Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dr. Yi- The Pottery Angel

During our firing of the Hamilton Potters Manibigama we were invited to stay and eat at the house of Dr. Unha Yi Hill. Unha is an amazing cook and for a petite woman has a heart the size of a two car garage.  Here is a small sampling of the meals we were treated to over 3 days. One supper had sea bass, caviar, mussels, shrimp, calamari, crab, 4 kinds of mushrooms

and forgive me Dr. Yi if I have forgotten something. All meals included multitudes of fresh fruit and veggies.  If ever there was someone who is the Queen of Presentation it is Unha. The nickname of Dr. Yi is because she is so conscious of good food as a source of good health. Unha rallied her daughter Adriana to serve the potters.  After the firing Jen and I went back for stuffed mushroom caps and some white wine. Hey life as a wood fire potter ain't so bad after all.
 Thank you from the bottom of our hearts- Dr. Yi  As Iris Dorton put it you are a Pottery Angel.

Friday, January 30, 2015

All women are crazy!

I’m home from the Deep South and Duncan Aird  the other guy and me are firing the Hamilton Potter’s Manibigama in January in C eh N eh D eh with a crew of crazy Canuck women wood firers. ! How crazy or how macho is that?  It’s not cold enough here in Canada for me let’s stand outside for a couple of days and nights and see what it’s like to be sleep deprived and half frozen.
Whenever I come back from a trip someone invariably asks what did you learn or how did your work change?
Well I’ll share this bit of knowledge given by mental health councilor Doc Rick Agel
- All women are crazy! How much crazy can you handle?  After this post Doc will have to go in to hiding.  Well there is no doubt these women are crazy but I’ve been hanging with woman potters all my life so I guess I know no better!  Actually there are no better!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Got my meat covered!

I'm home in The Promised Land sorting out banking, paying bills, buying groceries and enjoying the surroundings of my man cave. Actually, I'm only home for a day and then off to fire a Manibigama with some of the Hamilton Potters Mentor ship group. The past three times I've been at Ronnie's I have picked out one of these slab trays that no one but me seems to love. They have sat on a rack outside waiting for my visit.  I have all of my meat covered now- chicken, pork and fish. I haven't been eating much beef lately so until Ronnie animates a steer I guess I've mostly avoid it. He

gave me a drawing for my spare bedroom called The Rat's Nest which has a nice selection of Ronnie's work.
I love the narrative of the drawing. When Ron was teaching the Dean announced that all the faculty that got a pay raise were stars. He didn't get one! So the drawing is Ronnie the Rat under the stars.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Good Landing

I'm headed home from a great couple of days with the faculty and students at West Virginia University. What faculties spend breakfast, lunch and supper with their students on a Friday? Shoji had the grad students meet for a breakfast class to discuss web design. The students took me out to lunch for some great wings and a beer. Then Shoji and Boomer and many of the students went out for wood fired pizza after my workshop. Lucky students to have such dedicated faculty. Andrew and I had a beer and a bump in his student dive to end the day. It has been said you can judge a Ceramics program by the quality of the pot luck. I think it can also be translated into those that work together, play together.  I drove out of the mountains this morning knowing Andrew has landed in a good place. He has a hellava work ethic and he will grow and bloom in the mountains of West Virginia. He now even has a source of moon shine.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Candy Store

I am in Morgantown, West Virginia visiting my friend and former Sheridan student Andrew Kellner who is doing his MFA in Ceramics here. I am doing a workshop tomorrow so today I threw some pieces to assemble and Andrew gave me a tour of the production studio, the kiln site and the sculpture bin.
The facilities here are amazing. For a keener like Andrew this place has all the toys and all the bells and whistles. Hydraulic press, jigger and jolley, every wheel imaginable, 3D printers, deckal printers (pronounced deeeeeeeeeecal printers here), wood kilns, salt/soda kilns, car kilns, electric kilns, train kiln. The whole shebang.
Production facility is the domain of Robert Boomer Moore USU alum and it is neat as a pin. You could eat off the floors and every thing is in it's place. Boomer is faculty and  currently in charge of production . Shoji Satake is Head of Ceramics and has done a great job of putting this school on the map.
Much of the goings on in dept are financed by the production facility. They have a great line of production ware that is made and sold to finance school activities like having me here. Andrew has responsibilities at the production studio as well as teaching and a full load of academic and studio courses. He is working from 7:30am till near midnight each day. The former kid has found his candy store.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Coke- the other drug!

Well it's show time at Callonwolde here in Atlanta. The workshop is at one of the mansions of the family that owns Coca- Cola.  Atlanta is the world headquarters of Coca-Cola. The original formula for Coke included what else but Coke.
Looks like we have a packed house and I will be seeing some old friends. Glenn Dair did a great job of getting the word out that the devil went down to Georgia.  The gang of us will be going out for Thai food tonight and then BB-Q tammarah night. Tammarah is how they pronounce tomorrow down here in the Deep South.  I went back to Athens to see the unload of the Ratagama with Ronnie and friends. Looks like it was a great firing. I have some really killer yunomi's to send to AKAR in Iowa. It'll be a week or so before I'm home to do any photography.

