Monday, January 30, 2017

How cool is this?????

Ronnie's neighbour photographer Harry Hayes has Flir attachment for his I-phone 6 that takes heat sensitive photos. This attachment can be used to take a picture of your door or windows to see where there is heat loss. I'm sure Border Patrol could use them to sense heat from bodies being illegally smuggled into the country. Harry decided to take some pics of the kiln during the cooling stages. You can see where a square of Kaowool was laid over the stoke hole. This is proof positive of the insulating value of 1" of fiber insulation on the arch of a kiln. You can also see how I can touch the very corners of the bricks on the stack but I'd burn my hand on the side walls.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why we do what we do??

For Ratie's birthday his buddy Chuck Hindes gave him this book filled with drawings of pots and kilns and all sorts of neat sayings and pictures from magazines to make collages in the book.. I love Chuck's line drawings of pots. With such a few strokes of the pen he makes a pot. He buys foreign language books to use as his canvas for this pottery narrative he presents to friends.  It thrills me that some people just have to do art and see art in all kinds of ways. It's inspiring to me.

We are loosing the art of writing personal letters to friends. I am always so thrilled to receive a postcard or a letter from someone and most especially when it is so personalized.
We visited the home and pottery of Nancy Green the other day and I found myself admiring a little Oribe inspired teapot. Yes, it was a Chuck Hindes teapot that he hand builds using the sawed off end of a pool cue to further round the block of clay.  Chuck's pots are an acquired taste but one that seems to fit my taste buds. Low and behold when we came back to Ratie's there was one of teapots on a shelf outside. Chuck told me to take it. I am thrilled to add it to my teapot collection. I'll put it beside Ron's. The one I always show the students and tell them Ron shot the holes in the teapot with a shotgun.

Friday, January 27, 2017

21st Century Stokers

Here is Josh Copus and Nancy Green checking their phones between side stokes and Doc Agel checking his while on wood duty. We are all connected to cyberspace more and more. The firing is going off this afternoon after 3 days of stoking. Chuck Hindes is checking out the stack, pointing and grunting.
We will have a last supper tonight with two boxes of fresh oysters, chicken and lots of southern goodies.
Doc brought a great soup and corn bread for lunch. The firing has gone well and three days have just slipped away.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Socks and underwear

Hanna from Arkansas was sweet enough to make t-shirts for all the firing crew- Ratagama 2017. I'm so happy that Ratagama has stuck with the name of the kiln. Our favourite curmudgeon is here- Chuck Hindes directing the choir never lifting a finger but always on the money in terms of wood firing knowledge.
The house and the studio here are full to overflowing with visual information. The wall of shame going up to the visitors bedroom and bathroom, the bathroom, the pots that Ron makes all make one happy to be surrounded with such a celebration of life and characters. If you take life too seriously this is not the place for you.
Tonight a communal dinner of pulled pork, slaw, potato salad and baked beans. It don't get too much more southern than that. If this is southern hospitality it is where it is at for this northern boy.
Rules around the kiln are written on the bathroom wall- gotta wear your socks and underwear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Fire Brigade

Here is a crew of 11 for supper at The Rat Hole.  The philosophy around the Meyers home is if you have plenty don't build a fence make the table longer.  Everyone that shows up is welcome around the table. There is a contingent of many that keep rolling into to load and fire the kiln.
I am happy to have a couple of my "Eh" team here to participate in the firing. Andrew Kellner came down from WVU and Emma Smith and Jesse Black have been on a month's holiday camping in the National Parks of America.
Since I was born in the year of the rabbit I took a pic of this rabbit with attitude.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Critter roast

I'm at the Rat Hole getting ready to roast some critters. There was a tornado and torrential rain storms in Georgia which meant the Ratagama got flooded so Ronnie had to switch on the sump pump to get the water, rats and venomous snakes out of the kiln so we could pack it.
Emma Smith and her husband squeeze Jesse were here when I arrived. Those Canuck students of mine can smell smoke from thousands of miles away.   Steve Driver rolled in from Arkansas in time for dinner. We had a great supper with all the rats and started the load today. Tomorrow it should be loaded and ready to rock and roll.
Here are some shots of Ronnie's pots around the studio. The painted  Rooster eware is not for the Ratagama and the grain silos along the shores of Lake Erie in Buffalo are also destined for low temp painterly finishes.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

True Love

I headed south of 49 this morning. Jack didn't come with me. True love blew in on a west wind the other day and he has decided to stay home and stare into her eyes rather than come with me to toss sticks and sling mud. I wanted to give him the real goods on true love but figure I'm no one to give advice.
I prefer to drive when the destination is within 1500 miles. It gives me time to look inward and decide what I've done right and where I'm going.   I love driving across America. It is such a beautiful country.
I think we should all give a shout out to the truck drivers. I would say almost all the things in your life from food to computers got to you on a truck. Many call the interstates and 400 series highways in Canada the intestines but I call them the arteries. These highways are the life blood of America.
I'm within 5 hours striking distance of The Rat Hole. I've been told there is George Dickel on the rocks and a nice dinner waiting. Life is good for those of us that know that life is good.
Here is the bad art in my motel room. Oh well, it's just a place to put my head down.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Big jugs

