December 24, 2007

Christmas or Halloween?

Well, it's hard to tell yet, I'm pretty pleased. The pots for the Louisville "Dinnerworks" show look good and I will be shipping out in a few days after some much needed time with my family. I'm thrilled with my new clay body and some of the new incised pots. Here are a few pictures I snapped this morning as I munched down an apple fritter and some coffee with Tom Turner.(Thanks for the fritters Tom. I did share the rest with the girls.)

December 22, 2007


The creative process is complete, the kiln is cooling. There is a quiet scene around the kiln as I wait to see how it all ended up. There is only so much a potter can do. I always have a sort of helpless feeling at this point, and no matter how the pots come out I will have what Shawn Ireland calls "the kiln blues". I think it is due to the fact that there is nothing i can do aside from grinding the bottoms that will improve or change the pots. The other reaction I have(always) is to look at what went wrong before I give the good pots a chance. It's my way of picking up where I left off in the creative cycle. With the disappointing pots, I can reenter the scene and interpret what may have happened and try to prevent it from happening again. In the case of an exceptional pot it's my way of saying to the pot, "What happened?" or "How can I make that happen again?". The potter's challenge is to repeat good results and resolve bad ones.

Tatsuzo Shimaoka 1919-2007

Here is a link to an obituary in the Times Online

and a follow up comment as well

December 21, 2007

A Visit with Tom Turner

I had a great visit with Tom Turner today. He showed me some of his favorite pots in his collection. Here are a few detail pictures of a large Cizhou (Tzu'chou) jar we photographed.

You can see Tom's beautiful porcelain work at his website. Click here.

December 18, 2007

The Axes

Here are the brushes I have been using. Some are handmade, some made in China(probably by hand). I generally use 2-3 brushes for all the work. Some folks may think that good painting is all in the brush, and there is truth to that. I obviously have my favorite brushes but once I get real, real going, say, day two of my decorating week, I can usually get a lot of different shapes and line quality out of the same brush. For me, it's a combination of knowing where the brush lands on the pot, the wrist motion of a certain brush mark, and the speed at which the mark is delivered. The material being painted also makes a big difference. Since my kiln is a 15 minute drive from the shop, I bisque fire everything to cone 08. Leather hard clay is great to paint on, but I paint everything on bisque. I also "partition" my tasks. I will make pots for 3 weeks, then spend a week decorating and glazing. I like the momentum I get from focusing in on throwing form and then exploiting surface with pattern. I try really hard to see the form and line of a pot and I think the patterns I use are even more successful on a good form. I tend to paint patterns on most pots, but sometimes a pot has such a nice line that I leave it alone. I once heard the phrase, "decorate the dogs", and if that were the case for me I guess I make a lot of dogs. My intent is for the pattern to enhance the pot and give it an added layer of complexity or subtlety.

December 15, 2007

Pouring slip over wax resist pattern

Details with brushwork

This week I have been decorating my pots with three techniques. The first format is painting black and white slips on the bisque ware. Another is painting my special wax resist on the pots and pouring or dipping into a white slip. The third is slip trailing with colored slips. Here are some closeups of slip brushwork on a large jar.The first shows some an incised flower on the pot's shoulder with vine painted in black slip. This, hopefully will create a subtle depth to the surface of the jar. A clear glaze with a little bit of iron is then poured over the pot. This glaze has a nice honey-amber color when fired in the wood kiln. The second is an example of really tiny painting of a mosquito with my special brush, courtesy of Jenny Mendes. Now that summer is long gone, I guess I was feeling a little nostalgic.

December 11, 2007

The circus has come to town

Today, I finished the first pachyderm teapots that I have made in over two years. In stark contrast to the traditional forms that i have been making, working on these teapots required a different bag of pottery tricks. They're very clever pots, but I seemed to remember most of the moves. It was fun.

73 degrees in December

It was a beautiful and warm day today. A good day to set the pots out to dry. It was also one of those days when I look for work to do outside. But with a firing scheduled for Sunday, I was busy finishing up the last pots before the glazing begins.

December 1, 2007

Toe River Studio Tour

This weekend over 140 studios and galleries will open their doors for the annual Fall studio tour of Mitchell and Yancey Counties. I have lots of envelope vases, 1/2, 1, 2, 3 gal jars with botanical brushwork, some nice gifts. Help yourself to hot cider, tangerines, and all sorts of snacks. Come on by, we hope to see you in Micaville.
Click here for more Tour info.
Click here for a map to my studio.

It should be a lot of fun and the weather is going to be good.