Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Getting Behind

I'm a few days behind on posting. I'll try and get caught up tomorrow. For now here are a couple images from earlier in the week.

I've tried several times in the past to make oval or rectangular dishes by throwing the pot, cutting a willow leaf shape out of the floor and pressing it together to make the pot change shape. I've never been able to pull it off very well but I tried again on Tuesday and came away with these three pots. They get trimmed on the bottom and handled too. I was happy with these and showed the technique to my class on Tues. night. Here's the fiber roof all in place. It looks good. The only problem I see with this is that I'm going to have to deal with that dreaded ceramic fiber every time I brick up the door. I'll just have to wear my respirator and try not to rub on it too much.
I'll get the chimney in place on Thurs. and hopefully the burners plumbed in too.

Look for more posts later. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Muddy

I got back to work making pots yesterday. It's time to get the racks restocked and a firing of the new kiln under my belt.
I had a good time casually making these plates, bowls, mugs and other odds and ends. I'm working in small groups of 3 or 6. I like working in a small series. The new kiln is small so it kind of dictates how I work.I was listening to an interview with a famous illustrator yesterday and the interviewer asked him about his style and how he could make even the most fierce creatures appear funny and less threatening. The illustrator basically said, It's just the way I draw. It's my style. It's who I am. I thought that was a good enough answer. He was saying, This is how I do it, it's mine. There was no long explanation or defense. I liked that.
I have found that when I have an attitude like that I make my best pots. I'm just being me...making pots...making them the way I make them. Not trying to be someone else, not trying to be different or showy or super cool. Just being me. I felt like that when I was making pots at Clayworks the other night.

Now about My drawings. I have been thinking they are too silly. Maybe they should be more detailed, more serious, more like someone else's.

Rubbish. Right? Ha. They are what they are. Now, I would like for them to improve in some ways. I'd like for them to have some gesture, some movement, some looseness. It's coming I think. I can see it happening in my sketch books. So I guess I am 'developing' my characters. I know these pots are kinda different for me. Funny birds and fish with teeth, odd flowers and weird tails. Well, it's just how I draw. Right? It's what I'm doing right now. It's what I know.

Okay blah, blah, blah. Enough for today. I've got to get out there and work. The sun is out today and everything is green from the good drink of rain it had yesterday. So I'm off....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Making Good Pots

I went down to the shed to sort out the salt glazed pots yesterday. Looking over some of the bowls and mugs and dishes I realized that this wasn't my best work ever. I felt like some of the bowls were too thin and small, the slip had been drippy when I applied it to the pots and it ended up showing on most everything in not so good a way. The pots were okay, passable, first quality, but not up to where I wanted them to be in my mind. Maybe some just felt a bit sloppy. Lack of attention to detail. Things only I would notice. Well....

I had such good fun making pots at All Fired Up the other night. I was making these loose, funky, not so generic pots. A couple years ago I was at a workshop with Peter Rose, a potter from Tennessee. Peter is a neat guy, he's been around, he's studied in Japan and other places. He knows stuff. He told me some of the pots I was making were fairly predictable, 'generic' was the word we agreed upon. He pointed out some of my pots had a nice gesture, a loose quality, nice strong throwing marks, confident. He said, Do more of that. That's what you are good at. Why make those generic pots?

"Be confident, take risks, be yourself." That was sort of the internal message I took away.
I don't always put it into play. But I did Sat. night. And I'm going to try to do so this week when I am in the studio. I'm sure what I have in my head is farther along than what I can do on the wheel, but I must start and see where it goes.

I already feel my earthenware has come a ways since those first dishes with the fish and chickens. I feel like I'm struggling with finding my voice and way of decoration. But it's okay, I can see it will happen if I keep trying, playing, sketching, searching. Asking.."What if? What if? What if?" So I'll do that. I'm gonna try and not be too judgmental.

Doug and I have talked about our ups and downs. It's something we all struggle with, or all of us who really care about what we are making. I know my pal Tom has often heard my worries and woes and has encouraged me along. Paul is having a battle right now. Clary Illian told me once that all of that is 'part of being a potter.' She's right. So it's good to know we are all in this thing together and we are striving to do our best.

So I guess I'll go out to the studio on this very rainy Monday and see what the clay can teach me.
Hope everyone can make some pots today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

All Fired Up!

Last night was the annual All Fired Up event at Clayworks in Charlotte. This is our fundraising party and it's always a lot of fun. There was a good crowd, lots of food and beverage , music and even some pottery entertainment. Here is the ETD Team. That's 'Extreme Throwing Demo' Team. Ha. Anyhow it's some of the instructors from Clayworks. Greg comes up with a plan and we all work towards finishing a work before the night is up.

