23 October 2011


               The ART of EARTH
                  Official World Premiere of a new Film by
                            TIMOTHY RYAN POE
                   Starring: Dan Finnegan, as himself!
                       Saturday, October 29th, 2011. 8pm
                             The Purina Tower Theater
                                   (be there or be square)

Early this summer Ryan spent a bunch of time filming me as I went through a cycle of making pots through loading and firing my 2 chamber wood burning kiln. He then spent the summer editing and making a little bit of magic. I think he's created an interesting piece,  just 24 minutes long, that gives some great insight into how and why I do what I do.
We are hoping that it will be accepted for the International Glass and Ceramic Film Festival in Montpelier, France this March, but this Saturday will be the the first chance to see it. Popcorn provided!

I will add that I am really pleased with what Ryan has done...he's a soft spoken guy and brought out a quieter side of me which makes it more forthright...I'm not doing my usual dog and pony show. And from time to time I slip and call it 'my film', which it is not. It's Ryan's film about me, which means it's his creative endeavor, not mine. It occurs to me only as I write this that he was the potter, I merely the clay.

And finally, a question: would anyone out there pay a modest amount to see this? Perhaps on a DVD or a pay-perview site. I've been wondering if there was away for Ryan to make a little money for his efforts?

17 October 2011

Big SKY Country

Night after night the sky has been amazing. My little blogging camera falls very short of my eyeballs.

13 October 2011

Fat, Juicy Tiles

I like making almost anything out of clay, and tiles have always been a small part of the body of work I make. For many years I've filled all the random spaces left on a kiln shelf after the pots are set with small 2" square tiles. And they've ended up in showers and kitchens and fireplaces all over these parts. I'm now making a more serious effort to make bigger and more massive tile with Jason's help. (In fact, he does most of the work...I'm just the guy with the big idea!).
3" and 4" sq. before the edges are cleaned up.
This is a perfect way to use up reclaim clay. We dry it then bust it up into small chunks and add an inch or so of sawdust before saturating it with water in the mortuary tub behind Jason in the photo below.
We've made a bunch of wooden frames and this batch is being pressed onto a sheet of backer board. I love the grid pattern and the random letters that result. They are 1/2" thick. I'm not really sure if there's a market, but if I like 'em so much, there must surely be a few like-minded folks.

05 October 2011

A Tale of Two Capitols (part 1)

Last week two buyers for the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, Virginia, visited LibertyTown with the idea of seeing more of Trista Chapman's work in our gallery. They were enthusiastic about 'discovering' my birds and my functional pots as well, so Jason and I drove down yesterday for a visit. Richmond was the capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Washington, D.C. was the capitol of the North. My home here in Fredericksburg lies between the two, 50 miles in each direction. I visited D.C. today, but I'll write about that tomorrow.
Jason hasn't lived here long, but he knew about this amazing little place about 30 miles south of here called Squashpenny Junction. We took the very brief detour off of Rt. 1 and there it was amidst a crisscross of train tracks, engines and rail cars. (The name of the business is really evocative...who hasn't put a penny on a railroad track to see it squashed into a thin oval disc)As happens more often than is possible, it turned out that I knew the proprietor of the shop next door from many moons ago in the 'Burg. The place is chock-a-block full of "stuff" and we didn't dare go in for fear of losing the day. It is the classic maverick Americana. Their biggest customer comes every few months from Seattle, 3,000 miles away!
Richard was tending Squashpenny for his lady friend. The Folk Bank is his business, right across the road.
 The Museum recently completed a major addition and renovation and it is fantastic! This 'dumpling' by Jun Kuneko is part of a small sculpture garden. I love his work and it's always very cool to see work one admires in person.
Jason's artistic view
The most exciting piece at the Museum is "Mocha Dick" (wool felt, vinyl covered fabric and internal fan, 10'x14'x52') You'll never see a bigger felted project and it is wonderful. Mocha Dick is the real-life albino sperm whale that inspired Melville's Moby Dick.
Like any adult whale, it is covered in scars and barnacles. The deeper seams are actually zippers!

I left behind 5 bird pots and we shall see if customers find them amidst the usual museum store stuff. It's a nice opportunity.

01 October 2011

Spouting Off

Making a teapot that pours well is really important to me. The spout needs a large 'collecting' area. As you pour, a large amount of liquid is being forced into an ever narrowing spout. This creates velocity and helps the tea 'spring' from the spout rather than dribble.
Lots of small holes works best. The purpose of this is not so much to strain the tea (you still need a nice silver tea strainer to catch the stray leaves!) but to keep the loose leaves from getting into the spout and clogging it.
After making cups and saucers that no one will use I needed to make teapots that could collect dust with them. I'll show you photos of the finished ones next time. You can see one with a spout added in the background, looking naked without it's handle.
DON'T let the taper expand towards the end if you really mean to use it! Add that to my pet peeves list.

I could drive you crazy with all the nuance that I believe goes into a 'proper' teapot, but with Ray Finch looking over my shoulder every time I make one, expectations are high!
I use my cut-off wire to describe the arc that I then cut off with a knife.
Then I coax the cut part into a deeper curve, like the opposite of making a lip on a pitcher.
This gives it a jaunty angle to apply to the body of the pot.
I'll also show you how to cut the spout at the tip next time. Another essential element.

"Blogger" really sucked tonight.