Spring! April 17, 2015 07:47Alright friends! The sun has come back and so have we. I hope you have tickets because we're at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo this weekend and they're sold out. The weather is beautiful, our booth is packed with treasure and there's three full days of awesomeness in front of us. Come and find us at booth BF3522 on the second level of the Big Four building. After the Expo we race back home to get reloaded for the Edmonton Butterdome show that runs on May 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If you're in Calgary and you aren't able to get to the Comic Expo to see us, we return on May 31st for the Lilac Fest.
Christmas Schedule November 14, 2014 08:36Alright friends! Here it is, the ShprixieLand Christmas schedule. *If you aren't able to make it to any of these shows you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or like us on facebook and send us message and we'll try our best to make your ShprixieLand Christmas dreams come true. First up is the Kananaskis Country Christmas Fine Arts and Craft Sale in the lovely community of Redwood Meadows, 25km west of Calgary. It runs the 15th and 16th of November from 10am - 5pm at 1 Many Horses Dr. Redwood Meadows. Then we're in Creston for the Christmas Art and Craft Market being held at the Creston and District Community Complex on Saturday November 22, 9am - 4pm. The next day, November 23rd, we're in our very own home town of Boswell for the Christmas Craft Fair at the Boswell Hall. It runs from 11am - 3pm. And then we return to Edmonton for the Butterdome Craft Sale from December 4th - 7th. The Butterdome is located at 87 Avenue and 114 Street in Edmonton. The doors are open on Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm, Friday 10 am to 10 pm, Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and on Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.
Celebrating Spring. April 22, 2014 10:34 1 CommentI think we can all agree that that was one of the winteriest winters in recent memory. Now that the sun has finally agreed to return we're getting ready to come out of our isolation to share our creations at the Butterdome Spring Craft Show which runs from May 2nd to 4th in Edmonton. We had an awesome winter. We burned through all of our firewood, holed up as we were in our studio, as we indulged in making all of the pottery we'd been fantasizing about since the summer. Making work we really love makes every day in the studio exciting. Our collaborations with each other inspire both of us to constantly take things a little bit further. Rarely are there enough hours in a day and sometimes even winter seems too short for our liking. But with the studio shelves full of pottery and the garden starting to beckon us it's definitely time we come out of seclusion and share what we've been making. One of the first things Pixie wanted to do this winter was to pull out the box of lace doilies we've been collecting and to start using them to add texture. These plates and platter are porcelain with underglaze and clear glaze and complement our porcelain serving bowls and our Celebration tumblers.
Pixie also began experimenting with new shapes for mugs. We also have a pile of new porcelain serving bowls featuring new colours, new textures and new decals. Last christmas we launched our new line of Celebration tumblers and we were amazed at how much people loved them. The demand for them was beyond what we'd expected and we had a hard time keeping the shelves full. But we're pleased to say that we have a new batch made and they're ready help kickstart your own spring time celebrations. We have to admit that we were a bit concerned about how people would react to the bold exclamations written on the insides. There are certain times in life when the overwhelming awesomeness of it all really can't be expressed clearly without a mighty, "Fuck Yeah!" We created these cups not to be offensive or vulgar but to champion those great moments of celebrating our joy and we're ecstatic to have found that so many of you feel the same way.
Christmas + ShprixieLand = Awesomest!! October 29, 2013 12:03Where does the time go? Can you believe we're already into the season of raking up the leaves and bringing in the firewood? After our Wednesday markets in Nelson ended at the end of September we retreated back to our creative lair, took a deep relaxing breath and welcomed autumn in all it's colourful glory. We've retired the holiday caravan for another season, planted the garlic, chopped the firewood and settled into the studio with our eyes fixed keenly on the delights we wanted to bring out to our Christmas shows this year. With the stock building up on the shelves like never before I guess it's time to tell you where you can find us this fall. After feeling that we've been over-extending ourselves with the number of Christmas shows we've been doing in the past few years we've started to feel that less is more. So this year we're only coming out three times. We'll be in Nelson in December but the funny thing is that our two biggest shows are both in the Edmonton area. So if you're in Edmonton, Hooray! And if you're not, we're really sorry. First up we'll be returning to The Enjoy Centre in St. Albert for Make It. November 21st to the 24th. And now we're super excited to announce that we'll be at the Butterdome for our first ever Christmas show there. We had a great time there in the spring, thrilled by the fabulous work of the other artisans and the incredible reception we received from all you lovely pottery fans. We can't wait to bring out our best work ever and to blow you away with it. We even have a brand new line of super-fun colourful celebration cups we'll be bringing out to all of our shows. facebook page in the next week. So check it out!
