I spent the day on the road driving to our state capitol for a meeting with staff members of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. I’m exploring the possibility of creating a non-profit to support LibertyTown and I’ve been talking to anyone who will listen at this point. I met Peggy Baggett and Cathy Wellborn a couple of years ago when we hosted one of the commission’s two yearly meetings. They are wise and straight talking ladies. I stopped in for a visit at the Richmond Museum, checking out the Faberge Egg collection, mostly. It’s all so over the top! I was reminded that most (all) of their collection came from the Pratt family of Fredericksburg. I didn’t take my camera today, so here’s another shot from the beach of my little sculptures. I’m still hoping to open a bag of clay tomorrow and begin the next cycle of potmaking.
On my way out to my studio today, I stopped by Riverby Books to see how the demolition/reconstruction was going. Riverby sells previously owned books and is run by my dear friends Emily and Paul. They had a shower of termites come down the front of the store and now Jason and his stellar crew are putting it back together. Actually, they’ve kept a lot of Fredericksburg together…and I don’t just mean the buildings! Among many other things that make life here in the ‘burg so sweet is the fortnightly poker game that Jason and his friends kindly let me join.
If you look closely at the first photo you will see Eric standing to attention in the missing window. He really wanted to make an appearance in my blog. Congratulations, Eric!
Across the street from the bookstore is one of the best names for a tattoo shop I know.
That’s Jim at the computer inside Riverby. He tells me that he is the strongest man in the universe. Just ask him! I’ll write about Riverby another time. Baseball All-Star game about to begin…..
I’ve had three loose ends to wrap up on my new studio before I start making pots for firing #5 this fall. Today, on another miserably steamy hot day, I crossed one off of my list. I’m hoping to get my hands on some clay Thursday…the first time since April! In spite of making most of my work on the wheel, I’ve always enjoyed handbuilding and last year I decided that I’d start each making cycle with a big coil built pot. I even gave them the rather pretentious title of “Epic Pots”. Here are some photos of the first two and if my Thursday plan comes to pass, I’m planning on starting a giant teapot.
I spent the afternoon running the desk at LibertyTown. In spite or because of the terribly hot/humid day we sold pots all day! The Daniel’s family came by and bought the yellow/4 lobed platter that I just recently posted. They’ve been buying interesting pots from me for years. I also recently sold the pot whose detail should appear above these words. It is not unusual that my favorite pots are the ones that sell first. Certain pots just speak to us all.
The rest of the pots are the last from my latest firing photo session.
Today was the first day I’ve been to my studio in more than a week. So it figures that it was hot (91F) and steamy. Once I got acclimated to non-stop sweat, I had a good day and got a lot done. I built a new studio last fall after a long legal battle with the county and I’ve got two more loose ends to finish before I think about making pots. Michael Littlefield and I built the frame, Jason Gallant’s crew gave me a roof and I put up all the siding. I built the kiln shed years ago with Michael. My ‘winter studio’ is on the right..
I got back late last night from a visit with Gary Roper and his family at his beautiful gallery in Lewisburg, WV. It was a great drive, crossing over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenendoah Valley and then west through the old rolling mountains of Appalachia. I met Gary last year coming back from the NCECA conference in Louisville and was amazed at all the great potters whose work he carried and I was flattered that he asked me send him some work as well. Having sold almost every pot I’ve ever made from my old shop here in the ‘Burg, I’m still trying to get a grip on selling other places. It’s thrilling to see my pots on a pedastal next to so many people whose work I admire. We sold a mini-teapot to one his customers as it was being unwrapped. You gotta like that for positive feedback. They were excited to see my latest work, and that, in turn, has me a bit anxious to get back to the studio. So, that’s where I’m heading now.
Thanks to Michael Kline’s kind ‘endorsement’ of my blog, I’m getting acquainted with some new friends as well as hearing from lots of old ones. Keep writing.
I just read Michael Kline’s fine article in Studio Potter on pottery and blogging and he does a good job of describing why I find this an interesting exercise (michaelklinepottery.blogspot.com). It’s a little bit like teaching a workshop. By articulating the thoughts that bounce around in my head while throwing pots on the wheel, stacking wood or whatever the day might hold, I find that it brings a certain clarity to my ideas and direction. And it’s a great personal record/journal. I do believe I’m getting more forgetful as time goes by and now that I only fire 3 or 4 times a year, it’s really useful to be able to look back while moving forward.
I’m not sure if this will be of interest to anyone but myself, but if you’re so inclined, I welcome you to come back and see what’s going on…both in the pottery and at LibertyTown!
