Monthly Archives: March 2012

Open Studio Report

Lately, all of my time is being spent producing inventory for the upcoming ArtWalk and my soon-to-be Etsy shop. Nose to the grindstone for several weeks… Tomorrow, I begin assembling pendants I have created for necklaces. I will use three pendants for each necklace, which will have graduated lengths. Stay tuned and I will post photographs soon. There have been a number of setbacks, but I’m working through them… Yesterday, I worked on the next stage of my new reliefs. Dragonfly and ginkgo leaf are pictured below. To these, I will add other classic Arts-and-Crafts motifs. That white stuff is corn starch, which prevents sticking. At present, I am scaling them down to the size I want, so the pic below shows Stage 2, the imprint made from the carving. Tomorrow, I will place them on the top of the faux woodstove, our gas fireplace till they’re bone dry, then take them in to the studio. After they’re fired, I will create the final imprint, dry, fire, then begin using them on B Mix, which fires white white. Then move on to my next design!

Dragonfly and gingko reliefs. Stage 2.

Well, between the paragraph above and the previous one I wrote for this space, my host server went down for maintenance. I thought I’d saved it to a text file, but it ain’t here and I’m going to leave it at that and show you something else. Last Saturday, friends met for our monthly creativity group, during which time we made prints. So, instead of trying to recreate what I just lost, I am going to show you what I made.

Tulips, red and purple ink.


Untitled, purple and red. Background is shadowed; it's actually pure white.

My posts have been spotty this month, but from now on, I’m back on schedule. On Friday, come read an interesting article on Malaysian water jugs, shaped so water stays cool. A friend sent me the photos. She lives there and in Ireland. Lovely jugs, very artistic, and the style has not changed for eons. The methods of production have been updated, but some still make them the old way… See you then!

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The College for Creative Studies ad campaign by Team Detroit

“College for Creative Studies’s (CCS’s) “PSA” campaign, launched in September, has recently gone viral with more than 1,000,000 hits and shares on various social networking and blogging sites including Facebook and Twitter. Created by advertising agency, Team Detroit (Dearborn, MI), the campaign loosely parodies popular anti‐drug campaigns from the 1980s and 90s. This light‐hearted approach is intended to help recruit potential students to CCS where they can choose from 12 BFA and 2 MFA degree granting majors and study in state‐of‐the‐art facilities right in the heart of Detroit.” — College for Creative Studies

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Happy St. Paddy’s! Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

A peek at what is happening in Ireland from Pottery Ireland

Inishmuck Lough, County Cavan, Ireland - - 560300

Inishmuck Lough, County Cavan, Ireland One of County Cavan's many beautiful lochs on the Erne river system.. By Adam Simpson via Wikimedia Commons

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Mudslingers’ aprons for potters and ceramists

When I work in the clay studio or at home, I wear an apron my Mom and Dad gave me. It’s made of heavy cotton twill and was meant to be used in the kitchen. It’s become my clay apron because it’s quite long. It wouldn’t afford proper coverage for wheel throwing, though. At the Open Studio, recently, Sylvia was wondering aloud about wheel throwers’ aprons and whether there was a pattern for one. I tried to find a pattern, but no soap. You could use McCall’s Pattern M5366 and alter it by splitting the lower part. They’re easy to do; I’ve made several aprons, for myself and others. (I especially liked the one I made out of pillow ticking, when I was a teenager.) When I begin throwing again, I would surely like one. I noticed that Joan uses a towel that she drapes over her legs. Anyone who has done any throwing  knows that you will be walking away from it with spatters of slip and splashes of water all over your pants if you don’t wear an apron. I decided to investigate and have found a number of sites that sell reasonably priced ones. They are sturdy affairs and might take a few washings to soften the fabric.  These aprons would all get pretty grotty with use and you wouldn’t be able to throw them directly into  a washing machine without soaking them in a bucket. Clay gums up plumbing pipes unless you have a clay trap.

StartswithClay: Story Update: Just heard about this apron yesterday and they are indeed terrific! Sold through this Etsy shop by potter Christina Blocksom, who designs and makes them. She says the one-size split-legged apron fits sizes 2-2x and custom changes can be made. Her aprons are made of  “100% cotton interior decorating canvas,” are one-of-a-kind, and go for $40.00. Instead of a neck strap, they have two adjustable straps. A pocket holds trimming tools. Your name can be sewn on the apron for an extra $5.00. I think this is the only apron you’d ever need and they come in different colors and patterns

Dick Blick:  Their Robert Ware line apron is sold for $20 US. Made of lightweight denim, it measures 29″ × 45″, has ties, a 9″ × 7″ chest pocket, and a neck strap. The description says the apron has extra-long leg splits. Because you can’t see it on a model, it’s difficult to know just how long it is and, of course, it all depends on your height.


The next model is the Claypron, originated by Echo Ceramics. You can buy it for $25 from them or for $27 at Seattle Pottery Supply. It also made of denim, is 48″ long and one-size-fits-all. The description on the Echo site says it is “made of top quality mid weight cotton, has two neck straps and a secure side pocket.” They say Martha Stewart wore the Claypron on her February 23, 2009 “Pot Show.” This apron is 3″ longer than the one at Dick Blick’s.

The Potters Council Online Store carries aprons, too. They don’t have split legs, but say they are made of high quality cotton twill. They have a waist level drawstring and two big pockets. They made sure 31″ long x 29″ wide. The big draw here is the catchy jingles printed on the upper part of the apron: “Live, Love, Sculpt,” “Throw Pots Not Kisses,” “Wanted,  Mudslingers,” “Warning, I  Throw Things.” They go for $26.

