Friday, October 31, 2008

Collaborative Piece with Bulldog Pottery

This 24-inch platter was created by me and Bruce Gholson of Bulldog Pottery, and will be auctioned off some time between 6:30 and 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21 at the inaugural Celebration of Seagrove Potters gala.

The platter was created using a slab roller in combination with a kick wheel. (Here's a link to my webisite where I show how I make the large platters.) The mangrove tree motif is created by stamping the platter with a stamp carved by me. This is the first stamping with the mangrove stamp. Bruce added his fossil fish after the piece was bisque-fired. He glazed the piece with a new glaze I created that I call "Backcountry Green." I fired the piece in my electric kiln.

Tickets to the Friday night gala are $35 and include food, wine and beer, and jazz music by the Lost Marbles. Nearly 60 potters from the Seagrove area will be selling their work the following two days at the old Luck's Cannery on NC 705 (Pottery Highway).

You can purchase tickets for the gala online at the Celebration website, or call me at 910-464-6228.

Hope to see some of you there,


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Smoking Peppers, Making Ash and my Darn Wrist

Mary found out that some carrier (couldn't be the usual guy that delivers packages to us) left a package on our neighbor's front porch when she went to check our mail yesterday afternoon. The Blue Rooster, Sammy said.
Our new chiminea!
I drove my truck to my neighbor's house and Mary and I loaded it, took it to our garden and upacked it and set it up. Then of course, we built a fire, using some apple wood from an old tree that fell recently. Jeffrey Dean says apple wood ash makes a pretty green used in a glaze, so I can write this purchase off as an ash maker. Also, I'll be using it culinarily as I'm thinking of drying some peppers on top of the chimney.

This morning, I cut up some more apple tree with my trusty electric chain saw (plug in in and it goes - never a problem starting it) and started a fire in the chiminea. It's chilly outside, so it's nice to stand and warm myself by the fire. I took the opportunity to play a couple of tunes on my whistle.
The kiln is cooling. Right now, it's probably about 700 degrees F. My left wrist has been bothering me lately. I think I figured out what stressed it out the most: stamping some cylinders of clay on the wheel a couple of weeks ago while forming some tree vases. I keep picking up heavy items with my left hand and hurting it. So, I think I'll make some tree platters, and help Mary with some square plate and other things slab built.

Yesterday afternoon, I was inspired to take a bunch of photos of the current stock of large tree platters. I've got 15 large platters right now. I believe Mary is going to upload them to my webpage today, and I'm thinking of making a slide show with them for somewhere online.

The clay froze again last night, and I'll have to sop up some of the puddles that formed on top. It's still very wet, but it's drying around the edges, so I'm having to scrape the dry up and bury it in the middle with the wet clay. I'm using a different method of drying this time. The picture below is a view of the bottom of the trough I'm currently using. The water drips out of the bottom for the first day or so.
The clay has been poured into a trough lined with canvas, the bottom of the trough being lined with wire fencing material. The edge of the clay dries too fast, though.

A bisque-firing is next, followed by a couple of glaze firings, then perhaps my local clay will be ready to throw, as well as the left wrist.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frozen clay and fish in the kiln

It froze last night, so when I checked on my new batch of "organic" clay, I found some puddles on top and some interesting patterns from having froze overnight. This will actually help in the drying of the clay. I sopped up some of the water with a sponge and took a few pictures of the clay in the morning sun. I'm not sure I'll be able to get this batch of clay thrown into pots and fired for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, but if not, then soon after. I've got a piece thrown from local clay in the kiln now with a couple of new glazes to try on the clay. I'm firing a collaborative platter in the kiln also. It's a large platter with mangrove trees stamped around the outer portion and Bruce Gholson's fossil fish in the middle.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More clean up at the Luck's Cannery

Tonight, Seagrove potters pick out of a hat for their booth spaces. It's starting to get exciting, and maybe a wee-bit hectic as well, for everyone involved with the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, which takes place Nov. 22 and 23 with a Gala celebration the night of Nov. 21.

A few of us gathered today at the old Luck's Cannery to continue cleaning up the place. Potters put together a stage and chipped up some loose paint on the concrete floor and swept up the large warehouse, while another group continued cleaning up outside with mowers, weed-whackers and leaf blowers.

Here's a short movie clip and some pictures:

Morgan Hatfield and Fred Johnston sweep floor

Above, Jared Zehmer, left, works on the stage while Bobbie Marsh watches.
Below, Bobbie works as Jared watches.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seagrove Potters Clean up Celebration Site

A group of Seagrove potters took half a day away from their clay work to spruce up the grounds around the Luck's cannery Monday. The old cannery is being used to house Celebration of Seagrove Potters Nov. 22 and 23.
On a chilly Monday morning, chainsaws, string trimmers and leaf blowers buzzed as potters loaded flatbed trucks with debris and clippings from the area around the back parking lot. For four or five hours, potters put down their pottery tools and became rakers, push-broomers, shovelers, loppers, drivers, measurers, equipment movers, bathroom inspectors and mowers in preparing for the upcoming show. There was talk of another clean up day being scheduled soon.
The guy cutting into the side of the building in the photo below is Larry Harvel of Atkinson Construction in Seagrove and is cutting a new door into the warehouse where the show will be.
For more information on the pottery show, go to

Monday, October 20, 2008

This spider liked my pot

I had a pot I had fired in Ben Owen's wood kiln recently and when someone bought it, I took it outside and set it on top of a piece of Formica to take a quick picture of it. When I went to snap the shot, there was a spider standing next to it, right up against the pot, and the markings on the spider are just the same as the finish on the pot.
I'm not sure what this means.
Anybody got an idea?

