March 31, 2010

Top Ten Pitfalls of the Pregnant Potter - Part 1

I've come across other articles and blog entries about parenting and pottery, how to balance family and work, the challenges of finding studio time with young kids, etc. But, I don't know if I've actually seen anyone address the reality of pregnancy while making pottery. It seems like maybe it's time. So, here is a partial list of the unexpected challenges pregnancy brings to the studio.

1. Not being able to reach the bottom level of the kiln anymore because your stomach is in the way and having to go begging artists down the hall for help.

2. Sticking your stomach into the side of a large bowl or platter while throwing it. I guess this could be a benefit if you go for the "mark of the artist" in your work. In my case, it just ruins the peice.

3. Crushing the rim of a freshly thrown pot with your newly burgeoning bosom. Again, could be a new decorative technique.

4. Can't get your elbow to your hipbone to brace yourself when trying to center a large lump of clay. I know it's back there somewhere!

5. Can't lift a box of clay. My doctor recommended not lifting more than 25#. You've got to be kidding me! Again, the embarrassing need to go soliciting help.

And, I'm just in my fourth only gets better! I'll post the rest of the list later on in my pregnancy. Of course, by then maybe I'll be in that "serene" segment of my pregnancy with a "peaceful sense of wellbeing" and "radiant glow" (never happened with my first kid!) and won't feel like complaining anymore. Or, maybe I'll come up with the other 5 points in the middle of July when I'm standing outside in the heat and humidity doing art fairs in my 7th month. If you have personal experience, please feel free to add your comments if you feel I've missed anything important!

March 28, 2010


I've finally gotten around to making a new set of test tiles for the studio. I've been meaning to do this forever and it's going to be so nice to have a set that I can hang on the wall instead of digging through boxes looking for mismatched bits and pieces. These are the underglazes that I use for painting the colors on my illustrations. I've tried a lot of different products, but these are my favorites. They are Amaco Velvet underglazes fired to Cone 5. Some of the colors aren't as vibrant at this temperature, but I've found a nice color palette that fires bright and consistent. I apply them to bone dry greenware (I use Laguna Bmix5 clay), then bisque fire and cover with a clear glaze before firing to cone 5. The nice thing about the velvets is that they can be fired without a cover glaze, so I sometimes use them that way for detail on the bottom of pieces. I usually use them at the consistency they come out of the container, but occasionally thin them with water to get a little more of a watercolor look (they are translucent when thin, opaque when thick.) These just came out of the last firing and when I laid them all out they look so tempting, like an amazing box of candy. Next task is to make tiles for all of my glazes.

March 27, 2010

Inspiration to Play!

I just finished watching Kristen Kieffer's new DVD: Surface Decoration: Suede to Leatherhard and loved it! Trying to balance being a mom with being a working artist means that every second I have in the studio is crucial and I don't often get the chance to attend workshops or classes. This dvd is like sitting in on a demo session with Kristen and seeing lots of great tips and techniques. Most of the techniques are things that I am familiar with, but it's always great to be reminded of them and to see how another artist uses them in their work. There were also a few great tricks that I hadn't seen before. Just the section on how she makes and uses stamps in her work was worth the price of the dvd! I have always loved Kristen's work and it was great to get a glimpse into how she works. The way her forms and surfaces work so seamlessly together is very inspiring to me. And, I love the richness of her decorative patterning, so elegant and fluid. I often get stuck spinning so fast on my "hamster wheel" (my husband's description of my work pace) trying to get enough work made that I don't allow myself time to play and have fun with my work, and this video is a good reminder to do that!