Arrowmont workshop—a great learning experience!

Posted: August 16th, 2012 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio, Inspirations | No Comments »

This summer I spent two weeks attending a workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, taught by wonderfully talented potter  Lana Wilson. It covered hand-building techniques, plus Lana’s crazy cool slip decorating methods. We also had the treat of a guest artist for a couple of days, so we got some instruction from Sandi Pierantozzi, one of my absolute favorite potters ever!!

The best part of the whole workshop (where I learned to make several new pieces, including beautiful hand-built bowls!) was watching the contrast between Sandi’s and Lana’s work styles. Funny woman Lana calls herself “the queen of low standards,” which you certainly can’t tell if you’ve ever seen her work, but means she doesn’t stress over each seam and rim, and also just kind of likes to see what happens when, say, you slam the clay on the table 10 times. Sandi is more of a perfectionist, paying careful attention to measurements, angles, and symmetry in each piece. But both artists love texture and surface decoration (as do I!), and both produce stunning work, just with different ways of getting there. They were also charming, funny, and seemed genuinely delighted to share with us their experience and techniques, making the workshop a wonderfully comfortable learning environment—and making me energized and excited to create new work with all my new skills!


New lace tests

Posted: March 6th, 2012 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

Today I experimented with some new lace patterns, courtesy of White Orchid Bridal. Colleen at White Orchid made me a beautiful wedding dress a couple of years ago, so when I decided to start offering bridal lace pottery for special order, I thought the lace from my own dress would be a great place to start. She was nice enough to raid her scrap bin for me, and I got all sorts of goodies! Scroll over or click on the pics to learn about my process.

Ladies Craft Nights with Burning Fork and Blooming Earth!

Posted: August 6th, 2011 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

Join us on the third Wednesday of each to share a little creative energy! Bring your own craft project to work on while enjoying the company of fellow creatives; team up with Blooming Earth to make the farm-inspired project of the month; or join Burning Fork to make some pottery.

Begins August 17, 2011!

All the details:

  • Located at 514 W. Jackson Ave., West Jackson Workshops, Suite 103, Knoxville, TN.
  • From 7-9 p.m., each third Wednesday of the month.
  • Bring a bottle of wine and/or snacks to share.
  • Burning Fork Studio pottery projects start at $15 per person, including supplies and firing.
  • Blooming Earth Flowers projects start at $15 per person, including supplies.
  • Studio fee for all participants is $3 at the door.

House projects for August 17:

  • Blooming Earth Flowers: TBA
  • Burning Fork Studio: Coil Pots


Workshops, class times posted!

Posted: May 16th, 2011 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

Burning Fork has scheduled some exciting and fun workshops and classes in the upcoming months, and details are posted here!

Now, since I am not all that technologically savvy, I somehow deleted the contents of the Lessons page, and made it impossible to get to the Classes and Workshops page from anywhere but the links in this post and on the Home page. Oops. Planning on getting that taken care of as soon as Nathanna gets back from vacation to rescue me!

At any rate, there’s lots coming up, including Family Clay Workshops (for the whole family!) in July, regular class sessions beginning in August (with a Native American Pottery session for kids, and throwing and handbuilding for adults), not to mention our upcoming Downtown Kids Yoga and Arts Summer Camp, which starts in June! Space is limited, so sign up fast!

If you have any questions at all about any of the above, or would like to register for a class, please contact me, lahla@burningforkstudio, for more information.

How I found my new studio-sweet-studio

Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

While Blooming Earth Flowers and Burning Fork signed our lease for Suite 103 @ West Jackson Workshops two weeks ago, our term begins today, and we are SOOOO excited!! This will be my very first pottery/art studio outside my home (and outside a school classroom), so this is a big move for me.

Currently, the entire contents of my studio is still sitting in Kentucky, just as I left it after working there a few weeks ago. I have a little, ahem, packing to do yet, but never mind that! I’ll be heading there this weekend to get it all loaded into a moving van, and plan to move it in to my brand new studio at the end of next week. In the meantime, I’m daydreaming about how I’ll arrange everything, and how great it’s going to be!

