Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Catching Up.

I've been trying to catch up on the pots I made yesterday and Monday. Things are in different states of completion. These two little pitchers are ready for the rack.Most of this stuff needs slip or deco. Those plates in the foreground are finished. I have some small jars and a board of mugs that will get taken care of tomorrow along with wrapping all this stuff up. We will be heading to the coast sometime tomorrow afternoon so I doubt there will be a post until Monday.

Finishing a Square Dish

Gay asked how I finished off the square dishes so I thought I'd put this sequence up.

This first image shows the bottom of the pot after it has reached the leather hard state.I basically hand trim it with a loop tool. Just cutting away the clay on each side in turn. I don't do this with the wheel turning, I just use the tool to remove the clay. A Sure Form rasp would be another tool you could use.
The finished pot. I smooth the edges with the side of my thumb.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Keep Practicing

Well, I tried to do the traditional zig zag pattern on my platter but it didn't quite turn out. Wrong motion with the trailer. My practice run on the batt turned out better. Putting it on the real pot makes it risker, and I probably panicked a little. So it is what it is. Not bad really I guess.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday. Holiday?

Well today is a national holiday, but my boss said I had to get in the studio and at least make a few pots. It went rather well for the first half of the day but went downhill when I tried to make pitchers after lunch.

This is platter no. 4 on the left. I am throwing the feet on these. I did some slip squirting on the ones I made last week.I am trying to square off some dishes on the wheel using the 'Briscoe Technique' of pushing the floor with a board while still on the wheel head. It seems to be working and makes for a loose pot. Also a few 4 lb. bowls.
I got these luncheon plates thrown before lunch and then made about 10 pitchers in the afternoon. I only kept those five on the right. (I've all the spouts pointing toward the wall).
Anyhow the boss let me kick off at 3pm. What a generous fellow.

It's getting hot and humid here in the South. Today was the first day I've really felt it out here in the shop.

Sarah and I are taking off for the coast on Thursday. I'll be working steady between now and then so check back often. Thanks!

Langhorne Slim

I heard this song on Seattle radio today. It's a pretty cool tune.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spring Fling

Looking for something fun to do this weekend?? How about a nice drive around Scotland visiting artists in their studios? Sounds like a great time. It's the annual Spring Fling.

Hannah and her studio mates are #54 on the Red Route, just below Castle Douglas. Hannah's got her studio space all in order. You can see a little video clip here.

Okay , here's the map....get going!

Did That Really Happen?

One of the first things Julie and I did when we landed in Minneapolis was to go to The Northern Clay Center. It's an amazing facility and and gallery. Now, most of you know how hard it is to get Warren Mackenzie pots these days. He's shut his showroom and only sells through a few galleries. The Northern Clay Center puts out a pot of Warren's every so often for sale. On the day we were there I was lucky enough to spot this little green bottle and snatched it right up. $10! Yea for me.

As I was paying for the bottle a man came in and asked if I was buying that pot. I told him 'yes' and we got to talking about pottery and that Julie and I were visiting from NC and there to work for the Potter's Tour.

Then he said, "Well , can I give you a pot?".

Okay now this is strange indeed. I didn't know where this was going. Did this man have a trunk full of pottery? who was he? what am I getting into? are we being abducted (candy little boy?)?

"Sure." (Note: never turn down free pottery)

We went out onto the side walk and he introduced himself as Bob Ellingson. We proceeded to have a big talk about Warren and another MN potter Mel Jacobson, whose work I know also.

Bob said he had had a near death experience some time ago and afterwords decided that he would begin giving pots away from his Warren Mackenzie collection. Wow!

We got in our car and followed him into downtown Minneapolis and he led us up to his office. Once inside we saw about 80 Mackenzies displayed around the room. Mostly cups, bowls, some large jars, a couple teapots, vases, and a stack of 3 large platters in the corner. There was a beautiful large bowl on the corner of Bob's desk too.

