Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pots from the Past

Loupey and I are hanging out on the couch this morning. There was a good frost outside and I turned the heat on in the house for a while to knock the chill off. Maybe winter is going to arrive soon. This cup was made by Mark Pharis of Wisconsin in the late 70's. According to Will, Mark was one of the first people doing light salt glazed work and influenced many potters who went on to work that way. That would include Michael Simon, Linda Christianson, Will and Douglass, Wayne Branum, just to name a few. I was drooling over this cup and Will gifted it to me. It is made from really sandy clay and has been used a lot judging from the tea stained interior. I'll be using it from here on out. Mark's work is nothing at all like this now. He now works in earthenware.
I also picked up these two little gems from the collection. They are made by Ron Meyers who resides in Georgia. These were made in the 80's and I love how simple they are. Ron is probably my favorite potter. His pots are casually made with wonderful decoration that is not cute or kitchey. It's very process oriented with tool marks and all the handling exposed and celebrated. This one has a fish.
And here is a goat, which is probably my favorite of the animals that Ron paints.
I wanted to show the cutting of the feet on all three of these cups. I love the course clay and the direct cutting. These pots are not fussed over. They really carry a wonderful, comfortable, confident message about the maker and about process and use. They are about clay, unrefined, but not sloppy or careless. They are homey and fun and timeless.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back from the Creek

I had a great three days up at Rock Creek Pottery. It is such an amazing place and I am really grateful to have been a part of the last big pottery event before Will and Douglass move 1500 miles due west to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here is a shot of the road to their house up the mountain. This sale was called the "Keeper Sale". It was many of the pots that they had kept over the last 30 years. Most were theirs from Rock Creek, but there were some from their Wisconsin days as well as many pots by other influential potters and some historical pots. I wish I would have taken more photos. When I arrived on Friday the barn showroom was a mess, boxes and boxes and boxes of pots to be priced and sorted and set up for display. By 1 am we had it all finished and ready for the first customers on Saturday morning.
I brought home this 16" bowl that was fired shortly after they set up the pottery in the early 80's. It still has a bit of a Wisconsin feel to it, somber colors, minimal deco. Roped on the inside with an X slip trail. It's a big, heavy dish and Sarah and I will use it in our kitchen.
Here is a more recent pot made in 2007. Will didn't want to let this one go but as I heard him tell folks over and over "we can't take it all with us". My friend Dave out in Salt Lake City, Utah sent me some money to get him a nice pot. So this is the one Will and I chose. It's a beauty, oval jar with flat cap lid, and nice firing.
After a hard day of wrapping up hundreds of pots, the crew was ready for a good meal and fun evening. Thanks to Karen Newgard (here donning a blond wig) we were treated to barbecue ribs and chicken, baked beans, and a cilantro and orange cole slaw. Oh, man was it delicious! Karen is a great potter, but I think she has a future in the food business for sure. She's an entertainer as well. Must be that Louisiana blood in her veins. That's Shawn Ireland from the Penland area next to Karen. He's a great potter and a fun guy to hang around.

(If you look closely to the left behind Shawn's head, you'll see a huge Clive Bowen teapot up on the fridge.)

I've got more to share so check back later on. For now I need to get to work... I have a show myself this weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One last bit

Tomorrow I am heading out for a couple days to visit Rock Creek Pottery. I am going up to help out at what will be the last pottery event there. Will and Douglass are moving to New Mexico (bummer). So anyhow, it will lots of fun to see them and everyone else. In Douglass' words, "it should be a great last fling".

So here are the last pots for my cup order. (I'll probably make another board of back-ups). I got all my pots priced and boxed up for ACC next week. I also picked out a good selection to send to the Circle of Eight exhibition at Wooden Stone.

See ya when I get back!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More from the kiln

Check out this surface. This pot was on the bagwall and got some nice action. It's even better in person.

I'll try and get a few more images up tomorrow. It's finally raining here so everything is hanging out in the kiln shed until tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have a little break in the rain and bring things in and get it all boxed up. I'm going out of town for a few days so I'd like to get this stuff wrapped up.


