31 August 2008

Final Travel Photos

I traveled from Boston to Portland, Me. along the water the whole time. Lots of old beach towns in New Hampshire (I forgot that they had oceanfront property!?). I stopped at a particularly shabby town and played some Skee Ball for old time's sake. I've still got the skills that I honed avoiding roller coasters in my youth!
Anyway I spent a great afternoon sailing with Martha Briana, an artist friend of mine, on Casco Bay. This is Martha rowing out to her pink boat in her rubber dinghy. That's John, her maple sugaring friend, standing in the boat. This was all new to me and pretty damn cool. There was a big sailboat race in the Bay with a few really old ones that made me think of pirates. We were heading for the ocean when an amazing fog bank came up and blocked our way.
Portland was a great town...we had the best wood fired pizza...beets, green beans and feta cheese with a balsamic reduction on top.
From there I headed for Deer Isle via another scenic route past more water and a whole lot of book stores! I didn't come across too many pots of interest but I scored a few great books. I'll post some photos later.
Deer Isle is the home of Haystack Mt. School of Crafts...and Farrell Ruppurt, a fine blacksmith and a finer human being. I visited with both and heard a lecture by Chris Gustin and stayed with Paul Cymrot and the entire Simpson family for the night before turning around.

This is Farrell cranking his awesome door knocker ...jointed fingers that drum on the door like we might do on a table! We ate wild blueberries and blackberries and had a beer on the rocky beach.

I returned via the Berkshire Mts. and was hoping to visit with Andrew Coombs, but Port Chester was just too close to NYC and I didn't think I could cope, so I just blasted on home.
I'm generally reluctant to write too much here, so I'm omitting all kinds of things...the Granite Museum, the camp in Conn. where I once worked, Todd Piker and Cornwall Bridge Pottery, Lacoste Gallery in Concord, the new/old gallery in the village of Deere Isle(great pots!) etc.

29 August 2008

Test Tiles

I'm still testing a bunch of different slips and glazes and I like to apply them to tiles that can be used later on. These are each about 3" square and 5/8" thick, basically sturdy floor tile. LibertyTown has old tests installed all over the place!
I raw glaze most of my work (except for pots with crackle slip) and I had a problem with a lot of the glaze on glaze pouring that I did...the top glaze seems to pull the bottom glaze right off the rim and they both fall off. I'm not sure if it's a recipe problem or an application problem...or a shino problem, since that's the two base glazes that are troubling me.

28 August 2008

More Bottles

I've been getting a few hours each day in the studio and I'm all over the place with these bottles. I've spent 30 years making 'domestic' ware... a great term for pots that belong on the table and in the kitchen. Now I'm stretching out in scale while at the same time looking for new surfaces and decoration that will work in my wood/salt kiln. A lot of the sprigging is taken from old German salt glaze, but as you'll see below, I'm trying to add my own new twists to this old idea.

This is a 6 tile slip brushed on the wet pot. Later I pressed little flower-shaped cobalt beads into the surface.

I carved this face with the idea of using it on the neck as is customary. I'm such a bad carver but I really like it's primitive nature. I was about to add a bunch of leaves to this pot when it struck me that this might be funny/shocking/curious.

I didn't mean to turn this guy into a devil, but that's what happened!

26 August 2008

Travel Highlights (part 2)

After leaving Cape Cod I drove to Boston for a visit to the Pucker Gallery. I've known of the gallery for a long time, first because of Brother Thomas' association and more lately because of Phil Rogers' work being represented there. I've never seen anything like this place ! Five floors of the bests pots I've ever seen and all for sale. The elevator ride is as unusual as advertised (as in intimate!) and it was a bit intimidating to have an escort watching over me as we moved from floor to floor. A real treasure and it's nice to know that a place such as that exists. Go if you ever get the chance. I particularly liked a Korean potters' work but a 4" bud vase was $240.00 and I didn't ask the price of anything else. I'm always inspired to get back in my studio when I get around good pots.

I had some unplanned time afterwards and found myself drawn to Fenway Stadium, home of the Boston Red Sox. (I'm a bit of a sports nut...). While walking around the stadium I met a scalper and one thing leading to another I ended up with a 'standing room only' ticket behind home plate for a game between the Sox and the Texas Rangers. A real treat to experience the passion of the Red Sox Nation.

Mine too!

These guys spent hours picking up stones and big grains of sand off the mound.

Bill Cosby throwing out the first pitch. I once shook his hand. It was huge!

David Ortiz, 'Big Papi', in the batter's box. He later hit a three run home run; his third in two nights!


Yesterday was the first day in a while that I was able to sit at my wheel. I moved all the flatware that I'd finished onto racking and then threw some 8lb. bottles. I plan to decorate them with all of the little sprig molds I've been carving and I intend to make a couple of large ones later this week that will include a tap at the bottom. Forms like this always intrigue me...where should the widest point of the belly fall? Long neck or stubby? Wide base or narrow? I like them all, but I also have my favorites...

