Saturday, August 30, 2008

Isaac Button - Country Potter (Extract)

Bisque Jugs

These harvest jugs stayed under plastic for about two weeks. I just did not know what to do with the decoration. They were supposed to go to an event to be fired but I was so intimidated by it all that of course I waited until it was too late to attempt to decorate them and send them out. So here is it, past the deadline, I have nothing to lose and I do the decoration, which did not turn out so bad after all I guess.

I set myself up like this all the time. Fear keeps me from doing many things. I regret I did not follow through with these, but maybe I learned a little something and will be one step closer to taking a chance and putting myself out there in the future

These two images are of the same pot with the bird tree deco. just different angles.

Belgium Chocolate

The treat I spoke of in the last post was Belgium chocolate. Russel Fouts from Brussels was kind enough to send this out to me. I think he felt quite sorry for me when he saw the post on the clay brownie!
Sarah and I are choco-holics. What a delight.
Please take time to visit Russel's blog, Pots I Like.

His website is quite extensive and can be found here.

Thank you so much Russel for the lovely chocolate.

Friday, August 29, 2008

When it Rains it Pours....

and then everything decides to dry out at the same time and I have to play catch up. After a week of rainy weather the sun came out for most of today. All the pots in the studio seemed to reach leatherhard at the same time and needed footing, handling, and slipping. Things got shuffled around a lot and at the end of the day most everything was slipped and ready for deco. (and back under plastic).
I had a nice text chat yesterday and today with Doug and Hannah and today was even introduced the the infamous slipware potter Paul Young. That was a treat. I also have another treat to post about but have to take some pics first, so stay tuned for that.

Several customers today which was a nice surprise and a good way to end the week. The bisque kiln is cooling so maybe I'll get some things glazed and fired next week.

Speaking of glazes my latest test was promising, so it will get a bit of further testing and maybe a small batch mixed for some cups and bowls in the next load.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Drawn on Pots from 2005

Brandon wrote and reminded me of these pots I had made back in Nov. of 2005. These were fired in my salt kiln. I had slipped the trays and then incised them, after bisquing I rubbed a black stain in the lines before they went into the salt kiln. Not bad. I really didn't follow this idea through very far. Honestly, my kiln at that time was beginning to falter. It's never recovered. It has a lot of salt residue in it and my atmosphere was going all over the place. I later figured out the atmosphere problem, but still had this scummy problem with my kaolin slips. It was frustrating having these brown, wrinkled, dry patches on the pots. It would have been even worst over decorated pots.

I think if I do go back to high fire salt or low fire salt for that matter, that it will probably be with a wood fired kiln. Fuel costs aren't going to get any better. I'm pretty much a salt glazer at heart so this could happen, even on earthenware (since I've been taken over to the dark (clay) side by Doug and Hannah).

It would be awesome to be able to say "I'm a potter that salt glazes earthenware in a woodfired kiln".

Michael Kline has mentioned to me that he has a friend who is experimenting with this sort of thing. Maybe it's time I find out more.

Thanks Brandon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another Day...

another glaze test.

Mixed up a new test today, one that Leon worked out in the Matrix software that has the ingredients I'm wanting and an expansion rate near to what I need for a good fit. So we'll see. I probably won't get it fired until Thursday.

Thanks for all the comments and discussion on the last post. I'm happy to be able to post something worth talking about every now and again.

Plenty of pots made before lunch today. No pics at the moment. More making tomorrow as things will not be dry due to the rain.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Information

I spent a few hours this weekend measuring out and mixing test glazes and getting them fired. In the end I had one potential out of the three that I tested, but it was still not quite what I was after. I guess in all I've put quite a bit of time into trying to find a good clear base glaze that fires to cone 03-02 and that works well with oxides and over my white slip.
On Sunday I decided I would break down and write a well known potter to ask for his/her clear glaze recipe. (Over the past 16 years, only once have I had a potter tell me 'no' when I have asked for some information) I emailed 'Potter X' outlining my tests and my problems, asked for the recipe and stated that I'd understand if they were not willing to share.

Within hours I had a reply. It was simply "Amaco LG 10"

What!!?? I couldn't believe it. Potter X was using a standard, readily avaliable commercial glaze. I was expecting a more complicated answer. Here is a potter who has an MFA in ceramics, I had assumed the glaze would be one that he/she had worked out during grad. school, struggling with the formula, getting it right only after years of intense struggle.

