A Lesson in Labels

When the kiln had cooled enough to take out the first RAWR cups, I noticed something alarming: the insides were very matte. Like, not the smooth matte I’d planned. Almost… bare clay matte.

And a horrible suspicion formed in my brain. A horrible, horrifying suspicion.

I have two yoghurt tubs of white goop sitting amongst my glazes. One is white slip, labelled “white”. One is white glaze, labelled “New Blue Base” on the side and–because it’s not the first time I’ve used that lid for yoghurt tubs full of glaze–“Dark Stormy Night” on the lid. In my glazing frenzy, I had not picked up the uncoloured base glaze I’d planned on using. I picked up the sensibly-but-unsufficiently-specifically labelled tub of white slip. And poured the wrong stuff inside every one of my new cups. It’s not even particularly well-vitrified slip, so they certainly weren’t food-safe.

Argh, argh, argh.


ImageLuckily, there’s a studio glaze firing scheduled for tomorrow. I don’t know if it was my habit of stuffing studio pieces in between any and all cracks in my own firings or the sheer terror and desperation on my face, but I was allowed to sneak half a shelf of mugs in. They will be re-fired. The correct stuff has been poured into the insides, the buckets are now better labelled, and barring weird clay-slip-glaze interactions, the cups will be both okay AND out of the kiln the morning of the Sin City Crafters Handmade Market. And the day may yet be saved.



It’s rare for me to use my sketchbooks for… well… sketching. When I have ideas about things to make, I tend to write them down. The pictures in my head stay where I put them (even if they often differ from the finished thing). But when I got my current sketchbook, I decided to fill it mostly with pictures. I’ve never been super confident about my drawing skills, and the only way to get confident is to practice them.

Recent themes have been dinosaurs, crewelwork embroidery, and bees.

The latest doodles may even get used:






Houston Day Three

Got up, breakfasted with Jason and Alexis again. We had a few hours to kill until noon (when we had to get to the convention centre and pick up our registration packages), so we split a cab out to the very-worth-it-but-also-really-really-really-far-away[1] Shino Extravaganza exhibit at Lone Star College. While there, checked out a few other awesome exhibits, plus got to poke around their fine arts program’s clay studio[2]. Took cab back, picked up conference gear, had a disappointing burger for lunch[3], then headed off for more exhibits, this time only a cheap rail ride away. Saw a little over half a dozen.

The Warhaus gallery stood out especially. It has some amazing creepy-cute sculpture right now by Tomoko Nakazato, whose website I very strongly urge you to poke through. 

Aaaaaand then we tried to find one last place, Inman Gallery, before they closed, but we didn’t make it, so we consoled ourselves with supper at a “Southern Comfort Food” type place. I had coffee creme brulee for dessert. Yum. Also, tried more grits; this time, fried up, like fish cakes.

The Gallery Expo space back at the convention centre opened tonight, so we headed back for that. I’ve never been on opening night… there’s always been other shows to see, or things to plan. But this evening we had spare time, so we went. I picked up a Julia Galloway shot glass, because I have been drooling over her stuff for years but have never been able to bring myself to spend so much of my budget on a single piece, and it’s probably the cheapest item of hers I will ever come across. And it fit nicely in my hand, and I love the glazes, and also, my ceramics collection is not going to grow much this trip (I have only small amounts of space left in my cupboard, and I want to spend most of my money on resources and tools this year), so I may as well get the good stuff. 

There is also a wee bottle by Jessica Faulk[4], upon which is a dinosaur saying “RAWR”. I have not yet made up my mind on that one, but am sorely tempted.


[1] Houston is the fourth largest city in the US in population, and the biggest in actual acreage. Not seeing much evidence of urban containment here.

[2] Visiting  clay studios in warm places always makes me envious. They tend to have outdoor areas for atmospheric firings like raku, soda, and gas. Plenty of fresh air to come into the kiln, and no ventilation system needed. Just a sheet metal roof to keep the rain off whoever’s conducting the firing, and maybe a short wall to cut the wind. Plus, if you’ve got a metal support system for your roof, you can use it to hang some pulleys and your raku kiln, so lifting it off becomes easier and safer for all involved.

[3] When your cheese options are identified only as “American or Swiss”, be aware. You may be about to order processed cheese slices. Yes, even if you opt for the Swiss.

[4] At my first NCECA, I bought a cup of hers at the 18 Hands[5] booth. It’s green, with a raccoon and some bright red tulips on it. I’ve been going back to the booth every year to check out her work. It’s always delightful.

[5] Which is a gallery based IN HOUSTON!!!! They’re having a block party and series of ceramics mini-sales on Friday night. So stupidly excited.