Friday, November 30, 2007

From Our Kitchen

Awhile back I put up a post about all of our cups. Below is a picture of the dinner plates we have to use in our kitchen. I guess we have about 20 or so, plus maybe 4 or 5 that are in storage. I started buying plates after I realized we were maxed out on cups! Anyhow, we have certain ones we use quite regularly, and ones that get pulled out to use when we have specific dishes. We also have about this many luncheon plates (that's another post). I also took this image of the dish drain this morning. It shows that we really do use many pots everyday. We hand wash all our dishes (because we don't have a dishwasher, and I don't want one). I like handling all the pots during cleanup. It's great to have a large variety of handmade dishes to choose from and use each day.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Books and such

Nothing like a little Public Enemy at 8 am. KEXP is awesome.

I'll be setting up today at Clayworks for our Studio Opening which is tomorrow (6 till 9 reception and sale) and Saturday (10 till 3, sale continues). I'll be there tomorrow night.

Okay so I rethought the whole Kindle thing. I never buy books so why would want this thing? I just go to the library. Plus, like Elaine, I enjoy the paper. And the smell too.

I have been thinking a lot about how the written word, on paper, with pen or pencil, is disappearing. I don't really trust the whole electronic thing, storage, longevity, etc. Where will the written record of our history be in 100 - 200 + years? And I miss getting letters in the mailbox. I miss seeing people's handwriting.

I think instead of the Kindle I'd rather have a gigantic Oxford dictionary like the one in the library. Jeff asked a while back what book I'd want if I was stranded on a deserted island. I'd have this dictionary. I could keep my vocabulary up, start fires with it's thin pages (in emergency situations only), and use it as a floatation device if needed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not Much

I've done hardly anything like work all day. Which is nice because I rarely just do nothing. Doing stuff is overrated anyway if you ask me. Mostly I've been sitting outside in the sunshine reading a book on J.D. Salinger by James Lundquist.
So I just got an order of tea delivered today. Right now I'm having some nice sencha. I also got some darjeeling samples and a couple more greens I haven't tried.
If anyone is wondering what they can get me for Christmas I'd really love to have one of these. It's pretty amazing (just watch the demonstration video).
I am still planning on making some earthernware in December. I usually take that month off, but I'll have a little fun doing something different (I need to get that clay mixed soon).
Okay that's it for now. Hope you can do nothing soon (if you aren't already).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Floor Glaze

Years ago I read that Warren Mackenzie would scrape the floor of his glaze room and save all that stuff up. He would add some percentage of cobalt and use that as his blue glaze. I think he called it the 'floor glaze' or maybe the 'shop glaze'.

So of course I had to start doing that. I have about one and a half quart jars of floor glaze saved up. In my case it's probably more of a slip. I am planning on testing this in my next firing. I'll have to mix it up, add water, sieve it really well to get all the course dirt and cat and dog hair out and give it a go.

Monday, November 26, 2007


It was nice to sleep in a bit this morning. Sarah is off work and the cats both piled in on top of the covers to keep us warm. I had a great start to my Holiday Sale this past weekend. Sales were good and it was nice to see folks and catch up a bit. I still have plenty of great pots in the showroom. The Sale runs again this Saturday and Sunday, and I expect I'll have folks dropping by when they can.
Thanks to everyone who came out.
I'll be posting regularly this week, so continue to check in.
Have a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


All set up. There are more pots in the studio. Lots to choose from. I am hoping for a good turnout. Gotta go eat more turkey. Hope to see many of you at my Holiday Sale.

Hot New Critters

All my animals came out great! I am excited about these and can't wait to make more.
Here's old two head...Matt and Dougs favorite.
I will try my best to get a few more pics up before tomorrow.

