Thursday, December 31, 2009

Runner cups and bobble heads

Levi and Chelsea spent the day yesterday throwing cups for the Uwharrie Mountain Run. We'll be making close to 500 pieces for the race, which takes place the first weekend in February.

Mary and I closed up the shop at 4:30 yesterday and headed to Chapel Hill to deliver 60 mugs to the TrailHeads, a running club, and then headed over to Tim Smith's for his annual New Year's Party. It was great to catch up with some people I hadn't seen for years. It was a great session with great tunes, a special presentation of the Scott Walker Bobble Head Award, great food, good stories and lots of liquid refreshment.

That's Art playing guitar and his wife Sarah behind him on hammered dulcimer. Art told me a story about when he got out of college and took a six-week trip by himself in the boundary waters of Canada. He told me that one evening he plopped into his canoe after a particularly difficult portage and fell asleep, waking up the next morning to mist rising from the lake and two backpackers appearing at the end of the same portage, one carrying a flute and the other a guitar. Art had his guitar, so the three naturally sat down and played tunes together. It was the best session he's ever experienced. "I thought we were going to levitate out of there," he said.

Me and Tim

You can't tell from the picture, but Scott's head is bobbling as he plays the fiddle.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My buddy Randall

My old buddy Randall Hill came by for a quick visit and we played a bit of music together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Leading up to Christmas....

That's my Peter Pugger in the foreground. I'm standing in a space that had a window in it, until I broke it. This is my "future workshop." It's been my "future workshop" for quite some time now, filling up with "stuff." I'll be finishing in the near future.

Mary helped me out with some sanding recently. I've finished an order for 60 mugs for the "TrailHeads," a running club in the Chapel Hill area.

Norman Grey showed up with his annual bag of goodies, a dozen yummy cookies and some of his homemade bread. I smiled when I saw him bringing us our goodies Saturday.

Phillip Pollett came by and I helped him design a Christmas card.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Levi took this shot with his Droid.

Blizzturbogo: The state of confusion when driving through a blizzard created by two tractor-trailers in front of you on I-85 blowing snow in all directions, reminiscent of the feeling you get when walking along the shoreline of a beach with the water retreating back into the ocean.

Levi, my youngest son, drove most of the way home, from Swarthmore, PA, to Asheboro, NC, reaching speeds as low as 5 mph for long stretches as we slid past stuck cars, whirling blue lights, jack-knifed big rigs and an ocassional stranded motorist right in the middle of the highway. Like water seeking the path of least resistance, three lanes of cars traversed treachorous gulleys of slush creating three pairs of parallel lines, only sometimes two lines seemed to become one line and you had to keep your wits about you until the three lanes became apparent again. And then - a motorist wizzing past tossing slush against your vehicle, one of those motorists who thinks everyone else doesn't know how to drive in snow, but ends up endangering everyone else's life so they can bully their way ahead.

We made it home, and I was proud of my son's capacity to keep his cool and maintain our bearings. I don't recommend driving in these conditions.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Southwestern Glaze

A couple of special orders spurred me into making a load of my "southwestern" glazed pots. Here's a few from the kiln. I've been decorating pots with this pattern for 20-some years, same glazes (there are six glazes involved) and same technique. I've often said this is the last time.... But I like the results, and it's probably one of or the most popular decoration I do. One of the 14-inch-wide bowls is spoken for, and one of the soul pots is spoken for, but the rest will go out on my shelves today.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Plugged my old keyboard from my iMac into my Macbook Pro and everything seems to be working.


The pictures in the post below are of a small wad of clay the size of my fingertip that I threw against some weathered wood on the outside of one of my workshops. I first picture is illuminated by light filtering through a Killian's beer bottle.




Monday, December 7, 2009

New horse hair pots

I had two special orders for horse hair pots. For those who are unfamiliar with horse hair pots, they are pots that are fired to a low temperature and taken out of the heat, then adorned with horse hair. The hair is laid onto the surface of the hot pot and burns into the clay, leaving behind both subtle and striking surface decoration. These pots are decorative, as they are low-fired and fragile.

I'm not sure if this is true, but I've heard that native Americans used to honor their fallen war horses with horse hair pots. In the pictures, the shorter piece on the far left is a special order for Silva, a beloved horse who passed away in November at the age of 30 years. "She taught many children to ride and had the patience of a saint," said its owner who mailed me a bit of mane to use on the pot.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting a handle on refining my handles

Handles can be a real pain to learn to create. I drank some coffee from an early mug of mine at my father's farm in Waxhaw, NC, this Thanksgiving. While I enjoyed the experience, I wouldn't think of using such a mug if it weren't mine. The handle was skinny, ugly and had sharp edges. The picture above shows one of my latest handles on a small pitcher.

While scrutinizing some pots from my first two firings in my Manabigama wood-fired kiln, I began to think the way I handled pots might need some alterations. In firing in a atmosphere designed for natural ash and flashing, every nuance on the outside of a pot might be displayed once the pot is "decorated" by the flame.

With glazes, I learned to leave behind subtle traces of finger swipes and such which I felt were enhanced by glaze coverage. While perusing handled pots from my first wood-firings, I began to wonder if I needed to clean up or alter my handling.

Handle on left from wood-firing; on right, from glaze firing

I may be barking up the wrong tree on this, or I may change my mind, or it might be for other reasons that I find myself in this conundrum, but I am always looking at my work with a critical eye. Subtle changes to pots can have an acute effect on the way a pot looks, and new possibilities intrigue me.

Perhaps, it's got something to do with bringing my pots up to a newer level of craftsmanship out of respect for the newer method of firing, or out of respect for the fire.

My usual way of attaching a handle

A more 'refined' way of attaching a handle

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Throwing hands

My son, Levi, texted me the other day and asked if I could send him a picture of some hands throwing a pot, so after searching my computer and sending a few, I decided to throw a few pots and take some pictures myself and send them. He's a junior at Swarthmore College outside Philly, and he's taking a print-making course. I'll be interested in seeing what he comes up with.

I've been working on special orders this week, and eating lots of left over turkey.