For the NEW YEAR I am stepping out of my comfort zone….I am teaching a workshop at Leslie Ceramics on April 27 . I have led a couple of workshops in the past but have always been a bit shy about teaching but this year I am READY and excited to share the techniques I’ve been developing. Please come join me. We’ll have fun together darting, seaming and cutting patterns. Learn more and sign up HERE.
My OPEN Studio event starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I really can’t believe that the holidays are upon us already. I have been working like a crazy lady getting new work ready including my 2018 ornaments which are kind of crazy this year. In addition to the collection of funny face ornaments, some of which bare vague resemblence to members of my family, I am making something very special out of wool felt and I am keeping these a secret for now….you’ll have to come see them in person (in other words…they are not quite done!!!).
Please join me:
Saturday and Sunday
Nov24,25, Dec 1*,2*,8,9 11-5
2236 Summer St, Berkeley
* Special guest - Whitney Smith - will be joining me these 2 days.
We arrived in the mountains for the summer in June. This annual event is something I look forward to all year. It's like a hermitage. Our cabin is tucked far back in the Ward Canyon four miles from Lake Tahoe. It is quiet and beautiful back here. Sometimes we see a car or two coming up the road...sometimes not. Mainly we see hard core mountain bikers, wildflower enthusiasts, Tahoe Rim Trail thru hikers...it's a very peaceful place.
I have a funky studio in our old garage. It has a smallish, oldish kiln that every time I fire I pray doesn't error code on me. So far it's proformed beautifully and I am very THANKFUL. I have been working it hard.
I am making pieces for my upcoming October solo show at Roscoe Gallery in Oakland. I am cutting the paper patterns I use for my slab clay pieces out of felt. The felt will be sewn, machine embroidered and dyed. I will show both the felt and the clay pieces together. It's a fun project bringing me back to my textile roots and my passion for clay. Being in this quiet beautiful place has given me the mental space to really explore this concept. I am excited about the work. I hope you can attend if you are in the area. I'll post more about the show as the date gets closer.
First I would like to THANK all of you who came to my Spring OPEN Studio on May 5 & 6. I appreciate your support so much. Everyone who came on Saturday saw me floating on air as my daughter in Brooklyn gave birth that morning, two weeks early. Everybody who came on Sunday met my friend Srinidhi who worked the sale for me as I flew across the country to meet my new little grandson and help out the family. l apologize if I missed you.
Since returning from Brooklyn I have been working non stop in my studio. Nothing like a sweet family visit , a trip to the Greek ceramic collection at the MET and the daily walk through a vibrant city scene to fuel my imagination. I returned revitalized and full of ideas for my upcoming October show at Roscoe Gallery in Oakland.
I am in LOVE with my new Navajo Wheel clay. It is liberating not to have to worry about massive cracks forming as I build BIG, add crazy parts, scallop tops. I am no longer fighting the clay. I am one HAPPY potter. Above is a picture of a big vase (approx 18" tall) in process (below is a pic of a smaller vase, before final glaze. that sold at my Open Studio). This is the first in a series that will fill one wall of the Gallery. I'll keep you posted on the progress.
My entire clay journey has been based on using porcelain . It's bright white surface was a perfect for my graphic decorating style. I could scratch into it, build up flat colors, use silk screen transfer, play with water etching, water down underglazes and use them like water colors without having to take into consideration the effect that the clay color would have on the process. I LOVED the simple white canvas porcelain provided BUT it never LOVED me back! From the start I dealt with an insane amount of flaws and cracking. It seemed that the porcelain I was using wasn't at all happy being subjected to the stresses of hand building. I changed clay bodies several times over the years and though the cracking problem got better it NEVER stopped. I began to dread the day that I had to check the drying pieces I had so painstakingly made and decorated for cracks because without fail I could count on losing a large percentage of them. It began to effect my creative thought process. I tried to alter my vision to accommodate inevitable failures. Ever the optimist, though, I thought if I kept trying I would discover the magic formula and solve my porcelain problem.
Finally the other day I had had it! I had made the simplest vase form I could think of ...a cone. I made 24 in anticipation of Easter and Mother's Day sales. They were decorated and drying SLOWLY. After dying under plastic for two weeks I checked them ...out of 24, 10 had made it !
TIME FOR A CHANGE
I recently bought Sunshine Cobb's wonderful new book on handbuilding. She made working in red clay seem like a joy. I drove to my local clay supplier, Leslie Ceramic and picked up a bag of Navajo Wheel. Upon rolling out my first slab I knew I was in for a treat. This clay had a bit of tooth but was smooth, responded to my touch and didn't fight being formed...it seemed happy being darted, pushed out,seamed, cut, formed. It also looked exactly like the chocolate refrigerator cookie dough that my mom used to make....YUM! I was and continue to be in HEAVEN working with this stuff. But the real test came in the drying process. After one week under plastic and one week without cover...not a single crack! HALLELUJAH !
