Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Clay Junkie

I'm a clay junkie. I love all things clay- pots, bricks, sewer tiles and bird houses. I sparked up a friendship with a guy that owned several brick yards. I could sit around all night long to have a few drinks to listen to stories of the men in the brickyard. These bird houses were made in a sewer tile factory on a day when there weren't any orders for sewer tile. It could have been the beginning of plastic. My friend Bob wanted to keep his men employed so he had them make bird houses from the sewer tile extrusions. I don't think it was a Marketing success but I sure do like them. Clay!!!!! Nice red clay from the Niagara Peninsula. Primitive but beautiful.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Going Straight

It's reading break and I'm off to do a workshop at Pinecroft this weekend. I made some straight sided teapots yesterday. They are much easier to make than the roundies. I have never liked the look of wide expanses of stoneware or porcelain clay so I have preferred roundies with a trimmed bottom and glazed under the foot ring. I hope to wood fire these so the wad marks and flashing will help with the bottoms. Bottoms are the part of the pot most potters look at first. I have often been disappointed when looking at potter's bottoms. I know I shouldn't be doing that anyway.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Mark of a Potter

One of my teachers told me you could judge a potter by the teapot. You want to make money make a straight sided, flat bottom pot and voila ca ching ca ching. In my youth I made 90 such teapots in a day. Today I made 5 teapots the way I like to make them.    Making a rounded teapot with a trimmed bottom, some marks and details takes time. Like my father once told me "It's what you do when you don't have to that makes all the difference!" I made up a glaze last week that was 70% red clay and 30 whiting. It was a lovely glaze that pooled in the recesses and broke on the edges. I was thinking of that glaze when I made these pots.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


We had some discussion at Sheridan about clay bodies. I went on about not one clay body is good for all things and outlined the importance of making your own clay body to suit you. Of course we throw in words like tooth, flesh, and bones. Well this body of mine also requires grog to open it up and give it some bones. I love my morning grog. It starts with boiling water and a pinch of salt( real salt from Salt Lake, Utah that has iron particles in it) 8 grain cereal from a Amish flour mill, and added to that is organic cranberries, organic flax seeds(ground in the coffee grinder), almonds, walnuts, coconut, and some chia also from the Amish mill. Yeah and to sweeten the pie I pour on some Canadian maple syrup. A cup of coffee in a cup from former student Andrew Kellner this morning.  A word for the wise that start their morning with this open body- do not immediately go on your morning walk or stray far from home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feeling flat

This week was crit week at Sheridan. I got a note from a student saying she was feeling flat. I get it! Showing your work for comment is like standing there buck naked. You wish you looked better but that's what ya got to show for now. Perhaps more time in the studio or at the gym and all would be better. Dunno!
As a teacher I feel flat too! All the woulda, coulda, shoulda's enter your mind. Would I be a better teacher if I told some of them to go do something else? Do I keep searching for diamonds? Not all are born with the God Given talent. Some just work so hard they end up being the All Stars. These are the ones that I keep hoping will catch on fire. Students tell me I make it look easy. Yeah, I rose rapidly to where I am today with only 55 years of devotion to clay.  I'm the one that just kept working. It really is about "showing up" each day.
I'm marking test papers today and then trying to make some sense of my notes during the critique of the students work. That's the tough part that leaves me feeling flat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our Associations

We are very proud of Pinecroft's 65 years being a working potters studio.  We feel blessed with the associations we have made in the arts community. To celebrate our 65th Anniversary we have our good friends Ronnie the Rat Meyers from Georgia along with Valdy" Sing Me a Rock and Roll Song" of Salt Spring Island be the key presenters for our celebration on June 22nd/2013.  Oh yeah, did I mention a Lake Erie Perch fry?
Plans are underway to build a big bourry box wood fired kiln with a rifle course chimney that we plan to be firing during the weekend of the festivities. E-mail – 
Be there or be square!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Harvest moon

Today I found a cookie mold that I bought in China. It brought back memories of the 4 months in Jingdezhen that I spent there with the Utah State Gang. We went to a party that had tea, fruit and moon cakes. We all talked and laughed and no one knew what the other person was saying. I'd like to make some baskets like the one carved in the mold. I'm sure that must have been the reason for my purchasing it. Revisiting old forms and good memories was part of my day today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Salty Dogs

Here is my second year class at Sheridan posing in front of their first salt firing. There were some nice pots and some good lessons learned. Mother in law blue was bright and shiny and we had a very nice Red Art slip glaze that melted to a nice olive green ash looking glaze with nice legs. We have named this glaze Michelle's purple. That's another story.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I've said it once and I'll say it again. The business's that offer an experience will continue to be in business. This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and in the Green Frog Tearoom hundreds of turkey dinners were served. I had many visitors in the pottery including an Amish family of 8. We talked of good food and good health and I gave them the royal tour of the pottery and showroom. He purchased a pie plate and maple syrup jug. Home made apple pie in a clay pie plate and cooked in a wood fired oven doesn't get too much better. Across from the pottery Herm had over a dozen musicians drop in for a afternoon jam session. We have so much to be thankful for.- good food, good people, good music, good friendship and good pots.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Last weekend at Reid Flock's show at BAC I met up with my favourite eccentric- Judith Graham. Judith has a wonderful collection of pots and just as many rings on her fingers. She really ought to consider piercing to get more jewellery on her body. The Dominatrix  leather hand gloves are a nice touch. Here is a shot of Judith's hands and one of Reid's teapot forms. I did check to see if he put a hole in the body expecting it to pour. What's your guess?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reid Flock at Pinecroft

I've always referred to raku as the black velvet painting of ceramics. Never been a fan of  that glitzy surface.  I don't wear Hawaiian shirts either. Hey maybe I am learning to be young again.   On Sunday I went to see a show at the Burlington Arts Center with raku pots by Reid Flock and glass by David Thai. I loved Reid's somber surfaces surfaces and the imaginative, playful forms.  Reid spent 10 years in Japan and that sensibility is evident in the work.  We booked Reid for a workshop at Pinecroft and are excited to have him there.

We were younger then

Here is a pic of me some 25years ago loading the first chamber of our two chambered noborigama. I was thinner then but I'm much,much wiser now. I used to split wood for an hour at the end of each pottery day. I wish I still had that kiln.