Monday, July 18, 2011

Chrystalline-glazed Tree Platter

Will McCanless and I collaborated on a platter to be auctioned off Nov. 18 during the preview gala of Celebration of Seagrove Potters. I created the platter using slab and wheel techniques, stamping it with my tree stamps, and Will glazed and fired it using one of his stunning chrystalline glazes.

Will and I did a similar platter the first year of the Celebration, but it cracked during the firing.

There's quite a few Seagrove potters working on collaborations for this auction. Visit Facebook here to keep up with the progress some of the pieces as we work on them. There's a collaboration of 10 potters working on one piece. My son is working on a piece with potter Brad Lail.

Celebration of Seagrove Potters takes place indoors on Nov. 19 and 20 with 60 or more potters from the Seagrove area selling their works. There's a special gala preview on Friday night, the 18th, with food, drink and music as well as the popular collaboration auction.

The Celebration of Seagrove Potters is put on by Seagrove Area Potters Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and marketing the historical, geographical pottery community that works and resides in a corner of the Randolph, Moore, and Montgomery counties of North Carolina.

A dazzling platter

20 1/2 inches in diameter

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our first Art in the Park?


We got our tent up Friday evening, and once we got inside
and got settled, it rained - all night long.

In spite of a constant drizzle at the show, folks came
by to chat and some bought pots.

Vendors kept an eye on their canopies,
pushing out pockets of water so
customers wouldn't get sloshed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Collaboration Piece

After spending the day cleaning pots, packing pots, setting up tents and canopies and stringing up bells, I spotted the collaborative piece that I did with fellow potter Phillip Pollet sitting in a bit of afternoon sun on the sill of my wood kiln's fire hole, where we stoke the wood during the firing. I had set it there to keep it away from the running around getting ready for a show this weekend in Blowing Rock.

I haven't had time to take pictures of all the pots from the latest firing, but I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of the collaboration. This piece will be auctioned off at during the Friday night gala at this year's Celebration of Seagrove Potters, Nov. 18 -20.

There's a number of Seagrove potters working together this year to make pieces for the gala auction. Check out the Facebook page here. If you click the "like" button, you can make your own posts, or you can leave comments.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Line of Levi's Pots

Here's a lineup of Levi's current work fired in the Manabigama. The three vases in the middle and the one at far right came out of the latest firing.

Natural Ash

Wadding separates two pots

Many of the pots I fire in my Manabigama kiln are glazed naturally by my kiln. The finish on a pot is highly affected by where it's placed in the kiln. Put a pot facing the flame and it's likely to have heavy ash buildup. Place one directly behind a pot and the flame's effect will be much more subtle.

I've fired this kiln 17 times, and the surface of the walls are beginning to flow with natural ash buildup. I imagine what it's like to be a pot inside the kiln during peak temperature when everything is in some state of flux. Everything is glowing, nearly white. We're constantly stoking to keep the temperature up. Everything is engulfed in this mixture of gases, ashes and volatilized minerals.

I don't pretend to know the chemical process of what's going on. Early in the firing process, pots in the kiln are dusted with light wisps of ash. Twenty hours later - stoking every 10 minutes or so with Pakistani hardwood from pallets and slabs of pine from a local sawmill - ash has accumulated and melted, molten minerals have built up.

Depending on the cooling process of the kiln, the heavy ash buildup can be shiny or matte. We cool slowly, so we get matte. The heavy ash deposits thin out and create a speckled surface, finally thinning to an earthy orange and copper.

I can't wait to unload the kiln.

The undulating vase is a collaboration I did
with Phillip Pollet for the gala auction
at this year's Celebration of Seagrove Potters.

Ash buildup on the walls

Monday, July 11, 2011

Too Much Oxidation?

I'm afraid I may have burned off many of the nice effects from firing in a wood-fired kiln when I decided to slow the kiln down for a few hours. This could be a disastrous firing....

Levi and I reached cone 10 in the front of the kiln rather quickly, and I decided to drop in temperature and hold it, then slowly bring it back to where we were in temperature, hoping to build up some more ash on the pots. We stoked less wood and allowed the kiln to cool a bit after each stoke, maintaining a temperature for 30 minutes, then climbing 50 degrees and maintaining that temperature for 30 minutes. I had a container of ash I had collected from the kiln's chimney and spread some on a board and knocked it off into the fire box several times.

