Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eeek! Roadkill Critters...

We have a strange sense of humor at times at, but we love to see people smile and our roadkill armadillo has always brought a chuckle to our customers at shows and events.  So we have expanded our designs of roadkill critters... we now have Squashed Squirrel, Roadkill Opossum, Oops! Roadkill Raccoon and Roadkill Skunk (minus the smell of course!)

These makes great stocking stuffers for family and friends with a sense of humor, or as a unique gift - they are very unusual and you will not find these in stores :)  All handmade in the USA with all food safe materials made in the USA, they can be used as spoon rest in the kitchen, as tea bag holder, tea spoon holder, desk accessory for business cards or paperclips, as ring holders at your bedside, and more...

Despite their macabre circumstance, each one has a little grin, so you know they died happy ;)  and we take extra care in painting to make them cute and appealing (not gross or gory-lol).

Hope you enjoy! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Liquid Clay to Shining Lights - Ceramic Christmas Trees, Part 2

Got a little delayed in making this Part 2 - sorry 'bout that! Things can get a little crazy with the holidays coming up --- I am sure you understand ;)  Last time we left off with our ceramic Christmas Tree almost ready to be fired.  We poured the tree, put holes in it for lights and now it's dry and ready for cleaning!

When we poured our Christmas Tree mold, there were 3 parts to the mold, so when we removed it, there are 3 seams on the tree. And who wants to have a tree with seams?Using a small cleaning tool, much like an exact knife but with one straight end and one flat end, I carefully scrape off the clay seams being careful not to chip the tree since it is in a very fragile dry unfired clay state - called "greenware".

Oh, and did I mention the holes yet? Each hole needs to be carefully cleaned and checked for fit.  While the clay was drying, shrinkage does occur so we need to go over each hole again to make sure there is nothing blocking (dry clay remnants in the hole) and that the hole is still big enough for the twist light that we will be placing on each branch later.

After cleaning the tree and base, each one is wiped down with a wet soft sponge to remove any remaining mold seam marks so that it is ready to be fired in the kiln.

Once completely cleaned, we can "fire" our tree in the kiln which will take it from the greenware state into the ceramic bisque stage, ready for glazing! It will take about 4 hours in the kiln, at a temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and the kiln will take about 8 hours to cool down before we can remove the tree.

Here is the tree just about to be removed from the kiln - it is bisque now and ready to paint!

OK, we are in the final stretch.  Part 3 coming up... we will glaze our tree and get it ready for one more firing and then we can decorate our tree and get it ready for one lucky winner of our giveaway!

I hope that seeing how we make our ceramic Christmas Trees is interesting so far :) 

Wishing you great health and happiness until next time,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

26 More Chilies To Go - Special Giveaway Coming Up!

I am seeing red, red, red as I paint all these chilis! Our special order of 60 Red Hot Chilis Spoonrest/Tea Bag Holders has kept me up at night pouring, cleaning and painting... and I could not do it without the help of my mom and my husband - thank you Mom and Glenn :)

At last over half the order is done and the rest are underway for my target finish date of this weekend, which means I can get back to the ceramic Christmas Tree project.

Meanwhile, wish me luck that my arm doesn't fall off and that my vision remains clear and true until I finish the chilies :)

Wishing you a great weekend ~ Jeanie

P.S. Here is an example of the ceramic Christmas Tree that we will be making for the holiday season in 2010 ---

12 Inch Ceramic Christmas Tree at

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Spicy Ceramic Surprise!

I know I am supposed to be posting Liquid Clay to Shining Lights - Part 2 Ceramic Christmas Trees, but to our surprise we receive an 'emergency' ceramic order :)  Two days ago we got a call from a wonderful woman in New Jersey who is putting together a very special Bridal Shower for her daughter in Missouri. To make the occasion very special, the theme for the shower is Sweet & Spicy and it seems that our Red Hot Chili Pepper holders fit the bill perfectly!
Red Hot Chili Pepper Rest - Ceramic Holder

Now, we do not stock large quantities of any item, so for the next few days, we are busy pouring, painting, firing and finishing all 60 of these little chilies --- a tall order indeed! We only have two weeks to complete the order, but we are determined and thrilled to be able to make such a special occasion a memorable event.

