Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wedgies and butt cracks

Oh man since my Korean brothers seem to be reading my blog how am I going to explain the cups I make? One time during a workshop in Lansing, Michigan a long time friend Kelly Savino said my cup looked like butt cracks and a wedgie. The indents in the cup were the butt cracks. I don't think that will be lost in translation. The divet in the foot ring was the wedgie. I can think of no one better to explain the wedgie than my buddy down south Dennis Allen. I will try but I'm betting Dennis will get the bigger laugh. I'm his set up man. The wedgie was a child hood prank of some of us misguided youth. In short if you saw someone's underwear riding above the back of their pants you went up and grabbed them and pulled upwards. This would wedge the undies in a place where the sun don't shine.
I haven't made these cups in a while.  I also had flowers on my mind when I made the somewhat pretty cups with the peony shaped rim and the whopdie doo handle. I made these cups and casseroles at night this week after throwing at Pinecroft. It's Saturday and I wanted to work in my garden but after laundry, grocery shopping, trimming and handling this it's time to make dinner.  I'll clean and vacuum to Randy Bachman's Wire Tap and Holger Petersen's Saturday Night Blues.  A man's work is never done!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Teach to learn

It seems like eons ago that I was in Naples, Florida doing a Double Whammy workshop with Hayne Bayless. We were shacked up together so I had a brief conversation about making slab ware. I went there to teach and learned something to apply at home.  When I got home I made about 50 slab trays and little doo dads condiment plates. Since then I fired the anagama and went to Korea so it took me the past week to get some pots glazed between making. I had an idea for adding stains to my shino for a decorative look. I made some pink shino, yellow shino and a blue shino. I'm loving the yellow. Yes folks my halo slipped and I am doing easy peasy slab work. It ain't a paper plate mold but it is just about as easy. I like the handle additions and to be honest I now love glazing. I can't wait to glaze the pots. The brush work is improving and with my new stain glazes I think I got a nice product line. A nice product line is one that I would like to use in my own kitchen. This is a line for the gas kiln and distinct from what I dream about when I am making for the wood kiln.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Supervisor

It's been since late November since I threw production pots at Pinecroft. Roxy was there to supervise my every move. She loves to hang out in the pottery on her plaid couch. I'm a bit rusty at throwing in quantities so yesterday I threw 12 small pie plates, 12 large pie plates. 12 medium bowls and 12 larger bowls . I also trimmed and handled the pie plates that day and oh yeah fired the gas kiln. Today was 12 butter dishes, 12 teapots, 12 casseroles and 12 maple syrup jugs.  Tomorrow I unload the gas kiln and finish today's throwing. It could be a grueling day as teapots always take me a lot of time. Making pots for a living is not about sitting around watching them dry. It is a lot of work and often times amounts to moving a big quantity of clay. Every once in a while I looked up over the pond at the view. I was hoping to see my friend the heron but my only visi

tor other than Roxy was a friendly brown toad. Tony and Toadie spent a nice day together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We want you!

I just received this amazing note from The London Arts Centre with some great opportunities to become part of the most dynamic Potters Guild in the country. I'll start by saying 5 of our team mates on the Korean trip were from the London Potters Guild. These are people that are interested in getting better and making a difference in clay education. In the past couple of years the London Arts Centre has done more than any Canadian clay organization has done in the past decades. They have a million dollar facility that is fully blown with class rooms, studio spaces, glaze and kiln rooms, classes full to overflowing,  a retail space and a amazing group of team leaders.
My friend and traveling companion Chris Snedden a LAC mover and shaker  is poised to become the President of Fusion- our provincial clay and glass association. London has University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College that is renowned for it's painting program. You can't beat being in a college town.  
I would encourage anyone that wants to become part of a growing clay education centre to apply for these positions.

Note from Sandy of the LAC:

The London Clay Art Centre home of the London Potters Guild has two job opportunities, and an artist in residence position opening this summer and fall. We welcome applications from anyone who is passionate about pursuing and promoting the education of clay arts. More information can be found at
Thanks Sandy. T

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mother Nature's Puncheong

Like a good little rabbit I have the inside of my rabbit's warren looking comfy and now with summer here I am enjoying keeping the briar around my hole looking neat and tidy. The lilacs are in full bloom and this tree I call the snowball bush has some lovely fragrant blooms that reminded me of Yu Yeong Chul's puncheong work. What is so great about looking at Mother Nature's reference is that I can see flowers overlapping flowers. I was lining them up in a row. It's Ok to put big between small and literally go to town with the stamping. It makes it a lot more fun than the one, two, one, two approach to gardening and stamping. I always get a laugh out of gardens where they plant one red flower or bush and then one yellow one and then one red one and then one yellow one. I call this the one, two, one, two approach to gardening. The same people have to have the sofa match the chair and have two similar bushes on either side of the steps.  I guess it is the English in me that loves the English country garden.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


