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!

Low Riders

I thought I’d share a peak into my newest planter designs leading up to this weekend’s Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society’s Annual Show.

I love these kind of designs with a zipper-esque approach with all of the texture falling in between two lines. I spend way more time than you probably imagine working out the exact flow of the line before I add any other textures. I especially like how on this particular planter the line reminds me of pants worn low on the hips – the lack of glaze above only emphasizes that impression for me.

My favorite pieces are all, in some way, like this planter. They evoke an unexpected image or two with my texture and glaze choices.

Oh, That Drip

Glazing … it tends to be the bane of most ceramic artist’s existence.

Why? Well, where to start?

I suppose I could begin with sharing that the glazing process is a chemical reaction activated by the heat of the kiln. Before firing glazes all tend to look kind of pinkish, brownish, white-ish, red-ish or sometimes grey-ish, but certainly never the color they will be after firing. Its enough to drive a person batty imagining the “correct” color.

Catch those quotes in my last statement? Chemical reactions also mean that glazes don’t necessarily combine based on the color wheel or logic. My favorite example of this is a beautiful turquoise matte glaze that turns maroon when a clear is applied over it instead of a shiny turquoise color.

I could go on about glaze application thickness and application methods, but I fear I’m digressing from that drip I mentioned. All of that activating heat also means that glaze doesn’t like to stay where you put it. Instead glaze tends to run and pool. This can be extremely helpful as well as frustrating.

You see, glaze that runs can run right off of the pot onto the kiln shelf fusing your pot to the shelf. So, that intriguing little drip when it happens is something that gets ceramic artists very excited. This is especially true when that lovely drip stops just before disaster and instead leaves behind a focal point on your piece.

You can find this bottle and more of my work at Artisans Etc. in Big Bear. See more of my glaze experiments – and seem to be always experiments! – online in my 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!

Its Good to Have Standards

Last fall I worked out and began creating standard sizes for my planters. It makes life so much easier. I no longer have to sit and sort pots by approximate size to figure out the right prices. I no longer willy-nilly cut out slabs of clay and hope that the proportions make sense once I start to form them.

Lots of unexpected things have worked out as a result of this change too. I can easily size up or down my planters with very little effort. Before I would make what I thought were larger and/or smaller sizes only to discover there was not as much variation as I had anticipated. I can also list multiples of the same planter design in my online shop since it has become a no-brainer to re-create the same dimensions.

But the best result of standard sizes? You’ll never guess, but my planters now all nest perfectly inside one another. Isn’t that cool?! I think that’s so cool!

Foot Noir

There’s a great Instagram account called Pots in Action run by a wonderful ceramic artist named Ayumi Horie that runs weekly challenges to post ceramic work on Instagram. It is an example of all that is right in the world of social media and does what often seems impossible to bring together ceramic artists and collectors together across the world.

This week’s challenge is all about the foot. Not the walking around on variety, but the part a pot rests on foot. If there was ever a nemesis to my ceramic process it would be the foot. Constructing just the right foot for a particular pot taking into account the structural soundness of the work as well as the aesthetic aspect has long been something I’ve struggled with over the years.

So, I’m taking on this week’s Pots in Action challenge on as a sort of practice and continued search for a great foot for my pieces. I’ll be posting later this week my attempts and trials, but thought I would share another use of a foot in my work with you first. The best kind of foot, in my opinion, is the one leaving a great impression in clay. Too bad it doesn’t absolve me from tackling the other!

Check out more of my foot and footwear inspired work here.

Reflections

sam_1518

This plate is one of my favorites. I really like how it looks like a puddle with ripples reflecting over and over. Strangely, its one of my more simple glazing jobs – three different glazes only, yet I really feel like it impacts the senses in a big way.

Learn more about this plate here.

Monday’s Muse – Nancy Selvin

I got the pleasure of meeting an artist whose work I have long admired, Nancy Selvin. In fact, seeing her work for the first time a couple of years ago got me started on handbuilt bottle forms.

While I mainly know her through her clay work, I was not surprised to learn that she additionally creates in watercolor and gouache since aspects of a more painterly approach to her surfaces is the most striking part of her ceramic work. In fact from the right angle its easy to interpret her sculptural work as a drawing. In addition to her wonderful surfaces, her forms are very loose and open inviting you to investigate closer.

The marriage of the two aspects of her work – inviting forms and painterly surfaces – creates a collage effect especially in the wall vignettes she creates.

I highly recommend checking out her website and her work for yourself!

 

 

Wild Horses

wild-horses

Part of the reason I enjoy collecting shoe prints is the interaction with the folks who donate their prints.

The woman who donated this print told me all about love of horses before actually stepping on the slab of clay. We were both surprised to see that there are tiny little horses on the soles of her shoes! If you look closely, you can still seem them in the pale green section of this plate.

She was so interested in horses and southwestern art that I made sure to include the little bits of turquoise glaze for parts of the texture.

Check it out and other shoe print plates online in my Etsy shop or this coming Sunday, October 23rd at the Downtown Redlands Art Walk.

Sunflower Deja Vu

SAM_0921

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!