I saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning today that fell in line with more memories of my childhood regarding cow manure. In April every year, Beaver, Oklahoma hosts the World Championship Cow Chip Throwing Contest. This years winner threw 200 ft 7 in. Wow! If only I'd known this as a child I could have been preparing for 30 years. We used to do this all the time when we were kids. Granted we weren't throwing for distance, we mostly used dry cow dung as ammo. I tell ya I haven't thought about this in years and it really makes me laugh. I love that I grew up in the country.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Tom Gray sent me this pic of a bowl of mine filled with morning cereal. I remember giving Tom this bowl. It was out of one of the first firings where I started to add more soda to the kiln and I had also started slipping the insides of my bowls instead of using a glaze. It's a good bowl and I am pretty sure Tom has told me it's one of his favorites.
Posted by Ron at 10:50 AM
Friday, April 28, 2006
I went out last night to walk barefoot and found it was really cold. I was not expecting that. And wet too. So I have postponed it to later today after things warm up.
Sarah had coffee made after I got back from the walk with Kharma so I skipped my regular morning tea and decided to pull down one of my favorite cups. This cup is made by Welsh potter Phil Rogers. It's a nice small size and I use it only for coffee. Phil uses lots of local materials in his glazes. The inside of this cup has an ash glaze and the outside is a temmoku probably made from local stone dust with iron and other materials. The sides are faceted and the handle is awesome.
I got my bisque going about 4:30 this morning.
I need to get down to the kitchen now and make up some pizza dough so it can be rising while we are off in Charlotte. I am grilling some pizzas tonight for supper.
Posted by Ron at 9:39 AM
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I found this really interesting. Barefoot hiking. I never go barefoot anymore. As a kid I ran around barefoot all the time. I remember coming in at night and getting the bathtub and scrubbing my dirty little feet. I ran around in the cow pasture a lot and got lots of pleasure stepping in squishy piles of...well... cow manure. Okay that's probably more info. than any of you wanted and more than my mother would ever want me to reveal. But it was fun and we always giggled and cringed up our noses as we did it. The creek was near by for washing off.
Well enough about my childhood. I think I'll go out now and walk barefoot in the dark in the freshly cut grass out front.
Posted by Ron at 10:50 PM
Hey it's good to know I have some folks out there checking in from time to time. Thanks for responding to my previous post.
We went to 'puppy class' this evening with Kharma. I have to remember to take my camera next week. We have some cute dogs in our class. We know most of their names, but hardly any of the owners names. There's Precious the boxer, Max the German Shepard, Jordan the beagle, Maggie the chocolate lab, Mrs. Paradise the ?, but her owner's name is Diamond (cool huh?). Anyhow you get the idea.
Tomorrow we are going to Charlotte to buy Sarah a new (used) car. She located it on Tuesday and drove it, today she confirmed with the seller that she wanted it so we'll get it tomorrow.
Bisque firing a load tomorrow. One more next week as soon as things dry out. I'll get some pics of pots up too.
Posted by Ron at 10:35 PM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I am working towards finishing up a load of pots for my next firing. I hope to wrap it all up by Monday. Nothing is drying very well so I have resorted to a fan. I will be at the ClayMatters Pottery Guild Spring Sale on May 13th. I'll try and get details up soon. It's at the McAlpine Business Park on Monroe Road in Charlotte.
I am testing a new clay body in this load. It's one of the one's I ran some trials on in my last firing. I mixed up a larger batch of it and have made mugs, trays, some bottles, and plates. It is a very smooth clay, unlike my current body which is course and open. Comparing the two I'd say the test clay is fleshy while my old clay is more bones. That may not make sense to some. Anyhow I think this new clay will have nice response in the soda kiln, more shiny and glassy. I may try adding some fireclay to it to give it some tooth.
Rainy here tonight. Sarah is on her way home from Boone so I have been hanging out with Kharma. She got a little loud and roughty with Loupey (#1 cat) so I have put her to bed for the night, (much to Loupey's relief).
Over and out.
Posted by Ron at 9:43 PM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
We somehow ended up with a subscription to Utne magazine a year ago. I have really enjoyed it and will probably renew for next year. In addition to its own feature articles and departments, Utne has lots of informative articles that they glean from different sources and assemble into their mag. This month there was a section entitled 'Elemental Art' featuring artists who work in the enviroment using materials at hand. Andy Goldsworthy is well known, but you may want to check out some of these folks too.
Diana Lynn Thompson
Posted by Ron at 9:29 AM
Fried rice is one of our quick weeknight meals that we have pretty often. This week I decided it would be cool to try it will grilled tofu. I marinated the tofu in soy with a dash of sesame oil and sprinkled on some toasted sesame seeds before grilling. It was really good. No, we aren't vegetarians. I have to have a good cheeseburger at least once a week.
