Monday, November 30, 2009

Raising the roof



If you are wondering why we are pooped? Well along with making pots, testing glazes, and all the other stuff that goes along with running a pottery we had to have a new roof put on our studio. Ouch! That was a Christmas present that I wasn't counting on and it cost more than the Peter Pugger I was lusting after. We built a hobo fire in the 45 gallon barrel and burned all the cedar shakes. It took 4 days and now we have a half full barrel of nails. When I put the shakes on 10 years ago I thought they'd last a lot longer. Where did 10 years go and why is Santa making us pay for this gift? We're having a studio open house this weekend. Hey, I ship if anyone needs a Christmas gift. They are range fed and 100% organic and don't talk back.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A fresh thought











A former Sheridan alumni dropped in today and said hey why don't we photograph the jugs in the gray of this overcast day without artificial lights? Victor Levin helped me take a few pics that are a biiiiiiiiig improvement over what i was doing. Thank you Vic!!!
Here are some pics of the jugs. Hey they are for sale if anyone is interested. $225 for the tallies and $275 for the fatties.Hey the best deal in a kiln is always the big pots- harder to master, take up more space, harder to glaze. You potters know that, what am I telling you that for?

What's All the Fuss About Reduction, Anyways?





As much as I respect Steven Hill I gotta say it doesn't get any better than using one glaze (yep, that's right folks one shino glaze) some slips and some mojo and ya get copper red, temmoku, celedon, kaki, navy blue, bronze lustre, leopard spots, black, orange, etc, etc. No room full of different glazes for this cowboy.
I am going into Sheridan next week to recruit the help of one of my students Marcelina Salazar to help me photograph this work. My point and shoot $99 Nikon Coolpix and the glare is not showing you what is there. Hopefully with the help of screens, polarizing lenses and all the tricks up Marcelina's sleeve I'll be able to post some decent shots for you. With all the variation of colour this is a very complex and deep surface to capture under the shine of my showroom lights.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Accidental Brush of the Breast


I had an interesting email from a friend regarding the heart shaped termination of the handle. She said it works if it is like the accidental brush of the breast. Did he do it deliberately or was it indeed an accident. I think that is a great crit of that detail of the handle. If you work away at it and form a deliberate heart it is corny. If you see a kinda heart there but not really then it's working. I showed three of the jugs. I think it shows I ain't working at making hearts on the jugs.
I'd mention your name dear friend but I'm afraid it may be how you met your husband. thanx it is a good line and I will get mileage outta it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going straight





I handled and finished my Devon style harvest jugs this morn. I added the pie crust rim that I always admired on an old casserole that Micheal Cardew made while in Africa. It is often seen on medieval pots. I also discovered a heart shape termination to my handle which I am going to talk up as a selling feature. Some would think this is corny. They can go to hell! I think the heart surfaced because of the fun I'm having with the exploration of this one vessel. My dear friend Robin Hopper wrote to me with concerns that this orgy of jugs might lead to economic disaster. I assured Robin that I orgy in the morning and get down to the business of bowls, plates and cups in the afternoon.
I also started the 5 straight jugs this morning. I didn't realize going straight was going to be this hard. You see it's not about being completely straight it has a slight variation of curve. I put up a couple of straighties by I think Mike Dodd of Britain that are kinda sweet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Meds






Here is more stuff on meds( medieval pots). I put the tops on the Devon Harvest jugs and I unloaded some of the tallies and fatties. I apologize for the snap and shoot photography. They are much more handsome up close and personal than my wee camera does justice to. Notice how carbon trapping happens where there is no slip applied. This staightie is what I'm working on tomorrow complete with the scalloped foot.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tallies, Fatties, Skinnies, Roundies, Shorties but no Dinkies






There must be something in my genes. I have an old picture of the first craft show my Uncle Jimmie and Aunt Cavvy at the London Fair(London,Ontario) in around 1947. Their display consisted of 1000 jugs. My aunt was really the jug maker and even made little dinkie jugs that had a leather thong thru the handle to hang around your neck. Today I finished off my shorties and started the bottom section of the roundies which are referenced after the Devon Harvest Jug. If you like to look at historical work there is no better book for the money than Emmanuel Cooper's Ten Thousand Years of Pottery. The shorties are small one piece jugs with a spout that is made by holding the rim between your thumb and forefinger and giving a quick pull forward with the index finger. I have seen this kind of lip on Italian majolica wine jugs. I like the quickness of this process.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tallies, fatties, shorties,skinnies and roundies