New Shambhala Mugs are out! July 24, 2013 13:34It's late July, it's 35˚ outside and I've just cracked the hot kiln open to peak at the new batch of Shambhala mugs that are destined for the Night Owl Hot Brews for this years festival. We love the festival as much as the rest of you. We love it so much we made our studio into our own little festival. We turned the music up loud and made one-of-a-kind mugs that celebrate the spirit of Shambhala. These collectors' mugs will feature many of our popular designs but will also be exclusive to Shambhala. Dj owls spinning tracks for owls dancing in their party clothes in magical mountain forests on hand made dishwasher and microwave safe mugs. Each mug features it's own inspiring quote to remind you every day of the year of the love and community you felt while shaking it in the Kootenays.
Now In Shprixie-colour... April 03, 2013 22:20 1 Comment
Spring has finally arrived and the energy is running pretty high around here at ShprixieLand. We've been working hard all winter on a new colourful line of pots that we are ever so excited to be launching at our Spring shows that start next week. Here's a sneak peek.
Get Your ShprixieLand On This Spring! March 29, 2013 10:15Well friends, the winter seemed to go by way too fast for us. It seems like we just got home from our last Christmas craft fair and suddenly we're getting ready to pack up the truck and get on with the spring shows. We have this romantic notion that once the New Year hits we can spend those special snow days snuggled up by the fire drinking tea and reading. I think I've come to accept that this is a bit more of a fantasy than a reality for us. The reason is that it's just so damn fun being in the pottery studio. We'd last about five minutes on the sofa before we'd get this great idea that we just couldn't resist and the next thing you know we're elbow deep in clay. But I'm not complaining. It's been awesome and we've come up with a bunch of new designs that we're really excited to share with you all and that's why I'm writing this blog post. So here it is, our 2013 spring schedule. First off we return to the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert for Make It on April 12, 13 and 14th. The Enjoy Centre is easily the most beautiful venue we've ever sold at. It's located at 101 Riel Drive, Saint Albert. And then, because we really love Edmonton that much, we come back for the Spring Craft Sale at the Butterdome on May 3, 4 and 5th. We've heard spectacular things about this show so we're really looking forward to this. The Calgary Lilac Festival was so much fun last year that there's no way we were going to miss it this year. There's about a zillion vendors, street performers, beer gardens and best of all we'll be there in the middle of it all. This year it happens on May 26th on 4th Street SW. Creative Chaos. We've heard great things about this one too. Located in the Vernon Recreation Centre ~ (3310-37th Ave). Awesomeness abounds this spring and we're very nearly ready to come out of hibernation to celebrate it.
January Joy. January 30, 2013 10:06 1 CommentIt's been a while since we've made a blog post so we thought we should put something together to let you know we haven't been slacking. Okay, maybe we've been slacking a little but in those slacking hours we've come up with some fun new things we're excited to unleash upon you when we start doing this years shows. After a sleepy but equally dreamy Christmas and a party rich New Years we decided it was high time we get back to work on our bathroom renovation that's been in the works for more years than I care to count right now. What's been holding us up is the hundreds of little round and half round tiles we've had to make for the borders of our bathtub surround. Sure they're pretty simple to make but in the thick of craft fair season it just wasn't an option. Now with a bit more time on our hands we've managed to fire a kiln load of tile and are ready to get back to the mortar. The promise of being able to have a shower is so seductive that after we fire the last of our tiles (which need to be fired separately in a special matte firing) we'll leap to our project with enthusiastic glee! Another seasonal joy we've been indulging in is drawing. These dark chilly nights are perfect for stoking up the fire in the wood stove, sitting down at the kitchen table in our jammies and pulling out the pens. My delight on these nights has been bonding with my spirograph. This truly is a remarkable machine that once you make friends with it offers near infinite creative possibilities. Lately we've become enamoured with four fold symmetry. Being more of a pentagon man myself I've often found squares to be a bit boring but with the square grids we've been playing with on pottery I might yet become a convert. Adding colour to our decalled pottery has been something we've been considering for the last year or so and now after a few tests we think we've found something we really like. Because our decals are a little finicky it's been a bit tricky finding glazes that they play nicely with that don't require a whole new kiln firing schedule. Pixie has persevered though and now coloured pottery with decals seem to be our oyster. As many of you likely know, we're serious audiobook junkies. Whenever we're at work in the studio we let some incredible voice actor tell us a story. Lately we've been listening to Moby Dick. Yes, Moby Dick. This isn't a book we'd really go out and read on it's own but because the actor who reads it, Frank Muller, happens to be one of our favourite voice actors of all time we couldn't resist. So perhaps Moby Dick is partly responsible for the series of large boat plate step-down stamps I made last night . These, we hope, will be a larger version of our sushi boats. I say hope because I have yet to actually make a plate with them. I interrupted my studio time today to bring you this lovely blog post. When we actually get some made you can be sure that you, faithful ShprixieLand fan, will be the first to see them. As