Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Inspiration: American Quilts

I found an old copy of American Country Quilts at the thrift store a while ago and thought I would share a few of my favourites here.  Along the lines of cutting out designs to create a quilt, my own method of glazing often has me thinking about my process being so infused with the Arts and Crafts movement.  Vintage textile designs, Quilt patterns, cross-stitch and wall-paper designs so often inform my inspiration for new glaze designs.  It's no wonder this book resonated with me!

I'm off to NCECA for the rest of the week! It's a big clay conference happening in Seattle this year so I'll be out of town for the rest of the week, but I'll come back with my take on the whole experience here on my blog! It's my first NCECA and I'm really grateful to have been the recipient of the Maureen Wright Scholarship to help with the costs of the conference.  It's been a long time since I have received a scholarship- so far the Northwest Ceramic Foundation has been very gracious to me (I received the last jump-start scholarship that they gave out back in 2000 for my last year at art school). The event From the Oven to the Kiln is a yearly fundraiser the organization puts on to raise money for scholarships and grants- it's coming up in a month and I have a few pots designated for the auction! If you are in Vancouver please consider supporting what they do!

Friday, March 23, 2012

from start to finish

Thank you all for the well-wishes on my new nephew! So far his little personality is quite laid-back (he is only 2 days old, but it's what everyone hopes for in a 2nd baby)- he has a quiet cry and slept for a 4 hour stint the first night! Can't beat that.   It's so nice when babies are born during the day, so everyone starts out with a good sleep pattern.  Not that you can plan when the birth is going to happen;-)!

Ok, back to business here.  Life over the past couple of weeks has had us in spring break mode, so while I did take a week off (which was so needed), I sent the boys off to my folks' place earlier this week so I could get a day and a half of work done while Dean was away in sunny Toronto and Montreal. I did manage to fit in a glaze firing just before we left- I posted a few pics on facebook and instagram.  I had some good results, but must admit that I was pretty tired trying to glaze this load.  Tired = mistakes, ie not quite getting it all right with really minor but frustrating things wrong.  I'm having a bit of trouble with a few things that seem to creep up on occasion- tiny glaze bubbles forming close to the base of the pot (vases on the bottom shelf- perhaps the wires are going in the kiln and the glaze is under-fired), some dryness to my white glaze in spots (not mixing the glaze enough or run-off of glaze from my 'masked off areas'), and of course- the never-ending finding the correct clay and location in the kiln to use for my satin-matt grey glaze not to form small little bubbles occasionally here and there.

I won't bore you with more details, but when these glaze issues start creeping their way into my work, I find myself wanting to throw in the towel on all my complicated glazing method and simplify things in a big way.  It would be hard to re-invent my work after all this effort was made to create such a signature look, but I find myself envying the 'one-dip-wonders' or the glaze on the inside/ bare clay exterior.  Anyways, we all know that's just not my schtick so I'll just proceed as I've been going along here and hopefully these little things will work themselves out in the next glaze load. 

Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm off to NCECA later next week so I'm pretty excited about meeting a whole wack of ceramic people.  I'm also going down and staying with a few potters from the city and am looking forward to that.  Lots of clay-shop-talk to come!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A remarkable day

I've been expecting a phone call for the past couple of weeks with the news that my sister was in labour, but sorting out how I was going to get there in time to be part of this birth ended up requiring a float-plane ride over to the Island.  No complaints about that- it was a beautiful ride, especially with the excitement of knowing I'd be welcoming a new little soul into the world.
And he arrived- little Jacob William!  He's a beautiful, healthy brother for Oliver, who is just 2 years old now.  Pretty exciting! Now my sister and I both have 2 boys- our hands are full!  And of course, I just marvel at how amazing my sister looks post-birth.  She really is amazing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

beautiful house, beautiful family

We stayed one night with really good friends who just moved to Victoria from Edmonton.  They have only been in their new home for a few months, and already I was loving all the letterpress posters and framed photos on the wall everywhere.  They have lots of plans for more paint and wallpaper - along with the character of this heritage home, it's going to be amazing! Of course our visit was full of laughter, good stories, great food and lots of getting used to a house full of girls (i.e. fairies & dressing up in fancy cloths!- so cute!).