I will be posting Part 2 very soon. Stay tuned :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Liquid Clay to Shining Lights - Ceramic Christmas Trees, Part 1

We really love making ceramic Christmas Trees for everyone, and I wanted to share some of the process of making these beautiful Christmas Trees out of clay. You may or may not know, but all our ceramic art at starts out as liquid clay. All our clay comes from the Southwestern United States and is top quality.

I start by mixing the clay with an electric drill mixer. Although we originally get the clay in gallons, it needs to be mixed before every use to make it uniform, otherwise pieces would come out lopsided and weak in places. So after the mixing, here is what a bucket of liquid clay looks like:
This is the start of our tree!

Next step, pouring the clay (called "slip" in ceramic terms) into our mold which is made out of heavy plaster. The plaster will absorb the water from the clay, pulling the clay into the sides of the mold, which creates the "skin" or shape of the piece we are molding. This next picture shows the tree mold being slowly poured with our clay slip.

Once the water starts getting absorbed by the plaster, you will see the slip start to recede within the cavity of the mold. So we slowly add more slip to fill it up. The pouring for this piece will take approximately 15 minutes. But each piece is different and must be checked to be sure that enough of the clay has formed a skin within the mold, otherwise the piece will be too thin and fragile.

Once the desired thickness is achieved, I slowly pour out the remainder of the slip back into my original bucket to be used again. Pouring out the mold takes a few minutes and requires a good bit of turning, twisting and maneuvering to remove any pockets of the clay from inside the piece. The mold must be left upside down for a few minutes to allow the remaining slip to pour out. This is also the start the drying process inside the mold, which we want to be as even as possible.

Want to build muscle?  Start making ceramics! I have to tell you, with the tree mold having a dry weight of 20 pounds, then adding wet clay, the mold ends up weighing over 32 lbs. Lifting, pouring, pouring out, etc. - that will build muscle on ya! ;)

Since the mold has absorbed the water from our slip, the mold itself will stay wet for about a day or two, making it difficult to pour another piece because the mold will not absorb as well the 2nd time. So quite often, we can only pour one piece per day. At times we can get two pieces in a day, especially if we can place the mold outside during one of our sunny Arizona days which helps it to dry.

Now that our piece is poured out, what next? Well, if you have not noticed yet... ceramics is a messy business! Liquid clay is not a neat and tidy substance to work with. In fact, it gets everywhere. Once it dries, it will be brittle and can turn into dust, so getting it off of our mold needs to take priority not only for the sake of mess, but also to keep the mold in good condition.

Now the mold is cleaned, and the neck of the mold has been trimmed as well. The piece needs to sit in the mold for a few minutes more to be sure that it is set and slightly hardened, otherwise it will turn to mush when we try to remove it.

Now we are ready to take the tree out of the mold. At this stage, the tree is made out of very wet, malleable clay. We must remove it from the mold before it gets too dry or else it will crack as the water absorbs further into the mold and the drying clay starts to shrink. Most pieces are a little stubborn.... enter the mallet!

This Christmas Tree mold is made of 3 separate sections. Each section must be removed separately and very carefully so that we do not smush and ruin the details on the tree itself. When the last section is ready to be pried away from the piece, I use a large rubber mallet to gently strike the mold which creates just enough jarring motion to help the wet clay tree to separate from the mold. The piece sort of "pops-up" slightly as I pound. This is always a tricky bit because I certainly don't want to chip or break the delicate clay piece; which can and does happen - but I also want to get our tree out of the mold, so I have to risk it! ;) 




Once the tree is out, you may notice that there are no holes in it yet - so how are we going to light our tree? I use a small drill bit to hand-drill each of the 50+ holes in our tree where all the colored lights will go, plus I have very carefully position the bit and drill the top of the tree for the star. Although the clay is still wet, special care must be taken not to crack any of the limbs, or to apply too much pressure which could cause the tree to collapse altogether.

Whew!  Our tree is ready to be dried now before it moves on to the next step.

