Friday, December 3, 2010

Mother daughter project

This past summer I got a real slab roller for the first time in my working career. I have been doing many different projects, but one that I really enjoyed was my pendant project that I worked on with my daughter , Lily , over the summer. We found it so relaxing to carve the little tiles, and I really liked the freedom of choice we had for subject matter, anything we wanted!! I have added Lily to my etsy shop, but I think she is planning on starting her own store soon.  She has never had formal art training but seems to have absorbed something just growing up in this atmosphere. Her tiles are pictured below.

These were all done in the raw state by painting underglaze over the pendant and carving it away. As the tiles began to dry we experimented with other methods like brushing on the designs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A week to remember

Well this is one country gal that is glad to be home!  For a person that doesn't get out much I have had one heck of a week.
 I had a booth with my rabbit art at the National Rabbit Breeders convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  We only had time to set up the booth and leave the boxes for me to set up on Sunday because Lily and I had to get over to First Avenue to see Richard Thompson in concert.  This was my fourth or fifth time seeing him perform , and he never disappoints!  Sunday I got the booth set up and when Lily relieved me from my booth duties,  I hopped on I 35 and buzzed down to Owatonna for the opening of an art exhibit by my best friend of 33 years. Here is an article that appeared in the Owatonna Paper

The rabbit show was great because I got to see some of my old rabbit friends and their beautiful animals. I also got to see every recognized breed of rabbit in the United States.  I was strolling around sketching the animals on Monday morning, and saw this beautiful doe that has my Grand Champion rabbit" Dobie" in her ancestry!
 Tuesday was my birthday and Lily and I shared some great pizza and talked till I conked out.  I got home last night glad to have me and my van in one piece after driving around lost in Minneapolis all week. gah!  but now I am safe at home, and can let all the events sink into memories, great ones! Denise

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Welcome November!

November finds me in a tizzy, getting ready for the National Rabbit Breeders Convention being held here in Minnesota next week.  I am excited to see all of my old friends from my rabbit showing days!  Months ago when the location was announced, I began to create items for my convention booth.  We always have rabbit items in our regular stock, but with my new slab roller and some different clay bodies to experiment with, I went crazy making all things rabbit!  I have had a good time doing it too.  Over the summer my daughter and I made pendants, using several different techniques to decorate them as they dried.  I have several new sculptures, and we collaborated on 50 special mugs made just for "rabbit con" .  I will be there for the duration of the show, November 7 through 11.

After the convention, we will be doing two wood fired loads, for which we are already building up stock.  Pine Center for the Arts will be hosting us in their gallery in December which coincidentally marks our 28th year as a couple, and collaborators in Morris Pottery.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Morris Pottery is a guest on the Fresh Art Tour

Paul is taking off today for the Fresh Art Tour  and it promises to be a beautiful fall weekend coming up. Paul will be a guest at Pepin Farm site #11. 

I will be staying home over the weekend getting more vegetables harvested and stored away.  I am so curious what is under my potato plants, because I didn't really see them flower this year!  My Russel Lupine is blooming again, and I can't say as I have ever seen that before.  This has been a weird year for gardening, to say the least.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sticks and Stones VIII

Brian Wicklund and Joe Cruz

I am up early getting ready for the last day of the Art festival, which promises to be beautiful weather wise! The rain stopped on Friday leaving us with crisp fall air and beautiful colors.   The show was well attended yesterday, and the concert last night by Brian Wicklund and the Barley Jacks was just incredible.  Everyone there knew we were seeing a world class performance by the quartet headed by Brian who is one of the most talented and versatile violinists I have ever  seen.  The music was the perfect topping to a perfect day!  Click the link above for more information on the band, and their new CD. 

