Snow Day in Arkansas

Snow Day in Arkansas

Yesterday we had a snow day. For those of you who live with snowy winters you will roll your eyes and call us babies but here in Arkansas, snow days are a rarity and we just can’t handle it.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

e don’t have snow plows to clear our roads. Most likely mittens to keep our fingers warm are in the house somewhere but we may still be looking for them come springtime. Most us us don’t have snow shovels to clear a path to our cars, or clear our driveway. And while we may have “all terrain tires” they are mostly used to guide us safely through our pot holed country roads and not snowy conditions.

Ghost Fireplace

We have the coolest ghost fireplace on our property. Max and Emily love to play on!

I was raised in the north, with long winters. In my 50’s I lived in the mountains of Southern California where having 15 feet of snow on the ground was the norm, but that doesn’t mean I like the snow.

Nope…..I dislike it immensely!

So yesterday when we had 5 inches of wet, sloppy, heavy snow fall at our home I was not a happy girl. Top that off with the electricity going out at 11 pm and not coming back on until 11 am, and I could only be described as a zombie.

I wasn’t the only one who was not happy about the snow and cold. Max and Emily may love being outside but yesterday they didn’t leave the house. In fact, I am pretty sure Max slept for 48 hours straight on our bed, curled up in a tight ball, cushioned by all the throw pillows. I joined him a few times, but he had me beat on sleeping!!

The saddest part for me was that I finally, after 5 years, decided to let a professional cut and style my hair. The appointment was yesterday. I had to cancel.

So when I said zombie, I meant I sat in my chair all day just pouting. I couldn’t go out to my studio because there was no electricity and therefore no heat.

We were able to stay warm in our all-electric house because last year we bought a portable propane gas heater and installed it in our living room for just this scenario. But the rest of the house is all electric and that meant no cooking and NO COFFEE.

I did play around a bit with Procreate on my iPad, beat my iPad playing Scrabble, organized my receipts for taxes and ate all the chocolate chip cookies I made a few days before.

Purple Cat Created in Procreate

This was my first attempt at really making a painting in Procreate. It is by far not my best work, but I got to learn a lot about how Procreate works.

But today is another day. The sun is out, the snow is melting, and the heater is back on in my studio! I keep it on 61 degrees when I am not in it just to keep it warm, plus that is the lowest temperature my Split Unit will go to. I say it’s too keep my clay from freezing (it is) but its also to be just warm enough in the studio to be comfortable when I first get in it.

Happy Creating!

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

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Phone Arm for Overhead Videos


I bought this so that I could record video while I am making stuff. It works great.  The arm attaches to the table with a thumb screw. The part that holds your phone is spring loaded and almost too strong of a spring. I pinch my fingers a lot but I know the phone won't fall out into my clay water!!
View on Amazon

Apple Pencil


This is the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil that works with the iPad Air 2 5th generation. It easily pairs and draws beautifully. You can even write in text boxes and it will change it to type.
View on Amazon

Apple Ipad Air 5th Generation


The iPad is a great solution for organizing your pottery or art life. Couple it with an Apple Pencil and an art App like Procreate and you can also work out design issues before committing to clay. Plus its a whole lot of fun.
View on Amazon

Phone Tripod Mount with Remote 360 Rotation


Phone Tripod mount. I bought this to convert my camera tripod to one that will hold my phone. It even comes with a Bluetooth remote that allows you to take a photo with your phone without touching your phone
View on Amazon

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

I wish I could be out in my Pottery Studio every moment of every day but sometimes I just can't. Damp Boxes have helped me keep my pieces wet for a long time which is pretty important to me as a Sgraffito Artist. Storing pottery so it stays wet...

read more
It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

The first time someone asked me to make something special just for them it was an ego boasting compliment. Someone thinks so much of my work that they want something special. How cool was that and how could I say no!!! After a few of those,...

read more
Goodbye 2022, Hello the rest of my life.

Goodbye 2022, Hello the rest of my life.