Julie and I handled all the pots in the room. Bob had said we could have our pick, but of course I had my own ideas about what that meant. I mean there was no way I would have asked for that large covered jar. Right? Well? Right. And after a while he did say that if we picked something he had the option to say no. Fair enough. Surely we were being tested.

That didn't stop me from getting down on the floor in the corner of Bob's office and dragging out all 3 of those large platters! And drooling over them and caressing them, and wowing over the kaki trailing.

After much more story telling (about an hour in all) I picked out the yunomi pictured above and Julie picked a nice cereal bowl with a tall foot, shino glaze.

Bob is such a good soul. We had a blast talking to him and he even insisted that we take a short drive down to the river district to see the waterfall as he told about the history of the Twin Cities. He invited us to have dinner with him and his wife at their home, promising a more varied and larger collection of Mackenzie pots to be seen there. We were however on a bit of a schedule and expected for supper at Briscoe's. We declined with the promise that we would visit next time we were in town.

Now how amazing is that?! We drove away saying, "Did that just really happen?" . "That Bob, what a generous soul." It was an surreal beginning to our weekend in MN.

Thanks Bob!!!! Look forward to visiting with you again.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Not in the Groove Yet

I am having a hard time getting into any kind of making groove. The week is almost over and I feel I have little to show for my efforts in the studio. Well I did get some feet thrown on these platters. I guess they are more like pedestal dishes now. They won't be hard to put a wire on if someone chooses to hang them on the wall.I made some med. bowls and a few mugs. Also a 16 lb platter and had a go at a few big jars, which all got squashed.

I think part of the problem is that I haven't made my "Make List". It's helpful to have a plan. So I'll do that tonight and see what happens.

Just a bit of thought

I sketched out these two shapes last night before bed. They became the background for the beginning of this morning's journaling and drawing.

So I am out to make some stuff. I am having fun these days. It's a bit sketchy, the way I am working. Still figuring out what I want to make in this clay. Thinking of forms, deco, what works, what doesn't. Learning along the way. I've got those 3 platters to slip and decorate today. That should be a challenge.

I'm happy to be doing something new.

I still have to tell my story about how a stranger I met on the street in Minneapolis ended up giving me a Warren Mackenzie pot. So stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just a few pots

from today. No big runs of anything, just a few cups, platters and the odd bowl and jar. I'm not quite in a production mode, just trying some new things here and there. The platters will get added foot rings, as opposed to cut feet, those cups are loose and new, and that small jar with feet is a shape I'm working out.
I also had a couple jars that I didn't photograph. I'm wanting to find a large-ish jar shape I like. I'm not really wanting the typical full belly round shape. I'm more into something like a tea ceremony water jar, or ... well I don't know. Maybe someone has something historical for me to look at. Suggestions welcome.

Quick Post

My blogging and potting pals Doug, Hannah, and Matt have posted about their weekend at ClayArt Wales. It looks like they had a great time, although they all came home exhausted. The bottle kiln they fired looks really fantastic. I've never seen one in real life. It would be fun to have the experience of firing one. Brad Lail, who is from Shelby, was in North Wales during the event and was able to meet them. I'll be looking forward to hearing about Brad's adventures when he gets back home.

My class at Clayworks loaded the gas reduction kiln last night. They did a great job. Becky has some images on her blog.

Well I'm off to make pots. I'll get some images up later. Exciting news...I'm getting an electric kiln to fire my earthenware in and also for bisque for my salt kiln and small gas kiln. I'll keep firing some of the earthenware in the gas kiln until I get it figured out too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I still have some Minnesota stuff to report. It will have to wait till later though as I need to get to work. I'm saving the best for last. Stay tuned.

I had a nice little visit with Ron yesterday. Sarah really loved the new jar (which is great since I bring so many pots into the house).

Out to make some jars, teapots, and hopefully a platter or two. Just a couple pages from my journal to leave you with for now.

