Friday, December 24, 2010

A boy and his dog

Saybra and I had our Christmas a couple nights ago, before we hit the road to go see family. She had been teasing me for a couple months telling me that she got me the best christmas present ever. She had a painting made for me that is a copy of a photograph that she took when she and I had first started dating. It was taken in my backyard while I was playing with my dog Lucy during a particularly green summer(rare.) This was when I was working as a carpenter and this was a rare day off. I had been doing a little work in the studio, you can see the clay on my shorts, and whats funny is you can see the awesome tanline on my legs from working in shorts and boots, a necessity in the Texas summer. I've had Lucy for a little over seven years, I don't know exactly how old she is but she was full grown when I got her. She was raised to be a guard dog but didn't take to it and was beaten pretty bad in an attempt to make her mean but it never worked. She was rescued and was gifted to me by a friend. She has been my constant studio companion since I first got her. She has a bed in my studio and I bring her with me whenever I can. We almost had to get rid of her a couple years ago because of her territorial issues with our other dogs but she is very important to me so I opted to micro-manage and work with her and she fits in very well now. Saybra wanted to find a way to immortalize Lucy in a painting since she's getting on in years and we're not sure how much time she has left with us. I'm particularly fond of the photograph this is based on, it was a happy day for the three of us. Best christmas present ever? That's a good possibility.

In other news the winter break from school has been no break for me. I've been potting like a mad man since school let out a couple weeks ago. I've got another firings worth of work ready to go and I am getting ready to start making some more. I've got the ACC show coming up in a couple months and the pickings are slim here so I need to bust it and get some good work done. No rest for the weary.

Here is a deco that I'm fond of.

Another 1200 pounds of clay that should be ready in a couple weeks. I usually do this outside but it's a bit too cold for that.

Happy holidays!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Cuttin Cheese

A few weeks ago I broke the wire on the cheese cutter that I'd been using since my senior year of high school. A sad day- yes, but I'll get by. For some unknown reason I threw away the handle of the cutter, I could have just replaced the wire, dumb move. I thought it would be simple to find another, I think I paid 2-3 bucks for the first one. It's a simple tool, the bent shape of the handle holds the wire real tight. The problem with most current types is that the wire is somewhat loose and can be hard to tighten. I've looked for one every time I've been out and about, even made a couple trips to kitchen stores but no luck. I searched online today and it was fairly discouraging. Apparently this type of cheese cutter has since become a vintage item. I found one on ebay for way too much money but thought to myself: vintage, I should look on etsy and sure enough I found one for a fair price. I ordered it today. The advantage to this type vs. the newer adjustable ones is 1) the tension of the wire and 2) there is plenty of room behind the wire to make deep cuts. I used to do lots of faceting years ago but now I primarily use it for cutting out the feet on my cap jars. After I broke the cutter I attempted to make one, I used an adjustable and I even tried using a cutting wire held taught between my fingers, none worked to my satisfaction. Sherrill Mud Tools makes a similar tool which is too large for my needs on top of being grossly over-priced. This cheap little cheese cutter is just right for my needs and I haven't found anything to replace it so I'm willing to search far and wide for a proper replacement. It's amazing how dependent and attached you can become on a seemingly insignificant tool. Enough about cheese cutters, eh?

I've posted a few more pots on etsy, mostly to replace what's sold. Real gems from the last firing in my opinion. Here are a few photos.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Etsy Holiday Sale

Plenty of pots over on the etsy page for our holiday sale. Go check them out!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Etsy Preview

These pots and several more will be available Wednesday morning at 9am central on my etsy page.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

New pots.

The homesale is over for the day so I now have time to post a few photos! The firing was a good one, there was a dark area that got over-reduced but overall one of the best I've had. We unloaded at about 7am on Saturday morning, the homesale started at 10. Not the ideal way to do things but it all worked out okay. The majority of pots are still sitting in the barn but we did set up quite a few in the showroom and sold a chunk of them. Here are a few pots that I really liked, some of which have already made their way to new homes.

Oval vase. Orange slip over white slip. I did a whole bunch of slip and glaze tests during the late summer/early fall, these were a couple that I liked and did a few pots with. I enjoy the contrast between these two.

Another oval vase.

Lidded jar.

Tall pitcher. Orange slip over tile 6.

Some mugs, all tile6 slip in different parts of the kiln.

