Archive for July, 2010

I Want Some Moh Pots…

July 31, 2010

My friend and local potter Sebastian Moh is setting up his website and I scarfed a couple images from him. Here’s a beautiful vase and then a sublime yunomi that I completely dig…

Anyway, if you get a hankerin’, go check out Mr. Moh’s work. This was a strange week work-wise but I did manage to make some more chalice/goblet/parfait whatever shaped pieces and even went ahead and did a couple with lids on them. I’m completely out of room for more greenware and I’ve got to move into the decoration phase…

Here’s a couple closeup shots of the lidded ones…

As far as the last test with acrylic medium… it worked much better when I waited 2 days than when I only waited one. I think the viscosity still needs to be tweaked but I’m going to blunder forward on some real pots soon.

Nostalgia…

July 28, 2010

I was looking for a picture in my big pile of pictures… not digital, the old-fashioned pictures that you pick up and look at, like a book with pages. Anyway, I didn’t find what I was looking for but I found other pictures and I figured there’s nothing that says “I don’t have anything to blog about” better than posting old photographs. But before I head down that path, I got these two bowls in the Lilstreet International “Bowl Me Over” exhibition and I will be heading to the PO directly after I’m done with this. Here’s the two that made it…

I also just received word while I was typing this that this piece was accepted into the St. Petersburg Clay’s “Last Call” exhibition that features pieces related to imbibing der brau and other potent potables…

And now on to the silliness. Here’s a pic from 1959, when I was 1 smelling flowers. Apparently the family got big yucks by telling me to go smell the flowers and like a little monkey, I would do it. I have to admit my posture does imply that I was a connoisseur of parfum…

Not sure if this is in order but next is my 3rd grade picture and the story behind this is a typical story of “the best laid plans of mice and men” which I still have a tendency to do. That is I was very concerned this year about how my class picture would turn out as they were never satisfactory before then. So the night before the photographer came to the school I spent some quality time in the bathroom mirror perfecting the perfect smile/not-smile for the following day. I settled on the perfect look and the next day as we were getting ready to go single file down to get our picture taken, I excused myself to the boy’s room and put the perfect look on my face and proceeded to hold it until the snap of the camera’s shutter. Unfortunately, it took a bit to get there and wait my turn and during that time, I seem to have pursed my lips to hold it better and this goofiness is what resulted. Oh sure, now it’s cute but factoring in the 3rd grade vanity, etc., I can honestly say it traumatized me when the pictures came out…

Next is me and my brother Ken standing in the backyard next to the lilac tree that I remember as being much larger, it must have been easter or something because we are “dressed up”…

Here’s the whole clan without my Mom who is probably taking the picture. We’re in Ontario on White Lake or Black Lake or some other lake. My dad is holding the catch and my grandpa is in the boat smoking a pipe I think…

This one must be a couple years later because my youngest sister Cathy is present and that the whole lot of us on another holiday I imagine…

This is one of my favorite old pictures because my favorite Aunt Zizi is in it. I’m sitting on her lap and I’m probably 16 or so and I also like it ’cause my Dad is in the background waving and my grandmother’s sister, Aunt Mary, is next to Zizi…

Now we’re full on 1976 and graduation day with my dad and me both sporting those ridiculous wide collared shirts…

And last but not least I found my favorite picture of Sofia when she was about the same age as I was in the flower smelling picture…

Off to the post office.

Estivation, Then Libation…

July 26, 2010

It’s been so hot I’ve been getting that “cabin fever” feeling that happens in winter where it’s too cold to do anything outside… except it’s not too cold and it’s not winter. So I googled hibernation antonym and came up with estivation/aestivation which is a period of animal dormancy similar to hibernation but in the very hot or dry season. What does one do when estivation sets in? Well, right around noon when it’s already in the 90′s, I start dreaming of air conditioned taverns with cold beer and then the rest of the day is geared toward that goal. Anyway, the other day I posted a shot of some bottles I was throwing and the day after I took the picture I flipped them to dry and they were all precariously alit upside down. I didn’t get a picture but here’s the other picture upside down…

So I’m sitting there staring at the upside down bottles and what occurs to me is what usually occurs to me when I look at upside down work… hey, those shapes look better upside down. I’m serious when I say this happens often and I’ve come to realize that it’s really not that the shape is upside down, it has more to do with some aesthetic preference for large forms being hoisted onto small bases… in other words, I like a small foot. Well, I’ll stop belaboring the point because I reread what my description, it’s really not that exactly either but I always liked sculpture that way too… think Brancusi’s Bird In Space. So as I’ve done before with no real success, I’m off on a tangent to try and throw things upside down and have them have the same feeling as what I liked about the drying bottles, and here’s where it got me…