The space I am moving into is right next door to the architecture office (Sanders Pace Architecture) that is right next door to my current office and retail space at 514 W. Jackson. All in the same building, actually. I’ve been pondering this move for a while, trying to figure out the best way to make my art and teach classes with the absence of anywhere to put a studio in our new house here in Knoxville. (Well, the house is actually 110 years old, but it’s new to us, and considerably smaller than our Ky. house.)

At one point my husband and I thought we might build a garage in our back yard, but decided that a) we like our backyard, and b) it would cost a small fortune and possibly take forever to build one. Suite 103 at West Jackson Workshops had been empty the entire time I’ve rented office space here (since November), but there was always talk of others moving in at some point. Not to mention the fact that I had no one to share the 1,000+ square feet of space with. So I half-heartedly scoped out some other rental locations, not liking anything I saw and wondering where in the world I was going to house that big, heavy kiln and tons of other pottery equipment.

Then, sort of all at once, I found out Stacey was looking for a place for her growing floral biz, and the possibility of other renters taking Suite 103 seemed to have fallen through. After much consideration and number crunching and meeting and planning, we were able to decide that Suite 103 was just the place for us! It is sunny and white and beautiful (just like the office space I share next door with Nathanna and Mockingbird Events). And I’m sure it’s going to be conducive to lots of creativity and art making and sharing! Come visit!

I’ve included a few “before” pics here, as in, before we’re moved in, so you can kind of get an idea of the space. The patio, which is shared with my office space buddies next door, needs a little TLC, but we hope to get lots of use out of it this summer!

Busy Bees at Burning Fork!

Posted: April 6th, 2011 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted, and that is mostly because there is a LOT going around here! (If you want to stay really up-to-date on everything, follow me on Twitter! @BURNING_FORK)

I’m still settling in in Knoxville, and now in addition to my beautiful office and retail space, I have signed a lease for the space right next door to house my pottery studio. Woohoo! The icing on the cake is that I am sharing the space with Blooming Earth Flowers, so there should be lots of lovely blooms around most of the time.

This means that I can now officially start scheduling pottery and other art classes, so be sure to stay tuned for when these are happening. I plan to host a couple of workshops for kids and adults in July, and begin regular class sessions with the start of the school year in August. For more information, visit the Lessons page.

Before I get to all that, though, I’m very excited to be working with the Glowing Body for the Downtown Kids Summer Arts and Yoga Camp! Burning Fork is offering the visual arts lessons for this super-creative camp, while Morelock Music, the Actors Co-op, and Dancing Spider Yoga will provide musical, acting, and yoga instruction for kids ages 5-12. The camp will start each day with a healthy lunch from Just Ripe, yum! For more details, click here.

This Saturday, I’ll have pottery available in a raffle during Blooming Earth Flowers’ Homebrew event—Stacey Adam will be crafting some delicious beers, and Mockingbird Events is providing the food. The event will be held here at West Jackson Workshops, 514 W. Jackson. Find out more and buy tickets here.

And finally, I have been actually making a thing or two lately! I’ll be putting a new line of aprons on Etsy soon (to wear while you bake all those fruit pies this summer!), and some new spring inspired home decor, clothing, and ceramic jewelry items, too. Keep a lookout at! As soon as my pottery studio’s up and running I’ll have some ceramics to add to that list. Now, if I can just find some good strong people to help me move that kiln…

The Humble Student

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio | No Comments »

I have signed up for a hand-building class at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville—a nine-week course with Cynthia Lee on hanging hand-built pieces on the wall.

I wanted to take this class because I wanted to learn a better way to hang the ceramic mirrors I make, and during the first class I decided I had learned all I needed to know in the instructor’s introduction. Ahem, ego much? Lucky for me, having spent the money on the course already, I decided to go back for the second week, and (shocker!) it turns out there’s lots more to learn.

The list of artists Cynthia gave us to look up, and her subsequent slide show, had me drooling with envy over the polished, professional pieces by countless talented individuals. There were beautiful hand-built pieces by Jill Allen featuring charming curly cues of wire and bright colors; incredible, quiet forms from nature by Alice Ballard; gorgeously playful glaze treatments by Liz Zlot Summerfield—the list goes on and on.

