Tuesday, December 23, 2008


May everyone have a very good holiday season and the new year bring you closer to your most perfect pot.
Ron and family

Monday, December 15, 2008

question of the week

Would you take a shoe for the president, maybe two? Where were the SS folks? This doesn't look good, maybe they are on their way to Africa to guard anthills.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Carpet of white

My thoughts lately have wondered pass the snow drifts and arctic blast weather. I stayed in yesterday and caught up on some paper work. I imagine the studio is a block of ice this morning and the cat has disowned me for not dispatching his food, so today I have to make the effort and open a can of Special Kitty for his approval.
I haven't written any thing in a couple of weeks. So, my day was brightened by my oldest son Chase calling me and we talked for about an hour. He said he had just got in the day before from a month deployment in the China Sea and a stop in Hong Kong, Philippines, and a base near Kyoto, Japan. He is stationed in Yokosuka (sp), which is about 50 miles south of Tokyo. He says he is a little homesick and can not wait to get back to the states, but Laura, Shelby and he are making the best of it, and have seen most of the sites within a days ride. Laura gets the major responsibility for Shelby and the house, and her own work, but when Chase is home, he says he loves to see his ladies when coming off the ship, he spends as much time as he can playing with Shelby and Laura. Good for them.

You can tell where my thoughts have gone in the bottom picture, I posted above. I didn't get to fish, but once last year and it ended in a very funny story.
Finally on the lake, I had unloaded the boat and actually brought keys for it , this time. Tanks full of fuel, attitude good, bright sunny day, very little wind and the engine starts on the first try, this should have told me that there was more in store than lots of fish in the boat. I trolled the banks going west on the lake up to Snuff's Holler, where I have had some very good fishing. I was just getting ready to plug around the little bay with my brand new Rappala, just out of the box. I got in a little bit of a hurry to make that first cast, and it landed in a big oak, dad would have said that I was squirrel fishing. It had gone through the limbs and was hanging down a few feet and all I had to do was pull it up close to the limbs and give it a real hard pull and it should come out of the leaves and limbs. The plug was a four or five ounce plug which is more weight than I normally use. As it came out of the limbs like firing a high caliber gun, towards me. Now, not having the qualities of a karate master or prize fighter, my reflexes were a little slower than they should be and the treble hook on the tail of the plug gave me the piercing of the right lobe of my ear that I had so wanted for years. Well, with my new ear rings, I could not back it out and keep fishing. I had no wire cutters with me, so I had to go back to the truck.
I tied up at the dock and walked up to the truck, but no wire cutters in the tool box. As I turned to see if some else was around , a fellow was coming up to his truck and I asked him if he had cutters and I had to point out my ornament to explain. I could tell he was having a good deal of fun from this and he reached over on his flat bed, which had just been used to haul manure for his garden and produced side cutters which easily cut the barb off, so I could remove it. Still smiling, my rescuer told the first three people he could find near the dock , my story.
I hope this will brighten your day, So make them good pots and stay warm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

candy roaster souffle

Several folks have asked for this recipe, it can also be done with a butternut squash,so enjoy:

Candy roaster soufflé>>
6 tablespoons butter>> 4 cups butternut squash, parboiled>> 1 cup sugar>> 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk>> 1/2 teaspoon salt>> 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice>> 2 teaspoons vanilla>> 4 whole eggs, slightly beaten>>>> Take parboiled/softened squash and mix with butter in a mixer. You can use> candy roaster squash or other squash. Should have no lumps after boiling.> (I puree with a hand held mixer). If you use fresh squash, it will be very> hot at this point, after parboiling.>> 2. Add sugar, cream, salt, vanilla, but not the eggs, till it cools a bits and will not cook the eggs. Mix well when you add the eggs and pour into a> casserole dish.>> 3. Bake at 350 for 45-60 min.>> 4. If you prefer, you can add 2 teaspoons each of Cinnamon and nutmeg and> remove the lemon juice.>> Notes: I double the recipe and it makes a half hotel pan full.>> Serving Ideas: Crumble pecans over the top after baking or marshmellows.>
If you double the recipe cook for one hour and 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some new pots

A couple of new shapes and some hakame using broom straw and twine to produce a bundle for a brush. I like the simplicity of dipping in slip then using the brush to create a grass like appearance to the surface of the wet slip. I go ahead and bisqued the piece, then lined the inside with temple white.