Then we fired off the kiln with heavy stokes for an hour or so, reaching cone 10 in the back and dropping cone 14 in the front.

After we sealed up the kiln, I noticed a bowl and mug had fallen together, a shino-glazed bowl and a unglazed mug, so I decided to pull them out. They were white, not red/orange/green like we've been getting.

I wondered if they lost their color because I pulled them out of the kiln and quick cooled them? Hmmmm. What to do? Start stoking again and do a reduction cool? Is everything in the kiln just white with green ash deposits?

I decided to try to see into the kiln with a strong spotlight I have. It was difficult, but I finally spotted a shino-glazed pitcher up front and thought I saw some color. Being totally exhausted from firing all day in the heat, I opted to hope for the best and leave it alone.

But now, I'm wondering if I'll have to refire.

After writing this, I went out again to the kiln and peeked up front. There's color up front, so all may be okay.

A heavy stoke near the end of the firing

Peeking in to try and see some color on pots

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Less Shelves for Firing 17

It's nine in the morning, a clear sky, cool breeze and twittering birds. Levi stoked beginning at 5:30, and I took over an hour ago. We're almost up to between 600 in the middle of the kiln where I have the probe for the pyrometer.

This kiln load is stacked using a minimum number of shelves. We have some tall, narrow pieces and we stacked quite a number of pieces on top of each other, some extending into the opening of another pot as pictured to the right.

I did a lot of this kind of stacking many years ago when I was firing burnished pots in a low-fire underground kiln dug into the side of a hill. I'd fill the pots with sawdust and the effect was dramatic - shiny black where the pot was inside another pot and subtle flashing on the outside with reds and greens.

I feel like I'm creating more opportunities for pots to crack or maybe fuse together, maybe topple over or something in the firing, but I'm hoping for some interesting results with this kind of stacking. We'll see.

A collaboration between Phillip Pollet and I made it into this kiln. It dried just in time to get it. I've got quite a few large pitchers, some glazed in shino, and of course some soul pots, large and small.

This is the front of the kiln with a few
pots nestled inside each other and only
one shelf
. We'll pull out the red local clay
pieces at
cone 10 or so.

Two shelves a little further back with more stacking.
You can see the collaborative piece to the rear of the
shelf and on the right.

One shelf towards the back. There are three
tall pieces that Levi created behind this shelf.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Little of Wadding

Levi and I are loading the wood kiln today. There's a lot of work involved in loading. One task is wadding pots. Wadding is made from some kind of refractory material, and is used to keep pots from sticking to shelves, the floor and other pots during the firing process.

I use two kinds of wadding. One is a 50/50 mixture of kaolin and alumina, which I use to separate lids from the main pot on lidded pots. The other kind of wadding is a mixture of equal parts sand/fireclay/sawdust. I use this to separate the bottom of each pot from a shelf or the floor of the kiln.

Here's a few pictures of me wadding a casserole (made by Levi):

Basic shape of my wad for a lid

I actually glue it down with a basic white glue

After about eight wads, I place a drop of glue on each
wad and set the lid on top, pressing down lightly.

Finished casseroles

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Shop Cat, BC (Big Cat)

Tree Platter Cat

Big Pot Cat

Window Sill Cat

Foot Bowl Cat

I think I like Foot Bowl Cat the best.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 -washing Bowl

Foot Bowl in Seafoam Green

I sold one of my foot-soaking bowls to a customer this past week who will be using it during a ritual blessing to celebrate an expectant mother. Friends will use my bowl to wash the feet of the pregnant friend during a ritual called the Blessingway.

Apparently, the woman who called me about purchasing the bowl had talked to Seagrove Potter Tom Gray, a mutual friend, and Tom referred her to me. Thanks Tom. I had two extra foot-soaking bowls that I made for the last order from a hotel in New York City that purchases the bowls for their hotel room bathrooms. So, I was able to glaze one and fire it the same week that the customer ordered it.