Category Archives: Potters and Sculptors

Macarons

I woke up from a dream this morning with the realization that my current glaze pallet is similar to that of colorful macarons.  Inspiration in retrospect? I’ve been thinking a lot about naming my glazes with better names.  In my studio they are named in a very utilitarian way: name of base glaze + colorant.  And for Etsy, I use descriptive words like “tomato red” and “creamy yellow.” I would like to come up with glaze names that are both descriptive and can stand alone.  If I start doing some custom orders,   I’ll want to have glaze chips where the color can be easily picked out.  So all of this was on my mind when I had this dream about macarons.

Colorful macarons:
colorful macarons

Some of my glazes:
collage of colors

So now I am thinking about food flavors as names of glazes: pistachio, tangerine, lavender, caramel, mango, lemon, red velvet, mint, raspberry, apricot, maple, gingerbread, pineapple…. to name a few.   I still have to ponder all of this, but I am thankful to my dream this morning for helping me think through this!


If you’re a maker, I highly suggest that you enroll in the e-course/ lecture series THINK BIG! by Molly Hatch and Ben Carter. I’m loving it and I’m feeling really energized by it! It’s a 6 week series, but you can start any time and progress at your own pace. Join us!

Trailer: THINK BIG! A branding series for ceramic artists from Molly Hatch on Vimeo.


I’m getting back into the world of blogging, but you can also always find me in these places:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/emilymurphypottery
Etsy:  https://www.emilymurphy.etsy.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/potteryblog
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/potteryblog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/potteryblog
Website: http://emilymurphy.com/

inspired!

One of the best things about living in Minneapolis is the incredible clay community here. It’s not a coincidence that we ended up living here! Every September the Northern Clay Center puts on the American Pottery Festival. It’s a weekend full of pottery: an amazing exhibition (featuring over 1200 pots by 23 ceramic artists!), demonstrations, slide lectures, panel discussions and lots of fun talking shop with all the potters there!

One of the highlights for me was (finally!) meeting Michael Kline in person. We’ve been communicating through our blogs, email, Facebook, and even a phone call from back in 2006 (yes- both our blogs go back that far and then some!). So it really was about time to connect in person.

I had intended to photograph much more of the show than I did, but I was too caught up the the moment didn’t end up taking very many photos. There is really nothing like seeing pots in person! Here is one that I did take of Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish of Bandana Pottery‘s work. They weren’t up for the festival this weekend, but they were in town in May for the Upper Saint Croix River Valley Studio Tour.

I wish I had taken some photos of Birdie Boone‘s work or Kip O’Krongley or Sunshine Cobb to name a few. You should check out their pots!

The Northern Clay Center did a great job at getting the demos from the weekend online quickly. This video of Michael Kline and Steven Colby demonstrating their surface decoration techniques was up by the time I got home! It’s great to see Michael do his brushwork. And I have never seen anyone approach glazing the way that Steven does!

Another APF artist that demonstrated was Chandra DeBuse. I wasn’t familiar with her work before- but now I’m a huge fan! If you watch this video of her showing her handbuilding techniques- I guarantee that you’ll learn something new!

I don’t think there is a video of Kathy King- but if you ever have a chance to see her, go! She showed a variety printmaking and image transfer techniques. I have so many things that I need to try now.

A bonus to the clay filled weekend was a visit to my home and studio on Monday by Michael. It was fun totally geeking out – talking about blogging, pots, family and trying to balance all of them. We traded pots too. The chunky dish on the right is now lives in Minneapolis and the mug on the left is headed back to North Carolina with Michael.

I’m now overflowing with inspiration now. I have so many things that I want to work on right now.  I’m back into the studio and I’ve started filling all the horizontal surfaces up with pots again!

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I just had to share this photo that I took photo of my *fabulous* daughter this morning. She’s quite a character and definitely an inspiration!


Studio Potter Newsletter: A New Community of Potters

Studio Potter has a monthly newsletter! The amazing Molly Hatch (I seriously covet her work…) is the editor and she asked me to write something for it inspired by the theme of their upcoming issue: “Boundaries and the Digital World.” Studio Potter Magazine played a big part of getting me hooked on clay. There was always a stack of back issues in my college clay studio and was excited to be a part of this. I’m sharing what I wrote below, but don’t miss out on their next newsletter. It’s free to subscribe and only takes a minute. Even better, subscribe to this wonderful journal. You’ll read every issue cover to cover and will be left wishing it came out more than twice a year.

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From the new Studio Potter Newsletter:

This month we are excited to include a mini article from potter blogger Emily Murphy. Emily chose to write about her experience as a blogger which is a great preview to the ucoming isse: BOUNDARIES & The Digital World We encourage you to write in with your own thoughts on past or current themes from issues of SP. We would really like to hear what YOU are thinking!

