Monday, July 31, 2006


Got back in the studio today. Made some things and as the day progressed I had to make some of them over as the first ones were failures for one reason or the other. I tried making some bigger pieces on the homemake kick wheel I brorrowed from a friend a while back. It was near impossible. There is no splash pan on it and as I use copious amounts of water I soon had a mess on me and on the fly wheel below. No traction ensued. So I gave up and got back on my treadle. I finished it but it was a bear. I am now on the look out for a used electric wheel to make these bigger pots on.

There was an incident with Karma after lunch that launched me into a frenzy and I felt like my brain swelled up and was about to explode. That deepened and to relieve some frustration I came in and wailed on the couch cushions with the whiffle ball bat. That was I little trick I learned back in my therapy days. I know people think I am calm and centered and all that ,but I gotta tell you I lose it some days. No shame in that.

Tonight I made some more pots and Karma and I had a nice walk and play time. Sarah went to her mom's for supper and I finished firing my bisque kiln.

I am looking forward to some reading and then to bed.

Back Home

How nice it is to be back home. I had a good time assisting Leon at the Folk School last week. The weather was nice and it was wonderful to be in such beautiful surroundings. We had a class of 11 students so I did lots of assisting. Leon worked hard teaching and we both gave lots of personal attention to all the students. I think everyone went home happy. Of course it was also exhausting and I did not take much time for myself. I would have liked to have done more drawing. I did manage a few drawings of some of the buildings on campus.

The Folk School is such a great place, the food is good, there are nice people from all over the country and even the world. The gardens were in full bounty, I felt inspired to do better in my garden in the future. I highly recommend going sometime and taking a class.

I made a few pots, I didn't get to my umbrella stands, but I think I'll be able to soon. I mainly enjoyed working with the students during the days and just hanging out socializing during the evenings. I made lots of new friends who I hope to keep in touch with.

Today I will be in the studio working on some cups and other small pots. I am bisque firing today also. I have several meetings this week so my time in the studio will be limited. I did install my window unit air conditioner yesterday. It took all of 15 minutes to do. I don't know why I've waited. I will be more inclined to work in there during the day now I think.

Have a great day.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Off to the Folk School

I will be leaving in a couple hours to go to the Folk School. The class I will be assisting with is called Making Big Pots: Throwing with Fire. The throwing with fire part has to do with heating up the pot with a torch that Leon has designed. Basically you throw the pots in sections that are heated up and then joined. That way you can make big pots in one sitting. Leon Nichols was one of my first instructors at the Folk School. He makes very large classically shaped pots, some up to 6 ft tall or more. I am looking forward to assisting him this week. Leon lives in Charlotte and we have been friends ever since I took his class back in the early 90's.
I am hoping to make a few pots while I am there. I would specifically like to make some umbrella stands.

Sarah and I went to the last night of the Real to Reel Film and Video Festival in Kings Mountain last night. I went on opening night on Wednesday. This is the 7th annual and it keeps growing. It's an awesome festival with films coming in from all over the world. There are amateur and pro divisions in feature length, shorts, animation, and documentary. Some of the film makers even come. This year we had two films from Israel, and one of the film makers came to speak. These two films were shown last night and were very moving and inspiring to me. If you are a film buff then this is a great festival to know about, check out the website for more information.

Well that's gonna be it for a while. I don't know if I'll have access to a computer this week or not. I'll catch up when I get back home.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A day early/My blank cell

Guess what? I'm not supposed to be at the Folk School until tomorrow. I was all packed and ready to go this morning when my ride didn't show up, so I gave him a call and low and behold we are leaving TOMMOROW! So right now today feels like a blank comic cell, nothing filled in, nothing planned, just space. That's a new feeling for me. My brain is this, and this and this and this. I am just doing nothing which feels good for the moment.

Here's something I have been thinking about: As I've said before I've been journaling since 11 grade. I've never really gone back and read any of my journals. I don't intend to either. I do know that for the last 7 or 8 years my journaling has dealt with my "issues", things I've wanted to improve about myself, my co dependancey, guilt, worry, family stuff, work stuff, in general lots of psychological dealings. This has been good in many ways and has provided much personal growth. But after a while it seems it's all I write about. I am getting tired of it and I think I'm getting ready to change the way I journal.

What will be different? Well for one there will be more drawing, listing, playing, cutting and pasting, maybe even some color. It will (hopefully) be more positive, about living in the moment, and about being creative. It will be about accepting where I am at the moment. How awesome and healing that will be? Lots I imagine. It will be Fun. There will be NO judgement. I will banish the little voice in my head that says, 'someone will see this someday', or 'that's no good, better not do it'.

