New English Springer Spaniel Design

A customer asked if English Springer Spaniels were available on my dog breed pottery.  Well, I didn’t have that design done yet so I remedied the situation and made a couple color versions of this very pretty breed – black and white and liver.  I’m in the final color testing stages – in fact, I just did another color test over the weekend.  The design part of my work is the most time consuming for me because, as with most art, it’s hard to know when to stop.

Given that every breed has a range of body conformations, even within the breed standard, but especially outside of it, it’s hard sometimes to nail down an outline sketch that will work for most people.  Then there are all of the color variations within breeds, not to mention the huge variation color patterns between dogs of any color.  Once I settle on an outline and do the color work, I print my decals and fire them on a white test tile.

I usually fire 2 or 3 versions of the same artwork, applying different manipulations to my artwork, such as a slightly darker version, an even darker version, etc.  The reason for this is that it’s difficult to tell how a printed decal on paper will equate to a decal fired on a finished piece of pottery.  This is partly because my printer prints in ceramic pigments which look very flat when printed on the decal paper.  Their richness, or lack thereof, doesn’t show up until a cover coat of flux (basically glass) is applied and fired onto a ceramic piece.   Its much like how the color of wood color is enriched by applying laquer.  So it sometimes goes that the first test tile comes out revealing that my artwork needs some alteration because it’s either to light or has an “off” tone.

English Springer Spaniel dog art by shepherds-grove.com

Springer Spaniel Test Tile

The tile shown represents two different firings.  I did the top group of 4 English Springer Spaniels (2 black and white, 2 liver) in the first firing.  I liked the liver color of the left dog but thought it and the two black and white dogs were a little flat looking.   They actually would have been ok but I wanted to make them a little better – this goes back to that part about not knowing when art is done.  So I worked on them a little more and refired.  The two dogs at the bottom with red arrows were the second test.  I think the liver might need a little more vibrance however, there are liver colored dogs that are really dark, so maybe not.  What do you think?

Anyhow, I’ve decided that my English Springer Spaniel artwork is done and will add them to my website.  Of course I’m always open to revisit my artwork should a customer advise me to do so.  Such recommendations usually result in a different version that I’ll ad to my website.

I’ll make a quick post once I’ve listed all of the English Springer Spaniel items to my website.

Until next time,

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August 2018 Dog Pottery Giveaway Winner

I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend.  I spent the weekend at our cabin with family, friends and pup, Zeus.  It was fun for all but I will admit that being away has left me a little behind.  Which is why this post is a tad late.  So on to the the results.

And the winner of my August dog pottery giveaway is……Caitlyn B!  She will receive a pair of my dog breed salt and pepper shakers.  Congratulations Caitlyn 🙂

Thank you all for taking the time to enter and share my contest.  Stay tuned for this month’s giveaway.  The prize will be something I haven’t offered as a prize before.  Super suspensful, right?  I’ll get my act together and post in the next day or two so check back.

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March Giveaway! Enter to a Win Dog Breed Sugar Bowl and Creamer

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This month I will be giving away a dog breed sugar bowl and dog breed creamer.  These pieces are really cute and can be used for their intended purposes but are also great in other areas of your home.  You can use the sugar bowl for cotton balls and the creamer for q-tips to keep these things handy on your bathroom counter.  The creamer also makes a cute little vase for a small bouquet of flowers.  Or, gift them to the dog lover in your life.  The winner will be able to choose their favorite breed from over 40 of my dog breed designs.

Click to Enter the Shepherds Grove March Drawing!

Good luck!

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Shepherds Grove Studio Goes Solar

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My ceramic studio is attached to our family’s home and I love the convenience of being able to wander out to the studio anytime I want to work on my dog pottery.  The combination of our household and studio energy costs/consumption was a bit excessive so my husband and I began to think about solar.

If you’d asked me years ago if one could generate enough solar in our often foggy and overcast coastal town, I would have said no.  But after friends and neighbors started putting up solar, and reporting that the solar production was really good, we looked into it.  Our solar panels went up in July and, now that they’ve run for more than a month, we’re seeing really good output such that our electric consumption is negative.  Pretty darn cool.

