Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Leaves, Koi Plates and a Sunset

Large Crescent Tray with Two Koi. One of my last custom orders for the holidays. Now safely on it's way to the west coast to bring handcrafted joy to someone I've never met but is beloved by family members who commissioned this project.

These three Koi plates were a new venture. I wanted to try the various colors that Koi come in, rather than my standard orange. I don't know what the attraction for these fish is for me, but I do think they are pretty magical. When I was a kid, the next door neighbors had a type of fish pond/grotto in their yard and I was fascinated by it. I've taken loads of photos of Kois in other ponds (mostly as a fuzzy fleeting image, since they don't hold still very long) as a reference point, so that is one of the projects I'll be working on in the new year. Tree plates are on the list and prototypes have been made but not yet fired.

Managed to gather some beautiful leaves from the yard before all the cold weather turned everything brown and crinkly. I want to work towards some complex surfaces like these in 2011. Mother Nature usually is a hard act to follow, though. She's had quite a bit of time to develop her palette and technical coloring skills.
All the holiday shows/festivals are over for me and all the holiday orders completed. There is definitely a sense of the year drawing to a close. I snapped this shot on the way home from the studio about 2 weeks ago. So lovely watching the colors deepen as the light faded from the sky.
The rest of the year will be spent cleaning and organizing and keeping the studio open for those folks who need locally made pottery! Drop by after the Lowell parade this Saturday or on Sunday from 1 to 4pm. And you can catch me in the studio during the week from 1ish to 6pm. Always best to call ahead to make sure I haven't had to run out to handle a pottery crisis of some sort.

Thanks to all those galleries and individuals who purchased Bluegill Pottery this year!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Covered Jars

Pagoda and Koi topped jars.
On a roll with these. I also have some tree topped jars that I am excited about but will post later.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Opening the kiln to the trees

New work from the kiln. This was one of those wonderfully not so great days. Meaning there is much potential for the future, but not everything worked out exactly as planned. Welcome to Lesson No. 1, Pottery 101. I lost a tree in the top sculpture. One came loose when glazing and I held my breath that it wouldn't slip off during the firing. But alas, one tree down on the kiln shelf. I will do this again and smaller versions of it. Just have to refigure how best to attach the trees so accidents don't create felled forests in the studio.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It was great to see everyone who came out to buy pottery on Saturday and all those nice potters who showed up to take some of my extra "pottery makin' stuff" off my hands. I'm really excited about having table and counter space and not wandering the studio looking under piles of things for that certain tool that I have misplaced!
Had a lot of questions about whether I was closing shop, moving, not making work anymore, etc. If you were wondering any of those, the answer to all is "No". Still here, still making work--planning on being like Beatrice Wood and working until I'm 100 or so.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Glazed Koi Vases

Liked the "sprig" fish and hope to do more. It's hard to represent them well in a 2-d photo.
Will use these colors on some of the covered jars that have koi knobs on them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall glaze colors

New Gourd Vase Forms
Same forms, just a different palette for the fall.

Doing some of my mix and match glaze work and hoping magic will happen. I like 1-3. Glazes 4 & 5 were not that different from the original one I started with. Probably only I would be able to tell the nuances of color difference, so these are a no go. No. 3 has some real potential as a nice dark amber with a bit of unexpected color from rutile. 1 & 2 are satin and I may end up trying them on the experimental sculputural work I'm trying out.

My method for developing glazes is to mix a half and half mixture of existing colors and see what occurs. Then get more complicated and try a 1/3 mixture of three different glazes. The drawback is if you like the results and decide to mix up a large batch, you end up with a list of 12 to 20 ingredients.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In the Middle

Covered Jars and Sculptural Piece with details.
Pretty excited about these-they're bisqued now and just waiting to be glazed.
Crossing the proverbial fingers!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Koi Fish

These are pieces recently completed in greenware stage. I had a contact from someone in England that was interested in images of fish on ceramic pieces. She is authoring a book on the subject and found my work on the web. I rounded up various images and sent to her. Anxious to see if any will work. Would be lovely to have work published, don't you think? Anyway, had the inspiration to do some more koi pottery. A change was incorporating the fish as a sprig-type decorative element on the body of the piece. We'll see how it works.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Throwing--ain't it grand

I've been back in the studio for a week now. Wednesday to Friday brought a fair amount of friends, well-wishers and folks who needed some pottery in the front door. It's now settled down to my old routine and today I got to throw. It was sweet. There is just something magical about watching that clay change from a mound to a vessel. It still gets to me, even when it's me doing it.

