Archive for December, 2009

What Do Ya Get When You Mix Clay, Chocolate, and Snow?
December 31, 2009

I’m back in my studio after what seems like a long absence. With Thanksgiving, the early December holiday sale, Christmas travel, and New Year’s Eve now at hand, I have only made very few pots. Something I did get completed was a lil’ commission. Literally a “lil’ ” commission as it was for Trell at Lill’s on 17th.
And I learned something while I made the cups…watch this:




Poke out a lil’ (today’s word) bulge for the bottom of the handle to rest on.

(mmm…Potter loves fire.)

I got so excited thinking about some chocolate that was sitting on my sketch book that I forgot to take a picture of the cups with the handles on…

And so…

“Night, night.” A potter knows that this is when things are left enclosed in plastic over night to, well…rest. The moisture content throughout is inconsistent. Top is dryer than the bottom, handle is softer than the cup. Not a good time to dip in slip. Tuck it in for a good night’s “sleep” and tomorrow the clay object will be all evened out. Typically, ceramic things are not made, altered, decorated, and left to dry out all in one day. There are exceptions, of course…especially those of you who work in dry climates. (A non-potter does not know this. This is why you are amused when you ask a potter, “How long did it take to make that?”, and the potter answers, “Uh…well, uh…”)

The next day is when I learned something:

These are made with red terracotta clay. Look…two of them have white slip on the interior as well as the exterior. I did these two first…I poured white slip inside and poured it out. Next, they were dipped down into the liquid slip to cover the entire cup except the very bottom. Then I set them aside and walked away. This is something I learned a long time ago. It is a lesson that, at the very least, toys with all potters. It is: When you do something, anything, different…don’t go doing it to a whole bunch of stuff until you figure out if something bad is going to happen. It is a lesson that is oft learned by the accompaniment of, hmmm…shall we say, “words spoken out loud”.

When I came back to check on the cups (at Red Star Studios, there is always a side attraction), I noticed that both cups had ovaled out a bit. Oh, and here is a “side attraction” for you. I am noticing now with Spell Check that oval can’t be made into a verb. Instead of changing this to the proper state… say, “moved from the original circular shape into an undesired oval shape”, I am going to invent a new word. It is “ovaled”. It is a verb…in the past tense, of course. Anyway, this happening was not entirely unexpected. It occurs occasionally when I make my Chicken Truck cups.

You could have your very own Chicken Truck Cup, by the way. It’s not just a cup…it’s Performance Art”. (I’d have to demonstrate for you.) The plate…the Chicken Track plate… it’s just a plate.)

OK, back to the ovaling. Look! I did it again! I invented a new word! It is “ovaling”. This is also a verb. I don’t know if my new verbs are transitive or intransitive. Do you know? I will need to decide this before I submit my new verbs to the dictionary people so that you, too, may use my new verbs. I love Spell Check.

When the cup is dipped into a liquid, the clay rehydrates. As the rim becomes softer it allows the weight of the handle to pull it out of shape. Wasn’t a big problem with the C.T. cups as they are quite short and the handles smaller. Makes sense that this can happen with more frequency concerning taller cup that has a heavier handle.

What to do? I figured that if I dipped the exterior first, the interior would not hydrate… be stronger and not allow the handle to “have its way”. Turns out…true. So I did the exteriors and waited until the end of the day to pour the interiors. (My problems are not usually solved this easily.)

After a bit of sgraffiti, the happy cups were bisqued, dipped in a clear glaze, and fired to cone 03.

Perhaps, at this moment, a Lill’s family member (they just don’t seem like “employees”) is enjoying a cup of hot something in their holiday gift from Trell.

