Top Nine Instagram Posts of 2019

My top nine posts of the year!

What items would you like to see next year?

 

I’m planning on making a lot of new items in 2020…so stay tuned!

 

Happy New Year!!

 

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/

 

Didn’t think I’d have to post this…

I didn’t think I’d have to post this

I’ve been patiently waiting for my workshop for more than 2 years now. I really thought it was all going to work out. I was wrong.

If you’ve been following my blog, or you’re one of my Facebook friends, you know what happened to Charlotte…my kiln. I don’t think I mentioned who did it though, I don’t remember. You can read some of what happened in…”A Lot Can Happen In A Year”

https://ravenhillpottery.com/2015/11/07/a-lot-can-happen-in-a-year/

I’m sorry, that I never gave you an update, like I said I would. Sorry, it took so long. I was really upset, and wasn’t ready to talk about it. My Scorpio volcano had erupted and I wanted to sting, but I thought that it might be a good idea to bite my tongue for a while, and wait until the time was right, or when I was ready. I’m ready to tell you now.

U-Pack is the company that destroyed my kiln

And put me out of business

U-pack is the largest brand in the family of ABF Moving

A division of ABF Logistics

They lied from the get go. They lied to my husband (more than once, I might add) about the insurance that they assured us we had. I bugged my husband about the insurance, and I heard him ask on at least two different occasions. Half of the truck contained my pottery shop. They told my husband that we were covered for $75,000.00 if there were any damages. Well, guess what…that didn’t happen. The real story…in fine print on the insurance claim form said, that the insurance was $65,000.00 if the truck was in an accident or caught fire…“not for negligence”.

They lied!!! 

If they had just told us the truth, I would have made sure I purchased insurance from somewhere…anywhere. Then I would be covered for all the damages that we incurred…it wasn’t only my kiln that got damaged, they damaged our furniture too. Everything was dirty, covered in sand (it was like they drove through a dust storm…maybe they did?) and everything smelled like rotten food. It was terrible.

I will never…ever use that company again!!!

Look how dirty our furniture was…it was so gross, and it was covered! Thankfully, we have a slipcover sofa and chair and I was able to wash it.

They broke my desk chair. Thankfully my husband was able to fix it.

Look at the sand and dirt and scratches, these were new end tables.

After cleaning the end tables with some baby wipes, you can really see all the marks and scratches. Good thing they can be painted.

My husband built these solid wood bookcases, they were in perfect condition

I still don’t understand how everything got so dirty and scratched?

The bookcases were repaired and got a new coat of paint. I think they look awesome now. Paint works wonders!

I think they look better now, then they ever did.

I was upset about this!

It’s my grandmother’s table. I was refinishing it…it only had a primer coat on it, and they broke it! One of the points was gone, and a bolt was missing. But my husband came to the rescue again, and fixed it as best as he could. It’s not like it was, but it looks nice.

What do you think about the color?

They were so negligent, driving the truck with all of our belongings. The boxes that my husband put on the top had holes in them, and were smashed. These boxes held my photography lamps, they were at the top of the truck. The truck had to be going really fast over bumps or something to do this. Thankfully my lamps look okay, but I still don’t know if they work.

Most of the boxes looked like this

We have moved across the country 10 times since 1986. My husband packed and drove a moving truck 9 times, and everything was okay. My grandmothers table came with us everywhere we moved, and it was in perfect condition. The first time we decide to have someone else drive, so we could drive together…was an experience I never what to repeat.

My pottery inventory boxes

I still don’t know if everything is okay. I haven’t opened any of my pottery inventory boxes. What’s the point? I don’t have a working workshop yet anyway.

I wasted a lot of time filling out all the insurance claim forms. In the end…they refused to pay for the damages to my kiln, virtually putting me out of business. They told my husband, “Sue us!” I wanted to, I really did! I was really upset, mostly about my kiln, and my grandmother’s table. Everything else can be replaced or fixed. My husband said it would cost too much money to sue them. So we didn’t.

