Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Dumb Actor Reads His Lines



One for the money, two for the show. I made a slip cast vazzzzzzze too thin and it slumped. Nothing is an accident for those that see possibility in what others would discard.  I thought I would dissect it and use its parts on another piece. Turns out I can get pieces for two by making one that fails. Now I intend to fail on purpose. This fits in perfectly with the Power Point I presented at the Shadbolt Center in Burnaby, BC entitled “Fail it ain’t so bad- look at me.”
One piece of advice I got from Mick Casson in the UK was to “narrow your selection”. He laughed at North American potters that made 40 or 50 items. This vase form comes out of the mould exactly the same each time. Talk about a narrowed selection.  What I do to change that is up to my creative mind. The dumb actor that reads his lines would leave it as it is. I prefer improv.



We potters of the 21st century are very privileged. Most of us are over educated, pretty darn lucky to be able to make art into a living. What I don’t understand is why those that don’t need to make money from their craft insist on making the same thing over and over like dumb actors reading their lines.  One of my women blues heroes is Bonnie Raitt. She spoke of her father who made a living in musical theatre playing the same role night after night on Broadway. She said he tried to make it different and fresh  every night. Now that is” Something to talk about”. That’s what I am trying to do with these vases.

I am covering my arse with some production ware to get out to stores for Christmas. The vases I am hoping are destined for “Bon Feu” a show with the wood fire family in November at Shane Norrie Contemporary. For gallery quality pieces you need to make one for the money and two for the show. Often times it is 2 multiplied by many.


The dumb actors read their lines

Knowing they would be happier on the farm. – Hawksley Workman (one of my favourite life performers.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

I have weakened yet again!


This is probably the wimpiest, skinniest, and most fragile handle I have ever made. It’s not even the width of a bra strap. I think the tofu did this to me. One meal of the dreaded bean and I am loosing the strength in my work.

I’ve been learning the rhythm method of slip casting. It’s all about timing. How dry is the mould, how thick is the slip and what is the right weight? I have never really been a fan of light pots. Fact is I prefer heavy to light. I have however had some fun getting these vases really, really  thin and light. My last vase was so light that if a sparrow farted somewhere in Arkansas it would blow over. I started to wonder how it would stand up to the flame in the wood kiln when the draft really started pulling through the chamber. That was the 30 minute version so now I am up to 40 minutes and it seems a good weight.
I think I will make some saucers for these vases so I can add some more nonsense. More is more in my books.


At my workshop this weekend in Ottawa Ribfest was taking place right out side the Art School. I didn’t go there for bones and a beer but ventured to a supermarket only to be met by some young women protesting the killing of pigs. It used to be said that pottery class was the place to meet cute chicks but I have never had any luck. Then I was told that the now thing to do is go to hot yoga classes. Yes, buy a tight pair of those stretchy britches, put two pairs of socks down the front and pretend you are enjoying yourself.  I wouldn’t be able to hide my red face and shame.
Here’s the secret boys- become a vegan. It shows what a new age sensitive guy you are. These ladies gave me a hug and a pamphlet. We talked about the poop lagoons of NC that I had just learned about from my buddy Dan. 


I went to Farm Boy Supermarket to buy my egg and broccoli quiche( no bacon)  only to read the pamphlet and find out I also need to ditch eggs in favour of tofu. Holy merde, I'll be making miniatures before I know it on a bean diet. 

Jack and I grilled a turkey leg tonight from Uncle Donny and Aunt Nancy’s that looks like it belongs on a slate table in Bedrock with Fred and Wilma Flintstone. I have weakened yet again!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mon Dieu


The aroma of freshly ground coffee is the envy of the Alchemists. The secret is grinding not a minute before you brew. A new addition to the menu here at The Cactus Lounge is a creamy espresso. I bought a  Breville Burr Coffee Grinder and Espresso machine. I’ve been looking at these machines for months now rationalizing the big bucks. The Breville was rated the top of the lower end machines. It is easy to spend 2-3000 bucks on a good Italian machine. Mon Dieu the coffee is wonderful!! I no longer feel the need to go to McDonalds for that 3rd coffee at 10:30. I make a coffee Americano to actually wake the world up inside my head and then after life’s clean up maintenance a nice cafĂ© lait with foamed milk.  

Another one of my kids arrived home today for lunch. Amber Zuber a former Sheridan student has just returned with her MA from The Royal College of Art in England. In November she heads to Denmark to be the assistant at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center for a 6 week residency. She is then going to take over my studio in the Cactus Lounge while I’m away for the winter.
So today was a blurr with lunch, creamy espresso and chatting. Mark Kelner wonders when I work. My motto Mark is – work quickly, speed speeds inventiveness. When I was first starting out my Uncle Jim taught me on a two speed wheel – on and off. It was powered by an old washing machine motor.  I learned to make pots faster than Saints enter heaven.
It’s nice having the kids coming back to check in on me. I wish my Uncle Jim could meet these  people that are part of my legacy that started with his legacy. He would love them and they would love him. I can almost see the twinkle in his eye. He had wonderful sparkling eyes. They say the eyes are the mirror of your soul.


I have two solid days ahead of me with no visitors that I know of. I sit down before bed and think about what I am going to make the next day. That way I'm ready to rock and roll right after caffeinating myself and going for a morning walk.  I have slip cast 8 of the tall vases in the last 2 days since I’ve been home. They are coming along quite nicely. I own them now as they have a bit of nasty happening. Mary Philpott was sitting on my shoulder whispering “show me the process!”