Raku Class

I taught a Raku class recently and as usual I learned a lot.  But first I had to refurbish my Raku kiln.  I’ve had this kiln since the mid 80’s? and the last time I used it I burned too much gas.  So I ordered a new kiln blanket, and relined the original kiln right on top of the old liner.  The blanket is made of spun kaolin fibers and create a fabulous heat barrier in a tiny space.  

 

the blanket can be cut to size with scissors

 

 

 

 

After piecing together some scraps on the bottom of the kiln and using high temperature wire to secure the seam it was time to apply heat!

 

 

 

 

It was a beautiful morning when I set up the kiln.  I used some soft brick stacked two high to hold the kiln shelf.  In Raku firing the pieces are usually fired one at a time so the shelf is pretty small.  A round shaped kiln is also a plus as it directs the flame around the piece keeping the temperature more even.  A small gas tank is attached and we are ready to fire!

 

 

 

 

As students arrive and glaze their pieces we get a rhythm going, preheating the next pot on top of the kiln helps to move things along as the piece is already hot when I restart the kiln.  Each firing takes 15- 30 min.

 

 

 

 

Some of the finished ware.

 

Some of my finished ware available in my store.

Letting Go

I recently donated a Green Man to an auction for my favorite local art center. The Dairy Barn in Athens OH.

Paw Paw Green Man Sun

I also decided that I was done doing craft fairs. Even though I enjoy meeting my customers in person and talking peoples ears off, the time to pack, haul, set up, and tear down a decent display is a youngsters game. I’ve been called many things but “spring chicken” hasn’t been heard in a month of Sundays.

Not to mention the breakage.

It feels good, almost as good as actually losing weight ;-D

NEW YEAR, NEW WORK

What to do when the snow flies?  Fire a kiln!  I’ve been playing with glass again and I found a new rabbit hole to explore.  I’ve entered a few of these pieces into juried shows.  I’ll let you know if I get in anywhere.  Some of them are so new I’m not sure if they’re done so they still reside on my work table.

CHASM view 1 note the falling water

CHASM view 2

CHASM detail

things are moving along…

Keeping warm and carrying on.

 

Christmas Craft Fairs, where to find my work.

You can find my work year round at the Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, Ohio and Nelsonville Emporium, Nelsonville, Ohio.  I’m always online just click on store in the upper left corner to go to my etsy shop.  There’s no need to register with etsy to shop, they have introduced guest checkout.

This year I’ll be doing two craft fairs, kicking things off on black Friday in Covington Kentucky at the Ohio Designer Craftsman Winterfair!

I’ll be doing the Dairy Barn Holiday Bazaar the following weekend. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

My Muse

I am so very lucky to live in a most bountiful place, surrounded by trees, flowers, streams, and stars. All of this natural beauty impresses itself into my artwork much like I impress leaves into clay.  My husband and I have planted hundreds of trees on our farm since we moved here so many years ago.

spring

summer

fall

winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have collected leaves, bugs and other natural ephemera for as long as I can remember, I’m still partial to the red leaves of fall.  When I started making “leafy” pottery I tried to turn clay leaves into bowls and such but the age old question asked by many through the years is “but can you eat spaghetti out of it?”  No.

I did find ways to use leaves to print onto thrown ware and tiles, from super simple to extra detailed.

dogwood leaf bowl

leaf print on tile

 

 

 

 

 

 

My latest leaf product has come full circle, individual ceramic leaves that can hang on the wall or sit on a table, or both.  Click on store in the upper left corner to see all of my products.  I’m currently running a coupon code in my online shop for $10 off any order over $50, good until January 30,2018.  Just put HOLIDAY17 in the coupon space at checkout.

falling leaves

falling leaves

Majestic Gallery National Show

The Majestic Gallery in Nelsonville, Ohio will be exhibiting two of my sculptures as part of their Majestic National juried show. The show opens on October 27 as part of the Final Friday events. Final Fridays in Nelsonville are a wonderful example of community fun, the square is pedestrian friendly, it’s laid back and has a wonderful range of art experiences.
The featured photo shows a slumped glass and ceramic sculpture “Carried Away”. Also in the show is “Medusa” a stoneware wall sculpture shown below.

