Monthly Archives: May 2013

Rainy day fun with beads…

A couple of times each year, I go on the road to New York with my friend Pam who owns BelloModo Beads.  I am briefly a roadie – a schlepper of her pretty dang vast mobile inventory, coffee gopher, and whatever else is needed.  During the show, I sit in a corner of Bello Modo’s space and cut chain and leather bracelet making materials to length, and also help customers pick out components to make their own jewelry.  It’s fun!  And naturally, I wanted to make some bracelets for myself and my daughters, and as it has turned out, sell some to the galleries that carry my pottery.1 Tools and Materials

Here what’s needed to make a style of bracelet I particularly like.  I was really pleased when I learned that 3/0 glass beads slip neatly onto 2mm Indian Leather, my favorite size to work with.  Here are three metallic colors of leather cord that I like to combine.  You can see the two clasp components slightly to the right of center in the picture.  To their right is a great leather cutter that BelloModo sells, and a little squeeze bottle of the super duper glue that joins it all together.  It takes 6 – 20″ lengths of leather cord to make the bracelet – I will be be using two strands of each color. The color of the beads is “Topaz.”2 Leather cord ready

Work the lengths of cord with your hands until they are all laying side by side in a natural curve,  Then double them in the middle to form a loop.3 Slip on the closure

Slip the end of the closure component through the loop and over the hook, and pull the strands snug to make a reasonably trim loop.  When I am satisfied with the way the strands lie together, I will slip the copper ornament on from the loose ends and snug it into place.  I like to glue it in place about 1″ from the end of the loop – fiddle around and make sure there is room to slip the loop through the ring and over the hook once the ornament is glued into place.  Be sure to work with plenty of ventilation with ANY glue…  who knows what’s in the stuff…..

Now here’s a simply dreadful picture!  Photos for this post were my first experiment ever with a tripod and camera timer to photograph Self doing something….  better next time. You can see the ornament under my thumb, and my right hand squeezing a droplet of glue into the space between the edge of the ornament and the bundle of cords.  4 apply the glue

Once several drops of glue have been applied into the join between the ornament and the leather cord, lay it carefully down to set up.  It’s a good time to go for a snack or change the TV channel; or even pet the dog.  I like to give the glue four or five minutes to be sure before further work.5 setting the glue

Here’s the bracelet at rest with its’ ornament in place. Next, bead are slipped onto each strand of leather cord.  I like three beads per strand; you can do as you like.  Snipping the end of each strand at the sharpest possible angle can make it easier, and a few of the beads simply are too small.  But most glide right on;  and I set the dinky ones aside for other bead work.6 threading on the beads

This is the slowest part of the making the bracelet, but the beads add so much…7 Checking for Length

Next, I hold the strands together and check the size of the bracelet.  There is enough leather cord that it can be trimmed to any needed size.8 clean Cut

Using the cord cutter, I cut a nice straight edge across of all of the strands.  I have already twiddled around with the strands a bit to give them a sense of motion, when you make your own your will see exactly what I mean.  The twelve cord ends will fit tightly into the open end of the clasp component.  I used to fill the component end with glue, and then push the cut ends into the space.  Messy!  Now, I put them in dry and get them exactly as I want them, and the carefully drip the extremely fluid glue into join between the cords and clasp.  Much neater, and works better. 9 Securing the ends

I the bracelet down for the glue to cure, and later I will test every strand to make sure it is firmly glued, and re-glue any willful escapees.10 All Done

Here’s the finished bracelet!  Thanks to all you potters who stayed with this to the end…  I’ll be back to pottery making  soon!

Everything I used is available from Pam at…..


Dinky-ing Around in the Studio

It’s been many weeks since I worked in my studio, and it’s time to get in there again and make some pots.  I’ve been sulking about my clay problem all spring, and did not have the response the new white porcelain work that I had hoped for at my only show so far in 2013.

Here’s the Clay Problem – a stoneware clay that had been  completely great for years for handbuilding and throwing both is no longer reliable.  Last year, I had five teapots returned because they broke when hot water was poured into them.  A few weeks ago, a regular customer brought a cup back that popped and pinged – and leaked! – the first time that boiling water was poured into it.  And dozens of pieces have broken in the bisque.  I had been thinking that it was just the stress of carving that was making the pots susceptible to breaking in the bisque…

At Oregon Potters Association Ceramic Showcase last month, I asked a employee of the company that makes the clay in question if there had been any changes to the formulation or problems with the clay.  As soon as he began to speak – slowly, without eye contact; weighing every word – I knew something was up…  so this morning I spent an hour purging my pugmill and setting up to work with B-Mix.  I have used it off and on for years as a second clay; it’s fairly soulless but reliable.  And teapots made from it don’t break when you put hot water into them, sigh….

When I have gone into the studio in past weeks, I’ve mostly wanted to make dinky little things.  This mood comes upon me from time to time, usually when I am troubled by stress or indecision.  When I was sewing for hours each day in the decades before clay became my drug of choice, I would occasionally be stricken with the need to apply minuscule polka-dot  piping to every finished edge or dither around with appliques of chickens.  I think it’s hereditary.  I still have some  hand-crocheted doll clothes that my old Mum used to make when she was a night-nurse a lifetime ago in Walla Walla.

I recently been fixated on French butter crocks, a favorite dinky thing.  I sell about 20 each year, not a lot, but the people who want them really love the dang things.  If you’re not familiar with them, there’s a crazy deep lid which holds the butter, and extends into a base. Water is placed into the base, and prevents the butter from becoming rancid – the whole point is that the thing can sit out on the counter, keeping the butter soft but preventing spoilage, cat-licking,  fly-landing, and other depredations of kitchen fauna.  There are issues of fit and size with lid and base, but they are easy to throw and fun to decorate.  There were some at Showcase for $17, but I still managed to sell some of my ridiculously overpriced ones for $72.  Thank God for the educated!

The part that bothers me is that you have to soften the butter first, and then pack it into the lid.  One of my more eccentric regulars, who shall remain unnamed just in case, has ordered up several rectilinear handbuilt French crocks for gifts in recent years.  They were really fun to decorate!  But I’ve been thinking – why not size them so a stick of butter plops right in, ending the softening-squishing part of the deal.  I had to work out the shrinkage, which is probably good for the old brain, and here they are.rect french crocks

Nice little forms!  I feel okay about using the now-disgraced stoneware since thermal shock is not in their future.  Here’s the butter-holding part of the action….rect french crock lids

Yup, there’s a porcelain one in the set too, made from a scrap of nearly dried-out slab.  These are going into the bisque as soon as I can fill the kiln….5 pairs salt

I’ve also been doing some ultimate dinky-fying, making salt and pepper shakers.  I resisted making them for years but now I really enjoy making the goofy little objects.  Plus, they are free to fire.  I usually extrude square stock and build from there, but these are made from little patterns.  I made a really great set a few years ago, which had images of a man and a woman that I pressed into the clay with combinations of my regular stamps.  I wish I had them back, have never made anything quite so fun since.salt and pepper peopleThese are quirky and pleasing in their own way.  I believe I still must be under the influence of the tiny real-life gauchos I saw in southern Brazil a few years ago, here they are on the pottery….

I have a fire in my studio today.. it’s pouring cold rain outside.  Tonight I will go in and start a new work cycle, lots of nice big casseroles.  Maybe even some teapots…

And thanks to all you readers, and welcome to my new followers.  I am honored!