Thursday, January 16, 2014

Belated 'Thank you'

This is a very late 'Thank you' to all our friends and family who came out to our opening or supported our group during the show, again, this past year.

This past show was our 11th year, and we continue to love this coming-together, annually, to see how we have changed in the past year. The feed back from both customers and fellow potters is a wonderful reward for all those lonely hours in the studio.

I don't have too many photos from this year's reception, I guess I was just having too much fun! Thanks again everyone!


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Party time!

So we had a wonderful turnout, and a really nice time. Thank you so much everyone for coming today, supporting our group and the school. It's nice to see all those pots finding new homes.

Remember, our sale is on until May 9th, plenty of time to pick up a nice gift for Mother's Day. A portion of all our proceeds goes to The Art School at Old Church. Go here for details.

And here are some photos:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Underground Potters Annual Sale

If you have some time to stop by our reception today, Saturday, April 30th from 12-2pm, we will all be there to meet and greet.

Every year we organize our little sale at the Cafe Gallery at The Art School at Old Church, in Demarest, NJ, hoping to help raise money for the school that nurtured us all.

This school is a wonderful, magical place, with many inspiring instructors. There are painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, collage, photography, drawing, ink-brush painting...getting dizzy! And every class has something genuine to offer anyone looking for an outlet. I quickly worked my way through all the ceramic instructors - Ina Chapler, Bea Bloom, Frank and Polly Martin, Susan Beecher, Ruth Borgenicht, Eric Lawrence, DeBorah Goletz, Judy Schaefer, Marilyn Dale.

Mikhail Zakin helped to establish the school, and she is a very inspiring instructor, and a wonderful artist. She helped each of us to find a way to express ourselves in clay, and to keep on pushing ourselves to see what we could accomplish. I'll always feel there is a wonderful world in ceramics, with inspirations in the past and present, left for me to explore. So exciting!

So our group is privileged to share our work for this sale, and hope you can stop in and see what's up.

And of course a party is a great way to do it!

But our sale will continue through May 9th. See the work of Susan Bogen, Sandy Pancrazi, Allan Drossman, Itsuko Ishiguro and Cynthia Shevelew and myself, Ellen Mulligan. And this year we are so happy to have Margit Werner-Ergas showing with us. Maybe next year Ted Whittemore can join us again!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Underground Potters Annual Art School Show and Sale

It's that time! If you're in the New York City area, the Underground Potters are exhibiting again at:

The Art School at Old Church
located at

The exhibit starts October 24 and lasts until November 14, 2008 in the Art School Cafe Gallery.

[In the neighboring Mikhail Zakin Gallery, you can also experience the Wearable Art Exhibit.]

Join the Underground Potters at their reception on Saturday, October 25 from 2pm to 4pm. It's a great opportunity to meet them and ask them questions about their work. There's also a really good chance that you'll get to speak to Mikhail Zakin, the school founder, who often visits. The Underground Potters include:

Susan Bogen-Zarrabi
Alan Drossman
Itsuko Ishiguro
Ellen Mulligan
Sandy Pancrazi
Cynthia Shevelew
Ted Whittemore

By the way, in addition to meeting the potters, you can also buy beautiful pottery! Our work is quite varied, so there's sure to be something for all sensibilities.

[Note: The Art School is closed on Sundays.]

Related Post: Underground Potters 2007 Show and Sale

Technorati Tags: Tags:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Utilitarian Clay Symposium at Arrowmont

Itsuko and I were fortunate enough to attend this conference. It is held every 4 years, and only 200 participants are able to attend. We furiously dialed that phone, faxed that number, and our patience was rewarded. Unfortunately, Cynthia had got in, but came down with the flu on the day she planned on driving down to Tennessee, and had to stay home! What a shame.

The symposium was a wonderful collection of clay artists, focused on functional pottery. There was a keynote speaker, Polly Ullrich, from Chicago, who gave a thought-provoking talk on how artists from all fields were taking the direction of functional potters, and creating art that interacts directly with the ‘collector’. She showed slides of artists that are creating outerwear that has built in iPods, and sculpture installations that physically involve the viewer, like an adult-sized playground slide. No pots to look at, but a lot to think about.

The next three days were non-stop AM and PM demonstrations by some of our favorite potters: Linda Christianson, Mark Shapiro, Linda Sikora, Ron Myers, Victoria Christen, Bede Clarke,
Bruce Cochrane, Pete Pinnell, Daphne Hatcher, Jane Shallenbarger, Michael Kline , Ayumi Horie…it was a very intimate setting, and you were encouraged to wander from room to room,
joining in on discussions taking place in each workshop, about the life of a studio potter, the problems of this life while trying to raise a family, and some great techniques to inspire a potter at any level. There were some potters I wasn’t as familiar with, but the skill level, or enthusiasm for new forms of these potters was fantastic – Ursula Hargens, Lorna Meaden, Kari Radasch, Andy Brayman, Andy Shaw. I would encourage anyone to check out their sites for some really new ways to approach functional work.

