Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cake Stand –works in progress


Here is my first prototype for a woodland cake stand. This project began when a fellow foodie asked if I would make  this woodland planter as a base for a cake stand:

Cake stands are notoriously difficult and temperamental pieces but I just have to try it.

CAUTION: This is not a DIY post. This is a copyright protected original design in progress. Do NOT try this yourself. If you do, or pin it to a DIY board on Pinterest, your left eyeball will ooze green puss and black hairs will emerge from both nostrils. Don’t say you were not warned.

Here are my small prototypes:


The bases were hand built hollow sculptures and the tops were thrown on a wheel.


A coil of clay was added to the base and thrown on the wheel so that the top is perfectly level. Tree branch stumps were added.


The top was joined to the bottom, with slip between. Coils reinforce the joint.


Of these three small scale works, I like the flat top without the skirt the best. I chose this one for my large prototype, but also made 2 more in case this design cracks or warps in the firing. I may have to repeat this design process 2-10 more times if I want a cake stand that I can reliably produce as a small scale production piece. Additionally, the glaze I intend to use may need to be reformulated to work in these varied surfaces.

I have weeks and sometimes years of design hours in most of my work, and that is before I begin messing around with the styling, description, and market testing.

Why would an artisan such as myself, in the middle of Wedding Season with orders on hold, bother to create something new? Why would I not just do what I already know, make what will effortlessly sell?

Sarah-Lambert Cook gave her reasons in this post, which started me thinking about why the idea of a woodland cake stand displaced my love of abundant cash, and trust me, I do love that, too. There is something about having what I see in my mind’s eye emerge into a tangible thing that gives me great joy. So I guess, essentially, I do it for the fun.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hand built bowls

20 cup bowl, textured lace exterior


textured vine salad bowls

ceramic bowls in the Urban Rustic series

bowl shopify

As spring ushers in pops of color upon the softness of old leaves, bare trees, and stone, I see how my Urban Rustic series emerged. It’s that rich excitement of color played out against the undulating mountain landscape.

These are my favorite pieces today.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Easter Table

birds nest 1

ceramic birds nest $14

I played around with table settings for Easter today, using my small birds nest ornament, my bird plate, and my textured lace plates. I tied the napkin with a chive from the garden. I like the simplicity.

Here are some other shots I took

birds nest 2

This one adds a little blush pink with a white zinfandel in a champagne flute.

birds nest 3

And this one has a cloud glazed plate. I don’t have the bird plates in stock right now but you can message me on Facebook if you want to know when I do have some ready. I sell them in sets of 2 for $40.

I can’t decide which shot shows the birds nest best, so if you have a preference, please let me know.

Thanks, and hope the spring breezes blow some enchantment your way today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Storyteller? or Boring Seller?

One of the most fascinating artists on Etsy is Nicolas Hall, whose moody imagery matches his fine gifts as a wordsmith. When he wrote about the power of  storytelling as a marketing tool, it was in alignment with Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind . This book makes a simple and powerful case: to thrive in a complex, outsourced and topsy-turvey world people need to augment their rational, linear and analytical thinking (how you got ahead in the information age) with  empathy, creativity, meaning and the ability to sense patterns

The downside of this advice is that, while good storytelling has a point, many Etsy sellers drone on like some drunk aunt with details of her cat, her porcelain clown collection, and the volunteer work she does for Psychic Pet Research. I’ve read seller profiles that begin with My Earliest Memory, and somewhere around paragraph 9,607 mention that they make unicorns from recycled pantyhose, or something like that.

So while the Featured Seller interviews are often my solution to insomnia, I would frankly rather look at photos of someone’s work that is outstanding, even if the description is strictly factual, than to read something such as “This is a giclee print of my original fashion illustration “Hat on a Girl” and is of a very happy time long ago when I had a hat and was a girl, before I was forced to leave High School forever and go into the woods and become a rodent hunting hermit whose only companions are the cute but cliquish woodland creatures.”

See, I will remember you for writing that. But not in a good way.

On the other hand, if you have something like this to say

“This is what I see in the warm love of older couples. A togetherness beyond the physical. Palpable and weighty.
A form of freedom that only the years and time may bring. “

I am listening.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Website Launching Soon!

sunday coffee collection shopify

pieces currently available at OneClayBead is in the works! I am excited and strangely filled with a humble grace as I move my online sales to a website of my own. I’ll be offering my full range of dinnerware options, heirloom wedding gifts, and fine artisan serving pieces. Plus it will look really cool.

dinnerware currently viewable on Facebook

I want to acknowledge Sarah-Lambert Cook of Tuckooandmoocow for her invaluable help and encouragement.

hand painted Chickadee locket by Sarah-Lambert Cook

To a smart young person like Sarah, setting up a website means a few weeks of learning CSS while breezing through the endless ‘next’ buttons on the 4,261 steps necessary to create a web page in 5 easy steps. Whereas to me, who was born into an era when an Apple was a fruit, the web was built by a clever talking spider named Charlotte, and technology gurus published helpful tips on how to operate your manual can opener, creating a website is synonymous with

 z = x + iy = |z| (\cos \phi + i\sin \phi ) = r e^{i \phi} \

 \bar{z} = x - iy = |z| (\cos \phi - i\sin \phi ) = r e^{-i \phi} \

or perhaps building a nuclear reactor that comes in a box with “some assembly required”.

Anything on  that looks like Yoda made some stoneware pottery or reads as if ee cummings wrote the descriptions is mine. But anything that actually works is to Sarah’s credit.

I also want to acknowledge and thank the Full Time Etsy Crafters for their inspiration and technical help. These women have opened many windows and doors into what I now see as possible as an artisan business.

As always, I work, create, and dream in solitude, but it is the radiant candles of friendship that light my path.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mother’s Day gifts

blue birds 2

Mama and baby bird lace bowl

I have several pieces ready and some in the works that will make really memorable Mother’s Day gifts. I made these little bowls in various spring colors with a mama and baby bird on the rim. I thought, when making them, of how quickly that time speeds by when your child is a little babe leaning towards you for protection and nurturing. It is a time like no other, a relationship that forges a bond of sweet and fierce love.

Raised In Love tiny ceramic sculpture

This small sculpture will be available tomorrow in OneClayBead. I made it first when my daughter left for college. As she poised, ready to fly, I felt my heart bursting with both happiness and sorrow all at once. The heart egg that is broken open symbolizes that love that nurtured us as children.  This will be a treasured gift for mom if you’ve recently left home, married, moved, become a mom yourself, or just want to let honor the place you have in her heart. It has also been given by moms to their children as a wedding gift.

Birds Nest keepsake box

This wheel thrown keepsake box with a hand sculpted little birds nest on the lid is a great gift for a mom who is starting a new business, buying a new home, working on a new fitness program, or otherwise beginning something. Bird's eggs have often been used as symbols of possibilities about to burst forth and take flight. It’s a cool way to let her know that you believe in her and wish her success.

These gifts are not expensive but I bet they will become treasured sources of joy long after the roses have faded and the spa day has passed. Not that it can’t be given along with either of those, too. I do love a spa day!