I love the idea of my pottery being fired from the sun that hits our roof.  Plus, solar fits with my goals of wanting to run my studio as cleanly and efficiently as possible.  I already recycle most of my scrap clay, keep my water usage to a minimum, and use non-toxic materials to make my dog breed pottery.  The big test will come over the next couple months when holiday shopping drives my firing frequency to its peak.  It will be really interesting to compare last years bill with this years.

Until next time,

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Shepherds Grove Featured on “Barking Backward” Blog

Ok, so I’m not proud to admit this, but 2 months have passed since my last blog post, though I had written a couple drafts.   I’m especially ashamed that I didn’t publish the one I’m about to tell you about because it was such an honor for me, and the fact that I didn’t share this experience when it happened might suggest otherwise.  But that’s really not the case.  The truth is, sometimes my creative business has me going in multiple directions that I don’t always navigate well.  And BAM, before I know it, two months have passed.  But now I would like to share what happened.

A customer, Mr. Jameson Parker, who ordered one of my dog breed mugs during the 2016 holiday season, followed up by email and confirmed a suspicion I had about selling my work online.  He indicated that when he purchased the mug for Christmas, he wasn’t sure what it would really be like.  Ok, I thought, that’s only natural.  When you buy something online, how can you really know if it’s going to meet your expectations?  This is a challenge for all folks selling their handmade items online and something I need to address to help my customers.  If any of you have any thoughts on this, I’d love some comments.

Any how, after receiving the one item and liking it, Jameson ordered a few more pieces of my dog breed pottery and then surprised me with a request to interview me for his blog.  I rushed over to his blog, Barking Backward, to read it and spent a long time there.  His writing style is a pleasure to read and the content is interesting, varying from nature to politics, book reviews, guns, artisan made, Hollywood, and pretty much any darn thing he wants to discuss (as he told me himself, though he might have used a different word for darn).

Jameson is an avid writer.  He writes novels, magazine articles, and his blog posts (his blog posts, unlike mine, are consistent and reliable).  And what was really fun to find out was that he is the Jameson Parker that starred in one of my favorite TV shows, Simon and Simon.  I’ll admit I got a little giddy when I found that out – I’m allowed to be a little star-struck, right?

During the phone interview, Jameson asked questions about my craft, how I got into it, where I live, and other things that you can read in his “The Artisans: Shepherd’s Grove” blog post.  We also discussed his dogs – two Australian Shepherds named Bear and Daisy Mae and a Cardigan Corgi named Lola.  It’s very clear from talking with him, and reading his blog, that he adores them very much.  I guess that’s pretty much what you’d expect from customer’s who buy pottery made for dog lovers, but I love when I get to hear  stories about my customer’s dogs.  Anyway, the interview was really like having a conversation with an old friend, talking about our lives and our dogs.  It was pretty darn cool.

I send my heartfelt (and somewhat belated) thank you to Jameson for featuring my studio on his blog and helping spread my reach.  His thoughtfulness and beautiful words are much appreciated and I will remember the experience very fondly.

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Dog of the Week – Dutch Shepherd

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New Dutch Shepherd design from shepherds-grove.com

I will be featuring a different dog breed (or breeds) each week. At this point, the dog breeds I focus on will be those that aren’t currently available on my dog breed pottery, with to goal being to add a new dog breed every week.  This week I’ve chosen Dutch Shepherds because they’re very beautiful dogs, and also because a  customer requested a mug with her Dutch Shepherd on it 🙂

I didn’t know a lot about the breed, other than what the name implies – Shepherd of Dutch origin.  They are not brindle Belgian Malinois, as some think.  They are very popular service dogs within the Netherlands (excellent as:  herd dogs; guard, security, and police dogs; and as companions) though only a few hundred are registered in the US.  Dutch Shepherds come in three different coat types: shorthaired, wireharied, and longhaired.  The most typical color is brindle, either silver or gold (refers to the background hair color).

I have completed my Dutch Shepherd artwork, as seen above, and I will be doing some test firing tomorrow to check the final fired colors.  After that, look for it in my list of currently available dog breeds on my website!  If you’re looking for Dutch Shepherd gifts, you’ll know where to go.