Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunny Photo Opportunities Today


Let's see, I worked in the studio today and finished painting and carving my sculptures.  But never mind that.  It was sunny and there were a ton of photo opportunities around town.  I walked to school and took pictures in the morning and then I finished my work and walked around town for the hour before sunset.  It was gorgeous.  This is the tower of Bidwell Presbyterian just outside the ceramics studio at Chico State.  I absolutely love the warm late afternoon light.


This is Collier's Hardware just across the street from the church.  This store is an institution.  They have been around forever and if you need even an obscure item they are sure to find it lurking around in some bin or the basement.  They also keep the hugest hand crank vintage ice cream maker in the basement.  They haul it out every summer for an old fashioned ice cream social at Bidwell Mansion. I like the way the chartreuse green and yellow contrast with the vivid blue sky.

I decided that I could get better pictures of the water towers since it was earlier than the photos I took on Tuesday.  Has the week gone by this fast already?  Wow!  This is at about four thirty in the afternoon before the light had really started changing.  The architecture is wonderful and these water towers are like nothing I had ever seen before moving up here from Santa Barbara, CA.


Spring really is just right around the corner even though we are still in that transition phase.  I found these narcissus next to the driveway of a house across the street from the water towers.  They smelled delicious and the sun was still warm enough while I ran around taking photos.

This is a fun shot with all the barren trees.  This is taken about five o'clock and the sunlight is getting warmer in color as the sun gets closer to the horizon.


You can really see the warm sunlight reflecting off the bottom of the tower.

Ahh, the conclusion of the photo shoot.  The golden light reflecting off the towers finally reached a saturated glow about three minutes before the sun finally slipped below the horizon.  What a satisfying day.  And I really did work in the studio.  Honest!  I have proof.  I hope everyone had as great a day as I did!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Golden Sunset Water Towers

The sun finally came out!  I came out of ceramics just in time to see the gorgeous sunset that was happening and I didn't have my camera!  I raced home and grabbed it and sped back out to try to catch some good light.  I love these water towers and the golden glow they were reflecting.  I would have preferred ten minutes early and from the other side.  When I came out of class they were literally glowing  golden against a very dark sky with the wet, dark trees silhouetted against them.  It was very dramatic.  Alas, these shots are what I'll have to settle for.

At least there was sun.  Woo hoo! And there is supposed to be sun again tomorrow.  Oh, what to do?  Should I get up before sunrise and head out for some sunrise pics and bask in the early morning rays?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pottery Photo Shoot and Making Clay

I had another productive day today.  While I was waiting for a call to see if we would be making clay I did three loads of laundry and 300 shots of pottery.  Yeah, at the highest resolution.  Doh!  It took a while to upload and then I had to resize them but it was easier than retaking the pictures at a lower resolution.  Still, it would have been a tad bit faster of a process if I took the pictures at the right resolution in the first place.  Oh well, I'm still learning. 

Well, after all those pictures I am finally getting the hang of it.  I have been using the new light tent and tweaking the light set up and the leg height and I am really happy with the images I have been getting. The last photo shoot I did, I kept underexposing the shots and had to do a lot of tweaking in Picasa.  This time a whole lot less image editing which was great.  I love Photoshop but for this kind of stuff Google's Picasa application is simple and great. The best thing about it is that it is FREE!

Here is one of my popular batter bowls that I just listed in my Etsy store.  These are great gifts and I have sold many for wedding presents.  They would also be great as a Valentine's gift for the cook in your life. And that could mean you.  I think that sometimes we forget to treat ourselves to things.

Well, I've got one more day until school starts and the semester frenzy get underway.  I better go prepare!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Focus and Hard Work

Who would have thought that actually focusing and working hard would be productive?  It's not like I spend too much time blogging and being on facebook or anything like that.  Oh yeah, and surfing the internet...  The weather is finally calming down and we only had a tiny short sprinkle. It's a good thing too because we had to load in a ton of clay for the students to start on Monday.  I did another marathon day in the studio today.  I went in to put some work study hours but they only needed me for a couple so I got the rest of the day to work on my stuff.  I mixed up a fresh batch of white slip for my sculptures and decided these mugs needed it too.  These will get some underglaze colors and sgraffito decoration.

Here is another sneak peak of the sculpture in progress.  This is the inlay after scraping back the porcelain.  It will get more defined when I sand it down after it is dry.  I can't wait to see how it turns out.  The rest of the piece has slip and will get a variety of decorative treatments.  I can't give too much away. Shh, it is supposed to be a surprise.

