Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Clean Plate vol. 3


This little plate was just the vehicle for a heaping helping of my buddy Eric's handmade sauerkraut. It's really coming into its peak flavor and crispiness! The kraut was just what I needed after a little upset stomach this afternoon. And it was so nice to clean this fine dish made by my blogging buddy, Hannah McAndrew! I feel better from all of these wonderful things in my life.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Choices

.

tools. these things affect the pots. how we choose and use them affects the pots. in profound ways. choose wisely. if you can't find the right tool, make it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Funny Numbers and Fresh Clay












I'm a bit behind reporting on the happenings leading up to the next firing and the Cousins in Clay reunion, but here goes in a matter of a few photos!

I was happy and a bit overwhelmed to have two helpers yesterday, my intern Adam MacKay and his partner Molly Belada. Molly and Adam are undergrad ceramics majors at App State, in Boone. Adam has been helping me every week and Molly has been helping my neighbor, Courtney. After some number crunching and clay body calc, we set up the mixing area where I proceeded to find not one, but two wasp nests in two open bags of clay. Ouch. After some thorough paranoia and nest removal M and A mixed up enough of the fireclay mix that will be added to my red dirt in a week or so (I hope!)

The girls came up with a friend to make some pots (read: show off their pottery skills to their friend) but their wheel was covered with reclaim clay, so I set up my Shimpo banding wheel and hand turned it for them. It was just the thing and soon they were off to the woods to do some exploring and I was back to work.

I'm managing to get some nice pots made in and around carrying out final plans for next months Cousins in Clay Show. There's a lot to do but I'm so looking forward to seeing my old buds, Mark Shapiro and Sam Taylor, and all the pots they will be bringing. Check out our Facebook page to find out more.

OK, time for some lunch, then more pottery this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Princess Grae and Queen Anne







I'm yawning as I try to remember some of the thoughtful thoughts I had during my day. It was a great day, but it's late and I'm fading. [no nap] Courtney and Grae stopped in today and 1 y.o. Grae thought she would help an old guy out and wedge some clay.  Her ambition is amazing! My kids just ignore me when I ask them to do anything. ;-(

I went back to my old way of stacking sections and it was just fine. I have been using the more traditional capping technique for a while now, but I wanted to get a more ovoid shape. With capping I tend to get a taller shape, not as round. I was pleased with the shapes!  I'll put collars on top of these tomorrow to finish the necks.

On my walk home this evening I took some pictures of the Queen Anne's Lace in the field. Seems to be a bumper crop this year. Maybe it's on some kind of super productive cycle this year?! I love the lines of the drooping blossoms and the delicacy of the leaves and flowers. But in the coming days I will have to cut it all down as I prepare the grounds for next month's Cousins in Clay!! Mark and Sam are coming down from MA and Bruce and Sam(antha) are coming over from Seagrove. I'm totally consumed with planning, but it's all coming together and it should be a blast.

Just have to few pots before then!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cossing Paths/Thinking and Seeing Out Loud

I'm very curious, sometimes obsessed, with all of the ways we can share information these days. So much has changed in just the past 6 months, not to mention the last five years since I started this blog. Besides this blog, there's Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram, just to name the one's I employ when struck with the impulse to share a picture or a thought. For now, all roads seem to lead into the town square of Facebook, but I'm sure that will change as well. (does anyone remember AOL?) My internet personas are somehow connected like some Rube Goldberg contraption that most times just requires me to start the ball rolling on one of my devices which, in turn, sends it out to all of the "branches".

What's my point? I guess I'm trying to figure all of this out as much as anyone and wonder mostly whether this blog is still a vital organism. It seems heavy and sluggish. Writing takes time and who has any of that? Maybe it is much easier to shoot the camera and click than to sit here and blather on about I am thinking?  

Pictures are a must for the pottery bloggery, but words are still central to the task of understanding. 

[I think I just answered my own question. Thank you blog.]

OK, [sigh of relief] Now back to the important work of pottery!

Spied the Moon Monday

Most days I wake up with a heart full of promise and a road of good intention lies ahead. After my coffee, which always seems to be there waiting for me (thanks Stacey) I do the rounds, feeding the chickens, getting the eggs, boiling the eggs, and clocking into the internets to see what's coming downstream.




Today I woke up really tired and didn't have time to go through my usual routine.

The girls are in a morning camp up at Penland so I ferried them straightaway over the mountain to their camp, came home and went to the studio to check in with the twelve from yesterday.

I spent most of the morning, aside from a brief visit from a fine group of students from ArtCentered, trying to throw small pitchers and had some success. It has been a while since I made a good group,of pitchers and it took me a few tries to get them. I often wonder if I should toss out the first couple in a series and rationalize that even the mediocre pot can be a good pot for a glaze test. And none of them were that bad really. (delusional?)

I packed some pots, went to the P.O. and dropped off some stuff over at Bandana pottery, where I sat and talked to Michael over a cold beer. Even though we live just a few few short miles apart, we rarely have time to drop in to just sit and talk shop. What a treat it is when we can.

