Thursday, 31 October 2013

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

movie day: Mette Maya Gregersen

Ceramic Artist: Mette Maya Gregersen
from her website...My work is a way to understand all the different worlds I inhabit sometimes. I try to draw a connection between my need to travel and build my house, my absolute freedom and my kids, my past and my future.

I bring a chaos of thoughts to my workshop and let them loose with lots of clay.
The ceramic form evolves intuitively and the dialogue between mind and matter is so intense my whole body is just a mediator of negotiations.............I am at peace!

My ceramic work constantly changes and evolves as I also grow, love and loose. The only thing that stays constant is the wave, as it reflects the constant movement we all are part of.
The wave is also my missing link between the opposites and a way to unite those opposing energies. A journey I find really interesting, hard, painful, exiting and sometimes tangible.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Makings IV @ Willock and Sax Gallery


The Makings IV
Ceramics in November

Group Exhibition

on, Saturday, November 2, 3 to 5 pm

The Makings IV continues our gallery's annual focus on ceramics.  Once again we offer a wide variety of sculptural and functional ceramic works from a wide range of artists from across Alberta and other parts.  Our website and gallery exhibition will be updated throughout the month, so visit us anytime.  Some of the participating artists are: Ed Bamiling, Lisa McGrath, Mindy Andrews, Bradley Keys, Sarah Pike, Robin Dupont, Les Manning, John Chalke, Barbara Tipton, Emily Schroeder Willis, Ruth Chambers, Sean Kunz, Do-Hee Sung, Fran Cuyler, Katrina Chaytor, Reed Weir.

Out and About - the mountain tops are white, we have brilliant blue skies, and everything is just gorgeous.  The clear crisp air means we hear the Mountain Chickadees, Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers and Ravens more often.

Image: Lisa McGrath, Branching Out, stoneware, decal, hand painted

Willock & Sax Gallery
PO Box 2469, 210 Bear Street
Banff, Alberta T1L 1C2

technical tuesday: Reproducing a Hans Coper Vessel by John Britt

Sunday, 27 October 2013

call for entry: Westerwald Prize 2014

European Ceramics
Call For Entries

The WESTERWALDPRIZE was first awarded in 1973 to present outstanding ceramic art and craft work in the framework of a competition and exhibition at the Keramikmuseum Westerwald (KMW). This remains a priority of the administration of the Westerwald region for the 13th WESTERWALDPRIZE in 2014. A further aim is to promote the dialogue between ceramics and art in the region and to support cultural exchange within Europe.

The Westerwald Prize
In 2014, five prizes are to be awarded for outstanding ceramic work in the following areas:
•Saltglaze: stoneware and porcelain
: The Höhr-Grenzhausen Municipal Prize
•Design / serially produced ware
•Vessel / Form / Decor
•Sculpture / Installation
•Talent Award
(up to the age of 35 – b. 1978) (applicable for all the above categories)

Download all the details in english here:

Please note that the closing date for entries is 19 January 2014

International Ceramic Art Festival in Sasama - Nov22-24th

International ceramic art festival in Sasama offers ceramic artists and ceramic lovers to have opportunities to exchange their techniques, knowledge, and artist spirits with each other. It will be held at Sasama, Shizuoka, Japan through November 22nd to 24th. 
This year we invite ten artists from nine countries. You can see their skills and techniques through slide lecture and workshop. Moreover, you will get opportunity to communicate with them in many occasions. 
The event showcases pottery artwork of about 50 potters from across Japan and the world, plus a lot of booths with pottery tools. Don't miss the chance - or you'll miss lots of things that are exclusive to this event. 

emerging artist: Kaitlyn McGill

Kaitly is a recent graduate from the Alberta College of Art & Design who is currently Artist in Residence at the London Clay Art Centre in London, Ontario. She makes lovely functional pottery, but is also am a paper cut artist and is investigating a collaboration between the two mediums.
Artist Statement

There is something quite remarkable about children and stories. I think its because the imagination of a child has no boundaries – it is tremendously limitless. Children live in a wonderful world of make believe and for a short fleeting time cherish childhood characters bound in books as their closest companions. For some of us, as we age and grow these friends are slowly packed away in boxes, placed on shelves; the memories of them slowly disappearing just as the colourful pages in which they live too begin to fade with time. I suppose I am not like most, for the days lived in the pages of my favourite books are still as bright and clear as they were in my young wanderings. For me, the characters of my childhood are not limited to these young fables; they exist within the birch trees in my parent’s back yard and the fine chipped china in my grandmother’s kitchen cabinet.  To me, these are all representations of humble narratives. Whether it be made with paper or porcelain, my artistic practice explores the glorious relationship between objects and stories.

