Woohoo! I made my first set of wheel-thrown dishes.
So what if the plates shrunk in the kiln more than I anticipated? So what if I made eight, but one was too thin and had to be scrapped? So what if the earth-tone glaze applied along with blue doesn’t show at all? And so what if I need to sand the bottoms more? These are the first plates I’ve made that look and feel like plates as opposed to, say, hockey pucks! I also made a set of four handle-less mugs, and am working on several Raku projects, which are in the beginning stages. Updates to follow when my pieces are fired.
Happy creating, hon!
Want to know what a wiggle-wire is? Click here to read more about this cool pottery tool.
One of the best things about summer is getting together with friends. With less carpools and craziness, it’s nice to hang out and catch up. I love that the day seems longer. Last night, we left a concert in our town’s park about 9pm and it was still light.
Summer invitations mean hostess gifts. Here are three berry-lovely ideas.
I found this adorable strawberry basket filled with chocolate-covered raspberries at Sweet Nothings, a chocolate shop in Summit, NJ. How easy is this to make yourself? All you need is a basket, filler “grass,” and candy or berries. How about making a berry mix? Wrap the mix in plastic wrap and nestle it inside the basket. Tie a bow and off you go!
Berry bowls aren’t just pretty, they’re practical since they are small colanders. I made the two ceramic bowls above, but I’ve seen them in several stores. How sweet would it be to give the hostess a berry bowl already filled? Want to make it even sweeter? Bring along whipped cream and (dare-I-say?) chocolate sauce.
I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture the last time I made Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Click here for a recipe. Know what’s fun about making these? Finishing up the leftover melted chocolate at home.
This semester, my Ceramics instructor challenged us to make a set of small bowls that fit together around a center, chalice-shaped bowl, all resting on a plate. It really was a challenge! It took almost the whole ten classes to make, with a lot of mess-ups. My instructor said, “It’s all about the process.” When we’d had a particularly frustrating throwing day, the other students and I would remind each other to slow down and concentrate.
Hon, doesn’t “It’s all about the process” apply to so many things? That’s why I love my wise instructor and the patience Pottery teaches.
This summer, I took a Raku class taught by master ceramicist, excellent teacher, and all-around wonderful guy, Peter Syak. Not only did the hours fly by, the women I took the class with were great company. I was inspired by them, and by the talented students I take ceramics class with year-round. We learn from each other.
Pottery has given me a way to turn off stress, even if it’s just for a few hours a week. And I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.
Since I took this class last summer and know how beautiful the glazes are, this spring I threw a bunch of clay pots with Raku clay at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.
Do you know what we potters call ourselves? ADDICTED! I’m pretty sure someone in our class wears a T-shirt that reads, “I’m a POT-head.”
To find out more about the Raku process, click on these links:
When it comes to writing, I’d rather be compared to a bunch of other animals. I’d rather soar, roar and wag my tail. But, alas, progress in the world of children’s books crawls along like a turtle.
Speaking of turtles, look at the colorful Box Turtle who showed up in our garden. She had bright orange legs and was quite brave. Just like the courage it takes to submit manuscripts, this little lady didn’t shy away from potential danger. Just like my determination to bring my characters to life, she plodded ahead with purpose when I set her down next to a river. (How do I know she was a she? Her irises were yellowish-brown, rather than red.)
Technically, I play in clay, but I mush and squush, pat and pound, and get lots of dirt under my fingernails in ceramics class. What was great about a rain like the 40 day flood? Shampooing your hair outside. A muddy stream meant tadpoles to inspect. Wet sand on the beach? I still like the feeling of the gritty sand surrounding my sinking feet. Do I sound like a big kid? Hmmm, maybe that’s why no matter what else I’m doing, I’m thinking about children’s books.
Each of my latest ceramics pieces has elements that can relate to children’s books. “How can you relate pottery to books?” you might ask. Hon, if you talk to me for a few minutes, you’ll find out that I often connect seemingly random things. Is that kid-like, too?
I’ve mentioned this before (My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop)–I find children’s books magical. There’s something lovely about words on a page that bring you to another world, make you laugh, let you to believe the unbelievable, teach you something, allow silliness to surface, relate to your own life, can be read dozens (hundreds) of times and always feel fresh. I strive to create magic in my children’s books.
I made the lantern boxes above with Hubby in mind, inscribing them with our wedding date. I love the Little Bear books. In the scene below, “The skunks decided to get married. They had a lovely wedding.” What’s timeless about them? The characters are sweet yet wise, proper yet loving. Friendships and family, the underlying themes, are set in a world seemingly simple, but filled with depth of emotion. Little Bear stories expand my heart.
I make lots of ceramic bowls! I’m not at the point where I can tell the clay what I want it to be. The clay tells me what it wants to be. Boy, is that clay bossy! And a bossy character is part of what makes the Max and Ruby books funny. My kids and I never got tired of reading Bunny Cakes. The scene below sums up the whole book. “Max wanted to help. ‘Dont’ touch anything, Max,’ said Ruby.” You know I have triplets, right? My kids could relate to the sibling rivalry. Guess what theme I explore in some of my books?
Forests are infinitely fascinating to me. I made the plate above with a forest theme: wood grain, foliage and a brick path. I even pressed a piece of wood along the edges. Owl Moon teaches readers about owling, or looking for owls in a forest at night. Not only does the text make you feel the hush of winter snow, the anticipation of calling the owl and the wonder when you see it, the illustrations beg to be studied and explored (look for other night creatures hiding in the branches).
Water is the theme of this handbuilt plate. I glazed the pebble impressions, wavy, watery and slim, rope patterns green and blue. I was thinking of the beach when I made this plate. The Pig in the Pond isn’t set at the beach–its set on a farm–but a hot day, farm animals, Neligan the farmer and a pond are all key elements in this funny picture book. My kids and I laughed every time we read it, especially since Neligan gets naked!
Picking out the red in this plate and accenting it with green and blue took concentration. Loving Mouse Paint did not. Just because this is a board book and it’s about white mice doesn’t mean it isn’t huge in excellence. The mice jump in jars of paint, hop around and mix colors to make other colors, wash themselves off in the cat’s bowl, then paint paper instead. But they leave some paper white “because of the cat.” Genius!
I also make lots of mugs. What’s better in mugs than tea (or coffee or hot chocolate)? A constant source of my childhood imagination was tea parties, whether it was with my stuffed animals, friends, or underwater at the town pool. Mommy Badger carries a tea set in the scene below. The Frances books were written when picture book word counts were longer. They’re perfect for children ages 4-8 who want to sit and explore a story. Frances sings silly songs, likes to rhyme, is a picky eater, gets jealous of her baby sister and has to learn how to share (she reminds me of me!). Her parents get annoyed and frustrated with her, but Frances learns about the world around her with their guidance and, of course, love.
Hon, do you relate things in your life to books, children’s or otherwise? I’d love to compare notes!