May 1st. Tomorrow! And we are ready for you at BrackersKC. All of our Missouri registrations are complete and our sign will be up soon. Remember that orders need to be placed either on our website OR by phone (785-841-4750 • 888-822-1982) by 3:00 pm and all in-stock items will be available for you to pick up (at 1611 Crystal Ave, Kansas City, MO 64126) as soon as the very next business day between 10 am and noon, or by appointment. We might even have a special surprise gift tool for randomly selected BrackersKC customers during the first month, courtesy of some generous tool manufacturers who were excited for our expansion. (sorry – our kiln and wheel manufacturers weren’t quite excited enough for our expansion to send a freebie kiln or wheel to give away, but they sent very nice notes.)

Historical note – Ken Ferguson, head of the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1964-1996, would regularly order clay and materials for the KCAI ceramics program from us and spent a lot of time on the phone and in person with Bill Bracker (Bill delivered the supplies 2-3 times a month during the heavy production portion of each semester). They became good friends though their mutual love of clay. Ken would often urge Bill to open a Bracker’s location in KC – so frequently that it became something of a running joke between the two of them. Well, Ken and Bill, the joke’s finally on you two! The Bracker women did what you men couldn’t make happen. And we know both of you are smiling down on us and probably toasting us with a smooth whiskey from that “pottery studio in the sky.”  We’re thinking of you, Ken.

April was a great month at Bracker’s, and not just because the weather is warming up. Our Second Saturday Raku event was wonderful. Dave and I fired about 150 pieces, and got to share the raku experience with so many people.  It’s always fun for us to see people really get drawn in to the process, and it’s such a great tool to really show people what happens to a piece during the firing process.We had some really stunning pieces come out of the kiln. The two show-stopper glazes from Second Saturday are not commercially available, but we had a lot of questions about purchasing them. Currently, we are looking into the proper and legal procedure for selling dry glazes that we mix up here. Proper labeling and MSDS information is required and we want to make sure that everything is done right. IMG_2343So if you have been anxiously awaiting Crusty Lusty or the new glaze we introduced at the March Raku (name to be determined) to be a glaze of the month in the future, please be patient and stay tuned to the blog for the latest updates of information!    Our April Third Thursday was built around the theme of  The Clay Universe.  It highlighted a variety of tools that are universal.  If you missed it, you can see our video recap below.  Also in April, we premiered a new recurring blog topic: Build your Library. The first book we highlighted was Shay Amber’s Handbuilding book, which is on special through the end of May (buy now for just $20). Click here to learn about this excellent book, and stay tuned to the blog for future book reviews

May Coming Attractions

Also on the blog will be our May Glazes of the month.  Detailed information about each will be released next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but for our loyal newsletter readers, we’ll give you a heads up so you can plan your purchases. AMACO PC42Seaweed, LT22 Tahitian Blue and Spectrum 862 Galaxy will be our featured glazes (all with special sale prices, of course).We’re all looking forward to Lawrence’s biggest art show, Art in the Park, in beautiful downtown Lawrence on May 4th.  It’s always so nice for us to see so many the work of our customers/friends.  Mostly all we see around here is raw clay.  We hope to enjoy some beautiful weather and beautiful art.

Second Saturday for May has not yet been confirmed. In fact, don’t tell her I told you this, but Anne M. is kind of scrambling to figure out who will be the artist for May. But she almost always comes through, so stay tuned to the website and/or blog for details. (Or call if you’re available May 10th and want to be an impromptu Second Saturday Artist).
Third Thursdaythis month will be hosted by Jeanette and David.  Our theme will be “Make your Mark”.  Come by and experiment with commercially made wood, metal and plastic stamps, play with plaster to make your own stamps, experiment with AMACO Balsa Foam to create texture stamps and screenprinting blocks, and have some fun at our community studio night!  May 15th, 4pm-7pm.  Details to come on the Bracker’s blog!

I’m also looking forward to the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) board meeting in Providence. If you don’t already know, I have served on the board of directors of this fabulous ceramics organization for the last 4 years with at least 2 more years to come. I am grateful to Bracker’s for allowing me to use some of my time here to spend on NCECA projects. If you don’t already know about this organization, you should check out the NCECA blog. The annual conference is akin to a family reunion of ceramic artists. Most excitingly, the 2016 conference will be right here in Kansas City! It will also be the 50th anniversary of the organization, and promises to be an amazing experience. If you’re interested in getting involved with the planning or any NCECA project, let me know!

Looking ahead to June, we have an incredible workshop planned with Eric Stearns. (read more about the workshop below). June is also a great time for teachers to earn some professional development credits. In the last year, we’ve given quite a few workshops & seminars for teachers. Just recently, I was contacted by a teacher who really wanted to explore some of our listed topics in a one-on-one setting. What a great idea that is! We’re putting together a custom private session for her, and we’re definitely open to exploring this option for individuals or small groups.

Back in August, 2013, Eric Stearns was our featured Second Saturday Artist. We had a live webcast during his demo, which you can see below. Every single person who watched his demo begged us to invite Eric back for a more formal two-day workshop. How could we say no?

Our two-day workshop (June 7-8, 2014)will include his pierced and incised work and he will share how he makes double-walled pots.  Register by May 3rd for $200. After that date, the price is $250. Our two-day workshops include lunch on both days. If you need a hotel, check this site for a list. 

 Specials on Shop.Brackers.com  

Our annual Spring Sale starts tomorrow and runs through June 30th. However, much of Anne M’s time over the past month or so has been occupied with making sure all of the ducks are in a row for the May 1st start of BrackersKC that she’s a little behind with getting sale pricing online. Don’t worry – you’ll DEFINITELY get sale pricing on wheels, kilns, tools, glazes, books, etc. – all of our standard sale items. Even if you place your order online before the pricing gets updated on the website. We’ll just adjust the pricing to reflect our sale prices before charging your card. Sale prices should start to populate the website, section by section, starting Thursday.

Anne M *DID* get photos of all of the bags of dry clays uploaded this month and the molds section with AMACO texture, slump, and hump molds plus the Pure & Simple slump/hump molds is a lot more complete. She also started a small project to create a landing page for each glaze manufacturer that lists each of their glaze series with a brief description. The text portion of the AMACO page is complete – it just needs a few photos to “pretty it up.” Then Spectrum, Opulence, Coyote, and Laguna landing pages will be created. It could be a nice at-a-glance resource for individuals and teachers, alike.

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