Closing the Gap

Fixing the space at the back of the arch made a huge difference in my firing. I got much better reduction. It's funny though, I was just getting used to those lighter pots. But with that problem fixed I will be able to control my atmosphere during the firing so if I want light I'll oxidize more.
We didn't get nearly as much done yesterday as we had hoped so today has been a real catch up. We are home now for a few hours between Thanksgiving with my family and later with Sarah's. I was pretty stressed out last night, but I am feeling better now. The show room is all set up. So we are closing in on being ready for tomorrow. Here are a couple pics of the pots after they came out yesterday.
A new tall vase. I have about 5 of these and they all made it through the firing. I was surprised, heck you'd think I'd know what I was doing by now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Firing Complete

This picture shows a series of clay rings I pulled from the kiln yesterday after I began salting. I do this so that I can judge the amount of salt/soda that is being deposited on the pots in the kiln. I pulled the first ring after the initial salting. It is glazed well, but I wanted more so I added more sodium. The second and third rings are more heavily coated. I stopped putting any salt/soda in after the third ring was pulled. I concluded that I had added enough. I can also judge this by looking into the kiln and seeing how shiney the pots are and by the build up of sodium on the shelves. The forth ring was pulled just before I shut the kiln off. The glaze has smoothed out a bit and layed down.

The rings are pulled out of a peep hole in the door with a long metal rod. They do not indicate the final color of the clay or slips, only salt build up.
I will unload tomorrow, so check back soon. I a hoping for a good load of pots!
I discovered last week that Joe Bennion has his Potter's Journal back up and running. He lost his blog a while back due to some server problem. When Sarah and I visited Joe a few years ago he was very helpful and encouraging in many ways. He shared with me the idea for his Newsletter and told me to take any of his ideas and try them out. I did just that, and my newsletter was a success from the start. I hope to publish the next one in the Spring of '08.
Today I'll be cleaning up the studio.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Gap

The kiln is up to 1900 deg. F. It's going to be another nice day out, temps in the low 70's which is really wonderful.

So, if you've been reading this blog for any number of months you have heard me complain about two firing issues that I have been experiencing. The first is 'scum' or darkening and and sometimes peeling or crinkling of my slip. The other is that the kiln is oxidizing more on one side than the other. I don't want it to oxidize at all so that is a problem. I had looked all around the kiln for unwanted openings where air could be getting in. I had gotten into the kiln and looked all around the sides and arch and everywhere for gaps. I didn't see anything. Well, it turns out I wasn't looking closely enough. On Friday I climbed up on top of the kiln and removed the ceramic fiber at the back. There, between the top, back of the arch and the back wall was a half inch gap. I wasn't able to see this from the inside for some reason, I mean I could see a space but from the inside it didn't look like it went through to the outside. I guess the fiber on top was keeping me from seeing. Anyhow, the kiln gurus ( if any read this) would probably smack me for not checking up there sooner. So I restacked those brick, mudded everything up really well, and replaced the fiber. I'll know on Wednesday if this helped, but I expect it did.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lots of Cups

Remember the order I got for 60 yunomis a while back? Well, I still had 40 to fire so that made up a big part of this load. Along with those cups, I had all these other pots (below) plus even more (off camera). It was quite a bit of small stuff but there was also some dinnerware which always takes up lots of room. Here is the back stack with the front started. It's a pretty tight stack so I think I'm going to have to go with soda and salt for this firing. I don't think I'd get all the coverage I need with just soda. So I'll probably do half and half. I am thinking I'll introduce the salt as a solution this time.
And here's the front. I managed to get in most everything I wanted sans a few plates. I lost 8 plates in the bisque which is fine, they wouldn't have made it in here anyway. It would have been nice to have them for the next go.
So I'll get the kiln lit tonight and fire off tomorrow around 4 or 5. I have a bit more kiln news but that can wait until tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Holiday Sale

Today I have my bisque going. I actually loaded and fired it for a few hours yesterday because some of those pots were still pretty damp, hopefully I'll get through it without anything blowing up. (Knock on wood.)

I'll spend the next 6 days getting ready for my Holiday Sale. It's always a countdown to the last minute getting pots out and everything cleaned up around here. I am hoping for a good turnout again this year. It's a lot of work, but always worth it. I will have about 300 pots for sale including dinnerware, bakers, bowls, lots of mugs and cups, and all of the things you've seen me making (via this blog) over the past few weeks.

The Sale runs two weekends, but if you can't come then, just feel free to drop by or give me a call (704.480.6046) and make an appointment. I should be here up until the end of Dec. with pots in the showroom.
If you need directions you can Mapquest my address.
757 Wallace Grove Rd. Shelby, NC 28150
I'll be posting over the next week with images of the loading, firing, unloading and set up.
Have a great Friday!!