A New Community of Potters

By Emily Murphy

In the past year, I have gone through a lot of life changes. Exciting but disruptive. After 10 years of living in Chicago and being part of the large, vibrant community of artists at Lillstreet Art Center, I moved to a new city, Minneapolis, bought a house and did a top to bottom renovation, built a studio, got married. One of the scariest parts of moving was leaving an incredible community of artists that I worked with on a daily basis. Lillstreet was the place where I taught classes, it was my social outlet, and it was a huge part of my professional identity. It was also how I sold the majority of my work.

Now I have a studio in my basement. A really wonderful studio, but there are no studio mates outside my door to ask for help when a kiln is acting up, borrow a pound of feldspar from or to have a coffee break with. And I definitely don’t have customers wandering through.

But, surprisingly, I don’t feel alone, I’m still in the presence of a large community of potters. When I needed help figuring out what kind of exhaust fan to get for my the spray booth I’m building, I have people to ask. When I’m asked to be in a show or had an image that was accepted to be published in a book, I have colleagues to share in my excitement. While I’m still without a kiln, I have people offering up space in their kilns so I can fire my work.

This is all because of the online community of potters that I have gotten to know over the years. I have been writing my Pottery Blog for nearly 7 years. More recently, I started a Facebook Fan Page to share more of the day to day thoughts, questions, events and interesting links. When I write, I try to put my truest self out there. Successes along with failures. Lots of technical information with a more personal side mixed throughout. The community of potters that I have come to think of as “my community” has grown and evolved over the years. We have daily interactions. Advice is shared and critiques are given back and forth. I recently posted a question on my page asking people what they think “success” means in the pottery world, and within a couple of hours got a dozen thought provoking responses. I had my afternoon coffee break while reading what others wrote, and sharing my own thoughts. When I don’t post to my blog for a while, I usually get some emails or even a phone call from people who I’ve never met before just checking in to make sure that I’m still out there.

But it’s not confined to the virtual world, it’s has spilled over into daily life too. I’ve been visiting studios, having coffee and firing kilns with new pottery blog writing and reading friends. Many times when I meet someone in person that I’ve been writing with back and forth for years, the meeting starts with a hug and it feels like I’m spending time with an old friend.

It’s easy online to present just one facet of yourself: to look like a professional, an artist, to use fancy language and to edit everything so it’s just right. But if you do you won’t find a community, you’ll just have a “presence”. Everyone talks about going overboard in putting yourself out there (the cliche “In line to get coffee” update) but the opposite is also true — you need to also get personal, to be off-topic sometimes, and if you don’t make mistakes sometimes then you aren’t doing it right. If you over share, or put out boring updates, or use language that is so casual as to be confusing, then be reflective and recognize and adjust; but don’t worry too much about exploring those boundaries. When you put yourself out there, you’re more likely to find a community.

Emily Murphy is a potter and blogger living in Minneapolis, MN. You can see more of her work on her website: http://emilymurphy.com/ or read more of her writing on her blog: http://potteryblog.com/

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Here’s a peak at Molly’s work. You can see why I covet thee…

New cups, and updates in the clay blogging world

Here are some cups that I’ve been working on…

This is just a little peak at what I’ve been working on. I am making a bunch of tea bowls that will be given as gifts/favors at our wedding celebration this summer. It’s fun to think about these pieces going out to our families and friends all toasting out of these cups, then bringing them home as reminders of the celebration. Ian’s been having fun decorating some of the cups too.  If I could just give away all the pieces that I make, I would be a very happy potter! But it’s not such a great business model… But I’m so happy to have the excuse to give a slew of pots away this summer!

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Here are some more updates, and things that I’ve been thinking about lately…

I was lucky enough to be invited to join in on the first firing of Donovan Palmquist and Colleen Riley’s new wood kiln this weekend. Below are some of the pots that I had in the firing. I’ll share with you the finished pieces when they’re out of the kiln! It’s really amazing to be in Minnesota. There are so many amazing potters here- and I’m having so much fun meeting new clay folks every week!

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There’s a new blogger around. Actually, there are quite a few!  But I wanted to share with you Marcia Tani Paul’s new blog, Ceramic Arts: Clay, Food and More… Marcia is one of the many Minnesota potters that I’ve been lucky to meet. Take a look, and be prepared to be hungry!

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Congratulations to Michael Kline and his 1000th post on his blog, Sawdust and Dirt! Talk about prolific! Michael’s been such a great contributor to the clay blogging community- I’m looking forward to the next 1000 posts!

