Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Pottery Sale

The Spring Sale starts tomorrow
Saturday, March 31 from 10 am till 5pm
also Sunday April 1 from Noon till 4.
If you need help getting here you can email me
ronpots2 at yahoo dot com
Mapquest my address
757 Wallace Grove Rd
Shelby NC 28150

If you'd like to receive my latest newsletter please send me your email address and I'll send you a pdf copy.


A few images of pots.

More oil cans, it took me forever to come around to making these and I really like them.
I love having this variety of plates. In our kitchen we have a big mix of plates, I think it's a lot more fun that way, you're not eating off the same thing each day and you have your favorites for different foods.
This pot has been sitting on the bisque shelf for months. Maybe a year. Anyway it was one of the best in the kiln. This is the first pot I've ever made that can actually hang on the wall. It's Art right? You could always take it down and use it for a party.

Showroom Images

I have gotten the showroom all set up for the weekend. It looks good and I am glad to be ready before 10pm tonight. I'll get some flowers in a few vases in the morning to brighten the place up a little more and then hopefully some folks will show up and take some pots home with them.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Unloaded. Good Firing!

I had another good firing! Yea. I think it was probably a good thing my sprayer failed. This firing was on the light salt side with nice flashing and neutral atmosphere. I like it a lot. I didn't get to take any pictures of individual pots but here are some shots just out of the kiln and another after unloading onto the showroom floor. I'll try and get some close ups tomorrow. I had some nice plates, oven pots, oil cans, yunomi, soup and serving bowls, and lots of other things. I have to finish getting it all set up in the showroom and in the studio tomorrow.
Tonight we took Karma to doggie school. It was fun and she was pretty good. She needs to be around more dogs. Sarah and I always get a good laugh at ourselves, we have differenting 'parenting' styles and approaches.
Okay check back tomorrow for more. I hope some of you make it out in person this weekend.

Shoji Hamada Pottery

I saw this video posted on Douglas Fitch's blog and thought I'd put it up. It is Hamada making a hot water bottle. I am not sure of the orginial source. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


All the dirty work is done and now my studio is sparkling, well maybe not sparkling but I don't stir up a cloud of dust when I walk in and I scrubbed all the clay spatter off the walls. So it's an improvement.
The kiln is cooling and I'll be able to unload tomorrow around lunchtime. I am almost all set for my Sale which is Saturday and Sunday. I did peep in the kiln earlier. I think it looks okay, but I never can tell until I get the door down.
I had some new ideas for some future work this evening while sitting outside with my sketchbook. I'm not sure when it will come to fruition, if ever, but it was fun to come up with some new drawings that were influenced by my immediate surroundings.
Check back soon.

Cluster Map

I put the cluster map on the blog a few weeks ago because I thought it would be cool to see where my hits were coming from. Almost immediately after putting it up I thought about taking it off because I doubted that I'd be seeing many hits from anywhere other than the south east US. To my surprise I have had hits from all over the world. That is so cool. Today I noticed I got a hit from Africa. It's amazing to know I've had folks from all around the world come to my tiny spot in the blogosphere. Thanks!

Cleaning day

It's nice out this morning. All the birds seem to be singing or chattering. The air is cool and the sky is blue. I will be cleaning the studio today and trying to get set up for my sale this weekend. I got all the pots in the showroom dusted and the shelves cleaned yesterday. I am glad to have that done. I'd like to be ready to bring the pots in from the kiln on Thursday and just put them all in place.
I haven't peeped in the kiln yet. It's still pretty hot. I'll wait until tonight when it's good and dark out and the kiln has cooled a little more. I will unload around lunchtime tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Learning My Lesson...

again...the hard way...again. I finished my firing about 1/2 hour ago. Things went well up until the point I got ready to spray in my third round of soda solution. That's when the sprayer clogged. I took the nozzle assemble apart, cleared it and reassembled. It still wouldn't spray. So I tried again and still no luck. Time was moving along and I needed to get some soda in the kiln. So I just decided to forget the soda and put in 4 lbs of salt. And then another 1.5 lbs just for good measure. The draw rings looked good, the pots looked shiny, and I saw build up on the shelves, so I think I did okay and things should be fine.

