Floating Ceramic Pendants

I’m having so much fun sharing jewelry tips with everyone! Today I’m sharing an easy way to make your pendants so you need fewer jewelry findings after firing – always a good thing in my book!

Tools Mentioned

  • Wooden Skewer – definitely check the dollar store or here
  • Pin Tool – an example here
  • Smoothing Rib – an example here
  • Even Dough Bands – an example here

Be sure to check out the other videos mentioned: ceramic beads and rolling out a slab!

All tools noted above are my own personal preferences for my studio practice. Purchases made using the links don’t add any cost to you, but do provide a small amount to me in support of my blog and videos.

Beads, Beads and More Beads!

Making jewelry with my own handmade ceramic components is a fun side project of mine. Occasionally I get the urge to display them to the world, but mostly I do it for me.

I thought I’d share some of my love of ceramic jewelry making with you in a series of fun tutorials! First up, let’s make beads!

I absolutely love making beads. Surprised? You’re probably not the only one since I make them, fire them and then … they just sit in a box or bowl. I have quite the collection of them along with other ceramic jewelry components.

Tools Mentioned!

  • Wooden Skewer – check the dollar store or online here
  • Wooden Modeling Tool – example here

All tools noted above are my own personal preferences for my studio practice. Purchases made using the links don’t add any cost to you, but do provide a small amount to me in support of my blog and videos.

Euphorbia Mammillaris Variegata

The lovely folks at California Cactus Center in Pasadena feature a wide range of rare succulents from all over. In addition to being a great resource of knowledge on the care and maintenance of this drought tolerant plants, their nursery features a range of staged plants in both commercial and handmade pots.

Aaree was kind enough to feature one of my planters in her video about how to achieve different looks using the same plant, but different planters and top dressing. Definitely a must watch for some great tips on successfully re-potting your succulents as well!

Inspired to try it yourself? Stop by California Cactus Center to take a look through their selection of pots (including some of my latest designs) or visit my Etsy shop!

Purple Flowers

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker

I think about this quote from Alice Walker every single time I see a purple flower whether it’s growing wild by the side of the road or in a garden somewhere. It always makes me smile in gratitude for all of the beauty in the world.

This planter reminds me of the purple wildflowers I see growing by the side of the road in the springtime. It’s so so so purple and definitely floral inspired that it really stands out against the more earth toned planters in my collection. It makes me smile every time I see it in my online shop. Maybe I need to keep it for my personal collection or make more … I can’t quite decide.

Either way be sure to enjoy this little pop of the color purple today!

Thinking About Drainage

Every time I share my planters with plant people I learn new things about drainage. I’m always happy to hear feedback on how to make my planters better homes for the plants that grow in them.

I will admit that sometimes I struggle initially with the feedback and how to incorporate it into my planters in the most effective way. There are lots of factors to consider from maintaining even, consistent wall thickness and other structural considerations to aesthetic considerations like continuing my personal style in the final form.

One such challenge revolved around adding additional drainage in the feet of my signature planter form. As you can sort of see from this angle, the method I use to form my planters’ feet creates low points in the pot where water can collect and cause root rot.

Here is a view of the planter upside down before any drainage holes are added.

The challenge was to decide the best way to avoid the low point.

Do I fill in the inside with additional clay? Well, that adds weight to the pot and the potential for uneven drying which can cause cracks.

Do I put in a thin layer of clay on the inside suspended over the low point? Then I create a hollow section in the pot and trapped air can cause explosions in the kiln during firing.

Do I fill in that part after the planter is completely fired with some non-clay material like caulk or silicone? I tried it on some pots I had already created and it works, but needs a lot more caulk, etc than it would appear. In addition to the added cost of the filler, the end result doesn’t look great.

In the end it was my second idea above that actually gave me the best solution. To release the trapped air in the pot I tried that idea on, I put holes in the bottom of the feet. The minute I did it, I realized, “Duh! Just put holes through the feet.”

It turned out to be the easiest, simplest solution and has the added benefit of being virtually invisible unless you look inside the pot or turn it over. So, now all of my planters from the very smallest to the largest have a minimum of five drainage holes (as pictured below).

At a recent show I learned that all of my drainage holes in my feet are actually helpful if the pot is used to plant bonsai since the initial planting requires the bonsai tree to be wired into the pot for security while it roots. So, there you have it! Two solutions in one – prevents root rot and allows for wire!

