Empty Bowls and Summer classes
It's time to donate your handmade bowls for a good cause. Burnish Clay Studio is accepting bowl donations from artists who want to help feed people. Bring your bowl donations into Burnish Clay Studio from June 10th to the 16th and we will get them to Boundary Bay, where the event is being held on June 17.
From the Downtown Bellingham Partnership Website:
Empty Bowls is a benefit event to raise funds to help feed the hungry in our community. A $20 entry ticket includes your choice of a one-of-a-kind handmade bowl, a bowl of delicious soup, and bread from a local restaurant. A silent auction of handmade serving dishes by local artists and live musical entertainment will fill out the evening in Boundary Bay Brewery’s Beer Garden. Drinks will be available to purchase from Boundary Bay Brewery on site. Your donations, ticket purchases, and 40% of all silent auction winning bids will benefit Maple Alley and Bellingham Food Bank. Artists providing silent auction items receive 50% of silent auction winning bids on their items.
The empty bowls movement started in the early 1990s when Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom wanted to counteract the negative news around hunger and poverty in their community in Michigan. Since 2015 WACK (Whatcom Artists of Clay and Kiln) has raised between $5000-$8000 annually for the community through Empty Bowls, and donations are split equally between the Bellingham Food Bank and Maple Alley Inn. The core of the event is a supper where, for a donation, guests choose a handmade bowl and receive a delicious meal of soup and bread donated by local restaurants. They then sit down among the other guests to eat together, and return home with their empty, handmade bowl.
Spring Ends and Summer Begins.
Spring classes are wrapping up, so get into the studio and glaze, glaze, glaze! We will be running the kilns and pushing the work through so that you can finish your spectacular work and bring it home to use in your very own home. The bridge the gap will stretch from June 12 - July 7. Have you signed up? If not, you have until June 19 to finish your work and until the end of the month to pick it up.
The Adult Class raffle system is working very well. This summer, we have 7 Adult classes going; three day throwing classes with Sara, and three night throwing classes with Finley, as well as everyone's favorite, Hilde's handbuilding class on Monday afternoon!
It has become a tradition at Burnish Clay Studio to have a Raku firing for the Sculpture Class at the end of the session. Below you will find images depicting the highlights of the firing, in no specific order. Fire is a big reason we potters love what we do. As you can see below, pottery isn't all sitting around a studio playing with clay. (Though that is also a huge part of it.)
Tip of the Week!
This week we have a RAKU tip, brought to you by our own Sara Young, the hard way. When pulling items out of a Raku Kiln, make sure you're wearing leather boots, long sleeve non-flammable or all natural material shirts, and long pants, as the last thing you want is your clothes melting onto you when you accidentally catch a spark or burning ember while moving the pieces from the kiln to the trash cans. It is also a good thing to tie your hair back in a bandana so that your hair doesn't burn off when you get too close to the kiln. I have lost many sets of bangs and eyelashes due to my inability to keep my hair out of my face while pulling pots from the raku kiln. Burning hair smells quite horrific, so you always know when you have gotten too close!
Calls for Entry for Shows
June 9, 2023 entry deadline
Ohio, Norwood “Call for Proposal” (July 21–August 18) Queen City Clay is currently seeking proposals for solo and group shows in their Martindell Gallery. The gallery consists of 1200 square feet with 82 linear feet of plywood-backed finished walls for suitable for hanging. Fee: $30. Juried from digital. Juror: TBA. Contact Jon Stein, Queen City Clay; email@example.com; 513-871-2529; www.queencityclay.com/retail/gallery.
July 15, 2023 entry deadline
Louisiana, New Orleans “FunctionFest” (November 17–December 15) open to artists 18 years of age and older working in ceramics. The Clay Center of New Orleans seeks applicants for the 2023 installment of ”FunctionFest,” our popular biennial juried group exhibition devoted to functional ceramic work and studio pottery. Fee: $30. Juried from digital. Juror: TBA. Contact Michelle Swafford, The Clay Center of New Orleans; firstname.lastname@example.org; 504-517-3721; www.nolaclay.org.