Friday, January 16, 2015


I'm staying a few nights with my buddy Doc Rick Agel in Atlanta. I met Doc a few years ago while doing a workshop up in the Catskills and we have remained friends since. Doc has introduced me to Chinese medicines and healthy eating habits. He also thought enough to take me to the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta.  Rick has been a defender of human rights all his life. There were boxes of tissues at different parts of the museum. I must admit I needed one at some point. That there could be so much hatred is beyond me. Here is a pic of Doc at The Wrecking Bar posing with a server that thought I looked like Issac Asimov

) the science fiction writer. I told her that I was he and that would gladly sign her thigh. She then told me he was dead! Dang!s

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pot- The Gateway Drug

I am now convinced that pot is the gateway drug to a serious addiction. Some of us that did pot in our youth have not been able to shake this monkey on our backs for entire life times. Heck some of us have made a career out of selling it. Some who haven't been able to go it as a full time habit do some serious binge potting whenever they can. We went to visit a collector outside of Athens, Georgia who really developed the habit- BIG TIME. This gentleman had to build a building to house the 3500 pots he has collected since 2002. He has many others in his home and currently on display in the library in Athens. He has collected studio art production pottery mostly from the 30's and 40's. There was a great display of some of the old North Carolina family names like Nell Graves Coles

. Much of the work is beautiful lead glazed earthenware. It reminded me so much of my roots and the pots of my Uncle Jimmie and Aunt Cavvy at Pinecroft. I was almost sure I would find a piece of theirs. I did find a collection of Blue Mountain Pottery from Collingwood, Ontario. Every house in Ontario had a piece of Blue Mtn Pottery in it. It was a status symbol for the middle classes. It was our art and it could be purchased at places like Birk's Jewellery store and was considered expensive. My mum had a swan.
This collector once went to a show of Warren MacKenzie and bought the entire show. I'm sure that didn't make him too popular.  I guess you do because you can!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I quit!

Yesterday we went on a field trip to Peidmont College to see a show "The Rising Generation From Traditional Japanese kilns. The booklet is nice and the pots are AWESOME! My pics and the pics in the cataloque don't do justice to the fabulous work. Seeing this work made me think of quitting making pots. It's alright I got over it by bedtime. Hey, what else would I do?
Check out this shino work. The one potter used shino in what seemed like layers that had a ice like edge to the lines. Even the large bowl that looks fluted was layers of shino. The other flowery work which ordinarily would not be my choice was wonderful with probably multiple firings. The large green Oribe bowl looked more my style and the double walled jar with rips and tears could have been thrown by Ronnie.
There is a FREE 2 day workshop by 11th generation potter Ohi Toshio from Kanazawa, Japan  in the Smith- Williams studio (Piedmont College)

, Jan 21,22 from 10-4 each day. Contact Chris Kelly for more information.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I like Butt's

A couple more nights of southern hospitality. We had a fish fry at David and Dawn Meyers house. They live in David's childhood home so of course it is full to overflowing of wonderful critter tiles in the kitchen, bathroom, and almost everywhere is a tribute to his Dad. The table was set with a full table of critter plates.
Last night we had southern Bar b que from Butt's Smoke House

. We had a rack of ribs, beef brisket, bacon and beans and vinegar slaw. It was quite a meat fest.
It is a good thing that as a regular habit I have been going to the Georgia Botanical Gardens for a run in the morning. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Yesterday we went to the pottery of Geoff Pickett. Geoff is a ex-pat Englishmen that came to study at U of G - Athens with Ronnie some 3 decades ago and has never left. Truly a mad dog!  He is one of the best kept secrets in the wood fire community that I have seen. His pots are beautifully made, finished, fired and they are soooooooo INEXPENSIVE!  A nice cup $18, a killer shino bowl $20, a 20 lb planter $50. I am usually not a fan of porcelain but Geoff's pots have a robustness usually associated with stoneware. I bought two dinner plates from his gas kiln that have that Harry and May Davis look that I have coveted for years. Geoff's kilns are massive and impeccably maintained. He ought to read my book though as there is no pottery sign, no mailbox with his name on it and the showrooms are a series of metal shacks without lights. Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door is something I can't afford to wait for so I do my shameless self promoting. If you are in the area Geoff Pickett, Farmington, Georgia. Bring cash as I doubt he has a debit or credit card system. Great pots!
I was supposed to go home with some money in my pockets. Oh well, there is always Kraft dinners.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Blast off!

We finished up the firing after 56 hours. We completely filled the main firebox and the side stoking channels with  wood before we shut down. Everybody slept in this morning and then we chowed down on bacon, eggs, biscuits and grits. I only get to have grits when I come south. I like them a lot. I'm draggin' my anchor today and in fact I'm minutes away from a mid afternoon  Power Nap. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Circle the wagons

I am surrounded by friends, art, books and pots. I am soooooooo lucky to be at Ronnie's for this firing. Ronnie and Hester open their home to all that come and they come in droves. They come in droves because they know they are welcome and that the Meyer's house is a home.  Food, drink and friendship are plentiful. In the past few days we have had  dozens visit. Ted Saupe, Sun Koo Yuh from U of G and all their students, Carter Gillies the potter's philosopher, Geoff Pickett wood fire potter, Kyle potter, Steve Driver Arkansas potter and his three protege Hanna, Logan, and Adrian , Rick Berman potter, Doc Agel my buddy and medical adviser,  Nancy Green Georgia Potter. More have come and more will. This is my idea of heaven. If I died and went to heaven this is exactly how I would picture it.