I might be giving you too much of a peak of this one but I had a lot of fun connecting all the orbs and this is what evolved.  I love this clay.  It reminds me of chocolate.  I probably wont show anymore of this one until the show.  I also got my new heart bowls and clay stamps into a bisque today.  Tomorrow it is not supposed to rain and we might go in a mix up a couple of batches of recycled clay so that we can get the mess of scrap clay out of the classrooms.  On the other hand, if it is nice enough I am tempted to take a drive and enjoy the day and play a little before school starts.  I definitely deserve it.  I have been so extremely busy over this Christmas break that I owe it to myself to do something nice for myself.  We'll see.  Tomorrow is another day.  I'm bushed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Clay Stamps and Power Outage

What do you like to do when the weather is bad?  I HAD great plans to go over to the studio today, but it seemed that everything got in the way.  First I had an appointment to deal with in the morning.  When I got home I changed my clothes into my grubbies and was gearing up to head to the studio.  About the same time the rain really started to pour and the wind was blowing so hard that tree branches were falling out of the sky.  So I hesitated just long enough until the power went out.  Not knowing if the power was on at the studio didn't help with my diminishing resolve.  What to do now was the question.  No internet, no Facebook, no blogging and no Twitter!  I didn't want my clay plans to go to complete waste so I set myself up on a towel in front of the window, stretched out on my tummy and went to work.

I made impressions on both ends of the stamps with wooden tools and the ends of paint brushes.  Basically anything that was close at hand and looked like it would make a good shape.  The piece on the left above is a sprig that I am going to slop a little bit of plaster on to make a little press mold.  The others I will put into a bisque firing as is.  These were fun and something I have been wanting to make.  The largest piece is only about an inch and a half. 

The power did finally come back on and the rain let up enough for me to run out to my storage for some packing peanuts.  I got a heart bowl packed up and then I went to the post office.  Yeah, me and everyone else in town made a run for it.  The post office was swamped and then I spied the automated shipping service.  What a great invention.  I was out of there in minutes.  While I was standing at the machine I saw Jerome "J" Pouwels, artist and instructor extraordinaire! I had him for figure drawing a couple of semesters ago and he is teaching again in the spring.  Good to have you back, J.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heart Bowls in the Studio and Sculpture Sneak Peak

The rains came down and the wheel spun round and round.  We are in for a week of rain.  What better excuse for a day in the studio.  I spent a full eight hours in the studio today working on sculptures for my March show at the Bell Memorial Union at Chico State.  I also made a bunch of heart bowls before it gets too late for Valentine's day items.  Keep an eye out for them in my Etsy store.


I had so much fun in studio.  I set out a bunch of different projects and spent the afternoon flitting about from one to the other.  I tried some new techniques including inlaying some cone 6 porcelain into my cone six navajo wheel.  Both clays I got from IMCO. I got this technique from Maureen Mills' book, Surface Design for Ceramics that I got at my local Barnes and Noble.

I finished putting a couple of orbs onto sculptures and now they are fully assembled.  I also threw some more orbs for a couple more sculptures that I will make with this red mid-range clay.  In this sneak peak of my sculpture in progress you can see the sgrafitto swirls.  This is were I am inlaying the porcelain.  I am also trying some sprig ideas.  I don't have any sprigs made yet but I wanted to get an idea of how they might look so I stamped some clay with rubber stamps and used mini cookie cutters to get the sprigs.  Kind of interesting but I think I will like the sprigs better if I ever get them made.  There is only so much time in the day!  Ugh.  I took all kinds of goodies and supplies with me over to school and I had the whole big studio all to myself.  I wanted to do more and I didn't want to leave.  I am still exited and wish I was over there but truthfully, I don't think I can move!  Tomorrow is another day.'s just going to keep on raining.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oatmeal Muffin Bombs

If I had remembered that I had the camera with me while I was in the studio you would have been able to see all the productive work I got accomplished today.  I was actually supposed to do some clean up to get ready for the semester which starts in a week but my sculpture pots were calling to me from the damp closet.  So, what was I supposed to do?  I pulled the parts out and started assembling.  Four hours later I had two small experimental pieces and two other pieces for my show almost complete.  If I like the experimental pieces I might include them in the show if they fit in with the proposal.  Soooo, instead of getting some sneak peaks of my works in progress, you get this.

Muffin Bombs!

Carmelized oatmeal muffins sounded like a truly yummy recipe but you have to be careful sometimes with recipes you pull from the internet.  Of course, I could have done something wrong.  I'm not sure that I will make them again to bother to find out.  The theory was good.  Cook the oatmeal in butter and brown sugar until browned, then add water until is softens up and then add it to the flour, remaining dry oatmeal, eggs and butter.  Then add raisins, cook and there you have it.  When I pulled them out of the oven I was surprised at how heavy they felt.  And they were heavy, like a rock in my stomach.  I was rather disappointed because they were a little laborious and they smelled so good baking.  I should have made something from the baking magazine I "borrowed" from the doctor's office today.  Oh well:)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Etsy Treasury

I made it into an Etsy treasury thanks to Erika.  Thanks Erika!  You have beautiful jewelry and it made my day to see my heart bowl with all the other fun heart items.  Etsy is really a great place to find gorgeous handmade items.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Signs of Spring and Sunshine, Finally!

It has been foggy and dreary and rainy for I don't know how long.  It seems like forever.  Just when I was getting ready to head over to the studio on campus the sun came out.  Yippee!  I grabbed the camera and decided to walk the extremely long ten minutes it takes me to get there.  The sun was so great I wasn't sure I could convince my self to work in the studio.  This is one of the footbridges that goes across the creek to campus.