Okay so I need to back up a little, I said I was going to use the 'chunk' method and only spray a little, mainly for the back of the kiln. Well since I got the new sprayer I thought I'd just spray it all, no chunk, and see how that would go. Now I know the answer. I think the problem was that I had my solution too saturated with material. I used 3.5 lbs of soda ash, 2 lbs of baking soda, and .5 lbs of borax in 2 gallons of water. I heated all this up on my propane burner and it dissolved fine. Little did I know it would start to crystallize once it was in the sprayer. So that was not good.

I started out as a salt glaze potter. That's what I am, that's what I know. I can put salt on a piece of angle iron, dump it in the fire box and it does the rest. No sprayer, no mixing stuff up, no problem. I do like the chunk method of soda introduction (that post is a few weeks back), because I can just dump it in. If it would disperse a little more I'd go with that. Why do I want to use soda anyway? Mainly because it's less damaging to the kiln and I do like the directional quality of it. I'm done with trying to spray it in even though that seems to be the most popular way. I do know some potters who blow it in dry, but that involves an air compressor, etc, etc, ie more stuff to malfunction AND make noise.

Okay so I am through venting. I think (hope) (pray) that this was a good firing regardless of the sprayer dilemma. I'll keep ya posted.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I'll get the fire going tonight and finish up tomorrow. I went out today and bought a new sprayer. My other one needs some new parts. I don't have time to fool with stuff that half works, especially when my livelyhood relies on it. Anyhow, this loading took a little longer than last time, I had lots of different pots, but got most everything in there.

Monday Morning

The birds are singing and having a busy time this morning. I love that it is warm enough to have the windows open in the house, especially at night. I slept in about 30 minutes later than usual today so I am a bit behind in my morning routine. Today I'll be loading the kiln and getting ready for my Home Sale which is this weekend. I'll fire tomorrow and unload on Thursday. I am planning on using the solid chunk method of soda introduction again, but I am also going to spray some soda in the back of the kiln since it was a little dry back there last time.

We had a good weekend. We got to spend some time with friends, got the house cleaned, and visited with Sarah's mom and dad on Sunday. The dogs also got a bath and I serviced the lawn mower and got a little work done on the renovation. I have to get things all in order here and looking nice for the coming weekend. That means cleaning the studio and showroom and dusting the pots in there. It's going to be a busy week but it will all be done by 10 am Saturday morning.

I hope your week is off to a good start. Check in later for some pics from the loading.

Spring Pottery Sale
Saturday March 31 10 am till 5 pm
Sunday April 1 Noon till 4 pm

Friday, March 23, 2007

I have my bisque going this morning, it will probably be slow and long since a few things are still a bit damp. I am getting excted about my next firing which is early next week. Then my Sale that following weekend.

I have a visual arts selection committee meeting at the Arts Council this morning at 10. I am also on the board there and we are starting our fund drive for the year soon. I am not too excited about this. It's my first year on the board so this is all new to me. I am very supportative of the AC and I like being active but I hate asking people for money. I guess I need to detach myself from it in a personal way and realize that I am doing it for the good of the AC. Asking for things is very hard for me, especially money. Maybe I'll bring it up to some folks there and see what they suggest that could be helpful.

It is nice and Spring-like out today. I love this time of year. I need to try and savor it before the summer heat and humity kicks in.

Dad and I have been working on my renovation some this week and plan to work tomorrow. I need to start cleaning the studio and showroom and getting a jump on setting up for my Pottery Sale which is March 31 and April 1. If you want to receive more info. let me know. I hope we have a good turnout, I have LOTS of good pots.

Well I am off to walk Karma and then have a bite to eat before heading to town. I hope you all have a great day.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Equipment

Toyota is now manfacturing pottery equipment. Here you can see their latest, a drying rack-truck. It works great and keeps the work up out of the reach of curious little dogs. I had my pots up there all day and at the end of the day it was ready to go in the bisque kiln for firing tomorrow. I think the drying time could have been hurried along if I would have used the 'take it on the road' feature. Maybe next time.


I spent the last two minutes having fun here

It doesn't take much to entertain me...moving the mouse round and round. Try a left click now and again too.

