Saturday, June 28, 2008

Taking the Macho Outta Bigware

We started Friday night with a viewing of my DVD " Taking the Macho Outta Big ware". After the viewing they wrote on the chalk board in the kitchen- generous, basically and substantial which I repeat over and over again during the film. Ok, Hollywood is not in my future. We then started the bottom piece to be finished this morning with coil and throw and other sections as needed. Joni is on to this sectional throwing and was the first one with a big pot. I showed them two examples from the collection- Chester Nealie of Oz and our own Murf. Joni chose to do a Tony. Here is a lady that understood my article "Romancing the Buzzards".
Heidi is taking the weekend away from Buck and we are firing the train. Nice to open the cone cupboard and see such organization and variety of cones. We have a nice load of pots so we are each doing 10 hour shifts till the train pulls into the station. We will do the reduction cool together. We have included young Peter's pots in the firing and he is going for the ride with us. Wish us good fire!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Man Camp

Today we turned a few boys into men- macho he men. Peter has never fired a wood kiln or worked a wood splitter. We went out to the wood yard to split up some good ole cottonwood. We save all the bark to put thru the kiln for some great colour especially during the reduction cooling of the kiln. In general we try to get as much bark into the kiln as possible. Cottonwood bark is thick enough to be considered a log anyway.
Joe has really been cracking the whip with his Introductory class. Rich one of his students stayed up all night to finish this hand built teapot. This was his first day doing hard slab pots, his first 4 weeks of a ceramics course and he is doing some amazing work. He usually starts class at 4am. For this project he didn't go home to bed and consequently fell asleep with his head on the glaze table during Joe's lecture/demo on glazing. He is forgiven for the quality work he is producing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vagina Monologue

What would a graduate ceramics program be without a person investigating the vagina? CJ Jilek is a grad student here and her current work references vagina's. I don't know whose vagina you look at- yours, a friends or a group of friends. Cj is in Australia doing a study abroad program there so I'll have all these questions to ask her upon her return. It is also important that I show you Cj's work so that you will understand that not everyone at USU wood fires. Almost every area of ceramics is being studied here at the university. In fact the boss himself John Neely although known for his knowledge of wood firing does his own work in a gas kiln that is reduction fired and cooled.
I'm getting ready for a wood firing this weekend as i am tired of making and not seeing the finished product. I wonder what it's like for these potters with huge kilns. I need to buy some pine slab wood to be split small for side stoking the back of the kiln and for the final reduction cooling.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Expanison of the railroad

Got some pics today from Ben Krupka of the new train built at Simon's Rock U where he teaches. He had Ted Neal(prof at Ball State) who was the former Joe Davis of USU along to keep him straight and true. As I traveled across America to get to USU I kept thinking that rail is a very sensible mode of transportation. That of course is true with kilns. I like trains!!! John Neely has had his impact on these two guys- trains and Macs. It is a sweet looking train.
I had my lemon project with my 4 intermediate students. Turn a lemon into a cup. Stu couldn't get creative enuff to take part. Snooze ya loose. A very contemporary cup by Peter, some peanut butter gnar, gnar by Alix and a cocktail umbrella by Joni. Peter and Alix are both products of Ben Krupka.
Joe has an intro ceramics program going and the poor devils have an accelerated program that would keep most of us sleepless. They had one day to do a hard slab project. These two ladies (Jen and Meg) had my work pegged pretty well in one day. I guess I ain't too dang hard to figure out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pay back time

This is the real Heidi working the wood splitter on a big ole cottonwood log. Heidi and CJ did a pay back on me for posting the Las Vegas wedding that Heidi never had. She is accepting congratulations and gifts though. Please give generously to a starving student. I found these clang, clang, clang wedding tin cans tied to my bumper. Good thing I had my trusty Buck man knife purchased from my favourite man store Smithfield Implements.
When you're an eligible bachelor like Joe living in Logan there is nothing better than phone sex at Aggie's Ice Cream on a Saturday night. Actually I went with Joe and his class for a cone during a sweltering hot afternoon class.
Dinner for me at least 4 times a week is at my favourite Mexican restaurant La Tormenta. For $5.99 I had the steak, avocado salad, re fried beans, rice, 5 tacos, fresh jalapenos, radishes and onions along with a ice water with freshly squeezed lime. How can I eat that well for $5.99 and would I?

