Sunday, September 29, 2013

"This is Halloween"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Annual Jack-o'-Lantern Mug Shot

 I had to take the annual mug shots last night, since the idea is that these will be gone after tomorrow's venture to Halloween and Vine!

I only have a couple of minutes, as I have to finish packing and getting the house ready for the house sitter, so more of these next week, plus some H & V pics!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sometimes, the Kiln Gods Smile...

...and that's why I work as hard as I do for as little financial reward.

Please pardon the crappy cell phone pics, but I haven't had the time to do "real" pictures.

Anyway, I've been playing around with my Raku technique. Raku is a crazy mixture of art, science, and crazy, random happenstance. If you check out my post from a couple of days ago-you know, the one where I'm setting things on fire?-you can see why results can be random, despite the best of intentions. It takes years of practice and trial and error to be a Raku master, and I am not anywhere near that!

But sometimes, sometimes things come out even better than I had hoped!
 My experimenting with glazing, then carving off some of the glaze, seems to be yielding results. I started with that idea on a lark, last year while I was prepping for Hallowe'en, and got some nice results. Not perfect, not excellent, but enough to be encouraging and to keep me experimenting.
Questions to ask when you're trying to "perfect" Raku:

How thick should the glaze be? How long should it take to bump the Raku kiln up to temp, and how long should each interval be? (You can't just turn it up to "high" from cold, or you'll kill your pieces!) How long does it take that last segment of time in the kiln to allow the glaze to flux perfectly? At what pressure should the propane be fed through the burner? How much oxygen should be flowing in with the propane? Should I burp the cans once the pieces go into them? If so, when?

There are more factors, but you get the idea.

So, anyway, you know from my posts which show is this weekend, and the long hours I've been working to get ready for it, particularly after a number of pieces were destroyed by the post office. Last night was the last Raku firing I could do, and my electric kiln is also cooling off from a glaze firing. (I have literally run that kiln every single day this week! I will have to sit down when I open the electric bill!)

Last night's Raku firing? Perfect!
The small vase turned out so ideally, that I'm keeping it. It's too bad these pictures aren't that great, because then you'd see how amazing it turned out. The crackle was perfect and evenly distributed. The hanged man is clear. The tree's details turned out well because the glaze stayed stable (which is why I love this glaze for this kind of work!). The rest of the piece was really well-reduced, so I got that black carbon all over the bare clay, just as I had hoped.

I'm in love with that piece!

I'm only parting with the large vase because I feel I should. I figure that if my teacher can keep some pieces, so can I! I just haven't deemed very many of them worthy of keeping.
The one above-the large one-will be available for purchase at Halloween and Vine this weekend. It will have another friend with it, but the small one will make a home here, with me.

It will serve to remind me to keep on experimenting, to keep chasing the dream, even when I think I can't do it, any more...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It Just made Me Happy, Is All!

We are headed into the insanity known as "The Home Stretch" for Halloween and Vine! It's been insanely busy since I discovered that box of broken jacks a couple of weeks ago, as I've been making replacements as fast as I can. Which is not as fast as you think, because jacks are a very detailed, pain in the ass kind of thing to make! (Honestly, what was I thinking when I started doing these? ;))

But the kiln gods and the other ones have been good to me, and everything else has been falling into place relatively easily. Take my new tutu, for instance. 
 I bought the fabric over a year ago when I was visiting family in L.A. My dad and I usually take a trip downtown for Mexican food, and I asked him if we could head over to the Garment District (now known as the Fashion District) to get some fabric. I wanted an adult tutu for Hallowe'en and Hallowe'en events, and I knew I could find someone to make it for me, somewhere! We bought a buttload of tulle, and I bought some other fabric for millinery, because I don't have enough bank-account-draining hobbies to do, apparently...

But then I started getting busy, and I couldn't find anyone to do the job for less than $200.00. I totally understood why, I just couldn't justify spending the money. 

So then I started to get busy with the season, and didn't have time to attend to it. Last month rolls around, and I thought, "O.K. You've got this show coming up, and it'll be fun to finally get this done!" I pulled some pics of what I wanted off the net and took them in to Alterations Express.