August 7, 2023 entry deadline
Florida, Tequesta “Little Lush” (September 7–December 2) open to all artists working in ceramics. Little Lush will showcase handmade, functional ceramics. This exhibition provides a spotlight for small works including cups, mugs, pitchers, flasks, teapots, etc. that utilize clay as a primary material. Lighthouse ArtCenter welcomes submissions in an assortment of shapes and sizes with rich and seductive surfaces. Fee: $11. Juried from digital. Juror: TBA. Contact Lighthouse Art Center, 373 Tequesta Drive, Tequesta, FL 33469; email@example.com; 561-746-3101; https://lighthousearts.org/little-lush.
CREEP SHOW 2023
October 6 – November 3, 2023
Deadline extended! Applications due July 15, 2023
It’s baaaaaack… The Clay Center of New Orleans seeks applicants for the 2023 installment of “Creep Show,” our annual juried group exhibition of ceramic works that can be described as creepy, scary, spooky, or downright terrifying. Open to ceramic vessels, sculptures and wall-mounted works, this exhibition will be on display October 6 – November 3, 2023, in the Clay Center’s gallery space in the heart of New Orleans.
Apply now with EntryThingy
Prospectus coming soon
Art Contest with a Medical Theme
Submitted artwork to our contest will only be displayed on www.medmic.com with the artist's permission.
Should permission be granted, we may display the artwork of submitted to the contest in addition to the winners and 1st and 2nd runners up.
We would be happy to provide links to the artist's own website or social media platforms upon request.
**Please note, there is a 10 dollar entry fee to enter the Spring/Summer Visual Arts contest.
For more information about this art contest, please visit the Event Website.
June 12 Deadline.
‘GENDER IDENTITY’ will be a 3-D Virtual Reality Art Exhibition. We will not need physical works of art. Artists are free to sell their works. We take 0% commission, and sale inquiries are directed back to the artists. Please email all the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org and quote ‘GENDER IDENTITY’ on the subject of your email. If selected, you will receive an Invoice requesting online payment for submission fee. Per artist, not per artwork. All you need to do is to email us the following: · How to Apply: • Up to 2 Artwork images by email (jpeg format, up to 3MB each image). • Please name each file with the title of each artwork (e.g., "Untitled. JPEG") • [No political, pornography or hate artworks will be accepted]. • Details of the artwork (title, size, medium and price). (e.g., "Untitled", 50 x 70 cm, Oil on Canvas, price. • A brief bio about the artist / artwork (100 words max, preferably written in the 3rd person) • Send us your website and social media (if applicable) • Statement confirming you are the author of the original artwork and it does not infringe the rights of any third party. Contact Information: email- email@example.com We will then send you an invoice for £30 via PayPal, this can also be paid by Credit card
Hello and welcome to the Burnish Blog! We are a small clay studio in beautiful Bellingham Washington. If you're here, it's because you want updates, news, and the occasional article on the nature of clay. If you want to get our newsletter, you can sign up here at the bottom of the home page.
The Thoughtful Mug
A Few Thoughts on an Old Standard.
As I hold this sweet little cup in my hands, sipping my tea, I realize there is something different about this mug than there is in all my other mugs, which are also handmade. This one seems to fit me; small, delicate, and colorful, it feels perfectly at home in my hands and cheers me as I take each sip.
I have a large collection of mugs made from potters I have known over the course of my life, but for some reason, this mug just sits differently in my hands. The comfort it brings as I hold it is palpable. Is this mug meant for me? Is it fate that brought this sweet handmade object into my life and my hands, that which is meant to awaken me from my daily routine? The presence of it in my life has called into question my own pottery practice, and how I approach the humble mug.
Though I have been teaching pottery classes for years, I'm primarily a sculptor. This is why it came as a great shock to me several years ago when people started wanting to buy my pottery. Even more shocking was that they wanted to buy my mugs. As a potter, by that point, I was mediocre at best at functional ware because I had spent the majority of my time on the wheel throwing closed forms and making them into sculptures.
