Not so good.

When I was in Munich last year, my then four-year old niece, who speaks German, was trying to help me with my pronunciation of German words. She would say a word, and I would try to repeat it. Invariably, her response to me would be, “Not so good.”

Today, when I opened up my now cooled kiln, that was my response. While I gained some important information regarding the glazes I was using, and the way my kiln fired yesterday, very little actually fired successfully. It’s very disheartening to see what represents hours and hours of work get ruined by a bad glaze firing. This is one of the hardest things about working in ceramics. There are so many opportunities for something to go wrong, things that I have very little control over. I’ve had to learn to let go of control of the process and today I had another opportunity to practice this skill.



Loaded and ready to go!


I spent most of my time in the studio this week glazing and loading up my kiln. After making my cups last week, I realized that I didn’t have enough room in my studio for all of my bisqued work needing to be glazed along with new work that needed to dry. The result is a kiln full of cups I made over a year ago just the right size for my green smoothie that I often drink for breakfast. I have a few other odds and ends that you can see in the picture. Tomorrow morning I will start the kiln, and by Saturday morning I should have some glaze goodness to share!

Late for work

One of the benefits/challenges of working for yourself is that you don’t have to be at work at a specific time.  I have never been a morning person.  That fact combined with a bad night’s sleep worked against me today in my plans to treat my artmaking as a job and get into my studio right away this morning.  It was much too easy to say, “I need more sleep” today.  Luckily, despite my slow start, I still managed to meet my goal of throwing five cups (working toward my larger goal of 50).  My focus was to work on consistency from piece to piece.  Doing my best to end up with five cups that look as much like each other as I could.  I learned that weighing my clay before I start so that I start with the same amount of clay each time is somewhat important; and also that I am very very slow at throwing.  I did pretty well at throwing consistent forms, so in my next throwing session I am going to have to start working on my speed.



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Make it work

Make it work

Besides making ceramic work, I also like to quilt. In my quilting group, I have been known to advise people to “make it work” when they are confronted with an error they have made in their quilting pattern, or if something is not working out quite the way they had planned. This is often said to someone who is about to go and rip out the seams they have just sewn.

This summer, I am working on improving my throwing skills. I have given myself the assignment of throwing 50 cups (and will probably follow with 50 bowls and 50 plates). Today I was working on some surface texture on one of the first five that I have thrown. As I am working on it, my husband cautions me to not carve so deeply. Of course, right at that moment, I carve right through the mug, twice. Now my mug has two holes in it. I was ready to scrap the mug, because I was taught to get rid of the mistakes, right? Patrick, instead, insists that I patch the hole and keep it, suggesting that I turn it into an owl, because that’s what he thinks the texture looks like. I resisted at first, but to make him happy I decided to humor him. This is the result. Today I learned to “make it work” in my clay work. I love the finished mug and will probably now make more, although I may reserve it for my special mugs that end up with holes carved through them.

Why is art work?

This blog is named after a quote by Milton Glaser, who also wrote a book titled “Art is Work “.  I came across it as I was reading about creativity and it really made an impression on me.  Not in a “aw man… art is hard work” way, but as a reminder that I need to treat my artmaking as work;  to have the same attitude towards it as I would a job in someone else’s company.  I need to show up, daily.  I need to put forth my best effort, and them some more.  My blog is the beginning of my “art is work” career.