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I’ve been making a ton of cups in my studio over the past couple of months. You might have seen some of them in my last blog post. In the middle of cup making expedition, this Sequoia Miller wrote this great blog post about cups. It was a very timely read. This sweet jar of Sequoia’s is a cousin to one of his jars that I’m lucky to have in my collection.

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Since I’m talking about blogs…

As you know, I have a big list of clay blogs that I subscribe to and enjoy reading while eating my steel cut oats every morning. I want to ask for a bit of help from you guys out there. Let me know if there are any blogs missing, and also if there are any that are defunct on my list. It’s time for an update! Just leave a comment below, or a note on my Facebook Fan Page, or send me an email. If you’re interested in setting up a blog reader with clay blogs to read over your morning coffee, I have directions on how to do it on my blogroll.

A couple of reminder notes about my list. I have to keep the list limited in some way- so I only include clay blogs, and mostly pottery blogs at that. And I try to limit them to ones that have mostly clay content. And it needs to have original content- not only Etsy listings or sale updates.

If you want a really complete list of blogs, check out the really complete list over at Slipcast, The Ceramics Blog.  It’s impressive!

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I have some more things I’ve been wanted to share with all of you, but I think I’ll call it tonight and write another post tomorrow. Until then…

Do you have a woodkiln?

Do you have a woodkiln? Simon Levin is building a map of woodkilns from around the world. It’s a searchable database.  What an amazing resource this is going to be!  Help out by submitting your kiln or passing this onto someone you know who has a wood kiln.   
fullscreen-capture-4272009-104007-pm

For privacy reasons only post kilns submitted by the owner’s of those kilns will be added.

If you would like to add your kiln to the database: Please email Simon Levin, simon@woodfire.com with the following information: 

  • Type of kiln
  • Size in cubic feet
  • Street address and zip code
  • Any information as to what the kiln building looks like, ex: green roof or to the east of the house
  • Contact name and information
  • Any website you want linked to the information

This would be a great thing to do for soda kilns too…maybe after I move…

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Another great project that Simon has been working on is The Studio Potter Collector Card Series. Its a fundraiser for my favorite journal: The Studio Potter. This is the first in a series of 3 packs of 11 and includes MVP’s and Rookies :)

potter-cards

 

A semi-complete tour of pottery blogs, part 6

This post is a version of my new blogroll which can be found on one of the top tabs on the new site. It was way too big to list in the side bar of the site so I gave it it’s own page.  After a lot of work (and a little  lot of help), I was able to create thumbnail snapshots of the blogs to break up the very long list and add a little visual interest.  The blogroll that is on the top tab is connected to my blog reader, so it updates whenever I add or subtract a blog automatically.

In addition to writing this pottery blog, I also am an avid reader of clay focused blogs written by other ceramic artists. There are more than 100 blogs on my blogroll that I read daily through a blog reader. (I really do read all of these blogs listed!) It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you’re caught up, it’s so nice to start your day catching up with potters from around the world.

At the bottom of this list you’ll find directions for connecting this list to your blog reader so you can read them regularly too.  Because this list could be endless without some restrictions, I do have some perimeters  for the blogs here- they need to be mostly about clay, have original content and are updated semi-regularly. This is not a complete list (I did title this as semi-complete). I “discover” new blogs every week and wonder how I possibly could have missed them before. Let me know if I’m missing anything!

 

There is no way that I could remember to check in with these blogs on my own, so I use the blog reader, Google Reader, to subscribe to these blogs. Instead of visiting all the sites, the newest posts are compiled into the reader automatically and keeps track of the unread ones, etc… It’s very easy to set up (really…it is!).
If you’re interested in subscribing to my list (above), and you’re using Google Reader, just follow these simple steps.

  1. Login to Google Reader
  2. Click on this link and “save file”:http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user/15666827403315601321/label/public
  3. Figure out where the downloaded file is located. (for PC users) Right click on the download and click on “open folder containing.” That will tell you where the downloaded file is located
  4. Click on “Manage Subscriptions”
  5. Click on “Import/Export”
  6. Click on”Browse” and locate the downloaded file.
  7. Click Upload and then start reading! You’ll be overwhelmed with posts to read at first, but once you get caught up, it’s quite manageable :)

You can always use this as a starting point and add and subtract subscriptions from this list to suit your interests.

And if you’re overwhelmed by the number of posts that appear in your blog reader, you can always “mark all as read” and start reading from that point forward.

Enjoy!

American Mug – Facebook Application

There’s a new way to share handmade pottery with your friends: American Mug. Simon Levin, created a cool Facbook application where you can share a mug with your Facebook friends made by an American potter. They’re not actual mugs, just an image of a real mug. Simon says: “You will be sorely disappointed if you try and fill them with coffee.” If haven’t tried that yet, but I’m guessing that he’s right on that one.

