Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Well, not exactly clay, but I'm enjoying myself none the less. Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday! I'm signing off until next year. See you in 2009!

Cheers!

Meagan
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cone 04 Lizard Skin Glaze

Thought I'd share one of my favorite new glazes.
Cone 04 Lizard Skin

40 Magnesium Carbonate
15 Lithium Carbonate
10 Borax
20 Gerstley Borate
5 Silica
20 Nepheline Syenite
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5 Rutile

It crawls best when applied thick. For more low-fire cone 04 glaze recipes check here.

Happy Glazing!
Meagan
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Glazing Results

Here are some of the glaze test results I unloaded today. I was layering 2 red commercial glazes underneath and on top of some of the glazes I just mixed. I'm trying to tone down that bright fire engine red.

It's definitely hard to tell what's going on in this picture. The surfaces and colors really need to be studied up close and in person. But there were a handful I liked. Maybe I should explain a little bit about what I look for in a "good" glaze. Since my work is sculptural, I don't worry about whether a glaze is food safe, dishwasher safe, etc. Usually, the stranger the glaze, the more I like to use it. What some potters might consider "defects" in their glazes, I love for my work! I love crawly, crackly, beady, crunchy, crazy glazes.

Here's my current glaze tile chart with my both my old glazes and my 24 new ones added. The 2 rows at the bottom involve layering glazes and were also unloaded from the kiln today.
That it for today's glaze report. Thanks for tuning in!
Best,
Meagan
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cone 04 Glaze Testing Madness

Thought I'd share a few images of the latest batch of test tiles to come out of the kiln. The goal with these was to see how different glazes would look when layered on top of one another. As expected, some of these were really hideous.
But I did find 15 with some potential.
Today, the plan was to just straighten up the studio so it would be ready to go after the holidays. I had test tiles covering basically every horizontal surface, and it was time to box/trash many of them. But... as soon as I went out to the studio and saw those tiles (no, I didn't run away), I was compelled to do yet another round of testing! You would think it would have the opposite effect, and seeing tiles everywhere would prevent one from feeling the need/desire to test even more. But not me! I have the kiln going again with the 3rd batch!

This could really be a never ending cycle if I don't get a hold of it soon! Each tile just seems to give me more ideas of how to test and improve my glazes. However, I did decide that the testing madness must come to an end tomorrow. It will be time to move onto implementing these new glazes into my work. (well, not a complete end of testing. I'm sure I won't be able to resist sneaking in a tile or two into upcoming firings...)

Thank you for following along in my quest for amazing Cone 04 glazes!
Meagan
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yes, Yes, Still Testing.

Back at glazing again today. Of my 24 favorites from my previous testing, I chose 9 to cross/layer with each other to see what kind of effects I can achieve. (I actually would have liked to test more, but I ran out of bisque tiles.) My goal is to have these new glazes ready for new ceramic work by 2009.

Tonight, I'm waiting for a kiln to cool so I can load up these and fire away. Yesterday I fired a small load with experimental glass work. I'm anxious to see those results as well.

I've been doing some much needed computer work while I wait for that kiln to cool. Hopefully I have things straightened out with Blogger. I made some changes to my my format and feed burner. Wow, do these things take time! It's been tough for me trying to figure out how to do all this fancy web-stuff. Thank you Ang, Brian and Will for your advice and on-line tutorial recommendations. I can use all the help I can get.

Hope you're doing well wherever you may be.

Best,
Meagan
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Problems with Blogger?

Is anyone else having problems with their comments section on Blogger?!?

I've had people tell/email me they've commented but I have yet to receive their remarks. Just now I had several older comments awaiting moderation, but they just showed up today. If you commented and I haven't responded, I apologize. I promise I wasn't ignoring you. AND, I seem to be getting junk-type comments for random medical prescriptions.

Help? Any ideas? Hopefully I'll be able to get your suggestions.

A bit frustrated,
Meagan

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back to Glass

In Monday's post I talked a little about how I'm hoping to get back to incorporating glass in my clay work. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon cutting strips of Bullseye Compatible fused glass, so that I could see the color palette I had to work with. Quite a range, and similar to some of my new glazes.



