Friday, October 31, 2008

Now 81...

I hit eighty-one pots on Thursday night. I guess I'm coming down the homestretch and it feels good. I've tried making a lot of different style pots this session and instead of "getting them out of my system", I have ten more ideas for every one I made.

Pots made on Wednesday.

Pots I made on Thursday.

Slap trays with slip back from the bisque kiln.

Work work work...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Family outing

My folks came for a visit and on Saturday afternoon we took them to Homearama and then to Ru San's for supper.

There were only three houses at Homearama this year, but they were quite impressive. The master bath in the second house was alone worth the price of admission.

Mom and Dad on the tram from the Homearama parking lot.

Karen, Meredith, and Stephanie finishing up their meal.

Mom and Dad enjoying the
pulsing beat of the house mix.
(The music was a bit loud.)

Meredith showing her
expertise with chopsticks.

One of my favorite sushi side dishes.

Glazing part of the 63 pots

Naked pots getting some covering. Film at eleven.

I have to do some glazing to make sure I have room for the rest of my pots, so Saturday I was in the studio from 9:15 until 1:30 glazing some mugs and juicers.

Ah, Octoberfest!

My shelf runneth over.

Trying out my new red and yellow underglazes.

Big mess 'o pots.

Nuclear explosion in downtown Charlotte

There were some low clouds on Saturday morning when I got to the studio so I got some shots before heading inside. I couldn't help having a bit of fun with the pictures in Picasa from Google.

First I took the picture (Stage I), tinted the picture green (Stage II), then I set a focal B&W point and added film grain (Stage III).

Stage III

Stage II

Stage I

Another view.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

63 Pots (goodbye 58!)

I made five more pots Wednesday which puts my total at sixty three. I tried to make one similar to Nic Collins' pot with his wonderful red clay, but I had no luck. I think I need to use thicker slip. I also didn't have a torch, but I used a heat gun. It's all about the compromises, isn't it?

I didn't take any pictures of the pots I made Wednesday, but I'll get some on here as soon as possible.

I also have to apologize to my lovely wife for forgetting to wish her a happy anniversary on Wednesday as it was the thirtieth anniversary of our first date. I took her to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the midnight movies on that fateful night (and she actually married me after that!) It's been an interesting thirty years and I'm so glad I spent them with her.

"Don't dream it, be it."


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another fired pot and a photography rant

Here is another piece from the last firing of the previous class session. It's an orangestone pot 2 1/2 inches high by 4 1/4 inches wide, glazed with spotted shino and decorated with some glazes that I neglected to record, fired to cone 10. It's got a nice, wide rim and feels good in my hands.

While trying to capture an image of it I found some interesting ways to do it.

First, the inside.

Here's what I used.
I put a piece of Meredith's old artwork
face down on my keyboard,
turned on the macro button,
moved back, and zoomed in to the pot.

I tried the same thing for the outside, but it was blurry.
(and a bit crooked!)

I returned the zoom to "normal", moved the camera closer
and now the flash was too much at that distance.

Finally, I placed my finger over about half
of the flash to cut down the blast.
Much better, but since I'm not zoomed in,
the limitations of my improvised backdrop are obvious.

I read a lot of clay blogs and I feel bad for people who make beautiful pieces and post blurry photos of them. It can definitely be a challenge, especially with a little point-and-shoot camera like I use, but if you keep trying you can usually find a way to make it work. I continually re-take shots using different combinations of options until I get what I want. I think we all need a class in digital photography just to make "everyday" pictures of our pots.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

2008 Burlon Craig Pottery Festival

The Burlon Craig Pottery Festival was held on Saturday. I went out there with Greg and the kids for the second year. It's a wonderful event that I would recommend to everyone whether you are a potter or not. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see a lot of the pottery that was for sale since we spent most of our time around the kiln.

The kiln was stocked with about 300 pots that were made in the last six weeks. It took 2 to 2 1/2 hours to load it and more than eighteen hours to fire it. By the time we left, the firing part was over and it was time to start waiting for it to burn out and cool down.

The music was great. The food was delicious. The people were amazing. Did I mention they were firing the kiln?

Adrienne asked Dwayne to unlock the pottery studio and I took some pictures of Burlon's treadle wheel and the electric wheel he had to use later. It was like being in church.

I had a great time and judging by the people I talked to, everyone else did too.

Thanks Don, Dwayne, and Adrienne.

Adrienne stoking the kiln.
It can get to more than 2000F here
hence the heavy clothing.

Adrienne interacting with the fans.

Hot kiln.
Standing back here behind the wood pile got pretty warm
so I can only imagine what it felt like to be up front stoking it.

More heat.

Adrienne and Dwayne.

The firebox.

Greg, Eloise, and Bill.

Adrienne and some fans.


The chimney end of the kiln.

The pots through the chimney end peephole.

One of Don's snake jugs in progress.

Burlon's treadle wheel.

The rest of the pictures can be found here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lang Van

I finally got to try Vietnamese food on Friday and I WILL be going back for more.