His Eminence

I had the last class of this session on Tuesday. We had a potluck dinner and watched The Art of the Potter. One of my students brought in this carrot cake. I learned the name of one of my favorite tools this session from another student who is in the medical field. It sort of took a life of it's own and has been added to the 'Philbeck Pottery Vocabulary'. I use my thenar eminence over and over when making plates, bowls, and other dishy shapes. I take it with me everywhere. I am hoping to get some tee shirts made soon, I'm not quite sure what they'll say yet.

Finishing up

Yesterday I finally got everything finished and slipped. Today the weather is supposed to be warm and sunny so I'll have boards of pots sitting out drying. I want to fire a bisque tomorrow and hopefully load the salt/soda kiln on Sunday or Monday. I have 150 of commercial clay left, I need to mix clay. With the warm weather coming on I'd like to mix a ton or at least 1000 lbs.

I hope I have another good firing. There should be lots of pots here for my sale which is next weekend. I am glad spring is here. The trees are budding out and the birds all seem very happy too. I haven't made much of an effort in the garden yet or on my yard, other than putting out some fertilizer last weekend.

I'll get some images posted later today of pots. Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I got back in the studio yesterday after lunch to make pots to finish up this kiln cycle. This morning I threw some small vases and yunomi and that's it. I am waiting on some test clay to dry out a bit so I can make a few small pieces out of it. As soon as yesterday's mugs are dry enough I'll get them handled and hopefully everything will be slipped by the end of the day tomorrow.

I saw hundreds of pots at NCECA. It seemed that the majority of the work was functional, which was nice. Lots of bottles and cups, going along with the whole bourbon theme of many shows. I often come away from shows or workshops feeling down about my pots or my direction. Thankfully this wasn't the case after NCECA. I came away feeling like I could push certain things a little further and make some improvements here and there. Mainly regarding form. I felt good about my handles. Seeing some of the salt and soda fired work made me want to explore heavier sodium deposits, and reduction cooling. Since I am not a big decorator I want the kiln to have a say in that process.

I will be firing next week for my Home Sale. Newsletters went out yesterday and I'll send out email versions today or tomorrow. If you'd like to receive one please let me know, I'll be happy to put one out to you.

I am off to teach my last class of the session tonight at Clayworks. We are having a potluck and watching the Hamada film.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Below are the pots I sent to our show. The jar up top was sent by my influential artist, Mary Law, from Berkley Ca. I'll try and post a few more images from the show later.

The opening at Mad About Art went well. We had a pretty good turnout and we were all so excited to have a show of our own. (this lighting is terrible from the sun coming in the front window).

Sunday, March 18, 2007


One of the highlights from NCECA was getting to meet Gail Nichols and viewing two of her magnificent bowls at an exhibition. Gail gave a slide presentation and talked about where she lives in Australia, her kilns, pots, and firing process. These two bowls were awesome. If I would have been in the gallery alone I'd probably have licked them! That's how juicy they were. They were quite big, I guess 16 to 18 inches in diameter.
If you are in interested in soda firing you should checked out Gail's book it is packed with information.

Back Home

I got in from Louisville last night around 11:30 pm. I had a great time at NCECA with all my friends that went and it was fun to see everyone there. I was so pumped up and excited every day. I am still getting settled in here at home. I will post some highlights and pics over the next few days.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Off to NCECA

I am leaving today for Louisville, Ky for the NCECA conference. I actually may not even attend the conference. The main reason for going is that the Circle of Eight has an exhibiton so we are all going down for the opening, and also to go around to all the galleries to see other shows.
Our show is at Mad About Art which is on the Louisville Stoneware Gallery Route.
The show is called Circle of Eight and Their Influential Artists. We each invited an artist who was an influence on our work or way of working. Here's the lineup.

Adrienne Dellinger invites Cynthia Bringle
Greg Scott invites Ron Meyers
Ron Philbeck invites Mary Law
Julie Wiggins invites Suze Lindsey&Kent McLaughlin
Amy Sanders invites Julia Galloway
Dale Duncan invites Tony Clennell
Sandy Singletary invites Sandy Pierantozzi
Jen Mecca invites Linda Christianson

It should be fun. Our opening is this Friday from 5 till 9.

