This week began with big plans, big accomplishments, and an unstoppable spirit! It felt strangely reminiscent of the 365 Day Cup project and even more interestingly it followed the same path. Big dreams, unstoppable spirit … and big challenges in the beginning phases!
So I sat down and ran the numbers to see what it would take to get The “Dinnerware Dash” project completed on time. To recap, I planned to make dinnerware pieces by using the 1250 lbs of brown stoneware to earn money to purchase porcelain. All this by the end of March!
It was a hefty order…unfortunately a little too hefty. Figuring in throwing time (50 lbs per day for 25 days straight) so that I have sufficient drying time (during the rain winter), firing bisque, glazing and glaze firing times for all the volume … it was just not feasible with the equipment and schedule I have.
SLIGHTLY ALTERED PLAN
I’m going to be throwing / handbuilding daily, until the 15th of February. Using as much clay as I possibly can, to create unique dinnerware sets … the key word here is UNIQUE! Look forward to it!
FIXED AND FINE
I really do not ask my husband to help me with much in the studio, so this week was truly special for me! Even though not a lot of clay work got done, the studio “honey do’s” were all taken care of (especially fixing my doors and the slab roller!)
CONCEPTS IN WATERCOLOR?
When not in my studio I’ve been exploring concepts I’d like to try in porcelain (once I get some). I’ve taken to watercolor imagery to express form and texture I’d like to incorporate into my clay dialogue… here is a copy of examples.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) starts my first day back in the studio to get some heavy duty clay work done … tomorrow seems so far away!
Enjoy The Clay!
This weeks video!
Happy New Year My Pottery Friends! I’m beyond excited to get started working on a new clay focus for 2019! From “clay play” to “clay practice”, I hope to move my learning experiences to more intentional fun that is for both personal growth and technique mastery.
After 8 years of enjoying ceramics with a whimsical, randomness about learning, I wanted to streamline my studio, my ideas and really work to create the inspirations in my head. It just feels like the time.
The term “Finding Your Voice” is such an ambiguous phrase in the art world. You hear it, you aren’t really sure what it is, but you just know you need it. So I’ve decided my mission this year is to work on an authentic clay practice to cure the “ceramic laryngitis” and create work that speaks (and had a lot to say like me lol)!
EPISODE 1.1 This Weeks Episode!
REFLECTION – A Trip Back In Time
As some of you know, my history in clay began as a prescription from a doctor; it was to find a healing hobby for relaxation. My glimmer of potter began 35 years ago when I was 17 and working at the Egyptian Museum in San Jose, CA. While cleaning glass I noticed and became fascinated with a fingerprint in the ancient pieces of pottery. I wanted to go back to the beginning to find the root of my inspiration … just to see it again!
Making Studio Adjustments “Enough is as good as a feast”
In life, we all have those “squeaky doors”. Those things that just keep nagging at us to take care of. They aren’t urgent, but they still nag at you… like a squeaky door! My studio is full of these squeaky doors and it comes in the form of clay, glazes, and designs that don’t work.
Before investing another penny on my clay trek, I had to make some serious decisions. Porcelain has always been my true desire to learn and work with, but currently, have 35 boxes of stoneware and red earthenware clay in my studio. This is the furthest thing from pure white when it comes to clay! I realize they are a blessing and am grateful been blessed with an ABUNDANCE of supplies, and am grateful. Yet I now realize it’s like my favorite saying goes, “Enough is as good as a feast”. This feast mentality is all over my studio and I just need to streamline it more to my minimalistic liking.
Next week I will be planning my projects and taking care of finishing the shop so I can whip out my clay … I can’t wait! ~ Tammy Jo!
My Bucket List for 2019 is growing – I’M SO EXCITED!
As I contemplate my next adventures, they wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t pair them with my favorite necessities … ALL OF YOU! You are so much a part of what inspires me, and our warm community of “hobby potters ” is an essential encouragement for any new or seasoned clay junkie.
Clay feeds into all areas of my life, it strengthens my faith, relaxes me, heals me, continually trains my patience and always leads me to meet the most FANTASTIC folks who share a kindred spirit! For me, it’s really more than a hobby and runs deeper than just a desire to “play with clay”. It’s the excitement of hearing someone experience an “aha” moment at a success or failure. It’s motivating someone with a gentle“kick in the backside” to take a risk in clay. It is being here for the person struggling through life’s challenges and giving them respite to regroup and just be able to enjoy a simple clay adventure until they can begin their own. I love it all!
WHAT’S COMING IN VIDEO
This next video year, as I check off my Bucket List items, I’ll continue to “keep it real” and add some of YOUR good stuff as I’m living mine! I’ll most definitely be sharing my studio happenings, clay projects, some destination adventures and all the resources I scoop up along the way. Plus I want to share some inspiring stories and questions from fellow potters and ceramic artists BUT I NEED YOUR HELP!
TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED!
Besides asking for a million dollars … I’d like to answer or share encouragement from you in my videos!!
