Saturday, December 31, 2011

Clay Cottages

I try to get a 45 minute walk in the morning. A few months ago I would hope to see a heron fly over head or perhaps a couple of deer in the vineyards. Now this urban cowboy enjoys the cottages of Steel Town. One of the advantages of living in clay country is there are some great brick cottages. Our house with the trumpet vine climbing up the wall has the parapet architecture  which reminds me of the castles of the motherland where men took shelter to fire their arrows. At first I thought it looked Texan like the front of a saloon but then further reading showed the ancestry of the early settlers of Hamilton from  England, Scotland and Ireland. Damn good brick masons are those folks.
My morning walk now includes the homeless man that wished me Happy New Year, the busker out front of the Liquor Store and the yuppies with dogs as fashion accessories.  My walk now is less solitary. I will miss the smells of the country. Oh if I get too nostalgic for smell I'll walk past Wimpy's Hamburgers. I'l
l gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!

To all of you I wish you good health and happiness in 2012. Remember to eat your vegetables and walk daily. Here's to bacon the ultimate red vegetable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Happy Gang

In between Christmas visits Sheila and I have been putting up insulation and putting plywood on the walls. The last studio had drywall and nice trim. It was nice to look at but not all that practical for a mud and water guy. Plywood will allow us to put nails in the walls to hang tools and all the stuff we seem to need to make our pots.
It has been nice just doing manual work with no thoughts of other things that need done. It's been days since I thought of my class at school. Here is a picture of them- we're missing Amber.  I bought them all "I Love Isaac Button" buttons for Xmas. It is to remind them not to be afraid to be just a "potter". Making good honest pots that people need and love. What I would give for the Isaac Button 28 lb cider jar that I poured pear cider from the wooden spigot at Mick and Sheila  Casson's the summer I was at Upton Bishop, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, England.
I hope I make even a fraction of the impact on my students as Mick did on me. Gave me a enough motivation to last a life time. There is a difference between those that want to make work and those that need to. I am the later and am missing making my work. It is within sight-  a month or so.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Socks AGAIN!

Yeah, I pretty well have everything I need. Not too much that I want. So glad Sheila buys me some socks.
Yeah, the socks are full of memories and still hang on to hope that I'll be 35 again.  I love this  life and all that it has given me. I am one very lucky camper.
Gotta go! The smoke detector just went off which means the turkey is ready.
 Yum! Yum!
Gobble, gobble!
We have much to be thankful for said the turkey at a vegetarian conference.

This is what it has come too!

Please accept, with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes
for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non
addictive, gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday
practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or
secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious /
... secular persuasions and / or traditions of others, or their choice not
to practice religious or secular traditions at all .

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and
medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally
accepted calendar year 2012, but not without due respect for the
calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have
helped make our country great ( not to imply that Canada is
necessarily greater than any other country ) and without regard to the
race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual
preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, please be advised that you are accepting
these terms:

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely
transferable on the proviso that there is no alteration to the original
greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any
of the wishes for her / him or others and is void where prohibited by
law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is
warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good
tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at
the sole discretion of the wisher.
 MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Boughs of Holly

Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Bah humbug!  Give me "That'll be the day" by Buddy Holly, a good book, something nice to sip on and I'm happy as a clam. If it weren't for Sheila decking the house and wrapping and decorating Christmas would not happen for me or our kids. I don't do it well. Even the music drives me cuckoo.
I am however a BIG believer in Santa! He sprinkled some of his fairy dust on Sheila and I this year. Our customer, turned friend, turned patron saint Sylvie gave us her almost brand new programmable Skutt kiln. Unfortunately health and work issues prevented Sylvie from continuing with clay.  We will pay up later with pots and in any way we can once we have the workshop going again. This has been a HUGE relief for us as everyone seems to have their hands in our pockets with this move. Being the new folks on the block and not knowing who to call for electrical, plumbing, roofing etc has us with large X's on our foreheads. Beware of any electrician named Sparky!

Well all the best my friends. May you get all of what you need and some of what you want. The kiln for us was what we needed. Gotta go I hear Santa. Peace and love to all of you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Racoons for Sale

Our house was built in 1885 and the studio we're rebuilding is like opening a can of worms. The building we thought had been a boarding house for squirrels turns out to be the Hell's Angels headquarters of the hood- racoons. We have torn the entire ceiling out by now and yes there is no mistaking the size of that poop indicates coons. The reason the lights didn't work was that Rocky Racoon had chewed through the wires.
So we all know there ain't much money in pottery so my new idea is to trap friggin' coons and sell them to pet lovers.  I can't shoot them without fear of doing hard time in an orange jump suit in a place where I just might be the cutest of the pack and this time that would be  a baaaaaaaaaaaaad thing. There were some good squirrel recipes so now how about coon! Ya know when I was a kid I had a Davy Crocket hat my dad bought me at Niagara Falls with a real racoon tail. I've always been a lover of hats. I wonder if the animal lovers would object to racoons without tails. My job at Sheridan is coming to a close so I have to get entrepreneurial again. Pets or hats???????????????????

