Monday, December 21, 2015

'Tis the Season...

To all of Pine Ridge Studio's friends, customers and neighbours, I would like to say:

pine and red christmas heart

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!  Talk soon!

Friday, November 20, 2015


Well now, how's that for an ambiguous title? But I can't think of a better one... maybe after you read this you will have think of something better and if you do, please let me know!

Some weeks it doesn't seem like I get much done. Things started, things worked on, but things 'done' done, no. About the only achievement this week (and that was started last week) was to get the wooden house shapes I wanted to hang pottery stars on painted and 'done'.

red Christmas stars on wooden house shapes
It's hard to see in this small picture, but I tried to give the idea of house lights seen through the snow... next time I'm painting more snow but this is it for now. I like the middle one with the fence. Not too sure why there is a fence beside a door, but it sort of works for me. The whole idea of a gateway, an entry, maybe into an unknown space...

Now if I could just think of a better title for this post...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Making Teapots

Finally got back to making some teapots. It's been a summer of mugs, mugs, mugs and more mugs. Much as I like making mugs, I also want to make teapots sometimes! Something to put in all those mugs!

Teapots are a major pottery challenge. They have to look good, fit with the other pieces in your design, work well... and not cost too much. There are plenty of really amazing teapots out there, but I don't think the really sculptural or 'art' teapots we see are meant to be used to make tea. Mine are. I want my teapots to be used, daily, comfortably, and dependably.

Here are a few in the clay I use for my Red Fox pattern, waiting to go into the kiln for the bisque firing:
clay teapots waiting to be fired
It was fun making them. I also made a lot of other pieces in that design, including some sugar bowls with lids, none of which fit. Not quite as much fun!

Here is a finished teapot:
speckled red-brown glazed teapot

Lots of Christmas stuff going on as well. Painting pine cones... cutting out stars...  searching the entire Studio for the red ribbon I was sure I had...

Speaking of red ribbon, have you noticed that, for us creative types, invention is often the mother of necessity? You invent the pottery Christmas mitt, and now you need red ribbon...

Never mind. Time for a well-deserved cup of tea.

Friday, October 30, 2015

It Begins!

The Christmas plotting, that is!

Christmas is my absolute, total, no question about it, favourite holiday. I love making Christmas ornaments and pottery with a Christmas-y feel and plotting various Christmas enjoyments!

One of my enjoyments is designing my booth at the annual Carp Farmers' Market Christmas Market.

I'm planning a Woodland Christmas theme for this year - lots of natural things like pine and spruce garlands, bowls of pine cones and leaves, even birchbark curls. I already have a lovely big grapevine wreath, with lots of wild vine-y bits to it for the blank wall in the booth. All it needs is a bit of greenery, maybe pine, and a floppy red bow and it will look most fine. Then some strings of tiny red felt hearts... or should they be stars, or bunnies... red pillows on the chairs... now how can I add some trees...

 How I got the grapevine wreath is sort of interesting. The beavers cut down a small tree along the driveway, which I was sorry to see, but beavers will be beavers and I am determined to try to see them as nature's pruning service. Then they couldn't drag it away because it was all tied up by a huge multi-stemmed wild grape vine. The next day I saw that they had very cleverly cut the tree into quite small pieces, and the day after that they dragged most of them into the marsh near their lodge. This left a lot of grapevine sprawled across the driveway. I started rolling it up and realized it would make great wreaths and sure enough, I now have 5 nice wreaths and one large rather wild-looking one. I'm not worried about the vine, it will re-grow, probably bigger and better and it can climb up a nearby pine.

 I've made a list of Christmas stuff to make... too ambitious, of course, but exciting anyway. One of the first things is to make a lot of terracotta mitts which are always popular. Luckily, my (former) Super Helper is coming on Saturdays in November to help and between us we should be able to get a lot done. Mitts will be the first thing. You've seen them here before but just for fun here is one again.
Christmas mitt with greenery
I'm also participating in the West Carleton Arts Society's new "$100 & Under" sale which will be the same weekend as the Christmas Market, so I am plotting ideas for that as well.

For some reason, my plotting seems to involve a Fox - a red Fox, running along... I guess a Woodland needs a Fox, right?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sunnies and Leaves

Here are some of the finished Sunflower design pieces:
sunflower designs pottery stoneware
You remember, last time I was bitching about how long it takes me to paint my pots. I guess it's worth it, at least I hope it is!