Unloading Shanes Anangama

We loaded and fired Shane Mickey's kiln last weekend and unloaded on Thursday, a lot of pots.
Will Baker and Joy Tanner helped to finish off the kiln on Sunday night, I was exhausted by 10 oclock Sunday night, they stayed till about 1 30 am to turn cone 12 down. This kiln fired so much more differently than the single chambered wood burner I had.
Shane put about 50 pound of salt into the fire box starting at about cone 8. I was very pleased with the work I pulled out, it had a lot of the orange peel that I have always loved. I got some wonderful colors that I had on several pieces and they came out nicely. I'll have them in the next blog.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama and McCain, some thoughts

It is finally over, Obama has done well, and supporters are celebrating. The stock market analysis say "there will still be a down turn, but the black cloud is lifting and there are some clear skies out there." Maybe with these words and hopes buyers will gradually come back and the Christmas season will see some turn arounds for our business. Personally, I can not understand someone wanting a job with all the problems and headaches that will be stacked (dumped) on them.
I also have a great deal of respect for McCain and his concession speech was from the heart and I believe he will work with Obama to turn things around. It is great that he stopped the booing of Obama, during his own speech of concession and the fact that he also corrected a senior voter's impression that Obama was a terrorist. Men of integrity and courage are few and far between, especially in Washington. McCain is on my list (this is a short list), although I do not agree with his politics.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More winter than fall.

Coming down from the studio, I looked into the dark area below the tree line and I saw my first snow flakes, constrasting against the dark, feather their way onto the leaves, themselves barely laid to the earth.

Teachers, history, and inspiration

I came from east Tennessee in 1969 to go back to school at a small collage northwest of Nashville, Tennessee some 50 miles. Fort Campbell was barely there and the town of Clarksville was a small farm town with a movie house. It was perfect for me, because I knew nobody and I would be less likely to party hardy.

Olen Bryant (pictured) was my sculpture teacher, mentor, and friend at Austin Peay. His influence framed my thoughts and ideals in art. My exposure to the arts was incredible, Lewis Burton formed my foundation, Roger Evans pushed me to create images on canvas, Philancy Holder and Tom Brumbau (Verderbilt University) helped me to understand the reasons for art. Austin Peay State University had just received its university status the year I enrolled, but I felt that I could not have gotten a better foundation. Thanks to all of you at the Peay for the gifts you gave everyday.

Cynthia Bringle, she sat me down and showed by example what constructive criticism could do. She taught me in a couple of weeks what I had not known in several years of work. She showed me what I was lacking in skill and how to do it much better. It's hard not to throw a pot and not see the influence she is for me.

The reason for the above is two fold, I'm sentimental today, and I wanted other folks to see the work and persons that directed me into clay and painting. I hope you will enjoy the imagery that I enjoy and draw inspiration. More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23384527@N04/ in Flickr.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Random thoughts

The first frost occurred yesterday morning and I had started a fire last night and night before last. I also have had to have a fire in the studio when I go up in the mornings, even though the days are warm. I'm trying not to use the heater, because I'll need that fuel for the firings toward Christmas. I'll be very happy if I can get this wood kiln built. In the mean while, I have to get in the woods to cut firewood and wouldn't you know it, the sheriff calls me up for jury duty. I imagine this will kill my week, or more, to fulfill this obligation, if I'm selected.
Maria and I decided to keep the pup, he is as good a little fellow as can be for us. Squeak, our cat at the house, has warmed up to Spud, slightly, the fur is down now, but Malcom, my cat at the shop, jumped the pup first thing, he's such a bully. Maria says, "what goes round, comes round." The pup will grow up and with Malcom afraid of everything, we'll see who is the bully, later.
For the pass month or so, I have been trying to pump my determination up a notch or two. I'm looking at as many new images as I can to be inspired. I'm also going to pump up the amount of work I do each day, but not to the level I had done before, I want to make each piece a little better than the prior piece, define more surface as to how it relates to the whole, sometimes it only takes a little to make the whole form come together, "a little dab will do ya", for those that remember Brelcream, and then again, I've seen some fantastic forms that have been cut and beat to make a whole new concept.
Got to head out of here, if anyone has some work that they are looking at, please send me a link. So, go make them good pots.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Morning kick start

If you haven't checked out Emily Murphy's blog, do so. She has some archived blogs that are "how tos". Her blog is among the top blogs when you do a google search and several other searches. Every time I go to her blog, I pick up new info. I just added google reader, on her suggestion, and it has improved my ability to read any up to date blogs, it will list any recent blogs that have been added. With Emily's suggestion I added her blogs to my "reader" and went through and selected the ones I wanted to follow, every morning I can read just the updated blogs, with out having to check every blog.

