Monday, April 30, 2012

So many blues, so little time...

Hello and happy day-before May!! It's exciting and a little daunting that it's May already; only one month until our show opens.  This week is my final week for any wet-work to get finished up- most of the work will get bisqued later this week and then it's all about the glazing, baby.  And all about the blues.  I tell ya, I'll be singing the blues for the next few weeks, but it'll be all worth it.  I promise!

Speaking of testing blue glazes,  Krystal and I have started a 'kindred' blog and a Facebook page for more info.   The blog was created to show the process and background to creating work for the show, but I'll be sure to mention a few things here too.

The main concept for 'kindred' came about as I 'met' Krystal online, thinking that her work came from a similar sensibility and process to mine, while being completely different and unique to Krystal.  I felt our work was 'kindred' and knew we had to bring our work together in some way.  So, with the encouragement of Arounna, who generously offered Bookhou as a place to hold our show, we all met together, about a year ago now.  In the meantime, lots has been happening- I got the big Anthro order, we all have had our share of press, shows, sales and other bits of business to keep us hopping over the last year.  Big sigh, and here we are in May and the show is only 1 month away.  So exciting- we'd love you to join in the kindred spirit of it all, so please, come by and please do say 'hello'!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I think it's pretty clear that my work is handmade by myself. It's written all over my website and shop, as well as documented here on my blog.  But I can't assume that everyone would know or understand this just from looking at my work, or from seeing it online.  Context and descriptions are pretty important.
So when I was informed early this week that my work was part of a slideshow put together by the Wall Street Journal who had written an article about Etsy policing shops that are resellers or factory made items, I was a little concerned.   I felt a little wary of how my work fit into the article- were they questioning whether my work was handmade or was my work the poster-child of Etsy for being handmade.  It was, frankly, hard to tell.  The side-bar caption merely said (it's been changed now fyi) 'as sold by Dahl Haus on Etsy', along with a prelude sentence describing the new software Etsy is developing to catch factory shops.  Besides the obvious name being misspelled, it just sounded wrong.  There were about 4 shops, (only 3 remain) out of millions of Etsy shops that were highlighted.  It was a bit hard to tell why we were up there, with descriptions like 'Neat, but is it handmade?' below the image. 
Recently there was a featured seller that was exposed for not being completely up-front with how her work was made, and where she was actually sourcing her work from.  There's been a huge Regretsy write-up on it, and the comments got so slanderous in the featured seller comment section that Etsy shut it all down.  (Not gonna link here- don't feel it's necessary to fuel the fire, so to speak)
I don't mean to be super specific about how my work gets represented, but I took issue with how this article represented my work.  I have work in Anthropologie, sitting side-by-side factory made ceramics.  It's already confusing to the average consumer how my work is made.  I don't need someone googling my name and coming up with this article, then wondering whether it's made in China or not.
There were some changes made and some suggestions not taken, but I feel over-all, it represents my work better then it did.  I've never said I was a 'design firm' (click through 'correction' if you are curious) and I certainly do more then just design the work on my Etsy shop.  I don't want to nit-pick at this point, and feel ready to move on.
Along with some explanation from the folks at Etsy with how the image ended up at the WSJ in the first place and an apology that I wasn't asked before it got posted, I feel a lot better about the whole thing now.  Having worked so extremely hard in the studio this past year to make my work, I wasn't about to let my bottle vases get misrepresented or some 'factory' get credit for making my work. I don't think I over-reacted given my reasoning, and the response from friends and family on my personal facebook page.  Most people who initially read the article and captions were as confused as I was about why my image was used.

Monday, April 23, 2012


We all got to meet my new nephew this past weekend and it was pretty special, especially, for Johnny.  Johnny is a month shy of 10 and most days he is like most typical 9-10 year olds; self-focused, always hungry, has heaps of energy, and annoyingly teases his younger brother until someone ends up crying. 

But get him to hold his new baby cousin, or to read a book to Oliver, who is 2, and I get a glimpse of a soft-hearted guy who is going to grow up to be amazing with kids someday.  I was really proud of him this weekend, for taking lots of time to snuggle and bond with Jacob, who is a month old now.  Feels like only yesterday I was flying to his birth.  Mind you, it doesn't feel that long ago that I held Johnny in my arms like this.  Crazy how fast time flies with kids around!

Friday, April 20, 2012

End of the week round-up

Happy Friday to you!

I've been in the studio this week working (specifically wheel-throwing) with a beautiful, but expensive porcelain.  I have had some mis-haps clay-wise lately that have me reconsidering which clay I use, however at double the price per box, this clay will have to be reserved for special occasions.  I'm conserving all parts of it- it just feels too precious to waste.  I'll show you some samples soon- I've been making espresso and latte cups again, which is always fun.  Haven't done that for a while, but recently had some new motivation.  Apparently a potter friend of mine sent one of my short latte mugs to her niece in Australia, and got a message from her brother who was wondering why she only sent one of my mugs their way.  The family has now been fighting about who gets to use it in the mornings because it fits so nice under the espresso machine and it's so lovely to use.  Such nice feed-back, heh?

