Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Circumcision Preferred

I have come to the conclusion that most people prefer circumcision. When I don't circumcise my teapot spouts they don't sell. I'm not sure whether they just don't quite looked finished or that we tea drinkers are used to seeing a cleanly cut spout. The spout has to be firm before you make the cut- ouch!
I tried working upside down like Bruce and Cathi seem to do a lot of. The oldest trick in the book during a crit is to turn someone's pot upside down. It is usually amazing how much better it looks. So why not throw the form upside down?
 I threw an enclosed form so that the top was to be

the bottom. I then threw a foot ring and added it to the top. I then flipped it over in a chuck and threw the gallery on the bottom now the top.
This is a helluva lot of work to make a bulbous teapot. I can really do this form better right side up. I was anxious to try it though. I trimmed my brains out and the pots still seem to be super heavy.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Givers and takers

 In my world there are two kinds of people- givers and takers. The boyzzzz are set to arrive in Canada from Korea. The boyzzz being the 5 Korean Master Potters and their lovely wives. It was just a year ago that 13 of us experienced the unbelievable "giving" of these fine people. Plans were set in motion to return their hospitality when Chris Snedden put the wheels in motion for the Fusion Conference this coming weekend in Toronto.  From my far away vantage point I have been on a small sub committee Chris set up of people in his hood. I will publicly take a bow to Chris Snedden, Unha Hill, Judy Sparkes and Donn Zver who have given enormous amounts of time, money and energy to this project. You have no idea what they have done to make this conference of over 250 potters happen. You are all BIG TIME GIVERS!
Chris has helped make over 1200 pots for demo purposes. That was the easy part. He has been arranging all kinds of administrative stuff that would kill a lesser being.
Unha the pesky mosquito always there to do whatever it takes. She repays friendship with more friendship.
Sparker- (never hire a Electrician with the name Sparks) is providing her cottage to show the Koreans Canadian life for 3 days- tubing,  canoeing, campfires, bacon and eggs,  and the significance of "eh".
Donn has given them his lovely house for 2 weeks, arranged welcoming and farewell dinners in his restaurant and has stepped up like he was the guy that started the Ontario Potters Assoc some 40 years ago.
Big things happen because of giving people. Don't miss this conference or at the very least go to Donn's and see their work. Go to the Gardiner on Friday night for their show opening. There are a few spots left for their farewell dinner. Do that! Somehow see how giving gets!
My buddy Doc Agel who went to Korea with us is flying in from Atlanta for the farewell dinner. Yep ya got to be a friend to have friends. This is the display at Donn Zver Pottery of the Koreans work. It's for sale. Don't walk, run!!! 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Worn Down

The sediment (the sand, mud and pebbles) that make up Sedimentary rocks come from other rocks that have been worn down by wind, rain and snow.
The pots I am currently making suggest sedimentary rock formations.
This is the end of 4 weeks of long days than rarely end till usually around 10 or 11. I am worn down like the rocks I love.  I had an hour power nap this afternoon.
 This week Dick and I were up late talking about geology and sedimentary rock formations. I woke up in the morning and ran down to the studio to implant some feldspar chunks into the still wet slip. Man these wall plates ought to be expensive since a western potter friend Richard Selfridge who gave the chunks

to me said they were collected in a rattlesnake infested cave in Alberta. I’m not a fan of snakes so I ain’t gonna collect no mo!

It’s Saturday night so I was in the studio to try and get back my mojo. The blues are on and life is good.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hardest Workin' Man in Show Bizz

I've been called one of the hardest working' men in show bizz. Well, I just woke up off the couch from a 2 hour coma after saying good bye to Dick Aerni who was here at Pinecroft for a glaze and making workshop. My work ethic pales in comparison. He wins the title hands down!
Last night we watched Dick's power point on 4 decades of superb pots with absolutely stunning glazes.
Here are some shots of the some of the students pots from the firing. He did a big car kiln load of gas fired Cone 10 reduction ware and an electric kiln of Cone 6 Oxidation. Dick can pretty much match the Cone 10 reduction and Cone 6 Oxidation. His Cone 6 glazes are to die for. For all you out there in Cone 6 Oxidationland you may want to consider having Dick for a workshop. Just don't decide later to set up a pottery in Aylmer, Ontario. Aylmer is my town!
Jack and I have the house to ourselves tonight after a month of visitors.  He hans't said a thing but I know he needs some lovin. I've neglected Jack so tomorrow morning I think I'll take him for breakfast at Clark's Diner and then for a walk in White's Woods.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Scribble, scribble, edit, scribble, scribble, edit