Mural Painter
Today has a spectacular line up also with Monroe Crossing performing at 2pm, perennial favorite, Charlie Roth, and in the coffee house Thea Ennen and Dave Peterson. 
 I am heading  over to the History Center, but first I will post some photos from yesterday
Glass by Craig Campbell


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Newest kiln firing

We spent last weekend firing the kiln. We rented one chamber, the salt one, and Paul and Lily put a months work in and it was finished on Saturday.   I wasn't there for the opening, because I took Lily back to school that day.  I was anxious to get home and see the results, though, and it didn't sound good when I got home and talked to Paul.
"It's different" Paul said, right then there was that dreaded feeling.....And always in the back of my mind I rattle off every possibility! Two plates were sitting out and they were indeed different. Our slip had a blue halo around the lines that was mysterious, and it was also really melted, some pots had just a melted blob, and the slip had a gunmetal look on some pieces.  As we went through the hows and the whys, it was concluded that the last batch of black slip must have been mixed wrong, or too strong.  It wasn't until Paul went to find the stain to make a new batch of slip, did he notice that instead of cobalt free black, our packet was chromium free black! 
 I relate this story  because there is a bright spot.  Among the worst of the results, I saw some little things I liked, something that would be a new avenue to pursue.   And the ones that didn't melt away had a kinetic energy to them ,  adding to  the action of the animals, not distracting from it.   I also liked a lot of the blues , and told myself  to start adding some blue slip to the mix again.
On some, the melting enhanced the drawing, and gave it energy

Some  of the pieces stayed black, but had a gunmetal sheen.
some had a blue halo around the black lines
If it had been the "old days" of the production pottery(any production pottery) this would have been considered a disaster, and the dramatists of the group would have had a field day.  I am so glad that I work in an environment , now that allows for a mistake to lead to something new, and not be looked at as a "disaster". 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bill Gossman Pottery will be at Sticks and Stones

We are busily preparing for the 2010  Sticks and Stones festival, and I have just finished my informational page with the musicians , artists, and events scheduled for the big weekend.

Visitors to the show this year are in for a great variety of artists and mediums.  Being involved in clay as I am, I am very excited to feature some awesome Ceramists. 

 Bill Gossman will be with us this year, he has participated in past shows and we are glad he is back on the schedule.  Bill is a potter's potter, the genuine article. His studio in New London, MN is always fun to visit, because Bill is the kind of guy that is always working on something new. Some will remember his porcelain lamps at the 2008 Show.  Bill is an inspiration with his throwing techniques, and his vast knowledge of the ceramics process.  He is generous with that knowledge and has been a mentor to many.
    Bill also serves as the Mayor of New London. I have been fortunate to participate in the community at several events, and this is truly a town that supports the arts.  Bill is an organizer for the annual folk music festival that is held in the park.  Oh did I mention that Bill is also an accomplished musician on several instruments, and visitors to the campfire jam might hear him play a fiddle, penny whistle,harmonica, or squeeze box!
  I see more and more as the craftspeople I know" mature"  including me,(ahem)  that the art becomes more than  the creations one produces, but it integrates a way of life, that becomes an art in itself.  Bill's generosity with his time in the community is certainly an extension of his craft and his way of life.
To see more of Bill's work,  check out Bill Gossman Pottery

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waiting for the kiln to cool

Well the firing went well yesterday. Paul did the whole thing himself with a little help from Lily and I stoked for awhile at the end.  Now we wait.... I will have a bunch of new pots to put in the Etsy shop later in the week.  Other than the pottery, the rest of September will be tied up in getting our Sticks and Stones festival up and running on the 24th 25th and 26th.

This will be the biggest one yet, with the very popular band Monroe Crossing appearing on Sunday.  This has created quite a buzz in the area, and I am going to make a personal request for  their version of "Purple Rain" that I caught on KVSC 's Frets program on a road trip last week.
My own personal favorite Brian Wicklund will return this year on Saturday with a new band,  and a newer name, the" Barley Jacks"   for an evening concert on Saturday.  I got a sneak preview of these guys at fiddle camp this summer, and we are in for a real treat on Saturday!  In between the big acts, we have the Coffee House that will feature  Thea Ennen with her wonderful original  songs and  musicianship, as well as Dave Meeks, Paul Morris, Ben Rossow and Deb Barrett.

