Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Day 14 at Sonoma Community Center.  I've finally got some pots rolling along their journey to completion.  It's a strange thing, coming to a new place to work.  I sort of knew what to expect..but you never really know until you're there.  It's been a little difficult getting the ball rolling on some new work..  there was such a hurricane of things that had to be done before I got here.  I had some time today to think about it..since I wasn't spending the entire day working, but instead...ohhh watching my new favorite show on netflix, Louis C.K. or all the George Carlin I can stand..    I think the biggest change that's sort of screwing with my mind right now.. is that I have no real responsibilities.. a few hours of studio upkeep, teaching one classy a week....and my own studio work.

Here's the break-down: Ever since I've been committed to clay..there's always been something else out there to take up my time.. like school, working as a dish-washer, line-cook, production pottery, or helping Matt fix something up.. you know, just SOMETHING that took more precedence then my own work.  For years my work has been on the lower end of my "to-do" lists in the morning...  so now?  Now it's just weird, you know?  But I'm working it out.. I am.  Don't get me wrong though- all those other things I had to do were amazing and wonderful and I"m glad I had the experience of doing it.... those are the things I had to do to get myself here.  Now that I'm here, it's different.  Redlodge? Yah I had two months there..but two months is FAST...this one is three times as long..and now I don't feel the pressure.  I've always worked under pressure.  You know what I'm talking about.. that two week deadline and there's no other options.   It's funny how I can become used to something like that...

To say the least, I'm getting the ball rolling.. it was nice to get a board of pots carved today..and have another few boards ready to trim up tomorrow morning.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

pots and wine

I'm not a huge wine fan...   I'm a cold beer and whiskey kind of guy.  I know right?  All those damn wood-fire guys and gals just love their whiskey and beer.  What can I say though.. we have exceptional taste.  Yet being a beer/whisky guy, when I'm offered a private tour and free tasting with one of my sisters.. I gotta do it.  Yesterday I had my first wine-tasting experience.  And of all places my first happened in Napa, wine capitol of California at the Del Dotto winery. 

And how in the world can Wine have anything to do with Pottery?  Wine making is an art.  Our guide, Walter (from Spain, nice guy dating my sister) was talking about wine and it's making process almost exactly like potters talk about clay and it's process.  One of the main points he kept bringing up was knowing everything about the materials he was using.  From the type of wood, where it grew, how old/young, soil, length of time, temperatures... blah blah blah...  and as we were drinking from a ton of different barrels (Walter kept giving me more wine then everybody else..By the end I felt really good!) and walking through these dank storage caves.. I thought to myself...  

in anything we make.. it's so incredibly important to understand the material.  Knowing and understanding all the way down to a microscopic level.  This might sounds hoky as hell, but if we, as makers, can really get down to the grit of what we're using, (how's why's when's) we can have countless varieties, strains, clones, whatever of whatever we want to make...   wow, nice use of words there, "whatever of whatever".  but that's alright.  i like how it sounds.  

So I'm going to continue to get to know my clay...  and one day a particularly successful strain of ideas and execution of technique will show up.... and I'll charge a whole lot of money for it. HA!  The most expensive wine I tried that day..was $250 a bottle.  I bet I could sell a bottle for $250! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

yay for test tiles!

It's been almost a week since I've arrived here at the Sonoma Community Center.  It's been good so far.  A couple days ago I took a drive to the East Bay in Richmond to buy some clay.  Mike at East Bay Clay has been making clay for years and years.  He's a nice guy.  Tall, looks like a viking, covered in clay dust..and in a way, when I saw him, reminded me of Neely- like if Neely were a hippy instead...and had way more hair.  ha!  Anyways, I had a wad of cash and bought 250 lbs. of clay- the Boxcar porcelain, which I used way back in the day while I was in Community College.  It's such a wonderful porcelain, it fires white, looks good in an atmospheric firing and throws like a dream.  It's only been a few days and I'm half way through it...  I'm going to have to pace myself.

As some of you probably know, with new clay comes new tests..and before I could feel good about the slips I normally use, tried and tested on a different clay body, I had, HAD! to see if it still worked with this new clay body.  So I did a few tests.  Results are good at cone 10 and I'm confident to roll right along like normal.  

I have a good group of pots made already..and as I speak, plates and platters are drying slowly.

And just for fun, I brought along some clay from Montana.  A few days before I started my drive out West... I went for a quick camping trip with my brother-in-law, Matt, his boy, Clayton, and our dear friend, Scott.  Scott took us out to a most beautiful place along the Ruby River.  On our way back home we took the "scenic" route along a mountain ridge around 10,000 feet.  I kept spying clay everywhere and finally got out to grab some.  I have it with me and am happy to say it...mostly... sits up to cone 10, at least it didn't completely melt.  I've made a terra-sig out of it..and I have high hopes it will provide all those low-fire freaks around Montana a beautiful low-fire sig.  Or, mixed with a few additions....  it could be a really wonderful clay for the wood-kiln.  I named it, Black Butte, since that's where it came from.  The clay is extremely fine and is packed with iron. I'll continue to to do some tests and figure it out... you know, just for fun.

