Monday, December 29, 2008

what comes down must go up.

I poured the slab for the new kiln before we left for christmas. I started tearing down the kiln today, its coming apart a lot easier than I thought and with a lot more reusable bricks than I thought.

I think this bagwall is quite pretty; obviously not reusable though.

New slab. I snapped some chalklines for the layout of the kiln, Lucy is sitting right inside the firebox.
I had a nasty toothache before xmas that turned into an abscessed infection during the holiday and was very very painful. Repeated calls to my dentist were never returned, despite their claim of emergency service. I went to the oral surgeon this morning and he is going to remove the tooth next tuesday but until then I'm having to take antibiotics and hydrocodone for the pain which leaves me in a bit of a stupor. I've discovered that I only have about and hour window every 4-5 hours where I can actually work on the kiln. So it'll be a slow haul until next week. It seems this past year that someone or something is always sick or injured so hopefully this coming year will be a year of good health. Happy new year and good health to everyone!
(I'm giving this punctuation thing a try, so I apologize if I miss some now and then!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008


here is what i've been working on lately.

here is a little board i've been putting together with some of the basic shapes i make. i tend to repeat shapes or ideas rather so i put this chart together not so much to dictate the shapes but to remember how much clay i use to make various size pots.

drying racks. i have a bunch of bisque pots as well but who wants to look at a photo of bisqueware?

new pitcher shape, i made a few of these in different sizes, this is the only one with fingerwipes.

new(or recycled) mug shape and handle detail.

fat yunomi and mugs.

when classes are out the studio doubles as storage/drying space. i mixed up my clay inside because i don't want it to freeze but it'll take twice as long to dry.

new(again recycled) casserole shape. these seem to take longer to assemble than the footed ones that i make but are more traditionally shaped so they may be more accepted.

handle detail, i love edges.

lately i've been working with my wheel spinning really slow so that i can get some better lines on my pieces. i've been trying to move away from so much brushwork but also coming up with different patterns. i want the pieces to have a lot of gesture on the surface which is happening but my pots also seem to be getting a bit wonky which i like but sometimes i wonder if its too much. in this photo i'm showing my wife a wonky pot and asking if its too much, she says no its good. a plus from the slooooow wheel is that my pots end up a little more stout in a good way, sometimes a fast wheel can get away from you and your pots get too thin.
i've got a lot of new ideas here and they're all open to criticism
thanks for reading and happy holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

not about pottery.

i rarely go off topic here but i'm excited about this. i try not to watch much television outside of a couple of sitcoms and the "this old house hour" but this is easily my favorite show, love it or hate it. i like my shows to take me for a ride, and this one will if you let it.

the music wouldn't have been my first choice but surprisingly the deeper meaning is very in tune with the show.

i like it when potter-bloggers drop tiny glimpses of what goes on in their non-pottery world from time to time, so here is one from me. thank you for enduring if you hate this show. anyways, back to pottery next time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

clay, kilns, and dogs

i've just finished up the last of the clay, so much for lasting me through winter. i had two barrels worth of scrap that i mixed up and are in the racks right now but that won't be ready for a couple weeks. i'll try to get some photos tonight of what i've been working on, the shelves are getting full.

i'm off to lowes here in a bit to get some lumber to make forms for a slab for the new kiln. i want to have the foundation done before xmas. the first firing is on the calendar for jan. 17, so i need to get moving. my friend kent is going to come out and fire with me, so that'll be fun. i've never had help firing before so that will be an interesting experience.

in some personal news, yesterday our dog kaylee was hit by a car. she bolted out the front door as i was leaving, which is bizarre behavior for her. she was heading for the park across the street and didn't look both ways before crossing and the front half of her body got nailed by a lady going about 40mph. the lady was of course at no fault but proceeded to floor it and take off when she saw me, thanks for that. she had tire tracks on her legs which made me think she got ran over, but i'm not sure about that, it all happened so fast i can't remember anything but the sound, awful awful sound. she is doing very well today, walking around and such. she's a little swollen and kind of in a stupor, she probably has a concussion, but i think she'll be ok.
so long for now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

more pots

i've posted some more pots on etsy. they will more than likely be received before xmas if purchased on/by thursday. you can see them here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the man.

what will you be doing at 85 with silicosis? limitations are in the mind.

i've stolen this photo from Lloyd Cledwyn at

Saturday, December 13, 2008

i've etsy'd

i've posted a bunch of pots on etsy. you can see them here.

