Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glaze Safety

Right now I'm itching to make more pots along this line- the fantastic glaze however, is discontinued, it is also not the healthiest of glazes, so I'm a little reluctant to use it- even if I could find more. I love the way that the metallic feels on such an organic form- but I think I'll play around with overglazes and matte surfaces contrasted with high gloss. As soon as the babe is on a little more even keel (the last few weeks of frenzied activity and time away from mama has really messed with her schedule- plus the teeth are still that's fun) I'll start making some pots.

The issue of glaze safety is a big one for me, with young kids around I'd rather not have super toxic materials, as I'm messy, and glaze can sometimes get on clothes which can get touched by N before they get washed., no matter how concious I am of her being around, I feel better knowing that my materials are safe. Unfortunaltly though, there are a lot of potters that don't think of food safety when making their glazes, and on sculptural ware this doesn't really matter, but on food ware it can be very important. I know potters who underfire gloss glazes because they look cool when they're matte, the danger of this is leaching. Leaching happens when acidic things come into contact with the glaze (orange juice, tomato juice, coffee, tea etc. ). Even if your chemicals are 'safe'- calcium, copper, zinc- the idea of leaching is scary to me, not to mention that the more porous a glaze is the more susceptible to staining a piece is- which is not my idea of fun.

So next time you buy a homemade pot- make sure you ask about the glaze- how food safe it, what chemicals go into it, and how high it was fired. Try to stay away from porous looking glazes that are used inside dishes on the surfaces that come into direct contact with food. If there was any stained glass used as a colourant on the peice (melted in the bottom or on top) don't use that pot for eating, as some stained glass colours have lead in them. And if any of your homemade pots stains easily or fades after use, or if they bleed any colour (after filling with clean hot water the water comes away brown) stop using it, because you never know what's in it.

Monday, October 25, 2010


The past few weeks have been a flurry of activity around here- but now that the craft sale is over- I'm back. We made out okay- I think we'll do things a little differently next year. Things like only selling pottery, and possibly toy barns (K makes them, and there wasn't anything like them at the sale). Also starting work for next year's sale now, and working on it all year so that I have enough stuff and good quality control.

This sale is big and there are some really professional looking booths, but there isn't a lot of art there, there's lots of craft and home invention type things. When people were really taken with my stuff the things they liked were the hand carved unique pieces, the colourful glazes, and the funky-aspect of it (funky is my word- they mostly said weird, in a good way). So that's what I'll capitalize on.

It was a good experience because I learned where my market could be- individual mugs, lots of colours, and hand carved and decorated 'showpieces' (turkey platters, soup tureens, covered dishes, cookie jars). It's perfect for me because that is what I want to do, and it fits in well with what's out there, it allows me to focus on what I like, and maximise my skills. But for today I just want to hang out with my little girl- because I've missed that a lot lately.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


These are some small paintings that are finished for the sale, they're quite sweet if I do say so myself- they are small 5x7, and 6x12. I've always thought that I didn't like to paint on board- I like the texture that canvas provides, but this particular board has been over painted so many times that it's got just the right mix of smooth and bumpy, it was a real pleasure to paint on, so I think more boards are in my future, It's so easy to use and inexpensive- especially if you have frames for the works already, so much less work than canvas, and much easier to transport.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Brandon's Big One

This is the poster for the Arts and Craft sale that I'll be attending. It's a big show- lots of vendors- 200 booths! yikes! I'm coming along with all my stuff, and though my last minute glaze tests have been, well, more last minute than I'd like (preparing for this show in two months (!) has me vowing to fire my kiln once a month from now on- or maybe once every two months), they have been successful. I'm loading the last bisque kiln today, for those of you not in the know- pottery gets fired twice (at least)- once for a bisque which allows the clay to vitrify and become more solid or go through quartz inversion, then again to glaze which is the glassy surface. Then I'll have two, maybe three Glaze kilns and then I'll be done, with clay that is.