I think now is a good time to begin this, there are some things changing in my life, slowly. Much of it is just acceptance. Other things are: Sarah finishing school, us deciding to live here for several more years, making new friends, drawing and doing more creative work other than just making pots, looking forward to travelling, having a new dog, getting ready to lose another, and taking action in general.

So today I'll enjoy my blank cell for awhile then I'll begin to fill it in alittle at a time.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wrapping up the week

Wednesday and Thursday ended up being great days in the workshop. I made some good teapots and I feel like I got back in the swing of things in general. Today I finished up the pots I made since Wednesday. I feel good about getting back in the groove and I'll probably be ready to fire the kiln the first week in August.
I am heading to John C. Campbell Folk School for a few days so I'll be away from the computer. I'll catch up on my blogging when we get back.
Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


My teapots bit the dust, all but one. I don't know what I was thinking when I made these things but they were way too big. They were so big and gawdy when I got the handles and spouts on them. I kept one just because it didn't look too terrible and I have a customer who keeps asking about a big teapot. Maybe this one will be for her.

So tomorrow I'll make some smaller ones, same shape and they will be good I bet. I have to learn these lessons over and over it seems.

It's so hot here I can hardly stand it. I have a window unit for my studio, but haven't put it in yet. I'm trying to be Mr. Tough Guy. I had some customers come by today, I was sweating like a horse the whole time they were here. How embarrassing.

I made some really cool bowls today with incising. I can see this leading to my next tangent.

I sure hope gas prices level out or something, I'm not going to be able to afford to fire my kiln. I guess I'll have to find some new outlets for my work to offset the costs.

Well this wasn't a very interesting entry, hope I didn't bore you to sleep.

be me

Yesterday I finished up my dinner plates and bowls and made some teapots. I made 8 and kept 3. I don't do well when I try to make stuff that 'isn't me'. The first couple teapots I made we one's like some I had seen recently at a gallery. I thought they had a cool shape and I was going to try and copy them. No luck. They looked very contrived and out of place. Not me. So I went on to do a few more just out of my head (I don't have a standard teapot shape at the moment) and came up with a few that felt right but were sort of heavy and dumpy. So I trashed them and threw 3 more that were a bit lighter and stood up and didn't look so flabby around the bottoms. I haven't put handles or spouts on them yet. I'll see today if I have any keepers.

Drawings are of this mornings cup of tea, in my favorite Joe Bennion mug. And yesterday's cereal.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Well maybe I couldn't be a brain surgeon, but I could prob. be some sort of doctor or highly respected individual. In Japan potters are valued as much as lawyers and businessman. Here we are hardly noticed by society as a whole. Pots don't have the history and importance here like they do in the East. The Japanese eat differently than Americans do to. They eat as much with their eyes as they do their mouths. There are all kinds of pots for food in Japan, and of course the tea ceremony prizes the ceramics used. Us Americans are happy with food wrapped in foil and tea served in styrofoam cups. We are often in a hurry, eating in the car or in front of the television. Cultures in the East have a deeper sense of what beauty is all about too I think. Maybe it's a connection with nature or just the way the world is viewed. It's fairly early for me to be going on about all this. Something to think on for the day though. Maybe I'll get back with more insight later. I think the whole issue of beauty would be good to talk about. Look around today, what do you see as beautiful in your surroundings? Is is possible to slow down enough and appreciate the scent and sight of a flower in bloom, or the clouds in the sky? Can we see the beauty in one another, in children, animals, insects? There's beauty to be found in the crack in the sidewalk or the paint peeling off of side of a door.

Here's another experiment, eat in silence today, one meal, no conversation, no tv, no newspaper. just you and your food. Be present, taste it, what's it like? what are you thinking about as you eat? food or work? maybe draw your lunch before you eat it. Experience your lunch; think about where each component of the food came from, who grew it, who harvested it, packaged it, transported it, prepared it, served it. Think about the rain, soil, sunlight it took to grow it, about the clothes the farmer wore when he planted the seeds, about the fuel his machinery used, where that fuel came from. You get the idea.

Have fun today. Be present. I'm gonna be a potter.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Today I managed to get back in the studio for a while and make some pots. I made some slab square bowls and a large rectangular slab bowl on a hump mold I finally made last week out of plaster. I have been wanting to do this since seeing some nice pieces of this nature in a book on David Leach that I read awhile back. I also made some dinner plates. Tomorrow I expect to get in there and make some more plates, and attempt some teapots.

My drawing today is of a cupboard in the kitchen.

