Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lollipop and Sparky

Just setting up my house for the summer season at Pinecroft Centre for the Arts. Dug out some pots I bought that I had packed away and almost forgotten. These are great plates by Mary?????? of Maryland. Please help me remember. She had the nicest anagama with a built on kitchen facility and a studio with a ancient dumb waiter. It was the most beautiful field stone house, studio, fence I have ever seen in my life and i can't remember her name. Lovely woman and fabulous work.
Here is one of her little vases with a flower from my front garden. The print of Lollipop and Sparky is from The Hatch Print Shop in Nashville, TN. I wonder if this poster would be PC today. I do love it!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guess Who?

Just put out some of my teapots on the top of my old John Brinkman cupboard.
There are 8 teapots and I’ll give a break on one of them and   So from left to right  in the front
give ya the first letter of the maker’s last name. If you get 4 right you can move to the “Eh” team which is what we give in Canada for excellence, eh!
H,W,K, M. In the back from left to right S, yixing teapot anonymous, O, C.
So all ya have to do is identify at least four and you become an honourary Canuck. This entitles you to spell honourary with a u and you get to say  eh. Tony in C eh N eh D eh!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tick tock goes the clock

Hey gang it is time to send your entries for the Tableware Show hosted by The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia. Show off Dan Finnegan has shown us his awesome kiln load. I hope he took time to photograph a couple of nice pieces and has entered them in the show. I'm a sucker for good pots. I said it at NCECA and I'll say it again. The best pots being made in my 63 history are being made today. Prove me right and send in your best. Good luck!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hey Mister!

Sent a bottle out to potter Kurt Wensmann. He sent me this photo of the good company I'm keeping. To the far left is a nice vase by my all time favourite Kiwi turned OZ potter Chester Nealie. I used to stare at his handles for the longest time. Then there is this nice celedon bottle by Mister Han from China. I wish they would call me Mister Tony instead of Hey Mister or Hey Buddy! It's hard to get respect these days. Mind you Mister Tony sounds like a barber or a pizza shop owner. I'm going to go formal and start calling myself Mr. Anthony. So Kurt you now own a bottle by Mr. Anthony of Canada that will be happy in the company of Mr. Hanthony of China.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hey you get off of my cloud!

 Boy, when a student decides to actually listen to ya and one up’s you, it is time to start bucking up. There are things I like in a cup. One- I like a rim that makes you aware you are putting something to your lips. Two- I like a handle that makes a statement.   Three-I like a foot ring that I can examine with my finger while caressing the cup. 4- Wood fired porcelain is kinda heavenly.  Here is a cup by my former student Anne Marie Rowe aka Arrow.  Arrow has taken my “nice cup on that handle” to a new high with hundreds of piercings from a Dremel tool. As if that wasn’t enough holes she attacked the rim and the foot. The plates on the bag wall were killer. I never got offered one of them- hint, hint!
Kidding aside there is lots of room for Arrow on the handle cloud.  I teach them to imitate as best they can and then innovate. These handles are a signature unique to Arrow. Nicely done, woman!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dan the Man

Dan Finnegan is joining us at Pinecroft Centre for the Arts to teach a 5 day course entitled "Animated Functional Ware".  Here is a description of the course and full details are available by clicking on his workshop at the side of my blog. 
‘Animated’ is an apt word to describe a workshop that intends to challenge participants to make useful pots with character! We will start each day with demos and end it with a cup of tea – in between, be prepared to move on and off the wheel as we throw, alter, assemble, handle and adorn our work. An interesting pot needs a suitable surface so we will spend the week working with colored slips. We will brush, dip, comb, resist, trail and pour slips as we build 025up layers of decoration on the surface of pots while they remain wet or leatherhard. This isn’t a firing workshop, but we will send you home with biscuit fired pots as well as recipes and approaches to glaze firing when you get home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Be Free and the Landlady

Thought I'd use to the blog pony to pimp a project two of my favourite people are involved in. Bobby "Freedom Fighter" Free was a undergrad at USU while Heidi Kreitchet was a Grad student and my landlady. Bobby, Heidi and I worked hard and played hard together. AMOCA wisely hired Heidi to run their studio and galleries in California. Heidi then wisely hired Bobby to be the studio head. These are two of the hardest working people I know. They have done what it takes to keep their hands in the clay. I applaud them.
Take a look at their kiln building project. This is what I call very clever marketing for a worthy cause. Support Freedom and the Landlady if ya can.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boring box, huh?