We will be celebrating my dad's 65th birthday, spending time with my little nephews and hopefully doing some more gardening over the weekend if the weather can be sunny and nice.  The boys have gotten into wanting to buy plants as 'pets' these days- which I am pretty excited about.  I think a pet plant is a great way to go (along with our cat), so even though all our neighbours have new puppies, we will stick to growing our cactus collection.   

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New ways of working

Hello there, mid-week already! Where is the time flying off to again??

I'm devoting the next little bit of time to preparing for my show in Toronto (coming up in June). The first samples of some ideas I am working on came out of the kiln on the weekend.  It's work in process- and my kiln fired a bit too hot, so the japanese transfer design is hard to make out, and the edges are very fuzzy.  Oh dear.  There is something really lovely about soft edges and fuzzy designs, but here it's a little too far gone.

Besides the japanese cobalt transfer decals (that little rectangular blue variegated part that goes over the lip of the mug above), I'm also trying out 2 other 'newish' to me ideas glaze-method-wise. One is using underglaze dots for the center of my flowers, the other is drawing into the glaze with wax overtop and then adding a glaze in that line to fill it.  That outer blue fuzzy line would be an example of this idea.  It's kind of like a Mishima technique using glaze.  I'm having a bit of trouble controlling both the carving into the glaze surface, and then adding the other glaze to fill that line.  It certainly calls for a really simple drawing, perhaps not too complicated, which suits the way I work.  I'm not quite sure how much I will use it, but I do like it on this mug. I think it's kind of lovely.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the studio sale this past weekend.  It went really well- was nice to catch up with studio mates and clear out the studio for this next phase of making.  I'm so looking forward to doing a sale like this in spring each year, it's such a great plan.

**Well, it seems I may never get to the rest of my NCECA images after-all.  To be honest, the photos don't all do the work justice- some of the lighting in galleries is just so bad, so I've decided it's just time to keep on moving on blog-wise.

Friday, April 13, 2012

filming dahlhaus

So this week has clearly gotten away on me on the 'ol blog...! I got all busy sending off my newsletter to let people know about the studio sale this weekend (please come if you are in Vancouver!!), the latest bit of press that's come my way, and some new shops that I just dropped work off.   So I didn't quite make it to finishing up my NCECA posts like I had planned this week.  That's the way it goes sometimes- there's lots to juggle around these parts and sometimes I have to let some things slide so that other things can get finished.

... Like the video that I've been working on with Evan Bourque, who worked on last year's winning skateboard video with Skate Camp.  He came by the studio early in February to shoot me making work, and it has taken 2 months to find a time to finish up the last bit of filming at home. I was able to watch an edited version of the video so far and I'm super excited to have it ready to show soon! Except for this final bit of finished work being used at my home, the studio was shot without a lot of staging- it's very non-fussy, which is what I wanted.  I think there is something seemingly glamorous or ideal about being a maker, when in actual fact, there's a lot of messy and hard work that goes into making.  So hopefully this demystifies things a little. 

Along those lines I'm also a little nervous that I might be giving too much away in a video, mostly about my process.  Ceramics is a very 'sharing' kind of craft- there are always people giving workshops and tutorials about their process and methods.  I'm trusting that people who watch my process will be inspired to do their own thing rather then jumping on how I make.  Trust me, it ain't as easy as it looks ;-)! 

One last reminder- if you are in Vancouver and want to come by for some super-good deals at the studio- I'll be at 975 (up-stairs) Vernon Drive along with the lovely Claire Madill from heyday designs.  There are a few more peeps down the hall with some more lovely hand-made goodness!  Please stop by and say hello!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring on the farm

We made a trip out to the family farm this last weekend to visit the folks and to check out the new chicks that have arrived.  It's an appropriate season for chicks- they are so soft and cute at this stage with little hands holding them gingerly.

I recently read the book 'Animal Vegetable Miracle'- have you read it?  It's about a family that lives off their land/buys local food for a whole year- meaning no bananas, chocolate and pineapples etc.  While they couldn't quite give up their coffee (neither could I) and bought fair trade coffee from a local roaster, they did manage to produce an amazing amount of food for the whole year.  It sounds as though it took up a lot of their time; planting gardens, raising turkeys, making sure they did all the canning and freezing when they had an abundance of certain veggies.  It was also really inspiring.  As my own boys' appetites get larger and our grocery bill has climbed over the last couple of years, I get a little depressed walking through the grocery store.  How will we be able to sustain our family through the teen years?  'Organic' everything is just so expensive, it seems like it's out of our tax bracket.  And yet, I am increasingly becoming aware of what kinds of farming practices are being used and how we as consumers can make a difference. 

Which is why this family farm has become really important to us.  Not only do our folks raise beef and chicken for food on their land, but also the garden, berry patch and greenhouse manage to fill up our freezer too- as long as we go over and help with some of the planting, digging and weeding.  It's a great trade-off and I'm hoping we can make the 1 hour (sometimes more) drive to the farm a little more often over the next few months.  There's lots to do!