23 August 2008

Travel Highlights (part 1)

I've been settling back into life at home after a stimulating trip to Maine and back, with many stops along the way. I first visited Hollis Engley and his wife Dee on Cape Cod. I met them when I was teaching at the Torpedo Factory years ago. Hollis and I spent a lot of time together working on the wood burning kiln we built with Bill Van Gilder. Hollis moved to the Cape about 10 years ago and has run his Hatchville Pottery ever since.
We went kayaking in Buzzards' Bay and up a beautiful creek past clam diggers and all kinds of boats. I really enjoyed spending time with all these folks whose lives are centered on the water; ferryboat captains, sailors, kayakers and fishermen add a different flavor to life. Some are proud of how long it's been since they 'crossed the bridge' (left the Cape). Thank goodness that regional differences still exist.

I'm getting ready to start some serious throwing with the hope of doing two wood firings before the new year. Autumn is not far away...my favorite time to make pots.

09 August 2008

New England Bound!

This is one of those gratuitous photos we all love to share. It's a shot of a bookcase at home.
Lots of brown pots!
I'm leaving the blog-o-sphere for awhile to escape the summer heat of Virginia and visit a bunch of friends from Cape Cod to Boston to Portland to Deere Isle and back again. I haven't been to Maine since camping with my family when I was 8 or 9 years old. I remember incredible stars at night, digging for mussels in tidal pools and barnacles! If anybody's out there reading this, I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

08 August 2008

More About Influences

German salt glaze is another of my sources and I was pretty excited about the bottle in the middle of this first photo when I unloaded my last firing. I got back to that idea this week and I'm now trying to see where I can take it. I've been carving all these little stamps and now I've got to figure out how to use them. I can't imagine I'd do a lot of these, but for now it's a lot of fun. The photos that follow are the obvious inspiration.

06 August 2008

Influence and Tradition

Michael Cardew attributed his influences to medieval pottery and 17th century slipware. These photos and drawings are classic examples of the curves and transitions of medieval pots. Michael brought those ideas to Winchcombe...Ray Finch once told me that he felt that his life's work was about refining those ideas. I like to flatter myself by believing that my own work is part of the evolution of that tradition.

04 August 2008

Things That Are Green

Tom O'Hara inspired my mug holder. I made the chipped mug. Few handmade mugs fit the conventional car cup holder, and as Tom insists on taking my mugs to work, he made his own. Over the years I've given him many of my seconds and no one is better at breaking my pots than he is. A mug that can't survive falling from a two-story roof just won't do! To his credit, he has been keeping all the shards together for years and has one of the more famous 'morgues' of my pots in town.
Just as I was packing up to go home tonight I saw this big moth just outside the studio door. I think it's a Luna. Just a few inches off the ground....a beauty.

02 August 2008

Ancient History

Michael Cardew - Sid Tustin - Ray Finch

Shortly before Sid retired, Michael visited Winchcombe, and this photo, which represents more than 150 years of pottery making, is a rare one. Michael sold the pottery to Ray in 1946. Sid retired in 1978 after 51 years. He made a million pots in his lifetime!

Below is Eddie Hopkins, who died last year quite tragically in the terrible floods that hit the Cotswolds. Eddie first made pots at the nearby Prinknash Abbey, where he had been sent as a result of a wee bit of trouble. Ray later offered him a job and he was the most productive member of the team for many years. He was an extraordinary fellow who could make pots, talk non-stop and listen to the cricket match at the same time. His throwing was beautiful. He's making mugs here and would throw and handle 500 of them in a week...with time to spare! Of all the great potters at WP, he took the biggest interest in showing me how to make good pots...and handles. I'll have to write about him again. The stories are endless.

Historic Wood

Carole Garman teaches art at the U. of Mary Washington here in the 'Burg and she joined close to 400 other visitors to LibertyTown last night for our August 'First Friday' reception. This month's show includes some of the finest woodworkers in our community. Carole is sitting in Larry Hinkel's 'Chaise Lounge', made from old crib dam wood. We blew up the big dam on the Rappahanock River a few years ago, and the old wooden dam was discovered submerged behind it. The wood is a beautiful silvery gray color and is much coveted by local furniture makers.

Frank Stepanski's wood turnings, Bill Jewell's furniture and an incredible rocking chair by Hal Taylor are also featured this month. Hal's chair is also made from historical wood...walnut from a tree that grew next to the whiskey still at Mt. Vernon.
12 times a year the arts community invites the the town out for a celebration that has become an important social event for many of us. After a four hour reception, we still have to get out the cattle prods to make our visitors go home. They'd probably stay all night if we were willing!

First Fridays' always bring my pottery making to a screeching halt so today I'll try to get some momentum back.