Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A bird in the hand





I rescued this wee naked porcelain song bird from the chamber and brought her home. I have to patiently wait for Jen to come in the morning for the unload. A bird in the hand is hopefully an omen of the flock of them to exit the kiln tomorrow.
I also pulled out a teapot to check it out and then had to put it back so as not to ruin Christmas for Jen.
I know Emma will be anxious to see her big boyzzz when she comes this weekend. At 28” tall we loaded them on their sides resting on sea shells. Looks like good colour.  Jen and I unload tomorrow and clean up the kiln to get ready for the fam damily to appear to reload and fire again this weekend.
What an amazing team I have assembled for this firing. I taught all of them at Sheridan College School of Craft and Design with the exception of Jen who I have given an honorary degree with flying colours. She attended my University of Hard Knocks. The team Teresa Dunlop, Anne Marie Row, Chris de Takesy, Emma Smith, Andrea Poorter, Jen Drysdale, Andrew Kellner, Cassara Kennedy and me.

The businesses that will succeed in the coming decades will offer an experience. This weekend all 5 of the senses will be covered. We have taste- a pot luck Friday night at my house, a wood fired pizza party Saturday and always good food in the kiln kitchen. We are having a music jam session on the Saturday in the bandstand right beside the kiln. We have 50 acres of beautiful pines, a huge pond with ducks, geese, muskrats and all kinds of wildlife including Roxy and Maggie the kiln mascots. The smell of food, smoke and wet dogs will fill the air. As for touch we always enjoy a group hug and will move several tons of wood. Amber Zuber home from Royal College of Art in London is also reported to be coming. All my Art School kids have come home to their Uncle Buck. He couldn’t be happier.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Yoga Pants On Order




I wonder if I wore Yoga pants and took Maggie and Roxy everywhere I went whether I would attract more than a bunch of sweaty potter types.  This young woman has her mum bring to lunch every Sunday so that she can pet Roxy. She loves seeing those dogs.
We fired the wood kiln this weekend while scores of people came poking around wondering what the heck was up. Why would people be working so hard on a week end? I have not known what a weekend is for more than 40 years. It must be a funny feeling to take two days off every week. We had a five member crew this weekend. I had ¾ of the kiln for the upcoming show at Shane Norrie Contemporary. I would like to thank Jen Drysdale, Andrew Kellner, Cassara Kennedy and Emma Smith for being such an awesome crew. I love y’all to bits.  This was probably the most relaxed firing I have had for a long time. Great crew, awesome wood, good food ,conversation and fabulous weather with cool starry nights and the promise of some good pots.
Today I’m firing the gas kiln and catching up around the house. Don’t want to even go to the studio. I’m kinda brain dead. Going to mow the lawn, trim the hedges, do some laundry, read a book, make dinner and in general just do what I consider a weekend. The week did end except it ended yesterday afternoon. We had a lovely post firing lunch of yellow perch, chips and beer on the patio at The Green Frog Tearoom and then went to clean up the kiln kitchen and head home for a well deserved nap.

In the pic is Jen, my cousin Brenda, Andrew, two visiting potters from Ireland, Cassara and dawgs. Emma had to leave to lead a leadership camp. Photo of me, Emma and Jen watching someone else work.  Of course in almost every pic is one of the dawgs sleeping or seeking luvin. That is what they did for over 34 hours while the people worked and sweated. Yoga pants on order.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Flock Off

Call me a chicken but I decided to fire the flock off the pots. Half of the flock is already loaded in the wood kiln. Each casting of birds I made I just eyeballed some colourants to give me different coloured song birds. I have red, orange, pink, blue and mostly just plain porcelain casting slip. I used the formula my Uncle Jimmie used for years. It is very tight at Cone 12 wood and does flash really nicely. Wood firing is a roll of the dice at best so I thought I had better check the flock before attaching to work.  We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.- George Bernard Shaw. I can use JB Weld or some other super strong epoxy to put the birds on their final perch.
It's been a couple of months since I've seen a pot of mine exit the kiln so I'm both excited and nervous. We fire this weekend and then again next weekend. By the time I have money to burn I will be burned out.
I am so looking forward to assembling my crew back here at Pinecroft again. I miss their goofy faces.
"The communal nature of the endeavour is significant. Most wood firing, especially long wood firing, demands the cooperation of a group of people. We sometimes forget the essentially cooperative nature of our craft- how we differ from some other artistic pursuits-and wood firing tends to reinforce and re-emphasize our interdependence." John Neely Utah State University.





Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I’m alright Jack, bugger you!



Here is a pic of my daughter Robin and my grand daughter Julia.  As you can see they are a couple of big mouths.  This is the two of them recently at a labour convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When Robin was born the first words out of her mouth were not mommy or daddy but “it isn’t fair!” Hence a career as a labour leader for one of Canada’s biggest unions Unifor. So I guess you can figure I ain’t a conservative! I am a Social Democrat to the bone. If they would have me I would live in Denmark. I keep waiting for them to ask me to be their poet laureate at Guldagergaard.
The Arts is a good place for me with my views. I have friends in every genre- gay, queer, black, yellow, red and all out off the wall crazy. I love them all to death. The Arts is a welcoming place for people that are different and that includes the likes of me.
Robin has done me proud. She has been wire tapped by the RCMP, followed by the Ontario Provincial Police, locked in a church basement by the cops, dumpster dived in a Walmart dumpster, marched in Gay Parades, and picketed Tyson Meats in Brooks, Alberta.  So what chance does Julia have of being a Conservative? Not a hope in hell.
Caring for others is hard work and takes courage. It is so much easier to just look after your own self and claim survival of the fittest.  I’m alright Jack, bugger you seems to be so prevalent today.
Here is a picture of my Uncle Jimmie’s pink woman’s mohair hat that he was so fond of wearing. I keep the hat on a chair in my bedroom to remind me of him, the conditions were he worked as a child in the coal pits of Northumberland, England  and then later 
the potteries of Medalta, Alberta where men were covered from head to toe in red lead.

As you sit comfortably in your home tonight, sipping a nice glass of red wine and chowing down on a nice meal you had better give thanks to someone that sacrificed for you.  I do! Thanks Uncle Jimmie. Thanks Robin and Julia.  Thanks Jay my son the downtown Toronto paramedic. Thanks to all of you that give more than you take. Bless you! Oh and my dad’s name was Jack. I’m alright Jack. I’m living your dream!