I hope you have a very Happy Easter!  We have lots of family stuff planned so we are looking forward to that.  I'll try to wrap up my NCECA posts next week- I have some great work I'd love to introduce on the blog that is really inspiring to me, so I hope you will stop by for that!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Studio Sale

I do hope you have been enjoying finding out about some amazing ceramic artists from my time in Seattle! I'm taking a break to let you know about a spring studio sale that's happening with a select few of us in the building.  I have been part of this annual event before and it's been the perfect place to pick up a few locally made and designed gifts for birthdays, Mother's Day, and weddings that always seem to take us by storm over the next few months.  Anyways, I'll be joining one of the studios upstairs in our building and am hoping to have a bit of new work that I'm aiming to have out of the kiln by then.  Of course there will be a little bit of clearing out with some seconds and samples. If you are from Vancouver, please come by and say hello!

Saturday April 14, Sunday April 15 11-6 at 975 Vernon Drive, Vancouver

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ceramic Crush at the La Mesa table #1

The 'La Mesa' exhibit was full of amazing tableware! Naturally I was quite taken with Ursula Hargens' work, which was new to me and most reminded me of some of my own floral designs and methods of glazing.  Isn't it pretty with it's lovely folk-art florals? So cheerful and fresh in earthenware with coloured slips underneath the glaze design.  To find out a little more about her method of glazing, check out this article on Ceramics Arts Daily, along with a little more visuals on the Schaller Gallery website.

Donna Polseno's square plates were beautifully glazed in a matt black and yellow combination that worked well together.  With her practice divided into both sculpture and functional pottery, these pots seem like blank canvases for her beautiful glaze designs.  More on her work at the Plinth Gallery and an interview about her practice where you find out that at one point she changed gears in the medium and her previous galleries and clients basically dropped the new work flat out.  Somehow she persevered with the new work and got through it- she just felt she needed to move on.  Very inspiring and thought provoking read...
 Hearkening me back to the 70's (in a good way), Mark Cole's work reminded me of West German pottery with it's matt drippy glazes and abstract designs in shades of brown. I also loved the shape of this wheel-thrown bowl, which would look amazing on a teak side-table full of walnuts with a nut-cracker inside.  Takes a person back, doesn't it?  Anyways, to find more of his great pots, along with his mammoth-sized mugs, perfect for those who love large mugs of coffee (and have big hands too), there are a few on the Red Lodge Clay Centre website.  
And last for this La Mesa post, is the work of Kirk Lyttle, who's work is a playful take on traditional wood-fired (?some info says salt-fired, but it looks more wood-fired to me...) ceramics.  While this year's theme at NCECA should have been titled 'The year of the bunny' (seriously the number of rabbits as sculpture or decoration was a bit staggering), I was totally smitten with his little cartoon story book illustrations with just the right amount of engobes, slip, and flashing to make me smile. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

NCECA crush: Linda Lopez

Linda Lopez combined ceramic sculptures with paintings on paper in such a lovely and inventive way.  It's also a bit of a no-brainer that I would fall in love with her work- the simple abstract curvy repeated shapes both on paper and in a ceramic scuptural form were right up my alley.   The mostly white and grey palette with hits of pinks- both this orange/neon pink colour and a very soft pale pink, are really very hot and fresh colours right now.  Of course I was loving the cactus scuptures in matt grey- what's not to love?  And finally, the seemingly random, yet considered installation of the work altogether; little pink pebbles on the floor with loosely placed paper pinned sometimes in groups to the wall; a long sculpture made to hold up a framed painting that doesn't line up perfectly.  These are the details I couldn't get enough of. 

See more of her work at The Clay Studio here
(Please excuse the 'meh' photos that don't do this work justice.  A lot of the exhibits in the Seattle Design Centre were lit by pot-lights.  This work would look so stunning in a home with natural light casting different shadows depending on where the window would be, don't you think?)

Ceramic Crush: Lorna Meaden

 It should really come as no surprise that I would fall in love with the work of Lorna Meaden.  What's not to love about stripes and drippy glazes and soda-fired ceramics?  With a great earthy palette, and some wonderful use of metal components (check out the flasks!), her work felt wonderful being held and picked up and I'm sure would have soon become a favourite in someone's home.

***Apparently Meaden will be here in Vancouver doing a workshop as part of the Clay Symposium 2013, along with an amazing line-up of other presenters.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Post NCECA 2012

La Mesa, Santa Fe Clay

The amazing selection of mugs for sale

A small exhibit of ceramics at Pottery Northwest

The first exhibit we went to at the Kirkland Art Studio
 To say going to my first NCECA was overwhelming was an understatement.  I'm scrolling through the photos I took, wondering how to organize the next week of posts and have decided to create a few 'ceramic crush' posts as a start- just featuring work I saw from ceramic artists that were new to me or people's work I feel that I have a new appreciation for having now seen the work in person.  Ceramics is such a tactile craft and I enjoyed thoroughly the process of being able to touch and feel a lot of amazing pots.  On the other hand, I was really impressed with the level of sculpture and installation ceramics out there- often times this kind of work doesn't resonate quite as strongly with me.  It's astounding at the level of diversity that one medium creates with each person's own hand, skill level and interests, so it was really amazing to see ceramic artists pushing the medium in all directions.