Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wearing two hats

My new lid arrived from Art Fawcett Vintage Hats in Oregon( whiskey with a olive trim-nice!). Custom made for my big noggin from 100% beaver felt. One day I'm dressed down for firing the wood kiln at Sheridan along with colleagues seen here Marc Egan and Bruce Cochrane. The next night I'm all decked out in my finest to go to the Sheridan Grad Exhibition at the Gardiner Museum. We have since unloaded the wood kiln and I'm very pleased that two of the third years had some killer pieces in the kiln. They worked hard for these pieces so it is true the harder I work the luckier I get.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bon feu!

Yesterday we fired the wood kiln at Sheridan. Where there is smoke there's fire and the crew had the kiln up to Cone 11 flat top and bottom without a stall, a battle, or a curse word. The firing had been well prepared with good dry wood split and a schedule of short 3 hour shifts. Some of the hard core pyromaniacs couldn't leave after their shifts and just had to be around to hear the kiln roar with the perfect stoking pattern. Less wood, more often was the operative strategy on this firing. The chimney for this kiln is around 40 or more feet high so when the draught is established it can suck up small kids and critters. Security reported a glowing red lid out in the parking lot. Hey, if you believe that I got some swamp land in Florida to sell you.
We open the kiln on Friday. One of the students made  a kiln god to look over the firing. All should be well!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I guess I ought to celebrate my 500th blog posting with some of Sheila's colour spectaculars. She got new glasses and is really going to town with the colour and reticulated surfaces.
500 postings to my blog all started in 2007 when I went to China with the USU gang. It was a way to keep in touch with family and has continued as a personal diary of an ole mud slinger. It has been a crazy year and most of the insanity I can't share with you. The politics of Crappademia must remain inside the Ivory Tower. I love the job but look forward to a some quality time in the studio with some side trips to Vancouver Island, Texas and The Jersey Shores.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Emerging Talent

A few years ago the Sheridan students shared a bus with the Ontario College of Art students to go to Nceca in Indianapolis. There was a very friendly and outgoing OCA student that I remember chatting with. Some years later I saw an installation of her ceramic work in a bathtub and toilet at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Very funny presentation of the work. A few blogs ago I posted a mentor's post called the Critical Path. My cyber buddy Robin "Grass" Hopper read it and asked me whose work is that? Well, it is the work of Michelle Mendlowitz. I think this is outstanding work! Congrats Michelle for your moving from the toilet to the plinth.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sheridan Grad Show

If you're in the Toronto area be sure to come to the Sheridan Graduate Show at The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. This is a small but diverse group of students show casing functional  ware, large sinks and conceptual and figurative work. The opening is on Thursday March 24 from 6-8. Come one and come all.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tony's new pony

We're having a wood firing next week at the college so I made a couple of jugs to get in the firing. This textured work has been a hard pony to straddle for me. Customers are still in love with the carbon trap shino with paper resist and slips. I'm hoping that a killer wood fired shino will make these puppies sing. The ash celedon that we like so much on the textured work is not the flavour of the month. It takes time to get used to a new horse.
P.S I can't figure out how to add the pics of the jugs with this new computer. Have to wait till the IT person gets home from a day in the city.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't drink and drive

I came home from Harlan's workshop the other day all excited about slip casting. I went directly to the fridge and poured myself a healthy glass of cheap wine and loaded it up with ice cubes since I needed a refreshment. I sat down at my computer to load up the pictures to send to y'all and spilled the entire glass cubes and all on my laptop. Needless to say it is pickled. I was able to get the IT people to save 80% of my stuff from the hard drive and I had to buy a new computer. It was 7 years old and considered a dinosaur by many. I miss him dearly.
So here are some pics from Harlan's workshop. He did some remarkable throwing and demonstrated mould making and drain casting. The students loved his stories and since he wasn't on the college payroll the room was full of colourful language. He generously shared 40 years of glaze and clay research with the students as well as he donated 6 wine boxes full of books/magazines on Chinese ceramics.
He made a row boat analogy that has stuck with me. In this game of ceramics it's like we're rowing a  boat.  We can see where we've been but not where we're going! Then he said maybe it's a good thing to not know what is ahead. Keep mystery alive!!
Great workshop, amazing maker!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Harlan House