As creators, makers and artisans, the months leading up to the Holiday Season can be quite stressful. We have holiday shows to participate in, customers who need special gifts made, on-line shops to fill and tons of trips to the post office.

For me that meant gearing up for the Christmas season starting in July.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

Maybe that’s where “Christmas in July” came from!

This year I wasn’t quite prepared for it all. The “Studio Move” in May really set me back a bit so I actually cancelled several of my bigger shows so that I wouldn’t have that stress on my shoulders.

And you know what….it felt wonderful. Like a vacation.

Plus, with the sale of the studio, I no longer have those extra expenses to pay. Which meant I wasn’t making pottery just to pay the electric bill!

With my studio being now at home I also got to enjoy my hubby, my critters, my home, the lake, and summer! To be honest, it was hard to be in the studio when the sun was out, and the lake was glistening. I thought maybe I could try to garden but that was an epic failure!

I was looking forward to winter when I had nothing better to do than be in my studio.

Because I no longer have the pressure of the extra expenses, I can spend more time doing what I love.

So this year will be a year of change!

New Projects and Artistic Mediums

Playing in Clay will always be my first passion and this year I plan to continue to explore new ways of decorating my pottery. Sgraffito still leads the way with underglaze painting coming up second and regular glazing coming in last place. Last year I added Acorns and Oak Leaves and cats to my subject matter. Several years ago I carved butterflies and think I may add that to my portfolio!

Torch Fired Enamelling

A new medium I am exploring is torch fired Enamelling. This exciting craft takes Enamel, which is powdered glass, and fires it onto metal, like copper, using a torch.

 

I am just learning Torch fired enamel and finding my voice within the medium. It’s such fun learning something new.

Whereas Pottery can take a month or longer for me to see final results, torch fired enamelling is instant gratification!

I haven’t found my voice yet in this new medium so I am playing around and just seeing what it does!!

Digital Art

Years ago, before Digital Art became so mainstream, I was doing it. Not just applying a filter in Photoshop on some pretty picture I took either. I had a Wacom Tablet, a fancy Epsom Printer that could print on canvas and an expensive graphic program that turned my computer into a art supply store!!

It was great fun. I could paint anything I wanted with any kind of paint, pen or pencil.

At the time though, I was criticised for it, told I wasn’t really an artist and could not submit my work to Art Competitions.

Boy that chapped my ass.

Eventually I went on to do other things and the software became unusable on future Operating Systems.

 

I can work out designs and colors for my sgraffito work on my iPad using Procreate and my Apple Pencil.

Now I am back at it with my iPad, Apple Pencil and an app called Procreate.

Most likely I wont be painting pictures with this but I will use it to work out new Sgraffito designs for my pottery.

Online sales

Last year (2022) I built a store on my website and did pretty well with it . I also kept my shop on Etsy with the same items. This became pretty confusing when I made a sale. I had to remember to take it off the platform.

This year I will be trying something new. My customer base on Etsy is completely different than my customer base on my website. With that in mind I will be making minimalistic pieces for the Etsy customer base and my artful pottery will be available through my website.

I think this will be easier.

In Conclusion, I have not made any resolutions or promises to myself except to enjoy life, enjoy my family and friends and enjoy the creating process.

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Subscribe

Apple Ipad Air 5th Generation


The iPad is a great solution for organizing your pottery or art life. Couple it with an Apple Pencil and an art App like Procreate and you can also work out design issues before committing to clay. Plus its a whole lot of fun.
View on Amazon

Apple Pencil


This is the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil that works with the iPad Air 2 5th generation. It easily pairs and draws beautifully. You can even write in text boxes and it will change it to type.
View on Amazon

Beginner Enameling Kit


I started my Enameling Journy with a Kit similar to this. What I like about this kit is the book. I have it and its a great way to learn
View on Amazon

Shimpo Whisper Potters Wheel


This is the potter's wheel I have and I absolutely love it. Its a bit pricey so if you can swing it I do recommend it.  You may be able to find one used, which is how I bought mine. A more affordable wheel I would recommend for beginners is the Clay Boss

