December 30, 2008

Going Down to Georgia

We will be heading to Georgia tomorrow. Unfortunately, we won't be heading to the High Museum to see the terracotta warriors. Instead, we're going to spend New Year's Eve with some friends in Monroe where there will be much fun had by all, I'm sure. But, curiously, as I was flipping through my new book on Alabama Folk pottery I noticed these great pieces (below). They were made by John Lehman and one is in the High Museum's permanent collection. Ha! Lehman was born in Baden Germany in 1825 and made his way to the Southeast by late 1850's.
"Notwithstanding the efforts of art historians, collectors, and family descendants, tantalizingly few details of Lehman's life are known. According to family history, someone robbed and murdered him around 1883-84 while he was on a trip to Stockton, Georgia."

---excerpted from Alabama Folk Pottery, Joey Brackner, 2006, University of Alabama Press

"The[se] jugs are 22 and 23 3/4 inches in height and are ash glazed. Both are waist to head busts of an African or African American man in formal attire with large hoop earrings and a large belt buckle. Lehman's makers marks are stamped on the figure's lapels. The arms are hollow with small holes in each to prevent an explosion during the firing. These vessels have caused much excitement among collectors of southern pottery."

---from Alabama Folk Pottery, Joey Brackner, 2006, University of Alabama Press
Interesting. Coincidental?

Maybe I should add the face jug or "figural " jug to my making list when it comes time to make pots. I haven't made any since I was a college student. For some reason I have hesitated to enter the fray of face jug production , but these pieces are very interesting in a non-grotesque sort of way. After reading Dan's article about the subject of face "juggery", maybe it's OK. Never say never.

Here is another link to some Alabama pots.

December 28, 2008

Before the Year Ends

One fear I have is that I may not have anything relevant to say, much less write a blog about, but "fools rush in" as the songs says.

After a few days of R and R with family for the holidays, I have managed to distance myself from the woes of studio completion, or rather, lack thereof. I have been sequestered from worries and concerns and I must say it is very refreshing. I've realized that it's a very stressful thing to a) not have a studio that one can make things in, b) stretch your skills and do things that require a lot of experience to do right and do well. Meanwhile...

I have been enjoying two books that I got from Santa this week. Both recommended to Santa by my buddy, Tom Turner. One is ironically titled, "Talking with the Turners" by Charles R. Mack. [No, it's not about Tom's family.] It's a collection of "conversations with southern folk potters" and includes a CD with recordings made by Mr. Mack in 1981. I really like what I've read so far especially since there are obviously a lot of stories about the ways that pottery was made back in the old days. I am hoping to hear from Mr. Mack to get permission to quote excerpts from the book so that you might want to add this book to your pottery library as well. With permission I hope to put a few of the audio tracks here for your enjoyment. More later I hope.

The other book has been on my wish list since it was published in 2006, Alabama Folk Pottery, by Joey Brackner. This is a big coffee table kind of book that isn't always easy to hold while reading in bed, but that's OK because it's really a marvelous object to look at and I'm sure it will be on your bookshelf soon if not already if you're a lover of old pots, especially old southern pots. In the short time that I've been reading it, I've realized that wonderful pots were being made all across the south, not just NC and GA, but it took an insightful and well researched book to spread the word about the Alabama pottery tradition. Hopefully books about the Mississippi and Texas pottery traditions are in the works, too! Of course as the nation grew it needed pottery, and as this book clearly shows the potters were pioneers as well. Maybe after I have read the whole book, I will be able to write a review.

I would hope though, that you set aside a few dollars here and there to get these great books. Times are tight but you shouldn't neglect your library. My library has suffered greatly since budget cuts shortly after our first daughter, Evelyn, was born, but I won't hold that against her. ;)
It's only because I don't have a realistic budget in the first place. God knows I could at least buy one worthy book each year with money saved from certain revenues collected from certain ads from certain said blog. [But I'm not supposed to mention that.]

I am so thankful to my family who gave these books to me for Christmas! They are my most wonderful supporters!