if Moby Dick hasn't inspired us enough already, we spent a night experimenting with this pile of old commercial decals we picked up years ago. To my great delight I found these cheesy whale decals. This was a cup with a cracked bottom so it was perfect for the test. To our surprise the decal didn't burn out even at the relatively high temperature we decal fire to. What's even better was that I was able to layer one of our homemade decals over it and both ended up turning out. Now we can't wait for another decalling day. And the thrills don't end there. Oh heavens no. While I had that woodworking shop heated up I took the opportunity to make this series of hexagon shaped step-down stamps so that we can add six-sided plates to our collection of wee dishes. In the summer we built a platform for Pixie's wheel to sit on so that she can stand and throw pots. There has been a bit of a learning curve for her as she's been getting use to this new position but finally things have really started to flow for her. After watching a few demos on the internet she decided to challenge herself a little and to make this new style of goblet. These just came out of the bisque firing so now comes the challenge of how to glaze and decorate them. A few years ago I spent most of my studio time casting doll parts and attaching them to various polyhedra for comical, if not spooky effect. As we get ready to do an overhaul on our kiln room I started cleaning off the shelves only to find these two treasures that have never been finished. Too fun to be added to the smash pile, I figured the time was right to get some glaze on them and to fire up the raku kiln again. Again this is just a teaser so stay tuned for a future photo of the finished pieces. So with much Moby Dick adventure still to be had and all of these little avenues to be explored I'd better wish you a lovely day and to get back to doing my best at not slacking.
Things That Make Us Go "Wow"! December 12, 2012 15:55 4 CommentsAs makers of super awesome hand made work it's easy for us to recognize other super awesome makers at all of the shows we've been doing. One of the biggest perks of doing artisan markets is that you get to meet lots of people who have great taste in fine hand crafted work whether they're buying it or selling it. Though you usually only hear of us doing the selling we definitely don't miss the opportunity to be on the other side of the table as well. After all, in this automated world of sweatshops and big brands, it's not every day that you get to buy unique quality goods that have actually been made by the hands of real people. That personal human-to-human relationship between maker and user has all but been lost so we relish the chance to fill our lives with products that actually have something of a soul in them. So with that said we thought that we'd like to share some of the gems that we found along the way. Be sure to click on the links to check them all out in further detail. As you've probably guessed we have a bit of a thing for pottery so it's always a delight to meet other potters that really blow us away. Tarra Wedman did just that the moment we saw her setting up in Calgary. Her work is so delicious that we had a hard time deciding what to take home. In the end this little salt cellar won. The craftsmanship, the colours, the detail, even the little spoon are too good for words. In keeping with pottery but not pottery, we come to Local King Rubber Stamps. How does this relate to pottery? The moment we saw them we knew exactly what we wanted to do with them. We use rubber stamp mats when making our ornaments and plates and these made us even more anxious to pack up, race home and get back to the studio. Part of coming home was about how we were going to get the dogs to forgive us for being away for two weeks. Their beds have been getting old and flat and in desperate need of being sent on their way. We looked at the big box pet stores but we soon realised that the only dog bed replacement that would be suitable would be something that could compete with the sofa for style and comfort. So to our delight Four Dog Night came to the rescue. Check this psychedelic dog bed out! It's so totally ShprixieLand Style that I had a hard time deciding if the dogs got it or if we'd keep it and let them have the sofa. Speaking of ShprixieLand Style, while in Calgary I realised that I'm suffering a serious lack of great t-shirts. Our friend Natasha at Whiteout Workshop set me up not only with this great print but also with the perfect colour to keep me in line with our booth colours. Style and comfort, man! It's all about style and comfort. When doing winter markets in Alberta we're always really impressed with the hearty people who brave the elements to come out and support handmade. That dry cold air really wreaks havoc on us drying out our lips and hands. So it's always something of a blessing to find Element Botanicals there to help keep us moisturized. Pixie is totally in love with this stuff and she cries when she runs out. But of course moist kissy lips are way better than dry cracky ones. I cry too, it's true. But let's not forget their Amazing Cream. Even working at home the clay dries our hands out so Amazing Cream really lives up to its name. With that Amazing Cream you might be able to keep your hands moist but how do you keep your tummy warm? The Rave 'N' Iron make these hip flasks that are the epitome of making merry. And then of course there's jewelry. Check out Sarah at Lago:Exotic Jewelry and Designs for all of your adornment desires. We see her at most of the markets that we do but what's even better is that she lives at the end of our street! While adorning your body you might as well adorn your living space while you're at it. Maria Pace Wynters tormented us through the whole Edmonton Make It show with her dreamy wonders on display right across from our booth. For four days we fantasized about her art helping decorate the walls of ShprixieLand. But how to decide? Original art is always the way to go but it is an