Lots of thoughts about the studio were whirling around as the pots came off the wheel. I have decided to go through all my STUFF. If it were a little pile of stuff, there would be no need to use capital letters. Obviously I have acquired more than I need and I intend to fix that by redistributing the wealth. Check in here for updates on what will be offered (very reasonable prices and some free stuff) as I reduce my studio footprint. And hey, it's not just for pottery making people. There will be books, sewing/craft items, storage and display units, etc.
Projected date is September 25.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Seeing into the future

I'm looking into the future and it will soon be filled with some serious pottery making. Back at last from my long absence from the studio, I will be throwing again in little over a week. I have had a great time, pursuing a long term goal of taking classes on human behavior, the mind and spirit and overcoming barriers to one's own purposes and goals on any front of life.

When I first decided to take time out from the studio, I wasn't sure I could endure months on end without a hands on approach to creativity. What I discovered along the way is that I have had a certain driveness about having to "make" things. I realized I wasn't going to dry up and blow away if I wasn't actually making pots everyday. Taking the "must" out of the creative process will give me more freedom to do better work and I am really looking forward to exploring that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Exciting News at the Pottery

Well, no, I'm not back in the studio making work yet, but apparently someone was so desperate to get in, that they broke a window, cut themselves climbing through and set off my burglar alarm. What excitement!! Luckily the police are very good in my area and always arrive promptly and my friends at home got the window immediately replaced and Jim was a champion for taking care of the alarm details. Great friends are a treasure indeed.

Looks like nothing was taken, they were just hoping for money.........HA! That was a big strike out. Guess they'll take pottery studios off their potential "cash cow" burglary candidate lists. Of course, my main concern, once it was apparent that everything else was ok was "Did they knock over my bookshelves getting through the window or bleed on my favorite pottery books?

Thank goodness for all the great, honest people in the world. You have to keep that in mind when a random act of unkindness happens to you. Three cheers for nice people!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Work in Asheville

Well, I am still out of the studio (will be for another couple of weeks) but new work should have arrived at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville. Lots of appropriately beautiful yet extremely functional work ready to be put to good use!
On the pottery perusing level, I have been following Sequoia Miller's blog (look at the May 12 post for pictures) about these cool boxes he is putting together for a show. I love the concept of grouping many objects together, so that the presentation is a story all it's own, but individually you can OWN just one piece or make your own grouping with two or three.
Also found a great book by Peter Cosentino called The Potter's Project Book, which has things like salt pigs, chess sets and other delightful projects, even a puzzle jug. Some inspiring ideas for when I get my hands back in clay. Isn't it crazy how fast the year is heading towards the halfway mark?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reading roll

Getting a library card to me has always been like getting the okay to raid the candy store. I mean, you can check out any book on any thing......What more could a person ask for who loves to read? I'm still one of the hard or soft cover hold outs. We got Katie a Kindle for Christmas, but she has storage issues, so I can see her need for digital books. I love flipping the pages, getting to the end and seeing what type face was used, the feel of the paper. Gosh, working at a printing company will do that to you, I suppose. I mean, I had to learn how to put a 16 page and 32 page signature (individual pages printed on one large sheet of paper) together in order to print them correctly when they were folded and bound to put into a magazine or book.

I know there's lots of people who like to listen to books on tape but I'm not one of them. I really love the reading, and for me it's much faster. After all, you read using vision and light, so theoricately you could read at the speed of light, whereas you can only listen at the speed of sound! Recently I have been working through Robert B. Parker's novels, concentrating on the Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall series. They are quite addictive because they are such a fast read. I love the terse, concise dialog between the characters. While doing this post I had to look up something about Mr. Parker and found out he had passed away in January. When an author or artist dies, then all the future stories or works they could have created are no more. I know that is true of the death of anyone--all those potential futures just wiped away. I will miss not knowing what Jesse Stone will do in Paradise, just like I miss Lt. Joe Leaphorn from Tony Hillerman's series.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cheeky Birds