Monday, June 23, 2008

USU Travelling Fire Brigade

Heidi and CJ went down to Las Vegas to help Amy Kline fire her new 100 cubic foot train kiln. The ladies had a kick ass firing and Heidi brought back 3 of her paint cans with killer surfaces from up front near the throat arch. Heidi makes a hellava a bag wall with her pots and likes them up front to take a punishing. We sometimes don't see Heidi in the studio for days and maybe even a week then she comes in makes a 1000 pounds of clay and throws it all in 2 days. She is a mini bulldozer with clay that got her experience working and firing with Don Reitz in Arizona.
Living just a stones throw from the Temple Heidi has decided to tie the knot, settle down and have a large family. Her brides maids CJ and Amy with a dye job are along with her. The guy with the sideburns in the mirror is Buck the lucky groom. Doesn't Heidi clean up nice?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ancient Chinese Secret

I got this dream class at USU with 4 students that want into the Bfa program. I've heard via the grape vine that there has been some grumbling about the quantities of pots I expect each day. What has happened though is the students are seeing that their throwing skills are leap frogging. I say jugs , they say pitchers. I tell them pictures belong on the wall. They resisted jugs and I said shut up and make 6 by tomorrow. Grumble, grumble, grumble and voila some really nice jugs. Joni didn't get her handles on so she ain't in the blog. She's working tonight to be competitive tomorrow. Peter age 18 has never made a jug this size or pulled a handle. Alix age 19 grumbled at making 6 jugs for tomorrow morning- I think her jugs(pitchers) are killer. Stu probably around 26 is loving the competition from the youngsters and if he ain't careful he's going to get his butt kicked. These students are your competition if you want to be in the top ceramic programs in North America. Give them 3 or 4 more years at USU and think of what kinds of portfolios they will have for graduate school. Yes, it will have my mark on it!!!
I knew Russel would wonder about my texture so I am showing my ancient Chinese secret. This roulette was used for putting the ink on wallpaper. It was probably garish wallpaper but it is great texture for my hand built pieces. I lay down tar paper and roll the monster roulette in between.

Sweet little ride

I have never once gone to school or come from home from school without seeing the flashing lights of a cruiser. There are cops in the tree tops of this town. I heard there were more cops in Utah than there are people living in Wyoming. If you have a glass or two of wine ya ride yer bike home. Even then you can be charged but I think the officer would have to be in one hellava bad mood. Stu in my class just bought one of the new retro Chinese scooters for $1900. Sweet little ride and it gets almost 100 miles to the gallon. I think it a very sensible mode of transportation around this town.
I had a bad dream about all those hard slab constructions of mine coming apart in the wood kiln so this morning I went and made two conceptual teapots using the soft slab construction method. I cut the template shape out of roofing tar paper and once the slab stiffens up so slightly I can pick it up with the tar paper and paper holds it up while I attach the seams. I'll shoot over to the gallery this aft and take a pic of the Betty Woodman pieces that inspired these kinds of pots.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Strong coffee, roll yer owns and Tom Waits

I thought I'd show you a few pics of Joel the undergrad making some nudes. Last year when I was at school Joel was making staked, cut, ripped and torn sculptures ala Pete Voulkos. I heard via the grapevine that Young Danny Crump challenged Joe on continually making these vessels and the crit worked. Joel has been there early making some very interesting female nude sculptures. After making about a dozen a foot or so high he has decided to go big or go home. When I walked in this morning he had the strong coffee brewing, had his roll yer own Drum tobacco ciggie finished and was grooving to some Tom Waits.
Joel is no one trick pony. He is a talented guy and hopefully when he finishes his Bfa here at USU he is off to Europe to study further.
Although I'm not a smoker I do luv to sit down wind of Drum tobacco.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

B Free Sr.

B free Senior: Since ya didn't leave me your email I only hope you'll revisit this blog. You have a lot to be proud of with Be Free, Jr. Bobby has made us all aware of Emily Free Wilson's work at the Bray. He is very proud of her. Looks to me like ya got yourself a couple of talented ceramic artists. I've been around enuff of them to know who is fluff and who is straight goods and no con. Bobby said the other day " I have lots of other interests but I like making pots more than anything else!" It is why he is in the studio while others are out mountain biking,hiking, golfing, fishing or skiing. I call it "focus".
This is a hard profession to cut it in and I think focus and self discipline are two of the most important qualities. There is a long list of qualities needed but focus and self discipline is a hellava good start.
The students wished me Happy Father's Day today. What a collection of the earth's odd balls to call your family, but I love them all! So from one Dad to another- Happy Father's Day B Free, Sr!
Here is a pic of Be Free, Jr staring into a large planter in China. I think he's thinking I luv this pot more than sex! You better have a word with that boy!

