Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wanna see a pot die?

Sheila has a pot full of brushes on our kitchen window that I stare at each morn when getting the high octane ready. If you want to see a pot die put one of these brushes in my hand. I'm a mud and water guy and I'm afraid of brushes. Some need clay as a canvas for their brushwork. I need clay as a canvas for my marks, jabs and pokes.
Studio is ready for us to get to work. We're kinda tentative. The music is playing and the words are percolating.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Potter's Best Friend

No!  A potter's best friend is not a dog. It's a hammer! I keep one handy above my wheel. Might as well put it out of it's misery before it gets out there and further pollutes the world. Well, the butt scratchin' is over and it is time to play some rock and roll. I know the music but I have forgotten all the words since they were written for a high pitched Cone 10 voice and now I have to sing low down around Cone 1. Sheila got me a brand new birch chair from Ikea for $9 so I can sit there and stare out the window at the trains until a vision comes to me. I don't believe in ghosts but I'm afraid of them. I keep hoping the ghost of my Uncle Jimmie would drop in and talk to me about this low fire stuff. I think he knows I'm afraid of ghosts so he stays away.
I keep telling the students that pressure makes diamonds so we'll see what we will have in couple of months. I think for the first month or so the hammer will have it's work cut out for her. Ya, the hammer is female. She answers to the name "The Destroyer!"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sad Day

It is with sadness today that I report the death of Sara Burke daughter of my long time potter friends Gord Burke and Jan Phelan. She was a skiier at the top of her game and an Olympic Gold hopeful for Canada. Sara died doing what she loved. That still doesn't make it easier to swallow. Not much I want to say today. Be of courage Gord, Jan and family.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fine dining in The Hammer

The Hammer is being recognized as a city for artists, a city of music and now it is to become the culinary capital of Canada. Yesterday Sheila watched a hawk dining out in our courtyard on a dove. It must have been a Japanese hawk as it ordered it's meat uncooked. The hawks are coming to our town to dine as the fare is well fed and easily available. I think pigeon and dove would be fairly easy to snag in our Town. I will use the feathers for some feather combing I plan to do on my new e-ware.

Sheila said she threw sticks at the hawk to chase him away but he said "Not on your life honey, I'm dining out! Where's the wine list?"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Devil Made Me Do It!!!

Some potters have kiln gods. We had a kiln devil looking over our gas kiln. The little bugger did a pretty damn good job of keeping our shino glaze in line. We brought him along and I swear it is he who is responsible for us having do all this painting. I like painting about as much as I like gardening. OK, so it is now public knowledge that I am not a new age sensitive guy. I like Harley's over Smart Cars, bacon over tofu and cats over dogs. Yes, I think cats are more apt to be artists than dogs. They are more independent and can survive on their own. Dogs are more like employees with pay cheques. No pay cheque equals no dinner.  I will roll on the second coat tomorrow and then Sheila makes it look good. I've been told to go to Sheridan for the weekend and make pots as I just get in the way in the painting dept. OK, by me!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top of your game

Some 30 or more years ago a 20 year old young punk friend of mine failed from Sheridan where I now teach and had the cajones big enuff to purchase Robin Hopper's house and studio for the unheard price of $100,000+ big ones. Gord Burke fell in love with another Ceramic Artist Jan Phelan and they had two daughters. The one Sara is a 4 time gold medalist in free style skiing. She has had a serious accident and is in a coma in Salt Lake City.
Gord and Jan where at the top of their game. Jan made the dinnerware for our Governor General and has continued to make stellar work. They worked too hard like most potters do and their relationship went south. I don't know what happened to Gord but today when reading the news I thought of them and the good times we had drinking Drambui and planning our lives as potters. My thoughts and my prayers to whoever is listening go out to Gord, Jan and their kiddo- Sara. Fight, big fighter, fight!
Here is a pic of Sara and a vase of Jan's.

For Bobby

Hey Bobby this post is for you. Bobby is one of the hardest workin', hardest livin' guys I know. It was either Bobby or I that had the coffee going at USU. If Bobby was a little slow off the mark I had the coffee on for him to wash down his morning oatmeal.
Since ya like Simon so much here are some more of his cups in our kitchen. Also some cups of his former wife Sandy and her present husband Bob Brady decorated one with the stick man.
Here also is a cup from your partner in crime Danny "Crumpet" Crump. It is Sheila's favourite cup for a wee nip. He did pull a damn nice bra strap handle.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Checking your homework

Ok for those of you that attempted your homework assignment on the Working Class here is a list of the pots in the cupboard
Top shelf- Eric Wong
2nd shelf-Christianson, Glick, Hopper
next shelf- Selfridge, Piker, Smith
next shelf Uhlick, Medalta, Oestreich (25 years old), Rock Creek(Ruggles and Rankin)
Micheal Simon tumbler over in the corner.
All of it is pretty good company to keep.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Working Class

OK, if Brandon and Ron get three more of the cups of the working class I'm VERY impressed. I am always suspect of potters who use their own dishes. They claim they need to see if they work. How long do you have to pour a teapot to see if it pours? How many times do you need to drink from a cup to find out it dribbles down your lip? Well maybe that's all they can afford. I can't afford my own.  Ron and Brandon obviously know their pots. We have a house full of other peoples pots. We like their good company after a day spent with our pots and ourselves it is nice to enjoy the company of friend's pots. Every pot and I mean every pot in our house has a story that we can relate to.
Off to school in the morn so another year starts at Sheridan. Time has flown the coop.