investment. So in the end we decided to pick up this great print and to use it as inspiration to work toward buying one of her originals next year. This one is called 'The Beauty that Surrounds You'. And really, how can you go wrong with that? We're literally surrounded by art at these markets which is great because it makes us feel right at home. In Calgary we had the good fortune to be next door to Mike who was selling his wife Olga's paintings. Ola Design sent us home reeling with inspiration. The colours and the animated characters reminded us of where we want to be going with our own work. At our first Calgary Make It show a few years ago we picked up a couple of prints and then this time we added these three prints to the collection to help garnish our space and to keep us livin' in the dream. This one was just too good to pass up. Check this out. Thyrza takes thrift store prints and paints her own little additions into them making these wonderful little alien scenes. Again deciding which one to take home was the problem but I decided on the one that reminded me the most of Pixie. Thyrza also makes terrariums and planters and really, you have to see them to fully appreciate them. You really want to go through the galleries on her website. The Edmonton Make It was such a party that it's surprising we got any work done. Nature's My Friend were our neighbours and what a lot of fun they were. Obviously goofing around at the market keeps them on their game the way it keeps us on ours. I think our designs really complemented one another quite nicely. Of course they're fine Kootenay folk as well so maybe it's just something in the water. All this talk of art makes me hungry but maybe it's just because I've been writing this blog post for so long that it's gotten around to lunch time. Anyway, the best way to satisfy hunger is cheese! Oh cheese, delightful cheese! So we picked up our own feta cheese kit from Make Cheese Inc. It comes with all the supplies, ingredients (all but milk), instructions and culture you need to make your own cheese at home. We're saving this one for the dead of winter when the roads are horrible and we're having a cheese crisis at home. Seriously, there's nothing like being prepared. And are we prepared! We've got our cow share that supplies us with delicious raw milk, our cheese kit, some firewood and a whole pallet of clay. Make cheese! Make pottery! After cheese the next best thing is chocolate. No. No. Actually chocolate wins that one and this is why you save it for afters. We've been so blessed by the chocolate gods that we have Ambrosia Artisan Chocolates right here on Kootenay Lake! In fact I'm having a piece right now. Espresso truffles: Colombian coffee steeped in coconut milk embedded with dried raspberries. So good I think I need to go make some of her Nectar hot chocolate. Too good, friends. Too good! I could go on and on with this post but there is work to do and hot chocolate to drink so I'd better wrap things up. Two others I'd like to mention are Give a Little Giggle and Professer Klunk. Give a Little Giggle make the cutest hand puppets ever and Professer Klunk writes brilliant children's books. We picked up his book 'Sammy's Gas'. A story about a skunk who fears that perhaps his farts might be offensive. A good cautionary tale for all ages. Enjoy!
Black and White ShprixieLand November 19, 2012 08:34 1 CommentThe magic around this place never seems to end even when we're not home. While doing our show in Vancouver our spectacular house sitter Richard found our 1962 Russian made Zorki-4 35mm camera, dusted it off, found some film and captured our colourful land in glorious black and white. These shots were just too nice not to share.
And did I mention how spectacular Richard is? Not only is he the best house sitter and friend of dogs, chickens, cat and parrot, but he's also an incredible maker of animated films. In fact he's the one who first introduced me to cameraless animation. That's where you draw directly onto the film itself. Richard naturally takes it to the next level by drawing onto the soundtrack portion of the film and thus creating hand drawn sounds to go along with his hand drawn films. Here's a sample of his work.
In the Thick of It. November 15, 2012 13:57So the Vancouver Make It went better than we could have hoped. The weather was great, the people were incredible as always, we met many other wonderful vendors that do superfun work, the food (oh my god the food!), and on Sunday night we couldn't believe how many empty boxes we got to pack in the car. Both the night before and the night after the market we stayed with our friend on his ship in mission. Ship Wreck Disney Land he likes to call it and it really is. Fortunately his ship is one of the few that actually floats but the atmosphere of the place is seriously...wow! Any trip to the big city is always an adventure for us and we try to get as much from it as we can. This time we were on a mission to make it to Granville Island to pick up more wooden textile stamps. We can't seem to get enough of these things. And then of course we had to do a lot of reconnaissance at Vietnamese restaurants trying to get a grasp on the perfect size and shape for Phở bowls. A lot of soup came our way as we hungered to understand the perfect shape and proportion for the ultimate Phở experience. We got our first taste of winter driving on the way home but now safely back we're hard at it trying to pump up the stock for our two back to back Alberta shows. Next on the agenda is the Edmonton Make It. We're super pumped for this one. Last year, despite the broken car adventures and wicked weather, we had an awesome time and we're really looking forward to all of those enthusiastic Edmonton pottery fans. After Edmonton we return to Calgary for our first show there since the spring of 2011. This time we're coming to the BMO Centre (formerly the Round Up Centre) for the Festival of Crafts. Calgary has always treated us fabulously so we're excited to come share some more ShprixieLand wonder with you all.
