Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tony's Pizza, Tony's Clip Joint and Tony's Club Mud

There are some spaces in my Spinning your Wheels at La Meridiana in Tuscany. I thought I'd post the itinerary for any of you that might be tempted to spend two weeks making some pots in one of the most inspirational settings I can imagine. Every hour has something planned with some great side trips to Volterra which has the most fantastic collection of Etruscan pots you will ever lay eyes on. The visit to "Super Mario" the big pot man is worth the price of admission. This guy puts on a performance. I do also the idea of a spaghetti night watching  a spaghetti western. Bring your chaps and lassos.  As for the firing we have the option of either a soda or carbon trap shino firing. Both excite me.
We will make and talk about our work each day. I have been thinking about Italy this week.  It's such a civilized place with awesome food, wine and in a incredible facility. It's sneaking up on me.
Here are some crazy ewers I made after visiting the museum in Volterra. I need another fix.


http://www.lameridiana.fi.it/pottery-workshops-tony-clennell-42-15.htm


 Spinning the Wheels – Programme Schedule Day
Studio work
Around the studio works ( this is a flexible proposal and will be adjusted according to the ceramic needs)
Sunday
Arrival between 3 and 7 pm., with pick up at Certaldo train station at 6 pm.
8pm Opening dinner hosted by La Meridiana
Monday
Introduction to the studio and studio rules
Start studio work
8:30 Welcome breakfast
12:30 lunch
2 pm shuttle to Certaldo alto for inspiration and to the supermarket for groceries for your daily needs
Dinner on own.
Tuesday
Morning critique
Demo and making
12:30 lunch
5:30 pm Wine tasting and light dinner in Barberino. This is a pleasant introduction to many aspects of Tuscan live style!
Wed
Morning critique
Demo and making
12:30 lunch
Studio open late ( 10:00 pm) with pizza delivery at 7.30 pm
Thurs
Morning critique
Demo and making
12:30 lunch
4:30 pm Coffea break with local Honey tasting
Friday
Morning critique
Demo and making
12:30 lunch
5:00 pm Introduction to Boccaccio, the medieval novelist, then trip to Certaldo alto, Boccaccio’s birthplace. Dinner in Certaldo
Saturday
Morning critique
Demo and making
12:30 lunch
Spaghetti cooking demo and dinner and Movie night with Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti western.
Sunday
Studio closed
Day trip to Volterra and the “handle museum”. Lunch and dinner on-own
Monday
Finish Work
12:30 lunch
2 pm shuttle to Certaldo for groceries
Tuesday
Bisq
Day trip to Siena Lunch and dinner on-own
Wed
Decorating and Glazing
12:30 lunch
Thurs
Firing/ cooling
Day trip through the Chianti area and to visit Mario Mariani, a traditional potter who makes the big, traditional terracotta containers. On to Greve and marvelous Chianti hills.
Friday
Open kiln, clean workspace,
12:30 lunch
2 pm Visit to San Gimignano. See studio of Franco Balducci
www.francobalducci.com
8 pm Closing dinner
Saturday
Departure
Shuttle to Certaldo train station





Friday, August 28, 2015

Showing my ash!

I had to resort to using the red phone to try and find out an answer to my green flames. My friend and Prof John Neely is who I turn to when I have a head scratcher concerning a wood kiln. I fondly refer to John as the man with the ceramic brain.
Here is John's answer:
"Wish I had a good answer for you. About all I can offer is kind of a round about take on the subject. You’ll remember from salt kilns that sodium burns yellow - well, calcium is more orange, potassium burns purple and boron blue or green. I don’t really know much about other colors (except magnesium, which is white) but that is how miners used to analyze the rocks they were dealing with. A “flame test" was the first thing they tried. You also know that carbon burns yellow, orange or red, depending on temperature. Pine usually is dirtier - meaning more carbon which would look red or orange. My guess is these minerals are what influence the flame color."
So to add to the mystery here is a picture of the ash from the firebox. I thought I was hallucinating but the ash was green. I asked Duncan and Cassara to confirm and it is indeed green. So this must back up the theory that it is the mineral content of the wood that is giving us green flamers. It seems that certain woods contain a significant amount of boron. Apple orchard farmers can have their soil tested for boron. There is more to know about this wood firing than I can fit into this life time. I think I'll come back smarter in the next life.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

You're OUT!

You’re OUT  and don’t you come back until you have learned the rules. I have decided to appoint myself the Standards Committee Chairman of my own collection. 

First candidate- Ronnie the Rat Meyers,  Professor Emeritus, U of G, Athens, Georgia
Oh my Ronnie these plates have yellow, red and pink stains. You know they are disallowed. What if someone took one of these plates and served coq au vin, or stuffed whitefish with lemon sauce or southern BBQ on one of these rough edged plates. Could you not have sponged down the sharp lines? I’m sorry you shipped your work all this way but you are OUT!

Second candidate- Bruce Dehnert Head of Ceramics at Peter’s Valley Crafts Center, NJ. Oh Bruce your edges are sooooooo sharp! Have you never heard of a green scrubby? What if a customer decided to put their lips to the edge of your vessels?  Your pots are kinda wonky too! Why didn't ya clean all that clay shit off the sides? They don’t look like you have mastered the craft. We here at The Cactus Lounge don't like marks of process.  Sorry man but you are OUT. I still like you as a person though, OK?

Candidate #3 John Chalke The Canadian Cowboy and Conscience of The West- Holy shit, Batman these glazes are beyond acceptable. What if someone took this pan off the wall and decided to serve a Cornish hen in it? The glazes are all bubbled up, sharp and goodness me they just might kill someone. Johnnie my old friend wherever you are please don’t scorch me for this. I’m just doing my job. You’re Out!
OUT! OUT! OUT!


