April 20, 2012

Worth Repeating

Here's a post I really love. Yes, it's from a while back, and yes, I could've just linked to it, but I wanted to put it front and center, today. Maybe Terry will write some more for the blog, someday. email him if you agree. (Let's fill his Inbox!)

 Terry is a potter, storyteller, and former resident artist at Penland School of Crafts. He is currently the Chair of Professional Crafts-Clay Program at Haywood Community College. See Terry's pottery at terrygesspottery.com. Terry will periodically contribute his thoughts on pottery.

You can reach Terry at terry@sawdustanddirt.com

Take, Make, or Break

There’s a story told about a Cherokee woman who wore her thick black hair in a long woven braid halfway down her back. Her young husband told her often and with pride about how he loved her beautiful hair, how it represented for him so much about their heritage and her beauty. One day he came home and found the braid, a scissors and a small note on the rocking chair that he always sat in, close to the wood stove. “You love my hair so much, I thought I’d see how much you loved me.”

On the shelf in our kitchen there’s a small slip-cast porcelain cup. I visited a potter who lives alongside a small, wooded lake in the north of Finland and she gave it to me. She made it straight sided, clean & cool in the Scandinavian design aesthetic that is so admired and celebrated. It’s been in our kitchen cup collection for years.

This cup is glazed a hard, shiny green, as pedestrian as Cone 6 can get. It’s an example of how challenging glazing can be, with thickness, application, temperature, and atmosphere all conspiring beyond our fingers to take, make, or break a pot. For me, glazing is the hardest part of making good pottery.

What I really admire in this cup is the handle. This Finnish potter has fashioned it from a thin, lean piece of branch, a young, smooth wood with very fine specks or dots in a subtle pattern all across the bark. The cut off ends reveal a dense, yellow sapling wood, like beech, or ash. She has subtly turned the branch into a handle through some kind of hidden plug. The handle seems to float as if by circumstance alongside the cup, like an odd juxtaposition of two friends that don’t seem quite matched to each other. There’s nothing particularly special in the form or glaze — in fact I don’t think that I’ve ever even drunk from this cup — but the handle keeps it in our kitchen, an object of repeated interest, a memento of a trip to Finland, a connection with another sensibility, an approach to form that is beyond my own.

Then one morning it broke. A plate was moved and in the moment of liftoff the plate caught the lip of the little cup and sent it over the edge, down to the floor. The crash was spectacular for something so modest and thin-walled — a shattered, splintered explosion as if some pent up rage was contained in that cup, or perhaps some complex spring-loaded contraption. Amidst the slivers and shards, there laid that handle, still attached to the bit of clay lapel that bridged it to the cup. Almost as if to say, “Maybe you like this handle more than you liked this cup.”

April 19, 2012

Wednesday Pictures

Maybe a few pictures can tell the story of Wednesday. See
(my apologies to iPad, iPhone, & iPod Touch users.)

  • Kathy King brought her class for a tour, a demo, and here, a paper plate painting exercise.
  • Chickens in their even larger indoor palace.
  • some pots and shots around the shelves and tables of the shop.

Here is a slide show of the above images. My apologies to you with iPods, iPads, and iPhones...

April 17, 2012

Straight Outta the Camera

black slip over white slip/wax resist,
salt glaze

combed kaolin slip
copper glaze/salted

amber glaze w/ black underglaze
wood ash/salt effect

Well sort of. I sharpened each by 5%. The light boxes were dropped down about 18".

Now I miss the shadow a little bit. Thoughts?

April 16, 2012

Writer@Large, Katey Schultz

Way back before I had this blog, Katey Schultz wrote frequently, brilliantly, and at length about her life at her web-log, The Writing Life. Katey's blog has been going strong since 2005 and it was one of the reasons I decided to give this medium a whirl and to see if writing a blog would better my writing craft. I didn't want to be a writer in the "career" sense, but I wanted to be a better writer when asked to submit an artist statement or present my slide show which I "script".