Sax art supplies sells a potter’s apron that looks very old-fashioned. It’s actually a tabard, having front and back that join at the shoulders. It is 36″ long, made of heavy-duty denim and sells for $13.75. Another feature is deep, divided pockets. They also carry a split leg throwers’ apron in the same fabric with a 42″ length for $11.55.

Note: The man pictured below is working at Van Briggle’s, which is still in existence today. Click here to go to its site.

A man in a bowler hat, vest, bow tie and apron presses the brake of a potter’s wheel with his foot, Van Briggle’s Art Pottery, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, 1902. The belt-driven flywheel spins and the clay in his hands is still. Mugs and vases line interior shelves behind him; an armature is by the window. By H. S. Poley via Wikimedia Commons



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Potteries Oatcakes and The Potteries, UK

Plant of oat

A field of oats. By Fk via Wikimedia Commons

I took a circuitous route to arrive at the story idea for today’s post. Several months ago over lunch, friends from the Open Studio were talking about wheat and gluten, the connection between wheat and inflammation specifically. I became further interested and, since then, the inflammatory properties of foods has become a research focus. Fast forward to last week when I further learned that inflammation is also caused by eating finely ground wheat flour. Well, we bake bread, so I started wondering about where we could go from here. Then, I remembered that I’d bought a double bag of steel cut oats from Costco. Previous to that, I’d never had them before, but they’re delicious with golden syrup, which has the flavor of burnt sugar. Steel cut oats are much less processed than the rolled oats used to in North America.  And oats have a low inflammation rating. Soon, my mind traveled from that to oatcakes. Oatcakes are a common foodstuff in the British Isles and Ireland. Next, I was looking them up on Well, practically every corner has its own type of oatcake. I also came upon something called “Potteries Oatcakes.” I stopped when I saw that and mouthed ‘pottery?’ I learned that Potteries Oatcakes are synonymous with Staffordshire oatcakes. Geography.

Steel cut oats. By Spunkybart at Wikimedia

I hadn’t realized that the locale around Stoke-on-Trent is actually called The Potteries. According to Wikipedia, The Potteries is a city and industrial area made up of Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton.”Together with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke forms The Potteries Urban Area.” Now, I have been covering news about Stoke-on-Trent for a over a year, focusing on stories about historic potteries that have been renovated. A number of these rambling old sites are once again being used for potteries and whole neighborhoods nearby are being gentrified. It’s quite thrilling, but I didn’t know the entire area was called The Potteries. Getting back to oatcakes, I started looking for information about the potteries variety and hit the jackpot.

Staffordshire or Potteries Oatcakes. By Goose at Wikimedia

There appear to be oatcakes shops everywhere! There are also scads of oatcake recipes and just as many varieties. Round, square or triangular…made with cookie cutters or in sheet pans. Some Scottish recipes are basically oats, lard, and water; others from Scotland combine oats and wheat flour. Then you have all the Irish and English versions…. In addition, the oat itself is milled different ways, and most of these recipes seem to call for fine or medium grind. Other recipes call for wheat or oat flour. Then there is the regional nomenclature: steel cut oats are also called pinhead oats. Plus, some oatcakes have other ingredients, like raisins. As it turns out, the type that are called Potteries Oatcakes are somewhat like crepes, stuffed with sweet or savory fillings. The ones in the photograph above appear to be filled with ham slices. Staffordshire Oatcakes sells mixes online and one can buy fresh ones at the Potteries Oatcake Co. in Longton. Looking back in time, I can imagine pottery workers flying to their lunch boxes when the noon whistle blew and filled oatcakes gobbled up before the back to work whistle sounded. This created a desire to find an ‘authentic’ Potteries Oatcake recipe. I found the one which runs below at the Recipe Database EU site. The poster of the recipe isn’t named, so I cannot credit him or her, but here it is, slightly edited:

Potteries Oatcakes

Ingredients for 4 servings

2 oz. white flour; sifted
2 oz. oatmeal
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 fluid oz. milk
1 T butter, melted

Recipe Preparation

This recipe is from a local women’s group’s Potteries Cookbook. Homemade oatcakes never seemed as good as the shop-bought thing, strangely, but this is the best recipe I’ve found.

Mix the flour, oatmeal, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten eggs and milk. Mix with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating more of the flour until the mixture forms a smooth batter. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Use hot frying pan or griddle, and grease it with melted butter. Place 3 or 4 tablespoons of mixture on it, well-spaced, and cook for 1 minute.

The traditional way to serves them seems to be with butter and jam, but our family always preferred them as a savoury dish, with melted cheese and eggs.

Now, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it; however, my story about oats can’t be written without a small addition. My favorite underground cartoon character is Gilbert Shelton’s “Oat Willie,” who is “the most thoughtful guy in the world.” In the 1980s, I became very ill, but basically laughed myself through it because my friend, Rhonda, gave me a complete set of Oat Willie comic books before she moved to Seattle. I treasure them to this day and adore Oat Willie. A true fan, I also have an Oat Willie mug and t-shirt. So, there you have it. From grain to oatcake to Oat Willie! It’s a wrap… 😉

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Ceramics & pottery journals & periodicals (English language )

The Leach Pottery, St. Ives, Cornwall

The Leach Pottery in St Ives was established by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada in 1920.














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Open Studio Update

Kneden van kleiWe were all quite busy during Open Studio today, all making headway on our various projects. The slide show below features the work of Nan, Joan, Taryn, Gary, Pauline and myself. I am happy to say that I have finally learned Flickr well enough to present photos with good resolution for this particular slide show. (Click any photo to be taken to the blog’s Flickr site, as the subtitles are visible there. These photos are larger size on that site, showing more detail. You can also work with the slide show’s toolbar here by hovering over the top or bottom with your cursor.)


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