It’s been a bit since I’ve written, so I thought I’d post a short hello and studio goings on, lest you think I’ve fallen into a bucket full of clay. Last weekend I was able to attend the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI. It’s the closest festival to home and I love seeing all the familiar faces and fiber friends. The harbinger of the fall season complete with flocks of migrating geese and crisp sweatery mornings. It’s also the primer to the largest show of the year, New York Sheep and Wool, aka Rhinebeck. As I’ve said in the past, ceramics is a process, and it takes some time to get the studio all primed and running. Those who attend Rhinebeck can send a thank – you to Wi for getting the ball rolling. Now we’re chugging along, getting ready to shift into high overdrive in the few short weeks to Rhinebeck. (I’m currently pretending my calendar doesn’t exist, a childish but effective survival tactic)
Again, I’ve designed a special mug to commemorate this year’s New York Sheep and Wool Festival. (More on that later, but for a little tease- think woods)
As I spend most of my studio time making all the work for the show, I oft neglect to post here, as it is so easily slipped off of my to-do list. I’m going to try and post a bit more frequently in the next few weeks so you can see some of the great things I’ll have available in my booth! I’m especially fond of these floral bowls I’ve been playing with.
As always, if your interested in more of the goings on in the studio, follow me on instagram, as I often take quick photos of my process and post them there.
Please help me bring along the forms and designs you’re most interested in!
Post a comment with your jenniethepotter hopes, I love granting pottery wishes.
Vases waiting for their bisque
One of the surprising benefits of my summer arm injury has been a refocusing of my creative process. It was initially immensely frustrating to cope with being unable to make and carve pots. I had to embrace other ways of creating the pattern and play I so love about making and decorating pots. Now that I can throw again, with almost full capacity, I can take these ideas and transfer them into new pieces.
Rice Bowl inside view
I would describe my thrown forms as clean, utilitarian and simple. These new pots allow for a bit more texture and surface dimension. The result is less “tight” and has a bit more “flow.” (Darn it is difficult to express thetactile in words) I am enjoying this step into uncharted territory, I hope you all do too!
Rice Bowl outside
I’ve been making pottery for many years now and like anything you’ve spent years doing, I’ve become quite entrenched in my method of making. The character of my pots in large part comes from my way of carving the designs and motifs on my hand thrown pottery.
After my forced rest from clay work this summer I had to reassess my method of making and find ways to reduce the amount of carving I had in my pottery. Immensely frustrating to begin with, eventually I found I could add designs and motifs in different ways to the clay surface. I broke down each motif into smaller elements. I used my carving time to create hand carved lino stamps to impress into the clay surface while freshly thrown. The color on these pots comes from a different layering of underglazes and glazes too. I think the spirit of my work is the same, the result is different.
Building stock for this show was a dance between throwing and carving for a bit and then switching to the new method. I’m quite smitten with making these new pots. It’s brought back some play to the act of making pots. Many of these are coming along to the show, along with many in the traditional method and style I’m known for. I do hope you all like them.
grip is a magical thing
Up to my eyeballs in studio to-dos and writing always gets shoved to the bottom of the list. I’ll be doing my best to remedy this over the next few days. I have lots of things that each merit their own posting, so stand by.
After months of physical therapy and many rounds of treatments my hand has improved. I’m terribly pleased with this to say the least. I’ve been taking videos and photographs of my work progress to share with my hand therapists and they have been able to suggest many modifications to improve my process. Just being able to work again and to hold tools is really a marvelous thing. Huzzah!
The photo is what my hand looks like after carving. The tools I use are made of aluminum and with repeated use the metal transfers onto my hand. I have foam grips and wraps on most of my tools to improve the stress on my joints as I carve, but I still end up with grey hands after a carving session. The work I’ll have at my next show (Rhinebeck!) will be a combination of pots some of the tried and true favorites, some modified methods of design and some work that has a combination of the two.
Every now and again I do something that makes me take my palm to my forehead and do my best Homer Simpson impression, “D’oh!” Why haven’t I done this before? This design is definitely one of those moments. Easily executed, and awfully pretty if I do say so myself, this new birch motif is sure to be on every form I make! They’ve always been amongst my favorite trees, and now I’ll be seeing them in my sleep.
Ps… I’ve been asked a lot lately what my next show is, and it is Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in September. My current studio work is being earmarked for an online update. I’m in the throes of summer revelry with the kiddos, so the date and time haven’t been scheduled yet. So, TBD!
Studio time lately has been filled with crabby crustaceans, a Maryland Sheep and Wool requirement. Each year I make a special design and this year I decided to bring back an element from a popular design I did a few years ago for this show.
