Monday, August 21, 2017

Potter's Tag

I believe there are plenty of relationships that stay together because of economic dependence. The worst kind of dependence. Money is power in a relationship.  I have that kind of relationship with clay. If your partner is also your paycheque, you’re in a different position to make demands. So if you earn no money, or less money you’re going to be less likely to win when it comes to what you want to make.
I came back from two workshops in BC where I got my workshop fee, sold some pots and some books and two pockets of cash. That was 6 weeks ago and I’ve had a good time making what I want to make feeling the freedom to explore new work, and do pretty well what I wanted to do in the studio. Well the money is gone and I’m thinking of making for the market place again. The lower the bank account the tighter the pots! 
 The good ole tray sets that are a no brainer for me and sell like hot cakes are back in production. I also made some teapots with slip cast lugs and knobs that are pretty tight by my standards. They could use a good poke! I also made some cups with my slip cast diner style handles. Opps, they only fit one finger and I know the majority of the market like huge cups with handles that fit a fist or at least 4 fingers. I dislike those handles so until the wolf at the door actually comes in and bites me the handles remain my sanctuary from dependence.
The diner style handle is actually a small version of the dog bone handle. Since I don’t pull that handle all that well I slip cast it. Porcelain handle on a stoneware cup.

For those of us in Ontario that fondly remember Blue Mountain Pottery sold in Birk’s Jewellery Stores across the province I slip cast this vase. Every house in the province proudly displayed a piece of BMP in the window. I would buy my mum a piece for Christmas. The vases were expensive so it was usually a swan, bear or some small novelty item. I gave the vase a poke with the palm of my hand when I pulled it soft out of the mould. So far that is it’s only sign of my vandalizing it with this potter’s tag. The vase was usually cut at the top to give a bird beak appearance. I decided I liked that line. Now to decide about further pokes, slashes, little lugs. It takes some time to develop a recognizable tag. 

Friday, August 18, 2017


I am totally excited to have received the invites for “Storytellers” in the mail today. I had nothing to do with the title and I love it. I probably would have come up with something like “ A Painter, A Sculptor and a Bull Shitter! More likely I would have titled it “ The Mutual Admiration Society”  or “Birds of a feather” since all three of us are total fans of each others work.

We all tell stories with our art. Narrative art tells an ongoing story of what is happening at a particular time in the artist’s life. I don’t date my work. I know exactly the time frame it was made in. I can tell you of the birth of a child, the death of my mum or dad, divorce, new loves, and most recently life begins at 65.

This carbon dating is all me looking at the work. Sad moments don’t necessarily mean sad pots. Looking back, I see that some of my strongest work was made during sad times. This can be a time in the studio were you listen to your own voice and not that of someone else. You dig down into your inner soul and have blanked out on what is going on in the world and what others think.  I’m having the time of my life picking the colours of my doors, rooms, furniture, art work, clothing, plants for the garden etc. etc. I’m telling my story not that of someone else or trying to please someone else. I fire next weekend and to be honest I forget what I’ve made. I’ll be as surprised as you are. Please come out to the lovely town of Stratford to see Mary, Shane and I. There will be good stories by three veteran “Storytellers”. Bring your shovels and your hip waders. I have a story that starts with” A man walks into a bar…..

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Being an artist!

There is something we artists have in common. I mean the hard core artists. The ones that have given their entire lives to being artists. Every chance I get I go see Fred Eaglesmith. Tonight I went to a show with just he and his very hot and talented wife Gin Tif from south Texas.
His charity picnic is all weekend here at Springwater and it is not to be missed by those of us that like music, friendship and story telling.
I liked what he wrote in his program for his show tonight in Mytown.  People ask him how to have a career like his. Here is his answer.:
Start writing songs when you are 10 years old. Grow up with poverty, agriculture, religion and eight siblings. Run away from home. Hop freight trains. Start a business. Lose a business. Struggle to get a gig. Drive to Nashville with no money and a pocket full of songs. Get a record deal. Lose a record deal. Win a Juno Award. Break down on the side of the road everyday for days on end. Become a cult hero and amass a following of self-proclaimed Fred Heads. Tour relentlessly. Become everyone’s favourite. Become nobody’s favourite. Follow your gut. Smarten up. Don’t care what anybody thinks. Be fair. Be loyal no matter what. Keep going. Soften up. Give people a break. Expect nothing. Give everything, Keep going. Allow yourself to be happy. Find out who you are and deal with that. Don’t’ stay in fancy hotels. Write good songs.

I think that pretty well sums up what I have got on my mind. With some exceptions this could be my story. I think I’ve given pretty well everything I could give to be where I am now. I’ve tried to get out of this pottery business. I think I’m winning!