December 2013 Newsletter

Season’s Greetings –

The December firing involved mostly pieces that were ordered at my Open House. A special thank you goes to all who placed orders – both for the orders themselves – and for waiting patiently while I participated in two different art sales during that time. In the firing were His and Her individual pasta bowls. They should provide the couple with plenty of meals together for years to come. The bowls are great for eating good meals and warming leftovers as they are both microwave and oven safe. I made another similar bowl just in case I had an accident and broke one from the special order.  It’s glazed in the same cream colored glaze as the ones pictured.

A pie plate was requested by a loyal customer. Thinking about fresh berries that could be used in a pie makes my mouth water as we go into winter and the lack of fresh, local fruit. I’m sure this plate will see plenty of pies come the first strawberries of June.

A new customer loved my soap dishes and ordered a dozen for stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. They are always a popular, inexpensive item and, with neutral glaze colors, would work in any décor.  I didn’t take any pictures of the new ones as there’s already pictures on the website and they were picked up earlier today.

Two special dogs will be getting new bowls for their meals. They’ll be sure to know it’s theirs because their names are on the front. No confusion there. Not to be outdone by the dogs, I finally made a cat treat jar – after a lady at HCCC asked about them. I told her I didn’t know what to put on the jar since I have dog bone cut outs on the dog treat jars. She suggested something novel: CAT. So here’s one and you know who you are. I always welcome suggestions, even obvious ones! I was going to put CAT TREATS but I either need smaller letters or larger jars.

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I continued making a couple variations on my serving dish. One has three rows of coils and integrated handles while the other only has one. The one I made last month had two rows.

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I guess it’s all a matter of preference, though I’m not sure that the higher one should hold anything liquid as high as the coils. I like the looks of the double and single the best.  I’m not sure what I’d serve in the triple.

I gave my ocean and mountain tray another try.  It’s getting better each time, though I’ll likely not get it exactly like the first one.  I’ll keep at it. The kiln ran hotter this firing and caused some unusual glaze patterns that don’t belong, such as the open spaces in the mountains.

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As I write this newsletter, we are fast approaching Christmas, having just wrapped up Hanukkah and Thanksgiving. My best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Safe travels to all who visit family and friends who live far away.

Lauren

 

 

November 2013 Newsletter

I’d like to start this newsletter by thanking those of you who came to my Open House.  I didn’t realize when I rescheduled it that I was moving it to Columbus Day Weekend.  Next year, I’ll not make that mistake again.  I rescheduled to accompany my stepfather on an Honor Flight to Washington, only to have him not able to go due to having bronchitis that week.  It was nice meeting new people as well as my “regulars”.  Little by little my reach is growing.  A big thanks to those of you who recommended me to your friends.   I think that word of mouth and referrals from current customers is the prime way that EWP will grow.

I’m starting this newsletter while the kiln is cooling from the glaze firing, over a day’s wait.  This month I tried to make things that I thought would be good for the HCCC Art and Craft Sale.  Since I’ve never participated before, it’s somewhat of a guess what will appeal the most.  It’s November 9 and 10 and I won’t be able to do another firing because there’s not enough time to throw enough pieces and have them trimmed and dried in time to do two firings.  I had to create a story board for the sale and when I showed a couple of my friends, they were suprised at all the steps involved.  I just showed throwing and what a load from the kiln looks like on a table.  I think we’ll be adding the story to the website soon.

I made more dog treat jars.  I read on a potter’s site that colorful presents for dogs and little children are popular and should be placed at the entrance of the booth.  So, I hope these catch people’s eyes since I didn’t really have a clue what to make for little kids.  One of the jars had a small crack on the lid so that will likely find a home in my cupboard.  I wouldn’t trust my dogs not to try to get at it if I left it on the counter.  They don’t counter surf while I’m home but they check things out when I’m away.  How else could the six red peppers I had drying on the counter when I left for the movies become only two???

Soap dishes continue to be popular so I made a few and will make more between now and Christmas.  In fact, I have a request from one of my new customers to make more and they will be done before Christmas, for sure.

