Thursday, April 30, 2009

just unloaded

These all came out of my last kiln load late last night. I'm very happy with the faceted bowls, the stamped trays, and my lovely Aqua and Seafoam glazes which, for the first time, did not run off the pots and onto the kiln shelves. This small advance alone gave me a full night of peaceful sleep! I love those glazes, but they are high maintenance. And yes, my studio is this messy, except when its even more messy.

The jewelry components are a series I've been planning using sacred imagery. The little heads are Tara, the female Buddha. I saw a dance performance last year called Dances of Tara, and was quite moved by the sense of compassion and unconditional love. There is also a seated Buddha and two Celtic Knots. Today I get to actually hang out in clean clothes and make jewelry. This is a real change of pace for a potter. Can't wait to pull out my gazillion trays of beads and cords!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

little shoes

Little handmade felt shoes! What is it that pulls me irresistibly towards tiny shoes? Is it a memory of the first steps, a metaphor, perhaps, for all the journeys begun with innocence and wobbly courage? I don't truly know. But these shoes made by Humblebea make me smile every time, no matter how tense or brooding my mood has been before I've stumbled into their view.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yay!!!! On the Front Page of Etsy!

I had a strong feeling that this might be a Front Page treasury when I saw it. The colors are so beautifully sprinkled throughout every selection made by TwoLeftHands. Her sense of color in her own work is always a treat, too. Check out the Bluebird of Happiness! That's one of the most joyful creations I've ever seen!

My Endless Summer Day tray from Lefty's treasury, is one of my favs. I've been texturing clay with this piece of old lace for 20 years now, and these are some of the best glazes I've ever come up with to show the texture. The weather here in Asheville feels like an endless summer day today, so I am glad there is a soccer game later starring my little girl (oh, yea, she is 15 now, so make that big girl....) to take me outdoors.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Etsy Day!

It took me awhile to fully grasp what Etsy is, and what it offers to me. I had been making my own little mudpies from my obscure little off-the-beaten-path world, and selling them to gallery buyers. These buyers are generally fairly conscious and appreciative people, but the main conversations we have is about trends, sales, and What People Want. I had no awareness of the Handmade Revolution or craftivism. I have been an eco conscious person for decades, and was aware of the Slow Food Movement, but did not relate to myself as connected to those things through my pottery. I've thought a great deal about these subjects, and the diffence I can make by offering heirloom quality functional pieces that can be around for thousands of years, by packing with recycled materials, by firing in an energy efficient manner in a home and studio that we are retrofitting for maximum energy efficiency. I also see that by making pieces that glorify the natural world's beauty, I am doing my small part to make preservation a higher priority.

It has greatly excited me to see a clearer connection between doing what I've loved all these years, and the moral and ethical values that are dear to my heart. I also really enjoy the personal connection to people who are finding and buying my work. Today I packed a gift that a young man stationed in Iraq wants shipped to his girlfriend back home. I'm also shipping out a piece to another potter in the US northeast. It feels like an honor to be so chosen. So, thank you, Etsy, for bringing these new experiences to my life. You are so much more than a website. You are a larger context for all things handmade.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


After two months of screwing up pots and not getting what I want, I'm starting to get some wonderful new pieces! Here is a faceted pot in Tenmoku and Black Tea Dust glazes. I love everything about this small vase- the subtle ridges in the facets, the glaze flow and fit, the shape. Buyers are coming in two weeks, and I am down to the wire to get enough of these pots glazed and ready to sell.

My Aqua, Tidal Pool Blue and Green Tea glazes are still unpredictably running, but the last kiln load had more successes than failures. Yayyyyy!

After 30 years as a potter, I have enough technical prowess to knock out the same ole same ole with precision but its just not in me to do that. I like adventure, and exploring off the beaten path, and so onward I go.

The journey is the destination.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009



You know that thrill of sending the tennis ball over the net perfectly and powerfully, and exactly as you had envisioned it? Or crafting an important speech, practicing it, and then hearing applause, enthusiasm, and agreement as you finish? This is what I feel as I crack open each kiln load and see my first glimpse of a flawless beauty. I can't help it, my spirits just soar! There is about another hour to go before I reach in and pull my treasure out of its journey through fire, and I get to bask in the euphoria for that duration. And mostly, after full examination, the pot is still as pleasing. At other times I am like that woman in an action film who has just succeeded in outsmarting the Very Bad Thing, only to have it spring back to life. Despair and dissappointment engulf me, and I see a small but unmistakable bubble in the glaze, or glaze that has flowed right off the pot at the bottom, or a bare spot, an underfired spot, a crack. The pot is now a second, even if it is still quite beautiful and functional. If you are not a potter, you can only imagine how crazy we all are from this roller coaster ride of mastering clay and then even thinking for a moment that we have actually mastered glazes!

