Sunday, August 29, 2010

Try As I Might

A few weeks ago I had a visit from a very nice couple who had picked up a couple of my donated bowls at an Empty Bowls event last fall. They loved the bowls so much that they asked me to make a few more. I explained that I would try, but throwing identical items was not my strong suit.
I made a dozen bowls and picked 6 that, at the very least, seemed related to the ones I had made last year. After pulling them out of the kiln this week, I was not particularly astonished to find that they were not that similar after all. They didn't get as much reduction, so the glaze is a little off, and most of them are too small.

I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cone 10 Before and After

The firing went well. I had a few pieces to refire that turned out great. I think I've got handle issues with this last batch of baskets. I had a fair amount of slumping. You can really see it in the one on the left. The handles must have been too thin, as well as being longer that I've tried in the past. The top of my cabinets is getting crowded with rejects.
I think I've broken my camera too. Mine looks like a 35mm SLR and the hood piece around the lens came off. I'll have to take a look at it this weekend.

I think Nelle's apple is glazed with a RedArt shino. Hope she's happy with it. It was kind of cool to fire someone else's work--glaze testing without doing any of the measuring and mixing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Help in the Studio

Not another pet post. Who wants to read about that? I decided to take a chance and let the kitties into the basement, and since there is no longer a dividing wall, into the studio as well. They pretty much behaved themselves. I can't be certain, but they are suspect in a minor crime. They like hiding under the slab roller on top of a box that contains one of my kid's birthday presents from long ago.

His friend's Mom had never met me. Ben tried "throwing" on the wheel once, but was unimpressed.

Yesterday, my friend and fellow potter Nelle Pingree came up to the Northern Territories to deliver some work that I'm firing for her. Currently, I've got cone 5 tipping and should be done by supper time.

Nelle brought a nice Pinot Noir which we enjoyed last night in my tiny cups. Jay prefers a wine glass since the mini cups hold just enough wine to piss you off. They are so adorable though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story

"Take a glimpse into a unique community of 50 working potters who are separated by distance, but brought together through the common language of clay and the written word in a digital world. These potters share their lives, skills, thoughts, triumphs and defeats through an on-line medium called a blog or web log."

The Arts Council of Moore County presents Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story an exhibit curated and conceptualized by Meredith Heywood of Whynot Pottery. The show opens Friday October 1, 2010 with an artists reception from 6-8 pm. The show runs through October 29, 2010.

The Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story online gallery is up and running. The online show runs until October 29, 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What an Honest Critique Can Accomplish

Don Pilcher does have a point. By now, everyone has read one or both posts, and whether or not you've engaged in the controversy or lurked as a bystander, you've got to admit that he is on to something when he writes about the lack of frank, honest discussion about pottery. But are blogs the place to find that?

While Pilcher might not be interested in reading snippets about a certain potter's daily life, I am. I like seeing pictures of your kids and pets, and I like posting about my own. I like that I can rant and rave about the weather, current events and our latest home project turned nightmare. I care if you read, but I am not offended in the slightest if you pass on a post.
Honest discussion of pottery does happen here in the blogosphere but not in any linear, organized way. In recent weeks, Tracey Broome has used her blog as a sounding board for some true soul-searching and the direction her work is taking. While any critique of her work is generally positive, and accolades make us feel good, I'm not sure her point was to seek out approval or support. Maybe it was just to get it out of her head. What difference does it make?

Our Clay Club meets once a month. Last year sometime, we had a critique. Several of us novice potters brought work to be critiqued by the likes of Michael Kline and Linda McFarling, among others. I plopped the basket (pictured above) up on the banding wheel in the center of the room and stepped back. What I received was a true gift: honest, informed critique from potters who know their craft well. There were a few folks who loved the pot as is (and were appalled that anyone could find anything wrong with it), and I was grateful for the compliments. The difference was being able to view the pot on its own merits versus being able to see the potential the pot held. I returned to my studio with an armload of ideas and my work improved dramatically.
I guess what I'm tring to say is that if Potsapalooza were meant to be a manifesto on my current ceramic work, I probably would have far fewer readers. And I would have named it something more serious.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I've Been Included in an Etsy Treasury

Allybeans added my heart dishes to their Treasury today! It's very exciting and definitely the push I need to keep adding items to my own Etsy Shop.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Regional Artist Grants

I've had a couple of people over the last few days mention applying for a regional artist grant, and I am really thinking about doing this. I mean, it's free money for artists, right? What do I have to lose?

I am deciding between asking for a laptop for my business or money to move my kilns outside. Jay thinks I should go for the whole shebang and ask for a studio building separate from our house. Frankly, I'm not sure I could handle the stress of building and moving my studio, just as I am getting started. I'm leaning towards money to move the kilns.

Any thoughts?

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Do You Do When the Show is Over?