There were two new tray/serving pieces in this firing.  I tried so hard to replicate the “beach and mountain” look that just happened in a bowl I made recently but it didn’t work.  Apparently, it’s hard to replicate serendipity!  I’ll try it again before I give up.  Meanwhile, the other tray has a more contemporary look to the glaze.

 

 

 

 

There was one flower pot in the firing.  If that doesn’t sell I know I can always use one!  I currently have cuttings taking root so there will be a need for small pots soon.

Small reed diffusers were in this firing.  I thought they would make good stocking stuffers or hostess gifts for some of the dinners or parties that we all get invited to at this time of the year.

Another “coffee table” bowl was in the firing.  I liked the way the blue glaze turned out.

 

 

 

 

Included was a chip and dip set because they are always popular.  I think it’s easier to store them if they are in two pieces rather than having the bowl attached so that’s the way this one is made.  We’ll see if the customers agree with me on the storage issue.

I included a small jar in the mix because I have two on my vanity for cotton pads and Q-tips.  Jars are always nice to keep things in that we use often and want to hide.  I tried yet another kind of handle on the lid.

Last but not least is an item that I’ve had a few requests for and have been trying to get right.  It’s a challenge to make something that I’ve never seen and can’t quite picture.  Apparently, there’s a big interest in grating plates to grate things like ginger, garlic or other seasonings.  The first one I tried didn’t have enough grating surface but I think these do.  They range in size from about 4″ to 6″ rim to rim.

Next weekend is the sale in Herkimer.  It’s my first solo venture in the public realm.  I hope my friends in the Mohawk Valley are able to stop by my booth to say hi if they plan to attend.  I haven’t attended it in a few years but the HCCC Annual Arts and Craft Sale has as many as 250 vendors and draws a big crowd.  This is the event’s 37th year so it’s a mainstay of The Valley.  The first time I attended I thought if I ever got “good enough” that was where I wanted to start.  There’s something comforting about returning to one’s roots, no matter how long one’s been away.  In my case, I’ve been living away longer than I lived in The Valley but return regularly.  So, we will see how it goes.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and will try get another newsletter out before Christmas, though I know I won’t make Hanukah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August/September Newsletter

 

It’s with sadness that I say goodbye to summer.  I like early fall but could do without the gray days that follow.  Coming right along will be my Open House.  It was originally scheduled for October 6 but is being postponed to the 13th.  I applied on behalf of my stepfather for an Honor Flight to Washington and he was accepted, with me as his “guide”.  They just notified me that we were on the flight a week ago, after my invitations were printed.  So, there will be a cross-out on the invitations.  Sorry for that but this is something he’ll enjoy.  He served in World War 2 and was a German POW.  I’ve heard from some who have gone on the flight that it’s a great tribute to our Veterans.

This month’s firing had a little bit of this and a bit of that.  I took inventory of what I had on hand and what I thought I’d need for the upcoming sales that follow one another pretty quickly.  I ended up doing two glaze firings, though the second one didn’t have as full a kiln as the first.

Flowers were on my mind as I tried to make the Iris bud vases more realistic looking and more to my liking.  I like these better than the first one I made that had a vine.

I also created The Rose Bowl, though I think I need to refine it a bit and develop a way to make it easier to work on the vines, leaves and flowers.  I was amazed at how long that aspect took – about 3 hours!  I was pleased at the first attempt, though.  I learned a bit about detail work – and that I wouldn’t want to make a career of working with little vines and leaves.

Having grown a bit tired of the traditional knobs on lids, I came up with some different ones for the garlic roaster/brie bakers I made.  I think they have an Asian flair, a look I really like.  I’m sure there will be more like this on future pots.

For a touch of whimsy, I added a curlicue for a lid on one of the casseroles, though I made another with a more traditional knob.  These casseroles are larger than others I make and hold quite a bit.  I have a similar one that only gets used for holiday dinners.

       

 

 

 

Realizing that it’s been ages since I made a wine bottle holder, I threw one in the mix.  I was pleased with the way the glazes turned out.  The pot was first partially dipped in cream glaze and then again in Arctic Blue, giving it a more vibrant shade of blue where the cream is.  Next time I will stop the cream a little higher on the pot to stop the runs from going to the edge, though I ground the bottoms of these so they won’t harm surfaces.