Friday, March 16, 2012


Despite stormy skies and a little snow falling here and there, spring always hits Victoria in style.  I'm just getting back to life here- trying to juggle work, the boys and stuff at home since Dean has now left for a week in Montreal and Toronto.  Lucky him, I hear things are unusually warm in those parts.  Oh well, I'm holding down the fort and waiting in anticipation for my sister's baby to start making it's way into the world.  After a false alarm the other day when we were there, we are all on pins and needles waiting! It's so hard to wait, but so worth it...
Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Until next week

I'm wrapping up posting for the next little bit as we take off to Vancouver Island for a Spring break holiday with the boys. We have family and friends to visit along the way, but also managed to book ourselves into a hotel in Victoria for a couple of days to really feel like we are on a holiday. 

Thank you to those of you who stopped by on my blog this week.  I had a real up and down couple of weeks which thankfully ended on an up note.  Between battling a cold, the Teacher's strike, an order that felt as if it took forever to finish and not taking a day off in 2 weeks,  I realized that I've been wearing myself out.  On the up side of things, I made a point of getting out of the studio this week and connecting with some really great people.  I was able to make some progress on my exhibition coming up in June that I'm super excited about- (more on that later), and possibly have found a unique opportunity for the dilemma I've been having about how to grow or out-source some of my work.  I'm still a little overwhelmed, but reading this post made me realize that it's a good time for me to strongly consider why I have been saying 'yes' to things I maybe should have been saying 'no' to. 

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A bit of new

In the midst of scrambling to finish up a large shop order for the Gardiner Museum Shop last week, I started working on a few 'new' designs.  When I say new- often it doesn't quite mean re-inventing my wheel- usually it just means taking some ideas that have been stewing for a while and re-configuring them.  Like most artistic people I know, we get a little bored of the same old, same old, so for me, when my production starts bogging me down, I need to shake things up.  I think it's a healthy way to keep the creative juices flowing and not to put too much energy into just one kind of work.  Unfortunately in this economy, most shops are asking for the work they know will sell, so I am making work I've been making well for the past few years.  It sometimes makes it hard to justify working with new ideas and making new work when every piece I place in the kiln these days seems to already be sold. 
This is just one of the cups that came out of the kiln yesterday- I hopefully can swing in another firing before we take off for some much needed holidays next week.  I have been working with a new porcelain slip-casting slip instead of my usual stoneware slip (my wheel-throwing clay bodies have stayed the same).  Porcelain is always more challenging to work with- there was some warping but surprisingly no cracking.  I might use the porcelain for another round of casting with my new production moulds, but I'm not convinced it's worth the trouble.  The glazes look brighter and are a little more runny but the work feels more weighty.  Maybe that's ok.  It's hard to know whether other people will notice the difference besides that it's a denser, heavier clay.

I decided to head out to the Multiples Show at Emily Carr yesterday- taking in the sunshine and grabbing a bite to eat at the Granville Island Market.  There were a few interesting things at the ceramic show- although I was hoping for a little more work to look through.  There seems to be a big trend at the school to pair ceramics with wood- and most of the work was by Product Design 3rd year students.  Whatever happened to ceramic majors?  There were a few bowls that were wheel-thrown, otherwise everyone slip-casts. No glaze on the outside is still the norm over there- of course, a glaze fiend such as myself finds this pretty disappointing.  I think it's a shame when work looks too polished and finished when someone is in 3rd year.  This is the time to take risks- to try things in a big way without having to put a price on it.  Anyways, that's me and my opinion, so I should probably keep it to myself;)!
Hope your week is going well!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The marvelous month of March

This month is going to be pretty exciting! My nephew, Oliver, turns 2 and my sister (his mom) is having another baby.  Oliver is so much fun these days and he absolutely loves playing with his cousins (my boys).  Sorry about the grainy photo, but I loved his little smiling eyes peering over the book while I was reading.   

On the home front, it looks like we'll be taking some serious vacation this month.  With the 3 day Teacher strike from Monday-Wednesday next week, an early dismissal on Thursday and then the boys being out for their 2 weeks of spring break starting the following week, my month has turned all wonky.  Especially considering that the last week in March is NCECA.  So I'm desperately attempting to finish up my glaze firings to get all the shop orders out by early next week so I can hunker down and not be stressed about it.  I hope to finish up other projects and non-ceramic related stuff this month while the studio sits idle.  It's going to be a bit hard to come back to it all in April and catch up...

Thanks for those of you who have stopped by my blog recently and commented!  I appreciate that a lot.  Sometimes I wonder why I blog and if it's redundant, but I realize that there are a whole bunch of reasons this space is important. 
Have a great weekend!