Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Accidents

One of the things I teach to my students at Clementine Studio is the idea of 'happy accidents'. Quite often things don't turn out the way we want them to. The paint spills, our hand moves, the table is bumped. All sorts of things can happen that messes with our vision of how we wanted our work to look. I always encourage students to look at the 'accident' and try to think of it in a different way. If they intended to draw a cat, but it doesn't look like one, what could they turn it into instead? Sometimes with the right attitude, a little creativity, and a willingness to change an idea, sometimes the work can turn out even better. 

 I found this note taped to my work on the shelf at the pottery lab:

The cup I had thrown was certainly knicked! It was in the leather-hard stage so it was not repairable. I examined the dent in the side, felt it a little, and after the disappointment and upset wore off I realized that I actually liked the ding. My thumb fit perfectly in the indention. So I put a handle on it, then added slip trail around the dent to make it look intentional. Now it has become one of my favorite mugs!

This happy accident has inspired a new series I call 'Ding Mugs'. I throw the cup form then squeeze it, bump it, karate chop it- somehow give it a good knick! A lot of my work is very detailed and precise. I don't leave a lot to chance, so my Ding Mugs are a great way for me to practice letting go. And it's fun to bang up my work!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Pot That Juan Built

I am a sucker for children's books, and I found a great one about pottery that I'd like to share with you. The Pot That Juan Built, by Nancy Andrews-Goebel is a biography of Juan Quezada, who is a potter in a village in Mexico. The first part of the book is a children's story illustrated by David Diaz. It starts off with, "This is the pot that Juan Built. These are the flames so sizzling hot that flickered and flared and fired the pot, the beautiful pot that Juan built." It goes on to tell how he gathered manure from cows to make his fire hot enough, he used his own hair for a brush to paint the pots, found rocks to color his paint with, followed ants to the site of the clay... And so on. It's the story of a pot, every step of the way.

What I loved most about this book was that it is based on a real person who revitalized his community through pottery. His village, Mata Ortiz, was a struggling village in northern Chihuahua, Mexico. Many of the residents were seasonal workers and could barely feed their families. This changed in 1976, when an anthropologist traced one of Juan Quezada's pots from a second-hand shop in New Mexico to Mata Ortiz and found Juan. This anthropologist introduced Juan's pottery to art patrons in the United States. Because of this response, Juan began making pots full time and taught his neighbors and family how to make them as well. Mata Ortiz transformed into a thriving community of potters! Now more than 400 artists live in Mata Ortiz (the village has a total population of two thousand people). All of the pots are made using only local materials.
It is really great to see pottery change lives!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Artist of the Week: Laura Lloyd

Devil Man with Bunny Slippers
Hello, My Name Is Mudd

Little Blue

 This week an artist named Laura Lloyd caught my eye. Her ceramic sculptures are weird, wonderful, and definitely show her own unique style. The pieces are handbuilt, bisqued, then painted with acrylics and oil paint (with the exception of the "Little Blue" glazed cup). Laura describes her sculptures as "darkly whimsical", and is inspired by human form and facial expressions.

The photos of Laura's work are all from her Etsy shop. If you click on the caption it will link you to the item!

You can find Laura Lloyd's website HERE.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Sometimes I make something that I like so much I almost don't want to fire it for fear of messing it up... But that's part of the process, a risk that's inevitable when working with clay. Sometimes it so happens that I like it even better than I thought I would! I'll keep you posted on the outcome of this one- it's going to the kiln tomorrow.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Works in progress

I love the feel of leather-hard clay as I carve out a design on the surface... It's one of my favorite stages of working with clay. These three have been completed and are in the process of drying. Soon they'll be bisque fired and ready to glaze! Any color suggestions?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Artist of the Week: Heather Knight

You might recognize Heather Knight's work from my last post about green pieces. Yes, I found her through Etsy (she was also a featured seller. You can read the interview HERE)! Heather credits Etsy for a lot of her international exposure.

Heather lives and works in Ashville, North Carolina in an amazing studio space. It is located in an old warehouse in the River Arts District. Visitors are encouraged! If I'm ever in her neighborhood I am definitely going to stop by, even though I'll probably turn into one of those weird drooling fans and embarrass myself. This space is AMAZING! Big work tables, lots of shelves, tall tall ceilings, lots of light...

Visit Heather's website HERE
Visit Heather's blog HERE
Visit the shop HERE

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Green Theme Etsy Finds

I told you I love the color green! Do you believe me now? 

(If you're interested in purchasing, if you'd like to see more pieces, or if you are looking for more information, click on the item name or artist to be connected to the Etsy shops!) 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Back to the Firehouse

I mentioned the Boulder Pottery Lab briefly in my introduction. It's the pottery program through the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation, all classes are held in a nearly 100 year old brick firehouse. I LOVE remodeled old buildings, and I LOVE studios, so I REALLY love the Pottery Lab.

I am still lacking a kiln and a wheel so I decided to register for the Spring session pottery class. I signed up for the Saturday morning class, and my first one was this past weekend. When I went in the firehouse I felt like, ahhhhhhhh, this is where I belong! I am so excited to get really messy on the electric wheel, so excited to get my pieces glazed and fired, and so excited for all of the new inspiration, motivation, instruction, and ideas that come with taking a class. It's amazing how much there is to learn about clay...