Monday, September 29, 2014

Buy your own sandwich!

I've always loved quaint little pots! At least this is what ya got to tell the first year bloody show women in the class. This is a mere bourbon cup compared to what us macho he men could make. Come on step it up! Go big or go home!
I have a small group of 7 throwers that are putting in the time. They ain't clock watchers and are putting in the hours required to make good pots. I think in just 4 weeks this may very well be the best pack of mudpushers I've had in a long time. Most in the class are buying their own sandwiches. That is my metaphor for paying their own way. If someone else buys your sandwich you may not eat it all. If you buy your own you eat every last crumb. As I sit here enjoying a cold beer most of them are still in the studio pushing clay. It's OK I have put in my time and paid my dues. I've been the first one there and the last to leave. Now,
I get to light a fire under them and then run home for cover.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Makin' Whoopie

I have always enjoyed trimming a whoopie into the bottom of my pots. Potters love foot rings and it is fun to watch their fingers exploring the whoopie while they handle the pot. Most potters would hold a hot bowl of soup over their heads to look at the trimming on the bottom of a pot. I watched Bruce Cochrane at school the other day make some complicated 3 piece bowls that had a cut out tri-pod foot. I thought hmmmmmmm that cut out would really celebrate my whoopie. Mine are one piece bowls with an articulated shape. The tripod foot reminds me of some Micheal Simon vases that I used to look at and admire. Along with 3 feet come 3 little lugs. I like that odd number sequence. It is easy to imitate but it way better to innovate.


I at first wanted to turn them into baskets but my baskets don't sell worth Billy Be Damned. I think people lack the creativity to know what to use them for.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bloody Showoffs

Here is a pic of a bowl that a first year Sheridan student (Katarina) is making. BTW this bowl is not yet it's actual size.  My boss and colleague Linda Sormin suggests that they go big or go home. I love this concept!. The
students  discover what is not possible or what is actually possible in their first year of Ceramics. Another project in first year is a throwing a 40 lb platter and decorating it. Check out Linda's show in Montreal. She knows no limits.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Take that Finnegan!

Hey Dan I've been thinking about you. I got a bit carried away with the handles. I have this thing about odd numbers versus even numbers and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to put 2 handles on these puppies. It may very well be over the top but leaving them naked just wasn't an option. It's so me. I usually make 5000 gram glaze tests and 1 ton clay tests. Then I just try to justify it somehow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The name Bruce

must have some magic involved with the clay world. I was working today at Sheridan with Bruce Cochrane. Bruce is one of my favourite potters and has been since 1982. I have several of his pieces in my house. Bruce Dehnert of Peter's Valley is my new current favourite potter and I have several of his pieces at home. As coincidence would have it I am also a Bruce. Anthony Bruce Clennell. Today while Bruce C was making some 3 piece bowls I was altering the rim of a coupld of bowls and what else is new but putting handles on them. I should be able to show them tomorrow. It was one of those days when i felt like I was going full tilt boogie but didn't get much done.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Next time


Next kiln, next year, next almost everything!
I think I was born an eternal optimist. Surely that has been what has kept me soiling my pants.  It was all supposed to get easier with age.   I got no one to blame. I am a stubborn little bastard that has put meaningfulness of life ahead of good fortune. Like the farmer I always think next year will be provide a better crop, and I will at last be rewarded for my efforts. Next year, next kiln, next this and that , next life. It’ll all be better next time. Success is not nearly as interesting as meaningfulness although I haven’t had a taste of the former.  But for the mean time being I am glad to be me and live this life with it’s many rewards.  Cassara fired the salt kiln at Sheridan College with a few of my pots in it. Fingers, toes legs, and t’s crossed that there is one in there that takes my breath away.  Cassara can now fire all  my pots. I got a few killers. These pics don’t do justice.

