Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Catching up

The first image is all the bisque ware in my shop this morning. I pre wadded everything and planned on loading the kiln tomorrow. But I got finished sort of quick and so I decided to go ahead and load the kiln and fire a day early. This is going to work out for the best weatherwise I think. Anyhow the kiln is all loaded so now I just have to come up with my game plan for the firing. If you've been following along you know I've had a couple problems with the last few firings. So I am going to go over all my old kiln logs again and take into consideration all the good advice I've been given and see what happens.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ready, Set, Go

Monday morning and I feel swamped already. Lots happening this week but I'll get to that as it happens.
My weekend went well. The house renevoations continue, on Saturday we moved a water line and trenched a line down to my garden. That took the better part of the day and it was rather physical labor and dirty so we didn't get to anything inside. I hope this week to get a closet built and a header put in. I think the work we did on Saturday upset a mouse family because I caught 2 small mice in the house yesterday. I hope the others relocated outside somewere, or at least out of sight.
What about the Oscars? I only watched about an hour and a half. I thought Ellen did a great job hosting, good clean humor. Helen Mirin got lots of attention, but it looks like The Departed took the big prize home. I have yet to see that film or The Queen. I have seen Little Miss Sunshine, which I liked a lot.
I have a page on Southern Potters dot com now. Please visit.
My good friend Tom Gray has started blogging again. (Tom was blogging way back when was born, he's usually ahead of the times). He is a good writer so check it out often.
I've gotten my bisque going this morning and I am off to yet another committee meeting at the Arts Council. I will be firing at the end of the week!!!
Have a good Monday.

Friday, February 23, 2007

End of the Week

Today I finished getting the last of the pots slipped for the next firing. I will bisque on Monday and fire on Friday or Saturday next week. I am looking forward to it.
There's a good show up at Akar gallery in Iowa City featuring yunomi. Yunomi (as I understand it) means 'hot water cup' often called tea bowls or tea cups by western potters. These do not hold the same status as a 'chawan' which is a tea bowl used in the tea ceremony. Yunomi are more of an 'everyday' cup. Anyhow that's how it was explained to me. If I'm wrong on that please fill me in. These kinds of cups are fun to make and are good warm ups or ways to sketch out ideas before beginning a run of pots. We have lots in our home and drink juice, water, soda, and yes even tea from them.

Bowling for Dollars

Yesterday the Cleveland County Arts Council held it's annual Bowling for Dollars fund raising event. Here's how it works, potters donate soup bowls to the Arts Council, people pay $15 to come in and pick a bowl and then have a lunch of soup and bread and dessert at the Arts Council. The money raised goes to schloarships for school age kids to take art classes. This event always sells out and we are only limited by the number of bowls donated. This year we had right at 200. Gail Point and her crew do all the cooking on site, yesterdays soup choices were 'chicken and shrimp gumbo' and 'potato, leek and cheddar' . They were both delicious. My job is to carry big pots of soup from the kitchen, which is upstairs, down to the basement where everyone is served. The stairs are really steep and I have to make sure I don't get to the bottom too fast. Bowls awaiting selection.
The line to get into the 'bowl room' just before 11 am. (that's my display on the left, still up from the Treasures of the Earth show)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Here are my pots with long spouts. Pretty good I guess. I am way behind on the pottery cruet craze that hit a couple years ago. Anyhow these were fun to make, we'll see if they work.