View on Amazon

Phone Arm for Overhead Videos


I bought this so that I could record video while I am making stuff. It works great.  The arm attaches to the table with a thumb screw. The part that holds your phone is spring loaded and almost too strong of a spring. I pinch my fingers a lot but I know the phone won't fall out into my clay water!!
View on Amazon

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

I wish I could be out in my Pottery Studio every moment of every day but sometimes I just can't. Damp Boxes have helped me keep my pieces wet for a long time which is pretty important to me as a Sgraffito Artist. Storing pottery so it stays wet...

read more
It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

The first time someone asked me to make something special just for them it was an ego boasting compliment. Someone thinks so much of my work that they want something special. How cool was that and how could I say no!!! After a few of those,...

read more
Drawing out designs in Procreate for Sgraffito Pottery

Drawing out designs in Procreate for Sgraffito Pottery

One thing I am always on the lookout for are new ways to experiment and play with graphic designs before I commit them to clay. I believe I have found a solution in an iPad, an app called Procreate and an Apple Pencil.  Now I can work out my designs without hunting for an eraser and know whether a graphic will work or not.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

For the last few months I have had this insatiable need to upgrade my techy equipment. My laptop is at least 11 years old and as slow as molasses. My iPad was pretty old as well and starting to feel her age.

Plus, I just wanted something new. Not being a fashionable kinda of person, I don’t spend much time or energy buying clothes. With my house being tiny I have no need for furniture or “things”.

I tend to go overboard with books and computers. That’s my “thing”

So the thought that I needed some new equipment got into my head and it just wouldn’t leave.

Of course, I had to justify (in my head) this “need” for a new, top of the line, I am out of my mind, totally unnecessary and expensive purchase.

Eventually I found that justification when I discovered an app called “Procreate”.

Procreate and the IPAD will work well for my Sgraffito Art

One of the things I struggle with, as a sgraffito artist, is working out graphics before committing them to clay.

We learn to draw with a black pencil on white paper. Our minds are trained that way. With Sgraffito I lay down a solid layer of black underglaze first and then draw (scratch) it away to reveal the white clay underneath. You can read more about Sgraffito here Sgraffito – Scratched in Clay

It is sometimes very hard to determine where to scratch and remove the underglaze when you are just working with a pencil and paper drawing. At least for me.

I wanted something that would allow me to see my design before I committed it to clay, just to make sure it would work.

Sgraffito Carved Butter Keeper in Black and White

Meet Lily (short for Lil-iPad)

In exploring my options, I came across graphic drawing apps. After doing some research and testing out some of them I decided that Procreate (procreate.com) was the one for me.

Procreate is designed for use ONLY with an Ipad, which I had, and works best with the Apple Pencil, which I did not have. Unfortunately, my current IPad was too old and did not support an Apple Pencil. Procreate was ONLY for the IPad. I could “draw” with my finger but how clunky would that be. I needed an Apple Pencil and a New IPad to go with it.

I had my justification

As soon as my head said “Do it” I ran out and bought it!

New Ipad Air with Apple Pencil for art drawing

Lily is a robust IPad Air 5th generation that virtually kicks ass!! The overall size is just a tad bigger than my old IPad Air2, just enough to not fit into my IPad Case (way to go Apple, smooth marketing move) but the useable screen is much bigger (a lot less black border).

The Apple Pencil  (2nd Generation) that works with this model is outstanding. It attaches, charges and pairs by magnetically attaching it to the top of my iPad. I can write in any text box and it automatically converts it to type. It’s really comfortable to hold and feels like a pencil.

Procreate is a “two-time Apple Design Award winning digital art studio you can take anywhere” and it seriously rocks.  You have a slew of pens to choose from, every color on the rainbow, and layers so that you can work on one element without ruining other elements. There are a ton of free Tutorials available so getting up to speed on how to use the program was fairly easy and it was quite intuitive too. Even Procreate offers 4 “beginner” lessons to get you started. She talks very fast and I couldn’t follow it at normal speed but since you can change playback speed in YouTube, I was able to slow her down enough to follow along on my ipad. She sounded drunk at that speed but that was part of the fun!