Wood I?

What would a school with a strong tradition in wood firing be without a dump truck, a couple of big wood splitters and a student slum of a wood yard. At USU you can fire any number of gas kilns, salt, soda, reduction, oxidation, reduction cool experimental firings as often as you want and you can set almost any schedule you want. But if you decide to be a wood fire potter then you're either going to have to anty up $$$ for wood at Stevenson's wood yard, scrounge fallen trees or go to the dump for free wood.
The Art Dept has a wood yard miles away from campus where students keep their wood supply. I have traded labour for wood with many of the grad students since I'm not around all year to watch for fallen trees. The beauty of train kilns is that they will devour any kind of wood on the planet.
Today is Sunday and I thought I'd have a day of rest but went to get a bisque started and thought oh why not make one vase. Well, it turned out to be 10 vases. Well, it is one vase with 8 inlaid vases and a vase cut in half to make the handles. It took me about 6 hours steady work to complete it. Man, I hope that double wide is kind to me when we fire it in July. So far the ruff clay is making it thru the bisque OK. That's a good sign. It's been a long time since I have had the luxury of a electric kiln that I can program a slow bisque-nice!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Smooth Movers

One of the guys in my Intermediate Throwing Class Stu or Sterling has a company called Smooth Movers. He is a closet potter that pays the bills thru his entrepreneurial skills as a mover. He had a couple of his guys pack Lindsay O's rental Ford Expedition (gas pig) for her trip to Tennessee to be resident artist at Arrowmount. She asked what to do in case of a flat and I watched her drive out thinking man those tires looks low. Memories of me hitting downtown Detroit just at night fall last year with a truck load of pots and the tire blew. Detroit at night does not give a warm fuzzy feeling when broke down on the freeway. I sincerely hope she has a smooth move.
I went to visit Stu at his very first craft show. He had a nice display, flowers in the vases and was getting a taste of being a potter. When your friends and relatives have bought all your pots to date the new reality sets in.
I thought I'd spend the day just catching up with life but ended up making this vase and unloading my bisque. Being an artist takes way more time than being a potter. I am managing 1 or 2 pieces a day. My vases have almost 30 pieces to assemble and timing is everything.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Freedom fighter

My buddy undergraduate Bobby Free aka Freedom Fighter or Be Free is a hard working, hard living all round good guy. Bobby works at Chili's Restaurant to keep a roof over his head , parties with the best of them and is still the second guy in the studio in the morning. I'm the first and that's cause I didn't work at Chili's or go to the party. Bobby got a scholarship this summer to work on Cone 6 soda and he is doing some interesting experiments and definitely earns his keep around the studio. My hope is that Bobby is in this game for the long run. He has the qualities that are required for self employment as a potter and the first quality being self discipline. Here are some pics of Bobby's work. Two of the pots are wood fired and the bottle is Cone 6 soda. The large vases are for the anagama firing. He is traveling to New Mexico this week to participate in an anagama firing at Trevor's place and give his first slide lecture and workshop on Cone 6 soda. Fight, big fighter fight, fight for Freedom!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Erotica

Here are a few more pics of the Joe Davis "Touchy, Feely" Show. It's rather a pity that a show this good is held in June when school is out and only a few people get to see it. For the most part it is the Art Dept that came to support Joe and his exquisite work.
Here is the man himself posed by one of my favourite pieces. You can't see the beautiful white glaze and white flocking combination. This little orange ewer/teapot would be my second choice. The sexual suggestions are so blatant and animated.
Bobby Free thought that a Dick Spoon was something you rested your private member in. Here he is trying to measure up. The Dick spoon is really a large spoon with the suggestion of a man's penis. This lovely white bowl with the pink polka dots is really a superb piece of design and craftsmanship. I can say craftsmanship cause it was a man that designed it. Here is a closeup of a spout with tickler condom, flocked pink penis lid and white flocked handle. I went back to this show today to spend some time looking at all the considerations that have been made in the assemblage of these pieces of art. Prices range from $1200 for the teapots to $4000 for a very complex bowl form with dozens of additions. I'd say bargain prices for the work involved.