May 5 2008

Experimenting with technique

Last fall I started experimenting with bas relief (low relief) design on pots and hand built forms. This style of carving and design seemed to me a natural progression/extension of the designed raku pieces I already do.

Unfired Designed platter

I had a number of pieces ready to glaze, but when we started having serious issues last fall with our raw materials that consequently, left our old standby glazes unusable, I put the pieces safely away until some of the technical issues were resolved. With all that work, I was reluctant to commit them to the fire.

With some long needed changes to the kiln this spring, and a fresh full bucket of celadon glaze, I finally felt brave enough to commit them to the fire.

Carving a relief design and knowing how the glaze will play with it, has its learning curve like everything else. I am anxious to see how this process evolves.

Relief Designed Platter with celadon glaze

Here is that same platter after it came out of the kiln last Friday. It was glazed with celadon then fired to Cone 10 (2400 F) in a gas kiln.:


May 2 2008

See you in Baton Rouge May 3 & 4

Here’s where we’ll be this weekend. Maybe see you there!

FestforAll, Baton Rouge - May 3 & 4th

(For more info, please visit the FestforAll section of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s web site).


Jan 11 2008

A fresh year and fresh clay

Raku Bottle, Anne Webb
The holidays are over and life is finally getting back to normal. A much needed the break and change of pace but now I am happily back to making pots again, and looking forward to the first show of the season and starting a fresh new year.

Just before Christmas I took the plunge and went ahead and opened an Etsy store. What the heck is an etsy, you ask? Well its an online marketplace (not an auction site) where independent artists can list and sell their handmade items of all kinds. You can find the most unexpected things if you look.

Sushi plate & bowl, celadon and tenmoku glazes, Anne WebbI first checked Etsy out 3 years ago and at that time, I admit, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Since then, though, it appears to have has grown exponentially. I was happy to find a growing amount of quality work there as well. What spoke to me the loudest is that things were actually selling and for fair prices too. I have sold quite a few nice pieces on eBay (despite how other potters have said how they had done there) so I am most certainly willing to give Etsy a try too.
My store link, by the way, is http://webbpottery.etsy.com

Knowing there is a renewed interest of people going out and actively looking online to buy handmade and to support indie business actually picked me up a bit and gave me a renewed outlook for the new year. I’m not a big or regular shopper except for groceries usually, but this year as I was out looking for stuff for my girls, I couldn’t help but take notice of how much shabbily crafted junk was in the stores leading up to Christmas, mostly cheap, shoddy imports from China. Sure some of the prices looked pretty good, but that’s little consolation if something is obviously of totally inferior quality and looks really cheap. Needless to say, aside from a few low-tech toys for the girls, I ended up making most of my gifts or buying/trading with other local craftspeople.

Made me think.. do people know what they’re buying anymore? Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. That disposable consumerism mindset – quantity vs quality and all that. Evidently its very easy to become complacent for the sake of convenience, accepting whatever big corporate retail conglomerates put on their store shelves, and believing it when they tell us that we must have whatever *it* is. Sad.

Lotus Garden, Raku Vessel, Anne WebbAs a craftspeople, this is something we are constantly scratching our heads over and are all too aware of. People want the big houses, the big car, the pre-fab room settings from “Rooms to Go”, and would rather buy art/accessories from places like “Pier One” than have something unique made by a local artist or artisan. Cookie cutter people. No originality. See and be seen. Automatons who can’t think outside of the box. And the saddest thing, they don’t know the difference either. What does this say about our culture? And more importantly, what does this say about our future?


Nov 20 2007

In the Studio: Clay loving bugs


Yesterday I was just getting ready to cut and slam wedge some native clay that had been sitting on the wedging table to dry out, as I often do to pick out the odd little rock or left over hard chunks of debris. Found this little fellow “hunkered down”, as they would say here in the South. He had chewed and burrowed his way about an inch into the clay.

Earlier in spring and summer, we are pestered by some much smaller black beetles, resembling this one, actually, only about 1 to 2 millimeters in length. They come out once the sun goes down and make their way into the studio, seeking out leather-hard pots and damp clay. Groups of them will actually burrow right through the sides of pots. Sometimes I think they make a point to go for those pots you have spent the most time on trimming or carving a design into …pure coincidence, of course.

Since we don’t have screens on the windows and the studio is kind of open, we usually try and wrap or cover pots with dry cleaner’s plastic. We have to also make sure we turn the lights to the studio off when we leave, since they don’t seem to nibble in the dark.


Oct 15 2007

Blog Action Day October 15

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day when blogs everywhere talk about one thing: the environment.

Potters tend to have a reputation for being frugal. Some stems from necessity, some stems out of principle. I started thinking about ways in which we here at the studio try to make a difference to the environment and recycle:

– Building: recycled wood & windows in building studio (reclaimed lots of waste wood from hurricanes which would otherwise be taken to landfill or burned).
– Plastics: We recycle grocery bags & use them for shows (people don’t mind when you tell them it is for the environment) as well as dry cleaning plastic which works perfect for covering pots & protecting controlling how they dry
– Paper: Newspaper and newspaper roll ends are used in the studio for a multitude of uses. Also excellent for packing pots away for/at shows
– Metal: We bought a can crusher and while they don’t pick up recycled items here, we take our tin/aluminum cans to the recycle depot when we are in town.
– Appliances: We have two defunct refrigerators & freezers make excellent damp cupboards and places to keep moist clay.
– Old Machinery: our clay mixers are 2 recycled old machines: one is made from an old WWII anti-aircraft gun and the other a 1915 dough mixer.
– Waste wood & pine needles: We get scrap wood cast offs from the local wood mill and use them to fire the wood kiln. Wood and pine needles burn much more efficiently and with less smoke at the temperatures we fire the kiln to, than it would in a burn pile.
– Cast offs: We use cast-off bisque ware (cracked and unusable) in holes in our driveway, and try to use as many of the glazed cast-offs as bird feeders, planters, dog bowls, etc.. Lots of other shards go to a friend who does mosaics. (We have also used waste oyster shells from the local fishery to fill holes in the driveway – smells a bit at first, but definitely organic)
– Our clay: Now that our clay mixer is operational again, we try to pay extra attention these days to recycle all of our scrap clay into a new batch of mixed clay and make it go as far as possible. A lot of the clay we use, we dig ourselves. The white and bubble gum colored clay that we like to use is considered waste clay to contractors (not good for road base) and they are quite happy if we cart as much as we like off.
– Organic Gardening: We try our best to garden as organically as we can. We have several neighbors with horses that are glad to part with their more than ample supply of muck.
– Commuting: Our little chunk of land houses both where we live and the studio, so thankfully I don’ t have to commute anywhere (except to shows, wholesale customers, and some of my suppliers, of course).
With a group of like-minded artists, we also started a small artist collective to hopefully open up more marketing opportunities closer to home and cut back on travel. Less traveling not only saves us expense, time, and wear and tear on our vehicles (and us) but also means less fuel consumed and less impact on the environment.

Coming from away, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of things such as public transit for commuters and carpooling lanes when I first got down here. SUVs are the vehicle of choice it seems here and its not uncommon to see a Hummer or 2 cruising up the road. No attention to carbon emissions on old vehicles either. Big cars, big boats and often big inefficient houses too. How do permits get granted to construct on valuable wetland? Always has baffled me how a place with so much sunshine has so few people taking advantage or even the slight bit knowledgeable of solar power. Welcome to the Alabama Coast. Consuming with very little thought of conservation. You used to be able to see to the bottom of Mobile Bay not 50 years ago, apparently. Not now though. Pollution from industry-friendly Mobile and other places upstream have unfortunately taken its toll. Its a pity.

Southerners are known to be resistant to change but hopefully they will sit up and take notice before it is too late.


Oct 5 2007

The Stompin Ground: Magnolia Springs


Here is one of the mugs I made lately, specifically of native clay for Magnolia Spring’s own Moore Brothers’ Market, a quaint little country grocery store that shares premises with Jesse’s Restaurant . (Their building is officially registered on the National List of Historical Places.)

Magnolia Springs is not very big place, with about 1,000 friendly inhabitants. The focal point of the village is its natural springs, from which it obviously was named at least partially after. Just down the street from both the springs and Moore Brothers, is the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, which has been featured by several magazines such as Southern Living and Gentry to name just a few. It is quaint, off the beaten track, and, if you’re looking for something just a bit different, its a nice change from the more typical hotels & motels located in the neighboring cities of Foley and Fairhope.
Magnolia Springs also boasts one of the only, if not the only, all-water mail delivery routes left in the United States which, in my opinion, fits the character of the place to a T.


Sep 30 2007

Around the studio

Since I moved my wheel outside, I’ve noticed a surprising number of new little creatures that I probably wouldn’t normally see on my usual trip to the studio. Gekkos, Red headed skinks (a lizard), blue racer skinks, crab spiders, a rainbow of different colored dragonflies, etc., all going about their business seemingly undisturbed by my presence and the constant hum of the wheel. A great place to look for design inspiration.

Saw this unusual little fellow hanging out on a loquat leaf around dusk. His/her body alone was close to an inch long. Always suspect of unusual looking bugs since moving to the south, I checked online to make sure he/she wasn’t venomous. From the Dave’s Garden web site (a great gardener’s resource, btw), I learned he/she was a “Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans)” that loves to eat bugs (including wasps) but is not known to bite humans. I was glad to know that since the plants in that part of my garden, especially my gardenia, have had a bit of an aphid problem the last 2 yrs. I’m always in favor of a natural predator vs using pesticides.


Sep 18 2007

Around the studio: Out of the mouths of babes

I was throwing mugs today. My 3 1/2 year old wanted to smell the pots as they came off the wheel. She leaned very carefully over to give one of the wet pots a sniff.

“What smell like?”

I kept throwing and absently said “Uh.. mugs..?”

She huffed then said “No, Mommy. Not smell like mugs.. Smell like money!”

..little parrot pottery child..


Sep 18 2007

Potting outdoors today

Absolutely beautiful day out today, here on the coast. While I do miss my fall days in Canada, on days like today, they couldn’t be further from my mind. Low humidity, sunny, slight breeze, and in the 80s F.

The deck on the studio (all built from wood gathered from the beach after hurricane Ivan) was finally(!) cleared of the last bits of refuse scrap lumber today. Gave it a good sweep off, cut back the blackberry vines that were working very hard at taking over, and I was quite amazed at the transformation.

Once the spot was clear, I just went ahead and brought out my wheel. Not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before but I am so glad I did. Made for a much more productive day. I was able to be outside, have a clear view of my much happier 3 1/2 year old playing in her wading pool, and able to throw for a lot longer with relatively few interruptions. Even the dogs and cat were happier as everyone now had an equally prime spot beside my chair.

I think I may do it all over again tomorrow. No rain in the forecast until later in the week.


Aug 1 2007


Native clay jar with brushwork
Stylized dragonfly design

by Anne Webb

approx 11.5″ H