Want to be featured as an emerging artist on musing? All you have to do is send me some images, a brief write up if you'd like, and a website if you have it to If you could put emerging artist in the subject header of the email so it doesn't get lost in my spam folder that would be great. Thanks! 

Friday, 25 October 2013

show musing about mud a little love (cuz musing loves you alot!)

you may notice a new little image on the right hand side of the blog. it's that rectangle over there that says donate/support/musing. let's try not to talk about it too much, but it does need to be mentioned.

so i've been running this blog since 2007 and throughout the years the debate has raged regarding adding ads to the blog. sigh. i feel so awkward even talking about it.... personally i've never wanted ads. i'm kind of opposed to them. but there is a reality that needs to be addressed and that is that this blog - which i love and am passionate about continuing - is taxing on my time. the blog could be so much more i know. i'd love to see it grow and develop over the upcoming years, and i believe that it has grown substantially since 2007. but to do this i will have to put in more time. time that takes me away from my own artistic practice.

so i'd like to propose a different option rather than advertising on the blog. it's simple really and you can either ignore it or you can contribute. up to you completely. if you so kindly would like to contribute to musing and all the work that goes on to keep the blog up to date, then all you have to do is click on that DONATE image and you'll be redirected to paypal where you can send a contribution to

i'm not asking for a lot. i know we are all broke and struggling as artists. but if everyone that read the blog gave a couple bucks a year it would be a huge difference.

i also am open to contributions of awesome art for my collection....but that's another thing : )

okay, i'm sorry.
let's be done with this awkwardness and go back to our lovely lives.

thanks for your time and all the ways in which you contribute to our clay community and to musing.


* it's a simple process but a bit confusing. since i can't just add a paypal donation button to the blog (must be a registered charity) this DONATE image will take you to a paypal page where you enter your email, my email ( and a dollar amount you'd like to contribute. again many thanks.

new book: Sustainable Ceramics by Robert Harrison

"More and more, artists are interested in producing work that’s not only beautifully designed and produced, but also environmentally friendly and socially responsible. In Sustainable Ceramics, pioneer Robert Harrison draws on more than forty years of working in clay to present practical possibilities for ceramic artists. This book covers all the factors to consider when going ‘green’, from fuels and alternative firing technology to energy-saving methods, sustainable ways to collect and use clay itself, and ways to deal with waste materials and save water. Harrison suggests simple and achievable methods by which to reduce the carbon footprint of ceramic art, and offers examples throughout of potters and clay artists who reclaim, reuse and recycle in their work. Sustainable Ceramics is an essential resource for any ceramicist, studio or school wishing to reduce the impact of their practice on the environment."

Buy your copy or read more about it here: 
and here.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

three sweet works by dear human

Now this has to be one of my favorite ideas in a long time. A perfect holiday gift too...
Dear Human is creating one of a kind custom cups for you. It's an interesting twist where in you collaborate with them on the creation of the cup. Read on what they are proposing:

Dear Human: "In the past year we made some major changes in our art practice, moving studios and switching work from a primarily ceramic-object based practice to project based work, not focusing on a specific material but using the most appropriate one in the given moment.

All that said, with such projects (especially funded ones) not so easy to come by, while applying for some and working on self-directed others, we decided to do the Three Sweet Words project to help the transition. With a limited edition of 300 cups, it is a bit like a mini-commission and a self-made kickstarter in one!

What we need are you, who like our work and like to drink from hand made cups! Just give us three words, and we will use them in the custom designs as words, images and colour combinations. If this sounds interesting, we would love to hear from you! Email, Facebook or come by and give us those Three Sweet Words.

If you would rather find yourself a completed one, we will have an edition of cups in our studio and on the website soon.

Each cup is unique and costs $50 plus tax or shipping when applicable.
Participants will need to give us three words, $10 deposit and allow 2-3 weeks for completion. We will ship them close and far.

movie day: Ira Glass on the Creative Process

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Alberta Potters' Association Survey

The Alberta Potters’ Association has been representing the interests of Alberta clay artists since 1968. Since that time the industry has undergone many changes. We have heard from some of our members that some of these changes are good and some are not, so now we want to hear from everyone involved in ceramics, from clay artists of every persuasion: functional, sculptural and everything in between; teachers, educators and administrators involved in ceramics; gallery owners, clay suppliers and retail businesses.  We want to hear from you!
Tell us what you think and what you need to make this a successful industry in Alberta.
Our strategies for 2014 and beyond will be based on your answers. This survey is seeking general information initially to determine broad stroke needs, and then with further discussion with you, focus in on detailed strategies.