I’m more particular about the pots I make. I’m older and slower and l say “yes when I ought to know!”. Everything has gotten more expensive except my pots.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Falling arches

I put these handles on the big teapots and I thought of how you need to buttress an arch to prevent it from walking with expansion. I thought I had better buttress under these handles to stop them from walking away from the teapot. Actually looking at the pics for this post I like the additional support. I think it helps balance the back of the teapot with the spout. Sometimes we just fall into things. Actually that is the story of my life. Maybe that should be the title of my next book of short stories "Falling into things". I remember my dad telling the neighbour once "That son of mine could fall into a bucket of shit and come out wearing a pin striped suit". Hey Dad, still miss ya after all these years.



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Excess is never enuff!

Making some vazzzzzzzzzes and teapots today where I apply a thick slip. The thicker the better is my motto. Excess in slip, sex and good bourbon is really never enuff. I needed to come home and think about the vases. . They could stand alone without handles but what would Dan Finnegan think of me?
I'm off to a party with the ladies from the tea room at Pinecroft so maybe after some good times I'll come home and have a vision for what is next. Something is next to be sure but I just ain't sure of it at this point. Some people need to know what is for supper. What is happening tomorrow? What if and what that? I am not one of those! There is a bend in the road up ahead. Full speed ahead!


Friday, September 19, 2014

I love her to bits!

I got a call today from Herm saying I got 2 bits of good information for you. Number 1 is that there are 3 gorgeous women in the showroom that want to make passionate love to you. I answered " Well that is good news, so what is the second bit? He said the wood guy just delivered 10 bundles of really dry walnut and he has 200 more bundles all cut to length and ready to fire. I answered "That is fantastic news!"!!!!!! You see, I wouldn't be one bit of good to a gorgeous woman if I was worried about the wood for the kiln.  The wood kiln has been my selfish mistress for almost 4 decades now. She is very demanding, spoiled and I love her to bits.

Gathering my nuts!

I'm in the process of gathering my nuts for winter. Kind of a Christmas tradition to have roasted salty chestnuts washed down with a nice Newcastle Brown Ale. A friend told me to keep them in sawdust so that they don't go mouldy. There really is so much food around us that is really good for us and even tastes good. Hey on my run this morning I saw the heron twice and a hawk so it is supposed to be a good day. It isn't turning out so good as my trusty CRV has a rotten oil pan that they are having trouble getting off and I'm stuck at home gathering nuts.
This could hurt!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rats in the studio

When my son was growing up he was a rink rat. He loved hockey and any moment he could spend at the rink was where you found him. Rink rats have a passion for the game. I'm staying over with a friend because I teach Monday and Wednesday and it is toooooo far to drive in an out to school. So Tuesday I go in a work in the Sheridan studio and stay later since I ain't got all my creature comforts of home around me. The advantage of coming in at night is that you see who has the passion. Here are a few of the studio rats. We almost expect the graduating students to spend 12-14 hours per day in the studio. The best ones do and really don't have a life outside the studio. I guess we build in an unbalanced life like mine into their schooling. You want to be good at something you got to put in the time. Lots of time! Here are three rats- Jordan London, Ont., Gracia- Mexico, Queenie- China. All 3 are putting in the time. If you're going to do the crime, you gotta do the time.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Steady the wheel

My former student and friend Andrew Kellner is in Jingdezhen, China with West Virginia U starting the first leg of his MFA. He will be studying at Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute for the next 4 months. He was there 2 days and has been to the USU favourite street food eatery which we called Mr. Noodles. A bowl of noodles and a beer for a couple of bucks- delish. The guy needed to level his wheel so what works better than a porcelain plate. They have more clay objects in JDZ than wood.
Keep the pics coming Mr. K. I'm with ya in my heart and soul. t


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Messing my pants

I got my real denim jeans from Hiut Denim in Wales. It was a bit of luxury buying these jeans but I figure I want something made by hand, I don't want to support sweat shops and I bloody well deserve a nice treat. Washing instructions said to refrain from washing for at least 6 months. I have had them a month and haven't washed yet but I can't wear them like this to school. This may be a good idea for an accountant or some non blue collar type bu I am a clay pusher and teach at a college. I hung them out on the line praying for rain to wash them so that I won't be accused of giving in. The other issue without washing them is that they feel like cardboard. It's a bit like using a clay that is too hard. I figure these jeans by January will be able to walk by themselves to the pottery and they will weigh 600 lbs.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

I'm in love- again!


