Monday, December 31, 2007

eye candy

i had a bit of free time today so i thought it might be interesting to document some pots that inspire me and my work. none of these pots were made by me, they were all produced by other potters. all of these pots are used, some more than others.

this is my favorite dinner plate. by patrick veerkamp, salt fired.
these are a couple of dessert plates by randy johnston and warren mackenzie.

these are some tiny little plates by jan mckeachie-johnston. these don't get much use because they're so small, but they're so beautiful. wood fired.

this is platter by daphne hatcher of texas. it is a slab platter with a thrown foot. wood fired, about 16 inches.

three of my favorite mugs, i can't remember the name of the guy on the left, the middle is by dee buck of buck pottery, and on the right is a mug by willem gebben. willem is one of my favorite potters and quite underrated.

here are some yunomi. warren mackenzie, willem gebben, phil rogers(england), randy johnston

these are both little porcelain bowls, on the left by willem gebben, on the right by a texan native paige shelton. try to notice the carving on the right bowl, translucent and magnificent.

this is my favorite cereal bowl. by david caradori of eau claire, wisconsin. salt fired.

this bowl is by phil rogers. i spent a few weeks in england back in 2002. this bowl was love at first sight. i picked this and some other pots up while i was there. salt fired.

this small bowl is by warren mackenzie. i think i paid $8 for it. sometimes i just sit and stare at it. beautiful.

this pot is by north carolina potter ron philbeck. i bought this pot via the internet in 2002 i think. i saw it on ron's page and fell in love. i have not been disappointed. there are many wonderful subtle details in this pot.

both of these are by english potter mike dodd. mike dodd is one of my favorite potters. i picked them up on my aforementioned trip to england. i bought the one on the right the second day i was in england. i bought the one on the left 2 weeks later on the other side of the country at a craftsmans gallery. i couldn't remember what the first pot exactly looked like and when i got home discovered that i'd bought almost the same pot twice. still makes me laugh.

this is a large vase by warren mackenzie.

pitcher by patrick veerkamp. notice the quiet brushwork that has been partially obscured by the salt.

teapot by warren mackenzie. this is my favorite piece of pottery that i own. it has a special story that i'll share at a later date.

i hope that wasn't too boring to anyone.

happy new year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

firing #2

here are some photos from my second firing. the firing was extrememly successful. i had a heck of a time getting this one to fire evenly because of some massive west texas winds whipping across here. i would have waited but i had a last minute order for christmas, so it had to get done. the winds were causing the back-bottom of the kiln to fire about 4-5 cones hotter than the rest of the kiln. i slowed it down to try and even out the temps and it was moderately successful. a nine hour firing turned into a 13 and a half hour firing. i ended up using a good amount more wood and ended up with a bit more ash than i would've liked. it ended up with cone 10 bending everywhere except the back-bottom where i'm guessing it ended up somewhere between cone 12-13.

the front oxidized a bit, but it was just a few pots.

this was fired on the bagwall, and for some reason the pieces there just don't get blasted the way i thought they would. it looks just like any other pot in the kiln.


here are my obligatory plates wadded with seashells. just about every vapor/wood firing potter does some form of these. space is a serious commodity in kilns, especially wood kilns(plates are space wasters), so stacking them just makes sense.

this "leaf" design is something new for me. i'm ok with a brush when i have good ones. my handmade brushes were stolen a couple years ago when my studio was burglarized, so all this brushwork is done with one of those cheapies from hobby lobby. i can get good brushes off the internet, but brushes are sort of like pots, they need to be handled before you purchase them.

this is my favorite from this firing. i loosely brushed a thin slip on hakeme style in a couple of layers to give the surface some depth. where the slip is thickest it cracked a bit, love it when it does that.

this is one of my slab platters that didn't make the cut. i'm having some structural issues with the big ones, i'll figure it out soon enough. this was about 20 inches end to end.

