Friday, December 30, 2011

New/End Year Tradition

So I've got this thing in my blood where I have to get to the Strip District around my birthday. And since said birthday is next Monday, today ended up being the day. Who couldn't ask for a better one?? Sunny and 47 degrees?? Not your usual December Januaury fare, that's for sure. I was going to title this post "End of the Year Tradition" but the truth is, my birthday falls at the BEGINNING of the year, and I've got the time for this tradition before the END of the year. That being said, I guess it should really be called my "Transitional Tradition". So why the Strip? Well....
Take the Society for Contemporary Crafts, what's not to intrigue and engage your brain here??? The current exhibit is the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this piece for a million tagged reasons. First, it's made of hundreds of old fashioned price tags, dangling and swinging in the breeze! Each tag has an image or word stamped on the surface and the cotton strings tying each one makes the 8 year old Charo in me scream, "I NEED that!" And what is it about those old tags? When I see them in the Worthington Hardware Store or in Staples, part of me sees no problem in buying 100 of them in each size and color. Of course, the Minnie Pearle in me sees no problem either. Secondly, it screams "girlie girl", need I say more?  Regardless, this dress brought up many fun memories from childhood (My poor mother.) and it also made me question what part of me blocks the impulse to buy and create with something that causes such a pleasant visceral reaction?
Along with the great sculptues in the exhibit is an artwork by my former colleague and
Saxonburg Co-op member Mark Weleski. These are two separate canvases, hand streched to perfection. Look deeply, look inside. It's all there. Mark's works are currently on view at the Co-op if you are interested in seeing more of his abstracts and also his photo realistic work. A quiet man, his work speaks volumes.  There's much more to see at the AAP exhibit which runs through Jan. 14.

And of course it wouldn't be a blog post without a pot or here's the latest addition to my collection:

This little mug jumped off the table while I was perusing the shop at SCC. Joanna Powell of Boulder, Colorado got me with earthenware and as she writes on her card, "humor and whimsy". Yummy buttery glaze, slip, sgraffito and a perfectly sized handle! Love it, too!! Now, take notice of that box with the blue pom pom on top. In real estate, they say, "Location, location, location." In retail we say, "Presentation!!" I walked out of the SCC holding that sweet little box like a new baby for everyone to see.
It wasn't simply a day for art. Many of you know the Strip is full of people, smells, steet vendors, hats. socks, Steeler gear and so much more. The day was filled with stops at Roxanne's Dried Flowers for a good head full of eucaclyptus and a box of anise seeds, and a stop at Mon Aimee Chocolate...only two bars of Salted Dark Chocolate this year....A stop for chai, a giant jar of feta cheese...two new crazy hats. I am ready for the new year!
So as 2011 comes to an end, I've concluded it was a year of change and growth, a good one. Finishing it out with great art and some inspiration for 2012 is a tradition I'll gladly do again, same time same place, next year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Studio Pottery Sale!

Studio Pottery Sale

Saturday December 10, 10-4pm
720 Cadogan Slate Lick Rd.

The studio needs a good cleaning, a few pots have been sitting around the studio a little too long...sounds like it's time for a sale!! Do a little holiday shopping, join me for some coffee, tea and goodies.
Discontinued patterns will be marked RED DOT - 50% off. 
Who wouldn't love this Biscotti Jar?

All plates must go!

Decorator pears---perfect little gifts.

Cash and checks accepted.
See you Saturday!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Eating Again?

Ahhhhh more food as the Thanksgivng holiday comes to a close. The extended holiday brought friends to the house for dinner and pots to the table. I mixed up some dipping oils with fresh herbs from the garden for that fabulous asiago cheese baguette from the Oakmont Bakery . Here's a few of my favorites by some of my many favorite potters....Molly Hatch, April Gates ,Ron Philbeck, Karen McKee, Bernadette Curran, and Nancy Smeltzer.

