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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