In low periods of my almost 4 decade career as a potter when my hands are cold and my well seems empty I have sketched and dreamed pots with hakeme slip decoration. Now, after all this time I find that ones I really have lusted to make are the Korean Buncheong wares. Current reading about the Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea has helped me understand where the original reference of this work really belongs.  I'm putting down a black slip that fires to a mouse gray and applying a thick white slip over that. Using a white shino to top it all off. Gee, I can see the cash register just singing!  My long time buddy Frankie Tucker wants some dinner plates( without handles, damn him) so he's getting Buncheong Canuck style. I've tried to be market driven, honest I have!

F U


When I lived in Hamilton for 2 ½ years I never went to an Art Crawl never mind the Super Crawl that draws 80,00-+ plus people. Now I live a couple hours away I went last night with a friend Chris Snedden from the London Potters Guild. We went to see the buzz of a HUGE art community and to support our friend Chris de Takesey with the opening of her new gallery “Store”. Whenever I get in the midst of all this activity I “forget u” my readers.  I forget to take pictures.  Ha you thought the title meant Felix Unger. Here are some of the good peeps I have as friends.  I’ve been told I should have more balance in my life. I shouldn’t just mingle with only clay people. Sorry gang I’m a one trick Tony. I love these people and they are my life.  On the way home Chris reminded me of the influence I have had on this generation of potters. I was indeed and still am
flattered to almost tears. From right to left Emma Smith one of the sharpest young minds in the bizz,, TC,, Iris Dorton potter and gallery owner from Guelph, Ontario, Duncan Aird- potter and teacher Mohawk College, and Tara Lynne Franco an excellent maker that needs a silk pottery life line to hang from . A bad fall and back problems thru her off her career track. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.-Mike Tyson.
When you have great friends like this pack you keep up the fight. Fight big fighters, fight!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I must be nuts!


If it is true we are what we eat then I am afraid I am nuts. I love nuts and put cashews, almonds and walnuts in my morning grog. The grog that I make in the morning is granola, chia and flax seeds, bee pollen, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and cranberries. I then pour over canned peaches and use the peach juice instead of milk. I actually can’t wait to get up in the morning to eat it. I make sure I go for my run before I eat though as it works like a tornado going thru a trailer park.
Gee I had better rethink my love of bacon as someone just might call me a pig.
Speaking of nuts my former student Chris de takesey is planning to open her fabulous James Street North(Hamilton) “STORE” gallery tomorrow night. I dropped off pots there yesterday and it looks FABULOUS! Small detail it has no front on the building yet. The large glass windows and doors are missing. Chris will open as planned for Hamilton’s Super Crawl Friday and Saturday. The streets are closed, bands are playing  and art is happening everywhere. Last year 80,000 people attended. The Sheridan gang will be there tomorrow night beginning at 7pm  to support Chris and this amazing space.  Hamilton –where art is the new steel!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Be soft!

The best advice I've been getting of late comes from the kid I raised. I sent Robin a text this morning asking why I should remain soft? Her answer -Don't let your heart and soul get hardened by life. Be vulnerable even though it is a risk! Be open to possibilities even though they many fail. Hey potters this applies to your work as well as your life. She went on to quote hockey great  The Great One- Wayne Gretszy "100 percent of the shots you don't take , don't go in!" She said his success was based on just going for the shot. If you make lots of them some are bound to go in. It is a better quote than "throw a bunch of shit at the wall and some of it is bound to stick!. I think I probably taught her that one.
Make lots of pots and a few are going to be racers.
Here is Robin posing in a Bobcat. Hardly a soft machine!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hell bent on a heartbreak!

