Category Archives: Chicago

Lucky me.

I’ve been meaning post this picture for a while. There is a Buddhist Temple a block away from my apartment. They always put on the most amazing visual displays for their celebrations. This was up in their front yard during the month of May to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Complete with neon lights. I passed by this every day for a month on the way to my studio (which is only a 6 block commute). How lucky am I?
Everyday inspiration for an urban potter can be a little different from that of a country potter. I think this is a nice illustration of one of ways it can differ. Not as many trees, but more neon lit Buddha statues.

Visiting Chicago? Stop by Lillstreet…

I thought I’d tell you a little bit about where I spend my days making pots and teaching classes. My studio is on the north side of the city at Lillstreet Studios. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood sometime and say ‘hello.’ It’s a great place to explore if you’re visiting Chicago. Or if you happen to live in the windy city, take an afternoon excursion to see what’s happening inside the walls of this old factory building.
Click here to get more information on Lillstreet’s location.

Getting there: You can drive (ample parking). You can ride a bike (lots of bike racks). You can take the Brown Line to the Montrose Stop. You can take the Montrose bus to Ravenswood. You can take the Metra to Lawrence. Etc…

There is a lot to see, so I thought I would give you just a brief “virtual tour” to entice you to stop by on your next trip to the windy city.

This is the directory that you’re greeted by when you walk inside the front door:

On the first floor:

One of the wheel classrooms (this one has 18 wheels):

On the second floor:

Outside my studio, 205 west, there are bios of each artist:

On the third floor:

Jewelry and metals:

The building is open for visitors to wander around. Explore the classrooms, visit the studios, shop in the gallery. The studios don’t have regular hours, but if you stop by, there is probably something open! There is no way I could actually show you everything, so you’ll just have to come see for yourself.

Interested in making a day of it? Other things to see and eat within 2 blocks:

And some things that are pretty darn close, but you’d probably want to hop in a car, on a bike, on a train:
Haus
Old Town School of Folk Music

If you’re making a special trip to Lillstreet, send me an email to let me know you’re coming so I can make sure that I’m there to meet you! I live quite close, so if I’m in town, it’s pretty easy for me to meet up with you.

Busy busy!

I have some fun blog posts in the works, but they’re a bit ambitious and it’s taking me longer to get them posted than I thought it would. Here is some other stuff that I’m up to (in no particular order).

Feb. 16th, 2008
I’m so excited to teach a workshop for Earlham Alums! I learned to make pots at Earlham where ceramics was highly supported by the students and faculty. Over the years of having a studio at Lillstreet, I’ve had a lot of EC alums visit me. Their support of clay as students at Earlham has transformed into a life long appreciation of handmade pots.
If you’re an Earlham alum in the mid-west, I hope you can make it to the workshop. Or if you know someone else who is… pass it on!

Join fellow Earlhamites, parents, and friends of the College at Lillstreet Art Center for a hands-on workshop with Emily Murphy ’99. Each participant will have the opportunity to learn hand building techniques and create his or her own mug or vase. Pieces will be fired and available for pickup approximately 2-3 weeks after the event. All work will be completely non-porous, food-safe, and microwave and dishwasher safe! We will gather at 11:30 for pizza and an opportunity to hear an update from campus!
 

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Another Cup? at Baltimore Clayworks curated by Deborah Bedwell.
Jan. 12 – Feb. 23, 2008

I was excited to be invited to be a part of this exhibition. See the pictures 0f the show here.

An invitational exhibition featuring cups from established and emerging ceramic artists. The curator, Baltimore Clayworks’ Executive Director Deborah Bedwell believes, “… that a beautifully made cup, which satisfies its utilitarian and/or artistic intention is exactly what our culture needs and answers the question “Does the world need another cup? 

