Sunday, July 31, 2011


While I was working and slaving Sheila and daughter Eileen were in NYC eating pretzels and going to museums. Here is a pic of the shop I should run instead of a pottery and dang a real live cigar maker. Man oh man a Cuban cigar and a beer and a

bump. Life doesn't get too much better, does it?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I live on a battlefield

Whenever I go down to Pinecroft I stop by to have a talk with Lance Sargent Jimmie Clennell my mentor and the guy responsible for guiding me down the clay path. Seeing my image on the tomb stone is kinda spooky. Making pots for a living ain't easy. I don't think it ever was. It is a battlefield that one must be prepared for both physically and emotionally. I have fond memories of laying on a bed of pine needles on the roof of the pottery with Uncle Jimmie where he would tell me stories of WW 2, the coal mines and working in the potteries. After a few tales he and I would fall asleep for 5-10 minutes in the warm sun and then it was back to work. If this is a battlefield I've been at war for half a century.
Here is a great tune by Nick Lowe -I live on a battlefield

Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow your heart

 Here is one of my students at OCAD that has quietly worked her way to the top of the class. The one assignment was to make a composite form. I think this is a pretty cool rocking jar.  A few years ago Ceramics at OCAD ceased to be a major.  So for those like us that want more clay and not less it means you have to search else where for additional ceramic studio instruction. I must say the students I have at OCAD are amazingly talented and get great instruction in design, mould making and experimental approaches.  I wish I could have them for another session of wheel work and hand building.  They just now seem to be "getting it".
Anne Marie is a few credits away from graduating and has decided to follow her heart and take Ceramics at Sheridan full time. She will be joining my class.  I'm the second year throwing teacher at Sheridan in the fall and my class is looking amazing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Macho Wood firing

This weekend I was in upper NY State in the 100 degree heat with friends firing a wood kiln. The farm is called Garry's Fat Camp and the kiln The Amish Rocket. Guaranteed to loose 10 lbs in a weekend of stoking a wood kiln in this weather. So you can see some of the friends potteries I visited this weekend between shifts. Started Friday night with the rat family Ronnie and Hester Meyers. 50 years married!!! Visited Kathy Gullo the Queen of Overstatement CRASHED after the firing at Marineland with Marv Bjurlin and his bride Tina in Fredonia, NY. Had a red neck weenie cooked by friend Jim Reno who has a pottery near by with his bride Pat. Normie Wheeler was down from the north country to lend a helping hand. Lots of good people, good times, good food and good pots fired. We had a good hot Cone 13 so a over the top macho firing it was.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm a believer!

Ok, so ya hang a couple of zip lock bags full of water with a few pennies in them on the doorways of your studio or home and it'll keep the flies out. Well when at Pinecroft if I walked outside the deer flies, house flies and flying critters ate me alive. Inside the studio with doors and windows wide open there wasn't a bug to be seen. Brenda even Scotch taped a few pennies on the outside of the bags. It's got something to do with light refraction, prisms and such.
I bought a belt buckle a few years ago to protect me against shark bites. I haven't been biten by a shark yet! See ya got to be a believer. Now I can't get that stupid Monkey's song outta my head- I'm a believer!.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Prodigal Son

The prodigal son returns after 33 years. In biblical terms the prodigal son is referred to as " The Lost Son".  It was over 33 years ago that I set off from Pinecroft Pottery to find my own way in the pottery world. It has been a long and winding road that has taken me almost around the world to study pottery- England, China, Japan, Italy, the US and my beloved Canada. My cousin Brenda and her husband Herm have kept the home fires at Pinecroft burning and have grown the business to an amazing destination and experience. Great food, pottery, massage, bed and breakfast and 50 acres of beautiful pines surrounding a large pond of geese, ducks, swans, turtles and other creatures.
It was nice to work in a real pottery for the past couple of days. Clay floors, room to put things, doors open, people wandering in all day to ask all the stupid questions. Like is the wood furnace the kiln,?Have you seen Ghost?  Do you do this all day long? Did any of the family find real work in a real career?Is that the same dog I saw here in 1984? Can I try working on the wheel? The answer to the questions when you're tired and over heated is "No!" Just say "no" to everything. 
My Uncle Jimmie loved talking to the people and we remind ourselves of him and how generations have come to talk to the old guy in the pottery. Strange to think that for the past couple of days  the old guy was me. Life comes full circle.
Now ask me about those bags of water with pennies in them hanging at the door way!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's that time of year!!!!

