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.