Generally, we get over it and sell the bubbled, blistered, slightly flawed pieces as seconds, and someone else is, as a rule, completely charmed by having a piece that exemplifies the handmade process, and for such a great price! The Tidal Blue pitcher and Dragonfly Lantern shown above are now listed on my Etsy store. They are seconds, they are bargains, and they are the reason I will always remain less than arrogant about my prowess as a master potter!

Here are more seconds from my Mud Team friends- more in comments, too:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

to celebrate Earth Day

There are Earth Day celebrations everywhere I go. I love living at a time when people are coming together to understand, celebrate, and protect the interconnectedness of each precious life on planet Earth. Here are some of the most wonderful photographers I've found recently. Each honors the life around them by their precise attention. And the last is an excerpt from the poetry diva Mary Oliver.


From Mary Oliver, the Summer Day:

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

When I look at her

My daughter is coming home today from a trip to Disney with her school band. This is a cameraphone picture carelessly snapped before she left, and filed in a folder she's marked 'Random', and that is so perfect. There is such a crazy joy in her that I feel, in looking at any random moment, like I'm looking through a thin veil, and behind it, just beyond the gauze of prettiness and youth, is the wonder of a Universe, a Creator, most pleased with itself. She has had this unreasonable transcendent laughter, merriment, joi de vivre, since she made her entrance into this world, and my hope, my prayer, my heartbeat's afirmation, is that this quality stays with her, no matter what else comes or goes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Up All Night

I was up all night, and watched the shadows become velvet blankets as the world outside closed around itself. There were no stars visible, only the gentle rain making its long journey from the clouds. In the blue blackness, sound paints creatures with each rustle, and gives to my imagination the ability to create what is unthinkable by day. And I think of my early adulthood with conversations about all matters of absolute importance which the night, and visiting friends, and wine brought forth. And of pre-Mom times when I knew by 10 pm that the night energy was going to carry me like a woman on the River Styx through another all nighter in my studio.

This is my glaze pattern called Night Chi, night energy. It's my expression of the wisdom and treasures of that which is hidden from sight, and known to me by following dreams and mysteries. By following creative impulses into the unknown and uncharted landscape. And being willing to ditch my plans and schedule like a boring date, and sneak out with Night Chi.

Monday, April 13, 2009


If you've read my blog, you already know that I have a tuxedo cat, so when I got this photo as an Easter greeting, with the caption, Beware of Identity Theft, I just became an emotional puddle of goo. Isn't it precious??!! It makes me think of how much we are all more alike than different as people, as species on this planet, and all that. I have a pretty busy day ahead, with orders to pack and a glaze load to do, so I thought you'd like this sweet pic more than hearing me whine about having to work. Plus the orders are a good thing!

If you want to see more irresistible cuteness, check out my treasury on Etsy:
it's everything that's made me go Awwwww for months!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Before and After

The first image was one I actually posted on Etsy when I first started out. Surprisingly, I sold 2 of these necklaces, despite the dreadful presentation! Both buyers gushed in my Feedback about how much prettier the piece was when they received it, and I thought at the time that they were just being kind. But now I'm thinking that hey! maybe I should get the photos to look as pretty as the pieces....ya think? So this is my new attempt.

If you want a snicker, look here- these are on my Etsy site now! I didn't take into account the crop that Etsy does for their gallery view at all! And at the time I wondered why everyone snatched these up at my studio but ignored them online. Now compare this!

I did my photo makeover in Photoshop Elements 5. I did a better crop, and clone tooled out the uneven neckline on my daughter's shirt. I balanced the lighting in levels, my new best friend. Then I selected the shirt and jumper and changed their colors to warmer tones, which make the jewelry pop out better.

So I guess I'm not an old dog after all.

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. ~Attributed to Harry S. Truman

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Front Page Kind of Day

Humblebea's beautiful treasury made the Front Page of Etsy today. Front and center of it is my daughter, Marci, wearing one of my favorite necklaces, Charisma, which I blogged about here. After getting a gazillion (okay, around 200) views in an hour, I sold the mugs pictured yesterday! My husband got a great consulting gig and my daughter scored a goal and won her soccer game, so its been a pretty eventful 24 hours in the Wolfe household. I am taking deep breaths as if my very being must expand to take it all in. I hope that doesn't sound greeting card corny. Its just that the stress of having a husband who lost his job, starting up a shop on Etsy where I barely know my arse from a hole in the ground most of the time, and having one teenager at home and 2 in college can make me feel like I am making that proverbial lemonade 24/7. So to have a carefree day when life is handing me mimosas rather than lemons is rather surprising.

And its Passover, a time of celebration; acknowleging triumphs. Okay, so I'm not exactly as triunphant as the Jews leaving slavery in Egypt, but whatever. I'm celebrating anyway! Thanks for the mimosas! Keep 'em coming, please!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Fun of Egg Hunts

If you are seeing silly photos like this on Etsy, its due to the Etsy Mud Team's Eggcellent Treasure Hunt Adventure. Click the link to find out how to find eggs cleverly hidden in listings from team members, and then report your findings to receive a 15% off coupon for participating Etsy stores. Mine included.

