Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Light Inspiration

Inspired by the presence of the electrician who is installing two pendant lights in my studio, I thought I would share some of the fantastic light options I've found through the Design Style Guide team on Etsy. I have a thing for stained glass, and maybe someday I'll learn (or refresh what the 9th grade art club taught me). Until then, I will have to content myself with looking at the work of others, like this mission table lamp by tpursell.
I also love the tulips on this table lamp by DianasStainedGlass. It's dainty, yet it has a solid presence.
Every time I come across this lampshade by Sassyshades, I fall in love again. I'd like to think that it's not my sweet tooth, but how absolutely pretty it is.
And this steel and wood floor lamp by WeeHedgehog is absolutely stunning. I love the natural mica shade and the design in the steel.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Father's Day

As much as I may have denied it as a kid, I certainly inherited a good part of my personality from my dad. As I have become an adult I have come to appreciate his influences on me, and his perspective.

(Vintage Samsonite briefcase by urbanlotusboutique)

My dad has worked at the same company since before I was born. Sure, they've been bought and changed names several times, but his loyalty is a rarity nowadays. Staying in one job or company is the paradigm I grew up with, and I have already failed to do so. While I am in my second job since college, I hope that I can show the kind of loyalty in my life that my dad has shown. And he hasn't just stayed at the company, coasting along all these years. He works hard. Really hard. As a kid, I didn't think I understood why he was always at work late. But that didn't keep me from learning the value of hard work from him, and indeed I find myself emulating his dedication to getting a job done.
(Vintage pens and pencils by thevintagemode)
Even during school, I put immense pressure on myself to excel. When I took the SAT, and scored pretty darn well (if I do say so myself), I proudly brought the results to my family. Dad's reaction? "You'll do better next time." Luckily, I had the presence of mind to explain there wouldn't be a next time, and even more luckily, the score was enough to get me into the colleges I wanted to go to, because my dad was right, there actually was room for improvement.
(Vintage Flyrod by NeverTooOld)
I also appreciate that my dad exposed my brother and I to almost every sporting activity. It may not seem like an important thing, but having learned to throw a frisbee, shoot pool, and cast a fishing line turn out to be great life skills. It means you don't have to be embarrassed or spend time learning the motions, you can just enjoy spending time with friends. I learned to throw a frisbee at his company picnics, shoot pool in our basement, and cast a fishing line off of our back deck (practicing for fishing with our grandfather).
(Vintage Craftsman measuring tape by FinishWell)
Similarly, my dad is pretty handy. He built the deck on our house, he finished the basement by himself, and if something needed to be built, he would do it. As far as I can recall, we never paid someone to do something like that. It may have taken years to finish the basement, but he did it himself. That gave me the attitude that I can certainly do a lot of things myself, and it has served me well, not only home improvements but when I have a cool idea, I just give it a try, rather than worrying about whether I can do it.
Unfortunately, along with the can-do-it attitude, I also inherited my dad's demeanor during projects. Somehow, anyone else involved needs to be able to read my mind, or at least anticipate exactly what I need. And words explaining what it is that I think should happen next are absolutely unnecessary. There is a lot of nonverbal communication, such as pointing, grunting, and sighing in frustration. This is true for home improvement projects, but also during periods of time when I am having to resolve some computer problem. It's really best to just leave me alone when I am combatting spyware. I can't imagine how frustrated he must have been when he had to spend a day reinstalling the C: drive when I accidentally uninstalled it and installed The Neverhood instead.
(Vintage Agfa camera by johnnyvintage)
As a kid my dad was always the one who had a camera around his neck. His brothers would make fun of him (they still do). And while my camera is not as omnipresent as his is, I do take a lot of pictures. He will take pictures of fallen leaves, rearranging them slightly better than nature did. When I was a kid, I once took a picture of a wall of bricks, and even put it up on the bulletin board when I was Star of the Week in 6th grade. That's artsy, right?
I saw my dad for an early Father's Day celebration, and I was reminded of how great he is, and how much we are alike. And how much we aren't. Happy Father's Day, Dad! Love ya!
(I threw this bowl from Black Walnut clay and glazed it in black lapis. The bear was made with wax resist, and I was pleased with how the glaze did not run into the bear. My dad collects native American artifacts, and while I would have a hard time making him a prehistoric artifact, I was able to make a bowl for him that nodded to the bear symbol he likes.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plumeria Postmortem

My faithful readers (hi mom!) are surely waiting to see pictures of the plumeria tiles now that they have been glazed and fired. If you want to catch up on how I made them, check this post and this post. Overall, I am fairly pleased with them. For someone 9 months into clay, and for first tiles made from a first mold, they're pretty good. I used the same underglazes and clear glaze on top of these tiles so that I could compare the two different clays I used. I believe the Shenandoah and Dogwood clays proved to be about the same.
The green underglaze that I used for the background doesn't like the clear glaze over it, which resulted in a brown or washed out effect in areas. The darker green on the leaves came out much better, and I will probably use it again, but with a different green in the background. I was pleased with the white and yellow parts of the flowers, but next time I make tiles from this mold I will probably spend some more time perfecting each individual tile. At the workshop I was just trying to get several made in a short timeframe. The back of each tile could use some work as well, but since I don't have an air compressor, I'll have to carefully extract them and go back and smooth the surface.