What's Your Cup Size?

Cups are the most important item a potter makes. I've always maintained that if you can make a good cup that people will use every day then you have put your business card in their hand each and every day. I love to make cups and I especially liked a trimmed foot ring. It takes more time but as my dear old dad used to say "It's what you do when you don't have to that makes all the difference!"
Here is a display of some of our cups in the kitchen. The cupboards are full of the working cups that we are more apt to use on a daily basis. It is often quite embarrassing to find we have both brought 4 or 5 cups each out to the studio. A week later things are growing in the cups.

Here is my all time favourite cup made by Mark Pharis of Minnesota. I have used this cup for over 30 years. Two years ago at NCECA I bought Sheila this yeller cup by Pharis. He has moved from quiet to shouting. Neither of us have ever put this cup to our lips. I really like to look at it but maybe the colour is too aggressive for morning Joe. Move yourself to the head of the class if you can identify 3 makers of the cups in our kitchen display cabinet.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


You'd think I like sandwiches! I live on the very beginning of the Niagara Peninsula where we are sandwiched between Lake Ontario to the north and Lake Erie to the south. Most of Canada is north of the Great Lakes but we dip down between Ontario and Erie. Where I live in the city of Hamilton we are also sandwiched between Lake Ontario and the beautiful Niagara Escarpment. The Bruce Trail a 400 kilometer hiking trail wanders along the Niagara Escarpment from Queenston, New York  to Tobermory on another Great Lake- Lake Huron. Here is a view of the city from the top of the Chedoke Steps. 330 steps up the escarpment for a view of My Town. I'm contemplating the steps as part of my exercise routine. Taking the bicycle trail would be a hellava lot easier.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Chainsaw Carpenters

Well Sheila and I have finished the wood butchery in the workshop. In my next life I will be a gentleman potter with a patron that will pay to have a builder do all the grunt work. This is the third studio that we have built. We do pretty well everything with a circular saw and a cordless drill. A bargain Boxing Day oscillating saw has come in handy for a variety of jobs.

The joint is ready for Sheila to start painting on Monday when I'm off to school. I think the plywood will suck up a lot of paint and this is going to be a BIG job. Colour scheme planned is white ceiling to give it height, yellow walls, a painted on black board and we haven't decided on the floor colour yet.  I have to do some market research to find out what colour squirrels and raccoons hate most.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Steel Town

When we planned our move we looked for one vital component- "ENERGY". We wanted to live where there is energy and most especially in the arts community. We wanted to be surrounded by musicians, writers, fine crafts and arts, coffee shops, galleries, farmer's markets etc, etc. For once we chose well and just in time. Historically artists have moved into areas where the rents are cheap and they beautify and gentrify the place and then the money moves in and the artists move out.
Well our planning this time is "just in time". Word is out. Today in the Buffalo, NY newspaper was a headline "Steel Town transformed into artist's commumity"

Updated: December 11, 2011, 6:56 AM
HAMILTON, Ont.—“Art Is the New Steel” reads the slogan of the Print Studio, a gallery and artist workspace on James Street North. The city, once mostly known for its industry, is now getting noticed for its burgeoning art community and galleries.
Located two hours northwest of Buffalo between Niagara Falls and Toronto, Hamilton (nicknamed the Hammer), once was responsible for more than 70 percent of Canada’s steel production. In an all-too-familiar story, the industry dwindled to a fraction of its former self and the downtown core deteriorated.
But a shift has begun. Art is at the forefront of a transformation, which has seen many new galleries opening, along with more restaurants and coffee shops. Artists, lured by inexpensive rents and a supportive arts environment, are putting down roots, especially in the James Street North neighborhood. So noticeable is the influx of creative types, especially from Toronto, that national Canadian media has made the bold declaration that Hamilton is “the new Brooklyn.

Kaopectate for fish

Just saw this in the news. Kaolin slurry spill in Georgia.
A weekend kaolin spill in Jefferson County involved approximately 679 tons of the milky colored material, according to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.
Reedy Creek flowed milky white after a weekend spill in which a 12-inch kaolin pipe ruptured
The spill, caused by a ruptured pipe near the Georgia Highway 17 bridge over Reedy Creek, involved de-gritted kaolin slurry owned by KaMin LLC, whose Georgia offices are in Macon.
Based on the 679-ton number, they calculated the release was 187,000 gallons of de-gritted kaolin slurry.
 I wonder if this an environmental disaster? If I had my choice between catfish and whitefish it would be a toss up. Two of my favorites. Now will there be white cats? I can have them both.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Old Yeller

This e-ware pot by the late David Taylor of Nova Scotia was bought by Sheila some 25 years ago on a trip out to the Maritimes. We had a wonderful dinner with beers at David's home and studio on the La Harve River. We enjoyed the company of he and his wife very much. This pot has sat in a cupboard for all that time as it didn't really fit in with our wood fire aesthetic. Our new home with it's warm yellers seem to show this pot off nicely.  A favourite corner of the living room has our David Fleming Windsor chair,  an old Nova Scotia batter bowl, a wood block print from the Hatch Print Shop in Nashville and Mr. Wiggley Legs by folk artist Jeremy Hayes.  This house seems to demand colour.  Perhaps our work is headed that way.