Time for the start of pouring the clay into our tree mold until the holes are hand-drilled is 1 and a 1/2 hours.  Tomorrow, the tree will be fully dried and we can start to clean the mold seams and our holes to get ready for firing in the kiln. The base for this tree was poured at the same time and you may notice it in the background of a couple of the pictures above.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the start of making our Christmas Tree out of clay. Join me in the next post to continue making our tree, and meanwhile, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!  :)

Thanks~ Jeanie

Friday, October 1, 2010

CartoonLovinMomma's Great Pumpkin Giveaway!

An amazing mom - Stephanie from Dover, Arkansas - contacted our little shop about a blog giveaway contest she is holding NOW through October 14, 2010.  She loved some of our Halloweenies (I do too ~ Halloween is my favorite holiday) so we decided to combine forces and make a special offer to her blog readers!

Find out more here:
Win this pumpkin at Stephanie's Blog!

The contest rules are easy and I hope you enjoy her great blog! :)

A special thank you to Stephanie for having such a great idea and for sharing with others :)

Wishing you all the best of luck ~ Jeanie

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ceramic Christmas Trees - new additions

It may seem odd, but it is the end of September and we are already getting ready for the Christmas and holiday season with our newest additions this year - 12 inch tall ceramic Christmas Trees! We had so much fun last year with the smaller versions - and great feedback from everyone who got one in 2009 (thank you!) - that we are sure this will be a fun and exciting holiday season again this year :)

We are currently making all types of styles including white ceramic Christmas trees, classic ceramic Christmas trees in evergreen (some with permanent 'snow' flocking and some without), and we are trying out a few surprises too.... pictures to come soon!

We have a special pre-holiday sale going on now at our Etsy shop here:
Sale prices end November 15, 2010.

We hope you love these holiday ceramic trees as much as we do!

Do you want to paint your own?  Here is a bare naked, but fully fired bisque ceramic Christmas tree all ready to paint! Comes with the electric light kit, bulbs and star :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Innovation In Ceramic Wall Hangings

It's been about a year now since one of our customers on Etsy asked for a custom order steer skull. I have a mold that is of a steer skull that is a figurine; great for putting on a bookshelf or tabletop, but not suitable for hanging on a wall.

When I got the request, initially my response was that I could not make it hang on a wall, but after a couple of day's thinking on the matter, I decided to give it a try.  Now, if you have ever worked with wet clay, then you know this can be a tricky business!

I started by pouring the usual figurine, releasing it form the mold. While the piece is still very wet, I sculpt out the back of the skull very carefully (without squishing or mutilating the piece - hopefully - lol) cut away the back to form a new surface that will lay flat against a wall.

With a little trial and error, I got it right and I have been very pleased with the results, as was the customer!  Since then we have made several of these handing ceramic steer skulls, with our newest addition being the steer skull with rattlesnake pictured below.

I am very grateful for this wonderful innovation by way of customer request that I may not have thought of on my own.  It just proves that creativity can come in all forms from places you may not expect!

Please leave a comment if you like this post, or if you have any innovative ideas of your own!  :)

Steer Skull & Rattlesnake - A Dangerous Combination!
Our original Hanging Steer Skull Creation In Bronze Limited Edition Glaze

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Decorating with Frogs, Geckos, and Bunnies - Oh My! Plus DIY Ceramics for Easter...

I love Spring! So many beautiful flowers starting to emerge and not too many bugs --- yet! Even in the desert here in Arizona flowers are abundant and even the weeds that have sprung up from the rains we recently had have pretty little yellow and purple flowers.

With weather getting warmer, I start getting ideas about decorating my home and garden. Having just planted a few dozen oleandars about my place (great for creating walls of colors and screening out the neighbors :) now I can take a break and get back to creating some unique and unusal ceramic wall hangings and garden animals.

My husband was busy over the winter creating new things too! Just check out his Tie Dye Gecko and Frogs at and pictured below. We love to create unique gifts and interesting critters!

I hope you love a few of my favorite pics here of ceramic wall hangings, garden decor and home decor pieces. They go great indoors and out. Easily hung on a wall using nails or hooks. I have a few of these critters hanging around the living room myself... :) 

You can check out more DIY paint your own ceramic kits and ceramic bisque here.  I love to hear suggestions on anything you might be interested in - for instance, the hanging steer skull was originally created as a custom order for someone who requested it and it worked out quite well! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you enjoy Spring time where you are :)