Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Moving

Summer is here!  Hot days are not made for moving... Lately I have been boxing up my house in North Carolina and getting ready to merge our two houses into one in Kentucky.  My wife has a job offer in Vail, Colorado and we have been playing the pros and cons game. However, we have decided to move ahead and spend time with each other and develop our artistic careers in Paducah, Ky.  To get ready for the move we had a garage sale, uploaded images to Craigslist, and advertised on Facebook.  Craigslist got the best views and we sold several things before the garage sale.  Yay!  

Well, not pots are being made right now, but I hope to have a soda fire during the 4th of July.  I will post some pics then.  My wife made the best peanut butter pie and thought you would like to see it.  It is much like a cheese cake but better!  Hope to be moved in two weeks.  Until then, keep it turning.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rockin Raku

Last week for the Art and Music Festival I demonstrated firing a portable raku kiln and made several nice wave bowls. Here are a few from the demo. Now every time you perform a demo in public, be prepared for the unexpected. The wind was blowing strong enough that a back draft started near the burner and I believe my gas and oxygen ratio was compromised, thus causing a stall on the kiln. I quickly changed out the burners and the kiln reached temp in just a few minutes. While the kiln was stalled I decided to entertain the croud of 70 by blowing bubbles...everyone loves bubbles.

Then, it was time for the real show. I pulled my burbon bottles first and then the large wave bowls. I explained what the pinging sounds were as I blew on the crackle glaze. I burbed the can twice for excitability. The crown returned for the next firing as well. A film crew shot the whole experience and I hope to get some of the raw footage and stills for my portfolio.

This link is to a short made by my friend Dave Malone from a previous night rakuing in the shop.

Today, I plan to made some sinks in the shop. My a/c unit in North Carolina went out and my wife noticed a demo crew demolishing a house two doors down. She went over to talk to the forman and asked if she could have their a/c unit. He quickly abbliged and Shand had it installed. It totally works and now Shand is enjoying hanging out in the house. Shand is making the installer a stud earing with a black diamond and I will make him a table top sink for the install. Talk about bardering! I will post some pics of the sink when I get them finished.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art and Music Fest in Paducah

The Lowertown Art ad Music Fest was a huge success today! Shand Stamper sent some fabulous jewelry and I had some nice pots for sale at Freda Fairchild's gallery, Studio Miska.

Early this morning I conducted a potter's wheel demo and made several pots. I made a large "dog" bowl for the city and hope it turns out sweet! I also made a teapot, several bowls, and some of my signature wave bowls. I had a few raku wave bowls for sale and sold half of the lot by noon.

Karson and I conducted a raku firing demo later that evening and had a crown of 70 or more folks . The kiln was a bit slow in reaching temp, so we began to blow bubbles for the spectators and everyone loves bubbles. The pots turned out great and the crackle glaze was a hit.

Also, a film crew took several stills of us working and shot some video for a movie about Paducah. Hope we make the cut, pun intended...

Overall, it was a good first day of the fest and I hope more folks come out tomorrow to enjoy the fest and purchase some more of our talented wares or attend the brush making workshop. Seems like 5 and 10 dollar items were the best for the fest, but brushes are $10.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

art and music fest 2009

Shand and I are getting ready for the Art and Music Fest next weekend in Paducah, Ky. Shand has been working up a storm in her studio casting silver knots and assembling jewelry while I have been glazing bowls and sake cups for the high fire.

Today, I plan to deliver some work to Bebe's Artisan Market in downtown Paducah. I unloaded the kiln after lunch and saw consistency that I thought I'd never get from my shino and ash glazes. Not a lot of drippy drips from the ash glaze but overall good looking pots.

Also, I have been raku fining all this week with a friend, Karson Kelley. He is a local beautician interested in clay and has been taking ceramic classes from the Paducah School of Art. We tested some old raku glazes and they are working out pretty well. We were able to get five firings out of a five gallon propane tank and we fired over fourty pieces. We fired my wash tub kiln and pedestrians were drawn in by the flames. I even invited our artisit in residence, Dave Malone, to come by and film the process. He said he got some really good shots and left with a huge smile on his face.