For over 25 years I have had a Mac computer. I have always been interested in the marriage of old and new technologies.
I have had some brilliant moments since returning from Korea. The Puncheong stamping suits my love of doing simple routine things.  For example I love to split wood. The idea of sitting there and scraping all that slip off though seems too much like torture so I am going to bisque them. When time for glazing I’m going to brush on my white shino, wash it off the high points and let it fill the impressions and then I will glaze them in my darker shino.  I am not interested in a completely smooth surface so there will be some tactile quality to the puncheong.
As for the crane. I love that bird. It means good luck to me. So the good ole Mac provided me with a vinyl image of a crane that I can use to resist glaze on my bisque destined for the wood kiln. Here he is perched on my Mac along with my other favourite things- ribs and blues in Georgia, Hiut Denim’s  and American ingenuity found in good US sporting stores.  Oh and I do love my Mac. We’ll see how long this marriage lasts!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Brother where art thou?

Hey Brother Yeong Chul I don't want you to think your lessons on puncheong where lost on me. I am a slow learner.  I need time to digest stuff.  It's Saturday night and I am listening to my favourite radio program of Blues music and stamping these dang boats. Tomorrow the slip and the scraping but I couldn't wait to show you.  I am missing you all. ! I'm not missing the bus, the waiting to be lead around, the not understanding the language, the feeling that I am a dog on a leash. I like to talk so today I talked to you. Yes, you were in the studio with me. Of all the masters I would love for you to come here and work with me. I would love to fire your work in our wood kiln with a shino glaze and a longer firing. Perhaps a show afterwards???????

For those that are wondering the thrown handles alone are 4 lbs. I made the hull of the boat on a mold, the sides, the foot and the handle were thrown. What you could use these boats for I have no idea. I like to think they have a visual function.
Yeong Chul we have to talk about a cross cultural exchange. Your English is better than my non existent Korean so how about you come here to work with me first.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

No mistaken!

Since I'm home from Korea I made some cups and bowls to get my feet under me again. I have been diggin' deep for my creative mojo. I made these cylinders today that I am going to stack log cabin style in the wood kiln.
Andrew arrived yesterday to talk pots. My very best students when they visit me they visit my collection of pots as well.  They handle them. They turn them over. They examine them. They comment on them. They know pots! Oh, where did you get that Matt Scheiman jug? Oh, I like that Chris Pickett bowl you got. They could pick out a signature in a heap of pots. The signature being the person's work. What makes that work unique to the maker. There may be a lineage of potters that came from the same teacher or mentor but they get where it came from.
So with that in mind I made these cylinders and thought oh they could be anyone's. Then I put those handle ears on them and thought ya they look a bit like mine but one of my student's would  look over at 50 paces and still have to walk over since I usually have more volume in my work. So then I put the double bridge handle on them. No mistaking them now! The fourth one the handle looked a bit weak so I added some whopdie doodles and they looked rather I dunno dare I say frilly. So I added a another handle. Next time I do that I will bring the handles closer together.
Andrew left saying "The harder you think the less money you'll make!" What a low blow to a thinkin' man.
I started some ships this aft. Thinking of my Dad coming over the Atlantic and me going over to Wales as a presenter. Hey Mick Casson I'm coming to honour you and the profound impact you had on my pots and my

Off to a music concert tonight. I am blessed to be surrounded by creative people. Life is good for those that know that life is good.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Capital- T

I am presenting a workshop in the Nation’s Capital City- Ottawa on June 18-19. This is a hand’s on workshop of wheel work and additions.
I have been told that what is so special about my workshops is that they are not only about “how to” make but “why” we make what we do.  My travels to England, Italy, USA, Japan, China, Korea and of course my beautiful homeland- Canada have given me a deep well to drink from. It has also brought with it an appreciation of developing a signature in your work that remains true to who you are. This workshop will help us all identify who we are and what we are trying to say in our
I read my horoscope every Thursday and here is a part of it:
“I think you'll thrive by embodying that dual spirit: being graceful, sensitive, and harmonious and yet also feisty, piquant, and provocative. Can you manage that much paradox? I think you can. “
Well , I think that pretty well sums up my life. I do love the piquant though. I had to look it up. It means interesting and exciting, pleasantly tart or biting.
I think I can manage that. Hope to see you in Ottawa. After being in Korea and not being able to say much I got a lot on my mind.  I promise not to disappoint. See ya in the Capital- T

