Berry Baskets and Berry Bowls

The Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail is two weeks away!  One of the items (a customer favorite) that I have been making are berry bowls and baskets.  Here are some drying on my work table, and a couple of finished ones. 

Berry Season is almost upon us!

Berry baskets and plates dryingdetail handle drying

cranberrybasketdetail

two split rim berry bowls

In Yankee Magazine

If you live in the Northeast you probably have heard of  Yankee Magazine.  It has been a mainstay in New England since 1935!

I am honored to be in the current issue, March/April 2013.

yankeemagNew England’s Finest.  The Made-in-New England Kitchen, tools and serving pieces from local artisans.

Teaching my Apprentice about Kiln Repair

Today my apprentice Gemma Farrell got her first look inside of the control panel of my L&L Kiln. I really feel it’s important that my apprentices know every aspect of the pottery business, plus walk away from the two years with great pots.  Gemma already has the great pots, (which I will show off in the next post.)  She just needs the biz end of it… the part they don’t teach you in art school.

Repairing an electric kiln

 

Gemma learning how to fix a kiln

It was definitely time to change the element wires and the thermocouples.  How did I know this you might ask…  well the first sign is that the element wires are starting to grey and flatten in areas… but still work.  The most notable reason to change them now, is that the kiln is taking longer and longer to fire… a sure sign it’s going to break down soon.  The other reason to really, really change them now is that I do not have a big show coming up this month. It seems that kilns tend to break down in the middle of a firing, right before an important show or the holiday season!   My next big show is the pottery trail at the end of April… and I better have the kiln heathly for all the firings coming up!

Whew, take a look at that old thermocouple compared to what it looks like new… won’t be long before that’s a goner.  It’s been over a hundred firings… when that time comes along I know it’s time to take a look at them!

therrmocouple new and old

Big Pots, Shellac Resist, and the Flu

Why did I make big pots the first day of the flu?  Well I knew I was only going to get sicker, so while I could, I made ten little pitchers, five large urns for resist work, and three other large urns.  The second day of the flu I made lids, and slept. The third day I trimmed all the pots, and slept.  The fourth day I slept, trimmed lids, joined knobs, and carved urns.  The remaining ten days I’ve slept, carved urns, took photo’s and slept…  and vowed to get a flu shot next year!

Here are some nice shots of the urns in process.  It’s a very long process, between the throwing, trimming, and carving the feet and rim.  Once the pot dries completely liquid wax resist is brushed on to create the floral pattern.  (This process is known as shellac resist or hydro abrasion).  Then comes the long process of rubbing away the clay with a sponge, (which I thought would be a nice sitting down job while not having much energy).  Where there is no resist the clay slowly gets etched away.

willow watching tall urns freshly thrown

Just finished carving_lucy fagella Tall Urns Drying_Lucy Fagella

The carving process_lucy fagella details_lucy fagella Large Urns Drying_lucy fagella

Here is a finished mini version of the large urn… a little keepsake in my son Andrew’s hands. To see more of these and other urns visit my website and or LuciaUrns on etsy.

White on White Petite Keepsake_Lucy Fagella 

If you want to see a nice little video on this method, check out Ron Philbeck  , “Hydro Abrasion”  He explains it very well!  http://youtu.be/d_HHrNdPGIk

 

Berry Baskets

I took some photos today of my newer berry bowls.  I was getting bored with the bowl part of it… needed to have a little more fun, so now they are berry baskets.

Here are some variations of photos from natural light with props to a grey/black background.  My new props are old finds from our barn.  Kinda going with the industrial/antique look, or cottage/chic… or as I like to call it, (when my feminine pots are juxtaposed with the old finds), industrial/fem.

This photo below is so different from the natural light and props… still nice, not as warm… but feels quiet and calming to me.

Olive Tray with Handles

You may have seen my asparagus trays in the past… I love those trays.  It’s a fun form to make and really serves its function well.  I wanted to make something for olives, so over the summer I kinda just shrunk the asparagus tray down.  The size and scale really work well, and they are as cute as can be.

Summertime Studio, Biodegradable Urns

I have been focusing on the biodegradable urns as I have the last two summers.  The grasses, leaves and wildflowers are readily available… although I seem to be using less than I have in the past.  I’m leaning more towards the patterns as I have always done in my porcelain pottery.  I love patterns and optical illusions… these feel like they are coming together to give the quilt like feeling I love so much.

Here are some photos of the pieces at different stages of drying in the studio.  Once they are completely dry I will photograph them for my etsy shop, LuciaUrns

Damaged Packaging, UNdamaged Pottery

Quoted from a customer of mine last week! 

“The urns came today and my heart sunk when I saw the box.  Thank god you can wrap.  The box was so smashed and ripped I thought for sure the urns were broken. They are great. Thank you.  I took pictures of the box just in case you want to see it.  There was a “sorry the package was damaged” sticker on the box. Thanks again!”

Did I want to see it… of course I did!!  Can’t wait to show my buddies down at the post office.  They often tease me when I walk in… “Hey Lucy throw it to me”… very funny guys!!  I have nothing against the USPS, I think they are the best of the bunch.  These things just happen sometimes. 

I’m just glad I put so much effort into my packing!

Breaking From My Daily Ritual

It is not a regular ritual, like the day in, day out making of my functional pottery.  Making my biodegradable urns is something that happens every couple of months (unless I have a special order).  Making these urns is a whole different mindset from my functional foodie pottery.  The first thing I have to do is clear the big work table… which in turn clears my head.  I lay out the colored papers which I painted months before.  I think about my forms and patterns, roll out the paper clay that I have made weeks before, and begin creating.  The thing I love about these urns is the process… a totally different process than what I do daily in my studio.  The results are immediate, the color, the texture, and the form.  No kiln involved, no waiting a couple of weeks for the results!