 I have nearly completed the 2010 artists roster on the website 
2010 artists roster
Well that should keep us up to date for now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We had  a great time at the art show last weekend.  This one is put on by artists so it is a really nice show to do.  I also got to see some old friends.  I got a mug like the ones pictured and a matching bowl from Willem Gebben., a Wisconsin potter whose work I have collected for many years. 

It was great getting to chat with Willem and Jordis, his partner for awhile, because we share similar philosophies about being potters.  They put on a home show twice a year, and don't have much of an online presence, so if you would like dates for the shows or more information on the pottery, contact me.

The weather was great  art fair weather, and it was busy all day, the best part was, we got all packed up and were on our way home before the raindrops began.  Paul took me to a great little cafe in Bay City, the River Bay Cafe.  A cold tap beer sure tasted good after a long art fair day, and the food was delicious.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New pots from the June firing

The photo today is a new plate from the June firing.  This is a big platter measuring 15 inches across.  This is one of  my most involved designs that requires many layers of slips and glazes before being fired in the wood kiln and glazed with salt added at the end of the firing.  

This is pretty much what today looked like in the woods around the green swamp.  Gardening and yard work has kept us busy this summer, and I am so happy with my front yard flower and herb garden.  Paul filled the two chamber kiln by himself and firing was a family deal in June.   The kiln is at our neighbors, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to fire in it while we continue to build our own.  One chamber is for salt glaze and the other , the first chamber is just stoneware. In order to fill it faster , Paul made some large planters to fill the stoneware chamber.  I acquired a couple with small cracks and have been cruising the green house end of season sales to fill them.

I have mixed more colors into the front garden this year,  because I fell in love with these petunias.
Every flower is a different combination of  a limey yellow and a rich magenta. I have added some more yellow and red to my usual purple pallette.    There is much satisfaction when I gaze at my flowers or weed out my veggies.  Summer is so fleeting in Minnesota, and  we have to savor every minute of it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A new cycle begins

Well another month has passed, and my poor blog lies neglected.  So, today, I decided to do this first before I went and got distracted with other things.    We have received more rain in the past few days than I can remember falling in the last three years!!    My well pump in the back is crapping out, and watering the garden when I planted it was a slow and tedious project.  The army worm caterpillar invasion is nearly over. Squadrons of the big black flies that will lay a parasitic egg on the fuzzy worms,  and consume them before they hatch ,  have been arriving.   I expect  mosquitoes will be showing up here, as I have seen some big invasions at other locations.  To put a positive spin on the legendary northern mosquito,  I will soon be seeing all different kinds and colors of dragonflies,  and little birds and bats that consume them.   When I walk back from the shop after dark, the sounds of rustling toads in the leaves of the forest floor accompany  me.     There are three types of tree frogs that I know of, and Lily has spotted some adult blue spotted salamanders.

My garden in the gravel pit here in the front is growing. The irises that I inherited from my Mother in laws' husband were not thriving back in the old garden, the grass and raspberries have choked half of them out.  The ones I put in my rock garden are thriving!  The one in the picture reminds me of fancy underwear!

The cycle of summer, for us, is involving more public sales, and I have not gotten my farmer's market act together yet.  Besides the garden, and  getting a chicken coop built,  I have acquired a slab roller, and am getting more involved in the studio than  I have in a long time.  I have dismantled my winter studio up here at the house and am working on the larger sculptures that are possible in my summer work area.  Cleaning and organizing is an ongoing project. I have cleaned out the merchandise in my Morris Pottery shop in Etsy.   
and will be listing new things daily  there.

Paul will be at the  studio of Bill Gossman, at the Willmar Area Studio Hop this weekend.  I am  taking a break from fiddle lessons for the month of June, and am attending fiddle camp this coming week for four days of music rejuvenation.   Brian Wicklunds books are the ones that captivate my students, I am so looking forward to this, not only for my personal goals, but to see how they motivate the kids, of which will be the majority of the campers.   I have rented myself a nice room at a historic inn in Stillwater, and will be so enjoying this personal retreat!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Catching up!

