I raw glaze and slip most of my pots, but rather than dip them I invert them over a series of containers set in a wide plastic pan. This is a typical group; it varies pot to pot. This allows me to pour everything which gives me more control of thickness and drips. This whole arrangement is sitting on a banding wheel so I can rotate it with ease.
Here’s a planter perched upside down.
This 1 quart pitcher has been my #1 glazing tool for more than 20 years and I’ve never found another.
I was holding the camera left handed while I poured with my right.
It’s been a quiet week as I’ve been staying on the farm looking after dogs, cats and horses while the Cymrots are away. Our freezing temperatures have remained and I’ve been chopping through ice to keep the horses in water. But the days are clear and this is my kind of weather. In case you aren’t in the know, I grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. (average snowfall…96″) and I still like to have a taste of winter. Sometimes we seem to skip it altogether here in Ol’ Virginny.
The rest of the week has been full of potmaking…mugs and planters and finishing up a group of lidded ‘ginger jars’. I started making these only recently at Emily’s request. It seems my love of big fat jars is at odds with the counter space she is willing to devote to storage. I remembered this shape from Nick Mosse, an old Harrow student and friend of Toff’s. Now I call them Emily pots.
I appreciate the responses to my last post and as you can see from the second photo I’ve taken a little advise by combining stamps and texture. The pot in the first photo has been slipped and I really like how it runs off the sprigs…it’s subtle, but it varies the thickness in a way I like. I’ll brush a little cobalt slip over the sprigs tomorrow and then I’ll be done. It’s great to be getting back in the groove. The days are chilly and bright and invigorating. To make a good day even better I joined Paul and Emily, Ellie and Bonnie for tea and homemade scones.
The third photo is a sort of a quiz. I unwrapped two pots with the identical damage this morning. I’ll tell you what happened tomorrow. It’s an odd story.
I’ve never seen myself as a decorator, but that’s mostly because I have a narrow sense of what that is. (I’m not proud of that fact!)
When I use that word I’m thinking about work that involves brushwork like Michael
or sgrafitto like Neal
or even the overglaze work of Susan
. Just the same, I have often made marks on the surface and even more often created textures. For almost 30 years form has been my constant, and I’ve explored lots of different surface treatments.
I’ve written before about my growing fascination with old German saltglaze and that’s my jumping off point for now. My favorite work often takes an old idea and makes it new. I guess that’s what I think I’m doing with the bottle below.
Mostly these pots are fat and jolly, but this one is pretty cool long and lean. The surrealist painter Rene’ Magritte painted a series of paintings that included dozens of bowler hatted gentlemen raining down out of the sky. That image of random multiples has always intrigued me…hence the raining sprigs.
It is very rare for me to make vase like this and not add a handle…or 2…or 4. But because it’s also long and lean with that hard edged neck I let it be. Because it is a bit severe, I added this scratchy texture to the bottom. I like the contrast. Those are seed beads pressed into the sprigs.
Tomorrow I’ll be back on the wheel. That’s always a good thing.
It’s really good to be back in the studio; the weather was very English (cold gray relentless rain) for a few days and then turned to clear, bright and cold. I’m not as tempted to work outside and once I make that first pot the obsession is unleashed again. It is good to wake up thinking of pots. It’s only in the last few years that I started making anything of any scale. I have always viewed myself as a maker of ‘domestic’ ware…pots for the table and the kitchen and that remains important. But I am enjoying making bigger things and I started out this cycle with a group of 7 lb. bottles and vases. I throw them in 2 and sometimes 3 parts and I’m really getting the hang of it. I firm up the bottom with a soldering torch and the trick is getting it to stand up and still be malleable. So many choices to make…bellies and necks and rims and handles. This batch are on the skinny side. I’ll make some fat ones soon.
The last photo is this season’s ‘Epic’ pot. I’ve been starting each firing cycle with a coil built pot. I’m still not sure about this one. Making a bird was more elusive than I thought.