I do kinda like the forms but was disappointed that the description “chalice” came to mind because I really don’t want to make chalices. I also am not sure the tiny part of the stem betwixt the top and base will even make it through the firings. Finally, I thought I might like them better with lids so maybe I’ll try that… not sure yet. Regardless, this was a small part of the weekend estivation and I had my favorite studiomate as well…

I wanted to thank everyone who offered advice about trying to find a suitable replacement for shellacking for weeks on end. I’ve begun test two by thickening the medium, adding more coloring so I can see it better after it dries (Sofia insisted on red), and I’m going to allow it 2 days to dry/cure before attempting the etching phase…

Time Marches On, Club 53…

July 23, 2010

July starts Club 53 and last night was the first meeting. Al, the oldest of us was the first to turn. Here he is at the outset of our evening…

It was a hot one yesterday and I went ahead and got a bike ride in before heading out. When Ray and I showed up at the tavern, Al and Jeff were at a table outside. Apparently all the tables inside were taken so we baked for a while. Later on a light breeze blew and it got a bit more tolerable. Here’s the “after” picture of the birthday boy…

In other news, we finally got the last of the “non-insulated” windows replaced. There is a bank of 3 windows in both upstairs rooms that I’ve been putting plastic over for the last 8 or 9 years waiting to finish up having all the windows in the house replaced. The double paned windows that were there were replaced with these single pane ones…

I was sold on the way these windows open… I was told that because they tilt in at a hangle that the autumn and spring breezes would blow up the roof line and continue right up into the house creating a veritable Shangri La in the upstairs of the house. I simply cannot wait until fall, here’s one opened. Sorry for the picture but with the morning back light it was difficult to see the bug…

Finally, here’s the result of my first test of the hydro-abrasion using acrylic gel medium…

During the couple month push to get ready for the Chicago show last winter, while stuck upstairs breathing denatured alcohol and shellac all day every day, I had complained on this blog about not feeling so well and Kristen Kieffer suggested maybe using acrylic gel medium instead (don’t get me wrong, I was using a mask most of the time but the limited ventilation due to it being very cold outside was a big factor). Anyway, as I replied to Kristen at the time, I had tried the acrylic medium before the shellac and was not satisfied with the results but I hadn’t really tried it tried it so I’m gonna give it another chance. On this first one, it did what I remembered which was that the resist didn’t hold up as well as the shellac and started to dissolve quickly compared to the shellac but I’m gonna try different levels of watery-ness and see if any of them are any better. More on this later.

Shape Shifter…

July 21, 2010

I’ve found that after I’ve been throwing for a stretch, I like to experiment and see what comes up and this activity can be confusing unless you happen to have (which I do) a resident “shape shifter” around. When I’m done trying a new shape, I cut it off the wheel and set it on a table and the shape shifter comes around and either gives me the thumbs up or does this (which can be translated as “don’t bring that ugly shite around here”)…

I knew that meat cleaver would come in handy… just wasn’t sure what it would be handy for.

Actually I was gonna make some vases in two pieces and I usually throw the two pieces, trim and attach when leather hard but became enamored with the idea of attaching them while they were still wet enough to alter (as many do) and gave it a try with the biggish one above. I should have waited overnight but decided to go for it and gravity smacked me (and it) down. Sofia had a good time hacking it up with the cleaver though. The event was very reminiscent of my very first clay class in college as a freshman/sophomore. There was a very talented student that was ahead of us by a year or two and had spent enough time in the studio to use one of the two electric wheels. All the beginners learned on those metal standing kick wheels that I can’t remember the name of where you lean against a bar while kicking a lever. Anyway, although this student, Dusty, ended up being a good friend and even attending both the same graduate schools as me at the same time, us beginners were in awe of his ability in the beginning when we didn’t know him. So Dusty would throw these huge pots… 5 feet tall, 2 feet in diameter, thrown in sections and they would slowly accumulate in the clay shop. Anyway, to his unending amusement and our abject horror, on his cousin’s birthday (his cousin wasn’t a potter but a great banjo player) he would have him visit the clay shop during a time when some of us were around, tell him to take his pick, give him a baseball bat and let him destroy one of these big beauties that we could only dream of being able to make at that time. We couldn’t believe it and of course, that’s what he was after… oh to be young. I’ve been a bit remiss on posts lately and there is a reason but I’ve gone back and forth about whether to post about it as it’s related to health and I’m not sure whether this is the venue. I’ve thought about doing a whole series of posts called “Medical Adventures” or something like that to provide context because I’m afraid my current conclusions would seem a bit strident without it. Anyway, not sure because there would be no pictures and it might seem unrelated to ceramics. Regardless, I’ve been distracted and have found it difficult to concentrate on anything but the matters at hand. Everything is OK and I’m only trying to explain the lapse in blogging. I threw some bottles yesterday and I salvaged a twisty one and now I think I like it the best…