It's just about time to get out of here and head to the shop, day before yesterday I threw 50 cups and I need to get them handled this morning. With the rain, I am going to have to build a fire and get the place warmed up, first.

The Spruce Pine Potters Market is this weekend, and I am trying to stay optimistic with as good an attitude as I can, The more news I listen to, the more that attitude crumbles and changes. But, I am positive that the "market" is a very good direction for this area to take. A lot of my customers like to come to the studio, but with gas so high and studios scattered, the "market," becomes ideal for them to see new people and visit with the older studios. Good luck to us for the market being the best ever. Make them good pots.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gathering harvest and some production thoughts.

Maria and I gathered the pumpkins and squash today. We had one more pup to find a family for and I told Maria that I thought that we could offer "pick a pumpkin and get a free pup", before I could get the picture and a sign made, some folks stopped and said they wanted another pup, so I offered them a pumpkin and a candy roster, with a recipe for squash souffle. They said the other pup was great that they have, and they wanted another to go with it.

I worked on some photography today and got a couple of pieces shot before my bulbs burned out, after about five minutes. I've got to go to quartz lighting, this is getting expensive with bulbs only lasting a few minutes and then burning out.

Tomorrow, I've got lined up to throw some and get the bisque kiln loaded. Two of the really big pieces got bisqued without cracking, love those programmable sitters. Maria thinks that I should get back to some of the production I use to do. My tendency, when money is tight, is to fall back on doing wholesale and large volumes of pots. The problem is that I tend to not push the limit on playing with pieces as they are made and I don't seem to have a bond with the work. I think the pieces have a Wally World look, you know the nice shape you find on the shelves, only to turn the piece around and they have stamped it with a goudy image. Coke done it with their soda fountain glass, nice shape, but a logo all over it. Olen Bryant had told me,"wouldn't it be nice if some forms were left complete, without some image having to be stamped on them?" "So that just the shape stands on it's own, without adornment."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Production glazing pump

When I was doing a fairly large volume of work, I came across this pump and the ideal to make it, while visiting a potter friend in florida. I knew that I could get more work done in a shorter time frame, using this pump system. The bilge pump (above) is mounted on the wall just above a thirty gallon trash can (with glaze in it.) (about 30000 grams worth.). I liked mine with the handle pointing down on the wall and since I am right handed I placed it to the right of the trash (glaze) can. If you have alot of glazes, make yourself some caddies with casters to move the glaze to the pump.
1. From the left side, as pictured above(intake) of pump, I run a plastic hose into the glaze can.
2. Then I rig a PVC pipe (using a short piece of plastic hose over the nipple to connect the about 3/4 "PVC and the pump on the right side, just like was done on the left side) into the plastic hose and route it into the bucket and have it reduced to about 1/2 " size at the end and have it point up, where the glaze will go up into the inside of a pot and glaze it and the excess will fall back into the trash can.
Even if you don't do large volumes of work it makes glazing large pieces a snap. Lay two sticks across the glaze can, placing your pot upside down on the sticks and over the spout of the PVC. A good hard push on the pump handle will send glaze well up into the pot, glazing it.
Tip: When finished, pull the suction side hose out of the glaze and pump the extra glaze out then suck clean water through the pump to clean it.
You can buy these pumps at any marine supply. I use (http://www.westmarine.com/) for my supplies. The pump is about $60.00. They have a real good one for around $250. I have the $60. one and it lasted me a long time. Make them pots.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jewish Buddhst

I wanted to share this from a blog I came across, I am not sure as to the author, but you can look at more of this on the blog: Another Queer Jewish Buddhist.

Last night I was chatting with a young man who pointed out that collecting pottery has its issues, since pottery can chip or break. This is true. And this is another aspect of the Japanese concept: 物の哀れ - mono no aware: the beautiful sadness of things. It is the understanding that life is fragile, that all we hold dear will chip, crack and ultimately pass away. The pottery I own I hold in trust for future generations, but I know that someday, perhaps even while it is in my possession, it will be nothing but shards. Much like the very concept of the Living National Treasure — Shimaoka is 88 years old at the moment. The treasures he has created will live on after him, but the treasure that is the sum of who he is will fade as surely as the cherry blossoms that fell from the trees last week. And that's what makes our lives, and beauty, all the more precious.

