Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'll be buggered if I know!




You have to understand I am working at Pinecroft Pottery a pottery that was established by my aunt and uncle in 1947. The tearoom there attracts over 50,000 customers per year. They wander the property and come armed with cameras to take a shot of potters at work. Usually I can be seen making pottery that looks like pottery. Mugs, jugs, casseroles all in a 70's, 80's fashion. I'm fast and can do it with my eyes closed. It is bread and butter and there is a huge market that has been cultivated.
 I'm on a self funded sabbatical. I've been feeling like my grad school mojo is coming back except this time it is with what I like to think of as functional vessels. Today the cameras didn't go click and the visitors had no questions. Their faces were full of wonder as in I wonder what the hell he is making? A lady asked and I was totally into making the pot and the only answer I could muster was "I'll be buggered, if I know!"
Tomorrow I section them and add more gnar-gnar and perhaps handles. I have to sleep on it! I have a friend that is a flower arranger that will make these pots look UNBELIEVABLE! The rocks and shale on the top of the pot will be the perfect setting for Mother Nature.
These pots are destined for the wood kiln and then if she is good to me off to 260 Fingers an Invitational Show in Ottawa with many friends whose work I adore and admire. I have no intention of showing up with pottery that looks like pottery.
P.S Dan please don't show this to the Soda Chicks. I have been invited to be a presenter at the North Carolina Potters Conference in 2016 along with the hottest clay chick in the nation my fellow class mate and alum Sunshine Cobb. I am thrilled to present to a state with so many awesome potters and to be with Sunshine it all just couldn't be better.  I haven't received the contract yet and I'm afraid they just might not want me after all. Keep this mum will ya?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pink is the new Orange

There was this banner ad that kept coming up on FB to win some safety equipment from Husqavarna for your photo with your favourite saw. I had Christine Williamson take this photo of me and now I can't find the contest. Thanks, Chris!
Oh well  my picture was to suggest that not all those that use chain saws wear camouflage pants, and sport ball caps. Some of us gentlemen potters wear pink t-shirts, handmade Art Fawcett straw hats, sport Hiut denim jeans and Blundies. I could use the safety equipment to be sure. Once in my youth I wore shorts and Birkenstocks to do some chainsawing. I nicked my knee and looked down at it and fainted. Flat on my back. Never again!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Is anyone else out there-nuts?

The last wood firing we had in the spring I was sick as a dog and the wood was less than satisfactory. It had been a nasty wet winter, it was pissing rain and our wood had beat the hell out of me. I was out in the pouring rain in the dark trying to scrounge good wood, chainsaw and bring it back to the kiln.  I vowed never again! Well we got a load of 16 bundles of 5 year old dry walnut. I am stacking it in the kiln shed beside the kiln for our October firing with three of my favourite women. Former students Amber Zuber, Emma Smith and Jen Drysdale and me are firing the bourry box and I want it hotter than a southern baptist girl on prom night. The entire firing will be walnut. Has anyone out there done a entire nut firing? The walnut has great bark almost as good as the treasured cottonwood of Utah. The difference is the BTU's. Walnut is hot!  I know this wood will coal big time but I'm hoping that since it so dry the throat arch will remain clear.  OK ladies make great work!  T

he kiln awaits you! I'm excited to fire with y'all!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Every rose has its thorn!


I am pleased and honored to have  been asked to mentor a year long mentorship program for the Hamilton Potters Guild that will culminate in a group show at The Carnegie Gallery in Dundas. They are even paying me!!! I will probably spend it all on clay, wood, good times and travel. Hey, that has been the story of my life so why change it now? With every pleasure in your life there seems to come a nasty bit of business. I must narrow the team down to 8 members. That would be easy if I only had 8 apply and I could take all that have a pulse but in this case there are 14 and they are all really awesome.  I really want to assemble a team of people that like each other and most of all like me. I like people that like me! We are going to be living together for  sometimes a week  at a time. We are going to hear each other snore, smell each others t shirts after a long stoking shift and we are going to feel the pricks as well as smell the blossoms.  Now,
I will get the label of “prick” hung on me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Almost like the blues!

