26 November 2010

More Photos of the Fledglings

From 3 1/4" to 6" tall
I've had very little time to inspect pots and I'm hoping to get an early start tomorrow. but I did have some time to take a few more photos of the wee ones. I'm pleased with these photos, but as always, they can be better. I think I need to adjust the 'white balance' of my camera (help, John!) because the white foreground turns to this cream color. And I have to paint the walls white  because of a crazy green that the dark glazes pick up. Are you bothered by the hotspots?

And check out Charle's comments from my last blog about ETSY and John Bauman wrote an entire blog response that added some great thinking about the site and selling online. Well worth the time.
Tomorrow: Poker tournament!

It's a bird...no, it's a salt shaker...no, it's two. it's two. it's two pots in one!
Rear view

24 November 2010

Taking Photos Already

(Check out my last post for photos of the pots in the kiln. And don't forget next week's online sale!)
I was able to sort through pots most of the day and just started rubbing them down before it grew dark. I'm done with 12 hour days for a while! There was one little area of bloating and it wiped out the first cup/saucer sets I've made in years. Other than that it seems to be a very clean firing with just a few seconds. All the major pieces are sweet!
This was the last of the bird pots that I made before firing and the first to be photographed. I had a very kind email today asking if it was for sale...this was before I showed it in it's fired state! It will take me a while to sort and figure out what's for exhibitions (in case I ever get another invitation!?), what to put on my blog sale, what's got to be photographed and even what's for Christmas presents. And, maybe most importantly, what to charge? I always struggle pricing new work and these guys are a big departure for me and consume big time to make, unlike the 99 mugs that kept them company during the firing. So, it may take a while.
7" high
The little ones are ridiculous...I want to make enough to rival Emperor Qin's terra cotta army....and like George Ohr, I want all these 'mud babies' to stay together! Fat chance.
from 3 1/2 " to 7"
P.S. I mentioned that I don't like Etsy and I should explain. I suppose that I'm a bit of a snob...but there is so much junk on that site that I don't really want to be associated with it. Also, it seems a tedious process, they get a cut however small and I'm convinced that there is a simpler way.

Full Frontal Pottery

I thought a provocative title might attract a few more readers this morning. (if your reading this perhaps it worked!?)
Here are shots of the pots and birds in situ...I barely got them out of the kiln before dark so I've only had a brief look. I plan on spending the next few days getting to know them better!
A couple of interesting observations: 
    I use a series of wood-ash based glazes over the crackle slip and most, but not all, have a crystally(sp?) matt surface that is quite beautiful but very unusual. It looks like you could just wipe it off, but of course, you can't. I'm still trying to work out the whys and wherefores...is it the ash from the firing making a change?...or is it a slower cooling cycle? (it was slower, but not radically so) or my overstrong reduction? Inquiring minds want to know!
    I use a simple wadding mix:equal parts alumina and EPK. I added about 25% fine sawdust and the wads just fell away. I've been meaning to try that trick for a long time. 
    The wood from the source that I mentioned last month worked just fine and I will be arranging a convoy to get much, much more. There is many years' worth of firings free for the taking! A big problem solved! (I hope you find your fuel, Brandon, I sympathize, everything around here is chipped for industry).

Lots more to learn today. The birds are outrageous, the pots rich and I'm still worn out. I'll take better photos. 

And stay tuned late next week for my first ever on-line pottery sale! I'm thinking of calling it my "ITCHY" shop, as I'm not a fan of ETSY. 
First Chamber/front stack
(8 lbs. salt)
First Chamber/back stackFull frontal

Second Chamber/front stack
(18 lbs. salt)

Second Chamber/back stack

23 November 2010

Special Sneak Preview

I just returned home from the studio after spending the the day unloading the kiln (and talking). In brief, I can happily say that it was the best firing yet with lots of gems and tons of good, everyday pots. I love warm pots but the top of both chambers are still too chocolatey as I try to balancing reduction with even heat from top to bottom. My brother Tim and I are off to celebrate with Parthenon pizza and cold beer. I'll provide all the gory details tomorrow. Lot's to show you!

21 November 2010

Now, the Long Wait...

We finished firing 23 hours ago and even after a 10 hour sleep I am feeling depleted. I wonder how many calories are burned, how many electrolytes are consumed, how much weight might be lost? Where's that personal trainer, chef and masseuse when you need them? 
Michael Littlefield and Luke tending the fire. As I was figuring out how to set the proper amount of reduction, Michael asked  how we were doing on the 'deduction'!

After 8 firings I approached #9 with a lot more calm and confidence. It takes a while to really understand how all the various bits and pieces fit together to make the kiln machine perform at it's best. There is still much to understand, but I've put all the different 'tools' through their paces and know their basic characteristics now. By 'tools' I mean the active and passive dampers, the primary, secondary (and tertiary!) air, and the firebox itself.  
 I also have some great friends and assistants who have served their 'apprenticeship' and are now serious stokers. (I almost wrote 'professionals' but then I'd have to pay them!) Except for the early morning hours which I now spend by myself I barely put a log on the fire anymore. Beth and Elliot, Michael and Dayton and Luke and Bill Harris and Karen all pitched in and their help and knowledge make things easier. I can pay attention to the fire itself and make the adjustments that are needed.    The weather was absolutely GLORIOUS all week long and is supposed to continue through Tuesday's unloading. I got a quick peek in this morning and there look to be some treasures as well as some brown pots which are my speciality. In pursuit of overall reduction I may be toasting the top too much. So much more to learn!