Seagrove Pottery Festival

If you are at the 26th Annual Seagrove Pottery Festival this weekend please be sure to go by and see my good friend Tom Gray. Tom always has a really nice selection of pots for use. He's located in the 2nd tent on the back wall. Visit Tom's blog for info on what he's up to.
The Festival is this weekend November 17th and 18th, 2007; 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Work

Last night was my final class at Clayworks for this session. We'll start up the winter classes in January. We fired raku last night and had a potluck supper which was fun. It made for a long night though and by the time I got home it was past 11 pm, late for this guy. So I slept in a bit this morning before making it down to the shop. I cut feet on a dozen plates and slipped a few last minute things I made yesterday afternoon. My brother in law called Monday night wanting to know if I'd make a few shaving mugs for him. So those ended up being the last pots I threw for this load.
Around mid morning I remembered that Shawn Ireland from Penland had recommended that I make some larger birds. Shawn and his friend, Mike Henshaw, have always made these really great animal sculptures. I have always admired them but have never brought one home. Anyhow, I thought I'd give it a try and here are the results. I am sure I subconsciously borrowed some ideas from those two guys but I also tried to remember and draw upon some images of Mexican figures I'd seen in books.

These two long necks (tallest is 7") will get an iron glaze that goes green/amber. Here are a couple of bird toting turtles. The shells will be amber and the birds will be blue.
This double headed bird dish was an off the wall creation. And one more long neck.

I also got two racks of clay mixed this afternoon which I am really happy about, that should get me by for a while.
It looks like I'll be bisquing on Friday and hopefully loading the kiln on Sunday. I'd like to not be unloading on Thanksgiving like I had to last year. Postcards for the Holiday Sale go out tomorrow!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Here is an image of our kitchen cabinet where we keep some of our cups. I say 'some' because this must be only about a third of the cups we own. I count about 50 in here, and there are 6 over in the dish drain. We usually have some shelves up on the wall where we display (for use) another 40 or so. These shelves are down at the moment b/c we are getting ready to paint, so those cups are boxed up. I think I have about 3 more boxes of cups in the attic. So maybe we have close to 250 cups give or take 10 or 20. Yes, it's a terrible disease this pottery, this clay, this insane love of handmade things for everyday use. We have cups by some of the best potters in the country, and some really nice ones by lesser known potters that we use and enjoy just as much as our 'famous cups'
Anyhow I just thought I'd give a little glimpse of our cups, I am sure many of you have similar collections. Stay tuned...sometime in the near future I'll give you a shot of our soup/cereal bowls...and our plates... and teapots..... and....well you get the idea.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekend Update

The Carolina Pottery Festival blasted off in full force Saturday morning. There was a big line at the doors at 10 am and shortly after they were making their way up towards my booth. It was a really good day for most all the exhibitors. People came out to buy pots! I last heard that attendance reached over 2100, which is awesome for a one day show that lasts 6 hrs. I was very pleased with the day and my sales. It was awesome to see many regular customers at the show and to meet some new folks. I finally got to meet Jeff Martin, a potter from Boone, NC. We met through blogging and it was good to finally meet him in person. (I am enjoying my tumbler Jeff).
There is a wide range of work shown at the CPF, from high end raku, to kitchy fish wall hangings, pit fired pots, mid range oxidation fired functional ware, beautiful stoneware reduction ware, and about anything else you can think of. I am the only salt/soda glaze potter in whole herd of 90 exhibitors, so my works stands out, which is cool.

This morning I made sourdough, buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. I've been wanting to do this since I talked to Stan from Allegheny Treenware last weekend. They were tastey, I'll probably make a few more in the morning with the leftover batter.
I think tomorrow will be my last wet day for this cycle. I made 5 more of the slab oval vases today and got all my dishes slipped. Tommorrow I'll finish up the rest of the pots on the make list and start getting ready for my Holiday Sale. The postcards have been printed and will go out this week.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the CPF!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Show and New Technique

I am all set up at the Festival. I'll be there bright and early tomorrow, so I hope that some of you will come out and enjoy all the pots.

