One of my favorite potters is Micki Schloessingk. Micki lives and works in Swansea on the coast of Wales. I was delighted to find today that she has updated her website. I hope you'll visit to see her wonderful saltglazed pottery. www.mickisaltglaze.co.uk
Monday, April 30, 2007
Quick Monday morning post before I get going. I had a good day of rest on Sunday. Today looks like it is going to be a beautiful day, I plan to do some yard work and some last minute work on pots in the studio. I will be firing soon. Either over the weekend or in a week from today. My next show is with the Claymatters Guild in Charlotte on May 12th, so I want to fire before then. I have some platters that are made to hang as well as a few new teapots, jars, and bowls. All the clay I mixed came out of the racks over the weekend. So I am all set on that end. My first pots of May will be a dinnerware order that is to be delivered in October. I want to get it knocked out now so I won't be stressed at the last minute.
Have a good start to the week. Check back for more later.
Posted by Ron at 8:24 AM
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Yesterday was long. I got up at 6:15 am and headed out shortly thereafter to set up for the art show in town. We had to be set up by 8:30 which is early I think. The show started at 9, again too early, should have been more like 10. Anyhow, it was a beautiful day and the show looked lovely all set around the historic courthouse square in Shelby. I wish I had taken my camera. We do have one of the best courtsquares I've ever seen. Anyway, I saw lots of friends and had fun visiting. Unfortunately sales weren't too grand. And the show ran until 5 (too long, should have ended at 4). Sarah and her mom came out for a while and let me take a break for lunch.
After breaking down my booth, I came home for a quick shower and then drove 1 hr to Charlotte to participate in 'All Fired Up', the fundraising event for Clayworks, where I teach once a week. It was a good party, my part was to help in the 'extreme throwing' demo. Five instructors, including myself, threw parts for a large basket sculpture which we assembled at the end of the night. By 9 o'clock I felt like I might fall over, (I only had one and a half beers), and we still had an hour and a half to go. Honestly I didn't feel like myself most of the night, maybe it was exhaustion, or just being up in front of a group of people. When I crawled into bed at 12:30 I was out like a light. I had dreams of big slabs of clay, and of rolling out sheets of tofu (I have no idea what that's about). Anyhow it was fun to hang out with friends, I just wish I'd had more energy.
Today I plan to do as little as possible.
Posted by Ron at 9:34 AM
Friday, April 27, 2007
Tomorrow, Saturday, I will be at Art on the Square in uptown Shelby. This is a first year event and is coinciding with two other events happening uptown. Honestly, I have never done well that this kind of venue. I'm going to give it a shot again tomorrow. I will try to have postive thoughts between now and then, maybe that will attract some sales or interest.
Posted by Ron at 2:38 PM
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Six bowls I made yesterday and got slipped today. It's a new open shape that is slightly altered.
A few tankards with the Toyko pattern.
Posted by Ron at 6:22 PM
My dad and I build the house (which was originally the pottery shop) and tractor shed in the early 90's. It's the structure to the far right. I had the pottery workshop in the downstairs with the upstairs mainly unfinished but with plans on living there. I worked there for several years and when Sarah and I decided to get married in 2000 we finished the upstairs and took over a third of the tractor shed for a kitchen and bathroom. I continued to work in the pottery up until last year when we built the new studio (just to the left). It's nice to have all the clay dust out of the house and we are working on converting that area into living space.
The new studio sits where the kiln shed was originally. That shed was 16 ft square. We added onto the concrete slab to make it 20 by 36 and built the studio and showroom. The kiln was moved to a new shed (far left).
We sit about 400 ft off the road which is nice. To the east is a large field that is farmed, usually corn or wheat. Behind us to the north is a creek (where I played as a child) and a large pasture. It often has cows in it but seems to be vacant right now. To the west is my dad's house, about 300 ft away and then a small cemetery and church yard.
I am very fortunate to have such a beautiful place to live and work. I am thankful to my father for giving us this land and for all his hard work with me in building what is here now. Of course there were others too who helped with later projects.
(Just in case you are wondering...I LOVE to mow grass!)
Posted by Ron at 6:07 PM
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Here is my handy pug mill. I love this machine. When I first set up my studio Tom Gray told me I should get a pug mill as soon as I could. I saved up some money and bought a brand new Bluebird 440. It saves me from wedging most of my clay. It's also great for reclaiming scrap by mixing it in with new clay. It is by far one of the best investments I've made.
