Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Porcelain Jewelry Display a New Look

The 2011 Art Fair season will begin for me next month with the annual West Michigan Potters Guild Springfest.  It is time to reorganize the storage bins,  be sure the table covers are freshly washed and make sure the inventory is in order.  I have packed away the Christmas holiday items and the snowflake pins, made a note to make more snowmen pin/pendants for fall and started the glaze fire for new spring necklaces and earrings. 
For several years I have used Styrofoam boards covered in dark leaf green velveteen to display pins and pendant necklaces.  The first year I did art fairs,  I packed each pin in tissue and put it out for display in a case or pinned it on a large white mohair shawl at the beginning of each show and rewrapped it and packed it up again after the show.  Set up and tear down took forever until I discovered another artist who had her work pinned on cork bulletin boards.  The velvet covered boards were a lifesaver.  They are getting tired looking after all the seasons of use now and it is time for a new look.  Out with the green and in with an even more  neutral color to go with the cream colored table covers and the light wood shelving.  I have found a new velvety fabric to cover the boards for a fresh clean look.  That is my project today and when I have them covered, I will have some fun arranging a fresh spring collection of pins, and pendant necklaces.
The 21st Annual Springfest Show and Sale is less than a month away.  Saturday, March 19th at The Church of the Servant 3835 Burton Street SE in Grand Rapids Michigan.  Come and see all the different ways clay can be turned into beautiful and useful objects.  The Dinnerware Show will again be featured.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How Many Piercings?

            People without holes in their ears are people too. How many piercings do you have?  At a summer art fairs there is a parade of people and it is common to see multiple tattoos and multiple piercings. It may be hard to believe, but there are still many people who don’t have any of either.
              Some people have tried but are allergic to metal in their ears, or have had bad experiences of one sort or another.  Some have just never gotten around to it and some don’t even want to think about being poked and pierced.  Some aunts and grandmothers grew up when pierced ears were frowned upon (yes, once upon a time) and have never wanted them. At nearly every show I hear the comment “Your earrings are so cute but I don’t have pierced ears”
            So few artists make clip earrings that people don’t expect to find them.  I enjoy being able to tell them that a whole spinner of earrings in my booth is just for them.  Or maybe they have pierced ears but need a gift for a mom,  a grandmother or aunt who wears clips.  Often they are so happy to find them that they buy a handful.
            For a long time, I made my own cards to put them on.  I printed out cardstock cards and glued a plastic thing on the back that hung them on the display spinner.  That was a lot of work  and they wilted in the humidity and looked a mess after a rainy art fair.  The plastic cards I buy for the rest of my earrings just have tiny holes for wires or posts to go through so they didn’t work for clips. 
            Then it hit me.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  I have a hole punch and with some effort can punch through the plastic to enlarge the holes for my clip earrings.  Now, I don’t have to make my own cards, I have saved myself lots of work, the display cards won’t sag in the rain, and I have a new look for the clip earring spinner.
             We don’t realize the amount of time spent on these housekeeping details until we have to do them.  It is always a relief when I figure out how to simplify this part of my business.  I was going to say “non-creative” part of my business, but often the display and marketing part turns out to be very creative, if not very “arty” and then again sometimes it is just something obvious finally hitting me in the face.
            To  see examples of my clip and “non-clip” earrings please check out these sites:

Monday, February 7, 2011


 Next week is Valentines Day.  I have been rearranging my Etsy Shop to feature hearts and the color red.  Some of my items were photographed with a red rose and look especially like Valentines, those have been especially fun to work with.  I have lots of heart items,  earrings and pendant necklaces as well as some red bird earrings, and some red spring tulip earrings and necklaces all on the first page of my shop. 

I have discovered that if I put a photo and a link on my “Fan” page http://www.facebook.com/pages/AliceHuntStudio/329394373735       of facebook, it also appears on my personal page and Twitter too
 http://twitter.com/#!/alicehuntstudio  I don’t know how that works but I am glad it does.

Happy Valentines Day to all ! ! !

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Necklace in My Head

I have this exhibition necklace I have been working on for several years.  I can see it in my head……
I could see it when I gathered wild grape leaves to make impressions in clay.  I could see it when I finished sculpting the grape leaves and grapes and made little grape beads in porcelain clay.  After careful and thorough drying to be sure there would be no steam build up inside the pieces to make them explode during the first firing, they were bisque fired. 

The bisque pieces were beautiful when they came out of the kiln.  Pure white on white sculptures.  They were so nice just they way they were I was afraid to mess them up.  What if I glazed them and the colors were not what I envisioned in my head?  Panic! 

Since I had made the components for four complete necklaces, I decided to start by glazing just one.  I have learned that if the glazes are not just right after the first firing, I can carefully layer more glaze and underglaze and fire them again.  It took a lot of experimenting to figure out how to make it work as most potters will tell you once a pot is glazed you can’t get more glaze to stick.  But they say necessity is the mother of invention.

After several attempts to get it right, I put the one necklace in the kiln for the last time and turned on the heat to let it fire.  Then I waited for it to reach glaze temperature, over 2.000 degrees and then cool down.  When I emptied the kiln, disaster struck.  As I lifted the kiln shelf that was above the shelf the necklace was on, one of the supports stuck to the bottom of it just long enough to be lifted above the necklace where it let loose and fell breaking the grape leaves.  I was so devastated, and mad at myself,  that I could not work on the remaining three bisque form necklaces for a whole year.

I was so glad that only one necklace had been under that kiln shelf!  NEW RULE ,   the necklaces can only be put on the TOP shelf !!!   I began again very timidly.  The colors were much too pale the first time.  This allowed me to layer more colors and glazes but took a lot of time and since I work with small items it take a while to fill the kiln even for a glaze fire, so another year or so went by with several firings getting the glazes right. 

Finally, all the grapes and leaves were the colors I had in my head and I could add the finishing touches with China Painter’s Gold.  This was a labor of love, and since I had come this far with the pieces I wanted to be sure it was perfect.
Again the necklaces went into the kiln.  ON THE TOP SHELF !!!

And again, they were so beautiful I was afraid to start putting them together.  How would I assemble them to create the necklaces that were in my mind’s eye?  I began to sort through the amethyst and peridot, fluorite and serpentine beads in my bead drawer.  Seed beads and pearls were also selected.  I ordered some special head pins with green swarovsky crystals.  How many strands of beading wire would I need to use to get the effect I had in mind? 

I have started to put the beads on the first wire and string it through the grapes that are attached to the leaves.  Will two more strands of beads and grapes be enough to create the full effect that I can see in the necklace in my head?  And when I get the right fullness of grapes and beads on the collar of leaves,  how will I secure all the strands together and finish the sides and back of the necklace and clasp it?

To see more of my work please check out these sites.