What happened to April?  I am putting in a late night after playing the monthly jam session at Kanabec History Center in Mora.  This is a regular event held on the third Saturday of every month year round.

Paul was in St. Peter Friday installing a show with  Bill Gossman titled "The Story, so Far"  The show runs through June 13th in the Moline Gallery  at the Arts Center of St. Peter.
Bill has also invited Paul to participate again this year in the Willmar area Studio Hop in June more information can be found here at their website

July will find us in Brainerd MN
My annual favorite is the Stockholm Art Festival
This show is in it's 37th year in a beautiful location on Lake Pepin.

All of the shows we are doing this summer are put on by other artists, except for Brainerd.  Our plans for our own festival, Sticks and Stones on September 24,25, 26 are coming together nicely.  We have booked to appear Sunday and Brian Wicklund and his band will perform on Saturday night. We have a full two days of music and entertainment lined up including the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers

Well I hope this catches me up for awhile, the garden is underway, and we are reclaiming parts of the yard from the encroaching forest.  I have twelve chicks that I am raising and some baby bunnies in the rabbitry, so I have  a lot on my plate!

Monday, March 8, 2010

There must be a name for it!

  I still consider myself new to the internet, even though it's going on eleven years since my first computer experience.  Something about the internet experience makes me feel like there's always something new to figure out, keeps it interesting!

I am sure there must be a word for when you are at the computer and a friend sends a link, like my friend did this morning, of a youtube video, and I go off on a big tangent listening to great music, and getting all nostalgic.  My friend says she sets her timer for 40 minutes  if she knows she is about to go down that music tangent.

  It's only 9 am , so I will still get all of my work done before I am off to give fiddle lessons.   There is a ton of greenware waiting for me to slip trail, and I am going to take my camera down, and make a new video for slip trailing with a little more detail.   I also want to edit my first one, and need to take the time to do that too. 

This beautiful spring weather has been great.  Even if it gets cold and snowy again it can't get it's teeth in.   We have made it through one more winter!! 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring is near!

Well it is great to be on the other end of winter! Of course we still expect some cold weather and snow for the next month or two, but the worst is definitely behind us now, and it is time to plan the garden, and summer activities.  Above is my latest goat sculptue, I have many more to finish off this week, as well as prepare a wood fire load to be fired next weekend. 
I started contributing to a new blog,

I find it a lot easier to write things in that blog, I wonder why. I guess maybe with my own blog I want it to be interesting, and there isn't really much interesting about my day to day life in winter in Minnesota, most of the activity goes on in my head, this time of year!  We are signed up with a couple of artist run shows this summer and have been making plans for the fall Sticks and Stones festival.   I still haven't started to enter any art fairs but we are looking at a few that are close by.

It has been great experimenting with glazes and under glazes in our electric kiln this winter, but equally great to settle back into the old slip trailing routine.  Crossing our fingers for good weather toward the end of the week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Green Swamp Gallery is open


Well I start the post with my new Etsy store, and now the tie in with this blog is a little more complete!
I am very excited about the new electric firings, and have many more sculptures to finish now that I have gotten over the fear of glazing.  I am actually underglazing these and that is all.  I will be experimenting with a base glaze adding colorants also.
  The Green Swamp vision extends into the real world also.  We have big plans for the outdoor gallery this spring, as well as making the schedule with pottery retreat bookings..  Stay tuned for more.

   On a sadder note, I got the rejection letter for the proposal that I made to a large coffee chain to produce handmade mugs for their coffee stores.   Price and customer demand were the failing points , I guess, and a small dream is dashed.    Although I am disappointed , it's only like the disappointment one might feel on a fishing expedition at the end of the day when nothing bit. 

  I have many new ideas that I need to go and work on in the studio today,  and will be filling Green Swamp Gallery with some new items , clay,  paintings, drawings, and more.

