Frequently Asked Questions: A guide to the many inquiries I am asked
While at shows or online either on Etsy or on my Facebook page, I’m asked a multitude of questions about myself and my work. Here’s a collection of a few FAQs:
What is sgraffito?
This is the technique I use to create the thin, white lines on my pottery designs. After applying the colorants for the designs, I carve through back down to the white base glaze.
What temperature do I fire to?
I do two firings when making my pottery. First, I bisque fire to cone 04 which equates to 1944 degrees Fahrenheit , then I glaze fire to cone 05 (1891 degrees F)
What kind of clay do you use?
I use Standard 103 Red Clay to be exact. I purchase my clay from Mid-South Ceramic Supply Company, Nashville, TN.
How long does it take to make my work?
On average, it takes approximately a month and a half from start to finish. I make my work in batches, working on a cycle of creating a body of many shapes and firing a couple bisque loads of what I call “blanks” and then starting a cycle of glazing. Each cycle can take up to 3- 4 weeks to do.
Do I recycle?
Yes, I do. When I trim my greenware, I save the trimmings and reuse them. Softening them and rewedging the clay to use again. When I ship my work, I use recycle packing material and boxes. Many times, friends save packing material for me, knowing I will and can reuse.
How many shows do I do in a year?
On average, I do approximately 9 shows a year, traveling up to 5.5 hours away from home. I am trying to use the internet to market my pottery worldwide.
Where is Makanda?
Makanda is approximately 6 miles south of Carbondale, IL.
What is your favorite color?
I am really partial to purple, especially the blue purples, but depending on my mood, I will like other colors just as much. Overall, I really like bright colors.
What are my inspirations?
Almost anything! If I see an interesting insect , portions of the critter will find its way onto my work. Flowers are a big influence. I like looking at the various patterns the blossoms create. If I hear an interesting story, that may pop up as a design element.
Where did I go to school?
I took classes in the Ceramics Department at Southern Illinois University for 2 years as a unclassified grad student while working as a Scientific Illustrator for the university. Before that, my background is Zoology, earning a BS and MS in that field.
How long have I been making pottery?
I’ve been learning and making pottery since 1995. The oldest pieces I find in the kitchen are dated from then. I started as a business in 1999 and have been growing and learning ever since.
Does stuff really blow up in the kiln?
Yes! It happens to the best of us and recently a plate blew up in my new little kiln. Things blow up because the piece still has water in it. Steam is very destructive!
Have you ever pit fired?
Yes. I learned from my teacher/friend, when one makes a bon fire to make it work for you. In the winter, I also fire small pieces – mainly figurines- in the wood stove.
Who is your favorite artist?
There are so many for me to choose from. I really like to look at all potter’s work, pick the work up and feel, feeling the artist’s marks in the clay. Having access to the internet opens up the scope of work that is out in the world.
Have you been on Reality TV?
Can’t say I have, but I have been in a film locally produced films, the biggest being “Under These Same Stars” by Dan Johnson and the WSIU talk show, Expressions, discussing my art. I am also not afraid to be interviewed by the various news crews that are at the art shows I attend.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning – caffeinated! And iced tea or hot tea in the afternoon – depending on the season.
Cats or dogs?
I suppose both, since I have both types of critters.
How do I photograph my work?
I have a photocube set up in my house and use a natural light fluorescent bulb and overhead skylights to light my work. My camera is a Cannon SureShot or sometimes I use my smartphone. Technology and the lenses on the phones are getting so good!
Minivan or sports car?
Both—Minivan to haul my work to shows, sports car for commuting around locally in a fun way.
What is a typical day working for you?
I try to get busy in the studio or studio chores by 8:00 am either physically with the clay, online paperwork, or packaging work to ship. The jobs I do varies to the production cycle I’m in and what other chores are needing to be done. Overall, I can say I am busy with my pottery at least 6 hours every day. (sometimes more)
What’s in your garden?
Since I live in the woods, sunlight for the garden is at a premium. This year, though, we have tomatoes, a few peppers, basil and dill and a few peas earlier this year. This year I found a little more sun by throwing a yogurt container full of bird seed black oil sunflowers seeds on the roadside and seeing what happens. I did get a stand of sunflowers.
Have you ever been elected to royalty at an annual party?
Yes, in 2000, I was chosen for Tomato Queen at the local Tomato Fertility Rites party which has been going on locally every year since 1978.
Do you ship internationally?
Yes, I do. Most recently, to Germany and have shipped as far away as Australia and Russia.
What does Etsy stand for?
I didn’t know and had to look it up myself… http://www.thenameinspector.com/etsy/
Went to Key West with 3 friends, let’s just keep it at that! :)