I don't know if it is a hangover from being a kid and thinking about heading back to school but this time of year gives a feeling "almost like the blues". This is a song title from the anxiously awaited new Leonard Cohen CD celebrating his 80th B-Day in Sept. The album is entitled "Popular Problems".
I've been a funk this week and somehow I think I write my best blog posts when in this state of mind. If someone near me had a bag of Drum tobacco I'd roll me one and I haven't smoked in 25 years. I believe in work therapy to solve life's problems and I'm winding down the work to ready myself for back to school. I love the students and the job so it ain't like when I was a kid and I hated school and would rather be at the pool hall.
Perhaps it is what feels like another another year gone by like a raging freight train! The next 4 months are my favourite time of year so that is no excuse. I won't have to keep my head down and my back to the wind for some months to come.
I got a wood kiln to clean, wood to ready and pots to make for a wood firing with 3 of my former students. Better shake this off. I got work to do!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spookin' the horses!

Well Danny boy these cups are goin' to the death of you. Are you  sure you still want to work together in the winter? We might rub off on each other and then what?  Actually I  have mentally been revisiting my friends at USU and the pots I made there at grad school. It was fun to translate that nasty edge to some cups for occasional use. Actually, Dan you inspired the use of all the scraps lying around. One of our requirements at USU was to curate a show from the gallery collection which is extensive and every big shot contemporary clay artist has a piece in the collection and a knock out piece at that. My show was called "Pots only a mudder could luv.! I choose pots of Tony Nansveris, Owen Rye, Chester Nealy,  Svend Bayer, Donny Reitz, Dan Murphy and I forget the other notables.  On the night of the opening the gallery director said to me " Tony, you sure didn't pick pretty pots". John Neely (my prof) was standing there and for those of you that know John he is never without something clever to say. John replied " No, they aren't pretty but they sure are beautiful!" Wow! That is what I am chasing!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Innovative or follow!

Just borrowed another slogan from Hiut Denim Company in Wales. I do love that company's philosophy. I put these vazzzzzzzes together this morning. Because every vase I have ever tried to make turns out to be a jug.  I couldn't help but cut a wee throat and fill it with gnar-gnar. I had Susan Harris sitting on my shoulder all day saying "more, more, no more yet!" Don't tell Cassara but it took me 6 1/2 hours without lunch to handle 12 of these new crazy cups of mine. I forgot to take pics of them but will tomorrow. I had to flee the building as the visitors were driving me nuts. Usually they ask if we have seen the movie Ghost? Is that local clay? Is the furnace your kiln? What kind of paint do we use. Do you do this all day?  Not today! It was: When are you going to sand that stuff off?  They are they going to have plants in them, right? You wouldn't sell them in the store would you?  I almost felt like the local nit wit that dropped outta elementary school and Pinecroft was giving me space to do some art therapy. Actually it was therapeutic and I had a wonderful day!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Hard Road

I've been teaching long enough now to see my influence. Making pots is as easy as falling off a log. Making good pots and pots that have a signature of the maker is hard. I figure anyone can learn to make pots in  less than 7 years. It then will take another 10 years to develop a signature in your work. I fear my influence leads to a hard road. Here are a couple of Cassara's teapots from second year at Sheridan. I traded her for the teapot on the left. She didn't like any of mine so I owe her. Student gratitude- geez! I like that! Keeps the ole man on his toes.
I think the future for young makers is to make interesting work. Some of the old timers have a audience that they have nurtured for decades. You don't! Easy doesn't make great pots!



Thursday, August 21, 2014

A summer in the mudpits

Here is a pic of Cassara Kennedy the summer intern at Pinecroft this year. Cassara has thrown hundreds of bags of clay this summer doing repetition throwing. She has done a great job and I am thrilled to see such a work ethic and willingness to put the artist's ego in the closet and show up to do what she is asked to do and MORE! Pinecroft was lucky to have her.  Repetition is a valuable skill to learn as a potter. There is a time to move on though and that time has come for Cassara and me. I cleaned up the work horse today thinking of the two of us going back to school. She will be in third year and I will be in the mudpits with the second years hoping for another Cassara to show up. The best pots are made with the head, the hands and the heart. It is my hope she will take the skills she learned to train her hands and head and now transfer that to her heart. She will be back in the school environment within a few weeks and the pressure will be on to have a distinctive body of work. Having a good strong foundation of throwing skills is a good start then have to choose interesting!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Canatoni's

