Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Other George

This is a post about what my old neigbour George does during our mini hurricane.
My 87 year old neighbour Old George got hit harder than we did. He and wife Phylis have 17 acres of old growth Carolinian forest. Five big trees got uprooted in his back yard and the worst of it is that they are held up in the tree tops. They keep their property tickadee boo so we know this is driving them crazy. I'm afraid Old George is going to drop one and the whole thing is going to come down on him. He doesn't move so quick anymore but he is one stubborn old bugger. Once I saw him so tired from chain sawing he laid on the ground and chain sawed on his side. George is blue blood Dutch and there is no way in hell he'll pay someone to help him. We will help but one has to be careful of their pride. Still thinks he's a young buck. Maybe that's the secret!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mother Nature

Well you've seen pictures of our well manicured property. Well Mother Nature swept thru tonight with some tornado like winds and hail that played hell with the 60 foot trees we have on the property. I was looking forward to unloading a glaze firing first thing in the morning but it looks like the Stihl is going to be chewing up some firewood. We had some damage to our roof and eaves but other than that it's just labour and firewood. We're OK and that's what matters. I'm going to take down all the big locusts and those damn weeds they call Chinese elms. Tooooooo close to the house and studio.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crash and burn

For more years than I can remember I have been crash cooling my work. This has worked well for the shinos, celedons, and tenmoku glazes that I have used. I fell in love with a satin matte glaze at USU called Buttermilk. When crash cooled here at home it is a good hard shiny white that lacks much of the character I expected. I just clam cooled the last firing and am pleased with the buttermilk and our ash celedon has a much more pleasing satin matte surface. The pots on the right are clammed and the ones on the left are crashed.
For crash cooling I leave the spy holes and damper open and drop the kiln to just under 1900F. This usually takes an hour and then I clam the kiln up. For clamming I just turn the burners off and close the damper.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Smoozin' at the Ritz

I'm writing you from my fancy smanzy hotel room at the Delta Arms in London. Johnathon has put me up so that I can smooze with the heavy hitters that will be in attendance at the wine and cheese party at his gallery tonight. Here is Stephen, Jonathon's partner of over 30 years. Stephen although silent in the day to day goings on at the gallery is a very big part of it's success. Tonight he fills in as bartender.
There are rooms in the gallery where clients can escape to enjoy a glass of wine and discuss a possible purchase.
A woman pulled out a pot for all to see and said hey Tony this is yours. I said no it isn't! Yep it is! I made this when I was a young teenager at my aunt and uncles studio. It was signed Pinecroft, Aylmer, Canada Tony. You can run but ya can't hide!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mulching my camera

I was mowing the lawn the other day on my little John Deere when I saw what looked like a memory card for my camera. It was the memory card for my camera!!! The camera had fallen out of the pocket of my fleece and I mowed right over the dang thing. I'm using Sheila's but it ain't the same. My little Lumix had gone to China, Italy and all over the US with me. Damn!!!
We made a series of small and large teapots with roundie tea bowls to try out some new and different patterns. I have to try them on a pot to see what I like and don't like. It's my form of wet sketching. I establish a broad shoulder early in the throwing. The shoulder has to be broad for our lugs and hand made round reed handles. Here is a white large and a small ash celedon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Throwing a boomerang!

It's the things you do when you don't have to that really matter. Sheila is great at those small details that make a difference. Once a week or so she goes out and buys these gerberas at the local wholesale florist. They look so nice in the little bud vases that we sell. People almost always pick the vase that has the flower in it. We also deliver a card to our local favourite B and B's telling the guest that they can pick up their Welcome to Niargara gift at our studio. When I see them walking in the door with the card I offer them this nice little paper bag with one of our little porcelain ornaments tied to the side. The gift is a small cup or bowl that was just OK but not killer so it can't be sent to a gallery so it's our loss leader. In 90% of the cases the people buy something in the studio. Sometimes they don't but in this economy you do kind things and I believe that kindness is like a boomerang.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Texture and pattern

