August 31, 2008

Thoughts Before The Burn

Before I hit the hay for my 'disco' nap I wanted to acknowledge a few things/people .

How amazing it is that all the pots got in, like a funny 3D jigsaw puzzle.

How amazing my wife Stacey is for picking up my parental slack and being a potters widow these last couple of weeks. (we're celebrating ATF with a trip to Nashville to see The Swell Season, Sept 24, woohoo)

How lucky I was to meet Mica Cain, who is the new resident potter at the Energy xChange, just down the road. He is 28 and this is the 28th firing of the kiln and it's sixth anniversary! He did an awesome job getting all the pots glazed and loaded.

How worried I was about the wood getting wet in our week of rain and how amazingly sunny and breezy it has been the last three days.

How exciting it is to think about all of the new pots that will be around in the next week.

How I hope that a couple of hours sleep will be enough.


On To The Kiln!

As with most every day of this cycle of work, half of what is planned actually gets done, (maybe I should fire my planner?) But I painted and slipped the last pots and will start loading in the a.m. Here are some of the last pots that I decorated, and as usual, they were my faves. The brush was really going. I had a thought tonight that maybe I should just paint, and have someone else make the pots??? Naaaaa... making the pots is just too much fun. But it took all of these pots and several days, just to get warmed up with the brush.

Before I dipped these jugs, I put in a clay stopper, because a couple of these I dipped right side up.

Tiles for a show at the Clay Art Center, in Port Chester, NY. The show is called 6 x 6. It's all tile from different artist, it should be a nice exhibition. I made these to be a little over 7 inches, so that they would shrink to 6 in. I'm just guessing, because I haven't tested this batch of clay. Hopefully they won't be that strict for the show.
All in all it's been an interesting cycle of work. My helper, Mica and I really enjoyed dipping and glazing the pots in the bright sunshine. But for me the highlight of the day was walking the freshly glazed pots just the short distance from the new shop to the kiln, without having to drive them in the truck.


August 30, 2008

Almost Ready

Here are a few pictures for those of you out there who like to keep up with what's happening around here. Today, Saturday, I'll be slipping all of these bisque pots with a white slip. It's what we affectionately call RJB. It stands for Randy Johnston Bisque. After I dab all of the slip that doesn't resist, I'll "line" all of the jars and cups with my alkaline ash glaze. Then's it will be stacking time. Mica Cain, a new resident at the Energy xChange, is on the payroll and is the only reason the kiln and I will be ready in time for the Labor Day Monday Firing! It will be my sixth anniversary and the 28th firing of the wood kiln !

August 29, 2008

Sun Fired

what a day for drying these last minute pots. These pots will get glazed bone dry.


Here are some bird images I painted on some pots today. I'm trying to include some within the botanical imagery. It's always a little difficult to get the confidence to do something different, but after a couple of days of painting, I felt that I was ready. It sounds a little funny, but it does take time to get into it, so to speak. Since I am painting wax resist, once it's on there there's no going back and wiping off, well I guess I could but time is short and the surface of the pot would be all scratched, and that's not pretty. I can scratch details into the waxed areas, but I'm really fooling myself thinking that will work. We'll see next week.

Kiln prep on Friday and more painting. Then it will be time for dipping the pots.

August 28, 2008

Coffee Break vol. #10

I'm reminded of a New Yorker cartoon that shows two men in suits by a water cooler. The 'boss' is saying to the other guy "[guy #1], eventually you have to quit whatever break you're on and get the work done". SO I sit here with my blog and a cup of coffee...
I've lost track with all these coffee breaks, but I don't recall posting this cup. Here is a wonderful yunomi made by So. Georgia potter Mike Henshaw. I had mentioned Mike in an earlier post about woodcut prints. Mike made this pot at Penland in Shawn Ireland's studio at the Barns while Shawn and I were residents there. Shawn and Mike are good friends and Mike would come up to escape the heat of south GA and make pots with Shawn in the cool of the mountains. It has a beautiful celadon ash glaze and was fired in Shawn's wood kiln that he built(and still stands) behind the Barns studios. It's survived ten years of my kicking it around during my morning coffee. It has the signs of a well loved pot in its little chips and coffee stained glaze.