Thank you regular readers! I know you are out there because my “blog mistress” shows me the number of clicks for every day. (You are only a number if don’t click and make a comment…just sayin’.) I hope you enjoy my ruminations. Whenever I update my blog, I post on facebook. If you become my facebook buddy, you will know when this happens! I have nightmares of people clicking on my blog and being disappointed by an “old post”. Uh, that last sentence is not true. Actually this is all a nefarious plot on my part. I figure that if you read my blog you will, at some point in time (hopefully before my rent is due), click on my website, and happen upon the “Buy It Now” page. Nefarious, yet altruistic because I know that if you have my pottery in your home, you will live happily ever after. Rather sweet of me, don’t you think?

To readers and non readers (you “non readers” will never know this) of this blog… on this, the last day of 2009, I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Hospital Cups! 2009
December 18, 2009

This is a message to people who work at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, the Coliseum Hospital in Macon, Georgia and actually anyone who works in the health field anywhere on the planet…really! Thank you for saving my life. St. Luke’s has a “rehab reunion” once a year and unfortunately I was out of town on that October date in 2006. So…I wrote them a letter to be read at the function. One of the things I mentioned (along with thanking them for the “good” drugs) was that I thought of them every day. Now, I want them to know that somehow, in some way, I still do. It might be a memory of John on the seventh floor singing to me as he whisked in to open the blinds, Caroline making me laugh when I really, really needed to, Randy kicking my butt in PT, or whoever that lady was who came in a few times during my last month to give me a hand massage (my only pleasant physical experience for a total of three months). When I simply have a brief thought of gratitude for good health during my day, as we all do, mine is followed by at least a brief thought of gratitude for all those people who took such good care of me and got me back on my feet.

Today, Whitney and I will take the next round of “hospital cups” to St. Luke’s and leave them on the 4th and 7th floors as a tremendously inadequate thank you for “saving my life”.

Here is a picture of the two cups that I saved for myself:

The one on the right was fired in the soda kiln and has a dot of gold luster. In an earlier post, I blogged how they were made.

My New Studio…uh, sort of…
December 15, 2009

Remember I told you that I went to meet with six UMKC architecture students. Their assignment was to design a 10×10 foot cube to meet the needs of a client. And! I was chosen by teacher, John Eck to be one of the clients.

When we met, I told them that I wanted them to design a studio. I needed workspace, sleeping quarters, cooking area, a computer area, a projection wall, and shelving to display my work on the outside. We also talked about things like good ventilation, lighting, and storage. I left them what turned out to be a big “things to do list.” (oops…later I found out that another client requested a room for meditation.) Weeks later, I went back to see their drawings and 10 x 10 inch models. I was blown away by their creativity. Take a look at these…

This one was designed and made by Reuben Ruhl:

It has a good lookin’ front.

The students used balsa wood, plastic, cardboard, strings…

Reuben thought it would be cool if one wall was used for space for my friends to paint murals. I’d told them that the plan was to take the cube studio all around the country visiting ceramic studios. Would you like to paint on my cube?

Wow! There is a whole room that pulls out!

Jacque Griffith designed this cube.

I love this pull out that creates a breeze way and display case.

Look at my sleeping quarters! Is that not the coolest thing?

A view from the back.

And Jacque made all this great furniture for me…the kind that stores inside each other to conserve space. Look! There I am standing in the middle! She put that there for scale thankyouverymuch.

Looking at this “simple” cube produced by Brandon Reddick, you wouldn’t expect…

Sections pulled apart, panels flipped down and I flipped out!

I absolutely loved the top view of Brandon’s model! He gave me all this “stuff” and left me with a 10×10 foot workspace!

Future architect, Blake Betsworth…just a cube, right? Yeah, maybe that grey panel will flip down and that roof might pop up a bit…

This model did more pivoting than a basketball team! The walls accordianed out!

Things moved! Then more things moved!

Blake gave me the “backporch” I wanted. Can’t you see me pulling up next to your studio, flippin’ down my back porch and settin’ the cooler out so we can talk pots?

