Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kiln Opening Celebration!!!

Photo of 2" porcelain tiles that I have been working on. Leaves and other outdoorsy things.

Photo of the kiln loaded up before it gets fired. Look at all those pots!!!!!

The last kiln firing of the season is done at Terrestrial Forming Pottery Studio, so now we celebrate! I had a bunch of really great tiles and ornaments come in this firing and Peter "the Potter" Johnson, and Chester (my man half), had over 900 pots and sculptures come out.

So in order to celebrate we planned a Kiln Opening Celebration and Holiday Open House for this Saturday, Dec. 19, from noon-6 p.m. I am making some breads and mulled cider for refreshments... yum!
Stop in and say "Hi" if you are in the area. The studio is located at 5385 Lamos Road, Whitehall, MI 49461-call 231-894-2341 if you are lost.
Happy Holidays to everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Ornaments, ornaments, ornaments!!! Now that Mari and Mike are done getting married, my creative life is getting back to ornament making. Yea!! I even have them online at my etsy page.

Welcome and enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Infant is UP!

Thanks to the good work of Dr. Richard Van Lente and the Resurrection Cemetery near Grand Rapids the Infant of Prague feature is now complete. As you can see the tiles I created using slip trailing are surrounded by a metal frame which is mounted to a piece of granite. An upright curved piece of granite with flat matching top and bottom granite pieces complete the design.

Dr. Van Lente designed the granite feature and searched the world to find tile that would work for the center. Then we met up at a fundraiser for the ArtsPlace in Fremont, MI. And he talked me into trying to do it.

And am I glad he did! I am now tile crazy and making more and more tiles using slip trailing.

Once again Dr. Van Lente has changed my life. The last time was when he got me to go to Italy but that is another story.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Land, Sea and Sky

GO SEE THIS SHOW!!! Steve Replogle is an awesome artist and friend. His show is up at the Nuveen Community Center for the Arts in Montague through the 27th. GO SEE THIS SHOW!

Steve framed and matted 100 pieces to be displayed. There are 86 displayed plus prints ($25 each-such a deal). So check it out!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tile Show and Open House Extravaganza!

Alas, the tile show is over. I forgot to post it ahead of time so now you can only enjoy my terrible photos. Jan Johnson, Russ Reagan and I put together this show at Terrestrial Forming Pottery Studio in Whitehall. It showcased how we stayed sane this past winter and even some of my new jewelry ideas (mini tiles).
It was really cool to see all of our tiles displayed together. I was also really excited to see so many people that I did not expect, come to the show. Overall it was a very fun (and exhausting) Sunday.

Besides our awesome one of kind tiles, Chester had homemade soda on hand, I made lemon squares (see them in the above photo-Don't they look good!) and a couple of dips, and Jan brought in box o' wine and lots of munchies. Russ, unfortunately, was ill, so he wasn't able to hang around. But hopefully he will get well soon....

Monday, June 29, 2009

more, morE, moRE, mORE, MORE TILES

The latest tiles and tile-ish things....

Oh, and bye, bye Infant. Sniff. Your chariot awaits.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Infant of Progress

So I have been working, and working and working and actually have made progress on the Infant of Prague project! Tiles are almost completed (I have to re-fire one), and the cement board is anxiously awaiting its adhesive.

(here are photos of tiles getting glazed and some of the finished ones.)

Oh, and I now have heat in Le woodshed (other wise known as my workshop).

And I have been finishing up a jewelry order.

And I have a new NEPHEW!

And Mari and Mike got ENGAGED!

That is about it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Out in the dirt

In response to Becky's request to learn about gardening by following my outdoor experiments, I am going to start including a post now and then about my upcoming garden. So I can lead by trial and error and not by actual knowledge. Masters gardeners stand aside, there is an amateur in your midst.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Spring!

After a much needed break from the great white (or gray) North, we took a vacation to Georgia and then to Pittsburgh, PA. A tour of friends, art, and all things springy, if you will. Visiting the Carnegie , Warhol, and Frick museums, and enjoying many many great drinks, we are back to work in Michigan.

And as part of that work, I am listing a bunch of my latest creations on Etsy. Slip trailing has taken a turn to the earrings and here is an example! The Infant of Prague project has really got my creative brain parts engaged.

The Infant of Prague project is well underway, and is drying. VERY slowly! I don't want it to warp, so the almost 7" tiles have been drying for well over two weeks. I got the full scale drawing finished over a month ago, and it took me a bit to get the tiles rolled out. Or should I say, it took Chester a lot of effort to get the tiles rolled out. He says that working with porcelain is like working with toothpaste. Although I think it is pretty great stuff and the results will be well worth the efforts. It makes glazes look so good!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learn something new

I just found out that the term "slip trailing" is another name to for "tubelining". I think I will stick with the words "slip trailing" to define my tiles. Both are rather funny terms, don't you think. One brings to mind a fashion faux pas, the other a technique to fix holes in a bicycle tube or a kind of German sausage poorly translated into English. My education continues.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Visit to the Salon

You might have thought I was taking a trip to the hair salon, but you would be sorely mistaken.

Ah, yes, the upcoming postcard salon at the Muskegon Museum of Art is fast approaching. In fact it is a very fun exhibt of hundreds of 4"x6" works of art by all sorts of artists. No jury, no fee, and anyone can put in up to 5 pieces. This year I have porcelain postcards as seen here. -->
The closing is a mad rush for first-come, first-rip-off-the-wall-and-purchase, since all the pieces are for sale for $30. (Which is a great deal for a small original artwork.) Plus it is fun to watch people get so excited about getting the artwork they want, that they are almost willing to get a bit feisty over it. Enough of the polite "excuse me", they put a little elbow into it.
Art Salons beat out beauty salons any day of the week.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Test Results

Wahoo! I got some results in from the porcelain slip trailing and glaze testing marathon. The clay lines are staying put, which is encouraging. And the glaze application is okay-not perfect yet. All but the reds are working great, so more testing to follow.