I showed Debbie the pics. "Can you do this?" She looked at it. "Sure!"

I love her!

Through several fittings and adjustments, three separate women worked on my tutu/ball skirt. They were all really excited about it and constantly told me how much fun they were having with designing it and putting it together. (I ordered a black corset top to go with it, which actually arrived yesterday.)

Then, it was done!
I literally jumped up and down, I was so pleased! (I never got to be a ballerina when I was a kid, so I guess this kind of makes up for it!) The ladies who worked on it laughed at me and Debbie, the owner, grabbed me by the hand and dragged me next door to show her neighbors what she and her ladies had made for me. She was very proud!

They completed it with time to spare and for far less than $200.00. It fits great and I couldn't be happier!

So even if I totally flop at Halloween and Vine, at least I'll look good doing it! :D

Friday, September 20, 2013

Halloween and Vine: Creeping Ever Closer!

It's been insane. There have been eighteen-hour days between my studio and my day job, bottles of underglaze gone through, hundreds of pounds of clay used by me and reconstituted by a crew of the most wonderful friends I could ever have! And studio work isn't the only thing going on before the show!

Mr. ShellHawk was gracious enough to volunteer to help me with Halloween and Vine. The show coordinators have encouraged us to wear costumes during the show to make things more fun and festive, but Mr. ShellHawk politely declined when I asked. He felt he needed to be comfy, and most costumes make my polar bear of a guy too hot.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) my boss at my day job asked me to drop off some messenger bags to get the company logo printed on them. I had just gotten my logo back from Ballistic Designs, and the shopkeeper at the embroidery place was so sweet, I couldn't not do a shirt for him! After debating the t-shirt route, I decided to go with something a little more upscale for him.

Bill, my designer, re-sized and simplified the logo for embroidery and sent it back to me. I took it to the embroidery place for them to send it off to be digitized for their machines and waited a day (only a day!) for it to come back for approval. By the time I got there, Jeannie had whipped up a sample for me to see. We fiddled with it a bit, and she psychically knew I was thinking about lightening up the purple and wanted to ditch one of the other colors for  the sake of clarity, so took care of that for me. I came back the next day to see another sample, and we were good to go!

I came back the day after that and was just dancing with delight at how it turned out!
The dog hair was generously donated when the shirt came home.
 Mr. ShellHawk got his gift later that night, and tried out his Superhero pose to test the comfort of the shirt. It passed! ;)
We took a few pics to send to Bill, so he could see how nicely it turned out.
The Monty Python finger point was executed perfectly!
Oh, and then there's the tutu I ordered made, but that's a story for another day...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Raku Jacks

Start to finish, the most fun you'll have if you don't burn your face off, first!
Just did this firing over the weekend, with help from friends who had also come over to lend a hand for studio work mixing glazes and reconstituting clay. They are rock stars! All the work they did in one afternoon would easily have taken me five or six days by myself.

I'm still freaking out about not having enough for the show, so out to the studio I go to get some work done before I go to work!

Friday, September 13, 2013

What is Your Quest?

Facelifted from Terra Lair. Monty Python and the Holy Grail as if it were serious cinema.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

ShellHawk's Creations New Logo!

I've needed a logo for several years, now. Something for just the Hallowe'en season, initially, then one for the rest of the year. There have been several designers who have volunteered to take a run at it, and while their efforts were really, really good, they didn't resonate for me the way I had hoped.

Then, the above logo was presented to me, and it clicked! It's got just a hint of the Wicked Witch about it, doesn't it?

Just in time for the Season. Whew! Another version, one that can be put on a black background, is being made.

I was thinking about a pre-order for t-shirts. Is anyone interested?

Logo by Bill at Ballistic Designs. Thanks, Bill! It looks awesome!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Getting There...

The shelves for Halloween and Vine are done, and lurking in the garage!

Speaking of garage, I'm heading out there to get some work done before work...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Napa Artisans Festival Saturday!