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Yunomi Invitational at Akar
I have also been invited to be a part of the Yunomi Exhibition at Akar. I’ll keep you posted when the show is online. Right now the pots are in the mail, on their way to Akar.
They have the tea bowls from last year’s exhibition online. Take a look, there are some amazing vessels!
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My plan has been for a long time to redo my main website: sodafired.com
But everything else gets in the way (like making pots, my blog, etc…). But I am trying to at least keep some of the info updated.
Here’s the latest:

updated resume

updated artist statement

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A new class session at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago began a couple of weeks ago. Spring session starts mid-March. The classes I’m teaching will be the same next session, but with slightly different days & times.

Advanced Wheel – Throwing and Altering
Tuesdays, 6:30 – 9:30pm

This class is for the proficient thrower to take their wheel work to the next level. We will push, pull and cut the clay on and off the wheel to create new forms on and off the wheel. We will use the wheel to make the basic forms, and then incorporate hand-building techniques to build forms that are out of round. 

Advanced Topics in Soda: Investigating Materials
Wednesdays, 7 – 10pm

This class is for advanced students who have had some experience in soda and atmospheric firing, and are looking to investigate the process more deeply. We will be focused on exploring and understanding different clay bodies and dozens of slips. We will look at slides for inspiration and will identify particular finishes that are interesting and exciting. From there, we will study individual materials and how they react in the soda kiln. The end goal will be to create some new and unique finishes through the investigation of materials 

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The Conversation Continues…
You might remember the show that I was a part of last fall: Being to Being: Collective Conversations in Clay. Check out the website– there are new images of the show (installed) and the process. And it sounds like there will be another show this fall with a new twist. As always, I’ll keep you posted!

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Ask a Potter
I regularly get questions via email from other ceramic artists seeking my advice. There are certain questions that I get over and over again: new graduates asking advice on what to do after graduation; questions about kilns and soda; people coming to visit Chicago wondering what clay focused things there are to do an see when they’re in town, etc… I try to answer these questions as best I can within the limitations of my time and knowledge. Last week I got a bunch of emails, many of which are variations on common questions that I get. I thought to myself: “I should use each question and my answer as a blog post.” So that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m hoping that maybe a dialog can open up and the Pottery Blog readers can help fill in the gaps in my advice with their own knowledge and experiences.

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Europe, clay?
Ian and I are planning a trip to Europe in mid to late August. We have a wedding to go to in Germany, but other than that, we don’t have any specific plans. We’re in the VERY early stages of planning (I think we’re heading north, Denmark, etc…). Does anyone have any suggestions for clay related things that we should consider doing/ seeing and maybe take in account in our planning? Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

Those are all the updates for now. It’s nice to be back!

A Holiday Tour of Lillstreet Studios

I thought I’d give a little tour of what some of the studios are offering this holiday season at Lillstreet Studios in Chicago. It’s truly a unique shopping experience to be able to shop directly from the artists in their studios. I’m including photos of just a sampling of the studios. There are over 50 artists under one roof – and that’s not including Lillstreet’s Gallery!

ceramics by Emily Murphy

 

 

ceramics by Lisa Harris

pottery by Karen Avery

pottery by Gary Jackson

porcelain by Joanna Kramer

porcelain by Karen Patinkin

ceramic and glass beads by Amy Lemaire

 

porcelain by Deborah Schneider

agricultural art by Cathi Bouzide

Photography by Guy Nicol

pottery by Mike Szostak

jewelry by 2nd floor metals artists

Many of the studios are open daily…
check in with individual artists for their hours 
Monday – Friday 12noon – 6pm
Saturdays 10am – 6pm
Sundays 12noon – 5pm

Studio Holiday Sale

Tonight’s the night! It’s the opening night for the holiday show at my studio at Lillstreet Studios in Chicago.

If you’re in the area, I hope you can stop by tonight, or any time over the next 3 weeks. Details and some pictures to tempt are below.

Opening Night Reception
Friday, November 30, 2007 – 6pm – 9pm
Lillstreet Studios
205 west
4401 N. Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640  

 

I have a studio full of new work including the ceramic pendants that you see above that hang on a cord of hand dyed silk. You’ll also see the familiar faces of mugs, serving bowls, honey pots and more.