Early Influence

Way back in the early nineties I came across a catalog of a show that was given to my friend Mark Shapiro. The catalog was in German and I had long forgotten any German I had learned as a three year old living in Germany. Yet the pictures were very inspiring and, little did I know, the images of Roman Scheidel painting in this little book had the single biggest influence on my approach to surface in my pottery ever since.

catalog cover

tiles painted with wax resist

By some miracle I found this catalog recently while packing my old studio. I thought I had lost it. So I took a few pictures to give you an idea of what I am talking about. I have wanted to post them at an appropriate time and since I am in the midst of some decoration work, now is the time. Also I found his web site and you can see better images here of Mr. Scheidel's work, and if you read German you're in luck.
After seeing this catalog I commenced to learn all about painting with wax resist and using plant imagery. I wasn't quite ready to do figurative work as Scheidel had in the work, but I loved the beautiful brushwork of leaf imagery.

Roman Scheidel is an Austrian artist who is mostly a painter, but is also interested in dance and ceramics. In this catalog it is clear that he is working with a potter, Felix Vogler, to make the ceramics.

Painting Wax Resist

Here are a few pictures from today's work in the shop. It's late and I'm too cross eyed to write very much.

August 27, 2008

Float On

Checked into the "kilns" this morning and all is well. Although, I'm a little worried about these pots being so light that they seemed to float! Good thing there is a lid on the kiln to keep 'em in.

Actually they are stacked onto pots below that you can see. Ahh, you can't always believe what you read or what you see.

Dry Inside

Thanks to Pamela Theis, of Salt and Soda Firing-land, who lent a hand yesterday morning and helped me move all the stuff out of the kiln loading area and set up a dry working area inside the new shop. Wow, we were soaking wet after all of that. It was nice that she was able to help. Pamela was a studio assistant in Jerilyn Virden's class last week at Penland. She has been touring the area this week and helping where she can. The picture above was taken last night inside the new shop. It's been raining so much, thankfully, but the weather has made it impossible to work outside. So here's my decorating station. I painted a few pots and got warmed up. Below are some details of some yet timid brushwork. My wife, Stacey was asking me about any new motifs and her question made me think about how I work . Usually I just start out with some standard motifs with the hopes that something new will emerge from the repetition. It usually does and it's usually spontaneous and unplanned. So we'll see what comes up in the next couple of days. You know I'll keep you filled in. Thanks for your kind readership, everyone. Let me know what you're thinking about and if you have any requests, questions, or jokes, send them up in a comment.

August 26, 2008

Under Over The Boardwalk

It was a drippy, rainy evening up at the boardwalk. I have a drainage issue at the back of the new shop, where I am currently set up. The rain off the roof is finding its way down to where I work, making a muddy mess, ironic isn't it? I will have to address at some point but not now. The ware boards came in handy.
I stacked some damp wood in the shed with a big box fan to help dry out before Monday. This should be fine. Still have a few more sticks to stack tomorrow. Paid a visit to my two kilns and their attendant computers, all seemed fine. Threw a few bowls and what I call "mini's" tonight. The hello kitty container is thrown in for scale.
Tomorrow I will set up my painting station and get to work with some brushes. Yaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnn.
Good night!

August 25, 2008

Two County Bisqing Spree

Courtney Martin's place

jars drying at Empty Bowls HQ

on the run

We had rain today, nice and steady. It put a little damper on my pottery transport, but it stopped after lunch and I scampered to Courtney Martin's and John Hartom's, respectfully. Here are some "exciting" pictures of the bisque scenes. Both are Amaco computer kilns. Sweet!
Thanks you guys.

Paella On The Way-a

We just got a package from the coast. It was a paella pan from Keith Kreeger!
Thank you Keith. We'll love it I'm sure.
Stacey and I are excited about the package and the kids are excited about the bubble wrap!
We'll give it a try and cook up a paella for the firing on Monday!
Stay tuned !

Thanks Keith!

