I got an email a few days ago from a local potter, Kary Haun. She asked if I would be interested in making a few bowls for the Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter‘s Empty Bowl Soup Supper this fall. I was really excited for several reasons. First of all, this gives me a reason to make pottery and will give me the opportunity to see if I have what it takes to make a bunch of bowls that are all similar and put them out into a public venue and second, I have asked so many of the local artists to do things for Friends of the North that this is an opportunity for me to give something back and be on the giving side instead of the asking side and third, it is for a good cause.

So I used the plate I did for the Friends Fish Fry as inspiration for the 25 bowls that I have promised for the Shelter Soup Bowl dinner and now have 8 bowls done. I am figuring that I will need to make about 30 bowls in case something happens in the firing to ensure that I end up with 25 bowls to give them.

I started out with three pounds of clay per bowl and backed that down to 2 and a half pounds because the bowls just looked too big. And on the next batch I think I am going to pack it down to two pounds because they still look a bit too big. To give an idea of the scale, we photographed a bowl that we use all the time. They are all a bit bigger and even though they will shrink some in the firing, I think it will be easier to crank out the remainder bowls if they are a bit smaller.

I am really having fun posing these frogs though. There seems to be a pattern to my art with frogs lately. They were in the bench for FNFSR last year and the plate for this year and now a series of bowls with …….more frogs.

A thing for frogs…

My pottery frog plate.

October 8, 2011

As many of you know, I do a lot (A LOT in capitals) of volunteer work for Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Seven years ago, we decided to do an annual fish fry as a way to fundraise for the issues surrounding the Shenandoah River. Four years ago now, we have been asking local artists to participate in this event by decorating an object that we then auction to raise funds for that purpose. Initially we were going around to local businesses to find items to auction and that idea became stale very quickly. I had the idea to obtain large fiberglass sculptural fish to have local artists decorate and when I began the research I soon realized that it was a huge expense just to purchase the fiberglass pieces. Horse Mania in Lexington, KY supports much of the arts with the proceeds from this kind of event. They are actually repeating the event again in 2011 from 2000.  So why not scale the idea back and find something less expensive. That first year we did terra cotta planters, with a River Visions in Terra Cotta theme and they were wonderful. The idea took off and we had artists wanting to know how they could participate. The next year we did floorcloths. And last year we did wooden cottage benches.  The items have been so successful that I overheard some grumbling from some of the attendees that the items were selling beyond their means. And really, each year it seems the prices have risen to certainly more than I would pay for some of the items. And while we don’t seem to raise the kind of funds that the LexArts folks do we still need to make the items reasonable for our local demographic.

The idea to offer a silent auction item was put into play and I came across a site for a gallery in Oregon that was doing a benefit for CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund) and asking potters to submit a plate to be auctioned online. The submissions for the gallery in Oregon were wonderful and I contacted the Mary Lou Zeek, the gallery owner and found out the details and decided to give it a try to offer a less expensive item at this year’s fish fry. The minimum bid will be $25. Hopefully the prices won’t rise too high and folks will see that we are making an effort to make items available to everyone. Even those of us that the recession has hit.

My plate has frogs that are coming out of the pond of fish. The frogs have expressive faces and the fish in the center is a slip trailed image of a fish. Not necessarily a Shenandoah Fish. Water lilly  leaves form a circle around the outside edge and they are glazed in a celedon with a slip detail of the leaf showing through.

As this year’s  fish fry gets closer, there will be other potters submitting works and the collection of plates will come into view. We weren’t able to get 100 plates or potters on board but the dozen that we have will hopefully give us a starting point to getting a new item of our fundraiser off the ground.

Tickets will be going on sale soon and the event is October the 8th this year. Mark your calendars and plan to attend. The larger item that other artists are decorating this year are Adirondack chairs with a river theme. Those should be lots of fun to see too. I didn’t do one of the large items this year with my fall being full of family events but I can’t wait to see what the other artists come up with as their vision appears on the chairs.

The Frog Plate…

I cut some flowers from the yard, the ones that are still alive anyway, and put a rooting cylinder in the center of the bookvase, filled it with water and did a quick arrangement so you can see it with flowers in it. I think it is lovely, don’t you? The draping flowers are a green emerald amaranth with some ferns and zinnias. Very simple, yet elegant.

A photo of the book vase…