Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Canada is weaker today

Today as I get ready to welcome my best wood firers to fire Cassius Clay here at Pinecroft I am saddened listening to the music of Canada’s Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. Gord died last night of brain cancer. Canada is weaker with the loss of one of our finest artists.
In a CBC interview recorded earlier he said “ I don’t play golf, I make art, that is what I do”. I identified with that statement so closely the tears were streaming down my cheeks.
So not much to say today except how important it is to make art. How it touches lives and how important it is in our lives. Gord’s last concert was watched by 1 in 3 Canadians. A potter will never command that kind of attention or audience  but from what I know of Gord Downie he would have given you that attention and all of his attention. Make your art as if today is the last day. 
If you have never listened to a Hip song treat yourself. Here is one of my favourites- A Boy from Fiddlers Green.
and another.
There’s no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
And yeah the human tragedy
Consists in the necessity
Of living with the consequences
Under pressure, under pressure
Courage, my word, it didn’t come, it doesn’t matter
Courage , my word, it didn’t come, it doesn’t matter
Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.  Gord Downie.

A sad day in Canada.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On Strike!

So I decided to take a Drawing course at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario and two weeks in the faculty go on strike. I’ve been a teacher on strike so I know how it feels. It ain’t a good feeling.
On my second class I took some pictures of the facilities for a drawing class. To say it is a shit hole is an understatement. I have never seen a clay sculpture room in such a horrible mess. I took an ice pick to scrape the plaster off the tables so we could actually use the surfaces to draw. The sinks were plugged with stagnant water and overflowing with un-cleaned stainless steel bowls covered in hard plaster Here is a pic of the broom they use to sweep around the silica dust.
I taught part time at Sheridan College for 15 years and I can tell you there would be hell to pay if students ever left a room looking like this. They were taught to vacuum and wet mop in the Bobby Orr fashion of stick handling.  The studio technologist Hugh Douglas Murray was very responsible for the health and safety of students and faculty.
This is what happens when 70% of the faculty are part time and when support staff are cut to a minimum. I’m sure the caretakers open the door have a look and say there is no frickin’ way I’m going to try to clean that pig stye.  This is what the strike is about! It is the paring down of full time jobs. The business model of running a school of higher education.  No pensions, no benefits, no talk back from part timers. You never know whether you have a job next semester or not. Talk back and for sure you don’t!
 The part time faculty are paid for hours of teaching. They are off and running to another paying gig or home to their studios to make enough money to pay the bills. They are only paid for hours of teaching..  Management likes part timers because they get no benefits, can be fired at will, and they always work longer than the teaching hours they get paid for.  Teaching craft is not like teaching math. OK class open your textbook at page 44 and do the questions at the end of the chapter.
No studio should look like this and cleaning up should be taught. As I have said before 15% of the time I spend being a potter is spent actually making things. The rest of the time is maintenance!

I totally support the faculty on strike. If the schools keep following the business model soon 70% of the courses will be online.  Learn all you need to be a fine craftsperson on U-tube. Amazon U.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Feng Shui

Four more sleeps till The Cactus Lounge Flame Throwers arrive with their pots for our final firing before our big show “Bon Feu.” Five actually but Jen shows up on Thursday and we talk late into the night .   
 Like an idiot I have shown or sold most of the good wood fired pots I have so I’m counting on a really good fire this coming weekend.
I carted some of the slip cast bottles over to put in the kiln kitchen ready for loading. I have a half dozen more to bisque.  Fall is really beautiful at Pinecroft and it is probably the nicest time of year to fire the wood kiln. No snow and ice, no mud from spring thaw, no scorching heat from the Hell’s Kitchen of the summer. It is a beautiful time here in The Promised Land.  We have however been having some torrential rains and blow the trailer park to hell winds.
All I will have are these slip cast vases. I don’t know what has happened to my life over the past month since the show “The Storytellers”?  Even my bed shows I’m in some kind of hurricane. I wake up to find my comforter on the floor on one side of the bed and my Hudson’s Bay wool blanket on the other side of the bed on the floor and my linen sheets all wrapped up around my feet. I have no idea what the hell is going on but if it were an orgy I forget the participants and the details.
The pond is covering over with algae and the geese are landing by the score as they are contemplating going south to shit on America.  I’ve been told they poop every three minutes.  We could give it good reason to be called The White House.

Canada geese are the Armed Forces of Canada. We considered snow balls as our arsenal but goose poop is so much more nasty and effective.

I’ll go over to the wood kiln this week and clean the kitchen, decorate it a bit and prepare the gang to become one with the environment. As one of my wise students told me many, many years ago “ The businesses that will be successful are the ones that  will create an experience!.” I try really hard to make that happen at Pinecroft. The 5 senses are being looked after.