There was a great panel discussion each night after dinner, with very passionate points of view on the Art vs Craft debate, Sustainability, with issues of the environment, retirement, physical fitness and finances being discussed. The final night’s panel was a wonderful presentation of each potter presenting his favorite pot, and discussing why it was so. Beautiful! My favorite description was Ursula Hargens, holding up her favorite 2 cups and saucers by Bernadette Curran. She has a young daughter, and she received these cups from Bernadette with a note that went something like this: ‘Perhaps you and your daughter will have some use for these’. How gracious! And Ursula went on to describe the ‘tea parties’ she has with her daughter, some stuffed animals, and the wonderful cups and saucers.

Blogging itself was discussed widely. Some of the potters demonstrating there had their own blogs, and I would really encourage anyone to check them out and see a great way to feel part of a larger clay community. Michael Kline has ‘Sawdust and Dirt’, Kari Radasch has ‘Wsup?’, and Ayumi Horie has a website with a wonderful feature of ‘Pots in Action’.

Oh, yes, the food was incredible!

Baby Skutt 614 Kiln

Ellen and I used a Skutt 614 kiln this summer. I’ve had this tiny kiln for several years and I’ve never liked it. I mostly used it for glaze testing but I was frustrated about getting a different result each time. After I struggled with this baby kiln, I put it in the garage for a while. Last year I needed 4 goblets to be refired and my other Skutt 1027 was a little too big for them. I uncovered the baby kiln and used it. It was perfect! I have used it for bisque firing, glaze firing, and luster firing since then. It’s absolutely fun! It fits 10 teacups, 10 lidded containers, or one big canister! This summer Ellen made hundreds of buttons inspired by her fashionable mother Grace.

firing #2 underglaze and satin matt glaze

firing #3 Carousel color overglaze

firing #4 luster gold

Try it sometime! Itsuko Ishiguro

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Buttons for Big Grace

In this photo, my mom, Grace Higgins, is pictured with her sister, Rosalie, to the right. They are two very stylish young women, making due with limited means during the war. Note the flower in my mom's hair!

I have been vacationing in Narragansett, RI--right by the ocean. And while I was relaxing, I was organizing the buttons I have been working on all summer, making them into sets, picking out vibrant-colored embroidery thread and sewing them onto cards I had made with my mom's image on them. I am getting them ready for their 'debut' at the Peters Valley Craft Fair, taking place in September. Click here to get further information. I will be joining the New Jersey Potters Guild, along with Itsuko, Sandy and Susan.

These buttons were a summertime obsession. They are in honor of “Big Grace,” my mom, but never called that to her face – my petite sister is also called Grace.

My mom was brought up as a Bronx “princess.” She sewed all of her own clothes – dazzling outfits! One I found in the attic was a marine-blue bathrobe-styled coat with matching palazzo pants with a Hollywood waist (mom’s description). The shirt matched the lining of the coat – a bright red rayon printed all over with palm trees. I put this outfit on and felt like a bona-fide movie star! This was one of many, many outfits, some with matching hats.

All this glamour was left behind, regretfully, as my mom had six kids. She was widowed at a young age, 47, and had a bedridden mother in the living room. So the talent for sewing supported the family. The prospective brides, bridesmaids, mothers-of-the-bride, cocktail hostesses, cruise ship vacationers, and even nuns came in for fittings – she did all of the new, shortened habits for the local convent in the 1960’s.

As a child I was surrounded by the trappings of all this – beautiful tweeds, shimmering satins and silks, and buttons, buttons, buttons! There were the buttons covered with fabric that matched the outfits, the standard white shirt buttons, the fancy mother-of-pearl buttons, even ones with sequins and rhinestones!

We were able to play with the cookie tin filled with the odd buttons. These were boring sets, ones with no match, or ones not suitable for fine garments. But there were also those jars of real beauties, not to be touched.

When I was starting to work in clay, I asked Big Grace if I could borrow some buttons, to make stamps out of them. She resisted, out of habit, I think. But finally she relented and let me loose. I went carefully through the jars, looking for those unique patterns, collected from the many trips to the notion district in NYC – off 7th Avenue, just north of Macy’s.

I found a few choice ones and proceeded to make impressions in clay. To my horror most of them dissolved! Who knew what they were made of? But I was able to salvage a few and made some great stamps that I use to this day to impress my work in porcelain.

So my tribute to Big Grace is these buttons. There are 100 cards, with her image, of all varieties – colors, patterns and textures. The hardest part was stopping! But I had to control this obsession, and move on.

Now for new vases, inspired by my Aunt Rosalie....

Thanks to Itsuko for all your advice and help.