So I attempted the humble mug. Over and over and over again. Pulling handles, trimming feet, smoothing the lips of my mugs. And people were buying them, which seemed like a small tragedy to me. But, as I have never been one to turn away money, I continued to make them and sell them in small batches.
Fast forward to today, and I am selling my mugs, which are not so mediocre anymore, in several shops in the area and in shows during the holidays. I find myself questioning my impetus to do this work, as I have never felt much of a connection to making the mugs I make, except in the decorations and surfaces I create upon them.
But this sweet mug has changed everything. The soft intimacy it has brought to my mornings, the way my thoughts and body relax around my morning tea ritual has been a revelation. It is a special mug to be sure, and it has called me to re-examine my own approach to my functional ware, specifically my mugs.
It is a great gift to create objects from which people feed themselves. These pieces are not just functional objects, they are "screams into the abyss of humanity," as one of my art teachers once boldly stated. Potters know that the best way to improve at any hand skill like pottery or painting or drawing is practice, repetition. I see now that this practice must not be mindless but mindful of the pieces we make that will fill people's hands. Every mug I own, each one I drink from has its own personality, and each one makes me feel different things as I hold them in my hands, pouring whatever liquid it happens to hold, down my gullet.
The next time you pick up a mug, take the time to appreciate how it feels and how it makes you feel as you drink. It just might change the way you approach making. It might even change the way you approach drinking.
Tip of the week
Believe it or not, here is a tip about HANDLES, brought to you by our own Jeremy Noet of Bluewater Pottery. After you attach your handles to your mug, leave it overnight to set up under plastic. This will greatly reduce the amount of cracking that occurs between the handle and the cup. I have tried this myself and since undertaking this practice, I have never had one crack between the cup and the handle. Thanks, Jeremy!
Resources for Potters
WCA grants will open on June 1st. You just have to be a member to apply, so why not join?
Field guide for ceramic artisan grant section. National and state grants are both listed on that page.
Craft Potters Association is worth a look though it is outside of the US.
Grant writing tips for clay artists in Pottery Illustrated.
Last week's blogpost was an artist spotlight with our own Will Abraham. If you missed it you can scroll below or check it out here.
Updates and Artist Spotlight
Hello and welcome!
This week we had our AtmosQueer soda firing and studio grant fundraiser at L & L Libations. Thank you to everyone who came out. We got a lot of feedback from people who said that they could not make it, so when we got back to the studio, we took all the art out of the boxes and set it up on the shelves in the studio to give people the opportunity to buy this week. The work will be out until the end of the week, so come on down and buy something to support the workshop and the studio grant fund!
Summer Class Raffle
The deadline for signing up for the raffle for summer classes is May 26, this Friday, so if you haven't had the chance to sign up, do it now. If you know people who have been wanting to take Burnish classes but haven't been able to get in, let them know, summer is the best time to get in on the fun.
Our next critique club is next Tuesday, May 30th at 6 pm at Burnish. Bring any finished work you have questions about. We do our best to get to everyone. If you brought work last time and we didn't have time to get to you, bring it this time and let the group know that you didn't get in last time. This is open to everyone in the Burnish Community, all levels of mastery are welcome.
Artist Spotlight: Will Abraham
This week I caught up with Will Abraham, who has been working with clay at Burnish for two years. The following is what came of this informative interview.
What about clay is inspiring for you?
There's this beautiful short film called "Imagine a Body" that I saw at a film festival in Seattle in 2021 and think about all the time, and in it there's a sequence where an anonymous transmasculine woodworker says, "[In sculpting] you take a chunk of wood and you carve away what's not supposed to be there to reveal what should have been there the whole time... That's the person that I knew was there the whole time, but nobody believed me for so long." That's what inspires me about clay - the artistic elements are you, clay, and time, and you add or take away additional elements until the clay is art and you're the kind of person who made that art. Time is an ingredient, you as the potter are an ingredient. Working with clay makes the world legible to me, and that's what I find inspiring about it.
