The Lucy Fagella Pottery Blog is where I share the how the pottery is made. Pottery process is a beautiful thing… watching a pot rise up from a lump of clay at the wheel, or seeing a work table filled with freshly thrown pieces. This blog focuses on process shots, pottery videos, the work table at the end of the day, and some finished work fresh from the kiln.
I discovered something by mistake, (which often happens:)… I made these little dipping dishes for soy sauce, olive oil etc, but found another use for them.
It happened this way… one of the dipping dishes that came out of a recent kiln firing really caught my eye… the little form and glaze were really special together. When I really like something it comes into the kitchen with me to ponder over while eating breakfast. Well to make a long story short- my tea was getting cold and I looked at his dipping dish and thought it might just cover my tea. Well it not only covered my tea, but fit perfectly! Hence more were made that very day.
Potters have stories, and our pottery tells a story… mass produced mugs don’t.
If you are pondering buying handmade for the holidays, just do it. The price of this $45 mug is way less than the price of one dinner out with a friend… and lasts a lot longer.
Take a look at my shop page if you still need to do some last minute shopping. Last day of shipping for Christmas is Wednesday December 19th. If you don’t find what you are looking for in the shop contact me, I might have more that just didn’t get posted!
Lucy Fagella Pottery Holiday Open Studio is here! This is a busy and exciting time for craftspeople. We are all like little elves, making things that we know someone will be buying for someone they love. It’s kinda a great feeling to be a maker, especially during this season of giving.
When folks come to my holiday open studio, in all the busyness I’ll catch a glance at someone when a smile comes to their face… like a lightbulb moment, because they just figured out that the piece in front of them is the perfect gift for their daughter who loves to cook.
Below is a sampling of what you can find at my studio this coming weekend.
If you are local stop by December 7-8-9 to find your perfect handmade gift.
Friday 4-8, Saturday 10-4, Sunday 10-3.
My 18th Annual Holiday Open Studio and Sale is this December 7-8-9!
The studio opens Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 10-4, and Sunday 10-3.
I am so happy to be opening my studio once again for the holidays! The shelves will be stocked with lots of new pottery! Red tag discontinued/seconds will be available on the seconds table.
Mugs, cups, bowls, plates, pitchers, creamers, citrus juicers, butter keepers, berry bowls, salt cellars, sugar jars, teapots, and more!!
Come and find your perfect, handmade, functional gift!
413 522 8370
I am making new citrus juicers. These are a result of my change from porcelain clay to stoneware clay. If you are a potter you understand the degree of difficulty working in porcelain. It is difficult to make extreme forms in porcelain because they tend to collapse on the potters wheel, or warp in the kiln. It is easier to work in stoneware because of the roughness (grog) in the clay, it just holds up better during the making process. Both are equally as strong and durable as an end product though.
These forms begin as a one piece enclosed form. That means I bring the clay up on the potters wheel and enclose the clay at the top. The first photo shows a two piece citrus juicer. This form is probably the most challenging form I have ever made. This is thrown all in one piece then I cut into it to create the lidded juicer section on top. The second citrus juicer is a double walled container, meaning that the middle hump section is thrown and formed into an enclosed form. The outer section is thrown as a tall bowl with a spout, then at the leather hard stage of the drying process it is cut into and altered to create the low sides. The final citrus juicer is a juicer that I have made for years, the only difference is that I have actually simplified it by not making a wavy split rim.
One of my customers asked me if I juice lots of citrus fruit. Not really I said, mainly just for Margaritas! It’s just that I love the challenge of making difficult forms such as citrus juicers.
You can find these juicers on the shop page of my website.
The price of a handmade mug.
You and a friend walk into a potter’s studio, or a shop that sells handmade goods. You gravitate to the beautifully crafted porcelain mug… it is quiet just like you like your mornings. It’s light green celadon color is deliciously soft looking, and has a translucent quality about it. You pick it up… oh so comfortable. You look at the price, and you put it back down, and say to yourself, I can’t spend $45 on a mug. You look around a little more to be kind, you say thank you to the potter/shop keeper and walk out the door. You walk down the street and say to your friend, lets get something to eat. Your favorite restaurant is busy that night so you wait at the bar and buy two drinks until a table is available. Finally you are seated and hungry by this point so you order a small appetizer, (and so those drinks won’t go to your head). You and your friend chit chat… what a great food this place has… it’s is such a pleasure to come here for our monthly get together. The dinners come… delicious as usual…too full for dessert as usual. You pay the $90 bill without thinking.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
Granted a restaurant has a really high overhead, buying food that can spoil if business is slow, paying all of the staff, paying rent, insurance, upkeep of the building and equipment. The price of a night out is justified.
Now what about that $45 mug? It was the same price as one dinner, one night, one experience. That mug that you walked away from will last for years to come, and will bring many experiences as you sit each morning with your favorite brew. It has the capacity to enhance the quiet comfort of morning, it feels good in your hands, and looks pretty darn nice with your kitchen decor.
So yes the price is justified for a handmade mug, one that is well balanced, comfortable to hold, and fits your taste perfectly. The time and experience it takes to make a well crafted mug takes years, not minutes. If you have ever taken a pottery class you will understand how difficult it is to make a mug, pull a handle and join the two together to make one seamless functional, comfortable mug. The potter also has overhead– clay, glazes, rent, insurance, kilns, wheels, upkeep of the studio… and needs to make a living wage. So much goes into that one little handmade mug.
