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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Miniature Pottery Sale... Holiday Gifts and my old High School

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I graduated from high school lets see... 43 years ago! So long ago. Fair visitors often ask me how long have I been making pottery, I tell them I started 45 years ago... at Regional #7 in Winsted CT. It sounds so cool that I have been making pottery for so long, and yet 45 years means I am getting old.

My love for pottery began with Kenneth Dyer the pottery instructor. I was 15, and I spent most of my free time playing with clay. Mr. Dyer played classical music on the record player as we worked. When I graduated, I took 2 semesters of adult night classes with him at the school. It was a chance to make pots at home too and he would fire them for me. Come June, he told me I was making too much stuff and I couldn't come back... "Go home and get your own equipment", he said. So I did.

I started with a kick wheel and bought a Paragon kiln the size of a washing machine from a little old lady who did paint your own pottery. I still have that kiln and it still works. Soon I realized that I had to find a style that people would buy. Loving history, I decided to make yellow ware. Yellow ware was made in England in the 1700s. They had lovely yellow burning clays with a beautiful feathery pattern. I sold yellow ware to gift shops, museum stores and went to trade and crafts shows for 30 years.

I started making mini pots when my two girls were young and had doll houses. One day while demonstrating at my first fair job, Goshen, I made some minis in front of folks and they said, "mm", "ah", "oh" and "wow". "They are so small!", "How do you make them so small". I inhaled the compliments and made more.

So now I am known as the "Reggie the Miniature Potter".  Which is fine. I still make yellow ware, but I sell thousands of this little pots across the country now and last year I ran out!  I love to make these little jewels, I can use a variety of clays, sometimes I did my own, I pick up clay across the county, people bring me clay too. My favorite is still the lovely yellow clays from the mid-west and our own Sheffield, Massachusetts red clay.

I glaze them with a variety of colors and styles... bright reds, soft browns, overlapping colors, sgraffito, slip decorated tiny drawings and mocha patterns. Vases for tiny flowers, face jugs, "fake" salt glazed crocks, dollhouse bowls and pitchers, tea pots, piggy banks... oh, there is no end to what can be made small!

So here is your last chance this year to see my new batch and take one home. I made this batch while demonstrating on my wooden treadle wheel at the Dixie Classic Fair in NC and  the South Carolina State Fair in SC last month.  I have some new vases... some new faces... just fun stuff!

Stock... ready for the Fairs!

Come to my old high school, Northwestern Regional #7 in Winsted CT  for their Holiday Craft Fair, this Saturday, November 21st from 9-3. I will be in the New Gym. My minis sell for $4 each, but you can get a special of  3 for $10.  I will also have some bigger face jugs and a few yellow ware pieces. I do not sell at my shop in Torrington any longer, so this is your opportunity to pick up a lovely gift for you or someone else.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Stoorstalka.... Modern Band Looms for Every Day Use

I realize that not all weavers would like to have the old fashioned primitive wood carved band looms, but would prefer a modern loom. Stoorstalka in Sweden, makes lovely little acrylic modern looms that are small, lightweight and easy to carry around. They offer several sizes and styles along with a shuttle and threading tool. You can visit them at in Sweden or check out their American site...

I chose the medium size loom.  It is only 3 1/2" tall and 7" wide, with 64 threads, it accommodates any size stripe pattern and has room for a 17 thread pick-up pattern. The holes are 1/16", big enough for sport size yarns, embroidery floss and smaller threads. There also sell narrow and wide looms at a reasonable price.

For my first simple project, I used Prism skeins. These handy little skeins have 10 yards of cotton thread and are smooth and easy to work with.

The loom was easy to set up as I usually do, between my knees, but clamping it to a table or bookcase would make setting up easy too.

I made about a yard of band, a headband, bracelet and a ring in a pretty comb pattern. I was finishing up outside while at the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia SC and laid the finished band out on a bale of hay. These looms are so portable. I love the way I can take it to any event or vacation and work on bands like I work on my knitting.

My next stop after the South Carolina State Fair was Pigeon Forge TN. I stopped in at Dollywood to visit some fellow tradesmen.  October is Crafts month at Dollywood. I worked there for 2 weeks a few years ago and have many friends demonstrating their trades there.  I stopped in to see Rosie Dupuy the weaver. ( Rosie weaves on larger looms and shares my enthusiasm for band looms.  She had recently bought a loom from Stoorstalka too. Rosie chose the double slotted loom. She said this loom separates the pick-up pattern threads and so is easier to see and operate.  I follow the traditional Norwegian style of single holes, but I can see why this style would be liked by many.   She attached her new Stoorstalka loom to a box that she had made for card loom weaving. Setting your loom in a cradle or box like Rosie is more bulky to carry around, but you can have a back beam for lots of contained warp and attach the front to your box. Adjusting the tension this way means you don't have to rely on tying to a hook on the wall and your body, leaving you free.

Rosie also purchased another pretty little modern loom. Made in Poland, it is available on this etsy site...

This one is made of wood and comes in many attractive styles.

Check out the Stoorstalka and Etsy sites above for a nice modern loom. If you still need instruction and have not purchased my book, Tape Loom Weaving.... simplified, it is still available on Amazon and my web site,

It is not too late to work on some Holiday presents!... Bookmarks, handy bags with matching woven handles, personalized headbands... check out my previous blogs above, just type in tape looms on the search bar to find free patterns, ideas and advice.

And Happy Weaving!