28 September 2011

Join Me for a Cuppa...

A cup of tea, that is. Seriously. Anytime your in the area, I would be pleased to take a break for a cup...or two. I make these rarely, because who do you know who uses them? A word to the wise...if you are making saucers, be generous. Space is needed for a biscuit or two or more.
If you happen to be visiting after hours, I may be serving smokey scotch from a flask like this instead.

27 September 2011


The weather continues to be curious, several climates a day but always the rain! Mold is growing everywhere and I am under assault by blood-sucking mosquitos in the studio. There seem to be particular times of day that they need to feed. Not that they can slow me down. Pots are still flowing and I was pouring a lot of slip. Here's my set up, all of which is on a turntable. The pot is sitting on a bottle which keeps the rim from touching.
I pour slip while the pot slowly rotates and I use a brush to 'collect' the dripping bits before I turn it upright.
Combing takes a few tries to get the right feel. This is the first one. A little stiff...
This is a small flask. That's called 'rilling' on the neck. 
The crazy weather has also produced spectacular skies. These two photos should be stitched together for full effect.
 And our own Hannah McAndrew has made the big time here in the U.S. with a nice photo in the latest edition of Ceramics Monthly! Well done, lassie!

20 September 2011

Pots and Peeves and the Natural world

Small mugs - 3/4lb.

The air is cool and clear and my energy  is high. I had a 'stay-cation' last week...spending a lot of my time in the studio instead at the beach house that I rented at Buxton on the Outer Banks. Hurricane Irene removed serious chunks of the rather delicate road leading there, so, no holiday at the beach. I would most certainly have enjoyed myself, but I was completely happy to make lots and lots of pots and stay away from LibertyTown. I aim to keep up the pace as I'm hoping to fill the kiln twice before the year passes.
Large mugs - 1 1/2lb.

So, I have more pottery pet peeves than I would ever admit, but here's one I've probably blogged about before. As Hollis recently referenced, I call the little ball of clay that I place at the apex of the handle of a mug a "dustcatcher". I think that the phrase comes from an old college professor. I like both the look and the feel of this, but it drives me crazy when potters put a great big honking ball of clay at that point. I admire subtlety on this subject! Here below is another way to accomplish the same idea. Instead of a little ball of clay, I place a tiny coil across the width of the handle, then blend it in with three strokes of my thumb.
I've been giving the bees their space for a while. After losing the old queen and observing as a new one slowly re-envigorated the hive, I then learned that they got a lot meaner in the heat of the summer and suffered from a few (maybe more than a few) stings. I'm not overly allergic, but I certainly have a strong reaction! This is the hive with the top 'super' set aside. You can see all the bees down the middle...I'm waiting for the autumn honey flow and hoping that they will eventually spread out towards the edges, storing more honey for the winter.
Look real close to see two young deer. I got to watch them for a long time.
The woods as I drive in to the studio are full of these mushrooms. I've no idea what they are, but it's almost spooky! If you look closely below, you can see them spread all over. These woods were logged about 10 years ago and there are stumps at the base of all of them. We' have had some serious rain for this time of year... 
For those of you have stayed with me here to the end, I'm pleased to announce that Ryan Poe has completed the film about me and my kiln and pots etc. and he has entered it in the film festival held in France every other year. We are planning the world premier for later this fall. Stay tuned!!!

17 September 2011

Mice vs. Birds

If you click on the photo to enlarge you will see big chunks chewed from the belly of this Bird! My studio is full of clay!  When I ate meat (35 years ago) I did enjoy breast meat...

Insulation layer for the salt kiln floor. I salvaged these giant soft firebrick (3"x9" x24") from a funky old defunct factory that converted carbon from one form to a more oxygenated form. We'll be slowly putting this together through the autumn.
We have gone from summer to early winter in about a day.

12 September 2011

World's Smallest Wood Fired Kiln

Nicky and Todd tending the fire
Or, would you believe, a small test model of a bread oven. I did some consulting and provided a kit of materials, but Helen and Todd built this cute little 'Cob' bread oven last week-end and made some lovely bread this weekend after drying it out. Room for improvement, but lots learned and how cool does it get! The 'Cob' is just clay I've dug around my studio...it's an ancient riverbed and is perfect for this use...good clay and plenty of sand. They mixed long-ish wood shavings instead of straw into the clay, made a form of dampened sand and then covered it with the Cob.
Butter Dishes...or...hatching eggs?
I promised that I was done with birds. The proof follows below. But these are the last ones that I finished last week.
This is a better photo of the piece that I showed earlier last week.

Lidded jars and vases.

This is the proof...
I really liked the form of this extra large 'ginger ' jar and I kept feeling like it was naked without a bird on top. So I kept placing this bird form on and off for a couple of days, trying to erase the what if's that have been feeding the bird frenzy. In the end I left it off and now I'm officially done with birds for now and back to classic pots. This looks a lot different now that's it's done, I'll show you next time.
All the rain has produced fungi everywhere. 4 distinct kinds on my walk today.

02 September 2011

01 September 2011

Stealing Back to that Same Ol' Used To Be

I've been seriously obsessed with the birds for about a year and a half. I've made about 125 serious pieces. I'm ready to give it a rest and return to making boards and boards of useful pots. I need that satisfaction.
I am planning on firing the wood kiln twice more before the year is out, which gives me the chance to shake the cobwebs off and make those pots fly off the wheel.  I"m never going to be a great big pot maker, but I like the form of these below. I just don't know what a big pot should feel like...how much it should weigh? These are 8 - 10 pounds. The two on the left are vases. I'll make one more batch of these right away (which probably means next week! Tomorrow is First Friday and I have a couple of things left to finish and Sunday is Ellie's birthday, blah, blah...).
Speaking of First Friday, come on out and see Trista Chapman's wonderful and colorful earthenware pots and silk screen prints from the folks at 'Itty Bitty Press'!
22" high

To wind up my bird frenzy I undertook to make a tree with a few bird perched on top. Some of the first things I ever made in clay were tree-like and I've long thought about making them (trees) in clay,
trying to figure out how to defy gravity. Once the birds came along this was inevitable. The coarse surface and throwing of my sculptural work will be set against the rich crackle slip/ash glazed birds.