A Hobby Potter 's Blog

Pete & Repeat sat on a fence…Pete fell off..who was left…..REPEAT!

As I look around youtube at all the ceramic and pottery videos or on Etsy with so many varieties of ceramic works, I’ve realized there is a never ending supply of talented potters and ceramists out there!  They inspire me…. I’m an inspired hobbyist!

HOBBYIST: “Is an interest pursued outside one’s regular occupation and is engaged in primarily for pleasure.”  

“Primarily for Pleasure” Being a hobbyist of pottery and ceramics, I find great pleasure in creating something new every time I get on the wheel, but if I’m honest with myself the thought of repetitive activities…be it work or play…just sends a wave of nausea through my body 🙂 
I recently shared  a picture on my personal facebook page of a cup I made for the series (finished cup will be on Day #19). Everyone loved it and started asking me if I could make more of them or if I’d ever consider making and selling them. I thought about it..and then the nausea came! No, I probably won’t be duplicating the cup over and over again. That’s the beauty of a hobby…it’s not your livelihood and you’re not required to do anything other than find joy in what you are doing. I own another type of business and my reason for potting was to NOT make it into a business (well…at least for now). 
I’ve loved making these videos, especially when I read that there are others out there who can relate to the journey in someway. I’ve also loved making the cups..although at 1st I knew it would be repetitive, I also knew that it had to be done to learn and grow. There was satisfaction in knowing the handles could be unique to each cup, so this realization caused the “repetitive” waves to subside. 
Will I ever be a production potter…no. Although my favorite motto is “Do what needs to be done, When it ought to be done, Whether you like it or not”. For this hobby, there will be a time of learning & a time of creativity and together there will be harmony.  ~.1 cup a day!
~ Tammy Jo
Watch it Be Thrown
SNEAK PEEK Day #18 Cup
To Come…List of Glazes 🙂 

MUST READ!!!! Set Your Clocks Forward 3 Days…Reporting Live!

I’m breathing easier now, things are starting to click and the train is running smooth…plus FRIDAY’S ARE MY SATURDAYS! I’ll be short and brief today because I want to hurry up and get outside to the workshop.

I’ve decided that it would be more helpful to me as I grow to keep the blog as my “LIVE JOURNAL”. This means the posts you read here will be in real time. Video posts are 3 days behind what I am currently working on (Today is the 14th Cup for the videos, but I’m working on  Cup 17 today).

You can expect to learn some spoilers here on what’s coming up as I share my thoughts,  but I’d much prefer you think of them as “PREVIEWS” of what’s to come! I’ll do my best not to ruin it for you 😉

What’s New? 

Photo Gallery: I’ve been working on the Photo Gallery on the www.hobbypotter.com  website and have also uploaded the photos to correspond with the videos on the Facebook friends page.  So far I’ve only published the leatherhard images, but will be adding the thrown images soon!

Here is a Quick Video I made of all the cups up to the 13th (As requested by JanicethePotter from Youtube):

What’s on My Mind:
I’m living off the successes! The handle for Cup # 15 turned out awesome…I’m carrying that success out to the shop with me this morning to keep the mo going.

 Also on my mind are thoughts of glazing all these cups. I really could use some suggestions and inspirations on color when it comes to glazing…this is probably the most difficult part of the process for me.

I pretty much have every color glaze you can think of in low fire (made a sweet deal a while back and have a stockpile of them on the shelf…they were practically giving them away to clean out a storage facility. To be honest, they just kept loading them into our car as we were driving away! 🙂 I got rid of the colors I didn’t care for and still have a good selection..so throw your ideas at me!

That’s it for today! Hope you enjoy today’s Video for Day 14! 
For the Love of Clay…1 Cup a Day ~ God Bless

No offense taken…mistakes and videos…I’d rather learn! :)

Before I begin…here’s today’s video

DAY 13

When I first started working with clay, I was not a healthy person. Physically and mentally speaking, I needed to just learn to relax through each moment, heal and take each day at a time. My Dr. recommended I learn a hobby, RIIIIIGHT, starting new projects and working WAS my hobby! But he suggested to ease things up I needed to find a relaxing hobby. Something new that I thought I’d enjoy and here I am 3 years later working on pottery.

I had someone say to me, “How can you do that? I could never put myself online so people could watch me make mistakes and then criticize me?” . I guess I don’t think of it quite like that. My mindset is that I need to learn something important to me and with my schedule there isn’t time to do it the traditional way, with class and teacher.  My brain stuffed with ceramic & pottery info from videos and books…that’s all well and good, but being an island hasn’t helped me improve…so something had to change.

If having a teacher watching your technique and critiquing it are what you get when you go to a class,  I had to somehow find a way to simulate that experience. So I told my friend it’s more important to me to get that experience than to worry about looking foolish 🙂

I should also add I wanted to keep track of my progress throughout and follow through for a year. What better way to do that than to put myself in a position where I MUST do it! Thus, I created a little more incentive to learn and grow.