It’s incredibly affordable as well. Right now, its $12.99 for life (take that Adobe….. you overcharge). It may be low on price but its not low on features. I think Procreate and I will become very good friends.

And one of the best things is that I never have to hunt around for a pencil or an eraser. I double tap on the Apple Pencil and it changes to an eraser. Its a miracle!!  And since the Pencil magnetically attaches to the iPad It will be hard for me to lose it either. Losing stuff is my superpower.

 My First Picture in Procreate

Since I bought this to help with Sgraffito it was fitting that the first thing I attempt in learning it was creating a picture that would work in sgraffito. I decided to use Dragonflies as the main graphic since I can draw them in my head. I needed to learn how to manage and manipulate the pens, change colors, make layers…. all that stuff.

This was my first attempt and if I must say so myself, its pretty cool.

Two dragonflies fluttering around a colorful background

I probably did it the hardest way possible but I did it. Now the trick will be to refine how I did it so I can do it again!
Wouldn’t that look pretty on a mug?

You can use it for drawing all kinds of things. There is an extensive Brush Library, Unlimited Colors and you can create your own color palettes. There are at least a million videos on YouTube on how to use Procreate but I have found it pretty intuitive and easy to use. A quick Google search turned up every answer I needed.

Screen Shot of Ipad and Procreate with a hand drawn frog and the Brush Library drop down

I am sure I will find this new toy of mine to be very instrumental in moving my sgraffito forward and trying out new designs. As I learn more I will post more.

Until Later.

 

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Subscribe

Apple Ipad Air 5th Generation


The iPad is a great solution for organizing your pottery or art life. Couple it with an Apple Pencil and an art App like Procreate and you can also work out design issues before committing to clay. Plus its a whole lot of fun.
View on Amazon

Apple Pencil


This is the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil that works with the iPad Air 2 5th generation. It easily pairs and draws beautifully. You can even write in text boxes and it will change it to type.
View on Amazon

Amaco Velvet Jet Black Underglaze


Amaco Velvet Jet Black Underglaze is my base color for Sgraffito Work. I apply 3 coats on a Hard Leather hard piece to give a lovely opaque palette to work with. When Bisque Fired it turns a deep matte dark grey. Applying clear glaze brings out the shine and makes it very black.
View on Amazon

Pottery Rasp for cleaning up clay

Clean up the pottery greenware with this handheld rasp
View on Amazon

Phone Arm for Overhead Videos


I bought this so that I could record video while I am making stuff. It works great.  The arm attaches to the table with a thumb screw. The part that holds your phone is spring loaded and almost too strong of a spring. I pinch my fingers a lot but I know the phone won't fall out into my clay water!!
View on Amazon

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

I wish I could be out in my Pottery Studio every moment of every day but sometimes I just can't. Damp Boxes have helped me keep my pieces wet for a long time which is pretty important to me as a Sgraffito Artist. Storing pottery so it stays wet...

read more
It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

The first time someone asked me to make something special just for them it was an ego boasting compliment. Someone thinks so much of my work that they want something special. How cool was that and how could I say no!!! After a few of those,...

read more
Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

I wish I could be out in my Pottery Studio every moment of every day but sometimes I just can’t. Damp Boxes have helped me keep my pieces wet for a long time which is pretty important to me as a Sgraffito Artist.

Storing pottery so it stays wet pottery becomes important in the studio when you need to  trim or decorate your pottery on your own timeline!!  

Maybe you can’t get back to trim in a timely manner, or you need to add handles to a mug a few days after you threw the bodies. Maybe you are a hand builder who needs to keep pieces of clay wet until you are ready for them.

Sometimes plastic sheets just don’t do the trick.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

 

 

That’s when Damp Boxes step in to save the day.

As a Sgraffito artist it sometimes takes me several weeks to work my way through a boxful of wet mugs. During this time I really need to keep my pieces pretty wet.

