Tomatoes and Borrowed Time

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Since I got my ceramic studio in working order, I’ve hit the ground running. The image above is of a botanical sculpture made of Sculpey clay that I made as a special order for a professor of biology. The reason why I want to share it is because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make what he asked for, and I am happy with the results. He also ordered a set of six mugs, and now he wants six more mugs plus some espresso cups. He has been my best customer, but my Etsy shop has really been taking off this month. I’m having a hard time keeping up, but the feeling is glorious– to be up to my ears in ceramic orders.

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I started making little herb planters in preparation to sell at the farmer’s market in Jackson Hole, already planted with different varieties of basil. It branched off of the idea of what I was doing with my personal garden. I used to laugh at the idea of making flower pots, but now I’ve found that my own plants seem to grow best in my ceramic planters. I have at least five of them planted with herbs, two with big tall tomato plants, and one with a “garden huckleberry” plant. The plants are doing great, and it is my first time growing tomatoes and basil from seed. Anyway, another thing sucking up my time is my gardening. I love it, and I will always make time for it. Here are a couple of photos of my plants in progress:

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If you like the herb planter shown above, you can find it on Etsy:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293724519/ceramic-herb-planter-with-rosemary?ref=shop_home_active_5

 

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Home Studio- Status: COMPLETE!

 

Since working in the University studio in the summer, I’ve figured out a good home studio setup. I bought a kiln just before Halloween 2015, and it arrived the next week. At first, the plan was to clean out the tool room in the basement a little and turn it into a studio space and wire in the kiln. It changed to cleaning out a portion of the garage in front of the cars, and then my dad did the electrical work to install wiring for a 240 volt outlet. It took until Christmas eve for me to be able to do a glaze firing in the kiln.

Now, I’ve got a little room in the house dedicated as my studio, and the kiln works great. I’ve been making a lot of new work and experimenting with new forms and last week I even started doing some glaze testing ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been making a lot of poppy mugs, a couple of coffee dripper cones, and now I make a few “wake and bake” pipe mugs. When I first saw them, I thought the idea was so ridiculous and they were so funny looking that I could never make them look good. Plus, the hollow handle was a bit of a challenge to think about at first– but I made a press mold out of Sculpey clay that works great.

All things pictured above are available in my Etsy shop, here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KiraCallCeramics

 

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Small Steps

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I finally feel like I’m moving forward in ceramics this week. My kiln is now in place and ready to go. I did a test firing to cone 04 last night to season/oxidize the new elements, and I just barely finished loading a bisque that is happily firing away as I type. Pretty soon, I will have new pots made right at home in Wyoming ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, the Bromus briziformis plate above and my fern tumblers are now available here:

http://kiracallceramics.bigcartel.com/

It’s closer to having my own web store than selling on Etsy, but it will take time to gain momentum.

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Christmas Kiln Push

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Above is a photo of some plates that I made during the summer. I drew the rhododendron flowers in a diagonal pattern on the plate instead of how they naturally appear. I remember how gorgeous and overwhelming it was to see tall bushes completely covered in bright pink flowers in Massachusetts in the spring. I saw them in Australia, too, but they were different there.

My kiln is getting closer to being hooked up. It is getting a new wire leading to the garage. It will be cold, but it the most logical place to keep it. I’ve been working on Christmas mug commissions, and most of them are done, bone dry, and ready to load in a bisque firing. I have one last tedious mug to make. I might be able to fire my kiln by the end of the week! It will be a big push to get the mugs done by Christmas, but if I can fire the kiln by next weekend, it might be possible. Otherwise, they will be late Christmas gifts…

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Moving Forward

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Pottery sales have been good this year. I used to think that if I wasn’t part of a big group sale like I was in school, I could never make as much money from pottery. This year, I have made at least as much as I did in school sale years. All said, it’s still not enough to live on. The tumblers above are still sitting in a store here in the small town where I live where they’ve been sitting for a couple of months now. Today, my boss asked if the group of pots at that store didn’t sell if I would bring them to sell in her store. I have a feeling that’s what will happen anyway. I made the set of lily tumblers during the summer while I was able to work in the university studio again for a while.

Lately, I have been making pots at home– I am trying to get a home studio up and running. I’ve been working in the kitchen, and I bought a kiln a month ago that hasn’t been hooked up yet. Mostly, I’ve been making mugs. I decided that I should fill the next few firings with what sells. I am still making my botanically illustrated work for portfolios and such. Oh, and they make great images for my graduate school applications that I’ve been working on ๐Ÿ™‚

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Jackson Hole Center for the Arts: July Workshop

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It completely skipped my mind for the last two blog posts to mention that I hosted a ceramic workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this summer. It went really well. I hosted it in the ceramic studio at the Center for the Arts downtown. The table had people sitting all around for most of the time. Some people left and new ones came to take their place.