I have an appointment with the doc in an hour so I came in to get all cleaned up and ready to go. I have had a better day in the studio so far. I got some inspiration this morning and made some deep dishes that I haven't done in a while and guess what else....2 cruets. Ha. Cruets. Really these were made to try on some new spouts. I pulled the spouts on a dowel rod and made them fairly long and tapered. Easier than throwing them. I saw the technique a while back on a video with Jane Shellenbarger. Anyhow I haven't gotten them on the pot yet and it will be interesting to see if they fire and stay in place. If I like them when I get them assembled I'll post an image. I like this clay too, I used it a lot years ago. It has a nice tooth. Okay gotta go.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Psyching Myself Out

One of my problems yesterday was that I got to thinking about the upcoming exhibit at NCECA and what pots I was going to send. I have a 3 pot limit and early on I said, okay I'll send a pitcher, an animal jar, and a set of mugs (I can get away with a set being one pot). Well I talked to my friends who are in the show and they are making teapot sets, or pitcher sets, or cream and sugar sets on a tray, or what ever, cruets on little saucers. See I'm pretty low key. I make a pot and that's that. No tray, no saucer, no fancy this or that. And I am not sending a teapot, there will be 1000 teapots at NCECA. So you can already see how this self depreciating talk began in my head. So I am standing in my studio (I don't have a chair in there), thinking that I have one or two days left to make whatever it is I am going to send, (I do have some pots set aside so it's not like I have NOTHING at this point) and just thinking I need something 'great' that will not get lost in the sea of glaze and color. Well after a half day of making 3 pots I just decided to be who I am and I'll send what I want. I still don't know exactly what that will be but I do have a nice fat jar with good orange peel texture on it, and I am hoping to get a good deep footed bowl out of this next firing. Oh yea and a set of mugs. I'm not changing what I do just to get attention or try and make a sale.

Monday, February 19, 2007

More Monday

Well today was a 180 from last Monday, much less productive. I just couldn't get going. I did finish up some oval vases and threw a couple jars before lunch. I am coming off this beta blocker that I have been on for several years and I don't know if that's making me tired or what. I have an appointment with the doctor on Wednesday. Anyhow I forced myself to make some bowls and bakers after lunch and I got most of my demo for class tomorrow night set up.

I am out of clay now too. I knew I was going to run out, the plan is to buy some commercial clay that I know pretty well and use it until late March, then mix up about a ton of clay. I hate mixing in cold weather and so I am just going to wait till things warm up a little.

Tomorrow I have a committe meeting at the Arts Council and then I'll have a little time in the studio before heading out to Charoltte to buy clay and then on to class. Long day.


I have my bisque going and hopefully my studio is warming up a little. I will be working on some last minute pots as today is going to be my last wet day for the upcoming firing. Not too much to report at the moment.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Friday night I woke up at 3 am and realized I was very unhappy with the choice I had made for the new stairwell. This feeling had been building all day long, but it wasn't until the early morning hour that it hit me that there had to be a better way of doing this. The main qualification for this project is that there is a door to the stairs that can be shut to close off the downstairs from the upstairs. All of the things I had came up with had the door at the bottom of the stairs, this meant that the stairs had to become steeper in order to have to space at the foot of the stairway to accommodate a door and let it have room to swing open. After cutting the stringers for the new stairs I had this feeling of dread that I was going to have to go up and down these things several times a day. Espicallly down, I am not very gracefull and down could mean DOWN.
So between the hours of 3am and 5am I came up with what I thought would work...the door at the top. I waited until 7am before I actually got up and got my tape measure to make sure it would work. Yes it would. Now I had to clear it with Sarah, I don't think this was the conversation she wanted to wake up to on Saturday morning but my helpers were going to be here at 8 am and I had to break the news to them and be ready to do some work. Sarah was fine with it all and so was my brother in law who is a carpenter by trade, he said he thought it was a much better idea than what I had come up with before. So, we headed out to breakfast and then off to get some materials.
I am really pleased with what we accomplished. I got to keep my old, long, comfortable stairs. Sarah will get her door at the top, and we even got a new beam installed so the upstairs doesn't become the downstairs in the future.
I know this is probably confusing to many of you who have never visited our home. I will try to give a little house/pottershop history later on in another post. I slept well last night and I am actually looking forward to the next time we all get together to build a closet, and do some electrical work. Oh yea and move a water line. (The list is very long).

