Friday, February 28, 2014

da blues

I got the winter blues. Today it's -27 out there and I got a couple of little electric heaters in the workshop. This is the worst winter I can remember for cold temps. Next weekend starts the new season of teaching at Pinecroft and I want to get out to the workshop and work on some different teapot bodies and spouts.
I'm still on my fitness kick so I'm going out in the cold this morn for my 5km walk. If you don't read another blog by tomorrow phone 911.
Going to meet a fellow wood firer Duncan Aird for lunch to talk about a firing schedule for the Hamilton Potter's Guilds Manabigama. They have been firing it in record fast times and I'm  thinking Duncan isn't really too happy with the surface.
Here are some of my glaze tests to find a decent blue. These are great and I don't have to fire them either!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bourbon Flight

I think it was in Pittsburgh at NCECA that Cathleenie Nicholson and Bruce Cochrane and I went with all the Sheridan students to a live jazz bar. Cathleenie, Bruce and I ordered a flight of bourbon to share and taste. These were top shelf bourbons and we each sipped a wee dram of each of the 5. We all agreed that our favourite was Eagle Rare, followed by Corner Creek and third was Woodford Reserve. Gee, I can't remember the other two. Here is a triage of sketches I'm calling "Bourbon Flight".

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mother in law blue

Connie I couldn't even drag myself into the studio today to make mugs. It is -27 out there and I'm fighting off a funk. I never liked making vases. Every vase I make I sit back and think to myself that would make a nice jug and pull a lip and put a handle on. Today I scurried off to Curry's Art Supplies to buy some colours.  I bought red, blue and yella! I have wasted so much time in the past three days I have been feeling guilty and thought of the old adage if you can't sell your pots glaze em blue and if you still can't sell em then salt the suckers. My old buddy on Clayart Mel calls his blue glaze Mother in law blue cause she loved everything he made and especially in that blue glaze. Damn I must be in a funk cause I've never found a blue glaze that I particularly liked and there I was this afternoon drawing vases and putting blue finger wipes on them. Maybe blue shino is in my future! Spring come quickly and save me from my mind!


I have tried wearing my uncle's pink mohair hat to get my mojo back but nuthin's workin'. Have you ever gone to a Halloween party all dressed up and noticed how everyone gets really plastered cause they are out of character. I thought maybe changing my hat would get me out to the studio. Well I just sat in the kitchen and tried drawing some pots. I've been liking some bourbon bowls on FB by Lucien Koonce, the finger wipes of Lisa Hammond and the slip trailing over finger wipes by Hannah McAndrew so I tried combining all three in the sketches.
Thanks to all of you for your encouragement with the brush. My buddy Grass is tutoring me on oxide combinations for over a shino glaze. Shino is the glaze I like most in the world so I want to use one glaze and have lots of colour. I asked Grass for his help and within hours I have a paper that is worth publishing. I swear his brain is made out of ceramic materials. Since his health has him imprisoned in Paradise he is not in the studio. I am encouraging him to offer glaze mentoring services on line. His hands might be a bit shakey and the old bod ain't movin' so quick but the mind is amazing. Thanx Grass!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I should have known!!!!!!

 I have been struggling to get a quick brush stroke in my handles. It took me thousands of pulled clay handles to get a good one so tonight I spent an hour trying to draw a good one. I used up one refill cartridge for my new Japanese brush pen and then switched back to a brush and ink. I think I like the brush better than the brush pen.
A friend sent me an article on being crazy and being creative. It said don't be afraid to fail. Hell, I'm crazy enough to show y'all.  I'm going to nail these drawn handles I just need to put in the time. The old 10,000 hours routine. It feels good when you start to see improvement. We all like doing things we are good at. We probably need to spend more time on what we don't do so well. Tomorrow for lunch I will attempt pheasant under glass with a peach salsa.

Forgive me, Lord

for I have sinned. The other day I drew yunomi's. Then yesterday I made yunomi's. No bloody handles, Lord! Next thing you know I will be calling my ash green glaze a celedon and my river mud black glaze temmoku. I might even find myself sitting on a pillow on the floor and not using my favourite David Fleming Windsor chair. Guiness stew for supper so I wonder how I will use chop sticks for din din.  I will miss my fork and chair.  I must be in a funk, Lord!
I see they get more money for yunomi's than cups. Hey maybe this is a break through for me. I can skip the step of pulling a handle, attaching it  and up the price. Now if I could just get myself to make them all the same I'd be on the gravy train. The only bright spot on my day today was hearing that Grass has snow in Victoria. I always hate his emails in Feb telling me about some Latin flower that is popping up in his garden.
PS: I have a collection of yunomi's and to be honest I just don't like using them. Why did I make em???

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hangin' my rat

I wrote an article for the excellent cataloque Steve Driver did for our friend Ron Meyers. My article was of course entitled "Ronnie the Rat". The book documented the retrospective show Steve organized for Ron at The University of Arkansas. The show subsequently traveled and many of the pieces were sold at The Signature Shop in Atlanta. Lucky for me no one purchased The Rat. I had to have it. It was in a box in Hester's museum and my hands ached for that rat. I have yet to pass him on my way to the loo for a whizz. It might well be a scarey sight in the low light.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some and some

I think I was afraid to go out to the workshop today and make pots. After the drunken sailors and all the great conversation I lost sight of what kind of a maker I am. I sketched most of the afternoon and tried some different brushes, pens and the bamboo stick. Grass has recommended that I try a Japanese brush pen so if Curry's  Art Supplies is open on Sunday I'll see what they have.
I felt comfort in being reminded of Mick Casson's "some and some". Make some for the marketplace but don't forget to make some for yourself.  After all I don't have independent means and I have to make a living from my work. I have never made for the "large" audience so I have some freedom in what I make. I read that Kathy MacDonald was burning out on making some lifeless pots for an order. We do what we have to do to stay in the bizz. I only hope that Kathy rewards herself at the end with a nice long session of making pots for herself. Trouble is lengthy periods of making the same ole same ole can drive the creative spirit right out of you. Winter can drive it out of you, too!