As far as the new shop is concerned, you can rest assured that I will continue to plug away at the punch list and keep you informed of anything exciting that happens, like electricity!!! I'm getting really close to getting the wheels in there and building a few counter tops and such.
As always, thanks so much for reading.

December 19, 2008

December 16, 2008

Just Plates?

A "tray" by former Mitchell/Yancey
landfill potter , David Eichelberger,
as "plate of the day" on

Naomi Cleary has led me to a nice blog called A Plate a Day. Seems like all of the pots are from various galleries. There certainly are a lot of plates to see but the most curious tag is 'not a plate'. What's keeping this blog from spiralling out of control and sharing the table with other competing shapes? Only time will tell. In the meantime enjoy the dishes. Thanks Naomi!


Sometimes the chickens come home to roost, sometimes they're just here to eat the leftovers. Whatever may be the case, these chickens insist on ceramics. In the late eighties there was a billboard in Brooklyn, NY where I lived at the time. It read "When dining out, insist on Ceramics!

I guess you could say that these birds insist. This might make a good image for Ron's pots of domestic bliss. This is more like domesticated bliss. Who knew that chickens like their eggs scrambled?

I hope everyone out there is insisting on ceramics when you dine out!

December 15, 2008

Grit in the Gears: Isaac Button, Country Potter.

Check out this post about Issac Button with video!

Grit in the Gears: Isaac Button, Country Potter.

Seems like this has been going around the block a couple of times, but always a treat. Nice pictures of the Soil Hill Pottery and background story as well.

December 14, 2008

Kind Words of Support

Yesterday it was all about the dirt and today it was all about the sawdust. I continue to cut and split a giant oak tree up in the woods above our house. Both of these activities reminded me of my love of these two materials, these gifts of this place. The field where my studio and kiln are built has the most unbelievable depth of red dirt that I've seen around. There are very few stones, and that is rare here in the mountains. The wood I'm cutting is for our house, our heat. But I'll have to cut more wood for the kiln and for the studio. That will require a new chain for the saw and some days when it's not raining. We have more rain forecast for the next week, maybe next week I will get some dry time.
A few things have to happen inside the new studio before I can have the final electrical inspection but we're close. I have to be careful how I define close, as we've said that many times before. There are quite a few things left on the ole punch list, but I'm excited about moving the wheels into the studio and building some counter tops, tables , and, of course, the wedging table/clay storage bin. Soon I will be posting pictures of pottery work and the road to the thirtieth firing!
If you haven't participated in the survey, please do. It's at the top of the column to the right. It will only take a moment and will be helpful to inform me about the functionality of my commenting service and want to make sure that everyone can have a say here at S & D.

Thanks for all the encouragement that you all sent my way in the past few days. I appreciate your support and thank you for reading.

December 13, 2008

December 12, 2008


After talking with Ron yesterday, I realized how envious I am for all of the potters out there making pots and doing fine work and I'm thankful for everybody that writes a blog and tells their pottery story. Dan Finnegan had to remind me in an email yesterday that I am a potter, after all, not a carpenter-drywaller-painter! Although it's always good to have many diverse skills, its better, maybe, to focus on the core skills that make us who we are.

It's been a little over a year since I started this blog and I would have to say it has changed the way I look at my pots and pots in general. It's been a portal that takes me around the world to be a fly on the wall and watch how others make their work. I'm approaching my 500th post! I hope that I can continue to bring up interesting material and inspire others as well.

Progress in the new shop is slow, but I hope to be in there after the holidays, fingers crossed.
I hope everybody out there has a great weekend and keep making those beautiful pots.

December 10, 2008

Home with a Cold On a Rainy Day

Could you tell by these frequent posts that I'm home surfing on this rainy cold day? I've had a sore throat for a solid week and with the painting yesterday I think I'd better just rest. But is surfing the net rest?

I found this from an advertisement on a certain blog;)My Mom-in-Law has a whole bunch of my pots in her cupboard. [thanks Jackie!] They are slowly replacing her huge set of MA Hadley pots. There is something charming about these crudely painted clunkers. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in anything pottery related.

Now its back to bed. Maybe I can finish the painting after lunch and after a nap.

