Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kiln Dayz. Bozeman. Dave Peters.

If any of you internet folks have kept tabs, or heard about what's happening within the clay community of Montana,  you've probably heard of Dave Peters.  In fact, if you've been reading this blog for the last few years I'm sure I've mentioned him once or twice, or posted a picture of when we fired together.  Dave Peters is a fellow alumni of USU and an avid wood-firer.  Balls to the wall, all goes or nothing wood fire guy.... and at the same time, a very sensitive and talented clay artist, with an immense well of knowledge.

and here's something to say about it....


"You're Welcome"

Here it is.  Talking with Dave about the design and why it's been built this way is like hearing/reading the next book on firing wood kilns.  It's a hybrid of an Anagama and Train, with a massive fire box that will have stepped primary airs (like a Train), leading through a throat arch that bellies into the velumptuous main chamber (Anagama) and then smashes into the generous space of the chimney (the normal checkerboard exit flue will be built with saggars and other pots).  It can be loaded from both front and end.

 Dave knows his bricks, knows how to stack, knows how to load and knows how to fire.  This kiln is going to be the bomb-diggity-shizzle in less then a month and I'm really looking forward to the results.  So should you be.

My good friend, Andrew Chenania and I made the 2 hour drive to Bozeman to meet up with Dave and give him a hand for a good day of stacking brick.  While Dave worked on the firebox, Andrew and I put down the courses making up the chimney.  Further courses up, we started adding what we called "ticklers", which are just bricks flipped into the stack to cause terbulance of the flame..and in effect, cutting back on the amount of smoke that leaves the kiln.

  The bricks went up sort of quickly..and eventually before we had to leave, Dave cut open the roof... something I see as a very meaningful step in the process.  Once that roof is exposed..  it's sure getting close.  It was nice to hear Dave sound so excited about the progress made today.

It was also an amazing treat to stack brick that were brand spanking new.  Andrew was so happy about it that he had to give a pallet full of new brick a big hug.  I throughly agreed with him.

Please stay tuned!!  More exciting news coming soon.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

where it came from

"Bobby, I like your work. I wondered if you would ever discuss your decorating style and where it came from. Joe"

 My work and where it came from.... As most makers know, this type of question is a loaded one... dealing with years of personal history, experiences, involvement with all types of people, and places they've seen (among many other variables and.."things"). Creation is a complicated practice..but as many people have said in many different ways,.... "if you don't know where you've come from, how can you really know where you're going?".      

Reflection about one's work is essential to the continuation of good, thoughtful, meaningful, and competent work. So where does my work and style of decoration come from? My work, as it is, is a culmination of 14 years of clay involvement. I was a sophomore in highschool, 1998, when I never wanted to be anywhere other then the clay studio (I would skip regular classes to be in the studio). Looking back I think of words like: Foundation, Basics, Base, Practice. These are adjectives that I continue to try and build upon. My work started even earlier then highschool. My father has been an extremely self-motivated, work-a-holic since I can remember and only in the last 5 years has he slowed down. As a retired Pastor, he's since become a Counselor for recovering Alcoholics and Drug addicts. He is full of years of worldly and spiritual experience..and has a natural, easy going way to how life can be. He owned a printing business that he operated from the kitchen/dining room (a 9 foot long lithographic printing press) from when I was about 10 years old. A work-ethic that could compare to the culminated, so called, "Catholic Guilt"...... look like a Sunday Picnic. He worked and worked. Growing up I didn't know anything other and thought that all people were like this. What's so abnormal about my dad working through the night until 6 am? That's my base. Then take that experience into the clay world..where there are just as many opportunities to work yourself to death. After the base comes refinement. I've learned to "see". By seeing I mean that I've become aware of what I'm sensitive to, things that get me excited. I look for new things. I look at old things. The well of work and knowledge of past societies, artists..there all there to enjoy and learn from.


 My style of pots and decoration comes from a few different sources. I know what I like. I take parts of those things and mish/mash them into something of my own. I'm not concerned with making something "brand new". But at the same time I'm not trying to re-make historical pots or art work. Many of my influences include wood-cut prints from the early 1900s from America like Lynd Ward and German artists like Kathe Kollowitz. Also there are influences from the indigenous Pottery of the American South-west like the Hopi, Mimbre, and Mata Ortiz movements. The American Art scene from 1940s on, like Rothko, Pollock, Smithson and DeKooning. Ancient Chinese, Japanese, and Korean pottery. Ming dyansty blue and white. Tamba ware from Japan. Caligraphy and ink paintings from each of the three Asian countries. The Leach and Cardew influence. Also contemporary work from clay artists such as DeWeese, Shaner, Neely, Clennell, Murphy, McDade, Krupka.. Potters that I believe bring to the table what is required of a thoughtful, amazing clay artist: experience (moving mountains of clay through their hands), wisdom, sensitivity, and conviction.


 Another part of my life that greatly influences my work is being outdoors and experiencing nature... I'm an avid fisherman and have enjoyed fishing since I was a small child. If I can't get outside for a long period of time, I become depressed..and if I'm depressed, my work is affected. When I make, I don't sit and think..Oh this is from that, or whatever..but because of those influences, I become a type of filter to it all, and from my hands and ideas, comes something uniquely my own...

So, Joe, I hope that response was good enough for you.  It's a great question...and I'm glad to be able to sit, think and write about it.