Help! I Need Some ShprixieLand Before Christmas! October 22, 2012 15:57Well you're in luck! We've been busy doing what we do best and the pottery we're churning out these days even makes us look across the table at each other and go, "Wow!" So how do you, the discerning connoisseur of super-fun pottery, get your hands on some? This year you can catch us in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Yes we're hitting up all three for the first time all in one season.
Make It Vancouver happens November 8th to 11th at The Croatian Cultural Centre. 3250 Commercial Dr.
A couple weeks later we return to Edmonton for the fall Make It. This time it happens at The Enjoy Centre. Nov 22 - 25th.facebook page and we can help make your Christmas dreams come true.
And then it was Fall. September 19, 2012 15:45 1 CommentYes folks, for us, as for many of you, this summer went by in the blink of an eye. It doesn't seem to matter how long the days are there just isn't enough of them to get everything done. As we've mentioned before we were doing two markets a week and had a huge order to fill for the local music festival. This was easily the busiest pottery season we've ever had and it's been fabulous. We've learned invaluable things about ourselves over the last few months, not least of all being just how much work we can actually make. The response this summer has really been beyond our greatest expectations. As well as living up to our commitments this summer we even managed to develop a new line in the last two weeks that we're really excited to properly launch for this fall. Introducing our new stamped and coloured decal ware! These new pots are made from a delicious chocolate brown clay and stamped with our own handmade stamps. The introduction of the three dimensional elements as well as the colour has blended beautifully with our new decal designs and we're excited to bring them out for you at our Christmas sales this year. Next week we do our final Wednesday market in Nelson (September 26th) and then we have to put all of our attention into building stock up for our two big Make It shows. We'll be in Vancouver from November 8th to 11th at the Croatian Cultural Centre and in Edmonton from November 22nd to the 25th at The Enjoy Centre which is actually in St. Albert. All of this naturally coincides with us trying to get all of our firewood cut for the winter and our garden bounty brought in. With all of this laid out before us it's probably a good time for me to leave you with some more pictures of our awesome pottery and get the chimneys swept so that we can get back to the real fun. Which is of course makin' stuff.
Shambhala Mugs! July 01, 2012 16:02 5 CommentsSo as you may have heard we've been commissioned to make a whopping 250 mugs for the new Night Owl café at the Shambhala Music Festival this year. These wheel thrown mugs are made with a wide base for extra stability and come in a wide variety of handle shapes for that perfect fit. They're made from a porcelaneous clay and glazed with a stable (non-staining, non-leaching) white glaze. The images are made from iron decals that we make ourselves from our own original drawings and are fired right into the glaze so they won't fade or wear over time. Like all of our pottery they're totally dishwasher and microwave safe. Here are some photo's of a few of the mugs that will be available.
The Joy of Our Lives June 24, 2012 23:14So the garden and the great art project of the ShprixieLand home renovation have been temporarily put on hold while we race to make all of the pottery for you lovely people. We've committed to the Wednesday farmers' markets in Nelson and the Saturday markets in Invermere that run all summer. On top of that we're still pumping out mugs for our big Shambhala order. This is more pottery than we've ever produced and it's awesome! We start by spending a few days actually making our pots, plates and wee dishes from wet clay. Then it takes a few days to dry them (depending on the humidity of course which has been a challenge with all of the rain we've been having but wow what's that in the sky? The sun! Hooray!) After a 10- 11 hr bisque firing and waiting for another 12hrs for the kiln to cool we spend a day glazing. Then the glaze firing takes about another 10 - 11 hrs and there's another 12hr wait for it to cool. At last we spend another day putting our decals on and then another 24 hr period for the kiln to fire and cool. At this rate, with careful timing, we're able to fire a batch of pottery, from start to finish, every week. We're often asked how we get these designs on our pottery and it's really quite simple though a bit technical. First we draw pictures on paper and then we use a laser printer (one that has at least 45% red iron oxide in the toner) to print the images on to decal paper specifically meant for pottery. We then apply these decals to a glazed piece of pottery and fire them. The firing is hot enough to open up the glaze but not to completely melt it, allowing the red iron oxide to burn right into the glaze making it permanent. As part of the glaze it is now totally microwave and dishwasher safe, and as with all of our pottery, it is also completely non-toxic. It's tricky to resist the temptation to go play outside in the sunshine (like it is today) but loving what we do and being enthralled in a good audio book (like Steven King's The Stand that we're now presently listening to) helps to keep us on track. Somehow we still manage to find time to take the dogs for their walks and to even get our taxes done and make wine (we just bottled 63 bottles of cherry merlot and have started a batch of peach champagne). Of course it really helps to love what you're doing and we really hope this comes across in our finished pieces and can help brighten the lives of those who take them home. In fact we love doing what we do so much that for Pixie's birthday what she wanted was to have a few close friends over for dinner and then to spend the night (you guessed it) working in the studio! Our friend Lazlo DJ'd the get together and we taught our friends how to make their own wee and (as we like to call them) wee-ish dishes while we did a bit of experimenting ourselves and made some more delights for the up coming markets. Rain or shine it's always a sunny day here in ShprixieLand.
