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Looking back just a bit

It was a busy time

of making, baking, and fighting the never welcomed viruses of the season.

I was hopeful about the baking part… I wanted to make Christmas cookies with the grandkids, my father in law’s traditional nut rolls (thank you to Bob and Kathy for sending nut rolls!) and assorted pies and other goodies.

It. Did. Not. Happen. Thank you Jackie, for the amazing berry cheesecake for Christmas dinner!

I was off to a late start designing and making this year’s annual ornament. Caught a nasty virus that had me down for over a month during my busiest making days. After building the needed energy and endurance, ornament production was shifted into overdrive!

It had been a flurry of ornament design, stamp making and production of this year’s almost record breaking making season! I’ve made over 250 ornaments this year, mostly celebrating our mountain towns along with family and friends!

Some of the first of many porcelain trees drying. Getting ready for cleaning and their bisque firing.

It took a while to finalize this year’s design and quite a bit more deciding on color combinations to work with the great crystal beads found to dangle within the ornament to add a bit of sparkle! I began cutting and shaping them with the town names of our first holiday faires. I am so happy to see past customers each year, knowing that they are adding to their collections! I’ve made annual trees for our small Santa Cruz Mountains town of Boulder Creek since 1991 and am awed by those who have been collecting my ornaments for many years. It is such an honor for my work to be a part of many familiy’s holiday traditions! I’m also happy that these can provide a small welcome memento to new neighbors in the small towns in our valley.

Loving the texture of this year’s design!
While making the cutout shapes for the crystals, I saved them with a little more texture to make new glaze samples. Hundreds of teardrop shapes, with so many great glazes to sample!

I was a little afraid of the space between the teardrop cut outs and the edges of the tree. I was pleasantly surprised that the narrow edge really didn’t cause much of a problem. I laid unglazed terra cotta tiles on top of the tree shapes to allow them to dry slowly and flat. The problem with warping was pretty much solved as long as I was patient! (Of course, there were some that warped when fired and they will chime brightly in our garden!)

With hours and hours of time in the workshop, I was kept company by many Hallmark Christmas movies, keeping me in the spirit! It really was assembly line time around here. The kiln was on every few days, with some kiln loads fired as soon as cooled batches were unloaded!

Ready for their bisque firing. One of several shelves on their way to the kiln.

I had a hard time deciding on glazes again this year. I found these great crystals in a couple of nice sparkly colors to dangle within the tree shape. I chose a rustic traditional Christmas palette for the golden crystals and another with the more fanciful colors reflected in the second crystal.

One tray of trees, ready to be hung on their satin ribbons

Well, another year of my porcelain trees is complete and I’m already thinking about the design for 2019. Maybe, I should get an extra early start on them this year. You never know what surprises, good and not so good can affect your best plans!

Wishing you a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Cheers!

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Wrapping It Up

20140131-212247.jpgIt’s hard to believe that we are already a full month into the new year and I haven’t even wrapped up 2013 yet!

My last post was in the fall when I had just begun designing my annual Christmas ornament. Here’s a peek at some pieces “under construction”.

I enjoyed making these ornaments every step of the way, really liking a porcelain clay that was new to me. This new clay is very smooth and nice to work with. It fires to a really white, translucent finish. I love that when it’s held in front of a light or in the sunshine, it seems to glow! 20140131-212340.jpg

I’m happy that many of my ornaments have found their way to the homes of friends, family and wonderful customers who have added them to their Christmas ornament collections! I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of many families’ traditions.

2014 is already full of new projects and opportunities! I’m in full swing again in the workshop and look forward to what’s in the works!

It may be a bit late, but I wish you a Very Happy New Year!

Carol

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2013 Ornament Design in Progress!

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I know that Christmas comes around the same time every year, but it seems that each year, my handcrafted porcelain ornaments hit the shows and shops “hot off the press”!
Or more accurately, out of the kiln!

I have a design idea that I’m quite happy with right now.  There are several pieces ready to be bisque fired so that I can test a few glaze combinations and choose the one that will best tell my story for the year.  You probably won’t know what has inspired me, but this year’s will represent a couple of heartfelt events.  Just my little secret within the design.

2013 is year 22 for my dated, Boulder Creek ornaments!  Boulder Creek is our small town, tucked into the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s about an hour and a half drive south from San Francisco.  Since 1991, I’ve added nearby towns and personalized ornaments for friends and family.

When I meet my customers, I’m surprised that many collect my ornaments!  It’s always fun to hear that they have favorites and tell me how they are displayed or sent far away to family and friends.  It’s such an honor to be part of a family’s holiday tradition!  Very humbling.