November 30, 2009

Parting Shot

As I walked away from the kiln tonight I was thinking how grateful I am to the help I always need to fire the kiln. Alan Gratz helped out all day despite some serious publishing deadlines he's working towards. Alan spends most of time crafting great stories for young adults and has recently published "The Brooklyn Nine".

He really loves to burn wood and has an intuition and focus that is unmatched. Here's to you Alan for all your hard work today!! I (and all of the pots) thank you!

I'm going to review the day and share some pictures tomorrow, but for now it's time to get some sleep. Something that has been a stranger to me lately.

33 Finished

Here's the moon over one of the last big stokes going out the chimney .

For those keeping score at

For those keeping score at home, live twitter updates of today's firing at

November 29, 2009

33 Loaded

Here are some images of the loading. I hope these images are self explanatory. But don't hesitate to ask questions if you have them. I'm just tired for now.....

November 28, 2009

Loading 33

The kiln is ready to load, finally.
Looks like another late night.
It usually takes about 9 hours to load and brick up the kiln.
Are ya with me?
Almost everything was glazed yesterday and I just have a couple of touch-ups before I move it all down to the kiln this morning. I'll try to upload some shots of the stacking if I can, but I'm pressed for time because I'll be heading over to Knoxville in the morning for our home sale. More on that when there is time. Good Saturday to everyone.

November 26, 2009

Morning Light on Painted Bisque

Here I am painting pots on a holiday. What's an elf to do? I spent the early part of this morning watching a circus parade full if gilded wagons! Now it's back to painting before we join our neighbors and friends to gather and be thankful. I'm thankful for my burden of pottery that lies in front of me and my sympathetic family, especially Stacey who puts up with the prefiring craziness. I'm thankful to be an artist although the circumstances aren't always ideal, it's a great life.


Knowing the tight deadline I'm on and knowing how much effort and mental capacity it takes, I willed myself into bird territory last night and tried some new stuff, including clouds! I'm glad I did. Let me know what you think. Suggestions are most welcome!

i had the thought that I should show the birds in their most
enviable state: flight. I sketched these out with wax

beginning of a pattern including pencil "map"
and first couple of elements

the other elements of the overall pattern

Here are some things I jotted down last night in no particular order of importance,
  • it's hard to judge the pots at this stage, better just to forge ahead without too much thinking.
  • see the mark before it is painted
  • I'm just getting warmed up
  • often the marks are a lot like the pots. repetition brings [can't read my scribbles] out the best marks when an unselfconscious place is arrived at [?]
  • some marks are real duds!
More later, I hope. I have to mix my alkakline ash glaze and some RJB today, so that it will be ready for Friday's dipathon.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

November 25, 2009

Little Bitty's

I've been painting these little guys all day.
I'm ready for some bigger pots!

November 24, 2009

A Slow Start

As promised, a few pots that I painted last night. Ila stopped in to glaze her pots before heading home for the holiday. I had another visit from Courtney and John on the way home from Asheville, bearing bags of clay and a fresh gallon of wax from the supplier!!

After setting up the painting station, I sat down to wake up the brushes and get some wax on these pots. The greenish painting is food coloring in my wax so that I can see where I've painted. I've found it easier to paint pattern when I can see what I'm doing and on the RJB (white slip) it's hard to see w/o a little green food coloring.

November 23, 2009

A Familiar Scene

The wood stove comes in handy to dry out these two jars for tomorrow's bisque firing. It's a little warm in the shop tonight but it will assure that all of the pots will be bone dry in time for the next few day's bisque firings. More pics later of today's painting.


Just finished the yunomis. I'm not that excited by them. If I had more time I would go back to the wheel where I could take the info from the trimming session and work that into new forms. It's a chicken and egg situation. But here they are. What do you think? I know it's all about holding these cups, and without that info it's tough to assess. Then think about all the pots you've ever seen in books, even in museums, that you haven't touched or picked and think about how biased we are to surface because of that. It's crazy! To me this form is so much about holding.

These feel a little heavy in places and some feel too thin/light

Blue Monday (NOT)

Blue tarp, yes, but gray skies.
I looked over my archive of images to remind myself of the motifs I might use again on the pots I'm about to paint. Someday I hope to catalog them. Motifs evolve slowly, some just appear out of nowhere (or so it seems). It all depends on my frame of mind and what books I may be looking at. It may also depend on pots that I have set aside to study. Sometimes a pot that didn't sell at whatever show, or just didn't impress me at the time I unloaded it, may be sitting on a shelf somewhere and I'll come across it with a more seasoned appreciation. My eyes are always changing.

SO these are some of the things I'm thinking about this morning as I look down on the kiln, which, after all, is the teacher.

Wet Work (almost) Done!

Despite my best efforts to get some brushes busy and begin painting pots, I still had a few pots to make before that happens. My buddy James has been waiting for his yunomi(s) since the summer. Meanwhile I have to make my cups for the AKAR show and fire them for shipping in January, so I made James' as well. It has become somewhat of a joke every time we see each other.

I cranked up the ole treadle wheel and threw these off of the hump. It occurred to me how different this was to the big jar making of the last couple of days. One thing that these both had in common was the attempt to make the pots match. James' pots are a set, although he doesn't necessarily want them to all be exact.

While I write this and wait for my bisque kiln to go's

the face jug I promised!

