Sunday, October 31, 2010

Me and Bobby McFree

 It is my pleasure to turn over a page to my buddy Bobby Free. I am soooo pleased to see Bobby going for it as a potter in Montana. Me being the old bull and Bobby the young bull, it was a toss up to see which one of us was first at school to put the coffee on. We each knew we both needed our early brew and one would be there to have it brewing. Bobby could party all night and still be either #1 or #2 thru the studio door. I think we really cemented our relationship when he and Trevor carried me down  Yellow Mountain in China.  Bobby would eat the arse end of skunk if someone cooked it. He took great pride in eating dog, turtle, snake, and drinking pig's blood. He would eat anything that walked, crawled or flew except of course an airplane. Bobby being a self proclaimed ladies man he would put the hussle on any woman from 16-86. Here he is swooning the cook in China.

News from Bobby
Hello to all of Tony Clennell's devoted readers.  I’ve known Tony for
a about 3 or 4 years now and also had the pleasure of earning my
Undergrad degree while he got his Masters in Utah.  We fired kilns,
ate, drank and traveled through China together.  Tony taught me more
than I could ever ask or hope for.  He even convinced me to start a
blog.  Now that I’ve been blogging for about half a year I asked him
if I could be a guest writer…sort of spread the bfreepottery word.
Thanks a lot TC.
In this post I want to share a video I made and talk for a second
about how it came about.  First off you should know that I’m a maker.
I’m a potter.  I am completely dedicated to this way of living.  I eat
and breathe clay.  My name is Bobby.

In this post I want to share a video I made and talk for a second
about how it came about.  First off you should know that I’m a maker.
I’m a potter.  I am completely dedicated to this way of living.  I eat
and breathe clay.  My name is Bobby.

The act of making a pot doesn’t begin or end with your hands… that’s
too obvious.  Making is a continuous act of seeing. Making doesn’t
stop with seeing either.  Beyond seeing there is feeling.  Beyond
feeling is understanding.  Seeing, feeling and understanding can be
subconscious, yet they are skills that need to be developed.  How can
people develop intangible skills?  Do you know how to get to Carnegie
Hall?  Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  You must actively look at
things.  And I’m not saying you need to go to an exotic place with
palm trees, or water falls or inside the latest Ceramics Monthly to
see something that makes you feel.  Chances are it’s right in front of
you.  When you’re on a hike and you look up at the most beautiful blue
sky and exclaim, “Oh what a perfect blue sky!”  Underfoot there is a
tiny blue wild flower or a grouping of rocks.

I wanted this video to be a step by step process of a new vase form
I’ve made.  While I was editing some very boring shots of myself I
noticed that the trimming section had the best light.  It had such an
amazing mood.  It felt the way I did.  I was tired and a little
lonely.  I had a kiln scheduled in a few days, so 5 am was my time to
work.  It was still dark outside and I was alone in the studio,
working quietly.  Afterwards, during the editing, I began to think
about what I was looking at. By using some different filters I started
to actively see and search for texture, line, weight, volume and over
all composition.  Like a flash I knew that the video wasn’t about me,
but what was happening around me.  It was like an invisible door
suddenly opened in front of me.  The only way to go was through it.
Instead of a “how to” video it had morphed into my own game of seeing
and into the process of understanding the way I was feeling.  Now I
get to play the roll of director, actor, composer, musician, and
potter.  This is my expression of that morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Rich Man's Beans and Weiners

For several years in a row I made a couple of dozen cassoles for a local winery owner for an event he called Cassoulet, Eh! I made these rather large 12 pound slightly curved bowls for the making of cassoulet. Martin Malivoire the owner of our fine neighoburing winery would give the cassoles to some of Ontario's top chef's and they would present their creations at a gala dinner in a nice Toronto restaurant. The food of course would be paired with some of Malivoire's wines and they would be judged by food critics, chefs and Sheila and I. Cassoulet was once the poor man's stew and is now a popular dish with the rich. It is a stew or casserole filled with lots and lots of fat, pork sausage, duck, goose, muton, rabbit and white haricot beans. The meal is generally cooked rather slowly.  This meal would stick to the farmer's ribs and keep them full for weeks. 
Even though Martin no longer holds the event I still have requests to make cassoles. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lobsta and Chowda!

