Saturday, February 27, 2010

"So How is the Pottery Business Going these Days?"

"Fine, thank you, just fine." And then the potter thought about how much there was to do that day.

Sometimes my business feels a good challenge. I love being a potter, having my own business, and making pots. Money? I am not in it only for the money or things would be different here. Everything would match and I probably would not smile very much. I would not be in the studio I have now, small and off the beaten path. The studio has a good feel, especially when weather is good.It has been easier when people had a little extra money to buy things they love. And, it is so much easier when the good weather come back.

And of course, friends are still trying to "fix me." Ideas for growth and success are tossed my way every day. I appreciate it but what I really need is just more time for production and to be able to think. Every day is open studio here and any artist who has ever been on a "studio tour, open to the public" knows what that is like. It makes it difficult to plan a work day. Wanna be's stop by, friends needing to vent drop by, and any one else who has a little time to kill. The door is open.

I just cannot stop. I love creating. I am always happy to see some one love what I have made for them, people who know the beauty of one of a kind well crafted pottery. And, it is kind of fun to think how many pots I have made over the last almost 40 years. Thousands and thousands of my pots are out there. They will long outlive me, the potter. I still get calls with people searching for a local potter who died about 10 years ago. I think that is fantastic. He is still in demand. I think that would put a smile on his face.

I guess I probably won't ever be wealthy but I have a rich life. I stay just busy enough to not get ahead and make all things I want to make. I stay busy enough supplying people with clay and glazes to be just a little interrupted and help others but not make much profit. Online stores are like giant Walmart that under price me and are so available at the touch of computer keys and paypal. Customer service and answers to many basic questions is the perk they get buying from me. Still some rude customers will pump my brain and still save a dollar and buy what they need offline.

My Grandmother told me once, "The depression just came and went and I never knew the difference." She raised 5 kids alone, worked in a grocery store and took in ironing as well. She waited for her husband to come back from Texas after trying to find work there but I think he fell in love with playing the spoons in the local bars and never came home. So much for the trust fund.

So, I will ride the wave, keep making lots of new pots, try and get into the online biz a bit more, teach here and there and just keep on keep looking for the balance of life and cash.

So how is the pottery business these days? "Fine, just fine, and you?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The World is going to miss this fantastic poet, Lucille Clifton

The NY Times ran an obit for this wonderful woman on Feb. 17th. She died at 73 with a great attitude.

Homage to My Hips
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places, these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been
they go where they want to go.
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
I have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

Natl book award in 2000 for "Blessing the Boats:New and selected poems.
Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a $100,000 award
Finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for "Good Woman:Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980

Interesting woman, interesting poems.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Oil lamps for a Tahlequah Christian Church

Additional pottery pieces added to the church collection.

Oil lamp sits on small coaster.

I always make extras and this "extra" splash of glaze made this one a little different than the rest. Most likely I will keep this one and it will be for sale. You must keep the wick especially close to the opening hole and use ultra pure oil so the lamps will not smoke. Some weep a tiny bit oil at the bottom, and we never know which ones will do it until they are used. That is why I recomment sitting every one on a small saucer just in case. And lamps should never be left unattended. Handle with care.
Plate or patten for communion bread.

Several years ago I made several communion pieces for a Christian Church in Tahlequah OK. They contacted me a while ago and asked if I could add a few more pieces to their collection. I was glad to do it and wish I had a list of every church who has and used my communion sets.
I named a blue glaze after Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Tulsa. It is Virgin Mary Blue.
One day Father Eishoff (terribly misspelled and no hope of figuring it out for now) came into my shop and said, "I need a big foot washing bowl, a giant platter for the towels, and two enormous pitchers for the foot washing ceremony and I want them on Virgin Mary Blue."
Virgin Mary Blue? I thought. Hmmm. Being the Unitarian that I am I did not know what color that was. After a trip to Italy and several religious paintings later, I figured it out. So in an attempt to figure it out I mixed 7 new shades of blue and let Father E. pick it out and named it Virgin Mary Blue. I also had named the other Saint Mary's Blue # 1, #2, #3 etc.....