Anagama firing with Shane Mickey

Mike Smith fired overnight candling, Pat "the bear" Houston and Shane were at about 600 to 700 degrees when I got there. Will Baker and Joy Tanner showed up and Joy jumped right into the middle of it. I had a lot of fun, and met some really good folks, hope to see more of this firing as I go along. Shane was getting worried about my aggressive behavior, something about Hammer 2, I thought it was doing rather well, myself. I told him he had had just a little too much of that soup he called coffee. Shane has more on the firing at his blog site, check it out.
Make them good pots, till later.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Fall chapter

We had our first days of cool air and you can feel the Fall climate. I've finish cleaning up a used insert stove I got from a neighbor. It is as heavy as all get out, but Joe has helped me move it to the back yard where I have sanded and wirebrushed the surface so a coat of stove black can be applied. It will be a day or two until I can move it into the house and get it in the fireplace. I'll need the Ben Gay after that.

These photos are of my son and granddaughter. Momma was taking the picture. Laura, Chase and Shelby are in Japan for another year or so, but Chase says that they are going to try and come home for Christmas. Shelby is growing up way too fast for me. I am excited for them to get here, so I can spoil Shelby, and Chase and Laura. Don't you just love those pink Croc's Shelby is wearing?

I fired some work in Shane Mickey's kiln this pass week and unloaded this pass Thursday. I got some work out that I really enjoyed. I had almost forgot how much of a surprise (in a good way) I get from a wood kiln. Maria and I went up to the shop and worked on the foundation for the wood kiln I have planned. I dug a large footer for the stack, so it wound not sink or tilt. I'm going to go ahead and pour the footer for it this week if I have time, still making work to reload Shane's kiln again. I got some ideals for test glazes and slips to put in this upcoming firing. Well, I need a nap, so go make good pots.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Charlotte show

Three firings in 2 weeks, I had planned on four, thinking I was still a young wipper snapper. I think this is from hanging around Shane Mickey too much. To be around him, is to absorb excessive energy he distributes. I do look forward to the up coming firing with him in his newish old kiln (I had to think about it, too).
It was good to meet some new folks at Charlotte, and renew some old friendships. Sales were brisk in the morning, but slide off in the afternoon. It became hot as all get out and I had to go sit under the big shade trees in back of the booth. Maria sat the booth and seemed to enjoy time talking to folks, she is still excited by these road trips. It's a local show and I don't mind them too much, it also gets me out of the studio.
Make them beautiful pots and post them, love to see new work.

I've added a photo of my Matisse influenced painting "Lady with a Palm".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Big Feet

Some time back , friends had stopped by the gallery and just fell in love with my drawings, the women with large feet. They had remembered the drawings and while having fun, took the photo that I placed on the header. When I located it in my files, it was just too wonderful an image to forget. Thanks for the photo, ladies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Lesson

I have a poltergeist roaming the house, probably my uncle who "crossed over" (love that phrase). He keeps moving stuff around so I cannot find it. I usually spend a lot of my time locating items "moved by my uncle". Maria says that "I have bought enough two's of every tool, that the basement is full", and that I should put stuff up in the same spot each time, so I could find it. My rebut, "Luther moved it".

Yesterday was an excellent day for throwing and glazing, I was throwing some 15-20 pounders for most of the early afternoon. The globe shapes are forms that were some of my first forms that I learned to throw. Tashiko Takeazo (sp) is a close friend with Olen Bryant, my mentor. They both went to Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. Olen had a very large collection of her work, which he kept at his office at school and more at his home. I got to where I could pretty much duplicate the work, so to show her how much I loved her work and learned so much from having it available. I thought that I would honor her by showing one of the forms to her. " She got upset with me, when I showed her one of the spheres, Olen said that "she was upset that an upstart "me" could mimic her work." Now that I recall it, shortly thereafter Olen had told me about a "guest" that was coming for a lunchin" and that he wanted me and another fellow to meet her. She is a Psychiatrist that finds "artist" interesting. Even though I had not made a claim to lofty titles, Olen introduced us, the runt and I. Afterwards, Olen told me that she had not found me very interesting. OK, I was humbled. I view the event now with suspicion, because, I think Olen felt I had gained too much ego from my encounter with Tashiko, therefore the lesson.
Well, it is time for me to find my camera, so I can take some shots of the racks of pots that I like to show off. "Luther, dammit, where is my camera?".
So, have a good one today and make beautiful pots.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer food

My wife Maria and I have been in the garden picking beans, digging potatoes (taters), and eating our fill of tomatoes. We planted an heirloom tomato call Cherokee Black, it is one of the best tasting tomatoes I think I have ever eaten. We usually turn into summer vegetarians now through usually November when most of the vines die back. I've promised Maria that I would try and get some winter crops out this fall, so we could have fresh greens, beets, and kale in the spring. We will be canning now through late October and enjoying canned goods through the winter.