Stephen Emery’s model was very well made. He put a lot of thought and planning into providing me with a convenient workspace. And isn’t it attractive? One thing I learned early on about architects…they love windows. They love glass! They love natural light! Here are two photos of Stephen’s project that John sent me. Stephen completed his project while not feeling well. He made it through the presentation in fine order but had a little tweaking to do before the picture was taken.

Very well tweaked, wouldn’t you say?

Alright…you gotta see this…

I’m going to sneak you in at the back of Travis Finn’s cube.

Getting a little curious, eh?

hmmmm, I wonder…


wow! Wow! WOW! I don’t even have to say anything!

But I am going to… Travis “attention to detail” Finn. Thank you. Construction workers nail it. But before that can happen…architects “nail it”. Oh! That should be on a T shirt. Architects “Nail It”

And a big thank you to all the students for their hours of work. I hope they learned a lot! I learned a cube is just a cube…until architects get their hands on it.

The Kemper!
December 13, 2009

I mentioned in a previous post that Red Star Studios is a great place for holiday gift shopping. No lines, easy parking…no stress. True, true. Well, here is another great place to visit. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is a favorite stop of mine. Here you can view the exhibits, have a lovely lunch and pick up a few pretties in the gift shop. Where else can you do that in such a small venue? It is also great place to take out-of-town guests who want a cultural experience without a lengthy time investment! Here are some images I took in the gift shop this week:

Why do all your shopping at a mall in suburbia?

Lovely handmade items for your home! Wearable art, too!

My daughter, Whitney, is getting a hand painted silk scarf for Christmas. (shhh)

Check out the website, or better still, just drop in. Tell Megan, either one – there are two- in the gift shop that I sent you!

Saving the Planet One Pot at a Time
December 8, 2009

A big thank you to all those who came to Red Star Studios last weekend for our holiday sale. Ceramics was admired and purchased. Plates of candies and cookies were consumed, and a huge pot of coffee kept those in need a bit warmer and zippity.

As you go about your holiday shopping, keep in mind Red Star Studios and Gallery offers “no stress shopping”. No lines! Ample parking! Prices range from $5 to $1000+! Everything in our gallery is hand made with thought, purpose, and care. And remember…by purchasing art from artists, you are doing your part to SAVE THE PLANET! (You might not be clear on that thought but any self respecting artist should be able to help you through.)

First of all, our gallery has never looked better!

This month features Venezuelan artists Jose’ Sierra and John Lujan. Jose’s ceramic work is stunning. The show sold well but there are still some items available. This photo does not do them justice.
John Lujan presented his bamboo series. Lovely. This show will be up through December.

Something for everyone on your shopping list!

Or something just for you! Shhhh…my daughter is getting a Susan Hill pillow this year for Christmas. Oops! Did I just put that in print? She probably doesn’t look at her old fuddy duddy mom’s blog anyway.

We make a lot of pottery and sculpture at Red Star! There is still plenty to be seen and had. If you have a friend or family member who would not like a gift of ceramics…dump ’em! You don’t need ’em, anyway! Oops! Did I just put that in print? Well, think about it…no lines, easy access, no hassle shopping. We even like it when you just come to look!

Always a menagerie in Calder’s studio!

Look for Tracy Schneitter’s sculptures. These have very interesting colors and textures that don’t show up in this picture very well…darn it.

Carolyn Summer’s work sold well but she still has something for you! Well…not the clock, OK? Geez…

George Chrisman has some great functional work on hand. He is our “go to” guy when someone would like a tour. Just ask!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Maria!

Everywhere we go! Maria Morales, that is.

Our very own Bowie Croisant!

Lots of Bowie!

Check out this lovely display by Stephanie Kantor

Here is more of Stephanie’s work in the Side Gallery…along with work made by other studio members.

My sales this holiday sale were actually better than last year! Personally, I take that to mean our economy is indeed turning around. My theory is that in trying economic times, people put more thought into their purchases. Of course that points them toward art because buying art from artists can SAVE THE PLANET!
End note: shhhhh…I have a half price shelf in my space.