Below are two overall images of the pots that I unloaded from the kiln today. I was pleased for the most part. I had some really nice surfaces and some that were a little blasted. I also had a handful of dry pots that will get refired next time in hopes of improvement. I am relieved now knowing that I am all set to pack up for the American Craft Council show. I'll be setting up a week from today.
This big dish was one of the last pots I made and it has the new yellow glaze I am trying out. I am really happy with it.
I'd like to have about 6 more of these teapots.
This oval dish is HUGE. I can't say for sure but it will at least hold 4 quarts maybe 6.
More to come....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Andrew asked me to post some drawings so here they are. I am mainly doing contour drawings using ink in a square format journal at the time. I've never been great with color but at some point I'd like to start adding some watercolor to some of these. For now these are just for me and for fun. I try to do one or two a day.

More on Mike Dodd's book

Gay asked me to comment a little more on the Mike Dodd book so here goes. (That's one of Mike's yunomi on the left).
The book is really a loose history of Mike's life including his early years and how he came to pottrey. The book includes a collection of articles that he wrote over the last 25 years or so as well as articles written about Dodd and his pots. The pots in the book are remarkable, mostly color images of very good quality. Interspersed among all this is commentary by the author.
I loved reading about Dodd's start in pottery and was amazed to hear how many times he's moved his pottery. I have always worried about having to move all this stuff, Dodd often had no choice and each move came with new discoveries and growth I think. He is certainly a deep person with strong convictions and feelings about pots and about life. The book touches on his personal life and his becoming a vegan.
His pots are the kind I have always been drawn to. Strong, healthy forms with expressive decoration and beautiful, deep glazes made from local materials. I often want to make these kinds of pots, but I don't think it's my nature (that's another post). Anyhow this is a good read and something that is easy to come back to again and again because of the format.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I finished up firing just a while ago. All went well as far as I can tell. I'll peep in tomorrow night after I get home from teaching.

Today I didn't make any pots. I tended to the kiln, drew some and read. I am reading An Autobiography of Sorts, by the potter
Mike Dodd. And also, O'Keeffe: The Life of an American Legend. The O'Keefe book is pretty good. I have always loved her work (what I have seen) so it is interesting to read about her life. This author, Jeffery Hogrefe, seems to do a good job but is a bit overly focused on homosexuality, abuse, incest, anger, etc. It just seems a bit tabloid-y but I guess it helps paint a better picture of the subject.

I will try to post some drawings this week (
Andrew asked me to). If I can figure out how to scan them.

More later...

Be Happy by H.E. Situ Rinpoche

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend. Work and Fun

I slept in today a little later than usual. After breakfast, which happened around lunchtime, so therefore, brunch, I got the kiln loaded. It took about 3 hours once I got started. It went well and I got in most of the pots I wanted. I'd like to have gotten in one more teapot, a large bowl, and 6 tankards. Looks like I'm gonna have to have a bigger kiln someday. Anyhow here are pics of the back and front respectively. You can see in the picture below that use some bricks as 'blockers" so some of those pots up front don't get blasted by the soda so badly.
Saturday was the annual Art of Sound Music Festival in Shelby. It's put on by the Arts Council and this is the first time I've gotten to go. (I am usually out of town this weekend). Any how it was really great. I have to admit there was way too much bluegrass for me, but the highlight for me was catching The Two Dollar Pistols from the Chapel Hill, NC area. Now, I don't normally go in for country music, especially commercial country (which the Pistols are NOT). But these guys rocked and the lead singer, John Howie Jr. has a great and unique voice and vocal style. Be sure to give a few tracks a listen on their MySpace page. We stayed in town late to catch David Childers and the Modern Don juans. They rocked out too.