Inline image 1
Monika Smith, APA President

technical tuesday: Assemble a Backyard Raku Kiln via Popular Mechanics

Monday, 21 October 2013

exhibition wrap up - Rising Water

I recently had the great honor to be invited to show alongside Linda Fahey (curator/organizer of Rising Water) and since I couldn't make the journey down to San Fransisco, I asked Linda if she would share with musing some images from the exhibition. Many thanks to Linda for all her energy and time organizing the event. To all those who helped her out and to Jay Mercado who hosted the exhibition in his studio.
The following images and writing thanks to Linda.
Show artists:
Teresa Marchese
Zan Levine
Mariko Paterson
Erika Peterson
Barbara Vanderbeck
Jesse Lu Schreier
Carole Epp

+ 30 additional guest ceramic artists who donated cups for fundraising for Surfrider Foundation

Rising Water was a plan hatched during late night online conversation with Mariko Paterson about this time last year. We were getting excited about organizing a group show together, one in San Francisco, one in Vancouver.  How ambitious. Such grande plans.  We talked about getting both SFBay Area and Canadian talent involved - and how we would take the show on the road. Sounded like a very exciting project.    

I don't know where that year went!  The show just opened in San Francisco, Friday, Oct 18 to great success!  The place was packed with people, we sold a good bit of work.  We got to meet many of our online friends in person!

It was important for the subject matter to have a conservation piece,  and I wanted to have a cup wall with invited artists, and I definitely wanted a mix-media show.  A small group of nine artists local and abroad were identified because I thought they would bring together something both innocent and genuine to the storyline.   We didn't have time to photographically curate actual work; had to give them the subject matter and wait to see how it would all come together.  It worked beautifully.  There was such independence and a strong stylistic voice for each artist, the pieces all stood well on their own, and still creating relationship around the room.   
The Cup Wall --  there are so many bright stars in the lineup, and there were pieces from Canada, Australia, around the US.   There were 33 artists participating on the cup wall.  

When & Where

The show  -- studio open Sat&Sun Oct 26&27, as part of Artspan's SF Open Studios and hosted by Jay Mercado Studio 4754 California Street, SF, Ca

Surfrider Foundation is made up of local chapters.  It's a volunteer organization -- it's so much like any art group working hard, often volunteering mountains of time and energy for something they are passionate about.  Saving the integrity, beauty and ability to enjoy our Coastline.  

we swim with the fishes blog

monday morning eye candy: Tim Ludwig

Thursday, 17 October 2013

guest post: Jill Foote-Hutton

Jill Foote-Hutton has been someone I've long admired for her artistic endeavors as well as her work with Red Lodge Clay Center and her blog Whistle Pig Studio. So I was naturally thrilled when she contacted me about writing guest posts for musing. Her insight into our makers community as well as the gallery system offers us new perspectives about the co-existance of the two and how we can better manage this necessary relationship. I'm very thankful to Jill for her time and consideration with the following article and eagerly look forward to future posts written by Jill to get our community thinking and discussing. I wholeheartedly encourage you to respond to Jill's writing in the comments section; I know I have a lot on my mind after reading this.

Revisiting and Redefining Markets, Pt. 1
By Jill Foote-Hutton
Red Lodge Clay Center and Whistlepig Studio
In the September 28th weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal there was an article on custom denim.  Set against an image of several bolts of selvage denim inside New York’s SoHo 3x1 store, is a story about the growing customization market.  Clients are paying up to $1200 for a pair of jeans, participating in the process from concept to finish.  While obviously an elite example, it reminded me of a conversation begun several months ago while courting an artist for a future exhibition at Red Lodge Clay Center.

The artist was interested in participating in the exhibit, but took issue with the standard contractual agreement.  The artist went on at great length about how outdated the current model is.  Concerns about gallery commissions and standard shipping arrangements were at the top of the list.  Like many galleries, Red Lodge takes a 50% commission on all sales.  The work represented in the brick and mortar storefront and online is on consignment.  Artists bear the cost of shipping to the gallery and the gallery ships work back if it doesn’t sell. 

