31 July 2008

Money and Power

I spent some time today refining my new workspace in the new studio. I learned to throw on a Randall wheel and I'm pleased to be getting back to one. Most of my pots have been made on an old Brent CXC. I don't have electric power out here so I run the wheel off a generator. Now I can use leg power at least some of the time.

I also bought a slick new generator today...a very quiet Honda. I run the studio lights from a small solar panel system and one day I hope to run the whole studio from solar power. I wish I could eliminate my electric wheel, but I find treadle wheels maddening and my legs aren't up to kicking full time. Having the generator makes me mindful of being productive with the energy it produces, so I guess it is more efficient than being 'on the grid'.

I got my application ready for the Virginia Commission for the Arts individual artist grant...at the last minute, of course. Virginia is one of the worst states in the country for arts' support and it is very discouraging to know that even in states that do a great job, like North Carolina, money for the arts is disappearing...once again.

29 July 2008

Planters and Platters

A busy weekend kept me from the studio and when I returned today I'd lost interest in this coil-built planter. I was going to give it a big beefy rim, but this arched rim is just as satisfying to me and a lot quicker. It'll be cool with the right plants. I know lots of great gardeners and I like making pots for them. For a time I made quite a few handbuilt bonsai pots.

I finished trimming all the flatware I made last week and started slipping and glazing. These are all meant for the salt chamber. This is where I'm going back to Winchcombe ideas for decoration and it's a lot of fun. I'm making some for the wood chamber next.

28 July 2008

A Little History

No new photos today, so here's a little piece of my formative years.....
I arrived in England and 'The Guildhouse' (above) in January, 1978, to teach pottery to 'seniors', local villagers and handicapped children. This amazing building was built by the sheer willpower of one woman named Mary Osbourne. To conform with local building codes, it was built from the stone of seven old local barns.
Just 7 miles away was The Winchcombe Pottery, and I soon became a regular visitor until Ray Finch gave me a job. Winchcombe has been the site of a pottery for at least 200 years. Michael Cardew revived it after he left Bernard Leach's pottery in St. Ives in the 1920's. Ray became an early student and eventually bought the pottery. He has led a team of potters making wood-fired domestic ware for more than 60 years! No surprise that this was the experience that really set me on my way as a potter. I learned a life time of lessons...about pottery...and life.

27 July 2008


Making pots has been an obsession for me for more than 30 years and I have been pretty single-minded in that endeavor. But, now I have a proper hobby, playing poker! Every two weeks on a Thursday night we play a 'cash' game for about 4 hours. Funny and quick-witted, irreverent and loud with some serious card playing in makes for a great time. Last night was a rare tournament and I once again I proved that I need more science in my game and less gut reaction.
Notice my green visor...it didn't bring the luck I'd hoped for.

26 July 2008

Today's Quiz

Here are some bowls from my kitchen...4 from England and one from my own hands.
Today is bound to be a good one...pottery all day, poker tournament tonight!

24 July 2008


After ferocious thunderstorms last night we woke to a glorious, humidity-free day. I couldn't resist sitting at the wheel outside. But I also wasn't ready to give up my big coil pots, so I did a bit of both. The platters will be fun to slip and comb. I've been revisiting a lot of old Winchcombe ideas for decorating.
I finally remembered to get some thistle feed for my goldfinch feeder and in less than 10 minutes they were back. I'm going to try and take some photos tomorrow. This is the first time I've ever had a studio without cats and I'm really enjoying the birdlife.

23 July 2008

Tornado Warning Tonight

I finished the second of my handbuilt pots today. This one is about 20" wide. I'll slip and glaze them later this week. I've been promising myself that I'd start throwing this week, but now I'm not sure. This has been fun. I might not decide until I get out to the studio tomorrow. Stay tuned.

22 July 2008

Albert Einstein

I finished listening to a fantastic book on tape today (Einstein by Walter Isaacson) while finishing up this giant coil-built teapot. He was an extraordinary fellow. And very quotable. Here's a few...