The bourry firebox, the boring box,  the upside down firebox or the geriatric wood firers fire box has often been given this rap of producing these gentle glazed surfaces. Well the train kiln that John Neely developed put that theory to rest. Donovan Palmquist built our kiln so that I could walk into it and not crawl on my hands and knees. Here are a couple of unglazed pots from the throat arch of the kiln. I told the students that my high iron clay doesn't look all that great in the wood kiln. Well, I lied! Check out that jug with the yellers, greens, blues, ochres  and ya shiny brown. Firing #5 was a beauty with all the woodies going home with some killer pots. We must have had 500+ pots in that firing. I was a bit worried that the flame wouldn't have much room to travel but the kiln worked it's magic. The back of that kiln continues to amaze me with some of the best ash being on the pots at the back.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Here are some pics of first year ceramics at Sheridan College, Oakville.  It was crit day and the students showed their work of the past 7 weeks. If you have ever wondered why go to school for an intensive 4 years this might be your first clue. Look at the quality of work from these students in their first year. They have 3 more years to go. One of the projects is to make 40 lb platters. Many start out with 40 and end up with somewhat less. Nevertheless they are an impressive canvas for the majolica paintings. To show the melting pot that is Sheridan I am showing you some work from students from Lebanon, Mexico, Japan and China. When you offer a quality product with great instructions the world is your market place.  I am very proud to teach these talented people. Hey isn't that one of the nicest coil pots you have ever seen. Gracie used 5 templates to build the piece within.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making Art with Art

Having a week with this dang flu I felt like I had a brush with death. Last evening a surprise package arrived at my door. I got 4 of the most beautiful brushes imaginable. Troy Bungart sent me four brushes and a couple of ribs. I was eyeballing them at NCECA and it was one of those moments when ya are on the way home and you wished you had bought something. I phoned Grass when I got home to tell him about these brushes with life. The brushes with the wood fired finials are really wall art but I'm itching to try that squirrel tail brush. Good to know squirrels are good for something.
I told Grass the wood in the ribs was so beautiful that I might not want to use them. He said " it is nice to make art with art!!!!". That did it! I am going to enjoy these soooooooo much.
Check out Troy's work It is such a pleasure to use objects that are made with care and love. It says so much about the user. I have bought quality ever since my hippie days of reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Health Insurance

I had to pull off a wood firing this weekend and I've been sick as a dawg. Good thing for me we have Health Insurance here in Canada. It comes in the form of three of my former Sheridan students that are good with sticks. I'd first like to thank my former student Andrew Kellner for stepping up to the plate for the old boy. Andrew reminded me of the the story in my book "The Old Bull and The Young Bull. I was in and out of bed this past 5 days but I could go and rest assured that the kiln was in the best of hands. Thanks Andrew for 10 years of friendship and always being there to help to Old Bull. You're the best!!! Emma Smith and Anne Marie Rowe also former students who are relatively new to the wood firing process and are steady and as dependable as Andrew. I'd take this kind of Insurance any old day. They make the old bull proud of a work ethic that is alive and well in their souls.
I went to bed for 4 hours and woke to snow. Apparently I slept thru spring, summer and fall.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

James and The Village Idiot

Today I dragged my sore and sorry butt out of bed to walk down to Locke Street Walk In Medical Clinic. I have the flu big time. Out front the clinic was James the Busker. He plays his guitar rain or shine most days. I always stop to talk to him and throw some change his way. His guitar case looked pretty full so I had a bright idea of asking him if we could team up. I will learn to tap dance. I've always had an eye for making money!  I've got a head start since in Grade 8 I was invited to a party with real live girls and I was thinking one might ask me to dance. My caring and thoughtful dad enrolled me in tap dancing lessons.  The Beatles and the Rolling Stones weren't doing any of the tunes I had learned to dance to.  My dating career was not off to a good start. Now 5 decades later I think there could be big money in it for me to tap dance along side James. If I don't comb my hair and I wear my grubby clay clothes I can easily look like the Village Idiot that also does dry walling. This is going to look good on my CV-  Potter, Educator, Author and  Exotic Tap Dancer. Tap dancing is going to buy me a pug mill.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grande Frappa Do Dad!