It's PYO cherry time on the Niagara Peninsula. Since we named our pottery Sour Cherry Pottery after the orchard of sour cherries that used to be there before they discovered there was more money in booze than tender fruit and tore the cherries out and planted grapes. So we now have van loads of people that don't read English so well getting out of their vehicles all ready to decend on the cherries. When they walk into our showroom there is a look of disbelief on their faces. Where are the cherries? Where are the trees? Where are the ladders? Where the hell am I?
Our best one was when the guy came in and said to me " Where are cheekans?" I said "What are you talking about- where are the cheekans?"  He said "Sour Cherry Poultry vy don't you sell cheekans?'

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Deep in the heart attack of Texas

While in Texas I tried a deep fried chicken steak. It was the size of half a steer. I thought it would be good with some KD (kraft dinner). I never thought of a chicken steak with KD between two slices of Texan fried toast. Dang those Texans think of everything. For those that worry about me thanx but today I celebrate being below China weight which is the weight I came from China at. Walking 6.5 k a day and eating well. I've shed a bag of clay since Jan. This was my first blog from our new Ipad- not so easy!

One of the hot shots

Can you believe this is Eric's 2nd throwing course? I introduced composite throwing (stacking pieces together) and he is having fun making big pots. He is restricted to 27 inches because of the height of the electric kiln which during the summer is our glaze kiln.  Size matters! It also shows that this OCAD student puts some time in before and after class. As it should be!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Ladies

Well Grand daughter #3 arrived safely today. Abbey Clennell weighing in at 7 lbs 13 oz arrived cute as a pin this morning. My son Jay is the proud father. I spared his partner Denise from the picture as she was feeling rather beaten up and nauseous. Here is a pic of my daughter Aunt Robin holding the little cutie pie.
So now we have quite a stable of little ladies Ava age 5, Olivia age 2 1/2 and now our new arrival Abbey.

They will all grow up to be teenagers and there will be pay back time for our time raising the kids thru that dreadful adolesence.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Power of the Blog

Geez, I never thought anyone would take the eating Redneck Turtle burgers post seriously. But apparently poor Michelangelo's David did.  Sorry Dave but ya better get yourself back on that Mediterranean diet. If ya feel like snacking you can treat yourself to carrot sticks, celery or watermelon.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why do I bother?

I  make these ruff pencil sketches of pots I want to make and then when I get the pieces made they become something else. I wanted to make a vase. Usually when I plan a vase it becomes a jug. This time the vase became a teapot! The hardest part of resolving this pot was the handle. I am not a fan of the overhead clay handle and making a back handle that looks good on a round bellied pot is difficult. Then the question always is "to circumcise or not to circumcise the spout. My teapots only seem to sell with a circumcised spout so a John Wayne Bobbit is what I did. Thank you for the instruction Lorena.

Heart Attack on a Plate

It was kind of a dare. My step daughter Eileen and I had to go for a KFC Double Down.  We were showing our pride in her mother's Scottish heritage where everything is deep fried including Mars bars, ice cream and butter.
I can now claim "I put down a double down!" Two pieces of fried chicken as the bun for a bacon and  double cheese sandwich. Geez, it was good but boy am I thirsty. Salt overload!!!!!

Our next treat will be a Redneck Turtle sandwich. I can't help but think of my class mate at USU Mississippi Ernie Gentry and his love bacon. Doesn't that look delicous!!!! Bacon has converted more vegetarians back to the dark side than any other meat. I thought it fitting that since we were eating lots of critter we might as well serve it up on Ronnie the Rat Meyers dinner plates. I had horse, Eileen had billy goat and Sheila had boar.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Showin' ya mine

Firstly I'll show you some jugs I'm making for an upcoming wood firing. This is a Helmer based clay body that is sometimes a little tuffer to work with than our regular studio body but the colour in the wood kiln is pretty sweet.
Now for my score on the colour test. It was fun to see all you perfectos. The rest that scored like I did ain't admitting to taking the test. Here's my take on the scores. It's a bit like asking someone how well they did at a craft sale. You take their answer and deduct about 30% and therein lies the truth. So if I told you I got a 21 on the colour test what was my actual score??????  I just looked in the mirror and by God my nose is quite a bit longer this morn.
Actually I was doing rather fine until I hit the blues and greens. I guess like John Britt I've been looking at wood firing and shino too long. Speaking of orange yesterday was Canada Day. Happy Canada Day!

It was also Orange Mans day and the ditches of the province of Ontario are filled with the flower of the Protestants of the Orange Hall in Ireland -Orange Man. I call the flowers Ditch Lilies.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Show me yours

and I'll show you mine. I took this colour test that apparently women are so much better at. Take the test, tell me your gender and score and then I'll reveal how well I did. Kinda interested in how the colour man Grass Hopper will do on this. That guy has seen more colour tests than 10 men.  Well maybe the male population of a country. I am counting on Grass to save our reputations.

Here are some of Sheila's sauce boats that she is making for an up coming wood firing. I always tell customers that look at them "If you have company over for dinner and they don't comment on that sauce boat never invite them back. They're boring!