Category Archives: Photography

Picasa 3 for all your imaging needs

There has been a little program that I’ve been using for years: Picasa. This last week I downloaded an update, Picasa 3, and it’s fantastic! This is a program that will change your life… or at least your computing life. Picasa is a photo management program from Google. It finds all of the images on your computer (even the long lost hidden pics) and allows you to view, edit, organize, print, etc… all through the Picasa interface. And the best part is because it’s from Google, it free! Unfortunately for Mac users, it’s not available yet. It’s just for Windows and Linux currently.

Here is a little overview of what you can do with Picasa:

  • Resize pictures for email: You can select images to email and Picasa will automatically resize them to a reasonable size for emailing. No more overloading other people’s inboxes.
  • I’m Feeling Lucky: One of the cool editing buttons is I’m Feeling Lucky. It automatically adjusts the light and contrast and can balance out the colors from a flash photo.Below is a photo that I took on a piece of white poster board with natural light from a window and no flash. Then on the right is the same photo after using the I’m Feeling Lucky button. If you’re an Etsy user and uploading 5 pictures per piece, think about the time this will save you.

  • The Straighten Tool: I’m not sure if you can see this on the screenshot below, but another cool editing tool from Picasa is the Straighten Tool. It puts a little grid over your image and you can adjust the picture to go from crooked to straight with a click of the mouse. Think of all the askew images that you can fix!
  • Print Screen: You might also notice all of the nice screen shots I have to illustrate what Picasa can do. Well, it’s one of the new tricks that came with the update. If you click the Print Screen button on your keyboard, the screenshot will automatically pop up in Picasa. I’ve been wanting to figure out a way to easily to do screen shots for years! There are so many times on this blog that I want to illustrate something with a screen shot – and now it’s easy!
  • Print Photos: You can upload directly from Picasa to pretty much any of the online printing companies (Snapfish, Shutterfly, etc…), but you can also print using your printer. You’re given options for sizing and if you want the images cropped or shrink to fit. And it lays them out so you can cut them easily with a paper cutter.

  • Low Resolution Warning: This might be hard to tell from the image below, but when you’re printing images and the resolution is too low for printing, it’ll warn you so you don’t waste ink of pixelated images.

  • Create Collages: There are many collage options. Too many to go through. You can change the way the pictures are lined up, add borders of different sizes and colors, pivit or shrink or enlarge the images in the collage.
  • Mosaic Grid: Another collage option is to create a mosaic. I forsee creating a lot of these collages in my future! There is a Shuffle Pictures option so you can mix up the images in the collage without having to start over from scratch.

  • Text on Pictures: I had a show application a few months ago that required putting text on the digital images and it wasn’t an easy task. The Picasa 3 update now allows you to add text onto your image. You can change the font, size, color, etc… and make a spiffy show announcement.

  • Slideshow: I’m not sure if I need to explain all of the cool uses of the slideshow feature, but here’s a sample of one for you: (Update: as of 2012 this seems to be broken)

  • Web Albums: With Picasa you get some free online storage for uploading your digital images to share.
  • Movie Editing: The Picasa update now includes movie editing. I haven’t used this yet, but I’ve been waiting for this feature! I have tons of little movies that I’ve taken with my camera but haven’t had a way to edit them yet.
This isn’t a complete list of what Picasa does, but I tried to point out some of the tools that aren’t easily found elseware and are hard to live without. Download Picasa and give it a try. I think you’ll like it!

Dinnerware, a platter, wall vases and a whole bunch of cups

As promised, here are some photos of some recent work. I got them out of the kiln right before our July road trip. And had the photographed this week by my photographer, Guy Nicol.

This is some new dinnerware that I’ve been designing:

And this is part of my newest platter series:

I’m really excited for these new wall vases.
These pieces are sort of a hybrid between my oval vases and the wall pieces.
And this is a new surface that you’re going to start seeing on more of my pieces.
I’m really excited for a floral designer to go to town with them! Unfortunately, my favorite designer, Amy Lemaire, has moved away! Amy has done all the arrangements over the past 4 years. You can see some of her past work here

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been in a cup making groove.
I really love the curve & tension in these handles.

You might remember these masked mugs from an earlier post.
The curve of this mug makes me want to fill it with hot cocoa and cup it in my hands on a cold autumn night. That’s not going to happen for a while.
And here are the peace cups that you might remember from a previous post too.
hope. peace. change.

Ask a Potter: Photography

I regularly get questions emailed to me about clay, kilns, the business of clay, etc… I have decided to start a series “Ask a Potter” where I answer some of these questions on that I think will be interesting and helpful to other readers. Please feel free to share your 2 cents and join in on the dialog!

Who takes your photos? What kind of camera do you use?
-Diane in Georgia

My “professional” images are taken by Guy Nicol in Chicago.
His studio is also at Lillstreet Studios. If you’re not in the Chicago area, don’t let that stop you, you can ship your work to him.
I have been using Guy for my photos for the last 7 years, and his work is amazing. He specializes in studio arts such as ceramics, jewelry, fibers, etc… I’ve used the images he taken to apply to shows as well as promotional materials (postcards, business cards, etc…). Some of Guy’s images of my work published in exhibition catalogs, 500 Cups (2 images), 500 Pitchers (2 images) and Ceramics Monthly. 

Some examples of photos that Guy has taken for me recently:


I do take lots of photos myself that are posted on this blog. I got a new digital camera early last fall, the Canon PowerShot A570 and I’ve been really happy with it. 

I would say the photos that I take myself fall into 3 categories – personal, studio shots/ works in progress, and images for online selling. I’ve been dabbling in online selling for a while trying to figure out what outlet I think is best. I’m finally ready to jump into the Etsy pool (more on that to come!) and easy, high quality photos are a necessity.

Below are some photos that I have taken with my digital camera:

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

Stacks of obsolete slides.

I have a love for functional objects…you might even say a soft spot. That’s why I make pots. Pots are interactive pieces of art. Then you can get even extra “wow” out of a piece if it functions well on top of being aesthetically pleasing. A teapot that pours without dripping, or a mug that becomes one with the hand of the user, gives me deep satisfaction.

I like to see the potential function in all objects – even after they have ceased their original function. The other day I was walking down an alley (here in Chicago). I found this huge 5 foot octagonal window leaning against a dumpster. It was really lovely and was in perfect condition.

I stared at it for a while. “What could I use this for?” “How could I get this home in my hatchback?” “Where could I store it until I can use it?” “Is there someone I know that would just have to have it?” The answers to these questions were not very positive. So I made a little deal with myself and left it up to fate. I went into a store (for about 20min.), and decided that if it was there when I came back, then I would figure out a way to take it. But if it was gone… then perhaps it was just not meant to be. It was gone.

This brings me to my stacks of obsolete slides. I think every working artist must have one. A potter’s stack might be a bit bigger since we probably make more pots than a painter makes paintings. (Not that I actually document all my pieces.)

Anyway.. my stacks consist of: compositions that didn’t work out; extra brackets; old dupes that will never be sent into any sort of show; incorrect exposures; the accidental roll of outdoor film that was used instead of the indoor film; first and very poor attempts to take my own slides on wrinkled sheets; booth shots from an old set-up. All images that have no more use. But the time, effort and money that went into all these makes it impossible for me to ever dispose of them. It’s nice that they’re small because I can store them guilt-free. But now I don’t think that I need to store them anymore. There is a perfect use for them thanks to one of my favorite magazines, Ready Made.

I think this lamp idea is great. Can you imagine how nicely the thick plastic mounts will hang?

So for now, I will hang on to my stack of obsolete slides. Someday I will get around to this project and give my slides a chance at a second function.