Larry Stone took photos of some of the pots from my last firing (#4) way back in May. I’ll post a few more soon. I’m firing everything in my wood burning kiln now and I’m still finding my way. I like the raised relief decoration on these first 2 a lot. I’ve been looking at a lot of old medieval german pots that are covered with medallions and stamps and banding. These are my very first attempts at adapting that old idea and finding a way to make it new. The little stamps are leaves and fish… there’s so much metal in the slip that the detail is somewhat obscured. I’m putting together some p.r. packets to send off to galleries. Now that I have a little momentum I need to find a few new markets to help sell some pots. I’m heading to Gary Roper’s beautiful Washington Street Gallery in Lewisburg, West Virginia later this week. I like having my pots stand amongst so many other wonderful pots.
Because the 4th of July was on a Friday this year, we moved our exhibition opening to Saturday for the first time ever. It felt a little odd at first but we had a nice crowd and had pretty good sales, which is always nice. Russ Kidd and John Bice are two local photographers who I met when I first came to town in the early ’80’s. Both have a unique eye…Russ has been shooting musicians at work for a very long time and John shoots outdoors, both intimate scenes and landscapes. 100’s of visitor’s come out every first Friday and it is an important social event in our community. Some folks come out every month, some from time to time, and others might just be passing through. It is always a great mix and at least some of the conversation is about art and creativity! But it’s much more than that. In some ways it’s a 21st century replacement for the conversations that used to happen over the backyard fence. Because of the different night we closed an hour earlier than normal and there was open rebellion from a few of our patrons as we asked them to leave! Next month we’ll add some fine woodworking to the mix.
I just got back from a great road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio where I joined Louise Jenks and a few of her friends for her 5th annual pottery sale. Louise was a student of mine at the very first workshop I led at the Penland School of Crafts and I was flattered to be invited almost 10 years later to join her friends. We each set up a table in front of her lovely home and on a perfect summer day there was a line of enthusiastic buyers for most of the day! Louise has a lot of good friends who helped support the event and it couldn’t have been better organized. It was probably a little too far to be driving in these days of $4.00 gasoline, but I met some great people and enjoyed learning about the pottery community in that part of the world.
I just returned from a week on the beach at Avon, NC in the Outer Banks. I’ve grown to love my visits there as it’s the only place that I am content to switch off and do nothing at all. I swam in the ocean every day, ate great food, played pool and read over 1,000 pages of various books.
Mark Twain—A Life
by RON POWERS. You can hardly have grow up in this country without knowing Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I still have the copies that I read from my childhood and it was fascinating to read about the life and times that produced such a uniquely american writer. I’m sure his story could have been told in less than 700 pages! but I’m glad to have plowed through it.
Big Fish—A Novel of Epic Proportions
by DANIEL WALLACE. This is the book that Tim Burton adapted to film. I’ve never seen it, but he is an interesting filmmaker. I think it might have been a rare case of a movie that was better than the book!.
by C.J. SAMSON. I don’t usually like fiction set in ye olden days, but this was a good story and made very clear the opposing tensions that tore the church apart in 16th Century England. Monks and hairshirts and some quality sinning are familiar territory for a ‘lapsed catholic’ such as myself.
I took a few of my little handbuilt sculptures to the beach and shot some pictures. I’ve got a new camera (and a new blog!) and I thought it might make for a good setting for these guys. I’ve been making things like this for almost 30 years and I’m still not sure what they are all about. Right now I’m saving them up until I get 100.
Last week we celebrated our 5th anniversary at LibertyTown with a Friday night ‘Gala’ and a whole day of hands-on activities for families on Saturday. I didn’t really know what to expect, but we were overwhelmed by the hundreds of visitors and the tremendous enthusiasm they brought. We had great food and great music including the debut of the Fredericksburg Harpers and some lively tunes from Ed Dickerson on fiddle and Elliot Curry on guitar – at one point almost 50 people in the gallery were belting out a Beatle’s song while they played!! Maybe it was the Sangria, but I think it was just a really good time.
This has been a nice lazy week so far after 6 somewhat frantic weeks in a row. I’ve been slowly sorting through the new pots from firing #4, checking my notes against the codes I sometimes stamp on my pots. This was an excellent firing, with good reduction and good heat. Lots of rich surfaces, but too many dark clays, slips and glazes. There are some promising results for future work, and as always, I’m anxious to get back to work.
Before I do, I am moving into my new (summer) studio and just today I started putting up the first bits of shelving. It sure looks nice with a few pots on them. I’m going to build a couple of work tables later this week and take some photos of the newest work.
With a week and a half before heading to the beach, I’m not inclined to start any big project, just a bunch of small stuff.
The weather continues to be glorious…the nicest spring I can remember here in the Old Dominion.