Wild Colors for STITCHES West

bowl1a  bowl3b

The last couple of firings have resulted in some outstanding colors. The piece on the right is actually a “black” glaze…but the post firing reduction just went sideways and created the most unusual array of pinks/reds/greens/grey. Hard to photograph and hard to describe. We were lucky enough to have two some out of the effort on the day. Not sure how applicable the effect will be…but I do know what I did so will be trying in a few weeks when I fire again.

The piece on the leftwas an overload of oxides. Now the question is whether the base glaze can handle the overload as part of the initial glaze and it’s application and what might that be like. I love the inconsistency (adds to the surprise of the day)…so I would hate to loose that. But I do like the pops of purple.

These pieces will be at #STITCHESWest in Santa Clara next week…I’m excite to hear what folks think about them.

…and we’re off to Colorado in March/April

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We have not done this show before but our friend, Lisa Souza (Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks) has…and she said the quality was extremely high. We trust her opinion. Turns out that Lisa moved to the Gold Country for the same reasons we did and lives just a little over an hour south of us. Go figure.

So we’re off to Colorado and Yarn Fest. Brenda is only there for a day and then flies to Des Moines but I’ll be there each day. The marketplace is closed on Sunday…so plan ahead.

Those who are in southern Wyoming or Colorado should put this event on your calendar.

PASSPORT and STITCHES West!

It is that time of year when we get ourselves all geared up to go to STITCHES West in Santa Clara. The weekend of February 18-21 BTW…just in case you have forgotten to put it on your calendar. We love doing the show. There a lot of people to talk too…lots of customers…lots of vendor friends. And…just in case you’re into yarn and fiber and not clay…there is a ton (mega tons) of yarn from just about every possible source. Most big brands are represented but lots of indie folks.It’s a chance to catch up on what’s happening with folks. A great opportunity to share new ideas and get feed back. I think you’ll like the fashion show…and the new XRX book will be featured in their booth. We don’t do all that many shows, so each one presents a pretty unique situation for us.

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We’re playing the Passport game again this year and again we are representing Ireland (well…duh)…so wear your green and stop on by. I might have a jig waiting for you…I’m bringing my button box and will be playing LIVE at selected time during the show…selected meaning until people complain :-) . Should be fun…we have hats…we have shtick and we have cameras.

Of course we’ll have a great selection of yarn bowls, shawl pins and buttons. We’ll also have a couple of new items this year. You won’t believe the “Black Label” pieces…great reviews at the TNNA show this month. An item we call “Shawl Buttons” have been doing extremely well at shows and in shops. Light enough for most lace weight yarns and lace patterns.

If you don’t know what the Passport Game is…stop by the booth (#811) early in your walking and we’ll explain it to you and get you going towards that $1000 CASH prize.

Smoke My Bacon Please

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It’s just a tad beyond smoky at the cabin this year. Normally we would be looking across the lake at the Rabbit’s Bush blooming on Horse Butte. This photo was at 11 in the morning and by the evening we could make out the flowers…but nothing like we normally can.

I could bitch and moan but I won’t. I will instead think of all the brave men and women who work so hard to keep the fires away from people and property. I can only imagine what it must be like…and that’s coming from a guy who works with hot open kilns for a living.

If any good can come from this smoke filled sky I’m hoping the slab of bacon that I hung in the tree yesterday will be even better. Let’s hope that it attracts the smoke and not the bears.

I Do Trim My Pots

Sometimes…when a show gets slowish…like the last hours of the last day…craftspeople start “talking shop.” My insistence of trimming my yarnbowls sometimes comes into the discussion. The other potter’s concern for speed is usually the anti-trimming portion of the discussion.

Some would not trim the bottom of the pot, leaving is a flattish sort of bottom. By necessity of the process the edge that meets the table will be visually terminated below the top of the table…sort of like the pot is sitting in the table rather than on the table.

I prefer to give the pot some visual “loft” by trimming a foot into the pot. This gives the pot the appearance of sitting on the table and from a distance, it looks lighter on the table. All my opinions of course, but I think the pot looks more finished.

Watch a video of me trimming a yarn bowl. It’s a little slow to load so don’t panic.

When I make yarnbowls I know (remember my wife, Brenda, is a knitter) that there will be time when a yarnbowl or two doesn’t have yarn in it (we have multiple bowls in the house)…and when it’s just sitting there, I want it to be a little piece of art.

Now this trimming process takes about as much time as throwing the pot in the first place. But, I think it’s important enough to take that time to make the pot look the way I have designed it in my head.

OK…and I like to trim.