But the more I thought about it the more it made sense. It's a simple, transparent glaze. Why not use something off the shelf? It's not like it's a signature copper red, or fancy crystalline glaze. It's a clear glaze. Potter X makes lots of pots. The deco. is really wonderful and the forms are fun and inviting to use. Potter X has his/her priorities worked out, form and decoration are the primary areas where the most time and energy is spent. Potter X is also a keen marketer, and successful at selling pots. I could have made and decorated a hundred cups in the time I've spend testing glazes. That's over $2000 worth of pots I could have made.

Now, I'm not saying that I am going to go out and get some commercial glaze. (Maybe I will though). I am getting close to finding what I want, with Leon's (my glaze guru) help. But I just wanted to put this out there as an example of how my assumptions about another potter were wrong, and how I have been thinking how important it is to work out this glaze, when Potter X on the other hand is (I assume) making pots in an efficient manner, focusing on what is most important to getting a quality, hand made, unique pot out to the world.

What works for one may not work for everyone else, but over the years I have become more and more open to trying new things and letting some of my dogmas go. How do I want to spend my time? Where can I be more efficient? How can I improve my pots? How can I embrace new technology? Or do I want to stay within a certain frame of thought and tradition? All good questions.

I just thought this would provide some good discussion. I don't know if it's important that you know who Potter X is. I don't guess it really matters. What is important is that I learned something new this weekend, not really about glaze so much as how I think and work.

Happy Monday to you all, I hope it's a good week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some Shots From Friday

Everything got slipped yesterday, now it's time to decorate. I'll probably wait until tomorrow on that so this is all under plastic at the moment. It feels good to have some pots in process.
Here are two plates from the kiln. This load was mostly amber so I'll put a few up at a time so you don't get amber-overload.

My glaze tests were disappointing in that they were milky and not as shiny as I expected. But they didn't craze so that was great. I think the problem with the cloudiness was some talc so that will have to be worked out. I'm firing some tests today too in the small test kiln.

Okay that's it for now. Happy Saturday!

o o o o o o


I woke up this morning and the first thought I had was how thankful I am for all Sarah and I have. We really have all the necessities for life. I often take that for granted. We are not well off by any means but we are okay in this moment.

I know I can be gloom and doom sometimes or a worrier so I thought I'd just share that bit of positive thought.

This little sprout had started growing in the clay out in the racks over the last few days.

Pottery related post coming later, after I get my camera from the shop.

I'm not sure why my blogroll isn't updating. I'll check it out and get it fixed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Finally Got to Make Some Pots...

Today was a good session on the wheel. This morning I made all this stuff and even got the salsa bowls handled after lunch. The kiln is cooling so there will be some new work out tomorrow. I have been thinking today about what it would be like to soda fire some of this slipware. Just a kaolin slip on the outsides , I could still incise and pop some colored glazes on the interiors or even over the outside slip. I think I'm desiring a dirtier surface, with some variety. So we'll see what comes of that idea.

Tomorrow the plates, bowls and yunomi will get footed and most everything will get slipped before the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No pots today

Well I don't know what I was thinking when I said I would glaze, load, mix test glazes and make plates and bowls today. I did all but get the pots made. Tomorrow, tomorrow, pots made tomorrow. I did make this nice clay brownie with white slip frosting and red clay cocoa powder. Yum, yum with a cool cup of milk.

I Need Chocolate

Yesterday Amy and Guthrie came by for a visit. It's been awhile since Guthrie has been here. He's getting big. He was all decked out to go turkey hunting yesterday but Amy and I got too busy talking pots so that will have to wait until next time. I am going to be helping Amy work on a public art commission in the fall. We went over some details on that, had lunch and then Amy gave me some feedback on the pots I've been making. It was good to have some company. As you can see Guthrie only has eyes for one person at this point in his life.

Last night I dreamed I was taking the blocks of clay out of the racks but instead of clay they were big chocolate brownies. I must not be getting my daily chocolate fix. I'll have to work on that.

I'm off to glaze a load of pots and then hopefully make some plates and bowls. Check in later to see how that goes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Clay Harvest

I started bringing in my clay today. My racks are twelve feet long by 2 feet wide and divided into 3 sections. You can see here where I cut the clay into blocks early this morning. By late this afternoon the ends and some of the side pieces in this section were ready to harvest. The section just to the left was all ready and the one on the right was still pretty damp. It had gotten wet during a storm the other night. I store the clay in big trash bins and pug it as I need it.

Yea! Tomorrow I get to make some pots!

Giant Frog and Other Things...