We're loading the bisque again this week and I had made my standard run of 5 jugs. I tried stamping them and when I stood back to look at them in the kiln I thought the stamping was toooooo busy a form of decoration for my liking. The pattern I had created looked over the top for me. This is standard procedure for me. I go way overboard and then ease back.
While waiting for customers on Sunday I made and finished 5 more jugs and paddled them instead. This is more casual and I did like it more however we'll see what the customers think. Colleen- I make these jugs in 3 pieces. I ain't going to show you though cause that's how I earn the big bucks. I have had email discussion with the gallery in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan about me doing a workshop in January. How macho is that??? I can take the cold and the wind send me to SK in the middle of winter.
Here is a closeup of a handle and some bowls that will have the rim added today and some small plates that will be cut square. The small square plates are our $35 hostess gifts that are I guess that "production" item in that we need to have some in each firing.
Notice we throw plates and bowls on plaster. The bottom is right for trimming when the rim sets up. I use plaster bats for jugs too since I leave the bottom flat and trim them standing tall.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Soiled Reputation

Sounds like the perfect name for a pottery in wine country. A friend and big patron of Sour Cherry Pottery are winery owners Martin Malivoire and Moira Saganski. Moira and Martin are big entertainers and I'm proud to say all their culinary treats are served on our dishes. When asked during a photo shoot of their lovely home and social events they were asked where is the Limoges China? We shop local and Sour Cherry is our choice for dinnerware was the answer.
Yesterday Malivoire hosted a culinary clash between Konrad Ejbich (CBC Wine Critic) and Food Network host Antony John (The Manic Organic) to see who could make the ultimate pulled pork sandwich. What wonderful food pairings with the Pinot Noir and the Gewurztaminer. Life is good for those that know that life is good.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

9 Pots

Colleen you asked for production lore.
That's all behind me. I don't consider what we do as production. There is this notion out there that because you make your living at craft you are pumping it out- not so! Let's call it studio pottery. Here are the 9 pots we both made in two days. A good production potter would laugh themselves silly. We spend a lot of time on each piece and break up the day with the demands of the property, banking, wine break etc.
My first semester at USU (which feels oh so long ago) I was introduced to the roulette by John Neely. I used it for the next couple of years. I left it for a while while I built hoo-doo's and now that I'm home making pots for domestic use again I've taken to using wooden and clay stamps. I find I can push them in further and then push out in the areas surrounding the stamp to create diamonds and the like.
Today all the surrounding wineries are having wine and food pairings. I'm sneaking out for pulled pork and Gamay at my favourite neighbouring winery.
P.S The teapot spouts will be circumsized this morning. That seems to be the preference with buyers.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Geretol Gypsy

Dear John: thanx for naming me the hardest working guy in showbiz. I would prefer however to be compared to Canada's Ronnie Hawkins than James Brown. Ronnie an expatriate from Arkansas chose Canada as his home and was the leader of the hardest working bar band in the nation. Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks http://www.ronniehawkins.com/home.cfm. His band played every night in bars across the country. His band included the likes of Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Burton Cummings, David Foster, ( the famous members of The Band) Like me Ronnie didn't play many of the big stages but played the guilds, the community centers and once in a while got a big gig like Metchosin or La Meridiana. His band worked every night and went on to individual fame. I'm at a point in my career where I see many of my students knocking on stardom's door. I knew all along they were good, I just had to keep them enthusiastic and keep them working. Like The Hawk, The Geratol Gypsy said "It's not the best or the most talented, it's the right man for the job!"
Here is a pic of my old Pacifica wheel -20 years and still turning. Probably a hundred or so thousand pounds of clay and never been washed. A few pics of the land behind our house which used to be covered in sour cherry trees. Now the land is for pumpkins and grapes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

House Proud

Running a close second behind our ceramic career is our job as gardeners for Sour Cherry Pottery. We spend a great deal of time maintaining our little acre of land. My grad buddy Trevor laughed that we didn't have a kiln shed over our train. Well the answer is that most of our money over the last 20 years has gone into the pottery. I never thought I was going to live here for 10 years so the trees and plants were all just an investment in our potter's equity fund. The best money we ever spent was to build our deck on the other side of the house away from the pottery. No matter what time after hours we seemed to be enjoying a glass of wine a customer would pull up with a special guest that just had to see our work. I don't like to turn away business but sometimes ya just need some privacy. Here is a bit of the artwork around the yard- the weather chicken, the stone heron and the old salty carved with a chain saw. The woodies at USU will be eyeballing the bark on that tree. Black Locust not cottonwood!
Not bragging but we live in a growing zone 7B which allows us to grow such things as bamboo. Mine has been struggling with the past cold winters but this year looks like it's taking hold.