Thursday, August 28, 2014

Every rose has its thorn!

I am pleased and honored to have  been asked to mentor a year long mentorship program for the Hamilton Potters Guild that will culminate in a group show at The Carnegie Gallery in Dundas. They are even paying me!!! I will probably spend it all on clay, wood, good times and travel. Hey, that has been the story of my life so why change it now? With every pleasure in your life there seems to come a nasty bit of business. I must narrow the team down to 8 members. That would be easy if I only had 8 apply and I could take all that have a pulse but in this case there are 14 and they are all really awesome.  I really want to assemble a team of people that like each other and most of all like me. I like people that like me! We are going to be living together for  sometimes a week  at a time. We are going to hear each other snore, smell each others t shirts after a long stoking shift and we are going to feel the pricks as well as smell the blossoms.  Now,
I will get the label of “prick” hung on me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Almost like the blues!

I don't know if it is a hangover from being a kid and thinking about heading back to school but this time of year gives a feeling "almost like the blues". This is a song title from the anxiously awaited new Leonard Cohen CD celebrating his 80th B-Day in Sept. The album is entitled "Popular Problems".
I've been a funk this week and somehow I think I write my best blog posts when in this state of mind. If someone near me had a bag of Drum tobacco I'd roll me one and I haven't smoked in 25 years. I believe in work therapy to solve life's problems and I'm winding down the work to ready myself for back to school. I love the students and the job so it ain't like when I was a kid and I hated school and would rather be at the pool hall.
Perhaps it is what feels like another another year gone by like a raging freight train! The next 4 months are my favourite time of year so that is no excuse. I won't have to keep my head down and my back to the wind for some months to come.
I got a wood kiln to clean, wood to ready and pots to make for a wood firing with 3 of my former students. Better shake this off. I got work to do!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spookin' the horses!

Well Danny boy these cups are goin' to the death of you. Are you  sure you still want to work together in the winter? We might rub off on each other and then what?  Actually I  have mentally been revisiting my friends at USU and the pots I made there at grad school. It was fun to translate that nasty edge to some cups for occasional use. Actually, Dan you inspired the use of all the scraps lying around. One of our requirements at USU was to curate a show from the gallery collection which is extensive and every big shot contemporary clay artist has a piece in the collection and a knock out piece at that. My show was called "Pots only a mudder could luv.! I choose pots of Tony Nansveris, Owen Rye, Chester Nealy,  Svend Bayer, Donny Reitz, Dan Murphy and I forget the other notables.  On the night of the opening the gallery director said to me " Tony, you sure didn't pick pretty pots". John Neely (my prof) was standing there and for those of you that know John he is never without something clever to say. John replied " No, they aren't pretty but they sure are beautiful!" Wow! That is what I am chasing!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Innovative or follow!

Just borrowed another slogan from Hiut Denim Company in Wales. I do love that company's philosophy. I put these vazzzzzzzes together this morning. Because every vase I have ever tried to make turns out to be a jug.  I couldn't help but cut a wee throat and fill it with gnar-gnar. I had Susan Harris sitting on my shoulder all day saying "more, more, no more yet!" Don't tell Cassara but it took me 6 1/2 hours without lunch to handle 12 of these new crazy cups of mine. I forgot to take pics of them but will tomorrow. I had to flee the building as the visitors were driving me nuts. Usually they ask if we have seen the movie Ghost? Is that local clay? Is the furnace your kiln? What kind of paint do we use. Do you do this all day?  Not today! It was: When are you going to sand that stuff off?  They are they going to have plants in them, right? You wouldn't sell them in the store would you?  I almost felt like the local nit wit that dropped outta elementary school and Pinecroft was giving me space to do some art therapy. Actually it was therapeutic and I had a wonderful day!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Hard Road

I've been teaching long enough now to see my influence. Making pots is as easy as falling off a log. Making good pots and pots that have a signature of the maker is hard. I figure anyone can learn to make pots in  less than 7 years. It then will take another 10 years to develop a signature in your work. I fear my influence leads to a hard road. Here are a couple of Cassara's teapots from second year at Sheridan. I traded her for the teapot on the left. She didn't like any of mine so I owe her. Student gratitude- geez! I like that! Keeps the ole man on his toes.
I think the future for young makers is to make interesting work. Some of the old timers have a audience that they have nurtured for decades. You don't! Easy doesn't make great pots!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A summer in the mudpits

Here is a pic of Cassara Kennedy the summer intern at Pinecroft this year. Cassara has thrown hundreds of bags of clay this summer doing repetition throwing. She has done a great job and I am thrilled to see such a work ethic and willingness to put the artist's ego in the closet and show up to do what she is asked to do and MORE! Pinecroft was lucky to have her.  Repetition is a valuable skill to learn as a potter. There is a time to move on though and that time has come for Cassara and me. I cleaned up the work horse today thinking of the two of us going back to school. She will be in third year and I will be in the mudpits with the second years hoping for another Cassara to show up. The best pots are made with the head, the hands and the heart. It is my hope she will take the skills she learned to train her hands and head and now transfer that to her heart. She will be back in the school environment within a few weeks and the pressure will be on to have a distinctive body of work. Having a good strong foundation of throwing skills is a good start then have to choose interesting!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


There is this rage spreading across America like a prairie fire. It is the yunomi rage. What does yunomi mean to my farmer neighbor or to me for that matter?  I almost got caught up in this handleless craze but better judgement has me on a path away from that fire. I am a Canadian man making pots in North America so I have decided to celebrate just that. I am lucky enough to live in an Amish community of skilled makers that do things the way they oughta been done. I took over a yunomi box with the ribbons and all the bows and whistles that I bought a yunomi in. The Amish maker Ezra said “ I’m sure you want it made better than this!” This is glued and stapled!!! I will make yours with dovetailed joinery and why don’t you use a nice hook and eye? Brilliant! I will use this box for my cups that include handles and some that just have been inspired by the handless cup but mine have a European foot that flares outwardly versus the Asian foot that references a nod of bamboo. Of course, they will have the signature lug of a bit of trimming.
This is my get rich quick Christmas scheme so stay tuned. This is just another of a long list of them over the years.  I like that I am staying true to me and presenting the work in a quality  Canadian maple box made by hard working Amish neighbours.
yeah and since I am a Canadian man named Tony I will call them Canatoni’s.