I'll get the kiln going tonight and fire off tomorrow. Keep checking back for updates from the studio this week. Peace out!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting Ready to Load

I spent this morning unloading another bisque and bringing in those pots plus all the others from the kiln shed. Then I sorted it all out as to what would go in my next firing and what would go in the Nov. firing. I have a lot of bisqueware. The pots below plus some that are still out are slated to be loaded on Sunday. These, plus others to be made, will go in the November firing. I am planning on making lots of plates and bowls for that load. Anyhow, all this stuff will get glazed tomorrow. I mixed up a couple new glazes today, a yellow and a green. I hate mixing glaze. I am not the neatest guy in the world and I always seem to get stuff everywhere. If I would be more organized and slow down that would help.
I have had about 5 boards of misc. pots on the racks for 6-12 months. I trashed most of it. You know the saying about clearing out your wardrobe?...if you haven't worn it in a year, give it away or throw it out. These were not my best pots and there was no use in them sticking around.
That felt great.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


This is sort of a spontaneous post inspired by my end table. Here is a shot of it as it is at 7:55 am. I have been up for about an hour, hanging out journalling and having tea. You can see I am using my Warren Mackenzie yunomi for tea this morning. Beside that is a Linda Christianson bowl with my cereal waiting for me. (I make this great homemade cereal that has to soak for at least 15 minutes or longer, so I never get in a hurry to eat it). In the background is a Cynthia Bringle tumbler left from last night and way back there is a nice little soda glazed vase by Lisa Hammond who lives in London. My Hand+Book journal is there and my Faber Castell pen, S point. Danny Gregory recommends drawing your breakfast or lunch or whatever and I do this quite often in the mornings. I have lots of drawings of mugs of tea and bowls of cereal.

Anyhow it's wonderful to have all these great pots to use each day. I have a memory or story with each one , and each is a joy to use.

Here is the base recipe for my cereal: In a large zip top bag combine 3 cups rolled oats to 1 cup rolled wheat. Add 1/2 cup wheat bran. Add raisins, chopped dates, and sliced or slivered almonds to your liking. I usually triple this in the bag so it will last for a few weeks. I have a cup of this each morning. Cover with rice or soy milk (I like rice milk the best), and soak for 10-15 minutes but longer is okay. Add chopped pear or apple and enjoy!

So I'll probably do a little drawing while streaming WEXP out of Seattle, have my cereal and head out to the workshop. I guess I should go or the morning is going to get gone.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 15, 2007


The Claymatters Pottery Guild had their annual fall sale on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and the sale was well attended. I had great sales, thanks to everyone who visited my booth. It was fun to see what all the members of the guild have been working on. I think we had around 60 exhibitors. Below is a shot of my booth just after setting up. The Circle of Eight was well represented, and it was cool to hang out with Adrienne, Jen, Greg, Amy, and Julie. We all displayed next to one another, quite a great group to belong to.

Today, Monday, I will making a few odds and ends to finish up for my firing next week. I have a bisque going this morning and will fire another on Thurs. I was set back a little yesterday when I unloaded the last bisque firing to find that one of my big dishes had a crack. So I made a couple more yesterday to hopefully replace it. I'd like to have 2 or 3 in the firing so I can take them to the ACC show. I'll be lucky if I can get these dried out for the bisque on Thurs. I'll risk it, nothing to loose at this point.

Have a nice Monday!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pots from Thursday

I have 12 more yunomis to go on my order, here are the ones I made Tues. and Wed. I can't wait to see these all fired. It's been fun to try and make them all different. I can't really push myself to make them too far out or funky. I have my storage bank of yunomis in my head that I draw from and my practical sensibilities about what is a good pot, so I have my guidelines. I have 12 to cut feet on today and I'll make the last dozen on Monday. They will all be faceted in some way.
These little pots are called "nobbenalls". That's the Japanese word for incense box. Not really. These are called Knob and Alls, because they are thrown all in one piece, body, lid, and knob. They are later put back on the wheel and cut apart with my fettling knife to separate the lid from the body. You can see these pots in Leach's book on Hamada, plates:58 & 60.
They are great for keeping salt on the table or stove or can be used to roast a head of garlic.
Practical teapots for daily use.
A bit of a weird vase/bottle based on the pilgrim bottle that I make. I has been slipped, that's why it's so white. Anyhow it's kind of fun and reminds me of all sorts of things...a bridge, a football (American) goal, a cattle prod, an alien liquor pourer, an antelope's head...