This year we made a wall piece that represents a stacked kiln setting. We all made pots and assembled the piece towards the end of the night. It will get cut up into sections, bisqued, glazed and fired later on in the year. Hopefully if it comes out well we will be able to auction it off or sell it to raise more money for the studio.
It's fun working in front of a crowd. I sort of try and let go and just do things I normally wouldn't do. For example I made a couple teapots and assembled them wet. I think I actually came up with some good ideas for some pots I'll make this week. Just letting go will often lead to new things.

There are more pics on Becky's blog. And there will probably be some on Amy's blog and maybe Jen's at some point in the week.

My back is feeling better. I wasn't able to take Paul's advice on how to fix it, but I think just giving it a rest Friday and Saturday helped.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flat Top

Here is the flat fiber top for my small kiln. It's upside down of course. I'll get it flipped over and put up on the kiln as soon as I get some help. I may end up adding a few more buttons but this is it for now as I am out of high temp wire.

Ice Pack

I don't feel like I've done my usual amount of blog posting this week. I have been working some and I did unload the salt kiln on Wednesday. I had good results although there were some dishes in the back that will have to be refired because they came out a little dry. It was mostly a load of plates, bakers, bowls and mugs. I am all caught up on orders for now and I'm going to be working in earthenware for the next couple months and see where that takes me.

The baker below was especially nice and of course made me see the beauty of this work. For now though it's going to take some time off. I will certainly come back to making stoneware I think.I made this really big dish sometime before Christmas, I finally had room for it in the kiln.
I had about twice this many plates in the kiln. If I keep making this many dishes I need to invest in some plate setters for the salt kiln.

A couple cups.
I'm embarrassed to say I injured my back this week. I'm sitting here bolt upright now with an ice pack on. I think I started the damage by picking up some big buckets of reclaim clay early in the week. Unloading all my dry materials later on certainly aggravated the problem more. So I guess I'll try and take things easy over the weekend. I do have some newly made pots to show but I've got to get out there and take a few pics.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The clay shed is all stocked up for awhile. Picked up this order yesterday in Charlotte. I'll be mixing early next week. I was lucky enough to score some Ocmulgee clay from Georgia too. It's not been mined for several years and it will make a tasty addition to my earthenware body. I got the last 150 lbs she had in the warehouse. I think it's been sitting there unnoticed for 7 or 8 years now, at least.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Music and Such

In Athens last Thursday I had the good fortune of catching The New Pornographers at the Georgia Theater. It was a good show. Neko Case had an injured leg and was confined to a stool but still gave an outstanding vocal performance. The whole band was really tight, it's been way too long since I've been out for live music. I'm going to try to see/hear more this year.
The Breeders are going to be in Asheville in June. I love Kim Deal, she's a solid bass player and I loved her with Pixies. Her vocals...haunting and uplifting.

Happy Earth Day everyone. Hug a tree today. And drive slower, or not at all. Eat something good for you. Lay in the grass. Breathe. Plant some tomatoes. Recycle. Unplug your computer. Oh I better go now. Peace.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Clear the Decks

Or in this case the racks. I loaded the salt kiln yesterday and fired off today. That pretty much wiped out all the pots I had made save a few odds and ends. This is nice as I am ready to move on and make some earthenware for the next few months.

This evening I got the frame for my fiber roof all welded together and ready to go. I have to fire some clay 'buttons' that I'll use to hold the fiber to the frame.
So far I've not spent a dime on this new kiln. I had all the brick in storage and I found a 10 ft. piece of culvert pipe to use as the chimney. I have the burners too so hopefully by the time I get a few pots made I'll be ready to fire it off.

I took a little hiatus to Athens Ga late last week. I needed to get away and Athens is a place I really love. More than Asheville even. Anyhow, I'll write a bit about all that later. Hope everyone had a great Monday.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Young at Heart Chorus

For some reason my text didn't get printed below with the video so here it is...

I saw The Young at Heart Chorus on CBS Sunday Morning today. They are pretty amazing! Check their website out here.

They are popular on YouTube also. They do a moving rendition of Coldplay's 'Fix You' and a rocking version of 'I Wanna Be Sedated' by the Ramones. (I think Paul and Doug are featured in that one). :-)

Young@Heart sing 'Schizophrenia' by Sonic Youth

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good Grief

I hadn't intended to go into all that psychological stuff in the last post.
Anyhow thanks for all the comments.
I really just wanted to say it was fun to laugh when unloading the kiln. (and I hope to do more)

Sarah is off to the beach for a few days with a friend. What mayhem will ensue now that I am here alone? Guzzling milk from the carton? Hamada video marathon? Using one spoon for all my meals and tea stirring? Letting Karma stay up past her bedtime?

