Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This is a ghost or "Banshee" caught on film in a never-aired Scottish car commercial. After the car comes down the hill and then comes out from behind the second set of trees, if you look and listen closely you can see and hear the Banshee. It will appear on the hood of the car and it is sort of hard to see, but if you watch the video "full-screen" and sit up-close to the computer screen you should be able to see it. You might want to turn up the sound some too, so that you may be able to hear it wailing. It was never aired for obvious reasons (it was too disturbing!)


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Public Humiliation

You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Work em' hard.

One of the requirements for my 3rd semester and beyond advanced students is that they have to mount a show of their work towards the end of the semester. I help them and give suggestions if they need it but they're basically on their own to secure a location, promote it and set the show. All of these students except one are 3d studio majors so my logic is this: when you're an artist out there who's just starting out and trying to make it no one comes to you. You have to promote yourself, find venues to show and sell your work, so I'm trying to give them a little taste of that. I helped them shoot photos and they found a design student to design their poster and secured a deal with a local print shop to print them. So far so good, well the title of the show could be better but I'll let that slide. The work they're doing is good so I think the show will be good too.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


I have quite a bit of area to cover in this post. I've been really busy and as is the case for most potter bloggers the blog is fairly low on my priority list. My etsy sale was fairly successful, maybe I'll do it again next year. Those pots went out earlier this week.

Here are our lawn mowers, Lee and Harvey. They've gotten quite large, they're both well over a hundred pounds and lets just say you don't want to get on the wrong side of those horns. You may wonder why Lee looks so filthy, well, he seems to really love pissing on his face.

The last time I fired my wood kiln was in March, I had an extreme teaching overload in the spring and then house remodeling in May, and we don't fire it during the summer if it can be avoided. So I hadn't been out to the barn where the kiln is for a couple months. The barn is actually divided in two. The part with the kiln is completely enclosed, and although the doors don't have locks on them they are latched shut and are made of solid steel. The other part is open to the elements on one side and is where the goats had made their home. At some point in August someone went into our barn through the side door, for what reason I don't know, and left the door open. The goats in their rambunctious nature made there way in and proceeded to destroy everything in sight. The kiln itself is mostly intact, they broke about 10 of my kiln shelves and destroyed part of the front wall, part of the door and the bagwall now sits in the firebox. I discovered this horror in August and have left it as it is since then. I'm now at the point where I have to deal with it. The goats have been given a shack elsewhere on the property so that if someone makes their way into the barn again the goats won't have access. The cleaning and rebuilding will begin later this month. Here are a couple photos of the goats destruction, we'll leave it at that for now.

7 months of neglect on the wood pile and property as well. I put out a call on facebook for someone who has an interest in woodfiring to trade labor helping me clean this up for space in the kiln. So that will get taken care of soon.

Here is the salt kiln at the university that I've been using since May. I've fired it I think 6 or 7 times now. It's held up really well, we need to go in and rebuild the area where the bagwall sits. It's threatening to pull a Kyle Carpenter there. The homemade castable in the arch has held up surprisingly well. It's in better shape than anything else in the kiln.

Here is a mug with my amber glaze. It forms these crystals when it gets really blasted with salt.

These teapots are the largest I've ever made. The two bigger are made from 4 pounds of clay, I'm not sure how much they hold. Large teapots are tricky because of the spout. You want it to work with the scale of the pot but at the same time just because the teapot is bigger doesn't meant that you want more liquid to come out at once.

I was particularly pleased with this large jar. Take note of the ceramic sculpture sitting in the corner there, it was made by a faculty member long ago. I'm the third teacher besides the maker to leave it in its place. It's been sitting there for probably 20 years now.

I've been having problems with large bowls and platters warping all to hell in the salt kiln. This particular one cracked in about 2 dozen places as well. They tend to curl up on the side nearest the firebox I'm guessing due to the dramatic heat. I've lost 9 of these now, a few will make it to the seconds table at the home sale but that's not good enough.

Here are some bowls I footed today.

Some 3# and 5# lidded jars, the lids are in the background there.

Now for some more content. I've gone back to slipping my pots since I'll be going back to the wood kiln this winter. I took a hiatus because I was getting frustrated with how derivative those pots were. The slipped work is where my primary interest lies and I've made the choice to dig in and work through my own misgivings about it. I've decided to decorate every last pot in an attempt to force myself to work through the derivative nature of what I'm doing now. I have no problem if people can tell where influence comes from-in fact I want that, there is nothing wrong with working in a similar style as someone else. But to blatantly copy work with no intent to grow from it, well, that's just sad. So in true pottery fashion it will probably take a few hundred or even a few thousand pots before they are truly recognizable as mine and not some ripoff. Some credit is due to my wife for forcing me to realize that I'm expecting far too much artistic growth for my short 29 years of age.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cups, cups, cups!

Cup sale goes up tomorrow morning at 9am CST(10/15) and will run through next Saturday 10/23. Here's a little preview.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thoughts from Michael Cardew

"...there has always been a struggle between the adherents of the Just
Price and those of the Natural Price, between idealism and realism. The
doctrine of the Just Price says that a thing's price should represent the
just reward for faithful and diligent work, sufficient to maintain the
maker and his family on what is described as frugal comfort. The adherents
of the Natural Price say that prices are simply regulated by supply and
demand: a thing is worth no more, and no less, than what it will fetch.

