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.

 

exhibitions 2017

Four of my slumped glass and clay sculptures will be on display this winter.  “Off Course” seen above and below will be in the Athens Voices show that starts in Athens Ohio on Jan 13.

click the link below to see where it will sail off to next…

Athens Voices USA 2017

 

Three more sculptures  will be in the Ohio University Multicultural Center Gallery in Baker Center as part of the Women of Appalachia Project.  I’ll be helping to hang the show with several other artists, this is one of the perks, getting to know other artists in a relaxed space where we all work together to put on a show.  And quite a show it is, funny, thoughtful, personal, evocative, and poetic!   The opening reception is on Feb 3 from 5-8pm.  click on the link below for more info

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.womenofappalachia.com/

Where to find my work Holiday 2016

I will be selling my work in five places this holiday season.  As always, in my etsy shop, just click on store at the top of this page to go there and see my wares.

Starting November 18,2016 and running through December 24 the Dayton Visual Art Center will be showcasing my work in their annual Holiday Gift Gallery. Here’s a link

ARTtoBUY: Holiday Gift Gallery | November 19-December 24, 2015

On Black Friday I will be starting a three day craft fair in downtown Cincinnati (Covington KY) sponsored by Ohio Designer Craftsmen. Nov 25-27.  Stop by booth #328 for a 10% discount!
http://ohiocraft.org/craft-fairs/winterfair-cincinnati/

On December 2 and 3 I’ll be doing one last craft fair at the Dairy Barn in Athens, OHhttp://dairybarn.org/event-view/2016-holiday-bazaar/

As always my work is available year round at the Nelsonville Emporium in Nelsonville, OH and the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, OH

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EZ clean bird feeders just before the glaze firing

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the same feeders all shiny and bright

 

 

Green Men/Women

The featured image above is the green man that inspired a custom order.  The customer requested a happier visage, most of my guys look somewhat stony.  I did do a winking green man many years ago I’ll try to dig up a pic before I finish this post (it was taken in my pre digital days).  Most of the green man facial features are limited to eyes, nose and mouth.  I often spend time working a dimple or crease only to have it disappear under the leaves.  I still do all the foundation work because it defines the lines that I will follow later.

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When I do a custom order I usually make at least two, the fire goddess can be cruel.  This is contestant number one for my customer to choose from.  He is larger, has darker green glaze because of the thickness of the glaze.  I think he looks like he has just gotten a joke or he is about to tell one.  The next three photos show close ups of him showing the definition in the leaves.

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Contestant number two  is a little smaller, and a little more triangular in shape.  The glaze gets thinner in some spots and lets the leafy details shine through.  I poured this glaze onto the piece while I was holding it over a bucket to catch the overflow.  I used the same procedure for both, but the results vary because it is very difficult to see the different thicknesses until the piece is fired.

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DSC_1171As you compare the two green men consider that I hand form each face.  I think there is a strong family resemblance mostly in my magnificent noses but they come by it honestly.  I will end this post with a gallery of green men and women that I have made.  enjoy

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Greenwoman with matte copper glaze and all Maple leaves

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one of my early Greenmen with a matte green glaze

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the first Greenman with multiple green stains fired on

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Bacchus with stains, no glaze

Another custom order from Decadent Greenman

Scarred Woman

Scarred Woman

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Bacchus with light green glaze and red grapes

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Sacred Oak Greenman with all oak leaves showing the four directions in a light green glaze

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Paw Paw leaf Sun Greenman

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Winking Greenman

 

 

Custom Dog Bowls (a tale of two tails)

waiting patiently for my new bowls, my person is GREAT!!

Peppa Jane waiting patiently for new bowls, my person is GREAT!!

I have always been open to making custom orders, I prefer them to be in my ballpark but if the idea intrigues me and I have the time, well I’m a sucker for a challenge, and it’s a perfect excuse to try something new.  Experimentation being the soul of creativity.

I recently received two commission orders for matching dog food and water bowls, so I documented the process for both.  Each order was unique, as is each dog.  As I put this post together I realize I didn’t take any pictures of the forming process.  I will update with pics of my next 3-D dog dish……. but meanwhile

One customer wanted an extreme slow food dish with the raised center to be an English Bulldog face and his name on the outside, “McKensington”.  I asked for pictures because if you’re doing a face you may as well be specific with the markings.  I thought he would be older…

 

I was completely smitten when I saw the pictures of little McKensington and I was determined to make him a bowl he could grow into.  My first task was to draw a face.  I did this by looking at clip art and photos of English Bulldogs and making a drawing that would fit into the proposed bowl.  After making my drawing in my sketchbook to size, I traced it onto another sheet of paper that I cut out and cut along some of the lines in the face.  I also needed a name for both the food and water bowl so I made a template with cutouts.

Photo on 6-15-16 at 1.44 PM

After throwing the bowl, I used the paper face to cut it out of the bottom of the bowl.  When cutting I always angle the cut so the piece will drop out of the bottom and sit inside overlapping along the edges.  I attached the cut out face onto the bottom of the bowl by scoring and slipping the two pieces together being careful to retain all of the detail.  I then used the paper to add the lines and markings on the face.  All of this was done on soft clay, after the bisque firing the lines were “set in stone”.

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glazing the face and looking at the drawing with markings

 

 

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At the last minute, I did a modicum of research, little pink noses usually turn into black noses.  A quick e-mail confirmed, “Yes please go black”.

That's right I made two, got a dog named McKensington?

That’s right I made two, got a dog named McKensington?