"Imagination is more important than knowledge"
"Foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth"
"I can't tell you what will happen in the 3rd World War, but I can tell you what weapon we'll use in the 4th......rocks!" (after the U.S dropped the bomb on Japan)

I had second thoughts about making this sweet fat form into a novelty item, but sometimes I need to follow an idea right through to the end. Other times a little spontaneity is called for.This time I planned on making a teapot...and I did.

21 July 2008


Few people enjoy picking blackberries as much as dear, sweet Ellie Bird!
I helped Emily and Ellie do some picking today in the blazing sun and scored 2 quarts!! One is being turned into ice cream as we speak!

20 July 2008

Phil English

There is a nice article in the Free Lance Star today about my friend Phil. He is a brilliant artist and does things on his lathe that are hard to believe. I admire folks like him who set such high standards for themselves and their work. Plus he is a fine human being!

19 July 2008

Tomato Sandwiches

I stopped at Emmett Snead's farm on my way to the studio and loaded up on tomatoes, cantaloupes and peaches. Then I spent the rest of the day coiling a couple of pots.
I've begun the last few making cycles by handbuilding a good sized pot. A new ritual.
This one is going to be a teapot. A big one!

Plein air

Like my friend, Michael Kline, I plan to start throwing outdoors for the rest of the summer.
There are some sharp-eyed potters out there. My little quiz from yesterday might become an 'irregular feature'.

17 July 2008

Frejus, France

It's not unusual that LibertyTown disrupts my plans for making pots. Today was just another example. The A/C in the gallery was spewing water and had to be dealt with. A few other chores and it was time for the Sister City reception.
Each summer a group of 20 or so students and adults cross the sea to stay with local families. This year, Frejus has come to the U.S and we hosted a lovely gathering tonight that featured an exhibition of photos of home taken by the french kids. No 'freedom fries' here!
Our handbuilding table is often transformed for various occasions. I believe these are all french prints...and some nice treats.
Ever hopeful, I plan to make a pot tomorrow.


Ever since I first visited England in 1978, I have enjoyed toast with jam and hot black tea (with milk, please) for breakfast every morning that I am able. (30 years x 365 days is a lot of toast and tea) The pots below have been my everyday companions for some time. 1 German made, 3 English and 2 from the U.S. of A.
Any guesses?

16 July 2008


I spent the day on the road driving to our state capitol for a meeting with staff members of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. I'm exploring the possibility of creating a non-profit to support LibertyTown and I've been talking to anyone who will listen at this point. I met Peggy Baggett and Cathy Wellborn a couple of years ago when we hosted one of the commission's two yearly meetings. They are wise and straight talking ladies.
I stopped in for a visit at the Richmond Museum, checking out the Faberge Egg collection, mostly. It's all so over the top! I was reminded that most (all) of their collection came from the Pratt family of Fredericksburg.
I didn't take my camera today, so here's another shot from the beach of my little sculptures. I'm still hoping to open a bag of clay tomorrow and begin the next cycle of potmaking.

15 July 2008


On my way out to my studio today, I stopped by Riverby Books to see how the demolition/reconstruction was going. Riverby sells previously owned books and is run by my dear friends Emily and Paul. They had a shower of termites come down the front of the store and now Jason and his stellar crew are putting it back together. Actually, they've kept a lot of Fredericksburg together...and I don't just mean the buildings! Among many other things that make life here in the 'burg so sweet is the fortnightly poker game that Jason and his friends kindly let me join.
If you look closely at the first photo you will see Eric standing to attention in the missing window. He really wanted to make an appearance in my blog. Congratulations, Eric!
Across the street from the bookstore is one of the best names for a tattoo shop I know.
That's Jim at the computer inside Riverby. He tells me that he is the strongest man in the universe. Just ask him!
I'll write about Riverby another time. Baseball All-Star game about to begin.....