This is what Charlotte looked like right before we moved. It was my last firing

She was in really good condition. It makes me sad when I see these photos

Even after all this time (August 2015), I’m still really upset about this. All they had to do was tell the truth. How hard is that? My pottery shop was not only my passion, my business, it was my physical therapy. Making pottery helped my Fibromyalgia. It kept my muscles strong. I was lifting 25 pound bags of clay, heavy kiln shelves, loading and unloading my kiln. It’s very physical work. It really helped with the pain, I have less pain when I make pottery. Now, since I don’t have my workshop, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. My Fibromyalgia gets worst by the day. I have more pain now. Everything I do causes me so much pain and it makes me angry, because I know I would feel so much better if I was making pottery.

When we first got to Arizona, I had money for my workshop, but not to replace my kiln. But then, my husband had a health scare. We had a 7 month rollercoaster ride of hospital stays, doctor visits, and tests. In November of 2016 we finally got some good news. Thankfully we had insurance, but the co-pays and the out-of-pocket fees add up. My pottery shop budget dwindled down to almost nothing. Before I new it…it was the holidays. I was able to save a little more money but, unforeseen things came up and I had to tap into my pottery budget again. My pottery budget is down to $320.00. But I wasn’t worried about it, because my husband was going to get a nice bonus check for Christmas that would cover everything. I was going to get my pottery shop soon.

I started designing my workshop floor plan, and sketching new designs.

I couldn’t wait!

But then, a few weeks ago…we found out he wasn’t getting a large bonus at all. So, that means no pottery workshop, no business, and no feeling better. I’m not sure what I’m going to do? Maybe I should start a GoFundMe page? I didn’t really want to do that, but I might not have a choice.

For now I’ll just keep working on my book series. You can find out more about what I’ve been doing here…on my writing blog.

https://melindamariealexander.com/2017/12/19/its-all-a-blur/

I really hope that 2018 will be a better year and somehow, someway I get a miracle and get the money I need to have my workshop again, so I can make pottery and feel better.

 

 

Glazing with Duncan Renaissance Glazes – Part One: Antique Celadon

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Hello! Welcome to my new blog series on glazing tips.

I’m starting with Duncan Renaissance Glazes. I love these glazes! I stumbled across them a while ago, I don’t remember when exactly, and I don’t remember how I found them, but I’m so glad I did. They’re user-friendly, they brush on so easy. I like glazes that are easy to use and consistent, and this glaze is one of them.

These glazes vary, depending on the thickness you use, whether it has texture or not, and how much texture it has. The more texture, the better it looks. Where you place it in the kiln, makes a difference also. Pieces placed at or near the bottom of the kiln are greener, darker and react more with the texture. The pieces at or near the top of the kiln are lighter and don’t usually have a rustic look. I also think it depends on the brushes you use as well.

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I use fan brushes for most of my pieces. I use a small brush for the rims, edges and for detail work. For small pieces like ornaments, I use a small fan brush or a small brush, when I run out of clean fan brushes.

As you can see from the photo above, my bird ornament is lighter than my birdie bowl. It has less texture then the birdie bowl, there are several areas on the ornament that have no texture at all, verses the birdie bowl which is completely covered with texture and it was placed at the top of my kiln.

Before I start glazing, I apply wax resist on the bottom of my ornaments, and then I go up the sides just a little, so the glaze doesn’t go all the way to the bottom. I apply three light coats on the top only, and two light coats on the sides. I don’t want any drips or any ornaments sticking to my shelves. When I fire my ornaments. I place them on kiln stilts to raise them up off the shelf.

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I apply wax resist to the bottoms of my birdie bowls. Then brush on three coats of glaze on the top, and bottoms except for a small area where the wax resist is. I have several sizes of fan brushes and usually use one of the smaller ones. Then I use a regular small brush for the edges.