At another point in my career I hosted several Presbyterians in my shop for a night of demos, bean dip and a show just for them. Several Ministers came to my shop and I had made quite an array of plates and goblets, referred to as chalices and pattens in the religious world. They purchased several and sent some around the world to their sister churches. If only I had photos and lists. Too late. And, that was before I owned a digital camera. It is still a sin for potters not to keep photographic records of their work. Sins should be mentioned in this particular blog post, don't you think?

So, at last I have more work for the Tahlequah Church and they will be coming to pick it up soon. Another special order complete. Amen.

Tim and Andy produce a big vase for the Mom.

Tim and Andy hold a big vase they created for their "Mom." They pressed in their hands with a heart in the middle and each chose their own textures to go with it, all made with tender loving care with Mom in mind, Later, they chose their own glazes as well as we tied the design together.

Hand in hand these fellows produced, with a little help from me. They swapped ideas and worked together well spending quality time together and having fun.

I had a call from Tim Baker who owns a fantastic restaurant called Sonoma Bistro and Wine Bar in the Brookside area of Tulsa. Even during his busy Valentines season he made the effort to spend quality time with his son. He wanted to do a clay project with his 5 year old son for his wife. We thought and planned a big vase for fresh flowers. It was big and certainly not a project for novice potters but we did it any way. I knew we could pull it off if I helped guide them through the whole process. We did it and they were proud. And, it created great memories for Dad and son.
I am doing more special tutoring in my small shop. It is fun and I really get to know the people I work with. They are amazed at how rewarding it is to create one-of-a-kind quality art works. It is great to share talents.

Unitarian Stoneware Coasters in the works

Each coaster is stamped and then individually incised.

When I have a special order I always make more just in case something does not work and so I will have an example to keep. And, sometimes the extras end up purchased anyway.

Close up of the coaster.

This is a recent project made in my studio and almost finished. I will post more photos when they are glazed. There are several glaze samples cooling in the kiln as I write this. I will publish the finished test samples as soon as they are cool.

I create carefully selected special orders on a regular basis. If this is of interest to you email me at (00's are numbers not letters). I will quote a price depending on the design and work involved.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ambition, " Some times I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits." Satchel Paige US baseball player .

Landscape women series, Created in Hawaii 2oo8.
Only Half Grounded

Holding on to life


Laid Back

Ambition. The Christian Work Ethic. The ego. As the artist churns. As the Mother gives.
The time clock keeps ticking. I am getting older. Ambition is different in my late 50's compared to being 25 years old.
Ambition can be a painful and or scary word as you get older.
I still have a lot to do and now I have less time to do it in. I do not regret my accomplishments but I could have done more. If I could have been more selfish, I could have soared, I think.
How hard to work? Do you want to be a workaholic? How important is the time you spend with your family?
I have always had the attitude, "I can have whatever I want if I try hard enough". Isn't that an all American way of thinking? I look at big fancy houses and think. I could have had that if I really wanted it. Maybe. Friends have said, "Yes it is true Linda but you were not willing to compromise your life or your art to get it."
My shop has been very cold this winter in this extraordinary cold winter of 2010. Finally a couple days ago it warmed up and I felt very privileged and "special" to have my own studio, always.Mostly, I just find myself working between two heaters in my shop, trying to finish special orders that I am grateful to have, waiting for spring. Funny how a little warmer environment improves productivity and attitude.
Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. And then there is the maybe it is not luck thing. I do sacrifice a lot to have what I have. It is a trade off. The trade off is having a regular income and someone else paying you on a regular basis not to mention retirement.
I doubted my ambition the other day when my son went to another successful potter and asked for advice on how to be successful. I do believe in sharing info and having mentors and a lot of sources It just made me doubt my own drive for ambition. Have I tried hard enough? Oh the art ego. All the sensitivity that gives us an awareness of our environment and the ability to reinterpret it can sometimes backfire.
But now, I look at the youthful ones, dealing with the same issues, full of hope and desire, aspiring to go to the top and be successful artistically and financially. It wears me out just to think about it. I feel a little envy of their energy level and a little relieved not to have to prove anything anymore. And I feel very confused often about how ambitious to be.
Friends try and "fix" me all the time. Oh yes, we will get you a big studio with heat and air and we will form a new arts group or studio or school or .....I hesitate for some basic reason that I don't understand. I just want to work and keep trying to balance my life. A little work and a little play and time to think.