My old friend Harlan House is coming to teach a two day workshop at Sheridan College this Monday and Tuesday. Harlan is not on the payroll of the college so he can and will say whatever enters his mind. Me being a Graduate student of Robin "Grass" Hoppers private club entitled "Mischievous Little Shit Disturbers" will be encouraging Harlan to tell the students such stories as "The Pissing Contest" which is his diatribe on the state of the Arts and Crafts movement in galleries today. Some of his latest work the Chinese junks have some good political stuff on them that sometimes contains the F bomb. He takes a good swipe at fast food and world politics including our own Prime Minister Steve Harper.
Harlan is one of the last Renaissance men that I know of. He and his wife Maureen have made a living from porcelain for more than 40 years in an old hotel that they have beautifully renovated. In the words of Canada's Red Green "If you can't find them handsome, find em' handy". Actually Maureen got a two in one package with Harlan. Great guy, great work and I'm excited to see him work and listen to his tale for a couple of days.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Raining Cats and Dogs

It's March and it's not s

upposed to be raining here in Ontario. Today it is raining cats and dogs. When my class visited the Royal Ontario Museum it was explained to us that the term "raining cats and dogs" came from Medieval England where the cats and dogs would go up on the thatched roofs to hunt for rats and mice. When it rained heavily the critters could slip off the roof and land on the streets. I went for my morning walk and couldn't keep my Borsalino on my head and now have my coat hanging by the fire. My grand father used to say never hire a man that wears a hat or rolls his own cigarettes because if he isn't rolling a cigarette he is chasing his hat. What a miserable day but at least all the snow will be gone by nightfall. It's Pino Grigio Saturday here at Sour Cherry Pottery but I doubt many will be around. Oh well, we will reward ourselves for having to work weekends with filled glasses. Life is good!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bus man's holiday

Here another poster for a workshop I'm doing in another one of my favourite places in the world- Vancouver Island. They downloaded the pics from our website and I see Sheila's boxes. I always get the glory for her fine work.
This is going to be yet another bus man's holiday for me as I plan to stay with an old cyber friend Les Crimp, visit a potter whose husband is a world class fly fisherman and then wouldn't go to the island without a couple of days with my long time friend Robin "Grass" Hopper. Robin is taking me on a tour of ceramics at the museum in Victoria and has promised a seafood soup that is to die for.

As well as the workshop I am on a panel with the BC Masters group. Never consider myself a master. I figure I need a couple more life times to qualify. It will as always be great to hang out with potters, tell some lies, eat some good food and drink some fine spirits. Life is good! I have been blessed with many great friends in all corners of the continent. This spring and summer takes me to Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Nice!!!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

T for Tony and Texas

I love Texas. Why wouldn't I? I love music! I love Mexican food! I love meat and I hate the cold. I am doing a workshop at Castroville Pottery just outside of San Antonio. I wonder if they have any Cuban cigars?  Going to focus on making everything outside the scale of function since everything is always bigger in Texas. Going to make some Texan creamers, sugar bowls, chili bowls and chargers that won't fit into the oven and certainly not in a microwave.  In Texas SIZE MATTERS!
I did a workshop in San Antone about 5 years ago and can't wait to go back. I love that town. Hope to see
y'all real soon, ya hear? Gotta practice that as there is nothing more embarassing than a northerner trying to be a southerner. Yawl, ya all, y'all y'awl, eh!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Texas Chain Gang Chili Bowls

Hey nice bowl on that handle. I used to call these 3 piece bowls Roman bowls but I'm into a Texas thing right now. Anticipating a whack of CD's of Texan recorded music from a friend. Texas bad boy singer song writers are my fav.
I throw a low bowl of about 12 pounds of clay and then I add the top portion of about 8 lbs and when I trim it I add a collar of about 2 lbs for the foot. This makes a bowl big enough to toss a decent Caesar salad hence the Roman bowl title or enuff chili for Ernest Borgnine to have a rip snortin' time around the campfire after a meal of chain gang chili. I like the bowl to sit up on  a pedestal so that it isn't really functional enough to be used for oven ware. I'd rather make for occasional use than everyday use.