Monday, February 25, 2013

Copy Pots


Have you ever gone to a workshop or seen some pots that you really liked and decided to go to the studio to make some just like it? I confess I went to see Phil Rogers from Wales at Sheridan the other day and the thought occurred to me to make some copy pots. Really nice pots and especially the foot rings. Phil does a very nice foot ring. I have two of his drawings over my desk that I look at everyday. So the following day I made up some clay and decided I would make some yunomi's ala Phil. I made one, looked at it and scrunched it up and rewedged it. Where TF would I put my handle? I did copy down his green glaze and his black breaking to rust glaze. There are Japanese words for those glazes but I'm a Canadian working in Canada so black and green it is.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pee Bags

I can always count on Grass Hopper for the straight to the point crit. My attempt at the handles on the tall vases he said looked like urine bags. Ouch! When asked what the difference between fine art and craft I have always said that craft you pee in and art you pee on. So looks like I am firmly planted in the craft tradition. Nice place to be, actually.
You all have seen Grass posted all over CM mags giving a testimonial for something or other. Well he has been laying low of late and lost a pile of weight. Here is a picture of him shoveling snow. He doesn't give up easily. Press on Grass, press on!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bad hair day!


Driven by your comments regarding my thrown handles I ran out to the studio and put together these sectional baskets for my new found handle. As soon as I went to put the handle on I knew they were wrong. The rim is too wimpy!!!In my eyes they don't work! I couldn't wait to remake them on a smaller scale. I should have worked things out on some smallies before going bigger. I think I got the rim right with the smallies.  Yes, I have been known to make a small test of 5 gallons of a glaze I just knew was going to be perfect. Not! Yep and I've made a ton of clay only to rue the day. I've learned so much from my mistakes, I plan to make a few more.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Handle Man


One of the highlights of my entire life was the 4 months that I spent with Big John and the USU gang in Jingdezhen, China. We had a guest artist Mr. Jin that made a room full of perfectly symmetrical pots by walking around a 5 gallon plastic pail backwards with a huge coil of clay up his arm . He pinched and paddled and made all these majestic water jars. He asked me to put handles on them. Well for me this was like opening for The Stones. I couldn't have been more happy. That day we were firing the wood kiln and Mr.Jin at the end of his making demo day came and sat squat style with a cold beer and looked into the firebox. We didn't understand a word each other was saying but the USU gang sensed Mr. Jin was in the company of people he liked and was doing something he had done a million times. I wonder if his dragon kiln still roars????????? The other happy face is the gatekeeper that sold us our bing piju ( cold beer).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Croissants, lobster tails and food for thought

Sometimes with this blog I look and don't see anyone out there and I wonder if I write this just for myself. Which in itself would not be a bad thing as I find writing it down makes me think about it. It was so nice to receive your comments on the blog and off. Some called the handles croissants and others saw lobster tails. Off list I got some really good food for thought from some young potters that are wondering about the current trend towards "narrative" in pots and wondering how to keep it fresh and stay alive making good functional pots.  On the same day I got a note from a professor doing a research paper entitled "Where have all the potters gone?". I tried to answer in an email but thought holy shit this is going to be a book.
I am thrilled that some of you take the time to look and read this blog. I think a great deal about pots and have probably been harder on me than anyone. Here is a pic of a plate by Phil Yordy of Conestoga River Pottery. Phil is a potter of 3 or 4 decades that is taking my course at Pinecroft. The thought of teaching good people keeps me on my  tip toes which makes me almost 5'10".

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some and some


Today I made 10 teapots. I made 6 with my traditional back handle that the stores have been asking for. I made 4 with my newly dreamed up hollow thrown handle. Many years ago Mick Casson told me to make "some and some". Some for the marketplace and some for yourself. For a potter to continue to grow you need to have some play time. I have seen potters make hollow handles and I assume they are slab built. Since I am a wheel man as well as a real man I turned to the wheel to make my hollow handles. The first two were rather large and the last two not so bad.  I am excited to make some baskets with these handles. I can get the volume that I like.