As usual, I had some dog dishes in this firing.  These two sets will accommodate both larger and smaller furry friends.  Also included are a couple jars without the dog bone add ons in case one wants a less obvious jar on the counter for dog treats or wants to put something else in besides dog biscuits.

Other jars included a couple of honey pots.

 

 

 

A friend asked me to make a small plate with a rough surface in the center to grate garlic, lemons or anything else that comes to mind.  I made one and have had a couple requests so I’ll be making more.  I’ve received feedback from my friend so will incorporate her suggestions.  These would likely make an unusual hostess gift.  As I mentioned in my last newsletter, hostesses and dogs seem to end up with a good portion of my sales.  Maybe after the holidays, I’ll devote an entire firing to “Pamper Yourself” pieces to develop another niche market!

I made a few sponger holders.

There were a couple pairs of soup and cracker mugs in these firings.  I think one pair is going to be a Christmas gift as that was a special order.

I had a single berry bowl in this firing because it didn’t make it into last month’s.  Sadly, berry season is over for another year.   I hate seeing blueberry and tomato season end.  We wait all year for fresh produce.

 

 

 

 

A while ago I had a few turquoise and purple pieces that fired a kind of alligator pattern that I’d never seen before so I took a guess that it happened because it was in a firing I did to a slightly lower temperature setting when the kiln ran a bit hot.  I thought perhaps the purple glaze didn’t fully mature and, sure enough, that’s what happened.

For those of you whose home addresses I don’t have, you are welcome to come to my Open House on Sunday, October 13 from 1:00 to 4:00.  Feel free to bring some friends if you want.  Based on comments I had last year – including a couple requests to make it a semi-annual event – people got to chat, have some goodies to eat and see what keeps me busy.  Invitations will be mailed if I have your address.  There will be some different pieces from what you saw last year such as diffusers, Chinese lanterns, and chicken roasters to name a few.

Have a great fall and enjoy all the gorgeous colors that we have just outside our doors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 2013 Newsletter

This month has been a bit warm and my pieces have taken longer to dry due to the humidity.  There’s a smaller variety of pieces in the firing as I decided that I have to concentrate on building inventory in preparation for my three sales that will take place between Octboer 6 and November 10.  At the same time, I’m trying to acquire the display that I need for the sale at Herkimer County Community College.  I still have to come up with a backdrop of some kind.  The best idea I have so far is drapes hanging from a frame made of PVC pipes that a friend sent me from Pinterest.  If anyone has any ideas, please share.  I have to have everything by Labor Day since I committed to sending a picture of my completed booth, a requirement of the sale, by Labor Day.

While making the list of pieces that I need to have, something interesting dawned on me.  It seems that most of the pieces I sell are for people other than the buyer.  I’ve sold more hostess gifts than other types but have sold wedding, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day presents and even gifts for dogs.  I can’t help but wonder if any of you keep any pieces for yourself.  I think we often think of something to buy for others and forget about ourselves.  I’ve had a few of the pieces that I wanted to keep for myself but decided not to, so I’m guilty of that myself.

Thinking of the hostess gift idea, I made more diffuser bottles and will likely add even more.  It seems that everyone likes them.  I kept one for myself and have it on the kitchen windowsill with Lily of the Valley oil in it.  There’s usually a breeze on the hill so that wonderful scent wafts throughout the downstairs.

Though I’m not sure how the Chinese lanterns will appeal, I made more because I really like them myself.  If they aren’t great sellers, you’re likely to find them throughout my house!

Summer and the fresh berries that I love prompted me to make berry bowls because I’m down to one.  Mine seems to have a permanent home in the fridge between strawberry and blueberry season.  I like the ones I make now much more.  I have one with a little saucer and it’s a low slung bowl.  The ones I make now have a deep foot and can be left in the sink to drain before going into the refrigerator.  Less shelf space is used and I like the single piece much more.

    

Having only one garlic keeper left, I made a few.

I had an order for a very large salad bowl, about 14″ wide and 3 or 4″ high.  That is the outer limits of my capabilities due to the large amount of clay that has to be centered.  I used about 10 pounds.  Though that doesn’t sound like a lot, it can be a challenge to get that much centered and keep it under control throughout the process.  I was not happy with the first attempt but the second more than made up for it.