ShprixieLand at Shambhala! June 01, 2012 18:20 3 CommentsWell folks, we've been wanting to share this news with you for a while now but we wanted to make sure it was definite before we said anything. Yes it's true. ShprixieLand will be coming to the Salmo River Ranch for Shambhala this year! This year Shambhala will be opening their own coffee shop called The Night Owl. They will serve Fair Trade and organic Night Owl blended Oso Negro coffee and will be selling our owl mugs. 250 of them! These collectors' mugs will feature many of our popular designs but will also be exclusive to Shambhala. Dj owls spinning tracks for owls dancing in their party clothes in magical mountain forests on hand made dishwasher and microwave safe mugs. Right now we're working out graffiti fonts for inspiring messages to remind you every day of the year of the love and community you felt while shaking it in the Kootenays.
Calgary Lilac Fest. May 24, 2012 13:32 1 CommentThis Sunday, May 27th ShprixieLand is coming back to Calgary for the Lilac Fest! We've never done this market but we hear that it's pretty full-on so come on down and check out the amazing wares. We're going to be down at the east end of 4th st. just in from 14th ave. on the north side. We're peddling our ever popular owl ware pottery as well as introducing our new sushi boats! Come enjoy the spring, get yourself a drink at the beer gardens and pick up some fabulous pottery from your kootenay friends. The joy starts at 10am, runs to 6pm and there is free admission.
Dandelion Fritters May 01, 2012 16:38 2 CommentsDang those pesky dandelions! Do you know the best way to get your revenge? Eat em! I know, I know, you've been working all day, you get home and need supper but the weeds in the garden are starting to take over. Now you can kill two birds with one stone. Before those pretty little flowers get a chance to turn into seedy balls of mayhem pick them and make these tasty dandelion fritters. Dandelion Fritters Pick about 50 dandelion flowers in the middle of a sunny day when they're open wide Lightly beat 1 egg with 3/4 cup of milk Stir in 1 cup of flour (we used white spelt flower) Add a pinch of salt Heat about a half an inch of oil (we used olive oil and a couple tablespoons of coconut oil) over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan (we used a small pan so we wouldn't need to use so much oil). Dip flowers in the batter and fry in small batches until one side is golden and then flip and do the other side. Serve on your favourite ShprixieLand plates or platter and enjoy. Don't forget your wee dishes for dipping in dressing or for a sweet treat try maple or violet syrup. And we just discovered that you can dip nettles in the same batter for nettle fritters.
Glorious Days! April 28, 2012 16:40That big nuclear furnace in the sky burns out the winter clouds filling us with all this extra energy and how do we use it up? Well let me tell ya. We started the spring craft fair season with the Make It show in Vancouver. The blooming magnolias and blossoming fruit trees seemed to make the heart race with excitement as these little country bumpkins indulged in the big city craziness. Once we got home the season seemed to have raced ahead of us and now we're doing a million things at once. With Dog Patch Pottery in Crawford Bay opening on May 5th and the Lilac Festival in Calgary on May 27th we have to get our pottery stock built back up. Our jumbo mugs were a big hit in Vancouver as well as our ever popular wee little dishes. There's also an array of new decal designs we want to create and maybe even some Owl and Pussy Cat sushi boats so we can give a nod to one of our favourite Edward Lear poems. Seeing as the garden is virtually irresistible these days we have to get out and plant our new blueberry bushes and to make a hoop house for our tomato and pepper plants that will be really epic when it's time to put them in the ground. Indoor gardening is also on the agenda this year. Recently we've become really excited by mushroom growing. We have bags of shiitake and oyster mushroom mycelium that we're about to shock into giving us our second flush of mushrooms. Can't wait! And as you might have read in a previous post, we still have our kitchen reno to get back to. Our new countertop has arrived so now we have to design and build our cabinets. Of course we can't just have any old cabinets. These have to live up to the standard of our ridiculously ornate ShprixieLand style. Since the winter we've been living in the other building we have here and so we've been having to cross the bridge every time we want to go to the studio. Did I just say bridge? You heard right. There is a bridge that connects the two buildings here. I know, what a terrible commute to have to make to work every day right? So why am I wasting time writing this blog post you ask? You're right. I best get back to work.