I am digging the look of the white lines. Chester is now making me tea, so here ends my post.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Uncomfortable Animals

Oh, so sad. Oh, so cute.

Something I have been working on for a few months - Uncomfortable Animals - are beginning to get my wheels turning again. I am thinking about branching out to grumpy monsters, or something along those lines. But right now I have five different depressed creatures lurking in the corner of my studio, including a soggy bat, queasy snail, dizzy giraffe, hungry cat, and chilly bird.

These little tiles came about because there are hundreds of little spots in the kiln that were not being used. So I thought I should make something to fill this wasted space, and began to make ornaments. Then my work kept shrinking until now the tiles are tiny, tiny, tiny. Maybe they will shrink into nonexistence.

Today I am working on getting my small porcelain tiles turned into jewelry up on my etsy page. ( ) It is pretty cool thing, that someone with limited computer skills can get involved in selling and buying handmade stuff online with minimal strife.
Plus it makes me work on my photography skills. Although most of the photos of the ornaments were taken by Justin Munter - a way good photographer & friend - check out his work at . I have web site envy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life Skills

If you ever have had a conversation with the billing department of your phone company, well, you know exactly how frustrating it can get. Today I discovered that I have a new talent/skill. I am going to it, "phone call complaint perseverance and oral argumentation techniques" just so it can be a very long title, to match up to the very long time I was put on hold. Alas, if only there were more hours in a day that could devote to calling people in customer service, I really could hone this latent skill to perfection. And I am sure they would love to hear from me to. Again. And again. And again.

As guide to help others through their own customer service journeys, I thought I would share somethings that I discovered today.

1. Just keep pressing 1 on the automated phone answering service until you actually speak to a living entity call a "human".
2. The first person you talk to in customer service is a practice run.
3. When you go through the recycling to find the very important tiny bit of paper that came with your bill, do not dump it out on the kitchen table, the floor works much better.
4. When you go through the recycling to find the very important tiny bit of paper that came with your bill, but make sure the cat is locked in another room, or big trouble will result.

5. Think of being put on hold, like an extended coffee break. Tape the phone to your ear, make some cookies, read the paper, wash the floor, do the laundry, etc.

6. The hold music was designed to make you want to hang up. I am sure there are subliminal messages in it, coaxing you to do this. It is trying to be like The Borg. But by listening to your own chewing and swallowing of cookies and coffee, you can resist the temptation. Maybe it is time to invest in some gum.

And now our bill is actually correct, or at least the version in the company's computer is supposed to be corrected. There are about two hours of my life I will never get back, but oh the joy of getting ones own way.
And I wonder why I have not been making art lately.....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

Testing of the slip trailing method has now commenced.

After first rolling out and drying out some clay (5 lbs to be exact), then rehydrating it with water gram by gram, then mixing it with some washing soda, then trying again, and again, and again, to get a nice slip, I realized I had no clue what a nice slip is supposed to look like. So being the good little students that we are, we (Chester too!) have been doing research on the correct proportions of water to clay to deflocculant. And have come up with a bunch of conflicting results. Everyone has their own method and preferred kind of slip per application. The expert in my life (Chester) has informed me that maybe we should play it by ear and see what happens. So that is what is going on.

Currently, I have a slab cut into 4" tiles with various kinds of slip mixures and slip trailing designs all starting to dry. The test will be to see if the tiles warp, the slip lines fall off, etc. etc. etc....

It is actually a pretty fun way to create a design on a tile. Once you get a slip that is working, that is. The trick is to get a slip that does not flatten out when you apply it, so your lines stay crisp. I am using a pretty watered down slip from what I started with. Because I am using a applicator that has a really small opening (as to make very narrow lines), I need something that will squeeze through the hole. If I use a bigger applicator, I might go for a thicker slip, but playing it by ear is working out better then using the triple balance beam.

Although I really like measuring things to be able to get the same results, sometimes it does not work that way. Cara "Flexibility" O'Brien, you know......

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oh yeah, I have a blog....

Oops. That was a long intermission between posts.

Well, since the last post much has happened, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, the end of the ground squirrel, and oh yeah, we got a kitten (now more like a little cat).
Plus I was hired to do a tile mural type thing for Resurrection Cemetery in Grand Rapids. Which is something I need to get started on pronto. In case your wondering, the design is based on an icon of the Catholic church, The Infant of Prague. Usually dressed up in fancy robes of gold and crimson, holding a world and signing peace, The Infant of Prague is generally blond haired and blue eyed. My infant distinctly resembles our 2 year + friend Iris. The older icons I looked at while researching this design featured babies that were kind of on the skinny side. So I thought I would make the infant a bit more chunky.

My plan is to create the 2'x3' mural out of porcelain clay 6"x6" tiles. I am going to try my hand at using a "slip trailing" technique. This means the design will be outlined on each tile using a liquid porcelain slip. The slip lines will be raised causing each area to look like little a pool. Glaze will be put into each pool area. Kind of like color by number with raised lines. Since I haven't done this before, it is all in my head right now. So onto testing.

Right now I am learning about deflocculating. No kidding. It is not some S & M thing. Deflocculating is making clay particles repel each other. And then this helps make a slip with less water. Slips that have as little water as necessary will shrink at the same rate (hopefully) as the clay that they are applied to. (well that is what I am understanding right now....I could be wrong.) So then the thought is that the slip lines will stick to the clay tiles and not dry at a different rate and fall off.

So now you know as much as I do about deflocculating. Yeah!