I simply can't believe the Napa Artisans Festival is this Saturday, already! I don't feel like I'm ready, but then, I never do! It's being held at Veteran's Park in downtown Napa from 10:00 - 5:30. If you're in the area, and would like to come out, here's some info from the site:

The Napa Artisans' Festival features 200 artists, showing their original handcrafted art and crafts. This is a juried show - you see only the best of the best.And you get to enjoy it all with a glass of wine, micro-brewed beer or other beverage, as you stroll the streets.  Round any corner and find musicians performing to entertain you while you walk. Hungry?  Over a dozen food vendors will take care of that. FESTIVAL INFORMATION: 
  • 200 artists showing original, hand-crafted art
  • Dozens Napa Valley wine available by the glass
  • An ‘Artisans’ Court,’ featuring food from some of Downtown Napa’s most celebrated chefs, paired with premium wines from downtown tasting rooms
  • Special performance artists!
  • Musical entertainment, including The Time Bandits
  • Admission and parking are FREE. Downtown Napa offers a variety of garages and street parking.
  • Dress comfortably, put on some sunscreen, perhaps wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun. We expect beautiful weather this weekend!
  • Wear shoes you feel comfortable strolling in. The festival covers several city blocks, so you’ll be walking a lot.
  • Consider backpacking children. Strollers take up more space and are difficult to navigate through crowds. Enjoy the kids events area in the plaza.
  • Think about your holiday shopping when browsing the arts and crafts booths. Festivals offer unique gifts you can stash away until December.
Please leave your pets at home. Plan your trip.

I was really disappointed when a re-fire of the work with all the bubbles in the glaze turned out even worse and had to be pitched into the trash. I really could have used those pieces to fill my booth out more, but as they say, it is what it is! No use getting wound up about it. I'll have to make do with what I have and hope to sell a bunch of stuff!

Luckily, two friends are coming along with me to help set up, babysit, and tear down the booth. I was so happy they volunteered, as this show gives us about two hours to break down, and my teardown is three to three and a half hours if I'm alone. Thank goodness for friends like this!

The last of the product gets priced and packed today, and the SUV gets packed tomorrow as we have to leave at 5:15 AM Saturday to get there for load-in at 7:30. I get to sort through things today to see what gets taken and what gets left behind because it's Hallowe'en-related! (All of that is being saved for Hallowe'en and Vine!)

I've been glazing so much, I'm literally dreaming of glazing bowls in my sleep! The World's Most Expensive Craft Table has had all my glazing supplies on it for at least a month, now, but to his credit, Mr. ShellHawk has been very gracious about it. After this show is over, it's full-bore until Halloween and Vine, and that means another month or so of glazing supplies on the table!

Additionally, I just got accepted into the Folsom Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair for this year. I see getting really tired of making Christmas ornaments, but that's fine! I'll just keep chugging like I always do!

Well, onwards! I hope to see you Saturday!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Image via 3 Guys 1 Movie
I was thinking about masks yesterday and this morning, and this came to mind...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Disappointed, But I Shall Forge Ahead!

This would be a really nice bowl had the glaze come out o.k. :(
The last kiln load turned out mega-sucky. Bubbles appeared in the glazes, but didn't burst and smooth out. One of my more stable glazes (Laguna clay's Agate) ran. My gloss black bubbled and is not glossy. My normally winning combination of Turkish Amber and Robin's Egg Blue did similarly poorly.
So now, the troubleshooting point has arrived. Is it the kiln not hitting temperature? I'm going to start with that, and re-fire at a higher temp after I make a trip to Home Depot to grab some grinding equipment to grind down the glaze drips, first.
Other theories presented to me have been that the clay, itself may have had its formulation changed and it doesn't work with these glazes any more. Change to a different clay. I actually had a different clay in there, and it had similar problems, so that's probably out.
This is one that's really disappointing, as it's a nice mug.
Of course, I've needed these pieces for Napa, as I don't think I really have enough, but it is what it is. I find myself wishing I was plain old faster at throwing! I see other folks who are potters who are putting forth a much larger body of work because they're faster (read, more competent!), and I envy them!

It gives me something for which to strive, anyway!

Hey, any potters out there who can help me troubleshoot this nonsense?