Or maybe your work consists of several pieces that you need to save until you are ready to assemble.

After doing some serious research I came across the perfect solution….Damp Boxes.

Max, my ginger studio cat, is sitting on top of one of my damp boxes


Max loves to help in the studio. Here he is holding the lid down on one of my damp boxes!

Damp boxes, also known in the pottery world as Wet Boxes and Magic Boxes are storage bins with a layer of Potter’s Plaster on the bottom. The hardened plaster absorbs water and when you place a lid on the box, it creates a humid environment that keeps the moisture in your piece.

I have even been able to successfully rehydrate completely dry pieces to a leather hard state so I could trim or sgraffito them.

Damp Boxes are pretty easy to make and can last a long time. My current ones don’t look great after 9 years but they still work great

Damp Box full of wet pottery

After throwing these mugs I let them dry a bit and placed them in the damp box to preserve the moisture level so I could attach handles the next day. After attaching handles I will put the mugs back into the damp box so that both the mug body and the handle balance out moisture. This really helped cut down issues with the handles cracking

  • Just grab a few plastic storage bins, some potter’s plaster and water. That’s all you will need.
  • Don’t use regular plaster of paris. It doesn’t hold up well. Make sure its Potter’s plaster.
  • Use a bucket just for mixing your plaster and not one you will use with clay. Plaster and clay do not play well with each other
  • Try to stir the plaster to make as little bubbles as possible.
  • Pour the plaster into the storage bin, at least  1 1/2″ deep seems to work for me.
  • Let it dry about 1/2 hour and set up. Remove it from the container and clean up the edges. Put it back into the container and its ready to use.

If you want to make one for yourself, check out this video on YouTube or this one. They are both excellent videos.

I have several Damp Boxes in my studio now and it was a game changer for me. They are now several years old and not pretty and clean anymore. They have darkened over the years, grown some mold now and again and have cracked.

But they still work GREAT!!  I can sponge them clean, rehydrate them with a bit of water and they work just as good as the day I made them!!

 

 

 

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Subscribe

Potter's Plaster


When making a Damp Box you will want to use Potters Plaster.
View on Amazon

Caliper Plastic Clay Measuring Pottery Tool


These are great when you need to have two pieces fit together nicelu....like lidded jars! I have two and they are always in use
View on Amazon

Pottery Rasp for cleaning up clay

Clean up the pottery greenware with this handheld rasp
View on Amazon

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

I wish I could be out in my Pottery Studio every moment of every day but sometimes I just can't. Damp Boxes have helped me keep my pieces wet for a long time which is pretty important to me as a Sgraffito Artist. Storing pottery so it stays wet...

read more
It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

The first time someone asked me to make something special just for them it was an ego boasting compliment. Someone thinks so much of my work that they want something special. How cool was that and how could I say no!!! After a few of those,...

read more

Decorating Pottery – How sunflowers gets their color in my pottery studio

Decorating Pottery – How sunflowers gets their color in my pottery studio

Sunflowers are one of the coolest and happiest flowers ever!!  One of my most favorite subjects to Sgraffito Carve and Underglaze Paint on my pottery are sunflowers. Those Bright, Big and Beautiful Buds are as much fun to create on pottery as they are to look at.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

I am not much of a gardener. I have tried and tried but never really grew a whole lot of anything. One year I decided to grow sunflowers right next to my yellow cabin Studio.  I envisioned these gorgoreous yellow big flowers with the yellow walls of my studio as their backdrop. I planted them in a spot that gets tons of afternoon light! But you know what they did? They turned around and faced the yellow wall of my building. And that is the kind of gardener I am!
Sunflowers

These Sunflowers are facing away from the afternoon sun!

So how exactly does a sunflower grow in my pottery studio

Since I really can’t garden, (and truth be told I really don’t like to garden) , I found that I get my flower fix by creating it on my pottery.