Tell me what you want (that you wouldn’t mind me sharing anonymously ..first names only … onYouTube)
Please post in our FACEBOOK GROUP or send me a personal message through Facebook or Instagram!
I’m so looking forward to sharing our journey together and hope you enjoy
A Hobby Potter’s Bucket List Coming January 2019! (Subscribe for Notifications)
Enjoying the Clay Journey With You!
I wanted to take this time to say …..there are not enough words to say… how much I appreciate and am thankful for each and every one of you! You have filled my year with fun, friendship, clay, learning adventures, and love. Let’s not forget, lots and lots of personal growth sprinkled in!
2018’s goal was to bring together like-minded clay enthusiasts into a community (newsletter & Facebook Group) to learn and inspire each other through our individual pottery journey’s while working on a common themed free monthly project. I LOVED this time with all of you. Hopefully, you all have enjoyed these projects and made warm lasting friendships along the way!
FINAL PROJECT NEWSLETTER- December 2018
Yes, it’s true, December will be the last official project installation and our grand finale of monthly projects. If you have been with me through this year..thank you so much and CONGRATULATIONS!
The steps you took may have caused you to stretch yourself and develop new skills for future creativity. But don’t worry … I won’t be far away. When one door closes, another one opens…
(If you wish to save the project notes from this past year please visit the archives / Past Issues of one of your newsletters and PRINT them for your records before December 31, 2018).
SOooo…. WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2019 – BACK TO MY ROOTS – THE VIDEOS, THE BASICS
With the brief hiatus from sharing my clay journey through video, I’ve decided to head away from my laptop and back into the studio! (if you want to get notices just subscribe and “ring the bell” for notifications to easily follow along).
MY HOBBY POTTER BUCKET LIST?
Over the past almost 8 years of videos there were “clay promises” made and adventures never taken. There were projects I wanted to try and never attempted. THAT is what this next journey will involve! I’m cleaning up my commitments …and am still excited to get to them! I want to make good on my word and grow in the process 😀
As always, this personal video/vlog journey will keep me accountable in the studio, as I actively check off pottery bucket list items.
Meet Me On Facebook and Join Me By Making Your Own Bucket List
What would YOU like to accomplish in the next year? Don’t put it off… Are there places, people, adventures in clay that you think will really excite and make a difference in your work? (If you don’t aim at a target, your chances of hitting it are slim) Join me in stretching yourself with your own personalized Hobby Potter Bucket List and learn what moves you in clay.
So full gratitude for this past year of doing projects together with you! My hope this that people continue to make a connection to each other and to their clay. If I played any kind of role in helping people find the joy of clay … mission accomplished!
(A Hobby Potter)
What an amazing pottery journey this has been!
January 1, 2011 is the date I consider to be the beginning of my “Hobby Potter” life. It’s when I got serious about clay and began creating YouTube videos to “direct myself” (learn) pottery making and ceramics. 2018 marks 7 YEARS ! Along the way I’ve made some beautiful friendships, learned a lot (with still more to be learned) and have tremendously enjoyed this clay journey!
Self-Taught vs Self-Directed: Before sharing the process I use to grow in my pottery practice, I feel the need to clarify some terminology. “Self Taught” means you had no help what-so-ever from others, and learned techniques completely on your own. “Self-Directed” means you charted your own course of learning and used resources from professionals to learn the craft. Since I’ve never officially taken a pottery class and I learned primarily through YouTube videos, books and suggestions/critiques from fellow potters who I see as mentors, I’m a Self-Directed potter!
From time to time I get asked this question?
“”How did you teach yourself to make pottery?” or “How do you know what you want to make?” Here is the formula I use and still follow that helps me learn and improve my skills:
- Choose Projects To Help You Learn a Specific Technique or Skill (such as throwing a cup, handbuilding a pitcher, texturing, mixing glazes…etc.). Books are great, but it’s also crucial to see live demonstrations. There are some amazing teachers out there and even actual online pottery classes (ClayShare with Jessica Putnam-Phillips) that can guide you. Being in community with other potters and getting live critiques will also help you improve more quickly.
- Set a Goal with Actionable Steps: I chose projects to accomplish a task: (365 Days of Clay Cups, or 30 Bowls, 30 Days, 30 Techniques or 1lb of Clay 25 Ways). This helped me to compartmentalize my learning experiences and not feel like I was all over the place. (Example, I wanted to learn to throw on the pottery wheel with small cracks of time. So I decided to throw one cup a day for an entire year. It gave me a goal and also assured enough repetition in order to grow.)
- Figure out a way to keep repetitive practice fun…this is HUGE on my list! It’s got to be fun if it’s going to get done! (I’m no fan of doing the same thing twice, but I do understand that I can only improve with repetitious efforts). How did I get it done? The 365 Day cup project allowed me to throw on the pottery wheel everyday, but I made every cup look different so it didn’t feel repetitious.