The past 3 weeks I have had three incredible makers staying here at The Cactus Lounge and working/teaching at Pinecroft. I love all their work and am envious of their attention to detail. It is hard to fight off the urge to make work like theirs. I haven't been able to get much of my own work done and have actually started dreaming of this Saturday night with Randy Bachman Vinyl Tap, Holger Petersen's Saturday Night Blues and Jim Corcoran's A Propo. Their music will be the perfect background for my day and night of making. I ain't going grocery shopping. I ain't doing the laundry. I ain't mowing the lawn. I ain't doing nuthin' but listen to music and make my pots.  I've tried a bunch of things in the past year.  I've decided I like my thick slip work the best. It certainly ain't much like my 3 guests work but it's me and I'm enjoying making it. What is new to me is the layering of multiple layers of dry glaze over the base carbon trap shino glaze. This creates a deep surface with multiple slips, thick slip and then multiple layers of dry glaze. When you know your materials you can start making surfaces like a chef would make a great stew.
I'll show pics from Dick Aerni's class tomorrow. He is a glaze chef and there promises to be some really sweet and tasty glazes.

glaze surfaces.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why you need a professional

Here is a picture of a thrown and altered oval box made by Janet Z of Vancouver during a week long workshop with Bruce Cochrane.  Nice form and nicely crafted. Janet is like many of you that have professional careers or maybe families and have fallen in love with clay. It is something she gets to do once a week or maybe during a weekend. The difference between Janet and many is she sees the value of professional workshops as a way of improving. U-tube ain't gonna do it and the social club at the guild although a great start will only take you so far. Our workshops here at Pinecroft start with clay talk at breakfast and end the day with clay talk. This is usually a 12-16 hour day.
As a workshop presenter myself I see the need for intensive, focused workshops with the best instructors, I can find. It is of great pleasure for me to see students like Janet progress soooooo much in a week. This box is at a professional level. Janet is taking a 7 month sabbatical from her job to study clay.  I have recommended a month at Medalta for her next step. I will do anything I can to help someone that is serious about reaching the next rung in the tall clay ladder.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Here is a pic of the final crit of greenware from Bruce Cochrane's course here at Pinecroft. That my friend Janet from Vancouver who I watched score right here in Aylmer. I think she was as new to scoring as she was to a final critique of the work. Bruce is a masterful maker and gives a very insightful critique. He is kind and yet points out areas for improvement.
40 years of teaching and making makes what he does look like second nature.
Janet scored as did I. I really loved this bottle form of Bruce's and had decided I needed to pay my MasterCard down more than I needed this vase. Lucky me Bruce gave it to me as a gift. It will look absolutely fabulous with the lilacs that are now in full bloom here at The Cactus Lounge. It was wood fired and then sand blasted. Thanks Bruce, I love it  and will treasure it as a token of our long friendship. I am the richest man in the room!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bruce Almighty

This week at Pinecroft we have Bruce Almighty Cochrane. In my opinion Bruce is one of the best vessel makers in Canada. Even for me after years of throwing to watch him work is like magic. He started the week making composite vase forms from different individual sections on the wheel.  Bruce makes paper cut outs of the forms he wants to make. This is a visual reference for the parts he will make on the wheel. Today he is making these amazing boxes. To see his work you often find yourself asking how the hell did he do that?
As with tradition here we went out for our yellow perch and chips last night and tonight is the pot luck to watch Bruce’s power point and see the work of the students.

You can tell the quality of a class by the pot luck, Cathi’s class of last week will be a hard act to follow.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

BC Bud

 BC's biggest agricultural export was Grass. Now with Grass not on the road a year away from national legal distribution we have another BC Bud filling those big shoes. Here is my BC bud Cathi Jefferson making one day terra sig. Pretty clever idea to put the Red Art and Darvan in a plastic bottle so ya see the three layers of clay-(the sludge at the bottom, the finer particle clay in the middle and the murky water at the top. Cathi just poked a hole above the sludge and drained the sig into a bucket ready for use. We are firing the old gas kiln today and going to introduce some soda. We also placed some small bowls of salt between the pots in the stacking. We don't expect a very juicy surface but it is a great exercise. Cathi's decoration is top drawer. Everyone is loving her. Awesome teacher and maker!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Usually a romantic guy buys the woman flowers and  a nice bottle of wine. They tell me gin is the ultimate in the candy is dandy but liquor is quicker dept. This past week I will have had 4 women staying here at The Cactus Lounge. They bring me groceries, flowers and gin. We’re having a gin tasting this week so we have gin from the far north of Canada, from Vancouver Island, from Nova Scotia and from Florida.
Cathi Jefferson from Vancouver Island is here conducting her workshop at Pinecroft and from the looks of it the women are really engaged and lots of pots have been made already. I popped in for a minute and already learned how to pull those dog bone style handles. Beats all the trouble of back filling the handle later.
My daughter Robin was on the Governor General’s Leadership Team and a piece of advice she gave me was this – Hire the best people you can and then stay the hell out of their way. I have picked the best potters and teachers that I know to conduct this month’s workshops. My plan has been to get them started and go home to work.

Back when I was in Teacher’s College the associate stayed in the room with you when you were teaching. When you hire pro’s you let them work their magic. Mojo is happening!