Thursday, May 30, 2013

A bit of new!

Well I ended up making a lot of custom work over the past month or so and, as with custom, making extras is the key! Now that the orders are almost all off and on their way, I have some of the extra pieces I'll be posting in my Etsy shop as I seem to have gotten some positive feedback on the new shades and styles of vases I have been working on. 

I recently had a short turn-around request for a large order with a design firm for a show home with some of my new vases in my classic glazed stripes.  They asked if I would be able to create a custom yellow glaze for the design and sent me a swatch of fabric they were trying to match.  As luck would have it, the yellow stain I thought would be perfect for the fabric swatch was no longer available so I mixed 3 different stains and then glazed blind the order (with extras) for this new harvest yellow glaze, crossing my fingers it would turn out ok! I really like the new shade- it's got a wonderful golden glow to the yellow that I think I'll keep as part of my regular work for a while. 

Speaking of new, I am starting to really get the hang of my newest slip-cast glaze designs- the round cylinder 9" and 12.5" vases that you see above!  Over the past few years, I have been wheel-throwing my cylinder vases and was having trouble getting my grey glaze to fit the wheel-throwing clay body I have been using.  Lots of bubbles and blisters in the throwing body, silky smooth in the porcelain slip-casting body.  I also find it hard to sit at the wheel for long periods of time- I like to throw multiple shapes in one sitting, not just the same thing over and over.  So when I start dreading throwing, then I start planning how to make the design into a mould.

I currently have only 1 master-mould of each and they are not easy to cast, but I'm slowly figuring it out.  This big grey striped vase, along with 3 others that went to the show home, was the first of the big vases that actually turned out and didn't warp (longer casting time + very little handling when pulling the piece out of the mould = no warping :).  So I'm very excited about the new size and am looking forward to getting a few more of these finished in different colours.  These are real statement pieces- they really hold some presence and look great in a grouping!  

Lastly I have some new wheel-thrown vase designs I have been working on.  It has been nice to try out new forms and play with the herringbone pattern or colour dip pattern on them! These are ooak vases and perhaps at some point I would make a mould of them, but for now, I am enjoying the variety of them.  Slip-casting some of my work frees me up to explore new forms on the wheel and also new glazing designs, so there have been some big advantages for me to move into that direction, especially with vases.  On the other hand, I have spent the week on the wheel, throwing teapots and bowls, and I would never dream of slip-casting those pieces.  It's nice to still see the throwing lines in a bowl or on the inside of a teapot and I still cherish making these items in this way.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

finding a new home

To say that finding a new place to live has been challenging is a bit of an understatement.  Vancouver is a city where the high cost of real estate creates a seriously competitive rental market at high rental costs.  Needless to say, it's gotten worse then the last time we were looking for a place to rent, which was 7 years ago.  The price for what we currently have been renting is about $1000 more and now we were looking for a bit more space.  Since our current home has been for sale, the deadline that I originally had requested for us to be able to stay until the end of the school year had been closing in on us.  It was high time we finally found a new place to live.

So I'm happy to report that the long search is over!  We found a place this past weekend in East Vancouver close to the PNE that's a little similar to our current situation.  We will be renting the main and top floor of a house with the landlady having stuff in the basement suite but not really living there.  The square footage is bigger then our place, but still has 3 bedrooms.  We won't have the yard or view we have had, but there is a great back patio and a cute front porch, with really friendly neighbours and big beautiful oak trees lining the streets.  I can boast about the high ceilings, nice mouldings with a couple of beautiful windows, 1.5 bathrooms (that's up .5 from now!),  and a huge dining room.  There are also lots of parks nearby for the boys, and it's a closer commute to the studio, so at this point, I'm overlooking the really old terrible carpet (over hardwood???) and nasty peel-n-stick laminate that really never should have happened in a heritage home like this.  We don't move in until June 15 and I'm already scheming a way to cover over some of the backsplash or sub-in light fixtures. 

The decision to rent again was a tough one.  We are easily paying rent that's equivalent to monthly mortgage payments.  I recently read the book Rent vs. Own by Jane Hodges, which takes into consideration a lot of the rise and falls of the real estate market in the US.  I really appreciated her honest approach to what the true cost of owning is.  The average person usually can't afford to buy where they really want to live, so they opt for longer commutes and less desirable neighbourhoods or housing in order to buy a place.  While ideally owning a home is an investment, the recent housing market crashes have shown us that it's only an investment if you are able to buy low and sell high- which really only happens when a person is able to hold onto a property for an extended period of time, riding the waves of the high and low markets.  Of course there are a wack of other considerations to make, but all in all, Dean and I felt like we weren't ready to move away in order to afford to buy place that suited our family's needs quite yet.  We felt like we needed a couple more years here in the city to sort through what that move would look like for us in the future. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I took my camera for a walk

I must admit that having my camera with me has become much too infrequent of late.  The i-phone is just too easy to use sometimes and I have often neglected taking real photos.  Yesterday night we all went for a walk, the boys brought along a neighbour friend to play soccer with and I walked around taking pictures.  The kitty at the bottom belongs to a neighbour and made me miss our little Amber. Doesn't she look like little A? Hmm, almost time for another kitty.  Anyways, it felt really good to be creative with something other then ceramics!

It's been an extremely busy few months for me, filling a number of larger and diverse orders for shops and galleries.  I'm thankful to have shipped off the last order for spring, just as I head out to Winnipeg tomorrow to visit a dear friend, some family, and stop by the Woodlands Gallery for a meet & greet the artist.  I grew up in Winnipeg until I was 14 and went back to visit often until I spent 1 year going to college/Uni when I was 19.  It was a place I called 'home' throughout my teens because we had moved for reasons that weren't my own.  I wrote countless letters to friends, trying to keep in touch despite moving quite far away.  It's kind of amazing to still be in touch with many of my elementary school friends via Facebook these days.  I'm looking forward to doing some good catching up over the next few days, celebrating my bff's birthday and connecting with some family too.  It will be a much needed break from the studio and probably a good walk down memory lane too;)!