    It was really nice to hear from so many of you commentators on my last entry. No one knows what this is all about like you fellow travelers... how much of our labor, our head and our heart are invested
as we strive for our own particular idea of beauty. I always appreciate your thoughts and reactions.

A spyhole in the first chamber. Camera flash off.
Same spyhole with camera flash on. Where'd all the heat go?
Nice ash on the shoulder. And excellent placement of the salt shaker, eh?

19 November 2010

All Set

I don't usually shoot the kiln from this angle...the chimney is rising there on the right and the wood pile is on the left. Two chambers and a firebox in between. Ready for a 24 hour marathon. ( Dennis Allen says he likes to see the kiln in all it's glory. It is my pride and (sometimes) joy!

18 November 2010

Foregoing Poker

You know it's crunch time when I pass on the fortnightly poker game with my pals, but I'm worn out and I light ol' #9 tomorrow evening. Instead it'll be a bowl of soup and a wee nip of scotch before an early bedtime. Stay tuned for a full report...

17 November 2010

A Long Wednesday

First chamber pretty much done
75% loaded. Still have the front stack of the second chamber...and then the wickets (that's the door for you modern types). Totally different weather today brisk winds, clear skies and a bit warmer. More perfection! Thanks to Beth for heroic wad making and other mundanities. 

Second chamber two shelves deep.
Each chamber has a pair of 12"x 24" shelves on the ground making one stack and then a 18"x 24" stack in front. That's 42 cu. ft. packing space per chamber.

16 November 2010

Rainy Days and Tuesdays...

...are perfect for kiln loading. Wadding doesn't dry out! What a gift! I'm working long hours and, as ever, enjoying the exquisite pain of assembling the 3 dimensional puzzle that we call a kiln. My back aches and I can't wait to get back to it tomorrow! 
The last pots for this firing...combing and pouring
 Here's a series of photos showing the top layer being loaded with a bunch of birds and odds and ends.It's 24" to the top o' the arch here.

I think I count 9 birds.
This is the first chamber two shelves deep. One more stack to go in front.
I loaded the  half of the second chamber before heading home.
As I was locking the gate the light from the jeep on the leaves was lovely. 

13 November 2010

Kiln Loading Eve

I lost most of yesterday to car troubles so, on the day I was to turn my thoughts to kiln loading, I was catching up on a variety of tasks. As I was driving home I was thinking about the number of different activities that can fill a day. 
Even before I got to the studio I had visited the Farmers' Market and checked in at LibertyTown.
And then:
I trimmed bread plates and handled a couple of bottles.
I then slipped and glazed some pots.
After that I mixed up my crackle slip and applied that to a bunch of pots.
Long after dark I was glazing the crackle slip pots.
A rack of pots, ready to be toasted by the fire.
The crackle slip is unique because it only works for a day or two or three. After that it still adds an interesting texture, but the crackle no longer appears. To keep it under control I mix a big dry batch and then add it by the cupful to the old wet batch until it starts to crackle again. It doesn't take a lot each time to rejuvenate the old batch.
I dip pots in it and I pour it over them, always playing with thickness and overlaps to alter the size and pattern.
The rest of the pots  waiting their turn.

10 November 2010

Health Update

A year ago I was getting out of the local hospital after undergoing surgery for colon cancer. Although no picnic, that whole procedure went along as well as it could and I've been feeling fit for a long time now. Today I got a colonoscopy as a follow up and got a clean bill of health! If you are of a certain age (50+) don't put off getting your own test! I was extraordinarily well cared for by the medical staff and some of my best friends and I got amazing support from near and far. It was overwhelming and gratifying and a source of great encouragement. Thank-you.

When I drove through the gate Tuesday I immediately spotted what turned out to be a red tailed hawk on the ground. I think it must have some kind of trouble...either visual or physical. it stayed around all day and I followed it for a while, into the woods and out. It blends into the fall colors nicely. It was beautiful and odd to get so close...it would let me get within 6 feet before walking or taking a very short flight away. We stood eyeball to eyeball for a while and I felt quite helpless. What to do but leave it be and hope that it was just stunned or out of sorts. I think it was a young one according to my bird book.
This is what I saw at first...it just caught my eye
I got really close....one eye might be cloudy?

08 November 2010


With just a few days of throwing left I'm making some kiln fillers and space maximizers. I haven't made salt and pepper shakers seriously for a long time. They were fun. The form developed from a bud vase I've made tons of crossed with a candlestick/goblet stem. Only after I'd made a few did I realize that they bear a resemblance to old southern grave markers.
I'll drill proper holes after I've slipped them.
Tony Clennell wrote a great blog recently about his love for putting handles on everything. I am in complete agreement. I also like to let the seams show as they wrap around a rim. 

05 November 2010

Whew! I Thought I'd Lost You!

For some reason Mr. Blogger wouldn't let me access my dashboard for the last week or so and I feared that I had lost you all....all of a sudden it seems to back to normal (thanks Anna). It was really bugging me to think I'd have to start anew.  And so, onward and upward!
    Too much happened in that brief time to catch up,  so I'll let the photos tell the story. 1 more week to make pots before I start loading.
The latest and last serious bird piece for firing #9. 16"h
a blurry detail
loading up a biscuit kiln for pots that get my crackle slip
Some of what you've missed
Zolo at LibertyTown opened tonight, a story for another entry.