I've been up to my eyeballs in clay the last two weeks, trying to meet deadlines and getting ready for two of three shows I have this fall.
Shane Mickey (A Potters Life) has been very kind to offer me space in his anagama firing coming at the end of August. I will have some photos from the firing and hopefully post them on this blog. I enjoy Shanes work and find his thoughtfulness of events and the makings of pottery very interesting and insightful. He is a very skilled kiln builder and has stacked a lot of brick in workshops and for indivisuals.
It's about time for this spinner to cut off the wheel and go dream about big pots.

Friday, August 8, 2008


The weekend is on us and it becomes the busy time of the week. The greasy beans are ready to pick, I've got to move a stove (getting ready for winter), and I have a bunch of sculpture and pots to trim and finish. My wife comes up from Asheville on fridays with her agenda, which is usually opposite of my own, but her agenda is the things that I need to get done, so the arguments are peaceful (whimp) and usually finished first.
Emily Murphy has posted a blog that is very informative. This post has given me loads of tools to use for developing a website, she just posted her new site and it looks great. I have a listing on the sidebar for her blog.
websitegrader.com is an excellent tool to determine if your website is effective and it tells you things that need added or taken away. I put my website in the form they provide and it went over my site and listed things that I would need to improve. To say the least, I have started working on a totally new site (gads, I thought I was doing so well.) It does not critique your layout, only gives you advice about the number of pictures, etc. It will grade you site against other similar sites
http://wordpress.com/ is another bloging site that Emily talks about on her blog, it might be worth checking out the site.
Time to head to the shop, make good pots.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New members

Good morning Potters.
The Potters of the Roan (POTR)were thrilled to welcome in Jenny Sherburne and Michael Kline ( See Michaels Blog on Dashboard) to the group. Their energy and skill will be a great asset for the group. The food was outstanding, POTR's advocating in eating good food and presentation just keeps surpassing itself, of coarse I took a tupperware dish, the contrarion(?sp)in me. Thank you, Lisa for putting the slaw in a real dish.
I have thought about putting together a crafts artisans cookbook. Ree Schonlau, director, Craftsmen Gallery of Omaha in 1982, published a cookbook of Artist from the Craftsmen Gallery, included such names as Betty Woodman, Bryan Temple, Jeff Oestreich, our own Stanley Anderson, and other notables. It was in Black and White, but records an array of forms and foods, from which I still take recipes. Ree titled the book, Earthcooks.
Well time to go to work, I'm a little late this morning, but I am full of energy and ready for the day. Make pots.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I feel like a kid with a new toy, Flash & wiggets have taken over my brain space, what little there is left. I have plastered a couple of the programs on the blog site and they have almost taken over the site,these visuals are very strong in the demand for your attention. I think that these tools will be as common place as anything in the advertising of your business. Just in the time I have been aware, programmers have been so prolific that web sites and these programs can be copied and pasted, some for free and others(more complicated) for a fee. I have added a site for these programs that has a good selection of programs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Teapots and pitchers

Just about to finish my pot of coffee and then off to the studio. My son Chase just emailed me with pictures of my granddaughter, stating "that she has been walking on two legs for a week or two." They just grow up way too fast.