The glazing process included several “Stroke and Coat” glazes from Mayco.  When I  do my detail work, the lines that I carved into the face allow me to contain colors.  I then wax the glazed parts and dip into an overall glaze.  In this case the over all glaze was to be “Sea Green Pearl” from Columbus Clay Co.  http://www.columbusclay.com/

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the water bowl only had a name, solid green inside

the water bowl only had a name, solid green inside

The second custom dog food and water bowl order was for little Peppa Jane, she’s a little older than McKensington but just as cute!!

 

peppa jane

Oh so adorable Peppa Jane,  this is the bowl that inspired this custom order.  I was requested to add the name Peppa onto the pig in a food and water bowl.

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I made the bowls much like the ones before but the pig is only slightly raised, a medium slow feeder.  I made the pigs so they could face each other, or not.

bisque fired food and water

bisque fired food and water

I was halfway through the process when I realized that I didn’t have enough of the old brown glaze to cover two bowls.  I usually use brown glazes for accents on my Greenmen and Twig Teapots and don’t keep a large bucketful, so I bought more of the glaze and did some tests.  It didn’t go well as they had changed the formula.  After much fretting I asked the customer if she’d be happy with another background color.  She liked blue, blue is grand, I had more than one to choose from and we settled on the cobalt blue.  The pig is glazed with Stroke & Coat “Cheeky Pinky” the name Peppa was carved and filled in with Stroke & Coat “Bluebeard”.  This was covered with wax and the rest of the bowls were dipped into my big bucket of “Ultramarine” blue from Columbus Clay.

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The tail is a 3-D curl of clay with gobs of glaze to keep it easy to clean.  I hope to update this post with pictures of the bowls “in action”.  You can see where the two dips into the blue glaze overlapped to create a wide dark blue line.  I position my dip to make this overlap make sense in the overall design ie a horizon line.

 

“The River” exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center

My work will be on view at the Parkersburg Art Center as part of “The River” a biennial juried exhibition.  The exhibit runs from June 26 through August 6, 2016.  An Opening Reception is on June 26 from 1-3 pm come join the fun!

Here are my three Fish sculptures that are in the show.

Silica Based Life FormFish

Silica Based Life Form Fish #3220

Silica Based Life Form Fish #3439

Silica Based Life Form
Fish #3439

Silica Based Life Form, Fish #9277

Silica Based Life Form Fish #9277

All of these pieces are from my Silica Based Life Form Series that began in 2013 and continues to evolve.

Here is a link to the Parkersburg Art Center for more information.

http://www.parkersburgartcenter.org/

 

My New Medusa

DSC_0481 If you’d like to read chapter one of this saga go to the “Don’t Count Your Chickens” entry of May 2015.   So, some months after I recovered from that disaster and I had a Green man commission I decided to make another Medusa too.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the process this time but it is essentially the same.  Start with a hand made face and add snakes to taste.

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I did make one update on this Medusa, the cobra that forms the frame around her face is hollow.  This allowed me to get a bigger platform to attach the snakes heads and a faster drying time.DSC_0475

She is available for sale on etsy

https://www.etsy.com/listing/455954672/medusa-stoneware-clay-wall-art?ref=shop_home_active_1

Slow food dog dishes

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inspiration

Every dog is an individual with all the quirks and preferences that entails.  Some dogs like to savor their dry kibble, some can’t woof it down fast enough.     I was chatting with my Vet about making a dish that would slow down the eating so I would have a chance to exit the room before they finished, she suggested a raised area to make it impossible to take great big bites.

what's wrong with these tennis balls??

what’s wrong with these tennis balls??

 

My first thought was “What would a doggie like to see in his or her bowl?”

How about a tennis ball, or better yet three?

Bones are always appreciated.

an example of an extreme slow feeder

an example of an extreme slow feeder bowl

 

a less extreme bone bowl in a pretty speckle green glaze

a less extreme bone bowl in a pretty speckle green glaze

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been throwing dog food and water bowls for years with pencil drawings of bones and fire hydrants in the bottom.  My first 3-d bowls had the bone, ball or squirrel pushed up from the bottom but this severely limited the depth.  I now cut the shape out of the bottom of a hand thrown bowl and reattach it inside.  For tennis and baseballs I use a press mold to make the ball and add it or them to the thrown bowl.

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brown squirrel in a large teal green bowl

a field of dreams

a field of dreams

a small bowl for that little dog that will leap into water for any reason

a small bowl for that little dog that will leap into water for any reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

These bowls and more are available for sale in my shop.  Some have sold out but I can always make another.

Don't forget the matching water bowl!

Don’t forget the matching water bowl!

Luna and Basil checking out their new bowls

Luna and Basil checking out their new bowls

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Basil lives in Australia, he’s got a big bowl to grow into

Women of Appalachia art exhibit 2015

This years Women of Appalachia Show has again gathered some very fine artwork made by women who live and work in the many counties of Appalachia.  I’m proud to be apart of this traveling exhibit and I hope you can get to see the show and go to one of the poetry and short story performances.

These are the sculptures that I have in the show.  There is a link to the website with more information at the end of this post.

OFF COURSE glass, clay, stone,shell

OFF COURSE
glass, clay, stone,shell

Below are three of my Fish from the Silica Based Life Form series

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McDonough 2a DSC_3421

http://www.womenofappalachia.com/

You can see this amazing show now at the Parkersburg Art Center, in the Multicultural Gallery in Baker Center, Athens Ohio from Jan 12 through April 30 2016 and at the Pump House Center for the Arts in Chillicothe from May 5 to ?

There is also a written word aspect to this show and three more readings will be held in December, March and May.  These are real women telling their own stories and sharing their poetry.