Now I'm working on my Leaves design. It is a bit easier because I use stencils for many of the leaves, but it is oddly difficult to keep the designs random. There is a real tendency to start to arrange things in patterns... or to do things all the same. So I have to force them to be different, and then sometimes I get into design trouble! Never mind, the finished pieces are nice:
stoneware pottery autumn leaves design
One thing that doesn't please me much is hearing people say they are buying them because of the red maple leaves, so Canadian, blah de blah. Grrrr. Makes me feel I'm caving in to touristy selling. Maybe I am. Except that I do like leaves.

Hopefully the pieces in the kiln will all be good, so I can take them to the Carp Market tomorrow. The woods all around us are gorgeous right now, bright with yellow, orange and red leaves, so my booth will fit right in! And please don't tell me you are buying my mug because of the red maple leaf, I might snarl!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Speed, if any

One thing I really wonder about. I see pictures of potters posed with their work - masses of work, whole battalions of work. Hundreds of mugs drying, tables full of bowls waiting to be trimmed, all lined up so neatly.

I must be doing something wrong.

Today I worked for almost 3 hours to paint sunflowers on 6, count 'em, 6, mugs. The rest of the day disappeared on decorating 8 more mugs. That's 14 mugs, and all I did was paint the designs on them.The designs were not new, so I didn't have to do much thinking, the stains were ready to go, the mugs were glazed. All I did was push the brush for 7 hours to paint 14 mugs.

Here are the Sunflowers before firing:
The others were a mixed bag of special orders (2 mugs are not in the picture, they ran too fast):
Maybe I could advertise myself as the world's slowest potter?

Ah well, they're in the kiln now. I'll post a picture of the finished mugs in a few days, assuming they fire up OK.

Tomorrow I get to throw yarn bowls and chili bowls. Whoo hoo, speed!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Personal Victories

What a week! I'm just racking up the Personal Victories here, right, left and centre!

First, my garbage got picked up yesterday! Don't laugh, these days getting rid of your garbage is not that easy. We only get garbage garbage picked up every second week... the alternate week they pick up paper re-cycling and compost. Cans and bottles go the same week as garbage. Since I don't have much garbage, I tend to only put it out every 4 to 6 weeks, and of course I get totally confused. When I got to the road Sunday night I noticed my neighbour had his compost bin out. So I turned around and drove home (my driveway is l-o-o-o-n-g) and checked my calender. Still looked like garbage week to me so I put my 3 bags out. It worked! Garbage is gone! Yahoo!

Garbage is so complicated these days my husband threw up his hands and quit. He hasn't thrown anything out since 1976.

Then today I managed to cancel the insurance on the car we haven't had for more than a month! I thought it would be simple, but it took a number of phone calls, waiting for the right person, discussion, negotiation, deliberation, looking up of rates etc etc until I really felt I should just forget about it and let them insure it in perpetuity. But we got 'er done, folks! And with all the nifty deals and discounts my agent was able to get for me, it will cost hardly any more to insure my truck now than it used to cost to insure both it and its late stablemate.

 I never did understand economics, but I used to understand insurance. Not anymore.

I'm delighted to report that I did not leave the portable phone outside in the rain yesterday! Alright, so maybe I did, but it was under an old pail and didn't get wet. That counts, right?

My phone handsets have a rough history. I take them along with me while I'm gardening and stuff happens. I'm pretty sure at least one got planted, and one got carried away by an enemy critter. I found it years later in the woods in a place where I have never gardened, so I don't think I should be blamed. They should sell replacement handsets, really.

And the laundry is almost done... ha, take that, underwear! No doubt you, Dear Reader, do yours on a reasonable schedule, but I operate on the 'wait until you have absolutely nothing left to wear' system. Then I do several loads in a big hurry and forget all about laundry until next time... today I did some work in the Studio, dashed into the house to move the wet into the dryer and re-load the washer, did some work in the Herb Garden, dashed into the house to move the laundry on one step, went out on an errand, came back and dashed into the house... you get the idea. In between I searched for the phone and had an earnest discussion with my insurance agent... maybe the laundry basket should 'ping' like my oven does.

If I won a lottery, I'd buy enough clothes to last a year, and would throw them out as I went along; wait, would that work? Are t-shirts and jeans garbage, re-cycling or compost? And I wonder if I could get insurance on my phones, then I could put one in the garbage bag and phone the road and if the ravens answer maybe they could sort out the whole compost/re-cycling/insurance thing for me... After all, they are garbage experts.

And it's only Tuesday.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Getting Ready for the Carp Market

Busy day! Got up early and threw some bowls - need to fill a kiln and need bowls... think I can get them done by next Saturday? The Carp Farmers' Market opens next Saturday, May 9 and I'm getting all kinds of good stuff ready.