Posted by Ron at 2:21 PM
Here are the cups. They were made yesterday and have been drying. I usually turn them upside down as soon as I can to help even out the drying. They are ready for their handles.
Posted by Ron at 2:15 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Greg Scott, below with customers.
I wish I would have gotten more shots of everyone's work. Here is a quick shot of Kelly's work. For more images visit Jen Mecca's blog.
I'll be back to work in the shop tomorrow. I have another show this weekend here in Shelby. Check back this week for more.
Posted by Ron at 9:15 PM
Friday, April 20, 2007
I'll have some images from the Sale going up later in the weekend. If you are in the area please come by. Lots of great pots to choose from.
Posted by Ron at 12:42 PM
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Posted by Ron at 9:03 AM
Posted by Ron at 8:09 AM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Posted by Ron at 8:32 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Today I had lunch with the potter Randy Johnston. Well, I had lunch while Randy made pots and talked on this dvd that I got called The Nourishable Accident. I just got it today. I have seen Randy make pots in person years ago at a conference, but it was good to see his methods again. It really reminded me that I needed to slow down. Really, slow down my wheel. I throw on a treadle wheel and it doesn't go very fast to begin with. The video shows RJ throwing on a Korean kickwheel and a treadle. The slow wheels and soft, sandy clay give his pots a beauty that cannot be had with any other methods.
After lunch I went out and made some 2 lb jars with lids and mixing bowls. Nice and slow. It's hard for me to remember to go slow. My 'monkey mind' gets going and before I know it I'm kicking up a storm. Maybe I'll put up a sign on my wheel or something. What could it say? 'Go Slow, Pots Ahead'?
Anyhow that was a good lesson for my day. Once my clay is out of the racks...my favorite body, the one with sand, and grog, and fireclay...I'll be sure to slow down and enjoy it. It is my hope that the pots will reflect this enjoyment.
Posted by Ron at 4:09 PM
I tried scanning in a drawing this morning but I am having problems getting it to post. Maybe later I'll figure it out.
Not too much to say just yet, I think my brain is on vacation and I am on automatic at the moment. The pots I left uncovered in the studio last night are still too wet to cut feet on or to handle. I'll be making some pots today including jars to take into class tonight to demo for my students. Covered pots are the focus this session.
It is sunny out today and not so windy so I'll take the tin off the racks so my clay can dry. It was too windy to do so yesterday, I'd have had bits of everything blowing in.
Okay, so that's a pretty lame post for now, I'll get something better up soon. Thanks for checking in.
Posted by Ron at 9:29 AM
Monday, April 16, 2007
Posted by Ron at 4:29 PM
I had a great weekend. Sarah and I went to see David Sedaris on Saturday. This was the first time I had seen him in person. We have all his books and I catch him on NPR from time to time. All of the material on Saturday was new as far as I could tell. He had the whole place laughing out loud only minutes after taking the stage. He talked about living in Normandy, and about a 3 month stay in Japan. The language barrier and cultural differences both present good material for him. He also told stories about his family, mainly his brother, and read a few passages from his diary. At the end he fielded some questions from the audience and then went to lobby to sign books. There's no new book out at this time but I hope for one soon. We'll definitely go see him again if the opportunity arises.
Sunday was a full blown pottery day. Julie and Adrienne from Clayworks were heading up to the Penland area to pick up some donated pots for Clayworks' upcoming fundraising event. We all knew that Will and Douglass at Rock Creek had recently fired their kiln so we worked it into the schedule that we would go there first and get some pots and hopefully have a visit. I was disappointed that we didn't get an earlier start and we didn't arrive until lunchtime. Will and Douglass had some guests visiting from Virgina, Warren Fredrick and Catherine White. I was really excited about meeting them. What was even better was that they had brought some of their pots down so we got to see them too. The highlight for me though was getting to see some of Catherine's journals, drawings, and collages. I could have stayed for several more hours and asked her questions but we needed to move on to our next stop. We did all get some great pots from Will and Douglass' showroom in the barn. I choose a nice tall footed jar.