 

  

Studio hours for the holidays:

weekdays: 12 noon – 6pm
Saturdays: 10am – 6pm
Sundays: 12 noon – 5pm

There are over 40 artists at Lillstreet Studios making functional pottery, tiles, sculpture, jewelry, photography, handmade beads and more. If I’m not at my studio, one of my studio mates can help you out. If you want to be sure to meet up with me, just send me an email (emily@sodafired.com).

You can probably find something for everyone on your list at Lillstreet Studios. I have some ridiculously functional things that everyone can use. Why shouldn’t your soap dispenser be as beautiful and functional as your favorite mug?

Directions to my studio.
I accept cash, checks, Visa and Mastercard.
It’s easy to get to with lots of parking for cars and bikes.
There is a ton of public transportation to help you get there. And the exciting news is that the Montrose Stop on the Brown line is open after a year of renovations! 
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And on a much more personal note…
I haven’t been writing to my blog much lately because I’ve had a very happy distraction. My sister, Nora, had a little baby boy, Shiya, on November 18, 2007 at 4:12pm. Congratulations!
I’ve been spending a lot of time with my sister, baby Shiya and big brother Ayrie. (The happy new family is in the picture to your left!)

 

Happy Holidays!

Empty Bowls – Chicago Style

This December, Lillstreet Art Center is hosting their 2nd annual Empty Bowls event. Last year we had a great turnout, but the plan is to really scale it up this year. Tons of bowls, a big community of people and soup galore will all come together to raise money and awareness to help fight hunger.

The request that I’m sending out is for potters, glass blowers, wood turners, and metal smiths of all levels to make a bowl (or 2 or 20) and donate it to Chicago’s Empty Bowls event at Lillstreet Art Center. We’d also like for you to come a share a meal, if you’re in the area on December 7, 2007 from 6pm – 9pm. For $20, guests are invited to choose a bowl and are served a generous serving of soup and bread made by First Slice Café. Guests keep the bowl as a reminder that there are always “empty bowls” in the world.


Lillstreet has a very unique restaurant in it’s building (sharing space with the gallery), the First Slice Café. Proceeds from the cafe go to feed Chicago’s hungry. They help fight hunger in a very direct way: the food they make for various organizations is the same amazing food that is served in their café. In addition to First Slice making the food for the event, they will also be the recipient of the event’s proceeds so they can continue to create healthy meals for these local organizations: Heartland Alliance, The Night Ministry, American Indian Center Youth Program, and Howard Area Alternative High School. 

If you would like to participate in this event by donating a bowl, please deliver or mail your bowl(s) by November 18, 2007 to:

 

Lillstreet Art Center

4401 North Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640
Attn: Empty Bowls

If you’d like to join us for a bowl of soup, come to Lillstreet on December 7, 2007 from 6pm – 9pm

If you have any questions about this event, you can contact the event organizer, Joanna Kramer.
Please help us spread the word by forwarding this to a friend. Thanks!

The bowls that are in the photo above are by Gary Jackson, Fire When Ready Pottery.

Being to Being: Collective Conversations in Clay

This is a virtual tour of a show that I am currently in: Being to Being: Collective Conversations in Clay at Park West Ceramics Gallery in Chicago. The concept for the show is very unsual (remember, I like unconventional things…).

Here’s the idea: There are 5 artists, all with different styles of making and decorating. Each artist made 5 pieces. One of the pieces is made start to finish by that original artist. The other 4 pieces are handed off in the leather hard stage to the other 4 artists. Each participant decorates the 4 pieces from the other artists. Carving and cutting, slips and glazes, adding clay pre- and post firing, atmospheric firings and decals were some of the techniques used.

The photos in this post were taken on opening night and aren’t actually the best images. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll add better images, but I was too excited about this show to wait for those images. But for now, you can get an idea of what the show is all about…

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Platter by Emily Murphy. Soda fired with a crackle slip and sprayed glazes.

top left: Slipped wood fired with low fire decals by Gina Hutchings.
top right: Cut, carved, slipped, glazed and wood fired by Jay Strommen.
bottom left: Slipped, glazed, punctured, reduction fired, then sewn by Joanna Kramer.
bottom right: Cut, then applied stoneware “staples” and porcelain coil then soda fired by Shane Grimes.

