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Find me more frequently for the time being at Folk-Art-Life.


Studio Time: A lil' more sharing

Just another tidbit of what I've been working on this semester. I know I've been in a lot of directions but I just don't know where to park yet. Tonight I'm going to the studio to top these off with a couple coats of clear, glossy low-fire.  They've got to get in the kiln maƱana!  Can't wait to get everything out of the kilns and assembled.  Woot!

Kuraoka Says to Know: Kurt Weiser





Kurt Weiser is crazy talented.  I haven't even stepped anywhere close to the world of china paints... I don't have the patience that takes.  Thank goodness Weiser does because his pieces are so wonderful!

(images via Bellevue Arts, Ferrin Gallery, American Craft Magazine; portrait via Arizona State University)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Isn't this photo hilarious? It reminds me of the turkeys I grew up with.  Especially one named Handsome.  He was the pet of all turkeys.  You see, he came to our house when he was a baby with a mate, a little baby girl turkey.  They grew up quite fond of each other and were never seen apart until one day Handsome's girlfriend died. Turkeys don't have a naturally long life. After that he became very lonely.  He had nobody to cluck around the garden with or snuggle up to at night.  That's when he started following my mom around the yard.  Hey, he thought, she's a pretty bird.  Over a couple weeks he fell madly in love with my mother.  He never left her side when she would cluck about the yard pulling weeds and picking up dog piles.  Every time she went back inside he would stand patiently waiting at whichever of the back doors she disappeared into.  He was so loyal a bird.  At times he even snuck in behind her when the door was left open.  She would turn about in the bathroom to the shock of Handsome staring up at her quite like the bird in the photograph above. The trouble came with the rains.  You see, turkeys don't have much sense about them.  You've heard the tale that a turkey will drown in the rain by looking up with his beak open for the water, yes? Well, I've never known an actual bird this happened to but it was nonetheless disconcerting to watch Handsome waiting there as the December rains set in.  My mother began to worry he would catch cold and die.  Then she worried that he missed her.  Then she worried about the heartbreak that started this whole situation.  Eventually my mother began to leave the door to the mudroom open.  She would lay down old sheets over the Italian tile that spanned from the mudroom through the family room, to catch the droppings.  My mother is eccentric but she wasn't about to let her imported tiles see ruin for some lovesick bird.  Anyway, this is how it happened that the whole family would congregate in the family room on evenings and weekends watching Law and Order marathons with a giant meat bird clucking about our feet and occasionally mounting our legs.  Hey, can't blame a fella for trying right?  It happened this way for a couple years about, till one Thanksgiving while my mom was in Montana preparing for the big move, Handsome became ill.  My grandmother, the animal authority whenever my mom was away, was caring for all the animals one afternoon when  she noticed Handsome was tucked away in a coop not moving.  This was very unlikely for a bird whose greatest joy in life was his human companions. After an emotional discourse with my mother over the phone, my grandmother tucked Handsome in a blanket, no small feat, and drove him to the Humane Society where the veterinarian compassionately explained he would need to be put down.  Considering the absurdity of the situation and the time of year, the staff handled Handsome's case like the case of any other beloved pet.  A day or two later, the press called.  No joke.  The Marin county newspaper wrote a sappy Thanksgiving story that year about my mother's pet turkey, Handosme.  A pretty good way to honor the silly bird.  Anyway, that's what this photograph reminds me of.  And it's a good story, so I thought I'd share.

Hope everyone reading in the states has a wonderful day today full of great food and good friends. Jonas and I are heading over to our friend SaraMitra's cozy home for dinner with friends, some bouts of Scrabble, and fun sing-a-long eighties movies. We're bringing a loaf of cottage herb bread, some spinach and goat cheese risotto, a lovely fall salad, and a gorgeous german cheesecake. I can't wait for the cheesecake. This is the first time I've baked one and I'm on pins and needles to see how it tastes.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Studio Time: a Shino Before & After

Sorry this post is sooooooo image heavy, but they all seemed pretty important.  The images are small for better viewing on the blog, but if you click on them you can see larger images.

This is what happens to shino when you dip it twice in what you think is a very thin shino concoction (too thin in fact) and then realize it was perfect all along and you shouldn't have done two 3-second dips.

It crystalizes. And you think to yourself 'holy crap what happened?' and 'how the heck am I going to load that into the kiln without crushing those delicate formations?' and finally 'damnit. I spent hella hours painting these things and now they're gonna come out really f*cked up.'

Then you get it back from the kiln along with these two pieces: same oxide patterns, same glazing, same firing... And you think to yourself 'at least I got two pretty pieces.'

Then you look inside, and it hurts even more. The insides are perfect and exactly what you wanted to happen on the outside.

But then you sit with them some more. People from your class start picking them up with 'wow, are these yours?' and 'oooh, how'd you do this?' You start to look at your pieces a little more carefully.

You remember what your classmate said about crystals and carbon trapping.  You think 'that's kinda cool.' You remember the magic that happens in the kiln.

You remember last semester when another classmate got a bowl out of the kiln that looked like one of these cups and how gorgeous you thought it was, and how much she hated it.

