Monday, August 31, 2009

Dusty Clay and Misty Rain

Today's misty rain created a surface on my black plastic wheel-
barrow that attracted the billowing rusty yellow clay dust that
I created by shoveling up my latest load of crushed local clay.
I transferred the clay from my new concrete slab to three
large plastic barrels to slake it down in preparation for mixing.

Close-up of the dust

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brick, block, clay and other things...

Too many things on my mind: kiln building, collaborative pots, special orders, tool sheds, new workshops, children in college.... So, my youngest son, Levi, and I spent a couple of hours digging and collecting and transporting some clay from the back of my property. I have successfully used this clay by itself (no additions) and also added some of my cone 6 commercial clay to it. Now, I'm thinking of adding some sand or fine grog or something to it and seeing how it fires in my new wood-fired kiln - something else to think about while I ponder my stacks of refractory block and brick which wait in the shadows of my pine trees for me to pick them up and stack them to form the kiln.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One Last Post about the Ocean before getting back to Work on the Kiln

A bit o' wind across the Gulf of Mexico wrinkles the surface
as a another fishing boat makes its way out to the deep sea.

Depending on when and where you are on the ocean, it can look like crinkled aluminum foil, molten glass, craggy mountains and a host of other things. Monday morning, it was glass smooth, and as my brother, Rob, steered the boat toward our next fishing location, I sat on the seat in front of the center console, kicked my feet up and relaxed, taking in the panoramic horizon. The water was so clear, we could see large jellyfish as we drove by them; then the white spray from the boat obliterated our view of them. We caught a lot of fish, but they were too small to keep.

"That's why they call it fishing," my brother says, "not catching."

We got home about an hour ago. Switching gears.... time to get to work on that kiln.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Offshore Fishing Fun

It felt good to get offshore - 30 miles from land. We caught a small shark (above), four bonita and a kingfish. We're heading out this morning to try again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quick hair cut in Eufaula, Alabama

Wearing his Dickies coveralls, Fred Phillips of Bluff City Barber Shop in Eufaula, Alabama gave me a quick hair cut Thursday afternoon. We passed through Eufaula, a fishing town on the Chattahoochee River, on our way to Panama City, Florida. Phillips started barbering in 1961 after realizing that he could make money on the family farm growing peanuts, cotton and corn. He still uses the hand-cranked cash register pictured above.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kiln Shed Finished (w/ a little wobble)

Levi and I work on nailing down boards
for the tin to be screwed into.

It was one hot day today, but my youngest son, Levi, came home from college and arrived at my place late this morning to help me finish the kiln shed. I looked over at him at one point and saw the sweat dripping from his chin as he hammered a nail into a board. I was determined to get the shed done before Mary and I left for a trip to visit some of my family in Florida Friday. But I was beginning to wonder if we'd get it done. We had all the boards in place and were ready for the tin, but the sun was relentless, and you can't screw tin onto a roof when the sun is being relentless.

By late afternoon, we decided to give it a try anyway. Thirty minutes later the sun disappeared by some heavy clouds, and a bit later we got a few sprinkles but we managed to finish.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was use 6x6's instead of 4x4s for my posts. I think I'd have less wobble in the structure. It's a strong structure; don't get me wrong, but I keep wondering how I could firm it up. I may add a shed roof off one side for storing wood, and I could tie it into some more 4x4s buried in the ground. That might sturdy things up.

I hope to be stacking brick and block some time next week.

At this point, the tin was wet, so I decided
the safest was to move around on it
was on my butt.

The finished shed

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kiln Shed Started

A view from above. Picture was taken
from the balcony of our living space.

My oldest son, Wil, came over this afternoon and helped me set up the skeleton of my kiln shed. We spent a while trying to figure out the trusses, and finally after some math calculations by Wil, I had one truss made, and it fit perfectly on top of the 2X10 plate atop the treated 4X4s. I decided to make the height of the shed 10 feet rather than 8 feet. I was thinking of 9 feet, but after obsessing for way too long about it, I opted for 10 feet. I could always lower it if I had to.

I'm hoping to get the shed finished before we leave Friday for a vacation to visit my mother and brother in Pensacola.

I like the construction of this shed at David Stuempfle's,
and I plan to use the builder's method of extending
the 45-degree bracing into the trusses. David told me
Don Jorgenson built it. Don's wife operates Raven Pottery,
which used to be in Seagrove.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

'Manabigama' - my First Wood Kiln

An arch mock up on my kiln pad. Some more of the material
I will be working with is in the background.

