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)supportyourlocalpotter.com

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.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I don't have too much to report. I just finished getting my clay out of the racks, so I have about 550# to get through. I'm having a really hard time getting motivated, I want to fire the rest of my work but it has to wait, grrrrr....

Last week I went through the studio and got all the odd pieces of bisqueware that had been sitting around for various reasons and glazed them. I had a bunch of larger bowls intended for the salt kiln but because of the warping we've been having I held them back. So I glazed about 40 pots, they'll help fill the kiln loads for my students(aren't I just a nice guy?) as well as help clean out the studio.

These were made for my amber glaze but why not shino? I like them.

The best part about this shino is it pinholes like crazy, especially over roughed up turned areas.

Ame and 442. The 442 was a tad thick I guess, that's a lot of pooling in the bottom.

This is 442 over crackle slip. I've used crackle slip here and there for the last couple years. The downside to this stuff is that it only crackles real intensely for a couple hours after you mix it. I save the leftovers and use it anyways. It still has a faint crackle on the thrown surface.

And it still crackles nicely over a roughened up surface.

Shino cap jar. This was intended for shino, I turn the whole surface so it will pinhole and get kind of gnarled up like that.

Foot detail.

Ame cap jar.

Just when you think you have your glazes under control they come back to bite you. Bummer.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Svend Bayer

Full video from Goldmark Gallery:

Part one:

Part two:


Monday, November 8, 2010

Today's nugget of wisdom.

I'm a subscriber to clayart and it is yet another one of the things that I waste valuable time sifting through every day. But every once in awhile you come across a nugget of truth or something that resonates. I admire the moderator's attitude(mel jacobson.) Though I don't always agree with him or much care for his pots, I do appreciate his no BS attitude. So here is a little nugget of wisdom that I wholeheartedly agree with:

"the great sin in teaching is giving too much. `i am a teacher, i have to provide a perfect product for my students`...bullshit. that is not your job, your job is to jog those adolescent minds into thinking, being creative and failure is a big option. if you take away failure, they learn nothing. it is like giving every kid the `stanley cup` just for showing up."

Not so eloquent but definitely to the point.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Despicable but fair.

A few years ago Saybra and I went to a Warren Mackenzie workshop at Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana, I was thinking about doing a residency somewhere and was checking out my options so we went during the Mac workshop. The sales at his opening were conducted by lottery, which is fair. There was one piece above all that I wanted which was snagged by the person right before me, oh sweet misery. I've since lusted after this bowl, it's shown here in the archives at the red lodge website. I know this because I regularly go back and look at it. I don't know what it is, I can't quatify it but I love this bowl.

So what's the point of this? It's for sale on ebay, I knew it the moment I saw it. The lighting is off but I spent several minutes today lining up the blemishes and iron spots, it's the exact pot. Great, right? How many times do you get the opportunity to own a pot that you've spent years lusting over? Well, it's $150. I think at the opening it was around $60, at his showroom it would've sold for $15 tops. I think if I didn't know Warren and hadn't ever bought pots directly from him I wouldn't think this so bad of a price. So the question is: is it worth it? Is that small bowl worth $150? Something to think about.

Also christmas is coming up for anyone out there that may want to buy me something, just sayin ;)


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Work, work, work.

I'm nearing the end of this work cycle, I've been working pretty hard and have produced in 3 weeks what typically takes close to 2 months. I'm going to have to start the next cycle before I fire this work which is going to be very difficult. My body seems to cycle with the work cycles, it's now prepared to ready the kiln and chop firewood but that won't be happening yet and I can foresee some protest on my bodies behalf. The human body is an amazing thing.

I'll be ordering some new kiln shelves(knock on wood) later this week so I'm hoping to get a firing out at the end of this month. I will spend the majority of the Thanksgiving break readying the kiln. So for now more shots of greenware will have to suffice.

I make a lot of mugs as most potters do. I weigh out all my clay but don't use any kind of measuring gauge except on pots that stack(plates, soup bowls, etc.) Something interesting that happens a lot is that the a lot of the time the pots all end up the same anyways. It makes sense, if you start with the same weight and are doing a certain shape the clay will only go so far, theoretically the same every time. Since I'm not strict about reproducing shapes there are many small variations.

Jugs or pitchers.

Lidded jars with a couple of leaf patterns. These patterns seem to border on kitsch, they have a naive quality to them. I think the fired quality of the pattern will be much stronger and more in keeping with what I am after, I hope anyways.

Tall jug. I did several pots with this pattern that isn't really anything. I suppose it could be some sort of flora, but what? It's probably a subconscious interpretation of weeds from my backyard.

I can only make 12 plates at a time because that's all the bats I have of that size. Someday I'll make some more.

Plate foot detail. I usually leave a little bump of clay(some call it a nipple) in the middle of my footrings. Many historical pots, particularly from the asian culture have these. I've heard a variety of reasons for it so I'm not entirely sure of it's exact origin but it's one of those things that I incorporate as a sort of tip of the hat to those past cultures that have influenced my work. I can't leave them on the bottoms of plates because if it sags in the firing the nipple can actually extend beyond the footring if the feet are wadded.

Here is an example of the nipple. Kline likes the anti-nipple, or maybe we should just call it an innie.

My ceramics 2 students are working on 18" pieces so I made a couple of demos. This was a sectional piece.

Here is the coil & throw demo piece for that class.

This is the work of one of my advanced students, I think he's on to something here. I have a couple of students who make work like mine which is okay for now but they'll have to grow out of it. I really enjoy it when students strike out on their own right away, this guy is a good example of that. His work is typical of 3rd semester quality but the concepts are strong and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Kline shared this on facebook, I thought I'd share it here as well. It's sad and makes me angry, but so true.