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's been awhile


It's been awhile since I was able to show you anything fired. I helped 3 good ladies at Sheridan fire the wood kiln last week and I got a few cups in as glaze tests. I wanted to try out porcelain which I have been known to hate. What I didn't like about it's throwing qualities were more than made up for in my ability to smooooooooze it for handles. The pair of cups have the same glaze on. One oxidized and the other got heavily reduced. Those zits that you see are chunks of feldpar I pushed into the clay. Zits just ready to be squeezed. I have to go for that refined look rather slowly. All the glazes crazed on this clay.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Value Added

Sheila is giving a cane handle workshop at Pinecroft. For many years Sheila added cane embellishments to the lids of jars, baskets, teapots and trays. We called this value added since it could make an ordinary piece look extraordinary and therefore we felt comfortable in charging more money. Sheila produced our first video 'How To Make Can Handles" some 10 or 12 years ago. Although the CD gives good information she has moved on and makes the handles quite a bit differently today. When Ron Meyers get asked to demonstrate cane handles he always says go see Sheila Clennell. Actually don't tell anyone but Sheila learned her current teapot handles from Ronnie.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nice Company to Keep

I'm offering a couple of sectional throwing workshops at Pinecroft Centre for the Arts in March and April. Both of the courses filled up quickly as we kept it to 8 each weekend, so that there is lots of interaction. This is especially important since some of the participants are full blown professionals. I'm thrilled to have the diversity of potters attending. Check out the attention to detail and the beautiful imagery on the teapot by Andrea Vuletin. She will be horrified by my handling of clay. Here also is a nice temmie platter by Steve Corner. Steve has a nice sensibility with clay.

www.pinecroftcentreforthearts.ca I'm thrilled to be working with these potters.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rough Edges


In the March issue of Ceramics Monthly is an article entitled "Rough Edges- The Work of Tony Clennell" written by my former student Heidi McKenzie. Usually when there is something published I have written it so I sat with my heart in my hands waiting for this article to be published. As you blog readers know I have been reading Micheal Cardew- The Last Sane Man. One of Micheal's last apprentices who he spoke of very highly is American Jane Herold. Jane wrote to me of the pots in the "Rough Edges" article and said ""strikingly gutsy and still friendly".  Man, I like that! I want that written on my tomb stone some 30 or more years from now when I'm visiting all my potter friends in Valhalla.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day


Here are a couple of Valentine's cards. One is to my bourbon drinkin', bacon eating, blues listening buddies and the other is to my arty sensitive types.  I know some of you are both. I love you all to the moon and back. Happy Valentine's Day!!!!

Tortoise and the Hare



I made these plates thinking of dinner but I did cut the foot ring so that they can be hung on the wall. Using a copper slip that when glazed with shino and sprinkled with wood ash faux wood fire style turns to a blood red copper. The funny thing is the area of paper resist will be the part that turns red. The copper seems to migrate to the area that doesn't have slip. It's a mystery for Grass to ponder. I understand from Face Book he just got married. That means after being with Judi for over 30 years he can now sleep with her. The classic case of the tortoise and the hare. He finally got there.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Easy Money

I have always claimed there is easy money and hard money. I have yet to find something in this clay bizz that has been easy money. Our local arts centre is having a gourmet soup event as a fund raiser. They asked me to make, trim, bisque and wax 100 soup bowls. They provide the clay and I get $4.50 a bowl. I had just written you about Issac Button and thought "Oh hell an afternoons work!" That was three weeks ago and I'm still making them. Some cracked, some were too small, some too big, some I didn't like so I'm hoping to have them ready for next week. A month! I'm sorry Mr. Button that I am such a let down to you.
Winters are hard in Canada and making money as a potter in the winter is even harder. Name something in this bizz that is easy and email me quick. I'm all ears!

Why Grass Left Ontario


I always hate showing these pictures of our house after a snow storm. I can expect to receive an email from Robin "Grass" Hopper telling me about his blooming primulas and how the garden on Vancouver Island is getting ready to burst into bloom. We got hammered with 30 cm of snow and now today it is raining so if it drops below zero this evening it will be a very large skating rink. Sheila has to drive to Pinecroft to teach a hand building class today so I hope it stays bright and sunny till her return home this aft.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blood show up on it

I remember back when the mountains were still cooling reading an article in Studio Potter about porcelain by Sandy Simon. I not sure if this was the title or the jest of the article- Blood shows up best on it!
I made some cups and teapots from porcelain to try some terra sigs I have- Redart, Goldart, OM-4 and a cobalt stained ball clay.  The students at Sheridan are going to be firing the woodie so I hope to help out and get a few cups in the firing.

Porcelain- hell to make and heaven to hold.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pinecroft Centre for the Arts

We have launched the new website showing course offerings http://www.pinecroftcentreforthearts.ca
A couple of yunomi's by guest artist Bruce Dehnert.