At first the decorating process seemed a little daunting. But by starting with a layer of white slip I am able to use most of the techniques I have developed over the years. The one exception is mishima but by scratching through the white slip to the dark ground I can achieve the same effect. As I continue to explore the new possibilities I am actually enchanted with the depth that the dark richness of the Navajo Wheel brings to my designs. Change is Good!
I am not attending NCECA this year but I'm sending these three bright poppy pieces to Pittsburgh to brighten up the winter landscape. If you are going, please check out this fun sounding party and show. I am honored to be showing in the company of some of my pottery heroes. Check out Heesoo Lee's impossibly beautiful Aspen pieces, Birdie Boone's wonderful round bottom cups, Ben Carter's delicate red clay teapots and of course my talented Bay Area pottery posse's (Christa, Sara, Whitney, Diana) brilliant work. It almost makes me want to strap on my snow boots, drag out my down jacket and get my butt to Pittsburgh (almost... but not quite) !
I started off 2018 with a very rude awakening.
A very dear friend had commissioned me to make teapots and cups for his daughter and sister for Christmas presents. He gave me this project late into the season and knew that the pieces couldn't be delivered until after Christmas but was willing to wait. I was able to get them started as soon as my Open Studio was over. I was excited to be able to deliver the 2 teapots and their 4 matching cups this week.
Needless to say all didn't go as planed. When I put the pieces into the final glaze kiln they looked perfect. When I sneaked a peek ,as the kiln was cooling,I gasp in horror. What the HELL had happened? I still don't know...they were pocked with craters, the white under glaze was grey, the scratched through designs unrecognizable in the mess. I was mortified and embarrassed. Devastated that 3 weeks of work was wrecked (get the hammer wrecked) and that I was going to have to tell my patient friend that it would be another 3 weeks until I could deliver his order.
I had, however, not finished 2 teapots and 4 cups as "insurance" in case the first 4 had a mishap. With my confidence very shaken I re-under glazed , re-decorated and took an extra step that i had never taken before.... I re-bisqued these already bisqued pots... thinking that maybe this would eliminate the transparent problem. Feeling without much hope, I glazed them and fired them a third time. This morning I shyly opened the cooled kiln and HALLELUJAH ! The kiln gods had smiled and the pots were better than my rather low expectations..They were PERFECT!
Sometimes ceramics lessons learn are HARD. I lost 4 precious pots and 16 cups but learned a new technique (the extra bisque) that will hopefully take the guess work out of future projects. Ceramics...sometimes I LOVE you, sometimes I HATE you.
Good bye to 2017 - probably one the most unsettling, craziest years ever.
My personal year was great. I was able to make lots of pots in my sunny Berkeley studio. I want to thank all of you who visited and supported my crazy endeavors. I traveled lots of miles with my husband John Schnick visiting Cuba, Hawaii, Paris and spent the summer in the mountains. And best of all had fun times with family and friends including many hours with my 5 wonderful grandkids.
But it is the state of our country that made this year so crazy. As this new year starts it's hard not to feel super stressed every time I listen to the news...WHAT HAS THE MANIAC BEEN UP TO NOW ? I resolve to, as much as possible, tune out the negative and see this year as full of possibilities for POSITIVE CHANGE.
I am toasting in 2018 with the resolve we can alter the direction our country is going and make this world a better place for all of us.
Poppy Vases, Wildlife Mugs, Bear and Owl Bells, Blackbird Ornaments , one of a kind wonders have been flying from my hand to drying rack to kiln to glaze bucket and back to kiln ...I have been working like a crazed Santa's elf getting ready for Holiday Open Studios. I hope you can come see what I've been up to. Please join me in my beautiful backyard studio. If you can't make it to this great event you can, for a limited time, purchase my 2017 ornaments here.
josie jurczenia Holiday Open Studio
3 Weekends:: Nov 25, 26, Dec 2.3, 9,10
11 - 5
I am proud to be part of the Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios. I am # 16 on the map of 100 Artists in this area open for business this Holiday Season.Read More
I had no idea how much poking around, swearing, time outs or chats with the technical support team it would take to get my new web-site up and running but now that it's live and you found it...YAHOO! Since I have my web-site switched to my new Square Space host it is time to switch my blog. Hopefully this will be a smoother transition.
It's Holiday workshop time in my studio. The slab roller is humming, my fingers are flying, slip is slipping, trees, birds, bears, bunnies and poppies are popping up everywhere. I hope you will be able to join me for my Holiday Open Studio that starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving. If you are interested in starting your holiday shopping a little earlier or can't make it to my Open Studio you can find my very special 2017 ornaments in my newly opened shop.