After much preoccupation with what kind of wood-fired kiln to build, I finally decided on a small cross draft kiln designed by potters Bill van Gilder (Gapland, Maryland), and John Thies (Thurmont, Maryland). It's called a Manabigama. According to the kiln's designers, "Mana" translates from Japanese as "learning." "Bi" translates as "beautiful" and "gama" means "kiln;" hence, "A beautiful learning kiln."

You can read more about it out here.

It's about four feet wide and 11 feet long and can be fired in as little as eight or nine hours, or fired for an extended firing for different results. It actually is a beautiful little kiln, and I'll be building it within the next month, as I hope to get a firing done for our R.D. Mahan Kiln Opening and Turkey Roast Oct. 3.

Back in January, potters David Steumpfle, Jeffrey Dean and I spent a several days prying, picking up, stacking and sorting a variety of refractory brick and block from a plant that makes non-refractory brick. I'll be building this kiln with the material I have from that recent venture, rather than the material the designers of the kiln used, so the kiln may vary from the original design a bit.

I've got a slab of concrete with six 4x4 braces imbedded into two sides, waiting for me to build a kiln shed. It's right next to the tool shed, which has a bunch of studs and rafters waiting for me to stuff insulation between them.

Back in January, there was quite a bit of work involved
in gathering up all the brick and block at the brick plant.
The attacking briars didn't help either.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rumors in Seagrove Suggest Peace is Coming

Whynot Pottery's cup on the right
and my cup on the left

Rumor in Seagrove is that hundreds of people will be coming to our community Saturday to purchase one or more of the couple hundred cups that potters have created to raise money for peace.

I'll be selling mugs in my shop and in the shop of potter Beth Gore at Cady Clayworks just down the road. After reading the book "Three Cups of Tea," Beth organized this effort to raise money for a foundation created by author Greg Mortenson to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a region of the world known for breeding terrorism.

All the proceeds from the sale of pottery for this event will be donated to Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit that Mortenson created 16 years ago which has built close to 180 schools. You can read a couple of stories about the effort here.

Mortenson's book "Three Cups of Tea" will be for sale at some of the potters' shops. I'm waiting for the postman to bring me my books which will be for sale. And I'm also waiting for my kiln to finish firing another 12 mugs that I created for this fundraiser. Each mug has an impression inside of a peace sign. Beth has 10 of the mugs at her shop which will be sold beginning Saturday.

My mugs - with the peace sign inside - represent inner peace, which I believe must come first before the world can experience outer peace. I suggest you pick up a copy of Mortenson's book, which just might lead you to experience some inner peace.

Of course, sipping a bit of tea and coffee from one of the cups from Seagrove Potters for Peace might help too.

Hope to see you Saturday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pouring Kiln Shed Pad

After days of fretting about how big and where to have a concrete pad poured for a wood kiln, I finally made a decision and Michael Dorsey of Michael Dorsey Concrete in Asheboro arrived this morning and spent the first part of the day grading, forming, pouring, skreeding, trowelling and brushing nearly 3 yards of lovely concrete from Chandler Concrete, Biscoe.

I laid some fiberglass insulation in between studs in my workshop as Michael and a co-worker worked on the grading.

Ticamus was excited I guess at the prospect of all that concrete.

It was a small job for Michael, quite the giant of a guy who dressed for a day of working in the heat. However, the sun stayed behind clouds, and it was a great day for working outside.

Even the guy from Chandler Concrete got into the game, as Michael began spreading bits of the rocky mishmash here and there to fill in low spots.

He was limping a lot as he suffers from a bad knee, perhaps from doing this for so many years. He now uses knee pads.

We chatted about the economy, advertising, internet, family life, kids and such as we waited for the concrete to dry enough for him to trowel it, as he's doing above. He finished and it began to rain, so we covered up the pad with a big tarp. He said I'd be able to start construction tomorrow. So, I'll probably be heading up to Asheboro in the morning for some lumber.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Watch This Video

It's awesome.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dolphin eyes ballyhoo

Two bowls with two different handles. The lip is hollow, and I squeezed it to make handles on the right bowl. I like the simplicity of it.

Two pitchers with my latest tree designs. These take way too long to decorate.

This (Atlantic) dolphin, or Mahi-Mahi, took quite some time to draw. I'm thinking of saving this piece for my R.D.Mahan Kiln Opening and Turkey Roast Oct. 3. (More info. on that later)

The dolphin is eyeing this ballyhoo, rigged for catching a fish like him, although he doesn't know it.

I added a porch roof to my tool shed. It's a nice place to sit when I should be working.