Thursday, March 31, 2011

One year

84 posts in's first year. Happy Birthday.

It was only a year ago that I was living in Logan, Utah, worried about graduating. I was making a totally new body of work, getting together the application for the Archie Bray (never did get in) and trying to make a show that I thought was so important. During one of the most hectic times of my school history I thought I should take the time to start a blog. Looking back, it's been a way for me to sit down and collect my thoughts in words. When I was a kid, I used to keep a diary and it was such a great way for me to remember things that had happened to me. Since then, which seems like a lifetime, so many crazy things has happened. I'm glad that I wrote about my doings and happenings with my pots. It's nice to know that people out there are enjoying what I'm writing about. In some way, if it helps them with..whatever.. I think it makes it even more worth it.

Now as blog year number two begins, I can foresee a storm of pottery coming my way. Things at the family business are picking up and we're progressing in a positive direction. At the same time, so is my own work. I'm looking forward..not to battling this storm, which will keep me busy and stressed out for some time, but to accepting it and flowing with it.

Within the next week I'm going to focus on the next step in my sgraffito, salt fired pots. I have a few deadlines coming up that I need to have finished pots for by the end of April and I want these pots to look their best... so I figure what I need to do is take a closer look at the images I have and figure out where it is they need to go.

Thank you for your support in the last year. I've really enjoyed writing about my pots and I look forward to the next year.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nice Cooling

I've had many conversations about what happens in a kiln going up and coming down..and sometimes I just can't articulate it well enough or get the point across..that important things not only happen going up when we fire kilns, but also when it's cooling.

I emailed John Neely yesterday, asking him for an article he wrote for Ceramics Monthly way back when. I couldn't remember the title of it or for what magazine it was in.. I just knew that there was a section of it that explains how Iron Oxide changes, depending on temperature and atmosphere. Really cool stuff.

Here's the article.

I guess the copyright probably belongs to CM, but that's ok.. I'm not selling it or anything. If you do take this article and pass it on, make sure you mention where it came from. Thanks and enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Akar's Yunomi 2011

As most of you probably know, the Akar gallery opened their annual Yunomi show this morning. I'm happy to say that the pots Emily, Matt and I made are pretty much sold out..and lookin good.

good ole Tony Clennell


Adam Field

and my old teacher, Dan Murphy.

Many many more excellent ceramic artists are showing...

Go get 'em before they're all sold out!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I like Trains (kilns)

The firing went very well, and if you know the way a train fires, there's kind of a text-book way it wants to go. The hardest part about a train is not letting it get too hot up front while the back end stays cool. Luckily we had a very even firing. Cone 10s all around and cone 11 in the front. All in all the firing lasted, with a down firing.. 42 or 43 hours and something like 5 chords of pine went through the kiln. Lots of wood.

Here's a shot of Kenyon, Dave, Tim and a previous resident at the Bray, Steve Roberts. Steve wasn't involved in the firing, but is always interested in the atmospheric firings coming out at the Bray. Steve makes some kick ass pots....and seems to have really nailed his own style of soda firing.

After a few more firings and some tweaking of the clays, glazes and slips.. I think Kenyon's firings will really start to be super sweet. Some of the pots look a little dry..and that has everything to do with the clay bodies. Some of these pots should be in a much longer firing to really record the information that's possible.. Dark clays can be nice in a train, but if they're highly refractory.. pots can just resist that ash and vapor. I really prefer porcelain in most atmospheric firings.. the high silica content is so responsive.

If you're in Tampa for the next NCECA conference, you gotta hit the Art Stream and buy some of Kenyon's pots. How could you not, knowing the whole back story and drama behind the work?? Not to mention they're pretty sweet pots too...

Here's Matt and his first official wood-fired pieces. He's a slip caster and mixed up a slip with mostly grolleg... they went in bare and were near the back of the kiln. My slipped bowl was in the square shaped one. He's excited about the results, and he should be. We'll whip him into shape in no time.

I'm going to push this layered slip and sgraffito thing more I think. It could turn into something really amazing...

Now I can officially say this is the end of my insane wood-firing binge for the last couple of months. One Anagama, and three Train firings. I learned so much. I'm tired and sore and ready for a break. There's a good point after a few firings like I've had where I get to sit down, look at the work and decide what needs to happen next.

So until then, faithful reader...keep on keepin on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Train at the Bray

8 or 9 days ago I posted about seeing the darkside of wood firing. I think I said something about having to be able to bounce back otherwise you just wont survive.. Not a half a day after writing that did I get an email from Kenyon telling me we had one week to crank work and fire so he could make some deadlines for NCECA in Florida. There really isn't anything better then seeing a serious artist put their head down, focus, and do what they have to do. Personal motivation is essential when it comes to making pots. If you can't make yourself sit down and work when you have to.. you're dead in the water before you start. Nobody, not even your mom is going to make you do anything. A week of cranking pots has left little time for him to sleep and it's been interesting watching him move through this process.

Speaking of watching... it sort of dawned on me awhile ago..but has really started to sink in lately, that I'm learning at an incredible speed out here. I feel extremly fortunate to be involved with a community like this... there's a handful of some super talented wood fire people within a stones throw that want me to fire with them.

Here are a couple of Dave's crucibles with two of my glazed bowls inside.

And of course we had the muscle in our corner again. Here's Matt, Caleb and good ole Scott bringing in a huge amount of wood for us while Dave, Kenyon and I loaded the kiln. Thanks guys.

Dave Peters, who's just had his first article posted in Ceramics Monthly about local clay, is here again from Bozeman. I caught Dave his last semester at Utah State University when I first started school back in 2007. He and I have been through a lot since then and we've become good friends. Not only is he a serious and talented ceramic artist..but he's funny as all hell.