Greg and I went to Lang Van for lunch on Friday and it was AMAZING.

We started out with the spring roll appetizer which came with tofu and a scrumptious blend of veggies and herbs.

I had a vermicelli bowl with pork, shrimp, and imperial roll (number 45 on the menu for everyone following along at home). On top there were shredded carrots and jicama. The real surprise came in the bottom of the bowl with an unbelievable combination of lettuce, cucumber, mint, basil, and cilantro. Every bite was a burst of a combination of flavors I've never had before. It tasted so fresh and alive. The menu is huge and I want to go back and explore all of it.

Bottom line: WOW!

Last session firing I

This is one of my pots from the last firing of the previous class session. It is made of orangestone clay, stands nine inches tall, and was fired in cone 10 reduction. Unfortunately I didn't make any notes on the glazes I used, but the top glaze is yanagahara white and I believe the base glaze is temoku.

This was an experimental pot since I was extremely angry when I threw it. I won't go into the whole story, but I was two blocks away at the arena and decided to see if I could channel my anger into some creative outlet. It worked pretty well since I came to the studio, threw three pots with lids and cleaned everything up inside of two hours. The only problem with my anger driving the process was that I threw it a bit heavy.

I'll post more as I get them photographed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Still at 58...

I didn't get a chance to throw any more pots Thursday, but I trimmed some more and made some more handles.

I wasn't really crazy about the handles I made on Wednesday so for the final three mugs I asked my friend Rick to show me how he does his. (He does AWESOME handles, just like his pots.) Rick graciously shared his time with me and gave me a great tutorial on pulling handles off the mugs. I didn't know about all the steps he uses to make those handles. I was doing it all backwards and I'm so glad he set me on the right track. THANKS, RICK!

I didn't bother photographing the ones I did on Wednesday, but here are the ones from Thursday. Check out those handles! Now I need to change my cup form to something I like better. Something with a bit more personality.

Check out these babies.

It's all about the handles.

I have been given so much great help by so many great people that if I live to be two hundred I will not be able to pay it all back, but I am very grateful --every day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

58 and holding

While I was at the studio for several hours last night, the only thing I got accomplished was to get some handles made for a bunch 0f mugs. Again, all the trimming and in this case "handling" is putting me behind schedule. I have some more trimming to do tonight on some lids and I might have a few more mugs to handle.

"Slow are the handle-makers
for they shall be behind schedule."

I think I need to make some bowls. I should be able to turn them out more quickly since there's not as much fussing with them.

I also have to start making some glazing decisions. The pipeline is full and it's starting to bottleneck at the glaze step. It never ends, does it?

Onward and upward.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fifty eight so far

I hit fifty eight pots on Sunday. I spent five to six hours in the studio and threw seventeen pots and three lids. I'm still getting drawn into pots and lids with a lot of trimming and I need to keep my focus on the things I don't have to fidget with too much.

Clayworks was apparently the place to be on Sunday. People were coming and going and working all day. I had no idea Sunday was so popular and it was nice to see everyone and spend some time with them.

I found this guy on the deck right outside
my back door on the way to the studio.
He is scrunched up since I moved him,
but when he was traveling he was easily
as long as my index finger and bigger around.

Lot's o' pots!

Here's a bit easier view.
I'm definitely not a production potter.

I also picked up two pieces that were fired from the last class and I will get them on here soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Something's fishy

Friday was definitely a "fishy" day. I met Joe for a great sushi lunch and some great company. Thanks Joe!

Friday evening I poached some salmon in milk with onions and dill, boiled some potatoes, and steamed broccoli and carrots. A good, filling meal. (I had some great company at dinner too.)

I'm glad we're eating more fish because Stephanie came home from chemistry class to inform me that we weren't getting enough iodine in our diet. I explained to her that we used iodized salt for just that reason. She said we needed to eat more fish and I couldn't agree more though I brought up the mercury concern and we discussed that too. I'm proud to say we had a good talk about something important to us.

Now, what to have for dinner on Saturday...

Make them pots

On Thursday I tried to make up some ground. After trimming some pieces, I threw some mugs, a small lidded jar, and another juicer. I am hoping to pull some handles off the mugs this weekend.

Work on, dude.

Pots (I think...)

I finally got around to counting my pots on Wednesday and was quite startled to discover that I only had thirty-six. I was further disappointed to find out that this is week FIVE of our class and not week four as had I thought. I am going to have to stop spending so much time trimming (and talking).

I don't want to sound too down about the whole thing. This has been a wonderful experience so far and my throwing has improved dramatically. I am going to make a huge effort to get to one hundred before time runs out. I just hope I can get everything glazed before the end of this session.

Some bisqued pots waiting for glaze.

Four of my juicers and a stoppered bottle.

Pot with a new style lid (the hollow one).

Detail of the lid.

Per Peter Lenzo's recommendation, I have purchased some Speedball underglazes and can't wait to try them out. Thanks, Mr. Lenzo.

