Functional pottery made in Wisconsin

Functional pottery made in Wisconsin

Thursday, October 6, 2011

hmmm, what next to make?


Well, Cranberry fest is over for 2011, now it is time for Egg Harbor's Pumpkinpatch fest. We set up at A Decorators Gallery on Market street, booth 22. Barry is going to do the show so I can stay home an make more bowls, and mugs and cheese bowls and I'm not sure what all.
But, will figure it out.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor day and where did the summer go?






Ahhh, the end of summer? We might get frost tonight the weatherguy said. The hops vine is almost all the way across the top of the pottery shed, and now the flowers are big and bold. It's the time for mums in the birch bark baskets and the grapevine baskets get a further accent with strips of bark woven into the vines.

Barry is still picking blackberries out at his secret spot, he sings and hums as he picks since the bears are there too! Never argue with a black bear over blackberries I guess.

Now every day that is warm is cherished all the more as the perfect way to dry pottery and I'm back to wearing socks and clogs out to the studio in the morning.
Well, enjoy your labor day, I'm off to work.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A day off from pottery, the studio, responsiblity.




It has been a very hectic and intensive summer. Our peak sales time up here in the northwoods is last week of June thru the first 2 weeks of August. Then, a brief flurry over Labor day weekend, then deadsville till Cranberry fest weekend in Eagle River on the first full weekend of Oct. Other than going to art and craft shows, or going to visit my daughters I am usually working. Sometimes you hit a wall. I found myself having difficulty making a coffee mug, so decided to take a day off and vanish from the studio.

Last week Thursday I called up to the Crystal Lake campground in the Northern Highland State forest, learned there were some lakeside campsites avail. for that night. Quickly I tossed a tent, chair, swimsuit, wine, food and other misc items into the truck. Grabbing my current book and a cooler I drove up the 11 miles (!) got a site and since I couldn't set up this early (10:30am) I at least had a home for the night. It is a blessing to be in the northwoods already.
Off to the Plum Lake library, drop off, pick up and then to Hazelhurst to the Quilt Cottage Quilt shop. Pure bliss, looking and touching and talking to the shop ladies. After an hour of this, I made my purchase and headed up to Little Creek Coffee shop in Woodruff for a delicious lunch. Oh yay! Try the 3 cheese toasted cheese sandwich with salad and a dark roast coffee.
By 1:30 I was back at the campsite, which was empty of the previous campers, fully set up and ready for a walk. Then, down to my beach and a swim. The balance of the day was spent reading and relaxing. Crystal Lake is non-motorized, so wonderfully quiet. And with no homes on the lake, very clear since no leaching sepics or chemical runoff from manicured lawns.

At 4 I went up for a glass of wine and crackers and cheese to take back down to my chair. A little gopher tasted my wine I think, which he didn't like, but he liked the cracker crumbs!
An easy supper cooked over the fire, more reading and wine, then bedtime. It was quiet and perfect. I was back home and at work by 10 the next day. Not too bad for a little battery recharge.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

new ventures

Wow, life is so amazing. I have known Nancy from Blackberry Creek Soaps for years, we got to know each other thru craft shows in Wisconsin. And we both love each other's product, so of course I can buy her soap and lotions, and she uses my pottery. Nancy has a fantastic website for her soaps and lotions and sprays, so now I (my soap dishes) are on her website. Blackberry Creek Soaps http://handmade-natural-soap.net/index.html
is her link.
Believe me, she makes the best soaps and she makes my soap dishes look good too! Great website. Please check it out!
In other news, at the studio I have noticed the hummingbirds are feeding heavy, I fear soon they will head south. This morning on my walk thru the woods to the creek, while standing on the bridge I saw a mink hurry down the stream, go under the bridge, up the bank and head into the woods. Beautiful. So now, back to work. The tourists are scarce on the ground right now, so I'm trying to catch up on inventory and orders. PTL!
Have a great day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Enjoying grandkids in the pottery studio!







