A short while back I decided to challenge myself to make 100 mugs, giving it the very original title the 100 Mug Challenge. The challenge wasn’t to simply make 100 mugs, but to make them different from each other in some meaningful way. When a mentor suggested it could take a year or more, I scoffed at the idea. I was about eight mugs into it when I realized that a year might be optimistic.
I found myself easily side-tracked. Either there was a form I wanted to try again and again, or I felt the need to move onto something completely different, like berry bowls, for a while. I let myself put it aside. I didn’t want to burn out.
I have come to realize that I need to lay down some ground rules, because I may have been cheating. I find a form and I get stuck on it. I make it over and over and change it up by carving into it. I tell myself it is different and it is! However the canvas is the same. Maybe someday I’ll do a follow up challenge – 100 surface designs: same form with 100 unique surfaces.
I will be starting again but I’m setting some ground rules:
Rule 1 – Take better notes. My documentation is lacking. I know there are unique mug forms that I have made yet no longer have and I didn’t take any pictures of it. Relying on my memory makes counting up where I am in the challenge close to impossible. Memory will trip me up. I’m certain at some point I’ll repeat a form that I did months ago, so not truly unique.
Rule 2 – Document in the greenware phase. The same mug will look and feel completely different simply by changing up the glaze choice. My hope is to explore new forms, not surfaces for now.
Rule 3 – It is okay to explore a form for a while but iterations of a form don’t count in this 100 mug challenge.
Rule 4 – No specific time limit. It is okay to put the challenge aside at times.
Not long after my last post I found out that Fire Works Pottery Studio would be closing. This was a big blow. Not only was Fire Works the home of my studio but also the home of Gertrude our soda kiln. Realizing I would soon be studio-less, I went searching for maker and firing space. I toured a few facilities and venues and met some really great artists.
This past summer was a trying time as I crammed my studio supplies into my house and searched for a new maker space and firing facility. I was seriously considering making major changes in the type of firing I would do in the future.
In the end I am happy to report that I have found a new home at my old stomping grounds, Worcester Center for Crafts. There is a great community of artist and friends at the Craft Center and I’m happy to be a part of it again! They have expanded their offerings to include ceramic studio timeshare rentals. So after a bit of down time, I moved into a small studio space last fall. I am volunteering there as a studio assistant.
It has been a few months since moving in and I’m really happy with my space and volunteer work. Now if I decide I want to make major changes in my firing style, it will be because I want to and not because I have to. I’m back to experimenting and having fun, but much more grateful for what I have…
At the beginning of March we loaded, fired, and opened the first kiln of the year. Our kiln Gertrude was as reliable as ever. This was a soda firing, so near the end of the firing we injected a soda solution into the kiln through its four charge ports.
Our top and bottom cone packs positioned as we would see them through the spy ports.
Firing went well, but there was one hiccup. We had two cone packs in the kiln: one on the top and one on the bottom. Halfway through the firing the brick inside the bottom spy port broke, leaving half behind to block our view of the lower cone pack. We considered trying to remove the stuck piece, but decided it was too risky. We couldn’t check our progress with that cone pack for the rest of the firing. Happily once we opened the kiln up we were able to see from both cones pack that we had achieved the temperatures we wanted on both the top and bottom of the kiln.
I was so excited about opening the kiln up after it had cooled off, I forgot to get take some photos before we unloaded! But here are a few of my favorites.
There were lots of experiments and tests in this kiln that gave me good information. I need to find some good glazes to best show off some of the new techniques I’m interested in pursuing. The next kiln will likely be full of glaze tests. For now I’m off to work on filling the next kiln…
I realized that I never got around to posting pictures of the finished cake stands I made back at the beginning of the year. I’m really pleased with how they came out in the end, especially since they didn’t slump at all.
My first cake stand.
The second cake stand was in the same firing.
Here is a look at it up close. I’m not unhappy with my these results. I’ll be making more.
I have been itching to get back in the studio, but it’s closed for the holidays and doesn’t open again until next week. So, what’s a potter to do when stuck at home with the bitter cold outside? Find another way to play, of course.
My latest project is making a cake stand. Once I had the idea of making a cake stand in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. When I was in stores I found myself looking at cake stands; but instead of inspired, I felt disappointed. They were not Continue reading
I had wonderful experiences last weekend at two different craft events: the Fire Works Studio‘s Holiday sale and the Good Friends’ Craft Sale. Enough people asked after my card and website (and expressed surprise that I had neither) that I started considering both more seriously. Almost exactly a year ago my friend Lorraine chewed me out a bit saying I really needed to get online. It has finally sunk in that it might be time for me to put myself out there more than I have been.
While the basic layout for the site is done, the gallery is not. It is probably the most important feature I need to tackle. Lucky for me, tomorrow looks to be a snowy day – a perfect time to hunker down and get some pieces in my gallery.