May Newsletter

Greetings –

My most recent firing took place a couple of weeks ago. I had a small sale where I used to work with proceeds benefitting the Kids’ Christmas Party. It was a fun day and, as usual, I was the last to get packed and loaded. In my next life my hobby is going to be something light and easily transported. Tubs of pots don’t meet those criteria!

This firing had some chip and dip servers. I make mine as two piece sets for two reasons: I think they are easier stored when not in use, and; separate pieces can be used for other purposes, making the piece more versatile.

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There were three small casseroles, which is a nice size for either side dishes or for empty nesters. I like making different knobs rather than the same kind all the time. Each of these is different but I was going for a sphere on the pointed one but the clay told me otherwise.

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One large batter bowl was in this firing. I dodged a bullet in that because, if you look on the handle, there’s two glaze drips that stopped. Had they gone farther, they would have landed on the kiln shelf, requiring me to remove them – often with a grinder. At first I didn’t like the drips but they almost form a grip for easier pouring.

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One snack tray remains. The rest that I took sold but each buyer had a different use for them and, although I can’t recall what they were, they had nothing to do with snacks! It reminds me of the mini baguette holders that I made to hold car keys and phones. They have morphed into so many different uses from “something to hold my husband’s change” to spoon rests. When a customer asks what a piece can be used for, I give my version but often learn other purposes.

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One French Butter Keeper remained. I had more in the firing but just before glazing a lady ordered two so I was able to glaze them in her colors and.

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In my last newsletter I mentioned that I was adding a new glaze, Amber Celadon. This pasta bowl is an example of what it looks like. It’s a bit translucent and highlights carving or finger marks, which I like. I also made some test pieces to see how it looks with my other glazes and it compliments Arctic Blue nicely.

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Last week I made a trip to Syracuse for supplies and brought home a red glaze. Reds are difficult to get in a nice glaze so I will mix it and test it with my clay and, with luck, unveil it in the next firing or two. The black clay that I was so looking forward to using is still not playing nicely in the kiln so I’ll be putting a piece in each firing till I get it right. I’m really disappointed how touchy it is, which I learned after buying 200 pounds! Striking results when it works. The exterior of the bowl was great but the clay blistered inside.

These pieces will appear on the website in a about a week.  I just sent the pictures to my webmaster.  If you are interested in any piece, you can email me at earthandwaterpottery@gmail.com

Since this newsletter should reach everyone before the weekend, I want to wish all the mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. With any luck, it will be a sunny day for you, although the local forecast doesn’t predict that.

Lauren

March 2016 Newsletter

Greetings and welcome to the new readers who recently joined this group.

The March firing was disappointing in that it fired a bit hotter than it should have and the marbleized pieces came out badly. The hotter temperature resulted in some unusual glaze results, particularly with the pieces that had Coastal or Arctic Blue. Other colors turned out fine.

I made a set of four bowls for myself, using the new black clay mixed with white. I hoped to get a marbleized effect. I learned that the black clay doesn’t play nice. It formed a lot of bumps, ruining the set. Some of the pieces that don’t turn out well enough to sell end up in my cupboard but these were awful. I belong to a clay group on Facebook that is a great resource for questions and tips. I learned that the black clay is very temperamental and it will take some practice to get it right. There are two bowls that were made with the clay ready to go in the next firing.  We’ll see how they turn out. I had a platter drying but put it in the reclaim bucket.  Better to stick to smaller pieces till I have it figured out.  I was so looking forward to seeing the black and white pieces and they are what I saw when I opened the kiln.  I think I’ve mentioned that opening the kiln is like Christmas morning every glaze firing.  Well, this was definitely a “lump of coal in the stocking” Christmas morning.  It seems that no matter how long one is at this, there’s always new things to learn.

This firing was another re-stocking effort. Bundt pans and Brie Bakers were the main focus. I also made a bunch of spoon rests, baguette holders, key rests, phone holders, etc. I’ve never had a piece that people use for so many purposes. Drying for the next firing are small casseroles, large batter bowls and the two black clay pieces. I have to sit at the wheel and throw more. I’ve been working in the studio but not producing any pieces.  Glaze mixing, cleaning, rearranging tools and equipment, as well as taking pictures and getting them in the newsletter, are all part of the work.