Since the show 2008 season has has pretty much come to an end for me, I'm hoping I can spend the next few weeks just experimenting and "playing" in the studio. It seems to be time for me to push my work and challenge myself. I usually find these studio days extremely refreshing and needed. It keeps me excited about my work and helps nurture those creative ideas.

[An older piece with clear float glass slumped into the "window"]

I've been craving more color in my work. Not bright, flasy colors, but more a little more color nonetheless. Maybe it's been the influence of living in Florida the last 2 years where is 70 degrees in December. Whatever it is, start looking for new/experimental work in 2009. I'll try to share pictures of both the good, and not-so-good ideas.

I hope your finding ways this holiday season to enjoy life and do the things that make you happy.

Cheers,
Meagan

PS - I added a "Currently Reading" section at the bottom right hand side of this blog. My library list is quite long and growing. But, I'd love for you to share any good books you've read lately.
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Glazes - Full Spectrum Results

My 250+ test tiles came out of the kiln this weekend. Overall, I was very pleased with the results. Some nice surprises, interesting textures, and great colors.

It amazes me how the same amounts of the same colorant added to different base glazes can produce such different results. Look at the ranges of blues from cobalt carbonate or greens chrome oxide!
[Cone 04 ceramic glaze test tiles using line blends of (L-R) dark rutile, red iron oxide, cobalt carbonate, chromium oxide, copper carbonate. The single tile to the far right is the base glaze with no additives.]

Of course, there were still some things I wanted to work that didn't turn out. But here are my 24 favorite. And to think, I was only hoping for 10! All that mixing and calculation was worth the time and energy.
I thought that I'd be so sick of mixing glazes that I wouldn't want to even look at the triple beam balance much less strap on a respirator and start adding chemicals together. But I was so excited when I saw some of these, that I was back at it yesterday. Unfortunately, I ran out of a few materials, so I'll be placing an order with Highwater Clays this afternoon.

I'm hoping this increased color palette will allow me to get back to working more mixed media - incorporating both glass and clay in my sculptural forms. I've often felt like the clay/glass combinations in my work compete with each other, so I'm hoping to find a pleasing harmony of sorts now.

For all you low-fire potters and ceramic artists out there reading this - stay tuned. I'm planning on posting a few glaze recipes once I get a few more of the kinks worked out.

Thank you to everyone for stopping in. Hope you're enjoying your day, wherever you are. Time for me to get off the computer and get to the studio!

Best,
Meagan
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Friday, December 5, 2008

Testing, 1, 2... 300!

Well, I think it's actually more like 250-something. Seriously! I spent all week mixing up test glazes. It took much, much longer than I anticipated. Guess, I really hadn't done the math to figure out just how many new glazes I wanted to try. (Thanks John Britt for giving me so many ideas during our workshop!)

I started with 8 base glazes. Sounds simple enough. Then, for each one I wanted to test various stains/oxides/colorants. So, I the picked between 5-8 oxides for each base glaze. THEN, I wanted to see what varying amounts/percentages of the oxides would do, so that I would have a gradation of color.
[Unfired Test Tiles]

I lost count of exactly how many of these line blends I did, but they're all in the kiln now, cooling down. Tomorrow will be the moment of truth. My goal is to find new cone 04 textured/crawling glazes and to expand my current color palette. If I get 10 out of this firing that I like, I figure I'm doing pretty good.
This was actually only the first series of tests I hope to do this month. (Though the thought of mixing any more at the moment makes my head spin a bit.) The plan is to take the successful glazes from this batch and cross them with each other.

So, tomorrow morning will feel like an early Christmas when I open the kiln. Cant wait!

Thanks for taking the time to stop in and see what I've been up to in the studio.

Best,
Meagan
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tip for Storing Ceramic Glaze Materials

For those of you that know me, this confession will not come as a surprise. I thoroughly enjoy being compulsively organized! Sometimes I wonder if I should be seeking help for this, or if I should be teaching others how to become more organized.

I almost took organizing to an extreme a few years ago and invested $100+ in plastic containers to store my glaze chemicals. I wanted all the containers to be the same. Or, at the very least, similar. But I came to my senses, and found an easier solution. Financially at least.

