Winter sky

Just a few photos of the winter sky with my retro photo app as this year comes to a close.



This year I made mugs for gifts. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of all of them before I gave them away. I was too anxious to get them wrapped, especially since I celebrated an early Christmas last weekend with some members of my family.
I still have trouble compensating for the shrinkage of the clay though. So I feel that most of them were too small. My favorite one is the individual mug in the third photo. It is a nice big bowl shape. Perfect for hot cocoa with plenty of room for lots of marshmallows!
Happy Holidays!!!


Not enough hours in a day

Well, Christmas is fast approaching and this season is a mad rush of activity!
At school we've had lots of holiday festivities and I wanted to show you my classroom door. We decorated it based off the idea on a link posted on Poppytalk. And we won! My class received an icecream party. The star on top was made by glueing together broken ornaments. It is very sharp, and kind of dangerous looking but its also beautiful...so reflective and colorful!
We also had our second annual Art Faire. We sold artwork made by art club students during the Madrigal performances at school. Once again it was a big success. I made calendars using student artwork after being inspired by the calendar I received from Barbara at Sparrow Avenue. We had lots of pottery, jewelry, cards and other artwork as well.
There is lots more to do still and I'm off to prepare for finals! (not as much fun as the art fair)


Field trip

I took my students to visit an art school in downtown Chicago today. We had some extra time and some great weather too.
We went to Millenium Park to see the Cloud Gate sculpture. In Chicago it is known as "the bean."
We also went to the Chicago Cultural Center with its breathtaking domes and glowing floors. The Cultural Center boasts some of the oldest architecture in the city of Chicago. It was one of the only buildings spared in the great Chicago fire.
We are spending the weekend in the city so lots more pictures soon to come!
Have a wonderful weekend.


On your mark...

I have been meaning to post here for a very long time but time just seems to be getting away from me!
The holiday madness has begun.
The ceramics above are a few things that I have made for our second annual Art Faire. The art club had their first Art Faire fundraiser last year and it was a huge success. So I made a few slab built mugs and some leaves that I plan on wrapping with wire to string on  necklaces.
The awesome turtle whistle was made by one of my students. My students made lots of clay whistles that all look amazing and I hope they are good sellers.
I will have lots more to share soon!
Happy Friday!


In the mail

 Barbara at Sparrow Avenue sent me one of her calendars and it arrived in the mail yesterday. I love her ink drawings so much. There is so much detail, the artist in me just devours them.
 It was so kind of her to send it to me. Thank you Barbara! 
She asked about hanging my nuts as ornaments so I experimented a little and voila! Nutty ornaments. A little smaller so not so heavy with holes for a ribbon to hang. And thanks for the great idea Barbara. I plan on making more as Christmas gifts.
The schools are closed this week for Thanksgiving so I hope to get in some more studio time. I have started a new encaustic triptych that I hope to show you soon.
Enjoy your weekend!


Sparrow Avenue

Barbara at Sparrow Avenue has done an amazing drawing of the robin photo I took this past summer. She is using it for the month of May in her beautiful new calendar. She is such a talented artist!
Take a look at more of her beautiful artwork on her blog. The calendar is for sale on her etsy site too.



Yesterday was very chilly in the morning but it was a gorgeous day for raku! It eventually warmed up a little thank goodness because the students fingers were numb!
There are actually two sections of ceramics this year so I hope to have another raku workshop in the spring if I can get funding for two. I'd hate for the other ceramics students to miss out on this event.
Luckily the kilns were warm so we hung out in front of them like a camp fire.
This is the first kiln load we opened with the pots glowing red hot.
We put the red hot pottery into garbage cans loaded with paper so it lights on fire.
Some of the glazes need to be cooled quickly before they are put into the bins. This one is being sprayed with water so the glaze creates a network of fine cracks.
Then when it is put in the garbage cans (aka reduction chamber) the fire starts and then the lid is closed tight. This will cut off the oxygen supply to the fire so it draws oxygen molecules from the clay and glazes. It's called a reduction because of the reduction in the amount of oxygen.
This is what creates all the great metallic flashing and black carbon colors in the glazes

This is horse hair pottery. The pot is taken from the kiln with no glaze on it. Instead strands of horse hair are singed onto the surface of the clay and leave an interesting burned texture of lines.
Needless to say it really stinks! But it is really fun to do.
I decided to raku fire a few of my nuts. I just can't resist this one particular glaze. It has a nice matte finish and always turns out beautiful. Yet it looks different every time.

On the nuts it turned a beautiful golden color with a bit of coppery magenta flashing on one that you can see on the top.
This is the back side of the same nuts without any glaze on them. I couldn't put glaze on the entire piece because the glaze would fuse to the kiln shelf. Normally I'd just leave that part glaze free but because these nuts roll I just glazed one side. I think I almost like this sooty black side better. You can see the white mark on the one in the middle where it didn't reduce properly. But that's part of raku's spontaneous nature!
This bowl has a red iron oxide crackle glaze on it that turned a beautiful amber color.

And can you believe this is the same glaze I used on the nuts? It was late in the day so it was hard to photograph but it is a cool silvery blue metallic color. On the right side you can begin to see the great pattern of the flames and crumpled paper right on the surface of the glaze.
If you ever get the chance to observe or participate in a raku firing I highly recommend it!
Have a great weekend!


Same old thing

It's been really difficult for me to get to this space lately. Even if I didn't post anything I used to at least check my favorite blogs daily. I haven't even had time to do that recently. October was a busy month for us.
I feel like I have nothing really worthy to share with you. Just the same old stuff.
But I do like making these nuts and I also have really been enjoying this autumn. The last of the leaves are just hanging on and the colors are all faded now.
 The nuts here have been bisque fired and I just finished painting a few with iron oxide. They will be going in the next glaze firing I do for the students next week.
 In my last nutty post my blog friend Barbara pointed out that my nuts would explode in the kiln without a hole, yet she couldn't see one. So here is a close up of the little slit I hide in between the halves of the shell. I try to make it as inconspicuous as possible because I don't want it to be noticed!
I also had the idea to use the jewelers stamps to put my initials on them. So tiny.
Enjoy the rest of your week!


Accidents happen

 I was so sad when my otchipotchi pebble vase broke. Especially since I knew she didn't make this exact vase anymore. But it did give me an excuse to order a brand new one!
 My new table vase arrived last week! And it is slightly bigger and much more stable than my other one.
 I usually keep it on the window sill so being more stable is definitely a plus. It can get windy and get knocked over or bumped by hands washing dishes.
But it is my favorite place to put it! I cut some red twigged dogwood with their beautiful white berries to display in my new vase.
I think it looks perfect on the window sill next to my ceramic nuts too.