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!