Local restaurants. I stopped in a cafe near my studio and asked the owner if he would mind saving the mayo, relish, black pepper, cinnamon etc containers for me. He was more than happy to, because then he didn't have to throw them away or haul them to recycling. It was a win-win situation. And 3 years later I'm still using the free containers that it took him just 2 weeks to collect! So, if you're in need of storage containers, give it a try! Ask nearby restaurants to help out a local artist!

This is my glaze storage area.

A friend gave me a Edward Monkton card a while back that seems to explain my feelings perfectly. I keep it posted neatly on the bulletin board in the studio, and it always makes me laugh. Happy Organizing!
Meagan
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

This too shall pass.

Art Sales and the Economy - Part II

This week I received emails from 2 galleries I work with. One, sadly, was announcing that it would be closing its doors at the end of the year due to hard times. The other, proclaiming that they had just sold out of all the work I had just sent them, and were requesting more ASAP!

I smiled, and was then reminded of a something my mom used to tell me. "This, too, shall pass."

Though their are many explanations for this statement, I found the following definition on Wikipedia.com.

The phrase "This too shall pass" and the associated ring story were made popular by Abraham Lincoln in his 'Address Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin' on September 30, 1859:

"It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: 'And this, too, shall pass away.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!"

I've often found myself thinking this during both exciting and trying times, and it always seems to help give me a little perspective and comfort. Thought I would pass it along to you today in hopes that it make your day a little happier or more humble.

Best,
Meagan
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clay Line Drawings

I've been working on Custom Tile Plaques orders so that they can be shipped to their new homes in time for the holidays.

Today, I thought I'd share a little of the process of creating these tiles. Though I make a fair amount of custom orders, I avoid using molds because I still want the individual handmade look to be present in each one. Instead, I have a set of paper patterns that I use as guidelines.

First, plastic wrap it laid over these patterns and traced using a permanent marker. The plastic wrap is then positioned on top of the soft clay. It helps to brush a small amount of water on the clay so the plastic wrap will stick. Using a rubber stylus, I then press down and re-trace the sharpie line until it has created a nice impression in the clay. The plastic wrap is pealed back to reveal a nice, clean line in the clay. I'll then leave the tiles flat until they are at the leather hard stage before smoothing the edges . I've also done this technique with kids, and it worked great! Just have them create a line drawing on a piece of paper, trace it onto plastic, and then trace it again onto the clay! It always seems to be a crowd pleaser.

On a personal note... This weekend my husband was able to get into the dark room (AKA our bathroom) and print some pictures from our trip out to California earlier this fall. Yay! Here they are hanging to dry in our kitchen. Thanks for taking the time to stop in. I'll be back later in the week.

Best,
Meagan

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Art Sales and the Economy

I wanted to say Thank You to everyone who came down to the RDA Studio Stroll this past weekend in Asheville! We had an amazing turnout! I wasn't sure how this years Fall Stroll would go considering the current state of the economy. But everyone seemed to be in a happy, lighthearted mood and (despite my concerns) it was my best stroll to date! Thank you! Thank you!
A fun group of ladies from The Red Hat Society stopped in over the weekend.

Has anyone noticed a trend in increased sales post-election results? Is consumer confidence up? I talked to one artist who believes people are now buying not only American made products, but focusing even more on local/handmade goods? Or does the economy have nothing to do with it, and people are already in the holiday shopping mode? What do you think?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, and "compare notes" from your recent experiences participation in/shopping at recent art festivals.

Thanks again!
Meagan
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I love traveling! But after being away for a whirlwind 3 weeks, there really is no place like HOME!

Got back Monday night, and managed to get in a few hours in the studio today. Tomorrow, I'm hoping to start the process of getting caught up on emails, blog posting/reading, computer work, letter writing, etc.

Until Then,
Meagan
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

November 2008 Studio Stroll

This Saturday and Sunday from 10-6 is the River Arts District Studio Stroll in Asheville, NC. There are over 100 artists working in 13 buildings, so if you've never been, it's definitely worth checking out. I will be at Curve Studios with a few of these wonderful artists...
Constance Williams
Holly de Saillan
Laleah Adams
Curve studio also has work by ceramic artists Ada Lea Birnie, Sandra Wright, Penny Clark and photographer Michael Mauney.