It's hard to eat a fudgesicle and type.

I was thinking today of what it would be like to live in a huge city in a tiny apartment. How would I decide what to keep? I could probably do without a car. I'd miss being able to walk out the front door in the middle of the night and pee under the moon and stars. I bet I'd get overstimulated from all the people and noise. I thought that I could get a job as a garbage man. That would be a nice job. Get up early. Collect the garbage, ride on the back of the truck. No worries to take home after hours. Sarah said I wouldn't be living up to my potential. Heck, I'm not doing that now. I could be a brain surgeon if I wanted to. Who needs to live up to their potential, that's gotta be highly over rated. I just want to be happy, do what makes me feel good, have a nice life, and be healthy. Which is sort of what is going on right here and now, so I doubt I'll be going to NYC or Chicago or Boston or where ever anytime soon. It would be fun to try it out though.

Family Picnic

Yesterday Sarah and I rode up with her parents to Banner Elk for the Ramsey family picnic. This is Sarah's mom's side of the family, most of whom I know and love. We had a good time visiting with everyone and had a great meal. The weather was awesome, probably in the mid 70's and Sarah and I had a nice hike in the woods.

Last night we watched Everything is Illuminated. Great movie. The main character, Jonathan , travels to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis in 1942. This is more of an independent type film, great camera work, beautiful scenery, interesting characters, including a cool dog...Sammy Davis Jr., Jr. Watch it!

Speaking of dogs. My 11 yr old lab is not doing so well. According to the vet he is having some neurological problem that causes him not to be able to control his hind legs very well. If this gets worse we may have to have him put donwn.
Kharma is doing fine. To relieve some of the stress of keeping her contained in my studio and worrying about her running out of the yard, I ordered us an invisible fence on Friday. It should be here next week. I am hoping this works for us.

Sarah is off to a yoga class in Charlotte this morning. She has a job interview tomorrow. So put out some prayers, positive energy, cross your fingers and toes, or whatever you feel appropiate, we are really hoping she gets this job. Thanks!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Challenging subject

The toilet is really difficult to draw. Especially head on like this. The whole foreshorting thing totally throws me.


I went out and bought a printer/scanner last night. So get ready to be bombarded with drawings. Ha. I am sure the newness of this will wear off. Maybe after I break down and buy a new camera there will be some pics of pots that I am working on. Or maybe I'll just draw them and scan them in.
Anyhow, I have been drawing a lot, but I have also been journaling on my drawings. I don't really want to put all that out here so I am going to start keeping the two separate. As you can see I cropped this lamp to get rid of the text.
I also got a couple sepia pens.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Be here now

I'm always looking at my work and wanting it to be better. I often want it to be entirely different than it is. I have had thoughts of switching to earthernware, or doing more color, or drawing on the pots. When I have tried some of these things I am usually not happy and I go back to making the pots I know how to make. Salt/soda fired, loose, minimal decoration, good handles and feet. These are good pots. I think the longing for new ideas or forms or whatever is healthy in that it allows the pots to grow. Although it is slow. I admit that I have a problem of comparing my work to other's work, usually potters who are well established and have been in the field for 30+ yrs. It's no good to do this, it just frustrates me. I have to allow myself to see my work where it is right now and let it grow. I do give myself problems to solve, like right now for instance I'm working on a new baker shape, thinking about new slab vases, and a way to make a large, slab, rectangular dish. Also I need to find a teapot shape I like to make. Yesterday while trying to solve some of these problems I made pots and threw most of them back in the clay bin. I was frustrated that I had nothing to show for my efforts, nothing physical anyhow. But I did learn some things. Maybe today I'll put some of that into some keepers.
It seems most of my struggles, pottery or otherwise, are the same things over and over. How to learn to get out of this pattern is something I'm trying to look at. Breaking out of my conditioned thinking and living in the present would be helpful. I am still drawing and finding that that practice helps me to tune in and be in the moment. I am also noticing that I am beginning to look at things differently and really 'see' them.
I need to buy a new camera, anyone have any suggestions?
Have a great day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mucking along

I got back in the studio this morning and made a few pots. At lunchtime I met up with some local artists at Synergy Studios in town and had lunch. We had homemade pie and ice cream for dessert. It was nice to hang out with some likeminded people. We need to do it more often. I made a few more pots after lunch, some faceted vases and then worked outside some. I have been reorganizing my clay storage shed and I think I've got it all finished.
Not much else report. I feel like I'm just mucking along from one thing to the next really. I haven't had any real routine or full day of any thing since my sale. I have clay drying in the racks, I hope it will be ready to bring in by the middle of next week. Right now I'm using some commercial clay I had bought a while back. I think once my clay is ready then I'll be rocking along again in the pottery.