Ikebana with Madonna Lily

The kids went back to school this week, and I'm trying to figure out how to manage my time. I have gotten a few photos taken, a couple of items on Etsy, and the gallery reset. I've done the obligatory run to the store for school supplies, and the unplanned visit to the eye doctor to have Ben's eyes checked. It turns out that the boy is far-sighted and needs glasses. Who knew? I also got all domestic and canned some pear preserves and salsa verde.

After examining that second kilnload, I had a couple of casualties, including a nice shino basket where the handle was too thin and it slumped and cracked. The big shino basket looks good though.

Next week, I'm going to *gasp* take a break from cutting and throw some bowls. A fellow potter, Nelle Fastman Pingree has some cone 10 work she needs fired. I have two baskets that didn't make it into the last firing, and I like to have a stash of bowls for John Hartom and his Empty Bowls project. It's a tough call since another friend of mine just gave me a bag of new foam pieces. It's just thrilling!
Tonight I am headed to Lynda Banner's new studio for a get-together and tomorrow I'll be working at the Toe River Craft Shop.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Before and After, Another Cone 10 Firing and the Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair

After I let the first kilnload cool completely, I was pretty pleased with the results. Rob's green came out just fine and I really like the large white basket.

My schedule was really tight leading up to this second firing. I ended up finishing up my spray glazing at dusk with Jay as my assistant. I decided to fire a day early just so I could take my kids swimming with some friends as a last summer blast before school starts Monday. If you don't know why we start school so early here, this post can refresh your memory.

Tuesday's firing didn't go as well as the previous one. The bottom was hotter than the top and dampering in wasn't fixing the problem. The top was not stacked as tight as usual, so I winged it and hoped for the best. We unloaded in a rush Thursday afternoon, and I haven't been home enough to really examine the pots. I did have 2 tests come out really well, and the shino in the back looks good.

John Britt once told me that I'd need to fire my kiln at least a dozen times before I really knew how to fire it. I've probably fired that many times, but I think I've backed myself into a bit of a corner. I *know* how to fire the kiln one way. It works, but I think I could get more reduction. However, when I try to change anything, like use the damper to fire rather than turning up the gas or air, or slow down the climb, everything seems to go to hell in a handbasket. I can eventually end up where I want to, but the ride there can be pretty wild.

The Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair went pretty well for me. It started out pretty stressful. We had been down in Asheville for Allison's haircut, and ran into traffic getting back. Then I had to pick up my beloved truck from the mechanic where it had been getting the brakes fixed. I pulled out of the lot and immediately realized that I had almost no power. I thought that I was totally screwed since I had only a few hours left to get my stuff loaded and into Burnsville to set up. I called Jay and pushed the gas pedal to the floor just trying to get up to speed. Long story short, we got set up in time, and Jay was able to diagnose the problem which was a stuck rear brake. I'm visiting our mechanic tomorrow.

The Fair was packed both days even though it was pretty hot. There are lots of "granny crafts" mixed in with us serious artists. The guy in the booth next to me was selling plywood bears like hotcakes. I don't expect to sell baskets at a crafts fair, but I like to take a few to show folks. People definitely slowed down to look at the white basket. The women on the other side of me were selling jewelry and do an astonishing 40 shows a year. I don't do many shows, but this one has a discounted booth fee since I'm local, so it's a no-brainer. I still might apply for a few this fall. I've got plenty of pots.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Very Proud of My Girl

After a couple of weeks of anticipation, Allison cut off 11" of her hair for Locks of Love. I took her to my stylist Lindsey at Salon Red in Asheville. She didn't even cry, which means that I didn't either.

She feels good that it was for a good cause, and now she's got a super-hip new hairdo just in time for school next week.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Waiting for the Kiln to Cool Down

I swung the door open and took a quick picture. I won't be able to unload until later this afternoon. The results look pretty good. Rob's Green looks a little muddy at the top of the kiln, but until I can get the pieces out, I'll just have to speculate.
As soon as I get this one unloaded, I'll load another. At first, it irritated me having to fire back-to-back, but I've started looking at it as an opportunity to immediately adjust my firing if I'm not happy with something.

My sister Trish and my niece Kate came to visit this weekend. Trish lives in Framingham, MA and Kate lives in Cary, NC. They are the first from my side of the family to see our mountain place. And they were on hand to watch me fire the big kiln. Jay took the kids hiking up to Mt. Mitchell and I took them swimming in the South Toe River, despite it being only around 70 degrees.

My sister hates to cook, but loves to can and put up food. She brought some fabulous strawberry jam , bread and butter pickles and sweet relish. She showed me how to freeze some of my CSA bounty, since I've been drowning in veggies lately. I'm going to try my hand at canning this week, too. We have two pear trees which are dropping fruit all over the place. I'm also going to try making some salsa with the tomatillas that my neighbor gave me.

Here's a mostly CSA dinner of grilled eggplant and squash marinated in red wine vinegar, honey and garlic with tomato and onion slices over couscous. I'm glad for the cooking diversion, since I have a tendency to be a sneaky-peeker when it comes to a glaze firing.