I joined the Etsy Mud Team after I bought a Showcase spot on April 1st, and found myself standing out as one of only a few potters not displaying my work surrounded by toilet paper rolls! I'm a huge April Fools goofy gag fan, and so I had to get in on their fun.

We are an interfaith family, so we'll have matzos and bitter herbs tomorrow for Passover, and an Easter egg hunt also. For the first year, my daughter won't be home on Easter Sunday, as her school band is going to Disney on Saturday. So I plan to hide candy in those 15 year old plastic eggs all through her suitcases. I won't be able to see that grin of absolute abandon on her face when she realises that the hunt is still on, but I know that it will be there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Snow

I woke up to a fluttering white dance of snowflakes, and the sun has not yet fully emerged. Everything of color is now utterly stark and unmistakeably visible. The few clinging leaves and the ordinary evergreens are momentarily transformed.

And so it is with my life since last October stripped our family of 80% of our income. We have not grieved once for the things we lost, but rather, the things that were always so ordinary as to be invisible we see as precious gifts. And when this snow melts away, and the economic recession returns the lost jobs, our hearts will be richer for having seen the extraordinary beauty that money does not offer.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I believe that my cat is incredibly wise

I believe that my cat is incredibly wise. She is, as I write, still as a statue in the garden, in utter acceptance, in perfect gratitude, having found, for hours at a time, what the pharmaceutical industry would like to claim is the effect of Zoloft or Paxil. Wally has joined with the world in that way that brings deep peace and true bliss. She becomes the breeze, when it blows; she gives her approval to tulips and weeds alike. And when I feel trapped in my world of economic downturn and parenting dilemmas and hurtful remarks, I join my cat out on the grass. We let the clouds become faces, and enter the lives of new shoots bursting upwards.

It's all beautiful, to the curious. Sometimes the best prayer is just emptiness. Emptiness and a willingness to be amazed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

lOve letters

I was thinking about love letters, and all the sweet things we say in writing, that are typed, handwritten, poured out onto keypads, etc. We put all these passions, desires, wishes to be understood, to be gotten, to be loved, in black and white.

I think that we read them in red- with excitement, arousal, a stirring of our senses.
So I made this Treasury- lOve letters. You can see it by clicking here. And PS- if you like it, or any other Treasury on Etsy, you can make it 'hot' by clicking on every pic in it.

I wonder, would it change anything for you if you got a message of love written in red?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

To Follow Your Life

I was struck by a comment left yesterday by Anne-Julie, regarding the meaning of her piece, Le Labyrinthe: "It represents a time of my life when I needed to look further, to escape from limbs and labyrinths, and other things that used to brake me. I needed to finally follow my life..."

...Which leads me to Gary Heller's Mystic Garden, pictured above. It is just summoning me to follow my life. What's really sort of making my head explode is that I could have also used this image from munieca in Argentina, or this one from InMost light in Tel Aviv, or even this print by Angelshair in Brooklyn, NY. They are all images of beckoning.

I'm not someone who likes to get all rational when I sense the mysterious, so I'll just end by saying that it's very intriguing that people from around the globe are making images in a common language, the one of our dreams, our inner listening, our heart's desire.

Maybe we are all sojourners on this planet; some spiritually, some emotionally, and some physically, so it is important to keep this in mind.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Le Labyrinthe

This is Le Labyrinthe by french artist Anne-Julie Aubry of The NebulousKingdom. She made it in Photoshop, and offers them in her Etsy shop printed on archival paper. Although she offers no commentary on why this woman is following a butterfly into a labyrinth, I can tell you that she must have known what it was like the first day that I discovered pottery. I was happily working at a REAL JOB ( the kind that Mom tells you to get) managing the gallery section of Brentano's in New Orleans, when I took just a few classes in pottery. A few years later, still taking classes, I decided to be a potter, and my career path of linear advancement up a known ladder completely ceased. The road that I've traveled as a potter thus far very much resembles a labyrinth, and instead of having a sensible mentor of any sort, I am perpetually following a butterfly.

I don't know how many times I've come up with some series of work that sells like sunscreen at the beach. Somewhere before I can see a straight line of sales and no worries, though, something goes awry. A glaze begins blistering, my kiln develops a mysterious malfunction, or glazes that I counted on to combine a certain predictable way just do something else instead. And in the process of fixing all these mishaps, I discover another little fork in the road that I cannot resist pursuing.

It's all worked out fine...if I don't count the obsessive hours of glaze tests, discussing pyrometers and thermocouples as if I know all about them, and sleepless, stressed out weeks. I just hope I never lose sight of that butterfly!