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As you can see from this photo, the green bird ornaments all look-alike for the most part. The butterflies look darker…they have more texture, and they were placed toward the bottom of my kiln.

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This photo shows you the difference between a textured surface verses a non-textured surface and kiln placement. The small bowl at the top of the photo was placed at the bottom or near the bottom  and has no texture. The leaf bowl was placed near the top of my kiln and has a little texture.

This is what the glaze looks like on my non-textured ruffle rim bowls. The bottoms were waxed with wax resist and then three coats were applied to the bottoms, inside and rims. They were placed near the bottom of my kiln.

This heart dish was glazed with three coats of glaze on the bottom and top, using a smaller fan brush, and three coats on the sides/edge with a small brush, after it was waxed, like the birdie bowls. This one looks like it was placed near or at the top of my kiln.

The green leaf magnets were glazed like my bird ornaments, three light coats on the top and two coats on the sides. They were fired toward the top of my kiln, see how light they are. The maple leaves were glazed with three coats and are usually placed in the middle of my kiln.

This is one of my handmade dinnerware collections called Lake House, formally known as Brooklawn Park. This glaze loves texture, it makes Lake House look fabulous!

Each piece is slightly different, and completely covered in texture.

I use a large fan brush on the plates and a medium size one for the bowls. They all have three coats of glaze on the bottom (except where I waxed with wax resist), and the top and I apply three coats on the rims with a small brush.

This is another one of my handmade dinnerware collections called Tropical Breeze. They’re glazed just like Lake House, three coats on all sides. But it looks different. The glaze pools in between the raised lines.

Vintage Cottage is another one of my handmade dinnerware collections. As you can see from the photo, the plates were fired near the bottom of the kiln and the bowl was fired near the top. The plates are more rustic looking. I love this glaze!

I hope this has been helpful.

I think part two will be – Vintage Blue

Thanks for stopping by, see you next time! 

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!

Pottery Inspiration Boards

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Oh, Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t posted since August.

There’s been so many things going on in my life, one of them was participating in #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again this year and I won…Yay!

While I was in the middle of writing for #NaNoWriMo, I had an idea. Since I make Inspiration Boards and Mood Boards for my books, why not make Pottery Inspiration Boards. So, right after I finished NaNo, I started making them. I really needed a break from writing and my story needs to simmer for a while anyway.

It’s been so much fun making these

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This is the first one I made.

I can’t even tell you how much I miss making pottery, but more about that later.

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I can’t wait, until I can feel clay in hands again, feel it squish through my fingers when I throw, I even miss the way it smells.

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I’m not sure If I’ll continue with this Dinnerware Collection? I haven’t decided yet. I do know that since moving to Arizona, my work is heading in a different direction.

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Lake House is one of my designs that I will continue to make.

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Backwater Bay is another design I will continue to make. It’s my favorite.

I have some big news coming soon!

I’ll tell you more about it, the next time I post.

Hopefully, it will work out the way I’m hoping it will.

Thanks for stopping by.

See you soon!

 

From My Sketchbook

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Every once in a while, I sketch some new designs in my sketchbook.

I really should do it more often, because it relaxes me.

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All I seem to sketch lately are bottles, I’m not sure why? 

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Plain bottles, in different colors and textured bottles

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I love these rims

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These are pretty cool!

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I love this design and can’t wait to make it!

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I love this one too!

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I’m not sure about this one, what do you think?

I must create withtext

While I wait for my new workshop to come to life, I’ll just keep sketching new designs.

Thanks for stopping by!

Pottery Photo Tips

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Hello pottery peeps!

Since my workshop is closed for a while, I decided to catch up on some blog posts I’ve been wanting to do and never really had the time for. This is an updated post from my old blog on Blogspot. This is how I use to take my photos. Not sure if this will be how I take photos in the future though, when I have a new workshop.

It all depends on how much natural light I’ll have.

