Potter…licensed to kiln!

OMG…

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I blogged. The last time I wrote a blog post was on January 26, 2018. Where in the world did the time go? How is this even possible? Time is going by way to fast for me. Can someone please slow it down a little? This is why I need a time machine!

I planned on blogging during the building of my new workshop, I really did! But life just kept getting in the way. I started several blog posts, but I never finished them. Life got in the way again and again, and then I’d just forget.

The only outsourcing we did, was to hire an electrician to do all of the wiring for my kiln and kiln vent, put up track lighting and a ceiling pan. Everything else was done by my wonderful husband, who sacrificed his one and only day off, every week for 7 months…to build everything I needed.

Thank you so much, Jim!

The construction started at the end of February

The electrical work started in March

The shelves my husband was building.

I absolutely love having adjustable shelves!

He added a lot more shelves since I took this photo.

Now, the shelves are full of bisqueware and inventory.

When my husband was done, it was my turn to get busy. I had to unpack the gazillion boxes. I never realized I had so much stuff, until I had to unpack it.

 Everyday, I’d unpack a bunch of boxes, but they just seemed to multiply

OMG…Never ending boxes!

I think I see my slab roller.

There’s my slab roller. I love this slab roller by North Star.

Her name is Willow North Star

There seemed to be no end to the unpacking.

I ended up over doing it…over and over again. I always do this!

I have several autoimmune diseases…Psoriatic Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Celiac Disease, IBS and a Herniated Disc in my back. So, it took me longer than I thought it would. I had to stop every once in a while, and rest for about a week or two or more…

Before I knew it, it was the Holidays of 2018

So, I stopped working in my workshop for a while.

Right after the new year, I started working in my workshop again. I found my wheel, under a bunch of boxes, but I couldn’t find my splash pan. I thought I had lost it, or maybe we had left it in Florida?

I finally found it, in one of the last boxes I unpacked.

I’d like you to meet my new kiln…Veronica!

“She who brings victory”

Isn’t she pretty!

Just when I was on a roll and almost done, I got sick. I was really run down, from doing so much. So, all work had to stop until I felt better.

The minute I felt better, I was back in my workshop, and then I got trigger finger in my left index finger. It felt like my finger was going to get stuck! I went to see my doctor and she gave me a cortisone shot. My finger was numb for five days (I really don’t like having a numb finger) and my finger was black and blue for at least a week. My doctor said, I had to rest my hand and absolutely no heavy lifting. No workshop for me…for a while.

It was so nice to have the use of my finger and hand again! I went back to my workshop, but that didn’t last very long. My allergies started bothering me really bad and it turned into a bad sinus infection and upper respiratory infection with a really bad cough. No work again for me. I had to rest.

It’s been such a long, and bumpy road for me. Full of twists and turns, hard work, and pain. And recently, sadness and lose. I don’t want to get into all the details. I’d have to write a book. All I can say is, on July 15th of this year, my life changed yet again. It feels like I lost my mother, even though she is still alive. She fell that day, and she has never been the same. She’s been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count. In and out of rehabs. She’s been through so much.

Something happened to her on July 16th, when she went to the ER. The ER doctor told me that when she arrived, she answered his questions. He said, she told him her side hurt. Then he said, “Suddenly, she was having trouble breathing,” and she ended up on a ventilator in the ICU.

I still don’t understand what happened, and they wouldn’t tell me. She was perfectly fine before she fell. We talked on the phone all the time. She was still taking care of herself, her dog, her budget and bills.

But, now she has brain damage.

When I call her, it’s like she’s not there. Sometimes, she’s living in a different time. Sometimes, she seems better, but we only talk for a few minutes…if I’m lucky. Other times, she gets confused and it bothers her. She ends up telling me she can’t talk or she says, “Okay by!” then she hangs up. Most of the time, when I hang up the phone, I cry. I hate that she is going through this. I never even imagined that this would happen to her.

I really miss talking to my Mom!

She’s not going to be able to go home, and that’s all she wants to do…is go home. She can’t take care of herself and for some reason, she can’t walk anymore, or even stand up without two people holding her.

It’s been very stressful for me, to see her like this, to not be able to talk like we use to, it makes me very sad. On top of all that, I have to run two households now, her house and mine, her budget and mine, and her bills and mine. I have so much on my plate. I get overwhelmed sometimes…a lot of times. I’m so thankful for my husband, he flew to Florida to winterize my mother’s house and check on things for me, in November.

The next thing we have to do, is pack up all of her belongings.

I’m not looking forward to that…at all.

I have to find a way to keep moving forward. I literally, hate hearing the phone ring, because my first thought is that something else happened to my mother.

I have to keep reminding myself to think good thoughts, to be positive.

So, I focus on pottery and finishing my book series.

I have a bunch of bisqueware that has to be glazed. I think, I’ll use some of it for glaze testing all the new glazes I bought on Black Friday. So, stay tuned for some blog posts about glaze testing and glaze combinations.

I’m looking forward to making items I haven’t made in a long time, and new items I’ve never made before.

I’m really looking forward to 2020.

I hope it’s going to be a wonderful year, for me and my family…and for everyone!