What in the world would we do without friends? So i'm off soon, my shift starts at 2 am.. we'll be firing into the evening tonight..and probably by Tuesday we'll be unloaded.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

kids..holy hell this is fun!

i'd have to say today was the most fun I've had playing with kids. Emily and I came in without a game plan.. and on the fly Emily suggested we all make a horse together.. so we broke it down into horse parts and kids were assigned certain Izzy and Gillian got to make the head, Emily and I did a couple of the legs, Xander did the tail and saddle.. and Saul did the body, a leg and a saddle too (there's two saddles there).

We explained that if we all made parts I could attach them later on once they set up..which is what I thought I'd do, but after class I just couldn't wait..and did it anyways. I guess the tail will go on after it's fired..glue it in or something.

And then of course.. we are what we're around and maybe I'll have to explore something like this:

this is a very serious wall piece i made a few weeks back and wood fired..but it just looks so much better with a couple of funny lookin guys sitting on top. I mean, really, if the world can't take potters serious..why should we take ourselves serious? This is just too much fun...

Monday, March 14, 2011

are you serious?

Back on December 9th, 2010, I had a post about how I work.. I talked about how I develop a new idea. Part of developing an idea is being ok with letting ideas sit for some time before jumping in. New things take time.. and I let this particular idea sit for a number of months. But finally..I've moved onto a few news steps that I imagined.. and I'm glad I did it. Incubation is key.

These are some pictures at maybe the 2nd step of decoration. When it was green, I sgraffitoed through black underglaze..then I bisque fired it. Now I add some wax (that's the blue part) and dip into a super secret white slip called, Tony's Crack. Now I have another layer..and with the backround being the clay body, the black underglaze and now the slip. Cool I think.. so now it's getting bisque fired one more time so I can add some glaze in specific places.. and if you're curious I'm bisquing again because the porcelain and slip..tend to pull at one another during a glaze firing. I don't think this is a common problem.. but for my clay/glaze and firing methods.. rebisquing, when layering is really important. I saw a batch of my pots get torn apart... now that I think of it I wish I had a picture of it.. but then who likes to remember the bad times? It was probably the coolest thing ever that happened with too bad there's no pic.

They look like some weird cloud form type things... odd. i love the way it contrasts now..and I hope most of that stays with the pot during it's finishing fire. This is the plan.. a clear glaze over the black..and 10-mo-ku over the clay body..leaving the slip bare for the fire...and leaving the foot area clean. that's four different surfaces...woah.. that's crazy talk. then I'm going to wood fire it!.. are you serious?

I suppose a person could go on and on..layering like this. Maybe that could be an interesting way to work.. To have a group of pots always rolling through a bisque kiln with everything else..and build those layers up like crazy. wow. that's a good idea. maybe you, noble reader,...should try it...

a guy would always tell me something when i tried to suggest he change something about his pots.... he'd look at me and say in a gruff voice..."well that's a really good idea, bobby.. why don't you do it, instead?"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Teapots in a long time.

I think that last time I made teapots for myself..was before I graduated last May. Almost a year ago! Feels good to be goin for it again.... I'm sure if I were back in Logan they'd get eaten alive!

It was always a nerve racking move to bring teapots to a critique with John Neely.. but like all pots that we're making, they can never be the ultimate, perfect pot..

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Wood

Here's a taste of some good'ns from the last three wood kilns I fired in. Check the New Work section of my webpage to see some of the rest.

D. Crumple-Rumpskin

Danny got his show together after the Missoula firing. What a crazy fun couple of weeks that was.

The show is at a swanky nice gallery in Missoula called, The Brink. You can see the rest of the show if you click that link. I heard this is their first ceramic show.

Don't let the image fool you, this door is 7 feet tall. I wish I could see it up close.

Plaster over ceramic.

Danny and I in China, 2007. Only four years ago.. seems like a lifetime.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

see it move

when there's a lot of weight involved in a thin walled piece of wet porcelain... a kind of movement happens. it's so delicate. the way this clay holds itself up during the entire time i handle it, before the bisque, is so enticing. I want subtle movements along with a flowing line.

Since the last round of pots.. I've been thinking of how i can push the clay almost to the limit of collapse. that point i think is soooo beautiful.

Can you imagine a fluid thing, like water, or even a person, like a dancer?...going up, seeing the moments leading to the point of coming back down...when you see it grow and then move past those points of stability and solidity, then change..literally change in a split second and become something (beaverslide) so completely different. capturing a specific point of progression in the life of a piece of clay.

it's so different from what i do with Free Ceramics..which is really good for me to have something of my own, something separate, something mine.

with this work I want to see the clay move.... as if wind flowed around it during it's most responsive and fragile state of being.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The way it is.

Clay is a material that is so fundamentally basic that a kid can understand it. Yet so incredibly complex that we can spend our entire lives studying it and still never come to any conclusions. It is mystery and wonder. It is technical and magical. We are exploring the boundaries of imagination, will power.. and at the same time it is the glue between us and everything else. It is our center.

If you fire with wood.. there is always the possibility of extreme failure due to Clay, Fire or the error of our own hands. It can pick you up and slam you down... and if that happens, you better be ready to pick yourself up, other wise you're lost to it. I saw the dark side of what clay can do in a firing. Months of work lost can take a persons mind to a place that should hardly be visited. Yet extreme failure can give the chance of going further then you were before. It becomes a challenge and a person can either let themselves stay down.... or they can grab it and say, "No.. I know you. I know this."

We accept the challenge every day we work... and continue. That's the way it is.

Next firing in one week.