I don't plan to list these prototypes in my Etsy shop, but I have learned a great deal from them and I think the next round will be even better.

Black Walnut

Just picked up fired pieces from Manassas Clay. Very pleased with one piece - turns out the mystery bag of clay that looked orange is actually BLACK. (edited to add: I would love to post pictures, but it will have to wait until after Father's Day.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moment of Zen

Today I visited an outdoor amphitheater that will be dedicated in the name of a friend. I captured this image:

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today I learned about one of the coolest applications in third party software development for Etsy. I am a regular user of Craftcult and Craftopolis, and those are also very useful. But ColorMatch is useful in a different way - the other two are very seller oriented - but ColorMatch is fun on many levels. You upload a jpeg, enter keywords if you like, and then the ColorMatch software finds items listed on Etsy that are of the same hues found in your image. Let's use this batter bowl planter I have for sale as a sample image:
This is what ColorMatch produced:
If you click on any of the hues below the paintbrush, it gives you listings from within that colorway. This is the blue in from the middle of the first row:
The ColorMatch application is great for finding items for a treasury, though getting a treasury slot is equal parts competitive and luck, so I've never been able to curate one. The developer of ColorMatch also has a sweet vintage shop and a fun blog. And let's admit, while the application is great and the items in the shop are covetable, the web design is really, really great. So great it makes me want to spend time on their site. And that is cool.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mighty Mitre

The baseboards are going up in the studio with the help of a new mitre saw. Our mitre box and dull hand saw weren't cutting it. [Pun somewhat intended.] This project is taking much longer than I had projected [another bad pun], but I am pleased with the slow but steady progress. We started taking the studio apart in January, after having started building the shelves in November. The wall repairs (associated with having taken down the original baseboards and also the utility sink installation) are basically done. I can't wait to get finished with these final steps so that I can finally start bringing everything back into the room and closet, organizing it, and then USING it. And taking pictures of everything in its new, organized space. Until then, I will tide myself over with a few items found browsing among Etsy's DesignStyleGuide, on the themes of tools, projects, and renovation. This photo is called Tools Of The Trade, by HannaPhotos. This wooden silhouette of a trade painter is by mountainbrook. IMOTIME has several of these fantastic old saw blade clocks. My project is just short of needing scaffolding like this building photographed by elephantdreams, aptly named Work in Progress.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plumeria Progress

I finally painted two of the tiles I made at Joan Gardiner's workshop. I used Amaco underglaze in white, yellow, and several greens. As a reminder, here is how they looked prior to painting.
Here is how they looked after I painted them with the underglazes.
Once they had a chance to dry all the way, I waxed the backs and sides with wax resist. Then, with the help of a friend, I poured clear glaze over the top of each tile. They're now sitting on a shelf, waiting to be fired. Cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Listings

The other day I started listing a few more pottery pieces in my Etsy shop, like these Spring Viola Mugs. These mugs were an experiment that I think turned out pretty well. The stamped violas were a creative whim as I was about to attach the handles. I used a wooden dowel rod and the end of another tool to make three larger outer circles and three smaller circles within them. It's the painting that really calls violas to mind, though.
I have a few other pieces in the queue to list, so check back in!

Monday, June 1, 2009

French Trimmings

Continuing my theme of French Finds, I wanted to share some of the materials and supplies I found while in Paris. While at the antique market, I found a fantastic little shop with more beads than I have ever seen in one place and a wall full of bolts of trim. I bought only one meter of this trim below. I bought two meters each of the thinner trim. I am sure I will find a use for all of them, and as I don't sew, I will have to enlist the able help of my mom. I thought these ceramic beads with flowers painted on them were quite charming. I was prepared to spend a lot of money on beads in this shop, but miraculously, there were only a few that I hadn't seen before. All of the beads I bought are in the bowl below. There are (ceramic? polymer?) blue spacer beads that have a metallic glitter to them, near-chartreuse green stone beads, and larger black agate beads with white banding.
In another shop in the same antique market, I found these slateplates. They each have a hole drilled in the top - I plan to hang them from metal hooks and use them as price tags.