We'll see. I may head out of town myself for a day of pottery related fun.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Bit Silly

I've been meaning to write about when I unloaded the kiln last time before the Circle sale. I have to say I don't think I ever unloaded my salt kiln or my old cone 10 glaze kiln and had a chuckle at the pots. It was usually something like, 'oh, nice flashing, good orange peel on that one.' or something another. When I unloaded all my goofy long neck birds and fish and piranha and such they just made me laugh. I have always wanted to be this 'serious' potter (whatever that means. I have this stupid dogma in my head about that but no need to go into it now).

So I'm trying not to think too much about all this new stuff. I tend to really get ahead of reality and make up all kinds of stuff in my head if I'm not careful. It is fun to be messing around with some new pots and being more lighthearted about it all. I think they are pretty good. I am having to be careful not to worry too much about what I think Potter X would say about them. Or my dreaded Inner Critic. My Inner Critic likes to pretend he's Potter X or Potter Z and give me a bunch of grief. Maybe I can get my I.C. to lighten up and play alittle with this new stuff.

Here's a cup I kept for myself out of the last firing. I like the shape a lot and the places where my fingers were when I dipped the slip.

Well I just wanted to mention that bit about laughing while unloading the kiln. Didn't mean to go into all that therapy stuff. Anyhow have a fun day, do something silly.

More Progress

I got the flue box built for the small kiln today. So things are coming along. I'll get the culvert pipe put up on top of this and through the roof soon. I've got to replace some tin on the kiln shed anyhow so maybe all that will happen in one day. The burners are going to be easy to pipe in from my existing setup. I had one burner on the old bisque so I'll put on a second and be set to go.


Yesterday I delivered a nice selection of earthenware pots to Lark & Key Gallery in Charlotte, NC. If you are in the area be sure to go by and check it out. Lark & Key is a great space and I'm happy to be there.

Southern Pottery in Columbia, SC has plenty of my salt/soda glaze work on hand. Those pots went out last week so I'm sure they are out on display.

I have been invited to participate in "Animals, Animals, Animals", a show that will open on May 2nd at Hand in Hand Gallery in Flat Rock, NC. Many mediums are represented and it should be fun.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Circle Sale

The Circle of Eight Spring Sale was yesterday. The weather was rainy at times but we still had a nice turnout during the first part of the day. My sales were very good. I only showed the earthenware and it was well received. Honestly it's the best show I've had in awhile (other than my Home Sales), so needless to say I was pleased. It does make me a bit anxious that this new work is selling well. Sarah said, "Ron, can't you let yourself be successful?". I guess I can, it just feels funny.

Everyone's work looked great. Each of us has had made some changes in our work since we started this group a few years ago. It's neat to see us grow as individuals and as a group. We have secured a couple exhibits this year and I'll post about them later.

Our guests were Blaine and Laura Avery from Seagrove NC. We were happy to have them. They had a bit of truck trouble, Blaine says Charlotte, NC is sort of jinx town for them. Something always goes wrong. They both make great work and the customers enjoyed buying their pots and tiles and meeting them.

I picked up a new gallery while in Charlotte this past week. I am happy to say I'll be showing my earthenware at Lark and Key Gallery in the NoDa District. It's a wonderful space and I'm very excited to be there. I'll be delivering work to them this week.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Moving Up

Finished laying the walls yesterday. Now I have to get the steel up and build the arch form. That will probably happen next week.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Preview 3

Preview 2


These are some of the pots that I will have this Saturday at the Circle of Eight Sale in Charlotte. The sale is from 10am till 4pm. The address is 1225 Dade Street, Charlotte, NC 28205
You can use mapquest to get directions or call 704 650 5662 if you need help getting there. Our guests are Blaine and Laura Avery from Seagrove, NC.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Same. Different

After at least a month of being idle on my kiln building project I got back at it today. I've been thinking whether it would be best to stick with the 4.5 inch walls or go ahead and make it a good 9 inch wall. With propane costing what it does I decided it would be better to go ahead and make the walls thicker and therefore more insulating. I spent about 2 hrs scrounging up and sorting brick at my secret brick storage facility. I've had these for years, I may as well put them to use. Once back home I took down what I had originally built, re aligned the cement blocks for a wider and deeper foundation, and started fresh.

