Thursday, December 31, 2009

the year in review.

2009 was a good year. In all I made 1200 finished pots with another 100 that are ready to be fired. Not too bad for part-timeish. So here is a quick recap of some of my favorite events.

I built a new kiln, 2.5 times bigger than my previous. It's a hoss, holds about 200 pots and fires like a dream. I fired it 5 times this year.

I built myself a treadle wheel, I've wanted one for years and now I have one, I rule.

I made a lot of pots.

I had a show with some of my favorite potters and sold a boatload of pots(not just mine) to our community. It was a ton of work and I had a 2 month period of burnout afterwards, but it was worth it.

We welcomed 2 new members to our clan and they made themselves right at home.

Here are 3 of my favorite pots from 2009.

We added a few pots to our cupboard this year from bloggers Hollis Engley, Ron Philbeck, Michael Kline, Sequoia Miller, Scott Cooper, and former blogger Kent Harris. We also snagged a few from non-bloggers, we're addicts.
Hoping for an even better 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I'm going to be mixing up a lot of porcelain this next week, about 1200#. It's about time for my fix I suppose. I'm really excited about this departure and I am excited to be able to spend a decent amount of time exploring it. I really enjoy working with porcelain and would probably do more with it but it doesn't do anything that interests me in the wood the moment anyways. I'll be firing most of it in the gas kiln, I really enjoy a gestural surface with a clear glaze. I have done some work with a bold green and wax resist that was well received.

Here are a few pots from last year, not the best pieces but the only ones I could find photos of.

I have a few hundred pounds of stoneware to work through while the porcelain dries in the racks. I'm ready to get back to the wheel and back to work! I've had three out of six rejections so far for spring shows, my worst stats ever! Oh well...I hate art festivals anyways. I have less need to make pots now, though that doesn' mean I'll be making any less. Less deadlines means more exploration and better pots.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

pots from firing V

Here are some pots from the firing. Overall I'm very pleased. Some of my glazes didn't behave as I had expected but they're still nice. Out of 229 pots I had 2 crack and 2 that need grinding...that's pretty darn good. I was hoping that the residual salt in the kiln would flash the bare areas a little but that didn't happen so some of the pots looked like they came straight out of a gas kiln.

I meant to take photos as I unloaded but once I got in the kiln it was the furthest thing from my mind. So here are a few of my favorites.

Shino teapot. I don't do much with shino, I love it like most potters do but it's a difficult glaze to master(and sell) so I only do a few pieces from time to time. There are tons of potters out there using shino but in my opinion there are less than 10 potters who have really mastered it. Shino is not just a glaze, it's a combination of glaze, clay, firing, phase of the moon, etc. It's easy to get a shino to get some nice color but to get real depth you have to pay attention to every detail of the materials and process. I'm really pleased with the glaze on this guy, I guess I got lucky.

Pitcher, Ame glaze.

Lidded jar with crackle slip.

Ash glazed teapot.

Butter Dish, Ame glaze.


Small bowls. For those of you who don't know Abilene is the true windy city(windier than Chicago!) The guy on the left is a weed from out back yard blowing in the wind.



Monday, December 21, 2009

firing V photos.

I finished firing #5 today at about 5pm. It's been loaded for sometime now but has been dutifully waiting for it's turn to be fired. I had originally intended to fire it before our holiday sale but upon organizing the showroom I discovered that I didn't need those extra pots nor did I have room for them. I did however have an order that needed to come out so I went ahead and fired it off today.

The firing was a little more erratic than most. It fired unevenly most of the way and ended up with cone 10 down evenly on the bottom, 9 3/4 top-back, and 11 top-front. Since this firing wasn't meant to be salted I packed it tighter which I'm sure was the cause for the erratic behavior. It also used more wood, again I think because of the tighter packing, more pots=more thermal mass.

Firewood. The small stuff in front is for below the grates, up to about 14-1500 and then I begin stoking above the grates in conjunction with below until cone 08 falls and then it's just above the grates until the end.

Photo through the stokehole at about 600 degrees.

The pyrometer...a tool I've become way too dependent on, but certainly nice to have.

The passive damper is a feature on this kiln that I rarely use, usually only when the kiln is uneven. It's purpose it to reduce the drawing power of the chimney, the result is that it slows down the kiln and can make evening it out a bit easier. It has seven bricks in total but I've never pulled all 7. Since this firing was all glazed work I wanted to have at least 2 hours from cone 7 to cone 10, it usually flies through in about 50-60 minutes. So I pulled all 7 bricks and it slowed it to my desired rate. I've tried a number of different methods in the past to slow it down/soak it but nothing else works as effectively.

Cone 10 down. So hot you can barely see it.