My fascination and exploration of the jug continues. I thought I'd answer Micheal Kilne and Tom Wirt in this post. Here is a pic of the paper resist leaf being pulled from under the slip- Michael and tom the jugs vary in weight. Fatties 13lbs, tallies 11 lbs, shorties 4 lbs and skinnies 8lbs. I made 10 fatties and a winery owner asked for all of them to be used as spitooonies so they are in the bisque before I could photograph them. Today's skinnies have a couple of notable features- Where I join the neck to the body I do what my old jug teacher Mick Casson called ' Celebrate the marriage!" In other words show where you made the union or join. Secondly I put a short handle on and try to stretch the handle termination almost all the way up to the marriage. Don't know why I do it but I figure the line is there for me to draw attention to and reach for. Thirdly I do a bird's beak lip which is just a one thumb pull. Tried to get a pic for you of the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Flemish painter of Medieval times that I used to stare at. Many thought I loved the orgies or peasant weddings I was looking at but it was the jugs and cups that fascinated me. I'm happy to still be looking at these paintings for inspiration. Next week I have my eye on making "roundies' referencing the 18Th century Devon jugs that I so cherish.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whodda thunk it???



A Sheridan student Chari Cohen brought in a broom stick with a string on it to teach me to fly cast. I had grand ideas of fly fishing while finishing up my MFA in Utah. Well I’m back to thinking about fishing and Chari sent me some good advice that I think also relates to pottery making. Here is her advice: Keep to the basics, one rod, one line, one reel, one pair of waders (Canadian Tire models work too), one box of flies, one small shoulder bag (army and navy canvas bags work) to hold your stuff in or just a pocket in your waders, Remember that the fish don't care how you look but the stores do$$$$.
I particularly like the last line- the fish don’t care what you look like but the stores do$$$$$$$. I’ve often looked at my dirty old wheel that I never clean and wonder if I need something more snazzy? Then I think heck I’d never clean it anyways, this one works just fine and I’ve been producing a lot of fish from it year in and year out.
Here is a picture of Chari 15 minutes from Sheridan in the Humber River that runs thru Toronto. So you don’t have to go to Utah!!! You’d have thunk it? Hold the where’s the third eye on that fish jokes!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mug and bowl 2009





This weekend faculty and alumni gather together at Sheridan to throw mugs and bowls to raise money for the Clay Club. The Clay Club provides money for visiting artists and when ever Nceca is within a 500 mile striking distance of Toronto the Canucks invade America. Normally 20-30 Sheridan students attend Nceca. The sales of mugs and bowls generally help with travel,Nceca fees and accommodation. Hey it's no Club Med since often times there are 8 to a room. Don't tell anyone.
Here is a pic of me and the little guy Patrick Cheung who after graduation went on to apprentice with Scott Barium a damn fine Ontario studio potter. The two tables have the work of Patrick and I. I told him if he worked like me one day he would be my height. Here is a pic of the gang and Chef Hugh Douglas Murray serving up the sausages and pizza for the vegetables. Here is the boss man Bruce Cochrane admiring a damn fine bowl that he wished he had made.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

R Crumb's Influence






This past winter the landlady gave me a DVD to watch on my computer of the Life of R. Crumb. Little did I know that it would influence my jugs. If you know the cartoon caption of "Keep on Truckin'" then you know the work of R. Crumb. I like the looks of a jug that has that "keep on truckin" look to it. If you give yourself a generous lip to pull up and can bend the jug back just slightly it reminds you of this animated character complete with the handle as the arm. Some jugs where the potter just bends over the rim look like drunkards about to fall over not heels forward keep on truckin. The jugs that I made today are my fatties. I add a few more pounds of clay so that they can have big round beer bellies. You'll notice on my fatties I have left a ridge which is the spot where I attach the handle. The handle is pulled from the jug and after terminating the handle I give it a quick swipe with my thumb nail to give the signature "Chinese whiskers". Here are the tallies and the fatties lined up outside. I'm going to miss my outside studio when the snow flies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rekindling an old love






Three years ago this Christmas I took off for Utah State and my pot making here at home went to hell in a hand basket. When I got home I made what would sell- bowls and plates. Bowls and plates and more bowls and plates. Easy to make, no appendages, no fuss, no muss. Today I revisited an old love- the jug. I made a series of 5 the number I always seem to work in. It's a lucky #, I guess. So many human reference in the jug- foot, belly, shoulder, neck, lip and arm.
I had made a post to my blog earlier showing a reference to Medieval jugs. I think it was June Perry that said it would be interesting to see what you would do with a thumbed bottom. I have been thinking for a couple of weeks now that the thumbed bottom would make my jugs look primitive and there for not contemporary and valuable. Well, I did it and I like the look. Here are the jugs in process coming to completion with slips and paper resist decoration. I was so excited with these tallies that I started today 5 fatties. I throw these jugs in 3 sections and what you are seeing with the fatties is the middle section. I will show you on the next post to my blog what they're all about and I'll finish with them fired. Should be a week or so.