Candidate #4 Dan Murphy- my prof at Utah State University. Oh Dan, this dang moon jar is all lop-sided. It ain’t even symmetrical for heaven sakes. It has these scars on the side of it like it fell on something during the firing. The rim is kinda sharp and it is leaning over all wonky like. You call yourself a Professor- ha! As much as I hate to say this- You’re  BIG TIME OUT!!!!!!

Oh man this has been stressful.  I fear my whole house may well be a danger zone. I have so many pots with all these imperfections.  How could I have chosen so unwisely. Where do I begin?  I'm having friends over tomorrow so I had better trash my entire collection for fear of a law suit. Soooooooo much stress!  I had better go for a run. It helps me get away from all this responsibility. Have a safe day everyone and by all means stay clear of nasty pots.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ban Ceramics Education


I’ve come up with a brand new plan. We need to scrap Ceramic Education in the schools. I can’t tell you how many students in the course of my 15 years of teaching at Sheridan College told me they sold more pots at the Guild Sale before they came to Sheridan than they do now as better potters. Don’t go pointing the finger at me! I was only a part time faculty and had them for a total of 7 weeks during their 3 year program.
I have 4 of my former students coming this weekend for a wood firing. Last long firing we discussed “how to keep love alive? This time the firebox conversation will be what the hell happened to my work? Why is it
not selling at the entry level like it used to?????
So if our plan as educators is to have our students gainfully employed in clay upon graduation then we need a brand new plan. We do need to make money. There is no way I want to eat Ramon noodles each day and I like my little Cactus Lounge and my old car.  I also like good pots! My definition of a good pot is copied from Hamada- A good pot is one that I like.
There are some great pots being made today. The best I have ever seen in my 64 year history. I feel a change coming. It is a small ground swell but it is enough to give me hope.
From my vantage point I have seen potters that made their best work while in college and the prospects of making a living has kept their work on hold for decades.
Same ole, same ole.
Making a living is important and they should stand proud.  I am most interested in those that have made a living and continually made outstanding work. Kayo Young is having a show at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, Ontario in Sept. Kayo is one of Canada’s best kept secrets. His work in porcelain is ever changing, beautifully executed and he has made a good living. That deserves a standing O.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Your Voice


First let me start by sending my condolences to my friend Carter for the loss of his Dad. Carter I hear your voice. I hear the sadness and I understand all about feeling a lack of motivation to make-work at certain times in our careers. Mend yourself man and we await your comeback.
I’m feeling somewhat reflective tonight.  Fools think that financial success and artistic success are synonymous. They are NOT!  One of the members of my mentor ship group belongs to a co-op that accepted a financially successful potter. Now the financially successful potter has all but killed my mentee’s presence in the gallery. To my mentee all I can say is keep your voice. You didn’t join a wood fire mentor ship group to follow the market place. Your choice has been to march to a different drummer.  Your work is growing! All in the group are urging you on. The people that read my ramblings each day are not your average everyday potters.  Your work is not destined for the home of everyman but is destined for someone’s home.
Then on the same day I heard from a friend that has been fired after over 25 years of teaching at a local art school for having a voice. A teacher without a yearly contract must keep their mouth zipped when it comes to what they see as injustice. Question the powers at be and you are toast. The world needs more voices. Good on you. Take a bow!
I once had a professor Jim Miller that said _ Say something stupid and all will say “Oh that’s Tony Clennell the guy that said something stupid. Say something intelligent and they will say “ Oh that is Tony Clennell that said something intelligent.” Say nothing at all and they will say Tony Who? So much of the work I see in the market place today says nothing at all. It is a sea of sameness.  The big voices whether I like the sound or not speak above the crowds. Your voice and your work it is one. Sometimes I wish mine were softer, more refined and more polished. As my boy hood hero Popeye the Sailor Man said “ I yam what I yam and I ain’t what I ain’t- toot, toot!
Be authentic!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blue flamers

If you know what a blue flamer is then your youth was as misspent as mine. For the last couple of days we have been firing the big bourry box at Pinecroft. What we have been noticing on the last two firings is a turquoise/green flame from the stack. When we had some coaling issues with the wood yesterday we switched from the green flame producing ash to pine and voila a red yellow flame appeared. Laughingly last firing we blamed Teresa for her copper red pots in the firing. And yes copper can produce a green flame but for that long and that high- unlikely. I crashed early last night and now find myself up early in the morning wondering what the hell that green is. I read an article by the University of Wisconsin and I still don't really "git it". It  ain't the chemistry. It ain't the physics! It's the Swan Bands or reflected light.  Hey can someone there explain this to me at a Grade 8 level. I'm rather daft when it comes to understanding science.
Here are some of my mini moon jars fired a couple of weeks ago in The Amish Rocket up in Chautauqua, NY. You can look at some of the work fired in that kiln on FB Chautauqua Area Potters. Some nice fish by Marv Bjurlin, a nice Ronnie the Rat jar and some other goodies. Thanx Marv for posting the wee jars. Now to find a way to git em home to papa.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Finnegan's Wake

If Finnegan's Wake is one of the most difficult works of fiction then the the pulling of good handles has to be one of the most difficult of tasks for a potter. My cousin is in Ireland right now and sent me a pic of this cup from a museum in Galloway. She claims I must have some Irish in me because she knew I would love this cup with the crazy handle addition on the side. As I read her email I looked down at my morning high test that was in a Oh Danny Boy Finnegan cup. Gee, do you see any reference to his ancestry? I wonder if way back in our DNA influences lay waiting to get

let loose in our creative acts. We can't help who we are and what we make and who we love. It is programmed into our very souls. Hey Danny Boy I thought you'd love this cup too. Looking forward to seeing your face in Rochester. Well I'll only see part of your face. The rest of it is covered with your signature handle- the beard!