Hope to see you there!
Meagan
PS - Sorry about the wacky format! I've spent way too much time trying to get Blogger to cooperate and still cant get it to line up the way I want! Ugh!
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Glaze Workshop Results

My head is still spinning with ideas after the glaze workshop I took with John Britt last week. He has a fantastic new studio near Penland in Bakersville, NC that was built with classroom use in mind. The class was pleasently casual and extremely informative. John is a walking encyclopedia! And he's hysterical!

[John looking over notes for the triaxial glaze blend we did.]

Before this class, my glaze knowledge was very limited. Though I mixed my own glazes, I bacically could only follow the recipe. If anything went wrong, I had no idea why or how to fix it. It was like baking a cake without know what flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda were.

Call me a dork, but I found glaze chemistry fun! It has been years since I looked at a periodic table or thought about chemical formulas. But John made it both easy to understand and practical - explaining how it was relavant to ceramics and glazes. I learned even more than I expected to! Though it will be quite some time before I'm able to recall or recite all the information with ease.


[Tiles from the ^10 gas reduction. A line blend with increasing amounts of iron oxide, and a base glaze with various oxides and stains in the back.]

Because our class was small, we were able to focus specifically on the areas that interested in us. We fired both a ^10 gas reduction kiln and a low fire ^04 electric kiln. So, we got quite the range of glazes. I cant wait to incorporate some of these crunchy, crawly textures into my work!

[Some of the ^04 glaze tests that will be making their way into my work.]



Since then, I've literally been dreaming about glazes. Last night I imagined I mixed the most beautiful terra sigillata! I cant wait to get back into the studio and try out some more of these ideas.

I stayed with my good friend and pottery Joy Tanner while I was in North Carolina. We had a great visit - up late talking and laughing every night! Thank you Joy!

[Friends and potters Joy Tanner and Will Baker. We hiked up near Roan Mountain Friday night after class and watched the sunset. Perfect ending to a great week!]

I'll be in Atlanta this week with family before heading back up to Asheville for the Studio Stroll.

Be back when I can! Thanks for stopping in!

Best,
Meagan
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Arrowmont Fused Glass Workshop

Hello! I wanted to post a few pictures from the beginning glass fusing workshop I taught at Arrowmont this weekend. Fall is the perfect time to be Smoky Mountains!We had a fantastic, but fast-paced weekend! Starting with 2 electric kiln firings in our first session Friday night, we worked and fired till 2:30 this afternoon. I am so proud of my students and everyone seemed to get over their kiln firing fears!
Here they are! The wonderful, enthusiastic group of 11 from this past weekends class.
Tonight, I'm in Asheville, NC relaxing and switching gears. I get to be a student tomorrow in John Britt's glaze workshop. Cant wait!

I'll drop back in when I can.

Thanks,
Meagan
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shipping Work

With the holiday season quickly approaching many people will be shipping packages across the country and around the world. So whether you are shipping your own work, or gifts to family and friends, I thought I'd share what I've learned about preparing a package.

Having worked on the receiving end in galleries, I was able to see first hand how artwork of many shapes and sizes arrives to its destination. If you are an artist, how you pack your work reflects how you feel about your work. Sloppy packing seems to signify that you do not care. And if you don't care, why should the gallery? or the collector?

First, wrap each piece individually using bubble wrap, packing paper, newsprint, etc. I'm all for recycling newspaper, however, NEVER have the printed news pages against your work. The ink can rub off and damage the work. Protect the piece with tissue or other paper, and then cushion it with newspaper.

If you are wrapping something that has fragile limbs (teapot spout, mug handle, etc.), these should be wrapped and secured first. When the limb is secure, then the entire piece can be wrapped so that is is one solid piece.

