Category Archives: Social Networking

What is Pinterest?

On Facebook the other day, a friend posted “Okay, I’m just going to admit it. I have *no idea* what Pinterest is.”  I’m sure she isn’t the only one. So I thought I’d share my experience with Pinterest.

I think this sums it up best:

Ok, it’s really more than that. But it definitely helps fulfill my desire (need?) to hoard things. But the reason why I really love it is because it allows me to organize things that I find online. If you saw my recent post about my studio, you’ll understand my love of organizing. The way Pinterest works and the way my brain works definitely seem to go together. I have always had a problem with having a few dozen tabs open in my browser. Lots of cool photos, projects and articles that I wanted to do *something* with, but didn’t know what quite yet. When I finally started using Pinterest, it was a bit of an aha moment- this is what I had been waiting for!

But this still doesn’t tell you what Pinterest is. Pinterest is a visual pinboard. It’s a way to visually organize photos, links, articles, tutorials, etc… You make up your own categories and when you come across something online that you want to save for future reference, you can “pin” it to one of your boards. Or you can look thought Pinterest’s website (or app) to discover things that other people have been pinning.

So here is a photo of what my “boards” look like (just a few of them, really). If you click on any of these screen shots, it’ll take you to the page that you see. I have lots of pots pinned, as well as recipes, organizing tips and projects to do with kids.

One of the fun things that I’ve enjoyed is categorizing different types of pots that I’m interested in at the moment. It’s a little like putting together your own “500 mugs” book. And besides forms, decoration, etc…, I’m also thinking about the way pieces are photographed- what was it about it that grabbed me?

I also use it as a way to organize my thoughts for a project. I’ve been wanting to get some images on clay so I started collecting some different links to tutorials. I am such a visual person- this is the ideal way for me to save links.

I have also discovered through the Google Analytics of my website that about a third of the traffic to my blog actually come to my site from Pinterest! Whoa! I didn’t even realize that was happening. But since I write a lot of tutorials, it makes sense that a lot of my posts are pin-worthy. The one that you see pinned repeatedly below is from a blog post from 2007- How to: make a texture roller for clay. You can see why people are pinning things and from this pin I’ve noticed that in addition to clay folks liking the tutorial, also cake decorators using fondant, teachers using playdough, etc… are pinning it and sharing it on their blogs. It’s fun to be able to connect with people in other fields.

People also pin lots of photos of my pots from my website- but it just reminds me that I need to update my website in a big way and get my new work up there!

If you want to see if photos from your site have been pinned, copy and paste this into your browser and fill in your website here (no www or http): http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com/ . You might be surprised what pops up!

I do not have ads on my website so increased traffic does not equal anything directly financial. But I really like connecting with other makers out there. I know that people have found me via Pinterest and followed me to my Facebook page or my blog. And various websites have added links to my site and posts and that is really helpful for page rank on Google. Many people pin their own Etsy listings. I know that Pinterest used to frown upon that- but when I was looking through their Pin Etiquette, I couldn’t find mention of that anymore. My Etsy shop does not currently have any listings, so it hasn’t really been anything that I’ve have to think about one way or the other.

A couple of thoughts to make your photos/ pages more pinnable: name your photos well. It’s hard to do this retroactively, but you could start doing it from now on. A lot of times people will not edit the text that automatically pops up when they pin a photo. So think about what you want listed under a pin and make it descriptive. Use your name and/or website, and a description of what the photograph or the post/page is actually about. It’s a good idea in general because it’ll help people find you via Google.

The other thing that I have started to do recently because of Pinterest is write some text on the photo:

That way when someone pins a photo- my blog is given credit easily and when someone is looking back at their pins and trying to remember why they saved something, it is clear.

If you’re ready to get started, this page has some helpful info for you. I’d suggest you to install a “pin it” button on your bookmark bar. And if you have a blog or website, you can follow the previous link and get the details on how to add a Pin button to your site. When you do start pinning, make sure that you give credit to the original source. If you’re pinning a specific blog post, don’t just pin the entire website. Or a Google image search or a Tumblr blog. If might take an extra minute to track down the original source, but I think it makes the entire user experience better. I try to check out the original sources when I repin something.

Pinterest also has a social aspect to it. You can ‘follow’ friends and see what they are pinning. Or if you like a board that you stumble across, you might want to follow them to see future interesting pins that they come across. Everyone seems to use Pinterest a little bit differently. I love the way that my sister, Nora uses it to explore color or the imagery that my dad, Jim is drawn to.

So that is Pinterest summed up for you. Be warned – it can be a big time sink! But I think it’s a pretty fun and useful one. Enjoy!

the not so long lost blogger

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Nearly two years, to be exact. It’s funny, because even though it’s been that long, I still consider myself a blogger. I finally decided that I should just dive back in and write. I’ll fill in some of the blanks now, but some of them later. If I tried to fit 2 years into a single post, it just wouldn’t happen. Actually, that has been part of the problem. So I will mostly go ahead as though my last post was just a few days ago. Thanks for still being around to read this.