Truthfully do I just want it all? I want to be artistically respected and successful, rich, thin, intelligent, alternative and have a ton of free time. I would like to have a few more one person shows in museums ( a fact hardly anyone in Tulsa knows I have had because I don't want to toot my own horn) and and I would like a lovely studio and not have to worry about my children. I would like to have dinner parties with arts folks like we did in the state of Virginia.

I cannot stand the words by laws, mission statements, or artist statement. Yet, I love to write. It just feels like if you don't know what you are doing why are you doing it? I don't want to write it down. I may change my mind about the artist statement and write one. Remaining a little flexible is a good idea. But, I cannot stand to see people write down their mission statement, declare it and think that is it. You have it. Finished. It is in print so it is official. I don't believe it.

It has always blown my mind how I can be working on a project and folks will come in and say "Oh yes." Yawn yawn. And then, it gets in the paper and people think it is a big deal. Not until it is in print does it matter.

And then there is the family thing. How do you do it all? The Women's Liberation movement kind of bit a lot of us in the butt. Yes, I believe in equality and I don't regret supporting the movement. But boy did we increase the work load. My husband helps me more than I ever expected. I loved raising my children. I enjoyed sharing our creativity and helping them grow into their artistic wings. I did not enjoy sitting on the elementary school gym floor and playing bingo. Motherhood had its own ambitions, most of which have been met. Hugging my children has always felt good.

Ambition. I find it painful to think about wondering if I am ambitious enough. Could I have done better? Or do I just need to take a chill pill and let it be.

Writing helps, working helps, just putting on my shoes and going out the front door helps. This chapter will need a lot of editing and more thought, soon to come.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tidbits about Valentine's Day compliments of Kokopelli's blog

Valentine Angel $75

Be Mine Valentine $60

Loved this post about the history of Valentine's day via Kokopelli foods blog. I have sold their wonderful beans and more in my pottery shop for many years.

Thank you for this history. Maybe now I will stop complaining about Valentine's Day to my wonderful husband who does not like to celebrate holidays with me. Some of these customs are very interesting.
I used to make special pots for this holiday but it does not actually seem to be a very popular day for pottery sales. is some info anyway.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th by many people throughout the world. Couples exchange gifts and cards to express their love and devotion to one another. Worldwide, the most popular gifts are candy, flowers and jewelry. In the U.S., heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses are the most common.

• The first heart-shaped box of candy was sold in 1868 by Richard Cadbury. Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac. The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank ground cocoa beans to increase his sexual prowess. In Mesoamerican marriage ceremonies, the couple shared a ritual cup of cocoa, which was believed to increase their luck in love.

• The red rose was thought to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman god of love and the father of Cupid. He is known as a mischievous, winged child, whose arrows would pierce the hearts of his victims causing them to fall deeply in love. He is prominently featured on boxes of chocolates created for Valentine’s Day.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making it the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas.

• The oldest known Valentine's Day card is on display at a London museum. This card was sent in 1415 by the Duke of Orleans to his wife in France. The Duke was imprisoned at the time in the Tower of London.

• Exchanging Valentine's cards most likely began in America as early as the 1700s. The first mass-produced Valentine's Day card was sold in the 1840s by Esther Howland, a Massachusetts native. She originally sold hand-made, lace cards for as much as $35 per card!

