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Pineapple cookie cutter and clay samples

I bought a bunch of cookie cutters at an auction and of course had to show them off to my Wednesday night class. There were many classic shapes that I don't have, like stars and hearts, and also oddly fun ones like boots and five-gallon cowboy hats.

A new student of mine, Sara, and I were digging through and testing them out. She found a tiny pineapple and showed me the proper way to add the spikes with x's or v's. Sara knows pineapples well from living in Asia. I asked her what part, and she said the Philippines.

I wasn't surprised when another student, Janna, joined the conversation because she used to live there as well. Janna pieced together that they had both been in the Peace Corps and had actually met an event two years prior. They remarked that it's a small world, and I have to agree.

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Kids at the City Heights Farmers Market

The quickly approaching North Park Festival of the Arts marks the unofficial one year anniversary of Ceramic Heights.

More than a year ago I purchased a booth at the North Park Arts with the intent to sell pottery from local San Diego ceramicists. I had no studio to make my own work, at home or otherwise, but since I wanted to launch ecommerce on the website, it seemed reasonable to act as an art dealer for others at the event. After all, these were the services I would be providing for my future studio members.

Then about two weeks before the festival, I had only one confirmed ceramicist, Dan Stringfield, who was also a friend, and in a fluster of anxiety I conjured an insane idea to have a potters wheel at my booth. This was ridiculous for many reasons, the first of which was that I didn't own a wheel, and the second was that I hadn't actually thrown on a wheel in many years. But in the do-or-die attitude of this business, it had to work.

I tossed my idea to the North Park Main Street team to confirm electricity was available, and to alert them that the nature of my booth had vastly changed from my initial application. They were beyond accommodating, offered me an additional booth space, and the most unexpected bonus, asked later if I wanted to be on a NBC news spot the morning of the event. That was completely terrifying, but how could I say no?  For your entertainment (I can't watch it again), here is the video of the NBC morning show.

Fast forward to now, and I have way more experience under my belt with the weekly farmers market in City Heights and other festivals like Adams Avenue Street Fair and Maker Faire in Balboa Park. I have a much better tent, battery powered setup, and an actual studio where people can pick up their finished pieces (and hopefully take classes later)! I also have much more debt, but such is the fate of owning a business.

I'm excited for another fun year at the North Park Festival of the Arts, May 21, from 10am-10pm.

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Create your own magic movie moment this Valentine's Day
Reservations at 619-488-7219

So here's how much I know about celebrities: Apparently Patrick Swayze has been dead since 2009.  I was clueless until I attempted to reach him on Twitter and ask if he would make a guest appearance for Ghost Night.  But now we can ask his ghost to drop by instead, which is all the better.  (If anyone has an Ouiji board, email me!)

For the rest of you living souls, and everyone who has jokingly (or more seriously) suggested a "Ghost" night, IT IS HERE.  Or rather, here are the details.

Bring your Patrick Swayze, your Demi Moore, your best friend, or your iguana to Ceramic Heights this February 13, 2016 for a tandem wheel-throwing experience.  We're going to dim the lights, rearrange the studio, and set up a magical moment for you to share with 4 other couples. 

The price is $50 for two and includes the finishing, firing, and glazing of your handmade pieces. 

RESERVATIONS are a must!  Call 619-488-7219 to confirm your spot for 7, 8, or 9pm on Saturday, Feb 13 and with any questions.

*If you're going out to dinner before or after, just remember that clay is mud, which is dirt.  It definitely washes out, but you might get a little on your pants.  We have towels and aprons for this purpose.

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Clockwise from the bottom: Ysa's snake and pot, Taylor Swift bowls, Tea set
Actually, one bowl is Minecraft, and those are Minecraft blocks
Double handled teapot set by five year old Jazlyn

Classes like today make me so happy. At the last minute I panicked and fashioned together a weird cat/ animal as a project for the kids. It felt like last Friday's class was a little disjointed, and I wanted to be prepared. I showed the animal to Ysa and Sequoia, but they both wanted to go on the wheel. Later when Jazlyn dropped in, she not only wanted to get on the wheel, but also had a list of things to make: a teapot and two cups. (She's five.)