I will have my ceramic work dispayed in several places during the festival: Bebe's Artisan Market, Studio Miska, Etcetera Coffee Shop, The Canvas Room, and The Yeiser Art Center. I hope by spreading the work out that more people will see it and ultimately buy it.

The last thing that I pln to do this weekend is work on my displays. I will make some shadow boxes, "show boxes"- which hold smaller works in a 9x9 display shadow format box, and a folding screen for other works. Lots to do and not much time, so until next Saturday...keep turning and burning.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hand Made Brushes

Today I had my brush making workshop at Studio Miska in Lowertown and had a few participants. Here are the brushes made during the workshop.

Nikki and Deb loved the moose mane hair the most, maybe because of its length or texture... I love it too. Deb brought cat whiskers that she had been collecting from her cat for the brush on the right. The handle was made from a river tumbled piece of slate from the cold cold streams near Gatlinburg, TN. The other handles are found sticks and one is red earthen ware clay.

Lots of fun and always a good time to share your knowledge with others.

I will offering this workshop again during the Music and Art Festival later this month. I plan to advertise this event more and Nikki has offered to write a blurb on the Paducah iList. Hope you enjoyed the pics.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Making Handmade Brushes

Today I am preparing for a workshop on how to make your own brushes. I have been making some clay handles, which are easy and fun to make as well as some "ready-mades."

I took a trip down to the Tennessee River and scoured the banks for gnarly drift wood that would make attractive brush handles. I found several cool pieces that should make good brushes with.

The brush making workshop is a one day workshop where participants will learn how to make their own rushes for the low low price of just $10 per brush. I am supplying all of the necessary materials and have collected a wide variety of natural hair to make the bristles from. While I was in Greenville, NC, there was an Outdoor Provision store that catered to fly fishermen. I noticed all of the cool fur and bought a few interesting swatches to begin making brushes with. I ended up purchasing elk, deer, squirrel, moose, bear, and skunk. Believe it or not this was just a few of the selections, but I thought it would be a good starting point. I found that combinations of a few various hairs made the best brush.

This workshop has lead me to an idea for a show here in Lowertown. What if I proposed a show where all of the artist make their interpretation of a brush? Afterwards, have a gallery display the brushes as a group. My hypothesis is that each artist would make an interesting brush, from ordinary traditional to alternative and even conceptual. Seems like it has the potential to be an interesting show and would be exciting to see what the artists in Lowertown would make.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quilters in Paducah, KY

It's the week everyone has been gearing up for since last year, Quilters Week. Every year 30 to 40 thousand quilters descend on the tiny town of Paducah for one purpose, you guessed it, quilting. Paducah has several reasons for attracting these tourists and quilts are not the only reason, however it is the most important one at the top of the list. The Artist Relocation Program is in the top ten! Lots of quilters spend all morning and afternoon learning the newest techniques along with other old time styles, but after 4pm, they quickly spread to their cars, trucks, mini vans, buses, and even tandem bikes (Teri's Taxi Service) to explore what Paducah has to offer.
Some intersteing places noted in a book for sale through the National Quilt Museum:
1. Chocolate Factory- Ooey Gooey
2. Bryar Patch Studio- Home of the Master Quilter Caryl Fallert
3. The historic murals on the flood walls
4. Madien Alley Cinema- Mom and Pop movie theater
5. Lowertown Art Galleries and Studios
There are others, but I could only see a few pages in the book online.

Every shop has quilts in the windos for displays and even some building have quilt murals on their flanks facing the quilt museum. I installed my students quilt in Studio A.I.R. next to the Texaco Station in Lowertown. It looks great. I kinda feel like Tony the Tiger just a bit.
There a street vendors and artists working there magic and hoping someone will support there artistic endeavors. Seems like folks are buying high end art at the galleries as well...

