Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cone Heidi

Here is the new website of my USU land lady and wood fire partner
Heidi Kreitchet. Have a nice little trip to this wood fire site and
not have to leave your farm. Heidi is teaching a
wood fire course at Pottery West in LV this spring You will be
firing the train and the wood soda kiln and the price of the course
for 2 weeks is the bargoon price of $150. Accommodation is on site for
a reasonable amount and they have a communal kitchen and lap pool.
Life is tuff for wood firers.
If ya want to learn how to fire a wood kiln from a pro I can't
recommend another person that can get a kiln hotter than a southern
girl on prom night. We called her firings "Cone Heidi" because they
usually had the top cones in a unrecognizable pool of glass. Cone Heidi!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

More from the Grande Ole House

I refer to our house as The Grande Ole House as it seems it is a grande for this, a grande for that and we will never have a grande of savings as long as we own this 140 year old Niagara farmhouse.
Here are more pics of pots continued from the last post.

It has always amazed me

It always amazes me when I visit other artists houses and they are surrounded by their own work. They offer up reasons like they want to see if their work functions or they need to see what works and what doesn't. Horse do-do! I believe you should surround yourself with a visual smorgasbord of creativity of other artists whose work you enjoy. I took a few pics from our living room and kitchen. I didn't by any means take every corner of these rooms and didn't do our bedrooms, hallways, our collection in cupboards and the attic. I like when potters visit as their eyes never rest from looking at interesting objects. We also have a love of folk art and old painted furniture.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

300th Anniversary

Well it may be fitting to celebrate the students pots from the wood firing on my 300th post to my blog. This all started as a way to keep Sheila posted as to my goings on in China while I was studying for 4 months in Jingdezhen. It has continued as sort of a personal diary of my day to day life. Sometimes I think man why would anyone care that I had to chop a tree down or blow out the driveway but I do it as almost a responsibility to my faithful readers.
Here are the wood coons. They are called that since often when they remove their glasses after the wood firing they look like racoons. They have black carbon circles around were their eye glasses were.
Here are the three that worked the firing from beginning to end. There were others but I guess these three took that leadership role of getting the job done. Sean aka Jack, Kass and Jenny. Jenny had a killer teapot from the firing. Yes, the clay body is Smokie's Hot Bod and when asked what she glazed it in she replied Shaner's shino with Helmer kaolin sprayed over top. I said "What did you spray kaolin over top for?????" It shouldn't have worked. It must have been a light spray!!!!! I think I'll try it. When you don't know what is supposed to happen it opens so many doors. Happy Anniversary everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life offers you a bowl of lemons

If the teacher presents ya with a bowl of lemons make lemon juice out of it!
When I teach throwing at the beginning of September I usually start by giving every student in the class a fresh lemon. They are asked to bring the lemon back to class the next day in the form of a cup. The results are always amazing!!! They use thumb tacks for decoration, turn the lemon inside out and line with orange or limes, they use parts from the hardware store, they cut them and freeze them, they stitch and sew them, they use wire and the creativity goes on and on. Here you have a room full of creative people that can’t get the clay and the wheel to do what is in their minds eye. They must learn how to use the wheel and it will take time. I make a contest of it and have prizes that I have scrounged from Nceca and clay suppliers. Lana Fillapone was one of the students that made a fantastic lemon cup. She is now graduating from 3rd year and her love of the cup remains. Here are some of Lana’s cups and saucers in a tea set.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tired Bones