For my part of the conversation I presented the whole picture of Red Lodge Clay Center’s mission statement.  When I took the position of Gallery Coordinator at Red Lodge, it was because I believed in the core tenets of the mission statement, “…provide a place for professionally minded ceramic artists to develop…and share the importance of art in everyday life.”  When we invite an artist to be part of an exhibition or to be represented by our commercial gallery, we are asking said maker to buy in to that mission statement as well.  Of course, there are the very real costs of keeping the lights on, insurance, publicity, shipping supplies, staff salaries, etc. Our ideal objective is to represent a large number of makers to showcase the variety of methods and concepts comprised within the landscape of contemporary ceramics.  The residency program and the community arts outreach programs were and are the foundation of why Red Lodge Clay Center exists, and the commercial gallery is here to support and enhance all of our programming.

In my naiveté, I thought the altruism of our mission would sway the maker into seeing things from a new perspective. 

It did not.

And perhaps it shouldn’t.  What was proposed in the conversation, first and foremost: begin a conversation within the field.  Moreover, the artist believed galleries should begin looking to standard retailer/wholesaler models for their next evolutionary step.  My difficulty in seeing the equation in such simple terms?  We are not selling packs of gum.  If I was running a convenience store, I would order 12 gross of a specific item and pay for shipping.  I would also have the secure knowledge that I would sell said 12 gross and be re-ordering more in the next quarter.  We are not selling convenience store items. We are selling an ideal, a commitment to a very specific way of approaching life, as much as we are selling objects.

What to do, and what does this have to do with custom denim?

Cups and Saucers by Sean O'Connell
Well, a conversation was started here, and it made me begin to look around more closely at solutions emerging craft artists were conceiving in their own marketing strategies.  It turned my eyes and ears sharply toward how contracts between galleries and artists are approached. It began an investigation.  The relevance of the topic was underscored on a recent episode of Tales of a Red Clay Rambler in the discussion between Host Benjamin Carter and guest Sean O’Connell. O’Connell opined the current gallery/artist relationship model seems good for no one, but he was not yet sure what the alternative was.

If you are reading this post, then I feel it is safe to assume you are familiar with the field of ceramics.  I feel it is safe to assume you are familiar with the marketing success of Ayumi Horie’s model.  We all stand in awe of her professional prowess and clever marketing strategies.  Have you seen that match striker video

Auymi Horie's Match Striker 
We are also probably all familiar with Ceramics Monthly’s recently published yearbook featuring Forrest Lesch-Middleton as the Ceramic Artist of the Year, as much for the high quality of his studio objects, as for his success in establishing a production line of tiles featured in the Home & Garden section of the January 2013 issue of the New York Times. 
Forrest Lesch-Middleton's Tiles

Finally, I feel it is safe to assume we are familiar with the, somehow controversial, success Molly Hatch has found in her partnership with Anthropoligie.   Because I am assuming we are all familiar with these success stories, I don’t want to focus on them.  Mainly, I will not address the models of the aforementioned artists because their success puts them into the realm of “other” and may seem out of reach to artists who are in the throes of development and question.   Rather, I have talked to and listened to artists who are at the brink of their own concepts.
Molly Hatch's Ware on Anthropologie

Familiar main points have surfaced and resurfaced in my conversations, but as Lesch-Middleton stated in his feature when asked about what advice he would give to those aspiring to make a living in ceramics he acknowledged the practice of, “…revisiting [familiar but easily forgotten advice] on a daily basis.”

Those points are:  Planning, Perseverance, Integrity, and Diversification.

I don’t know that I have arrived at a solution, or an entirely new model for the gallery/artist relationship, but in the interest of continuing to, “…provide a place for professionally minded ceramic artists to develop,” I have a clarified picture of a galleries responsibility and role in the equation.

Are you addicted to Tales of a Red Clay Rambler?  I kind of am, and I don’t find it to be too much to work in ceramics, listen to other ceramic makers, and then head to the office to coordinate ceramic exhibitions.  Rather, I tend to languish in the muddy water, submerged in the many conversations.  It was a chat with Arrowmont’s Bill Griffith on the podcast that directed my attention to the new endeavor Objective Clay, a collective of fourteen ceramic artists conceived during Utilitarian Clay VI.  Because I am blessed to reside in a region densely populated by ceramic artists, an organic conversation with founding member Sunshine Cobb was fairly easy to coordinate.  I presented the question to Cobb, sharing the conversation broadcast between O'Connell and Carter, and asked for her perspective.  Did she think that Objective Clay was the answer to artists taking the reigns on their own behalf and cutting out the need for galleries in our modern age? 