In Japan, the present custom that only the women give gifts to the men on Valentine’s Day was originated by a Japanese confectionary company. The traditional gift is chocolate, and is given by the woman to all of her male friends & acquaintances, including superiors and co-workers. There are two levels of gifts:

• Giri-choko (“obligatory chocolate”) is given by the woman as a token of friendship or gratitude to her male co-workers, superiors and friends. It isn’t unusual for a woman to buy and hand out one dozen or more boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. It is thought that a man’s popularity can be measured by the number of chocolates that he receives on this day; however, this can be such a sensitive issue that some might not comment on it unless assured that it will not be made public.

It is expected for woman to give chocolates to their male co-workers. The unpopular co-workers will receive the chō-giri choko (“ultra-obligatory” or “cheap chocolate”).

• Honmei-choko (“favorite” or “true love chocolate”) is given by the woman to the man she loves, or is truly serious about. Usually, the “favorite chocolate” is given along with another gift such as a necktie.

One month later, on March 14th, the men are obligated (thus, the name “obligation chocolate”) to give gifts to all women who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. March 14th is known as White Day – gifts include marshmallows or white chocolate, or candy in white boxes; the term refers to the color of marshmallows which was the type of candy originally marketed for this day. The recipients of giri-choko are expected to return a gift of at least equal value to each woman from whom they received chocolates.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Delicious Dessert Chocolate Chip Muffins

OK so this blog is about as much about food as pottery. I'm guilty, I'll admit it. I love to cook good food. Most potters do. Make bowls and plates and fill them up with homemade food made with tender loving care.
I learned something from my tiny little mother in law would not eat a real piece of cheese or butter if her life depended on it. She said, Desserts should not be diet food. Agreed.

I think back to the family reunions in the country in Osgood Indiana when I was a little girl. I just realized maybe that affected me more than I thought. Like Water For Chocolate kind of ladies with skills mostly in German foods like potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad and heavy casseroles. All those large boned ladies in their feed sack farmer's dresses. They loved to cook and there were tables full of bowls with rich mayonnaise ridden foods, not to mention the fried chicken and whatever. It would be fun to go back in time and have a good look to see what really was in all those big Pyrex bowls on those large wooden tables with the thick brown table legs made to support those incredible family reunion meals. They cooked and chatted all day while the men sat in a circle of chairs outside. Kids ran around outside and exploring the rooms in the big brick house while wondering how everyone was related.
Making pottery is kind of like cooking. You just fire it higher and eat it instead of using it. When I first moved to Tulsa and had a 6 month old little girl, a rental house with no studio space and knew no one, I cooked for creativity. I also cooked for cash. I made muffins and bread for my new neighbors delivered to their door at whatever time they wanted it. I knew an ex-school teacher who made more money doing that than teaching. I always wondered if I could do the same.

So from my favorite muffin book, Muffin Mania, used to supply new neighbors with treats I share this delicious Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe. It is fast, easy and delicious. The ingredients are simple and it will make you wonder why you would ever purchase a cellophane wrapped muffin again. PS Use high quality really good chocolate chips. Yes, you can lower the calories with a few diet tricks or make smaller muffins but I will take my Mother in laws attitude about dessert on this one. Delicious. Pretty fast for a dessert treat.

Chocolate Chip Dessert Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients and add chocolate chips.

Combine egg, milk, and butter and stir into flour mixture. do not beat.

Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

A few chocolate chips melted and drizzled over the tops when slightly cooled, make these a special dessert treat for chocolate lovers.

makes 12 regular size

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Katy Loves To Throw, Brookside Pottery Tulsa

I remember when Katy was born. She was a tiny twin. Now she is a vivacious 8 year old. She is lucky to get to be tutored in clay every week. Even when the shop is cold, Katy wants to come to pottery class. Yes Katy plays Little House on the Prairie with me and that involves working in the slightly cold pottery shop and throwing our clay water out to the imaginary horses at the end of class. Katy has a vivid imagination and works hard at her clay work and occassionaly gets in little trouble at home for creating clay studios maybe where she should not. She has decided it is worth it.
Katy's energy is high and she does both hand building and throwing. She shows a lot of independence and like to do things her way lots of times. Most people won't let 8 year olds throw but we do it anyway and she loves it. She loves the thrill of the clay spinning in her hands and sometimes we get traditional pots and sometimes unique pieces of sculpture. Anyway, we are having fun and I love teaching her on a one to one basis.