 

If you’re on Instagram, you can find me here!

https://www.instagram.com/ravenhillpottery/

 

Happy Anniversary

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Happy Anniversary!

Raven Hill Pottery has been on WordPress.com for 3 years. Thanks for reminding me WordPress. So glad I switched!

Clay Photos ~ Pinterest Size

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Hello, pottery peeps!

If you don’t already know about my workshop situation, I’ll give you a brief update. When I starting packing to move from Florida to Arizona. I thought I was only going to take a little time off to work on my book. But, due to things beyond my control…my workshop is closed until I can either fix my kiln or replace it.

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My beloved Charlotte (my kiln) was damaged during the move, by the movers and they won’t pay for it. They told my husband to sue them. I won’t use them again!

I really hope that we can fix her!

So, since my workshop is closed, no kiln…no pottery!!! I’ll keep my pottery blog going with posts I didn’t get around to doing, posts from my old pottery blog, new designs from my sketchbook and whatever else I can think of. 

A couple of weeks ago I decided to re-size some of my photos…to Pinterest size. Now they look so much better on Pinterest.

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I miss working with clay!

My hands are itching to dig into a bag of clay and make something new.

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This wire is the original wire I purchased for my first pottery class in 1990. I purchased another one, but I still use my old one. These are some of my original tools from 1990 and holding my tools is a cup I made in 1991.

Hopefully, I’ll have the funds to re-open my workshop soon!

In the mean time, I’ll be working on my book…Raven Hill

You can find me here…

https://melindamariealexander.com/

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

Zig Zag

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I’m participating in the…Blogging From A to Z April (2015) Challenge

And this is the last post!

For at least a week, maybe more…I had absolutely no idea what to blog about, that started with the letter Z…just like my X marks the spot post.

https://ravenhillpottery.com/2015/04/28/x-marks-the-spot/

So, I grabbed my sketchbook and started sketching. This is the first one I sketched. I’m not sure if I like these? I’ve decided, that I’m not really a fan of zig zag stripes…it’s kind of busy!

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Second sketch

 I’m not sure if I like these either, but I do like the top of the bottles!

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Third Sketch

Now, these I like! I think I’ll make these!

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Last one…

I’m not sure if you can call this zig zag…but I really like these!

I’m definitely making these!

What do you think?

Sponges

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I love my pottery sponges!

These are just a few of them, I have more. I need lots of sponges, because they do different jobs. The old-looking ones, on the right aren’t really that old, they just look that way because they wash off underglazes from bisqueware. It’s a rough job, and it does a number on my sponges, especially if it’s stoneware clay with grog. I have sponges for washing bisqueware before glazing (these have to be really clean sponges), sponges while I work (I usually have two large buckets of water on my workbench while I work, with several sponges in each), sponges for cleaning pottery tools, and sponges for cleaning bottoms of pieces I just glazed, so I can load my items in the kiln.

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One day, I needed a really small sponge for a piece I was working on. None of my sponges were working. I thought about cutting up one of these, especially the old-looking ones on the right. But then I remembered something. I went into the bathroom, opened the top drawer and there they were in the back, where I had left them…make-up sponges. They were there for a long time…years I think. I never use make-up sponges when I put on make-up, I use my fingers. The only reason I even had them, was because my daughter wanted me to buy them, she uses them all the time.

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The make-up sponges worked perfectly! It was exactly what I needed. But more importantly, they have become a regular pottery tool now in my workshop. They make the smoothest rims and edges I’ve ever seen, and you can cut them if you need a smaller piece. I absolutely love using make-up sponges!

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They don’t last very long, especially if you’re using stoneware clay with grog. But who cares, they work great. I make sure I have plenty of make-up sponges on hand at all times.

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If you like nice smooth rims and edges, or if you need a small sponge for a hard to get to spot…give them a try. I think you’ll love them too.

I get mine at Walmart

Hope you liked my tip of the day!

Kiln

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This is my kiln…Charlotte Skutt. Yes, I named my kiln, and I think it’s cute!

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Here’s a little peek inside!

Usually I’m so busy loading my kiln, I forget to take photos. Then when I’m done, I remember. “Shoot, I should have taken photos!” Then one day, I finally remembered, and I’m so glad I did!

Hopefully I’ll remember to take photos more often.

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Bottom row done, on to the next row.

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Pieces ready to load.

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I start with the largest items first.

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The next row is done.

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More goodies ready to load.

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I had a lot of ornaments in this load.

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One more row, and then I’m done.

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Had some room for some test tiles.

Time to fire it up!

Inspiration

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I added a quote by Pablo Picasso to one of my photos. It’s so perfect together. A bag of clay, pottery tools and a dirty wire tool, just used. I love this quote, it’s so true…at least for me.

Inspiration is something that makes someone want to do something. It gives someone an idea about what to do or create. It’s a force or influence that inspires someone.

A person, place, experience, etc…that makes someone want to do or create something.

A good idea.

I begin with an idea

This is so true. Sometimes the clay takes over, and I end up making something totally different then what I had planned on making. But that’s okay!

by doing what you love

I love this quote!