The mind works in mysterious ways. I have found that if I think about what I want to make tomorrow just before bed I come up with some interesting forms and I go out to the workshop with a plan. Today I woke up not having a clue what to make. I've had 3 high test coffees and I still don't know what I want to make. So the plan is to walk up to Currie's Art Supplies and get some charcoal or maybe a really cool black pen. I have some black Chinese ink and a bamboo pen I started playing with.
I have written a book of all my stories, BS, irreverence and nonsense that I am self publishing and need some small sketches to include. 
Maybe that is the kind of day this is. Stay in a sketch on paper. The drunken sailors was me sketching at the wheel. Often it is hard to translate what you put on paper to clay.  It is great when what you make is even better than what you sketched and imagined. Then it gets even better when the kiln does something you couldn't have imagined.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Reading Finnegan's Mind

Dan said on FB he needed some time to respond to the drunken sailors. He had been thinkin' of them all day long. I must have thought about his response all night long.
I wouldn't buy a car with a bump in it so what makes me think people would buy a pot with a bump in it. I think it is a much easier sell something perfectly crafted and demonstrate your mastery of the craft. Are these bumps and dents of mine sloppy craftsmanship or intentional marks to show casualness and gesture? You wouldn't drive your new car off the lot and give it a big hit with your monster maul axe would you? What the hell could possess me to do this?  I made the drunks for the wood kiln and thought of the ash landing in these pockets and bumps. I really can't see them fired any other way than wood. I often try to build in areas for the ash to land in which shows off the bump even more. Damn good thing I ain't in the used car business. Hey Dan, how did I do at reading your mind?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Drunken sailors-oops I must have been drunk!

While at Ronnie's I picked up a teapot made by Chuck Hindes. I was going to wad the lid for the wood kiln. The lid didn't come off and looking in the spout there was no hole for the tea to pour out. It looked like a teapot! Oh, I get it this is the difference between art and craft. The normal definition is that craft is something you can piss in and art is something you can piss on. Pee ain't going to pour out of these bottles so ya better take a leak somewhere else.
 So this morning in an effort to change up the handles on these bottles I decided a number of things. Vicki Hamilton said they looked like drunken sailors so I gave a couple some arms. I promised Dan I'd pull one off the bottle cap. Once on there I thought heck they would be nice pouring vessels but I didn't want them to pour so I thru some solid spouts as handles.
Tomorrow I better throw some cups to pay for the clay I just used up being an artist.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finnegan's Bait

Dan posted some oval vases on FB the other day with some sexy handles perched on the top. He was baiting me! I know he was!!! So I succumbed to making some oval bottles that I'm in the process of putting together. I got to sleep on the handles. I took the oval bait but I ain't sure if I'm going to swallow the handles hook, line and sinker. From looking at my bottles you know the perch ain't gonna work. I'm thinking about a big sucker off the rim to the body. I don't usually work at night but I'm damned tempted to go out to the workshop and land those trout right now. Going to lift them off the table a bit with an oval foot. I've always had a foot fetish.
Looking forward to working with Dan this summer. He'll be straightening out my pots and I'll walk by his and give them a smack. It'll be great fun!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pots from the Ratagama

I just took some quick shots with my I-phone of pots from the Ratagama. There is something about the surface of a 3 day wood firing that is unequaled by shorter firings.

We did do a reduction cool down to about 1550F.  I was thinking of going to 1400 but was just too tired. Hey Jordan at Sheridan notice how the slip( 70 ball/30 molochite) turned this dark brown. I quite like the contrast of the slip to the body. I have a stash of ATBall Clay from England that is high in iron that I think I might try next. Geez, if the pots is the person , no disguise is possible I'm wondering what these pots say about moi!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Brought home friends

The seas parted and I drove thru the storms that blew thru the south and over to the east. I was like a storm chaser running north just behind the wreckage. Little bit of nasty weather in the mountains of West Virginia but other than that clear sailing. I brought home three of my Merickan buddies with me. I swear every cup in the kitchen has a story behind it. I got a sweet little handle on a cup by poet laureate Carter Gillies whose hair is just as crazy as mine. Gotta love a guy with crazy hair. Then in the middle is a Ronnie the Rat that many of you might not recognize without the imagery. Ronnie's hair get a tad crazy too!  A little bourbon yunomi from Steve Driver from Arrk can saw! Steve has a good head of hair but that doesn't mean he isn't crazy. Cups are the handshake ya take home with you. they are often an extension of our love and respect for one another. They are reminders of friends out there that all over the map that you love and respect.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Buy a studio

and hope they throw in a good house. Ron told me that they have always looked at the studio and the house was secondary. Actually they have a paradise property. The studio is huge with an nice little apartment upstairs with bathroom and shower for guests. That comes in handy when you have 4 day long wood firings. Ron has two gas kilns, his Ratagama and a couple of electric kilns. They are blaming all the snow and ice on me. They cancelled schools with a couple of inches of snow. God, we'd have to cancel life in Canada if that were the case.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

dawgs i could love

We went to Nancy Green's beautiful home and studio to see Micheal Hunt and Naomi Dalg

ish  making some very nice pots. Nancy served a beautiful lunch on the deck. Her house had wonderful pots and some folk art that I really loved. These are two of her dawgs that are the kind of low maintenance mutts I could love.
Here is a nice ongi vase that Micheal made on his Korean style wheel.