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rats in Party Clothes

Yep, you're right they're just dressed up rats. Today in the studio we thought we had to replace a quarter of the studio's insulation but after ripping off plywood our worst nightmare was realized. The rats with bushy tails had completely destroyed the other front section of the studio. The plywood has been nailed up with a power nailer so it is not a fun job. Once you get a good hold on a piece you are covered with chewed up fibre glass.

I heard in the southern US they eat those critters. Here in squirrel hugging territory you'd do hard time for chasing one with a water pistol.  I love all kinds of nuts so I don't know why I wouldn't want one on the grill, with some mixed veggies and  chased with a glass of Chardonnay. Please send squirrel recipes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saturday in the Hood

This blog ain't been much about clay lately cause I ain't been doin' any. Started working on the workshop on Sunday and to be honest it's the best I've felt in a long time. I'm built to labour. Saturday we went to the Hamilton Farmer's Market which was really cool and then we went to a book signing at our neighbourhood book store where Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Lee Harvey Osmond, not to mention his solo career
was signing for a kids book he illustrated.  We bought one of his paintings that we really love. I once had a chance to buy a Mendelson Joe painting of my favourite rocker of the time- David Wilcox. I didn't buy it and it haunts me to this day.

I'm finished school today and tomorrow I labour in the studio. Hallelujah!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rats with a good PR Agent

I had my first day in a looooooong time working in the studio. We are tearing out the ceiling and replacing the insulation as it seems we had a leaky roof and a rodent. I don't like squirrels! They are just rats of another kind. Look what one of those viscous montsters did to our joist. There is barely a centimeter of wood left. If the roofer had weighed in over 200 lbs he would have gone through the roof. It felt good to do just plain old labour today. I input my marks and those of the faculty tomorrow and then I'm done for a few weeks. I'm looking forward to plain old mindless work. Plans are to paint the inside of the workshop yellow with a big blackboard on the wall for me to do my sketches of pots in process. We have to get cracking in the pot dept as it has been since August that we actually made anything.
I'd like a pellet gun for Christmas if anyone is wondering what to buy me.  Rats with bushy tails!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't tell anyone of my evil thoughts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sheila's Heart Throb

Well the cougar got her Christmas wish when her and birthday girl Eileen went to the CBC Christmas party. And wouldn't ya know Jian Giomeshi greeted Sheila with "Great hair!' Man that guy could steal her away from me in a wink but the complimenting of her hair is like pouring honey all over it.
We are both fans of Jian and he does such a fine job as radio host on CBC. He is articulate, well researched and always does his homework. I've told Sheila many times if she leaves me, she has to take me with her.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'll gladly

pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today! One day while doing a wheel demo I looked out and 5 of my students were watching and eating Harvey's hamburgers. This class never stops eating!!!!! They have egg and bacon bagels for breaky, a burger for lunch, left overs from Starbuck's in the afternoon and they don't seem to grow in size. Me on the other hand have to smell and look at this delicous fare and chow down on a pear, an orange or a fruit plate. Life is just not fair!!!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chair Man of the Bored

This is the first December in over 23 years when we weren't hanging around waiting for a customer to pull in to our showroom. I'm actually doing stuff in my little basement workshop. I'm not bored with actually having a life. I love chairs!!!!! It all started when we visited a wood show and saw all this crappy furniture selling and in amongst all this was a guy who made his chairs on a treadle lathe and put dry wood into green wood so that it shrank and no glue was used. He didn't sell a chair until a couple of years later I had saved up enough to buy one. It is a full Windsor that he stained pumpkin orange and then put a black paint over it. It is now wearing thru beautifully.
This week at Pinecroft I was thrilled to have Brenda give me a couple of ladder backs that her Uncle Charles had made. Charles was truly a Renaissance man that lived in a log house by the pond and kept a daily journal of growing produce for sale, making chairs, knitting and cutting block ice for people's ice boxes. I spent the afternoon cleaning up the chairs and bringing Charles back to life in his work.

I've been a good boy this year so Santa if you were wondering go to David Fleming's website and look at his incredible chairs.  I'd take another rush Annie's chair to accompany Uncle Charles or I do love that Birdcage Windsor or the Connecticut Yankee or just choose anyone of them. Chairs and hats are a weakness. Did I mention good bourbon?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Getting Hammered

We've been a month in The Hammer and we're luvin' it. We have yet to start getting our studio ready for our work but with the move, Sheridan, Pinecroft and enjoying our new neighbourhood to be honest it can wait for a few more weeks. Here is a pic of our studio that was a two car garage so it is the same size as our other studio but this one will be all workshop with no showroom. We have a lovely courtyard with interlocking brick, a water fountain and lots of creepy crawlers like trumpet vines, and such. So the court yard will serve as our good weather showroom for special sales. We're enjoying life too much to want to go back to 7 day a week retail. 23 years of it was more than a person should be subjected to. The moment we left the studio we'd return to a note on the door- "We were here! Where were YOU????