The majority of my pottery art is created using a technique called Sgraffito which means “to scratch”. And that’s exactly what I do

Sunflower carved into a brown clay pottery mug and the petals are yellow

This mug was made using high grit brown clay. The sunflower was etched and underglazed. After bisque firing the mug was clear glazed. I really liked the organic look and feel of this mug.

Stack of two sunflower pottery mugs

Mugs will always be my favorite thing to make because they are so useful and enjoyed just about everyday. One of my o to designs for sunflowers is Sgraffito caving through black underglaze to expose white clay. Once the etching is done I allow the mug to dry completely before I add the additional colors. Then Bisque and Clear glaze.

Adding Black lines to an underglaze Pottery Vase

In order to make my hand-painted designs pop, I outline them with thin black underglaze lines. I don’t worry about drawing a perfect line because there isn’t any perfectly straight line in the natural world!

Sgraffito carved sunflower mug

This mug incorporated sgraffito carving but instead of starting out with a black base, I painted all the colors of the sunflower and then carved away the background. For the background and center “dots” I took a rotary tool ball end and attached it to an old broken tool handle. Make your own tools!

Sunflower mug with bright colors

There are so many ways to paint your pottery. Here is another idea. For this mug I applied various shades of underglaze to a bone dry mug. I used a circular motion and blended the underglaze together where they met. Generally, for an opaque color like this I apply 3 d coats of underglaze.

Once the colors are dry I used black underglaze to draw the flowers!

Just a few more ideas

Sunflower vase Sunflower ceramic bowl with checkerboard rim Handpainted sunflower mugI hope some of these has inspired you in your pottery journey. Of course, if you are always welcome to visit my shop and purchase a sunflower mug for yourself!

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Subscribe

Sugarveil Air Pen


This is what I use when “drawing” with Slip or Underglaze, like when I add the black lines to highlight the flower pedals. Yes, I put out the big bucks for this, but it has been worth every penny. It has held up well for years too, which is a big plus for me. 
View on Amazon

Paasche Air Brush

This airbrush plays nicely with Underglaze. The kit comes with several tips and if you use the largest tip it greatly reduces the clogging. I use airbrushes when I want a soft subtle background. The small cup holds just the right amount of underglaze and making easy to clean and recharge with another color!

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Small Paint Brushes for detail work


I use these brushes alot when I am decorating my pottery. They hold a good amount of underglaze and are great for detail work
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Shimpo Banding Wheel

These may be expensive but they are worth every penny!!  They are banding wheels on steroids!  Super heavy duty and spins freely, smoothly, and quickly!!
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Amaco Velvet Jet Black Underglaze


Amaco Velvet Jet Black Underglaze is my base color for Sgraffito Work. I apply 3 coats on a Hard Leather hard piece to give a lovely opaque palette to work with. When Bisque Fired it turns a deep matte dark grey. Applying clear glaze brings out the shine and makes it very black.
View on Amazon

Credit Card Processing With Square

Credit Card Processing Square
I highly recommend accepting Credit Cards at shows. There are several options out there for this but personally I use and like Square.
There are no monthly fees so even if you only use it once or twice a year it won' break your bank. The reasonable fees they charge when you do make a sale will be worth it because you will make more sales by accepting Credit Cards. Their phone app is simple to use and you can even log cash sales.  If you click this link you (and I) will get some free processing!
Check our Square Credit Card Processing

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

Damp Boxes – Storing Wet Pottery Pieces

I wish I could be out in my Pottery Studio every moment of every day but sometimes I just can't. Damp Boxes have helped me keep my pieces wet for a long time which is pretty important to me as a Sgraffito Artist. Storing pottery so it stays wet...

read more
It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

The first time someone asked me to make something special just for them it was an ego boasting compliment. Someone thinks so much of my work that they want something special. How cool was that and how could I say no!!! After a few of those,...

read more

Address

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PRIVACY POLICY and TOS

© 2022 All Rights Reserved. Dani Montoya ~ Unauthorized use and duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dani Montoya and Yellow Cottage Studios with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Yellow Cottage Studios is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, as well as other Affiliate Advertising programs. This is a way for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

It’s OK to say NO to art commissions

The first time someone asked me to make something special just for them it was an ego boasting compliment. Someone thinks so much of my work that they want something special. How cool was that and how could I say no!!! After a few of those, however, I found it was a more of a drain on my creative spirit then a push to create more and I came to the decision that it was OK to say no to art commissions.