Here’s the pictures of the Bundt Pans.  They are about 9″ wide and 3″ deep.

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There was some work going on in the studio that didn’t produce any pieces but will make it operate better.  My nephew built a sturdy table for my pug mill.  It has a shelf, which will make holding the clay to be pugged a lot neater.  He also covered an old wood worktable that I keep by my wheel.  It will help with cleanup, something that I’m constantly doing to keep dust down.  Clay and glaze dust isn’t good to breathe.  After I got things put where they belong, I gave the floor a good mopping.  So, I’ll be ready to go after Easter.

Two Brie Bakers were in this firing.  The plate is about 6″ wide.  They can also be used to roast garlic or as butter dishes.  These pieces, like the bundt pans, can be used in the oven or microwave at any temperature.  However, it’s not good to take pottery from the refrigerator and place in a hot oven.  The thermal shock could cause the piece to crack.

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One small casserole made it in to this firing and there are three more lined up for the next.  They are about 7″ wide and 3″ deep and hold just shy of two quarts.

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I had one snack tray in this firing.  It measures about 7″ x 5″ and has Good Fortune in Chinese lettering, along with the English.

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I also had some small test pieces to see how the sample glazes worked on the black clay. They, too, need more testing.  I did fire a couple of pieces with the new Amber Celadon glaze that I’m adding as I’m fazing out the brown that I’ve been using.  Celadons look nice when there’s carving or texture.  The glaze pools and makes a nice effect.  It’s transparent on the flat spots.  For the first try, I think these came out fairly well, though the carving should be deeper.

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This firing had several spoon rests or baguette holders, etc. I’m not going to post all of them but here’s a few.  Most are about 6″, though there are some shorter and a couple longer.

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As I’m writing this, it’s gorgeous out.  My dogs were basking in the warm sun.  It could be that spring really is around the corner.  Let’s hope.  It’s a lot more pleasant to work in the cellar with the screen door open than with a space heater running.  March is nearly over so it won’t be long.

A big thank you to MaryAnn Vogel who posted a picture on FaceBook of her grandson and the bacon she was cooking in her new bacon cooker.  As a result of that posting, I got a couple of orders!  As you can imagine, my advertising budget is small, so postings like that are appreciated.  Forwarding my newsletter to your pottery-loving friends would be appreciated, as would postings on Facebook showing the piece being used.  Word of mouth is the best advertisement for a cottage industry like mine.

Thanks for your time and happy spring to those of you who have that kind of weather already,  We in Upstate NY are getting a taste today and tomorrow with the high temperature of 64 but, to make us humble, it’s going to be a high of 32 on Saturday or Sunday.  It will be a good day to sit at the wheel, even if the space heater is needed!

Lauren

January 2016 Newsletter

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a happy, healthy year ahead. Having my open house in November followed closely by Christmas shopping, depleted my inventory considerably. I want to thank those of you who decided to shop locally and included my work in your shopping plans. I also had a couple of people who did online searches for local small businesses and found my website! I also found a plumber as a result, which made me very happy. That, my friends, was a win/win!

I’m afraid the next few newsletters will be kind of mundane, though I am experimenting with my black clay a little. I made test pieces to try the glazes out and discovered that the sample glazes I got need brushing on with three coats. I’m used to dipping once and dipped those as well but the results told me I need to paint them. So, back to the drawing board with them. The agate wear (marbleized pieces) came out well enough that I can keep trying to make a few pieces. I think I’ve got the hang of it.  This is the tedious aspect of pottery.  There’s a lot of trial and error, as well as frustrations.  It’s all part of the learning curve when trying new clays, glazes or techniques.  Trying all three at the same time can result in a good deal of false starts.  I’m trying to fit it in between making what I need to make.

Starting at the beginning of the inventory alphabetically brought me to berry and batter bowls. I’m making small things for a little while to rest my elbow and shoulder because they’ve told me that I overused them – and they aren’t being subtle about it.

The berry bowls are about 7″ wide and 3″ high.

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The small batter bowls are the same size as the berry bowls and hold 4 cups of liquid.