Mark your calendars!! December 10! 10-2pm. Come on over for a last minute sale and I'll get out the pots and dipping oil for you as well. As the year closes, it's time to move out pieces that have become like grown children who won't move out! Discontinued patterns, colors and test pieces will be 50 % off. See you there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Stop & Shop

Join me this weekend for another fresh batch of bakeware and kitchen beauties...
The Holiday Stop & Shop
November 19, 10-5pm
The Penn lade Lions Club
150 Church Road Butler PA 16002
Brie BakersIf you've never heard of a brie baker...just imagine puff pastry wrapped around a lovely brie with honey and fresh rosemary baked in this perfectly sized dish! (We made one at the Cottage Pottery Sale and sold the dish it was served from!!
I'll also have beautiful large platters for serving or display. Platters are able to be hung or displayed on a large plate rack in your kitchen, dining or living room area. 
Is your kitchen missing anything? Do you need a hostess gift? Do you need serving bowls for those great Tastefully Simple dip mixes? I'll have chip n'dip servers, serving platters, dip bowls of all sizes, utensil jars, tumblers, anything bowls, coffee mugs, large salad and pasta bowls and casserole dishes.
Hope to see you!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cottage Pottery Sale
November 5 & 6
10- 5
614 Stanton Ave
Mars Pa

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Where ya been anyway?

Quite some time has passed since I've written anything other than a "Come out and see me" post. The start of the school year hit and although it has been a new, challenging and great start, it has left me with little time for posting. As I posted awhile back, I am 90% of the art department. The nuts of bolts of this is that I now teach the 2 D program as well as the 3D. The most amusing part of this new position is the comment from students, "You mean you know how to draw and paint too?" This of course opens the door for so many new conversations about having skills and talents in many areas, but truly loving one a teeny bit more! If anything, my students are learning that we humans are much more than we appear to be. I, too, am remembering what pencil on good drawing paper feels like and how smooth watercolor can be.I guess we really are more than we think we are. 

Finally a weekend at home in the studio and the kitchen! Cold weather hit and all I want to do is cook soup and bake. Thursday night brought a pot of wedding soup with rosemary from the garden. Appearing today, everyone's favorite Fat Ass Red Raspberry Cornbread. These awesome berries were picked at Pete's berry patch last night...4 quarts!! He's been picking all week. Schramm's Farm Market sells what he and I don't eat or shove into a cornbread or salad. The lovely little dish you see under that luscious cornbread and lemon thyme is from Penland, North Carolina by Shawn Ireland.

The fall weather brings with it upcoming shows and the long "to do" list. After doing Fair in the Park in September, I was happily reminded that people really do want to interact with pottery. They want pieces they can use over and over. So my list includes several different sizes of oval bakers- some large enough to accomodate a baked chicken, a medium size for cherry cobblers and a smaller one for cheesy artichoke dip. And of course the brie bakers....a half dozen are waiting for the final glaze coating as I type.
If you are in the need for one of these... try the following locations:
1. Saxonburg Area Artists Coop, 215 Main St. Saxonburg PA  Tuesdays 1-9,Fridays 1-9, Saturday 10-8
2. Cottage Pottery Sale, 614 Stanton Ave, Mars Pa November 6&7 10-5
3. Holiday Stop n Shop, November 19, 10-5 Penn Glade Lions Club 150 Church Rd. Butler PA

Now, how about that cornbread??

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cottage Pottery Sale!
Mark your calendars! November 5 & 6, 10-5
614 Stanton Ave, Mars Pa
Join us for a day of shopping for everyone on your holiday list, and of course, some sweet things for yourself.
Karen McKee and I will be serving up pie, tart and mimosa's while you browse through a beautiful selection of salad and pasta bowls, tea pots, platters, pie plates, sushi servers, magic salt shakers, chip n' dips, mugs, cups and the ever popular BRIE BAKERS!!!

For the second year, Christine and Dennis Mooney have graciously
opened their home for our sale.
614 Stanton Ave. Mars, PA

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Artist In the Parking Lot Sale!

Hope to see you this Saturday at The Hole in the Wall Gallery in Lower Burrell!
I'll have pasta bowls, tea pots, serving bowls and much more! Start your holiday shopping now, or find something for yourself. Stop by and say hello! Do you know about the chocolate counter??!! It's to die for!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Look at those jugs!!