Then I went off to the Market to get my booth ready. Spent 4 hours painting my furniture! Painted the shelves, the tables, even the chairs. Chairs are a beast to paint, and wicker chairs are the beastiest. I found out that the paint roller does a pretty good job; who knew. Of course there were still all the legs, edges and trim to do with the brush. It was a bit cramped working in my booth and I kept bumping the wet paint. I was nicely decorated when I got home!

Any alert reader who would like to hazard a guess as to the new colour, leave me a comment or zip me an email and if you are right I'll give you a free mug! (Course, you'll have to come to the Market to get it!)

I hope there is asparagus at the Market on Saturday. I've made some serving dishes, and sauce jugs, for serving asparagus in its various guises. Did you know you can roast it? Just sprinkle some olive oil over, add a pinch of coarse salt, and roast for about 15 minutes. Leave it a bit crunchy. Yum!
asparagus dish stoneware
Hint: Your Mother needs a nice dish to serve asparagus on, and it is Mother's Day on Sunday May 10!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One Bird Walkin'

colourful Bird design tableware in stoneware potteryI've been busy making stuff for the Carp Farmers' Market which will be opening soon (May 9 in fact) and I plan to have some Bird mugs, bowls and plates.

To me, this is a Blackbird, hopping around on the ground looking for whatever he can find. Since it is Spring, I've given him some large flowers to hop under, lots of little seedlings and even some snow drifting down.

The bird is just a little cut-out slab attached when the clay is leather-hard. The only tricky bit is where he sticks up above the rim, where I add a little blob of clay to support his head and to make the rim smooth and even.

Here is a finished mug:

Now to make bowls!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scope Creep

Beware of Scope Creep!

Yesterday I began making the items for a certain customer's order. She asked for, among other things, 4 Onion Soup bowls. Getting my clay ready, I thought '4 onion soups... better make an extra just in case... actually, onion soups would be a good thing to have on hand and the shelves are empty, better make 4 extra, no, better make about 8 extra'. So that was 13 bowls. Then I was throwing them and realized that I could put the handles on a different way than I have been doing if I made the rims differently. So then I decided to make 13 the old way and maybe a dozen or so the new way.

But wait! From needing 4 onion soup shapes for an order, here I was making 25 of them.

Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but in this case it meant I wouldn't have time to make all the items in that order that day, or trim them all the next and then I'd be behind on the next order, etc etc etc.

That is Scope Creep. Where the project expands until it's more than you can handle and gets you bogged down so you get behind on other things and you can't get it all done so you get discouraged and it's no fun and maybe you should quit...

Mind you, a table full of items not suffering from scope creep doesn't impress anyone - one of these and one of those and so on. But at least one customer's order will be done, and in reasonable time.
pottery items to be fired
    Not impressive, but done.

Note: Over the next few months, I will be writing an occasional post about, to quote Robin Hopper's book title, 'Stayin Alive'. After 25 years as a self-employed craftsperson, I feel I have learned a few things and want to pass them on. Lots of the things I'll talk about you will already know, or at least have heard about, but it you learn even one thing it will be worthwhile, both for you to read and for me to write. You'll be be able to access them under the category 'Stayin Alive'.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fern-y Thoughts

A blog I follow (Hortus 2) had a post about a new fern nursery in Nova Scotia. Naturally, I immediately became totally obsessed with all things Fern...

The first thing I did was to consult my handy-dandy Smartass calender and pick a day for my annual Fern Day. I picked June 28, if you want to know. You can find out more about Fern Day on my other blog, but basically it's a garden tour and tea and some fern items for sale, including plants. I do have almost all the native Ottawa Valley ferns... brag brag.

Then I started thinking how I could plan to make some fern-decorated pottery. I did make a few pieces a while back, but never had time to do more. Maybe this year! Here is one I liked:
Hmmm. Maybe a vase would be good too. Or tiles, tiles are always good. Nobody buys them, but they are a dream to paint on.

Then, of course, I started thinking about the garden and thinking about visiting some of my favourite nature areas and going off photographing and getting more ferns and before I knew it my mind was off in 17 different directions and I had to stop and have a nap instead.

Ah, Spring!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Valentine Tree, A Saga In One Parts

"I know," she said, slogging through the snow to the Studio,  "I'll make a Valentine Tree. It'll be fun, totally cute, and I'll take a picture of it and put it on my blog, and people will see it and want one and buy my pottery and I'll get rich and famous." (An aside: she's always wanted to be rich and famous, but is finally approaching the age where she might have to accept that this is not going to happen. Still.)

The daydream was interrupted, briefly, by actual Work, but eventually she made a slab, cut out hearts, stamped interesting designs into them... then stepped back and realized they were all too big and started over... and eventually she had some hearts.