I love finding these abandoned type pieces at thrift stores and architectural salvage shops. Text isn’t a common element in my work, but I do like shaking things up a bit every now and again. I’m incorporating some other different techniques in this year’s design too. Stay tuned.
California Dreaming . . .
It’s been head down, all hands on deck time in the studio as we prepare for the trip to Stitches West in Santa Clara, CA. I’m bringing LOTS of pots, stitch markers, ornaments and buttons. (Oh! SO many buttons! Bring your swatches and yarn samples along to the market )
I’ll be in booths 933, 935 & 937.
Here’s a few studio shots to whet your whistle. I have one more kiln to flip before I depart on Tuesday morning. The last kiln gets to accompany me on the plane. (Delta please be kind) As the temperature here in Minneapolis has been pretty arctic lately I’m very much looking forward to the warmer weather out West!
cups in progress
Knitter’s mitten Hamsa
I’ve been hard at work filling orders from this year’s shows and making a few special pieces for a collaboration with Miss Babs. She asked me to design a Hamsa “ornament” to coincide with a mitten pattern kit she was working on. It was fun researching and designing this talisman. I’m quite pleased with the finished design and really enjoyed the process of this project. The final kits look amazing, and are sure to sell quickly. All the Hamsa ornaments I made and the limited edition mugs are available through Miss Babs shop today at 12 Eastern.
Hamsa inspired mitten and mug
Ornaments and Yarn pairings
Its been months in the making and today is finally the day the ceramics are available! Here’s a few pictures of the progress of this collaboration as I was working on them in the studio. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen some of these pictures. It’s hard to be excited about something and unable to share it fully, so I may have been a bit obscure.
Hamsa Mug limited edition for Miss Babs ready for glazing
Hamsa lineup ready for glazing
Glazed and ready to fire
Psst . . . I’ll have a bunch of little gift items available in my etsy shop today at 11 Central too.
Did you know I make each and every piece of pottery I sell? ( If you didn’t you should!) While I do have some of the greatest studio assistants ever, I have not ever had anyone else make the pots I paint and carve my designs on. Somehow it just isn’t right for my process in clay. I have to throw the clay and make each and every piece. Some days it’s exhausting, but mostly it’s awesome. Throwing is THE thing that excited me most about ceramics as a young kid, and it’s still the place I love to be. Sitting at my wheel, making pots, wearing my fancy clothes. ( Ha!) Mostly I resemble a hobo, and often don’t bother laundering my throwing clothes until they’re really really dirty. Why waste the water, if they’re just going to get all mucked up again tomorrow?
By far and away the most popular shape is my mugs. It’s the form I’m most often making in the studio. I start with between 1 -1 & 1/4 pounds of clay. After throwing I place them on a board. I call this a rack. Each fits ~16 cups. ( I call anything with a handle a mug, and without a handle a cup) I think of each rack like a dye lot. Its a small group, all born at the same time. Sometimes they’re almost identical, sometimes more like second cousins. See?
After the cups set up, and become what we call leather hard, I clean up the bottoms of them. Leather hard is the stage at which the pots have lost some of the moisture added in the throwing process and are hard enough to retain their shape. The pots are still wet enough to add another piece of clay to.
My nifty tool for trimming
All of my handles start with “carrots”. I take a larger chunk of clay and break off smaller pieces, roll them on my plaster table into little carrots. One side is tapered and the other stubby. I stack a bunch of them in formation, enough for a rack or two of cups.
On their way to being handles
I hold the stubby end in my left hand and pull the clay with my wet right hand. The result is a larger version of the handle that ends up on the mug.
birds eye view of handle prep
freshly pulled handles
from another angle
These set up for a few hours and then I marry the handle and the cup and behold, a mug is born! Pretty Cool.
Well, here we are its fall already. HOW did that happen? The summer flew by, as it seems to do. Here I am now facing the calendar, with the largest show of the year just a few short weeks away. Once again, I’ll be making a special design for the show, but I’m also making a bunch of other great designs too. Here’s a few pictures of the antics in the studio. I’m going to showcase a few things in the lead up to Rhinebeck.
underglazes in the studio
Cups at the wheel
carving bucket and spiffy gloves
I’m burning the candle at all ends. in addition to my “normal” studio hours I’m often working late into the night after the kiddos are in bed and waking before they’re up to get a few things started before I have to transition to mom. My studio is underneath the kid’s room and I’m getting quite used to the pitter of feet running to the top of the stairs to whisper, “Mamma? It morning? You still working?”
Yes kids, I sure am.