No, really. Look at those jugs. Moving away from the crass way society has referred to female body parts, I am lamenting the loss of the traditional jug form in the contemporary kitchen. While the world of ceramics, mostly wood and salt fired pottery, still loves the jug, somewhere it disappeared in household use. Do we need Walmarts full of jugs for daily use? Definitely not. Do we need well crafted and designed containers for various liquids? Yes, and there are many out there.
Today, most of us carry our own personal hydration containers, whether they be the "your favorite water brand" plastic bottle or the BPA free reusaeble container. Not being critical of these containers, the question still stands: when did the jug get lost? Was it the stigma of hillbilly hooch? (Insert banjo here please.) Was it Hee-Haw's Moonshiners? ( I know, I know, there's a great picture of me looking like Minnie Pearl On Facebook!)
So why not consider a jug for your hydration needs? Or even consider replacing your favorite wine decanter with a nice jug! Red, white, rose, all will pour so nicely at your picnic...The handle fits comfortably around the finger of your choice, the cork is easily removed and reinserted, and it holds any liquid of your choice. You'll be the first kid in the neighborhood to start an uber-cool trend. Just make sure you've got your straw hat and plaid shirt on when you leave the house.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life After Penland...part 2

Finally, a body of work out of the glaze fire! It's been so hot I could've fired them in the back yard. I've added canister sets to my long list of "Pottery pieces you absolutely MUST HAVE in your kitchen." You'll be seeing more of the black and white leaf pattern this fall. The simpler pattern creates contrast to the very busy and "girly" cherry ware.

This serving dish looks deceptively small, in reality it's 12" long and 5" inches deep. Think of all the friends you could feed with this on your table! Think of all the gazpacho, mac n' cheese, fried chicken, or buttermilk biscuits you could fill this with!! Invite me over for dinner and you can test it out on your own table...I'll fill it with something delicious.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life After Penland...

Penland...two incredible weeks at a place like no other. Nestled, (I'm not kidding, Mapquest gets lost in all the nestling between mountains.) in the mountains of western North Carolina, it is one of the foremost craft schools in the US, hosting international and national artists to teach courses year round. As I last posted back in June, I signed up for the Figurative Ceramics class with Steve Dixon of the UK. We focused on the idea of "hero" or even "anti-hero" in our personal lives. In today's world, do we have heroes? What defines a hero? I was always a huge fan of Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman...but in reality, heroes don't always come with super powers, instead, they come with presence and the presence of mind to sit still in the insanity of daily life and the unfolding traumas. In my life, the women in my mother's family have kept me sane, they are the bumpers on life's road, keeping me pointed forward. Not wanting to make a portrait of one particular woman, the bust became my Grandmother, Mother, and Aunt Janie. Little tchotskies representing all the sisters were placed within the giant curls of what was my Grandmother's "set." (I remember her getting her her "done" once a week.) At the front of her head is a tiny dining room table with 6 chairs...the most important place in the house. In remembering the table, as a child it seemed at least 20 people could sit around it. Originally I made 8 chairs, but was told there were only 6 chairs!! It was the place we always gathered and it seemed very fitting to put it at the front.

In her hair are: mascara and lipstick, a rolling pin, a lady finger and crochet hooks, a blue spiral representing "free spirit" and chocolate chip cookies, a log cabin with a bluebird of happiness at the top, a pair of orange pumps and a wine bottle, a big red heart, a baby and rubber ducky, as well, as the vodka slush container and a sacred heart.

Around her neck is a collar of pierogies and 11 philodendron leaves for the 11 kids in the family. It seems our family centers around eating, drinking, and looking good. My biggest struggle was to find a way to represent these very strong women who's very essences are intangible but very much who they are. I think it is the struggle of any artist trying to symbolize humanity. The hardest thing I learned about this particular piece of art was was only a precursor to the next version. While still working out all these ideas in my head, trying to move from what is a literal representation to one filled with symbolism of more complicated ideas, the piece was unfortunately rushed into the kiln with an even more unfortunate ending. (Insert explosion and expletives here.)While contemplating how long it would take my school district to find my face on the front page of a North Carolina newspaper accused of murdering the studio assistant, I remembered a great friend once saying, "Never get attached to your pots." I applied the same wisdom, and set about building some little houses and heart rattles ( not shown). While I didn't bring home what I expected, I did bring home a new batch of friends, great memories and lessons still revealing themselves.

