Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sketching at the wheel

Because I do a lot of composite/sectional throwing it is my custom to make a drawing of the pieces I intend to put together. I made a sketch of an hour glass type vase with a narrow bottle top. When I put the two cylinders together the vase looked really tall and cylindrical so the narrow bottle top would have made them real tall boyzzzzzz. So I just added a coil and extended the lip a bit.  The wheel work when all assembled looked  nothing like I had sketched. So there ya have a vase of 7 parts. Two joined cylinders, a coil lip, a throw foot, a slab inserted into the opening of the foot ring and the signature 2 handles. It is no wonder I don't make any money in this business. I need to stop caring so much about details and additions. I need to watch Issac Button A Country Potter again. I need to go work at strawberry pot pottery in rural Georgia.  I need to go work with this guy!
Afgan potter making bowls

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I wanted to show you the split rim on the Texan sugar bowls that I made. I used to have a very strong rim that allowed me to stack the bowls rim to rim in my large two chamber kiln. This habit carried over even when I no longer had the large kiln. Recently I started to split the rim and pinching it to give a more interesting shape. The origins of the split rim historically is that they filled the rim like that of a moat with olive oil or veggie oil to keep critters from crawling into the food in the bowl. My little pinches give the bugs an over pass to the Texan sugar.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Texan Sugar Bowls

Everything is bigger in Texan. I came home and made some sizable sugar bowls. I like to put a rather narrow foot on them to give them more elegance. If a pot with such strong rims and handles can be considered elegant. It also makes them a little less functional in the stability dept so they won't be considered as planters. Planters down the road at the landscape store are under $50 for really beautiful Korean stoneware LARGE ones.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Holy Smokie's

Pottery Supply House in Oakville near Toronto makes our clay. I have two custom bodies that they prepare for me. The clay has become so popular with our students at Sheridan and Mohawk that now they offer the clay as a house wine. You can purchase our standard stoneware body "Smokie's Hot Bod" which is a high temperature stoneware with the addition of some yellow iron for a nice toasty colour and shino seems to like the iron content. This clay is pretty well bullet proof. We throw it, put it out in the sun, bring it in and trim it and put handles on it and put it back out in the sun. You don't have to cover it, baby it and sit around singing Kumbuya while waiting for it to dry. We have them make it a little on the soft side for most but as I always say "the older you get the softer you like your clay". The other clay they make is our wood/salt body that is Helmer kaolin based and it flashes beautifully in the wood kiln. I can also get some beautiful blue/purples from pots placed up near the firebox. This clay is a bit more tempermental, I think because of the high kaolin content.  They are a good bunch to deal with and will ship to the US. Hey, if this reads like an ad it is. They treat me right and I treat them right. Win, win!

Texan Love Birds

Here is a pic of my friends Gay and Jim Bob Judson of San Antone, TX. I spent a few nights with them touring San Antone and staying up discussing the world as we know it and how we'd have it. We went to the San Antonio Museum of Art and looked at the Chinese and Middle East Ceramics. A few years ago I would have only looked at the high fired work but I would myself drooling over the lead glazed earthenware of the Tang and Liao Dynasty. I loved these pots and wish I could visit them often. I am tip toeing in the e-ware direction with my work however it is 30+ years I've been on the high fire road and now the low road seems like a gravel one in terms of my life's walk.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get a Handle On It!

Here are some pics Gay took with her I-phone. They are handy little gadgets. I guess I have this rep for handles so here are some of the ones made for the pots at the workshop. Nice pot on that handle!

Monday, June 20, 2011

San Antone

Gay and I visited the South West School of Art and Craft and had a great tour of an amazing facility with lots of pot making going on and a kiln pad with lots of big ole kilns.

We then met Diana Kersey to go look at her new bridge installation, pots and went for lunch at the old Pearl Brewery on the river walk in San Antone. Diana is the real thing and makes some really nice work. Interesting to hear that her architectural work supports her functional work. Nice to meet someone that sits on the same three legged stool as me- teach, pots and I do workshops were Diana does installations.
 The Mexicans celebrate the dead so I had my pic taken with a dead guy. I hope this means good luck.
Leaving this 104F heat in the morning on my way back to Atlanta, Buffalo and then The Promised Land-Canada.

Rural Texas

We went to a real bar last night after the workshop. There were girls dancing on the dance floor and the food portions were SUPER SIZED +++++++. A chicken fried steak weighed in at around 3 lbs of meat then there was your side of mashed potatoes, green beans, squash, a side salad and one of those throw away little brown rolls. A by  the way this was the 1/2 order only ordered by city slickers and tourists. Mind you there were some big people in the bar. There was a hangin' tree outside that had in the past gotten a lot of use. 

Since I like clay so much we visited an ole brick yard that is still using their big bee hive kilns.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gator, Catfish and Deep Fried Dill Pickles

A lot of clay got slung today at my workshop at Castroville Pottery here in the heart of Texas. After work Tim and Gloria my gracious hosts took me for dinner- where else would you eat gator, catfish and deep fried dill pickles? It's a 104F in the shade here so we took a ride around town in Tim's 1936 Chevy fire truck. This is "the" most beautiful historic town I have ever visited with these wonderful homes with stone walls 2 to 4 feet thick. People are cooling off floating down the lazy river.

I highly recommend you look up the Castroville Pottery My buddy glaze guru Johnnie Britt is coming here to do a workshop here in August. Great Inn down the street, excellent restaurants and amazing Texan hospitality. As for quality of workshops this one has set a new standard.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Heart of Texas

I'm deep in the heart of Texas doing a workshop at Castroville Pottery. My first stop was with my friend Gay Judson in San Antone. I am a fan of folk art and one of my favourite artists doing what ya might consider folk art is Gay's son Kenny. Kenny has cerebral palsy and is a realllllllllllllly big fan of Mickey and Minnie mouse. Here is Kenny and his work. The definition of an artist when you're 5 years old is the ability to colour within the lines and when you get older like Kenny the definition changes to the ability to colour outside the lines. Kenny has clear views about his art.

Off to the pottery. It's a work day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The lawnmower ate my homework!

It's not that I've been neglect in doing my blog.  I have been cameraless. A few years ago my trusty Lumix fell out of my fleece pocket while cutting the lawn on my man tractor.  I spotted what looked to be the chip from a camera. I had mowed my Lumix into iddy biddy pieces. That was replaced by a cheapie Nikon Coolpix which really didn't give me good pics. I bought another trusty Lumix and I abused it. It spent most of it's life in the studio, the clay classroom and in the end it succumbed to dust. The telescoping lens froze on me. So yesterday I went to my camera store- no not Best Buy or Wallyworld but a real camera store with people that know their stuff and will be there next week or next month or next year when you need some help.
My camera woman suggested I get the Lumix that is waterproof for taking pics of bath tub bubbles, it's dustproof since the telephoto is internal and it is shock proof and can be dropped 10 feet. Nothing in the manual about lawnmowers though. It's a little heavier than my others but still good for the jean pocket. So I'm back!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lemon Aid

I'm teaching Intro throwing at Ontario College of Art and Design. The potter's wheel takes time. So with all these creative minds it takes time for their fingers to catch up with their imagination. I took in some lemons and asked them to bring in to the next class some cups made from the lemons. Some really great stuff arrived which proves they have a place in a top flight art program. One student even brought in lemon juice to toast the art exhibition with.