Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Etsy Listings

I added three new listings to the etsy shop; FirelusterPottery today. The top photo is called Super Star Necklace, and it's got my favorite butterscotch looking glaze with a ton of nice crackle glaze. It's strung on a brown rubber cord.

The second photo is Carved Porcelain Heart Necklace in porcelain. I like the way the glaze is transparent enough to emphasize the carving in the porcelain. This pendant has so much textural interest and charm. I love heart pendants of any kind, and the sideways heart is always popular.

The bottom photo is the Little Yellow Bird Handpainted Porcelain Necklace. I use the majolica style of decorating on this one. The bright glazes are painted over a base of white satin glaze. This makes the glazes sink into the white, giving the whole pendant a wonderfully soft look. Birds, and the color yellow are supposed to be popular this year. Well, we'll see. Maybe this little necklace will sell quickly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ceramic Bead Tutorial

I've been interested in making a tutorial for making ceramic beads, but after looking on the internet, I see there is already a wealth of information out there about bead making. So... for now, I'll just pass on this link to a wonderful page chock full of ceramic bead making tutorials. This site, Ceramic Bead Artists, has a nice collection of tutorials, artists, links and information about ceramic bead making.

I especially am interested in trying the slip trailing technique. This involves squeezing wet slip (clay mixed with water to a muddy consistency) onto wet or dry clay using a squeeze bottle or other tool for a relief effect.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fresh Hot Ceramic Beads

Here are my new beads that just came out of the kiln. This load has a nice selection of pendants as well. I made several Tiki Head beads that I want to make into pendants with sterling silver bails. I think those came out nice

In the photo above are a few of the pendants; hearts and odd shapes that I made. The circular one at the top is going to be filled with crushed glass and then fired again. I want to see how that comes out.
There are a nice selection of blue beads; a little irregularly shaped, but I like that. Too much uniformity makes me think it looks manufactured. I guess it's just a personal preference.

The Tiki Head beads were a lot of fun. I could make these all day long. The shino glazes that break along the high areas add so much too the look of these beads.I use a clay sculpting tool to press in the eyes and patterns into the clay.
Lots of great texture on these tube beads. I like the way the glaze broke and all the different colors that you see when you look closely; blues, lavender, brown, turquoise.

These are two large lentil beads that Imade from taking two of my pendants and pressing them together. It was a challenge to keep them from getting indented and firing was tough. I had to string the smaller one onto high temp wire because it wouldn't fit onto the mandrel. The large bead is massive, isn't it? I think someone will be excited by it. These were textured with a piece of cloth and until I saw them out of the kiln, I wasn't sure if I would like them. I think they are among my favorites. It's so cool to open the kiln and see what happened.

The green beads have some intense breaking and running of color. I pushed an X shape into the sides, but you can barely tell I did here. It gave the glaze a place to puddle, and that made it really look cool.

This is my workspace. What a mess! Check out the TV on the table. I could sit there for hours just making beads and watching Law and Order. Seriously, I think Law and Order is on 24 hours a day. If you look for it on your TV, I'm sure you'll find it.Finished pendants and beads. There are so many and I don't have a good system for storing them. Mostly, they sit here and I go through them and decide what to list on our etsy shop. Lots of these will be sorked up into finished jewelry.

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Kat, who is the winner of the contest this month for the free necklace from the Fireluster Pottery etsy shop. Kat can now go to our shop and pick out a necklace of her choice as her prize.

Yay, Kat!! Congratulations!

Be sure to check back in 2 weeks for the start of the July GiveAway!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden Bunny Handpainted Porcelain

I love making tiny plates. Something about a miniature version of an object is very appealing to me. I've made plates with handpainted rabbits before, and this one is the same size. On this one, though, the bunny is painted in a more detailed manner and I added a potted plant to tempt him.
You can see how small this little plate really is in comparison to my hand. It was a challenge to paint it in underglazes (on unfired clay), because underglazes in the unfired state are a different color, in most cases, than after firing. This meant I didn't really know exactly what I would get when it came out of the kiln. The clear glaze I put on top of the underglazes after the first firing really brought out the color.

