Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More wood

Herm and I went for more wood today while Bruce Dehnert was teaching. They are on fire in the studio as we set up to spark up the big woodie again. We filled the pickup with wood that it is a shame to burn. There is a pile of wood that was sitting in a warehouse for 7 years that would make perfect flooring. There is more waste wood on that property than we could burn in a life time.

Helter Skelter

Well I'm in week three of 12 hour and longer days of workshops. It has been fabulous and exhausting. Bruce and the gang went out for beer, wings, pizza and pool last night just when I was heading for bed- 8 pm. God, I think I went into a coma.
The pics here are all over the place like my mind. There is some of the last weeks loading, some pots I got from the firebox, Herm and I getting wood yesterday, the multi talented Mary Philpott who delivered a killer workshop The Narrative Tile now making amazing sculpture for the firing.
Gotta run and get the wood stove going and the coffee on for all the gang. Ha and I thought this was a retirement plan!!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Missing in Action

Missing in Action
It's not that I have forgotten to write on my blog it is that I have been so dang busy. There are 9 people here at Pinecroft making pots. We have been trying to get them thru the bisque. I have been making glazes, wadding, etc, etc.
Bruce arrived from Peter's Valley, NJ last night to a room full of pots. Last bisque went off at 11 last night. We will have waaaaaaaaaaay too many pots.
Bruce does this kind of thing every 3 weeks so I will be watching and learning. Be careful of what you wish for they say. Making pots in my home studio seems pretty appealing this morn.
Here is a pic of George getting some lovin' from the dogs and staying away from 8 frantic glazers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What did y'all learn

The firing yesterday went into the night. Some tired campers for sure. I came home and sent them this note. Rather lengthy for ya but some information that may be worth the read. T

What did y’all learn???
Here is what I learned after 35 years of firing my wood kilns always named after the greatest heavyweight boxing champion of the world Mohamed Ali aka Cassius Clay. Clay was said to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. As a young potter I was bitten hard, often and left for dead bruised and defeated.
Here is how I prepare to meet my worthy opponent Cassius Clay.
1.     I never ever glaze, load and fire on the same day.
2.      I always have a lovely supper with a glass of wine. I have a good nights sleep! Morning will have me make a cup of coffee and a fried egg sandwich that I take out to share with Cassius Clay. We will have a talk about our mutual respect for one another. The dance begins with a small fire.
3.     Start the firing in the morning. Putting in one night is hard but putting in two is a recipe for a ful lblown knock out.
4.     Always have your wood cut, split and stacked weeks before the firing. This was a daily ritual for me at the end of a throwing day. Cut, split and stack for an hour each day.
5.     Always prepare more wood than you know the kiln requires. I have fired through unexpected rain, hail and snow storms.  Once at -47 wind chill and blowing snow. Low pressure can stall you for hours.
6.     I fire in silence. That means me and the kiln. It is not a social and I don’t listen to music. I listen to the kiln. We heard Scarlett “Roar” last night. Cassius Clay gives off a puffing sound which is his breathing. If I can hear his breathing I know I have him working and on the ropes.
7.     Rope a dope. Don’t get cocky and think you have your opponent beaten. Rope a dope was Cassius Clay’s  method of tiring out a boxing opponent by pretending to be trapped on the ropes while the opponent expends energy on punches that are blocked. Boom , boom boom and  a left hook has you flat on your back , winded, and defeated.
8.     Study your woods. I can’t recommend Jack Troy’s book on Wood firing enough. The chart at the back explains wood properties.  Any firing problems I have had can be traced back to wood and lack of preparation.
9.     Remember- If it were easy everyone would be doing it!
10. Bon feu!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tony's Fat Camp

The firing and eating continues. Potatoes cooked in the raked out coals, hotdogs firing in the flu and and firebox. Their excuse is the calories they are burning off during the firing. Never, ever underestimate the power of a woman. Two of the women split the heavy wood with and axe and a sledgehammer. Firing is moving along well with 04 in a puddle. Once we get Cone 4 down it usually starts to sail.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

League of Nations

Yesterday the Associate Dean brought the Provost around to see the ceramics dept. I am pleased to say what they saw was America at work. Our little America at Sheridan has students from Korea, China, Mexico, Brazil, Holland, and all parts of Canada. Here is a pic of some of the crew.

I explained to the Provost why wood firing is such an important part of Ceramic education. First there is the art history,  the aesthetic, the understanding of combustion, the blood, the sweat , the tears and the amazing way it contributes to team building. This class has pulled together and thrown several tons of clay in the past 5 weeks, fired a gas fired car kiln, a salt kiln and now the woodie. I showed up tonight to make sure all was well and they  took off to Wal Mart to grocery shop. I drove home with a smile on my face after the food crew arrived and I saw the Crock pots, the grill and the baking appear.  I've always maintained you can judge the quality of a Ceramics program by the food served. OK there were hot dogs, chips and processed hamburgers. They are young and their bodies will loose out to gravity one day. I too once had a wash board stomach and hair.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Defamation of Character

This what I put up with as a teacher at Sheridan. One day there was a drawing on the chalkboard of a balding spectacled guy right behind where I usually sit and demonstrate. Oblivious to this I sat down to do my blah, blah, blah and demo to a crowd of tee- hee's. The lesson of the day was on the jug form that I went on to explain that I like best when it is resembles the shape that one would imagine of the bubble

if they were to fart in the bathtub.  I drew the jug on the chalkboard only to come in the next day to see the jug had been turned into an Elvis impersonator and the bubble was coming from his lips. It is going to be a shame to fail this tagger of the Ceramics studio chalkboard.