Looking behind me is Bidwell Mansion and the largest magnolia tree I have ever seen.

Walking across the footbridge I noticed this fresh green growth sprouting out of the barren tangle of winter vines.  I can feel spring right around the corner.

For all you ceramists out there, here is my moss and lichen image for the day.  Enjoy!
P.S.  I did make it into the studio and actually made something.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Clay Day, Throwing , Organizing and Cute Rabbits

Here it is, proof that I actually went into the clay studio and worked on something.  Woo hoo!  I took in the clay to the studio and was pleasantly surprised to find that the school had the heat on.  I thought it was off during break.  The last time I was in there it was cold and I think that is one of the reasons I haven't gone in.  But today I could have had shorts on in there it felt so good.  Warmer than at home even.  I took the new cone 6 porcelain that I bought yesterday and squirted some test tiles out of the extruder and pressed some relief in with rubber stamps.  This clay is supposed to fire nice and white.  I haven't really worked with cone 6 much so I am going to do a lot of testing.  Does anyone have a favorite cone 6 white stoneware or porcelain for oxidation in an electric that they would like to share info about?

I also threw a bag of my fresh navajo wheel and made some parts for a new sculpture.  These are in the damp locker now.  I will check on them tomorrow and then they should be ready to trim and assemble on Monday.  I also cleaned out and organized my lockers and wedged up two bags of clay that were too soft.  Balls of that clay are also sitting in the damp locker to stiffen up for throwing some other parts.  And on top of all of that I entered a bunch of formulas into Insight, my glaze calculation software.  I have been working with this program for about ten years and I love it.  Yep, I am tired, but satisfied.

Just for the fun of it I thought I would include a picture of my cute lop bunnies.  They are more like little brown pigs with floppy ears.  I give them rolled outs when it is cold and they push my hand out of the way to get to it.  Their noses are blurry here because they are munching  away.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Clay and Website

Can anyone tell me where the whole week went to?  I can't believe tomorrow is Saturday already!  That is really a great thing though.  It means I wont have to make phone calls because everyone is out of the office.  I might actually be able to make myself get into the studio like I keep promising myself, and everyone else.  Smile...sigh.  It's been a busy week.  Is everyone in my area glad the leaves are almost completely done falling off the trees.  I completely wore myself out yesterday trying to rake up what was left for our last city leaf pick up.  Phew, and we have one of the most ginormous sycamores in town right next to the house. 

Today was a great day.  I drove down to Sacramento and went to IMCO, one of our local clay suppliers.  I picked up some cone 6 porcelain and some navajo wheel so that I can get up and running with my projects for next semester and my show in March.  Yeah!  The image above is on the front of the new website I have been working on tonight. I have been designing my site using OtherPeoplesPixels.  This company helps "artists and students get their work online quickly and easily."  I've got a trial version of it and if I like what I have set up I will make it official and post a link to my new website.  So far I am enjoying it.  I need to get some more things loaded on to it so that I can see how it all flows.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

First Etsy Sale, New Light Tent and More Enchilada Adventures

Yeah, I got my first ever sale through Etsy.  I am very excited!  I modified my light tent last night.  Wait, did I already tell everyone that?  Oh well, I stayed up much too late taking lots of photos so I am kind of bleary-eyed.  I still have lots I want to do today.  I've got to take some things I don't need to the thrift store and do general errands and run around.  Unfortunately it will take me to that side of town where the fabric store is and you know what happens then?  I usually get sucked in!  I had plans to go into the studio and get a head start on some sculptures for my show in March.  I hope I can squeeze it in even if only for a short time just to kick start me in to gear.

Here are the results of the continuing adventures of the enchiladas.  I decided to caramelize my onions first.  I started with a little olive oil and then added about half a tablespoon of butter.  Yummy!

Getting nice and caramelized after about fifteen minutes...

Here I de-glazed the pan with some chicken broth and all that brown sugary goodness is covering the onions.  At this point, just eating the onions would have been yummy.

This time I am layering the tortillas instead of rolling them up. I did not fry them in oil or put any kind of oil on them.  I did rub a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan so they would not stick but they stuck a little anyway.  In between the layers is the chicken, onions, green enchilada sauce, extra fire roasted green chilies and cheddar jack cheese.  I wanted all white jack cheese but I was out. 

These got rave reviews from the crowd at home.  Much better that the ones with red sauce and not oily.  I made these before I got your comment LaShaunna so next time I will try cooking them in the sauce a little to soften them up before I either layer them or roll them and see how that goes.  Thanks for the great tip!  Ok, now I am off and out of here.  Wish me luck on getting everything done!

Handmade Stoneware Heart Bowls for Valentine's or Weddings


Finally taking some photos of my pottery to sell on etsy.  It's a fun learning experience.  I learned that I need to trust my eye more when setting the exposure.  My camera kept metering for the backdrop and most of my photos came out too dark so I had to spend some time editing them to lighten them up.  Does anyone have any tricks for speeding up the photo process and getting them quickly into etsy?