Nina Hole

While we were in Boone on Sunday we went by the ASU art department and saw the Nina Hole sculpture that was built and fired there last fall. It was really incredible. I wanted to go up for the construction and firing but was unable to. It was awesome to see it.
Here's a shot with me in it for scale.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Sorry for the lapse in posts. I had a good weekend. My birthday was Sunday. Sarah and I rode up to Boone for the day. The weather was beautiful and sunny. It was really nice. I had a good birthday, 37 this year.
I have been finishing up pots today and trying to get myself ready to go to Louisville. I had some foot issues on these last bowls I made but I think I have them worked out for now. I need a cutting tool with a bigger loop to get the curve I want. I am firing a bisque too, which I need to go check on.
Anyway, this isn't much of a post but I did want to check in. I probably won't be posting while I am away, but you never know.
Also I was really surprised to see some hits from unexpected places on my little map counter I installed the other day. So thanks.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pots in Progress

Here are images of some of the pots I worked on today.Group of plates with poured slip. Tokyo pattern.

Oil Cans. Just slipped.

This is a new 8 lb bowl. I made 2 more of these and three six pounders. They will get feet cut and slipped over the weekend.

Bowls awaiting cutting and mugs ready to slip.

Tankards drying upside down just after getting handled.


Yesterday it felt like I had way too many irons in the fire. I had wet, freshly thrown pots, leatherhard pots that needed handled, leatherhard pots that needed slipping, pots that needed spouts attached, oval bakers that needed bottoms, a big wet messy pile of recycled clay on the table, and thoughts in my head of a new bowl I wanted to try. I found myself talking out loud to myself, "what am I doing?", "what are YOU doing?", "I need to finish these.", "I am getting tired.", "do one thing at a time." , "which one?" At the end of the day some things were finished, some still partly finished and lots of stuff covered in plastic for today. So I have a committee meeting at the Arts Council at 10am and then it will be back here to try and put an end on some things. I keep forgetting to take the camera out to the studio but I will try and get some shots of these things in progress. Have a good Friday!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pots for NCECA

Here are the 3 pots I decided to send to the Circle of Eight Show at NCECA. I had a hard time deciding, especially after having a good firing last week and actually having some pots I was really proud of. I struggled with the reasons of choosing the pots. I found at first I was being really ego based about it and wanting to send work that was 'the best' so folks who saw them would say 'this guy's good', 'look at these great pots' , 'blah, blah, blah'. Then I thought about what people might actually buy, and should I send things that would sell. Pricing is hard too, I admit I marked things up a good bit compared to my home prices. I looked on the web and found pots that were comparable and used that as a guide, still I marked mine a bit lower, but higher than usual. I had some real gems from the kiln, an oval baker and an oil can I really liked. I can't part with them just yet so I didn't send them. Instead I picked the bird dish and the other oil can that was good but not the 'racer'. I thought about keeping the oval vase too, it got some really nice flashing. But I sent it along, I would like to have had a professional photo of it. Anyhow so this is how stuff works out in my head, maybe I make it too complicated. Honestly I'd like to keep the best pots here for my locals to buy at my sales, I am going to have to start holding some things back though to get photographed and to send off to exhibitions in the future. Anyhow enough of all this. I must get some work done.

Back to work

Well here it is Wednesday. I made lots of pots on Monday and they have been wrapped up in plastic until today. Yesterday I had to finish up the Guild's Newsletter and the Newsletter for my upcoming sale at the end of the month. I also packed my pots for NCECA and took them to be shipped. I had to be in Charlotte at 4:30 to participate in an event at the Arts and Science Council, and then on to teach. So I got nothing done at all yesterday in my workshop.
I will post some images later of what I get finished today.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Here they are.

Below is a selection of pots from this weeks firing. Really nice stuff. I am not sure how some of this happened, for instance the three jars have some pretty wild flashing, they were in the back and the atmosphere back there seemed to be pretty crazy, plus other yet unknown factors. They are cool for sure. A lot of these pots have a wood fired look I think. Anyhow, enjoy and please post any comments. Tumblers with various slips.


Oval Baker. This will probably go the NCECA show.
Oval Vase.
Detail of above vase.
Three wild pitchers.
Rectangular Baker.