Clay

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I’m just a girl who likes to play in the mud. I love the way clay feels in my hands…the way it squishes through my fingers when I throw…and I even like the way it smells.

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There once was a little girl with big brown eyes who loved to play in the mud. When she wasn’t playing in the mud…her other favorite thing to do, was color. She colored and colored until she didn’t want to color anymore, and then she played with her easy bake oven.

Many years went by, and the little girl with the big brown eyes grew up. She continued to play in the mud, she still liked to color too, but she didn’t use her crayons anymore, she found something better…beautiful creamy glazes. So she colored her mud with the pretty creamy glazes. But she couldn’t put it in her easy bake oven anymore…because it was broken. So, she put it in her electric kiln instead, and every time she opened her kiln…it was like Christmas!

by Melinda Marie Alexander

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Time to clean up!

Since National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo is over and the Christmas rush is slowing down…it’s time to clean up my workshop!

I’ve been using every flat surface in my workshop as a table. My slab roller was covered with unfinished items, tools that needed cleaning, there’s even a bowl of slip that I forgot to finish working on, and put away in a plastic container, it dried up! My potter’s wheel is covered with sketch books that I didn’t put away, napkins for photo taking and other stuff I don’t even know or remember.

Sorry, I didn’t take any photos of the mess. I’m a little OCD about messes. I think it’s because my mother is a Virgo, or maybe it’s just me…because my bedroom was always neat and clean growing up. Everything was in its place and my mother never had to tell me to put anything away. I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve learned to deal with messes…especially raising 5 children (four boys…need I say more) who wasn’t as clean as I was, that’s for sure. I’ve had to bite my tongue a lot and just leave the room. But, I can only take it for so long…then it needs to be cleaned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Ahh…my worktable is clean!

And ready to start working. I have water, my spray bottle, paper towels, buckets, sponges, tools, brushes, clay…I’m all set!

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My canvas-covered workbench is clean!

I’m sure it won’t look like this for long…once I start working on something. Then I’ll just have to clean it again. It’s a never-ending process for me. Make a mess and clean it up! I could really use a cleaning lady but, I’m not sure I would let her in my workshop? Yeah, I don’t think I could let her clean my workshop, she can clean the house and I’ll clean my workshop, that sounds good!

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Oh…Yay! My slab roller is clean!

I love my slab roller! Now I can get to work. I was planning on making some mugs first, but then yesterday I remembered something I’ve been wanting to make and didn’t have a chance to yet. You’ll have to wait and see what it is. I’ll post photos once I make them. Then I’ll make some mugs, or maybe I’ll just make both…we’ll see.

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I can’t wait to roll out a slab and make something new!

I haven’t finished the slip yet, I just added water and stirred. I’ll get to it later. And I haven’t even attempted to clean my potter’s wheel. But, that’s okay! I can hand build and clean my wheel later. I’m anxious to start working with clay again. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty. I can’t wait to feel the clay squish through my fingers again.

I’m going to try some new glaze combinations too, so I’m excited!

Do you have any ideas about what I should make? I’d love to hear from you!

Glazing The Moon!

 

How I glaze…The Moon!

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When I first started making this dinnerware, I hadn’t planned on calling it…The Moon. I was actually thinking of a beachy-coastal theme, especially since I use a sea urchin to produce this texture. But when my husband first saw it, he said. “It looks like the moon.” So I went with it. It didn’t take very long to come up with some names like…New Moon, Full Moon, Moon Dust, Harvest Moon, Moon Shadow and Once Upon a Blue Moon. And I didn’t even have to buy new glazes, I already had everything I needed.

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All the underglazes and glazes I need for this firing, are lined up for easy access. My brushes, and everything else I need is at my fingers tips.

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I place old towels on my table to protect my pottery, it gives it a little cushion, and I don’t want to get wax on my table. It’s so much easier to clean up too. I just roll up the towels and throw them in the washing machine when I have a load. Now I’m ready to wash my plates.

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I use distilled water for washing all of my pottery and for glazing. The reason I use distilled water, is because we have well water. There’s a lot of iron and lime in our water, and I don’t want it to affect my glazes.

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The plates are all washed and drying. Once they dry, I’ll apply black underglaze to the bottom of the plates.

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I use a small brush to apply the underglaze, so I can get inside all the cracks and crevices.

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One coat is done, two more to go!

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After all three coats are applied, I let them dry really well.

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This is the part I’m not to crazy about! Washing (scrubbing) the black underglaze off and leaving it only in the cracks and crevices. I can’t even tell you how many times I need to change the water, or how long it takes! Lets just say, it’s a lot of work.

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One more to go…Yay!

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After all that scrubbing, here they are! All cleaned up and ready for waxing!

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Once the wax is applied to the bottom of the plates, and they are completely dry. They’re ready for glaze. I use a fan brush to apply the glaze on the top of the plates, and a round sable brush for the rim.

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And after three coats of glossy black glaze, they’re ready to load in my kiln.

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This is what the bottom of the plates look like after they are fired. I love the way they look and feel!

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And here they are…all finished!

I’ve been thinking about doing these in the beachy-coastal theme I was telling you about before. Creamy off white clay with beachy colors. What do you think?

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