I haven't been cooking as much as I'd like to lately although we did have grilled pizza a week or so ago. Other favorites of mine are roasted chicken with rosemary and garlic, spinach and mushroom manicotti, pad thai,
and grilled jerk chicken.
Well that's it for now, I haven't had breakfast yet.
Posted by Ron at 9:15 AM
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I had a full day today. I got a lot done in the pottery. It was nice this morning, I opened the windows, listened to the rain on the tin roof, and the click, clack of my treadle wheel. Finished off all the pots I made yesterday, and threw the sections for a large jar. Things dry slowly in this new space. I am not used to it yet and I need a better rack system for storing work in progress as it is getting in the way. I may work on that soon. So all the pots I finished today still need to be slipped in the morning. Then I hope to make some mugs, bowls, oval serving bowls, and medium oval bakers. That's what my list says. I'd also like to get some vases in this firing but I am not sure what to do about that, I have some new designs in mind.
Kharma and I had a long walk before dark. Sarah is on her way home from Boone and will be here late. I am tired and ready for bed. Good night.
Posted by Ron at 9:44 PM
I woke this morning around 5 am to the sound of thunder in the distance. I got up to unplug the computers, we have bad luck with lighting and powersurges hitting modems. We are getting some rain now, much needed. I hope it continues steadily throughout the day.
I have lots of pots waiting to be finished in the studio. I got a gallery order yesterday so that gives me forward motion as to what needs to be made to finish out this kiln load. I hope to fire the week of May 8th. That's not so far away so I really need to be getting things done. I'll be making bowls tomorrow and that usually gets the kiln full quickly.
Well I am realizing that this post isn't very interesting. So maybe I'll come back later.
Posted by Ron at 9:22 AM
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Kharma did well with me in the studio yesterday. It also helped that Sarah was home all day and kept her for a spell in the house with her. I got lots of pots made and hope to finish them up today. It has been nice having Sarah home from school and work. It's been like old times when we were both working full time as artists. We have been able to have lunch together, and a nap, and just hang out a little in the mornings before we get started.
Sarah has decided to do her internship this summmer at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, she will be counseling patients there. I think this will be an awesome opportunity for her. She starts the 3rd week in May.
Posted by Ron at 9:11 AM
All the severe weather went east of us yesterday. We still had some windy conditions and some awesome clouds blowing over. It's been very hot for April, last night a cold front moved in and it feels nice out this morning. I'm not totally ready for 90 degree heat just yet. We are seriously in need of some rain.
Posted by Ron at 9:07 AM
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I spent several hours Saturday at Linda McFarling's pottery in Burnsville, NC. Linda and I met years ago at Arrowmont school where we were both taking a class. Since then Linda has been a friend and mentor to me.
Linda was firing her salt kiln during the visit but we had time to sit and talk and look at pots. One of the things that came up was the question of how one critically looks at ones on work. This has been a struggle for me and since I can be sort of shy I have not really sought out other's criticism in the past. Linda went over her process with me using her own pots as examples. It was very helpful. One of the methods she uses was learned from Minnesota potter Linda Christianson. Pots are looked at at different stages of development, during the making, handling, turning, after bisque, after final firing. Questions are asked, "which one is best?, why? which ones don't work?, why?, what can I change?" This is done with pots that are similar, say a run of cups, or jars or whatever. So the comparison is apples to apples. It is important to be present, to be objective, and to be willing to discard what isn't working or at least try again. This whole thing isn't easy and my belief is that not every one can do it. Not everyone can 'see' what is there, or what needs to be there. Linda says her training as a painter has helped her greatly. I think I can reconize good pots of others easier than I can of my own. I have no art training. I have to rely on what I have seen as good pots. I think drawing, looking, and paying attention are things that could help me.
Linda also said it is important to learn to 'discard'. This means for her throwing away finished pots that do not meet her standards. I do this but it usually takes time. For instance, right now I have two very full boxes of old pots sitting under the tractor shed. I think I will take them to the gully today. It will be very freeing.
Another lesson is learning to go the extra step. For instance, if I put a handle on a pitcher and I see that it doesn't work, I should go the extra step to take that handle off and try again. Or if I am turning a foot on a plate and it comes off still heavy, I should put it back on the wheel and take off more clay. Take the time to make the pots right.
Of course all this brings up the question, 'what makes a good pot?' For one person it may be one thing and another something else. And some people just don't care to ask, they just want to make stuff and not really go to this place. I can't really put into words what I think is a good pot. I know it when I see it. Sometimes pots are TOO good. These I don't like. My standards may be different than others. So maybe I'll think about what my standards are and how I am meeting them in my own work.