Have a good day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Jar

I am so stoked to have this pot. I went to Athens, Ga today to pick it up from Ron Meyers. I had asked him some time ago if he'd make me a large jar , and this is it! It is totally cool. I love the images: cat, frog,bird,owl, diva. It looks great in our new living space.I got Sarah to take a shot with me and my new love.

Off Again

I am heading down to Athens, GA today to have a visit with Ron Meyers and to pick up a pot he made for me. More later....
Have a good Monday!

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm Making Stuff

I've not just been goofing off since I came home. Yesterday I mixed 600 lbs of clay and I've been making a few pots along the way. I got a big batch of white slip mixed this morning too so some of these guys got a good coat.
Today I made some yunomi and square cereal bowls. I'm wanting to pay attention to the volume of my pots. I am finding the more I can do on the wheel and the less I fuss with them afterwords the more alive and fresh they end up looking.

I am going to be testing a new green glaze soon. I think I'd rather just coat the pots with white slip and then have the color come for the glazes. Kathryn Finnerty had a great green on some of her pots. I have my green slip, I'll play around with it too. I am thinking I need to be paying attention to building up layers (subtle or not so subtle) to make the surfaces more exciting and engaging.

Sarah and I are heading out for dinner tonight. It's nice to be back home with her.


If you 've been reading this blog for anytime at all you've probably heard me mention Linda Christianson. She is a big influence of mine and such a lovely person. It was thrilling to see all these dishes of Linda's set out in her yard. The past two times I've been to her home there have only been a few pots. This was total L.C. pottery overload!!
I had to control myself as I was on a strict budget. I did score a fantastic huge oval baker (not pictured here, but it's on it's way home to me). It had a cracked handle and I got a super deal on it! I also bought this basket below. I've wanted one for a long time.

I picked up a few pots for some friends while there too. I got my pal David a nice fat pitcher with a super wide handle. For Brandon from TX I picked out one of the striped plates (there on the left corner of the table) and a cereal bowl.
I did get to chat with Linda some but not as much as I'd liked too. Hopefully I'll make it up again soon for a visit with her and her family.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Host with the Most

Bob Briscoe has to be one of the most generous and kind people on the planet. During my four days spent at his home I saw him give and give and give. He is on the go constantly, nothing seems to upset him or get under his skin. He welcomes folks into his home , feeds them, makes them comfortable, offers them a beer, and of course all his pottery is out for sale, so you can take a piece of Bob home with you to remind you of the experience.

As the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman, and this case is no different. Mary, Bob's wife, worked away in the house all weekend with the rest of the kitchen staff making wonderful food for us all, and for the customers. She is a quiet lady, much like Bob. I found that Mary has a love of colorful aprons and table clothes. I'd find her up early in the mornings making coffee for us all when I came in from the 'bunkhouse'. She never seemed too tired or put out. Mary and Bob were fine examples to me of two people living in harmony with one another and with the other people in the world.
The atmosphere at the Briscoe household during the Pottery Tour is fun and festive. Food is always coming out of the kitchen, the kegs of beer out on the perimeter of the yard are iced down as folks stand around them and talk of Spring, pottery, catching up on things since they've seen one another last. Bob wore shorts and tee shirt all weekend, most of the rest of us were bundled up a little, especially us Southerners. I think it may be some sort of good luck ritual that he puts into play for the sale. It seems to pay off.
Here are a few images of Bob's pots from the Sale. If you'd like to see more you can visit the Akar site here.

I feel really fortunate that I got to work at the Briscoe site during my first ever MN Potters Tour. Thanks to Bob's extensive selection of Scotch I also had my first drink of that fine beverage. I sure hope I get to go back next year!

More Metz

A few folks have expressed interest in seeing more of Matthew Metz' work so here are these two images I have from the Tour . If you checked in earlier today I had a link to the Akar site. I have updated that with the current show of Matt's work that is on display there now. So check it out here.
Matt's work is porcelain covered in black or brown slip (maybe sig) this is then carved through to revel the clay body beneath, much like cutting a wood block. Then the pots are salt (or soda, not sure which) fired.

