Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm a Handle Whack Job

More from a handle whack job. I really never know when to stop. Handles upon handles. I almost never put clay handles on teapots though. I fear they will get broken on the faucet even before the spout does. They are also more of a nuisance to glaze but I thought should have a go at them for a change. Change is hard just before Christmas. Usually we're exhausted from pushing the clay. This year I'm exhausted from teaching and the pots are my sanctuary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fresh Blood

I decided I had better start documenting some of my students beginning work. Yesterday I wrote to some of them asking for pics of their work so that I can archive it in my library.
Here is the work of the three that responded quickly.
Andrew Kellner- jug and plates- Andrew is the technician at the Burlington Arts Center
Lana Filappone- cups/teapot with hey check out the handles- Lana is the potter in residence at Harbourfront in Toronto
Mary MacKenzie- Aggressive Species- Mary is currently setting up her own home studio in preparation for a solo show at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
They say the sign of a good teacher is excellent students. I'm proud of these students work. They are out there doing it-walking the walk.

Across the puddle.

A few treats arrived from Phil Rogers. Phil sent me a couple of his drawings and wee cup that I will use for bourbon. It is supposed to be a tea bowl I think but I like a handle on my tea cups. None of this holding a boiling hot cuppa  by the rim and the foot ring for this cowboy.
This has been an exchange of gifts sort of thing. When I returned from Graduate School I attempted to pay off my debt by selling some of my pottery collection. Since some of it was from the UK I sent it to Bonham's Auction House in London. All the work sold at decent prices with the exception of a ovoid vase by David Leach. It had a starting bid of 300 pounds. They wanted to return it to me at a cost of 250 pounds for shipping. That is almost $400 to pack and ship a pot. No thanks! I offered it to a friend -Phil.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Sometimes, you have to cut yourself a break. I've been doing these wooden stamp impressions and trying to get the glaze to cut me a break. I tried celedon, temmoku, ash glaze etc, etc.  I haven't settled on a glaze that pools and breaks sufficiently to really show off the pattern. So today after what seems likes weeks since I've been in the studio I painted into the impressions a Zirconium saturated glaze. My hope that this will show thru my glazes and show off all the work I've gone to. I must be out of my mind since this current work is taking me forever. Forever to stamp the cup, then forever to paint on the white glaze and then more forevers in washing the glaze off the high spots. I really think I need to give myself a raise on these cups.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mug and bowl

This past weekend at Sheridan we had our regular mug and bowl throw a thon  where alumni and faculty get together to make pots to be sold to raise money for the Clay Club which pays for guest artists, trips and travel , scholarships all and sundry to help the students in the program. Many of the great potters that we have produced showed up to make pots and three of the grad students now at Alfred showed up too. If you want to make great pots make pots.  If you want to be a teacher go to grad school. The pots of the students from the trenches were in my humble opinion by far and away the best pots in the house.
It was great to hear from the first years that were watching the proceedings say they loved the playfulness of the work being done.  They were in awe of the amount of clay being pushed, the casualness of the making and how we all pulled together for the program.
I sent a picture to my ex-student now at  Alfred about to be grad Jordan MacDonald where I piled up all the trimmings in the studio and piled them on my wheel and wrote him and said "I trimmed one of your bowls!" He answered " I bet you're glad my throwing has improved!" I threw some bowls and had Jordan do some of his casual drawings on them- they are absolutely delightful!!!! A wonderful weekend of art and craft.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adrift at Sea

Sheila is back in the boat building business. It must be the immigrant memory of the boat ride to Canada from Scotland as a wee lass.  The latest one from the firing is the one with the angry wires sticking out from. I love the little bits of yellow glaze she put on the ends of the nichrome wire. She is having a lot of fun with the reticulated glaze by adding spoonfuls of stain and oxide by eye with no measuring. Also thanx to the advice of our clay supplier we switched to iron chromate to provide us with the black glaze. Again just add enuff chromate by eye to turn the glaze black. We had been using black stain but it was far to expensive to make a decent size batch of glaze. It is providing a rather leathery look to the surface. It's almost as if they are slippers and not boats. Yes, these are the shoes that every woman goes looking for in shoes stores across the nation that haven't been designed as of yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ba Humbug!

While I spent the day trying to get right side up in the pottery and spending today researching the Arts and Crafts Movement for my Art History class, Mrs. Claus was making our shop look seasonal. November and December are two of our best months in the showroom with gift giving and customers treating themselves. We fired a gas kiln yesterday full to the brim with bowls, bowls and more bowls. With my teaching gig I'm more like a part time employee around here so keeping the shop full will be a task. We'll be lucky to pull off two more firings before the day of Newcastle Brown Ale for breakfast and turkey for dinner.  The Newcastle is a toast to my late father a Geordie from Newcastle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Upside Down

Since I got back from Cape Cod, a new quarter semester has started at Sheridan College and I have two new assignments that have pretty well turned my life upside down and hence my lack of attention to you my faithful readers. I am the Faculty Advisor for the graduating class and must whip them into shape for 4 soon upcoming gallery exhibitions. There are lots of great ideas but many are still struggling with the technical aspects of realizing what is in their mind. I also agreed to teach Ceramic Art History and this course can consume one's mind.
Home here at the studio I threw some of my "Big Rolls" and saw them today in a different way- upside down.  I think the next ones will have a thrown slab bottom and instead of adding a foot ring that will be a a gallery for a lid. These will be large jars instead of large casseroles. Often at school I turn students work upside down and it often benefits from this orientation. I think being upside down for awhile has given me a new form in my repertoire.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Handle Fanatic

My answer to almost everything at Sheridan is "It would look better with nice handles". Yes, I even put handles on plates and handles on knobs. I maintain it is harder to learn how to make handles than it is to learn to throw. Maybe it is that people don't want to take the time to learn how to pull a handle so they go buy an extruder. Not near as nice by a long shot.
I enjoyed Bobby's guest appearance. Don't worry about the he-man comment. I thought the wee peek into your day and mind was brilliant. And yeah the music sure beat The Beastie Boys. Keep up the good work, Bobby.
I was asked by Ann Kenworthy if Sheila might contribute to the blog. I asked her and she said "No!" So Ann there is Sheila's first blog title "NO!" She is a woman of few words.