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Making Templates

I have a favorite template. You can see it in a lot of the plates that I post.

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Since it’s a favorite, I need to have it in more than one size. I started out making a smaller shape for a tiny bowl. I started with a cutout like you see above and folded it in half where the design met up and then in half again – you can see how simple this design shape really is

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Then, I simply cut off about 3/4 of an inch keeping with the design. It could be drawn first but I just cut away.
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Making it bigger takes a little more effort and there are 2 methods. The first is one that never really works well for me but I know others might have success with it. Sometimes it depends on the shapes you are copying. I lay out the pattern and trace around it then using a compass, draw a line out. This wasn’t big enough so I drew one more time. You can see the design got distorted.

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To fix that, I drew lines straight out from the major design points and then re-sketched my design so I could have more crisp hills. Then I cut around the piece leaving a little bit around the edges. I just needed to be able to match it all up.

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I folded just like I did with the first piece and in cutting I cleaned up any non-symmetrical issues.

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For my final even bigger template, I folded a large piece of paper into quarters like I did with this one, Then traced the design on there, marked my points of interest, measured out the increasing distance on those points and drew my shape. It was easier because I only had to draw one quarter of the final plate template.

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Voila! I have 4 different sizes of matching plates/bowls now.

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Soon I’ll show you what I’ve been making from each of these sizes…. that is if you haven’t already sneaked a peek from my Instagram.

My Life is Color

I spend a lot of time with color. With fiber and with pottery. It’s all about color with me. Not that I don’t like the natural look of clay or of a fine fleece, I just want to add a bunch of different naturals together at least. Really though, I’d rather paint it all.

This is a big reason why dipped glaze stoneware didn’t capture my attention for the long term. Sure I could have painted on it but majolica has always been a love of mine. I spend a lot of time thinking about color.

If I’m not painting fiber
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or pots…
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I’m painting watercolors…
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or I’m just searching around looking for landscapes pictures.
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Anything that will inspire me.
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Not necessarily to inspire me to paint that picture exactly.
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It’s all about the colors themselves that I can translate into some other piece.
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Nature just seems to get it right, even when the colors are just value changes.
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Then & Now – Serenity

There was a paint design that I always called Serenity. Most of the designs I had were plain descriptive or about the main flower/animal that showed up in them. For some reason, even if it was mostly what I said in my head, I called this design Serenity.

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Last year I decided to bring this pattern out and add sheep to it. I’ve mostly only been painting sheep mugs for the past few years but I had a smidge more time on my hands and I wanted a more elaborate sheep pattern.

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You can see even though I was using the same paints that the style had already started to change. Well, it’s changed even more now. I’m not sure I’d even call it by the same name but to me it’s got a similar feel.

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In the past I worked to obliterate all notice of white in the designs. Now I really am embracing it more. This design may still morph some and more of the white might be lost but for now I love the shabby chic feel of it. Its not my usual style and maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it. It’s a little more subtle than I usually am.

Mug Shapes

These are the 3 main mug shapes I used to make and they were all really shapely.

The paintings and sketches I’ve been doing require a more flat painting surface. I’ve been playing around with a bunch of different shapes and sizes. I’ll weigh out my clay and then see what happens at the wheel. Sometimes, my hands just make what it remembers…
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And the rest of the time I make what I know I want.
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Sometimes I do the same shape in different sizes to see what really is the right size for the right shape.
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The shapes are all ideas but they don’t really seat themselves as a style until I do a series of them. I’ll take my favorite shapes and make a series. I weigh out the clay I need and make 5-10 of the same mug. Somewhere in that line a shape will show itself.
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It’s similar to the original test though it may not be exact. I’ll work this way for all of my favorites and then we’ll see what emerges. In the past I get really hooked into one style and stick to that. Right now I’m thinking I want to do 2-4 styles depending on the painting I want to do. It might be possible that one mug shape gets only one style of painting. I have to get working in multiples to see what emerges and what works best. There will likely be a lot of one offs and super limited  pieces coming.

 

Changing Clay

This is the second time in my potter’s life that I’ve changed clay colors. I worked in tan stoneware for 2 years before switching to the white earthenware that I used for about 8 years or so. That switch wasn’t too bad. I mean, I worked in the stoneware and went to shows and all but I hadn’t really hit a production stride so I didn’t have a lot of equipment to wash.

When I was doing the white earthenware I was doing up to 16 shows in a year and producing a lot of pottery. I had 2 wheels, an extruder and a slab roller. That’s not even to mention all the little tools and the batts.
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So many batts.
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Slowly I’m undertaking cleaning the white off of everything. Filling a sink (that has no warm water, only cold) and washing it all is a trudge. I was about half way through cleaning these 60 batts when I started to regret my choice in doing them all at once.
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Now that they’re all done, I’m pretty happy I persevered.
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I didn’t say I did a good job but it’s good enough. The only price to pay when I don’t do an impeccable job is a little bit of white on the pots. I’m doing majolica so everything but the foot is dipped in white. This makes me feel confident in my haphazard cleaning. imaslob
Maybe I’ll work on the tools next. Yes, I like to splash my clay around. When I get singing while I work I sometimes forget I have clay covered hands and I might gesture a bit…. now you know.

 

Broken bits

My daughter’s cat was living in the kiln room while he recuperated. He was a feral rescue that came to us in pretty poor shape but as you can see, he’s doing quite well now and we’ve moved him into the house at the farm.
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I can reclaim that room as a safe space for pottery. I only share the kiln room with the turtle.

This is all very good as the turtle doesn’t break things. The cat broke teapots and mugs and things started to be stored on the floor and in corners that I didn’t think he would pull things down from. The last thing the cat broke really chapped my hide. It was 12 spoons. Twelve. The whole box. I thought they were safe but I was clearly wrong.

As luck would have it, I needed new glaze testing pieces so some of the pieces will be put to use.
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Sometimes it’s about making lemonade out of lemons.

Making tools.

A couple of years after I started my hiatus from the potter’s wheel, my husband took over my studio space with an office. All of my tools and equipment (except the extruder, that’s still hanging on the wall of his office for some reason) got packed up. Some of it hastily and well, things broke. Rubber ribs don’t last forever and neither did some of my more delicate tools that I’ve made from recycled materials.

I’m working at replacing things. Namely all my “ribs” made from hotel cards. I used to save these for the kids to play “store”. This past year I decided not to turn in cards a few times when checking out for pottery tools.

They’re handy. As I need a new shape, I have a card sitting there to cut up as needed. One for smoothing different shapes. One for the slabs fresh out of the slab roller. One for smoothing edges. As I settle into new shapes for mugs and bowls, I’ll cut up more to make smoothing those shapes easier. I particularly like the little keyfob cards.
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They’re a little fussy when your hands are slippery but they work well getting into small spots or smoothing little bits at a time.