Friday, February 5, 2010

There is always something new

Well I have been obsessed with a new site  a site where you can design your own fabric!  I have been a seamstress from an early age, and was  thrilled to find this cool site!!

Homemade clothing has been a  mainstay in my life. My first day of school I wore a dress my mom made, and my prom dress and wedding dress were also made by my mom and I.  Over the years, I have been more of a fabric collector than  anything else.  I just LOVE fabric.  So when this site popped into my life I was instantly addicted.  I have designed some swatches and I am entered in the fabric of the week contest this week.
You can vote for the fabric of the week here 

Not only do I have designs buzzing around in my head , now, I am thinking up clothing that will fit those designs, and I can't wait  to see the first swatches that I ordered last week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January thaw

Here is a little sunshine for folks that are weathering the winter season!  I find it so fun looking through my summer photos in the dead of winter.  It's actually balmy by Minnesota standards today, so after this, I am going down to do the long version of chores. I really enjoy taking care of my animals, it gets me outside every day in all weather,  and I truly would not leave the house some days if I didn't have to. 

In the winter I have a small studio up here at the house, and I am really enjoying making things.  Shipping was the order of the day this morning, and I was surprised and grateful for the sales since I have extended my internet break.    I also sent out another important package, and future posts will fill in the details.

Warmer temperatures here means our southern friends should be feeling a warm up too, I hope so,  I was really surprised when my mom told me it was  zero or below in Missouri where they live.

Here is my cold weather tip for folks experiencing colder than normal weather.  Dress in layers, and start with long underwear.  I put on my cuddlduds  in October or November, and they are a staple of my wardrobe all winter.  They have a bamboo fabric that is so soft it is like a second skin. They last me a full year longer than the silk version I had purchased from another company.   Okay I am off to enjoy the January thaw!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Balance in all things

Today I put on my happy hat that I bought on Etsy from a really cool lady.   The hat is a tribute to her last goat, who lived to be eighteen.

This purchase was my gift to myself this year, and the money that I spent in her shop goes toward her donkey rescue operation.   This item touched my heart on so many levels, and considering the year end woes posted yesterday, I needed to fill my heart with a little joy.

During my hiatus from computer I have been sculpting, and goats are flowing easily from my hands, I have several in progress animals, but the goats are getting finished first and I am obtaining quite a herd. I can only think it is because of the magic goat hat!!!

Thanks Ady, donkey lady, for the cool hat and for the inspiration!!!

PS Thanks to my muddy buddies who posted with the cyber hugs, it means a lot!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to work......

.....But I just can't seem to get enough steam to start my routine again.  Monday before Christmas was my last shipping day, and the last firing for any special orders.  Now I have wrestled with special orders over the years, and made the decision to end that practice for 2010.  The worst part of the deal for me is being the person in the middle taking orders, and then making sure Paul makes it, and then praying for it to turn out using various kilns, and firing methods.  I soooo hate disappointing my customers, and it is me that has to tell them when the piece they have been waiting for did not turn out.
   Besides the kiln problems, we had 2  deer/van incidents that finally put our van out of commission.  At the same time, I needed dental work and that is so costly. 
   The online sales had slipped, rather than built up as I expected them to at this time last year.  
    Midway through the December selling , my new computer crashed,  very costly repairs on that, and I think I probably voided my warranty in order to have it fixed here locally, but not before hours with tech support.

So on that Monday of the last day of shipping, I totally shut down.  I took the past two weeks to just shut off the computer, and not worry about stuff.  The trouble is now, I don't want to go back to it.  Especially the worrying.  It is now when I tend to beat myself up for the career choices I have made.  I do not know of many couples who work together the way we have,  but with Paul and I at this point in our lives have no other choice but to keep building on our skills, and keep being creative.  

Well with all that said, I am planning to stay away from the computer a bit longer, and focus on more varied selling venues, and give myself more time to do what I do all of this for, so I CAN WORK WITH CLAY!!

 I am confident that a couple of new ventures might pan out, and help our situation.  I will be posting my new work closer to February, and there will be new functional work offered soon.