So, here I sit at Day 16/ Cup 16 (Upload date Cup 13).  I’ve finished up some business work, gearing up to  to drive a couple of the kids to school and then work with my youngest son on his home education schoolwork. Pottery, cups & my goal firmly set for this afternoon… I’m ready to rock & roll!

~ Tammy Jo

Cups ~ Videos ~ Life!

The intent of the blog was to keep you posted daily on what I’ve been working on, my thoughts behind why I’m doing what I’m doing..just a little  more deep than the vlog.  That just hasn’t yet happened. What surprised me was the amount of time it took to edit and upload the vlog….big surprise. 

Then there was the internal debate about the blog..”Do I post the present day I’m working on, or the day of the video upload?” When videos are posted online, these cups were made 3 days prior, for example I just uploaded Day #12 of 365 Days, but today’s shop experience will be Day #15! So before I decide on a concrete post date…let me recap what I’ve learned in the last couple weeks: 

There haas been so much helpful wheel throwing & pottery tip information posted on the youtube videos, I wanted to gather up in one place so I can go back and reflect the past 14 days): Here are some excellent video responses: 

    • Smooth the lip of the cup with a chamois .
    • Tie a piece of sponge around a stick to get water off the bottom of a cup.
    • If using a sponge to throw, cut it in 1/2 (lengthwise is the correct way..I just cut it in 1/2..oops..lol)
    • Try not to use the sponge when opening or pulling up, it will dry out the clay and doesn’t allow me to easily feel the thickness of the clay. 
    • Work on centering and securing the piece to the bat, also be sure the pieces are leatherhard before trimming!! (big exclamation point on this one).
    • So many more tips I’ve received and will add to future blogs!
    • One of the biggest suggestions was a video response from Steve Booton that shared a simple way to make a cylinder and get all the clay up from the bottom..here’s the link:


      Steve Booton~
  • “Throw the base of the cylinder out farther than you want the width of the outside rim.” Then continue to pull up!
Too Darn Cold!
Because I’ve been dealing with a cold workshop, I’ve had to make some adjustments such as bringing in the cold clay to warm up and the thrown pieces to dry in time to be trimmed. 

Editing ~ Not for the Time Starved
After 15 days I think I finally have this monster under control. I was spending way too much time editing and saving in a professional software program and optimum settings when I could have easily taken another route (which I have) and saved myself hours (no joke)! 

What’s Next? 
After typing this blog I’ve decided to use my blog to type what I’m feeling and experiencing on an actually given day. So today ( 1/12/11) is the 12th Cup online, but the 15th cup in the shop. So in a sense this blog could be a ‘SPOILER ALERT’ for future videos or a “preview” of what’s to come! 

Signing Off ~ Now go enjoy some clay~
~ Tammy Jo


Dialing in on the Details….

My scrambling is done for Christmas tomorrow and I was just going over my game plan for 365 Days of Clay Cups. 1st I wanted to say Thank you to my daughter Rebecca, she is a graphic designer and made a logo for the HobbyPotter.com website.  THANKS BECS!

Now…the details. I keep going back and forth on how to present the videos since the biggest challenge is finishing a completed cup in one day because of drying time. To make it clear…1 cup may take 3 days to complete. So, I’ll be throwing a minimum of 1 cup a day and vlogging my daily activities for each cup which includes the throwing, trimming, altering and glazing stages.  To be sure I’m working in a loose routine and allowing for creativity, I charted out the flow of one cup and what I’d like to include in each video. Obviously this can change if the cups design dictates..but the constant is beginning a new cup every day:

Here is an example of my daily schedule: 
Day 1      Cup 1
                    o   Journal Clay used & weight
o   Take Video
§  Prep work
§  Throwing cups (select best cup form as my daily cup, I may throw more than one.)
§  Placing form on shelf until leather hard.
Day 2
          Cup 1
o   Take video of trimming, adding handles or embellishments & any underglaze painting.

          Cup 2
o   Journal Clay used & weight
o   Take Video
§  Prep work
§  Throwing cups (select best cup form)
§  Placing form on shelf.
o   Take Pictures
§  Cup 1 (Before) Set aside for bisque fire.
Day 3
          Cup 2
o   Take video of adding handles or embellishments & any underglaze painting.

          Cup 3
o   Journal Clay used & weight
o   Video
§  Prep work
§  Throwing cups (select best cup form)
§  Placing form on shelf.
o   Pictures
§  Cup 2  (Before) Set aside for bisque fire.
Once I have enough for a firing, I’ll add that to the vlog including any glazing sessions.
I’m feeling pretty good about the plan and would encourage anyone reading this to let me know if there is something I’ve missed or that you would like to see 🙂 !
Have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow and will see you soon!
Virtual Cheers & God Bless!
Tammy Jo

Getting Ready!