Are you a concept artist? A materials artist? A combo? I want to say combo, but I think I started as a materials artist, where I would become really interested in making something out of THIS clay body with THIS tool or making an object specifically so I could use THIS glaze. And then somewhere along the way I evolved into a concept artist. A lot of my ideas start with very random exploratory questions like "What would a ritual object look like in an extinct alien civilization?" or "What kinds of drinking vessels will people use 800 years in the future?" Lately I've also been making a lot of things starting from a concept like "how can I incorporate my interests in geology and theology into an object?" So I've become a concept artist, but it was entirely an accident.
When did you decide to make clay and art your life's work? My flippant answer is I didn't, it picked me by making everything else less interesting, so I just got out of my own way and let it happen. My longer, more serious answer is I have had a lot of different jobs in different industries and a lot of education to qualify me for those jobs, but most of that came from making choices out of fear and making life choices around that. I believed for years that creative work was only something that people who are economically very secure could do, and for most of my life that wasn't me. During the pandemic I found myself wondering about all the ways the systems I was told I had to believe in weren't keeping me or my community safe, and wondering why the hell anybody cared if I responded to an email or spent exactly 8 hours in front of a computer in my own basement when we were all living through a real life horror movie, with COVID and Nazis and murder hornets and wildfires. How I spent my time began to matter a lot more to me, and connecting with people around clay gave me a sense of purpose in a way most other kinds of work didn't. I realized that working with clay was my real work already, and then I made the choice to change my life in ways to make that happen as much as possible.
What are some of your creative goals? My big one is to use art to understand the world. I also have a lot of smaller goals, like "make this green more green" or "iterate on this form so the rim and foot work better together", but the big one is to keep refining my practice, keep improving. Growth for the sake of care, rather than growth for the sake of growth.
What are some of your goals for your art business? I'm in the early stages of my business, so that's evolving, but the guiding value for me is I want to make art that is accessible to a wide range of people economically, and demonstrate there is space for queer artists with disabilities from working class backgrounds in the pottery world, partially by donating a portion of my sales to organizations helping other queer people. My pie-in-the-sky dream for the deep, deep future that probably won't ever happen is to open a queer-led art exhibition and community bookstore space.
What would you say to people just starting out in clay/art? There's no credentialing body for artistic expression. You don't actually need permission to make art, and you don't need to know every method or material or chemical or tool to get started. If all you want is to make something that has meaning specifically to you, like pots with Bigfoot holding a bouquet of daffodils on them then you make yourself as many objects with Bigfoot holding daffodils on them as you want. If what you make successfully reflects your intent, it works, and if it doesn't, try again. Also, genuine criticism is a gift, but most of what people say to you about your work is actually about them, not about you. Take what you can use in your work out of what they said and move on.
A big thank you to Will for answering our questions, and being open to talking about his process. You can find Will's work on Instagram @willabrahampottery or at www.willabrahampottery.com
Tip of the week
When sculpting clay, be patient. Waiting after the initial build for your clay to dry a bit and harden up will help you to create smooth textures if you need them, or, conversely, create a better surface from which to carve. Clay has many different stages, and shaping and carving clay before it gets hard will result in lots of extra time fixing mistakes and cleaning up the clay buggers that inevitably result from carving soft clay. Even worse, if you start to stretch and carve the clay before it is ready, the piece can collapse. So, take your time, and make sure that the clay you are working with has the ability to withstand the treatment you are applying.
Ceramical Opportunities Far and Wide
Residencies are a great way to get time in a new environment where you can spend concentrated time developing your work.
Workshops are also a great way to learn a specialized technique or skill.
Anniversary and Tradesies!
Welcome to the Burnish Clay Studio Blog, a weekly update and news source for all things Burnish. Here, you will find clay tips, professional resources, and news and events in the Burnish Community and beyond.
Happy Anniversary, Burnish!
On April 30th, the gang got together for our first ever critique club and threw a surprise anniversary party for Burnish. There was cake, both ceramical and culinary, merriment, and of course, our very first critique meeting. We celebrated the great community that Burnish has become and thanked Heather for the hard work she has put into creating such an amazing studio space.
