It’s fall, time to raku!

It seems like the falling leaves set the mood to raku.  Something about the crispness in the air just makes it right to see flames and the beauty that it can make.  I believe that this is the first time ever that I didn’t have any type of breakage what so ever…like I said, a first.  I even tried my hand at some Ferric Chloride…see if you can tell which is which.

Chihuly and more…

You just never know where your inspirations will come from!  It’s always good to check out other mediums!

And the most current firing…

So June was a slow pottery month.  Some issues came up that just stopped me in my tracks as far as pottery goes.  The good thing was a visit to California to visit family and just do a little relaxing.  But I’m getting back to it.  Look forward to more workshops results.  I’ve found that I can explore new avenues by helping others venture into the world of clay.  Of course, I’ll always go back to my beloved porcelain, but every once in a while it’s fun to just experiment with techniques and forms. 

For now enjoy what is here…the fairy houses and the salt and pepper shakers are a result of workshops.  The rest is my usual!

A little something about the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Another pottery thing that I’m proud of is me being a part of the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City.  It’s been three years now and I still have work for sale in the gift shop there.   I have work that is under the same roof as Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Jackson Pollock…the list keeps going on and on!  I’m so grateful that the curator of the gift shop saw my work in the Best of Missouri Hands website.  A big thanks to Kory!!

And occasionally, the Nelson will invite artists to demonstrate their talents in front of the gift shop.  I’ve done textured trays one time and painted my under glazes for my Mishima decorated bowls whilst I was demonstrating my work.  It’s so much fun getting to interact with their patrons from little kids to retired artists and from all over the world, too!

Yes, I Can Teach…

Yes, I can!!  I’ve been involved with a local art cooperative, ArtForms Gallery LLC, in Pittsburg, Kansas for right at a year now.  If you haven’t been there, you really should check it out.  It’s located in downtown Pittsburg, 620 N Broadway, and it’s the “only game in town”.  I love being a member of this group.  It feels like I’ve stepped a bit out of my box because I’m dealing with a different group of primarily Kansas artists.  This shouldn’t be much of a stretch since I was in deed born and raised  and educated in Kansas.  Hey, I still remember January 29th as Kansas Day, ad astra per aspera (to the stars with difficulty) watching each of my girls perform in the traditional First Grade Kansas Day Play.

Oh, I digress….anyway, there are 18 members at the present who basically do it all.  We have four ladies who started it all and basically put their necks on the line.  There is a wide gambit of artists including potters, painters, glass and textile artists, and some pretty darn good metal and woodworkers plus some awesome jewelers.  It’s a great group that works well together.

So along with gallery sales, every artist is encouraged to have classes which are located in the back of the building. As of late, we are also using Sylvia Shirley’s Cow Creek Pottery studio conveniently located one block away from the gallery as well.  I’ll admit I was pretty scared the first time I did a class (we made birdhouses), but the people who attended were just there to have fun and end up with a bird house they could actually put in the their yard.  So  far I’ve added Trays (the Ornaments was cancelled), and Pitchers to my experience.  Next up, is a class on decorating Toad Houses.  That one is scheduled for May 21, 2017 at Cow Creek Pottery.

The thing I love about teaching others, is seeing what they can come up with and there are some pretty creative folks out there.  So with that being said, I’d like to include some photos for and about my workshops.

Here are a few pics of the classes itself…

So the first pics are obviously from the pitcher workshop and the last plus the tray itself is from the Tray workshop…that tray was made by my good painter friend, Andrew Batcheller…what a beauty that turned out to be.



All most all of my pottery is considered food safe, meaning that you can eat off it, put it in the dishwasher, microwave or oven.  But not all firing methods for pottery or ceramics produce “useable ” work.  Raku fits into that area.  Raku, traditionally, comes from Japan where that method produced the wares for tea ceremonies. The word means “ease”, “comfort” or “enjoyment”.  Despite the fact that is was used in the past for tea ceremonies, it is a lower fired temperature which creates a more porous surface and at present is not recommended for consumer use.

That all being said, Raku is a fun thing to do.  I like to think of it as an instant gratification for potters.  We usually have to be quite patience waiting for the results of each firing, but with raku it’s a matter of just a few hours to see the final creation.

I tend to avoid raku because for one thing, the clay has a lot of grog in it.  That translates into lots of extra material in it to help it hold up to the thermal shock that it gets as it’s pulled from the fire to the atmosphere or into a water bath.  That extra materials is quite rough and after a potter (me) is accustom to using a smooth clay body like porcelain, well, it’s an exfoliating process for your hands and sometimes can be painful.  But my local clay group had a show at Spiva Center for the Arts whereby we used alternative firing methods, so I raku-ed.  And it was fun, so I participated at the Clay Dogs Raku Days in Nixa, Missouri as well.  The pics that follow chronicle what the journey was like.

The first picture is kind of my trophy shot (my dad was a big game hunter and I can’t tell you how many pictures like this that he had taken – until my own daughters wanted pictures of grandpa without a dead animal in it)

The second picture depicts the heart ache that can accompany raku firing.  This piece was the biggest that I had done at that time and it was just too bottom heavy to withstand the thermal shock. We actually heard it break after the firing then slowing watched it fall to pieces.

The last set of pictures were taken at my friend, Brent Skinner’s pottery location…more on that at another post.  The people are Brent, Melody Knowles and myself…the pieces were in the Spiva show.