It was good to get to have this time with Linda and we planned on meeting again, this time with me bringing up some more pots and possibily getting together with a couple other potter's to have a 'pot on the spot' disscussion, over each other's work. That would be great for me.
Posted by Ron at 10:14 AM
Friday, April 14, 2006
It's been a heck of a week for both Sarah and myself. Sarah had a hard week and was on the go to work or school everyday. Yesterday was the last day of her practicum and I think she only has a couple more days of class to finish up. Her graduation date is May 6th. She has worked extremely hard and I am so proud of her. She keeps telling me she feels guilty that I have had things here at home all to myself. It has been hard for me, especially with the new puppy around, but it's all going to be worth it. Sarah will be a good counselor/therapist and I am happy she is doing what she is passionate about. She will be doing an internship over the summer. She has it narrowed down to two sites and will decide next week I think on where to go.
Kharma has been keeping me on my toes and testing my patience. I took her to puppy class again yesterday evening. It was lots of fun. I am learning a lot and she is too. We are working on 'sit', 'wait', 'down', 'come', controlled walking, and lots of play time. She's going to be good dog. I am meeting some new people in class too. Last night I met a lady who baby sat me when I was an infant. She went to school with my mom and dad.
I will be making some pizza dough today so I can grill a couple pizzas for supper tonight. I also need to finish off some pots in the studio. I was thinking I'd get away from here tomorrow, maybe head to the mountains to visit some friends, or go for a hike. I need to get out of here for a while and play.
If you are near Seagrove, NC this weekend be sure to go out for the annual Spring Kiln Opening. My friends Tom Gray and Pat Newby will have lots of cool new work at Tom's studio on Fork Creek Mill Rd.
Posted by Ron at 9:11 AM
Monday, April 10, 2006
I had my first official full workday in the new workshop today. Made some sections for two large jars, some mugs, small pitchers, a couple large pitchers and a board of animal jars. I am almost out of clay until what is in the racks drys out enough to use. That should be the end of the week since we are having some sunny weather. Made all of todays pots except for the animal jars on the new kickwheel. That baby will spin. It's not exactly set up right for me and my back isn't feeling really great right now. I need to figure out the height on the seat and add a couple of blocks to prop my feet on. Anyhow it's a good wheel.
Kharma was with me in the studio all day. Boy that's a chore having a puppy around. She loves to see the kickwheel spin. I had to install a barrier on the front to keep her from getting in there while I was working. I think she's about got me trained. I bet I got up from the wheel 20 times. It went something like this.....
'hey, I'll chew on this piece of plastic' =Ron gets up and puts it away
'hey, I'll jump on the potter's wheel' = Ron gets up, cuts a board and screws it in place as barrier.
'hey,I'll try to get up on the table and eat those pots'=Ron gets up and moves pots
'hey, I'll pee in the floor'=Ron cleans up pee
'hey I'll chew on the broom and drag it across the floor' =Ron gets up and puts away broom
'hey, I think I'll drag my blanket out of my crate and across the room'= you know what
Okay you get the picture. I bet Bernard Leach or Hamada never had to put up with this. I am well trained and didn't even get any treats.
This evening I finally started on my taxes! Ha. I always wait till the last minute.
Posted by Ron at 9:03 PM
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I am still cleaning out from my old studio and moving things into the new space. Yesterday I was going through some papers and found the following journal entry from 1994.
"I just finished unloading my first real glaze load. It was very successful. I have not felt this good in a very long time. And I've never been so proud of anything I've made. I had to yell a few times I was so happy.
I just really feel good inside. Seeing these pots when I opened the lid. There were a couple right there on top that just caught my eye. Special pots. Shallow bowls. And as I went further down things were okay and better. Everything came out fine. It's all sitting on the table now all layed out. Beautiful. I hope it's like this every time!"
There were a few more pages too and I'll post them later. This page really moved me and I think how even now I love to open my kiln and see all the pots, how exciting it is and how wonderful it is to be a potter. I am thankful for my meager beginnings, I remember those early pots well and how proud I was to be making something that would be useful in people's home. Most of those pots ended up in friend's and family's houses and I still have some boxed up in the barn.
I can be very hard on myself sometimes to try to cram all I can into a day. Yesterday I was sort of hard on myself for forgetting to get some things while in town, and I felt like I'd wasted a lot of time and energy. I do desire to have a simple life, but I am coming to understand that it's not all the external things that hold me up or keep me from moving forward. It's that I am too demanding on myself sometimes and that I am not allowing myself enough time to play or feel what I am feeling. I cover up, push on, stuff the pain, and rush on through. The journal entry opened me up and allowed me to feel good yesterday and to realize that I have a great life, I have choices each day as to how I spend my time and energy. I get to make nice pots that people are proud enough to use in their homes everyday. That is a great feeling. Today I am going to be good to myself, enjoy the sunshine, relax and do what I want.
