Tuesday, June 23, 2015

First Looks

Things are out of the inaugural glaze firing! Interesting results. Tell me what you think of my first efforts.

These are the only ones I've done a shiny glaze on. I like the
form of the little handled one, but the glazes ran. Maybe the first coat
wasn't dry enough. And I think it needed more than one coat. It's not
saturated enough. The larger vase in the back was one of my
hand thrown attempts. It had an odd shape so I 'ovalized' the
profile. Now it has a little pot belly. Kind of cute.

Not sure if you'll be able to tell, but this these two were given
the same underglaze. The one in back came out first and I
hated the finish. Then I put the tipped one in to refire at the final
temperature, and lo and behold, the finish completely changed.
Now I like it. I'll do a little sanding on the rear one and refire.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Making Lemonade

The other day I got to my studio before the building officially opened and decided to treat myself to a cup of coffee from the cafe next door. I opened my studio door, grabbed my wallet and put down my purse. Then I let the door slam behind me. LOCKED OUT!! Drat. With nothing to do, I had a little breakfast and read the paper, then decided to walk around the building in hopes that the manager had come in early. No luck. But while moping and staring at my closed studio door, I realized that the clay room door is broken and is therefore always open. Joy! So I got out my supplies and made some little pots. So fun. When the building manager finally arrived two hours later to open my door, I was so ensconced in what I was doing that I never did get around to playing with metal clay. And the next day I had to put some finishing touches on my work, so didn't work on my metal clay projects that day either.

First day before details were added. The triangular shape
will be a salt/pepper dish.

What I love about ceramic clay? That it can be worked wet for sooooo long. What I'm not so much liking? That when it's bone dry, it's very fragile (chips when you sand it) and cannot - simply can NOT be joined to either dry or wet clay. Using lentil beads as an example - we're used to letting them dry, sanding the bottoms to a knife edge, and using slip to join. With ceramic clay, parts need to be assembled at the leather hard stage at the latest, by scoring and using slip. So I'm wondering about some of the professional work I've seen - how do they get such a sharp join line? I know - practice, practice, practice. Sigh.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Already... I just found out that I'm wait listed for a big craft show here in Richmond, so my little pots must wait. I haven't done a show in 3.5 years, since the last Santa Monica Contemporary Craft Market in LA. I have almost no jewelry to sell, since I've been spending all my creative time making samples for classes - so I have to get on the ball creating merchandise for the Craft and Design show in November. 6 months seems like it should be a long enough time to create some product, but I'm doing a workshop in Boston next month, and planning a trip to England in October and still have classes to teach, so I'm pretty short on time. Not that I'm complaining. It's sometimes difficult to change hats from my teaching persona to my creative persona, so I'm actually pretty excited to see what I come up with!

I'd show you a picture of my latest pot, but I'm having the worst time getting the phone to download them. When they finally appear, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Something New

Hello again! Thanks for checking in. This past spring I decided to take a ceramics class just for fun. And I really liked it. Imagine that! For the first 5 weeks I did exactly the projects the instructor suggested. Namely coil built pots and a try at the wheel. Throwing and I are not friends. That's not to say that we couldn't find common ground - but I'm not that interested. I did manage to throw a few pots, but most of the time I made big mish mosh mistakes. Understandable for a newbie. My walls were too thin, I couldn't achieve height, I bottomed out until there was no bottom at all... I don't think I have the hand strength to throw pots. And my back hurt from bending over the wheel. So I decided to make use of the most basic metal clay building technique - the lentil bead.

I found a couple of stainless steel forms in the back room of the ceramics area, used a yogurt container to cut out two disks, and formed two little bowls. When they were leather hard, I took them off the forms and joined them together with watery slip. Although it's a very similar technique to making a metal clay lentil bead, it is also very different. Some aspects of joining ceramic clay I like better, and for some I'd rather use metal clay. But all in all - I'm very fond of my new hobby. So much so that I've decided to challenge myself to learn more about ceramic clay and glazes by making 100 of my little pots. I'm up to 7 now - even making it to 20 seems like a lot! So I'll re consider at that point.

I think I'll post a picture of each pot as I complete it in some way. They will either be fired, glazed, or just greenware. I'm starting my experiment by just getting better at making the pot shape, then I'll experiment with textures, then I'll explore more glazing and finishing techniques.

Here are my first pieces:

The rounded lentil before the hole is made, Two pots hand shaped and paddled into new contours (The little lentil pot was
formed over a large plastic easter egg), Raku fired pots made in class - the spiky one is a successful wheel thrown effort.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Celebrating Similarities

As a jewelry maker who came to making late in life (I was a makeup artist for 17 years prior to finding metal clay), I have the sometimes debilitating illness of Comparison. Looking at what I do, then looking at others, and finding myself lacking. It's a soul killer. And if you have any symptoms - I suggest you find a way to nip it in the bud.

This morning while trolling Pinterest with my morning coffee, I came upon a video profile on the amazing artist Gabriella Kiss. But instead of bemoaning the fact that I don't have a fabulous studio in a fabulous countryside, and am not a sculptor, and could never make anything as beautiful as she does - I am instead inspired! Her small scale work is magical - I work in small scale too, her aesthetic is likewise romantic and charming - while my focus is different, our aesthetics are similar. Finding areas in another artist's work where I find a tiny space for communion has changed my outlook.  I'm excited to go into the studio this morning.

