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Ceramic Pendants!

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Some of you may know that I really enjoy ceramics- making, touching, throwing. I think its an “earth/soil” kind of thing, you know… toiling, digging, planting, making mud-pies, composting. Seriously! There is something about that connection to the earth that is joyous, playful, fulfilling and meditative.

Where was I? Oh yes, during my play with clay these ceramic pendants have come to the surface. I experimented with making them last fall and loved giving them as Christmas presents!

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I will have a limited number of these little darlings to sell at the Flower Show along with the neck cuffs. I’m thrilled with the way they came out! Some of the designs are flowers made from pressed almonds and pressed rosemary. Others are burlap textures with plants incorporated into the design. I even have a couple of little topiaries featured to tie it all together. Hope you likey. They make a beautiful, artful statement!

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Raku Day

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Oh what fun! Some of you may know that I have a bit of a “thing” for ceramics. It’s something like horses… I started young and it has always been a part of me. Apparently my mud-pie days made a big impression.

Well, I have been sneaking over to the studio at Clayscapes and doing a little throwing. There will be some new hand- thrown pots with topiaries available at the Flower Show. Yay.

But that is not what this post is about. This post about Raku Day! The superb folks (Don Seymour and crew) at Clayscapes open the studio to the public for a wonderful event this time of year. Here how it all goes…

IMGP6546For a small fee ($7) you choose a vessel of some sort that has already been bisque fired.

IMGP6549Then the kind folks help you bring your ideas for that little pretty into being through glazing and surface design.

IMGP6543The outdoor low-fire kiln gets loaded with pieces.

IMGP6551After the kiln has reached the necessary temperature (maybe 15 to 20 min.) the lid is raised and the vessels are literally glowing hot.

IMGP6555If there is a crackle glaze, the surface is blown on to produce the crackle effect by cooling it more quickly.

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They are then placed into a fireproof container and combustible materials (straw in this case) are added to aid in the reduction of oxygen. This oxygen reduction creates the color in the glaze and the clay body itself.

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A toasty pull from the flaming garbage can, then a quick dip in water… and they are done! The water stops the chemical reaction of the glaze and fixes the color.

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The pieces still bubble and steam as they cool for handling.

Did I mention there was delicious food? And a gallery? I’m so thankful to have been introduced to this fun, creative group. They inspire me.

The kids had a blast. If you are nearby you should come next year for this event ~ or ~ check out the studio. There are lots of people who have never done ceramics before and the classes work with any level. It’s a very welcoming group. For more information visit their website.




Throwing Pots!

Some of this week’s pots… can you picture topiaries planted in them?

I am MUCH better at collecting ceramics than making them… but I did jump at the chance to do some throwing this winter when I found out that my sister-in-law was taking a class with one of her friends at Clayscapes in Syracuse. It has been at least 15 years since I’ve done any throwing and I am slowly (very slowly) getting up to speed.

I’m so happy that I found out about Clayscapes! There are rows of wheels, shelves for drying and kilns in the studio while the Gallery and store for materials is located next door within the same building. The classes are 10 weeks long. For more information here is their website.

The Flower Show is around the corner and I am always looking for nice containers to pot my topiaries in that are for sale in my booth. Although it is the busiest time of my business year and I’m trying to create a new product line I of course saw no reason to not make my own pots as well.  Am I as crazy as that sounds?  It is possible.  Remind me to start earlier next year.

I am no Guy Wolff or Goff Creek Pottery– check them out… amazing! It has been a great opportunity to play with clay again, visit with Kitty and Val and be in ceramic studio environment. So much talent!

Speaking of talent, our teacher Tim See makes it all look so easy. Check out this amazing video on YouTube. I’m in awe. I have learned so much in the few short classes that I’ve attended. It’s challenging to only be there one day a week but with the kids, farm, family and business… I can’t really even afford that but I know it’s important for my creativity.

Wednesday was a productive day!

So, stop by my booth if you are attending the Flower Show and see what made it through the fire. Maybe I’ll put some on my website later as well if my throwing isn’t terribly haphazard.

And, let me encourage you to DO something that you haven’t done in a while!! Do something that you’ve never done before but always WANTED to. It’s good for your soul and your spirit! Time is of the essence friends. : ) Enjoy some of the pieces for sale in the Clayscapes Gallery-




Highlights from Clothesline

The weather was beautiful last weekend in Rochester and the crowds turned out for the festival. There were lots of clouds on Sunday but the rain held off for the most part. Yay. Being an artist that works primarily with paper can be quite challenging on a rainy day.

It was great to see my marvelous customers. One lady said that she had followed my work for the past 13 years! Since my debut at Clothesline. What an honor! I had to chance to meet alot of new faces even a Facebook Fan! How cool is that?

Here are a couple of highlights from the show. There was the beautiful gallery, of course…

the lovely atrium interior with a Henry Moore sculpture

a very interesting 4th Rochester Biennial exhibit. Loved this kinetic piece by Anne Havens.

There was music, food, and lots of artwork.

Sales were brisk. Yay. If you know me then you know I am a ceramics junkie. If I have a good show I am strongly inclined to purchase a new piece to celebrate. I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of my favorite Upstate New York ceramicists.

Shown above are the pieces that I purchased this year. Aren’t they lovely. I can’t keep my hands off that mug. I feel very special drinking my coffee and tea from this earthy and contemporary cup. I can’t wait to use the bowl at our next family gathering or dinner club. The artist Renata Wadsworth is from Ithaca and her work is available online www.natapots.com and at the MAG gallery store.

This raku tile piece is by my friend Peter Valenti from Syracuse. We have been neighbors at the show and have watched each others children grow up from year to year. Peter primarily does wall pieces but often has vessels in his booth. His work can be purchased at shows and Eureka Crafts in Syracuse.

One of my favorite ceramist is Hodaka Hasebe. I have many of his pieces and have given lots of them as gifts. The glazes, texture, shape and functionality of his vessels have always appealed to me. His work can be purchased directly at many Upstate New York art festivals or in his etsy shop.

If my life could spare the time I would love to do ceramics again. I have 2 kilns that are waiting to be used. An old gas studio kiln out in the barn and a small electric kiln. Unfortunately my weak wrist has a hard time manipulating clay these days but I sure gave it a whirl in college. The piece shown below I made in a class at RIT. It is based on Franz Marc’s  The Large Blue Horses painting. Farmboy and I carried it around for 10 years stowing it under beds and in the basement of whatever place we were renting before we were able to actually install it.

I love sitting at the wheel. The whole centering process. You know I’ve said before that I was the self-professed Mud-Pie Queen in Mississippi growing up. I’m certain that has something to do with my love of gardening and ceramics. The firing process is like magic. Everytime the kiln opens its like Christmas morning. Although I don’t create ceramics anymore, I certainly appreciate their beauty and craftsmanship. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some ceramics work from some very talented artists. Be sure to check out their websites!




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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Philadelphia Flower Show
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March 5th-13th
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