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Monday, January 30, 2012

Call for submissions: 500 Teapots

Lark has a call for submissions open until April 20 for 500 Teapots. Yes, there is already a 500 Teapots edition in the Lark 500 Series, but it is the ten year anniversary of it, so to celebrate they are releasing a brand new edition. The juror will be Jim Lawton.

There is no cost to enter, and you may submit up to four pieces for the book. As a nice bonus for being chosen, included artists receive a free copy of the book as well as a discount on more copies.

I had a piece in the 500 Raku book that came out last year, and I plan to enter this one too. February will be my teapot making month.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mudtools Mudsponge

As I sat and threw mugs and steins today I decided it was probably time for a new sponge. Usually nothing noteworthy, but this time it was. 

The standard yellow throwing sponge kills me. They wear out incredibly fast, they leave bits of themselves in my clay that I recycle and reuse, and they don't hold water terribly well. Last year I lost my patience with it and decided to buy the Mudtools Mudsponge. It was $5, kinda pricey when the yellow ones are a buck, but I decided to try it out since I have absolutely loved every tool I've gotten from Mudtools

When it arrived I instantly fell in love with it. It absorbed an incredible about of water without dripping and didn't crumble apart at all. It was the perfect sponge.

I got curious just how long ago I had ordered it and been using this sponge-of-wonder so I pulled up the invoice in gmail. March of 2011! Ten months (well 7, since I broke my arm) of solid use, often on very gritty clays, and just now it is ready to be replaced. Once again, well done Mudtools.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mason Jar Scrubs

My friend Tori had her birthday last week and I wanted to make her something awesome. I've been on Pinterest for about a week now and my "crafty" and "yum" boards show an obvious current obsession with mason jars.

I picked up this theme and ran with it making her 6 jars of various bath salts, facial scrubs, foot scrubs and hand scrubs in jars I grabbed from the grocery store. I had printed a pattern onto some sticky paper and colored it in, making a nice decorative sticker for the top of the jar, and wrapped some raffia around too.

Here are the recipes I used or based my products on: Foot Scrub, Mud Scrub, Bath Salts, Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub, and Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub.

I had some really nice scented oils around, so I decided to use those scents instead of a few of the suggested ones, but I did keep a few true to the recipe. I was really happy with all of the products, though I do wish my lavender vanilla foot scrub looked more purple and less gray.

I think I'm going to make a jar to keep next to the sink at the studio. They are really nice to keep your hands moisturized, something potters always need help with.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm in a magazine!!

So a particular sawdust of mine got featured on the official Etsy blog and then it started blowing up on Pinterest. A few weeks later I got a request from Standard Magazine to have it featured in the "On the Boards" section of an upcoming issue, which was a super nice way to end 2011.

The issue with my sawdust piece is out now! The cup is featured on page 29 in the "An Octopus's Garden" feature. You can order a print copy here, or view it online here. I agree with the writer that the surface looks like it's from outer space, but they noted that it is glaze instead of effects from a sawdust firing. I'm still super happy that it was featured in such a nice magazine. Grab a copy of this super nice eco-friendly mag!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A craft fair checklist, just for you

January is usually the time of the year when I take a moment to catch up on the business side of things. It's the one time of the year when there generally isn't too much on the calendar for shows, so I get to catch up on some updating, evaluating, goal planning, fine tuning, and other things too.

One tool I use to help me reflect on things and prepare for my next move is a craft fair checklist I made myself a few years back. I've tweaked it as my events have changed over time, but basically it helps me keep things organized leading up to fairs and then it helps me keep details straight afterwards.

What crafty person doesn't need a little help in the sanity department? So, here it is! Your very own craft fair checklist to print and use! Print it, use it, and be amazed by the amazingness..

What amazingness you ask? Well, as soon as you have a fair you're going to sign up for fill in the fair name, date, and vendor fee on the page. When you apply and pay, fill in those areas of the form too, being sure to note how exactly you had paid. If there's anything you need to remember, use the note section at the bottom. Now you don't need to worry about remembering the extra details on your mind, like exactly what table size you need at which show.