Our next stop was at Suze Lindsey's and Kent Mclaughlin's pottery and home. Suze had us lunch ready but I was jacked up from having two cups of strong green tea at Rock Creek. This combined with all the pots in Suze and Kent's house had me very over stimulated. I get really distracted visually anyhow, especially with pots. So Suze told me to go look around. There were pots everywhere, many of theirs, but mostly of other potters from all over the country, many of my favorites. After I settled down a bit we all had lunch and a good visit. It was getting on in the day and starting to snow. Adrienne needed to get back home as she had lined up the babysitter for a certain time and we were already behind schedule. We made two more quick stops to get pots and by that time the snow was coming down in big flakes and accumulating on the ground.
We made it off the mountain and they dropped me off at my truck where we had met earlier in the day. Adrienne and Julie still had over an hour to get home, where as I only had about 40 minutes. It was an awesome day. Seeing everyone was great, the thing that is sticking with me right now are Catherine's journals. I told Sarah just the other night that I need to be spending my free time more creatively. I get my pottery time in every day just fine. What I'd like to do is take more time to draw and play in some medium other than clay. Seeing Catherine's work has made that desire more strong and I feel like I'll act on it, as a matter of fact I did a drawing this morning.
Posted by Ron at 8:26 AM
Friday, April 13, 2007
I have had a good day of doing things around the house. I just had a nice shower and I think I'll call it a day. I got my pots slipped and the yard mowed and 2 racks of clay mixed. I also made a much needed trip to the landfill. It's been nice to be outside today...with one drawback. The man who rents the pastureland behind our house is putting out fertlizer today. Not just any fertilizer but 100% chicken manure. He's been at it all day. I guess someone cleaned out their chicken houses and he got the manure. So there's a wonderful smell enveloping my surroundings. It's fine indoors. I have the windows all shut up. Anyhow, it's not so bad, just part of living out in the country. I grew up on a farm so I am used to cow manure and the like. (Chicken s*#t is the worse smelling stuff there is though). I am glad that he is using something natural, he could be spreading chemical fertilizer instead which would definitely run off into our creek.
Tomorrow I have to teach a beginner class at Clayworks and then Sarah and I are going to see David Sedaris!!!!! Yea!!! I can't wait. Sarah got the tickets for me for my birthday. I am totally excited.
Posted by Ron at 3:20 PM
Posted by Ron at 8:25 AM
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I finished my taxes yesterday. I always wait until the last week. It's not that it's really complicated, it's just the dread of it. I am glad it's finished, they will go in the mail today. We'll be getting a bit of a refund which is nice.
I have made very little work this week. I have a good stock for now. I am planning on firing towards the end of the month. I do need to mix up some slip and mix clay. It was very rainy yesterday. I may mix tomorrow or over the weekend.
I liked reading about how Michael approached getting in the studio to work. All the information is in there, you just have to make yourself go in there and work, go in and get it. He said he'd set a goal to make a dozen pots, then finish them the next day. If he wanted to make more than 12 he would, but 12 was the goal. For someone more production oriented it may be more, or less for someone else. I think having that discipline is great, and it's okay to know you can't meet it sometimes. I usually have a 'make list' for each kiln load. I work from it, adding or subtracting as I go. I would like to set aside some time each week or a month each year to just play or experiment. I try to pay attention as I work on my standard ware for anything new that will come up. If something does I'll set it aside or do a drawing so I can pursue it later. I realize that play is important, but I don't do it nearly enough. This past weekend I played with Sarah's niece for about an hour or more making things out of Play Dough. We had a blast and I felt creatively charged when we finished, and lighthearted.
I know another potter who says she makes 4 cups everyday. That's her start, it's a warm up and a place to play and try some new ideas on a pot that only takes a few minutes to make.
I want to spend some time really looking at what my strengths are and what it is I really enjoy doing. I like to make pots on the wheel. I like soft clay and the gesture I get from working on my treadle wheel. I like movement and volume. I want to pots to come out of the kiln looking wet, covered in the thin salt and soda glaze. Sometimes it's nice for them to be a bit dryer too though, with variations in color of the slip. I like handles and feet and torn clay and rough edges. I like the character of the clay to be there. I want to think about this stuff and really start to own it, push it, exploit it, move it around and play with it. It's all out there waiting for me in my studio.
Posted by Ron at 8:16 AM
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Early on I was drawn to a certain kind of pot. Strongly thrown, simple forms, functional, easily accessible, neutral colors, I think are the attributes that I would give the pots. Tom Gray was one of the first potters I met whose pots I got to handle and understand. Then there was Rock Creek Pottery, Michael Simon, Mark Hewitt, Warren Mackenzie and a few others. My pottery beginning is a pretty good story and I like to recount it, but I'll save that for another time. For now I'd like to talk more about Michael's pots and how they influenced me early on.
