piece.

I also realized this week that our annual Holiday Open house is a month away!  Don't worry Kiesha already has the food and beverages planned, so there will be that part.  I was hoping to have at least one of our new shelving units ready to go, but chances are getting slim I will get them done in time.

More info on the Holiday Open House Soon....

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 update

Well the 2012 festival season has ended this past weekend.  We have now put the booth away, and put all the remaining inventory back on the shelves for now.  It has been a challenging year, most shows level, few were down, few were up.  Gallery sales have increased which is good.  Since we introduced Obvara in our last 3 shows, it has comprised of 70% of our sales.

Fall is the time we submit to a few exhibitions, We currently have two active now the 5th biennial South Dakota Governor's Show that opens in it second venue, SD State Art Museum, later this month on its 18 month tour.  Also the 1st Juried Exhibition at the Washington Pavilion is going on now, where we have 1 of 60 pieces selected for the show.

Tonight I'm finishing our annual Paint the Night Pink submission, it's a great night, 10/19/2012, of fun, food,drink and art.  If you are in the area I strongly urge you to purchase a ticket and attend.  Also working on another one, but we have never been accepted, maybe this is the year, submitting two Obvara pieces.

Fall is also the time of year we look for additional galleries, I think we are looking at trying to add one or two  this year.  We are also in negotiations with an interior design firm to market our work to their clients, may have that finished by the end of the month.

With the extreme dry conditions in South Dakota, our fall pit fire is cancelled, so the pits on hand is all we will have until next year unless it is dry again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Its great when things work...

Last year I spent several days building our website , and have been watching the stats and working on getting it to show up in searches.  Well it paid off!  A guy was looking for an anniversary gift for his wife, had to be either bronze or pottery, (8th anniversary), and he google'd Sioux Falls   Pottery or South Dakota Pottery and he found our site :)

We conversed via email for a couple days, and I directed him to the local gallery that handles our work.  He went and checked it out, but didn't find anything that jumped out at him.  Now the gallery has some great pieces of pottery from many talented artists, but the guy wanted one of ours :)

He contacted me again, and we were able to meet up and looked over what I had in the studio, although it is in quite a disarray, he kept pulling pieces and set them on our ironing board as he whittled down his selections.  He narrowed it down to two pieces and he could decide so he took both!

It's great when technology works in our favor.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Upcoming shows and a rant

Well as the end of our festival season is in sight, here are the final 3 shows we have scheduled for this year...
8/24 ArtRocks in Luverne,MN
9/8  Sidewalk Arts in Sioux Falls, Sd
9/14-9/15 Hutchinson Arts and Crafts in Hutchinson, MN

Last evening I finally was able to catch up on the Ceramic Arts Daily forum, I haven't read it at all almost all summer.  We have been burning the candle at both ends so to speak, between making pottery, Custom Stoneware, Festivals, our W2 jobs, and the kids activities; time has been stretched.  I read a post regarding comments/criticism from fellow potters at festivals.  Typically potters are a group of easy going, willing to share and enjoy each others craft and borrow ideas from each other, which I agree with.  One of the comments was regarding comments made to a potter at a show from another potter belittling their work because they were not a true potter firing to cone 12.

 Well that happened to me this summer as well, wonder if it was the same potter.  We were visiting about our work and I explained it was all glazeless.  He  stated "Not everyone is able to be a true potter."  I was rather taken back by that comment, but decided not to point out that every piece of his was severely crazed from cooling too fast, and bordered on no longer being food safe despite being glazed.  I realize some people like the crazed look and some potters want that appearance, but I guess to me it is a flaw you try to avoid and work like crazy to adjust your glaze formula to prevent it.  Just because I don't use glazes doesn't mean I don't know how to use them.

I had chosen not to post about that experience, but reading the forum made me begin to start to wonder if it is not the same person, considering the all the potters involved are in a 3 state area and may have overlapping shows.

Anyway, off my soap box, hope to see you at one of our upcoming shows.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New technique

Late last week I learned of a new 19-20th century technique that is also naked!  I have spent the the last several days trying to find out all I can on the topic, which to say there is not much on the Internet (yet).  I have contacted the artist who pieces I found and she has been helping me by directing me to information and answering questions.  I am planning the 1st trial firing for next week and can hardly contain myself.  Since learning about this "new" old world technique, I have been coming up with variations to try, but I need to work on the original 1st.

more to come....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I have been making ginger jars / cremation urns for a few years now.  It’s not something I go out and market it, but people ask me from time to time if it is something I can do.  I have spoken to other potters who surprisingly freaked out by the idea of making cremation urns.  I’m not going to go into great detail about it is only a vessel, you know darn well what it is for when you are making it.  I’m sure some of those potters who are uncomfortable with the notion of making cremation urns, probably don’t realize that one of their lidded vessels may be holding someone’s remains.

I have never really put much thought into making the urns, it just another vessel at the time.  It began with adding a lids to various vessels, most had knob and/ or handles.  One in particular I added an elaborate handle with lots of flair and flourish.  Of course the flair and flourish broke off, leaving me with a flat lid.  I fired it anyway.  It turned out really cool with great depth in the smoke marks.  1st show I brought it to it was nearly immediately commented that looked like an urn and it made the lady uncomfortable.  It did continue to venture to a few shows, and I started taking orders for urns, and stocking a few in my studio.  Typically have 2-3 for each person to choose from when they request urns.

Earlier this month, I sold my last finished urn and took an order for another. It was not a big deal.   I had 2 thrown waiting to be finished.  I finished them the next week and completed the order.  Unfortunately, during this week, my sister lost her battle with cancer and her children asked me to make her urn.  This has been a challenge for me this week.  These have been more than a vessel. I have always considered it the utmost honor to have one of my works used for this purpose.  This set of urns have truly been my honor to be part of.

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Show Season

With less than a month remaining until the first festival of the season, I was reminded that our shelving unit needed repairs :(  the massive downpour we endured one weekend last year ended up warping the shelves into nice arcs.  Unfortunately, curved boards don't do well to show our booth visitors that our pieces don't wobble.

I guess I procrastinating, since I purchased the new shelving material, and just not working on it yet, but today needs to be the day, at least to start on them.  We debated on building a whole new unit, one larger and much, much lighter, but I'm only going to do the shelves to start with.  With that said, I better get going.

1st show is May 19th in Orange City, IA at the Tulip Festival.  Hope to see you there!