I havn't made teapots or pitchers for several years and over the pass two months I have attempted to correct. I just haven't had the right attitude or something and it shows in the work . Thick , heavy, squatty, poor shape and just uninteresting piece of clay work. The teapot showing is one of the latest with a tenmuku glaze that I feel is starting to improve. I enjoy the handle over the top, compared to a side attachment. The over handled has white and black slip underglaze Temples white in a reduction kiln, my wood kiln is down and I am working on it slowly. Drop me an email and I'll send you a copy of the recipe, if you like it.
Pitchers have been so weak that I haven't even photographed them. But, just as I was at a low point,I was finishing parts for teapots and I had about 3-4 pounds of clay left, I just hate to waste a good center, so I ended with a pitcher that was easily thrown and looked strong in form, so it might be that I've come around the bend with a better attitude and maybe something to show.
I have found a couple of new links or blogs (check out the links), that are very informative. I seem to be just discovering the potential of this blogging world . There is so many more potteries out there that never get seen in the magazines, and they are making some extremely nice work. I can now make decisions for myself, concerning interesting work, rather than have one hit wonders dominate and become the fashion of the month.
I'm adding information about how and what I use to make a piece. I would love to see other potters tell a bit about their work, so that we all can look and learn.
Well, I have to get to the shop, have a productive day.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Economic effects

The economic downturns are part of studio life. A conversation with Ken Sedberry evoked the comment that "we have gone through several of these episodes and you've just got to hold on and ride it out." This has been basically true for the previous events in my career also, but the extremely inflated cost of fuel has affected all other areas such as food, health care, and heating.
When fuel cost went up before, I was able to go to home fuel oil and fire my work, but now that cost is higher than the propane I had normally used for my reduction kiln. Kent at Fork Mountain Pottery has burners that use cooking oil or reclaimed oil to fire his work, he says it smells like bar-b-que when he fires and it makes him hungry. wood burners can be very thankful that there are a lot of sources for that fuel.
Fuel cost has over doubled the pass year, and the fact is you will not get to double your product price. In retrospect, I have had to use bartering in the sale of items in my gallery and since fewer buyers are stopping to even look at the work, exposure becomes a major hurdle for creating demand for your work. The national average for food has risen something like 18%, feels like more. A vast majority of us will not be able to attach that rise to our product, in fact I think we will be lowering our prices to attract buyers.
Some studios give a discount for coming to their studio gallery, others have grouped together and formed pottery markets, which are located in one location, so buyers only have to come to one place to look at a large selection of work. I would love to hear from folks about alternative methods.
I'm going to stop here, because of the subject matter I want to pursue: Doing road shows, wholesaling, and galleries.

Monday, June 9, 2008

garden time

Maria and I got the garden in and cleaned up this pass weekend. The deer have been eating on the potato tops, but that is about all. We had to put a fence up around the beans and corn. Raccoons are bad to get into the corn and tear the corn open and eat one or two bits, then on to another ear of corn.
Back to the pottery, I fired on this past Friday and I keep doing real dumb stuff. I get lazy about working test tiles up and working the problems out before I use the glaze on a lot of pots. The Shino I use, has aged for a month or so and it has gotten darker. I've been trying several slips to help smooth the shino out and get rid of the pitting that occurs with Shino. Well, I had put the slip on bisque, then dipped it in the glaze, lots of crawling, so, pay attention Slagle.
Its been very hot over the past couple of days. I try to do things in the garden or in the shop, today I worked a while in the garden, till the sun came up and started cooking every thing. I'll head for the shop in a little bit to get some badly needed cleaning done to the studio and my wheel area.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Kiln Down

We got it down, but it took a little more than I thought. I just knew that during a firing, at high temps, the kiln would just fold in and vaporize everything within a 10 foot radius.
My first attempt with a chain, broke the chain, then I got out my loggers cable, this is about 2" of flexible cable with hook and loop ends. I wrapped it through the feed holes on each side of the kiln and attached it to the tractor. I mounted and tightened up the slack in the cable, put the tractor in 4WD and sat there with the tires digging trenches. Well, enough of this, I backed up and changed from low range to high, putting it in 3rd. Half the kiln came down. I took a hammer up and hit it in a couple of places and it finally fell on down. I had used rebar in the insulation layer to tie the kiln together and give extra support to the shape. I will not do without rebar in any other kiln.

The fun part is the finding salvageable bricks and moving the sections of the kiln that are reinforced with rebar. I have filled several areas in the road that are mud holes.