Ysa threw a pot on the wheel, and when I went to dip my hands in to check the thickness, she cried at me not to touch it. She wasn't upset, but I still felt bad. Then I realized that she was owning that little pot. Which is amazing. She didn't go back to the wheel, and spent the rest of the class fashioning a snake and carefully detailing the head and face.

I had decided last week that the next time Sequoia threw on the wheel, I was going to take the foot pedal away from her. Clay is very intuitive for her, but she likes to take her corners at 80mph. Which is terrifying. When I controlled the speed (which is always slower than she would prefer), she nailed it. And we took her bowls off the wheel before she mushed them back into a lump. She felt successful, and so did I.

Jazlyn came in a little later with her dad and was so excited to get back on the wheel. She first threw with me at Maker Faire in Balboa Park. We made her cups and "teapot," and then sat down to make the handles. She already knew she needed three handles. The first two she made were really thin and fragile, but the third was much better. So I suggested that we make a few more because that third one looked so good. And surprisingly enough, she agreed. When I walked away, she set about attaching two handles to each piece, which is quite honestly adorable.

It also makes me happy because I feel like I'm getting the hang of this. Knowing when to intervene and when to leave them alone has been a challenge. I'm pretty satisfied to let them explore on their own with minimal intervention, but occasionally I feel guilty that I'm not "teaching" them anything. It's a balance that I'm still learning, and that is fun in itself.

To end the class, Sequoia requested I play Taylor Swift (because it had been a Bowie mix). Of course that meant everyone had their pick of a song, and Ysa's request was for Michael Jackson. Thank goodness that kid has some taste! The other two girls were mesmerized by Thriller, and who is this Michael Jackson fellow? Check mate.

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Ceramic Heights Studio Opening Nov 6, 2015. 6-9pm

We're having a party and YOU are invited.

Please join us to celebrate the opening of Ceramic Heights at

4105 El Cajon Blvd

Light refreshments will be served. Check out what we've been doing and sign up for a class!

More details at the Facebook Event Page.

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pit fired flower pot

Murray R!

Congrats, Murray. And many thanks to the 105 other people who entered our raffle at the Adams Avenue Street Fair last weekend. We're going to raffle off another piece of pit fired pottery at the San Diego Maker Faire. Stop by for your chance to win!

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We've been accepted to this year's in Balboa Park, San Diego.

It's going to be a busy very couple of weeks, but great for exposure and publicity. And did I mention, Robots? I'll have to sneak away from the booth to check out the other exhibits.

In the spirit of Maker Faire, we will have the battery powered potters wheel, and a display showing the creation of a coffee mug from dirt to finished piece.

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Find us between Hawley and Mansfield St

Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27, Ceramic Heights will have a booth at the Adams Avenue Street Fair.   Both days are filled with great music, crafts, food, and carnival rides. 

Stop by the the Pop up Studio to throw some clay for free.  Find us at Booth #F29, near the Hawley Blues Stage!
 

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Two young girls getting their hands dirty

Another fun event in Golden Hill Park.  Other than the figs that got ever-y-where, it was a beautiful setting.

This photo was my favorite moment. The girls were hesitant at first, but once one got her hands dirty, there were four tiny hands on the slippery clay. They laughed and said it tickled.

Special thanks to Great Woodland Photos for capturing the day AND blogging about it. We appreciate you!

 

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Amanda helping a new student make a pot

This was our first event, and it sure was fun!  Bringing a potters wheel to the fest was the best last-minute idea I've had.  Once we got spinning, we didn't stop until it was time to pack up.  Anyone could try out the wheel for free.  I would wedge a piece of clay and center it on the wheel, and then pass my chair to the brand new potter. 

There were so many kids, and they had a ball.  The young ones were mezmorized, waiting their turns with the patience of a yogi.  It was magical, and their parents were thoroughly impressed.

At the end, there were still a few kids wanting to throw, but time was running thin.  The finale was a lightning round, working off the same lump of clay, so everyone could get their hands dirty.

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