For one thing they were salt glazed and this is something I had been introduced to through Rock Creek's pots. I loved that surface and the color. I also loved the decoration of Michael's pots, and Rock Creek's.
Here's a quote from the Michael Simon Studio Potter article. "From the beginning, I was attracted to pots that had painting on them. I would look at Hamada's pots, where he had made just two or three movements with a brush and made the bamboo pattern and the grass pattern, and I just loved it, I wanted to do that really badly. I thought it really took me to the pot, it had a lot of power."
I felt this too early on when I was getting introduced to pottery. And I feel it even now. It is amazing how powerful the image on the pot is. I do feel that the pot, not the image is the most important thing over all. I think a strong a pot has great power, but it takes most people (who aren't potters or artists) longer to learn that or see it. They don't see it immediately. Look at Svend Bayer's pots. They are very powerful pots, amazing in form.
I have struggled with wanting to put images on pots from the beginning. At first I copied Michael and Rock Creek and a few others. My forms weren't very strong and the patterns weren't mine, so really those pots weren't mine. But they did help me learn, and hopefully to see. I eventually gave up trying to put a pattern on most of my work. I felt I could never reach that level that I had seen. Maybe I gave up too soon, or didn't explore enough. I still have that longing to make pots with some kind of pattern or image. I think it is just taking me a while to get there. I think that by reading this article and hearing how Michael describes it opened me up alittle to more possibilities. I like that he uses the word 'pattern'. This can mean lots of things and it doesn't have to be something literal, like a fish or bird or a bicycle. Even someone's pots like Ruthanne Tudball has a pattern. It's not a painted surface, instead it's texture.
So right now this is one thing I'm thinking about. Pattern, and what it means to me and my pots. I am glad I gave up struggling with it for a while because it let me focus on my forms (which I still hope to continue to improve). I want my forms to come first, but I do hope that at some point I am able to incorporate some elements that 'pull at the eyeball'.
More to come.
Posted by Ron at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
My friend Niel called Friday afternoon. Niel and I always have a good pottery talk when we call each other. We met at Penland several years ago and have kept in some sort of random contact. As we talked on Friday, Michael Simon's name came up. We both like Michael's pots a lot and both of us own quite a few. Michael (who lives near Athens, Georgia) was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago and his output of pottery has dwindled. I am not sure what the state of his health is at this time and I don't want to speculate.
Niel mentioned that there was a good article in Studio Potter (June 2006) about Michael and also an interview online, from which the article was written.
As luck would have it I was meeting my friend Julie for supper that evening and she had a copy of the Studio Potter. When I got home that night I sat on the couch and read it. I was very moved by the article. It reconnected me with my passion for pottery that I think has become a little diluted over the years as I have had more things added to my life, and as the worries and concerns of marketing my work or finding my personal 'style' have sort of occupied much of my thought.
There were several things said by Michael in the article that surprised me, and some good insights too. I will be writing more about those later.
If you get a chance I hope you will read the interview online. It's rather long and I took it in a couple sittings. Michael's work is really some of the best pots I have ever seen and used. His sense of volume and form are amazing. Also the marriage of pattern to pot is unmatched I think. The Studio Potter article has a nice portfolio of his work included and I guess you can do a Google image search of 'Michael Simon Pottery' and see some good examples too if you are unfamiliar with his pots.
Anyhow I do want to write more about what I personally took from this. So if you are interested check back in. For now I have to get started on my workday.
Posted by Ron at 8:32 AM
Sunday, April 08, 2007
I am feeling really inspired lately. I actually worked in the studio last night for a while. I hardly ever work at night and never on Saturday nights. So that was fun. I made a couple of jars and some 16 lb. platters. I'll talk a little more about why I am feeling inspired in my next post.
Posted by Ron at 3:06 PM
Friday, April 06, 2007
The dogwood trees are blooming down by the creek in our back yard. I love these trees, they are probably the first tree I knew by name as a child. The dogwood flower is the state flower of North Carolina, and I remember my mom telling me the story of the dogwood flower and the crucifixion.
Yesterday I was looking at Diana's blog and saw a dogwood flower there.