The first, with its ethical emphasis, tends to be the view of the honest
and industrious artisan. The second is that of the businessman. A potter
who in any degree feels himself to be an artist should I think incline to
the second rather than the first. In spite of its idealism, the doctrine
of the Just Price is rather narrow and limited. Honesty, in its deepest
interpretation may indeed (as E.M. Forster suggests) 'get us to heaven';
but for the artist, there is no salvation except through his art. 'Art is
like roses: it's a rich feeder'; it cannot flourish without wealth in some
form. It may be, as the poet says, 'Above Either', yet 'the argument is
better for Affluence than Poverty'.

The arguments for the just price, say first, that potting is a way of life,
not a means to other more limited ends. The potter is working to supply
his neighbour's needs and for the love of the work itself. Being honest,
he will be industrious, and this too helps his art; the more he practices
it the better his work becomes. Therefore he aims to make as many pots as
he can, and this will keep his prices moderate. He works for people like
himself, who are mostly of the hard-working but impecunious middle classes,
at need even for the really poor. He would undermine his own integrity if
he so priced his pots that only the rich and great, whose motives are
falsified by the search for status-symbols, can afford to buy them. If
they buy his pots they will not use them, but imprison them in glass cases.
That market is soon saturated, and leads to no new inspiration. For the
true potter, inspiration springs up not in vacuo but in response to the
real needs of daily life.

The argument for the other side says that the market is ethically
impartial; its prices, governed by the mechanism of supply and demand, may
be disastrously lower or absurdly higher than the Just Price. A potter's
output is limited in quantity, and there comes a point where if he tried to
force himself to increase his output, the quality would suffer. It is true
that good pots are best made quickly; but it takes a long training before a
potter reaches this stage unless he is content to make mediocre pots. His
chief aim is not to make pots quickly but to make pots which are 'quick'
and not dead. If his work is good, the demand for it will normally tend to
exceed the supply, and its market value will then inevitably rise. It is
perhaps only in heaven that 'good design costs no more than bad.'

Faced with the choice of abandoning the Just Price or betraying the quality
of his work, he will prefer the work. If he keeps his eyes too narrowly
focused on how quickly and efficiently he can make pots he will be putting
economic and ethical values above the quality, technical and aesthetic, of
what he makes. His work is his raison d'etre and to his work he owes his
first loyalty. Though price is not his preoccupation he will not waste his
energies by pitting himself against the forces of the market, just as he
would not try to use his hands to beat a machine at its own work. Whether
his inspiration is to make humble domestic utensils or gigantic and
monumental pots (and a good potter usually wants to make both kinds), his
eyes are not fixed on what prices these things will fetch but on what in
his dedicated egoism, in the bottom of his heart, he wants to make. Rich
or poor, he is by nature free and not a slave."

I think it's those last two lines that are most important.


Lets get down to business.

I've spent the last week working my brain overtime trying to figure things out for the ACC show in February. I've been making lists of potenially wholesaleable pots, doing lots of math, and overall stressing. I haven't settled on a making list yet but I need to get to work anyways. I cleaned my studio for the first time in awhile so now I have nothing left between me and the wheel.

I just did a firing in the gas kiln with mostly porcelain work. The firing went very well and I'm pleased with the whole load, the first time in years that I've been happy with a reduction firing. I also had about 30 test glazes and a few stoneware mugs. This should last me awhile, the only thing that sells slower than woodfired pots are clear glazed porcelain pots.

New brushwork pattern I've been toying with, this particular one is pretty much a direct ripoff, care to guess from who?


Scott Cooper inspired jar.

Ame glaze, stoneware on the left and porcelain on the right.

Grouping of pots.

That's all for now.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Coming Soon...

Every fall I run a special sale on etsy, I like to think of it as a customer appreciation sale. Last year I offered $2 shipping on everything. This year I'm having a cup sale. Mugs and yunomi all for the low price of $12 with $6 shipping in the US. A nice woodfired cup shipped to your door for under 20 bucks, not a bad deal. It will go up Friday morning at 9am CST. Mark your calendars!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bow down people.

I am apparently a master blogger. This is serious business. All shall love me and despair!

Good day to you minions.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I've let another week pass in epic blog failure. I've made about 100 pots in porcelain which I've been glazing today. Mostly in a simple clear glaze. I've done a couple runs of this stuff before, it's a nice change every once in awhile. I have no camera at the moment so you will have to take my word for it. Perhaps I'll get some photos when I open up the kiln.

Concerning my last post, for those of you that are sitting on the edge of your seats: the ipod was returned. I had to clamp down the vise a little harder and get the department chair involved and eventually it was returned anonymously. Make pots, don't steal.

A few months ago I read the book "Shopclass as Soulcraft" by Matthew Crawford. I give it about a 6.5/10. The first half was very interesting, I did find myself having to re-read some passages and occasionally use the dictionary. The second half was a bit mind-numbing. In simplisic terms the book argues the case for work in the trades(as opposed to the abstract career path via college route) for a wide variety of reasons. The irony being that you would strongly benefit from a college degree in english or philosophy to be able to read this book. A good read all the same, though I would borrow it rather than buy it. I'll leave you with this quote from the book:

"The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, because he has no real effect in the world. But the tradesmen must reckon with the infallible judgement of reality, where one's failure and shortcomings cannot be interpreted away. His well-founded pride is far from the gratuitous "self-steeem" that educators would impart to students, as though by magic."