my green ash looked amazing. for some reason this glaze has so much more depth in this kiln. the formula is as follows:
custer feldspar: 4
wood ash: 4 (i use mesquite)
ball clay: 2
red iron oxide: 1.5%
redart: 1.5%
bentonite: 3% (for leatherhard glazing)

well, there you go. happy holidays.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

a sad day.

with a small tear in my eye i inform you that Tatsuzo Shimaoka from japan passed away on dec. 11. shimaoka was a star apprentice of hamada's and a "living national treasure" in japan, the highest honor one can receive in that country. i had never met him personally but knew many who had worked with him. i had a recommendation from another potter several years ago to go and work with him but didn't, thinking i might like to wait until after school. that dream has slowly faded with the burden of adult responsibility but that dream is now dead. i've never regretted that decision as much as i do right now. so this evening, in remembrance, tip your glass to a great potter and great man.

about him here

Monday, December 3, 2007

firing pictures

i just unloaded my kiln and i am real excited, though it is a bitter-sweet excitement. most of the surfaces had turned out better than i hoped. but.....i made a couple of really idiotic choices that seemed ok at the time. first, i used to raw glaze at the bone dry stage because my clay took it really well and i hate the concept of bisque firing as a professional. then i switched clay bodies a couple years ago and found out that it did not take to raw glazing and i had to return to bisque firing. for some stupid reason......i forgot the agony of that experience and repeated it. so, much of my kiln is waste because the pieces are cracked. the lucky part is that 1/3 of the firing was test glazes and slips and i didn't put any pieces of real importance in this kiln. because it was basically a trial run.

mistake #2 is that i started the preheat in the firebox instead of outside it. in college our kiln had an external firebox and we fired with bisqued pieces. a wood flame inside of a kiln is much longer than outside, so i had flames licking the pots on the fireface long before they should have been, so those are cracked even more. so i have eaten my serving of humble pie and have learned my lesson.

i've never known very many potters to get a wood kiln to temperature on the first try. the fact that i did is a testament to the design by will ruggles and douglass rankin ( it fired so easily and uniformly that its almost scary. it fired in just under ten hours and i am sure that if i wanted to i could easily get it down to eight. i was able to fire this kiln in a t-shirt and didn't have to put gloves on to stoke until the last couple hours.

here is a pic of this nifty stoking door i made, the original design called for bricks to be pulled out every time, but thats too slow and lets too much cold air in.

this is a picture of my kiln mostly unloaded.

this is my woodpile. this rack was close to full when i started the firing. all the wood i use is waste wood from the construction industry and is free. it comes in lengths from 2-6 feet mostly 2x6's and 2x8's and is mostly yellow pine and some douglass fir. i use an axe to split them to smaller pieces and then cut them to the length of my firebox. to fill this rack takes about 4-5 hours not including picking up the wood.

here are some pots. i just realized that all the pots in this firing were some sort of red or brown. i use other glazes as well but for this firing i just used a couple that i knew would work.

the color seems kind of washed out on these, they are a little redder.

here are some closeups:

its little things like this that make the insanity of woodfiring all worthwhile.

notice the little cracks in the glaze, thats what it does when its thick. love it.

i will be firing again the week the week after next. stay tuned.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

oh what a day!

i just finished the maiden voyage of my wood kiln. fired like a dream in just under 10 hours. i had cone 10 down evenly in every spot. the test rings looked good. i'll unload late tomorrow or tuesday(i'm not sure how long it takes to cool.) pictures are coming.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

new pots.

this is my "new" workspace. i've been doing a little slab work this last week, so i set myself up a little area that i could dedicate to slab work. i've had a lot of ideas floating around in my head about some slab serving platters, so i finally made myself get to it. the process i use is fairly simple. come up with a shape and cut it into a piece of wood, cut your slab larger than the hole and drape it in, you can then manipulate the shape in the hole. i always thought this method was interesting but i didn't get into it because no matter the shape you're always left with a flat rim which is ok, but why not just throw and alter it? thats easier for me. then i discovered that Randy Johnston curves his plywood forms, which can give your forms compound curves(curving in all directions) which are so much more visually interesting.