Friday, February 16, 2007

End of Week

I finished up things today. These 5 pounders got handles and will get slipped tomorrow. I made six but only 4 made the cut. Tomorrow I am working all day on tearing out the existing stairway and installing a new stairwell and stairs. It's probably going to be a long day. The new stairwell will have a door at the bottom, the new stairs have to be steeper to accomodate this change. I am going to miss the old stairs, I've climbed them many times over the past 10 years. Anyhow, change is good, at least that's what I've heard.

Have your cake...

Here is the flourless chocolate cake recipe. I got it off FoodTV's site courtesy of Tyler Florence. I'm not really an experienced baker so if I can make this anyone can. It was very tasty. I skipped making my own whipped cream and just used store bought.

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup heavy cream cold
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1 inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs - this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate; then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan (spray the bottom with nonstick spray) and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.

While the cake is cooking, make the whipped cream. Whip the cream until it becomes light and fluffy. Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar.

Serve at room temperature with the whipped cream.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

No Flour

I baked this cake last night for our Valentine's Day dessert. Sarah had a late appointment with a client so I cooked dinner, Pad Thai, Sarah's favorite. It's also quick and easy. This 'cake' was pretty easy too. It has no flour but it does have 1 lb of bittersweet chocolate, and 9 eggs. Not so good for you but it sure tasted great...with a little whipped creme on top.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One more

I forgot to include these oval bakers in that previous post. Don't want to leave anyone out. So I hope to get a couple boards of mugs made tomorrow and then on Friday I'll have bisque. As soon as this other stuff dries I'll do another bisque (hopefully next week) and then I'll be firing the salt kiln.


Here are a few pots I finished up today or yesterday,some freshly slipped. Big Dish
Dessert Bowls
Plates drying, and 2 oval servers
Mugs and salt jars
Jars, slip still wet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Finishing up

I got all the pots finished up from Monday. Feet cut, handles attached, knobs and lids and all that stuff... ready to be slipped. That will have to wait until tomorrow as I am off to teach in about an hour.
While I was at the Arts Council today I checked in on my display and I have sold quite a few pots. The 'Toyoko pattern' seems to be popular. (that's the one with all the slip pours, I made up that name a year ago, I tell people it's my big seller in Japan, jokingly of course). Anyhow, I also sold one of my bigger jars, some mugs, and candle stick holders. I am really proud of the work, even with all the problems I've had with my kiln lately things are going well and I am making some good pots.
Well I think it's time for some green tea and a bit of chocolate before I hit the road. It's about an hour drive for me to Clayworks. Check in tomorrow and I'll have some images up.


I have kept a journal since 11th grade. I had an excellent English teacher in high school, her name was Dixie Dellinger. She encouraged us to write a little something at the beginning of her class. My entries were often something along the lines of 'I had cereal for breakfast, I hope it doesn't rain much because I am going skateboarding after school', really deep and meaningful stuff. It did get better though as I wrote more and more. I realized that no one else would probably read this stuff, and that I could really get out what I was feeling, what I wanted, what was troubling me, or making me most happy. Of course being a teenager it was a lot of angst and worry and I am sure if I read some of it now I'd laugh. I never go back and read any of my journals. I still have them all, boxed up in my dad's attic and some more recent ones here in our attic. I journalled all through college, it was a particularly hard time for me, I didn't know what I wanted to do and I was faking it and quite sad most of those years. In my mid twenties I worked through Julia Cameron's The Artist Way. She encouraged writing 3 pages everyday. This was no problem for me. It was actually my favorite part. When Sarah and I met it was cool to find out that she too was a journal keeper. We would both wake up have a cup of tea and write for half and hour or so each morning. I still write everyday, not always 3 pages but at least a little something. I find it helps me to get things out of my head and onto the page, often my problems don't seem so life threating once they are out of the fantasy world in my imagination and made real on paper. These days I am also trying to incorporate some drawing into my journalling. Thanks to Danny Gregory and others like him that I have discovered in the past year this has put a new aspect into my journalling. My favorite journals have always been sketch pads, blank pages that I can scrawl out big angry words, or neat little soldiers of letters and ideas on the page. I like to use a pen, not pencil. (although I like a pencil for most everything else). Right now I am using Faber-Castell PITT artists pen, S or M point and my journal of choice is a Moleskine (the medium sized ones) These choices have been made due to the new drawing aspects. My older journals were often 8 1/2 by 11 Mead spiral bound sketch books.
Anyhow I just thought I share a little of this today as this blog is a journal of sorts for me, one I am willing to share. I would like the content to be a little more interesting at times, but I am fairly shy by nature and often insecure in expressing my opinions. However I hope you'll stick around and see what comes up from time to time. Have a good day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Making Stuff on Monday

