Yarn Bowls

I learned to knit a long time ago from my grandmother. She would knit mittens for me and my sisters and for our friend’s families too. In fact my mom came across a grocery bag full of mittens that had never been worn. My grandmother passed away in 2000, so they must have been hiding in a closet at my parents house for a decade+.

Now my son wears those same mittens that we wore growing up- or the newly found ones.  Seeing Henri wear something that my grandmother made inspired me want to carry on that tradition of knitting for my family too.

My mom, sisters, cousin and  mother-in-law also knit, so I had a lot of help getting started again. This post isn’t going to show you what I am currently working on, I may save that for another post-(if it turns out well).

This past summer my mother-in-law showed me an article in Vogue Knitting, that talked about the new yarn bowl trend. I had never heard of them, but I wasn’t really in the knitting-state-of-mind, so that would have been why it was new to me.  Since then, I have seen a few here and there and I thought it would be fun to try it out- Alice Drew style.

I omitted the “Curly-Spiral” that so many people have been incorporating it their yarn bowls. The main reason, was that in most of the ones that I saw, the cut-out spiral warped during the firings, and looked (pardon me) a bit sloppy. So I decided to use a simple teapot hole cutting tool, with one small circle for the yarn to be threaded through.

So far I have only made one- the prototype. It belongs to my mother-in-law, since she was the one to enlighten me on the subject.

I did try it out and it works very well. I have to say that I am pleased with the results and may be making more in the future.

Smaller Bowls

As you may have read from an earlier post, I have been making bowls from a slump and press mould for the past few months. I am very happy with the results so far, and they have been selling very well.  Ever since I made the larger (7″diameter) bowls, I have been wanting to make a slightly smaller version. The larger ones are nice for a generous portion of soup, cereal, or ice cream, but sometimes one just wants a smaller bowl.

I had been wanting to make a smaller bowl (6″) mould, but I just kept putting it off. Moulds take a few hours to make and a week or more to dry (depending on how thick and dense the plaster is).  And I can’t use the mould until it is almost completely dry. Making the mould was something that I knew I had to do, but there was always a reason why I didn’t get around to making it.

A friend came by for a visit in late September to purchase some work. She purchased a pitcher (similar one below), and asked for a set of  smaller bowls to go with it. At that point I hadn’t made the smaller mould, but her request for the set was a good reason to finally make it.



I have a bunch of these smaller sized bowls, in different patterns and colors, cooling in the kiln. They will be for sale at CRAFTBOSTON this coming weekend at the Cyclorama on Tremont Street. (See my “Events” page for times and dates). They are $32.00 each.



Christmas Spirit


 There is a reason why they call this the busy-bustling shopping season.  People are geared up and in the shopping mood, looking for gifts for the important people in their lives. And some are just looking for items and art to decorate and transform their homes into their own cozy wintery wonderland.  This is not only a busy season for shoppers, but for artists as well.  This time of the year artists are busy working in their studios; completing commissioned orders, and frantically getting inventory up for local shops and Holiday shows before Christmas and Hanukkah.

I am halfway through the holiday sales season (two more shows to go), and I have a list of commissions to finish for customers within the next week and a half.  So currently, I am busy, busy, busy, but really looking forward to a nice relaxing Christmas with my family and friends.

If you are in the Boston area and are able to make it to my last two shows: the Bazaar Bizarre at the Cylcorama next Sunday or CRAFT BOSTON Holiday sale also at the Cyclorama the following weekend, you just might have the opportunity to snag one of these fun Christmas ornaments.  (See my “Events” page for show dates and times.)

To accompany the ornaments, I have made a limited number of small trays with similar imagery.  The chicken portrait ornaments are new, and I will post photos of the chicken trays as soon as they come out of the kiln. Below is the drawing of the chicken before I made it into a silk screen.  Enjoy this shopping season!







Giddy up

For the past couple years I have been compiling equestrian imagery; horses, horseshoes, ribbons, anything that spoke about horse riding and racing. I don’t own a horse. I did take horsemanship 101 in college for a PE credit though. That was quite an experience, which deserves an entire post of its own. All I will say is rest in peace Glory.

I digress. So finally, I am getting around to drawing some of the equine imagery I have been collecting, and wanting to put on my work.

