Art as a Career, Community, Making Pots, Pottery, Sale, Uncategorized

New Studio!! Come visit this Saturday!

IMG_2413I’ve got a new studio!!!

Phew! I went for more than two months without a place to stretch out and get dirty, and I think that’s about my limit. Toward the end there I did pick up some watercolors, sumi ink, and pens for some 2D explorations from my desk at home. That was actually an incredibly good idea, for it has spawned a line of cards and revealed the potential for a whole new body of work (more on that soon).

But now I’m settling in to my new space at The Swimming Hole, a collective in NE Portland, on NE 42nd near Alberta Ct (5120 NE 42nd, to be precise). It’s a modest space, but with a lot of great mojo…we are currently eight women working in clay, glass, and metal. We each have different backgrounds and goals, but all have a  love for making gorgeous things with our hands. I think it could be the perfect first stop, out of the gates from grad school, in establishing my professional practice.IMG_2414

And this weekend we’re having an open studio, as part of the 42nd Avenue Makers’ Faire. Portland is a mecca for makers, that’s for sure, and many of these creative entrepreneurs have been settling in along NE 42nd Avenue, contributing to the blossoming of neighborhoods adjoining this street, like the Cully neighborhood (which also has a pretty awesome cycle track up and down Cully Blvd). The faire and our open studio runs from noon-6 p.m. this coming Saturday, August 23rd. Most of us will have wares for sale out front, and tours of our studios will be available upon request. The weather will be hot and sunny, and the organizers of the Faire have lots of other fun activities and music on tap (bouncy castle!!). I’ve included more information from the business association below, including links to musicians set to perform that day.IMG_2411







bucket 6aThis year’s 42nd Avenue signature event is a Makers’ Faire. Although we will continue the spirit of the Street Fair with entertainment, a beer garden, foots ball, and a bouncy house, this year will emphasize the identity of our district: making goods and providing services.

Like the guilds of old, the makers on 42nd Avenue serve their community by honoring their craft. Whether its furniture, signs, charcuterie, bread, pastries, metal objects, printed material, fancy cars, healthy teeth, bikes, ice cream, employment, beverages, a place to gather, or obedient dogs, making good and services is our commonality.

From noon to 6 p.m., Faire participants can go behind the scenes, into businesses to meet the owners and staff. Get an insider’s view of businesses through tours, classes, contests, giveaways, and tastings. Our scavenger hunt can qualify you for prize drawings. As a business district, we are excited to share with our neighbors the view from the other side of the counter.

Between activities, enjoy amazing live music and booths.

12-2 PM: James Clem: Oldtimy country and blues 

2-4 PM: BrassRoots Movement: New Orleans Stand Up Brass Band

4-6 PM: Jalani and the Secret Five Gospel and Soul

If you are a Maker and would like to be a vendor at the Makers’ Faire please email Myo at and she will send you an application.


Grad School, Making Pots

Forces of Nature: Gala Centerpieces


Recently we, the students of the Applied Craft + Design MFA program, were asked to design and produce centerpieces for the annual Gala fundraiser for the Pacific Northwest College of Art (my MFA program is a collaborative effort between PNCA and the Oregon College of Art and Craft).  The request came a month or so into spring semester and seemed reasonable enough: to produce 10 or so centerpieces valued at $100 each, no bigger than 1 cubic foot in volume.  As a potter, this seemed to be a piece of cake, and last semester I had produced a series of vessels quite appropriate for this event, which had an industrial/marine theme.  The pieces would be for sale, with 50% of the proceeds coming back to the artists.  I didn’t even blink before I said “yes, I’m in!”


In reality, it was not a piece of cake, as my production schedule became crammed into one week, along with another custom project.  In the end I was asked to make 13 centerpieces, and together with the 13 salad bowls for the second project I threw 200+ pounds of clay in a matter of days.  I was amazed to emerge from the studio unscathed and finished ahead of schedule!  How about that!  Really, what this experience showed me is that I am actually capable of so much more. And so the bar rises…



Make sure to click on each image to get a better, more close-up view of the dynamic activity in the surfaces of these pieces.  Each was thrown as a thick, slightly bellied-out cylinder, then coated with layers of underglazes and slips, from electric blue to white.  Then, each piece (from 9-12 inches tall) was distorted from the interior.  As the clay distended, under layers of color and the porcelain beneath were thinned or revealed, producing even more shades of blue.  Each push of my fingers or thumb inspired the next.  I see each piece as a 3-dimensional painting, where paint and canvas share and swap their traditional roles, and the piece is composed from both sides of the canvas.



