My Apprentice, Kara Bowman

 

Kara

Kara, working on her dad’s Father’s Day gift.

 

For the past several months, I have had a wonderful helper to help with all my fairy garden items. Kara Bowman is 14 and will be a freshman at Strasburg High School this fall. Kara loves history and is an avid Disney fan. She also is a crafter of wonderful duct tape items, wallets, flower pens and tri-fold wallets. She lives with her family in Maurertown, VA and lives on the Shenandoah River. Kara LOVES everything JMU (James Madison University) and hopes to attend school there in 2019 studying as a  physician’s assistant. She just finished a medical camp at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital learning CPR, dissecting a human eyeball, and touring the operating room. You can read more about this camp here. Kara loves getting paid with Dairy Queen blizzards but has been a real asset to helping my fairy garden inventory grow.

In the photo above, Kara is decorating a bowl that we made for her dad for Father’s Day. He is a big Baltimore Orioles fan.


 

I put the above text in my newsletter about Kara but, I want to add a full posting about her in my blog. Kara is a very kind and caring individual and during the past 6 months that I have been dealing with the grief of my son John’s death, she has been a wonderful companion to have and to sit with me in the studio. Kara’s mom, Cathy knew that this would be good for me, and also for Kara, to work with me, as an assistant, of sorts.

Kara is good about doing what I ask of her and is a quick learner and has a good eye for detail. She has really enjoyed doing the butterfly chairs and has looked up wonderful butterflies on her phone to replicate the colors and really enjoyed doing birdbaths. This was her first assignment and was very attentive to the different birds that she could add to the birdbaths. After the birdbaths were done, you could definitely pick out the orioles from the cardinals because she wanted them to look like the real birds.

I have introduced Kara to some new forms of music and movies and she has introduced me to everything Disney…. sometimes a bit too much Disney… but we try to share and enjoy each others tastes.

I would like to personally thank Kara, for being independent enough to be trusted and to know that it is okay to ask for something to eat or drink. I am not sure that she will come away from this experience wanting to pursue a career in ceramics but I hope this has added some depth to her education and the understanding of crafting as a business.

Kara has agreed to help me out with the Empty Bowls this year. I plan on teaching her how to make the frogs so that we can pledge a larger amount of bowls this year. The Alliance for Shelter in Shenandoah County lost a vital piece of their real estate to fire earlier in the Spring and hopefully our bowls that we contribute will help the homeless to have better shelter in the future. Kara has a caring heart and that is an organization that she holds dear so together we will do our part to help others.

Trying to build an inventory of work can be challenging when I have to take the entire process into account. Time is spent photographing the images and then getting those images ready for the web. All those years of color correcting photos in the digital printing world has helped me out in this regard but it is still time consuming to go through and edit and cull out about 5 images per item. Etsy allows me to upload 5 images of the items and I usually try and shoot more than that with several views. The thing about uploading a photo to the web is that not everyone’s monitors are calibrated to mine so they may order an item and it doesn’t really look like the photo when it arrives at their house. When I worked in printing and we would hear the customer say, “but it doesn’t look like that on MY monitor”, we always wanted to say that we would just ship their readers a monitor instead of the printed piece. Things almost always look better on a monitor before it is printed. However, with pottery, I think that the real thing tends to look better than the photo uploaded to the web. The background that I have been using is a vignetted gray blend so I usually try to get that gray to look like gray and by doing that the rest of the colors should fall into place. It is easier said than done sometimes though, but it at least gives a balanced base.

If you are interested in reading a post on how to photograph work, I can certainly do that in the future.

Now you can see the finished product from the how to post on putting the decoration on the cups.  I will be adding all these items to Etsy very soon but I thought I’d do a preview here first. Look for these items to go onto Etsy tonight or tomorrow and if you are interested in them you can find them here.

Enjoy!

New Cups and Bowls…

Orange and Teal

Belle has chosen orange and teal for her wedding colors are  and I absolutely love them. I mean, orange is just so happy (laughing orange) and the teal is a cool color. So, I am putting them into the party that we are doing for them on September the 24th wherever I can. Rather than try to find accessories to fit that color scheme, I thought it would be fun to make the parts to the party myself. I have purchased some things in those colors and in the coming weeks I will share some of those items with you but for today I am going to share the beautiful tablecloths that I am making to put on the banquet tables in the yard. With Herb’s help we are trying a “how to video” posting today, so please bear with us.

Hand painted Tablecloth in process

tablecloth supplies

 for this project, you will need:

  • a flat sheet or large piece of fabric. I used flat sheets that I found at a discount store. Although it seems they are harder to find these days due to sheets packaged as sets.
  • the fabric dye. I used just plain old RIT and “somewhat” followed the directions on the back
  • rubber stamps of your choice, I used the soft spongy kind but you could use a potato or a linoleum block. You just need something that will make a design with
  • paints. I used an assortment, a latex house type paint, a wall glaze and an acrylic.
  • a brayer is nice to have but isn’t absolutely necessary and a piece of glass to use the brayer on as a palette
  • a detailing paintbrush
  • an ink pen
This first video will give you an idea or how to get the orange dye onto the fabric so that the color vignettes from color to white.
And in this next video, I will demonstrate how to stamp the patterns onto the fabric using a printmaking brayer and paint.
And finally, I demonstrate how to add the details to the stamped design so that it looks more handmade and give the design more character rather than a boring stamp. A little glitter and shine make it look elegant and special.

Eyes glazed over…

Critique time….

I have many many comments.

  • Latex resist is awesome!!! Will definitely continue with that.
  • My clear glaze recipe is too thick and it ran off all the pots and now I get to use the dremel tool, if I decide to even try and salvage them
  • The color fired out of the tumblers with the nice painted plants, so they are basically black tumblers with the occasional design peeking out. Won’t do that again.
  • I like the quilting designs that I carved into the sides of the hexagon cups and there are some nice colors going on a couple but for the most part, ugly!
  • The earrings and pins were a way to use up the leftover colored slip ware I was trying and the pins are pretty cool. The earrings are paper thin and while I think they are pretty, not sure how functional they really will be. They may end up as windchimes instead
  • The lips of the cups are really not as clean as I would’ve liked. Maybe another glaze addition there and let it run where it connects, or a metalic gold rim might be cool.
  • I can see other colors besides black with the underglaze. Blue on Blue, shiny with matte, and trying to get a more delicate shape and pattern.
  • I definitely need to work on the heavy-ness of everything and work on getting a larger size due to the clay’s shrinking.
  • Possibly find a better clear glaze recipe or  put this one on very thinly.

It is a start… with lots more work ahead.