This is what it looks like (you might recognize some of the mugs):

If you’re on Facebook, just follow this link, and start sharing some pottery love.

And for some more virtual pottery sharing, here are some images of Simon‘s work:

Obamaware!

Ayumi Horie‘s Obama/ Biden fundraiser: Obamaware is live on Ebay. Bidding is open until Wednesday evening, but there is a “Buy it Now” option available if you don’t want to play the bidding game.

For more information on this fundraiser, I highly suggest reading this essay by Sarah Archer: Kitchen Table Politics: ‘Obamaware’ Campaigns for Change, One Mug at a Time

This is the one that is coming to my house to live:

Analyzing your Blog or Website

A brief follow up:

First of all, I want to thank everyone for the incredible response to this week’s posts, especially the overwhelming response to the Search Engine Optimization post. There is some great energy happening around the clay blogs this week- conversations starting had by commenting back and forth, linking and sharing of one another’s posts, and lots changes being made on the pottery blogs to improve search results. I’m so glad that it’s been useful and may have sparked the interest of some of you out there!

I have gotten several questions on why I am planning on making the switch from Blogger to WordPress. Luckily, Cynitha of Colorado Art Studio just happened to write this fantastic post today that just happens to answer this exact question in it. She made the switch a little while ago. It’s also a must read article if you were at all interested in my post earlier this week about SEO. I know it’s all a bit overwhelming, but you just need to jump in and start chipping away. (I’m reminding myself of this too.) One part of Cynthia’s answer that isn’t quite the same for me is that she was switching from a .blogspot account to her own domain so some of the growing pains won’t be the same for me since I am already using my own domain name (that will only really make sense if you read her post).

Cynthia also shared this fantastic website for anyone who has a website or blog: websitegrader.com
It seems like a great tool for telling you what you’re doing right with your site, what you need to do and how you’re doing in comparison to similar sites.(It doesn’t tell you this, but you’re limited to 2 comparison sites at a time.) And you can go back and see how your improvements are working. It pointed out to me some meta tag and descriptions that I’m missing. Oops! When I make the switch over to WordPress, I will put some serious time and energy into improving my ‘grade’. I’m feeling really excited and anxious to make these changes now, but I’ll be patient…

I will go into depth about this whole change over process when it actually happens. We’re leaving in a couple of days for a big trip, so I’ve decided it would be best to wait until we get back to do it. I was having flashing of breaking something in the move, and then being out of the country for a couple of weeks and the blog being broken the whole time.

Good luck to all of you working on your blogs!

Tour of Clay Focused Blogs (semi-complete), part 5

I have once again updated my blogroll of clay focused blogs. It’s getting loooong. But I seriously do read all of these blogs. As I have mentioned before, I use a blog reader, Google Reader, to keep track of my subscriptions. I could never actually keep track of all of these without it. I also use Google Reader to create my blogroll over there in the side bar automatically. If you’re a blogger and you’d like to do this on your website, check out this tutorial. Or if you’re want to do it a different way, you can try this.

There are lots of updates in this list. I’ve removed some that haven’t been updated in 7-8 months+, plus added all sorts of goodies. Every week I’m finding new blogs. I’m often surprised when I come upon a ‘new’ blog that has actually been around for several month. Why didn’t I know about it? If I’m missing something, let me know!

86. That’s the number in the blog roll now:

I hope you dive into these clay blogs and find some that really speak to you. There are so many different perspectives and so much knowledge. I think you’ll never be bored again.

Since I’m a big advocate of using a feed reader, I will give you a reminder of how to set up this list in Google Reader:

If you’re interested in subscribing to my list, and you’re using Google Reader, just follow these simple steps.

  1. Login to Google Reader
  2. Click on this link and “save file”: http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user/15666827403315601321/label/public
  3. Figure out where the downloaded file is located. (for PC users) Right click on the download and click on “open folder containing.” That will tell you where the downloaded file is located
  4. Click on “Manage Subscriptions”
  5. Click on “Import/Export”
  6. Click on”Browse” and locate the downloaded file.
  7. Click Upload and then start reading! You’ll be overwhelmed with posts to read at first, but once you get caught up, it’s quite manageable :)You can always use this as a starting point and add and subtract subscriptions from this list to suit your interests.

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I forgot to mention this in my previous post about my new website. If you have a link to my website, would you mind updating it from sodafired.com to emilymurphy.com. And of course my blog address is potteryblog.com. Links are always appreciated :)

I hope you don’t mind my heavy posting this week. I’ve been traveling a lot this summer and I have been writing, but I haven’t always had the time to complete a thought, edit or ability to upload. So I have a back log of partial post. I’m leaving for Berlin and Amsterdam in less than a week and I want to try to get as many finished and posted as I have time for.