Big lidded jar.

Some serving bowls.

Soup bowls, the bowls on the left are stacked rim to rim.

Amongst the tests I did this summer/fall I was looking for a new liner glaze. I used a variation of the old 442 ash glaze for a long time but it just wasn't versatile enough and it was this terrible pond scum sort of yellow when it would get blasted with salt. I used that glaze as a base and changed things, added/subtracted things, etc. I used the salt kiln to test because it gives a very similar atmosphere to the wood kiln. I had several tests that showed promise and then used a couple in larger batches to help ultimately decide what glaze I would use. This glaze is the one that I've chosen. It's a distant relative of 442, this one has no addition of iron so it's a bit lighter. It still yellows when the salt hits it but I like this yellow quite a bit. This glaze is also a little more versatile in the kiln. It looks good at cone 8.5-9 all the way to 11 which is a common temp variation in my kiln.

I'll take photos of more pots later on. The etsy sale will go up Wednesday at 9am.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Firing #7.

I fired off the kiln today. It fired well, no more that 1/2 cone off in any place where there were cones. The firing went off without a hitch except for the fire dept showing up...again. I appreciate good samaritans but who calls the fire dept for smoke coming out of a chimney? Weird. I met them in the driveway and a couple of them had been here before so they were on their way in just a couple minutes.

It's really important to me and I really enjoy doing all aspects of the firing myself. Gathering the wood, cutting, chopping, sorting, stacking it. Grinding shelves, loading and firing as well. The only thing that I accept help with is the unloading and even then Saybra is the only one that I'll allow. I'd considered having help this last time around and had a couple people interested but ultimately decided to do it all myself. When we woodfired in college there was a bit of a party atmosphere. We'd all hang out and have a good time and the firings would ultimately end up uneven, over-reduced or any other mess of problems because no one was really paying attention to the firing. I've had people want to come out and fire and they always seem to want to barbecue and drink beers which is fun but the firing is a time for focused and diligent attention. My kiln holds about 200 pots which is usually around 2 months work for me(and a good portion of my livelihood), I'm not going to give anything but my undivided attention and the only way I can do that is to do it alone. So be it.

Here is the back stack.

And the front stack, 185 pots altogether. Unloading Saturday morning.

My post-firing beverage. I prefer Strongobow but the only place that carries it is all the way across town.

The online portion of the home sale goes up on etsy Wednesday(12/8) morning at 9am central. There will be plenty of good pots there, assuming the firing went well(fingers crossed.)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Almost there.

Not much to report today. The pots are all out in the barn, about 2/3 of them are wadded. 222 pots to be exact, I wonder if that's good luck? The shelves are cleaned and ready to go and I cut a bunch of new posts as well. I don't know if I need them but I do have some that are getting pretty gnarly. The kiln holds in the realm of 200 pots with a variety of sizes so it's nice to have extra to choose from. I have quite a few larger bowls so that will probably bring the count down a bit.

More pots.

I sort of fixed the gap in the kiln. It came to me the other day that I did this last year, though the gap wasn't as bad then. I didn't take any photos of the process to fix it but here is what I did last year. I did pretty much the same thing this time though I put blocks on all the corners to keep the strap from sticking on the sharp brick corners. I was able to close it to about 1/2-3/8" which is tolerable I suppose. This was as tight as I could get the strap without breaking the mechanism. I really have no idea why the kiln is walking so bad. Maybe I built it too tight? But then why would it keep expanding? Why only on the firebox side? I guess the weight of the stack buttresses the other side pretty well. I've heard lots of stories about catenary arches walking but it usually takes longer than six firings. Hmm....I think I'm going to have to think about bracing.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day consisting of chopping the remainder of the wood and stacking the kiln. Somewhere in there I have to teach a class as well.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


We're venturing into the 21at century and are attempting to keep up with email marketing. If you would like to join our email list please fill out the box to the right. We will have a couple newsletters each year as well as notices about sales and shows. Your emails will not be shared and you will have the opportunity to opt-out(but why would you want to do that?)

As incentive to join I will pull an email at random after our homesale and the winner will receive a small serving bowl from the next firing. Sounds good, eh?


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kiln stuff.

I've finished repairing the kiln. It is good as new, or slightly used I guess. I had to replace that dinky wall on the right side, it took about 2 hours. Lots of cutting. I also repaired the bagwall. It had been knocked into the firebox and was in about 40 pieces. It took me about 45 minutes to put the puzzle back together.