The critique was a lot of fun and we were able to pinpoint some ways to streamline and improve it so that we get to more pieces next time. The next critique club will be held the last Tuesday of May, the 30th at 6 pm. Please bring one finished piece and a desire to engage in a lively conversation about the formal and conceptual elements of the pieces presented. All skill levels are encouraged to join. There is a lot to learn in a critique, including cool new stuff people are trying on their pieces. Hope to see you there at the end of May!
Don’t forget to show up at the Pop-up Pottery Sale and Fundraiser
May 20 from 3-5pm. We are partnering with L&L Libations to sell some pots and cocktails to raise funds to support the June Atmos-Queer Soda Firing and the Burnish Studio Grant Fund. While I am excited to expand the ways that we support people from communities that are historically underrepresented in the arts, I need your help to make it sustainable. There are a few ways you can help.
Want to get involved/donate? Follow this link and fill out the form at the bottom of the page: https://www.burnishclaystudio.com/fundraising.html
Looking for a local place to show your work? Look no further than our own neighborhood! It is always good to do some recon on the places on the list below to see if they are a match for the work you do. Visit, call, or even look them up on Yelp. Maybe call the store directly. Here is a short list of “local” places that might be looking for new stuff.
Need funding? These are good websites to know.
Welcome to the Burnish Clay Studio Blog, a weekly update and news source for all things Burnish. Here, you will find clay tips, professional resources, and news and events in the Burnish Community and beyond.
Happy Anniversary to US!
It is the fourth year anniversary of Burnish Clay Studio, and we would like to give a big thank you to our students, members and everyone else in our community who make our studio so wonderful. We work hard to create a welcoming space for all, and we couldn’t do it without all the people who fill the classes, shelves and kilns with so much cool clay love.
Kilns and Firing
Speaking of kilns, we have a new round kiln that is ready to fire! It has been a long time coming, and now that it is up and firing, the clay magic will flow through the studio in an even more timely manner. Additionally, we have more Soda firings on the books for the Spring, so head on over to our Soda Firing page and check out the dates and requirements for our next soda kiln firings.
Official Kiln Names
Big Bad Wolf Soda
AtmosQueer Soda Firing
Speaking of Soda Kilns, we are having a pop-up fundraiser at L & L Libations (next door to Leaf and Ladle), on May 20th from 3-5 pm. The focus of the fundraiser is for the AtmosQueer Soda firing workshop for members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community as a part of the June Pride celebration.
Additionally, proceeds will go to the Burnish Clay Studio Grant Program, which goes to support individuals from communities that are historically under-represented and under-resourced in the arts. The studio grant program is to demonstrate our commitment to welcoming and supporting people from communities that may have felt that this was not a place for them. If this goes well, as we expect, it will become an annual event!
There are a few ways people can get involved:
- Donate art to sell: people can give 1-5 pieces of ceramic art to be sold during the fundraiser. Artists will receive 50% of the purchase price (because artists deserve to be supported too) and 50% will go towards the fundraiser. Instructions on how/where to deliver pieces will be provided soon.
- Come to the event and buy a pot!
- Come to the event and buy a drink! $2 of all cocktails sold from 3-6pm will be donated by L&L to the Burnish grant fund.
Follow the link below if you want to get involved, just go to the bottom of the page and fill out the form if you want to donate.
And now for our…..
Tip of the week!
If you are not getting enough strength in your throwing, it might be because you’re not using the strength of your body to do the “heavy lifting”. The reality is that your body is so much stronger than your arms, and if you can brace your elbows against your body and push the clay by leaning into it, you will have more control and less wear and tear on your body. Throwing clay at arm’s length is hard on your arms, shoulders and back, and over time, can cause some pretty serious issues.
Calls for Entry!
Have you ever thought about entering your work in a juried show? Here are some upcoming deadlines that might just interest you:
Artist Trust has tons of resources for all kinds of shows, fellowships, residencies and such. Want to learn more about clay, show your work, and meet fellow clay artists? This is a good website for opportunities.
CaFe’ is a website with a TON of opportunities for artists. Make sure to use the filters, or you will be lost forever on this website.
EntryThingy is also pretty cool, but not quite as organized.