Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Underground Studio

For most ceramic artists and most likely any type of artist, the thought of setting up a workspace in a dark, dank basement would make them cringe.

Its one of those situations that typically occurs to artists as a last resort. This happens to be my case, although I have worked in basements in the past, the one in our home scared me.

It looked like it was straight out of the Silence of the Lambs. All it needed was a 15ft. deep pit and a poodle named Precious.

If your asking why wouldn't I set up a studio in the barn? The answer is there is no insulation, and the cost to insulate it would be a fortune.

Some day that will happen, but for now the basement I must go.

I started by raking up all the debris from the dirt floor and then began to shop vac all the walls, beams and any surface that was there.
As I was cleaning I started to fall in love with the fact that my studio would actually have stone walls.

I continued to clean for the rest of the day and even washed the walls to make sure there wasn't a speck of dust.
When I was complete I sat down on a chair and looked around and thought to myself " I could get used to this".

The next day I went down and started to hang inspirational images that I have collected over the years, to bring some warmth to the space.
I moved around shelving and tables till it was just felt right. This is the result.

I know its most likely not a dream studio or even close, but its suits my purpose.

So now it's time to get to work and create with clay again!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Soapy Venture

I have decided to share with all of you my new venture in soap making. I call it a venture because I don't quite know if the soap will appeal to people at the pottery or my soon to be up and running Etsy shop.
It all started several several years ago when Stephen and I decided to make soap for gifts one Christmas. We made naturally scented soaps such as orange clove, cedar, and lavender oatmeal.

They were a big hit with our friends and family, but the following holiday we never got around to making them again.

Last spring when I was working on plans for the pottery, making soap was on my long list. But with all the work that had to be done around the house, gardens and pottery, the soap making got nixed again.

It wasn't till this past holiday season that I got into the mood to make soap again. I pondered all sorts of scents to experiment with, and decided on two.

Cardamom Lime and Orange Clove would be suited, I thought for the season, and the extra cardamom soaps would be a perfect spring scent to sell at the pottery.

So I got to work by starting with all my ingredients. I hand ground all the spices with my mortar and pestle, and then began to zest all the citrus, and placed them in my bowls.

I then melted the translucent soap base in my huge double boiler that I just use for soap making.
I then added the ingredients one by one, gave it a good stir and poured the boiling mixture into molds to set.

After a day of setting in the molds I cut them to size and placed them between layers of paper to cure.
It was so beautiful to see them laid out all together on the table, they looked like jeweled candies.

The following weekend I gathered up a bunch of my little porcelain bowls and dishes and placed the soaps in them and tied them up with ribbon. They were all ready for gift giving, and the response was the same from friends and family.

I hope when people stop this coming spring to the pottery they will want to get some homemade soap and make this, a not so soapy venture.

What do you think? Want some soap?