Unloading on wednesday morning. This was something new and a big gamble, so I'm not keeping my hopes up too high. Hopefully there will be a few gems though.


Sunday, December 20, 2009


I just went and picked up a loaf of bread so I could have some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and iced tea for breakfast. Isn't that weird? Who does that? Maybe I'll tell you why tomorrow evening.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

where yer osh-kosh's at?

Real potters wear overalls. I knew I've been missing something.

That took far too long for the small amount of humor involved. Back to the firewood.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

wet clay in december?!

I'm up at the university firing the gas kiln. I had several students who waited until the last week to finish glazing their work so here I am firing them(the work, not the students.)

Here is an idea I've had in my head for awhile. Finally the other day I had a free half-hour and threw these and then today I altered the rims and cut the feet. I kinda like them, but you must be careful because altering can be a slippery slope and before you know it you're a vessel maker instead of a potter.


20 mugs...and I need to make more. I only have a dozen or so left!

I usually make pots in multiples but I decided to make the wet chuck for the bowls above into a pot. Crank the heat and you can handle it in two hours.

Well, that's all for now. Check out my etsy shop if you need some sweet woodfired pottery, there are still plenty of nice pieces there. Mugs have been popular so I may put a few more up later in the week.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

online sale!

The online sale is up! Order by 12/17 in the US and it should be there by Xmas. Enjoy!


Monday, December 14, 2009

holiday sale teaser...

It's that time of the year. What time, you may ask? Time for the online holiday sale. It goes up tomorrow at 10am CST. It will be on my etsy shop.

Until then, here are 4 out of the 28 pieces that will be available.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

last chance...sort of.

Today is the last day of the holiday sale...not the last day we'll be open but the last day for free cider and cookies. As per usual the second weekend is much slower than the first so I'll be spending a little time on the couch with miss Kaylee waiting for customers.

What a grouch.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Our holiday sale was good, slightly better than last year so we're pleased. Lots of new faces this year, that's always a treat. Plenty of pots left though! We'll be doing it again next weekend and we'll be doing our first ever public kiln opening. I'm a bit nervous about that since it will be my glaze firing which has the potential to be pure disaster. It's sure to be exciting all the same. I'm still a little under the weather and exhausted so I'm off to bed. We'll be doing the online portion of our holiday sale the middle of this week so stay tuned!


Friday, December 4, 2009


My apologies for the blurry's 26 degrees outside and for whatever reason my camera won't take a clear picture when it's real cold.

I spent a little time this week building tables and shelves for the showroom. I used to use my booth setup but I really dislike tearing it down every time I have a show and it didn't utilize this space effectively at all. The tables are built from framing lumber, 2x6's and 2x10's, cheaper than 1x stock of the same grade, go figure.

These shorter shelves are 2x10's as well.

When you're on a budget pallet stock can make nice shelves, and it's free!

A dedicated wrapping area, that's new.

I have a couple platters to hang and some last minute cleaning but otherwise we're ready to go!

I'll also be having an online sale for all my non-local customers on etsy next wednesday or thursday. And don't worry, you won't be getting the leftovers, I've saved some stellar pieces for you guys.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

oh blither.

I'm sitting here in my office waiting for class to start and for the gas kiln to finish. We had a good thanksgiving, got to spend some quality time with the family-that's always nice. Unfortunately I've fallen ill and am still in a somewhat miserable state. What does that mean? Well, it means that I haven't gotten to do any prep for the home sale this weekend(sat. 10-6, sun, 12-6, book it) nor have I been able to fire the kiln...and I won't get to before the sale. That is fine though, we're having some heavy rains so it's probably for the best. My wife says that I work too much and that whenever we take a vacation by body finally catches up and gets sick. It's true, every time we take a vacation I get sick. I do get my 7-8 hours of sleep most nights, I have bouts of insomnia from time to time though. Aside from that I work from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, occasionally I'll take a sunday off but usually it's 7 days a week. Let this be a bit of a reality check for those of you wanting to make a living with art/craft. I've been hesitant to share this on the blog but after reading Michael Kline's the last few weeks I know that I'm not alone. I do have to say that it is a choice most times. Sometimes we put things off to the last minute or schedule or time unrealistically knowing full well we'll be pulling all-nighters. I currently have way more pots than I "need" at the moment, so I can take a little time to do other things in December. I also have no children to take care of, though I do have neglected wife and neglected property. Very little of that time is spent making pots, about 25+/- hours a week are devoted to teaching and related duties, with potting coming second to that. So what's the point of all this? I don't know. Even though I've been sick it has been nice to sit around with my wife and watch a little television and play with the dogs, I don't relax near enough. So perhaps I should pencil that in for the future, we'll see how that goes. I've always said that I'll rest when I'm dead but that may come sooner than I like if I don't rest now.