I shouldn't be making pots. I should be packing for my trip down south to Georgia to fire the Ratagama with Ronnie the Rat. I 'm going down to the Deep South to teach them about jugs. We call em jugs and they call em pitchers. We put big pitchers on the wall and small pitchers in our wallets.
I have been wondering what to make so when in doubt make jugs. I like big jugs, medium jugs, small jugs, round jugs, skinny jugs and all sorts of jugs. I use jugs for liquids. I use them for flowers. I use them for canes and umbrellas.
The skinnies with the white slip are going down to Georgia to be fired in the Ratagama. The big ones I made today will be drying out awaiting my return home to get the over the top shino treatment.
I'm debating on whether to take Jack the Bear with me or leave him home. I worry the Border Patrol might think I'm a tad odd travelling alone with my friend a Teddy Bear.  It would be good to have someone here at The Cactus Lounge just to water the plants and keep an eye on things. Scratch, Itch and the Pastor lack the initiative to do the maintenance of domestic life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bloggers take a bow

First of all a tip of the fedora to Carol Epp my fellow Canuck for taking the Gold Medal in Pottery Blogs for 2016. Well deserved Carol as you are an amazing resource for potters looking for jobs, residencies, juried shows etc, etc. There is something for everyone in your blog and you must spend an enormous amount of time preparing it.
And for the rest of my fellow bloggers take a bow for your efforts. Here is a list of the top ten pottery blogs and the Honourable Mentions.
I am pleased to once again be in the fine company of some awesome blogs. We have all listened to Paul Blais Potter's Podcast and to be tied with him for #5 is indeed an honour.  If Michelle Hastings would just print Jeff's BBQ recipe she would move up to at least the Silver Medal.
Next week I hope to be in the fine company of my Georgia blogger pal Carter Gillies who I still think is North America's 21st century Micheal Cardew. A greater mind I do not know of.
For 2017 I promise you I will make you think. I will piss you off. I will make you laugh.  I will give ya some tips.  I will make you wonder!  My vow is that I will write what I feel is the truth on that given day. Tomorrow who knows????
Man's Prayer
I am a man
I can change
If I have to
I suppose (sigh)
author- Red Green aka Steve Smith

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Prince of Boredom

On CBC radio today they referred to Andy Warhol as The Prince of Boredom referring to all the repetitions of his silk screens. Photographs taken by someone else and the printing being done by yet someone else. I could name some painters and potters that might be eligible for the title. A prominent West coast wildlife painter that doesn’t even give you a silk screened print but an autographed photo copy. Oh, but it is numbered and signed by said artist.  Honey, darling let’s put a $500 frame on that photocopy! Can we please? Yuck!  Honey, darling you could own a killer Tony Clennell pot for $500 and have money left over to go out for a really nice dinner.  None of that flotsam and jetsam photocopy nonsense allowed here in The Cactus Lounge.
I’m just jealous. I want a multi-million dollar island home.
Mary Philpott and I have been corresponding about some collaborative work for the Sept show. We’re talking “Murder”. Yes, a murder of crows. Perhaps crow knobs, perhaps carved crows on big jars. Perhaps me eating crow which I figure would please some.
I started making some jar bottoms when I got the idea to make some crow’s nest bowls so I made a few wee prototypes on some balls I had to bounce in the studio when the notion of boredom strikes me. Funny thing it never does. I got too much nonsense filling my brain on a daily basis to ever consider boredom.  

If there is a beautiful single rich woman with an amazing kiln that is bored do contact me. Please send pictures of your kiln.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

For the love of Blackheads

I was one of the lucky ones in my teen years that didn’t have pimples or blackheads except for the day of my wedding I got a big zit on the end of my nose. That was a message from God. You have to learn to listen to your body.
 I bought this jug I’m sure it had to be 40 years ago at The Ontario Crafts Council shop in Yorkville, Toronto. It was an expensive purchase for me and now that I look back on it – a somewhat daring one! I was being taught that thin was very difficult, smooth was were it was at,  clay pots were supposed to look like it was made of something else. This jug by Neil Liske of Alberta has remained an inspiration for the work I make today. This has given me licence to be direct with clay. Although I must admit the primary motivation for buying this pot was not the freedom of gesture. It was the blackheads!  It was the seventies and blackheads were proof of reduction firing. I built my first Olsen fast fire wood fired kiln not so that I could have wood ash but so that I too could have blackheads. An oatmeal glaze with iron spots was the real proof you were a potter.
I still love this jug. I wonder what happened to this potter? I’d like to say thanks and that I have enjoyed living with this pot these many years. You know I even like the blackheads and wonder

if they might come full circle in the clay world again.

Here are a couple of jugs I just made with a double upside down pretzel handle. Sounds like a wrastlin’ hold.