Amanda brought Anna and Andrew up north for a few days. At 2, Andrew now can somewhat be let loose in the work area. Anna will spend hours out there working at her own table, using slabs of clay to cut out shapes. It is so good for them to explore. And what a blessing to be able to share this with them. The hummingbirds where flying thru the studio too, which really got the kids laughing. I even got a bit of work done, although slightly hindered by having to wear a glove on my hand that has the stitches in it. The doctor said to keep them "clean and dry" not easy with my job!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oh baby, it's hot, but it could be worse!



I must apologize for disappearing from this blog for too long, the summer is upon us, as they say, and work becomes my major focus. I put aside most things to be out at the studio working. I check emails, etc, but quickly.
The extreme heat over the past week or so also takes it's toll on us. My studio in summer is out in the middle part of the roofed in area, so no A/C for us. Barry will go out early early and work til it gets too warm for him, then he vacates the studio to the shaded areas near the house. Yesterday afternoon even I admitted it was "too much" and when the sun started beating over the area I work at (about 3pm), I got more ice water and filled the grandkids wading pool, positioned it in the shade where I could still watch the studio, put my feet in (ahhhh)and relaxed and read. Very few customers leave their air conditioned cars to shop in 96+ heat.

I posted a pic of the inside of the kiln, since many people have no idea what an electric kiln looks like inside. Mine got new elements and thermocouple last Sunday afternoon. It is a brutal job, stressful cause if you make a goof, it stops you dead again. I replace the elements yearly, since as they age, resistance increases and slowly the time for glaze firing increases. I think I would like to consider switching to gas reduction next time I move or find a bigger studio to work in.

The gardens are surviving the heat, although we were really glad for the rains this week as the rainwater we collect was gone. Now the barrels and buckets are full and everything is happier.
Stay cool, stay hydrated, and enjoy the short time of summer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

fun in Neenah




Last week while in Neenah we went on Friday to a wonderful coffee shop in downtown Appleton called Brewed Awakenings. Fantastic coffee, sandwiches and gelato made by them. Definitely a place to take your time at. It is located at 107 East College Avenue in Appleton.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The rewards of babysitting!!




I enjoy babysitting the grandkids, and since my daughters had to make a trip over to Eau Claire for an overnight, I became "incharge" for the duration. And, because we seemed to be doing okay, Amanda rewarded me with a decadent treat of handmade truffles from a small " designer " chocolatier located at 18 S Barstow St in downtown Eau Claire. The photo doesn't do the selection justice. But wow, do they taste wonderful. Thank you Amanda!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer and dragonflies and mosquitos and...




Wow, have been incredibly busy working each day out in the studio. The tourists aren't really up as yet, so it is always a wonderful time to make stuff. And the hot weather we had up til today is glorious for drying clay! As usual, Barry hates the heat, and although it is very exhausting to work in it I appreciate the amount of work I get done each day. Our studio is looking fairly summery, with lots of grapevine baskets planted with beautiful wave petunias. We sell quite a few of these over the summer, all ready to go, instant decor. And they can reuse the baskets for many years!

This Saturday Barry is going to man our booth at the Saint Germain Chamber's "Walk in the Woods" art fair. I will help set up, then hurry back here to open the studio. The show is located at the chamber itself, so very visible as you drive thru town. I only wish the couple of craft shows the town does were as easy to find.

I love the scents of early summer, our lilac finally bloomed, and now the lilies of the valley are everywhere! My siberian catmint is starting to grow tall, soon purple flowers will be topping the 3 foot high stalks. The hummingbirds love these, and feed happily for most of the summer off the garden in the front of the workarea. When you brush against the siberian catmint leaves or water them they have a herby, tangy fragrance. Love it. Well, back to the studio.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Trip To Birnamwood

Yesterday I left the studio and ventured down to visit my dad, who at 94, lives at an assisted living place. It is always with bittersweet pain and love that I view these visits, as I more remember how dynamic and alive he was compared with the old guy he is now. This trip I determined to really let'her flicker and make a day of it, so I left Saint Germain in the morning, and got down to Birnamwood to take him back up to Antigo for lunch and then to visit his brother who is in the nursing home there.

