Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Post Firing

I had a very productive day in the studio Monday morning. I also spent time going over old kiln logs, books, photos, etc trying to figure out what to do next time. I get a bit obsessed I must say when things go wrong. I am planning on firing some pots in some other people's salt and soda kilns to see how my clay and slip react.

We are moving forward on the renovation since the drywall is all finished . We will work on the floor this weekend and get started painting soon.

I have to go help install a show at the Arts Council this morning, and then come back and do some minor work downstairs and hopefully finish up some of yesterday's pots.

Thanks for checking in.

Oh yeah I found out that I got accepted into the American Craft Council Show in Charlotte. The date is early November. I'll post more on that later.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I unloaded the kiln today. I have mixed feelings about it because it was a pretty mixed up firing. I had some pretty nice pots and quite a few that I was not happy with at all. I am struggling with knowing what's going on with my firings. It seems I have lost the consistancy that I once could rely on from this kiln. Disappointed as I am with some of the pots I am raring to go and get back in the studio to make for the next load so I can try and work it out. Salt/soda firing is certainly not for the weak at heart. I have to say that just when I think I know what is going on then something new comes up. My clay test was not very successful. My slip did not fit well. So here are some of the pots. First up are a couple of jugs/pitchers. A large oval baker.
These bowls are new. I like the contrast of the yellow slip interior to the exterior.
Here is the problem that I am running into time and time again, dryish, rough, dark, scum. It happens mainly in the front of the kiln where it is hottest and on the fire face side of the pots. Often the other side of the pot will be just fine.
I keep thinking to myself it is time to rebuild this kiln. I feel like there is so much salt build up on the walls that I am getting this negative effect from early residual salt build up on the pots where they are getting the hottest early on.

July Pots

I was happy with these pasta/salad dishes. They are a commission and I have a few more to fire. Here are four tankards with pours and dots. This yellow slip is working good in parts of the kiln where my standard flashing slip is having some problems.
Tall footed soup/cereal bowls. These have become a standard form of mine over the past year or so. I do variations on the handles or lugs. These have the slip on the inside and outside which I like (more so than having a shiny glaze on the inside). These pots all have the same slip on them, the variation in color and surface is due to placement in the kiln.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I loaded the kiln yesterday. There is quite a bit of dinnerware in this load. I need to buy some plate setters, they would save space in the kiln. Anyhow I am firing now and just put the kiln into body reduction. I should be finished sometime around 4:30pm. Below is an image of the front stacks. Here is an image of the back stack and the front getting started. I'll unload on Sunday.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Preparation for Loading

The day before loading the kiln, I clean up around the kiln shed and scrape all the shelves. There is usually a build up of salt on the shelves from the previous firing as well as some bits of wadding. All this gets scraped off and then I blast each shelf with the air hose to get all the dust off. Wadding is made from alumnia hydrate and kaolin, a 50/50 mix. I make up about 10 lbs of this at a time and that lasts me a while. All the pots in the kiln have to sit on little balls of wadding, if they did not the salt glaze may stick the pots to the shelves. It also allows the pots to get some sodium vapour underneath the pots and glaze the bottoms somewhat. I make wads by rolling out a coil of wadding mixture and cutting it into pea sized pieces with my fettling knife. I'll make up 2 batts worth of wadding and that usually is enough to wad all the ware.
If time permits, I'll pre-wad most of the smaller pots before loading. The alternative is to wad as I load the kiln. Here I have applied a little white glue dot where I want the wads and then applied the wadding. If I don't use the glue the wadding will fall off when it dries. Pre-wadding makes loading go a bit faster.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Minnesota Bound!!

I just booked a plane ticket to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the second week in August!! I am stoked. I will be driving down to Rochester, MN to see the Warren Mackenzie exhibit and later on I'll visit Warren's pottery and several other potters who I admire. This will be my second trip to what I consider the pottery mecca of North America. I have been thinking about this trip since May and finally decided to do something good for myself and go. Yea for me!


I forgot to mention the Circle of Eight exhibit at the Greenwood Arts Council in Greenwood SC. We will be showing along with two painters, Ruth Martin and Lorry Park. I delivered all the pots to the space on Monday. It's a very nice space and I feel like we'll have a good show. The opening is this Friday, July 27th from 5 till 7 pm. the show will remain up through August. If you are in the area please stop in. I won't be at the opening but Jen Mecca and Amy Sanders will be representing the Circle crew.

I also wanted to mention another potter in my last entry, Jeff Martin is in Boone, NC, one of our favorite places. Jeff found me via my Journal and it turns out I had seen some of his pots at a resturant in Boone, Angelica's. You can visit Jeff's myspace page, there's tons of stuff on there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today. Potters.

