In the Potter’s Kitchen

A new book by Sumi von Dassow, In the Potter’s Kitchen, Handmade pots for Home-cooked Recipes was just released last week from Ceramics Arts Daily.  It looks like a great book for people like me who love to cook and make pots!  I have yet to get a copy, but I know I have at least one photo of my citrus juicers in it as you can see from the introduction on Ceramics Arts Daily.

http://ceramicartsdaily.org/bookstore/in-the-potters-kitchen/

 

PottersKitchenCitrusJuicerChapter 8: Preparation Ware
As with serving ware, almost any pot can be used to prepare food. A cook will grab a bowl to grate cheese into, a mug to whisk corn starch into broth, a saucer to mince a clove of garlic on. But some kinds of pots are designed to make certain preparation steps easier, and those pieces are what this chapter is about, including mixing bowls, egg separators, graters, and juicers.

 

 

 

Summer Slow Down/ Making New Designs

The older I get the more I realize summer is way to short in New England.  So the past two summers I have taken a break from teaching, and slowed down a bit on production… working only about 6-8 hours a day rather than 10-12 hours a day.  I’ve spent many hours in the garden, on my bike, and just taking time to really see the beauty of nature.  I have focused on renewing my creativity, and took some time to follow through with the ideas that have been accumulating in my sketchbook for the past year or so.

Here are some photos of a new urn form and the process; from drying shellac resist design, then glazed but not yet fired, to the finished fired urns.  These new urn forms should be up on my website in the next few months.

shellac resist drying

shellac resist drying

Glazed but not fired.

Glazed but not fired.

leaf grid urn raindrop urn

 

 

The Pottery Studio Re-Design

As the years go by my studio seems to have gotten more and more crowded.  The intention when I renovated our old barn in 2001 was to have a space for my wheel along with two other wheels to teach a few students a week.  Since 2001 I have added three additional wheels, and another kiln.  My classes have gone from one a week with three students, to three a week, with five students in each class.  In 2010 I had an 12 x 10′ foot addition built onto the barn for a kiln room, and have managed to squeeze five wheels, and five work tables into the original barn/studio space.  There are two small loft spaces, one is filled with packing materials and my stock of urns, the other has become my photography studio. The 800 square foot studio is filled to the brim to say the least.

These last few years I felt as though I was losing “my space” to my students.  There were just too many wheels in an unplanned space, it was time to redesign, get rid of tables and wheels that were too big, get rid of chairs and purchase stools, and just streamline the space.  This included selling two of my beloved potters wheels.  One was my first wheel I bought with my babysitting money in the 12th grade, (I cried when that went out the door.) The other was a Randall kick wheel… (if you went to Alfred University you know how much that wheel means!)  That Randall was great, but just too big for a teaching studio.  I replaced these two wheels with three more Bailey Pottery Wheels, (love those wheels).

Luckily I really enjoy building things.  I have enough patience for rough carpentry, but the detail of finished wood working doesn’t interest me… maybe it’s because I am all detailed out with my pottery!

For three weeks I kept myself very busy.  I sold one 4 x 4 square work table, and built a 3 x 8′ work table.  I then took down two large shelving units. I now had a work table to work on to build two new shelving units which fit better into the space. I took apart my 3 x 3 rolling board for recycling clay which was under the 4 x 4 old table, and built a new one to fit under the new table. I put up new corner shelves for speakers, (better surround sound… I need the good music while working). I then set the five potters wheels in their new space and built four work stations between the wheels. I set my stand-up Bailey wheel under a large window and built a little side shelf for easy access to my tools. Lastly I stretched canvas on the new work table and put up some new lighting!

One of the exciting things about the new studio design is that I have my own space, separate from the student space, and, at the same time the student space is now more spacious!

putting the shelf togethernew student shelvesnew work tableNew work tableMy throwing spaceStudent Space

Spring at Lucia Pottery

The dogs, Daisy and Willow are guarding the studio as usual, while I am making my pots. My focus right now in the studio is stocking up on urns.  I have made my very smallest keepsakes to my largest urns, and have very tired hands to prove it. Now I’m giving it a rest and taking photos for my etsy FoodieCeramics shop, and my etsy LuciaUrns shop.  This coming week I will be in the fields and woods picking leaves and flowers for my yearly springtime making of biodegradable urns. And lastly, I having been watching a lot of baseball.  Only one son is playing this year as the other is off to college and not playing for now.  The Greenfield HS varsity team did very well again this year, not as good as last year (winning the Western MA championship).  They lost yesterday in the Western MA final.  Today the summer American Legion league started, so not even a day break for a baseball mom!

Lazy Memorial Day weekendReady to carveAll Sizes of UrnsFields of Grass Urn dryingGreen leaves urns drying

 

Pottery and Poetry

Another poem from a customer… this one is about a cup purchased from my seconds shelf.

Ode to a Second

I cannot say you were made for me,
But you are mine nonetheless.
I cherish your not-so-fatal flaws
None other could possess.

A little bumped there,
A little warped here,
You might be just a little off—
But aren’t we all, my dear?

Your face is that of a marble
Chiseled out of the blue green sea,
Your shape a sweeping ripple
Of raw resiliency.

Your beauty perplexes,
But your imperfections I understand.
No, I cannot say you were made for me,
But you fit so perfectly in my hand.

Thank you Ashley Fitzroy!

What to expect at my studio on the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail

vases

Today I cleaned the studio with my two assistants. Pamela, and Rosie.  Both of them went nuts, so if you come to the studio and don’t see a speck of clay anywhere… you will have to believe me that I really am a potter and I do actually make pots here!

The studio gets transformed from a working clay studio, to a gallery/shop. The five potter’s wheels are moved, the glazes are hidden under the glaze table, and all the work tables are covered with table linens for the display of pottery. Here are some pots fresh out of the kiln waiting to go on display.

sugar jar after ready for the trail sugar and salt

There are nine stops with 20 potters on the Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail, some will have live music, some will have demos, all will have food!

At my studio you will first see a tent in front of the studio with pottery demonstrations on the wheel. (unless it is too cold, then my assistant will demo inside). If you want to get your hands dirty at the potter’s wheel, we will be more than happy to let you give it a try!  Once you come into the studio your senses will be greeted to the site of a lot of pottery and the aroma of garlic. You can’t come to one of my studio sales without seeing the garlic grate bowls that I make in action.  So walk in a little further and taste the fresh-baked bread dipped into the garlic/olive oil mixture. You might want to eat some homemade cookies while you’re there too. Take your time, ask questions, this is your time to see how a potter makes this all happen. As you are browsing though the pottery displays, don’t forget about the my kiln room which get transformed into its own little pottery seconds sale. Yes there will be some pots with slight imperfections, sold at bargain prices!

Once you have had enough of my pots, walk through the studio door into our kitchen and see the pottery of Victoria Crowell. You should start smelling flowers by then, because with Vikki when you buy a vase filled with flowers you get not only the vase, but the flower bouquet too! I am happy to be having a guest potter this year for the first time, and Vikki is a great choice!  Here is a Vikki teaser.  Take a look at her website for more.

vikki c 2014

Vikki’s colorful cups!