14 July 2008

Epic Pots

I've had three loose ends to wrap up on my new studio before I start making pots for firing #5 this fall. Today, on another miserably steamy hot day, I crossed one off of my list. I'm hoping to get my hands on some clay Thursday...the first time since April!
In spite of making most of my work on the wheel, I've always enjoyed handbuilding and last year I decided that I'd start each making cycle with a big coil built pot. I even gave them the rather pretentious title of "Epic Pots". Here are some photos of the first two and if my Thursday plan comes to pass, I'm planning on starting a giant teapot.


I'm not quite sure why the close-up photo is sideways!?

13 July 2008

Hot n' Humid Sunday

I spent the afternoon running the desk at LibertyTown. In spite or because of the terribly hot/humid day we sold pots all day! The Daniel's family came by and bought the yellow/4 lobed platter that I just recently posted. They've been buying interesting pots from me for years. I also recently sold the pot whose detail should appear above these words. It is not unusual that my favorite pots are the ones that sell first. Certain pots just speak to us all.
The rest of the pots are the last from my latest firing photo session.

12 July 2008

My Studio

Today was the first day I've been to my studio in more than a week. So it figures that it was hot (91F) and steamy. Once I got acclimated to non-stop sweat, I had a good day and got a lot done. I built a new studio last fall after a long legal battle with the county and I've got two more loose ends to finish before I think about making pots.

Michael Littlefield and I built the frame, Jason Gallant's crew gave me a roof and I put up all the siding.

I built the kiln shed years ago with Michael. My 'winter studio' is on the right..

Washington Street Gallery

I got back late last night from a visit with Gary Roper and his family at his beautiful gallery in Lewisburg, WV. It was a great drive, crossing over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenendoah Valley and then west through the old rolling mountains of Appalachia. I met Gary last year coming back from the NCECA conference in Louisville and was amazed at all the great potters whose work he carried and I was flattered that he asked me send him some work as well.
Having sold almost every pot I've ever made from my old shop here in the 'Burg, I'm still trying to get a grip on selling other places. It's thrilling to see my pots on a pedastal next to so many people whose work I admire.
We sold a mini-teapot to one his customers as it was being unwrapped. You gotta like that for positive feedback. They were excited to see my latest work, and that, in turn, has me a bit anxious to get back to the studio. So, that's where I'm heading now.

Thanks to Michael Kline's kind 'endorsement' of my blog, I'm getting acquainted with some new friends as well as hearing from lots of old ones. Keep writing.

10 July 2008

Going Public

I just read Michael Kline's fine article in Studio Potter on pottery and blogging and he does a good job of describing why I find this an interesting exercise (michaelklinepottery.blogspot.com). It's a little bit like teaching a workshop. By articulating the thoughts that bounce around in my head while throwing pots on the wheel, stacking wood or whatever the day might hold, I find that it brings a certain clarity to my ideas and direction. And it's a great personal record/journal. I do believe I'm getting more forgetful as time goes by and now that I only fire 3 or 4 times a year, it's really useful to be able to look back while moving forward.

I'm not sure if this will be of interest to anyone but myself, but if you're so inclined, I welcome you to come back and see what's going on...both in the pottery and at LibertyTown!

Here's a few more photos from firing #4.

09 July 2008

New Photos

Larry Stone took photos of some of the pots from my last firing (#4) way back in May. I'll post a few more soon. I'm firing everything in my wood burning kiln now and I'm still finding my way. I like the raised relief decoration on these first 2 a lot. I've been looking at a lot of old medieval german pots that are covered with medallions and stamps and banding. These are my very first attempts at adapting that old idea and finding a way to make it new. The little stamps are leaves and fish... there's so much metal in the slip that the detail is somewhat obscured.
I'm putting together some p.r. packets to send off to galleries. Now that I have a little momentum I need to find a few new markets to help sell some pots. I'm heading to Gary Roper's beautiful Washington Street Gallery in Lewisburg, West Virginia later this week. I like having my pots stand amongst so many other wonderful pots.
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