31 January 2011

More Handles from the Met

I spent a couple of hours on the wheel today...the first pots I've made since my November firing. I need to ease back into a routine...I have so many ideas at the moment that it's hard to slow down and be as focused as I'd like to be. 

Feast your eyes on these beautiful appendages!

29 January 2011

The Mongol Rally Fundraiser

Hugh Milway, son of Toff and my favorite godson will graduate from Durham University later this year and before putting the engineering degree he is earning to use he is determined to see the world and go exploring. A man after my own heart!
Stock photos of previous rally-ers
So some time this summer he and a few friends are undertaking The Mongol Rally! The Rally is described as "10,000 miles of bad roads, no roads, bandits, 3 deserts, 5 mountain ranges and adventuring bliss" This is semi-organized by a group called The Adventurists and they have a big web site that tells all about it. In addition to the challenge is a great goodwill component...each team raises funds for a charity and Hugh's team will be driving an ambulance which they will also donate when they get there. His team is keeping a blog which won't be too active until they get on the road. In the meantime we are having a raffle here at D.F.S.P. in cooperation with Conderton Pottery.

     I left parts for 2 birds at Toff's workshop last summer and he finished them, making what seems to be a cross between his fish and my birds. What's kind of crazy is that these are our first collaborations after more than 30 years of friendship! Fired in Toff's salt glaze kiln, they are rare beauties indeed and you can take a chance, or two, or more by purchasing a 'raffle' ticket. 
    If you go to this page of Toff's website and scroll to the bottom there are three charities that you can make a donation to. 5 pounds (about $7.50 these days) is the minimum donation. Each donation gets your name in the hat for the drawing in July. Don't forget to leave your email address in the message area...that's how we'll track you down when you win. (someone has to! it could be you!)
Fish/bird detaul

Fish or bird...you decide!
You can donate via paypal if you'd like...eventually they'll ask you for a British address. Just type in "the Old Forge" and "GL20 7PP" for the postal code. It's Toff's address.

25 January 2011

Handle Primer NYC Style - the first

I like the way the decoration emphasizes the handle shape.
I spent an entire day at the Met in New York and took dozens of photos of pots...mostly looking at handles. I'll post more as the week goes by. If you read the literature that the Met provides, you would wonder if there were many pots at all. In fact, there are thousands of amazing pots in every nook and cranny of that spectacular building.

How cool to make a double handle an animal head!
There are pots there that I've seen in books for years with plenty of room for them to be examined. It's always awe-inspiring to be reminded of how much the history of humankind is told through ceramic objects.  
Never lose your lid again...

These double handled pots are huge...5'-6' tall and 4' wide. Maybe bigger. In fact, there were lots of huge pots made thousands of years ago. The technology is fantastic to produce such beauties...long before cones and burners and store bought materials, potters were true masters.

24 January 2011

60 Hours in the Big City

Times Square
I'm still a bit worn out from my trip and still reveling in the glow of big city life. As much as I love my small town I am always energized by a visit to any city of note, I love the energy, the cultural life, the food(!), the architecture and the people watching.

I took the train from the 'Burg to Penn station and then walked from there to Times Square and on to THE POD, the funky hotel I stayed in. Tiny rooms nicely furnished and a fair price. I then took the subway uptown to the New York Ceramics fair.

 After an interesting visit there I started walking...across to Central Park and then a visit to The Plaza Hotel. I thought I might have afternoon tea there, but at $45.00 per person...I kept walking..

Tea room at The Plaza

 That evening I saw the Broadway play 'Lombardi' at the Circle in the Square Theater... I love theater, and I love football, but this was not a particularly good play. Fun to sit in the second row in a theater in the round, but it's not good when the stage is more interesting than the play itself.

Walking back to the Pod late night took me past Rockefeller Center and Radio City and the famous ice rink at 30 Rock. Fantastic art deco buildings!

 I spent all day Friday at the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art). A fabulous day filled with pots everywhere. I'll write a separate post on that later this week.
The Met

What about food, you ask?  Felafel, pizza, mushroom ravioli, sunflower bagel and cream cheese and a couple dozen bagels to bring home. Hard not be a glutton there, but walking keeps the appetite up!

Obligatory pizza shot
 The highlight of my stay was spending Friday evening with my adorable niece Courtney and her boyfriend Matt...we had a great meal and then went on to see the musical 'The Fantastiks' at the Jerry Orbach theater. We sat in the front row for this one in a tiny theater (I almost tripped one of the actors they were so close). This is an old fashioned musical with very simple staging and a bittersweet story of love and redemption...with lovely music. Surely you recall".....try to remember that time in september...." A delightful production and evening.
Saturday after loading up on bagels I walked and rode the subway to Greenwich Village to visit my favorite tea shop in the world. McNulty's is run by two Chinese gentlemen with Brooklyn accents and smells of tea and coffee and world long gone.