Making Pots, NCECA, The Netherlands, Travel, Uncategorized

On the Edge

One of the biggest ceramic events of the year is the annual conference for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, or NCECA.  The conference brings ceramic artists, teachers, and students from all over the world for four days of exhibitions, demonstrations, lectures, and panel discussions.  In addition, galleries, schools and other institutions of the host city put on shows of ceramic art, often pertaining to the theme of the conference.  While it’s still six months away, I’m already preparing for NCECA 2012 in Seattle.  As of January 2012 I will be President of the Oregon Potters Association, and so I’ll be traveling to Seattle to represent our organization (and promote our 30th anniversary Ceramic Showcase, happening May 4-6, 2012…that’s the largest all-clay show in the country, folks! Don’t miss it!).

Today I’m reminded of NCECA 2012, not because I saw my note-to-self to reserve my hotel room ASAP, but because the theme, “On the Edge,” has, in a way, been very much on my mind this week.  Here’s what the NCECA conference website says about this year’s theme:

Seattle, as well as the entire Puget Sound region, is located in a unique geographical position; on the EDGE of the country and on the EDGE of the Pacific Rim.  From this location ON THE EDGE, quite naturally, we have a broad perspective on objects, places and issues, and see great distances.  We thrive on the intersection of old and new worlds.  And we respect distant and historic cultures…Asian, Pacific, Native American, and all of our neighbors in North America.  Most of all we appreciate how they have influenced our contemporary ceramic practices.

Through creative stretching, we also visit the EDGE of our imagination and appreciate the artistic use of clay in dynamic new ways.  Even EDGY ways…often on the EDGE…sometimes with rough EDGES.

I’ve spent quality time on the edge of two continents this summer, lucky me.  They looked quite different.  The coast of the Netherlands, on the North Sea near the port of Rotterdam, is dotted with giant sea-faring cargo ships, windmills, towering loading cranes, and kite surfers.

While the Pacific Northwest sits upon the infamous Ring of Fire, along which frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can and do alter the shape of our countries, the Netherlands takes a pro-active approach to geography by building their own land, as we saw at Futureland.  Wait, they’re just dumping sand into the ocean until it piles up enough to build on it?!  And it’s not going to wash away?!

Last month, I looked over the precipice while hiking Cape Lookout, west of Tillamook, Oregon.  Our hike first took us down to the beach, where waves crashed against the rocky Oregon shore.  We searched for sanddollars, but the gulls got them all much earlier that morning, and all we found were bits and pieces.  Then, back up the slope, and out to the tip of the peninsula.  Lush and green, this temperate rainforest got quieter and quieter, the farther out we hiked.  While we neglected to take our camera on this hike, this is representative of the scenery and energy of that day, and the edge of Oregon.

And now, back in my day-to-day routine of making pots, I ponder the metaphorical and literal edges of my work.  While I want my pottery to be functional, I also like to push the notion of what a functional form is supposed to look like.  My coffee cups have three feet and my boxes have no handles, but they do not suffer for it, in my humble opinion.  Sometimes, in fact, function takes a back seat to design or grace or movement.

And then there’s the literal edges of my work.  I spent this week decorating pots, painting on underglazes and then carving delicate lines and designs into the brushwork.  When I throw the pieces that will become bowls and cups and mugs, I form the lip to create a surface for decoration.  It has a slight incline that is comfortable for your lip, and/or to lead your eye inward, to the space I’ve created.  It’s also a great opportunity to add ornamentation, and I have such fun coming up with different patterns of dots, circles and lines to jazz up each piece in a unique way.

Here’s to hoping I always have the confidence and the curious spirit to play on the edge.