After a long season of building (outhouse and emporium) and the end of the holidays, I am getting underway with work for my 6th wood-firing. I’m aiming for an early March firing so I will have new work for the first of two workshops this year in Cape Cod.
This could be a big year for traveling; I am also planning a trip to England in June (and maybe a surprise visit for Toff’s 60th birthday…he never reads my blog, so I think I’m safe here!)
. I used to get to England almost yearly. It’s been too long. It’s the LibertyTown factor.
I’m including some random photos from the holiday season. Today I’m happy to say I’ll be taking pictures of wet pots!
We’ve had a lot of weather lately…
Ellie in a Christmas hat!
Paul’s work in the woodshop
When you can’t make pots…make cookies!
…or fires and gingerbread!
Don’t buy it either…
I was very excited to spot this new book that claimed to tell the story of ‘Dave the Slave’. Seldom do I pay full price for a book, but this promised to be fascinating, because, to the best of my knowledge, very little was known about this unique and wonderful pot maker.
Sadly, I find the book unreadable. The author’s family once owned Dave (or so he says) and, perhaps to assuage his guilt, he moved back to the south to research and write this book. There is so little known about Dave, that this guy decided he would make it up. I’ve never seen a book that uses the words ” might have; perhaps; maybe; if: may have; I suspect;” in almost every sentence. He even produces several pages of a family tree that is based entirely on the author’s imagination. Maybe I wouldn’t be so bothered if this was sold as fiction, but the title clearly says “The Life and Legend…” A legend is a story passed down from the past, not the fantasies of 21st century author.
I’ll happily send it out to one of my readers…perhaps I should ask for a pot in return…a second would be appropriate!
(Tip o’ the hat to Abbie Hoffman for the title)
I spent a few hours on a beautiful Thanksgiving day finishing off my outhouse ‘folly’. I reckon I’ll be making additions to it for quite some time, but for now it is christened with a few pots down the hole. In a couple of hundred years it might be interesting to a privy digger. I’ve got a goofy collection of books for this very important library. Here are a few images.
It’s been a week since I’ve been to my studio.The last few days have been jam packed with LibertyTown
activity as we are embarking on an exciting new venture in our gallery. I’ve been thinking of this change for a long time, as is my way, and now that it is coming together I think it will be an excellent addition to the art center. We’re remaking the main gallery into what we’re calling a “Craft Emporium”. We’ve assembled 20 different pieces of IKEA furniture, built a new sales counter and patched and painted walls. With Susan Wyatt in charge of installation, we are filling the gallery with all kinds of handmade goodness. Mostly drawing from our own group of artists, we are combining our forces to create a very different kind of marketplace. After day one of the installation, Elizabeth said it reminded her of a museum store, which sounds just right. Here are a few photos of the gallery as it has been. Stay tuned for new and improved LibertyTown.
Just as a footnote of sorts…most of my best projects have a long ‘gestation’ period where I roll things around in my head, visiting and revisiting an idea from different angles, sometimes drawing and redrawing, picturing in my mind’s eye the new thing. And still, when it comes to the execution of the idea, there is always a need to be open to a change that makes better sense.
Next up for my ‘comfort station’ project is roofing and a door. I was trying to puzzle out why I’m feeling compelled to build this (aside from the obvious reasons…) at this time. Today’s theory has to do with results. After a rough firing, when pots that I had high hopes for have not met expectations, it is satisfying to make something that I don’t have to subject to the vagaries of kilns and firing. “plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt.” (lyrics from The Fantastics). I plan to build a ladder up the back so that I can access the roof. All kinds of wildlife passes by when your up off the ground.
We have been putting together an ‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser for a number of years and last night we had dinner with some of the other potters and coordinators as we plan for this winter’s event. It has become a wildly popular social event in town and a lot of cash is raised for a very good cause. Dinner was at Poppy Hill, a very good downtown restaurant. (pumpkin ravioli)