Weekend Plans?

Need some plans for the weekend? How about heading to northern Wales for ClayArt Wales 2008. Featuring over 70 leading UK and international potters and ceramic artists. My friends Douglass Fitch and Hannah McAndrew will be there so be sure to stop by their booths and pick up a few pots.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kathryn Finnerty

Kathryn Finnerty was one of the guest potters at Briscoe's site. She makes beautiful pots. Kathryn lives and works near Eugene, Oregon. Below is a sampling of her work. Everything is built from slabs. I'd love to have a workshop with Kathryn.

These pots really speak for themselves.

Low fired earthenware at it's best!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meeting Emily

One great highlight of the weekend was getting to meet fellow blogger Emily Murphy. Emily came up from Chicago to go around the Tour. Emily's blog was one of the first pottery blogs out in cyberspace. She's been a big inspiration to me.

She makes fantastic soda glazed pottery.

It's fun finally meeting someone in person who I've known only through emails and blogging. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it certainly cannot replace the experience of human contact, touch, and face to face communication.

The Amazing St. Croix Pottery Studio Tour

I had a great time at the Minnesota Potter's Tour this past weekend. I was helping out Suze Lindsey and Kent McLaughlin . They were part of the group set up at Bob Briscoe's place in Harris MN. Below is a shot of the back yard after we got through with set up on Friday. There were 7 potters set up at Bob's location. In all there were 6 locations on the Tour featuring a total of 24 potters.

Below you can see some customers from Saturday morning.
Matthew Metz was one of the featured potters at this location. It was amazing to see his work. Here is Matt on Friday morning pricing his work.
I was shy around Matt at first, not because of his personality, but because I had never met him and I admire his work so much, especially his skill as a decorator. Over the weekend I became more comfortable being around him. He's generally soft spoken and insightful. I enjoyed hearing some stories he told about his family history.

He took interest in what I am doing and offered me some insight and suggestions as well as to show me around the library at Alfred if I was ever up that way. He said there was a wealth of books there on historical pots.

I had a blast being part of this. I have much to share and will do so over the next few days. I'll also be getting back to work in my studio. So stay tuned and check in often.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More of the Rest

So I can't say I'm really disappointed. I am quite happy actually that it went so well, even with the problems. Of course I don't think I'd have some of these issues in an electric kiln (I'd probably have completely different ones, right Hannah)(aaaahhhhhhh)....Anyway, is it worth it to go through with this whole gas thing? are the pots any better? is the process any more important? For me the biggest plus to this kiln is that it is front loading and has a good capacity. I don't really like top loading kilns. That said, I've never had one for long.
So you can see I am considering the electric alternative. I'll think it over. I'll also have the chance to talk to some potters this weekend about it all. I do want to carry on with this work. What is the best way for me to do that? I have to continue to make a living. I have to have successful firings. I'll figure it out.

Below is a cup that was on the top front shelf. Not so good. The side facing away from the flame was much better.
A good group of pots here.
And here too.
This is the top. You can see the dry areas on those jars, and the teapot handle.
I'll get to look at all these for awhile today before I leave. I will take a few along to share and show and tell. I'm not discouraged, I'm excited to make the next load of pots.

I was pretty happy with all my deco on these pots. I am trying to play around more. Develop my characters, capture their essence, and most of all have fun.

The Rest

Okay, so it wasn't bad. There were problems. Some due to the firing and some due, I think , to too thin of a glaze application. I had dry, rough spots on many pots. These seemed to be the ones on the flame face or on the top shelf. Mostly on rims or edges. I think those parts of the pot are getting heated soon, maybe too hot all together. It seems like the glaze is almost burned away. Not everything had that problem, but it was the main issue.

I brush the glaze on the backsides of my bowls and dishes. I need to make sure to get a good thick even coat. Otherwise the glaze is dull and a bit dry.