My dad worked hard on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad for 32 years, before that he worked in the firepit at White Lake's Yawkey-Bissell flooring mill. As a kid I was always surprised by how many sandwiches he would make, and the fruit he would pack for his "lunch", but later I realized that he was packing for more than one meal. In the early years as a fireman-then-engineer on the trains they could be worked unlimited hours. Slowly the union was able to cut the shifts down to 16 hours, then 12, then finally 8 hours before a crew would replace them. Imagine that. So of course his lunches had to hold some meals, out on the line, traveling through the countryside there was no Subway to stop at.
My dad now is a bit vacant at times, but the longer he gets to interact with people the more he perks up and will start to talk and poke jokes etc with you. There is a fantastic book called "Another Country" by Mary Pipher which gives much insight into the minds of our aging parents. I remember bits of that book when I get frustrated during my nightly phone call to him cause he can't hear me over the roar of his tv! It is a good book to hold as a reference in your mind as we all drift closer to gaining a passport to that "country". We cannot fault the residents of that country for being different, they are viewing things from a different angle.

But, my day with dad was good, and even though he was wearing flannel pajama bottoms instead of khakis, it didn't matter, they were clean! And we had a great lunch at the Farmer's Home in Antigo and a nice visit with my sister Jan and got to chat with Uncle George. All in all, a far better day than being just a potter, it was good to be a daughter.

Friday, May 27, 2011

brrrr, baby it's cold outside


Memorial Day weekend in northern Wisc. Last night we moved all the planted grapevine baskets in the back of the studio, all the potted annuals too. I think it was 26 or 28 degs at 6am. Course I observed this from my warm bed as I drank a first cup of coffee (from beans I've been getting from Backroads Coffee Roastery of Hayward). I am praying that the weather warms since it has been very chilly out in the studio in the mornings. My hands go numb when I try to work out there, even with hot water in my throwing bucket. I try to find alternative things to do while watching the studio. But, soon it will warm up, right? For now, it's a bowl of cereal and another cup of Scandinavian Blend.

If you are out on the roads this holiday time, keep an "umbrella" of protection over you, and if you are up north, come visit Tall Pines Studio!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

glaze fun?






It is nice to do different glaze colors. But difficult at times to get what you want. I was blessed years ago by being gifted by a Minnesota potter named Mae, who gave me some starter glazes. This was when I was just starting out and needed a palette of glazes. Since then I attended a Ron Roy workshop with my friend Pam (up at Canadore College in North Bay Ont) on glaze manipulation. Then I converted most of my glazes to use frits instead of GB. I fire at cone 6 in oxidation.
So, now I want a shiny brown, with depth and that breaks nice over the rim. Not runny, but can be thick. I took Ron Roy's Raw Sienna and increased the RIO (red iron oxide) and made up a 200 gram batch. Using Continental Clay's mid fire white stoneware I did some samples. I did a bowl with just the new brown, one with navy and the new brown, one with butterscotch and the new brown. The new brown looked beautiful on the outside, but a bit "orange peeled"on the inside. Not quite a matt, but close on just the inside. Not bad looking, but for dinnerware, I prefer the durability of a shinier surface.
Then I glazed a Paoli clay co. MTM stoneware (brown) with navy and the new brown. Good results on this but again orange peel inside. I wondered if the inside atmosphere of the bowl resulted in the duller affect with a mid fire white (not as much ocher in the clay body)as the brown stoneware, but no.
Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011




It might be May but this morning it was 28 degrees up here, and I have moved my wheel and pottery stuff out to the studio workarea. Now we have a rather open air setup here so it has been a bit chilly out there. This morning instead of freezing I setup my picture taking area and took photos of new items to list on ETSY. Here are a few of the new listings, and more to come. After lunch it's back out to the studio to paint on greenware and possibly reload the kiln. Enjoy the day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moving out to the studio

Wow, the weather is windy but warm in the sun, so it is time to move my wheel, wedging table, bats, tools, clay and etc etc out there. Thank goodness for a strong husband! The process takes hours, the wheel alone is 100 lbs plus, and I still had 700 lbs of clay left to haul up. Never easy, but time to do it. The workarea in the studio is still quite chilly, so I will have to be creative in the mornings until the ground really warms up. This way I can open the studio everyday and still work. The fun never ends!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Selling a house