Back to the present...I've been home two weeks now, and what have I been doing??? Making pots of course!! "A Fair in the Park" is coming up in September. Cake plates are always fun to make and with the food channels fussing over cakes these days, why not? Penland artists made some of the most beatiful large food servers for the caferteria buffet line. I was inspired to make a few homages to these food boats, as well as, tall vases, canister sets and casseroles and brie bakers.

I know, I know, it's 97 degrees and the humidity is dripping, who wants to think about baking?? But autumn is just a cricket's chirp away. Soon I'll be craving baked artichoke dip and wool sweaters. In the mean time, I'll keep making pots and watering the garden, and cranking up the air.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PENLAND! Here I come!!!

Ok, so another school year has closed as well as another studio sale. I'll call the year a success so far and say this.... I need to recharge!! Back in January, with all the snow days and time to think, a summer plan was being hatched... find a place to challenge and kick myself out of a very comfortable place. In the fall, a painter friend accused me of "holding out". He was right, so here the time comes to dig back into sculpture. I wrote in a previous post about goddesses to which Homefry Sketchbook Kyle called me the corn goddess. It stuck like who knows where that inner sculptress will take me. Steve Dixon, sculptor and social commentator will be teaching a figurative ceramics class at Penland in North Carolina near Ashville. On the Instructor notes sheet the following was posed,"It would be useful if the students could give some thought to the kind of narrative they might wish to explore - personal, historical and political." How in the world do I separate those? One and the same, in my opinion. Ideas about the role of women historically, traditionally and in today's world combine with where social conscience, at least mine, leans today towards a healthier, more eco friendly world roll in my head. Questions about sustainability in agriculture lead to questions about the sustainability of the human race. My NPR driven brain wonders where we are going based upon where we've been so far.

I've got my sketchbooks full of ideas. See you when I get back!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Karen and I are still busy making pots for this weekend's sale! Some may even be unloaded while the show is setting up. Potters can never have too many pieces for the sale!! We'll also be baking our little hearts out, or possibly supporting those local bakeries, as well. Come join here for directions.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's that time! Open Studio Sale! This year, Karen is opening (and cleaning) her studio. She's got a great home studio, full of pots, equipment, her two dogs, Sadie and Luna. Join us for pottery, conversation and baked goodies Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 pm. Click here for directions.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another new mug...Who's Chris Drobnock anyway??

This is what happens when you get a few potters together...we bring each others pots home. After the Pots in the Park this past weekend I came home with a few goodies, this being my favorite...wood/salt fired mug by
Chris Drobnock of Mount Union Pa. His booth set up was of funky old barn boards, great vintage cabinet doors and, of course some even better wood fired pieces. I wish I had taken the camera, the shots would have been much more descriptive. But back to the mug...I am a sucker for a good foot on a mug..not to mention a single finger action handle. This mug hasn't left my side since Saturday upon my return. The form handles hot and cold beverages quite well! When this pic was shot, it still had a little bit of the morning's brew left.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Shiny pots for Pots in the Park in Oil City, May 20 & 21!! See you there!

Monday, May 9, 2011

As promised...

Finally, some finished pieces. A little at at time...

This was my studio set up was just too sunny to stay inside. Izzy lounged in the grass while the bees buzzed around all afternoon.

A few shots of pots in varying stages of glazing. In a recent conversation about making pots, Joe Sendek mentioned that potters probably touch each piece 22 times before completion. Up to this point, these pots have been lovingly handled at least 20 times- first when I took them from the wheel, flipped them over to dry, to the wheel for thrimming,then another for handles, to the shelf for drying, to the other shelf for the kiln, from the kiln to the shelf, to the table, first layer of base glaze, second layer of glaze, set aside to dry, pick up again to draw designs, pick up for each color applied- red, red again, dark green, light green, black, white, then the final layer of amber cover glaze...and they still need to be moved inside the studio before they are fired.

I'm exhausted just typing this, but smiling because this batch is SO CLOSE to being finished!!!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Broken Promises

I know, I know, I said the next post would involve glazed pieces... but I just had to post these. Couldn't start any glazing until they were done...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Done! Just in time!