- Be accountable to somebody: (pottery group, Facebook friends, the YouTube verse ;). When I had no one around me that worked with clay, I started my Hobby Potter YouTube Channel to create a community where I had none.
- Share What You’ve Learned: My videos are not “instructional” and were never meant to be, but hopefully they are “educational” in the sense that other newbie potters can see another newbie pottery taking chances. If what I’m personally learning is shareable (good or bad) it becomes a reference of realistic application to someone in the learning process.
Without the ability to be in a classroom setting and gleaning from those sitting around you, “real deal” videos can be helpful to beginners who might become discouraged if a project doesn’t turn out “picture perfect”. Some of my biggest disasters go into the kiln and come out as some of my greatest successes. I’ve realized no matter how long I’m into clay, the exciting mystery of a kiln opening is like Christmas, because you never know what can happen!
I would encourage everyone looking to grow in pottery go for it! Figure out what you want to learn, embrace the journey and relax your way through!
2018 is a brand new year of discovery! Let’s get out there and enjoy the earth (as the mud on our hands 😉
You can join our current project Newsletter Group for Hobby Potters!
For those that follow my Hobby Potter video journal or through Facebook & Instagram, you’ll remember my excitement about creating a sculpture piece for the “Pacific Currents” exhibition at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, CA. This juried show will be presented in conjunction with the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection of Japanese Ceramics from October 18,2017 -January 21, 2018. The final date for submission is tomorrow, and at the time of this blog the submissions have not been juried (so I don’t know if it’s even been accepted). My piece, “The Lost Art of Celadon – From Goryeo to Joseon”
Developing My Concept:
It would have been easy enough to just throw a tea bowl on the wheel and call it a day, but I really wanted to use this experience to “grow me” as an artist. This could only be done by creating a sculpture (and grow me it did!). Because I really wanted to explore the “perfectly imperfect”, I first went to what was “perfect” in historical Korean Celadon Pottery. No denying their development of celadon during the Goryeo Dynasty (913-1392) was the most notable ceramic related achievement. So this was something I wanted to incorporate into the sculpture. After doing some study on the history of celadon, I found that the art of creating the fine celadon pieces became a dying art at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
The Form – A “Gat”
I also wanted the sculpture to be unique, which means moving away from standards such as vases and other functional forms. Confession time, I’m a closet K-drama watcher (South Korean dramas), the historical variety being some of my favorites! Their dramas host a beautiful variety of ceramics, but the form that caught my eye was actually the “Gat”, which is a hat worn during the Joseon Dynasty. This was usually worn by middle class or married men to show their status (alternatively in K-drama’s the “disguised king”usually leaves his palace in one of these “gats” to roam freely among his people 😉
The Imagery – Irworobongdo
The inspiration for the designs came from the artwork found in the “Irworobongdo” . This is a six panel screen that sets behind the kings throne, showing 5 peaks and the representations of the King (sun) and Queen (moon). If I could bring this element into my piece, it would be perfect for pulling together the whole concept of the lost art of celadon and the changing of the two dynasties.
The Symbolic Plan: To cover the (Joseon) “gat” with a smooth coat of (Goryeo) celadon, using the imagery of the Irworobongdo (to represent the changing of the two dynasties). Antique it with India ink and draw attention to the small cracks that usually develop in the celadon.
Here is the “Making of” Video
Journal Notes on Making the Sculpture & The Take Away
This was a personal growth journey for me, in technique and also in dealing with the elements.
The most enjoyable?
Creating the Irworobongdo imagery! I did it all in one sitting …and could have sat there for hours creating that landscape, it was so relaxing.
Biggest concern I didn’t need to worry about?
Cracking. It was challenging keeping everything drying slowly in 107-110 degree weather to avoid issues (we wanted no cracking, warping or detachment)! No matter how much I reassured myself I did all the steps properly, I kept worrying it would crack while drying, or bisque firing, or glaze firing. End result …100% passed without a single crack!
Biggest mishap? The celadon. I should have known better, the True Celadon is the most unstable, finicky glaze I own (Amaco realized this and has since created a more user friendly version of celadon). The final kiln result (at first) was very disheartening. The glaze came out blotchy and dripping…not what I was hoping for. Since I was planning to use the India ink on the cracks, I decided to apply it more liberally on the lighter portions of the piece to antique those areas and make it look aged.
The biggest mishap was the biggest blessing! Since the main concept of the piece was to show the lost art of celadon, with the relationship of this loss and the two dynasties, it seemed more appropriate for the celadon NOT to be perfect! It’s imperfections became it’s biggest voice, and the defining, most obvious part of the piece. The art of celadon was LOST…and on this piece it really shows!
When all is said and done, I ADORE this sculpture! It started out as a fun project and became so much more. I didn’t write all the perspectives I pondered while creating this piece, but I hope that people can look at it from their own perspective. Whether this sculpture gets accepted or not has really become irrelevant. It’s now a landmark in my journey in clay, with many lessons learned…and with that…until next time!
Thanks for being here & God Bless!