Eva Zeisel on TED: The Playful Search for Beauty

Thanks Stacey for showing me this.


rough draft

December 9, 2008


This image never became a postcard and I certainly hope I never used this image for a jury. There is a little problem with the structural integrity of this one, do you see it yet?

This piece was in one of my last firings of " The Castle" back in 1998. From the time in my career soon to be known as my "art pottery period". As a postmodernist, these genres are cyclical and can be dredged up at my convenience, no?

Technically speaking, this pot is thrown and has an added coil and thrown foot ring that you can't really see in this picture. The foot is probably about 3 inches tall giving forth to the rise of this fruit bowl. The form is sort of based on a cake plate, but the carving made it nice for fruit, and perhaps a huge mound of garlic heads [yummy]. The flow through feature is carved through with an x X-acto brand razor blade. The rim is done in a sort of pie crust wave, but the rim is split and individually smoothed to distinguish the individual edges. The glaze is my old standby, the color of money, Willie Hillux, also known in some circles as the hi-luxury glaze. It was my money glaze and I anchored my early business on it. It was a real bitch, though, and would drag me in it's wake at times, usually at inconvenient times of reduction.

There you have it. Another vintage pot from yesteryear. Now back to some real work. Let me know what you think of these retro posts. The conference room has been quiet.

December 8, 2008

Another Retro Card

Small Jar with bird and 4 handles
h. 6 in.

Here's another card, this one from about 2003, after I built and fired my then "new" kiln. I love the glaze color and the handles of this little jar. Inspired by the old Jugtown pots of Ben Owens Sr., most likely. The texture of the glaze is what I would characterize as sugar. What? No pattern?! What was I thinking? The hand formed bird atop the lid is a little stoic, but has a certain charm I think.
Where is it now is any one's guess. Somehow the pots we make go out into the great big world.
This bird has flown.

Old Postcards

a group shot of pots with all kinds of treatment,
also some salt glazed baseballs

I want to do some glaze tests and I've been looking at old images to get some ideas about color. I found a stack of old postcards and picture from years past. I'll share some with you. I made this work just before moving to be a resident artist at the Penland School.

This jar was part of a show at the Penland Gallery the spring
before I moved here. I like the stamped medallions
at the top of each braid. Where are the vines???
h. 18"

December 7, 2008

Sunday Sale Results

We had a gorgeous day and plenty of light to see our wares, but just a trickle of customers. Boo Hoooo. But later in the afternoon I snapped the above picture of a crowd of pottery lovers looking over "the work"! Actually we had a fun afternoon with friends and neighbors coming over to share some ginger cookies and cider and that's always fun.

We closed the shop at 5:15 after a nice visit from Mars Hill, NC potters Mary Mikkelsen and Henry Pope, whom I've never met before today. It was nice to see and have time to talk with everyone this weekend. Now the studio is officially on the map and folks know where to find me. Tomorrow I'm back to working on the shop and "punching" out all the stuff I need to do before my final inspection and hopefully my C.O. (certificate of occupancy). Hope you will check in and say hi sometime and I can continue to fill you in on the latest here at the pottery.

Below is a picture of some of the pendants that Stacey made for the sale. Do you have a spare link on your charm bracelet? They are pretty nice I think.

Weather Forecast Wrong!

So far. The report was for 50% chance of snow but the weather looks great! Let's hope it stays that way. But bundle up, it's windy. Still a few pots left, so if you're around stop in and see the new studio.

December 6, 2008

Bandana Pottery Goes to Korea

Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish have safely landed in South Korea and have begun blogging about their bus man's holiday travel and work with Mr Oh Hyang Jong in Gwangju, South Korea. I hope you'll read about their experience as it unfolds in their blog. You can find it here!

And while I'm plugging potter's blogs, make sure you read Catherine White's new "Solstice" series. Really great stuff.