I saw this sign painted on a store down in my daughter's hood when we were out cruising for a nice place to eat. I was a Mother's of Invention fan when I was a teen. While most were in libraries and sucking on sarsaparillas afterwards I was in my buddy Wayne's smoke filled rec room listening to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. Yes, this could very well be why I am a
cuckoo!
The 5 bowls I made yesterday took me all day. I could have filled the room with bowls and plates- "so what" bowls that with a nice glaze and a bit of brushwork I could sell for good money. Nope, I chose to make these baskets that will be a hard sell indeed.
 A lot of things I used to do, I don't do no more.   As my daughter Robin said to me on our walk- Dad stay soft. Live your life with your heart. It is what I love about you!
Damn pots have always stole my heart. Hell bent on a heartbreak!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I died this summer!

Today I made some bowls in preparation for my class tomorrow at Sheridan where we will be making some 5 lb bowls. Well they started out to be bowls and they grew a thrown foot and a pulled and thrown handle. The other part of my mind was thinking about a great group from the Hamilton Potters Guild(now 400 members strong)  I am mentoring for the next year on wood firing and I was thinking about surface and adding ledges, edges and bits and pieces to grab a hold of the fly ash. A visiting customer asked where is the potter they visited last summer  that used to make the pots for the showroom. I said he died this summer! They looked at me, apologized,  took no pictures and left me in peace.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Cuckoo

I had not wanted to finish the bird theme of the past few blogs as I hadn't seen my good luck heron for awhile and wondered if I was just plain outta luck. We had a big storm last night and the creek he usually stands in to fish was overflowing. I looked up and there he was slowly flying over
the cuckoo's nest of my mind so I figured a good day was head. I got back to making some pots outta my Helmer kaolin wood fire body. Making pots gives me the time to think about all kinds of crazy stuff so I've decided  the voice that has lead me thru the pathways of my life has had to have been the cuckoo. I've never seen or heard a cuckoo so I think he must have nested in between my ears. He sports a rather nifty lid and my being a hat man I like that in bird.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Prophets of Doom

This morning on my run no good luck heron and no co-operative geese but overhead floated a turkey vulture with a HUGE wingspan. I thought holy shit maybe I'll be a turkey vulture in my reincarnation! Then I thought oh no they belong to other professions.
 Dentists love decay as do turkey vultures. Treating cavities provides dentists with a steady income. Likewise, exterminators are dependent on termites, lawyers need crime,  priests crave sinners and undertakers hope you'll croak. I'm a teacher and tomorrow is my first day back at school. I hope that people love art and clay and provide me with what I love to do.  I make pots and spread the gospel according to Clennell. I have been awarded a Senior Faculty locker at Sheridan. Man, I have now officially been recognized as a senior.  Love the new locker to park my lid

but ain't too sure about the senior status.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bird brains

I love birds so much my two kids are named Jay and Robin. My daily routine is to have a  cup of high test at around 6:30 and go for a 4km walk/run. I pass by a creek which when I'm really lucky I can stand and watch a heron patiently waiting to spear a frog, snake, fish or anything edible really. This usually means I'm going to have a great day. Gee, I haven't seen him all week.
Up a few hundred yards there is usually a field of hundreds of Canada Geese. I've been wondering lately if I came back to earth as a bird which one of these two I would be?
The heron or crane symbolizes longevity and good fortune. It is fabled the crane has a life span of 1000 years. Stand still and be patient and you will be able to calmly and deliberately catch the opportunities that life presents to you. Move too fast and they are gone. Move to slow and you missed your chance.
The goose on the other hand symbolizes co-operation, communication, dedication and knowing when to follow and when to lead.
I guess as a potter I haven't followed too well and since a goose poops every three minutes that can't be me either since more than once I've been told I'm full of shit.
I also think I'm going to have a great day when I see a hawk. I love hawks! Maybe if I didn't need glasses I could be a hawk?
Gee, it's not looking good for me in the bird dept. How about an old crow?