When Best Fair Ever is nearing, pull out the sheet and refresh your memory. Then use the check list to guide yourself when packing up. It's easy to let a small thing slip from your focus and forget it at home, but if you have a general checklist for yourself it's all taken care of.

When the show is over and your cash has been counted, fill in the amount you sold and how much sales tax you collected. Use the note section to give a summary of your day so you can remember specifics at a future date. I generally note weather, thoughts about the fair, organizers, and shoppers as well an anything else I think may be worth remembering.

If you fill out a form for each show and keep them filed, you will be able to prepare with more organization and less stress as well as be able to look back to events with accuracy.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

People Perfect for Rope Texture

I use a few different braid styles of rope in my work for texture, but I have a favorite that is on the majority of it. The pattern is very common, the standard 'individual strings twisted together' kind of cord. I'm sure there's a name for it, but I sure don't know it. I was thinking how since it's such a common style that it could be perfect for certain folks! (I say folks a lot. I think it was all my years in Wyoming that did it.)

1. Knitters
The twisted pattern of the rope is the same as yarn and how it is spun. The pattern seems even more appropriate on my yarn bowls, don't  you think?

2. Boating Enthusiasts
Or just people who like to boat. Nautical rope is also the same pattern as my rope. I think some white rope textured items would be perfect for the sea people!

3. Cowboys
I haven't seen many wandering around since I left the Rocky Mountain region, but they're out there. Lasso rope! Need I say more? Okay. Mugs in a deep brown or other earthy, rugged shade.

So if you don't know what to get your difficult to shop for relatives (crazy knitting Aunt Bonny, Uncle Andy who likes to get his knot on, and the cousins out at the ranch), now you at least have a place to start!

Who else would be perfect?

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Back in the studio!

Today was my first day throwing since my broken arm>sick>jury duty show stopper. It went well!

When I broke my arm in October I was worried how long it would be before I got back on track in the studio. I was worried about a lot of things (canceling shows in December, not being able to meet personal and professional goals, losing $$$ because I was canceling shows, and soooo much more. I'm a worrier) but how my arm was able to perform after it healed was really the only long term worry. There'd be other shows and sales to make, there'd be other times to reach my goals and while I kept telling myself these things, it was hard to not be very depressed about all of it. But really, I knew that as long as it healed and I was good for the long run, I was good. So I rested my injury and decided I would not pot again until January.

Mid-Decemeber it was feeling pretty good and I wanted to go throw, but I was worried that while it felt okay, wedging and centering would be too much of a strain (I broke the end of my radius down in my wrist). So I waited for January to come to head back.

January didn't get the message of my plans. After visiting family for the holidays I came home sick. Ear ache, runny nose, all the good stuff. Then I got better, but had to report for my first ever jury duty summons yesterday. I was very thankful when I was not picked to serve, there's too much studio catching up to do!

So that landed me back in the studio today throwing for the first time since mid-October. Yahoo! I wasn't as rusty as I expected to be, and I didn't feel any pain throwing, wedging, or centering. It does feel like that muscle is a bit weak, something I hadn't noticed until today, but I'm not worried, it will come back. I don't want to push it however, so I only threw 8 pieces today, easing into things as I go along and seeing how I feel. I've got to catch up on all the mugs and yarn bowls I sold this winter so that was where I began.

It's nice to be back to work. I will, however, miss my soft hands. Three months of being away from clay made them moister and softer than they've been in years. It was nice while it lasted, but cracked, bleeding skin on the back of my hands is where I belong.

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

More sawdust pots

New sawdust fired cup, wild fern image
My google analytics tell me that my sawdust fired pots have been getting a LOT of attention lately. I had a few that I've been carting around to shows and decided now was a good time to finally get them posted on Etsy. Most of them have leaf patterns fired on them, something I have been struggling to duplicate since my beginner's luck. The first time I tried for leaf images my firing was very kind to me, producing a piece that was my first work to be published. The firing of the newer pieces I just posted went well, showing leaf patterns on all but a few pots. Still, none have the incredible quality of detail like the very first one.
Vase from first leaf sawdust firing. You can see veins and holes in the leaves.

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