My daughter Amanda and her husband are facing a move to a different Wisconsin city, which is a difficult task to deal with. Especially the prospect of selling their home in Neenah. Cause it is such a beautiful house, actually it is the place they moved to 8 years ago, got a big puppy, and ended up becoming a family with the births of their 2 children. It's a home with a great backyard, lots of landscaping done both by professionals and by them. A home where Jeremy, under the guidance of "Troy" their fix-guy, discovered he can tile a bathroom! Where Amanda dug a big pond for her big goldfish, and learned about planting purple coneflowers and brown-eyed susans. It's a great home, now waiting to be discovered by a new family. Won't you take a look?
I know you would just love to live there, as much as they have. It's listed under Coldwellhomes.com, with a multiple listing number of MLS# (50027945)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

A perfect day in the northwoods. I reloaded the kiln, and had fun playing around with some terra cotta clay, making toad houses. Tomorrow I'll get back to the task of working on the 20 dozen mug order!! Today it was nice to relax and have fun. I hope everyone enjoyed the day.





Friday, April 22, 2011

The wait

When you are a little kid, waiting is impossible. That's cause in your world, what you value and need is very important. Then we grow up and learn about waiting for new important things.
For an artist who relies upon art and craft shows to pay the bills the waiting for the jury dates is almost impossible to endure. We check the online banking to see if the check is thru, we check the website to see if they started to list the artists. We hate to get a fat envelope from the art association for a specific art show, cause that usually means all your application stuff has been sent back with a reject notice.
uggg

It's spring, so I wait. I am, therefore, I await the decision by unknown folks who have no idea what it is to be me, a potter. Let me tell you, it can be extremely difficult to break into a new art show. Many tend to have the same artists year after year. That is a comfort for them, since unless you have a spouse working, or am retired, this is your only way to make it. But the outsider has a leaner time.
So lets all pray that the capricious winds of fate blow in our favor, getting us into the shows we so need to pay the bills!! Newton stated it for himself, "I think, therefore I am" For me it's "I am juried, therefore I sink or swim".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Japan Relief donations thru ETSY

The Etsy Mud Team will be promoting a charity drive set up by Leach Pottery for our fellow potters in Japan who have been hard hit by the earthquake, specifically those in the historical village of Mashiko.

So, I've posted an item for sale, please check it out. I have been without electricity for about a week due to severe storms up here. I cannot imagine being in the situation that Japan is in. My little 1994 Toyota pickup was born there. So, please help them.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/64509071/japan-earthquake-relief-donation-pottery

Friday, April 8, 2011

April, but not in Paris...



Even though the ice and snow piles are still something to deal with, today had all the promise that spring is supposed to tease us with. I allowed Tuffy the cat to go out (first time since last fall) to his leash on the clothesline out the back door. There he did cat things, such as tried to hypnotize a bird on the tree, eat grass and just stare big eyed. I think he forgot about the vast sky. To honor the morning being above freezing, I washed sheets and towels and got them out to dry in the breeze and sun. Wonderful. The bed is all made up again, can't wait. You cannot get that in a bottle.

It was an extremely good workday. I threw bread bakers, some berry bowls and mug bodies. They will get finished and trimmed tomorrow. The bisque kiln was unloaded and I was able to glaze, then later wipe off pot bottoms and reload the kiln for a glaze firing. Not too bad.

It is always a challenge to keep making stuff everyday. Like climbing up a mountain that never levels out. That's what potters do everywhere I think. Keep making stuff to sell later. What a blessing that we artists and crafters can do this.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

voting day in wisconsin

My daughter went to vote today, and since we don't have driveup voting as yet, she had to take the kids in with her. The almost 4 year old wanted to know what "voting" was. "You get to tell everyone what you like" my daughter told little Anna. Well, once into the town center, Anna marched up to the poll lady and said, "I like popcorn!".
I guess it's a start.