Here's the pot:


Saturday, October 18, 2008

New clay, new pots, and that lovely state just beyond 'leather hard'

My local clay had released enough moisture to allow me to wedge it up and prepare to throw pots, and I couldn't help myself even though it was already 7 p.m. or so. I threw my first piece with it. What wonderful clay, I thought. Stands up well on the wheel even when it's soft. So, I kept going next door - to my other workshop where I prepared the clay - grabbing another lump of clay, bringing it to my wedging table, wedging it and slapping it down on my wheel head. I threw three bottles, a couple of pitchers, several lidded containers, a bowl, a casserole, and a vase.

I fall in love with my pots when they are drying on ware shelves all in a row on my ware rack - drying to a stage potters call "leather hard," when enough moisture has left the pot to allow handling the vessel, but still wet enough to manipulate, or add handles. It is really a little beyond leather hard - when there's no sheen left on the clay surface - that the light and shadow fall across their surface with a softness unlike any other stage during the process of making a pot. Here's some pictures of the pieces I threw with the local clay, most of which are a little beyond leather hard. Please click on the photos for a larger image.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our resident turtle likes cat food

Corny, yes, but we call him Ted. Sometime near the end of summer, I believe, he wanders up from the woods in the early morning, leaving a trail behind him in the dew-covered grass. He's been coming for several years. Once, I found him in the dog's water bowl, enjoying a soak in the sun.
Here's a few pictures I took this morning.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A blessing to our land

Our labyrinth

My wife, Mary, was talking to a customer yesterday and she mentioned our labyrinth out behind our shop. Mary told the woman that we use it to meditate and we also got married in the middle of it.
"A labyrinth blesses the land it's on too," the woman said.
What a nice thought.
Speaking of blessings, I am in the middle of making a new batch of clay, hand dug by my son, Levi, and I this summer. It's just a small batch, maybe a couple of hundred pounds or so. It's been drying slowly for the past month, and I sliced it like brownies recently in order to expose more clay surface to help the water evaporate. Over the past several days, the slices opened up, and finally, enough water had evaporated to allow me to transfer small chunks of sticky clay to a table to allow them to dry out more. As I picked up each chunk and patted it into shape, my hand became coated with sticky clay, and I noticed its earthy smell, slightly musty from the decomposition that occurs naturally when wet clay sits for a long time. It was a good smell.

Following are some pictures of that process:

Clay Brownies

Lumps of clay (don't know what happened to the color)

Clay on my hand

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

collaborative piece #2

Bruce Gholson of Bulldog Pottery in Seagrove has agreed to collaborate on a large platter together with me. He's going to add his fossil fish design in the middle of one of my large platters, possibly in the shape of a triskelion (triple spiral). I was inspired after talking to him about it the other day to design a new stamp for the outer area of the platter. I have a friend from way back in the early 70s who recently viewed my tree platters online and shot me an email with a link to a photographer, Clyde Butcher, who has some beautiful photographs of mangrove trees. My friend suggested I make a motif of mangrove trees. Well, here it is.
I remember mangrove trees growing in the waters of southern Florida, out in the backcountry and around the coastline of the Florida Keys, where I spent my summers as a kid and young adult. My father had a boys camp in Tavernier Key, and my friend and I ran it one summer when I was just 18. Many of the islands that dot the waters off the Keys start out as a single mangrove "fruit," a tuber that hangs down from the limbs of the mangrove. This tuber falls into the water and floats until it sometimes rests in the shallow water and begins to grow a tree. This tree can grow and eventually become an island.
The Florida Keys is a string of islands that juts off the bottom of Florida. On one side of the string of islands, you have the Gulf of Mexico, and you have miles and miles of shallow water with a variety of different sized islands. You can see mangrove trees everywhere. Their root system extends up above the water.
Anyways, I thought mangrove trees would be appropriate to adorn the outer edge of a platter with Bruce's fossil fish. You can see Bruce's work on his website (link above).
I spent most of a day carving the stamp. Okay, my days don't always start until late morning, but I did spend most of the afternoon on it. I'm excited about the collaboration, doing something new.
Collaboration among artists isn't new, but it can be a challenge. I'm hoping there will be some interesting results at the gala event of Celebration of Seagrove Potters, where collaborative pieces will be auctioned off.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

collaborative piece #1

I went over to Dean and Martin Pottery yesterday to sign our collaborative auction piece for the gala auction for Celebration of Seagrove Potters. I wanted to share a couple more pictures showing the piece finished. I say finished, but it's not been fired yet. It was still damp when I signed it, and Jeffrey Dean was covering it with a bit of plastic to slow down the drying in order to keep the handles from drying too fast.

The close up shows the owl stamp and a small leaf stamp below the handle.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jeff Dean (Dean and Martin Pottery) and I spent the afternoon and much of the night of Sept. 29 working on a collaborative pot for the Friday night gala auction at Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Here's a little something I sent the publicity chairs for the new festival to post on the website. Jeff said he's going to make a lid for the piece and put an owl on top for a handle. I hope it survives the firing. I made a tree platter and gave it to another potter to glaze and fire, and it didn't survive the firing.