I still have some painting to do, as well as some sewing, and then display and pricing to sort out. I'll keep ya'll posted about how it's going though- and I apologize for the scarcity of posts- things are busy around here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Slab Mugs

These are the latest finished peices- I'm really in love with this Black glaze and the way it turns blue when it's rubbed off, it brings the pattern out so nicely. I'm a bit nervous that these will be seen as 'too artsy' for people, but they are a refined version of slab mugs that generated a lot of interest this summer those ones were clunky- and these have a nice wight to them- not too heavy, and a nice edge for drinking out of, but they still have what I think is an appealing rustic quality to them.

The top photo is a glaze I tried out and loved- a really simple clear base recipe that supposedly fires well from cone 4-10. I like it clear, and the addition of stains makes it break nicely over raised bits. I thought the purple-blue would be a bit more reddish- but it's growing on me- and it looks great over a copper carbonate green. I'm super happy with the clear glaze, and so I'm going to use that as my base from now on, I love it when glaze tests work out!

Happy thanksgiving everyone! hope your weekend was great.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Poppy Mugs

These are the mugs from the mold I carved, they needed to be cut down a bit because my original mold is so gargantuan, but I think they work, plus I was able to make a jug with the full sized mold. These are the last of the mugs for the craft sale- and as soon as they dry I'm putting them through the kiln- then I'm on to glaze firing- man oh man am I ever cutting it all close.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Kid

Here is the pumpkin harvest, there's a few- quite a lot actually. A whole bunch for a family of three. So I'm not sure what to do with them all- I'm roasting some for pies for thanksgiving today, and I'll carve some for Halloween, freeze some chunks for roasting in winter, freeze some puree for pies and breads and eating. I also might make more pies to freeze after thanks giving because sometimes I feel like I don't get enough of a Pumpkin pie fix with just thanksgiving and Christmas. I could eat a whole pumpkin pie to myself in one day- and K could do the same- it's just by showing some restraint that we don't, and with this pumpkin harvest, restraint just might not be in the cards this year.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Babywearing...what's not to love?

Baby wearing makes everything easier-Well- I suppose mixing up a chocolate cake can be a bit more difficult as the baby will certainly have access to the batter and if they're anything like my babe they will take advantage of that access (Yes-she is eating uncooked cake batter- no I'm not concerned about that). Recently there's been a recall of a baby carrier- It's heartbreaking that children died, and my sympathy goes out to those parents, I can't imagine having to deal with that loss especially when it came about from something meant to bring your child closer to you.
The fact remains though that slings- like almost any product geared towards children-are safe if used properly.

Not only are they safe, but they can be a godsend, for the mother with a colicky baby, for the high-needs child, for the kid that is so smart they need to be stimulated or they will lose their mind- driving their parents to the brink of insanity, for the teething baby, for the active parent.
I've used a couple of types of slings- but Ring Slings are my favorite- I've used one from the moment that N was home until now when a lot of people will ask if she's too big for it (to which say that the rings I use are tested for 250 pounds so if the fabric was stronger I could carry my husband). Slings have allowed my kid to experience my world and be soothed by me without my having to remove myself from my work or society in general.

I'm not sure what it is about slings that makes people so nervous- cribs get recalled, toys get recalled hourly, formula gets recalled- and those things go on- (actually our crib was recalled and we get guff about not putting her to sleep in it- so go figure). The thing about being a parent is that you want to protect your kid from everything- and doing that means that you have to educate yourself about how to use your sling properly, and which slings are safe. Just like anything else.

The slings that were recalled were pouch style slings- what I love about ring slings is that they hold your baby just like you would hold them with your arms, which is key to safety:

here's a few links to safety sites:

and here's a call to action from Adventures in Babywearing. Go there to check out more sling stories.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jack Frost

This morning I got up early- well, early for Saturday- and went outside to start the Kiln. I was rewarded by this early morning delight- a frost covered landscape. Which is all the more delightful because it's supposed to be warm and sunny today. Only Fall can give you this balance of summer and winter- bringing two complete opposites together in one day.