Studio Sale Report

a not-so-great picture of the "showroom"
soon to be "pot shop"

It was a cold morning and a slow start to the Toe River Arts Council studio tour. My neighbor Robert Hoyle, came by early to spread the 16 tons of gravel in the "parking" area. I scrambled to price the pots that needed pricing and finished setting up our checkout area. Stacey had her jewelry displayed nicely but with overcast skies the light wasn't sufficient from the windows to truly show her tiny shiny beauties. We used some lights that Wendy Gratz loaned us and that helped a lot. With all the receptacles installed we both had the temptation to plug into them, unfortunately we haven't been connected to the grid yet and had to plug into a network of extension cords and power strips which created a perilous web of orange and green lines. In a word, embarrassing.
Instead of being proud of the work that's been done to get to this point of construction, I was embarrassed for all of the "stuff" piled up outside and the general unkempt state of the kiln and kiln shed. It's the result of moving from a much larger building to a smaller, unfinished building. It's the baggage that I' haven't decided whether or not to keep.
I need a barn!
Well, I'll need to take careful notes of my disgust and take action!

Back to the Sale!
It was a slow start but many of my most loyal fan's came out and made it a decent day. The effects of the failing economy have finally hit home, I think, and sales weren't as brisk as I remembered past holiday sales. But as we have been in recent sales, we're grateful for every sale we make. It will help us finish the studio and get on with the work of making more pots. That is what I do best!

Coming up in 2009
Talking with folks today I was excited by my plans to work on some new glazes and maybe build a small wood fired test kiln with my pile random bricks that are piled outside the kiln shed. Just the thought of actually making new work is exciting enough. I have a couple of special orders to make for the upcoming firing in Feb.(?) as well as shows at AKAR and J. Michael Kohler ArtSpace Gallery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

So, CHOP, CHOP! Until next time...

December 4, 2008


what's left

Sorry for the silence. Our internet service was interrupted for failure to pay, oh well. We're all busy, aren't we? Hence no reports on the progress, or lack of, on ye olde list! Nothing much to check off the list except a cleared out studio thanks to a Madison County intervention from Tom Turner. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of Tom scampering up and down my giant steps into the shop, just take my work for it. Thanks TOM! Not only did Tom sweep and move stuff around, he brought my favorite heart stoppers, a six pack of Ingles apple fritters! Thanks again TOM!

Anyway, I will try to catch you up on the studio that we're prepping for the Holiday Studio Sale(coming up this weekend!) very soon with some pictures of the setup, and maybe of Tom scampering up and down the big steps!

November 30, 2008

Last Post of November

A drawing by Evelyn

I guess the holiday is over and the month is over. Where does the time go? Here's where the new shop stands,
  • Main room painted
  • Showroom not painted, not even sanded
  • most electrical devices installed
  • electric not on
  • mud everywhere, no surprise
Here's what I hope to get done this week,
  • Finish drywall in showroom
  • paint primer in showroom
  • paint finish coat showroom
  • install wood stove and chimney with Shane
  • put gravel on muddy entrance
  • trim doors
  • trim windows
  • clean floor of dust
  • set up tables for pots
  • set up track lights
  • set up pots/jewelry
  • tidy up
Thanks for allowing me to bore you with these details. I can't wait to get the wheels in place get some clay splattered around on the walls and make some pots. Oh, how I long to take some pictures of some freshly thrown pots and tell you how sweet it is to be making pots in the new shop. I appreciate your patience and thanks for reading.

November 26, 2008

Every Man a Rembrandt

While I was sitting here painting my invites, I was telling Evelyn about my love of paint by number when I was a kid. As I was explaining, I looked this up. It's a pretty amazing story. Taken from the web site:
The making of the fad is attributed to Max S. Klein, owner of the Palmer Paint Company of Detroit, Michigan, and to artist Dan Robbins, who conceived the idea and created many of the initial paintings. Palmer Paint began distributing paint-by-number kits under the Craft Master label in 1951. By 1954, Palmer had sold some twelve million kits. Popular subjects ranged from landscapes, seascapes, and pets to Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. Paint-kit box tops proclaimed, "Every man a Rembrandt!"
As far as I know I'm not related to Mr. Klein, but you never know, do you?
I've also been a great fan of geological survey maps ever since I can remember, and upon looking at illustration above I can see why I loved paint by number.

Maybe you like paint by number too?