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There is this rage spreading across America like a prairie fire. It is the yunomi rage. What does yunomi mean to my farmer neighbor or to me for that matter?  I almost got caught up in this handleless craze but better judgement has me on a path away from that fire. I am a Canadian man making pots in North America so I have decided to celebrate just that. I am lucky enough to live in an Amish community of skilled makers that do things the way they oughta been done. I took over a yunomi box with the ribbons and all the bows and whistles that I bought a yunomi in. The Amish maker Ezra said “ I’m sure you want it made better than this!” This is glued and stapled!!! I will make yours with dovetailed joinery and why don’t you use a nice hook and eye? Brilliant! I will use this box for my cups that include handles and some that just have been inspired by the handless cup but mine have a European foot that flares outwardly versus the Asian foot that references a nod of bamboo. Of course, they will have the signature lug of a bit of trimming.
This is my get rich quick Christmas scheme so stay tuned. This is just another of a long list of them over the years.  I like that I am staying true to me and presenting the work in a quality  Canadian maple box made by hard working Amish neighbours.
Oh 
yeah and since I am a Canadian man named Tony I will call them Canatoni’s.

A summer in the mudpits

Here is a pic of Cassara Kennedy the summer intern at Pinecroft this year. Cassara has thrown hundreds of bags of clay this summer doing repetition throwing. She has done a great job and I am thrilled to see such a work ethic and willingness to put the artist's ego in the closet and show up to do what she is asked to do and MORE! Pinecroft was lucky to have her.  Repetition is a valuable skill to learn as a potter. There is a time to move on though and that time has come for Cassara and me. I cleaned up the work horse today thinking of the two of us going back to school. She will be in third year and I will be in the mudpits with the second years hoping for another Cassara to show up. The best pots are made with the head, the hands and the heart. It is my hope she will take the skills she learned to train her hands and head and now transfer that to her heart. She will be back in the school environment within a few weeks and the pressure will be on to have a distinctive body of work. Having a good strong foundation of throwing skills is a good start then

you have to choose interesting!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Your work is a gift!

What a radical idea! I have written so many blog posts sometimes I forget what I have written.  Have I written about Hiut Denim  in Wales?  I love this company! I love the philosophy behind the product and the philosophy of the management of the company. The makers at the company are "Grand Masters". Man that says something about how you feel about your employees skills and their worth to the company.
Here is a wee snippet of their company philosophy:
The year book is our way of telling the world what inspires us, what we dream about, and yes, what we make for a living. It also puts a marker in the ground: we want to be ‘crazy good’ at what we do. Our enemy is being average. Average won’t get 400 people their jobs back making jeans.
 So today I made some cups. It was a follow up to yesterdays post on "Choose interesting". I figure for me to stay alive financially and enjoying my work I have to attend to staying interested in my work and attending to details even and most especially when I don't have. 
PS: I ordered a pair of jeans and am pacing the walls waiting for them.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Choose Interesting!


This t-shirt was given to me by my daughter Robin’s boss Lisa. She got it at Toronto’s Pride Parade. I love this slogan “Choose Interesting”. It says so much about life and yes the person wearing the T. Thanx Lisa!  I have lived an interesting life and have surrounded myself with interesting people, interesting objects and interesting times. Sorry no room or interest in the uninteresting.  They say you can judge a person by their library. I say you can judge a person by their walls and cupboards. Fill your space with interesting objects.  So next time you have to pick a shirt, a jacket, a pair of glasses, a hat, a piece of art or craft, a career, a partner- choose interesting!!! It will never be the safe choice but it will be the interesting one. May you live in interesting times.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home from work

I'm home in Amish country after a couple of days doing some custom throwing for a few friends. When I go away and work hard I like to bring home some art to reward myself for my labours. I threw a couple hundred pots in 4 days.  I used to like the comedy and work of a folk artist in Prince Edward County by the name of Robert Danielis so I swung by to see if he had anything I was interested in. Yep there was " Looking for the heart of Saturday night" a Tom Waits song that I like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7UHd7NVegE&list=RDf7UHd7NVegE#t=233What is great about this piece is that Yuko who I was working for is a smoker and the buzzards will remind me of Yuko smoking. She is much better looking than a buzzard but the connection is there.
I'm going to paint up a sconce and mount the buzzards on the wall as real estate for pots is at a premium.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

They ain't makin' me no mo"!

Here's  two for the road. I'm off for a week to do some production throwing for some potters that have a bigger demand than supply. They ain't makin' us 100+ pot a day men no mo. I'm making this a busman's holiday in a great city with some pottery friends, some good meals, some nights out on the town and a whole lot of laughter. Life is good! Sometimes production is a good holiday from thinking about how to recreate yourself or do something new and brilliant.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

You must be city folk!

