Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Chameleon Contest! And the Winner is....

There were so many great suggestions.....but I had to choose one.

Rachel C. wins for the name


It's green, fun to say and something I like a lot!

Rachel receives a two hour clay sculpting class for two people, materials included.

Congratulations, Rachel!

Thank you, everyone, for participating. I"ll probably do this again in the future--there are other clay critters in the studio without names!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Can You Say, "Camouflage"?

As a former zoologist, many of my artist-in-the-school programs involve animals and their adaptations. Here is a video shared by my good friend and amazing sculptor, painter and master of other art forms, Cindy Billingsley.

From: Every Day is Science Friday, host Ira Flatow

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Name that Chameleon, Win a Class for Two!

Name Me!

When I chose this photo of a happy chameleon for my postcards for teaching clay sculpture classes, I had no idea how popular s/he would become. People of all ages have remarked that they picked up the postcard because of his (her?) great expression.

Even I still smile when I look at the photo.

Well, it’s time for this joyful Spokeslizard to have a name. Please send me your best suggestions and the author of the name chosen will win a 2-hour sculpture class for two people (includes clay and one firing) at Out of the Fire Sculpture Studio, in Saxapahaw, NC.

Anyone may enter! E-mail your entries to, or find the studio on Facebook: Out of the Fire Clay Sculpture by Cindy Biles. Deadline to enter is August 31, 2011. I'll post the winning name on Facebook and here in September.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Fun!

Summer Fun
14" X 19" X 14"

Just finished Summer Fun, in time for the new show at the Saxapahaw Artists Gallery, in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. Members of this cooperative gallery are the featured artists for the month of July. We'll have an opening reception on Friday, July 1, from 6-9PM. There will be wonderful art, food and drink, music, conversation, good times. Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mason Stains, Demystified - an article by Jennifer Hoolihan at Highwater Clay

This just in from Jennifer Hoolihan at Highwater Clay, in Asheville, NC. Jennifer and Les have helped me many times when I've had questions and needed advice on clay and glazes as has another great friend in the area, Paul.

Here is the article:

Ceramic Stain

Act One

by Jennifer Hoolihan

On your visits to Highwater Clays, you might have noticed all the brightly colored bags of powder neatly lined up in the stain aisle. Perhaps you were beguiled by the visual display but wondered, what are these? Good question! Read on, and we will provide a little clarity on the wide world of ceramic stains in part one of our tech tip stain series.

Ceramic stains, like the brand Mason Color, offer a rainbow of color for the modern clay artist. What exactly are stains? Simply put, they are manufactured colorants. Stains are compounds made up of different oxides and minerals. Metal oxides such as iron, cobalt and copper are blended with elements like zirconium, zinc and tin. These auxiliary ingredients are used to stabilize and widen the color range of the metal colorants. Each stain has its own unique recipe. Once the raw materials are blended, the stains are heated to facilitate the chemical reactions needed to produce and stabilize the desired color. Some stains need to reach a high enough temperature to fuse, others just need a good cooking. When the heating process is complete, the stains are ground into a fine powder of about 200 mesh and washed to remove any remaining soluble material.

The point of this extensive procedure is to make a colorant that is consistent in hue and also stable across a wide temperature range. Colors and subtle shades that are difficult to achieve using raw oxides are provided for with stains. A stain doesn't really incorporate into a glaze melt the way a raw oxide does. In a stain, the stabilizers act to protect the coloring metals from being sucked into the wild molten glass of a melting glaze. The colorant remains suspended as a tiny particle in the melted glaze. A raw oxide, on the other hand, hooks up with other elements as a glaze gets molten. These other elements, such as titanium, tin and boron and the atmosphere of the firing can have a profound affect on the color development of raw oxides.

Often times the powder form of a stain is very similar to the fired color, thus taking a lot of guess work out of surface decoration and glazing. However, this is not to say a stain isn't affected by the chemistry of a base glaze. Different stains are more stable than others. This is where knowledge of specific stain colors comes in very handy. Fortunately, the Mason stain reference chart supplies all kinds of useful information. Mason, and other stain manufactures, won't tell you the exact recipe of a stain but they will tell you the components, like if it contains cobalt, nickel, etc. Those random little numbers listed under the color sample give valuable clues on how to use each stain to its fullest potential and avoid unhappy glaze results. It lists how much stain and opacifier is needed to replicate the color shown in the chart. This is really useful since some stains are stronger and more opaque than others. It gets really juicy when you start reading the reference numbers for each stain. You find out which stains don't play well with zinc (most greens) and why your pink glaze fired out splotchy gray (not enough calcium in the base recipe). And why are there 6 different black stains? It's all in the reference chart. You still want to test, test and test, but the reference chart gets you off to a good start.

