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!

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!

Figurative Work

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If you had asked me a year ago if I would be creating figurative sculptures I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Yet here I am with several garden art sculptures slash planters created in a female form. Even more amazing is that I love creating them. I enjoy the attitude and personality each one takes on as the piece takes shape over the sculpting process. I especially love the chance to be really crazy and free with my glazing. Something about these forms seems to call for a no-holds barred approach to adding color that is far removed from my normally rather detailed and precise method.

This particular figure is my tallest yet – standing fourteen inches high – and has a lovely red midriff that I love. I hope you’ll take a little time to check her out in my online shop along with a couple others I have available.

Scissor Hands

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I have this pair of old fashioned metal scissors. I’m not quite sure where I got them from, but they have been in my clay tools for some time now. I was using them to cut paper templates and guides for my work until one day I decided to press the handles into some clay. The rest, as they say, is history. I practically never use these scissors for cutting any more – they have been moved permanently out of my tools jar and into my texture making jar.

I particularly love how their texture looks on this planter. It always fascinates me to see my textures distorted by the form making process and this one is no exception. I like the extra emphasis the belly-ing out gives to the fullness of the handle imprints.

Check it out in my online shop here.

Coils!

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I love this planter. I love doing pieces like this one with all sorts of crazy coils. Its a very freeing way of making pots. They make me happy. I don’t know if it will ever sell, but I’ll probably keep making these occasionally just for fun … and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Learn more here.

Pinstripe Love Affair

It’s not unusual for me to be inspired by a texture tool. I collect new ones all the time either by making new clay stamps or running across a strange object. My newest acquisitions feature big in my texture patterns for the next several pieces I create.

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I don’t know how much this goes noticed or unnoticed by my fans, but when I run across an older piece it always looks a little dated to me. This is especially true if that texture maker has been moved to storage and out of my go-to set of tools.

Yet every once in awhile I hit pay dirt with my finds and stamp making. I have some textures that appear over and over and over again in my work. A great example of this are my handmade texture rollers. I learned how to create them a few years ago and over time I’ve made so many different rollers that my least favorite ones have their very own storage container.

Originally, I made these rollers to create sections of lines close together or, with wider rollers, lines of stamped patterns. More often than not though I find myself using my favorites to create pinstripes.

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It seems so strange to me that so much of my work is pinstriped. Anyone who has ever met me would tell you that I’m not a formal dresser – I’m not a snappy dresser at all. To me pinstripes have always implied formality – a word I wouldn’t use to describe my work.

I love the pinstriped pieces I’ve created though. I use them to provide a contrast to the more flowery patterns and textures I favor. They emphasize the roundness and belly I like to add to my forms as well as provide movement in a particular direction. They also provide a great, built-in, separation for my glaze and stain combination.

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I am constantly coming up with new ideas to pair with pinstripes. I can’t even imagine not having them as a subseries to my texture patterns. Who knew my crazy, whimsical pieces really just needed a touch of formality?

Unintentional Pants

I typed the title to this blog post and had to stop for a minute before I could start the post itself – I was laughing too much about pants. Yep, that’s right, you heard me – pants!

Never in all of the time I’ve been doing ceramics would I have thought I’d been sitting here typing a blog post about pants. You see, I’ve rarely contemplated pants in the realm of my ceramic work unless you count having more laundry to be done with all of the clay stains I seem to accumulate. Yet here we are chatting about pants and my work.

I first starting seeing resemblances to pants after a customer pointed it out to me at a show. Setting up at a live show and sale is not for the faint of heart. When I create my work, I tend to have a vision of what I’m hoping to achieve in the piece – what I’d like others to see in it. All of my good intentions are typically dashed five minutes into a show when customers start stopping by my booth. Whether a customer engages and discusses my work directly with me or is talking to a friend or themselves (psst – I can hear you), I always gain a lot about how my art is viewed from those experiences.

I’m philosophical about it. What better way to learn what folks really think about your work then to put it out there for the world to see and comment.

Such is the case with my favorite planter design, which I do have to agree with the many (and there are MANY) customers who think some of them look like pants! Luckily, the sentiment is that they are cute pants, always important, so I haven’t felt compelled to make any design changes. I invite you to decide for yourself. Pants or not?

You can check out even more of my planters here!

Speaking of Succulents

I’ve been getting more and more into the world of plants this past year – particularly with drought tolerant plants like cactus, succulents and bromeliads. My explorations have taken me to several show quality displays of these living works of art.

You know what I’ve noticed? The more I see, the more I’m struck by the similarities between these plants and the gears of pocket watches.

If you’ve been following my work for awhile now, you probably know that I created an entire body of work for a solo show last August, GEARED, based on the movements of pocket watches.

All of these thoughts simply reinforce for me how interconnected everything really is in the world. Pocket watch movements that mimic a beating heart, radiating out plants leaves that seem to capture a still frame of that same pulse …

I’m thinking about doing my next texture pattern series using succulents and my new favorite, bromeliads. Check out some of my inspiration for yourself!