When I sat down at the potter’s wheel (I don’t make wheel-thrown work anymore, but the head of the studio there requested that I show a few tricks on the wheel), their attention was glued on me. I made a latte mug, a bowl, a big tumbler, and a couple of tall bottle vases. I just worked how I normally would in my own studio, but didn’t take time to be a perfectionist to save some time. There was a lot of “Oooo! Oh, how do you do that?! Wow, can you show us that again?” from the audience. They were impressed by some little habits I have that make wheel throwing easier. I don’t remember specifically what they were impressed by, but it had something to do with the way I used my rubber and wooden ribs.

I haven’t gotten the photo files from them yet, but Sam made sure to take a lot of photos while I was working. For the wheel thrown stuff, I didn’t trim it. At the end of the day, we just put it in the reclaim bucket. I managed to decorate 4 or 5 of the hand built pieces, and recently I heard that they were soda fired and auctioned off. I bet my new work would look pretty cool soda fired.

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Jenny told me that she bought one of the soda fired cups at the auction, and it was one that looked like these cute little espresso cups ๐Ÿ™‚ (above)

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Botanically Illustrated

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I didn’t post many pictures of my newer botanically illustrated work what with the transition this summer and getting a new job. Above is a sandwich plate decorated with a prickly pear cactus. I entered it into an exhibition, but they didn’t like it as much as I hoped. I have been fairly quiet about entering shows lately. I looked up the new call for entries list and didn’t see anything up my alley until January.

I did enter a show sometime back in April and got in. It was a cup show in Duluth Georgia at the Hudgens Center for the Arts. I sent three sets of new cups to them:

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Brush to Clay, Brush to Paper

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I’ve been home from Massachusetts for exactly three months now. I made a small body of work this summer at the university, but cleared my things out before the school year started. I knew it would get too crowded for me to use a whole table in a public space for my work every day. I haven’t worked with clay since halfway through August.

After I left the university studio and drove home to Wyoming, I started looking for a job almost right away. I like to keep busy in productive ways, and I need to build savings for grad school. I applied at Shopko, but that same day one of my old employers sent me a message saying that one of the mugs someone had bought was cracked and she asked me if I could replace it. I sent her photos of all of my newest mugs to choose from, and she ended up wanting them all, plus some bowls. She buys pots in bulk/wholesale from me. I packed them up and took them to her that afternoon. I mentioned that I would be hanging around the valley for a while and that I had applied to Shopko.

The next day, she asked me if I would like to come back and work for her again. I said I would love to, so now I have my old job back from years before at the botanical lab/health food store, but it’s better now. I mainly just run the botanical lab operations: making tinctures, blends, salves, categorize the data for each batch, and pack and ship orders.

Now that I have work to keep me busy during the week and a comfy routine, it lets me relax enough to think up creative ideas. This weekend I decided to start painting again. I haven’t done much painting since high school, but I think I am better at it now than I was then. Usually I paint on clay, but paper will do for now until I figure out my next clay opportunity.

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Hour Glass

My time on the east coast is soon coming to an end. It will be sad to leave when all of the leaves are finally on the trees and there are cool fungi and flowers growing in the woods, but I am ready to go back home to the west. There are a few things that I’ve never quite gotten used to here.

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Photo: young Trillium plants I found while walking a few days ago

Last summer when I got here, I was blown away by the green beauty of this place and how the trees and vines just want to overcrowd everything. I was inspired by the fireflies floating around the edges of the yard at night. I was awestruck with how heavy the rainstorms are here. I will miss some things about this place, but I feel like I have experienced almost everything I can from this town (with the exception of a few restaurants). I have experienced summer, autumn, a long cold winter, and I am experiencing the spring. I’ve walked every trail I could find nearby, and have a few others planned for the upcoming weeks.

I feel like I have made the most of the studio space and time I’ve had, so much so that I have too many pots that I’m trying to figure out what to do with. I have built better habits of taking images of my work, and I have experimented with a whole bunch of new surface decorating techniques. I’ve built up a good starting selection of photos to apply to grad school with. I feel like when I leave Massachusetts I won’t have regrets about things I didn’t get to do that I wanted to. So here’s to the next chapter of my travels!

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Botanical Plates!

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Red Slipper Orchid Plate (Paphiopedilum), Porcelain, cone 10. 9″x9″x1″

When botanists and scientists hear the word “plate”, it usually isn’t interpreted literally as something you can eat your lunch off of. There was a time when I thought I had a future as a real botanical illustrator, right around the time when I just discovered ceramics in college. I was working at a herbarium pressing plants and gluing them to archival paper, and my boss took an interest in my ability to draw. She even had me to go the university greenhouse to draw cycads for a day. Although my drawings aren’t quite refined enough for scientific recording, I still pursue my interest in plants with my ceramic work.

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This ginkgo leaf plate broke in half when I turned it over to sign the bottom before firing it, but I put it in the kiln anyway because I wanted to see how the decoration would look glaze fired.

Find my ceramic work for sale on Etsy atย https://www.etsy.com/shop/KiraCallCeramics

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