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Teeny weenies

When we had tea served to us I couldn't believe the size of the teeny weeny teabowls. I had some at home but I thought they were for a teeny nip of something strong. I guess the light should have come on before when a former student from India gave me the one on the far right. She told me you got some sweet tea at the train station in these cups and basically drank the tea and threw the cup out the train window. Tells ya something about the value placed on  the potter's craft in some places in the world. That wee wood fired cup was their equivalent of our styrofoam cup.
So from left to right. The first teeny weenie is from Seoung Tae Kim of Korea. This is my new treasure. It is beautiful to look inside this beautifully decorated wood fired celedon. The second teeny weenie belongs to my old prof Dan Murphy. It is my favourite cup for a top shelf bourbon.  It is reduction cooled wood fire and I love the casualness of the rim and the trimming. The third one the maker is unknown to me. My buddy Frankie Tucker gifted it to me from Japan. I almost cried when I got it. He knew I'd love it.  I love the trimming done with a sea shell. The fourth one is done by the unknown craftsman from India. Thrown effortlessly from the hump and untrimmed. It has hardly reached bisque temperature. Here's a tip of the teeny weenie to makers past, present and future.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Small feet

You know what they say about a man with small feet-------------------------------------small shoes!
Here is a pic of a beautifully carved bowl I bought from Huang Gu with a teeny tiny foot. Perhaps these small feet work for the Asian style of eating which is virtually holding the bowl. We on the other hand leave the bowl on the table and go at it with a spoon. Huang Gu's bowl would tip over in that case. Really and truly though his bowl is a piece of art that I might have a spot of tea in on a very special occasion.
I made my foot rings smaller but they are still huge in comparison. Hey I need all that foot for the information it contains. I do also like a whoopie in the trimming. My foot rings are more Japanese in their reference to a nod of bamboo. The Korean foot seemed to almost be cylindrical, quite deep and flat.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I didn't die

I didn't die! This unflattering picture of me only makes me look like I am dead. After a day of lots of walking up some pretty steep hills our hostess Mrs. Choi took me to the sauna and then a massage. I had been running daily so the exercise wasn't all that bad.

I swear they were out to kill me in Korea- live food, hills and then a hot sauna. From the state of my t-shirt I had a lot of detoxing to do. Although the massage was absolutely heavenly my lady told me I had stomach problems. She could tell by my feet- hmmmmm reflexology!  I'm pretty sure now I picked up a parasite. I have been doing a parasite cleansing and feel much better.
I'd really like to build a sauna at my house. I slept like a dog that night. Saunas are very popular in Korea and I saw families with young kids going to the sauna together.  I went from the sauna to hot water and then cold water. I then had a hot shower and shave. The one hour body massage was next. Heavenly!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Antonio Whassa matta for you?

It's Sunday morning and it seems like the first time I have been able to sit back and make myself a cappuccino in my Mathew Scheiman cup.  He sent the cup via carrier pigeon( Emma Smith) from NCECA. Thanx Matt I love it and it has a place on my cup wall of shame.
I'm still reeling from the Korea trip. My entire aesthetic was put under scrutiny during that trip. Here at home I feel comfortable in my own skin.
Here is a Korean moon jar seen in the halls of the City Hall of Icheon. It has 2000 cranes carved into it. An impressive piece of fine craft and artistry. I'm just amazed the guy could count that high never mind doing the art work.
If I had the money would I buy the above moon jar. The answer is a simple "No!". Although beautiful it would not be good company for the rest of my collection. Mathew's cup fits like a glove.
If I had a chunk of change I'd buy one of Ronnie the Rat's sculptural pieces with the naked women, and the devilish animals.  My entire family of pots would be happy with that choice.
So what makes us love the rocks and not the pearls?  Whassa a matta for you??? What makes us have certain tastes and not others? If you know what ya like don't let

someone else say ya don't.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Warm up exercises

I'm still draggin' my anchor from Korea a go go. I do make my living from my pots so I dragged my body into the workshop to get a start on making. Not quite ready to make anything challenging so I made some bowls that I will enjoy trimming tomorrow. I also got up in the middle of the night and made a dozen slab trays. The money tree didn't shake down any do rae me while I was gone so I need to top up my bank account. Good news is Andrew is home from Grad school at WVU. We are meeting next week to plan working together. I can't wait to share our love of clay.  I will be so happy for his good company. I am having my fair share of rock star opportunities this year but when I get home it feels empty and I long for the next sojourn. A few more weeks is Ottawa, a wood firing with my mentoring group and then Wales. I have to learn
the art of maximizing serendipitous opportunities.