One of the "wild life" that makes eating lunch full of adventure. There are also grey herons and seagulls and smaller white birds that are even more threatening than this big guy. They hover and swoop and land on your table, beadly eyeing your sandwich. I think they are the Florida version of NC bears that have been fed and become a real problem. Besides not knowing when they will streak out of the sky and nail your food, they also can wreak revenge by letting loose a shower of bird doo. Oh so appetizing.....But I have gotten some nice reference shots for carving work on pots.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Connected Part Two- The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I finished a lovely book, "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" several weeks ago, just as I was reading a book by Bernard Leach entitled "The Potter's Challenge". The first book was written recently and is a work of fiction and the Leach book was published in 1951.
My favorite moments of the "Hedgehog" were the lines of the characters that spoke about moments of stillness of spirit and beauty and contemplation. In fact, a conversation between two of the characters was about why a Dutch Master's painting was so engaging to the viewer. It got me to thinking about why I love the artwork and music that I do. What threads run through the different mediums that work their magic on the viewer?
Then Mr. Leach managed to shed some light on it for me. In talking about how as a modern creator/artist/artisan (whatever title you are comfortable with) he says,
"We have to learn to put the thinking apparatus, our intellectual box of tricks into proper relationship with the intuitive parts of our mind. When they are properly related to each other we can still live in a world of thusness, or let us say, wholeness."
So those interactions with beauty, art or music, which sometimes stop me like the singing tone of crystal or porcelain in the still air and resonate through me are those moments of wholeness in the artwork.
He goes on to say
"I write of beauty, and truth and thusness. I think the final word I would use as a criterion of value in the world of art, if I were reduced to a single word, would be the presence of life.... It is a force that goes beyond all arts or artists. It is the ultimate standard and it is attainable."

I find great solace in the fact that it is attainable and know that all those shards and seconds and misfits and not quite rights are just mileposts on the road to bringing that life into the here and now of my pottery.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mr. Cherokee

Jim sent me this nice photo of Cherokee. He's enjoying the spring time and great weather, waiting for me to get back to the studio and greet all you pottery lovers coming in to visit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Connectedness Part 1

Connectedness is a topic I have been mulling on for quite a long time. So I thought I would give it a shot as a serial post. But to keep myself on track instead of just rambling, I decided an outline would be in order. Here it is:

Part One: Thoughts on connectedness and James Garner, past and future; not really connected to pottery except through my love of him and my love of pottery.
Part Two: The Elegance of the Hedgehog and The Potter's Challenge
Part Three: The Book of Hours and Scrapbooking
Part Four: Texture and the details of leaves
more as needed...... or maybe you should suggest something?

The mythologist Joseph Cambell talked about making lists as a way to sort things out (at least that's what I remember). You can read more about him in the book, "Joseph Campbell, A Fire in the Mind". I think from this exercise of list making you find connections between things. I tend to keep some running lists in my head, using the brain/mind as a file sorter and filter. Sometimes the lists are more felt, than realized. Sometimes the convergence of lists hits you like a brick over the head.

Anyway, I have this running list of work I have made in my background, so while browsing through a new pottery book "20th Century Ceramics", I turned a page and was stunned by a photo of a 1906 earthenware vase by Thorvald Bindesbell.. This pot is an homage to Hokusai's print. The "stunned part" was that I made a pot, very similarly shaped, using the same breaking wave patterns and the same color patterns quite a while ago. My pot sits on the mantle of my in-laws' fireplace. Wish I could show you, but no digital images. Maybe no slides, even, because I have never documented every piece that I made.

It has the same black background but texture created by carving. So I have been beating my brains, trying to figure out if I had seen this pot and subconsciously it wafted it's way into my work or if I was so influenced by the Hokusai print (I have had a copy of it hanging in my studio since 2000) that I strove to put that image on a pot of my own and now it looks like a copy of a long dead potter's work. The kicker is that I don't ever remember looking through the book I saw it in (first publish date 2003), I know I've never seen it in person and don't remember the image from elsewhere. I'm almost positive my pot predates 2003, because the clay body was one that I used while I took classes at Gaston College. It was a beautiful toasty body, part Gold Art and Red Art, that Keith Lambert used to have us make. I know I bought materials to make up a bunch of it before I stopped taking classes because I would no longer have access to the clay mixer. So I was using it and firing it in my kiln at home, taking the reduction glazes we used and the clay body and working in oxidation and at a couple of cones lower.

Now I know that I have looked at South American, Polynesian and Oriental pots and seen similarities in the design patterns that probably cropped up independently of one another. That's a whole big subject--the independent thought or invention of cultures, technology and art that have occurred through the ages. I'm not thinking about that large a connection. I'd just like to know if mine was independent or subconscious.