November 22, 2009


Maybe I've been looking at these jars so long I'm beginning to see things.

Maybe it's time for some face jugs?

As Romeo Void said,"Never Say Never"


Across the table point of view

To finish up the big pots for the kiln I made six matching 3 gallon jars. Usually when I make these pots, they're all a little different, necks smaller/larger, height, width, etc. but these are for an order I took last month for set sets of lamps! They're pretty close. This was a first for me to try to match up large pots. I thought that as long as they're about six feet apart they'll be perfect.


Up late again last night and feeling it this morning. I guess you can only cram for so long before your body starts screaming back at you. Unfortunately I caught a flu bug from Stacey a day or so ago and have been dealing with sore throat and achy muscles and now sneezing and runny nose! Consequently I don't feel up to making pots. But at this point it's not my decision. The firing can't be pushed back any further.

Last night I think the fever broke after the third jar. I guess working at this fever pitch is taking on more than the usual meaning.

November 21, 2009

Yawn, Z z z z z z

It was a long day. As it is very late (early) I am going to leave the captions up to you. Have fun!

November 20, 2009

Uh Oh

Here's the table as of Thursday night. This morning a mild panic set into my mind as I head into the final week before the firing. Usually I am painting bisque ware by now, but here I am still making pots. Uh oh...No time to elaborate on this, just have to get to work. Have a great day.

November 19, 2009

Coffee Break vol. 24

Wow! Guess what came in the mail the other day?! Yes it's a beautiful piece of Rascal ware by the notorious Georgette Ohr! It made for a most interesting coffee break. No doubt Georgette would have blended some chicory in her brew, but I am currently into the new Eight O'Clock Dark Italian Roast, yeah! This fine piece of rascal ceramic is made with a dark black porcelain which went well with the mud I drank from it. Also featured is this delightful super crawly glaze. You may be able to tell from the photo, but it has a great angle of repose. The tip of the lip gave me a pause before filling the cup all the way up, 'cause you know a full cup is hard to carry (without spilling!) Not that I was walking around during this here break. No, No, I sat outside to squint at the sun that graced the afternoon in all of its bright whiteness! After yesterdays rain it was a glaringly welcome sight.

Another obvious feature of this cup is it's bulge near its base. This "sit-down" bulge poses something of a secret. You can't really see under the bulge and that makes me curious. Maybe I'll need a dental mirror! Just last night, I was throwing a big 12 pounder when, just before I was finished with one last ribbing, the top dropped at a very thin place in the clay wall. It collapsed so evenly that it just hung there as I tried to correct it. Well, you can imagine who won that wrestling match. This cup masterfully exploits a similar structural circumstance and gives the pot it's distinct presence. Fozen by fire is this almost dilapidated flop of a pot that leans proudly in a defiant swagger!

Muddy Day

the table

the mature splash pan.
after a few weeks of throwing
the lining of the splash pan

has a nice coat of clay that prevents the
spalsh pan from melting when I use my torch!

November 18, 2009

Wood Pile

not much left to file anymore,
time for a new chain

Just in the nick of time the wood is all cut and stacked and out of the rain. My chain is just about used up. I know how it must feel. After working on the invitation to our home sale in Knoxville last night, I had nothing left for the pots. Sometimes that happens. It was a good day overall, though, I just have to get up there and make pots!

cutting instructions

The wood I get is from a saw mill in Buladean and it arrives in bundles and dumped from the bed of the truck. I cut the straps holding the bundles and restack the wood. This way I avoid getting my saw dulled by hitting rocks that are gathered up in the bundles with the wood. I also grade the wood and cull the boards that are too wide, etc. This pile is mostly what is known as eight quarter, or two inch boards. I get two firebox length cuts from the 12' length as well as 2 cord wood [wood stove] length cuts at the end. [See arrows in photo.]

the scene in the wood yard with various cull piles. there is a fair amount
of clapboard thick boards in this bundle which I will try to use
on the kiln shed at some point. I use all of the wood one way or another!

I hope you have a productive day. As always, I'll have pictures of the day later.

November 17, 2009

Image Upload Problems!

I've been trying to bring you up to date with today's work, but can't seem to get along with Blogger! I have a post about visiting Muddy Creek Pottery on Sunday. Also on the day's activities around the shop. I guess I'll check back later when I'm done with my after supper pots! Hope to see you all then and share some pictures at that time! Thanks.
greenware vases in Mark's shop

I wanted to share with you some pictures of our visit to our friends Courtney Smith and Mark Tomczak. I met Mark at Penland during my residency just as he was setting up his Muddy Creek Pottery . Mark had just earned his MFA at the University of Ohio at Athens. Mark and Courtney have moved again since then to their present home in Old Fort near Black Mountain, NC. Here's some pictures I snapped of Mark's pottery.

Mark has a beautiful little showroom full of pots!

some of Mark's pots are hump molded and they're all fired in a soda kiln!

notice the bowls on the top left shelf? looks a lot like the Rock Creek bowls
I tried myself the other night. seems like the subconcious is always at work!

our mutual friend Billy O'Steen outside of Mark's shop
getting a good look at the fall colors on the mountains in the evening light.
There is an apartment above the shop and showroom that Mark
and Courtney rent out to vacationers. The apartment is of course full of beautiful pots!