That's why we do this, right?  for the fun of it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Archie Bray's Summer Cup Auction, 2012

Every summer the Archie Bray Foundation hosts it's annual fundraising Brick Yard Bash.  Last year was it's 60th, which if you were there, or saw pictures of it..was amazing.  I have a feeling this year will be a bit more calm, but none-the-less, just as important.  There's big plans happening at the Bray these days..like a whole new giant building that will house a museum for the permanent collection (which is phenomenal), new class rooms for the community, more kilns, new offices for the staff...and well, just good things.  But everything costs money..and the Bash at the Bray is one of their biggest fund raising events. The event is pretty fun, with a Live and Silent Auction, food, drinks, music, then a big ole dance at the end with a live band that Beth Lo plays in- really!

I'm humbled to say I was invited to donate two cups to the auction.  Usually this honor is bestowed to past/current Bray residents... I'm neither past or current.  Yet for all it's worth, I don't know how many hours I've dedicated to this place, which I still haven't totally owned up to (remember how we got all those bricks from the Bray? yah..I owe them big time).  So the two cups were happily given.  I wish I could do more..but guys like me just can't jump into the live auction.  Not yet anyways.

Here are a few of my favorites cups in the auction including Mr. bad-ass himself, Andrew Gilliat, fellow Montanan, Sue Tirrell, and of course, Priscilla Mourtizen.  These two lovely cups were fired in our UnionVille Cat just a few months ago.

If you're interested in bidding on anything at all,  you can easily do it over the phone and the object will be shipped to you.  Please take a second to look at the cups and also the other items up for bid at the Bray's link: http://www.archiebray.org/gallery_exhibitions/current_auctions.html

Or click directly to the silent cup auction here:


Bidding on the Cup Auction will close at 7:00 pm MST on Saturday, July 28th.

All absentee bids must be in by Friday, July 27th at 5 pm MST.
To place an absentee bid please call 1-406-443-3502 ext. 18 or e-mail bid@archiebray.org

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sonoma Community Center

Hello readers, it is I, your humble narrator bringing to you the latest news.  My lovely lady and I have moved on from Helena to the fair city of Missoula, Montana, just about 90 miles west of Helena.  Said lovely lady will be starting gradschool this August.  In January I'll be setting up shop at the Clay Studio of Missoula for a 1-2 year residency.  But before I start at the Clay Studio, I've been chosen to be the resident artist at the Sonoma Community Art Center for the next six months.  I just arrived today after a 3 day drive from Montana, mingled with visiting family in Oregon.


After packing the house, cleaning the house, cleaning the new house, moving in, moving back, teaching a kids class, going camping (for once) and..whatever else, like playing games or whatever I'm finally here.  The summer is flying by...

(notice the mirror images)  I'm using my macbook to take pics since I don't have a camera! haha.. I never new it shot photos quite like this...

Here in Sonoma the Ceramics department has been really beefed up with the extraordinary work of Forrest Lesch Middleton.  For the past few years they've offered 2 residents a 6 month gig each year, one at a time.  I'm the 2012 Summer/Winter resident.  The studio I'll using looks totally normal, as  far as clay studios go, and I'll be happy to set up shop tomorrow morning for my first wheel-throwing class.  I wonder how many students I have... It should be tons of fun.  You are now witness to the beginning of my new army.  They will learn to make pots and soon, we will take over the world.

It's a super cool place.... in fact it's an elementary school built around 1913.  The studio room I'm living in, (which is in the school), must be about...  20 x 10 with 15 foot ceilings.

Just outside my room, there's a crew of 20 or so dudes fixing up the hallway.  It's silly, because they're silly.  I like construction workers and I feel like I know how to connect with them..and already we've had some laughs.  Unfortunetally they start work at 7:00 am.  Ouch.  So I guess I wont need to set my alarm?

There's a Dance studio, Drawing Studio, Print Studio and a stage area where they preform plays and dances.  I've been walking around introducing myself to everybody... there's a show going on tonight and one of the ladies involved got me a free ticket so I get to go see a bit of theatre.  How exciting!  I also spied a music room where the teacher is advertising voice lessons... ahhh..  I wonder if she'd want to trade for some pottery???  Or maybe she could help me with my guitar...

Seems cool so far, eh?  I'll also be glad to connect with some old friends in the Bay Area...because didn't you know?  I went to Community College only 45 minutes away.. years and years ago.   It's shaping up to be a good half a year and I'm stoked to be around so much energy.

Please stay tuned as I'll be updating with new work and adventures....