Looking for a great planter with absolutely fabulous drainage? Then be sure to check out my Etsy shop!

Masking Tape Madness

Every once in awhile new inspiration comes along and you have no choice, not really anyways, to follow it. That is exactly the case for me recently. I ran across an article in Ceramics Art Daily by Lindsay Rogers about creating your own glaze resist “stickers” out of masking tape and parchment paper a few months back.

I search for tips and tricks like this all the time to incorporate into projects for my students and that’s how I viewed this idea originally.

I purchased the supplies, taught the class and it was so much fun! I started putting custom cut stickers on all of my demo pots as well as another teacher’s demo pots. I just might have been a little teensy bit obsessed!

Fast forward to the next time I sit down to make some mugs. I was feeling rather lazy that day and didn’t want to pull out all of my texture makers, so I made a bunch of texture-free mugs thinking I’ll use some masking tape stickers on them.

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It was even better that I could have thought! When I glaze work that I created as a demo for my class I tend to get really wild with the combinations. It’s usually a good break from my super detailed brushed glazing method I use for my personal work. Creating custom stickers for my own mugs was like a little bit of both – exact and thoughtful as well as wild since I wasn’t sure if my patterns would turn out.

I really, really love the finished look. Its almost reminiscent of my planters and vases I’ve created that have both glazed and unglazed sections. I can’t wait to try other patterns as well as a two-toned glazed effect using the stickers.

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Look for more of these mugs to come as well as new planters in this glazing style as well!! The first batch of mugs is currently available in my Etsy shop here.

Sunflower Deja Vu

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We all have a tendency to revisit and return to the comfortable and the designs I create with my found objects and stamps are no exception. I think its interesting sometimes to compare and contrast the use of my texture patterns between pieces.

Take this plate, for instance. At first glance the colorfulness of the glazes most likely first catches your eye, then as you take a closer look you might notice a sunflower up in the top right corner. The same sunflower I talked about using as a repeating pattern for some of my planters in my last blog post.

On my planters, this stamped flower is overbearing and almost seems larger than the pot. Yet, here on this plate, that same sunflower is less prominent and has to compete with the rest of the textures and all those glaze colors. It seems so small in comparison to the ones on my planters despite all of them being the exact same size.

I really enjoy how the same textures can change and shift based on their context – just like most things in life really.

Learn more about this plate and others in my Etsy shop!

Sunflowers

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This is one of my favorite patterns! I think part of the reason I like it so much is that it is created entirely with my own handmade stamps. It’s actually made up of three separate stamps: 1) the center, 2) the petal and 3) the pinstripes. I like how big and full the flowers turned out – they really remind me of large oversized sunflowers. I love how they are so big that they dwarf the smaller sized planters I’ve created with this pattern.

This particular version of my sunflower planters is actually a glaze mistake. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody! I used an amber celadon on each of the sunflowers, but applied the glaze too thin. The end result is more of a leathery brown color than a high gloss amber. I think it works though. It color give the pot a nice, rustic feel and doesn’t compete with any plants that might get potted in it.

Sometimes a mistake is really a happy accident!

Check out all of the specifics of this planter and more in my Etsy shop!

Monday’s Muse – Linda Sikora

Sometimes you hear the exact right words at the exact right moment.

That’s what happened to me this past weekend. I follow a wonderful Instagram account called Pots in Action that is a community based feed connecting artists and art lovers. The other day they posted a video clip of Linda Sikora speaking at a recent ceramic workshop series.

Linda Sikora, “…It’s more important to keep paying attention and to follow your attention, than it is to think about meaning and content, because meaning and content come from paying attention to the world.”

This. Exactly this. You just have to keep showing up everyday to evolve.

New Planter Options – Introducing the Clover Series

Over the past several weeks I’m been working towards standardizing my planter sizes and textures. While I have more work to do, I’m excited to start sharing some of the fruits of my efforts.

I call this pattern my clover texture. I really enjoy how this pattern takes shape as it is repeated around the planter form as well as how the glaze nestles right into the grooves of the clover. It really is a perfect way to showcase my stain and glaze combinations.

Currently, this series is available in four color combos: blue-black, blue-green, shino and pale green. Be sure to let me know if you’d like to see it in other color options!

Clover Series