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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Sign and Fundraising

Today The Creative Oasis got a new sign. We've had constant trouble with them, most of our signs have been pulled down or destroyed by roving drunks late at night..just like we've had our window/door glass smashed. I hope this one will last!

This new sign was paid for by a fundraising campaign we started earlier in the year. It's The Creative Oasis's first major fundraising drive. Times being what they are, we needed the support of our former students and members as well as the revenues brought in by classes. So far we've brought in about $1500, I had set our goal at $60,000, so we're not very far along, but we've had several very generous donations and many more smaller ones. $60,000 would nearly double our budget and allow us to make major improvements as well as hire someone to be our first paid employee, that's right..we're ALL volunteers.

So for everyone who has donated, Thank you! For everyone who would like to help us reach our goal, you can donate by going to PayPal and sending your donation to Please include your mailing address so we can send you a receipt and a thank you letter that includes our federal EIN number so you can take your tax deduction!

You may also donate by phone, simply call us, 814 237 1982 and a friendly volunteer will take your credit card information.


You can send us a check: The Creative Oasis 133 E Beaver Ave State College, PA 16801

Thanks everyone, I hate to beg while blogging, but if I don't ask, I won't receive. This is a great studio and fantastic community resource. Worth it. Every dollar will make a real difference.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Post Ice Dragon Review

We just finished up with our day of vending at "The Passing of the Ice Dragon" in Buffalo, NY. The even was held in a huge steel building called the Western NY Event Center

It was a pretty good event, we're not rich from it, but we did in fact do the minimum I expected from the event. I had hoped for double, but the expenses are paid and there's a little something to pay a bill with..just.

I think we had a pretty good set up. The event was well attended, we had a pretty good time and now we have a bonus extra night in a hotel somewhere far away from our clay studio.

I'm going to create a photo album of the event since uploading one pic at a time is a horrible waste of time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Well my friends it's been a serious last few weeks. I've found myself rushed and harried, nothing quite working the way I expected it to. My last entry was about not staying up all night to work. It was a good decision. Those mugs I wanted to put handles on are still under plastic.

I was trying to get everything in the bisque kiln before we left for a surprise 50th birthday party for Rowan's best friend Mari. I think in retrospect I should have stayed home, but I wanted to be there too. We made it there OK, it was sweet and wonderful and she appreciated us being there. We did get to spend the night in a lovely beach house on LBI and had about 20 minutes on the beach before we left for home.

We came home on Sunday in time for me to make the final week of bowling and participate in the pizza and beer party that comes with it. I came home and didn't rush down to put handles on mugs because I found out that Jessa was coming home from FL and I could get two totes of mugs from her. So I glazed instead. Now the glaze kilns are both in process and I managed to sleep. We'll be ready for Ice Dragon this weekend in Buffalo.

Last night Ro and I went to a book reading at Webster's for Godmother written by Carolyn Turgeon, a beautiful, talented woman I went to high school with.. I'm proud of her success. I've realized that a lot of my friends are successful, they were all such individuals and non conformists in HS, but they've turned out to be doing some very interesting things, many of them self employed, nearly all of them making life a better place in different ways.

Tonight I am going to see Watchmen with a friend. A well deserved evening of relaxation. Tomorrow I'll deal with handles, pricing and packing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Too much in one night

Sometimes I push too hard.

We're leaving in the morning for NJ and I am frantically trying to get the work done so it can be in the kiln in the morning. We got one kiln loaded. Ro helped until 2AM and I took a little break..she was worried about getting everything done in the morning and still being awake for the drive. That's when it hit me that this was a wish list..I wanted to be done with the bisque so we could simply glaze next week and be done.. but we can squeeze another bisque in to the beginning of the week and still get it all done..

so I just wrapped up all the trimmed pots so I can deal with them Sunday night after I get back.

we'll fire a glaze monday and a bisque monday..another glaze wednesday..we'll get enough done. Maybe even a partial on'll cool quick enough to be out by the time we have to leave Friday evening.

I'm going to bed.. have a lot to do tomorrow and I don't need to stay up all night to finish these mugs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Every now and then I screw things up in the studio.. here are a few examples of my head-knocking, stupid mistakes :)

It's really hard to see, but in the top picture, there is a fleck of white marring the surface. That fleck of white is kiln wash, it fell onto the surface of the flate when I was loading and melted into the mix..except it's white and it's a solid bump. It ruins the piece for me.. it's like having a pimple on your nose. UGH.