i had a bunch of photos to post here but i believe someone has stolen my camera. hopefully i've just misplaced it, but i don't think so. it'll probably be awhile before i get some studio shots on here.

we've had several customers today, looks like the showroom is paying off.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


ah, the show is over, time to relax. we had a good weekend, less people than i expected but more sales than i expected. definitely worth all the effort. we still have plenty of pots and will be open every saturday until christmas from 10-6 and if you can't make it then give me a ring because one of us is sure to be around. 325-660-3142. i'm finally going to give this etsy thing a try, give me a few days.

the homestead. house on the left, showroom on the right, studio behind the carport and the kiln is in the barn back in the distance.

showroom and some texas sky.


more pots.

these are what we still have so if anyone in the blog-o-sphere has to have something drop me an email or call.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

fire, dogs and sales.

i fired the kiln on thursday, i started at about 4:30 am and it was so bone chillingly cold. the first few hours were a very miserable experience. once the kiln started to heat up and the sun came out things were better. i finished the firing at about 2pm in a t-shirt. i'm glad i hadn't yet torn down the kiln because i really needed some more pots to fill up the new showroom. the kiln fired beautifully and the pots were great.

you may notice an unfamiliar dog creeping into that picture above. we have welcomed a new dog to our family(i know, i know...we just got rid of one). this guy was dumped at the park across from our house, an all too common occurrence. we found him the night before thanksgiving and kept him until monday when the pound reopened. he and our dog kaylee got on so well that kaylee was a big bag of miserable after we took him. long story short, nobody adopted him so we did just an hour or two before he was to be put down. needless to say kaylee was ecstatic. he showed up house broken and well behaved, so we lucked out a bit. we've named him hoban, the name has some correlation with kaylee's so kudos to anyone who can figure that out.

here is a photo of a huge jar that my parents dropped off at the house. this has been sitting in my dads office for a few years but i wanted to have a look at it because i'm thinking of making some more. i did a whole bunch of these one semester in college but this one cracked so my dad kept it around for me. this is one of the smaller ones, believe it or not, but it has more facets than any others i did. the facets are done very precisely with a sureform, a very tedious process but the results i think speak for themselves.

here is a small peak of our showroom...ceiling.

new pots. good feet.

day one of our sale was good, i think tomorrow will be good as well. i'll get some shots tomorrow and post them here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

gobble gobble.

happy turkey day or tofurkey day if thats your thing. we're grilling chicken, i've never liked turkey.

so long.

Friday, November 21, 2008

pictures of stuff.

freshly slipped yunomi and mugs.

baking dishes, they were too wet to slip today.

baking dish handle detail.

teapot handle. when i was in college i had an excellent drawing teacher who went on and on about the quality of lines and how lines make the drawing and so on. i've always kept those ideas in mind when it comes to gesture lines and where things are attached. not only does it create a bit of a visual interruption(in a good way i think) but it also gives a nice place for slips and glazes to break and accentuate the attachment. they're also a nice compliment to the way i thumb over the bottom edges, similar edges.

jury's out on this guy. this was a demo piece for my students. there final assignment was to make a piece that is assembled from two or more pieces, thrown or handbuilt or both(teapots, pedestal bowls, drastically shaped vases, etc.). i demonstrated a two part vase with a coiled and thrown rim. not sure if i like it, but thats why slip barrels exist, yeah?

this is my booth shot, i wanted to show my buddy kent the panels in the back. they are hollow core doors from lowes or home depot. there are three of them. two 36" doors hinged together and a 32" door at 90 degrees going back to brace them up. there are some custom brackets to hold the corners together that i'll have to get a photo of later. 1/4 the price of propanels.

finished exterior!

hurricane ike? unfortunately no, i'm a messy builder. looks like a project for monday, or maybe for some students that need some extra credit? hmmmm.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

date change

we've decided to change the date of our fall sale to december 6 & 7(can it still be called a fall sale in december?) good thing they hadn't printed the postcards yet! i feel like i am neglecting my students trying to rush and get everything done by thanksgiving so i'll give myself another week so i can give them my full attention since that's the way it should be.

on other exciting news i actually made some pots yesterday! i had a few hours in the afternoon so i made several boards of pots that i now have to find time to finish. moving the sale will be nice because i'll have a new firing out before the sale. i've also invited my students to put some pieces in if they would like, i think it would be fun for them since we didn't get to do raku this semester and its always good to let the ceramics 1 students play with some fire. that will also help me fill the kiln, that will be a bit of a struggle on my own with this little time.