You know me

I just remembered the Akar Gallery Yunomi Invitational opened yesterday.
I opened it to see that all 5 of my yunomi's have sold. Thank you whoever you are. You have good taste!  These 5 yunomi's were fired in Ronnie the Rat's Ratagama. I must admit I really like these cups.
Seeing them today got me excited about making again. I was in a bit of funk after the Korea trip. The Koreans work was so precise. My work is so casual and the marks of the making are what is so important to me. These 5 cups are laden with ash, fire flashing, and  thick slip with marks from my fingers. I like to think these are pots a blind person could enjoy. The wood firing in Korea went off in less than 20 hours for 4 chambers and there was no evidence of the process. If it weren't for the tradition I would take the gas fired route to get results like that.
Looking at the entire Yunomi show I am very proud of the North American aesthetic. There is so much variety of interesting surfaces, shapes and colours. I saw enough beautiful celedon to last me awhile.  We are not bound by the yoke of tradition. I asked Sung Tae Kim if he felt restricted by the tradition. He answered that the young are abandoning it and he is keeping it alive. I thought that was a good

answer and I respect him for doing that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

I ain't a monkey!

During the final speeches in Korea they referred to me as the monkey. According to Chinese astrology the monkey is stronger than the tiger. He has a great mind that jumps from one thing to the next. Well, I ain't a monkey. I'm a rabbit! The rabbit is a home body that prides itself in keeping a nice home, is well loved and a loyal friend. I think I feel all of this. I brought home sooooooo much love from Korea. What an amazing people!  I am
glad to be home in my rabbit's warren with my art, my music, my pots, my own bed and things that are familiar to me. I am used to driving my own car and holding on to the steering wheel of my life. The trip to Korea was extraordinary and more than I could ever have dreamed. Unha Hill aka Dr. Yi did an amazing job!
I am exhausted so I can well imagine how she feels. 12 adult children to take care of.
On my last day I went to a sauna and massage where I was sent off completely on my own. There was nothing familiar and nothing I understood.  I had no wallet, no passport, no address, no phone. Man, I felt very vulnerable.
It is so exhausting when everything you hear is noise. I was glad to be grilled by the customs guy about my pot purchases. He at least spoke my language. Glad to be home for awhile. Next stop Wales. That is yet another unfamiliar language.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Things I don't do well

Last night our host and hostess took us out for a sushi dinner fit for a King or Queen. I couldn't have handled this 6 or 7 years ago. The quality of this dinner was beyond words. All was going well until one of the dinner items started moving. It was a live and well living on our table. I wouldn't be able to do that. No way! The chef took the little diddy away and cooked her/him. Unha ate hers raw but it was just too big to swallow so she had him kill it cut and it up for her. I don't do eating live creatures all that well. For dessert were fruits and what I thought was seaweed ice cream cones. Nope!!! Seaweed filled with fish eggs.   What I have found on this trip is all the things I don't do well. I don't carve a crane well. I don't pierce pots well. I don't have the patience for scrapping slip.  I don't throw Korean style all that well. It's not about going home feeling inadequate. It is about going home and celebrating your strengths that have been made better by exposure to other ways of working in this wonderful material called clay. What has been so important to all of us on this trip is the generousity that we have been shown. A potter must live their life generously. Give what ya can and if all you can give is your sincere friendship then it is worth more than gold.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Korean food

Obesity in North America is a major problem. I'm sure eating a lot here and I wonder what the scales will say upon my return? My aunt used to brag about serving 7 vegetables with every meal. My family thought this was absolutely over the edge. In our house it was meat, potatoes and perhaps a can of cream corn. I don't remember as a kid eating fresh vegetables or much fruit for that matter.
I think a typical Korean meal might have over a dozen kinds of veggies and fruit. We went to the market today to see hundreds of stalls of veggies, fruit and fish. Everything is fresh and not processed. Not sure where the shrimp come from but as Doc Ric says even eating something not organic is better than eating processed food.
I must admit to feeling a sense of guilt when I saw the crabs piled up on each other in a tank and the octopus hanging in a bag of water.  There were fish of all kinds, eels, and squid. It must be watermelon season here as there were literally thousands of melons for sale.

Over the moon

The Canucks have flown home and I am here until Wednesday staying with a major collector. Wow! This collection has some of the best work of the masters. This is the creme de la creme of pots. It makes me wish I had the ability to buy the very best of a potters work. For me a $100 teabowl was a big deal. I have filet mignon taste and a hamburger budget.
It wasn't till I was sitting in the living room being served  pu-erh tea that I stared at a completely white jar and figured out why they are referred to as moon jars. Why did it take that long for me to figure it out? It took the absence of decoration for the light to come on in my brain. The big roundie my host is leaning on was thrown in one piece. I can't even guess how much clay it took to make this piece. Remember with porcelain you have 25% shrinkage. There was a fabulous moon jar in the Leeum Museum in Souel with some beautiful flame travel. This jar is also wood fired and it is my second favourite pot I have seen. I love the crawled stand it is on as well.