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My time in my studio has been quite regular lately.  I haven’t been the most prolific potter (more on that later). I still feel like I’m finding my way in a new world (porcelain…oxidation…electric kiln…new glazes…). But I am also loving the feeling like everything I do is a choice. There are no default answers. I’m trying to really let myself be in that moment for a while.

Mostly I have been on the wheel, but I have been venturing off a bit lately to do some handbuilding. I’ve been trying to keep the timing of things pretty reasonable, not throwing more than I can trim/handle/decorate in a timely manner. Sometimes the pace of handbuilding fits right into that schedule.

I can’t seem to make too many mugs. I can make mugs for months and still manage to not have any in stock. So I make more…. I am not complaining at all. I absolutely love mugs. Making them and using them.

I seem to be stockpiling bisque right now. When it’s time to glaze, I really take over my whole studio (who doesn’t?). So I decided that for this round I will have enough for 2-3 glaze kilns full of work. I am also working on some decals for some of my pieces. So when the time comes for that, I can focus my energy there.

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I know that one of the reasons why I still feel like a blogger is because of Facebook. I have been keeping up my Emily Murphy Facebook page pretty regularly with updates, photos and sharing things that I think you might find interesting. And it’s been a great way to have a dialog with other potters, bloggers and lovers of clay. I have really appreciated this outlet over the past few years. Facebook has been making changes lately to try to get people with professional pages like this to pay to have our content reach more than a handful of people. I know that I can’t see myself being able to pay for that, so I’m hoping that you’ll try to work around the system a bit. There are a couple of ways that you can make sure that you’re getting updates from pages like mine. One is that when you “like” a page, you have to make sure that it also has the “show in News Feed” setting (see image below)

The other way is to interact with the page. The more you “like” or comment on something, the more likely it is going to show up in your newsfeed. And a bonus is that it makes things more fun for everyone! Part of what prompted me to resume blogging is because this reminded me that blogging is a better way to make sure you’re reaching people who want to be reached. And for having content that is archived and searchable. For me… for now… there isn’t going to be one outlet or the other. I’m going to keep blogging and keep updating things on Facebook. And I hope that you’ll come with!

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And on a personal note…

This is my daughter, Ada. She was born on April 9, 2011 and has been the most amazing distraction from writing, making pots… sleeping.  (although now she is a champion sleeper, hence the time back in the studio and on the computer…)

Is it ok if I add one more?

Me and my girl

 

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…

Studio work table

The last table for my studio was finished this week. It can be wheeled back and forth between the glaze room and the throwing room depending on what I’m working on. I designed it with a fairly large overhang so it’s comfortable to work at. I hate sitting at studio tables when you can’t really sit at it with your legs under the table. Storage is good, but not at the expense of a comfortable working space.

The top of the table is covered in canvas. If you’ve never stretched canvas before, here’s a little tutorial on how to do it.  It’s something that I learned how to do from my dad, who is a painter. It’s basically the same process of stretching a canvas for painting, but on a solid surface, like plywood. If it’s not stretched right, it will be really annoying to work on. One thing that I do that’s a little different from the paint canvas technique is I wet the canvas down with a sponge. It makes it a little easier to stretch and you’ll end up with a tighter fit. I usually buy my canvas at an art supply store, but during one of the discussions on Facebook, someone suggested getting a canvas drop cloth from the painting department at Home Depot. It has a coarser texture, but a good price if the size works for you. It’s an interesting idea.

pottery-studio-table

When I was shopping around for really good locking casters for the table, Kristin Kieffer suggested that I get casters from Caster City. So I ordered up 4 for the table and they’re great! When you’re shopping around for casters for a table like this, make sure you get dual locking casters. It’s really solid enough that you can wedge on it.

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You might have seen my post last week about my built in trimming splash pan. I asked for photos or links to other DIY splash pans and Ben Stark shared a post with me that he had written a while back. So here’s another splash pan idea, courtesy of Ben Stark Pottery:

ben-stark

Make sure you look at the original post. The way he designed it to be removable and slide on and off the wheel is pretty genius! If you have any projects that you’ve done at your studio, send me photos or links! I love this stuff! Just send an email to: emily (at) emilymurphy.com or post a comment on any blog post and I’ll see it. Thanks for sharing Ben!