as far as 12' drywall goes the trick is balance and leverage. it only took 8 sheets to cover the walls in my showroom(we'll do the ceiling later), and i wanted to avoid as many joints as possible. i backed my truck right up to the front of the showroom with the sheetrock in the bed and made the cuts that were needed right there in the truck and then i only had to carry them 10-15 feet. its best to work from the top down so i tacked a 2x4 across the studs at 48" down from the top to create a ledge and then when i brought the sheet in all i had to do was get it on the ledge and everything was gravy from there.

kyle- i teach at hardin-simmons university in abilene, tx. its a small private(baptist) school but fairly liberal for a religious institution. i am only an adjunct but since i'm the only one teaching ceramics here i get more perks and responsibility than the average adjunct but still they won't pay for me to go to nceca but if i can swing it i'd love to go. i haven't been since it was in kansas city(2001?).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

crunch time.

i've finished the exterior of the showroom, my computer is not recognizing my camera so i can't upload the pictures but i'll get them up as soon as a i get a chance. i put up all the sheetrock last night...alone, my back is a wee bit sore(12 foot sheets)! my clay is out of the racks and ready to be made into pots as soon as i finish getting the students glazes ready, i'm way behind getting them glazing as i have way over-extended myself this fall. i plan to mix all(or at least most) of the clay for next semesters classes over the christmas break. i'll have at least twice as many students and several art shows...there i go again with the over-extending. fall sale in less than two weeks, firing in less than three weeks, multiple student firings over the next couple weeks, out of town this weekend for a workshop at my buddy kent's place, welcome to stressville.

Friday, November 14, 2008

fall sale

today has been very windy, while up on the roof shingling the wind blew my ladder over and i had to jump off the roof, ouch. my feet and legs can't take that kind of business like they used to. so i'm taking a little break to tell everyone about our fall sale. we'll be showing my pots and some of saybra's photography in our (fingers crossed) newly finished showroom the weekend of thanksgiving. i'll have a firing the following week and we'll be open that following weekend as well. if anyone would like to be added to our mailing list drop me an email( with either your physical address, email or both. we'll be sending out this fancy postcard in about a week. back to roofing, so long.

Monday, November 10, 2008

no pots yet.

my clay is not ready yet, so....another showroom post. i've painted the siding a light green. the trim and eaves will get a cream white and the door will be red. i might get that finished tomorrow. the deck won't be finished in time for the home sale, so i've cut in a set of temporary stairs-with no steps yet, maybe i'll do that tomorrow too....or wednesday. hopefully i'll get it shingled and sheetrocked this weekend, its good to be on the home stretch-i wanna make some pots.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


i mixed up about 1500 pounds of clay today, it filled all the racks i have(and space). as soon as this batch is out i'll do another 1500 or so. its going to start getting cold soon, cold for texas anyways, so i want to have enough clay mixed to see me through the winter. i have an ambitious show schedule for the spring, 7 shows in 4 months, so i'd like to have a lot of work ready. i think i'm going to build some sort of damp box to hold all the clay, i really get tired of having barrels everywhere. i have an old fridge at home that i've been saving for awhile to store clay in but i don't really want to cart it up to the university and i don't know that they'd appreciate it.

the showroom is coming along slowly, too slow for me anyways. i'd post a picture but it kinda looks the same as the last one. i've done some work on the porch ceiling, finished the exterior trim and done lots of caulking to get ready for paint. i want to shingle and paint this weekend but we'll see if that happens. after that all thats left is the interior. i'm thinking of sheetrocking the walls and leaving the ceiling exposed, it would certainly be a little cheaper and easier, and kind of quaint.

i made my first pot in over a month the other day(other than demos) and it felt good to have my hands in clay again. i'm going to try to do a firing the day before thanksgiving, emphasis on try. we'll see if that pans out.

off to teach my night class(and by off i mean two steps out of the office and into the classroom), vases and bottles and pitchers, oh my!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

i've performed my patriotic duties, i hope you have as well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

messy progress

i didn't get as much done as i would have liked this weekend, but i've made satisfactory progress nonetheless. i was hoping to get the door installed today but that may fall through so i may have to find another one. i finished everything i said i would except for the siding on the front(need to put the door in first), and i'm missing a little piece of roofing felt on the peak because i wasn't sure how to to fold/cut it there so i'll get that done sometime this week. its getting messy out there so i think i'll do some cleaning before i head off to teach tomorrow. you can see that much of the fascia board is pretty dirty, using scavenged building materials is a lot like using secondhand kiln bricks, it may be free but there's going to be some elbow grease going into cleaning that before it can be painted( at least its pre-primed!)