Here is a new vase shape I am working on. It's a tall oval, about 14". I am making these on a bisque mold with a slab. This is something I have thought about for a while, making these with a slab, but I didn't know how to go about it. With some help, I've gotten it figured out. One of the things I was worried about with slabs was that I wouldn't have any throwing marks or gesture. I rely on that pretty heavily in my work. So what I have done with these vases is to scrape them and rough up the surface. I learned this from Peter Rose, a potter from Tennessee. Anyhow I am wanting to make 5 or 6 of these for my Holiday sale. I think this new technique will open up lots of possibilities for me.

I'll have some pics up from the show later in the weekend.

Carolina Pottery Festival

I'll be setting up my booth for the Carolina Pottery Festival today. The show is tomorrow, Nov. 9th, from 10 am until 4 pm at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. There will be over 60 potters displaying their work. It's $2 to get in. Come out if you are in the area, it's a good time to do some Holiday shopping. I have plenty of nice pots.

My pal Doug Fitch just unloaded a nice kiln load of slipware. Visit his blog to see some of the work.

Still finishing up plates and bowls in the studio. I'll try and insert a photo here later today.

Thanks to everyone who sent a comment or note regarding Perry. We appreciate it.
Have a great Friday.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

From Wednesday

Here are a few pots I made yesterday before lunch. In the afternoon I finished some yunomis and cut feet on a few bowls, and handled some mugs. I'll get more made today and hopefully get these plates footed. I'll be ordering my postcards for my Holiday Sale today and hopefully they will go out next week.

So Long

Perry was put to rest yesterday afternoon. I miss him.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Quick Note

Thanks to everyone you expressed concern about my dog Perry. After I posted yesterday I phoned the vet, they were prepping Perry for surgery and after talking to the doc I agreed to go ahead with it. He phoned me back after lunch saying Perry came through okay. He operated on his pancreas, and it was not as serious as he expected. Hopefully Perry will start eating again. I'll go see him later today. Keep your fingers crossed.

I delivered a set of dinnerware last night to my friend Eleanor. She had registered with me for her wedding. She was so happy with her new dishes. It was great to see her excitement. It makes very happy to know she and her husband, Mark, will get many years of use from the pots.

I'm off to work. My Holiday Sale will be here before I know it! I can't believe this month is going so quickly. I think Thanksgiving is coming early this year. ?

Pics later today.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


On a happier note, (see post on Perry below), here is one of our animals that is doing quite well. This is our small cat, Mouse, having a comfy nap this morning beside me here.

This and That

No new images at the moment, so here is another shot of my booth from the weekend. (Sorry about the harsh lighting) Hanging out this morning having some tea and warming up. I'll go teach this evening at Clayworks and I will also be delivering a dinnerware order to a customer who had registered with me for her wedding. I saw her over the weekend and she is so excited to get her new dishes. I love knowing my work is going to a good home where it will be put to use.

I bought some buckwheat flour at the grocery yesterday and will be making some buckwheat pancakes this weekend. Stan and I talked a good bit about this. He makes sourdough, buckwheat pancakes. I'm gonna try that too, but first I have to make a sourdough starter, which is kind of a science experiment in itself. Stan told me that people who eat regular pancakes think that sourdough buckwheat pancakes are "rotten". Ha.

Perry isn't doing so great. I went by the vet to see him yesterday. He was so pitiful and out of it. The doc called later and said he felt like he'd have to operate again to see what was going on. Sarah and I discussed it last night and we feel it may be better just to have him put down. He's 13 and has been through a lot of medical problems over the years. He's had 6 surgeries so far and we can't bear to think of him having another. I don't want him to suffer. The most humane thing we can do right now is let him go. I'll be calling the vet shortly to discuss all this.

For now I'm heading out to the shop for some pot making. Plates, cups, soup bowls and maybe a few pitchers. I have some new ideas I'm working on but will save that for a post later.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Home from ACC

I'm going to attempt a post this morning even though I feel like I could use another few hours to get my head on straight. It's been a long weekend at the American Craft Council show. We got in last night and pretty much crashed out on the sofa and vegged on tv for an hour before bed. Below is a shot of my booth I took on Friday morning before the show opened. I always like seeing my work away from home. I went around and looked at all my pots and picked them up and examined them and saw them in new ways. I felt happy with them and satisfied with my direction.