       

There was a custom-ordered bowl for my newest dog friend, Tank.  Keeping with the dog theme, I made another canister for dog treats.  They are popular.  I decided to make this one a bit more whimsical with multi colored bones.   There are more dog products drying on the shelves that will be in my next firing.

I had a single bowl in the firing.  It’s the size of a mixing bowl and could be used for a family salad – or one of my lunch salads!  The way the glazes came out, it is somewhat like an abstract of the ocean with mountains in the background and clear sky above.

        

The most important piece in this firing was an urn for my mother’s ashes.  For those of you who haven’t heard, she died the day between Mother’s Day and my birthday.  Since she was so supportive of my pottery endeavor, I thought it would be fitting to make an urn for her.  It’s a small gesture in appreciation for all the things she did for me through the years – from making things for me to giving moral support when I needed it and a push or two when that was warranted as well.  When I received the acceptance to sell at the HCCC Annual Art and Craft Sale my first thought was that Mom wasn’t l here to tell her the good news.  She would have been thrilled.  I remember how pleased she was years ago when our classes at Roberson had a display at an event at the museum and I was the biggest seller.  I was dumbfounded and she was so happy for me.

 

June 2013 Newsletter

From Earth and Water Pottery ~

The June firing is complete and there’s a variety of pieces with no theme at all.  I guess one could say I was not too focused over the last few weeks.  I did try a new piece that I’m pleased with, a Chinese lantern.  They hold a candle and the cut outs allow interesting patterns to show through.  One could use either a tea light or a small pillar.

Also new in this firing are bottles that can be used as fragrance diffusers.  The reeds will come with the bottles.

A couple dip chillers were included in the firing because they are popular items.

Looking at my houseplants recently, I noticed that some need repotting.  I made a couple of pots and saucers for my own use but could make more for sale if there’s an interest.  I will need more myself.  They can be made with the saucer and pot as one piece.  It’s a matter of preference.

                 

Another dog treat canister was in this firing, as were some small bowls and some spoon rests.

     


My favorite piece in this firing was this platter.  I tried reversing the turquoise and purple glaze combination and like the way it came out.  I’m not sure how popular these will be but they are certainly eye catchers.

I’m pleased to report that I was accepted by the jury at Herkimer County Community College to participate in their annual Arts and Crafts Sale, held in November.  I see a busy summer and early fall for me as I have my own Open House on October 6, NYSEG Market Days on October 10 and HCCC on November 9 and 10.  Those of you in the Mohawk Valley, please stop by because this is my first public venture on my own.

As always, ideas for pieces are always welcome.

It’s hard to believe that July 4 is just around the corner.  Have a great summer and thank you for your continuing support.

 

 

April 2013 Newsletter

I would like to report on how the chicken I roasted on one of those roasting jars turned out. Although I’m trying to follow a vegan diet, I did take a couple tastings of the bird I roasted for my parents. I used vegetable stock and put lemon and dill in the jar as well. Although I couldn’t taste either of the added flavorings, the chicken was moist and tasty. I added veggies to the oval baker, which I deemed too small for a family, but didn’t sample them. There’s a larger oval baker on the website. I didn’t feature the one I used, as I’m keeping it.

Staying on that theme and the promise I made in my last newsletter, I did make my first square baking pan. It’s about 12” and would afford plenty of space for a chicken to stand up or be placed the traditional way with room for veggies. I did make a roaster to go with it, just in case anyone wants the full set. I think the square one will work much better, given the increased capacity, for plenty of vegetables to roast along with the bird. I added handles to it as well. I am pleased with the way it turned out and think it’s going to be very functional.

There was also a more traditional covered casserole in this firing.

Most likely because of the grip that winter seems to have on the Northeast, there was another soup and cracker bowl. This one is a bit larger than the one made last month. I think it will be more useful. The mate will be in the next glaze firing.

More oil and vinegar bottles were in this firing, as were a couple of garlic keepers.

