Thursday, August 29, 2013

Misery loves company

Our friend Steve "Stoner" Corner and his bride Lise tried living on the Wet Coast. He is not a stoner he just talks really slooooooooooooow. They were lured by the breath taking scenery and the absence of cold Ontario winters. Well you can't replace familiarity, friends and what is fabulous about rural Ontario.
To celebrate their return Sheila and I had some salmon grilled on a cedar plank and some big prawns. That is a Jeff Oestreich plate if you're wondering. We had a little West Coast meal and washed it down with a nice Niagara grape.
Welcome home U2. Couldn't stand having another friend out there sending me pictures of flowers in February. Misery loves company.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wedgies and Butt Cracks

Well I trimmed my old familiar shape of cup and put the trade mark wedgie in the foot to have the dish washer water drain out  and I added a couple of butt cracks with a ruler just to add interest to the shape. I actually like the interest best in the inside of the cup.
I would like to draw your attention to a new blog by Dr. Mary Ann Steggles of the University of Manitoba. She is going to be leading a panel discussion at this years NCECA on "Where have all the potters gone?" The panel consists of Robin "Grass" Hopper, Mark Hewitt of NC and Lisa Hammond(Adopt a Potter) of the UK. Three Brits with the first letter of their surnames starting with the letter "H" hopefully will provide the answers. I am the alternative to Grass if his health fails. If that is the case I will change my last name to "Heino" and tell all the eager students hanging off the ends of their chairs that if they test glazes like I have they too can have a Rolls Royce convertible. Actually I think he had owned 5 Rolls.

Monday, August 26, 2013


did the summer go? I haven't enjoyed my Tommy since sometime in late April. I'm home in The Hammer to write the details of my course "Atmospheric Firing" for the second year students at Sheridan College. I'll be there 3 days a week for  7 weeks starting after Labour Day. I went into the studio to kind of wind down and warm up. Warm up always starts with some cups.  My Tommy Stuart has been sitting all alone since April 28th when kiln building and summer at Pinecroft began. It is time to clean Tommy whether he needs it or not. Yes, the feel of old familiar clay was also kinda nice.  Nice to be in my comfort zone! Oh yeah, I better write that course up.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Juicey Brucey Dehnert

We have two spots open in the 2 week Double Whammy course late Oct early November at Pinecroft. Make porcelain with Bruce and fire and fire with me in our big woodie. I'm excited about working with Bruce. He is a three winner of the Fletcher Challenge Award which when I was a upstart was the biggest ceramic prize in the world. My other pottery hero Chester Nealie also won the big prize. Bruce is an excellent teacher and maker. I can't wait to see his work.
We have acquired a house on Lake Erie 10 minutes away that will serve as your accommodations (kitchen, laundry,fireplace, seperate bedrooms and on the water. We got a great rate of $100 per person per week.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jugs Again!

I hate it when I have only a small amount of clay left. I start making smaller pots. I made these jugs that are really only about 5 lbs. They would normally be 10-12. The clay gets too

thin and I think they loose some of their visual strength. I tried to make up for this with doubling up the handle, adding big spouts and in general having a pretty good time of it. I do a pretty nice traditional roundie jug. I thought I'd fool with them a bit to reinvent my jugs. It is hard doing something for the first time. It is easy to slip back into the comfort zone.
I do like that double handle! So at least I got that out of the exercise.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cookie Jars

When you spend the summer working in a studio with non stop visitors with all the stupid questions you start to second guess what is coming. I made these 8 lb jars and thought oh god they will ask what can I use it for? Well I ain't going to write cookies on them so I figured I'll turn them into teapots and then they will get it. Yesterday while I was putting them together they kept asking if you could actually put tea in them?
I rarely put overhead clay handles on teapots but I tried fooling around springing them off key. It is kinda like building an arch. I guess with the kilns and pizza ovens I've been involved in this past 3 months it was bound to creep into my work.
This is that pink porcelain I have been using. I hope the support for the arch holds up on the handle.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Some people don't get branding. Fred J Eaglesmith has got a brand. People that follow his music are known as Fred Heads which is a take on those that followed the Grateful Dead and were known as Dead Heads. In the park near me this weekend "Fred" is the headliner. He doesn't need no glittzy gold lettering and foofaraw. A handpainted sign at the side of the road says it all " Fred". The park will be rockin' all weekend long with Fred Heads.
As a teenager Eaglesmith hopped a freight train out to Western Canada, and began writing songs and performing. He is known for writing songs about machines or vehicles, including songs about trains, tractors, trucks, cars, and engines. Rural life, dogs, guns, drinking and farming/ranching are other common themes. Many of his songs are about failing farms and small businesses. Down and out characters dealing with loss of love or livelihood, and quirky rural folk also populate his songs.
Yeah, this is my kind of music. Comparisons to Guy Clark was all I needed to love Fred's music.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Say Whiskey

I brought home a dozen little bourbon cups that I needed to look at for awhile. I like using tiny cups like this for a wee dram of whiskey. Always seems like a rip off when you get a big glass tumbler and the shot barely covers the bottom of the glass Handmade clay cups are also far more interesting. Most of these cups have that beautiful fool's gold that I lust for in our next firing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


When I started wood firing some 30 years ago I had a problem with the kiln so I wrote a letter to ask advice from Steve Harrison in The Land of OZ. 6 months later I got an answer, tried that, wrote back, and all told it took about 2 years to get the answer. Then I joined Clayart Discussion group and answers came in the next morning. One of those people on the list was Craig Martell. Steve Harrison was too.  They

and  I aren't there much anymore. I found Craig on FB. He is a man with a solid ceramic brain. I had this wonderful gold lustre come out on porcelain and a rainbow trout effect on my high iron stoneware. I wrote FB to ask how I could get it again so that I might buy a Rolls Royce like Otto had. Kathy in Florida told me I Otto start calling Sheila Vivika.
Here is the brilliant answer of Craig Martell.

Craig Martell The term for this lovely, pleasant phenomenon is: "bi-refringence. It's the same deal as oil slicks and rainbow lustre on chrome tailpipes. The light is reflecting from both the surface and the underside of the glaze and the crossing wave lengths cancel out some of the others and create this effect. I think one factor is to glaze thin along with having the magic recipe. I got this info some years back from Michael Banks a potter and mineralogist from New Zealand. Not a real solid explanation from me but maybe you can do a search on the net and get some real focused info. Beautiful cup dude! I hope you can make more.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Writing awkies phonetically seems to work better. Sheila has been throwing some dinnerware which she then cuts to make an octagonal. Lucky 8 and besides after thousands of pots one gets tired of round. You will notice a hole in the foot ring. That is just in case they are absolutely killer and in that case we hang them on the wall and charge twice as much for them. Remember folks there is more money in the living room than the kitchen. Wall art not dinner plates. We actually had a photo of one in one of Grass Hoppers books.
A wiser couple would probably make a hump mold and make them from slabs and add a foot. We use the wheel as our tool of choice. Yes, there is a lot of scrap left over. I've been looking at Dan Finnegans blog and liking what he does with scrap clay. I'm thinking of stealing the idea. He'll never know he is in England right now high on good cider. Lucky beggar!