Medusa

https://attedragon.wixsite.com/majesticgalleries

Where to find my work fall,2017

You can always see most of the things I make in my store by clicking the tab on the upper left corner of this page.

I also make sculptures that I exhibit in juried shows.  This fall as part of the Women in Appalachia Project three of my sculptures will be on view at four galleries in Ohio and West Virginia.

https://www.womenofappalachia.com/

glass and clay, untitled

view 2

Green Woman

Greenman                                                                                    

 

feeling amphibious

It’s been a wet summer and I’ve had boxes of kittens dropped off here at the farm but this is a new one on me!  A basket of Frogs!!  It didn’t take them long to spread out and make themselves at home.

How I Photograph my Pottery

The three most important things about selling on line are 1- the photograph 2- the photograph and 3- the copy.  Let’s face it when someone is scrolling through thousands of available products you have about a 60th of a second to catch their eye and then you have a moment to get their attention.

peeking through the curtain

 

 

backstage

 

 

 

 

 

When I first opened my  online shop one of the first things I did was search for something that I also  make.  For example, a teapot.  Then after scrolling through the first five pages I jumped to page 12,879.  I found photos that were dark, out of focus, and swamped by the fussy background.  In order to eliminate the problem of too dark and fuzzy is to use a tripod.  You can shoot at very slow shutter speeds to allow enough light in without moving during the shot.  Auto focus has been a real help since my eyes aren’t getting any sharper but if you have the option to shoot in different modes you may need to set the focus area.  It’s important to try to focus in a mid point of a 3-D item so the whole item is in focus not just the front on the rim.  Using a small aperture (the bigger the f-stop number the smaller the opening) also creates a bigger “depth of field”.  This means that more of the item, front to back will be in focus as opposed to just a thin front to back slice being in focus.  Of course the smaller the opening, the longer the exposure time to get enough light making a tripod essential.

Disclaimer here, I don’t know anything about cell phone photography, smart or otherwise.   I use a digital SLR camera and I learned with film cameras.  I’m sure someone out there has come up with a tiny tripod for phone cameras.  No matter what camera you use, photos are still all about light so let’s start there.  I like to use natural light and I often shoot pictures of my Greenmen outside on the east side of the house in the afternoon shade.  I tack a piece of backdrop onto the wall with a hole at the screws for hanging the piece.

shooting outside, creating my own shade

One of the drawbacks of using natural light is conditions are not always optimal.  An overcast day on the shady side of the building is best.  However you can create some overcast by tacking a large piece of semi sheer fabric at the top of the backdrop for the piece and drape it over you and camera to diffuse the sharp reflections that occur on a bright sunny day.  I have also used a canopy with poster board covering the gap to create more shade for my green man photos.  If you look closely you can see the reflections of the trees in the background.

everything reflects in a dark shiny surface

 

the backdrop is attached to the ceiling on a roller

my table with backdrop, curtain and tripod

Most of my items are smaller than the Greenmen and I shoot these on my table with a translucent white backdrop that is hanging from the ceiling and can be rolled up when not in use. I also hang some sheer white fabric in front of the table to give a uniform look to the highlights, eliminate reflections and bounce more light on the subject.

The light comes from a west window so I shoot before the sun gets too low. I can also open a door if the light is dim , for example on a rainy day. I also use a piece of white poster board on the dark side to bounce more light back onto the shadows. A few highlights and a gentle shadow are fine and help show the dimensions of the piece. If you don’t have a window handy a lamp will do. You may have to try different white balance options to find the one that gives the truest color balance.

If the item has a shiny dark surface using a piece of black fabric or paper in front of the item will eliminate reflections of every item in the room.  Cut a hole or a long vertical slit for the camera lens to peek through.

Greenman on a white background with a black cloth hanging in front to eliminate reflections

I’m able to make any adjustments needed using the photo app that came with my computer, color balance and exposure are the most used along with cropping, fill up that screen.  Think of your photograph as another work of art and really look at it.  Keep notes and keep trying, you’ll get better.