I got an early start and managed to have a productive Monday. Here's what I made today:
6 Mugs
8 Shallow Desert Bowls
4 5lb Jars with lids
2 Extra Lids (just in case)
4 Salt Jars/Garlic Roasters
3 Oval Bakers
2 Square Slab Bowls
1 Oval Slab Bowl

I cut feet on 6 dinner plates and got them slipped. I also got handles on my 18 lb deep bowl, I'll get it slipped tomorrow. All that stuff above will have to be handled, cut, whatever tomorrow to finish it up. I have a full day tomorrow with a board meeting at the Arts Council and then off to teach in Charlotte tomorrow night, so I may run out of time. If so things will get wrapped in plastic until Wednesday, which will be a full day in the studio. (And Valentine's Day).

It's nice to get in a groove and get some things made with no problems.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Here are a few pics from last night's opening of Treasures of the Earth.

That's my display in the background.
I'll try to go back and get more shots of pots. It was very crowded and I was socializing more than anything (I don't get out much you know). Anyhow, I sold quite a few pots and got lots of compliments on the work. It's nice to be the local boy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Half day

I worked a half day today and got a lot done. I slipped all the spoon jars and deep bowls from yesterday. I also got feet cut on a couple 6 lb bowls and all the feet cut on my soup/cereal bowls. These all then got handled and slipped. I didn't get my plates footed, I'll do that tomorrow, they weren't quite ready and I tend to mess them up if I try and rush it.

I'll be heading out to the show in about an hour, until then I think I'll read a bit and hang out with Karma, she's been having a fun day out in the sun but is now in with me for a bit.

Oh yeah, my piece came out in the newspaper and was fine. One small typo. I don't know that anyone at the editors desk even read it. I could have said anything probably.

Productive Days

I had a productive day in the studio on Monday and then again yesterday. Yesterday I got a couple boards of soup/cereal bowls made and a couple boards of plates. I also got the feet cut on the bowls I made Monday and handles on all of them and the spoon jars I made. It was a good day.

My dad and brother in law came over last night and we cut the stringers for my stairway and discussed what will happen next on the renevation. Sarah came home and so that was another voice in the discussion. I got a bit overwhelmed and sort of zoned out and couldn't figure out what to do. I just want this whole thing to be done. I wish we had enough money to hire out the work and let other people figure out how to solve the problems that come up in a job like this. Anyhow, we will get through it and I'll be glad to have it done.

Tonight is the opening for Treasures of the Earth at the Arts Council. I went over yesterday morning to have a look at all the pots. It's a nice show. I'll take my camera tonight and get some pictures. The reception is always well attended and lots of pots sell this first night. My dad and his wife always come as well as my sister and her family. It makes me feel good to have them there. This is the 12th year of the show. I 've participated since it's beginning. I can remember the first pots I had in the show. They were electric fired to cone 4 with tan and brown glazes that mimicked salt fired pots.

I need to run out an pick up a local paper this morning. I got an email yesterday wanting me to write a brief piece about the show. I did so and submitted it to the person in charge. I hope it came out well. It's supposed to be front page.