Please note this post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click them and make a purchase.  This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

On social media, there is always a post or two about someone who accepted a special order and it was “tearing them up”. Surprisingly the majority of the thread replies were along the line of not accepting special order art commissions.

Several years ago, I had a special pottery art commission that tore me up and it was the very last one I swore I would ever take

 

Back in October of 2019 I had a customer who had purchased quite a few pieces of pottery from me, ask me to make mugs for her that would feature her logo. She loved my mugs and bought several every time she came into my shop. She was specific about which one she loved by the feel of the mug body and the size and shape of the handle.

Her logo was a simple design so it really shouldn’t have been much of a problem. What she was wanting was completely different that my art style.  I said “Yes” mostly because she has been such a great supporter of my art, had become a friend and I really hate to say no.

I should have though. What started as a simple request turned into something that almost stopped me from wanting to create.

What started as a simple request turned into something that almost stopped me from wanting to create.

Like many wheel-throwing and hand-building potters I don’t exactly replicate my pieces. What comes off the wheel is what comes off the wheel. Although I have two mug body styles and extrude my handles, they are mostly alike but not exactly.

In my customers hands, however, my mugs, even though they looked the same, each had a different feel. The body and the handle had to be just right.
This was my first stressor…How to make the perfect mug for HER.

I am a sgraffito artist. I carve designs into clay. So what I thought she wanted was her logo carved into the clay. My carving style is not precise though. Each cut with my tools is organic, may be a bit wobbly, un-straight, crazy. Her logo was refined, perfect and crisp.

I struggled with it. I strived to carve with precision and even tried to recreate her logo Colors by blending underglazes.

It was a failure.

So I tried again to hand paint her logo. Another disaster. Nothing looked right. It was plain. It was ugly. It wasn’t my art.

After several unsuccessful attempts, I told her I couldn’t do it. she didn’t understand why and quite honestly, neither could I. It should have been so simple yet it was weighing me down. I would wake at 3:00am with thoughts on how I could translate what she wanted to a mug I made.

By now the holidays were upon us. I had shows to do, and pieces to ship, vacation to go on. I had mugs all made ready to do my art on and just didn’t have the time to work on her request (again).

But it was always there, in the back of my mind, nagging me with how I was failing. I could feel my creativity waning and I knew it was because of this “order”.

There, I said that word….fail. I failed at making something simple. I failed at doing something for a special client. I failed at stepping outside of my box.

Then I realized it wasn’t my box I was not stepping out of, it was her box.

“Where is the disconnect?” she asked me last time we met when I told her that this was outside of my comfort zone.

That got me thinking, just where was the disconnect?

The disconnect came because I was no longer the artist, and the mug was no longer my art.

My art comes from the designs I choose to scratch onto the surface of the pot. My art comes from the glaze choices I make.

When trying to explain to my husband what I was going through I told him it was “Like asking a watercolor landscape painter to paint a portrait in oils”.

I admire you artists that take commissions and create specifically for someone. How you can take an idea that is forming in someone’s head and turn it into something that they like truly boggles my mind. Every time I do that I worry about if they will like it, will it represent what they want, will it even work out.

It’s up to us, the artist, to decide whether we are making our art to make a living or to fulfill our need to create. Are we doing it for US or for THEM.
Either way is perfectly ok but you have to make the decision and the distinction. If you decide that you are creating for you, then its OK to say No to special commissions if they are outside your style.

Today I will still take special orders but it is in my terms, in my style and in my colors.

What are your thoughts on taking on special art commissions? Do you? Would you? We would love to hear

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Dani Montoya - Potter

My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

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