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I have been experimenting with individual snack trays. I’ll be making more. I bought a few stamps with Chinese words along with the translation and am staining the stamped word and using clear glaze on that while glazing the rest with my regular glazes. This one is the symbol for Wind.  It doesn’t show well in the thumbnail photo.  I love the look of the symbols and like incorporating them in my work.

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There were some Brie bakers in this firing. The plates are a bit over 5″ on the baking surface.  These can also used for roasting garlic.

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Currently, I have bundt cake pans and small baguette holders drying.  I bought a new glaze and as soon as I have it mixed I’ll test it so that I’m comfortable with how it works before I use it for “important” pieces.  It’s an amber celedon that will be a transparent golden brown.  I am planning to retire Albany Gold for a while.  I also have my eye on a couple more to change out as the year progresses.

Stay warm and, for those who were impacted by the blizzard in the Northeast, I hope you didn’t sustain any damage and are back to normal.  Spring is only two firings away!  Doesn’t it make it sound like it’s just around the corner?

Lauren

September 2015 Newsletter

Greetings –

I have been away from the wheel for ages. First, I was getting ready for my knee replacement by doing serious cleaning and other house projects and then recuperating. The surgery was the day after Memorial Day and I ventured to the cellar, beginning gradually, last month. The humidity wasn’t conducive to drying the pots but I finally had enough to load the kiln!

Being pretty low on just about everything, I started by filling outstanding orders and then replenishing my supply of pieces. I have no shows scheduled due to the fact that applications were due no later than July and I was unable to gauge how well I’d do setting up my booth and display and then standing for two days. I’ll  have the annual open house on November 8 and the fundraiser at NYSEG where I used to work.

Although I haven’t used any new glazes, I am trying some different glaze combinations.  One of the batter bowls is black on the outside and the interior has a glaze added that looks like splashes of gold.  The large batter bowl has black on the outside and turquoise on the inside.  Both combinations look good and I’ll be using them.  I’m also using a new white clay that I really like.  My glazes work well with it.  I have a small supply of black clay but have yet to try it.  I’m looking forward to trying a marbleized look but don’t want to experiment before Christmas.

This firing had two different sized batter bowls. I have a large one that I always use when I bake bread. It holds enough dough for a two-loaf recipe to rise.  The larger of these bowls holds 8 cups while the smaller ones hold just over 4.

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Small Batter Bowl

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Large Batter Bowl

Large Batter Bowl

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Even though berry season is over I included some berry bowls in the firing. They are always popular. I make mine without the drip plate. I leave it in the sink till the dripping is done. To me, that’s easier than having a two-piece set to store when not in use.

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Berry Bowl

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Piggy Banks

 

 

The ever popular piggy banks will likely be in most firings for a while.

 

 

French Butter Keepers are available. These are popular and a way to keep butter spreadable and fresh. For those of you who don’t know, you fill be base with water till it will touch the butter. The stick of butter goes in the lid and you change the water every couple of days. The butter can stay on the counter without spoiling as long as the water is changed often.  A customer had one that one of her kids broke and she called to order another because she said it’s a “Mom saver” at mealtime since her kids can butter their own bread.

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French Butter Keeper

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Although it’s been sold, there was a kitchen compost keeper in this firing.  It’s more attractive than the used milk container that I used use! Toss scraps inside and dump in the compost bin when full. There are holes in the lid that allow the included charcoal filter to keep smells at bay.

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Soap Dishes

 

Soap dishes were included to fill blank spaces on the kiln shelves. Paired with a scented handmade soap, they make nice hostess gifts or stocking stuffers.

 

I’m throwing pretty regularly now and currently have garlic keepers, square plates, brie bakers and baguette holders awaiting the next firing.  There are also pie plates drying. Berry season may be over but the holidays are just around the corner and there will be pies for dessert in many households.  I’m experimenting with a toothbrush holder and may be able to unveil that next newsletter, along with bacon cookers for the microwave.

If anyone wants something specific for holiday gift giving, be sure to let me know as soon as possible so that it will be fired in time.  You can reach me either through the website or by emailing earthandwaterpottery@gmail.com directly.  I am planning an open house on November 8 so that will be another chance for getting holiday shopping done.  I hope you can stop in.

It’s great to be back!

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