Saturday, March 31, 2012

Can ya tell?

tI'm at a Clay Conference in Seattle. Here are some images to send home to Sheila from the Seattle Art Museum Rothko, and Helen Frankenthaler. I love her work!!!! I remember first being blown away by a couple of her paintings in the collection of Aaron Milrad. Then I went to see Gaugin. No pics allowed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Dry Rain

I'm off tomorrow to NCECA Seattle with 11 of Sheridan's clay mules. 7 out of 8 of my second year students are going. The 8th would have come but $$$ is an issue. We wish Jenna could be with us. There are 3 third years and one first year. Heidi McKenzie of third year was selected to give a  presentation at NCECA on networking. Heidi is the best log roller in the country bar none. Heidi went thru a practice session with us today and she is going to knock em dead.
It speaks to the quality of our program that our students are willing to spend a lot of their money to travel almost 3 thousand miles to attend a clay conference. They will return richer than most can imagine.
They say it always rains in Seattle, but it is a dry rain. I told them to bring umbrellas so we can get from the exhibitions to the bars. Look out America!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Wheel Turns

Last week at Pinecroft my cousin Brenda gave me a bunch of old envelopes containing some of my Uncle Jimmie's stains. Some of the envelopes were from MacDonald College in Quebec where he went to study ceramics and met my Aunt Cavvy. These stains would be from around 1946. Some were from Medalta that would predate WW2. It will be fun to test and use them. Never one to buy small quantities of stuff I got a bag of 5kg/12 lbs of yellow stain. I have always like horse's eye decoration and when I was given this bowl by potters Don and Maureen Ross I noticed my aunt and uncle must have loved it too. This is a lead glazed bowl that I am guessing is circa  late 60's or early 70's.  They called this glaze "Light Northern Lights. It was their manganese glaze on white earthenware. On red eartheware it was "Dark Northern Lights." Who said that early potters didn't know a thing or two about marketing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Small is BIG!

Yesterday Alex asked if we took our own photos. Yesterdays were taken with a backdrop in the workshop. Most photos for the blog are snap and shoot as I spend probably 10 minutes writing and preparing a post to the blog. I do it with morning coffee.

One of the things about photography is that it can easily fool ya. For years I worked my butt off making big pots that when photographed looked like regular sized domestic ware. Here are some  diamonds Sheila made that might be 3", 12" or 3 feet long. Your guess?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Information

We are finding with this abstract expressionist work that you can take it out of the kiln and think it needs more surface information. So back in the kiln it goes. The green Oribe glaze was added as another surface treatment. We are 6 weeks away from our studio tour and the work seems to be slow coming. It is a BIG change to make each piece individual and that takes time. 
Thank you everyone for your encouragement.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

the C word

One of my friends and second generation collector of our work sent me some pics of Pollack and Kadinsky paintings. If our current work is anything like these paintings I might be able to trade in my 2000 Subaru Outback with 325,000 clicks on it. Grass is retiring his second set of brushes and is giving them to Sheila and I. Look out capital A art the dirty C word "craft"  is sneaking up on ya. Thanx  Paul and Grass for adding zeros to the end of our price tag.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tangerine Tango

For those worried about being out of favour here is the colour of the year for 2012- Tangerine Tango.  I have a palm ash tray my Uncle Jimmie made in the 30's at Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat, Alberta. It is the most beautiful orange coloured by uranium. Hey the ciggies would kill ya before the uranium in the glaze. So Uncle Jimmie here it is 80 odd years later and you're back in favour. You're gonna be in doo-doo over the ciggies though. I still have the pink woman's mohair hat he wore daily. Being in favour was never what he much cared about. I think that is the way of true artists.

Today I feel like we've stumbled on being  cutting edge as we have tangerine orange in our e-ware colour palette.  Thanx Tracy and Grass for the encouragement in this search to find ourselves again.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Salt in a wound

Last week the students salted some of my jugs. I brought one home and gave them 5 to sell at our Spring Mug and Bowl to raise money for the Clay Club. The Clay Club pays for guest artists, helps with trips to NCECA, bursaries and an assortment of good things.