On April 28th-29th the 14th annual Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail will be taking place at my studio and 8 other pottery studios in western Massachusetts. It’s a driving tour… a way to see our studios, watch how pottery is made, and the perfect time to buy directly from the potter. We are all full time professional potters, meaning we make our living from making beautiful, functional items to enhance others daily lives. If you do come for a visit, think about that dinner vs. a handmade mug. If you can’t make it to the Pottery Trail you can take a look around on my shop page at LucyFagella.com.
You know the Pottery Trail is coming soon when I start making my asparagus trays!
The Pottery Trail is this April 28th and 29th! So mark your calendars, grab a friend or two and plan a trip to the beautiful countryside of western Massachusetts. This pottery tour is a wonderful way to see 9 different pottery studios in our lovely valley along the Connecticut River. Each of the 9 studios will be showing the work of the host potter and a guest potter… 23 potters in all! This is the perfect opportunity to see a wide range of pottery styles and to purchase handmade pottery. It is also a great way to see the studios of professional working potters. Take a look at our website here.
I am so happy to be sharing my studio space with my guest potter Martha Grover this year. Martha lives in Bethel Maine and is well known for her functional pottery throughout the U.S. Her fluid, organic forms are colorful and well thought out, and sometimes very complex, as you can see from the photo below!
As a potter I use quite a bit of electricity to fire my kilns, and that bothers me. I’ve always wished I could fire my kilns from the power of the sun using photovoltaics… but thought it was impossible since a kiln fires for about 15 hours using a great deal of electricity during that time period.
The idea of photovoltaics for the studio (and home) has stuck with me for years. So about 6 years ago we decided to get a site visit from a solar company, and see if there was any hope for a solar array. The site tech told us with the size of our south facing roof we would only be able to get 30% of our electricity from the array. It was discouraging, and felt like it was not worth it.
I continued to believe that there would be no way to lower my carbon footprint as a potter, except for the Biodegradable Urns that I was making from paper and clay. (These urns are the one item I make as a potter that are not fired in a kiln.)
Fast forward a few years later and my eldest son Luke graduates from college with a degree in Building Design and Technology and lands a job with a local solar company, Northeast Solar. He tells me, “Mom things have changed, the technology is better than five years ago, and the incentives for solar are really good right now!” A couple of weeks later he is up on our roof with a hand held device called a Sun Eye measuring the amount of potential solar energy of our house site.
Two months later the south facing roof is filled with solar panels. In that 6 years since the first site visit, technology has changed, and the latest solar panels are capable of producing more electricity per square inch. So as of this past October 2017, I am happy to say that we get nearly 50% of our electricity from solar power here at the home and studio! Yes, I know it’s not 100%, which many years ago I naively thought could happen. If I had the perfect roof and location in the Sunshine State of Florida maybe I could… but here in Massachusetts, on an old New England farm house, 50% is quite helpful!
I’ve been making large and medium size urns this past week. Pictured is a tiny little finished keepsake urn being dwarfed next to the large and medium urns in process.
After making (throwing) the urns and lids at the potters wheel I cover them with light plastic so they dry evenly. The urns and lids go back on the wheel to trim (carve) a foot on the bottom of the urn, and to further give shape to the lid. At this point they are ready to carve each little leaf into the porcelain.
Each urn takes about 40 minutes to carve the leaves… the perfect time to listen to podcasts or to sit outside on a warm sunny porch. (The latter isn’t happening anytime soon.) Over the weekend I carved three urns while watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. A big smile came to my face when I saw the huge moon jar holding the Olympic flame! (I guess you can see where my influences are from for this line of urns that I make). The traditional Korean Moon Jar is from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), it’s typically very large, made from porcelain with a milky white glaze to resemble the moon.
So nice to see pottery being celebrated in the public arena!
Sitting with the sun deliciously at my back all day while throwing large urns, I caught a glimpse of sunlight on my red rubber rib tool.
Sometimes magic happens.
Is it me, or some creative force beyond my realm of comprehension. It’s like the red rib touched the pot like a wand… and poof… the pot became.
These last couple of long days making large urns have left me with tired hands, a content mind, and a sense of accomplishment.
The concentration it takes to create these forms is amazing to me. I go into a zone that feels like I am one with the clay.
Each step is carefully repeated to have the same outcome for each urn, (as it is for all my repeated forms) but these are different, they are nearly 7 lbs of cream cheese like porcelain. So I intently concentrate, remembering the pressure of each push and pull of the clay with my finger tips… from one urn to the next.
The dog barks and the mind wanders for a split second… the fingers slip, the wall of the clay gets too thin. I try to save it to no avail, I think for a moment… I can make it into a different form… it’s not totally lost, but my muscle memory would be. So I crush it, and put it back on the wedging table and grab the next piece of wedged clay, and begin the process of centering again.
I have launched a second website… Lucia Urns!
Since 2005 I have sold urns on a separate page of my lucyfagella.com website, but I felt it was about time to give the urns their own space. Making and selling cremation urns is a least 70% of my pottery business. I wanted to make this website a peaceful place to go when people are grieving the loss of a loved one and making family decisions. I’ve been through the darkness of losing loved ones… any bit of light, hope, beauty and healing words go a long way in that time of darkness.
This website has been a long time in the making. I began working on it last June when I hurt my back. Then the studio renovations began, taking up the whole summer. I hoped to get back to the website in the fall, but making pots for the holiday sales took precedence. In December I went back to it determined to have it finished by the end of January. I am so happy to have it completed!
I have used the Squarespace platform to create this site. They have some great templates to choose from, and lots of instructions via the Squarespace help section through articles and videos. It really is pretty simple… just a whole lot of time!
The one thing I did at the very end of the process was to consult a few hours with a local web guru to make sure all the tech connections were the way they are supposed to be.
Take a look at the site, LuciaUrns.com, let me know what you think.