The next series are porcelain hand built slab “landscape” vases by Joanna Kramer.
Below is her solo piece that is actually two porcelain vases that are sewn together (post firing, of course!).

top left:
Glazed and wood fired with low fire decals applied by Gina Hutchings.
top right: Slipped, glazed, cut and carved then wood fired by Jay Strommen.
bottom left: Slipped, glazed and soda fired by Emily Murphy.
bottom right: Slipped and carved with stoneware staples and porcelain coils attached and then soda fired by Shane Grimes.

Jay Strommen‘s pieces are thrown and altered with slips and lightly glazed then wood fired.

top left: Slipped, glazed, wood fired with decals by Gina Hutchings.
top right: Slipped, punctured, glazed and reduction fired then sewn by Joanna Kramer.
bottom left: Lots of stoneware staples and porcelain coils added, then soda fired by Shane Grimes.
bottom right: Slipped, carved, glazed and then soda fired by Emily Murphy.

The next group is from Shane Grimes. Shane’s pieces are thrown and altered. His solo piece has his trademark stoneware staples and incredibly thin porcelain spines/coils attached, then soda fired.
top left: Cut, carved, slipped, glazed and wood fired by Jay Strommen.
top right: Soda fired then a decal applied by Gina Hutchings (it’s a very cool spider).
bottom left: Slipped, cut, punctured, glazed and reduction fired by Joanna Kramer, then sewn.
bottom right: Slipped, glazed and soda fired by Emily Murphy.

The Geisha series is by Gina Hutchings who is also the organizer of the show.
Her piece below is glaze and wood fired with a decal applied.

top left: Stoneware staples and porcelain coils attached then soda fired by Shane Grimes.
top right: Slipped, punctured, glazed, reduction fired then sewn by Joanna Kramer.
bottom left: Slipped, carved, glazed and wood fired by Jay Strommen.
bottom right: Slipped, glazed and soda fired by Emily Murphy.

The next group of photos are some close up detail images. Because of the lighting in the gallery, it was hard to get really good photos on opening night. I hope these detail images help you fill in the gaps. (click on images to make them bigger) 




Unconventional Vases

I have been making these oval vases for a while in all different shapes and sizes. The idea for these pieces emerged out of a desire to make a vase that can sit in the middle of a table with flowers in it, yet it’s short enough to see your sweetie sitting across the table. Vases are a form that I’ve battled with. I have high standards for my pieces (vases and others). They must be able to stand on their own, without fulfilling their given purpose. And when they are doing their duty, like holding flowers, it must function flawlessly. My battle with the classic vase form is that I am not interested in it as a stand alone form. I know it’s a broad generalization, but it’s something that I tackle over and over again, and the form just isn’t “strong” enough for my taste. When I push and pull the classic vase form into something that I really like, it is more like a bottle and can’t hold more than 1 flower… So I seem to end up venturing into vase forms that are unconventional.

And since I like things that are unconventional, I am doing a show this much that is just that…unconventional. Haus (a wonderful ceramics gallery in Chicago) has coordinated this show for Chicago Artist’s Month (which is October). The tables at Anteprima, a fantastic Italian restaurant in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood have been filled with my oval vases. The vases have been filled by Sunburst Flowers, another Andersonville neighborhood business. I love all the collaboration!

The above image is of one of the beautiful arrangements for the show. The below image is of some of my platters at the restaurant. When Anteprima was opening, I was commissioned to make these platters.

8 Random Things

I was tagged with 8 random things by Pam McFadyen from Lurearts Ceramics.

The rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

Here I go with 8 random things about myself (in absolutely no particular order)…

1. I have an painted art car. The inside is decked out with fringe and all. A couple of years ago Ian and I decided to paint our car to cover up some chipping paint. The result has been lots of smiles and random conversations with strangers- something that should happen more often! The interior fringe was hunted down during a trip to Mexico. I like having a little something special inside the car- besides making me smile, it also reminds me that the outside is painted, and that’s why people are looking at the car.