Now that we live in Boston, we go to the MFA quite often. I have a few favorite spots that I like to visit in the museum. My current favorite spot are the four paintings  on the left wall outside the entrance to the Impressionist room, on the 2nd floor (Hallway #253). (Did you follow that?)  I think I love each of those four paintings equally. One which has inspired me recently is the Horse Race at Longchamp by Edgar Degas.I did a sketch of one of the riders in the foreground (top sketch).

The second (bottom) sketch is from another painting by Degas, Jockeys on Horseback Before Distant Hills. I had to improvise a bit with the second jockey, since the image in the painting was pretty blurry and was placed more distant in the painting (jockey far right).

I think that I still may do one more horse and jockey sketch.

Two more images that I just finished drawing, are below. The ribbon, although not a true blue ribbon, at least makes reference to it. My sister and I saw these ribbons in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna a few years ago.


I eliminated the metal part of the ribbon in my sketch, mostly because I didn’t know what was an award for. I thought if I left it someone would recognize it and make a comment how it has nothing to do with horse racing.  So now it looks more like a french cockade. Just for kicks I posted a row of these beauties.

The last drawing is of a horseshoe, of course. Below the horseshoe there is a small remnant of Henri’s contribution to my drawing.

Once I get these images made into screens, I will post some pictures of my Equestrian Pottery line.




Having to think ahead for Christmas



I know it isn’t even Halloween yet, nor has school even started around here, but since I have Holiday shows coming up in a few months, I have to start planning.  Every year I plan on making Christmas ornaments, and inevitably I run out of time, and say, “I will make some next year.”  Well this is the year that I am finally going to do it!


I was at the library with my son yesterday and came across a style book of type/ fonts.  (I don’t remember the name of the book. It was not in circulation, but belonged to a librarian, who generously lent it to me.) As Henri was playing with Legos (our library has lego hour!) I was perusing this book drooling over styles I had not seen before.  I was looking for a font, or fonts that I could use on the Christmas ornaments.  I saw one called Rustic, which I have heard of, and seen before, but this one was a little bit fancier than the Rustic font my sister and brother-in-law used on their wedding invitations. Theirs was more “campy” (in a good way) than mine.

I didn’t trace or scan the Rustic font. I basically used it as inspiration for my version.  It took me most of the morning (on and off while I played with Henri) to draw the words “JOY” and “PEACE”.  I still want to draw “NOEL. Hopefully I will get that done this weekend.


Here is the drawing of my Rustic Font. One of the fonts I saw in the book, had birds and nests nestled in the letters, but I opted out of including that into mine.

Next step, making these into screens!




For the longest time (years) I have tried to figure out the “bowl” form. Ironically, I loved to make teapots, a much more complicated form in ceramics. In the teapot, there is the spout, the lid, the knob, the handle, and the teapot body. Trying to combine all those components into a unified piece would seem challenging.  And I suppose it can be for some people.  But for me, the more challenging form was the bowl.  The dreaded bowl.  In the past, I made them too small, too shallow, too thin, etc. Finally, after studying lots of bowl forms, measuring diameters and depths, and various contours, I have come up with my form- at least for now.  But I have to say, I am finally happy with this new series.


My main goal was that the bowl would be generous enough in it’s size to fill with cereal, ice cream, or a bowl of soup, and have a wall thick enough to insulate whatever food was in it without burning or freezing the hands of the one holding it. And also that the wall not be too thick that it would be too heavy and cumbersome to carry or hold.


The biggest challenge was making a slump mould and a press mould that would be the correct depth and diameter, so that after the firing, and the 10-13% overall shrinkage rate, the bowl would be the exact (or close to the exact) size that I intended.


The process:


Roll the clay into 1/4+ slabs, cut a large circle, screen print, drape over a slump mould, place into a press mould, scallop the rim, and let sit for 8+ hours uncovered.


I hope you like them as much as I do!



New drawings for new work


For the past few years I have been incorporating animal motifs

on the surfaces of my work. It started with deer, inspired by

chinese porcelains. These deer were stylized with dots and simplified floral motifs.


My interpretation of using deer was mostly with using it’s silhouette.




Then, I started to draw birds.  I know, birds are apparently everywhere in design these days, but artists have been using the bird motif for centuries. I saw the mosaic of a duck (1) in Ephesus, Turkey on the walkway toward the library. The plate with the peacock (2) (which are extremely popular again) is part of the Turkey Archaeological Museum collection in Istanbul Turkey. (Plate 3) 10th century Iran or Uzbekistan.