Another challenge in making these small plates is making a nice, round plate, with no warping. I make all my plates from a slab that is slumped into a form, not thrown on the wheel. I have to dry my plates carefully so they stay perfectly round. Sometimes, they get a little wonky - but that's part of the handmade charm, I think.

I have this plate listed in our Etsy shop, Fireluster Pottery. This little plate would be nice to use as a place to hold your rings or other small treasures next to your sink or on your bedside table. It's also a perfect gift for someone who collects rabbits or miniatures.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Is that a misspelling? Yurt? Yart? Fart?
Actually, it's a large sale happening on Etsy - sort of a 'yard -art' sale. It started as sort of a grass roots kind of thing; one person had the idea, then another ran with it, and now there are over 200 participants.

Lot's of people are changing up their avatars to reflect the fact they are having the YART Sale.

Come on over to our Etsy shop and see what we have on sale. There are lots of cool pendants that I reduced. They'll go back to the regular price after the sale.

Monday, June 9, 2008

New Etsy Listings - Clay Carving!

I listed a few new necklaces on our Etsy shop, FirelusterPottery. These new pendants were made using a technique that I've been trying; clay carving. Some people call it clay lifting, and that's a very good description of what it is.
I use a tool, that has a sharp edge, to cut into the leatherhard clay, and lift it from the surface. Some lines I carve with a scalpel. When the clay dries, I fire it and apply glaze for the second firing.
The trick with this is getting the pattern correct the first time. There is no second chance to fix a boo-boo. You get what you get, and hopefully, you did it right the first time. I liked doing the carving, but there is a definite learning curve. I messed up a few until I got the hang of it. Now I have a couple of tricks that help me get it to come out right the first time.

The first picture is a pendant made from cone6 porcelain. The flower design is carved into the clay when it's leather hard. I love the glaze; a sort of buttery color I call butterscotch. It looks just like when you melt butter and caramelized sugar together. The second photo is of another porcelain pendant glazed with Coyote glazes in Crazed Copper and Archie's Base. Those two together make a wonderful combination. There's lots of nice crazing with some frothy looking light blue in there, too.

The last photo is a pendant made from stoneware. This stoneware is from Axner, and has a good amount of grog in it. That made it harder to carve, but also gives it a lot of texture and character. The glaze is a green shino. I like how the green breaks to brown in the thin areas.
This is a technique I want to explore further. I have many more pendants to list, and will be doing that soon. I have a few earmarked for use in necklaces that will use beads I made earlier. Keep a lookout in my etsy shop for more additions within the next week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tis the Season?

I know it's only June, but in a week or two, it'll be time for Mom and me to start making our Christmas items for holiday craft shows. Well, mom's got quite a following with some of the stores in Sedona she wholesales to. She makes these wonderful nativities in her southwestern style and has a line of angels and santas, too.

In fact, the angels were the first things that mom showed me how to make. I think hers still beat mine (she is just so good at them!), but mine are pretty sweet, just the same. All the angels we do are holding something in their arms; a Christmas tree, a candle, a doll, even a cat or dog for the pet lovers. It's the most fun to think up something that the angel could be holding. I think we spend too much time on them for the amount we are charging , and might have to think of an increase. They just require so much time and are easily broken in the fragile greenware state.
I love making them, though.

The Santas we make are also adorable. Mom designed it, too, as well as some angel ornaments. She is one talented lady, that's for sure.

I need to start on my Santas soon. It's not that hard to get into the Christmas spirit in summertime when you are painting a Santa Claus. Once I get started, it's easy to get in the swing of things and pretty soon, I have a couple of dozen sitting around, waiting to be sold.

