Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back in the Studio this Week

After a week or two of monkeying around with photos and trying to enter shows, this week I cried "Uncle!" and descended the stairs to the studio. Two bags of Henry Pope's brick hard Ellen Buff had been soaking for several weeks (or perhaps months) and were more than ready to be wedged, weighed and thrown.

In case you don't know the story, sometime last year Henry posted on the Clay Club blog that he had 800 lbs of cone 4-6 Ellen Buff to give away. This was shortly after I decided to start firing some cone 6 reduction, so I called and made arrangements to pick the clay up. As it turned out, he had nearly 1400 lbs, and all of it was solid as a rock. Blissfully ignorant that the Ford is a half-ton truck, I loaded all the clay and made my way up the mountain.

I prefer not to have to soak clay to a slurry only to have to dry it out on plaster bats, so I just slake the clay down by pouring a cup of water into the bag, resealing and kicking it over every few days until all the water is absorbed. It works pretty well, resulting in clay soft enough to slice and mix with fresh reclaim.

Anyway, I have grown a little weary of trying to explain what function my baskets serve. Currently they enrich my life with their beauty, and while you certainly could, I wouldn't fill them with salad. So I have decided to make some work that is undeniably functional: bowls and sake sets. Don't worry your pretty little heads, I will indeed be cutting them, at least a little bit.

The photos I've been working on are twofold. I am taking some classes through Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs about Etsy and increasing my online presence. One suggestion was to take Etsy photos with props. I tried, but to me they feel contrived, and I really prefer the more formal photos. Then I tried to set up an online portfolio on Call For Entry and found that I am unable to size my photos the way they require. I tried the two photo software programs I own plus Picnik. CaFE wants photos 1920 x 1920, which means they can have the balck bars top and bottom if your image is not that high. I can't seem to get those black bars on, so I have no portfolio there. I think I'm going to have to buy Photoshop Elements or something similar unless any of my faithful readers knows how to do this for free.
So I am closing with a coffee mug that my beloved Nana gave me from which I drank some caffeinated coffee today. I love this mug. For the 1986-1987 school year, it sat in my rented locker at Radford University, alongside my immersion heater and my box of Cream of Chicken Cup O' Soup.


  1. Try Gimp ( It's free and it's a pretty good photo editor.

  2. I hate getting applications together for shows, not knowing for sure if you will get in, such a hassle.
    Grants are even worse and I did both at the same time. Not again, way too confusing!

  3. Definitely try GIMP. It'll do what you're needing. You can either shoot/crop to 1920x1920, or do the black bar thing easily.

  4. FYI - I posted a tutorial today on how to use GIMP for CaFE.