Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Studio Layout

A few weeks ago, my friend Rachel stopped by with her boyfriend, and I asked them to help me move the piano in my studio. (Don't ask why I have a piano in my studio.) One of the casters is broken, so it's really helpful to have two or three people navigate it safely. Now I have a new space for my wedging table, under the glazes.

Rachel and Peter thought I was crazy not to center the table under the window, but I love this corner space! Clay boxes are up against the wall in two stacks (one for each clay body), misc items are shoved under the table (I promise I will deal with that stuff someday), and I face the window to wedge or perch at the end on my comfy studio chair.

Here's the piano in its new spot. (You can see in the mirror that this is right across from the glaze wall; the window is just out of the picture, to the left.) I finally hung up some colorful items I've been collecting: the scarf is by my friend Jenn and I bought it when I displayed her work in my gallery; the calendar is from my dad and displays larger-than-life photos of fruit with lovely Chinese paintings of birds and leaves in the background; the poster is from the Hyde Park Jazz Festival September 27, 2008, which is the date of our wedding and why I insisted on snagging the poster on our way through Chicago four years ago. I'm really showing off my procrastination skills with that one!

I took down the beautiful photo of the Maroon Bells I bought from Jesse so that I could paint a chalkboard on the wall instead. The chalkboard is really fun and useful for organizing different commissions and ideas for my different retail spaces, and I actually prefer Jesse's photo displayed on the piano. It's a more intimate setting for such a special piece.

Speaking of procrastination, I've finally started a 12-piece dinner set that's long overdue (some of the tumblers & bowls are drying on top of the piano and shown below). My client recently picked the exact glaze she wanted and I'm overjoyed by the results of the glaze tests. I think everything will turn out beautifully.

The covered piece with flowers on top is a wedding gift for my cousin Amy. Her one-year anniversary was in July, so I'm a bit late already, but it wasn't until May that we discussed what exactly she wanted, so I don't feel too far behind. The to-go mugs are for the Backcountry Herbal Apothecary in Frisco. Usually I stamp my mugs with their logo, but this time I'm playing with the leaf theme. Eventually I think I'll do a set of tea cups, each stamped with one of these images. Plus whatever other project ideas pop in my head, as per usual. It's a great logo to work from:

This is also a piece I should have made ages ago. I went off cell phone pics and a general description, but I'd never used a round butter dish before. Now that I've made one, I think it's a great idea! I want one for my own kitchen counter.

Finally, I'm working on two new pieces I absolutely adore. But I can't show pics yet because one is a birthday gift for a good friend of mine. He requested a specific piece I thought was too floral for his personality and decided to design something more gender-neutral. I feel so confident about the design that I'm making two in order to have one to sell. I hope they turn out as well as I imagine they will! But you have no idea what I'm talking about so let's just leave it for now. More to come, mid October. That's when I'll re-open my Etsy shop as well (my final procrastination theme for this post) with beautiful new pieces to sell!

Friday, September 21, 2012

End of Summer

On Wednesday we spent the night at Cottonwood hot springs in an impromptu, relaxing getaway. We drove back the next morning and, turning off the highway toward our house, we were greeted by the most gorgeous aspens: breathtakingly vivid golds, oranges, reds, and even a few stubborn spring greens. It was the peak of the season; this morning everything is still quite lovely, but not the stunning show I saw yesterday. I took a different route home this morning and snapped some photos with my cell phone.

This is my favorite view on the way home. I look forward to it every day.
An old abandoned house; a mining structure from the 1800s back among the aspens.
Summer is nearly gone. It's been a tragic, difficult season but also gorgeous, sunny, and filled with ceramics. Here are some of the more interesting commissions I've had the pleasure to make.

First is Lydia, a beautiful baby who celebrated her birthday in August. I enjoy making work for people I meet because I can make the right glaze choices for their pieces. Lydia's mother was completely uninterested in anything easily breakable or overly girly, but she wanted Lydia to have something special out of clay.

I made Lydia a free-standing name display. Hopefully she'll enjoy looking at it until she's old enough to play with it in a carpeted room.

Next, I met a woman at Alma Fest, Cynthia, who really liked a vase I had with blue flowers, but preferred dark pink flowers instead. I totally agree with her, the dark pink is a great choice!

I ended up making her two vases and they turned out quite lovely. Now I need to make her a bowl but we're both stumped as to how to glaze it. Then a week or so ago I had the pleasure of seeing a dear friend, Janie, who always comes up with interesting clay ideas. She doesn't work with clay at all but loves buying pottery and has a constant supply of "What if you tried..." or "What if you were inspired by..." I love her enthusiasm. For this visit, among many other things she showed me photos of foxgloves, pointing out how beautiful the inside of the flowers look. She thought it would be beautiful to recreate the look with glaze. This summer I bought and planted 12 foxgloves at work, but never thought of this myself. I'm excited to see if this idea can translate into something great for the bowl for Cynthia, using the colors above plus yellow or tan. (Stay tuned!)

Janie also encouraged me to make more tiny pieces, which I did at Alma Fest (and sold them all, thanks Janie!). She collects cream & sugar pieces, so I made her a set with a leafy tray (keeping with my leafy espresso and tea set style). She bought a nice blue bowl, a couple of heart bowls, and a hummus & chip tray. The hummus tray was, of course, Janie's own suggestion, and it turned out great!

This is not intended for large tortilla chips; it's wonderful for pita chips or crackers. Also, I made the hummus bowl nestle perfectly but it is separate if you want to heat it in the microwave (I'm thinking something yummy and cheesy) and for quick washing. The bottom section fits easily in the dishwasher.

In Breckenridge I brought new work to Mary-Anne at Magical Scraps Boutique: flowery mugs and coordinating stacking bowls. 

The mugs take forever to glaze, so I have to re-think the color choices. But they look so cute!...  I also restocked the Backcountry Apothecary in Frisco with more work and have some to-go mugs drying in my studio right now. I enjoy finding inspiration from each of these unique stores to put custom Wild Iris pieces on their shelves. Magical Scraps is a beautiful, cheerful space I want to fill with color and flowers. The Apothecary has supplements, herbs, and teas, and serves as the entrance to the Naturopathic clinic with massage and acupuncture as well. I make drinking vessels for them, usually inspired by or referencing their artsy logo. I'll have photos to share later.

Finally, I made a beautiful pitcher to celebrate an upcoming September wedding. My client, a dear friend of my mother's, told me the shape she wanted and then described her daughter's personality to me (the daughter and I were really close friends through grade school but I haven't seen her in at least 15 years). Maybe I've been well-trained by all the Project Runway episodes I watch, because I had a great time coming up with the right design for the pitcher. The first one I made (below) didn't dry well and when I bisqued it the handle popped off! I'm so glad it did, though, because I'm much happier with the second one.

My idea of carving the roses came about when I found an old flyer from a show I did in 2007. This time I used a similar technique as I did for the work in that show, but I created a much more delicate effect. I love the roses and I love the satiny glaze (poured on for a subtle layered look). As I always do for wedding gifts, there's something written on the bottom to celebrate the happy couple.