Thursday, November 27, 2008

I've been away with the birds

I felt better today, but not quite up to working in the studio, so I sat outside and took pictures of birds flying to and away from a bird feeder I have hanging at the edge of our garden. I don't do brush work in general, but I'm wondering how I can transfer some of these images into ideas for my pots. They aren't the greatest pictures, but I think they're good images perhaps.

I looked up and spotted a crow in the sky.

This one's my favorite. Kind of sums up my feeling when folks started pouring into the old cannery in Seagrove last weekend.

more pictures from the show

I've caught a bug and have been in bed for two days now. I wanted to fire another kiln before the weekend, but looks like I'll fire that next week. I thought I'd share a few more photos from last weekend's successful show in Seagrove, Celebration of Seagrove Potters.

This is a piece that Ben Owen III and I collaborated on toward the end of the show during a demonstration. I stamped my tree design on Ben's piece and he shaped it.

Here he is working on the top of the bottle form
David Fernandez working on one of his large vases

Jeffrey Dean throwing a small piece with my local clay

Kids making a variety of things at the hands-on booth

My booth just before the start of the show

At the height of the show, it was wall-to-wall people. If you click on the picture and look closely, you can see someone carrying out one of Donna Craven's large pieces on their shoulder.

By the way, I just ordered my first pug mill after 20-some years of making pots. My children got it for me for my 50th birthday, which was the first day of the show. My VPM-30 Peter Pugger should arrive next week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Peace be with us

Two people I'd like to recognize. My wife, and a potter who lives down the road.

Mary Holmes is my wife, and while operating the Center of Awakened Health with a business partner in Southern Pines and working on her master's in nutrition, she took on the role of project manager (that was last year's master's) for the Celebration of Seagrove Potters (COSP). She can fill a room with her energy. She gets things done. Originally from Ireland, Mary came to the United States from Australia to work for a British-owned software company in Raleigh.

While managing the ongoing COSP this weekend, she was also planning my 50th birthday party for Saturday night. So, after the second day of the show ended Saturday, I rushed home to help with last-minute preparations, which included rearranging one room, taking down some old bunk beds and moving them downstairs, hanging some new blinds, moving the couch and chairs....

People started arriving a little after 7:30 p.m. By 9 p.m. a group of musician friends from the Triangle were entertaining with jigs and reels and hornpipes. The Guiness was flowing. Single malts were being poured. Samosas from my Cary friends. Irish stew and a potato dish Mary calls Colcannon. Hummus and fresh bread.

Congratulations were being given left and right, praising the new show in Seagrove.

Some time after 9 p.m., the phone rang and Mary answered it. It was Jeffrey Dean of Dean & Martin Pottery and he was on his way over to our party when he noticed flames coming out of the eaves of the showroom and pottery studio of Chris Luther. Chris and his wife Lisa were enjoying the Irish music and good cheer at our house when Mary rushed them outside and told them they had to go home right now. Their studio was burning down.

Chris and Lisa paused in disbelief and then rushed home to try and rescue their shop dog, who sleeps in the studio at night.

They weren't able to save their dog, but because of quick actions of several potters close by (edit) and the quick response of local fire departments (/edit), the fire didn't spread to their nearby home.

My heart goes out to Chris and his family. His three children were staying with relatives, so they were spared the experience.

Mary managed to keep from interrupting the birthday party, and while Chris and Lisa rushed home to face their tragedy, everyone in my house sang happy birthday to me.

Thank you Mary. Good luck Chris.

Peace be with us.

Mary with a cup of hot water

Chris at his booth Friday night

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chun Red on terra sigilatta - nice

It's nice when something simple works like a charm. I like this effect, and I'll be working with the concept in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Celebration of Seagrove Potters is nearly here:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Busy day at the cannery in Seagrove

It was a busy day at the old Luck's cannery in Seagrove today as a group of potters and other community members worked to prepare for this weekend's Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Here are some pictures, followed by a video clip of us moving the stage to a different area after we had put it all together.

Entrance to the cannery has been resurfaced and lines painted

Unloading pedestals for display of auction pieces

A new hallway leading to the bathrooms and break room

Potters changed 120 florescent bulbs in the high ceiling.

addendum to Fall Forgiveness

No fluttering leaves this morning, but I realized that I have omitted to praise the coverage of the Celebration of Seagrove Potters from within.