ShprixieLand on TV! April 18, 2012 15:21Check out the little televised plug we got today by clicking here. You can also check out the Make It page to see the rest of the fabulous designers. See you this weekend Vancouver! If you take a picture of this with your phone you can show it at the door to get 2 for 1 admission!
Boats, Bowls, Blog and More. April 16, 2012 21:22 5 CommentsIt seems we've been living on perogies and easter chocolate for the last couple of weeks but now as our last kiln load of pottery fires and we find ourselves surrounded with new work we feel like it's all been worth it. We're so excited to get to roll out our new designs for the Vancouver Make It show this weekend. We've had so many ideas brewing all winter and some of them we've seen to fruition while others are still being developed (hopefully we'll have those ready for the Calgary Lilac Fest at the end of May). One of our new favourites is our sushi boats! They come as a set with chopsticks and a fish shaped dipping dish that swims along side. We must have been fantasizing about being in Vancouver all winter because we've made lots of sushi sets. We've even started introducing our ever popular owl decals into them. We spent a lot of time drawing this winter and at last those drawings have made it onto our pots. The shelves are filled with rice bowls, noodle bowls and soup bowls (which come with their own clay spoon) as well as mugs and tumblers. All of this we're presently packing up and getting ready to take with us to Vancouver for the Make It market which happens this weekend from Friday, April 20th to Sunday at the Croation Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive. Oh Yeah. Did I mention Wee Little Dishes? Yeah we made a pile of those too.
Shprixie News and New Pots March 29, 2012 22:05It has been ages since we last posted!! We've had quite the busy winter this year. Much of our time has been spent working on house renovations. Early in the New Year we discovered that the kitchen sink had been leaking, most likely for a few years, and that the water had been seeping under the kitchen cabinets and flooring. We had to gut the entire kitchen and replace a bunch of the flooring to get rid of the black mould that had infested the place.
This seemed like an awful thing at the time, but as Heath was working on it we had the idea that if we moved the kitchen across the room, we would be able to double the size of it (5ft. of counter space is awfully small for someone who loves to cook). This also would give us the added bonus of being able to look out of the window at the mountains and the lake whilst washing the dishes, instead of staring at the ugly wall behind the sink. It would also mean that the sofa would be moved so that when you sat on it you would also be looking out the windows at the mountains, rather than the old view of the ugly kitchen. A win win situation really! The only real drawback was that we lost some of the precious winter. We happen to love the snowy blowy season around here because it is the time that we get to play and experiment the most with clay. There is nothing better than being in the studio with the little wood stove chugging away, drinking hot tea, and listening to some captivating audio book, while outside there is a blizzard blowing about. But there will be another winter next year! Now that spring is upon us we have had to put the renovations on the back burner for now, and concentrate on making work for all of our upcoming shows. The first big one that we have is one of our favourites. We'll be heading to Vancouver in April for the Make It Show. If you've never been to one of these and you are in the Vancouver area we seriously suggest checking it out. There are over 100 artisans, designers, and crafters selling so many unique and fun items. There is live music and a fully licensed bar! It feels more like a party than a craft fair!! If you take a picture of this with your phone you can show it at the door to get 2 for 1 admission!
We've been working hard these last few weeks making all kinds of pots with new images on them. Here's a little sampling of what we'll be bringing with us.