The Crate

thecrate For those of us who are following the progress of LickinFlames, this crate is no real surprise. But what may surprise you is the length of time that it has taken to grow the little flame to the point where we are shipping our display and product to various shows rather than driving it in the Explorer.

We started the LickinFlames idea about four year ago. Although I have been in the clay/pottery business for over 40 years, the whole notion of full-time saggar/obvara/raku work didn’t come about until about 2011…then the tests…the clays…the glazes…the firing and so forth. Then it was the small local shows, then mid-sized shows and then toe dipping into the STITCHES events…then the wholesale shows with The National Needle Arts Association (TNNA for short). All along the way, we listened to our friends in the fiber world and continue to make better product.

We are so grateful for all the folks who have helped us. Some have given us some great ideas…colors or shapes or new products…some folks have purchased from us (thank you for that)…some have introduced us to clients…many many people have shared our work with their friends and family. Behind the scenes we have been helped by welders, woodworkers, sticker makers, laser artists, rock hounds and on and on. You know that saying about taking a village to raise a child…well it takes a whole lot more than one person to do LickinFlames.

Through all this…and while it might be only four years in the making…all this “stuff” crammed into this short period of time, Brenda, has been so supportive…incredibly so.

So the crate is off to Chicago and #STITCHESMidwest. Supportive Brenda and I fly out in about two weeks, one year after the first major test of our product.

Obvara and Feathers…two peas in a pod

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You could almost see the steam coming off the pot as I snapped the picture. Talk about being fresh from the kiln!

The yarn bowl came out just the way I had planned…AND I figured out how to develop more of the “lichen” patterns like on the this piece. That alone is exciting for me.

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Usually when I do a number of pieces in the obvara technique, I wind up my day firing with feathers and horsehair. Today was no different.

All this is in preparation for shipping to #STITCHESMidest and #STITCHESTexas. Why do I always go to the wire on the deadlines? I know why. Someday I might write about it.

Today! The Kiln! RAKU!

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For the all the advancements in digital photography one would think that the color could be more accurate on a consistent basis right? The bottom half of this pot is silvery in appearance…the top is that intense.

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Today started a tad slowly. I wasn’t too thrilled with the breeze (which ended up as a gale in the evening)…but I really needed to be firing the kiln. I’ve been waiting for about a week and half for a calm day. HOT weather in the valley makes the cool air from the ocean rush through our area…it’s been 115 or so in Redding (yes…115…or so)…and over 100 for a couple of weeks. I need one more raku day. Brenda tells me I need to “man up” and deal with the wind…is she forgetting the fire?

Had a number of pots develop wonderful metal areas on them…like gold/silver leaf on something ancient. A few pieces didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned they were going to be but were very nice in their own right. What a strange notion to be disappointed in a result simply because one wanted/expected something different…but the result was wonderful. Why can’t be just appreciate what is in front of us and not judge it on an expectation? Oh humans…relax.

Summer Rock Art

AZ_petroglyph-4 It’s hard to imagine living in a region like this…it’s Arizona and from the photo graph, an endless sea of rock or sparse landscape. However, just around the corner is a river which even in the summer had water and the rocky edge of the mesa provides a myriad of opportunities.

AZ_petroglyph-3 This small nook in the mesa edge was over looked by a very small pueblo…and the people of the pueblo likes to peck in the rocks…

AZ_petroglyph-1 and if you look closely, the petroglyph becomes more evident

AZ_petroglyph-2…and even closer it becomes a rather iconic image…

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On our way to (and from) the TNNA Summer Show in Columbus, OH, Brenda and I stopped by several sites of rock art in both Arizona and Utah. It was important for me to be able to see the work in the context it was created in. It’s one thing to look on the internet and see photos taken by other people (such as the last of the images in this post…http://www.megalithic.co.uk)…but it’s an entirely different and much more meaningful (deeper if you will) experience to see them first hand. Absolutely mind blowing for me…not sure why they created the images, but it was humbling.

Last Raku for This Month

Today was the last of the raku firings before we head on over to the TNNA show. Some of the pieces that are driving my new designs came out really well. Twenty three loads in the kiln in seven days…I’m feeling it too.

I looked in the kiln and noticed a little ray of sunlight illuminating a particular piece…so I decided to “follow it” through the rest of it’s firing process.

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The glaze on the piece has not melted yet. In real time I could see little shiney places where parts of the glaze matrix was starting to melt.

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A few minutes later…and 100 degrees hotter…the glaze looks to be melted. I do however know that the glaze needs another 50 degrees and some time to smooth out.

finished

To become this. Same piece as in the first two photos.