Place wrapped work into a box, surrounding/floating the pieces in peanuts (ugh, the mess!) or similar packing material. For artists, always remember to include your business card(s) , any other promotional material, signed insurance/consignment forms, and a HAND WRITTEN note. If the gallery hasn't provided an inventory list, make one yourself to include with the package. Seal this box with packing tape. It should feel nice and solid, and you should hear nothing rattling around. This becomes your inner box. It then gets placed into a slightly larger box, and again surrounded/floated with peanuts or similar. (Often called the "box-in-a-box-with-peanut-float" method.) Top off the box with more peanuts.
Tape closed. Remember to thoroughly tape the bottom, as well as any opening on the sides. Again, it should feel nice and solid, and you should hear nothing rattling around.

If reusing boxes (which I always do), remove, cover, or mark through any previous shipping label. I have a FedEx account, so next, I measure and weigh the package myself (using a bathroom scale) and prepare my shipment information online. It's then ready for me to just drop off at my nearest FedEx location. (super easy!)

That's it. Usually, the hardest part is finding boxes the right size! I don't have much experience with shipping paintings/other 2D work or furniture/large sculpture needing crates. So, I'd love to hear your packing tips and advice! What have your shipping experiences been lately?

Happy Packing!
Meagan
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Write an Artist Statement

I read something similar in college about how to write a term paper, and I think the same method applies to Artist Statement.

How To Write An Artist Statement

1. Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, carefully selecting which mug you will drink from.
2. Sit down at the computer
3. Decide you should first check you email.
4. Then check your blog.
5. Now, jot down a few key words and phrases about your work.
6. Get up and get a dictionary.
7. Remember that there was something you needed to do for your husband/wife, children, cat, dog, goldfish, etc. that must be taken care of immediately!
8. Return to the computer.
9. Realize you forgot the dictionary, and get up again.
10. Re-read your outdated artist statement or any sample statements.
11. Surf the web. Check out Molly Gordon's artist marketing advice again.
12. Go look for the thesaurus.
13. Refill your cup of tea or coffee while your up. (very efficient!)
14. Return to the computer.
15. Spend time reading your favorite blogs and post comments.
16. Call your mother.
17. Write a few disconnected sentences, in an attempt to organize your thoughts about you work.
18. Realize it's time for lunch/dinner and stop for a "break."
19. Balance checkbook and pay bills.
20. Return to the computer, serious now about getting to work.
21. Why do you make the work you do?!
22. Decide you should go into the studio to look at your work again.
23. Make more notes about your work, the materials you use, reoccurring themes, etc.
24. Check the mail. Hope for a response from some of the show you've entered
25. Return to the computer. Realize that you've run out of time for the day, but vow to really focus tomorrow.

The above procedure can be repeated for weeks until the Perfect Artist Statement is complete.

Happy writing!
Meagan
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend Fun

WARNING: The following post would be considered "surface blogging" according to the art marketing advice of Alyson Stanfiend in her recent newsletter on ArtBizCoach.com.
And I agree. So, if you are looking to read something deep, thought provoking, earth shattering, or otherwise, please check back later. This is not the post for you. I simply wanted to take a minute to appreciate the simple things in life. And how it is important for me to find a balance between my art career, my art making, and my life outside of art.


How was your weekend? I had what I like to think of as a well balanced weekend of fun.

Watched some football- We had amazing seats (4th row, 5o yardline!) for the LSU vs Florida Game. Too bad the game wasn't amazing too. It's tough being a Tiger fan in Gator country. Especially when the score was 51-21. ouch! Sunday Ben made a double batch of his Famous Oatmeal Cookies and I baked a couple loaves of sourdough bread.
We had homemade veggie soup/chili and an bottle of organic wine for dinner. Yum!
And I worked in the studio too. I'd go in for 1-2 hour intervals (while my bread was rising) and grind the groove into the pendants I've been shaping. This groove helps the wire stay in place when they are wrapped. Then I cleaned them up, and fired the kiln again last night.
Today I hope to clean up the mess from the tile saw and grinder, unload the kiln, sort the pendants by price, start wire wrapping, fire a kiln with slumped glass, and finish up some other odds and ends in the studio. I've decided that I just need to set aside a "computer day" to focus on my new artist statement and get my ETSY shop up and running.

So, I guess I should get to work. Hope you're having a great Monday!

Cheers,
Meagan
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