The salted jug made me lust for my youth and the wood and salt firings I did for some 33 years. The pots look stronger and more confident. I hope I get over these e-ware jitters and start getting the bones back in the ware.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Manhattan's on the porch

When we first came to look at this house there was a painting on the gable at the front of the house. A sure sign that this was an artist's house. It was in the agreement that the painting was not part of the deal. It had been painted by the previous owner before the seller and she had asked if she could have it back. She feared someone would paint over it.  It was a self portrait of( artist/sculptor Pat Foss) and her 180 lb dog named Botero. Well to make a long story short Pat's son is a artist, sculptor, writer and singer song writer (Tor Lukasik Foss). Tor wrote an article on us some years ago.  We made the connection as we both love his art and wondered what happened to the  painting. Tor put me in contact with his mum and she and Botero are coming back to welcome you at our front door. This could very well be a portrait of Sheila and I. Sheila would have to put on weight but the dog certainly has my neck. Good looking woman, a cigar, a couple of Manhattan's hmmmmmmmm sounds like a plan.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Baseball Theory

If you pay to go to a conference and you come away with one good idea it has paid for itself. Well, I got my monies worth at the conference "Craft and the New Economy" yesterday at OCADU. A young glass blower from Tsunami Glass in Windsor, Ontario came closest to addressing what it has been like for me as a maker trying to pay bills and stay alive. The glass blower reminded me of the baseball theory as explained to me by my fellow grad student and friend Trevor Dunn.
One of the graduating students had a show. She took hundreds of small plates that were too small for function and hung them on the wall as a large quilt. Buy all or none! It was very effective.
Trevor said of it. If you take a baseball and mount it on the wall,  it is a baseball. Take 100 baseballs and mount them on the wall and it is ART!
So my price of admission was this- large groupings of big, medium and small clay paintings in a random star/orbit arrangement.
Hey Dennis if ya got this far the Canuck dollar is worth more than the greenback. Sure you want American dollars?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Problem

No, it's not that the number of test bowls we have lined up is hard on my eyes. I just attended a day long conference on Craft and the New Economy at OCADU in Toronto. The presenters were good although mostly not makers but academics. What would a maker know about making a living in a new economy, a changing economy or any economy?
One of the presenters had a 45 minute opportunity to show his work. WT hey? These prima donnas think we all pay to see more about them. We paid to get information about a new or changing economy. The classic " I" or "eye" problem is soooooooo prevalent with those that have tenure track positions. When asked to do a presentation at a conference I would show a couple of pics of my work and address the topic I was paid to present.

We're unloading a bunch of pots tonight- different slips, glazes, firing temps. If I ever bore you with my fading vision or "I" problems just stop reading me. That my friends is the real market place.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A new look

Sheila asked her nephew Andrew Smythe to design a new business card for us.
We needed a new uptown contemporary look. Gone is the country bumpkin look.  Nicely done, Andrew! I hope to have them printed so I have something to hand out when log rolling at NCECA in Seattle, Washington. They will be useful for the West Hamilton Artists Tour,  up coming workshops and as product hang tags. The black background looks really classy.  Nice to be able to call on the  talent in the family.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is that a banana

in your pocket??? We're back to the drawing board with the new work in e-ware. Had some issues with pinholing and then the worst of all evils -shivering. The potter's best friend the hammer did some major damage to about a months worth of work. I promise I'll have this new work ready for a show in 2050.

Making lots of these little bowls to test what now amounts to about 10 different slips. I may need another life time.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


These plates are killer! I love the white on white and that little bit of mouse gray.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Hopper Influence

The screen saver on my Mac is Edward Hopper's The Nighthawk. I love that image and especially the snazzy fedoras the guys are wearing.

On this journey of rediscovery with e-ware the cover of Robin "Grass" Hoppers Making Marks sent out a subliminal message to me. One of my favourite pots from the Grass Munster is that unglazed plate with the chrome brushwork. He is a glaze guy and yet he chose a pot without glaze to feature. Even the agate ware plate featured on his Ceramic Spectrum has only a small center part glazed. Sooooooooo we have made a series of wall plates showing off the red ware, the dry slip and patches of glaze. Putting a glaze on made them less interesting for us. Sheila now wants to add more information in the form of patches of reticulated surfaces. If this tiny kiln has any advantage it is that we are changing weekly. Some disappointments and some small steps forward.