There are three great news releases on the Celebration of Seagrove Potters website, on the News page, written by Jennie Keatts, Susan Greene (Co-chairs of the publicity at the Celebration) and me. You can find out who's giving a lecture about what on Saturday and Sunday, who's demonstrating, what the kid's booth is, what potters collaborated with each other and what they created, and what to bring to the food drive we're hosting at the Celebration. (Bring a can of beans to the old cannery.)

Please visit the site, there's new pictures up and we've got t-shirts!

See you this weekend I hope,


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fall Forgiveness

I was doing a yoga pose about mid-morning today, bending my upper torso to the left and twisting my head so that I looked straight up toward the sky. It was a very blue sky, with no clouds visible and three bent, dry, colorful leaves fluttered by 20 or 30 feet above me. I held my position and the leaves left my line of vision, leaving just blue sky, and the thought occurred to me, "Wouldn't it be nice if forgiveness came as easily as those leaves that just fluttered past me?"

There's a great set of articles by The Courier-Tribune staff writer Mary Anderson on both festivals occurring in Seagrove this coming weekend. I couldn't find the articles online yet, but the link to their website is The article on the Celebration of Seagrove Potters - which most of the Seagrove potters are attending - did have one error. Our auctions are Friday night and Saturday afternoon, not Sunday. That one's easy to forgive. Other things are more difficult.

Forgiveness is one of my greatest personal challenges. When faced with the challenge, and when I am ready, I usually begin by being willing to forgive. And if that's too difficult I begin by being willing to be willing.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hot Tub Tunes

Had to get in the hot tub again this morning and I thought I'd share a clip of a hot set of tunes I play. The hot tub is located about a hundred yards from our house and surrounded by privet hedge. The berries on the hedges (right) are beautiful this year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Clay and trees

I've finally got most of my local clay bagged up and ready for more wedging and throwing, but my neck has been bothering me, so I spent the day doing some glazing and finishing work on some pots. Got in the hot tub twice today to try to relieve some of the pain. It's not bad, just can't seem to hold my head up for extended periods, and if I turn the wrong way, then it hurts.
At some point in the day, I decided to finish some tree vases with terra sigilatta made from the same clay as the pot. I brushed the sig on several pots, and then I decided to spray a couple of pieces. I hate to waste terra sig like that (the overspray), but it sure takes less time and fills in easily where the tree pattern is impressed into the clay.


Brushing on the terra sig

Drying the terra sig between coats

Stacking up some new clay:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fire and clay

Two videos: the first one of me wedging up some very wet local clay, making a long loaf to allow it to dry out more; the second one of me ritually creating some ash for a glaze - snapping off dry apple twigs from a small limb (with tiny explosions of twig particles in the morning sun) and starting a fire in my new elegant chiminea.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Ritual can be a nice way to start the day. Depends on the ritual, I suppose. I am feeling a desire for more enhancing ritual in my life these days. I've set up several ritualistic avenues around me - a labrynth (previous post), a sunroom, a walking trail.... One recent addition that I've mentioned here is my chiminea, an elegant little outdoor wood-burning unit, that we placed on the walkway around our garden. I realized this morning that the act of chopping up a couple of small logs, and starting the fire is a great ritual. Just grabbing that axe (an old broad axe) and popping it through a chunk of my old apple tree, splinters of wood exploding from the blow.... It's a great way to start the day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chun red?

I've not bought glazes in the past, but I took a chance and bought a bunch of Chun Red from Laguna and I can't seem to find the right thickness, firing temperature, etc.
It's a bit disappointing to spend a lot of time preparing my hand-dug clay and then unloading a bunch of pots that don't excite me. Part of the problem may be that I'm red/green color blind. There may be some subtle colors I'm not seeing, but when the glaze is thick, I definitely see a rich red.
Here's a few examples of the latest bunch:

I can't seem to find the right combination of decorating for my local clay. It's a rich reddish clay fired to cone 6. I impressed some trees on a few pieces and brushed terra sigilatta on them. I loved the finish. But the impressing is a very time consuming technique and not easy. Here's an example of the terra sig trees:

I'm missing the flow of production throwing. Maybe I should experiment with some more terra sigilatta application combined with other slips, but I really should stick with what I know works, especially at this time of year, when business picks up. Too many irons in the fire....