No aliens showed up in the night. I guess the closest thing we've had that was green and slimly was this guy which Karma found behind a planter near the workshop. He was quite happy to be returned to the creek out back.Having my tea out of this Hannah McAndrew mug this morning. Sarah and I got online last night and ordered enough tea to last us for the next couple months. We both have our favorites, Sarah loves green tea scented with jasmine, I like the Gyokuro, and we both enjoy a good black tea in the morning. We ordered the Baker Street Afternoon Blend for the black this time. It's quite good and it always makes me thing of Sherlock Holmes when I make a cup. I've also been hooked on Darjeelings for some time. Spending $40 on tea seems pretty crazy I guess but we really don't have any other vices, alcohol or smoking or illegal drugs , so I feel like it's money well spent and on a price per cup basis it's really cheap. We buy tea from Upton Imports, check them out if you love tea as much as we do.

Below is the copy of Michael Cardew and The West Country Slipware Tradition that Doug recently sent me. It's really been an inspiration. Just check out that harvest jug on the cover. I hope this book will be avaliable in the States at some point soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fancy Bits

Slipped these two guys off here at the end of the workday. I had Doug's stein there to help out with those fancy handle additions. What do you call that scrolly part Doug?...Compensation? I can't remember.I am so ready for my clay to come out of the racks. I have been just putzing around. I got some pots packed up for a show today and mixed some slipped and ran out for some materials. I'd like to be making some dishes.

Off to wash up and get supper going. Sorry this wasn't more exciting. No convertables or surfboards
or shooting innocent duckies. Maybe over night some alien body snatchers will land in the field next door.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two New Pots and a Goat

These are the two latest additions to our collection. Tom Gray send me the blue ash mug in the post last week. Tom hardly ever makes mugs anymore so it was nice to get one from his latest firing.
The gigantic tankard was a gift from Doug. My friend Fredia was in England during Hatfield event and went by to see Doug. He warned me not to fill it up with beer as it may 'give me a bad head'.
This guy was out in the side field this morning. I think he escaped from the livestock yard just up the road.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rice Noodles Made by Hand

I have several food blogs that I regularly check in on and Eating Asia is one of my favorites. I think if I had the chance to do anything I'd travel around the world meeting people, eating and learning about food. It would be amazing, hard at times I guess but just think of all the great stories and experiences to be had.

Sarah and I went into Charlotte for part of the day and had lunch at Lang Van, it's our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I had pan fried noodles with broccoli and tofu; Sarah had vermicelli with bean curd that was marinated with lemon grass and more (that I can't remember). Anyhow of course it was delicious, we also had summer rolls and Vietnamese iced coffee.

Anyhow I was just looking at Eating Asia and saw this post on making rice noodles. Not in a factory mind you, but by hand. Check it out. What hard work this is. Most of us have it so very easy, we go to the store and get what we want. In some ways the process the lady is using isn't unlike making clay and pots. Speaking of pots, look in the background of the 12th photo down. Nice jar!

Tonight it's tomato sandwiches for me again. No, I don't seem to tire of these throughout the summer. It won't be that long before fall and winter and there are no more fresh tomatoes to be had for awhile.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who Made This #2

This one may be a little tricky. I 'll give a hint and say it wasn't made by an American . That really narrows things down. Ha. Okay have at it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm Here Somewhere

Karma made a huge mess in the shop today by knocking over a bucket of muddy water. That didn't make my day, but what's a little more clay and water in the floor right?

I have to confess I've become totally obsessed with working on my WordPress site. It's like learning to throw, slow and frustrating. I'm not going live with it for a while, but I think it will be a bit of an improvement to this Blog. However i have to say I can get on here and do pretty much what I want to. I guess I'll get better at the WP thing too. Getting the look all set up is hard, mainly b/c I can't make up my mind and also b/c sometimes I'll get it all like I want it only to discover a problem.

Sarah has about had enough of it, she told me yesterday I needed to get it finished so I'd pay her some attention. That was a little harsh but I got the message.

Out of clay! I'll have a bisque firing tomorrow and then fire a glaze kiln over the weekend. Hopefully I'll have more clay next week.

If you've asked me a question in the comments lately and haven't gotten a reply you may have to try again. I've sort of lost track, but will be happy to answer.

Gotta go.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Getting Over the Hump

Wednesday is here! A new day, a hot cup of tea, and it's been raining heavily since midnight. I may have to get Hannah to float over here in her ark to get us if this keeps up .

Mixed up a batch of clay yesterday with plans on making more next week. I would like to start to get ahead of the game on my clay stock. I don't like mixing in winter.

I saw Leon yesterday and he had worked up two new glaze bases for me on his software. I'll be testing them in my next firing.