Posted by Ron at 10:24 AM
Jim from Gastonia sent in this image of an oval bowl. He tells how it ended up on his coffee table. "The story of how the your pot ended up on the coffee table is that I walked in from you last sale, hands full of things - mail, your pot, groceries, etc. - and set the pot on the coffee table. Not being the neatest housekeeper it just sat there until some guests came over and raved about the new pot I bought for my coffee table. I received many more compliments on the pot and its placement -- the placement which was totally accidential. The pot is still there today!" Thanks Jim. Look for more Pots in Use images to come.
Posted by Ron at 10:20 AM
Friday, April 07, 2006
I have been working on getting all set up in my new studio. It's taken me longer than I expected but I am trying to get rid of stuff as I move over. I have gotten to the point in my work where I don't need a lot of tools or gadgets, just a couple throwing ribs, a cut off wire, some batts, sponge, a couple sticks I use to decorate with and the tools at the end of each of my arms. Of course there's more but my point is that I am getting rid of all I don't absoultely need. This includes buckets of dried up slip and glaze that have sat around for years. I am down to 2 glazes and 3 slips. Easy.
The clay is in the racks drying but I bet it will be late next week before it is ready to use.
I have borrowed a heavy contiential kick wheel from a friend. I think this is going to be helpful in making the large jars and bowls. I like working on kickwheels as well as my treadle wheel. Quiet, nice movement, easy.
I have been asked to join the Board at the Cleveland County Arts Council. It is a 3 year term and I start next week. Today I have to go in for a new member training.
I really want to get back to making pots soon. My next show is at the McAlpine Barn with the ClayMatters Guild in May. I also have galleries wanting pots. So I need to get busy.
Have a good weekend.
Posted by Ron at 10:02 AM
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
It's been a week since I found Kharma on the side of the road. And it's been a trying week. At a point when I am trying to make my life more simple and rid myself of unnecessary things, people, and work, I find I am constantly worrying about making this canine happy and tend to her. No, that's not her fault I know. I need some limits. Yet after yesterday I am not sure that this will be a long term thing or not. I'll have to keep you posted. In the meantime, I have said that in a week we will re-evaluate the situation and decide what to do. She's a sweet pup and is doing okay with her house training and learning to sit, come, and learn her name.
At a time when Sarah and I have been trying to figure out whether or not we want to have a child this is all good information. I know a baby would be a huge change for me, but at least it would be of the same species as me (I hope), poop and pee in a diaper, and be able to stay in a hotel with us if we decide to go somewhere. And eventually a child would speak my language, give and receive love without licking my face or biting my pants cuff, and learn things more fun than fetching a ball. (Like mixing clay, or setting the table. Just kidding) So this is all food for thought, and I am sure those of you with kids think I am silly for even comparing this, but really I have no frame of reference with kids of my own so I have to do the best I can with my past experiences (which honestly at times have not been great). So feel free to chime in Jen or Adrienne or Tom or whoever may have a thought out there. I am open to the core right now.
I guess I better so see if Kharma is ready to go out for potty, then I can get to work in the studio.
Enjoy the sun if it is shining on you today.
Posted by Ron at 10:29 AM
I like this image a lot. It was sent to me by Dale in York, SC. It shows some of my cups and mugs before he unloaded them from the dishwasher. It's really cool looking at the pots in this context, upside down and sort of askew. I like the way those squared bottoms are pressed in a bit and that you can see the wire cut on the one on the far right. Dale says he and Kate use these pots almost everyday. I am glad. This makes me want to go make some faceted teacups and square mugs.
Posted by Ron at 10:21 AM
Sunday, April 02, 2006
I love daylight savings time. It is beautiful outside today and my buddy David just called to see if I wanted to go to the river and wet a line. Unfortunately I have to go to a clay guild board meeting today in Charlotte. What a bummer. I missed the last one so I can't really blow this one off I don't guess. (stupid meetings) Ha. Okay so this week I'm gonna try and move completely into my new workspace, I've sort of got my feet in two places now and I need to get all transitioned over. Also, I'll mix clay.
I want to really enjoy this summer. Do some fishing, canoeing, grilling, have time with friends, work in my garden and yard. Who wants to work all the time? Not me. I want to get on a good work schedule so I can get what I need to done and have time to play and relax. Life is too short.
Well that's it for now, I hope you all have a wonderful day. Hopefully this meeting won't last forever and hopefully we'll at least be outside.
Sunshine, blue skies, green grass, warm air, I love spring.
Posted by Ron at 10:59 AM