Before I opened my Etsy Shop, six years ago. I purchased these lamps, and a light tent. I think I only used the light tent, once or twice…I hated it! It was a big waste of money. It just takes up room in my garage now.

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Then I purchased a varitone graduated backdrop #09. It was better than the light tent, but I wasn’t happy with the dark background. So, I purchased a gray graduated backdrop #28. I was really hoping that the light gray one, would be better…but it wasn’t!

This is one of my first photos with the  dark varitone backdrop.

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So, after spending all that money, and not being happy with the results,
I came up with my own backdrop, and it didn’t cost very much.
Actually, I don’t think I spent any money, because I already had everything I needed.

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I cut up two (free) priority mail boxes from the Post Office…the large ones.
I taped them together with shipping tape, and made flaps on the ends,
 so it could stand. Then I covered the spaces that light would shine through,
with small pieces of white card stock that I had lying around, and then taped 
the card stock to my new backdrop with shipping tape…on the front and back.

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When my homemade backdrop was finished, I taped a sheet of white poster board to it, to cover up the print. I taped it at the top only. Then, I remembered that I had a piece of foam core board, so I dug it out of my closet, and placed it in front of the backdrop, on top of my workbench. Once that was done, I used another sheet of white poster board and tapped it over the first one…about half way down the sheet, with some scotch tape, and then draped it over the foam core board. This was exactly what I was looking for…a white backdrop.

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Then I set up my lamps, one on top of my workbench, and two on the floor.

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Sorry about the mess, my workshop was very messy when I took these photos.

I don’t have an expensive camera…not yet anyway. Hopefully someday I will. But you can still have great looking photos, even if you don’t have a really good camera. My camera doesn’t have white balance, or anything fancy, so I have to edit my photos. Even though I’m using white poster board and lamps, the photos still come out dark and kind of gray.

Oh, by the way…I don’t use the flash on my camera.
After I take my photos, I go to picmonkey.com and edit them.
It’s free, but you can upgrade for just $4.99 a month…it’s well worth it!

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This is an un-edited photo. See what I mean, not very appealing.

It looks terrible!!!

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This is what my photo looks like after editing and cropping it on picmonkey.com

Now, this is much better. Yay!
 
Here’s what I do…
 
I go to picmonkey.com click on edit a photo, and select the photo I want to edit.
Then I click on exposure, I slide the highlights bar over to where it looks good,
then I slide the shadows bar to where I think it should be and click apply.
Just play with it, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. It’s really easy.
 
Once I do that, I go to the icons on the left…the second one down is the effects icon. Click on it, then scroll down until you see frost, click on it and apply. You can lighten up your photo with frost as many times as it takes, to get it the way you want. Then go back to the icons on the left, and click on the first icon…basic edits. Now depending on what I want to do with my photo, I’ll either click on crop,
and crop my photo, or I’ll click on sharpen and then crop. When I click on sharpen, I slide over the sharpness bar, usually about 20%, and click apply. Then I slide over the clarity bar, usually about 20% and click apply. Just play with it and have fun!
 
Before you know it, you’ll have great looking photos,
and not have to spend a lot of money.
 
It’s easy!

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Before Editing

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After

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Before Editing

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After

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Before Editing

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After

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Before Editing

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Before Editing

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After

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Before Editing

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After

I do recommend that you invest in some really good lamps.

That was money well spent. I use them all the time.  
Hope this helps you have great looking photos.

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!

New Designs – From My Sketchbook

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When I was on the treadmill the other day, I had a vision of hand-built bottles with texture. Later that night I grabbed my sketchbook, my colored pencils and starting sketching…

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Simple bottle forms with texture peeking through.

Love this one!

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I think this one needs a little more fine tuning.

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I really like this one, the short neck and the texture. This will work!

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Love this one too!

I’m looking forward to getting back in the studio and making these. Not sure when that will be though? In the mean time, I’ll keep sketching new designs.

What do you think? Do you like my new designs?