Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I’m alright Jack, bugger you!



Here is a pic of my daughter Robin and my grand daughter Julia.  As you can see they are a couple of big mouths.  This is the two of them recently at a labour convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When Robin was born the first words out of her mouth were not mommy or daddy but “it isn’t fair!” Hence a career as a labour leader for one of Canada’s biggest unions Unifor. So I guess you can figure I ain’t a conservative! I am a Social Democrat to the bone. If they would have me I would live in Denmark. I keep waiting for them to ask me to be their poet laureate at Guldagergaard.
The Arts is a good place for me with my views. I have friends in every genre- gay, queer, black, yellow, red and all out off the wall crazy. I love them all to death. The Arts is a welcoming place for people that are different and that includes the likes of me.
Robin has done me proud. She has been wire tapped by the RCMP, followed by the Ontario Provincial Police, locked in a church basement by the cops, dumpster dived in a Walmart dumpster, marched in Gay Parades, and picketed Tyson Meats in Brooks, Alberta.  So what chance does Julia have of being a Conservative? Not a hope in hell.
Caring for others is hard work and takes courage. It is so much easier to just look after your own self and claim survival of the fittest.  I’m alright Jack, bugger you seems to be so prevalent today.
Here is a picture of my Uncle Jimmie’s pink woman’s mohair hat that he was so fond of wearing. I keep the hat on a chair in my bedroom to remind me of him, the conditions were he worked as a child in the coal pits of Northumberland, England  and then later 
the potteries of Medalta, Alberta where men were covered from head to toe in red lead.

As you sit comfortably in your home tonight, sipping a nice glass of red wine and chowing down on a nice meal you had better give thanks to someone that sacrificed for you.  I do! Thanks Uncle Jimmie. Thanks Robin and Julia.  Thanks Jay my son the downtown Toronto paramedic. Thanks to all of you that give more than you take. Bless you! Oh and my dad’s name was Jack. I’m alright Jack. I’m living your dream!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Once Upon a Time


 All kids fairy tales start with “once upon a time”  and as you grow older they begin “a man walks into a bar”.  A friend Sandra Upfield sent me some pics shot thru the glass at the Art Gallery of Burlington of a show I am in entitled “Setting Ontario’s Table- Once Upon a Time. Once upon a time is such an appropriate title as it seems a life time ago that I I made the work in the photo.
The colander dates back about 40 years ago and was made at Gleason Brook Pottery on the Bruce Peninsula that I shared with Gayle Fairchild. We had an Olsen fast fire wood kiln we fired twice a week,  a 45 cubic foot Minnesota flat top gas kiln, two retail stores, a store manager and supplied shops in the province. If you think this sounds like a recipe for relationship disaster, you’re right!
The big jug was made 30+ years ago. I remember making those pots and including lots of aggregate in the clay. I tried bird seed, sunflower seeds, beach sand and blew up most of them. There was a gallery in Toronto called Ashton’s that bought them from me. It was the best gallery I ever saw in Toronto. Their down fall was they picked work that they liked and not what the market wanted. They left in the cover of darkness one night and let some potters hang out to dry. Lucky for me the work had been paid for and they donated it to the Art Gallery of Burlington.
The basket is 10 years old and is the work I made in my first year of graduate school at USU. This was just as Sour Cherry Pottery was winding down and I went off to school. I think this is a period when Sheila Franklin and I were really setting the table in Ontario. We fired our 2o cubic foot gas kiln 25 times a year and our wood fired train kiln 5 times a year. We produced all that work out of a 250 square foot workshop.  Are you smelling another recipe for disaster???
So here I am today the sole proprietor of The Cactus Lounge. I have the gas kiln firing and a bisque as I get ready for two back to back wood firings this coming week. The weekend after the wood firings I have a show at Shane Norrie Contemporary and then the next weekend I do a workshop in Ottawa. That is my bus man’s holiday where I will go out with friends Jen, Chandler and Mike.
The greatest gift you can give might be the gift that you yourself were never given. Give that gift!

 Once upon a time in the kingdom of Potterdom  it was said the future sky can handle all kinds of new stars. I see the hard working ones shining brightly.  Do as I say, not as I do. That is my gift to you,

oh shining stars.

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.