So now I’m thinking maybe I don’t know it all, which prompts me to bring one of my mirrors to class to show Cynthia and get some pointers. Miraculously, as I unwrap the porcelain mirror in front of her, it suddenly becomes one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I made this hunk of junk, and am now standing before a real, live, accomplished artist with this beast in my hands. Compared to Cynthia’s beautiful, smooth, wall-hanging pieces with their graceful frames and their backs just as lovely as their fronts, this mirror of mine looks like a third grader made it. I am so embarrassed. And so very glad I am taking this class.

My last post here was about learning from my own students, but there’s a lot to be said for putting oneself back in the classroom as the student of someone who knows a whole hell of a lot more than you know. Maybe my mirrors aren’t that bad, but they (and the rest of my work) can certainly use improvement, and we can all always use more learning. Stay tuned for more updates on my ceramic classroom adventures in the weeks to come!

Lovely lace pottery and lessons from students

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

I’ve always thought that teachers (particularly art teachers) have just as much to learn from their students as their students do from them, as long as we are paying attention. This has proved true time and again in my classes, whether I’m teaching pottery or other types of visual arts, and it’s rewarding every time.

Recently, I taught a hand-building class for three women, two of whom had taken a throwing class with me before. This time, they already had a lesson plan in mind for me—lace pottery. While I have seen lovely pieces of pottery with lacey patterns pressed onto their surfaces, I had never felt possessed to undertake this particular endeavor, despite my fascination with texture. I actually had the idea I wouldn’t be able to get it to work properly, so I just never tried. Naturally, students who haven’t spent too much time dwelling on the technicalities of something aren’t afraid of how the final product might turn out, so I went and got a lacey curtain and decided we’d give it a go.

I had warned them that glazing over their lace patterns might obliterate them completely, and we may have to use a different finishing technique, but these ladies were a step ahead of me, of course—instead of filmy, sheer lace, they had brought thick cotton crocheted doilies to roll onto their clay. My pieces came out OK, although the pattern was so faint I did have to use a stain rather than thick glaze (which I like, though it makes the piece slightly less versatile because it’s harder to wash), but their pieces were so bold in their patterns they could use any glaze they wanted! And it never would have occurred to me to make any kind of lace pottery on my own, much less with a crocheted doilie!

Below are some images of my pieces, and a couple of the ornaments my students made with their doilies. Love it!

My lace pottery, and students' ornaments

The lighter dish is one I did not stain with thinned glaze for comparison. I rubbed it with olive oil, which made it look less dry, but it's still less rich rich than the other two.

Detail of stain and white glazed untextured portion of the dish. I used an iron-speckled clay body for a rustic look.

ARTWalk in Whitesburg this Saturday!

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio | 1 Comment »

My studio is a mess and I’m feeling a little frantic—that means there’s an art show coming up! This week I’ve been choosing which pieces I’ll include in the event, pricing, labeling, and taking inventory.

ARTWalk will take place in Whitesburg, KY, Saturday, October 16, from 4-9 p.m. My work will be on display in the basement of the Visitor’s Center on Main Street, across from Summit City (where there’ll be live music to enjoy after the art!). ARTWalk is a big marketplace event featuring local and regional artists’ work in businesses in the historic district of Whitesburg—it’s a great opportunity to see and BUY local, handmade art! I’m excited to get to participate, and hope to see some folks there!

Ceramic Earring Display ARTWALK FALL BROCHURE Studio table with pieces for show and labels

Italian ispirazione

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio | No Comments »

I’ve just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy, and after seeing all the amazing art, architecture, and even beautiful food, I’ve returned to my studio with lots of great inspiration from the trip.

From Venice to Pisa, I was impressed by the stunning colors everywhere we went. Colorful buildings, colorful landscapes, colorful food, all against a backdrop of perpetually (for our stay, at least) bright blue, cloudless sky. There was also the breathtaking white of the Carraran marble, of course, which was most notable on the buildings in the famous Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa (home to the Leaning Tower), and in the fantastically lifelike statues and sculptures in Florence.

I’ve included a few of my favorite photos here, and pics of the chairs inspired by bright Tuscan colors that I’m working on now.