The cards are done.
That was fun.
Maybe I should do more watercolor painting.
If you would like to be on my mailing list,
send an email, with your mailing address to

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

November 25, 2008


watercolor, 4 3/8" x 5 3/4"

I spent the evening painting invites to our upcoming studio sale on Dec. 6th. It was nice to be painting again. Maybe just me, but the one above one reminds me of my neighbor, Carmen Grier's beautiful work. I thought the bird below had a funny look.

watercolor, 4 3/8" x 5 3/4"

November 24, 2008

Coffee Break vol. #15

The electricians are here putting their finishing touches on the studio and I'm digging a ditch. It's a little overcast and not that cold, thank goodness. But it's mid morning and I'm in need of a break, and just a little bit of joe to keep me shredding on the ditch. I picked this little bit of a cup, or as Hannah would say, this wee cup. This wee cup was made by Bandana Pottery (aka Michael and Naomi) for their wedding back a few years. It's a great cup for wine and a great little cup of joe, as well. Why do we call coffee joe? The incising is so casual and expressive. Michael and Naomi's pots have that wonderful combination of skill and playfulness, just the right touch.
The Toe River Arts Council Holiday Studio Tour is coming right up and it's my deadline to get the studio presentable. I've given up on the idea of having it all done, but at least I will have a cozy place to show Stacey's jewelry and my pots. Here's the list as of today, in no particular order,
  • Finish the painting.
  • Trim out the windows and doors.
  • Paint trim.
  • Install wood stove and chimney with Shane.
  • Truckload of gravel for the muddy entrance.
  • Install track lights.
  • Get rid of VOC odor.
  • Bang up some siding in entrance alcove.
  • Temporary handrail.
  • Paint invites to opening.
  • Hire DJ.
  • Hang disco ball.
  • Have fun in the new studio!
Well, that wasn't enough coffee! I better get back to work, that list made me nervous. Have a great day ya'll.

November 20, 2008

Another Kind of Alkaline

Handled Bottle

alkaline water blue glaze
white earthenware

Here are some more pots from my earthenware years in New York City from the late eighties. They all are glazed in Woody Hughes' Water Blue glaze. Again my apologies for the images, that are not only bad to begin with (taken in my Brooklyn apartment with a couple of floor lamps), but are worse for the wear of traveling, moving, and handling over the years. The clay was a store -bought white earthenware. It's funny to see these pots from so many years ago. But I'm excited to keep looking through the piles of slides I have taken over the years.

3 Small bottles
alkaline water blue glaze
white earthenware

More to come.

Picture of a Pitcher

a "keeper" from a couple of years ago

Customers would ask why I trailed 2006 on so many pots. After my accident with the table saw I was back to work after a few months. 2006 wasn't the best year and it was a lot of work to make good pots again. But I was lucky and was thankful that I could continue to work in the clay. That's why I trailed 2006 on so many pots.

November 19, 2008


It was 16*F when I when out onto the back porch this morning. BRRR! Not as cold as it can get here, but still, I'm in awe of the cold. When I lived in MA there was a certain urgency each Fall to get the kiln site and studio ready for the oncoming Winter. It seems that in New England there was nothing more certain than Winter. But here in North Carolina we have a bit of a pass. We have our issues when it comes to school closings and road conditions, but it comes in a storm and then goes with the sun. My snow blower sits in it's rusty jacket of peeling orange paint. Today everything is frozen solid. All of my clay is outside, glazes still in the buckets that I left them in during the last session, wood is stacked for the kiln, but there is still a lot to cut. There's very little wood to burn in the wood stove, but that will come.

This week I wait for the electricians to come here after they finish their current job. I still need to dig my 60 foot trench, I will buy paint today and a few other sundries. But as I read all those busy potter-bloggers out there I am a little envious of all the production that goes on this time of year. While I read about you productive ones, I am reminded of Ron saying, "Now, get out there and make them beautiful pots". I can't wait to get through this tedious work and get those wheels in there, get the stove hot and slam some clay on the wheel head.