Above is where I am at this point. Hopefully I can follow through on finishing up the walls this week and get started on the steel and arch next week.


Just in from the Arts Council where I made sure the cones went down in the kiln. I'll unload tomorrow and load another glaze load which will come out on Thursday. All this in preparation for the Circle of Eight Sale on Saturday. I've got to get my little gas kiln finished so I can fire here. I will probably be working on it this week along with some repairs down on the kiln shed. The roof is leaking badly so I'll need to replace a few sheets of tin.

It seems the blogger crew all forgot their cameras or were just having too much fun to take any pics at Doug's big opening. Hopefully Hil took a few and Doug will post when he gets back home.

My session starts tomorrow at Clayworks. It should be a grand time. A full class once again. We are going to concentrate on faceting and fluting.

Better get going.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Clayworks Spring Sale

The Clayworks Spring Sale kicked off last night. We had a good turnout and everyone's pots looked great. Here are a few shots of my set up. I mainly sold cups and a few plates. This work certainly sold better at Clayworks than my salt work has in the past. I got plenty of encouragement from folks who were seeing the pots for the first time. The Sale continued today, I didn't make it up there but hopefully I sold a few more things.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Just Out

I unloaded the kiln this morning. These pots will mostly go to the Clayworks Spring Sale which is tonight. I was quite happy with everything. Here is most of the load.I had lots of cups. I'm hoping these sell tonight. They are really fun I think. I love to make cups, they are an opportunity for a good handle, and now an image. I really had no idea that I'd be about to draw on something the size of a cup. But I think these are pretty successful.

I'll get an image of my display tonight to put up for later.

I loaded a bisque today too and have it going. I never thought I'd get all those pots in that electric kiln. It is packed to the hilt. I should get two glaze loads from it next week in preparation for the Circle of Eight Sale.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Getting Things Dry

I have converted one wall in the showroom to a drying rack. I've the heat up to 75 in there and the fan going full blast. Here are a few pots (most of them upside down) drying in there. I need to load a huge bisque tomorrow so I can do two glaze firings next week. Crazy.This is a long oval I made last week. I have one more drying out.
Some dishes, just decorated. I did a couple with the birds in the square, one with the long neck, and 3 of the stripe and dot.
Here are the small handled dishes I made by cutting away at the rim. This little group was sort of a breakthrough for my newly developing decorating skills.

Bring on the Night

I rarely work at night anymore. I sort of view my pottery as a day job and try to work it as such, although the hours certainly are longer and it's usually 7 days a week.

Anyhow I did work for a couple hours last night doing all the drawing on pots that I'd made this week. I found it to be a nice time to be in the studio. No one calling wanting me to do something, no need to stop for lunch, just pure interrupted time. I found that sitting down to do all the deco at one time allowed me to get in a groove, take my time, and just let the ideas move onto the pots. I've found I have 4 or 5 main things in my repertoire right now along with a few new little marks I'm making that let me get through the process without too much stress. All this is new to me but and I find that this part of the process to be very time consuming, but fun and interesting at the same time.

One problem I am finding is that I don't know exactly how to sit or stand or whatever to do the decorating in a comfortable position. I found myself all bent over a few times and twisted up over top of bowls trying to find the right angle to draw on the rims. I guess I'll sort all this out over time.

All those pots are spread out on boards in the studio now with the fan blasting on them. I'd like to get them into a bisque tomorrow. Maybe a few pics later on or tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pots from Tuesday

Today was a good day in the studio even though I got off to a slow start and had some running around to do.

Below is an image from Turning Point, the book on Oribe that I recently acquired. This is a clog shaped teabowl, named Waraya, which means 'Straw Hut'. Made in the early 17 century. Pretty cool eh.
H. 7.8 cm Diam. at rim 13.8 cm. Mino ware. Black Oribe type. Stoneware.

The Black Oribe (kuro-oribe) typically had black glaze applied to only part of the surface, the rest was left white for the design area. These pots were removed from the kiln during firing and cooled rapidly.I made a few yunomi today, including 2 clog shaped (kutsugata). These will get footed tomorrow.

I am sort of making a hodge podge of things in small families, no large runs of anything. Firing this electric kiln changes everything. I can basically have a load made in a day. Right now I have about 2 1/2 loads probably. Lots of stuff under plastic waiting for me to slip or decorate. I think I'll make a few more mugs tomorrow and some tankards and that will be it. The Circle of Eight sale is the 12th so I'll need to get it fired.
Now that I'm doing this deco thing I see each pot as an opportunity for the image. So I made this board of mugs today, all different. Also some plates and jars.

Okay that's that. Time to get supper going.