Now that we have covered the 'what' of ceramic stains, part two of our series will delve deeper into different ways of using stains. We'll learn various ways of incorporating them into your work with recipes and useful tips. We'll also get a bit more technical to increase our understanding of the ins and outs of the Mason reference chart. Until then, happy potting.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Classes at Out of the Fire Studio!

I've been an Artist-in-the-Schools for 8 years or so and now, with the studio, have wanted to teach more classes here.

I have had workshops for teachers in Wake County, where they earned C.E.U. credits, a very fun birthday party for a 17 year old young woman and her family and friends, and a teenage guy, who is very serious abut his art.

So far, I've taught hand building and sculpture in clay to people ages 4 to 97, and would be happy to extend that age range!

If you're interested, or would like more information on these and other classes, please call (336) 376-9091 or e-mail

This is the list so far, but once I figure out my summer schedule, there will be more classes of a bigger variety. FPr example. I would love to work with teens who would like to take a serious sculpture class--experience level would not be that important, just a desire to learn.

Also, I'd love to have classes that go on for 4-6 or 8 weeks. Feedback I've received lately, though, suggests that people prefer not to commit too many days at a time, and I can understand that!

So I'm starting with 2-day classes, where you sculpt one day and come back in two weeks to glaze (or in the case of very young children, paint) the piece after I've fired it.

If there are other classes you would like to see offered, please let me know!

Clay Sculpture for Adults: Why Should Kids have All the Fun?

Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Let go of self-judgment, have a great time and create something wonderful for your home or garden! We will sculpt during the first class and glaze our magnificent works during the second class, two weeks later. Sculpture tools are provided for use during class. First Session: May 9 and 23 (Mondays), Second Session: June 13 and 27 (Mondays), Third Session: July 14 and 28 (Thursdays). 7-9PM. $45 per session, includes 5 pounds of clay, glazes and firings.

Big Hands, Little Hands—A Great Clay Adventure!
A child and his or her Special Someone will learn a lot and have a lot of fun as they coil, roll and pinch clay to each create a masterpiece! You get to spend quality time with that special young spirit and remember the joy of play as you release your own inner child. We will sculpt during the first class, and glaze or paint during the second class, two weeks later. Sculpture tools are provided for use during class. First Session: June 11 and 25 (Saturdays), Second Session: July 16 and 30 (Saturdays). 10AM-12Noon. $55 per session, includes 6 pounds of clay, glazes, paint, and firings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Visual Art Exchange Exhibition!

Caroline and Grace

Just delivered 6 pieces from my People and Their Companion Animals series to the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh, NC. They're in the Exchange Gallery there, in the front, so can be seen from the street.

Four other artists are in this show, which opens Friday, April 1, also a First Friday in Raleigh. So the town will be buzzing with people checking out the art and food scenes.

The exhibit runs through the month of April.

You can see images from this series on my Studio Facebook Page:

Here is an excerpt from my artist statement:
My art, influenced by an educational background in biology and anthropology, reflects my interest in the interdependence between humans and other creatures with which we share the planet. Inspiration comes from a desire to understand the world from a non-human point of view. This, along with many years of experience working with animals large and small, has enabled me to interpret nuances of behavior, subtle but evident if we take time to learn these languages.

With patience and mutual trust, humans and animals can develop a bond where both parties communicate on an intuitive, or even spiritual, level. Although technology enables people (who have access) to exchange information frequently and instantly, there is still a fundamental human need for direct connection with another living creature. The companion animal lives in the present, accepts us at face value, finds joy in simple pleasures, and offers unconditional love.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Balancing Act

I have not found a way to keep up with creating my own art, social media, teaching, etc. Not complaining! I've been working a lot as an artist-in-the-schools for the last few months and have had the good fortune to be in some nice shows.

Big Flowers, recently installed at a school in Wake County, NC

With that going on, I haven't posted any blog entries in a long time. I have been posting to Facebook--as much as I love this blog, I can upload photos and captions and rearrange things so much faster on Facebook. If you get a chance please check out the Out of the Fire Facebook page. There are photos of finished projects and work in progress at schools in Wake County, NC.

Thank you!