Regarding my last post, I think a big part of my ups and downs could be the fact that I work in isolation most days for most of each day. That gives me LOTS of time to be in my head. Being in there with all those voices is not the most healthy place sometimes. But by knowing that I can allow myself to step back and see what process is all about. I can try to observe it without reacting to it. Either that or play lots of loud music in the shop.

I realized I had a little more clay than I thought when I went in to check on my reclaim last night. I may get to make a few more big jugs before this next glaze firing. So, I'm off to work. Have a soggy day!! Smiles.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I've been meaning for years to make a tee shirt with this image and WWHD on it. "What Would Hamada Do?"It's late, I need to be in bed but I've been working on my Wordpress site which may end up happening sooner than I thought thanks to some progress tonight. (Thanks Cynthia!)

I just read a great post by Joy Tanner. Check it out here.

I often end my days in a slight funk, feeling like I need more time, or that I wish I had spent my time better or even had a different kind of day or sometimes a different life. In the mornings I am upbeat and ready to go again, but ending up in bed staring at the ceiling thinking how things could be different is telling me something is missing in my life. What is it?

I think I can safely say that a big part of this is that I've gotten away from living in the present moment. My meditation practice has ceased to exist. I think about it often. Then my guilt kicks in and then shame and then I decided it'd be easier not to think about it so I go to work, or get on this machine, or something. Maybe just putting that out here just now will help me. I guess I should go now.

All Systems Go

Looks like things are working again. Brandon had the correct answer to the "Who Made This?" post. That luncheon plate was made by Randy Johnson.

There are new pots on my Etsy site!


My comments do not seem to be working. I think the haloscan site is down too. Hopefully it will be back soon. I haven't been able to see if anyone got the correct answer on the "Who Made This"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Made This?

I have been enjoying Patricia Griffin's 'Famous Potter Challenges' so I thought I'd put up some pots now and again to challenge my readers. Below is a luncheon plate that we have in our cabinet. We actually are lucky enough to have 4 of these. Can you guess who made this? Leave your answer in the comments.

Getting Low

I didn't realize I was getting so low on clay. Today after making some 6lb oval bakers , a couple platters and this big dish my clay bin was relatively empty. So tomorrow will be mixing day and finishing these pots up. I got a call over the weekend from a friend asking me if I'd make something special for a wedding gift. So this platter will get a foot thrown on tomorrow and then decorated some how for that occasion. Probably birds.

I have some reclaim drying out that I will be able to make some cups with and then I guess it'll be about time to fire again. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and my clay won't take forever to dry in the racks.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Indonesian Red Rice Salad

Sarah made this incredible supper for us tonight. It was a recipe out of this month's Yoga Journal. It was made with red rice and had basil, macadamia nuts, ginger, shallots, coriander, coconut milk, carrots, green get the idea. Man it was tasty.

Weekend's End

Well it's Sunday evening and the weekend is over. Not too much exciting news to report though. Mainly we hung out at home, but did have some time with family and watched a couple movies and some of the Olympic games.

I also got pumped up after reading some posts on Emily Murphy's blog and also on Colorado Art Studio. It was in regard to using (or switching to) as a blogging platform. It seems this has lots of advantages. I won't go into it, just read Emily's or Cynthia's posts. They cover it well. What is inviting to me is that I could have multiple pages and that I can set it up on a host (which I will have to pay for) and have my own domain name. I feel like this blog has opened lots of doors for me and I want to say up to date with it and have the features avaliable to me to allow it to grow and provide the information I want to my readers. I'm not sure when this switch will happen but I'm reading up on the whole thing and trying to make my mind up. One nice feature is that I can take all my content from the past 3 yrs or so of being on Blogger and have it transfered to the Wordpress site. So nothing will be lost in that regard.

I shot some images for Etsy today, I have to resize them and get it all ready to put up on the site. I also made up some test slips and spoke to Leon about helping me with my glaze crazing issue. I am hoping he can get me a little closer to what I need using his computer glaze software.

That's it for now. Here's a quick shot from the showroom.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Modern Technology

Yesterday afternoon I went over to Gene Young's studio to check out his new Geil kiln. Gene and Leon where finishing up the first bisque firing in the new kiln . This gas kiln can be programmed and pretty much fire itself. The computer even controls the damper. It was pretty weird watching the damper adjust itself. You can hook up your laptop and get all sorts of information and chart the firing or cooling and atmosphere.
Pretty fancy stuff.
Maybe one day all you woodfirers will be able to sit back and hit a button "STOKE", "STOKE", "STOKE". Ha, just kidding, why on earth would you want to do that right?