Hope you enjoyed the glimpse into quilters week today and hopefully there will be more to come.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Coffee mugs in the works

Mugs and mugs. I am trying to get as many mugs finished in time to take to various consignment shops as I make thee trips all over the US. Here are just a few in progress. I have been using some local clays and plan on applying some local ash for the glazes. I will have new images up by Sunday evening. The kiln is cooling now. So I have to be patient just like you.

The long road to grad school

Well, I'm not getting any younger and it is about time to make a decision about grad school.

I applied to several schools and was accepted into all of them. I just had to choose one that would best suit my needs. So, I had a few requirements:

1. Had to be balanced. This means there needed to be a balance between sculptural/conceptual works and functional pottery. I realize functional works can also be conceptual, but sometimes the work is ephemeral.
2. Professor(s) need to possess a wealth of knowledge. If a concern arose, like they often do in a pinch, I wanted a teacher to offer suggestive corrections to the problem; not shrugs.
3. Community oriented. Ceramics to me is very communal. I wanted to surround myself with like minded folks who enjoy cooking and conversation just as much as appreciating the wares containing the dishes.
4. Financial support. Needless to say, I broke ya'll. I really do not want to accrue any more debt than I already have. Anybody wanna buy a 1890's Victorian home on the East Coast?
5. Facilities. The school had to offer the firing possibilities I am looking for, such as, wood, salt, soda, gas, car, train, you name it, I want the options; Not to mention, glaze calculation, clay body formulation, tool making classes.

Well, its a wish list I know. I choose three schools for three different reasons. One school for location, one for reputation, and the other for suggestion. I visited all three to form my own opinions and my mind was made up pretty fast at the first school visit. The teacher say "So your a vessel maker...let me introduce you to the last vessel maker we converted into sculpture." Then, the professor went onto say "When my door is shut don't bother knocking. I'm busy."

A few weeks later I decided to visit another school. I applied to this school because a good friend said it was a "sleeper" school and good things were happening there. Why not apply? Well, schools that are in state of transition is a good reason. I know how long things tend to drag on at the university level and my vision was to apply to an established program. No thanks. Plus the monies were not on point. Oh, did I mention the grad student who was supposed to show me around disappeared? We were supposed to eat lunch together. He bailed to have lunch with his girl. I called him three more times and he never returned a message...communication problems?

They always say the third time around is the best, and for me, this old saying rang true. Of course this program was the one based on reputation and not location. It is the farthest from home and family but possesses all of my requirements. When I arrived I flew in with the guest artist in town for a workshop. He was humble and had a warm smile, so was the professor who arrived on time to take us the our abode. We stopped for killer sushi...I was hooked. You had me at sashimi. The next morning my host couple made french toast for breakfast. There were fresh bagels every morning. Lunches were treated as well. The culmination of my experience was a potluck filled with good food, friends, and lots of laughs, not to mention sake.
There is just one hang up...finances. I have to have a teaching assistantship to go (remember I'm broke.) I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope they call next week with cash in hand to offer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pot Shots

Well well, said an old man. Now I'm no old man but these bourbon bottles make me feel a little less vivacious.

The kiln rocketed off and some pots were compromised due to dunting and poor Kentucky clay from the Old Hickory Clay Company.

Overall I am pleased the kiln worked. I plan to upload more pics as I get them touched up. Cheers!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Babysmamagama Salt/Soda Kiln

Yesterday my "baby's-mama-gama" kiln rocketed to cone 10 in twelve hours. Ian Thomas and myself have been making work for the kiln the past week. Last time I fired the kiln my blower quit and so did I soon afterwards. This firing went amazing smooth and we added burritos of salt mixed with soda once cone 9 fell. We will unload on Monday evening and I will post new pics of the wares. But for now, this sneak peek will have to do.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Saturday's adventure took Ian and me to Old Hickory Clay Company in Mayfield, Ky. We wanted to see if there was any clay that we could get in bulk to make some pots out of local Kentucky clay. They were closed but the gate was open so we drove around and had a self guided tour. I have never seen so much clay. Seems like this place only houses the dug clay because we did not see any packaging or distributing areas. I plan to email them later to see if any of this clay could be used for our needs.

Also, I made my secon mold today of a bourbon bottle with Ian's help.