Katey hails from nearby Celo, NC and began her professional writing career writing articles about some of our better known craftspeople here in the greater metropolitan Penland area. You've most likely read her articles in Ceramics Monthly, Ceramic Arts & Perception, Surface Design Journal, Contemporary Impressions, and Metalsmith. She has written articles about Cristina Cordova, Lisa Clague, Kenneth Baskin, Terry Gess, Jenny Mendes, Emily Reason, Matt Kelleher, and Shoko Teruyama, among others too numerous to mention! Many of her artist profiles have been covers for these magazines.

My point is, Katey is a fabulous writer and knows ceramics inside and out!

In 2011, Katey started Writer@Large, a writing for artists consultation service. Basically, if you need an editor for your artist statement, or someone to write brilliant copy for web site content or press releases, Katey can take the careful time and attention needed to write great content, while you continue to do the things you do best, working in your studio making stuff!

Just last year, Katey was the press/P.R. manager to our Spruce Pine Potter's Market and attracted much attention for us with her brilliant writing and well connected press credentials.
Although I don't think Katey will write your blog, ;-) I do hope you will find Katey indispensable for all of your other writing needs. Here is what one of Katey's clients said recently of their collaboration,

“It is through the honest and intelligent interaction between visual art and writing that the subtle undercurrents of ideas can be revealed and appreciated. Through dialogues, interviews, and conversations, Katey's clear and smart voice time and time again unveils the embedded language of form and content in my creative expression. She is a pleasure to work with, open and diligent, clever and sophisticated in her analysis. I would recommend her to anyone seeking a professional and talented arts writer.” -- Cristina Cordova, ceramic sculptor

I have added a link to Katey's writing services for artists in the top of the sidebar. If you're like me, you probably have your hands full enough with the clay and don't always have the time and attention needed to update your artist statement, or send out press releases, or send email newsletters out as frequently as you should. Maybe you're applying for a grant, or a scholarship? Katey's your writer. Get in touch by clicking the link at the top of the right sidebar! You'll be happy you did. She's really awesome.

Well, it's back to the studio for me. I hope you have a great week!

Addendum: Here is a great post about the importance of those who write about art!

April 14, 2012

April 1, 2012

Big Week?

Not exactly.

My week was good, but I didn't exactly kick the kind of pottery ass that I had hoped I would. Nonetheless, I managed to get at least 12 pots made and finished each day. Most of them were yunomis, plates, and small jars. Thank goodness for quotas.

Here are a few plates that show my current interest in various textures I can get from braided rope.

In the top image I used a pretty standard braided rope, not pictured. I like the way the overall pattern is created from the overlapping. The rope is rolled immediately after throwing, the clay is very soft and care is taken to roll with even pressure. I like the way the plate is ever so slightly deformed from the rolling.

With the middle plate I used a short section of cotton clothes line rope(shown). Curiously the overlapping pattern was concentric, more or less. The resulting pattern is a composite of many side-by-side rollings. If you look closely you can see each individual rolled "path".

In the bottom plate I used a small nylon rope (shown) that I saved from my push mower when I replace that starting rope late last summer. It's smallness resulted in a slow and tedious impression, which was not so easy to roll and I didn't enjoy, but in the end I liked the subtle pattern that resulted. This may be the best pattern for over-decoration as the impressions aren't very deep and won't interfere with the painting of floral motifs.

Every day I get more and more excited about the upcoming trip to Austin Texas and the Art of the Pot show there. I just found out that I will be showing with my buddy Peter Karner, as well as my Penland neighbor, Gwendolyn Yoppolo, and Deborah Scwartzkopf! Keith Kreeger will be our illustrious host at his studio in early May. Here's a link to the Art of the Pot web site.

Well that is a little of what I am working on these days. The coming week will be mostly free of packing and shipping, appointments, and other distractions, so I hope to really get a lot made. I hope to be able to share what happens here on the blog.

Here's to the coming BIG week! I hope you all have a great one.