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The next project that I’m working on (and will be blogging about shortly) is a new photo taking set-up. I’m really excited about it- and excited to share it. In the age of digital cameras and Etsy, it’s something that we all want to have. I’ve been designing my set up for years, but never had a good place to actually build it. When I took an informal poll f potters about what they wished they had in their studio that they didn’t have, a photo taking set-up was top on the list. Part of the light diffuser that I built is made out of PVC. Last week Miri, over at Nick and Miri’s PR Prattle had some fun ideas about PVC including this get dolly for kiln shelves (photo below). The Rincon Facebook Fan Page had some more ideas too. I love the description of PVC being tinker toys for adults.  ha!

kiln-shelf-storage1

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A couple of weeks ago, I was catching up with some shows on Tivo, and something caught my eye. It looked like the character, Angela, on the show Bones, was wearing one of my pendants. I have no idea if it really is, but when I look at it, my reaction is: Hey! That’s one of mine!  It’s a simple design that is not unusual, but the coloration and the knotting of it makes me feel like there is no question. If it is, it’s one of the larger sizes, stoneware with tile 6 slip, a very light spray of a copper glaze around the center. Anyway, it’s fun to think that one of my pieces ended up on a show that I love. A few years back I had some large bottles and platters in the show “Dream Home” on HGTV. A producer borrowed some pieces for the season finale. I wish I had some screen shots from that show!

After I finish my photo set-up, I’ll have some more pendants up on Etsy in the next couple of weeks. My shop’s been empty for a long time. Time to dust it off!

angela-bones

Become a fan on Facebook.

One of the best parts of writing this blog is connecting with other people.  When I first began writing it 5 and a half years ago, I had no idea that it could be such a back and forth dialog. I created a Fan Page on Facebook  to help continue the conversation! I just started the fan page this weekend, and it’s been a great start of a conversation. I’ll be using this page to share what I’m doing on a day to day basis in the studio and I’ll ask for advice and try to have an ongoing conversation with the group. I hope you’ll join in!

facebook-fan-emily-murphy-pottery


And you can still find me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/potteryblog

If you have a pottery fan page on Facebook, or if you’re on Twitter, leave a comment with a link to your page.

tweet tweet! potteryblog is now on Twitter

I signed up for Twitter this week.  If you Twitter, you can find me at potteryblog.

If you don’t Twitter and you’re not really sure what it is, I’ll let my friend Julie explain it:

Twitter is a microblogging platform. Small blogs. Really small. Basically, you have 140 characters to answer the Twitter question “What are you doing?” If you are a Facebook user, it is somewhat similar in format to the status update that you give on your page. If you are a blogger, it is similar to your blog but only SUPER short. You can share photos, links, information, and updates.

With Twitter though, you can also converse. You can reply to people’s postings, repost (called a retweet or RT) a post that you find interesting, and send direct messages to people. You can ask questions, start threads, and have discussions. Twitter does not need to be a static update list. It can be a dynamic conversation.

potteryblog-twitter

My plan for Twitter is to use it for short updates about the glamorous day to day life of a potter. What I’m making in the studio, business stuff, blogging and website updates, etc… You’ll be able to find these little updates in column on the right side of this blog.  I wish I was better at actually writing full posts about what I’m up to each day, but I just haven’t been able to pull it off.   I’ll just leave that to Ron!

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:

Resources for Soda Firing

I thought that it would be fun to try to round up as many online resources for folks who are interested in soda firing and put it together into one handy post. Since there isn’t that much publish (relatively speaking), I think it has the possibility of being relatively comprehensive. I hope you enjoy reading the results of my research as much as I did!

Online Soda Groups:

Salt/Soda Firing Discussion Group

You might remember this site that is all about Salt and Soda firing that I wrote about a while back. It’s a social networking site for all people interested in these firing processes. There are some fantastic potters and sculptors that are a part of this site as well as students who are just beginning to dabbling in soda. I highly encourage you to dive in- sign up and make a page. The more the merrier (don’t be shy if you’re just beginning in soda!) There are recipes for slips and glazes as well as a forum for putting questions out there. Are you thinking about converting an old electric kiln into a soda kiln? There’s a discussion going on here for you. And this site is always evolving- it’ll be whatever the members make it.

Salt & Soda tags on the ClayArt archives on Potters.org. It’s worth digging into. It’s quite possible that someone else had the same exact question as you 8 months ago.

Blogs that focus on soda firing:
(I had to draw a line somewhere… so I drew it at soda firing bloggers. If I’m missing any, please let me know!)

Of course there is this blog, PotteryBlog.com. About 95% of my pots are soda fired, and I try to share with you interesting soda information. Soon I’ll be posting a whole bunch of information about the use of whiting in my soda mix (the soda geeks will be psyched for this one!)
Here are some posts that you might find extra interesting if you’re a soda firing fool:
What is Soda Firing
A Happy Soda Firing
Hot Pots 

Julie Rozman, a fellow Lillstreeter, also writes a blog, Design Realized. She shares a lot of her glaze testing and firing info on her site. You should be sure to check it out!