 Cobb pointed out that Objective Clay was still in its infancy and the members were in an ongoing conversation to line out the manifestations of their objectives.  Their mission statement asserts they have, “a shared vision to create an artist established and maintained online space.  This space functions as a gallery to view our latest work as well as a window into our current thoughts in process. By sharing our ideas and opening our studios, we invite artists, non-artists, educators, and students to actively engage in our artistic practices. In this virtual studio, the people who love pots can view/purchase new work and form direct relationships with the artists who make them.” 
That last bit about forming direct relationships is really the key to branding isn’t it?  If one wants to be successful in any endeavor, it all comes down the relationships one establishes.  The more circles one can overlap, the more relationships are built and the end result is fiscal success.  Focusing on relationships, whether that relationships starts with a one-on-one consultation with a jean’s designer or whether that relationship starts by finding out what your favorite ceramic artist is reading for inspiration on the Objective Clay bookshelf, allows makers to maintain integrity in their marketing.  By putting relationships first, clients are able to step inside the creative process and feel a part of it.  Happily the end result can be a successful bottom-line because clients are as invested in the final product as the maker. 

Beyond utilizing the internet to establish new relationships, Cobb reported that Objective Clay is looking to corporate markets for sales in an effort to land wholesale orders from clients with larger budgets.  This year at the Wisconsin NCECA keep an eye out for their partnership with restaurant chains within the city. How great would it be to one day walk into a high-end establishment and see the fare presented on hand-made wares?  This kind of vision is looking to the ever-narrowing space between design and craft and grabbing a foothold.  It isn’t an entirely new idea, but one worth revisiting.  It is a vision that looks beyond the tried and true, and perhaps oversaturated market of contemporary ceramics.

Works by Sunshine Cobb Featured on Objective Clay

Within the walls of Red Lodge Clay Center we are reviewing how we spread our advertising dollars.  The bulk of our budget targets the converted within the pages of Ceramics Monthly.  While we don’t want to step away from a loyal base, we do want to consider how we can break into other realms by looking to foodie magazines and events, as well as design firms who might share the work of our artists with their clients.  A successful model to study is Red Dot.

Red Dot is a company founded on the idea of taking design into new markets by focusing on the highest quality work and awarding it.  New clients are constantly coming to Red Dot so their presentations, homes, and companies might be on the cutting edge of aesthetics and function.

“Look to the periphery!” is the battle cry of modern business acumen.

The final tidbit of wisdom from my discussion with Cobb was an anecdote about the standard shipping arrangement between galleries and artists.  Cobb is currently working as a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana.  Shipping from Montana can be pretty pricey, and anyone who has had to fly out of Montana to anywhere besides Seattle, Denver, or Minneapolis can tell you there is no easy road out in regard to travel.  She shipped work to a gallery and made the choice to send a grouping of smaller objects.  Of course, all the work sold out rather quickly and the gallery called to request she send more work for the exhibition and include larger pieces in the next shipment.  Cobb was happy to oblige, but observed and asserted that she was getting the short end of the deal in regard to the shipping arrangement.  “If all of my work sells, then the gallery never has to ship work back to me.”  Cobb suggested the gallery front the shipping costs on the next shipment.  

As a gallery representative, I know that shipping costs are one of the larger line items in our budget.  While that cost is shared by our clients who pay shipping and handling in their purchases, a gallery does maintain a healthy stock of bubble wrap, peanuts, newsprint, boxes, tape, fragile stickers, branding logo stamps, and includes supporting documents about the artists and exhibitions in every package.  Still, Cobb's point was taken.  How can a gallery work to better reward its best sellers?  Especially if the intention of a gallery is to support the livelihood of its artists as well as keeping the doors open.  Hmmmm?  Again, the words from O’Connell’s Red Clay Rambler interview came back to me, “…good for no one.”  Cobb’s proposal didn’t seem at all unrealistic to me:  invest more in the artists who present proven product.

Next month I will present the rest of the story in my visits with Meredith Host who divides her efforts between her commercial line Folded Pigs and her studio output Dot Dot Dash, Meg Roberts who has been busily building her socially motivated brand and soon to be 501c3, Plants for Patients, by looking to the advocates for reproductive rights, Andrea Moon who is building the new web format Pedestal as a market place for contemporary craft, and tying the opening model of custom denim back to the work of Andrew Gilliatt his evolving concepts. We’ve seen the beginnings of the importance of diversification and integrity and will delve more into those areas, as well as being reminded of the importance of perseverance and planning.  Until then, my thanks to Carole Epp and the Musing about Mud blog for providing a venue and an audience for this discussion.