It was 26 or so degrees this morning as Barry and I sat on the back of our old pickup outside our polling place. Not alot of action, and no one from the recall group. When I went back at noon they were represented, so I parked my truck again and resumed my spot on the tailgate. The sun was out, the wind was up and it was nice to be able to hand out some flyers, and yes, there are many in our area who are very happy to support Sen. Holperin. It was a good day to believe in freedom of thought and speech.

And thank you all again from the depth of my soul for your kindnesses towards me and our business. I was trembling with emotion Monday morning when I checked my etsy shop. God bless you all. We will keep working hard. And soon the studio will be open and summer can commence.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Busy weekend then home again





Spring craft shows can be hard to plan for since folks aren't often in a buying mood after a hard winter, and the climate in Wisconsin has certainly been difficult for many reasons. Last Friday I took off in the old 92 dodge van, praying it would not break down again (thank you God) motored on to Onalaska. The craft show is also a "gift" show, which means anything goes from $5 windspinners to polish pottery! The Omnicenter folks do a great job, always there to help and they do advertise. I don't like doing shows which allow imports, but April is a cruel time, so anything helps. I was blessed with no van problems, and some sales, and had a great time visiting with my friend Louise "the baglady". She makes incredible purses, totes and bags made of recycled jeans.

The robins are not in Saint Germain yet, but they are in Onalaska. Sunday night I made it home after 4.5 hours of driving, and discovered up north had fresh snow. Didn't bring my laptop along, so Monday morning was delighted and humbled to discover a real gift on my etsy site. Alot of sales, so to all of you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. What a gift.

Tomorrow is election day, so off to vote and show "Solidarity" by staying at the community center to hand out "decline to sign" handouts to educate (if possible) our local voting pool. Hopefully no one will spit on me! I have heard that the group trying to recall the "14" has been known to use paid organizers from other areas. Some who have outstanding warrants. Scary world we live in. Maybe I should have turned left at the Emerald City gates instead of going thru the Enchanted Forest. And I thought that unicorn was holding up a highway sign....

Thursday, March 31, 2011

End of March but no robins yet.





Up here we wait anxiously for the first robin. I don't know if they are in Minocqua or Eagle River yet, but not in our back yard. I did hear a sandhill crane today from across the road beyond the woods. I is hard to wait for warm weather to push the frost out of the ground and allow the melted snow to sink in. All the trees look so winter weary.
I am heading off to Onalaska tomorrow for a weekend show at the Omnicenter, and of course we have a forecast of maybe snow. ecch. I am just praying my old van holds out. This is the first show I'm doing alone since my knee injury and surgery. This will test it! The van is loaded with pottery and baskets, my suitcase and coffeepot.
Barry harvested grapevines Tuesday (in the snow) so he would have some fresh beautiful baskets for me to sell. I've been making yarn bowls, ikebanas, earring bowls, bakers and mugs. Perhaps spring will come next week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last Saturday Amanda took me to a fantastic dining place west of the mall area in Appleton called "The Wild Truffle". It features incredible food, carefully prepared and with a very attentive waitstaff. This shot is of my dessert, the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. ymmmm

Monday, March 21, 2011

quilting retreat at the "Gathering" in Menasha Wis







My daughter Amanda and I have just spent a really wonderful long weekend at a new quilting retreat house called the "Gathering". This is a new facility in Menasha WI built by Lisa, better known for her top quilting shop "Primitive Gatherings"

We have been to many quilting retreats, but I must say, there is alot to be said about going to a center which is dedicated to the sewing arts. When we got to the Gathering, we were met by Terri, our hostess and cook, and by the end of the weekend, a new friend. The entire house is decorated with Lisa's incredible collection of quilts, folkart decor, and a real attention to detail. I would suggest if you want to check out better photos, go to the shops website and click on "The Gathering" The food was incredible, and the sewing rooms set up so carefully to work for sewing. The lighting was thoughtfully set up too, which isn't always the case at some retreats. Our bedrooms again were decorated in quilts, very comfortable beds and wow, just anything we needed. I cannot wait to go back!!