Coffee Break vol. #9

D. Hayne is d. man. That's who made this wonderful mug, D. Hayne Bayless. Yes that's a square bottom and a round top! I thought the handle was reminiscent of the harvest jug handles I've been seeing on Ron's, Doug's, and Hannah's blogs of late. All of Hayne's pots are handbuilt, but he does use a wheel, a little known fact. We have several great pots from Hayne, but we could never have enough, except our house is so small, we're limited. Ironically, Hayne's studio is named after a former tight and limited space he used to work in, "Sideways Studio". Now Hayne has built himself a beautiful full-sized studio at his home in Ivoryton, CT. and I always love staying there when I'm in town. Like many potters, Hayne has a great big ole pottery collection. His guest room also houses his plethora of books about pottery, that keeps me up late every time. See his web site here.

After Dinner Pottery

Had nice evening in the open air last night. Rain's a coming and the air was damp. We need rain, our pond is almost dried up. The hatch of midges seems to be over, and the cicada killer wasps weren't around tonight. The cicadas must have all been eaten, because i mostly heard the crickets gearing up for their fall concert.

I threw a few cups and that was really a relief after throwing jars. It's a lot like the on-deck batter, swinging two bats before they step up to the plate. The small amount of clay, a little over a pound, was soft and rose up pretty effortlessly, but I had to be careful not to "strangle" it. Here's what the table looked like. Can you tell the bisque from the raw clay in B/W?

Today I will shuttle pots to various electric kilns in the neighborhood and get some pots ready for decorating. I need to mix some slip, maybe a little alkaline glaze, find my brushes, mix up a batch of wax, and wait for the rain. Have a good Monday!

click here to see what was on the 'pod last night

August 24, 2008


I just wanted to share some pictures of the handles I just put on some jars. I put a couple on yesterday, maybe a bit too late, ouch.

So with the rest of the jars, still a little soft, I went ahead and attached them. What was I waiting for anyway? I guess it's a holdover from the old types of handles I make, that get pulled off the pots. These just get "laid" on and thumbed into place. So with my left hand inside the jars I used my right to do the thumbing.

By thumbing, I mean that use my thumb to smooth the handle into place after it has been set into position. I use a little water on my thumb for lube. Here is an archived post on handles. Today's handles weren't done exactly as in the archive, but close. I didn't add the coil on the top of the handles.

Electric Kiln Nomad

With about a week before the firing date most reasonable potters would be glazing pots and preparing the kiln. Since I'm not exactly reasonable or able, I will have to squeeze a few pots out of the wheel in the next couple of days to fill out the making list. Usually I make small cups and bowls on the last wet day, or making day, and glaze them bone dry.

In other news, yesterday, John Hartom of Empty Bowls renown, let me fire his electric kiln at his place which is just a couple of miles down the road. It's a great place with a beautiful long view over towards Green Mountain, NC. John and his partner, Lisa Blackburn, moved to the area about eight years ago from Michigan where John taught school. John retired and has set up his Empty Bowls headquarters in Yancey County just over the Toe River from here. They've got a great collection of Burlon Craig pottery that I want to photograph someday, and I'll share it with you here.

But for now, I have a couple of bisque kilns to load and a few more pots to make so I better get to it.
Have a good Sunday.

August 23, 2008

On E Bay

Tom Turner alerted me to this piece on eBay. Here's the link. It was at $0.99 last time I checked. Not bad for Song Dynasty, No? Could this be what they're saying it is? See for yourself. There are several other views on the auction page. That brushwork looks pretty nice. I'm heading out to load some bicuits. Have a good Saturday.

OK For a Nights Work

It was an OK evening up on the hill. It was very dry today and breezy so things dried instantly. Quite the opposite situation that I am used to at the Mushroom Factory, as you can probably imagine. Here are some pictures of pots.

the evenings work

14#, 16#, 12#, 8#

August 22, 2008

Dinner Time

Just a quick post before I head back up the hill for my after dinner pottery. I wanted to send these pictures of some of the carving i have been doing on the platters. I also liked the edges of these platters, slightly different than previous. Can you see the difference in the rims? It's subtle. I particularly like the state of dryness they were in although it may not be apparent in these pictures.

***Also, thanks for everyone who signed up to comment with Disqus! So far there are 36 people signed up! You may still comment on this blog without signing up, but you'd be missing out on the 'discussion' and missing your chance to win a piece of my pottery from the next kiln load of pots. [See sidebar on top right] It's easy to use and I think it's been an interesting addition to the blog. Let me know what you all think.