Today was fairly productive although I didn't make any pots. I really needed to clean up the studio. It was getting way cluttered and junky and that makes me crazy. Looking at it makes me feel like the inside of my head is all messed up. So I tidyed up and swept and felt much more comfortable in there. I mixed some test slip and glaze and finished putting some liners in a couple bakers that I put off yesterday. I am trying out some slips that fit on bisque. It's nice to be able to slip the outside leatherhard, and then come back after the bisque and do the inside. I prefer a slip to a glaze on the insides if I can get away with it. It works best on open forms as the salt vapor needs to get in there and flux the slip and make it turn color. I also finished up the new Harry Potter book today after lunch. That's all I'll say about that in case you are reading it.

I mentioned Scott Cooper a while back. I got an email today directing me to his new journal site. It's really great. Scott's a good potter and writer to boot. Check it out, it looks like his plan is to post weekly. I enjoyed catching up on the past few weeks.

I also made it over to Gay Judson's blog. Gay posts comments to me from time to time but it's taken me until now to get to her site. She's making some good pots and I don't think she hates glazing anymore.

I'll also direct you over to Diana Fayt's blog. Her guest blogger Laura Zindel has a great post there on 'green pots'.

The above image is an oval baker from a few firings ago. (it has a glaze on the inside, not a slip like I was talking about earlier.)


I have been sort of a slackard lately as far as posting goes. I am feeling a bit guilty, but will try and make up for some it this week. There has been a good deal going on around here, as well as Sarah and I making a trip to the mountains for a family reunion, and having some family visit us here in Shelby. I am at the end of my making cycle for this month ( a bit early), and will hopefully fire the salt kiln over the weekend. I unloaded this bisque yesterday and got the pots glazed that needed it. I reloaded and have another going now. On a personal note, I am struggling with some decisions and true to my nature (or more accurately, my conditioning) I am mostly moving in circles. I have been rather disconnected lately, hence the lack of posts, but I am taking care and hope to do more this week.

I have a few more things to report regarding a Circle of Eight show that is coming up and some fellow bloggers that I want to mention. That will have to wait until later as I need to get the dogs out and on with my day. Stay tuned, hopefully there'll be more later.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Last Few Days

The past couple days have been nice, but not very much work going on in the pottery shop. We had a visit on Tuesday from a friend who lived in Boone while Sarah was in school there. It was wonderful to see him and catch up. My friend David the wood carver came by yesterday for lunch and we had a long visit. I have finished up the last pots for my next firing, I'll fire another bisque in the next day or so and fire the salt kiln next week. I am testing a new clay body too.

Last night was the first night of the Real to Reel Film Festival in Kings Mountain. It's the 8th year. We've been going since the beginning. It's put together by the Arts Council, so I am pretty active. There were some great films last night. My favorite was Darius Goes West. The film maker and a few of the crew members as well as Darius were there last night. It's a wonderful film. I hope you'll visit the website. It was very moving and powerful to see Darius, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, travel across the country with the other guys.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007


The weekend was pretty low key.
While I was out with the dogs one morning I noticed a long neck bird that circled over and landed in a tree down by the creek. I got my binoculars and scoped out a green heron, Butorides virescens. I guess it probably made it's way down to the creek at some point for lunch. Here's a pic I got off the web.
Sarah has been under the weather. She's home today and will go see the doc this morning. I am going to be loading a bisque and getting some pots made.
The drywall finisher had to put me off until the end of the week. No problem really, but I'll be glad to see that done.
That's it for now. Hope you have a good Monday.

Friday, July 13, 2007

End of Week

I spent a few hours yesterday morning with photographer Randy McNeilly. I have known Randy for 15 years or more. He is a nationally known photographer and a good friend. I always enjoy hanging out with him talking about his travels, music, food, and life. He's a great guy and I am lucky to be able to get him to take images of my work. He and his wife Janet are real art lovers. Anyhow, he shot about 20 pieces for me including some plates and platters that I am submitting for an upcoming book.

Today I am back in the studio making pots. I'll be firing soon and look forward to that. Other than working there is little going on. Maybe Sarah and I will get away for a bit this weekend or just relax. Last night I finished my first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study In Scarlet. I don't know why I've never read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works. I picked this up at the library last week. I'm now reading The Hound of the Baskervilles. When I was in college I had a professor for Calculus III, Dr. Levine, he was well past his retirement, probably in his 80's. He loved to teach I think and wasn't one to leave the department. Anyhow the library at NCSU had a huge section that he had dedicated, all mystery novels. I never read a one while I was there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I spent today finishing up pots from the past few days. Below are my pilgrim bottles. I really love these pots. I first saw them made by John Leach, mine are a little different shape with a longer spout. They are good for oils and such but we keep one by the sink full of dishwashing liquid. These mugs have a different handle placement than I usually do. These have a one finger handle that's more in the center of the pot. I rather like them and they feel good in the hand. I have another six that I'll give similar handles tomorrow.
I had several boards of bakers that got handled. Here are a couple.
I also worked on my tripod dishes and animal jars. They will finish up totally tomorrow.
This evening we worked on the renovation. I am so ready for the finisher to come on Monday. It's going to be awesome.
Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with my photographer to take some new images of some pots. That's it for now, it's almost time to hit the hay.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Part of a Day

I only got in part of the day in the workshop today. Most everything from yesterday was still too wet to work on so I made some bigger bakers, more mugs, and a few other things. I spent the better part of the morning and noontime around the Arts Council. Tomorrow I have no commitments so I'll be finishing up all the work.

