28 August 2011

Next Up- A Plague of Locust?!

In between the earthquake and the hurricane we had a crazy thunderstorm in town with winds that reached 57mph as measured at UMC. We are becoming accustomed to the fine covering of leaf and branch that is everywhere. More trees and more chimneys were damaged, but, like the photo below, we are still standing and feeling fortunate. This is right around the corner and remains in this precarious state...it is hard to reach.
Irene never quite lived up to her headlines. It was more like an intermittent but fierce rain and wind storm that lasted 12 hours or so. Anti-climactic, really. We are to be rewarded now with a week of mild and cloudless days. Sounds boring.
My new bat for platters...a full 1" thick x 15"w. Hoping it won't warp?
Another Bird/Book piece
Theodore Roosevelt
This sweet old boy is Theo. He must be 15 years old or more, he's stone deaf and still as wiley as ever. He now resides at the 'Washington Avenue Home for Old Cats That Need Spoiling".

24 August 2011

20 Miles from the Epicenter!

Most people speak of the noise that came along with the earthquake...my first thought was that a big transport plane was passing overhead as it was a low deep rumble of noise. As I think back to the moment, I also realize that some of the noise was my house, creaking and groaning as it was being racked back and forth. Lots of chimneys came down or will come down around town. A couple of pots hit the ground at Libertytown, and it seemed like every painting was at an angle, but mostly we are unscathed and have an excellent story to tell.  There was a gas leak in my neighborhood with many homes evacuated for a while, but all is well on that front. I'm not worried about it, but I am looking forward to checking on my kiln this morning.
"Where were you when the earthquake hit?" is already a common greeting!

23 August 2011


Let me be the first to say that the earth really does move...so does your house...I ran out as fast as I could, feeling quite sure that it was about to fall on top of me. They say it lasted 30 seconds...I couldn't say. It was thrilling...and overwhelming to get a taste of the complete absence of control we have over ol' Ma nature. All is well...minor breakage and every frame askew.

21 August 2011


I am slowly getting obsessed with making books. And like usual, I'm playing with different sizes, from mini to (eventually) maxi. I made these tiny ones first, partly to work out the different elements that make up a book. My plan was to create a book as a pedestal  for the birds, using titles that might even suggest that irony ensues. 
These are petite...and solid. Up to 3"
Now I'm building them bigger, from slabs, with internal structure to keep the shape from sagging.
This is the first slab built (as in hollow) book. I showed it previously, before adding the bird.
Once I looked at the two together, I felt that I had to cut an opening and make the bird a lid. I guess that makes it an inkwell?
There is a classic photo of a German (or is it Belgian?) salt glazed flask that I have long admired. Like most of my best ideas, it starts in medieval Europe. I've had it in mind to make some for years. That's the great thing about a long career in clay, plenty of time to get to most of the intriguing ideas that tickle one's fancy.
Here's the newest one. Even bigger.
There are butterflies and dragonflies everywhere, even by my wheel.

A Little Handle Tutorial

Last week I posted photos of these serving dishes and Ron wrote asking for more details. I do love finding ways to add handles to my pots and I'm particularly interested in the seams that result by not blending them in. This type of handle exaggerates that idea.
So, first make yourself a plate...or platter...or bowl. Wide rim optional.
Get some handle clay.
Pull a handle. I usually pull enough to get a bunch at a time. I didn't this time. (It's just a demo, y'know). 
My thumb makes the groove. This is 4" long.  
The handle is fatter where it meets the rim and tapers on the outside edge.
As I push down I am forcing the clay to divide equally on the front and backside of the rim.
(My other hand is usually supporting the backside but it's holding the camera here!)
First it looks like this...
...and then I refine it like this.
This is the backside.
There is no reason that you couldn't blend all these seams in and get just as nice a piece. Just different!

16 August 2011

400 Little Ideas

Who doesn't like a rainbow? This being my 400th blog entry, it seemed appropriate. We get some fierce-some thunder and lightening storms here in steamy Ol' Virginny and it's not unusual to see a rainbow...even double rainbows! Always a sign to stop and take a slow breath. Or drive into a parking lot, dash out of the car and take a quick snap...

I just finished a series of 11 bird vases...these are the silliest. 
I've been planning to make vases for a while but got my motivation to start after seeing a pot on Jenny Mendes's blog
 It was an interesting (and colorful) spark.

I have been slowly finding my way into making books out of clay. I've made a bunch of very small ones which i'll show you another time. This one is about the size of a fat paperback and is hollow. My idea is to have a bird or two sitting on a book as a base...even stacking 'books' for a taller base. I have cot a nice size hole in the bottom half of the cover and I'll make a bird lid to fit. I guess it becomes an inkwell?! This is a case of an idea that comes as I develop an original thought...I hadn't thought of the book as a vessel. My original plan was to attach a bird to it permanently.
I used to have a slip I called 'old leather book'...I'm hoping that I can recreate it.

10 August 2011

Green Grass, Pet Peeve and Urban Agriculture

 I couldn't resist trying to capture the 'green-ness' out at the studio. This is remarkable in August. In spite of some crazy heat and humidity, we have had sufficient rain to keep the grass from turning brown. It makes it a tiny bit more bearable to be spending the summer here. 

from my notebook of 'lists, etc.'
I carved some new stamps, small ones for small pots. I am always mystified that so many potters mark their work in ways that are difficult to read...or impossible to read...or they use some random symbol...or an illegible signature. I have used a tiny sprig for my own stamp for a long time, but I have changed it over the years and I've tried to keep track of those changes and when  they changed. I made a special stamp for the year 2000 and since then I have returned to lower case letters...I carved djf into the very first pot that I made. I was reading e.e. cummings back in those days! I have different sizes to go with the scale of the pots.
Urban Agriculture
I have this tiny side yard and for reasons unknown, corn sprouted in the midst of grass, heat pumps and lumber. I think that I remember my friend growing corn here more than a dozen years ago...could it be self sowing after all these years?!

02 August 2011

An Homage to the Other DF

A couple of cool candlesticks flanking "Doug's Jug"( tallest is 17")
In case you think that all I do is make beaks, bird feet and turn thousands of little balls of clay into feathers, I submit the following pots to calm you down and provide some balance for anyone who has had enough of my avian flu. I'm still making the birds (over 100 now!) but it feels great to fill up boards with wheel thrown pots. I was thinking of Doug and Hannah's visit when I made the 'jug' in the middle. I grabbed a few leaves from around the studio and learned that it takes more patience than I had today to really cover the pot. Still,  I'm hoping that this new blue/black slip will be a winner.
I haven't made these serving dishes in a few years. They used to be a standard  part of any making cycle.
I've made a bunch of these, with plans to stack 'em even higher.