1   2   3

Below are two recent drawings of a bluejay, cardinal. The third is one that I have used in the past, but redrew, so that it would work well with my newer bird drawings.  My style of drawing birds has evolved over the past couple years. I think that it is becoming more refined, at least I hope it is.




I have also included rabbits,  around Easter, and elephants, just because I like them.





A few years ago I was at an estate sale and I saw a large white ceramic elephant planter from indonesia. (The family holding the sale had been missionaries in Asia for many years.) It was $25.oo. A steal! But for some reason, my husband’s voice entered my brain, and said, “We don’t need another planter.” So I passed it up to some lucky buyer, and I kick myself for not buying it, all these years later, I wish that I had.  Elephants, like birds and deer, and many other popular animal and insect motifs, have appeared in art for centuries. Maybe it is my affinity for the exotic: parrots, monkeys, etc, that I am starting to include elephants into my work. But not just  elephants. Decorated elephants.  In India, the Hindu hold elephant festivals and parades in honor of the animal that, to them, holds deistic qualities.  In my drawing below, a canopy is fastened to the back of the elephant, along with  a blanket and head covering.  Many elephants are decorated much more elaborately than in my drawing, some have their entire skin painted in a myriad of colors and patterns.  I left my drawing more simplified, so that I could add color and pattern as my mood allowed.  I am in the process of drawing capuchi monkeys and ostriches. I thought about peacocks, but I don’t want to jump on that band-wagon.  Maybe I will try and tackle parrots next.

Window Shopping

This June I am pleased to announce that I will be the featured artist at the Society of Arts and Crafts Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston.  I have been working diligently in my little studio, getting inventory ready to sell at the gallery shop.

Some of the imagery on this work is new, but not entirely different from what I typically use. Since my trip to Turkey, coming up on 3 years ago, I have been wanting to include more Turkish influences, like the Ogee Archway and multi-colored floral screen prints in my designs.

Above is a thumbnail of a drawing I made and to the left you can see it incorporated onto the surface of the final product. The drawing was inspired by a floral wallpaper pattern.

For the past few years I have been using imagery from The State Rooms in Vienna’s Albertina, specifically the Rococo Room.  The image, below right, was scanned from my sketch book.  I drew the floral image on the bottom left when I was in the Rococo Room.  It is a detail from the fabric on the walls and furniture. (I wish that I had stayed and drawn everything in the pattern! It took me 45 min to sketch what you see below.  I will have to go back to draw the rest- some day.) Above it is a quick drawing of a pearl edged knob on located on all of the windows. The image of the knob below is the closest one I could find to the original.

Rococo Room Albertina, Vienna Austria photo by Ann A Blau; Below: Sketchbook

knob: Hickory Hardware at Lowes.com

On the plate to the left you can see the salmon pink screen print of the floral sketch above.  I will post more pictures of the work that will be for sale at the SAC gallery on Newbury Street in a few days.


Pretty Pysanky

Last Sunday afternoon I visited with a good friend of mine, Julia Skop of Antinomy Designs, in Buffalo, NY.  (You may remember her from a previous post-I made a set of gold rimmed dinner plates for her.)

For the past four years Julia has dedicated the entire week before Easter to making pysanky eggs.  She clears off her dining room table, sets out dozens of handblown hen and goose eggs, 12 or more dye baths and saucers with candle sticks all lined up and ready to play!  She has her friends over all throughout the week to decorate eggs.  Julia says, “it is interesting to see what designs people come up with.  And those friends who claim to have no artistic ability or inclinations at all end up with beautiful eggs!”  Julia has all sorts of books stacked-up near by for inspiration, from insect illustrations, to textiles and traditional pysanky designs.

This was my first attempt at pysanky.  (My brother-in-law’s mother, gave me an egg last year, and I have been wanting to try it ever since.)

While we were getting started, just drawing our designs on the eggs with pencil, Julia’s husband, Chip, was in the kitchen baking. From all of the eggs Julia blew out, they made four quiches, and they were delicious!!!

If I am not able to make the trip to Western New York next year, I may have to start this week long tradition at our home in Boston.






I brought a Russian textiles book with me for inspiration.  The design on this egg was inspired from a textile in that book. (Sorry, I left the book at Julia’s house and I don’t know the page number.) The process can be long, but the results are pretty amazing.  I have been inspired, and I am going to try glazing my pottery in a similar manner, with a colored background like this egg.