My brother in law recommended a fellow who would do the finish work on my drywall in the new renovation. He came by and gave me an estimate. It was very good so I hired him on. He'll start on Monday and I expect it will be done in 3-4 days. Sarah was very happy. I told her she better go pick out her paint colors.

I've felt much more grounded and present today.

I will have maybe one more wet day and then I'll be ready to fire.
That's' it for now. I have to spend some time with the dogs and then get supper going, stir fry veggies and rice. Simple.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday. Back at it.

I feel like I had a good day back at work in the shop. I finished up some things like getting my tall footed bowls slipped, and cut feet on my 18" dishes and got them slipped too. I also finished up a few tankards that I made on a whim at the end of the day on Friday. Below are the big dishes. I made a board of mugs and a few jars that will get animals. Also some lobed bowls that will have tripod feet. The shapes on the right will be pilgrim bottles. I haven't made these in awhile and realized today I had none in the showroom. I also made two boards of 2 qt. bakers and two sets of owl candle stick holders.
All this stuff will get finished up tomorrow. I do have to help out at the Arts Council at 10 am and then a board meeting at noon. So I'll need to have a productive afternoon or some of this may ride over till Wednesday.
Sarah is out tonight with a friend so I made myself a nice dinner. Tom had send me a pasta sauce recipe so I tried it out. It was really nice. I'll have left overs tomorrow for lunch.
I felt better day than I did over the weekend. I was really aware of all the messages and clatter in my head and what kind of effects it has upon me. I am trying to practice awareness and attention. I appreciate the positive comments and emails some of you send me.
Well now it's time to do the dinner dishes, which is a good time to practice awareness and enjoy all the nice pots I've used today.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Last week was way too busy for me. I am hoping this week will be different, but I haven't looked at my calendar yet. Sorry for the lack of posts. I feel like I ran around from one appointment to the other with a never ending list of things to do on my mind. I don't like operating from this state but sadly it's common. Last week was emotionally draining too, just dealing with my 'junk' and trying to figure it out (which doesn't seem to help).
I did get some pots made and hope to have a productive day in the studio tomorrow. So far today I've done nothing, which is wonderful.
Thanks for checking in. I promise to post more this week.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New Start

I got a start on my next kiln load this week. Today, being a holiday, I didn't work all day but did finish up some of the pots I made Monday and Tuesday. Below is an 18" bowl, I made two of these today. I had made one last week but lost it today when cutting a foot on it... the walls got too thin. The two I made today are thrown better anyway I think. These three large ovals got handled and slipped today.
Here is a shot of what I made on Tuesday. I am having to keep things covered or shuffled around since I now have my AC window unit blasting cool air. If I'm not careful things will get dry on one side or dry out before I have time to slip them.
This is a fat pitcher I made yesterday. I don't have a set pitcher shape but tend to lean towards the narrow tapered shapes. This one was inspired by Doug. Maybe I'll try a board of these and see where they go.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I've had a really nice weekend. I feel like I did a good job of staying in the moment this weekend and let some of the junk I've had troubling me fall to the side. Friday night I made a great pizza with tomato and basil from the garden and some mozzarella cheese. I need to shop around for a good quatily mozz. Sarah was out with a friend so I just chilled out, journalled, and drew a bit.

On Saturday my dad and I worked on the renovation. Things are pugging along slowly, but we will get there. That evening I talked Sarah into going to see Ratatoullie. I thought it was really wonderful. My 'inner child' and 'inner chef' totally enjoyed it. The digital anamation is awesome. The story was cool, and orginial I thought. I love going to the movie theater, the big screen and great sound system totally beats watching a dvd at home. Afterwords we hit Chens for some lo mein.

Today was pretty laid back too. We cleaned the house and headed over to Sarah's parents for supper. The new kitchen looks awesome. Sarah's mom is really happy with it. It's going to take her awhile to get settled in and find places for all her stuff, but I can tell she loves it.

Tomorrow, Monday, I have a gallery owner coming to buy pots and after that I will be getting back to making things for my next kiln load.

So that's it. Thanks for checking in. I am looking forward to getting back in the studio.