Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tribute to a Greasy Spoon

I've always liked Sunday breakfast at a greasy spoon diner served by real waitresses that often times sport bad tattoos, pancake makeup and painted nails. They call ya hun or darlin' and fill your coffee cup the moment ya sit down. They're good at their jobs and don't pretend that they're just doing this until they finish their Phd or get that movie gig. I always tip them generously for the great service.
I also love the thick rimmed coffee cups and the one finger round handle. I have made a career outta handles and I think I pull a pretty dang good one. Well to celebrate the diner waitress I made some coffee cups and poured some porcelain handles to put on them. I've had the mould kicking around for years. I didn't want them to be all that plain Jane so I have impressed them, I left the back bone seam on the handle and I smooshed it on with my thick porcelain slip. Here's to you ladies and my Sunday heart attack on a plate.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ceramic Brains- What say You?

This morning I threw a couple of saggars for Sheila's boxes. She likes the look of our dry ash glaze best on the inside of the box. The outside especially where thick fluxes and she is convinced it is the atmosphere created from the burners. We are going to try to saggar the pots.She likes dry and crusty which could have been her attraction to me.
One thing I've discovered with doing this blog is that it is strangely enuff potters that read it. Whodda thunk it??? Any ideas on this hypothesis of saggared glazes!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring has sprung!!!

We unloaded the gas kiln this afternoon with a load of celedon. Beamsville's Martha Stewart without a jail record is going to have half of our showroom in a spring theme with ash celedon and some tulips and fresh flowers. We have ice buckets for the Pinot Grigio, vases for the flowers and casseroles for the wedding gifts. This celedon had a tendency to craze so I did a test where I added 5% silica and it solved the problem. I really like this glaze over the crackle slip.
I'm off on Tuesday with 25 students from Sheridan College to Nceca Philadelphia. So many friends, so many shows to see, so little time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Free Kiln

Well my old buddy Frank Tucker is celebrating 35 years in the pottery business. Frank and I have been friends that long. How and where did the time go soooooo fast? Between the two of us we have more tales and lies to tell than 10 men. Clay has been good to both of us. Here is a note to me from Frankie. Sheila has always called him Frankie as a term of endearment.
Hi Tony.
To celebrate our 35Th anniversary we are giving away a Cone Art BX 2327D kiln with kiln furniture at NCECA.
The kiln will come equipped with our patented lid lifter and a Bartlett 3 zone controller.
The winner of the draw can take it from NCECA or we will ship it anywhere in Canada and the U.S.We cannot ship it to Alaska or Hawaii
The retail value of the kiln with furniture is $3,460.00 U.S.
Just come by our booth and sign up.We will make the draw early on Friday afternoon at our booth #303.
I am really glad to have you do the draw. However that means you can't win it!!!
Hi to Sheila.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Kiln Devil

Go to heaven for the climate and to hell for the company- Mark Twain.
We loaded our gas kiln today with some refires from the Sheridan wood fire and a bunch of the ash celedon stamped pieces. Sheila has some crackle boxes in there too!
I put our little kiln devil in the kiln to warm him up a bit since it has gotten wet and miserable here in Canada's Banana Belt. Our little kiln devil was produced by Dog Bite Steel http://www.dogbitesteel.com/gallery.html and sits on top of the kiln to protect it from evil. Check out Dog Bite Steel- very coooooooool stuff!
Ok, so I've shown ya mine now show me yours. Send your kiln gods/devils to clennell@sourcherrypottery.com and I'll post what I get next week after NCECA

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

good with a stick

I think you've all been waiting for me to wallow in the glory of the Canada Gold in Men's and Women's Olympic Hockey. It has been said that in Canada Hockey is not a sport, it is a religion. Al Purdy one of Canada's finest poets said that the game of hockey is half ballet and half murder/war. The same is true of wood firing. Since we Canucks are good with a stick I'd like to recommend a wood firing course with young Robin Dupont. Robin and I have crossed paths over the past decade. First when he received a scholarship to attend Medalta Pottery in Medicine Hat, Alberta where I was the Artist in Rez for the summer. He is the Big Poobaw this summer at Medalta. He then thru some encouragement from yours truly landed up as a grad student at USU. He is also teaching a wood firing course at Red Deer College in Alberta this summer. For those of you that want to learn how to stick handle and score with a wood fired kiln Robin is your man. Hey Robin, nice teapots on those handles!!! Here's the link for the course in Red Deer: It runs June 28 -July 2.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Cape

On April 8Th the third year students from Sheridan College will be having their grad show at The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. After working together for 3 years they will part company and head to different places on the globe. Some are applying for residencies, finishing schools (BFA, MFA) some have ceramic jobs and others are setting up studios. Facing new challenges after a school life can be pretty daunting. When I doubt myself I like to listen to this song by one of my favourite Texan bad boy song writers Guy Clark.