Oh, the James Garner thing: I have always loved him. Watched and loved Rockford files. Saw that it was scheduled to be remade as a TV series with Dermot Mulroney as the Jim Rockford character. Everything old is new again?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mosaics on the outside

These are images of a beautiful mosaic being installed at the Children's museum, next to the Pen-Free Tampa Museum of Art. Hope the kiddies get more respect from museum management than their parents do! Anyway, I got to stop and chat for a few minutes with a woman who was helping the artist do the installation. She said they did the pieces at a warehouse, using Wonderboard as the backer for the mosaic. When I saw the panels, they were already mounted and I could see screwheads that were being covered up by glass pieces, as well as some damaged glass that they were having to remove and replace. Very magical. The link goes to an article, which gives the monetary costs ($75,000) and how payments would be made ($5000 down and $17,500 over a four year period.
I don't know a thing about public commissions of installation work, but this woman had a bunch of people working with her part-time and I'm wondering how this is economically feasible unless you have a boatload of these things going over a 12 month period, enough to float your materials, living/travel expenses, hired help and the inclusion of Murphy's Law costs. Anyone have any ideas about how this works?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Pen-Free Museum in Tampa, by Golly

New Tampa Museum of Art
Sketches of Greek Pottery

Dutifully observing the "No Photography" Sign on their permanent collection by drawing, standing up, balancing a sketchbook and purse with nary a seat in sight.

More nice pots and thoughts about pots before the security caught me WITH PEN IN HAND!
"Ma'am, is that a pen you are holding?" quoth he.
"Why yes" said I.
"You can't use a PEN in the museum. You'll have to go downstairs and get a PENCIL" said he.
"You're kidding" said I, restraining myself mightily.
Gee, what would they have done if I had pulled out my trusty BLACK PERMANENT MARKER!Really, I can understand the fear that some kid might decide to write "Johnny was here" on the derriere of a female nude sculpture, but a tame grey haired lady with a sketch book and ballpoint is not much of a security threat.
What is the job of a museum these days? I thought it was to nuture appreciation of art and history and to educate. How can it be that we are reduced to the simplicity of gawking idiots, unable to record any nuance of light and shadow, the way the piece curves up from the belly, the lip and foot proportions, or how the handle joins at just the right spot because we have a pen in our hand.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rumors of snow

I've heard rumors and first hand accounts of snow in NC. In fact, I have a video that I'll try to load on here later, with the famous Cherokee Gill, retired race dog extraordinere, cavorting in the white stuff. It was sent as a little birthday gift, since Cherokee is at home with friends while I am gone. My heart goes all soupy and sweet when I see a dog around here, evidence that I am missing my great big studio buddy. Anyway, check back later in the week since I have to figure it out and it may just remain a big mystery if the technology is too much.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fog and Hot tea

It's been a lovely foggy day in Florida. We had a great big storm last night, and cool air moved in to create this Englandy looking atmosphere. I've always had a thing for fog. I've always liked hot tea. Hmm? Was I really supposed to have been born in the South or am I really just a misplaced Brit with a slightly funny accent?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Impressionism inspiration

Since I'm not working with clay in the near future, my thoughts turn to painting and drawing. Just before I left home I took my car to the auto car wash for a well-deserved bath. I love the fact that they have great vaccum cleaners. So powerful it sucked up my ball point pen. I wonder if the job perks include dividing the small change or even bills, jewelry, etc that make their way to the bottom of the vaccum cleaner? Anyway, while riding through, I thought how cool that soapy world looks, so took some shots for future reference.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Days, New Years, New Decades

Everything is new again! I have been cruising the blogs occasionally to see what's been happening out there. I have been on vacation, enjoying some well deserved time with family and starting on a study of courses that will occupy me and keep me away from the studio until the end of May.

Today I walked around the neighborhood (Florida, not NC) and it was a breezy, chilly, sunny morning. Quite nice. Don't know if the FL natives like this cold spell but it suits me just fine.
I have to figure out how to load my camera pictures on this computer, so no new images for a bit.

There was a great article in Ceramics Arts Daily last week about mass production of pottery design. I read it with interest. It really covered the good points and bad points of such a self-financed venture. I can see how satifsying that would be for an artist/craftsman that had the goal to bring well-made work to the marketplace at large quantities. I did have to explore some of my own prejudices about the concept, but realized that I enjoy a lot of products that fall in that middle space--well designed, aesthetically pleasing and in an affordable range.

They are NOT the same as the individually made cup. But I would reach for them and the experience would be more pleasing than that cylinder that comes in a rainbow of colors. I think the thing that I would miss most about the experience is the story behind the work itself. I do think of the person or place or time that I got a cup or mug from and to me, that is an important part of the drinking/eating experience. Now, I'm not saying that I have a concious remembrance every time I drink, but it's there, in the background like ambient music or a soft pillow. Maybe it's just "padding" for the everyday battle of life!

Anyway, I appreciated the article. Take a look for yourself. Tell me what you might think. Have a great day!