Thursday, January 29, 2009

the big reveal...well, sort of...

Well, here it is, my new studio more or less set up as a very functional space! There's lots of storage and the best part is that I now have floor space. I'll try to 'decorate' soon, but I have all these paintings moving on out again (to a boutique on Main st. called Luscious), and pots to make. I'm not sure my work space will ever be featured in a design magazine, frankly. It is, after all, where I make a lot of stuff. And with that process in mind, I offer you the best photos I have so far of a place that will be well-used!

Some Newbies out of the Kiln!

My first firing of the new year wasn't a complete disaster. As you may have read from previous posts, I am a part of a clay co-operative at the Mergatroid Building . One of the perks about this studio is that I haven't yet had to buy a kiln. We all share 2 kilns that the land-lord bought for the co-op. So one is a smaller, but very reliable Skutt computer kiln- ie you plug in your firing schedule, and walk away, come back and everything is as it should be when you open it the next day. It fires off evenly and quickly. The other is an old Gare kiln with a pernikity computer that seems to have a mind of it's own. I've only been using this kiln for bisques lately because I didn't want to risk a huge kiln load of work to the kiln gods, so to speak. It is larger- basically fitting in twice as much as the other kiln.
So, this year, with 3 new people adding to the roster of firings, the small kiln is in much demand. I am determined to figure out this big kiln and thought that January would be a good month to risk it. So, risk it I did. I loaded it full of 3 orders that I had, plus extra work I needed to get out for my own stuff and turned it on. Probably should have come back around 1 am to see what the temp was, but my life is just not made for that kind of committment. It took over a day to cool down and it was fired quite a bit hotter than it should have. Thank goodness my clay and glazes can, for the most part, withstand it. There were definately some droopy, fuzzy poppies among the bunch. A few of my bottle vases didn't make the cut, and 1 large bowl had a teeny, tiny blister on the inside that is quite annoying.
However, I do think I have the kiln slightly figured out. My settings will be much lower than the cone I'm firing to next time, and I am making a mental not as to where I load stuff as the bottom is way cooler than the top.
So lessons learned, not a complete disaster, and thank goodness everything for my orders turned out well!

Monday, January 26, 2009


Oh it is fun to be blog-worthy! Design for Mankind picked 16 (out of like 1000) items off the Paper 'n Stitch site as their fav's and my Poppy Teapot was one of them! How exciting!
And if you haven't done so already, click on over here, sign in up in the corner, and click on my heart! It's much like a high school popularity contest, but whoever wins for the month gets $150! I could really use a new pair of shoes...

Lego crazy!

Life at home includes lego and lots of it. We are in much anticipation of the lego exhibition at Science World and have made lego creations to win prizes for the 'ages 1-6' category. I was a little curious about the one year old competitor. Quite an inclusive competition, if you ask me!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A little hand-made lovin' for Valentines Day!

I've worked hard for the past 3 weeks renewing my 'stock' and am in the midst of firing my first glaze load of the New Year! So one of the things I've worked on again are these bottle vases, which would make a really great Valentines gift, by the way!
Here is a little demonstration on how bottle vases get made: first I throw these bottle forms without a bottom on the wheel, and then, after they have dried over night and after making the bottom part oval, I attach a new base onto the bottom. I use this super-high-tech tool that I made myself out of a yogurt container, with a little cut for the shape of the base (see photo above! Nifty- hey? Works like a charm, and pretty cheap!) So the big question here would be: Why go through that much work to oval it off? Well, because I really like glazing, and I have more room to glaze the vases if there are some flatter sides!
So once the forms have been finished, dried out- slowly, fired in the kiln for their first firing, I get to glazing them!
Heather's Glaze Demo 101:
Day 1: pour glaze inside bottle forms and wax the bottom of the pot (so it doesn't stick to the kiln shelf), let dry over night.
Day 2: hand-cut my resist design, place on pot, paint glaze on parts, wax, let dry, dip one side into one glaze, dip other side into other glaze, paint stems, wax around resist, let dry over night.
Day 3: peel off resist, wipe with sponge and touch up funny spots, paint 2 different glazes on design (ie paint the poppies red or peach!), clean up bottom again, load into kiln.
Day 4: fire in kiln for 10-12 hours.
Day 5: let cool. Open lid and see what turned out!
So think about it.. wouldn't the love of your life deserve a little hand-made love at Valentines Day this year!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Paper'n Stitch Exhibition Opens Today!

click HERE to see my shop!
Check out the great work on Paper'nStitch, including my friend Amy's work at downhomeamy! Don't we make a great pair! Match up one of her great tea cozies with one of my teapots- how cute is that! Or the little cocktail napkins with some teabowls for serving guests! Really sweet!
Don't forget to login so you can leave comments and click on 'hearts' of the shops you like. Sellers that get the most heart clicks in a month get prizes. Speaking of which, there is a contest you may want to put your name in for that closes tonight! Happy browsing!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This weekend we went to Vancouver Island to visit my sister and her husband. We went for a frosty walk along a frozen lake. It was so beautiful with the sun shining in spots and the frost in the shade that sometimes it took my breath away...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shopping Around...

One of my new 'resolutions' for working smarter, not harder in 2009 inclues upping my on-line sales this year. I've been more deliberate about my etsy site since September and it has started to pay off. However, I'm not getting the kind of traffic on etsy that I really need. I have a few itemes that have over 200 hits, but it seems that not a lot of people are finding my store. Finding stores on etsy is like finding a needle in a haystack sometimes, there is so much stuff to be seen. So this past week I went shop-shopping.