Fourth Grade Boys Create Giving Bowls in Pottery Class

As I walked into the church ready to start teaching a new 8 week class of pottery to fourth graders I was passed by what seemed like a million high energy kids following a flag with a 4 on top. Could it be? Could that be my new group. I continued down the hall way pulling my clay. clay paddles, texture makers and such on my squeaky old luggage roller. "Was that the fourth graders going by?"I asked as I pulled my heavy wheeled supplies to the edge of the hall waiting for my turn to use the room. "Sure is!" replied the other teachers. And then two helpful ladies corralled the forth grade boys and lead them into the room like while bulls at a rodeo. They were gobbling their snacks and pushing a bit and bouncing off the walls. "This is gonna be a fun challenge." I thought and dug out my singing bowl from Tibet and began to play it. Their eyes came my direction and they became mesmerized by the sound. "What is this?" I asked them. No one knew exactly what it was. "Who can still hear it ringing?" I asked as the room got more and more quiet.

And this is how it happened.
Bowls. It is all about bowls. This is a singing bowl used by Tibetan monks. Feel the vibration. Can you feel it? Who can hear it the longest? You can try this later. Make the bowl sing. Bowls are like people in so many ways. We let others give us things for our bowls of life and we give to others to fill there bowls as well. Bowls have lips, bellies and feet. We will make bowls as different as we all are and we will have bowls to keep, bowls to share and more bowls. Bowls for everything. We will make animal bowls and all kinds of shapes as well. Bowls should be as different as every one is in room.

We had a blast. I told them stories as we worked and they told me about their life experiences as well. It is going to be a fun class. Who knew hanging out with fourth grade high energy boys could be so much fun?

Watch us grow. Watch us grow artistically. I am glad to share 40 years of knowledge with them and they are asking me for more. One boy said, "Hey this is fun. Not boring. I get so bored. I want to do this! I'm coming every week!" And I said, "Good me too. I don't want to do boring stuff either. This is fun. I try and not have a boring life or do boring things. We are going to learn a lot together."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brookside Pottery Class Information for Feb. 2010

Brookside Pottery
Adult Classes
1138D East 37th Street, Tulsa, OK 74105
918. 747. 7574
Linda Coward, Teacher

Tuesday Evenings Beginning Handbuilding, the basic techniques, pottery, 6:30-9 p.m. six-week classes are designed for beginners and those getting back into clay. Students will learn how to make pinch pots, slab pots, coiled pots and hollowed-out forms and how to create pots using a combination of these techniques. Students will also get an introduction to firing and will glaze their own pots. During each class, students will watch a demonstration of a new technique and then work to complete their own forms. The atmosphere will be relaxed and productive. Class size 5-8 persons.
Advanced or repeating students will be given more challenging versions of the above projects or they may repeat any project they desire. Be sure to let me know you are repeating and send in your deposit ASAP.

Wednesday Evenings Beginning and Intermediate pottery, 6:30-9:00 p.m. Class size: 6-10
This class offers more exploration of individual projects. Students with the basic handbuilding skills will love the loose nature of the class. I am there to guide and help and suggest project ideas but students work more independently. Problem solving with specific wheel problems available during this time. Make reservations based on space available per week
Fee: $25 per class or $150 for 6 weeks plus materials and includes the firing and glazing of six-10 pieces. A small firing fee will be charged for any additional pieces. A $50 deposit will guarantee a space in the class. Please mail or bring your deposit by the shop. The deposit may be returned with a five-day notice. During our tough economic times, class fee may be paid by the month (4 classes)

NEW, Special Projects Want to make a special project but don’t want to take an entire class? I can guide you through it as a special student for $25 per hour per person plus materials. By appt.

Tutoring for throwing $35 per hour. Need extra help when learning to throw? This is one to one trouble shooting for the beginning throwing student. By appt only.
Open studio open to previous students. $25 per session by appt.

Information about children’s classes available.