You start to notice all the details on the cups. The deep kelp greens, the shimmering smokey grays, the freckled salmon... You notice the crazing and the run of the oxide. You notice the gorgeous contrast between the outside and in and the point at which they meet.

Before you know it you've picked your favorite one and decided how you can't wait to give them to the friend you know will love them most, but are slightly sad you can't keep them, too.

The lesson, which many of us know but often forget?  The kiln is a magical place... a place that you can't begin to affect or imagine... it is silly to become attached to the idea of what you think something will be,  and important to be open to all the possible things it could be.

The kiln is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're going to get.

P.S. Sommer Olvia wanted to know how I get these patterns. It is very simple. I paint them on by hand with RIO (red iron oxide) and then dip them in shino. I'm now starting to think spraying might be a better way to go, however.

Free Ceramics Class for Teens

This is so cool... An eight week ceramic class is being held at the Sharon Art Studio for high school students for free! What an awesome opportunity. I wish I new some San Francisco high school students to tell. Maybe someone reading does?

From the website:

Learn basic throwing techniques on the potter’s wheel and a variety of handbuilding methods.
Explore decorating and glazing techniques and participate in the ancient Japanese Raku firing technique. 
Beginners welcome. 
Students must attend 1st class.

class information: 8 weeks

Fridays | 4:00-6:00pm | 1/8-3/5 | code: FTC

(image via Sharon Art Studio website)

Open 4 Discussion: DIY Tools

I stumbled on this list of DIY ceramic tool ideas the other day when trying to figure out if I could make my own slab bevel. Like I said yesterday, I'll take a Dirty Girls slab bevel instead, my time is precious at this point in my life. But this list is neat and I wanted to share it with you.

My favorite tips? Petroleum jelly to slow drying proccess, white glue instead of wax resist in a pinch, and using a toilet brush to mix glazes. Genius.

A couple tips from myself? Floss as a cutting wire in a pinch, attach fishing bobbers to your shammies so they float in your water, wine corks + sewing needles = best scoring tool ever. Actually none of those are my own tips... Just the ones from friends that I love. I'm not that clever.

So it's Open 4 Discussion: Who else has DIY tool secrets they want to share?

(image via Apartment Therapy)

Loren Kaplan

Aren't these lighting fixtures gorgeous? Kaplan and her husband, Anthony Shapiro, also make beautiful pottery in their studio in Johannesburg. Their website has even more photos.

(images via Amoeba Concepts and artist's own website)


Studio Time: An Oxide Story

I'm lazy.

There, I said it.

I'm lazy and hate spending the time making and testing glazes for myself and am known to be seen running up and down the halls of the SFSU ceramics department popping my head into various rooms I really shouldn't to pick the ceramic brains of my fellow students for information I can glean without doing the thinking (or testing) myself.  It got to the point this semester that so many folks said 'I dunno' and 'You should test it' that I was forced to succumb to my own lack of knowledge.

And thank goodness!  After running a test of various oxides under celadon and mixing up some baby batches of green textured low fire glazes and testing those.  I realized there is a whole world available to me that actually isn't that hard to get to.  And it was kinda fun, like cooking.  I can't wait to run more glaze tests next semester... there are so many I want to try.

Anyway... onto the real point of this post.  I want to share my oxide test results with you.  The tea bowl is ^10 porcelain (thrown and donated to the cause by a fellow student), the glaze is the house-recipe celadon, and the kiln was fired to a ^8 reduction. I will list the oxides used under each photo. (Click on the photos for larger views.)

Raw Sienna

Black Stain


Cobalt Carbonate

Chromium Carbonate

Copper Carbonate

Manganese Dioxide

Red Iron Oxide (RIO)

My favorites are the vanadium, copper carbonate, and the manganese dioxide. Of course, all the e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y toxic ones, huh?  I used vanadium and copper carbonate to paint designs under the celadon on a couple of my curvy cups.  We'll see how they come out after Thanksgiving break.  I'm so stoked.

Which ones does everyone else like?

Gimme Tools

I realized that for Christmas I want tools. And an electric Makita power drill would be nice but I'm thinking more along the lines of a Dirty Girls slab bevel or a Mud Tools curly wire along with a set of their flexi-ribs. And of course a nice electric wheel would be unbelievable (and inappropriate at this juncture) but for now a new ceramics glaze book would be nice, too, one with some good info and recipes for mid-range glazes. Any suggestions?

Is anyone else asking for things for their studio this holiday season or birthday?


Kuraoka Says to Know: Sergei Isupov








Sergei Isupov is a Russia-born artist who comes from a very artistic family. Both his father and brother are respected painters and his mother a respected ceramic artist in the area where he grew up.  Isupov had made an international name for himself, however, with his boldly illustrated sculptures that often tell reflect his own biographical stories.  He now lives and works in Massachusetts.

(images via Santiago Gallery, Chronogram, and artist's own website)

Studio Time: "There she blows!"

Ta Dah!!!!!!!!!!!  Here it is... my cozy little studio space.  It's in progress but fully functional for the time being.  I just adore it.  I worked there some both Saturday and Sunday and will probably be heading there today after work as well.  Oh I just love it.  Just one more thing that will be immediately necessary: an electric kettle.  Tea is a necessity when working with clay.

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