November 17, 2008

Show at Pucker Gallery

I received a fabulous catalog in the mail from the fine folks at the Pucker Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston. "It is I" is the title of a show soon to open with recent pottery by Mr. Kang Hyo Lee. You can download a pdf version of the catalog here, click on the image of the white jar. The pots have a well handled feel to them. The slip, incising, and motifs on the pots are painterly and suit the forms well. I love these pots! I just wish I could go see them in Boston.

I spoke with Naomi Dalglish yesterday and we talked about the Lee catalogue of pots. She told me that she and her husband Michael Hunt are going to blog while they travel in South Korea next month. I will certainly let you know about that when it happens. Michael spent 6 months in Korea working with Mr. Oh Hyang Jong to learn Onggi techniques. Blogging, traveling, and potting. What could be finer?

November 16, 2008

Carolina Mingei

I just spoke to my porcelain buddy Tom. He's really excited about this survivor. I can see why. He sent these pictures. Tom's thinking from the evidence of bloating and burn outs/melt outs that the pot was an early, maybe 1850's, pot made from an exploratory field of clay. Tom pointed out to me, and as I see, that the clay had several technical issues. It could have been essentially a test or clay that was being used for the first time or an example of some transitional clay. During our conversation I kept thinking that he could have been talking about my clay, haha. Perhaps it was a pot made from the best available clay at that time. Obviously this was not a beginning potter, but the materials may have been new and untested. The jar's rim/lip is unglazed and I think the deformation is from other pots being stacked upon it. I don't recall what Tom said about that. Here is a picture of that rim.

I would have to say that there must be many more similar pots out there yet to be discovered by the wider pottery loving audience. It's exciting to see these pots surface and have access to them. Thanks Tom for sharing!

Here is Tom's recent, and very relevant commentary in Ceramics Monthly.

November 14, 2008

Friday News

News? Maybe not, but I wanted to say that for the last few days, Stacey has been in Seattle presenting at a conference and I have been the alpha parent. I've realized how much Stacey does for and with the kids while I'm chasing drywall around a room, making pots, and chasing my blogs around the world. I'm walking just a few miles in my darling's shoes and my feet are sore, maybe even a blister or two. After three days of flying solo, though, I think I'm getting the hang of it, (we finally arrived to school this morning a little early). But the house needs picking up and there's laundry, etc. What really amazes me about Stacey is that she still makes time to do her art work and make beautiful jewelry. [Renee Margocee wrote an interesting post about this here] I mentioned a little while ago, but I'll mention again Stacey's web site, for those just coming into this conversation.

I may have also said this before, and many non-bloggers ask me when do I have time to post regularly, the answer is that Stacey provides the wiggle room I need to get this blog published within and around my own responsibilities of parenting and potting. I hope you find this blog worthy of your time.

So my hat is off to my lady, Godspeed, really.

Now I better get back to work, because before I know it will be time to run into town to get the girls from school, and oh ... what's for dinner tonight???

November 13, 2008

Artist Potters

15th c. Vietnam
click this pot to see the show of these
Asian Trade ceramics

Someone asked about home made brick and I thought of this website, Several years ago when I was building my kiln I was told to check out the anagama info on Warren Frederick and Catherine White's web page. Not only did I find the info but a lot more! There are several articles of interest about their pots and historical pots. Many of you may already know about this treasure of a site, but for those who aren't familiar please take some time to read. Catherine also has a blog that you can find here.

For info on the castable refractory recipe, go to the home page and then look at the bottom left of the screen for anagama info link.

It's a rainy muddy day. We need the rain and the peacefulness that a cloudy day brings. More mud and tape for me! Have a good Thursday.

November 12, 2008

Another Bucket of Mud

Just wanted to check in and report that the mudding of the drywall is about done. I'll do some more taping and mudding and sanding tomorrow. It's pretty exciting to see the walls take shape and I'm kind of in shock that we're this close to moving in. Of course I may not be as close as I think. Just one look at the "punch list" reminds me of all the little details that have to be taken care of.

Here are a few more exciting pictures of the main room taken from different angles, oooo wow...

LinkHere is an embarrassing shot of the area that I made pots this summer,
now being used as a tools, fasteners, odds'n'ends pile.