Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017-02-13 - Monday - Load the kiln

Monday night we finished loading the kiln so Kimberly could fire it on Tuesday. I have several pieces in this kiln so I'll be looking forward to the unloading.


Monday, February 27, 2017

2017-02-12 - Sunday - Fong Choo workshop, day 2

Sunday was the second day of the Fong Choo workshop. It was a good day with lots of information, demonstrations, and discussions.

Making spouts.

Working with the spray booth.

Some of the work he made during the workshop.




Friday, February 24, 2017

2017-02-11 - Saturday - Fong Choo workshop, day 1

Saturday was the first day of the two-day Fong Choo workshop presented by Carolina Clay Matters Pottery Guild, and it took place at Central Piedmont Community College.

Fong has been making small, porcelain teapots for many years and he showed us many techniques and shared his sales philosophy with us.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017-02-09 - Thursday - More Empty Bowls

Thursday I made some more Empty Bowls. Hardly news, right?

Bowls made.

Bowls trimmed.

Scene of the crime.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017-02-06 - Monday - Common Market Oakwold

Monday night the folks from Common Market held a town hall meeting at Clayworks to introduce themselves to the neighborhood and get feedback from the residents. They will be opening the latest Common Market a few doors down from Clayworks and we are very excited about it. A close place to get great food and provisions will be amazing. Add to that the eclectic, fun vibe of the place, the fact that they are putting in a 1300 sq ft covered patio, and they make delicious sandwiches; it's a win/win.

Take a look at the menu.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017-02-04 - Saturday - Things are happening

Saturday was a busy day.

We started out with Muddy Fun in the morning. Fun stuff for students and volunteers alike.

Angela was the teacher.

This student made a double-walled pot all by himself!

After lunch I began glazing my latest work. It's a long process.

I use a box fan on my shinos to make them "scum up" and bring the soluble salts to the surface. Those salts are what are going to crystallize during the shinos' early melt and capture the free carbon in the kiln atmosphere, so the more of them I can bring up to the surface, the better.

Shino, shino, everywhere.

Notice that they're bone white now.

Finally ready to go to the kiln.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017-01-31 - Tuesday - Tuesday Stuff

First off, on Monday I was leaving for a 3 1/2 hour drive to a customer's office and the handle for the sliding door on my van came off in my hand. When I arrived at the office I set up my laptop and once it booted into Windows it unceremoniously died. Not a good day.

Monday night when I returned home I ordered a replacement door handle and the actuators needed to repair the motorized doors so I don't have to use the (COMPLETELY PLASTIC) handles manually.


Tuesday evening I stopped in the Red Sea restaurant that moved in down the street from Clayworks. They had been located near the Double Door Inn and had to move when Central Piedmont Community College purchased the whole block for expansion.

I'll dearly miss the Double Door Inn, where I (mis)spent many nights of my youth listening to some of the best local and regional bands, but the Red Sea will continue.

I am not overly familiar with Ethiopian or Eritrean food so when I walked in the man who greeted me asked if I like lamb. I said, "Yes."

He asked if I like goat and I said that I liked lamb better.

He recommended the first menu item which I can't pronounce, but in english it's called "lamb cubes" and it says "(spicy or not spicy)" underneath it. He asked if I wanted it spicy and I thought I'd err on the cautious side by asking for "medium spice". He said he would put the spicy sauce on the side and I thought that would be a good compromise.

When I got it back to Clayworks and opened it the smell was intoxicating and I dug into it. The flavors were great but I never did crack that "spicy" sauce. I don't shy away from hearty spice and like a good bit of heat, but this had me sweating after a few mouthfuls. It was so spicy that I really couldn't taste the beer I opened half an hour later.

The meal was rounded out with the standard spongy Ethiopian bread that I've experienced once before and sides of lentils and a medley of potatoes, cabbage, and carrots.

The food was tasty, but that dish was just too hot for me. I'll gladly try some other menu items.

On a side note, the Red Sea moved into the building that housed the original Sonny's Real Pit BBQ restaurant in Charlotte. When I moved here in 1980, my roommate and I would meet our neighbor here occasionally on a Friday to have lunch.


At the studio, Adrienne's class was glazing. Glazing always seems to be a hurdle students have to get over in their journey. It's usually approached with a lot of dread since they've worked so hard to get a form they wanted and now they are taking a chance on messing the whole thing up in one step.

I think a lot of it comes from not being able to visualize the finished product based on the way it looks when the glaze is applied. In most endeavors like painting, the look doesn't change much from the time it is painted. It may change a shade or two in drying, but that's it.

Ceramic glazes are completely different looking from application to final firing. They go on as matte, powdery coatings and usually emerge from the kiln as a glassy, glossy finish in a very different color, like a butterfly from a caterpillar. Along the way in that transformation, many things can go awry. Everything from getting waxy fingerprints on the pot which makes the glaze crawl away, to combining the wrong glazes creating a eutectic situation (where the combination of the ingredients creates a lower melting point than any of the individual ingredients).

Sometimes just the huge amount of options intimidates people. There's just too much to consider staring at the glaze buckets. Not firing enough pots to understand the properties of the glazes in those buckets leads one to a great fear of the unknown. It's only by trying them and observing and noting the results that we can feel more comfortable taking that leap.

I was there, standing paralyzed in fear for a long time.

Taking Greg's class for several years helped me get over my fears and gave me the experience to better plan my glazing. Working with our palette of glazes and noting the results, along with many conversations on glaze and ingredient properties gave me more confidence. I eventually started to layer my surfaces and, most importantly, started thinking about how I was going to glaze it while making the pot.

I will never know everything I need to know, but now I experiment a lot more confidently.

My advice: Hang in there, take notes, and pay attention.

I wasn't glazing so I made some more Empty Bowls.

Onward and upward.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017-01-28 - Saturday - ASC Cultural Free For All

Saturday we had three Muddy Fun classes in conjunction with the Arts & Science Council's Cultural Free For All. Angela Berry taught all three of them, Susan Hughes taught several hand building classes and we gave tours of our facility during the day. It was a full house.

We were honored to have esteemed potter Herb Cohen helping with the afternoon Muddy Fun class. He said he would love to volunteer more but he has a long-standing engagement on Saturday mornings when the regular Muddy Fun class is held.

Enthusiastic students and volunteers.

New potters.

New pots.

Herb Cohen teaching beginners.

Very impressive first effort.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

2017-01-27 - Friday - Photos

I took some better photos of my raku fish and they're still making me giggle. I'm enjoying them and will make more when I can.

Click on the photo to see the rest of them.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017-01-26 - Thursday - Baked fish

Thursday night I fired four loads of raku while trimming more Empty Bowls. This was an important firing for me since I was curious to see how the fish I'd made would come out.

I love them.

I'm really pleased with the results and am planning on making more of them. There are so many glazing options I want to try that I don't know where to begin. Stay tuned.

On the left side you can also see two urns I made for a friend's dog who was mottled with patches of black and white. I made two in case one broke.

I forgot to take a photo of the guinea pig urn (I made two of those, also) before I delivered it to the owner so I asked her to send me a photo of it.