The wood firing went well. I can't wait to see some of the students work. There were a couple of the ladies that owned this firing and they deserve to have their work blessed by the kiln Gods. Kass and Jenny pulled a 17 hour stoking shift. They also split wood all week and loaded the kiln. Sean was a good bull dog on firing day as he stuck with the wood splitting all day long providing the kiln with gourmet,range fed, organic wood. Other students stepped in for food and washroom breaks and brought food and good company. Of all the many things wood firing teaches one of the biggest is who ya can count on. Who will be there for you till the fat lady sings. I got nostalgic in thinking of the crew of friends that I had at USU that helped me deliver a firing for my grad show even though they had no pots in the kiln. It was about doing what needs to be done even when you don't have to.
We had a ritual after the firing which usually ended early morning before the administrators arrived to the smell of wood smoke. We would go to the local greasy spoon for a heart attack on a plate. I love restaurants where the women wear green outfits, call ya hun, are good at their jobs and don't pretend to just be doing this until they finish their Phd.
Sean grabbed a pic of me on the couch in front of the firebox.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Family Day

Today is a Statutory Holiday in Canada "Family Day". Well for the keener students at Sheridan today was a day to load the wood kiln. I went in to help out. It's hard to keep the pyromaniacs away. A wood firing is so essential to ceramic education. Not even a century ago all our ceramics were fired with coal or wood. So there is the opportunity to teach Ceramic Art History, to teach aesthetics, to teach combustion, to teach team work, hard work, discipline, punctuality, but most importantly the importance of a pot luck after the firing. Jenny brought in Valentine cupcakes for all the helpers. I have been told the quality of a ceramics program can be judged by the quality of the food served.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quest for Simplicity

Here is some of the work of 3rd Sheridan student Marcelina Salazar. I've been dragging Marcelina kickin' and screaming into the world of decoration. She just sent me these lovely little understated forms that so quietly show off the simplicity of the forms. Ok, I give in. You win! No decoration is a form of decoration. Don't the dried flowers look delightful in these little vases? The salt kiln at school is now cooling with what I hope are some really nice white jars of Marcelina's. All the best in your quest.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From the kiln

I thought I'd post a few pics from yesterdays firing. I'm not a fan of the spray gun but I had just enuff of the blue, green and yeller dry ash glazes to spray. Standing outside in the -20 cold is not my idea of having fun glazing. Well, today is Pino Grigio Saturday and it is cold as a cast iron bra out there. Next Saturday when I'm at Tucker's Pottery Supply doing a workshop Sheila is having a Valentine Day in the studio. We have the red cinnamon hearts, some specialty mouth watering chocolates and of course the Pino Grigio. Drop by if ya can!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All you naysayers out there!

The trouble with engineers and especially ceramic engineers is they are straight line thinkers. Many were betting my little slip dunked bottles would be albino cow patties on a ware rack when I entered the studio this morning. Sorry to disappoint but they are standing tall like an adolescent males wee- wee. I don't see any peeling of the slip either and I had them exposed to the forced air furnace like a streaker all night long.
I put my three piece vases together today. This is the first time I've made them this way. Inspired by some vases I saw of my colleague Bruce Cochrane's a few weeks ago at Sheridan. It is a nice way for me to be aggressive with the stamping and have a articulated shape. There were elements I need to work on but hey even Picasso and Matisse had some rejects. Not many to be sure but there had to be some.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Water Boarding

I spent the day making the pieces for some 3 part vases. I'll show you tomorrow how I plan to put them together. At the end of the day I was thinking about the 5 lbs of Matt and Dave's Porcelain for The People that I had left. I was going to make a couple of cups which would then need handles and would probably net me $35 each. I'm planning a wood firing with the Sheridan gang so I thought what the hell I'm going to torture this porcelain and make some sweet little bottles that would be all about the slip I made from trimmings, casting slip and a bit of sand added for taste. If this is not torture enuff for this clay the wood firing will be. When the students fire the wood kiln the firing cycle is like a toilet seat at a mixed party. Up and down, up and down and finally uppppppppp!
I dunked the bottles in my slip at the end of the day so tomorrow I'll walk out to the studio and see if they are still standing and whether the slip is cracked and peeled off. What's your bet?????
P.S Hey Matt thanx for your note to my blog re using the Stick-em slip for decoration. I hate to inform you that Sheila and I had a take home order of swimmers and spuds and I used the malt vinegar for attaching handles etc and it worked like a charm. Stick em slip is too pricey for this cowboy.