Sarah is off work today so we slept in a bit. I am getting ready to head out to the studio for a while. Tonight I am going to Charlotte to meet with the Circle of Eight. We have our Spring Sale coming up on April 21.
Posted by Ron at 10:30 AM
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I want to thank Douglas Fitch for putting me up on his blog this week. I can tell I have generated some hits from it. I haven't mentioned it to Douglas yet, but my mother's maiden name is Fitch. I think that's pretty awesome. I don't know much about my family history but this has gotten me interested to find out more. Anyhow check out the website to see his slipware. Doug makes some fine pitchers or jugs as they call them over in the UK, as well as many other pots.
Posted by Ron at 5:27 PM
I drove up to Asheville this morning and picked up my dry materials so I can mix clay next week. It was a beautiful day, the mountains were greening up with the trees budding out, the sun was shining, and the sky blue with a few high white clouds. I didn't hang out in Asheville long although it was tempting, it's such a 'happening' place. I needed to get back home and unload all this stuff and get the pickup truck back to Roy.
I finished up a few pots from yesterday including some teapots I made earlier in the week. They aren't really me I don't think but it was good to make them. It informs of what I like to do and don't like to do. These pots were a little too finished or tight or something. I'll post a pic tomorrow after I get them slipped. I think I'll make a few more teapots for this kiln load, probably more like the ones on my website.
The weather is tricking us. After some days in the 80's we are now only in the 50's and are expecting lows down around 30 for the weekend. I guess we'll have to wait another few days for the warmth to return. Sarah and I have to take Karma to doggie school this evening, I'm going to make Sarah wear her longjohns, she about froze last week.
I'll try and get something a little more interesting up in the next day or so. Until then.
Posted by Ron at 5:04 PM
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I'm having a hard time getting back in the swing of things in the studio. I made a few pots today but couldn't get motivated to do much. I need to be using this time to build up some stock on my everyday pots and maybe take some time to work out some newer forms. I'd like to come up with a tall vase shape that isn't too generic. I'd like something oval or flattish, maybe even three sided with feet. I'd like for it to be 10 to 12 inches tall, maybe even 14. This is going to be something I build from slabs or stack two pieces. I'm not so good at throwing really tall forms. I did make some platters today, I sold the one that was hanging on the wall and so I want to make more along that line. I also need to take time out to top off my buckets of slips and glazes for the summer. I hate mixing stuff, so I need to do all this and have plenty to last a while.
I called Highwater today and they are getting my big order ready to pick up on Thursday morning. It's a 90 minute drive up there but it will be worth it to have enough material to make up a ton of clay. I guess I'll mix one day next week.
Today I figured out how to get my Newsletter onto the blog. I had to go to a site where I could upload it and then link to it from the blog. I may eventually do away with my website (it never gets updated anyway). I enjoy posting to the blog and can find ways to do most of what I need to.
Well it's about supper time. I am making some pasta featuring the Italian sausages that Tom Gray brought me on Saturday.
Posted by Ron at 6:24 PM
Monday, April 02, 2007
Today was sort of a hodge podge of a day. I ran out to the grocery this morning and then over to the bank to make a deposit, (which is a change from my usual withdrawl). Back home in the studio I made a few teapots after I got my displays down out of the workshop and the pots all back in the showroom. I spread some mulch after lunch and hung out with Karma for a while. It was a pretty laid back day for the most part. I also switched over to Blogger beta which allows me to post and layout my blog more easily. Right now I'm down in the kitchen frying up some fish for supper. We are having fish tacos. I have Pandora radio going, Sarah should be back from walking Karma in a few minutes, just in time to eat. So I guess I better run, don't want to burn anything.
Posted by Ron at 7:42 PM
Sunday, April 01, 2007
My Spring Sale weekend is over and was a success. Thank you to everyone who came out. It's always fun to catch up. I'll be getting the studio back in working order tomorrow and probably make a few pots. I'd really like to head up to Highwater Clay in Asheville this week and pick up some materials. I need to check in with my father in law and see if I can borrow his big pickup to bring home the 1600 lbs of dry materials that I need to buy. I will also probably get back to work on the renovation here in the house. I'd really like to get some progress made this month. Lots to do but somehow it will get done.
We had some rain this first day of April (April showers), everything is green and beautiful and many trees and plants are in bloom or budding out. I love this time of year, it makes me feel alive and energized.
I hope you all have a great week.
Posted by Ron at 8:38 PM
Posted by Ron at 9:23 AM