I'm adjusting to my new home in Aylmer. I always wanted a Lazy Boy but thought they were kinda a couch potato kinda chair and since I don't own a TV I fought the temptation. So I went to town and ordered a yellow leather one. The salesman took one look at me and said you must be city folk. I said' what ever gave you that idea?'. He said well a couple things. I have never sold a yellow chair in these here parts and I have never seen a man wear yellow glasses and wear a pink shirt
. The fact that I make pots and teach art probably really raises suspicions of my gender preference.
Taught a beginning class of pottery today and came home and crashed in my chair. I was exhausted! Hats off (including ball caps) to you that teach beginners. 


Friday, August 8, 2014

Drywaller?

I went into town today to do some banking and pick up some lunch and this guy asked me if I would do some dry walling for him? I said "sure"! Hell, you never know when this get rich scheme of making pots will go south and I may need a job come winter. Perhaps if I carried a pot around with me when shopping they would maybe understand what I do. I'd really rather be taken for a ditch digger as I think that is probably a union job with bennies.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

When I grow up

I want to be like my daughter, Robin. She has flown to Chicago for 5 days on her own. She plans to visit galleries, eat out at fine restaurants and tonight she is at Buddy Guy's Blues Bar. We both love Buddy Guy's awesome CD "Damn right I got the blues!" I recommended Lill Street Gallery for some pots.   She is an amazing person so comfortable in her own shoes. She often goes to the bar down the road orders a nice glass of wine and reads the paper or goes to the Art Gallery of Ontario to look at art and then sits in the restaurant there and has a wine and reads about art. She will be an amazing catch for some guy but hey he had better be up to it.  For the record she ain't lookin'.   This could very well be the best pot I have ever made.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nice cool!

A pivotal article for me was written by John Neely in the early 90's called "Nice Cool". All my attention had been on firing the kiln to temperature and  my concentration was on reduction/oxidation during the climb. It was after reading this article that I discovered I could use the once popular Zirconium matt oatmeal glaze and fire it to Cone 10 cool it slowly and have a matte glaze and cool it fast and have a shiny glaze. Here are two of my teapots made at the same sitting, using the same clay and slip, wood fired to Cone 10 and one is cooled in reduction in Ronnie the Rat's Ratagama and the other fired in the Hamilton Potter's Manibigama and cooled in oxidation.  Your choice which one do you like????


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We use the same hair dresser

Bruce Dehnert and me in the mud pits of Peter's Valley during my workshop there. How do you like our do's? We had them quaffed especially for this workshop.

Installing a land line

Here is a ceramic land line by my former student Amber Zuber. It is being installed at my daughter Robin's house in TO. We may need Amber to complete the connection. The phone is installed by one of my Gnar-gnar vases that Robin has. I looked at it last week on my visit with her and liked it alot. I am revisiting gnar-gnar and those vase forms tomorrow. Robin's has a nice bear rug surface to it. This pot was fired up in the firebox where it got a nice crusty coat. Crusty as a bear's arse is my descriptive turn of phrase. I've always been good at labeling my work for sure fire sales success.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Gnar-gnar revisited

Been in a bit of a funk of late so I went back to revisit my old friend gnar-gnar. Gnar-gnar was a term coined by my fellow grad student Lindsay Oesterritter at USU. I was fortunate to work side by side with the king of gnar-gnar Dan Murphy. Dan rubbed this nasty aesthetic off on me. It is labour intensive as you make a perfect form and then cut it up add the gnar-gnar and squeeze the pieces together. You would think you should be able to just apply it but it looks best when it ooooooozes out the seams like puss from a squeezed pimple. There ya go I can see everyone will want one of these teapots with that bit of clever marketing terminology. It was fun to see how were you cut the globe makes such a difference to the form.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

I tried to change

Last weekend when I was at Tucker's Pottery Supplies Warehouse sale I picked up these wooden hump molds thinking it is time I made something that sells like hotcakes. I have seen at our local guild sale this easy peasy slab work walk out the door and I thought I should get on this easy street bandwagon. I brought home some wooden molds with plans for a quick and easy bank deposit. Well, good intentions went south. I've tried to change but haven't had too much luck. I can't be someone I'm not.  I'd just make stuff that sells if I were smart and I can't blame anyone but me for this crazy man I have become. Spent the day farting around with 7 t-pots. While I worked on 7 teapot forms
my cousin Brenda threw 100 wine goblets. I figure my teapots will have to fetch over $400 each- FAT chance.These 5 trays were a days work.