Originally from Miami, FL, I developed an interest in pottery after writing a couple of stories on potters for The Enquirer Journal in Monroe, NC. I settled in the area in the 1980s, covering Seagrove for the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro. I stepped behind the potter's wheel full time in 1986, when I opened up WILD ROSE POTTERY in Whynot, just south of Seagrove. I now own and operate FROM THE GROUND UP, just south of Seagrove. I also play Irish flute.
I took a picture of the trench I'm digging so I could post on my blog and take a break from the work. It's hot and humid, and I'm taking a lot of breaks. You can see one of my gas lines for a propane heater in my workshop if you look closely.
When I unload my electric kiln, I usually take pieces out into the sunlight to view them better. Our resident turtle decided he wanted to watch the kiln unloading on this particular day. I told him this morning that he was featured in my blog. He stretched his neck a bit and looked me in the eye, feigning as much excitement as a turtle can feign.
Although our garden is a bit weedy, we've managed to grow some great tomatoes this year. I've been waiting to pick this one huge one I've kept my eye on for the past week or so, and today was the day.
Yesterday, I placed a few of the fruits into my vehicle for drying. I did transfer them to our electric dehydrator overnight. I put some more in the truck today. I call this F150-dried tomatoes.
The taste of the dried tomatoes is just out of this world, in my opinion. Not to say that a good BLT with a freshly picked tomato isn't out of this world. Drying them concentrates the taste, and you can reconstitute them and use them in all kinds of ways.
I think the tool shed fits right in with the rest of my compound. This shot is from the back of my showroom, which is the first story of the barn. I'm almost standing in the woods taking the picture. We live upstairs in the barn. The tower-looking structure on the left we call "The Florida Room" because it gets all the sun. My children helped me build that three years ago, but we have yet to finish the inside. It started out being a deck, but we ended up enclosing it and installing two glass doors. The main entrance to my showroom is directly below the Florida Room. You can see our flower garden at the far left. Mary takes care of that most of the time, and it's looking great. We get a lot of nice compliments on the garden. I just now had an idea... A window box under the window of the tool shed. That would picturesque, wouldn'tit?
Nailing siding, taking care of customers, unloading a kiln, putting handles on jugs. It was a busy day. Chelsea and Wil were helping out with the tool shed. I often get antsy when people are working for me, even my children. So, I was feeling antsy today, but I was reminded to slow down and take it easy when the tip of my finger touched the spinning blade of my circular saw. I didn't touch the cutting edge, just the flat part of the blade, but I don't think I've ever done that before. When the kiln finally cooled enough, I unloaded some nice pieces. Here's a few shots of a favorite, a four-pound bowl that I blogged about earlier. It's been impressed with a pinch pot that my youngest son, Levi, designed. The lip was curled around, which gives it a nice look. The glaze is K151 (Richard Zakin's book), fired down between 1900 and 1400 degrees. Clay body is Earthen Red from Highwater. Inside glaze is a new glaze I developed using apple ash, rock dust and local clay.
And then a couple of shots of some new mugs, glazed with the apple ash outside and chun red inside:
I found this sherd in Bear Creek a few weeks ago during a canoe trip, and today I attempted to make a lip like the maker of the jug did long ago. Below are the first three results. Now, it's back to nailing siding.
My daughter Chelsea came to work today. We nailed up a few boards in preparation for siding the tool shed, but she ended up standing around while I figured things out. I've got a lot of twisted, cracked boards that I have to sort through to get the right one, some lumber I got at an auction a while ago. Good stuff, but sometimes I have to measure and cut to get to the good wood.
So, we set up a throwing area in a little niche I created outside one of my workshops, and she plugged her mp3 player into some speakers I have, and set to throwing some lovely little vases for me.
My oldest son, Wil, is going to join us Monday and we'll start nailing up siding.
The tool shed stands ready for the rain at 8:30 p.m. The ladder in the truck is how I got off the roof after screwing down the last sheet of tin.
With the threat of rain looming, I got up this morning and cut 4x8 sheets of half-inch plywood to fit the floor of our loft in our future tool shed, nailed them down and then went in search of Mary to help me pop a chalkline on the end of the rafters.
It was nice to have a floor to stand on to do some of the work on the roof. The sun stayed hidden most of the day, but we only experienced a few drops of rain. It actually was nice weather to be working on a roof, and we worked.
After cutting all the ends of the rafters, Mary and I drove the pickup to the Stewart House, an old heart-of-pine turn-of-the-century house that potter W.J. Stewart built on my land in the 1890s. In the old home's rafters, I've got a bit of lumber stored. I handed down a dozen or so 10-foot cypress boards to Mary. We loaded them into the pickup and drove them to the "building site," using them for boxing in the ends of the rafters.
I love construction for some reason. Hammering a galvanized nail through a cypress plank and into a yellow pine 2x10 while leaning over the top of a 14-foot wall made of white pine 2x4s: WHAM WHAM WHAM! Getting a precise measurement for a board and cutting a 45-degree angle to match the 45 on the previously nailed board so that the seam is hidden: YIIIIINNNNNGGGGGGGG-ZZZZZZZZ-WWWRRRRRRR.
We drank a lot of water and took a few short breaks, but we were determined to get the tin screwed down on the roof before the rain hit. Late in the afternoon, dragging from exhaustion, I think I suggested that we could take the afternoon off and finish in the morning, but Mary wouldn't have it, although the idea of an afternoon nap and a movie sounded enticing to her.
Progress on the tool shed continues as pots wait to be fired in my worksop. Either I've come down with a slight cold or I'm detoxing because of the weight I'm losing with all this labor.
Fleas have invaded my workshop. While at Lowes this evening, I picked up a three-pack of foggers and set one of when we got home. The little buggers. Did you know fleas are attracted to motion? Anyways, I guess it's a good time to be out of the workshop for a couple of more days. Fleas! The little blighters....
Mary helped me lift the walls into place after I nailed them together.
Close up of laying out the top and bottom plate of the wall. The Xs are where the 2x4 studs go.
A little trick I learned when you get a stud that's twisted. Hammer a nail partially into the offending stud, then use an extra hammer or crow bar to twist the stud straight.
Another day's work. My body's slowly becoming accustomed the labor. The first couple of days, I was quite sore - my legs in particular from bending and squatting. The picture above is crooked, not the structure. The tool shed will have a sloping roof that matches the slope of my future kiln shed. I'm not sure about the height of the kiln shed. The building's height is about 14 feet. Is that too tall for a kiln shed?
Some thick black plastic tacked down, and 180-some galvanized nails hammered home, and the floor of my new tool shed was able to withstand a 200-and-some pound man dancing a jig.
I actually wondered if my tool shed would make a nice throwing room. There's something inspiring about creating a new space, but after some consideration, I decided to continue with the tool shed, and keep in line with my current plans to finish my "future workshop," a former chicken house that I expanded but never finished.
I've actually got three converted chicken houses. One I call my slab room, one my workshop. Then there's the "future workshop."
The picture at right is my future workshop. A bit of my "current workshop" can be see to the left of it. The tool shed is being built to the right (outside the picture).
A customer said it succinctly the other day: "You've got quite a nice compound here."