Happy about Happy Clay

Every once in a while I run across work that can best be described as yummy! I’m not exactly sure why but there is something about the work of artist Niki Buckley Crosby aka Happy Clay that is just so lush and fresh to me that I had to share it. As someone that personally struggles with any sort of two dimensional imagery in my work – it’s just not a part of my vocabulary and skill set – I’m quite draw (not an intentionally pun!) to it in others work. I particularly love the smudgy drawing quality of Niki’s work. It’s such a nice cross between a charcoal drawing, a rich color painting and a reference to beautiful old dishes with lustered designs.

This work is just so much fun. Check out more at her Etsy shop Happy Clay, or her blog – which has links to a flicker photo set that includes pictures of her amazingly colorful studio.

While the following is not ceramic related, it is craft related and should be of interest to anyone that works with handmade objects. It seems that the US has passed legislation that is going to have grave impact on the future of handmade products for children, and even mass produced products for that matter.

Please check out the following article and have a look at Etsy for more discussion and links. It’s frightening really…


You’ve got to take minute to watch the video of brick labourers in Bangladesh that Emily Murphy at Pottery Blog just posted. It’s pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing Emily, you’ve always got the best stuff and info. If you haven’t yet run across Emily’s blog make sure you’ve got some time on your hands as there is so much great info and links, and if you’ve been there before time to check it out again as it’s got a fresh new look.

A “seconds” thought…

I’m the first to admit that I’m an etsy addict. Not that I buy that much, but I do find that I do like to look. And something that has been on my radar lately is the practice of selling “seconds” as sale items. I’ve always had a weird uncomfortable relationship with what is considered seconds, whether in my own practice or otherwise. I think I was lead to believe somewhere in my training, when and where i’m not sure, that seconds are really only good for the bin. Yet when looking at others seconds I sometimes wonder why it is that they are even classified as seconds. Does the slightest pinholing of a glaze render a pot useless. Well certainly if it’s sharp and can interfere with function. But what of pinholing that has melted back, yet left its mark. Or a crazed glaze? I’ve worked for years with a particular crazed glaze intentionally. I think there is also a question in my mind about aesthetic seconds. And that’s where the most complicated gray zone appears in my practice. Is a pot worthless if it doesn’t uphold my aesthetic expectations and to what degree can I accept the material and processes’ challenge to my rigid expectations? Being a maker of both functional and sculptural work I also find that there is a difference when dealing with sculptural “seconds”. When function isn’t an issue it’s much easier to fix and mend faults so that they are invisible to most eyes. But is that fair? Or is it unfair to put such a pressure on ourselves to toss out each and every piece that is not quite right? I find it amazing that so often at conferences, behind closed doors, and quietly to one another we discuss our secret tricks and what we might have gotten away with in the past. I’ve heard stories of oil pastels filling cracks, magic glues and cements, room temperature glazes (as in paints) and the like, and most certainly I have had my own such secrets. I know it’s sort of one of those constantly regurgitated topics for ceramicists, but I guess I have yet to find peace with the debate in my mind.

I think i’m also currently fighting with the idea of aesthetic seconds as I’m in the process of making some very different work for an upcoming show. Well by very different I guess that aesthetically it fits with the other functional work, however the process is completely out of left field for me. The premise for the show was to create work inspired by the other 3 artists in the exhibition as a means of challenging one’s practice out of (in my personal case) its rut and repetition. But I’m struggling with the work in a way that painfully reminds me of the first semester of grad studies. And with the exhibition approaching in April I’m questioning if I’ll be alright with the work by then. I think I’m a believer in the fact that we often need to live with our own work for a period of time in order to digest what it is and where exactly it has come from. And this process has been known in the past to turn aesthetic seconds into pieces I have grown to love and cherish, once the initial shock of perceived expectations has faded. While I have to admit I’ve often been one of those artists that literally question if the heat of the piece freshly out of the kiln will melt my packing materials in order to get the work somewhere on time…I’m starting to turn into a person that aims or desires to have the work done weeks or more in advance in order to have the opportunity to live with it. Last year I sent off a piece to a show that I have since been dying to get back. The piece in the end meant more to me then I realized at the time and I’ve since been silently hoping that it won’t sell and will be safely delivered back to me. I guess what i’ve been contemplating lately is the strange relationship I sometimes have with my work. The love/hate of the challenges it presents, it’s nagging need to keep me awake at night, how it steals my mind away from the everyday – losing myself mentally in my work as I try to feed my little one or chase him about. Maybe it’s my neurotic nature, but i’m constantly questioning how good my work is, if each individual piece lives up to my expectations of excellence; aesthetically/functionally/conceptually. And sometimes I feel like a perfectionist with blinders on, unable to see what’s right in from of me, and other days I wonder if I’m going easy on myself and not self critiquing or challenging enough. It’s a weird back and forth ballet that somedays makes me hide from the studio and all it’s questions; while on other days hide from the rest of the world within its safe walls.

Ceramics Monthly – call for entry

Deadline – February 20th, 2009

Emerging Artists Call for Entry – the May issue will feature the works of emerging clay artists. You’re eligible is you have been actively pursuing a career in ceramics for less than ten years.

Up to 5 professional quality digital images (300 dpi resolution on cd, plus a full-size color print of each image) with complete descriptions of works.
Full contact information including email, artist’s statement and CV.

Mail to:
Emerging Artist
Ceramics Monthly
600 N. Cleveland Ave
Suite 210
Westerville, OH 43082