I have done some preliminary drawings to get some ideals about the shape and size. I'm going to go up and take some measurements for the length and climb,the lowest spot in the firebox to the base of the chimney. I'll estimate the length from the back of the stack to the front of the firebox. Some other preliminaries I have been considering is the firing time of the different anagamas around the area. Talking with Shane Mickey about his week-long firing endeavor to fire his anagama, states that he feels a large firebox and throat, hole for chimney, is probably the difference in firing time. Michael Hunt & Naomi Dalglish's anagama has fired in less than 12 hours, but they perfer to extend the time to give the glazes time to mature. (Michael &Naomi's Kiln, shown).
I cannot fire a kiln for a week , with or without help. So, my search now is for information about the faster firing kiln.
Pro: 1. I really like the ideal that I can build a piece of work in the kiln, let it dry there and then fire it in place.
2. I would only have to fire once or twice a year. Maybe a third time.
3. The flexibility size in the pieces I can make.
Con: 1. Got to make sure that each firing is done right.
2. Experimentation is slower: could be a good ideal.
3. Would have to increase my volume of work.
If you have any information about the above please pass it on to me or send me a link. Thanks.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kiln down

It seems strange now that the kiln is on the floor of where I stacked so many pots. The walls on both sides still stood after I pulled out the whole front, firebox side , out with the tractor. Maria had done such a good job of clearing out the pile of broken and salt covered brick, scattered over the area that we stood on to feed the appetite of the beast. The roof, insulation layer of the kiln was still hanging across the width of the kiln. I just hit it with my hammer once and it completely fell this time, filling the area with dust and more broken pieces, rebar, concrete and lots of fiber blanket. The dust was thick at first and took a few minutes to clear. I went back down to the lower part of the kiln and I could see well up into the woods behind the kiln, which before was blocked by the kiln.
Last evening I had sat and drew up the plans for the new kiln and try to estimate how many brick it will take to build this anagama. I have considered a Norigama, but the ideal of just a single chambered kiln makes more sense to me.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I opened and unloaded the kiln on Sunday, results are fairly predictable. A couple of new colors came out very nicely and some problems appeared with the slip under the glaze, crawling, especially with the Temple white. When I layer a second color on top of the #6 Tile slip and another color, it will crawl back, exposing the color. I haven't worked with a lot of reduction glazes since '87 and some things come back quickly and others not so well remembered.
This was my first kiln load with an amount of work from my changing the way I throw a piece of work. Basicly, I'm slowing the wheel, to imitate the motion or speed of a kick wheel, and pulling the clay as fast as I normally would throw. Using ribs rather my finger tips. The results have been delightful, with work showing a freshness and qualities that I have tried to do over the years, without much success. The process makes me focus on each step of the throw, concentrating on the foot, the wall as it is pulled and forced into place, and the lip, it's finished shape.
If you have not seen the Hamada and Cardew film on YouTube, Do a search and watch the two different approaches to throwing. These are wonderful documentations of Masters at work. I have learned so much from just watching the techniques and skill that are used with each potter.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring is about on us and I've brought out my shorts. Some trees are starting to bloom and the cherry blossoms will be coming on fairly soon. Chase, my oldest son, Laura, wife and Shelby (pictured) are stationed in Japan (a little south of Tokyo) and he said the blooms are in full and it is warming up nicely. I am hoping that I will get to go over there, cause there is a lot I want to see and do, especially going to Kyoto, where the big kilns are located.
It has been almost a year since my wood kiln chimney fell in, and I have cleaned up the stack area and laying out where my new kiln will be built. I have been gathering brick for the pass two years from several different spots. My wife Maria had located two large pallets of odd brick for a barrel shaped kiln that are used at the plant where she works. I will have to tear the old kiln completely down and clean up before I can pour the footers.
I am looking at a two chambered kiln with an exterior firebox, so I can reduce the ash that is deposited on the work. The Will Ruggles design (I have now) was just a bit too much ash and my drawings just disappeared under the ash. It was a very good kiln to work with and learn on, but I need a larger and cleaner firing kiln. I'm considering the first chamber as a car kiln sprung arch ( I need to think about this a bit, not much information available) and the second chamber be a salt/soda chamber. There is another potter, Bandana Pottery, that has built a single chambered anagama kiln that is as large as a small house and can be fired in less than 24 hour. Take a look at it on michael and Naomi's web site: http://www.michaelhuntpottery.com/ .
I am glazing and loading my gas kiln, it has taken me longer to load than usual, I guess that I am taking longer to design and draw the image on each piece, but I hope to finish today and fire it tomorrow. Have a good one today, make good pots.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good Friday