Joe surprised me with some new ribs from his trip to Highwater. I used the stainless steel ones and they were great. I can't wait to start some plates and use the thick wooden plate rib. Thanks Joe!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vanity phone skin

I was messing around on the Verizon skins site the other day and quickly realized that I could put a pot on my phone. Like a vanity plate you carry on your person.

I chose the one that we did with Joe's copper wash/alcohol spray method since the colors and textures are very dramatic. I'm still not sure about it since it costs twenty dollars, but it could be pretty cool. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I'm not nearly as far along as I thought I was last week.

I only counted thirty-six pots last night and I'm in week four.

I think I have gotten sidetracked with too much fiddling with lids and decorating/trimming. I am going to have to step it up a bit if I am going to get to one hundred in the time allotted. I will make an effort tonight to get some more thrown, but I have to glaze some too. Now is the big test for my (non-existent) organizational skills.

"Second star to the right and straight on til morning."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Short sightedness

I was in a hurry to get to the studio the other evening and while traveling up Scott Avenue I got behind a car with a thirty-day tag from Wisconsin. The person driving the car was hesitant and obviously unfamiliar with the area. Since I was in a hurry, their indecision was really irritating me.

Sometimes I'm not proud of the way my mind works, but it started down old, familiar pathways of ticking off all the things I found wrong with this person. I started with the license plate and wondered why someone with a thirty-day Wisconsin tag was waffling in front of me during my obvious need to get somewhere. Hey buddy, if you're going to be here register that car in NC. What? Can't people from Wisconsin drive? Oh no, they're stopping again to turn left on Pierce Street...

At that moment everything shifted.

I realized I was right next to the hospital and I remembered hearing that some of the houses between Scott and Kenilworth were offered to people from out of town who were visiting sick relatives. It suddenly wasn't important for me to get to the studio so quickly. I said a quick prayer for the person in that car, for whomever they might be going to see, and thanks that I was going to the studio and not in a similar situation. I don't remember the rest of the drive to the studio since my mind was still on the shift I had just witnessed.

I could go on about the fact that we should be ambassadors for our city and state and that we should show people from other places courtesy, but it's a much deeper issue than interstate commerce. People just need to treat people better on a human level. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the details of our own lives and need a little slap in the face to remember what's really important and that other people are going through things we can't even imagine. I don't know for sure that I read the situation correctly. That person might have been here from Wisconsin for any one of a thousand reasons, but the circumstantial evidence was pretty strong for the hospital.

Thank goodness I didn't gesture or honk my horn.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Circle of Eight at Lark & Key

We went to the NoDa gallery crawl on Friday (first time in ~twelve years) to check out the Circle of Eight reception at the Lark & Key gallery. The presentation was wonderful and we caught up with Greg & Adrienne, Julie, and Ron --four of the Circle of Eight. Once again we just missed Amy with Guthrie. I ran out of the house and forgot my camera so I only got one picture with my cell phone.

Meredith, Greg, and Adrienne.
Nice face, Meredith.

I really enjoyed what I saw of the galleries, but the kids were hungry so we didn't stay long. We couldn't get into some places and in others they couldn't find anything they liked on the menus. We ended up at Mr. K's for some of their favorites.

I tried to expose the kids to some art, but I think Karen and I will go by ourselves the next time.

Friday, October 3, 2008


After class on Wednesday night I decided to make a juicer, but I used too much clay. Greg and I decided it was the "Juicer of Death" since one could easily have juiced something the size of a cantaloupe on it. At first I thought I would keep it for the irony of its size, but in the end I mushed it. To illustrate the size of the JoD, on Thursday I took the clay from the JoD, added less than 1/2 a pound to it and made four juicers. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures of them, but they are resting nicely on Minke's top shelf (thanks Minke!) since I am out of room on mine.

I think I've mentioned this before , but thanks to Elaine's challenge of 100 pots I am making things I've never tried before (including juicers) and really stretching my boundaries.

During our conversation on Wednesday Greg and I decided that just about anything sounded better with "of Death" added to it (in a suitable Don LaFontaine baritone). Try it and see for yourself: The Turn Signal of Death, The Paper Towel of Death, The Tea Cozy of Death, etc. I think "of Doom" works well too.

Something else to think about today.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oh yeah, I forgot these

On our recent trip to the mountains we found a nice roadside waterfall and a young couple preparing to take the plunge from the side of the hill. I decided to stay and see if I could catch them jumping into the water. It took a lot of coaxing on the young man's part to get his girlfriend to take the leap. Finally he jumped solo to show her it was safe. After that, she hesitantly joined him on the next jump.

Another "mature" person stopped to watch and we both agreed that sometimes it would nice to be young again.

The solo run.
You can see his friend standing on the ledge to the right.


It reminded me of some of my childhood adventures at my friend's grandparents' home in the Catskill mountains in New York. We were always playing in the water or lighting things on fire. Hey, we were boys, ya' know.