Home from a very enjoyable workshop on Cape Cod. I was hosted by Gail Turner of Mill Stone Pottery. Gail is the real deal with a great little retail shop where she demonstrates and sells  6 days a week and if that isn't enough she takes work home to fire in her gas kiln and finds time to be El Presidenti of the Cape Cod Potters Guild. I was treated like royalty as I was fed and watered with all the seafood of my dreams. On Cape Cod any word with an "r" at the end is pronounced with an "a" "I went in my caa to a baa to buy a beeaa and a bowl of chowda and a lobsta! These were local lobsta's not ones from Alaskar. Oh, yeah if the word ends with an "a" you add an "r".
Had a day to go to the windy ocean and visit a cranberry bog. This is one very beautiful part of the world.
Thanx to Gail and the Cape Cod Potters Guild for a great time!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Double Down

Tomorrow is the last day of my quarter with the second year throwing class. We have the car kiln firing, another gas kiln and the big salt kiln. I have crits with the students in the afternoon but before we get into that we will have pot luck. They say you can judge the quality of a ceramics program by it's pot luck. Pity that I don't have enough money to take everyone the newly announced "double down' by KFC. The chicken is the bun and with bacon and cheese you got yourself a 600 calorie heart attack on a plate. My other option was to take in a Crispy Cream hamburger. A 1/4 lb burger in between to honey glazed Crispy Creme donuts. Gotta love the North American diet

Sunday, October 17, 2010

PC Pitchers

I am calling them PC Pitchers as I seem to be getting called on everything that comes out my mouth these days. I always thought pitchers hung on the wall and jugs were for wine or flowers.  There are three guys I'd like to have a word with. JFK for killing the wearing of a hat. The guy who invented a tie( I'm going to really tighten his). Thirdly the guy that named a certain part of the anatomy "Jugs" thereby robbing me of my favourite vessel. Jugs are more than that! They are about the foot, the belly, the shoulder, the neck, the lip and my personal fav the arm or handle.
Ava the Queen of England noticed I haven't been pulling my weight in the pottery of late so she decorated my chair with spider webs. Time for me to spend some more time in that chair as Christmas is coming.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Even a warthog

Even a deaf, dumb and blind warthog finds an acorn in the barnyard sometimes. 
Hard to stay focused on my studio and the writing of this blog. I hope some of the worst of starting the semester is behind me and my mind returns normal.
Some good news arrived this week. I got my copy of Lark Book's 500 Vases and I had a vase selected. Bruce Cochrane and two of our students Brenda Freeman and Barbara Rose also had vases in the book. The juror was Julia Galloway and I think she picked some outstanding work.
Also got word that we received a Top Pottery Blog Award from Online Colleges and Universities/Experimental College. I will proudly display the badge on the blog and it will remind me that I have to get back at it on a regular basis. In the meantime, I have some 6- 3 piece jugs to complete. Sadly this is the only studio work I will accomplished this week other than glazing and firing a kiln load. Good news comes in three's so they say. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy T Day

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! It's Thanksgiving Weekend here north of the 49th parallel where we give thanks for a plentiful harvest. We have so much to be thankful for.  We started the day with a yard sale at the end of our driveway in the hopes of getting rid of some of the accumulated junk around our house. It is a weird sub culture to deal with. You price a $300 air conditioner at $30 and they offer you 50 cents. Not something I enjoyed but at the end of the day we had a couple hundred bucks for things we didn't use or even knew we had. While the biting and scratching was going on at the end of the driveway daughter Eileen aka Mini Martha Stewart was cooking the turkey,whipped potatoes, veggies galore and making a pumpkin pie from scratch. Pumpkins from our yard. The pie was sooooooo good I'm having it for breakfast. Pie and coffee yummy! David was visiting here from Italy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Teach to learn

I must confess I've been so busy with Sheridan students and my studio the blog has taken a back burner. I received today from one of my students a lovely film clip of 94 year old Eva Zeisel speaking about 75 years of a playful search for beauty.

You teach the students to be interested in all things ceramic and they get it and then teach you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wong's Scottish Meat Pies

We've been crazy busy this past week with us both back teaching. We have had a few meals out. We like to go to The Thistle that is a Scottish fish and chip joint. It is always packed to the rafters with a line up. Their menu is basically fish and chips. The same oil isn't used for fish,  shrimp, calamari, chicken, Mars bars and other assorted culinary delights. They do one thing and do it well. Many moons ago when I worked with Mick Casson he asked me how many items I made back at my studio in Canada. I rhymed off 40 some odd items and he broke into uncontrollable laughter. Why do you North Americans think you can do it all well?
Mick made jugs for a living. He did have a few bowls, jars etc that I think were demo pieces but the jug was his signature piece. Want a good teapot in Britain- try Geoffrey Whiting. I'd say don't go to a Scottish restaurant for Dum Sim or Sushi and in a good southern BBQ I  wouldn't go for the seafood platter.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Particle Size

Here are a couple of bowls that came out of our kiln today. I had never really appreciated the difference particle size could have. We've been adding copious quantities of raw material to our reticulated glaze. The one bowl with the dark maroon patch is granular rutile while the rest of the bowl in the leather colour is ceramic grade rutile. We had also been using black stain as a colourant and were finding it rather expensive so we used iron chromate that did the job beautifully and it is cheap! Grass Hopper got me on this colour path but it has taken a crooked and strange path. We are like a couple of kids with a handful of Crayolas and some crazzzzzy ideas. We just filled the shop with functional ware we will need for the next month so now we get get crazier.