Most of the door was intact about 2/3 of the way up. The top portion had to be mostly redone.

The temperature drops down pretty low in the evenings so I made a little fire pit in the shed to make working in there bearable. It actually kept it quite toasty, I was able to work comfortably in a t-shirt. That hole in the roof is where to stack from my old kiln went through. You can see the framework from my old kiln. The bolts holding the frame to the concrete are bent and I can't get them out, though in all honesty I haven't tried that hard.

My arch has been walking a bit, the gap is now large enough that I can stick my hand in it. That is no good. I'll see if I can fix that over the next couple days.

Tomorrow I'm chopping up the remainder of what I need for the firing and I will begin loading immediately afterwards. Firing soon.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do work son.

Not much going on with clay but I have been dealing with wood for the kiln and the kiln itself. I have been having trouble finding wood, not much construction going on here. There have been a rash of thefts amongst construction sites here so the builders that are working won't allow anyone but their contractors on the site. Bummer. I did get two trailer loads of wood(3-4 firings?) from a guy cleaning up his farm outside of town. Most of the wood in the first photo is from that. I'm trying my best to get enough wood cut and stacked for 3-4 firings which should get me through the spring.

My kiln is designed to burn relatively straight pieces of lumber, soft wood does best because the coals burn down faster and don't clog the firebox. Mesquite is probably 80% of the native wood here and is completely unsuitable for my kiln. It is a gnarly, twisted, short tree. The wood is extremely hard(and hard to cut!) and takes FOREVER to burn down. The best wood for a wood stove or fireplace, terrible for my kiln. I've been looking for sawmills, pallet factories, etc. but haven't been able to find anything suitable closer than 4 hours away. Guess I'll keep looking, I'll find a solution to this problem eventually.

Here is the cutting station. On the right is the stack of firebox length wood, still needs to be chopped into thinner pieces, the great thing about pine is that it splits super easy, makes life a little easier. Behind the sawhorses is a pile of blocks that will be split into thinner pieces for stoking under the firebox and immediately to the left of that is a pile that I call f**k-up wood. It is wood that is less than firebox length for correcting temperature imbalance that can't be corrected with just the dampers.

The mess of a wood pile that I'm slowly working my way through. I've made a dent in it and I'll just have to hunker down and get through it. Look at whose name that is on that container back there.

A friend of mine commented that the goats didn't seem to be doing their jobs. They don't leave a perfectly manicured lawn and they don't eat everything but they clear the land pretty well. Here is a picture of our fence line. That is our neighbors back yard which is what ours looked like pre-goats. I have terrible allergies like you wouldn't believe and I avoid mowing whenever possible so we let the goats take care of the back acre. Not too bad, eh?

I've been in the barn/kiln shed in the evenings cleaning it up. I never really cleaned up after demolishing the old kiln because I ran out of time and had to get firing so about 1/3 of the barn was sort of out of commission. So I've been taking care of that mess as well as the goat disaster. I'm also doing a bit of reorganizing in the barn as well for wood stacks and such. I have no photos at this time of that but I'll take some soon.

That's all I have for now.

I hope all my American readers have a pleasant thanksgiving!


Home sale.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list you can email me with your address: brandon(at)

We will have an online sale in conjunction with the home sale so stay tuned for more info on that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lids & Knobs

I spent the day in the studio footing pots and dealing with lots of lids. I've gotten a lot done so it was a day well spent. I don't have much to say so I'll share some photos.

Some lobed soup bowls. These will get the non-crackling crackle slip and an ash glaze.


Cap jars.

Cut foot and un-cut foot. The one on the right will get an ash glaze so I've left a lip around the foot to catch the glaze. I liked the look of it without cutting it like the one of the left so I've left it.

These casseroles are a variation on some that I've made in the past. I put handles on 2 of them and I am unsure about them. These dishes have a flared shape that sort of makes the handles unnecessary anyway so I've left them off the other 2. Feel free to share your opinions.

Knob detail, I like big knobs. That probably means something different outside the states. Ever try to grab a dinky knob with an oven mitt on?

Footed casserole dishes.

Small lidded dishes.

I busted out the window stamp, I haven't used it in a couple years. Meh.

Slipped yunomi.