Two more


Here are some drawings I've done over the last few days. I'm trying not to be too judgemental about any of this or worry what others think. So I'm putting them up.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

I am feeling really guilty today because I absolutely do not want to do anything. I have gotten totally sucked into Danny Gregory's website. There's way too much info and drawings and things to read. I did a few drawings yesterday and a couple this morning.
I did manage to make a few pots yesterday and I finished them up this morning. I then mowed the grass. That's plenty of work for today don't you think? Man I wish my camera wasn't broken I want to post some images.
I am also having an urge to go shopping. I need some new shorts, tee shirts, and a pair of low top Converse. I'd also like to replace my camera, and get some art supplies (damn Danny G.). I don't even know what's open today and anyhow my frugal, guilty mind is holding me back from leaving here.
Oh yeah, my pie turned out pretty good last night. I think I'm more of a cobbler or crisp guy though. I'm not really into crust. It's sort of opposite with pizza. I am totally into crust there. I think with fruit pies I am more interested in the fruit.
Sarah is at work. I guess I am going to just hang out for awhile. Maybe I'll go do a few more drawings. It's hot out again today. No need to over do it.
Later, Ron

Monday, July 03, 2006

Picking and drawing

I managed to get myself out of bed at a decent hour this morning (who decides what is a decent hour anyway) and walk and feed the dogs. After that I headed up the road to pick some blackberries. We have a nice patch that I discovered late last week. Sarah and I picked about 6 cups yesterday and I picked about that much or more this morning. I am planning on baking a cobbler or deep dish pie to take to a family cookout this evening. This is all new to me so it is fun. Being out early this morning picking berries gave me lots of thoughts about primitive man (or probably woman) out gathering food. It also made me think of snakes, bees, and chiggers. My dad told me recently that my grandfather had loved to pick blackberries and would be out picking as the sun came up. I thought about this as I picked this morning and how I miss my grandfather and how much I could have continued to learn from him. I bet he'd really be interested in my pottery and kiln. I need to talk to my dad more about these things.

A friend recently turned me on to Danny Gregory. If you are interested in drawing or journaling you should check him out. I am getting interested in visual journaling. Some sites to visit are 1001 Journals and Tessha Moore's site. Some of these are really fantastic. I have been journaling since 11th grade, writing anywhere from 1 to 6 or more pages a day, usually in the mornings. I'd like to explore drawing as a journaling tool. I think expressing emotions and feelings in a visual way is sometimes easier and goes deeper than with words. It can be very engaging and freeing. Danny Gregory also speaks of drawing as being medatitive, slowing him down to the present moment. This of course would help lots of people. Read his short essays on his page under 'Recent Matters'. He also mentions this list of weekly challenges, things to draw. It would be a good place to start.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Out with myself

Yesterday I went to Brevard to Judith Duff's kiln opening. I wasn't really sure if I'd go or not. I was battling guilt and negative voices up until the time I walked into her studio door. I kept thinking to myself I need to stay home and work on pots, or in the yard, or something. In the end I got in my truck and left after taking care of the dog's morning needs. I knew Sarah would be sleeping in late and resting most of the day since she worked a 36 hr stint at the hospital. Anyhow once I got to Judith's I was glad I had not stayed at home. She had some really wonderful pots. Awesome shinos and pots from the train kiln and anagama. The first pot that caught my eye was a cereal sized bowl with a rich crackle red shino glaze. I thought to myself, this pot is probably $60 which I cannot spent today. I picked it up and saw that the price sticker read $400. Whoa. Well I guess I certainly WON'T be getting that one.
So I found a shino cup that looked like snow and ice, pink in places with iron spots coming through the thick feldspatic glaze. (My camera is busted or I'd put up an image.) It was $24. Much more in my price range for the day.
It was good to catch up with Judith and have her show me her new kilns and talk about all the great pots. If you get a change to visit her studio it is worth checking out. There's lots of good work in a wide price range.

I decided since I was already so close to Asheville I might as well go on up to Highwater Clay and pick up some supplies. I needed some grog and other materials for clay mixing and tests. Everything went fine until I got on the interstate about 15 miles outside of Asheville. Bumper to bumper. Oh yeah it's a holiday weekend! Well I managed to get off the interstate and go the back way to Highwater.

I got home about 4 and later Sarah and I went out with our friend David for pizza at Doc's.

I was glad to get away from home for awhile. Seeing Judith's pots was inspiring and I am all set to mix clay today and make some pots this week.