2. Chicago has been my home for the last 8+ years. We’ve lived in roughly the same area (northside- Lincoln Square/ Uptown/ Ravenswood/ Andersonville) the whole time we’ve been in Chicago. I run into people I know all the time when I’m out and about. It feels like a small town. You can walk just about anywhere you need to go. The same clerks work at the neighborhood grocery store since we’ve lived here. I go to the little neighborhood farmer’s market every week. Two sites/ blogs I like about Chicago are: The Chicagoist and Gaper’s Block.

3. I went to Earlham College where I majored in Art with a double focus in ceramics and metals (class of ’99). It’s where I met Ian and learned to make pots.

4. I am the hopelessly devoted aunt to 3 (soon to be 4) amazing nephews. Orion, Ayrie and Jonah. I am known to them as Emmy. The photo was taken by Ian last Christmas. They were inside the house and Ian was outside. We have decided that if they ever start a band together, that this will be their first album cover and they will be called the Formidable Murphy Boys.

5. I’m a customer service pro. Friends and family use me to help them work out tough customer service problems. I don’t actually enjoy the process of being on hold, but I feel extremely satisfied when I can solve a problem. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this particular talent of mine. I’ve been enjoying the blog: The Consumerist lately.

6. I LOVE my label maker. Actually, I have 2 of them. One for my studio, one for home. You can see a small glimpse of what our office at home looks like from the picture. The label maker is actually sitting on the shelf in front of the books. It actually has it’s own labeled bin, but it was out since I had just used it.
I could go on about my love of the label maker, but I think I’ll just stop there.

7. I grew up in Keene, NH. I have family in the area, still. I get to visit several times a year. My dad, Jim Murphy, is a painter who is inspired by the beautiful landscape.

8. I love jewelry. Handmade beautifully designed jewelry. My favorite jeweler also happens to be a good friend: Sarah Chapman. I love her designs- they are completely original. Her craftsmanship is impeccable. And the pieces have this great ability to go from fitting perfectly with jeans and a t-shirt in the studio to dress up for a night on the town.

Ceramics Classes

Soda firing classes with Emily Murphy
at Lillstreet Art Center, Chicago, IL
fall classes begin the week of September 10, 2007

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Soda Firing Fundamentals
This class is for the advanced student of ceramics who is interested in exploring a varied and unpredictable surface for their work. Soda firing is an atmospheric firing that produces flashes of color, a textured orange peel surface, and reacts in a variety of ways with different slips, glazes and clay bodies. We’ll delve into forms that work well to accentuate the soda process, play with surface decoration with particular focus on slips and textures, and experiment with glazing for the soda process (including the use of the spray booth). Kiln loading will be taught and all students are required to share loading and unloading of kilns on evenings outside of class.
Tuesdays, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Starts Sept. 11, 2007 

LAC Members $340 / Nonmembers $350
Soda Firing Lab Fee: $60
register here
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Advanced Topics in Soda Firing: Surface Decoration

This class is for advanced students with previous experience in soda and atmospheric firing, who are looking to investigate the process more deeply. This class is going to focus on surface decoration in the soda kiln. We’ll explore texture from stamping to carving and how to enhance the surface in soda. We’ll delve into slips from flashing to porcelain with a variety of application techniques. The ultimate goal is to enhance your forms with surface decoration in the soda atmosphere. Open to students who make both functional and sculptural work. All students are required to share loading and unloading of kilns on evenings outside of class. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Wednesdays 12-3pm
Wednesdays 7-10pm
Starts Sept. 12, 2007

LAC Members $340 / Nonmembers $350
Soda Firing Lab Fee: $60
register here

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I thought I’d share a sampling of work from some of my student’s (past and present) that have come through the soda firing program at Lillstreet over the past couple of years.
You’ll see many have their own websites, or albums with more images. Just click on a linked name to see more!


Greg Schultz


Beth Burkhart


Nancy Pirri


Fred Follansbee

Robert Milanowski

Lalitha Bardalaye