On Good Friday, an ole friend and neighbor passed away, Noah was 93 years on these mountain slopes and I believe he worked every inch of earth and moved every bolder at least once. He raised a house full of a loving family and very good people.
I was leaving Noah's and I stopped and talked with Mac, his son in law. Mac told me Noah never felt right about selling his horse, the cattle, he would not sell, and when his health slowed him from walking around the home place. Mac told him that he would feed and take care of them, so he could enjoy them from the porch. This is the manner and generosity of his kin, and I never knew his politics, because it was never that important.
Noah, to me was the last of that generation that I knew as a child, who populated Sweet Creek and made their living from the small patches of land, that had been cleared by hand. He knew my grandfather and grandmother when they were young and struggling, and he worked literally from sun rise to sunset, saying "he loved to work, he was never happier than when he was behind a set of plows." I remember the sled that he would stack full and have his mule and horse team pull to the barn where he stored everything, I wondered why he never put wheels on the sled, I guessed it dawned on me, sometime later, that if there were wheels, it would roll off the mountain, plus just something that had to be fixed, frequently. Besides, when you parked the sled, it stayed put. Like my own grandmother, Noah could tell me when to plant and how to plant , just about anything. His garden was always full of the best vegetables and fruits.
There wasn't a day that you would visit, that you would not be asked to stay and have supper. I always recall pork neckbones in soupy potatoes with cornbread or biscuits. Every fall Noah would bring me sausage or some cut of meat for my pot. My mom said that it was custom that when the pigs were killed each fall, you shared with your neighbor. He only had about five or six households of his family to feed, and he'd bring me apple butter, pork, pickled beans and corn and canned hominy, a most prized collection of goods to enjoy.
His gentle gate and manner will be missed, but I am always reminded of him when I see or talk to his children and grandchildren.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Crankin back up

A thousand dollars later, I brought my mixer back to the studio, almost brand new, with new steel, decided against Stainless Steel. Only one problem, they done well making everything fit, except for one of the pillow blocks was turn to where I can not get to the grease fitting. I have a flexable grease tip I have to put on the gun to grease the part. So now, no more mixing in a barrel.
I'm getting ready to fire the reduction kiln, so I'll be glazing today and trying to load the kiln. I've got several ideals I want to test this time, using slips with color in them. I would like to see some yellows come about, adding underglaze color. I use several clear or waxy glazes and #6 Tile slip is very nice under temple white, song dynasty, and Binn's Clear. I'm trying a couple of stains and redart clay or pure metal oxides.
I mentioned last time that I have been trying to teach myself another way of throwing, and I would pass along some ideals about it, that have attracted me to the work. I took the work out of the bisque kiln and looking at them, so I would have an ideal about the direction of the glazing. My last cone 10 firing was full of Korean style grass decoration on bowls and plates. There is some very exciting stuff going on, but the work reflects korean work and not my own impression.
My wood kiln went down last year and I have been unable to get going on a new one, but I have give a good deal of thought as to the design. I'll start with a external firebox that will produce heat for the first and main chamber, which will be a sprung arch with approximately seven foot of internal height, I don't like small kilns. The second chamber will be a bit smaller cantenary salt or soda. Its a hill climber and a fairly steep grade, so there should be lots of draft with a 22-24 foot stack. I am looking at Kevin Crow's firebox grates, which are made of firebrick, for the primary firebox and maybe firebrick for the other grates in each chamber. The stainless pipe I used in the old kiln, had to replaced fairly often and it has become very expensive, so the reason for the brick grate.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

First thoughts

March 4, 2008
Grey skies and a drizzling cold rain, has set in for the day. I had just used my last bit of clay to finish some work that I had thrown yesterday. This week has been a good week in the studio, because I have enjoyed throwing and being on the wheel, but my mixer has been flaking big sections of iron flakes into the clay, creating lots of problems. The mixer is only 32 year old and is made of regular sheet steel, so I have decided to replace it with the same steel rather than pay three times the price for stainless ( I doubt if I'll be around when it starts flaking again).

So today, I cut the work short and came to the house because I needed to do a little work on the computer. Coming across this site, via another potter, I liked the ideal of this as maybe a diary of my time as a potter, I'm not going to go back and rehash anything, unless it would build a foundation for what I'm trying to explain. Maybe just keeping a few notes could benefit someone else.

I've been in clay for almost four decades and for the most part it has been fairly good to me. Recently, I have been redefining the way I throw and what I am trying to acheive, and some very interesting things are happening with the work. I hope this log will help me to see a little better what the clay is telling me. Anyway, I am slowing down the wheel, and discovering another world of work that I have never experienced. It has become very exciting to throw new forms and shapes. More on this later as I gather a little more experience with this process.