Matte Fired Stampy Bowls. December 02, 2011 22:19Last year, after Christmas but before New Years, we spent a few days sitting at the table in our pyjamas watching movies and making clay stamps. We rolled out sausages of clay, cut them into short sections and then impressed the ends with everything from the heads of screws, the toothed edges of gears and the butt ends of pens to clay sculpture tools, pieces of fabric, string and even other stamps. We ended up with a couple hundred different patterns to use on our future projects. Besides the obvious choice to use them on our ever popular christmas ornaments Pixie really wanted to use them to decorate bowls. Stamps provide an easy and beautiful 3D treatment for clay and the combined use of many different stamps produces unanticipated design surprises. The rolled rim of these pots provides added strength to the most vulnerable part of the bowl as well as creating an aesthetically luscious lip. This feature combined with the stamps makes for a perfect surface for bringing out the full range of detail in the glazes. One of our most popular glazes, our floating blue, is a gloss fired glaze that breaks really nicely on the stamped detail showing a rich brown through the mottled depths of the blue. For most of our stamped pottery we prefer to use matte glazes though. Currently a spearmint green, a creamy yellow and a warm grey that breaks to brown are the colours that we're working with while several others have our interest for future work. These matte glazes require a cone 6 glaze firing that includes a controlled cooling segment to the firing. Once we've reached our peak temperature of approximately 2100°F we let the temperature drop to 1850°F before beginning a slow controlled cool down to 1450°F. This slow cooling creates tiny crystals in the glaze which fogs the glassiness of it and gives it a satin finish. Not only does it create depth to the glaze and create striking colour variations where it flows across stamped detail, it also creates a wonderfully tactile surface that is a delight to caress. Probably the most important features of our matte fired pottery is that they are absolutely food safe and very durable. One would think that this should be self evident but unfortunately many matte glazes being made are the result of glazes not being completely melted during firing. The consequence of this is that the chemicals in the glaze haven't fully undergone their chemical reactions and can be leeched into food. Furthermore the surface can be marred by cutlery, stained by food or discoloured by acidic liquids all of which are unacceptable in what is being sold as food safe pottery. On the table our large bowls make stunning serving dishes for anything from side dishes, salads and pasta to desserts or even party snacks like potato chips or fruit. Our smaller bowls add a bit of fantasy to any place setting whether you're using them for soup, salad, dessert or just cereal. Like all of our functional ware they're totally dishwasher and microwave safe. You can even use them in the oven but be careful not to take them quickly from hot to cold or to heat them unevenly. Remember, it's not the heat that will break a bowl but a sudden change of heat or a difference in temperature of one part of a bowl to the next.
The Art of the Raku Ornament. November 25, 2011 09:29One of our most popular items during the Christmas season are our raku fired ornaments. We literally make hundreds of them every year, and every year we try to make them through out the year instead of only in the fall. So far we've only slightly succeeded at that. We start with a slab of clay and a box full of cookie cutters. Usually this takes place at the kitchen table with an audiobook playing or a movie going while we sit in our pyjamas sipping tea and listening to the dogs snore. We cut out the shapes from the slab and then we take each piece and stamp them individually with an assortment of wooden textile stamps and homemade clay stamps. On an average autumn evening, provided we're enjoying our story or our movie, we can make a couple hundred before it's time for bed. After we bisque fire them they're ready to be glazed. This is usually a bit more finicky because we like to accent the different details of the stamps with different colours. Once we have about 80 ornaments glazed we load them into clay trays that we've made and then we load those trays into the raku kiln. The raku kiln is an oil drum that we've cut holes and a lid into, lined with insulation and stuck a torch in the end of. In about 30 to 40 minutes we take the temperature up to about 1900°F. At this point all of the glaze has become molten and everything in the kiln glows a bright orange. This is when the real fun begins. Once I give Pixie the thumbs up she turns off the propane and I remove the lid from the kiln. Then we both take up our metal tongs and pick out the ornament trays careful not to bump them against anything (or each other) as we put them into metal buckets filled with newspaper. We then throw one extra piece of newspaper on top for good measure and put the metal lid on over top of the flames that erupt instantly. In a few seconds it's all over and all there is is a cloud of smoke that we're quick to get away from. After about 30 seconds I return to our two smallest buckets and give the lid a quick "burp", flicking it up quickly so that oxygen can rush into the bucket and usually there is a flash of angry flame. At the end we put a brick on each lid for safety and leave the buckets for about an hour until everything is cool. It's this last part with the buckets and the newspaper that gives raku it's distinctive look. The three things required for combustion are heat, fuel and oxygen. When we put the ornaments into the barrels with newspaper everything lights on fire but we choke off the oxygen with the lid. But because there is such heat and so much fuel it really wants to burn and so it pulls oxygen out of the molten glaze on the ornaments. This is what causes the distinctive flashings, the coppery metallic look to the glaze. At the same time the smoke penetrates the clay body causing it to go black. After everything has cooled down we take them in the house and scrub each piece clean. This is when we either get to be delighted or disappointed by the random surprises the raku process has in store for us. There are so many variables involved with raku firing that you're never completely sure what you're going to get in the end. So many things affect the final outcome of the glazes. Anything from the relative humidity and outside temperature to the rate of temperature increase in the kiln, to what kind of combustable material you use, how big your reduction chamber is, how much oxygen it gets inside, and a hundred other variables. What's funny about these ornaments is that really they're just a cookie cutter shape with some stamps and some glaze on them. But there is so much a person can do with those stamps and the glaze combinations and the raku firing process itself that each little ornament becomes it's own unique piece of art. I guess that this is why we can make hundreds of them every year and still not get bored of them. Each time we sit down to make ornaments we discover new ideas and experiment with new decoration combinations that we haven't considered before. To see examples of our finished little works of Christmas ornament art check out this new photo gallery.
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