Studio Interlude

Don’t do these posts often, but I just wanted to give some proof that I occasionally actually make pots. Its not all running my mouth over here at CGPottery.

Anyway, these are some bowls I need for the wedding registry of my friends Josh and Erin. They need 12, so of course I went ahead and made 32. Just to be safe, right?

Got the feet all trimmed in early this morning, and maybe it was a good thing I made so many. Those first few feet were pretty sloppy. Not in a good way, mind you. I am drying them right side up for now because the rims are still a bit soft and all have a nice undulating distortion from where I picked them up off the wheel.

Here is my other studio project:

assorted woodfired bud vases

Once upon a time when I was a participating member of the woodkiln out in Farmington GA I made all these filler pots to fit around the bigger pieces on the shelves. They were pretty much throw away pieces in that I could never sell a single one but kept on making them. Back in those days I sometimes gave myself the warm-up exercise of using my first three lumps of clay to make these bottles. I found it was a nice way to get in the groove for throwing more ambitious pots. No risk and fun to do. Pretty much just me playing around with the clay as casually as I felt like.

So last week I dusted a bunch of these off and put water in them to see how many actually held water. Turns out two of my favorites leaked…. My plan is to see if the restaurant that just opened around the corner from my house can use them for flowers for their tables. Maybe these are a bit ‘arty’ but right now they are using mason jars for the flowers. They need an upgrade, and I would almost give them for free. Maybe I will…. The owner is one of my former students, so I know she will at least talk to me about it. Otherwise, back to collecting dust in the studio. I can’t picture them selling on etsy, but you never know….


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
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12 Responses to Studio Interlude

  1. Scott Cooper says:

    Nice to see you going overkill in the clay, too. 32 bowls… Holy cow!

    I like the undulating rim; will you flip them over onto foam or bubble wrap at some point, to even out the drying?

  2. Overkill in the clay defines me! My secret motto is “If its worth doing its worth doing too much”. Or, “If you can’t get it right get a lot”.

    Damn! Foam sounds like a great idea! I should have been stockpiling foam all these years. That makes just too much sense. Oops, except for the storage issues. And that my little uninvited guest rodents seem to find most things soft and squishy. Maybe I can figure something out. The wheels are turning….

    The bowls have been drying under loose plastic since yesterday morning, and if they have set up a bit more I will turn them upside down on a few layers of news paper (another varmint attractor but easier to store and easy to replace). Usually two or three layers softens the surface up enough that it is fairly kind to the rims and the shapes. Can’t beat foam though. I trim them on a foam bat after all. Maybe I will head on over to the fabric store and see what they’ve got on hand. How thin would be too thin do you suppose? My budget won’t let the OKG out of the box on this one, unfortunately….

    Thanks for the tip!

    • Scott Cooper says:


      I’ve just sent you an advance copy of my new e-book, “Foam: History, Methodology & Meaning — A Potter’s Companion” (coming soon for Kindle, Nook and Apple eBook; $3.99). That should answer all your questions about this remarkable material.

      Well, OK. The real answer is that I mostly use 1/4″ bubble wrap instead. It’s fine enough to allow most irregularities to settle into it without hitting the hard surface below, and I double or triple it up as needed for heavier pots. Sometimes I use very thin (1/16″?) packing foam sheets, too — my wife uses it to wrap framed photographs. It’s handy to use the same stuff as for packing pots to ship.

      You’re right about the thicker foam, like the upholstery/stuffing kind (1/2″ green stuff?). Mice seem to love it for nests, plus it can get a little funky from absorbed moisture over time. 

      Sorry for ramblng on… Overkill with words defines me!

      • Good tips all! Thanks for the suggestions!

        Right now all my packing materials are recycled and repurposed things, like bubble envelopes from ordering DVD’s from Amazon. My tight budget won’t allow me to invest in new packing materials until I start to sell more stuff. If I only ship out a pot or two every month or so I can’t see committing to new bubble wrap or foam just for that. Maybe the 1/16″ will be affordable.

        Can’t wait for the book! And if overkill with words defines you, you kill us oh so sweetly and we die a pleasant and welcome death. And we die a lot smarter than we started out! Go TW@SE!

      • Scott Cooper says:

        Yeah, bubblewrap is stupid expensive, especially to have it shipped! I bought a big roll so I could stop sending out pots in junk with used tape and labels all over it — I hate the idea of that being the first impression of a new pot out of the box — but I know that’s kind of a luxury. A small roll to use in the studio is (relatively) cheap, and could be had locally. I find it comes it handy quite often.

        • Cool! Yeah, part of me hates that first impression my packaging gives. But as you say, changing it up may be a luxury. I will see how the small roll looks for my budget, but still worry it won’t change the impression if it is still being sent in reused boxes from the local grocery! Maybe I should just wait and do the changeover all at once? Storing boxes is my other varmint issue. Last winter I went up into the studio attic only to discover over 2/3 of all my collected packing supplies had been ruined. Ugh!

      • Scott Cooper says:

        Yes, it makes sense to me to go all new or all used with packaging. The only thing I studiously avoid with used is an outer box that’s beat up — I hear that UPS can reject a damage claim if it’s not in good shape to begin with.

        And I agree that storing packaging is a necessary evil, especially since I only ship sporadically, too. I always double-box, and finally got so tired of hunting through the pile for two boxes that both fit the pot and nested well that I ordered a bunch of new ones from U-line. Packing is much easier now, but using valuable studio real estate to store piles of cardboard is kind of a waste. At least it lets me drive past a dumpster without feeling obligated to get out and see what’s in there!

        • Hah! I can almost never get past a dumpster without feeling that pull. Years ago a friend and I used to mark our calenders for the dates when students moved out of apartments and dorms to make a several day excursion around the city. Never found any decent pottery, but some of the stuff being dumped was just crazy! Rich kids with no conception of money…. That all was probably too revealing, but what fun is it without a little self mocking and autoflagellation?

      • Scott Cooper says:

        Too bad you didn’t specialize in Diogenes, so you’d have a reasonable cover excuse. Heck, you probably wouldn’t even need one — I bet you run into all the former philosophers down on dumpster alley!

        • OMG that is so true its hilarious! My main partners in crime were both students of mine when I was a teaching assistant in Philo. But I can’t say it was my inspiration. I have to give them both the credit (blame) for steering me in that direction. And of course there were other notorious philosophers scrounging in the bins at that time. I would say that not only was the Philosophy department well represented in dumpster diving, we probably were the outstanding force behind its ‘popularity’. What a laugh!!!!

  3. Ron Philbeck says:

    I sometimes fold up some towels to rest things like this on. I only have a few pieces of foam.

    I remember seeing all those bud vases. There were A LOT of them. Good idea about the restaurant.

    You could try them on Esty as sort of a low end item. Or a special buy one get one free? They are nice pots.

    • Thanks Ron!

      Somehow this comment slipped onto the blog without me noticing it 3 days ago. Oops!

      I also use towels in emergency situations. A great multi-purpose back-up plan for sure. I always have towels hanging about….

      I will probably head on down to the restaurant this weekend, so I might be able to gauge the interest then. Yeah, etsy. I just posted a gas fired little bud vase yesterday. Looked nice with dried grasses arranged in it. I think only 3 people looked at it all day, so I’m not sure what to expect. I just searched etsy under “bud vases” and saw a small wood fired one listed for $125 just a few hours ago. It had 97 views already (probably relisted) but then again, the artist has yet to complete a transaction on etsy. If he gets his price I would be amazed.

      Buy one get one free sounds interesting, but I’m not sure how to go about doing that on etsy. Is that something you’ve tried before?

      Thanks for the ideas!

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