so long for now!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


the rafters are up and all the sheeting is done. i'm going to try and get the plywood on the roof tomorrow, if not then friday. the soffit, fascia, outside trim and siding come next and sometime this weekend i'll put in the permanent posts for the porch. things may slow down a bit after the roof because i'm going to need an extra set of hands from here on and those may be hard to come by. i'm amazed i've gotten as far as i have by myself(my wife helped me square up the floor and raise the first wall, credit where credits due) but the finish work can't be fudged so i'll need someone to help so it looks nice.

i've opted not to have a flat ceiling on the inside. this may look like a jumbled mess to some, but the rafters that don't go all the way to the peak are half of the ceiling in the showroom. this took me awhile to figure out, i've never done a ceiling like this on a hipped roof before.

i get antsy when i'm not doing claywork, in case you couldn't tell. i have a clay batch drying in the racks now so i can get some work out before the homesale. i think i'm going to end up doing one more firing in the wood kiln because it won't get rebuilt in time, i think she'll make it.

so long for now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

well on its way.

here, i am proud to say, is the beginning of our new showroom. i poured the footings and laid the floor last week and today i put up the walls and porch beams. i've had a bunch of lumber for a year or so now and originally we were going to add another bathroom on to our house and we decided it was going to be too costly and then i was going to replace the roof to the workshop but the workshop is in such poor shape that it really needs to be torn down and rebuilt, so we decided against that as well. i don't have tons of customers locally but i'm starting to have enough that its too much trouble to unpack and repack all the pots everytime someone stops by.

this is going to be pretty small, 10x14 inside with a 4 foot porch bumping out on the front. certainly large enough for my work though. we are penny pinching big time with this guy but i think it will turn out pretty nice. all of the larger lumber was in decent shape but half the 2x4 studs i had were all twisted and warped so i had to buy some new ones, other than that the plywood flooring and concrete are the only investments we've had to make so far. we picked up some nice windows from some folks we know that just replaced theirs and we scored a nice door from my wife's work. i have two stacks of different types of siding, one will go around the sides and back and the nicer stuff will go in the front.

i'm building this without a permit for a couple reasons. i am just over the square footage for needing a permit for a shed so i think i can play dumb if there's a problem. we also have some weird setback laws here that include driveways. thats right, you can't have a structure within 12 feet of a driveway except at its termination, weird right? same setback for the property line, so according to the city rules i couldn't have any structure on this little strip of land thats deeper than 5 feet. i'm building the whole thing to code though anyways(except for my floor joists which are 6" too low but come on its almost 2 feet off the ground already), its how i learned as a carpenter so its in my nature to do things right. in fact for a shed i'm overbuilding it, so i'll just try and fly under the radar and hopefully there'll be no problems. enough blither for now, i won't be making any pots for a week or two so i'll keep you up to date on the showroom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

home, at least for awhile

we arrived home monday afternoon after a nice weekend in houston. the show this weekend was hands down the best show i've ever done. we came home with several empty bins and i'm wondering if i have enough work for our home sale after thanksgiving, guess i'll have to make some more! thank you so much to all the people who came out and supported us, it was nice to meet new folks and travel to a new town to show my work.

i was worried about this show because of all the financial doom i hear about on npr, but it didn't seem to effect this show. although we only sold two large pieces(imagine the volume of mugs, cups and bowls one must sell to have a killer show, guess i know whats first up on the making list) we saw several painters with originals and expensive sculpture going out the door so i think this show was good for everyone which i find very encouraging. we have had to raise some of our prices this year and while i always cringe because i'm worried people will think they're too high we didn't have a single person complain about the pricing, which might be a first.

i've been wanting to set up a way to sell on my website but have never had the time to build it so within the next couple of weeks i'll be putting some stuff on etsy until i can get the site going.

i cancelled my classes today because i'm feeling a little under the weather, so i'm going to go home and rest a bit. i'm leaving friday to go help my father redo their master bath as a surprise for my mother so i'll be gone for a few days.