I plan to create a series from this bottle for the soda firing in two weeks. I want to begin creating my "sandwich" series as well. I found a good pig to cast, but it looks a bit advanced, so I made the bottle form today. Be on the look out for some clay sandwiches later. The sandwich is a metaphore...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

After reconsidering all of the free wood in Paducah due to the ice storm, I have spent the day cutting wood for my next firing. There were several limbs down in the yard and neighbors as well and since I was cutting them up to move, why not cut some for a firing?

This pot is one of the first vessels that I wood fired at East Carolina University. It is quiet and the more I live with it the more I enjoy all of its gentleness.

With Ian Thomas arriving tomorrow, I am excited to have a fellow potter in town to help with the preparation and firing. Glaze vs. raw? I am going to see what happens....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bar-B-Q Ashes

Today I celebrated my Valentine's love for bar-b-q by visiting a new spit in Paducah, KY. I have passed this place several times and have always wanted to stop. It was okay...good baked beans.

Lately I have been thinking about doing research on various bar-b-q ash glazes.
The idea is simple:
Travel to numerous bar-b-q pits that used hardwood and collect ashes for glazes sampling.
Create one of a kind pots with that particular ash glaze. See what happens...

Anyway, just a thought. Plus, I have two samples of ash so far.
One from Strick's Bar-B-Que in Hattiesburg, MS and another one from Harned in Paducah, KY.
I have been using Stricks for over two years now and thought other ashes might give special effects. Thus the experiment.

There are several bar-b-q spits here in Kentucky and it would be fun trying the bar-b-q while collecting ashes from the spits to test in glaze recipes.

Monday, February 2, 2009

inclement weather

Frozen in memories....just like these holly berries are the days of inclement weather. On January 26, 2009, Mother Nature sent here crazy cousin, Jack Frost, to Western Kentucky. He must have been coming for the bourbon....
I sat at home and watched the ice fall and sleet accumulate on the ground and roads as I prepared dinner. When we sat down to enjoy the meal the lights went out with a thunderous pop buzz bang! It sounded like a bomb went off next door. We jumped to see what had happened and ran to the window. A huge limb crashed to the ground and ripped down my aunts power lines, which were also our power lines as well. We knew it was going to happen so we searched for some candles and continued to enjoy our meal. We spent the night listening to so many other limbs plummeting to the diamond encrusted floor that Jack had created. It was hard falling asleep that night. CRACK! SMASH! BOOM! THUD! all choreographed with an amazing light show from the transformers blowing through out the night.
The next day was magical. I was eager to get out and around to clip off as many photos of the storm as my camera could hold. I layered my clothes and slid out of the house to find all of Jack's frozen delights sprinkled through out the town.
I say it was magical but it was also saddening too. So many trees had lost their limbs to the weight of the ice and some even topped over shattering their frozen limb Popsicles everywhere. First, I went around the block. Then, meandered throughout the neighborhood. Next, I had to see the river and made my way downtown. What an adventure. Treasures were at every curbside, every angle, simply everywhere I looked. The trees looked like chandeliers shimmering in the sunlight. I quickly filled up my camera with the treasures and nightfall came quickly. More quickly than I expected and I hadn't prepared myself for the night time cold.
I was fine running around and the excitement pumped my veins with warm enthusiasm. But once I sat down, I stopped to listen and there was an eerie cold nothing sound. Thank goodness for natural gas! The fireplace saved me. It filled my imagination with primal thoughts and gave warmth to my cold hands and my dried out my soaked shoes.
The next day it snowed four inches. Most of the limbs fell the first night but now almost every limb fell with the added weight of the snow. I wanted to take more photos, but had filled the memory card completely up. I had to explore more. I jumped on my bike and headed off to see what else had happened. After pedaling for a while you get used to the snow and ice. It really isn't as slippery as walking. I went to the cemetery and rode through all of the smaller streets. The major roads had filled up with sightseers and panicked survivalists. These folks were the ones you had to look out for. They flocked to the stores for gas, batteries, and food. And in that order.