Now, if you will notice on the side of my blog, I have a link to my new online shop! It will be my 'staple' shop and contain the most popular items I make. What I like about the layout is that it really looks like an extension of my website. I invite you to stop by and have a look!
(I have to put this clause in here... if you do shop, which I always encourage people to do, there will be a little bit of a 'wait time' on your order for some things which are 'in process' still, but which will be ready to ship by the end of the month!)

Furthermore, starting January 19th through February 20th my work is going to be featured on a great site called Paper 'n Stitch! I'm quite excited about the promotion- it's a beautiful site that features up to 50 designers, makers, and artists from all over the world, for one month. The site links the work up to my new shop where people can actually make a purchase!

I will still have my etsy site up and running, but it will be for the extras, sales, samples and seconds too. It's always worth checking out- I often have sweet deals there!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

working smarter, not harder..

My head is often swimming with ideas of what I need to do, what I want to do, what I could do, and how I'm going to do it. My mental list is way longer than I can feasibly keep track of especially at the beginning of the year when I am supposed to be wrapping up my year end from this past year and planning for the next year. So what is a girl to do? Procrastinate. Yup. That's what last week was all about. This week, I have got to start moving again. This is more of a pep to myself than anything, I have to admit.
I have a lot of great shows in the works for this next year: I've booked myself into 2 local Portobello West weekends here in Vancouver: The March opener, and then I'll be back there in December for the Holiday weekend. I'm also going to be in Calgary with Portobello West on the Mother's Day weekend- I'm really looking forward to this one! I'm in a group show for Paintings at the Chapel Arts in March, I have a solo show at the BC Gallery of Ceramics coming up in July, I'm undecided about a show possibility in October, then there's the Crawl in November, and Portobello in December. I'm looking at a really busy year without even considering my retail and gallery work that needs to get out regularily. So, yeah, working smarter not harder might need to be my motto for this coming year. Otherwise I'm going to be 'dabbling' in the land of burn-out!
I've also got a few new things I'm looking forward to making this year. If you know my work and have been following it at all you will know that I like to keep moving, changing, and adding new work to my collections. I'll certainly keep going on some of the favourite designs, but will have a few new things up my sleeve for this year that I'll keep you all posted on!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Kissing cousins and Ceramic twins..

This morning as I rushed through my usual computer stuff, checking emails etc. I happened upon a website of European Craft artists called Craft2Eu and was immediately struck with what I saw! London ceramic artist Sophie Cook's (image #4 at bottom) gorgeous bottle forms that very closely resemble an american ceramic artist Sara Paloma's (image #3) bottle forms, which I have so often admired. Then scrolling down to another artist I also noticed UK's Annette Buganski's knit inspired cups which really look a lot like american ceramic artist Alyssa Ettinger's knitware line of work (image #1). My studio-mate Lise Kuhr found her ceramic twin last year when she opened a Ceramics Review and saw a very close copy of her ring platters made by a Korean artists. Hmmm...
It happens. People do come up with similar ideas. Perhaps it just means this work is really that great- so great that more than one person is making it. Perhaps the internet is just making us more aware of how small a world we do live in and how trends do effect what we make and how we do it. I don't want to jump to the conclusion that one person was inspired directly by the other here since the work is all really simple, lovely and extremely well done. However, I kind of feel like it is somewhat of a shame that they might be making really similar work as it could seem like someone was being a 'copy cat'.
Recently a new studio-mate moved into the studio and she makes jewelry that happens to be really similar to the jewelry I make. I have to be honest and say that I don't really feel like making my jewelry anymore. It no longer interests me the way it did when I thought I was the only one making it the way I was making it. There is something psychological that drives someone to keep at what they are doing when they are under the impression they have something new to offer. When you can no longer 'own' what you do in some way, you feel as though it isn't worth making any longer. Which can also be a good thing, pushing you as an artist to making new things and striving for new creative goals.
Anyways, it was food for thought. If the fashion industry can have multiple designers making the same clothes, surely this world is big enough for some kissing cousin in the ceramic realm. I'm on the look-out for my ceramic twin- if anyone finds one, let me know. (And yes, I have seen some poppies on clay out there, that doesn't quite count...)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A new year: a new home for dahlhaus!

2009! A new year. I'm sitting here thinking about what I want this year to look like, dreaming a little, hoping for good things. Already things are moving in a new direction. My new studio is moved into. Not set up yet, but moved into. I am looking forward to getting organized, but also just having both my studios in one place, all to myself.
For the past couple of years I have been sharing my space with a host of different artists and craftspeople in a few different studio spaces. This past year I had two studios: a painting space at 1000 Parker St, and a really tiny clay space in the clay co-operative at the Mergatroid building. I am now moving into a larger space, just down the hall from my old clay space at the Mergatroid, my preferred building. I have great ceramic neighbours to chat with on a daily basis, but my working space is my own and I am really looking forward to that! I hope to plan a spring studio open house, I guess ' open-haus' would be more appropriate, sometime after I get settled.
Speaking of house, we are also taking over the basement of our home, which, until this time, has been storage for our landlord. Space in Vancouver is at such a premium. It is such a luxury and is also really great to know we have a little more room for our family to grow up in. The basement is a little bachelor suite with a full kitchen and bathroom- we are thinking we would like to rent it out for the Olympics in 2010.
So I am dreaming about the possibilities of these new spaces at home and for my work and hoping for a great year with many new possibilities and opportunities, roads to travel down and good people to meet. It's a good way to start a new year, don't you think?