these are the fruits of my effort. the large ones are about 21 inches and the small ones are about 12 inches. one thing that has always turned me off to slab work is that its just such a static surface. throwing allows me leave such a lively surface with a lot of gesture, so its very difficult to work with soemthing that is cold and flat, its just hard to my hands around it and leave a mark. i scrape the the slab to give it a little texture and use a rib or a roller to give it another layer of texture. i treat the outside edges much like i do the bottom of my untrimmed pots, rubbing it over to give it a rougher, slightly unfinished appearance. the boat forms are only a slab on the base, the walls are thrown in a ring and then cut up and attached, i cut them off when they're just dry enough to handle so that i can manipluate them and get some really nice edges and a bit of a handled look. the pedestal feet are much the same, i think it gives them a bit more formal appearance. i really like to make pots with formal shapes but with very loose gestrual surfaces, its a nice juxtaposition.

i've always been intrigued by this form, this particular one is a bit of a rip-off, but i will contine to work with it and make it into my own thing. its always been helpful for me to try to emulate pots that i really like so that i can see why i'm drawn to them so much and then hopefully take some of those qualities and use them in my own work.

tall faceted bottle, about 14 inches.

these are thrown in two pieces and then put together and beaten into a sortof square and then faceted.

i cast the rest of my chimney for my kiln this today. it was quite a bit more difficult than i had anticipated, moslty because i cast it in place which meant that i had to haul all the mixed castable up to the roof of my barn. but.....bisque this week, first firing before thanksgiving. keep your fingers crossed.

on a sad note, a shelf holding three mackenzie platters fell this week in my kitchen. one miraculously escaped unscathed, my favorite completely shattered and another one just lost some small pieces. those platters have been sitting on that shelf for over 5 years when not in use, so its a bit of a mystery how they just toppled over, i have a shelf with many yunomi right next to it that didn't move a bit. i was going to post a picture, but it hurts my heart a little too much right now to have to look at them. i think i'll be able to glue one of them back together, but the other may be a lost cause.

Monday, October 29, 2007

i've been busy folks

september and october have been a whirlwind of busyness for me. the construction crew that i work for has been building two houses side by side so we've been working long and hard since mid-september. this is one of two boards of bowls that i made a couple weeks ago.

here is one of my favorite photos from the warren mackenzie workshop. it was a wonderful experience, but it was painfully obvious at times that he is not as physically able as he once was. he has silicosis which meant that he was coughing up pieces of lung quite often. he throws his large platters nowadays on an electric wheel in his studio, but was convinced by a man at the workshop to make one, after trying to get out of it and trying to change the subject he finally agreed. he had a very tough time working that huge ball of clay. it made me mad at the guy for pushing him when it was obvious to everyone else that he didn't want to do it. when he showed up in the morning he was quite haggard and sickly looking but as soon as he touched the clay it was like a whole new person. there were endless stories and laughter, i'm so glad i was able to experience this.

this past weekend was the texas clay festival in gruene, texas(near austin). there is about 50 or so clay artists and many demos and events. i've been going for years and now i go just to see a few potters. my favorite though is Patrick Veerkamp from georgetown, texas. in my opinion he is one of the best potters working in functional salt glazed ware, and one of the best potters period. philbeck-if you're reading this you should google him, i think you'd like his work. the sad thing is that he doesn't produce a whole lot of work because the majority of his time goes into teaching, well i guess thats not sad because i'm sure he's a great teacher, but sad because there aren't more veerkamp pots around. here is a plate i bought from him, sorry about the poor photo quality, it doesn't even come close to doing it justice.

in my free time i enjoy doing a little woodworking. this is one of two night stands for some friends of ours. its a wedding gift and i'm sending them a picture to prove that i am working on them since they're six months overdue. and yes, jaime, i am going to put in a bottom shelf.

kilns almost done. i was going to finish it and fire this month, but couldn't because of the aforementioned busyness. same with the website. soon i hope.

oh yeah, the movie "once" is awsome, even more awsome is the soundtrack. see it.