25 October 2010

5 Weeks To Go

I am certain to have w-a-y too many pots by the time I load the kiln in mid November. That is an ideal situation to pack a kiln...lots of choices. So I'm feeling no pressure and really getting lots thrown. I finished up these cups and have since thrown larger bowls, 1 pint jugs, large casseroles, a few cups and saucers, 4 storage jars and couple of 9 lb. vases. Oh, what fun!
Paul,  Emily and Ellie's porch!

This is a famous bowl of Michael Cardew's, followed by my interpretation. Winchcombe makes a rounder version. Mine needs up a little more angular. You'll see what I mean when I trim them.

23 October 2010

You Asked For It: Issue #1

Brandon asked a good question of a previous post of mine.  I mentioned that I raw glaze and that I glaze the insides first with a liner and later slip them. His question was, 'how do you keep the slip from getting on the glaze'? It is a probably doing things backwards, but here's why I do it and the photos to illustrate how. 
I used to get some handle cracking, but I now glaze the inside shortly after I apply the handles...everything rehydrates equally and...no cracking! Then I wipe the glaze back about an 1/8 of an inch inside. I like a clean line at the rims of my work and I can't get that in a more conventional way unless I'm willing to use a lot of wax (which I'm not). Put your slip on first, then glaze inside and the glaze sort of spills out over the rim in a way that doesn't please me. So,  below is my 'system'. After I pour the slip I use a brush along the rim to pick up the excess so there are no big drips when I turn it  on it's base. Does it take  a little longer to do? You bet it does! Does the finished result make it worthwhile...it does for me.

Photos are a bit grainy, taking them with one hand while pouring with the other!
Don S. came by the studio to show off his newest purchases. Some very nice juice cups. So how about a little quiz...name those makers!

19 October 2010

Follower Milestone

150 of you gentle readers are now following this here blog! When I first began writing I told myself that I would do it for my own edification and if anyone were to read along that would be a bonus. The truth is that I'm ridiculously flattered that you take the time to check in, whether it is on a regular basis or sporadically. Reading and writing in the blogosphere has been a very enriching experience and I continue to find it a bit of an obsession. I have new friends and I get to stay in much closer touch with old friends. There are folks I've yet to meet but look forward to one day being face to face. Thanks for coming along.
Standard teapots and a couple of minis.

Full frontal
The other side
The back side
I use 2 3/4 lbs of clay for the body of these. 1/2 lb for the spout and the same for the lid. The tiny one is 1/2 lb, fully functioning, of course!
I also made and finished another bird, a mere 2" high. Too cute! No photo today. Stay tuned...

More Avian Flu Results

What have I done to my classic teapot???

Birdlets - 5" h

16 October 2010

British Birds

Fresh from Toff's oven!
Click for bigger, juicier photo

13 October 2010

100 Mugs Concluded

One of the benefits of making so many mugs is the having the opportunity to slip and decorate a lot of work in a brief time. Throwing the second 50 mugs was a breeze...combing the second 50 was just the same... confidence grows and everything happens with a surer hand. That's one of the great pleasures of repeating forms... mind and hand really get in synch, although, the truth is, the less my mind is involved the better the result. There are almost 100 decoration variations on a couple of themes here. I resist repeating precisely, but like the comfort of exploring the familiar, adapting to different shapes and sizes. 
All of this combing started with white slip over red clay hundreds of years ago. One of Ray Finch's contributions to the pottery world was converting Winchcombe from earthenware to stoneware and adapting the decoration techniques from one to the other. Mostly he uses iron slips with celedon/ash glazes on top. I'm using a kaolin slip mixture these days and letting the salt do the the glazing. Check out Michael Kline's blog this evening. He has a mug quiz and I'm one of the answers! (That's a big hint!)
Slip with drip.
 I add the liner glaze shortly after the handles...everything rehydrates and equalizes. Handles don't crack that way.
Racked and ready.
A tableful.
aerial view

11 October 2010

A Week of 100 Mugs

    I spent the last week in near total immersion, making mugs for the masses! When I worked at Winchcombe everything was produced in big numbers, production being how the pottery survived all these years (200+). Eddie Hopkins could make and handle 500 small mugs in a week!!! Sid Tustin made a million pots in his 51 years at the pottery! I'm sure that Ray has done the same. Where do they all go?
    100 has been my number for many years but it is rare that I reach it anymore. When I first made pots here in Fredericksburg I was retailing mugs for $4.50 and wholesaling them for half of that! I had to make a lot of pots to get by. It was great training.
    So, during a week of fantastic autumn weather I hunkered down and did it. 105 mugs thrown in a couple of days and then handled, glazed, slipped and decorated. Raw glazing means that they are ready for the fire now, still a month away, but nice to have them 'in the bank'.  

I've mentioned here before that I reckon that I've made many, many thousands of mugs in the last 30+ years and I'm of two minds about that these days. For the most part I am grateful for all the bills that I've paid by selling them and I genuinely enjoy how much pleasure that they give to folks. The 'but' here is that I sometimes wish that we collected something besides mugs. Everyone collects mugs. I do. You do. We all do. But I wish that there were more teapot collectors and bottle collectors and jug collectors et al.
 Just saying...
And that being said, I still continue to find them interesting to make and explore. If I have a methodology for my pottery endeavors it is to take an old idea and make it new. More on that soon. 

Barrel shaped and little round ones.  3/4 pound o' clay.
 Variations on a theme. Nice shadows. Smooth surfaces are for future combing. 1 1/2 pounds.
My one loss. Mug fatigue
More atmosphere.

03 October 2010

Hunkering Down

I cross a little creek each day on my way to the studio and I often pause to check out all the turtles sunning themselves on fallen logs. Now, in what seems like an instant, we are into seriously cooler weather (at last!) and these guys will all be heading underground soon for a long winter's snooze. I stopped the car to check him out and he sped away. They can really motor if necessary. 
Why did the turtle cross the road...?
I aim to be making plenty of pots in October with a firing in mid-November. My favorite way to spend a month! That means avoiding distractions, staying focused and drinking even more cups of tea. I need hundreds of pots to fill the two chambers of my kiln, although some of the big birds will fill some space. Like this beverage dispenser below...
I couldn't help myself....
 I love a round pot, don't you? If you look closely you can see that the handles are a different color clay...I use several and under certain light conditions in my studio I have a hard time telling them apart. I do it all the time. No one knows...
A 'classic' vase of mine on the left and knob I'm still not sure of on the right.

01 October 2010

6" x 6" x 6"

I just returned from an exhausting and exhilarating evening at LibertyTown as we opened this month's exhibition. Well over 600 people came out to view the 195 pieces(!) that were submitted. Elizabeth and Beth did an heroic job of hanging the show. It is wonderful to see how strongly this scale appeals...both to artists and to the public. Sales were brisk throughout the evening and there are still plenty of treasures available.
25% of the show (and a few pots)

Ed King

Elizabeth Seaver

Rob Landeck

Jenna Anderson

Wet Work

We have finally gotten some desperately needed rain, which also means pots are drying slower. Both of these suit me...I hate 'chasing plastic', uncovering and covering pots all day long.

7 lbs. of clay
Yesterday we pressed pears and apples for cider...today is getting ready for tonight's opening at LibertyTown. Tomorrow I'll get back to these pots.