Two bakers.
Tripod bowl and yellow jar.
Close up of dessert dishes.
Yea, Oil Cans!

Saturday, March 03, 2007


My firing went well. After going back and checking my old kiln logs I felt like I have been firing too fast at the beginning of the firing. So I slowed down, especially between 1400 and 1650. I also did a longer body reduction, 45 minutes instead of 20. Not a hard reduction, I'd say it was medium, long flame out the top front peep and barely a wisp out of the middle front. Maybe that's more neutral. This was at cone 08. Anyhow it's what I did. Then I oxidized for 10 minutes then back to neutral. At 2100 I oxidized again for 30 minutes. I started putting the chunk in when the 8's were going down. I put in 5000g of 'chunk' which 2500 of is whiting and the other 2500 is soda ash and baking soda (See Gail Nichols book, Soda, Clay, Fire). I tried to stay around cone 9, my colors seem to be brighter at cone 8 and 9. After I was finished putting the soda chunks in I soaked for 1 hour in oxidation. I then shut the burners down and crash cooled for 25 minutes by pulling out the damper and opening the soda/salt ports.

The stacking was a bit different. I don't usually put those tall pots in the middle of the stack, but the top has been so bad I didn't want to sacrifice them again. Turns out it would have been fine. Anyhow, the back of the kiln was dry in places. I need to work this out either by spraying some soda solution in or by putting 'soda cups' back there.

I did not go with the diagonal burner arrangement this time either, doing so may help push the soda to the back so I may try that in the future.

Okay that's my update. I'll post some individual pot images tomorrow. Thanks everyone for checking in and being supportative.


This is the front stack. And the back.
I'll have some images of individual pots tomorrow.


Just unloaded. Very good results! I will post some pics tomorrow and tell more about it. I am sort of on a tight schedule today, have been working on the house etc. I am so relieved to have had a good firing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday evening

I peeped in the kiln just a while ago. I have mixed looks a bit dry overall but up front a few things look like they got too much soda. I am trying not to get depressed about it, I'll unload tomorrow and hopefully be happy with most of it. Or all of it, who knows?

Right now I am listening to Pandora Internet Radio while waiting on the oven to get super hot so I can bake some pizzas. It has to stay on 500 for an hour so my pizza stone gets really nice and hot. The pizzas will cook in 8 or 9 minutes. I made my dough this morning and I am looking forward to some good eats.

That's it for now.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I am in for lunch while the kiln does it own thing for little while. I just checked and cone 5 was started at the front in the middle, which is usually the hottest part of the kiln. I have all my 'chunk' mixed up and ready to go. I am increasing that by about 1 lb and dropping the salt back from 3 lbs to 1lb. At least that's the plan, if the draw rings look like I am needing more salt then I will add another pound probably.
As Phil Rogers suggested I did a good body reduction for one hour. Prior to this I also fired a little slower than usual and really let the kiln have some time between 1500 and 1600 to burn out any carbon. I have been thinking and I realized that my bisque temperature is really all over the place. The bottom of that little kiln will be cone 06 down and who knows what the next two levels up are. Maybe 010 or somewhere. So I thought I'd do this soak during my firing to let anything burn out that I missed in the bisque.
Early on this kiln did great. At that time I was single firing and my firings were long. Sometimes 26 hrs. But the pots were always really nice. I always felt that long slow heat up was good and maybe it's what's been missing lately.
Well enough of all this. I will start putting the chunk in when the 8's start, till then I'm just going to hang out and read a little and listen to the rain on the tin roof.

I'm cool...well not really

Sarah shot this picture last night. She said I looked like a total geek sitting on the couch with all my kiln notes and books on salt and soda firing, not to mention my really hip attire. I aspire to be a really cool dude but it just isn't happening. I am more of a weirdo geek type with little artsy bits here and there.
I like nerds and geeks. After all I was a mathematics major in college. There are lots of types, you have the computer nerds, intellecutals, with pocket protecters and thick glasses, or the pimpley, shy, video game geeks, or the weird, fantasy loving dungeons and dragons type, and then theres the Napoleon Dynamite type, sort of out there in a rural backcountry kinda way. That would be me in a way I guess, especially on the dance floor.