On a related note the other night I told Sarah I was going out to light my kiln. That's what I've always said over the years when I was going out to get the salt kiln going. Well, I was just going out to push a button on the electric kiln that says "start". Not nearly the same as striking a match and really 'lighting the kiln'. Oh well, I'll be back lighting my kiln with a match someday soon I'm sure.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy has updated her website. I hope you'll go check it out. Emily has been an inspiration to me for years here on the web. She is a top notch blogger, always sharing information and help. Reading Emily's last posts have motivated me to make some changes and work on some aspects of this blog. Guess, I'll be 'chipping away' at it a little at a time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Unloaded & Tests

I unloaded my glaze firing this afternoon. I had mixed up a new base glaze and ran some tests with my colorants. It 's a fine base but it did craze in a way that I don't like. So back to the drawing board. (Don't worry I'm going to tone that green down a bit, and add some iron to it)I hadn't made up any proper glaze test pieces so I had to break up an old pot, kind of sloppy but it got the job done.

I'm getting my plate inventory build back up. Some of these will show up on my Etsy site. I'll announce it here when that happens.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I went out this morning to scrounge up some boxes. I needed some small ones to ship some mugs and bowls away. I cruised around town behind the shops with little luck. Then I happened upon a pharmacy with a big dumpster that said 'cardboard only'. I couldn't get the side doors to open so I just threw open the lid on top and climbed in. Jackpot!
Well until some lady from the store came out and said 'Can I help you?'. She had brought a young male store clerk out with her too, they must have thought I was dangerous. So I peeped out of that little slit in front to let them know I wasn't rummaging for needles or old drugs or whatever they thought I was after. I threw out all the boxes I wanted, climbed out and left. I guess next time I should wait until after hours.

Morning Tea

I'm having my tea this morning in this mug made by Blair Meerfeld. I got it a few years ago when Sarah and I traveled out to Colorado. Blair's salt glazed pots are like none other. I love the color and I especially like his handles. This mug performs flawlessly. Your index finger fits just inside the handle, thumb right up on top, with the ....well wait I'll take a picture....
There you see. Good leverage, just tilt and drink.

My tea of choice this morning is Singbulli Estate Darjeeling. I'm hung up on the Darjeeling's at the moment, we have about 4 different ones on hand.
In the afternoons I usually have some green, right now my favorite is Gyokuro from Asahi, Japan. It's amazing. Becky turned me on to that.

The kiln is going so I'll have some pots out in a couple days. I sure hope some of that crawling is improved by my reglazing and refiring. We'll see. I'm also testing a new base glaze that has no Gerstley.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


A Little More

I realize I am stringing you all along with these jugs. I slipped them this morning and did the finger wipes , the plan now is to draw some flying birds in those open spaces. The lesson learned with this finger wiping business is to do it and leave it alone. No fussing about or touching up. I did the middle jug first and then fiddled around with my lines, which didn't help. The next two were better, but I probably need to practice on about 50 more before I get it right.

Okay, that's that. See ya later.

A day in the City

I literally spent all day in Charlotte yesterday. Amy and I got our Circle of Eight postcard designed and ordered and also wrote a press release to send out to some places. We are hoping for a good turnout for our Fall Sale. We feel like doing a home sale like this gives people the opportunity to come out and see a large selection of work in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. They can meet us, browse for pots, catch up with friends, learn more about what we do and why we do it. I think these kinds of sales allow us to connect with our buying public. After all we make things to be enjoyed and used and I think that experience can be enhanced by meeting the makers. Our group is really making some outstanding work so hopefully that too will be recognized and we will be able to continue to do what we love.

After meeting with Amy I dropped off some work at Clayworks where I teach and then had supper with my pal Julie Wiggins. We talked about the sale and how we want to change the way the work is displayed at the sale.

I needed some frits for my test glazes so I zoomed over to the clay store to get those and hung around for Leon's class. He bragged on my pots to his students and got me to show one of them how I make my cup handles. Finally I got home around 10:30. A full day of pottery related activities. (Didn't get any pots made though.) Better get out to the shop.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday. Ready, Set, Go!

Monday. Ah a new week, fresh start, tons of stuff to do.....
So the veterinarian is coming this morning to give our 3 pets their annuals and any other thing they need. I am trying to get ready for that, later on I'll be heading to the city to meet with Amy to work on some advertising for our Circle of Eight Sale which is Sept. 20th.

My harvest jugs now have handles. I am putting off the slipping because once I do that I'm going to have to decorate them somehow. Scary.

The pots that needed refiring along with some freshly glazed ones were enough to make up another kiln load. I will fire it off tomorrow in hopes of improving some of the crawling. I'll also be testing some new glaze bases that have less Gerstley or none at all.

That's all for now...along with these two pots from the last firing.