After about 60 paces of mowing in the field and some nice callus forming on chops, I came back to the shop where it had cooled down nicely to finish my 12 for today. Well, it must be noon somewhere!? Midnight is fine with me, especially in the summer.

Just as i sit down to write this travelogue for the day, a skunk wafted by the studio and I rushed to close the doors that would keep Jack inside.  He paced between the doors looking to get out and meet this smelly dude and became so excited that I thought he might jump through the window screens!

Jack's snoozing by my feet and the skunk has moved on and it's probably safe to walk down the hill to the house without a skunk altercation. I'll enjoy the new path I've made with tonight's mowing and I'll really enjoy that path to my slumber!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Summer Day


 Some say that I'm a lucky guy.  I would agree. Making pots for a living is a pretty sweet life. Although there are those days that I second guess the vocation that has chosen me and think about the greener grass on the other side. But mostly, when I can make some pots, visit some friends and spend time outside working, I'm pleased.

Today was pretty leisurely, but I made some pots, (oddly undocumented in this photo series) saw some beautiful pots at Michael and Naomi's home sale, and mowed some of the field outside the house. The evening, after supper is when I get my exercise swinging the scythe. It's really my favorite time of the day. When the house still holds the day's hot, the field is a great place to be. The sky changes every time I pause to strop the blade and I take in deep breathes and note of the drama of clouds, the color of "pink o'clock". It's always a good workout and satisfying to see the freshly evened grass of the field.

I think to myself, as I topple the goldenrod and blackberry, that I am somehow rescueing the grass.  That someday goats or cows will thank me.






Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Clean Plate #2

Turns out I eat lunch pretty much every day, just like drinking coffee in the morning. While I can't promise to take pictures and blog about it every day, I will until I run out of time or plates.
before





after
I almost imagined that the bird would peck at the crumbs left on the plate!  This plate is from firing XXXII. It was combed and painted, glazed with my amber glaze and is usually perched in our cupboard because of a little firing crack on the rim.

OK, back to making pots!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Clean Plate # 1

As seen earlier on Facebook
I didn't want to leave anyone out, namely, non-Facebookers. If you've wondered where everyone has gone, or if you're ready to "cave" go to this link, you won't turn into a pillar of salt. [You don't have to join Facebook to see the content that I put up there. Unfortunately you won't be able to leave comments there unless you join.]

I hesitate to call this the first in a new series, but here I go. Pots always look better with food on them, don't they?

Satisfying!
The rewarding view of a clean plate!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Only the Boring are Bored

Stacey reminded me that it's not just boredom that can propel us in our creative work and Carter Gillies responded to that last post in a wonderful email. It got me to thinking.

While boredom may be the more passive route to discovery, curiosity leads one who has an active inquisitive mind.

Carter writes,

Being restless CAN be about boredom but it also seems to be about how open we are to new directions. Sometimes our comfort is all that matters, and doing things by routine is a reward we enjoy. Other times that's not enough. We see things that we wonder about. We are curious. And if we don't look any deeper it may turn out that we later regret only settling for what we've got rather than being open to something new.
Carter has unsurpassed rigor as a blogger. In the era of 140 characters, Carter dives deep and uses more than thumbs to make his case. Read Carter's blog.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Change

I think that we sometimes confuse the "longing for new ideas or forms"  with the fact that we are merely bored with what we are doing. It is pottery's challenge to us, to make it well, and to do so over and over again. So we repeat. But with repetition/reiteration comes staleness/boredom. It is good to be restless.

Every morning I have 2 soft boiled eggs. I am comforted by this habit, not to mention satisfied by it. What clicked in my head yesterday to change that habit was risky in a way. It risks the comfort, but it promises a payoff, maybe something exotic. The real motivation, or as Ron puts it, "longing", is boredom. Boredom with one's work is not necessarily a negative thing. Not recognizing when we are bored is. This recognition is as critical to making fresh work as an an egg is to one's sustenance.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Callas Holds Court

It's a big week for a small town.

This Saturday, July 7th, Peter Callas will be doing a presentation at the Historic Bakersville Courthouse and B-ville will hold its annual town wide Yard Sale. With a community of potters like this, there's bound to be great ceramic art at both events!

Peter CallasPeter Callas

But srsly, in association with Crimson Laurel Gallery and its "Serendipity" An International Woodfired Ceramics exhibition, this Belevidere, New Jersey clay and fire artist will hit the stage at 5 pm to talk about his travels and influences, his 40 years of clay, and his twenty-three year collaboration with Peter Voulkos. Peter will also discuss the Serendipity exhibition and participating artists.


From WikiClay:

[Callas] has helped to broaden the understanding of firing an anagama for a longer period of time allowing for a different end product of the work.  Callas played a role in the later stages of Peter Voulkos's life introducing wood firing to him. He would fire Voulkos's work in his kiln in New Jersey.

AOTP potter Chris Campbell
set by Chris Campbell
The current exhibit at CLG was curated by Eric Knoche (including the "Functional Element") opened on July 1 and the exhibition is a fantastic collection of work from around the world.  The fourteen sculptors featured Serendipity are among the best in the world. The eight functional artists are also unsurpassed.