The Cape

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
Always trust your cape

All grown up with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his dream
He’s full of piss and vinegar
He’s bustin’ at the seams
He licked his finger and checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’, Boys
He was pretty sure he could fly

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
Always trust your cape

Old and grey with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He’s actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
Always trust your cape

Monday, March 22, 2010

Self Criticism

When you work away from the school setting surrounded by minds you admire and depend upon you have to learn to be self critical. That is unless you operate a blog and you conduct a poll. I finished my water buckets yesterday and I wasn't happy with them. I thought they were too tall and I didn't like how the feet seemed to stick out to much and not be married to the bucket. So I used 6lbs of clay instead of 8lbs and made them shorter. I then decided I'd cut the foot like a chair seat to fit under the pot. Also staring at the wee picture of the Han Dynasty pot I thought hmmmmmmmmmm I should impress the top and the bottom instead of the middle. On the one you'll notice I stamped right up to the rim which slightly undulated it. I like that! This is almost like a rimless pot to me as I am accustomed to very robust and strong rims. Since the pots look like metal work I also added my defloculated slip thickly when applying the feet. I took welding as part of my MFA at USU and this slip looks like a bead I would draw with the stick welder on a good day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Public Radio

It seems to me the secret of stayin' alive in this business has been our ability to sell our own work. It is wonderful to have exposure in larger markets to be sure but the day to day bread and butter of our livelihood depends on the energy and tenacity of Sheila and I. It means for the most part we work 7 days a week. As long as we're home we're open. For the longest time it seemed hard for me to get myself out to the studio on Sundays. Sunday is now my favourite day in the studio all because of CBC radio our Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's commercial free radio. It is the crafts person's university, newspaper, audio book and connection to the outside world. Sunday starts with Micheal Enwright The Sunday Edition which is probably the best companion you could wish for on a Sunday morning.http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/index.html That's a pic of Micheal in a bowtie.
Noon has the stories of Stuart MacLean- if you have never heard Dave Cooks the Turkey it is a Christmas annual that never ceases to bring a tear to my eye. The Jonathon Goldstein Wiretap also cracks me up. The afternoon usually has scholars, authors and really interesting thought provoking talks. We often treat ourselves to a glass of wine while listening and working.
BTW_ I never knew how to answer those of you that posted to my blog. I now figured it out-duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I too make a comment on my blog. Sorry it wasn't I wasn't listening it's just the learning curve.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Do What Ya Luv (No excuses)!

One of the Sheridan students Jack aka Sean Robinson sent me this u-tube link that I hope he sent to me as I personify a guy that has done just that. I turned my back on currency in favour of a legacy. Thanx Sean I really enjoyed it!
I got inspired yesterday looking at a Han dynasty vessel. I thought hmmmmmmmmmm I live in wine country! I should make some Han dynasty inspired ice buckets. Saturdays here at Sour Cherry Pottery is Pino Grigio Day so now I will have ice buckets to keep the PG chilled. I bet people are going to want them. The trouble with sketching at the wheel is I forgot that I needed to make that middle ring concave so that when I stamp and push out it is more like a straight wall. The one at the back I threw out- It just didn't cut it!
I cut up a red plastic pail lid to make me a little profile to get the feet sorta the same shape and size.I cut them in half and will add them tomorrow- 4 to a bucket.

Friday, March 19, 2010

God is in the Details

Go ahead and laugh your hearts out as we prepare gifts for the Annual Guinea Pig Convention. Success in this business is all about what you do when ya don't have to. We got an order to supply gifts for a Convention of Guinea Pig enthusiasts and it's worth a fair chunk of change. Sheila is in the showroom putting the gifts in bags and wrapped with ribbons. We could have wrapped the gifts in newspaper and put them in a couple of empty beer cases. No, no, no! Perception equals value. We want the Convention organizers to know they got value for their money. IT'S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE TO!!!!!!
I'm working in the studio making the gift that is most given at weddings and least used. The casserole! We sell a lot of casseroles for weddings and I don't know of anyone that actually uses them other than to take to a pot luck loaded with something other than a casserole. So here I am stamping the body, the foot, the knob, the handles and once again adding little details that I don't have to. Being studio potters gives you a life that is never the same day to day. Life is good for those that know that life is good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Me ladies

Here are a few of my pots that me ladies delivered from the Sheridan wood firing. A couple of water buckets and a tea pot set. I made small so that they would have more room in the kiln. It takes just as long to make small as to make big and no one ever buys small. They think big cups give you more for your money .
Here are a couple of my ladies boxes fired in our gas kiln. We call this Britt's Crack since he gave us the idea to apply shino to bisqued pots, rebisque them and then rub in stains to the cracks and high fire them. One has our mirror black rubbed into it and the other black iron oxide. The black iron oxide one is killer in real life. Check out John's blog for some great thoughts about glazes.