In the next one I have far too much glaze applied. The glaze surface actually has bubbles that cooled before the glaze settled's ugly..anf ruined an otherwise cool piece. UGH!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The First Breakdown

I just got a call from Morgan telling me that the failing clutch in the neon has died. He and Quentin were on the way to get Quentin's car when it happened. They're getting help from the roadside assistance package that came with the insurance policy. *sigh* another repair..that one should be around $350.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Almost done...

Last year at this time while at a festival, I received an order I was almost afraid to take. It was open ended: to create plates and bowls, the number was up to me, but it was to be pieces that I was proud of. Masterworks. Something that displayed my art, not just production. I hemmed and hawed then they handed me half down. The plates are large dinner plates, the bowls are low and wide. These are the plates, the bowls will be done in a few weeks. They are done in a stoneware and tomorrow morning they will go into a salt-kiln. They are glazed with a light green celadon glaze, it should pool nicely in the carvings.

Here are the steps I had to take:

1) Throw the form. These are 14" across and made from 6lbs of clay.
2) allow the rims to sstiffen, but not get dry.
3) carve the design freehand
4) allow them to stiffen to leather hard and trim the foot
5) allow to become bone-dry
6) soften the design by buffing it with a 3m scrub pad
7) bisque fire to cone 06
8) WASH each piece to remove the dust from the 3M buffing
9) Allow them to dry for approx 8 hours so the glaze will stick, even after their earlier washing.
10) glaze the eating surface by pouring in two sections.
11) Allow each piece to dry, then sign with a mixture of Red Iron Oxide and Wax resist.
12 stack each piece with bubblewrap, I wrapped every four plates as a package with cardboard between each package.
13) Tomorrow I will drive them 20 miles to the salt kiln in Zion, PA

In Zion they will be fired to approximately 2400 F and it will take about 6 days for the pieces to cool inside the kiln. I'll be able to retrieve them NEXT weekend.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

As time flies

The days are just flying by again. It's Sunday morning, I'm sitting in Webster's Cafe downtown sipping coffee and trying to organize my thoughts while Rowan is standing on chairs waving a hammer and occasionally hitting the wall in between serious bouts of intense staring and assessment.

This means she's hanging her Ireland pictures today!

We've been waiting for the day, the frames have been neatly piled in the office and we've done a fair job of keeping the cats from walking over them. Currently I'm not sure if she's irritated with me or not, she asks for advice occasionally, but I don't feel like she actually needs it. She's got a pretty good eye for these things and despite her thinking I have more experience, I don't. So I've mostly been tapping away on the keyboard, assessing my friends on various social networks and putting in a few minutes on the games I play, like Pirates on MySpace and Mob Wars and Mafia Wars on Facebook. I assume if she REALLY wants me she'll let me know.

Yesterday was the culmination of my latest endeavor, 110 mug order also from Webster's. Obviously Webster's in general has become one center of our artistic endeavors. Elaine has created a social setting that works very well. Coffee and books are a time tested recipe at this point, but there is something more that keeps the customer loyalty. I think it's a serious commitment to get to know the customers and to be sure you always get good service and quality, locally produced food.

We tend to favor the Aaron Drive location since I no longer spend as much time in downtown State College as I used to, but since spending a few hours hanging around in the downtown I am overwhelmed with how vibrant and busy it is. I frequented Webster's downtown before Elaine took over and while it was busy and there was a rush, it was never as full all the time as I see it now. I am impressed.

I think one of the main things I see is a lack of stagnation and constant growth and change. Special events like poetry readings, local music, book signings help to drive new people in the doors. I've also never seen the furniture and shelving stay in the same arrangement for more than a few months. Consistency in food and service combined with growth and change make it a winning business, Not that there aren't problems, but I think in general they are handled well and positive solutions are sought for the difficulties that arise.

Elaine has also made a lot of friends by being very supportive of local non-profits. She has always been willing to help out The Creative Oasis, by selling mugs for a fundraiser, or providing food, drink, or even hosting an class.

It's been a pleasure watching Webster's grow and evolve and I am pleased to have been included in it with the mugs I make and the space to display Rowan's artwork on a regular basis. I'm even going to have a plate show in May on Aaron drive.

This turned out to be a lot of praise for Websters, but I have to admit the place has been very important for our local presence.

Ro is done hanging her show now. It looks amazing. She's had some good conversations about it already along with some nice general commentary from the public. Hopefully people will like the pictures well enough to take them home.

Between taking these awesome photographs, keeping Hughes Pottery organized and properly marketed, making awesome stained glass, teaching, and revitalizing The Creative Oasis, I think she's pretty amazing...I'm a lucky guy to have such an awesome wife!

I'd better end this now as she is bored to tears waiting for me to stop typing. And I didn't even get to yesterdays adventures in Wildcat Cheerleading competitions :)