so long.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

new pots

i'm happy to say that this is my 100th post, and to mark such a milestone i suppose it's appropriate to share some pots from the last(and best) firing of my wood kiln.

every year the art center that my wife works at holds a fundrasier called "little masterpieces." all the artist members(100+) paint a small 5x7 canvas and they're sold for $50-100. last year i donated some small capjars but they were the only 3-d pieces and felt out of place so this year i made a couple 5x7 tiles. i "stole" part of the design from kyle carpenter.

i built myself a fancy new soft box to light my pots, i found the information via john glick. i built a cheapo version of his and i have to say it works quite well. i shot this real fast as a sort of test but they actually look better than most of the photos i've taken before.

we're leaving thursday morning for houston so you probably won't hear from me until next week. for now i'll leave you with this quote:
"To me the greatest thing is to live beauty in our daily life and to crowd every moment with things of beauty. It is then, and then only, that the art of the people as a whole is endowed with its richest significance. For its products are those made by a great many craftsmen for the mass of the people, and the moment this art declines the life of the nation is removed far away from beauty."
name it. the author i think is pretty easy, but kudos to whoever can name the original english source of publication.

Friday, October 10, 2008

my kiln.

i've never written too much about my kiln so i thought i would take the time to do so before its gone. i built this guy over the course of a few months last summer and had the first firing in december of 2007, and will have the last firing(#9) in a couple of days. the design is based on peg udall's kiln in jack troy's "woodfired stoneware and porcelain" book.

my intent was to coat the whole kiln with a clay/cement mixture to help seal it and protect the fiber but i knew i wanted to build a bigger one so i never coated it. i incorporated a swinging door for the chamber and the stokehole. there was some fancy steelwork to support these but my welder died in the process so the door is only held tight to keep it from falling back away from the kiln, there was nothing to keep it from going side to side. that orange strap there is what keeps it from falling to the chimney side and i extended the top tierod to keep it from falling to the firebox side but because of that it can't open any more than you see here which means that there is only about a 20" opening to load, a huge pain in the butt. it has been nice but i won't put one on the next kiln because of all the steelwork involved. there is a whole in the door there that accepts a pyrometer that i use to monitor temperature gain so i don't go too fast. this kiln will fly at the beginning if you let it.

the first major mistake i made was to only have a stokehole on one side. this means that it potentially draws more air on the stoking side resulting in oxidation and a cool spot on the stoking side bottom. in this photo you can see that the opposite side of the kiln is only three feet from the wall(which seemed ok at the time?) so there was no room to add a stoking port to the other side. i've learned to rectify this with stoking and the damper but it took several firings to figure it out. mistake #2 was that i made the base of the stack into one chamber instead of the 2 that were in the plans. i thought that with such a small kiln i didn't need them. i was wrong. having two chambers below the dampers(1 for each side) can help modify if you have any unevenness in temperature, oops.

here is the bagwall after 8 firings. you can see on the left two places where the bricks are actually falling apart. the bagwall gets the most intense heat and salt of any spot in the kiln and has completely melted into one solid mass, coatings and kiln wash did absolutely nothing to help here. i hope it will make it through one more firing. the brick in the body of the kiln is holding up ok, i used hardbrick for the arch, floor, flues, and wall above the firebox. the rest of the walls are 9" of insulating firebrick which are amazingly in better shape than the hardbrick. go figure.

here is the floor, its kind of nasty but i've seen worse. the stack here is 2 12x24" shelves. the first few firings the bottom opposite the stoking hole fired about 2-3 cones hotter than the rest of the kiln until i learned how to control it. one time i put a cone 12 in the pack here and it was flattened melted when the rest of the kiln was between cone 10-11. so you can see the bricks in the floor there are actually melted from those early firings, kinda neat, kinda scary.

this shot is looking down into the firebox from the top of the bagwall. you can see the stokehole on the left. i've actually gotten burns similar to sunburn on my face from clearing the grates for stoking when the kiln is near peak temp. i always wear protective eyewear so my eyes stay safe.

the next kiln is going to be a larger version of this one. this kiln has been a great learning tool and i have never had a bad firing as far as surface goes. the kiln has always responded well and its relatively easy to fix mistakes from stoker error. i can prepare enough wood for a firing in just a few hours and aside from my face and arms near the stokehole it could be fired in shorts and sandals.
i hope that wasn't too boring to anyone.
now i've gotta get back to loading.