I just remembered I need to sign up for a couple of shows that have deadlines. Oh boy! I hate when I space off the entry and later kick myself for being so dumb! This time I won't forget to send in my application. Anyone else ever do that? Arrg! It's so aggravating because you know there was plenty of time and you have no excuse! Maybe this year will be different. Maybe this year I'll have a half dozen shows lined up with no problems. Hmmm...maybe this year........

For information on Helga Cruz's nativities or to place a custom order, you can go to our Etsy shop and send a convo ( see: Contact the Seller).

NEW CONTEST - Win a FREE Pendant

Hey, what better way to welcome summer than with a new piece of jewelry!
Here's your chance to win one of our handpainted porcelain or stoneware pendants OF YOUR CHOICE.

Yes, you get to pick the one you want from the necklaces for sale in our Etsy shop. Just make a comment to this post and on June 15th, I will randomly select a winner. I'll email you and you can go to the shop and tell me which one of the necklaces you want. I'll even pay for shipping - how great of a deal is that!

So come on now, add your comment below, and I'll let you know on the 15th if you won so you can pick out your pendant. Feel free to enjoy the blog while you're here, too!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Super Heavy Duty Craft Show Tent Weights

Go to Home Depot or Lowe's or any building supply that sells a big, 5 gallon bucket that looks like this. Buy 4 of these, with lids, if you want, but they aren't strictly necessary for this project.

Now get 4 bags of Quikrete, or any ready-to -use concrete mix. I got the small bags. I'm not sure of the weight, but I think they were 40 pound bags. You'll probably need help loading and unloading these from your car if you're a woman.

Now you need to get 4 eye bolts like in the picture and 4 washers big enough to thread onto the eye bolts. These need to be big, giant, eye bolts, because you want to be able to tie rope through the hole in the eye bolt, or at the very least, slide a heavy duty hook through the hole.

Now, to make your super heavy duty tent weights;

1. Pour the contents of each bag into a bucket. Be careful and wear a mask when you do this, or at least do it a place with lots of good ventilation. Of course, it should be done outdoors!

2. Get your hose out and add water. Use a disposable wooden spoon or stick to mix all the concrete mix and water. I don't know how much water. Just enough to make a thick, gooey, porridge-ey consistency.

3. Mix mix, mix, mix, mix, mix. Until you think your arm is going to fall off. You can do all the buckets at once. The concrete sets up fast, but not that fast.

4. When the concrete gets thick, push your eyebolts into it, in the center of the bucket. Leave about 2 inches sticking out.

That's all there is to it. Your buckets will cure in a day. When you use these, set a bucket at each of the four corners of your tent, you can attach a bungie cord or rope from the corner of the roof of your tent to the eyebolt. The lids of the buckets can be cutout to accomodate the rope, and you can cap off your bucket, or leave it open - the choice is up to you.

These are extremely heavy and you will most likely need help lifting them. I use mine regularly, because I do a lot of shows on the coast or on the beach, where wind can be ferocious. The concept can be modified if you want you use smaller buckets or less concrete. A common style for hanging weights is to use large diameter pvc pipe capped off on both ends and filled with concrete. They are great, but if you need super heavy weights, the bucket idea works great.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ceramic Beads Fresh From the Kiln

Fresh, hot beads finally from my kiln!
I spent the majority of the weekend rolling a bunch of beads while sitting there watching TV and they are done at last. I just received my sample pack from Coyote Clay with nine new glazes; shino, oasis blue, green shino, crazed copper, and others. Wow, it was so much fun! I went to the Coyote web site and they have a wonderful page where they describe each glaze and what it looks like. It also gives suggestions on what colors to use together and whether a glaze is runny, or stable. Good job, Coyote!

Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good job of making samples of each glaze. I know which glazes are which about 50% of the time. I 'think' the red ones below are Fire Opal - but don't quote me. It is a cool glaze, though- lots of reds and pinks all swirly and textured. Just like I like it! Making test tiles is my next project. I have to get on the ball with that!

Doesn't the yellow look luscious? I took a clay ball and squeezed it in between two of my clay stamps. The small balls have impressions I made in the side with my needle tool.