One feature that was a negative for most is the train runs right behind our house. We love it!!!! It means there are no neighbours counting how many glasses of wine you have drank, you don't have a strip mall or a rowdy bar, a large apartment building where hundreds look down on you and in your windows. This is steel town and this morning there was a Canadian Pacific freight train with steel from the foundries that made this town. My grandfather Jack May worked for CP Rail. I thought of him this morning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mug and bowl

Today was our mug and bowl sale at Sheridan orchestrated by the Clay Club which  falls on the broad shoulders of the second year throwing class to pull off. I have one of the best second year classes in years so I knew they would be up for it and do a super job. We set up tables in front of the Tim Horton's license to print money coffee shop and sell our wares to raise money for guest artists, scholarships, travel, Nceca registration etc, etc. The second years were smart enuff to use this as a marketing exercise and recorded what sold and when! Marketing is an important part of being an artist. We had a steady line up of buyers and my feeling is there will be a cha-ching, cha-ching in the bank account.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mrs. Claus

Well Mrs. Claus is starting to decorate. This will be our first Christmas in 23 years where we haven't sold pots from our studio. We're not going to miss the being home all day watching to see if a car is in the driveway but we are going to miss the cash. We're also going to miss the customers that came each holiday to buy their gifts, and exchange good wishes.

I went to Home Depot today and saw cars with Christmas trees on top. At our old studio we always bought a live tree and planted it after Christmas. Now that we are urban potters we don't have the land to plant trees. Interlocking brick courtyard and some decorative Japanese maples, lilacs and some white birch and that is our forest.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My New Hood

We live just off Locke Str on Canada Str right smack dab in the middle of The Hammer, Steel Town, Art is the New Steel or The Lunch Bucket City. This is a blue collar town and what's sooooooo great about our area is it doesn't have any BIG BOX STORES. The small street Canada is alive and well. We have small shops that will tell ya how to cook your steaks. I've shown you a few of the little shops but I neglected to show you the number of dogs at Starbuck's this morning. Every yuppie has a dog, or two, or three and the dogs wear bandanas  to match their owner's  for Heaven's Sakes. I keep wanting to tell them I ate dog in China and it wasn't all that bad washed down with a Tsingtao or two.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Best of 3 Worlds

I've been super busy with the move and my change of life. I gotta say I am running from pillar to post but all seem to be great places to be. I'm teaching 3 days a week at Sheridan with an incredible bunch of students. We held the Hopper workshop on the weekend with 150 in attendance and then had a private day with Grass on Monday. He asked the students to dress for Halloween and they were all decked out. We had an intimate day with him that was really the icing on the cake of a great workshop. Since the closing of our studio I need to bridge the transition and have been spending 2 days a week with my cousin Brenda at Pinecroft trying to help her keep up with the demand for pots that have been built up there over the past 63 years. Here is a pic of my walk across the pond from the pottery to the showroom/restaurant for my yummy lunch.
Then the other two days of week we're settling into our urban downtown location. No big box stores in sight but a vibrant Locke Street that is full of great shops for chocolates, cheese, bagels, a glass of wine, a tankard of beer or just around the corner is Hess Village full of great dining establishments.
Hopefully by Christmas break I'll be putting our studio together. I'm starting to dream of new work and that's a good sign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inner Peace

Well we're moving in the morning. We're surrounded by boxes and I'll be damned if I know where my socks are. I could use some inner peace. One of my students sent me this advice. I tried it!

I'm passing this on because it worked for me today. A Dr. on TV said to have inner peace we should always finish things we start & we all could use more calm in our lives. I looked around my house to find things I'd started & hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiuminun scriptins, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner piss. An telum u luvum!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cowboy Down

The other night for some reason Sheila got up to get a drink of water and walked by my computer to read that friend and potter Bob Reimer had passed at age of 57. Well I've laid awake for nights thinking of Bob. I remember him as this handsome poster boy in an ad for Tucker's Clay that read "Soft clay, slow wheel". Sure wish Bob's wheel of life had slowed down. Here is a pic from a previous blog posting where I got to spend a few days with some great potters. Here is pic of Aaron Nelson, Bob Reimer, Jim Etzkorn and Yous truly. Bob and I drove from Calgary to The Hat and he talked of retiring to The Hat to be part of the great clay community that is developing there.

Gosh, darn, damn!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Week from Hell

We're getting ready to make the move being urban potters and that includes having a new septic system put in at Sour Cherry Pottery. The dozer and backhoe have got the job done if the rain would only keep up- up in the sky that is. We need to sow some grass seed.
A nice little break in the clouds of this week was a trip with the students to the vault of the Royal Ontario Museum to look at some medieval pots. That little wood fired lead glazed piggy bank with the chickens on it makes my heart flutter. Nice slip trailed charger with cockle shell impressed rim. I'm looking at e-ware for inspiration to reinvent us. If all goes well there should be some pots coming out of the studio after Christmas. Yep, Christmas and pots are still words I use.