Monday, February 29, 2016

My father whispered

I have plenty to do before heading off to see my friends in North Carolina. I can't seem to relax so I made 30 cups and a couple of big 28lb man rolls. I went down to the workshop this morning and looked at the cups and thought dang it I have to fill in the crotch of the handles. Nobody will care if I do but me. I like them to look as beefy at the termination of the handle as the beginning.  Then I heard my Dad whisper in my ear from a long, long time ago- it's what you do when you don't have to that makes all the difference. He still haunts me some 35 years later. This is such sound advice in so so many ways. Friendships, relationships, business and of course your pots. I believe it the details we attend to that separate the professionals from the beginners. Speaking of professionals I just got word that two of my woodies from the mentorship have scored at the NCECA Cone Box Show. Teresa Dunlop won Juror's Award and Annemarie Row- Purchase Award. Yeah,  Team Canada! Congratulations ladies ya done us proud. Some pretty tough critics of your work- Garth Clark and Greg Daley. Fight big fighter, fight!

Friday, February 26, 2016


There is magic in articulation whether it be in music, in speech or in your pots. I like the blues of Robert Cray because he seems to have pauses in the music that are as meaningful as the guitar rift. I always liked to listen to Bill Clinton speak because he seemed to know just when to pause to emphasize what he had just said.  No comment on the politics just that I thought he was and is a wonderful orator.
What I like about sectional throwing is the ability to articulate a form without trimming your brains out. I always start with a sketch so that I have some idea where it is all going. Sometimes the sketch doesn’t translate in the clay. I made articulated cap lids that I thought would complete the form. They looked lame so I threw them out. Sometimes you have to go back and rewrite your draft. I remade the lids.  

I also decided to play with handle placement. That too had to be rethought. The ones I placed on the bottom ring just didn’t cut it so I moved them to the middle as that was my preferred placement. It was a lazy day just working on these 3 pots. Stef Smalls said in a FB comment- read Tony’s book just to remind yourself why you do this. You make pots

because you are creative!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Learning how to fly!

My buddy Steve the Potter took me up in his little Cessna yesterday to fly over Pinecroft and then out to the shoreline of Lake Erie. Do you know what potters do when they are not making pots? They think about making pots! The texture and pattern possibilities of the landscape below when flying just above a flock of Canada geese are endless. I saw the ice patterns of the ice breakup on the big lake and all I could see were beautiful crystals in my glaze. I now want a white glaze with large ice patch crystals. I want a green to replicate the ice on the pond at Pinecroft.
This is all possible if you take the time to test. Grass has been a very bad influence.

To work at a professional level in this bizz I believe your mind has to be on it all times. You will see possibilities in manhole covers, fences, brooms, and everywhere your eyes land.  Walking thru the forest and seeing it from 2000 ft gives you a totally different perspective. I think our purpose in this life is
learning how to fly. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

So where's the easy part?

So ya made the 30 odd slab plates and that was easy. So they all have to have a little thrown sauce bowl to go with them. So ya made the trays one evening and ya throw the little bowls one morning along with a few cups and wait till tomorrow to trim all the little bowls. You all know the rest of the process - the bisque, the waxing and yada da yada! If ya pick something up ya gotta put something down. You decide to make tray sets you ain't making a piece for the upcoming Potter's Biennial Show.  So that's a choice you make.
On my drive to give a talk to the Brantford Potters Guild about our mentorship I was wondering  choice or by chance. Has my life been more shaped by my brilliant choices or dumb luck chance.
 I came to the conclusion that chance has won over almost always.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


I don’t want anyone to know that I often do things that are downright easy to do. I learned how to do these trays last year in Naples, Florida when I was doing a tag team workshop with Hayne Bayliss. Hayne does some great hand building and much more complex than I want to tackle.
Here is the process in a nutshell.

I roll out a bunch of slabs. I have a 1”thick piece of plywood the size of the tray I want to make that I place on the slab. You could have fancy petal rims on your trays. Mine are rectangular and square.  I cut out the clay and soften the edges where I cut by putting a piece of newspaper over the slab and rubbing the edge thru the newspaper. The arts section or the sports sections work best. I have found the obituaries really kill the work. I then let the slabs set up on sheets of drywall. When I think the slab will hold it’s shape I take it over to my oversize piece of foam rubber and press down on it with the wooden shape. You can use a smaller piece of plywood for the center and just push down on it.  Glue a handle on the plywood so you can push down and lift it out.  This is the not so handy guy’s hydraulic Ram Press. I put the trays on a board and handle them in the morning. Easy peasy.