So how many of you walk by the busker or the homeless person and dodge into Starbuck's for a  Grande Frappa Do Dad with cinnamon sprinkles or the Liquour store for a nice bottle of single malt?
You know this blog of mine is a form of busking except I don't have a guitar case for you to throw quarters in.
Just read of long time potter Johnnie Bauman of Indiana going to apply for a job today. I'm feeling sick and I'm ready for a GIANT rant. If some of you readers will buy my book or a couple of drawings I will buy one of Johnnie's platters. Two busking potters that live by the sword will work for another day.
My book "Stuck in the Mud" has several gems of knowledge on how to stay alive as a potter. It hasn't gotten any easier with people enjoying information without payment. From music to clay it is not in the artist's favour. For the record I don't copy music. I pay for it! If I want a book.  I buy it!
So consider buying my book or perhaps a drawing. I just had them dry mounted ready to hang so it is a pretty sweet piece of art for a whole lot less than a print of a cabin in the mountains with a deer drinking water from the lake. If you have any money left buy a piece from Johnnie Just keep your hands off that leaf platter. That one is mine!
Somehow I feel guilty doing this shameless self promotion but I'm in a bad mood and I'm feeling like circling the wagons.
If ya want a book or a drawing contact me at

Poor, poor pitiful me

I’ve been in bed now for over 24 hours. There is nothing more pitiful than a man that is sick or at least that’s what I have been told mostly by women.  To add insult to injury I got a note from Robin “Grass” Hopper reminding me that I ain’t a young bull anymore and that I should read my own book and in particular the essay entitled “The Old Bull and The Young Bull”.
Herm and I went to the wood yard today to get another trailer of wood. There were bundles of side stoking wood that would have most anagama firers rolling in the mud in ecstasy.  I’ve decided every man needs a big man toy to move wood. I would love to drive that big Volvo. Ok, that’s enuff now back to bed. Where’s my mother when I need her?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Donovan's Ride

I cleaned out the firebox of the big bourry box kiln that Donovan Palmquist built for us at Pinecroft.  The kiln uses between 3 and 4 bush cords per firing. I looked up the weight of a cord of wood and of course it depends on the type of wood and whether it is green or not. I figure ours is around 4000 lbs per cord. To illustrate how efficient that firebox is look at the amount of ash I cleaned out. I don't have enough to fill a 5 gallon pail. I spent the day chain sawing and moving the 4 cords and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in bed at 8 and slept till 7. I ached where I used to play. I have to remind myself that I'm not 36 anymore. Going this morning to fill the pickup with some ash boards that we use to fire the first 8-10 hours.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dispelling Rumours

My friend Dawn thinks that going back to Art School is the domain of 20 year olds. Well I'm here to dispel that rumour. In the last ten years of my teaching at Sheridan the demographic of Art students has changed and with that the number of students over the age of 50 has increased dramatically.  In the last few years I have taught Veternarians, architects, lawyers, teachers, administrators, Phd's, stock brokers and the list goes on. All of them were woman and most over the age of 45. So if you have ever given going to Art School a second thought and you thought you'd be in with a group of pimply faced, snotty nosed teenagers think again. I would then go on to say that even if the student is 20 something they already have a University degree in most cases.
I am also most proud of the multi cultural cross section of students at Sheridan. Here is the graduating class of 2014 and some awesome sculptural work by Habiba- El Sayed and Marissa Alexander. Sorry I didn't get the work of the others. Too much smoozing to do.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Feeling Bad

It is better to feel bad than to feel nothing at all- Warren Zevon. This post has a bit for readers Ann and Dharsi. At Christmas, I went in for the crits of the graduating class at Sheridan. Two soldiers still standing in the pot dept. They were sticking with pots and not pieces. It is hard to have a final show of pots as we have such a loooooooooong history of really, really good ones to be compared to. Both students looked like deer staring into the head lights. What to do for that final push???? How can I make pots that command the attention of a large sculptural piece.  I am now convinced that sometimes you need to feel bad to feel good again. It is true that pressure makes diamonds! That is one of the great things about Sheridan is the pressure of the final show.  There is no hiding! Your final test paper is a 3D object that shows the clay that you are made of.  Here are the baskets of Teresa O'Grady Dunlop and teapot of Rhoni Diakow.  Rhoni was awarded a show at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. Tomorrow I will show the sculptural pieces which were really awesome as well and I am very proud of those students as well. Today I celebrate the pot makers. We don't win many of the battles these days.
Oh I promised something for Dharsi- My girlfriend thinks I am a stalker! Well she is not my girlfriend yet!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


The other night during the juror’s comments at the Biennial Show of the Hamilton Potters Guild juror Angelo Di Petta said there is nothing worse that someone’s indifference to your work. It is better to make work that someone loves or that they hate. At least they have some kind of feeling for your work.  I had a Professor once that said say something brilliant and they will remember you as the person who said something brilliant! Say something stupid and they will remember you as the person who said something stupid. But if you say nothing at all who will remember you? Making work without feeling is indifference to the material.  Living with indifference is a non- state of mind.  With the passing of so many clay legends this past year I am reminded that life is precious and that we should live it with passion not with indifference.