The handmade difference

March 24, 2015
A while back one of my customers gave me some feedback on a mug she had purchased from me that almost made me cry, it was so touching. She had purchased one of my handmade cups for a friend of hers who was losing her eyesight. She wanted her friend to have a coffee mug that she could tell by feel was her own one. Because my pieces are handmade, one at a time, each one has a different feel from the not-exactly-round shape to the way the handle fits in your fingers to the way I decorate pieces with carvings and alterations.

Even though a ceramic artist tries to make a series of pieces, like mugs, as uniform as possible, each one is going to be different. As we pull up the lump of clay off our pottery wheel, the pressure of our fingers on the inside and outside of the form dictates how thick or think the walls will be and how tall the mug will be. This will be different even though we measure out the same volume of clay for each mug.

Other variables include the shrinkage that occurs as the clay dries and the additional shrinkage that occurs as the pieces are fired in the kiln. With some clay bodies, like porcelain, this shrinkage can be as much as 17%!

Additional differences in handmade versus machine-made are the care and quality of materials used in the pottery. In my case, the glazes used I make myself so that I can control variables such as finish, durability, safety for eating and drinking out of them as well as using in the microwave and dishwasher. Also, each piece that I make one-at-a-time, has my full attention from the weight of the mug to the thickness of the rim you drink from, to the placement and feel of the handle. You also find small details such as embellishments where the handle is attached to the cup or a surprise design on the bottom of the cup.

When you stop into my physical shop in Steamboat Springs, you'll find signs throughout the gallery that say, Please Touch! I try to convey the feel of the piece in my online shop through many photos from different angles and close ups. Handmade truly feels different in your hands than something made so precisely by a machine. Check it out the next time you pull a handmade cup from your cupboard!

Gardening time -- personalized garden markers help keep your plot neat and organized

March 22, 2012

Use these colorful and practical plant markers to indicate where you planted your herbs and vegetables. In the shape of a tomato, each plant marker is 2.25" across and 3.25" high with a hole for hanging on an 8" stake. A stake will come with each plant marker ordered.

I make them from durable stoneware clay and fired to over 2100 degrees F, so they will last outdoors through all kinds of weather.

The reverse of each marker is left unglazed, providing a perfect surface for you to use a S...
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Vote in the Etsy Mud Team Challenge

March 6, 2012

The Etsy Mud Team, of which I am a long time member, hosts challenges from time to time to encourage our members to try new techniques and forms. This week we are asking the public to vote on our latest challenge called Two by Two. Members made pottery pieces in sets of two. When you visit the site, you'll see 40 entries and will be asked to vote for your favorite. If you provide your email address, by return mail you'll receive a coupon good for 20% your purchase at dozens of online pottery ...
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Making Sprouts

February 23, 2012

In addition to being a ceramic artist, I am also a Colorado Master Gardener, having gone through a series of classes through Colorado State University held here in the Steamboat Springs area. That is likely why you see botanical themes in many of my pottery works.

The series of vases that I call Sprout (and have numbered in the order in which each one was made) is a case in point. It's very organic and looks like something that might pop through the soil in a garden. It starts out as a typical...

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The Art of Packing and Shipping

February 5, 2012
In my Etsy pottery shop, some of the funniest feedback I get is from people who are amazed at how well the pottery makes it through the mailing system. I've seen comments about the outside box being crushed, torn, dented, and pierced yet the pieces inside are pristine without a nick on them.

My secret? I pack my pottery assuming that one of the carriers along the way is going to drop the box on the ground or put a really heavy box on top of my fragile shipment.

If I'm shipping a lidded piece o...

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Creating glaze colors

January 24, 2012

Occasionally, I get requests from customers for certain of my forms to be glazed in a specific color other than the glazes of my usual palette (which is actually pretty extensive). Since I prefer to make my own glazes, this ends up being not so easy to do.

I've found that it takes lots of testing in order to create a new glaze and often can take a couple years to finally get one perfected.

That's because there are so many variables in glaze making -- from the different ingredients you...
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About Me

Deborah Babcock I am a studio potter who works in porcelain and stoneware creating one of a kind, functional pottery including whimsical teapots and tea cups, bowls, casseroles, plates, tumblers, platters, vases and tiles. I have studied under such renowned potters as Clary Illian, Lorna Meaden, Chris Gustin, Steven Hill, Diana Fayt, Meira Mathison, Sylvie Granitelli, Julia Galloway, Bonnie Seeman, Sarah Jaeger, and Sandi Pierantozzi. From each of these wonderful artists, I usually take away a new technique or way of creating that I then incorporate into my own pottery voice. In addition to my pieces here on Etsy, you can see my work in person at several galleries and gift shops around the country including: Art Mart, Boulder, CO Concepts of Art, Lenox, MA Everything Natural, Clarks Summit, Pa The Artists' Den in Valparaiso, Indiana Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery, Mesquite, NV Split Rock Gallery, St. George, UT Stone Creations Home Decor, Sedona, AZ Island Artworks, Ocarcoke, NC WabiSabi Home, Sullivan's Island, SC Luminaria, Antwerp, Belgium I am a founding member of the Steamboat Clay Artisans and work with this group on an annual Soup Bowl Supper fundraiser, a holiday sale, summer farmer's market, and educational programs. If you're ever in Steamboat -- we have a great ski mountain and wonderful hiking trails -- please stop into my studio/gallery and say hi. In March 2013, my pottery was featured on the e-commerce publication of Better Homes and Gardens. Also, my work is featured in Best Of America Pottery and Woodworking Artists & Artisans Vol.1 by Kennedy Publishing. And it is featured in the November 2010 issue of AARP magazine. And in April 2009 I was one of the speakers at the national clay conference (NCECA) in Phoenix talking about online selling.