I couldn't figure out how to post the video here, it seems to have been removed from Vimeo, but click on the link above to view it. Hope you'll find it inspirational too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Oy Boy! I'm super chuffed (as they say in the old country) to announce  that I'll be teaching at the Cornwall School of Arts, Crafts, and Jewelry in Merry Old England next fall (that's 2015). So very excited. The last time I was in Europe was 1980 when my jazz choir performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Our tour visited The Hague in Holland, Switzerland, a tiny corner of France (for a brief overnight stay in between gigs), Germany floating down the Rhine, and I think maybe Brussels, but not sure really. I also visited a couple of pen pal friends in Denmark (where I visited the inspiration for the castle in  Hamlet), but never got to Great Britain, Italy or France. So this gig is a return to the MotherLand, and my first long flight in over 30 years. Donna Penoyer is teaching in England and Belgium at the same time, so we're gonna take a few days to explore and make a real vaca out of it. Woo Hoo!

CraftCast is having a 20% off sale just in time for Thanksgiving, so now is a good time to pick up my two workshops on Hollow Rings and Slip Printing (or slip stenciling as everyone else calls it). Just use the code "Harvest2014" when you check out. In each class I put together, I try to throw in a lot of extra techniques and tips, so these cyber classes really are almost as good as the real deal (an in-person learning experience). And as a little teaser, I'll tell you a little something that I thought of in a recent texture class here in Richmond. Slip Printing makes use of stencils - the kind you use with paint to decorate your walls or scrap books. You can buy them commercially - or pierce them out of thin (26 gauge or thicker) brass with a jewelers saw. But as I was demonstrating to my students, I thought of another way to use a stencil.

• Roll the clay out to the desired thickness with no texture.
• Place the stencil over the clay (and spacers) and roll again. Voila! A fancy design pressed into your clay! This is the way I created the texture for the Hollow Sculptural Form bracelet I'll be teaching in England.

• Now comes the brainstorm - for even more impact, roll with no texture as stated above, then lay the stencil over the clay, THEN lay a piece of lace, skeleton leaf, or other thin, flexible material over the stencil and roll. Now you have a double textured design! So cool. And so easy.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of this technique to illustrate the modification. I'm a bad teacher. :\  Forgive me. But it's really cool. Take my word for it, and then try it out for yourself.

It's Thanksgiving here in the States, and I'm really grateful for all of my followers, friends, students, and fans that visit this long neglected blog and still have faith in me. Have a wonderful feast with friends and family - even if it's not your national holiday too.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

One More Time

I've just spent the best part of two hours reading a blog. From the beginning. It's a WordPress blog platform, and I think the author opted to hide posting dates, so I was hoping it was a relatively new venture. But alas - I had miles to read before I could sleep (or watch Resurrection), and I sadly decided to put it aside to binge again another day. But reading it made me miss my own blog, and I'm going to re commit to writing a post at least once a week. There. That's some kind of promise, right? Now I have to do it? And will you all hold me to it? Ok then. We're on the same page.

Let's start by getting to know each other again, shall we? I'm Lora Hart. I'm a Senior Instructor with PMC Connection and teach the miraculous jewelry art of metal clay. That's what I'm hoping to blog about more than anything else. That, and my life, and influences, and inspirations, and other day to day happenings. I don't promise that the content will be cohesive.

I moved to Richmond, Virginia 3 years ago from Los Angeles, where I'd lived my entire life. I wanted seasons. I wanted a slower pace of life. I wanted less traffic. Be careful what you wish for.

Seasons back east means 6 months of cold weather. It's relatively mild in Richmond, so the snow isn't obnoxious to me, but the cold portion lasts so long! Perhaps what I really wanted was cold weather for about 6 weeks. LA gets heat year round. Which some folks might love - but I thought it got monotonous, and really, who wants101ºF weather on Halloween?

The slower pace of life is actually wonderful, but a slow life in the south combined with older age and MS symptoms means that I have all but atrophied in the past year or so. In summer it is hot, muggy, and my porch is my favorite place to hang and watch the world wander by. In winter, it's too chilly to venture out for more than the time it takes to go from my heated home, out to my heated car, then into my heated destination. Spring and Fall (and temps in the 70's) are too short and I'm too lethargic from the other seasons to have time to reboot and really get busy. It's not that I actually spend all my time at home or at the studio, but I seem to spend all my time at home or in my studio! I had envisioned walks in the woods (of which there are many), trips to the museum (I've been less than 10 times in 2.5 years), excursions to distant lands (well, I've visited home, Atlanta, Washington DC, and a few other locations - so I guess I've done a fair bit of traveling).

Lack of traffic is bliss. I have nothing bad to say about that. If I want traffic I'll drive to DC or Baltimore, or go to Virginia Beach where I get to drive on a 5 lane highway. I'm fine with the lack of traffic.

So this is my attempt at re motivating. What I'd really like is for us to be interactive. For you to comment and ask questions and engage in mutual communication. So let's play a game. It's my favorite "getting to know you" activity. It's called "Two Truths and a Lie". I'll start. You guess which statement is NOT true.

1. I was born Laura Elizabeth Freed
2. I graduated college with a BA in psychology
3. A very trusting (or high on crack) conductor once let me 'drive' a train for a mile and a half

Now it's your turn. Who are you?  What are  your thoughts? What motivates your cyber surfing? Where shall we go from here?