I've been working with stamping ever since I can home from USU. I discovered these wooden stamps made by MKM. I enjoy using them as I can push out around the stamp or the impression itself. This texture really works well for glazes that pool and break. This ash celedon that I use would be fairly uninteresting on just a plain surface but where it pools and breaks on the textured surface really brings this glaze alive. I'm trying to reinvent myself but by and large customers are still buying our carbon trap shino with slips.
4 of my ladies from Sheridan dropped by for a visit the other day so I didn't get to altering the rim of some bowls and as well the rims dried out. Necessity being the Mother of Invention had me place the handles further down the bowl. I kinda like it actually. Rick from MKM likes what I'm doing so he has me as a poster boy at Nceca. Stamp- ede his booth and pick up a poster of my cups.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Fat Lady Sings

The excitement of the wood firing a couple of weeks ago brought out the pyromaniacs again. This time they recruited the assistance of their second year classmate Franzzzzzzzie the Gentle Giant. Frans was there at 3am to split wood till 6am before he went to work. Back at 4pm to help the ladies again. Here is Franzzie with the Barbie Q chicks on the casting couch in front of the firebox where Sean aka Jack was cooking some baked potatoes in the coals raked from the firebox. Nothing like an Irish 7 course meal- 6 Guinness and a potato. Sean, Jenny and Kass posing as typical Canucks with their Horton's in hand. Tim Horton's coffee is the life blood of Canada. I left at 6pm and Cone 9 was tipping. They would fire until the Fat Lady Sang at Cone 11 tipping. I hope it was around 8. A damn fine crew- indeed!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Harlequin or Art Deco?

Sheila is taping off sections of the box. She will brush on our mirror black and then she is going to give John Britt's Crack a go. John had a nice idea of applying Bruce's Shino, bisque firing and then rubbing in black. See his post on ClayClub.
When dealing with a box you can't do any better for referencing than looking at architecture. I refer to this decoration as Art Deco but she prefers to reference the Harlequin. There is soooooooo much out there to bring home to your art.
I'm off for the day to help the students at Sheridan with a wood firing. I feel invested in their work for the show at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art in Toronto on April 8Th. This will be followed by Bruce Cochrane's show on April 10Th at David Kaye Gallery. Two shows I can't miss.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chicken Feet Anyone?

With memories of Bobby Free and China I thought I'd start off with a typical Chinese dinner to introduce the feet Sheila puts on the Cornish Hen boxes. I couldn't believe how beefy she makes them but then she explained that she smooshes them into the box with her yellow Sherrill rib. I thought she cut away but upon observation it was a smoosh. She has recently been articulating the seams with the rib.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Be Free

Bobby Free it is good to see you in the blogashpere. I will introduce you and your blog to those that read mine. Bobby was part of a team that rescued me down from a friggin’ mountain in China. The strength ,will power and endurance of you and Trevor Dunn will never be forgotten by this cowboy. Bobby’s father read my blog while we were in China and wrote me to say you make me soooooo proud of that kid. Well, Bobby do Dad proud!
Here are a couple of pics from China. One is probably when Bobby first asked himself- to blog or not to blog and the other is with a pile of bones from his usual pig out dinners.
I want to answer your question about “to blog or not to blog”. The answer is to do it for the right reason. Yes, exposure and getting yourself out there is important but it should not be the reason for your blog or your work. It is about your willingness to share your life and your art with others. If it were all about exposure we wouldn’t show our warts, our failures and yes even admit our weaknesses. It is just another creative process that we do as self sustaining artists.
Many of us that work at home are stranded on a island that is sometimes visited by friends and customers but for the most part we work away from the company water cooler. This is our way of keeping in touch!
You like I have been blessed with a creative life and last time I checked you even had a creative partner. That is essential! Who else would live with a potter much less ones like you or I.
P.S Remember even your Dad might be reading ya, sooooooooooooooo!!!!!

More from the Hen House

I thought I'd take ya into Day #2 of the making of the Cornish Hen cookers. Here is Sheila trimming the bowl that will become the top of the lid. She places it upside down in the cylinder which she has made square or triangular and then traces the shape so she can cut it. The cylinder is slipped and scored and the bowl is paddled into place. She throws these little ribbons that will become the flange of the gallery. Here is the flange in place.
Of special interest to potters- check out Sheila's splash pan. When on God's green earth is a potter going to design a wheel with a decent splash pan? Actually a potter did design one and I want one. It is the Thomas Stuart! I threw on one at Tucker's Pottery Supplies 2 weeks ago and I lust for one.