Friday, December 31, 2010

Gam Bai

Gam Bai was a toast we learned in China that literally meant "dry glass'. So here's to you, bottom's up, down the hatch, cheers, here's lookin' at you, kid and get er' down ya! 2010 is about to end and I'm not sure I'm all that sad about that. Not that I want another year to go racing by but this one has sure been an up and down roller coaster ride from almost being stranded in Italy because of ash to a crazy hiring process at Sheridan and an economy that had moments when it was a graveyard out there and others when we were wondering if we'd have any pots left to sell.
Here are the last pots of the last kiln for 2010. They are some yunomi's destined for the invitational Yunomi Show at Akar Gallery. It opens in March but they are due now so that they can start the long process of photography.
I try to change mine each year. I always have the signature lug on the side. This year's lug bigger and better than ever. When I made them they looked like mugs sitting on saucers. I liked that since for me it was a salute to Britain and America which is the reference for my work. I am not from Japan so mine are really not yunomi's but a  mug with attached saucer and lug.
So my friends all the best of The New Year 2011.
As we start the New Year
Let's get down on our knees
to thank God that we're still on our feet.- Irish
Here's a beer and bump to all of you.
Tony and Sheila

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa's a Wreck.

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.

Second-hand smoke from his pipe
had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit
was called "Unenlightened."

And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose
And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.

So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.

And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him.
And nothing for her.

Nothing that might be construed to pollute
.Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.

No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.

For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.

Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.

He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.

So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth.


"Notice:  This poem is copyright 1992 by Harvey Ehrlich.
It is free to distribute, without changes, as long as this
notice remains intact.All follow-ups, requests, comments,
questions, distribution rights, etc
should be made to  mduhan@husc.harvard.edu .
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are we really moving forward?

I got a note from Bobby Free yesterday about kilns. He is dismantling some old kilns and building his own.
Many of the Art schools today are ordering their kilns from Europe and they are computer assisted.  These computer systems allow remote control of the operation and even identification and problem solving by means of remote sensing. In this way the kiln manufacturer  can provide fast and efficient service worldwide by means of an external monitor. In other words you're up shit creek without a paddle if something goes wrong. Not to worry an engineer in a white lab coat will be on the next flight from Europe to help you get on track again.  Is ceramics really moving forward? Are students going to graduate from college with a tool box full of skills to make a living as studio potters? Who could afford these kilns much less the price of an airfare from the Netherlands to fix your kiln not working in Helena, Montana two weeks before your annual holiday sale?
Bobby you're doing the right thing. The kiln may or may not be pretty but the pots will be. My theory is some of the ugliest pots I've seen in my life come from the most beautiful kilns and some of the potters I know that make wonderful work have kilns that look like a pile of bricks with a chimney. Go figure!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Belly of the ROM

I had the privilege of taking the Sheridan students to the vault of the Royal Ontario Museum. The Curator of the European section had a selection of work to show us from the 1500's to the more contemporary 21st century work of Leach, Rie, Coper, Staite-Murray etc. Looking at this 500 year old work makes one wonder if we really have improved ceramics. One also has to keep in mind that all this work was fired with wood and later coal. No switches, no cones, no ramps, no high limit controllers. All done by eye!
I was very excited by this little wood fired lead glazed piggy bank. The students are all keen on having an 04 wood firing.
Here is a picture of me holding a Hans Coper vase. I always thought they were about 3 feet tall. The secret is to make small pots that look huge. I find my huge pots often look small when photographed.