There wasn't much functional pottery in the show this year. Maybe 3 potters total. It was a nice show overall with plenty of good quality craft. I had wonderful neighbors and enjoyed getting to know them all better over the weekend. Across the aisle from me was Stan and Sue Jennings from Allegheny Treenware. We have some of there spoons in the kitchen and I sold their work in my shop for awhile. They were both lots of fun and I admired their down to earth and genuine personalities. Stan talked a lot about sorghum molasses and sourdough, buckwheat pancakes. He raises his own sorghum and buckwheat, among other things I'm sure. They are true West Virginians and it was a pleasure to get to know them.

Over all the show wasn't very profitable. The crowd was down from years past. I don't complain much though, I do my part to be there and engage folks and talk about my pots. I have lots of local support and get to see many friends come down the aisle. I will probably do it again next year because the contacts and exposure are good and I am meeting new people who will eventually make their way out to my pottery in Shelby. If you came out to ACC, thanks for your support and encouragement.

So today I'll unload the truck and take care of some odds and ends. I'll be at the Carolina Pottery Festival this Saturday. I still have some good pots so come out if you can.

I'll be making more pots this week and posting regularly so check back soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just a Reminder

I thought I'd better end on a pottery note (and not one on barbers) since I may not get to post in the next day or two.

So a reminder: I will be at the American Craft Council show tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Please come out if you are in the area. It's a great show...see the website. My booth is 1501.

Next Saturday I will be at the Carolina Pottery Festival here in Shelby.


I went to the barber shop this morning for a hair cut. Sarah has been cutting my hair for the past 7 years. There's not much to hair or the cut. Basically it's a clipper cut on #2 and some clean up around the neck and ears. Last month I needed a quick cut and Sarah was gone, so I went to town and stopped at the barber shop, I'd never been in this shop before but there was only one barber and one guy in the chair, so I knew I wouldn't have to wait.

In the past I haven't really liked going to the barber shop. Barbers talk too much. And generally it's not about stuff I'm interested in, sports, the weather, politics, sports, automobiles, sports, whatever. So last month I'm in the chair and this guy starts talking, but it wasn't too bad, we talked about the county fair which just had came to town. He reminisced about the old days when Pagan Jones was there at the fair. She was a stripper. Yes, Cleveland County had a peep show at the fair years and years ago. (We also used to have a XXX drive in movie theater, I was about 10 when it closed down so it was no big deal to me). This barber also talked about the previous customer he just had, an man in his 70's, with a large mole on his head. He talked about how he would have that thing removed. Anyway it was a better experience than I'd had in the past.

So today I go back to this same shop expecting the guy to be there. Well he wasn't and I got in the chair of this other barber. He was an older guy and reminded me of Don Reitz. This guy hardly said a word after he asked how I wanted my cut. And he was really gentle, and efficient and wasted no movements. Economy. After my cut he rubbed my head really gently with his big hands and vacuumed the loose hair away. Then he lathered up my neck and shaved it with the straight razor (which no one has ever done). He was kinda like a masseur. Well I had worried thoughts about the whole thing, but I think it was just his style, he was old school for sure.

We only had a little converstion at the end about water shortage and how the world's population was growing and the demands from that.

So that's my barber shop story and how I like this barber who was there today. Maybe he works on Thursdays, maybe I'll go back next month and see.

Ready for ACC

Yesterday I went to Charlotte and set up my booth for the American Craft Council Show this weekend. I took my camera but forgot to bring it home so I won't have any pictures today. Being in the city yesterday was a bit trying, dealing with certain people and then later coming home traffic was awful. I still feel grumpy and put out this morning. Part of it is exhaustion too, catching up with me from last weekend and non stop this week. The show opens tomorrow so the next three days will be long. It will be fun to see people and hopefully sell some pots. My booth number is 1501 so come by and see me if you are there (I promise I won't be grumpy)

My Labrador, Perry, has been at the vet for almost a week. He had surgery on Wednesday after he chewed up a towel sometime last week. The doc removed that from his intestine and found some other problems there, leakage, etc. So he's going to be recovering for a few more days. I'll go visit him later today. He's 13 and has always been bad to eat anything that doesn't move, towels, gloves, aluminum cans, paper. I think he's part goat.

Gotta get going, it's looking like a beautiful day out. It will probably help for me to get out in it.