Ahhhh...spring break, come and gone. Back to the kiddos tomorrow. Just a quick photo update of the completion of yesterday's throwing. I haven't thrown large for quite some time, so it was fun to try my hand at giant jars. Another potter, who's blog escapes me (You know how you jump from one site to the next to the next?) made a series of monster sized jars. Inspiring to say the least. Mine aren't quite as large as his, but that's ok. The whole point was the challenge.
The soup mugs and tumblers are ready for the bisque thanks to a fabulous 80 degree day. The next post, I promise, will be of glazed pieces...can't wait to get started!

Monday, April 25, 2011

80 Degrees and the pots are drying....

A day off has left me with much time to make and bake...tumblers, jars, pasta bowls, and dessert plates. The weather went from extremely humid to hot, humid and windy....the tumblers were quickly trimmed and the jars will be handled shortly. Gotta love it when time flies like this! No time to mow that grass though!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Barking around the studio....

So what's a dog to do when her master is busy making pots and ignoring her pleas to be outside in the sun??? Bark in frustration at the ground hog, chipmunk and squirrells infringing upon her domain, that's what.
For the record, we did hit the pavement after this platter was completed. (She's snoring at my feet as I type.) A custom order from PAK, it will barely clear the kiln for the bisque. I'm looking forward to all the space for decorating- cherries, cherries and cherries....
I'm busy this long weekend with orders and building inventory for a few spring shows. If you aren't aware of the Pots in the Park event in Oil City, Pa in May click the link! I'll be there with many other potters showing off our wares, doing demos and talking about why we make pots! Come one, come all!
The Sue Tirrell rooster mug hails from Red Lodge Clay Gallery, Montana

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Booty

There's nothing like a little spring to make us wake up to the world. This leafy wood fired tumbler is by potter, Cathy Bisowsky of Indiana, PA. She works out of Stoke Hole Pottery. If you had a chance to stop by the IUP Underground Pottery Sale this weekend, you may have had the chance to see more of her work. Regretfully, I only picked up one of these... While the weather was doing it's best impression of spring today, I made homemade lemonade from a simple syrup, juice of 3 lemons, and some cilantro. (Don't knock it until you try it!) The perfect cup to start spring.
Tumblers and vases for two orders. A local guy is trading me custom made pedestals for some dinnerware. Bartering....gotta love it.

Yes, those are moonshine jugs...along with plates, bowls, spoon rests...stay tuned for more!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bad Pics of SWEET Pots

A few new pieces, slab plates and cream tumblers. I'm playing around with lines as added interest. It's fun to see them roll with the forms. At this point I can say I'll be sticking with the cream, terra cotta and black color scheme. My photo set up is a major undertaking so the livingroom became a quick photography studio for the day-which means poor lighting. Forgive me and just look at the pots. These are on their way to the IUP Underground Pottery Sale this weekend. Always the best place for a large selection of pottery from local established potters and the up and coming clay artists from the IUP Ceramics program. This Friday and Saturday 9 am to 7 pm, Robertshaw Building IUP campus.
C'mon, you know that's a cute pot!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Loca- Consumer of Local Art

When you hear the word locavore, what comes to mind? Food? The attempted "greening" of everything? lists a locavore as: "A person who attempts to eat only foods grown locally. " In thinking of how our communities are stretched beyond small town limits with down town epicenters, I wonder what the new catchphrase is for the person wanting to not only consume local food, but also patronize local small grocery stores, hardware stores, and family run restaurants? What soapbox sits under my feet today? The label might be one attributed to potter Kristen Keiffer-"Sponsor Creativity & Community- Support your local artists by buying and giving handmade." The impetus for this blog posting is the kitchen of stained glass artist and Valley High School art teacher Prissy Pakulski. In creating a home with beautifully crafted furniture and stained glass windows, she included my terra cotta cherry designs. Those who read this blog know my cabinets are full of locally and internationally purchased hand made pottery. How nice for my art ego to see this!!

If you are looking to become a loca-consumer of the arts, I suggest the "Underground Pottery Sale" April 7 & 8th, Indiana University of PA, Robertshaw Building, 9am- 7pm. Pottery from the hands of IUP students and many potters from the surrounding communities. All proceeds benefit the Ceramics department. And, as awlays, the Saxonburg Area Artists Co-op is open Fridays and Saturdays for a more ecclectic selection of paintings, sculpture, jewelry and more.

Support Creativity & Community!!