I then visited the American Folk Art show which was another home run as far as pots go. Everything I liked seemed to cost $6,000.00 or more...and my tastes are fairly humble!
I'm back home now and hoping to finally get back to my studio...I haven't made a pot since October(!) and I'm full to bursting with ideas!

20 January 2011

The Big Apple

I'm off to New York City for a couple days of museum visiting and theater attending. See you when I come back.

Coming Soon; "the Mongol Rally"!

The Big Apple

I'm off to New York City for a couple days of museum visiting and theater attending. See you when I come back.

Coming Soon; "the Mongol Rally"!

16 January 2011


In 1994 I traveled to western Massachusetts to do an ACC show with a body of work quite different from the useful pots that I am better known for. My first interest in clay was as a sculptural material and  while I have made my living as a functional potter I have never let go of those those early ideas and interests.

"The Vase and Beyond: The Sidney Swidler Collection of the Contemporary Vessel
 At that show I was approached by Sidney Swidler about buying some of my work. Sidney, it turned out, was a keen collector of American Ceramics and had (I think) a great eye for good work. He bought this piece below and told me that he hoped to donate his collection to a museum one day. Last week he phoned to say that he had indeed donated 802 of the 1200 pieces that he collected over the last 30 years to the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, California. And 2 of my pieces were in the collection and in the coffee table book that was published in conjunction with the exhibition! (hence the title of this blog).
The entire collection is on display at the museum and if your anywhere nearby it looks to be a marvelous show to see! My photos of the photos in the book here are weak and I'm looking for the original slide to show you at another time. As we might say in England, I am quite chuffed to be included!
"Bedrock Teapot" 17" h
 A year later Sidney appeared at my studio here in town. the first thing he told me was that he wasn't here to buy...he was on his way to North Carolina to buy work there with his quarterly allowance for pots(!).  In spite of himself he bought a bunch of my functional pots which he said that he would be giving as gifts. Some were pots I had made at Toff's in England and some were pots from wood firing with Bill Van Gilder in western Maryland. I guess he kept this one for himself. It's not an exciting form, but I refired it in my gas kiln after woodfiring and it has an extraordinary luster on the surface. On the phone, he called it a teabowl...I object! I don't make 'em (well, hardly ever).
"Bowl" twice fired 4"x6"
The exhibition at the Crocker was reviewed by the Art Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker. He wrote:
"I entered 'The Vase and Beyond' not particularly interested in modern ceramics, but by sheer force of connoisseurship, the Swidler Collection kindled a new appreciation and curiosity in me". (how cool is that!)

09 January 2011

More Old Pots

Mighty busy these last few days: meeting with city officials all week hoping to get some support for LibertyTown, First Friday opening reception, Bowl-o-rama Saturday (we make bowls at LibertyTown for Empty Bowls), new helper Jason arrived Saturday evening to move in to his new digs, late night playoff games courtesy of my wonderful DVR and today we've been eating brunch and drinking tea and touring the town. So my default blog subject remains old work.
3 legged watering can.
 I lost my mind for a few years back in the early '90's and did my best to explore ideas outside of the tradition that has usually guided me. Colored slips brushed and trailed, matt glazes that were usually sprayed, thrown and altered forms with lots of exaggerated parts.  Fun to make and easy to get attention, I eventually returned to the brown pots I know and love.
3 legged something or other.

06 January 2011

Back in the (photo) Studio

After my last firing I barely got photos of the birds taken before life just got too hectic. I never did shoot any of the 'real' pots so I'm playing catch up now. Sadly, a lot of good pots are already gone, but there are plenty of gems left. 
side-handled casserole
I'm more than ready to get back to making new work, but I have to wait until I get a few more projects done. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who finds that once I begin throwing I lose interest in a lot of outside things.
oval vase
rectangular baking dish
oval pitcher

All pots are for sale if your interested.

03 January 2011

New Year - Old Pots

Over at the Whynot Pottery blog, Meredith and Mark have lost leave of their senses and have written a very flattering description of their visit to Fredericksburg last week. They have obviously 'drunk the kool-aid' and fallen under my spell! Thanks so much for the visit and the too kind words. More reasons to love this blogging world.

Last year at this time I was making my way to the studio to make a point that I was a potter, no longer a patient. A year later I am as strong and healthy as ever and looking forward to another busy year with the arrival of a new apprentice later this week and the arrival of Doug and Hannah for a workshop tour in April and a visit to New York City for my birthday later this month.
I hope that you also have big plans for a great year!

I thought I'd show some off some earlier work from time to time.
Salt glazed charger. Arizona State University, circa 1976.
Sorry about the copper red, Hollis, I didn't know better back then! 
Soup Tureens/Ladles. Artistic photo!? Circa 1980
Baking Dish. I didn't keep a brush in my hand for long. 1980