Then she sprayed them with a High Gloss Finish No Fumes spray. About 20 times until the can was empty and the hearts were well stuck to the newspaper and the studio reeked of fumes.

Then she put threads on to hang them by and added some beads that were wandering around the Studio. It was at this point that she remembered how much she loathed macrame.

porcelain hearts
Not wanting to sacrifice another evergreen (and not wanting to wade around in the deep snow but that's another story) she cut a couple of branches, jammed them into a vase and hung the hearts on them. The vase had a slight tendency to tip over but by being very cautious and lightning-quick on the rescue, she managed to get them all hung. They pointed in every direction and swayed in the slightest breeze. All the best Studios have slight breezes, usually caused by an ill-fitting front door that freezes up in the winter, so they swayed a fair bit.

She then tried to get a good picture of the Valentine Tree. After several (well, maybe quite a few) hours, she went in for lunch and told her Significant Other that trying to photograph the Valentine Tree (except that that is not what she called it at that point) was going to drive her nuts. He said it was too late.

Eventually, with the assistance of a stray visitor, an old photo flood duct taped to an old pole, a rare gleam of actual sunlight through the window and Photoshop, she got a picture of the Valentine Tree.

Rich and famous may have to wait.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Air Plant Holders - A Little Diversion

Sometimes a potter needs a break. Much as I love making mugs and bowls and plates, sometimes I want to play a little.

This week I indulged myself by making some Air Plant holders.

porcelain holders for Tillandsia plants

They are just slabs, cut into shapes I like, painted with underglazes and dipped in a clear glaze. Fired to cone 6. They are between 4" and 10" tall and have either holes for a string or a small loop for hanging.

Air plants (Tillandsias, do the Google) need a solid something, such as wood or rock, to be stuck to, and then a good bright but not hot window. You have to spritz them with tap or rain water a couple of times a week and give them some weak fertilizer once a month. Dipping them in a bucket is good too. In other words, you need a substrate that is waterproof and scrub-able. Pottery is perfect!

Here are a few pretend-planted:
Near the bottom of each one I made a little platform or loop for the plants to be tucked into. I glued  mine on with E6000, the magic glue but you can wire or tie them on too if you prefer.

There is more info on my Garden blog. Tillandsias are quite nifty little plants, and many of the florists and nurseries around here have some. I got mine at The Hive in Carp.

That was fun!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Back to the Studio

Back to Work

Ah, back to work. I've been busy doing other important things, like resting, doing some accounting, reading, resting, cooking, planning my Studio events, resting and such, but finally yesterday I wedged up some clay and threw a few pots. One good thing about me, once I'm started on something I do tend to keep going, so tomorrow it is full steam ahead.

Right after I take Loyal Husband to his clinic appointment, visit my dentist to get that new crown glued back on, take the truck to get the wheels aligned (third time since last January, is there a trend here?) and pick up a few groceries. As it says in my blog's sub-heading, 'living the life of a potter' and sometimes that is more 'life' than 'potter'.

Clay Sundays

I'm planning a couple of Clay Sundays here next month. Check out the Events box for details, but basically, on Feb. 8 anyone who lives close enough to the Studio and feels like it is invited to come and make something out of clay. Pinch a pot, flatten a slab, carve a whatever, model, sculpt, even try the wheel if you want. Then the next Sunday, the 15th., you are invited to come and decorate your pieces. Totally free, but do please let me know you are coming as the space is limited.

Fantasy In The Forest Art Show

My work was accepted into this show! Whoo hoo - I'm going to have lots of Fairy Houses, doors, ladders, stepping stones and other really small Fantasy things for sale - the little girl in me is quite excited! That is in July, the 18th and 19th, somewhere north of Kingston. Don't really know just where, but I'll find it. Check them out on Facebook!

Meanwhile, let the mud begin!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Free! Free! Free!

Drum roll, please!

Actually, wait a second. First: Happy New Year to everybody!

Now, drum roll, please!

The New, Unabridged, Guaranteed Official Smartass calender is ready!!!!

Pretty exciting, huh? It took me a certain amount of dedicated office time to create.... translation, I spent a $#@#@ week stuck at the computer struggling to get Smartass to lay down a good track, whining about every little thing, drinking copious glasses of vino, annoying spousal units with frequent demands for reassurance.... and other stuff like that, but, I got 'er done, folks!

There are 3, count 'em, 3, copies to give away to Alert Readers.  All you have to do is send me an email with your mailing addy (hint, click on 'an email' in the line above) and the first 3 will get an Official yada yada by return mail.

How sweet is that!

Meanwhile, have a Happy New Years!