That's it for now. I am off to cut feet on yestedays pots and slip all the other stuff. I need to knock off around 3 today.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Treasures of the Earth

This morning I have to get my truck loaded up and go into town to the Cleveland County Arts Council to set up for the Treasures of the Earth pottery show. This is the 10th or 11th year for this show and I have done it since the beginning. It's a month long exhibit featuring about 20 potters from the region. The work ranges from hobby potters to serious amateurs to professional potters. I got everything boxed up yesterday and my display all dusted off. It's a good show and the reception always brings out lots of pottery enthusiasts.
Here is a picture of my new favorite refired mug. I love the way slip broke on the edges to a light color. It's much more shiny than my work normally is .

Monday, February 05, 2007


I refired about 50 pots in my little updraft gas kiln. I had good success in the bottom of the kiln where cone 10 went completely down. In the middle I only got to cone 8 and I don't know what the top was probably 5 or 6. The pots that reached cone 10 improved greatly. My high silica clay got very very shiny and the slips really brightened up. The only problem was that the silica in the clay caused to wads to fuse to the bottoms of the pots so I had to grind them off. Nevertheless I came away with some first quality saleable pots from what I almost threw away. The refires were really metallic looking, not what I am always after, but in this case I liked it a lot. As a matter of fact I now have a favorite mug that came from the refire.

As to my slip problem, I am still thinking about the cause. I have conflicting information regarding body reduction. I do know I over reduced this kiln for most of the firing. I need a neutral atmosphere to get my colors to be bright. Probably with an oxidizing soak for at least one hour at the end. I would like to start salting a little earlier so that I could finish around cone 9 also. I think this will help with the color. I think my slip problem is something that is happening early in the firing, before cone 08. ? Maybe things are getting too hot too fast, or I am trapping carbon gas under the slip. I may need to improve on my bisque to be sure I am burning out all the organics. Or soak for an hour at 1650 to be sure during my glaze firing. The problem is only with the high alumnia slip. Lots of info and variables to think about.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Finally, Pots

Here are the pots that made it. I refired about 25 more today in my little gas kiln. I have never done that before so we'll see if it helps in any way. Pots on the showroom floor after being sanded and dusted.

Two oval serving dishes. One with Grolleg slip and pours; the other with helmar slip and incising.


Yunomi with various slips.

Two ovals. one with helmar slip and incising, the other with EPK slip and slip pours.

Square mugs

Owl candle stick holders, helmar slip.

Mugs with helmar slip and incising.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Here is an example of what went wrong. I have emailed several people for help today and gotten some good response. Phil Rogers says he had this problem for a while and believes it is a firing problem. He suggests a hard body reduction at cone 09 followed by a short oxidation then back into light reduction for the remainder of the firing. He believes the residual salt is sealing the surface when the pots get hot early in the firing and the reduction cannot get to it. He also mentioned I may be able to save these pots by refiring them to cone 9, 10 in a neutral or oxidizing atmosphere.

I'll be getting the pots brought in tomorrow. I'll get some pictures of some of the successful ones up then. Sarah took a look at the pots today and was more optimistic than I was. (She always is). She said it wasn't nearly as bad as my previous firing. Ha! She's right. I can be a person who sees the glass half full too....half full of poison. (stolen from Woody Allen).


I unloaded late yesterday. I was quite disappointed. I have had two bad firings in a row now. The problems are reduction related and my flashing slip is crawling, which really really irritates me. I am not getting the color I want with my slip when it does work either. Anyhow all the pots are down in the kiln shed, I went to look at them again this morning and decided that some of it was okay, just not what I am used to. I will post some pics as soon as I get my spirits up about the whole thing. I am going to make some calls today to see if I can get some insight as to what's happening. I went back through my kiln logs from the past 3 years last night and have layed out a plan for my next firing. I am going to try and make a quick load of bowls and easy pots so I can do it ASAP.

We are having a mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow today. Yuck. I hope we don't lose power. I have to pack up some pots to send to a show in Ohio, luckily I have some things set back from previous firings to send.