After spending a few days mentally playing out how to share my 365 Day quest, I’ve come to some very interesting dilemma’s and decisions. 

1. Not every cup will take one day to complete. It will take a short time to throw or hand build the basic cup form, but there are the added details and trimming that must be done…quite possibly a day later. The question remains as to the best way to share the 365 day process.  
2. When to start?  Since I will be posting videos & blogs each day, I think it would be more manageable to publish them to the internet the next day. So to begin on January 1, 2011, I’ll need to throw my 1st cup on December 31, 2010 to get it online by the 1st deadline. 
3. Keeping the goal in mind. I wanted to establish a habit of throwing on the wheel, working with clay and improving on a daily basis. The “documentary” process should show my “real life” throwing journey. I  already possess basic throwing and handbuilding skills…but I’m an amateur work in progress. I’ll be sharing the triumphs as well as the trials. If I happen to “crash and burn” on multiple cups, I’ll be sure the day does not end unless I have at least 1 cup to show for the efforts!
There are many other items on the list and the reason being I want to start well and develop a steady pace..a comfortable pace, a peaceful flow.  Looking forward to this experience and I hope it can inspire others to get started doing something they love…you never know where it will lead!

365 Days of Clay Cups – Who am I & What Do I Think I’m Doing? !


An introduction and the longest blog I’ll ever create!(I promise;) 
 I’ve been “playing” with clay since 2007 and the bottom-line is without consistent efforts, you really can’t improve.  For the love of clay, I’ll make 1 cup a day in an effort to improve “A Cup, A Day for A Year”.   Let me explain…

A first experience with clay.
When I was 7 years old, my parents were Girl Scout leaders, but I was still a Brownie…(you know, not yet old enough to be a Girl Scout, but related enough so I’d have to attend every meeting ).

One meeting was different! The parents had a craft project using air dry clay.  I’m sure they handed me a big wad of it to stop me from pestering, but they had no idea what they would be putting into play. With the squeeze of my left hand and the squeeze of my right, I’d created a beautiful masterpiece! My little hands formed the shape of a nude sculpture..(maybe a little abstract, but a sculpture all the same :).  The parents ooo’d and ahh’d over how miraculous it was and made such a big deal over it I thought “I must be a natural”!  Nothing more was done with clay, but that event change me. There was only a brief ceramics class in 7th grade, but memorable all the same because it was the only class where the time moved too fast and I never wanted it to end!
Fast forward to 2007, 30 years later. A beautiful family, home educating 3 of my 4 children and running a prospering online publication business. Sounds ideal, but to be honest, I was a pretty much stressed out workaholic. My health practioner advised me to find a hobby NOW and LEARN to relax.  Easier said than done! The only “artsy” thing I thought I might enjoy was clay, especially the pottery wheel. 

No Time for School…Not Artistic… 
I have a very creative, idea oriented, brain, but I’m not necessarily “artistic”, the early indications were a fluke 😉 …I also knew I didn’t have time to go the local college and take the pre-requisite (handbuilding) classes just to get to the thing I really wanted to learn…throwing on the wheel. 

Getting started on my own…What did I need… I went toEbay and bought a Big Boss pottery wheel and found a working kiln on Craiglist for $75. I also picked up a great deal on over 250 glazes from a storage facility sale and clearance glazes at the local Nasco store. In retrospect I think for a while there my “hobby” was the searching for what I needed rather than the actual DOING of the claywork!  

Learning my skills… I’m video/book taught. Initially I rented Robin Hopper’s DVD series from SmartFlix , then checked out books from the library and started watching Youtube videos. I did have one 45 minute session with a wonderful local potter, Sandra Veneman, who showed me how to throw a double walled vessel.  When I’d get the chance I’d go outside and throw a little on the wheel, or just make random items because nothing had a purpose or plan. Sometimes there would be (and still are) big gaps of time in-between getting out to the workshop because of either the temperature or my busy schedule…I just never made the time. There has been no real rhythm or accountability to grow as a potter, which is something I’d really like to do. More than like actually…something I feel I must do!

Why 365 Days of Clay Cups ~ The bottom-line is I need to spend more time out in the workshop doing what I love…playing with clay. I also needed something to  keep me accountable. Being a spontaneous soul, the thought of doing the same thing over and over gave me hives, so it had to be so I chose to take one year and focus on improving my skills in one area. Cups! With the variety of handles, shapes and feet I can work with, it felt like the best fit! 

The only way to improve is with practice, with trials and errors, input and education! Coaches & Mentors Wanted!!! I’m hoping you will come with me on this adventure and share your experiences, knowledge and especially your own clay journey. IT’S ALL FOR THE LOVE OF CLAY that I make ONE CUP A DAY!
Until Next Time!
~Tammy Jo ~