Scott Cooper makes beautiful wood & soda fired pots. He also writes about his work and process in his journal, This Week @ St. Earth. You should also be sure to check out his “process” page where he has tons of information that is interesting and helpful.

 

Keith Kreeger makes salt/soda fired pots at his studio/gallery on Cape Code (although he has been venturing into earthenware lately). You can learn more about his soda work on his blog, Kreeger Pottery Blog.

I just discovered Joy Tanner’s Blog. I’ve gotten to know Joy’s work through the Salt/Soda group and I’ve excited that there is another soda firer writing a blog!

Websites that have a wealth of soda info on them:
(These are sites that have information on them about soda firing- kiln info, recipes, etc…)

  • Julia Galloway’s Alchemy page. Julia generously shares with her information on cone 6 soda firing, including slip and glaze recipes.
  • Scott Cooper (as mentioned above) has a great process page with tons of information on kiln building, glaze recipes and even clay recipes. Not to mention some beautiful pots!
  • Robbie Lobell makes beautiful, elegant soda fired ovenware and tableware. He has a page on his site about his kiln and soda firing process. He lives in Coupeville, WA mentions on his site that he will rent out 1/4, 1/2 or the whole kiln to experienced firers.

Books on Soda Firing:

Soda, Clay and Fire by Gail Nichols is a must have for anyone interested in firing with soda. This book is the culmination of Gail’s PhD work in soda firing in Material Science at Monash University in Gippland, Victoria, Austrailia. The research is incredible and it’s an easy read. Two things that don’t always go together so easily. I think if you picked up this book knowing clay, but not knowing soda, you might decide that you need to start soda firing by the end. But I’m a bit biased on these things. You can also learn a bit more about this book here.

Ruthanne Tudball’s book, Soda Glazing is the original text on soda firing. There has been so little actually published on soda (especially in comparison to other firing techniques) because of the youthfulness of the process. This is a book that I kept close to me for many years. There are overviews of different potters and their soda approaches as well as a great index of glaze, slip and clay recipes. Again, this is a book that you need to have on your bookshelf if you’re making soda fired work.

Online articles about soda firing:

Videos about soda firing:
(if you’re reading this through your email or a blog reader, you’ll won’t see the videos below. Just head over to Pottery Blog to see the videos)

From Pottery Northwest:


And a series of 3 informative videos from
Jeffrey Huebner:



I really have enjoyed this. Please send me links to things that you think might be missing from here and I’ll keep updating this post. This was a big project and I had to put some sort of limits on it. I decided not to include links to soda firing potters & sculptors in this post. I know that there a ton out there with great websites, but I thought I’d limit it to sites that had technical information on it. Another post will be soda firing ceramicists. That will be fun ; ) If you want to give me a hand with that, just leave a comment with suggestions for me to include. Just remember: folks who fire with*soda* or *soda/salt,* but not just salt.

PotteryBlog.com on Facebook

There is a new blog networks application on Facebook where you can add your blog and create a network around your blog. So I’ve decided to give it a try with PotteryBlog.com. If you’re a Facebooker, check it out and join the Pottery Blog network:

You have to be on Facebook to join the network or see this page. 

 

I’m not sure exactly what will come of this, but it seems like it could be interesting. It could add an interesting layer of community to the clay blogging world, connecting all of us on another level. Also, Michael Kline’s fantastic blog, Sawdust and Dirt also has a network page. See you on Facebook!

Updates(!):
More pottery blogs on Facebook: Mary Anne Davis: Modern Table Art, Anne Webb: Webb Pottery Studio, Cheryl Alena Bartram: Dragonfly Clay

If you know of other pottery blogs on Facebook, let me know!

Salt/ Soda Discussion Group

At NCECA I attended a discussion group that has carried on past Pittsburgh and is leading to some interesting post-conference disussions. At this year’s conference, the discussion group, Salt Firing Verses Soda Firing was led by Joyce Centofanti. One of the other attendees, David Hayashida, came up with the great idea creating an email list so we could continue our discussion and share recipes and techniques after we returned home. David put the list together and there was instantly a lot of information being passed around. Another participant, Pamela Theis, decided to take it one step further and create an Ning group (an social network site) that will allow us to continue to connect with each other, but to invite others out there who weren’t a part of the original group to add to the discussion.
So, if you’re interested in salt firing or soda firing, or even a hybrid, join the group and join in the conversation! It just began a couple of days ago, so we’re really just getting started.

Join the group Salt/Soda Firing 

I’ve been playing around on the site and found that you can upload photos and create this little slide show creator that you see below:

Find more photos like this on Salt/Soda Firing 

This is my page on the Salt/Soda Firing site, if you’re interested in seeing what you can do. I’m excited about the possibilities with this group. Soda firing is still relatively new so I think that a group like this that will allow us to share, trouble shoot and brainstorm can have a big impact. I hope you join us!