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Just a quick note before I head out to the shop.
I am finishing up my next kiln load today, putting spouts and handles on a few teapots and hopefully getting some platters footed. More yunomis to make and plates and bowls for my November firing. I think I have made all the pots for the ACC Show and the exhibition at Wooden Stone. I feel kind of 'out of it', like I have reached the end of the cycle and thinking 'what's next?'. It's just a strange feeling of working on two loads at once, I like to work from firing to firing, but I'm not complaining because I am ahead of the game for once.
I'll be packing up pots for the Claymatter's Sale today and tomorrow.
I'll get some pics up this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

First Dozen

These are the first 12 cups in my 60 cup order. All different. I made 12 more this morning and will get them footed tomorrow. I feel like I am winding down on my next kiln load. I really have about a load and a half made. I 'll be making bowls and plates next week, but they won't get fired until Novemeber.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I have had a good productive Monday. I really love Monday's, it seems one of the days when I actually get a lot of work done and seem to have my act together. From here out on out the week will get more chaotic probably. I got started on my yunomi order, also mugs, some stem cups, and platters. Nothing from today to show here, but I will post some of it tomorrow once I get some feet cut etc.

Here are a few pots from last week. This jar is my second try at this shape, more successful this time. These are some big dishes. 18 lbs of clay in that one with the handles.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

60 Yunomi

Friday I got an order for 60 yunomi. Sometimes I don't really like getting orders but this is different. 60 cups, all different. This will be fun. It will be a chance to sit down at the wheel and make one of my favorite forms over and over. They will evolve as I go, one leading to the next. And then they will all get turned, which is something else I love. I'll probably work on them in groups of 12 at a time. I'll post them as I go.

Here's a favorite from a firing over the summer.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Getting Things Finished. Signature Pots

I spent today trying to catch up and get things put together, handled, slipped, etc. I worked a LONG time on these seven little pots. Each one of these is made from 7 parts (except that one on the far left with no handle and it has 6). Anyhow who in their right mind makes pots with 7 parts!? I know, lots of people, but not me, not usually. So that took up a big chunk of time and I still have to slip them tomorrow. I like them though. Maybe I'll make more in a year.
I finished off these vases, some ovals and some faceted ones.
Square mugs, slipped. I got a bisque loaded today, I was running out of ware boards. So I'll fire it off tomorrow. No clay got mixed today. I wish the clay fairies would show up and do that tonight while I sleep.

I had a lady at my last show ask me what my signature item was. She was looking for something for a client and I guess she wanted something unique. I don't know. Anyhow, I don't really feel like I have this one thing that defines me. Some potters do. I have thought about it and at times feel I should have something, but that's not something you can just make up, well unless you go to grad school and then they make you. (right? I don't know. I didn't go.) Anyhow, I feel like my pots all have some sort of good quality that is me. The way I handle the clay, my handles, spouts, feet. my firing process. They are all my signature pieces. I wanted to tell her "Cups!" , which are what I really like to make, but that wouldn't have been what she wanted to hear. She did buy a nice large jar, so that was good. I know what my signature piece ISN'T....something made out of 7 parts.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We love you Ron Philbeck

Doug Fitch and Matt Grimmitt really got me good on this one!!! Cheers you two!! (That's Matt at the wheel, I imagine Doug was manning the camera)


Here's proof that I have been in the studio this week and not hanging out at the Fair. Today's worktime has flown by, interrupted in the middle of the day by a meeting at the Arts Council and now I am off to teach my night class. I guess I am going to have to get in the workshop earlier on Tuesdays. Anyhow I did throw some medium oval bakers and oval vases today. I have tons of stuff under plastic ready to be finished tomorrow...cups, tankards, jars, and I can't remember what else at the moment.
Below are some pots in progress. To the left some cruets that need spouts and handles and to the right some vases drying upside down. These will get faceted.

I am picking up some materials while in the city today so I can mix 4 racks of clay. I need to get stocked up. I'd like to mix that much plus 4 more before December. I have felt kind of panicky today with all that I have coming up. It's really under control for the most part, I just need to slow down and breathe. (But for now I have to hit the interstate!)