Early in the month, I looked at my ware shelves where recently thrown pieces were drying and had to shake my head. All I had there were bowls! I really didn’t realize that I was only doing bowls for a couple of sessions. Can’t explain that because I like mixing up what I’m making, which isn’t how a full time potter works. I took a stab at nesting bowls and the large and medium nested correctly but the small was a tad too high. However, when I had all the bowls assembled, I found that one of the others happened to nest as the third bowl. There’s one small catch, though they are glazed the same, the small one was made with the clay that produces speckles and the other two were with clay that doesn’t have speckles. I knew I’d used both clays during the month and, unfortunately, after they are bisque-fired there’s no way to tell them apart. I hope the pictures show the difference. They can be purchased separately or as a set, with a reduced set price due to the speckles.

Soap dishes seem to be a popular item and I can’t keep them in stock so I made a few more. I’ve been glazing them in neutral colors since it’s difficult to guess what colors people have in their kitchens and baths. Unfortunately, only one survived the firing. The rest cracked.

At my open house, I discovered that pie plates that I made smaller than the typical 9 inches sold well so I made one, along with a 9 inch one. One friend who bought a smaller one said the size was perfect for a couple living alone. So, I may be on to something there.

A cousin’s daughter is having her first child and I wanted to make something that she could use in the nursery. Assuming that her mom’s love of pottery was passed down, I made a tray and jars for things like cotton pads, Q-tips or anything else she’d want handy. The young couple was stationed in Japan for a few years so I looked up how to write baby in Japanese and added that. Then I recalled that after the first ultrasound she nicknamed the baby Bean because he looked like one at that stage so I added that word as well. I’m not sure if anyone in Japan could read it but I’m claiming it as authentic. Baby Bean is a boy who will be named Kellan. We have a few more weeks before he’s born.

Included in this firing was another snack tray with matching coasters, which can be purchased separately or as a set.

I was making more of the bud vases that resemble pier pilings with ropes on them and assembled the extruder with one part in upside down, causing the tube of clay to split and me to be a bit miffed. However, I ended up being glad it happened because a new form was created, my flower vases. By splitting it toward the top and thinning and feathering the edges, I created an illusion of the vase being a flower head similar to an Iris. Carrying the flower theme a bit further, I thought that I’d try making roses and attaching them to something, in this case a slab-built pitcher. I could see that motif going on teapots and decorative bowls as well. I am going to keep expanding the flower applications because it’s a bit different than most pottery pieces that I make. The pieces pictured aren’t for sale but I’ll gladly take orders. I need to refine each a bit more but thought I’d include pictures so you’d get an idea. I’ve been thinking about Dogwood flowers . . .

Something interesting and unintentional occurred when I glazed some pieces with the turquoise and purple combination that I like so much. The purple must have been a bit too thick and when it dried, it cracked. Thinking that it would melt and re-pool during the firing, I let it go into the kiln. Instead of doing that, the cracks in the glaze remained, making an interesting effect, like an alligator’s hide. It’s still food safe but it is textured a bit and could require some cooking spray to avoid food sticking.

The month’s work has been fun, exploring new looks – both intentionally and not, learning to write in a foreign script and even making a couple sales and taking some orders. I also signed up for Market Days at my old company’s corporate office. The event is held twice a year and a percentage of each vendor’s sales go to support the Booster Club which holds events such as the children’s Christmas party. So, little by little, Earth and Water Pottery is expanding its reach. In an attempt to get a wider distribution of this newsletter, I would like to offer an incentive for my existing customers – unlike some companies that lure new customers with deals and ignore the loyal ones who have been customers for years. For every new email address you give me, I will take $5 off your next order. The only thing I ask is that you please check with the person to make sure a monthly pottery newsletter would be welcome. I’d hate to start out on the wrong foot as somebody’s junk mail. You can use the “Contact” section of the website so I’ll be sure to give you credit.

So, till the next firing, please think spring. If we all join in the effort, maybe we’ll be seeing warmer weather soon. For those of you in the Northeast, I can report that I did see Daffodils in Virginia when I was down there Palm Sunday weekend. I can also report that I made a hasty departure to avoid the snowstorm that was racing across my entire route. The flowers got snowed on and I did not, arriving back in New York in time, even if it did cut short time with my cousins that some of you met at the Open House in the fall.