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)…

July 15, 2010

So last week, I took an ill-advised bicycle ride with an imminent storm brewing. As I headed into the storm I actually turned around but then thought, what the hell, and turned around again continuing toward it. I was almost done with my route and heading home when the rain came down in sheets and once I scaled the hill I was on, I took shelter. The upshot of all this is that my bicycle speedometer shorted out somehow, although it might not have had anything to do with the rain and might have been, coincidentally, minutes before the storm when my chain came off and in a storm of my own (cussing), I took the little computer out of it’s chassis and aggressively flipped the bike on the side of the road to put the chain back on. Anyway, it was caput and I got this…

I wasn’t upset about having to get a new speedometer because the old one was old. I have a tendency to use things up or wear them out as is evidenced clearly by my car (and all my previous cars). I wear my clothes until they’re threadbare, and my house (sewer system specifically) doesn’t get much preventative care and I just wait til things go bad until I act. And so it goes with the speedometer which was 15+ years old and preceded the ability to purchase things on the internet or maybe even the internet itself. So I thought, it’ll be a welcome upgrade as the old one had limited functionality. Of course, I could never entertain the idea of cycling without gathering statistics about my riding. This wonderful little gadget has all kinds of functionality that the old one didn’t (most of it useless) such as a thermometer and another thing it comes with is the worst installation directions I’ve seen in a long time or maybe even ever. The written part of the directions only address setting the computer functions and the actual mounting of the units is wonderfully illustrated in cryptic pictograms sans actual text as shown here…

Now I’m not a big directions person and have been known to jettison them before reading them at all but there are a couple details about mounting this that seem indispensable, most important of them being how the magnet on the spoke lines up with the magnet on the fork. No mention of this anywhere and the Mayan hieroglyphs aren’t clear. So I keep adjusting it and re-adjusting it and spinning the wheel, looking at the readout, over and over and… nothing but zero mph (spinning the rear wheel should register a couple m’sph). I begin to think that I purchased a lemon and decide to ride my bike to the bike shop and have them figure out what is wrong. So I arrive at the bike shop and kid about 18 years old comes out, glances at the mounting, immediately reaches down and clicks the little computer, snapping it into place. He spins the wheel and it works fine. So all that time I just hadn’t had the little computer snapped into place. All this to point out how I did my little part to further the stereotype of us codgers and our lack of technical acuity, although of course, this was in truth a lack of mechanical acuity. So, Luddites we are no matter the truth. Along the spinning, turning theme, I pulled the cord on our Zyliss salad spinner the last time the other day and it snapped. I went to get a new one and they had 4 different kinds but not the Zyliss. As I abhor shopping, I decided on this one although it works with a lever (there was one with a cord but the display one’s cord was already frayed near snapping)…

So I take it to the cashier and I’m preoccupied with whether the lever controlled spinner is actually going to last or if it’s just a piece of junk and I get in line. The funny thing is the conversation that ensues… a type of conversation that seems to follow me around. There’s a woman ahead of me in line that turns and looks at me, then smiling says… “yer gun’ love that”. Being the social misfit that I am, my mind is reeling at this point because, one, I immediately think what I always think when someone who is actually my age is talking to me… why is the old person talking to me? It’s only later that I realize that I’m as old if not older than they are. Second and more importantly, because she broke me out of my reverie about the quality of my purchase, I assume that she means that she has the exact spinner that I’m purchasing. So I say, you own one of these (in my mind, I mean the exact make and model)? She says, “oh yeah, ya jus put yer lettuce er whatever in there an’ it spins around real fast-like and then it’s clean”. Now I’m taken aback because I realize, somewhat to my amazement that she thinks this guy behind her in line that happens to be about the same age has never seen or used a salad spinner before and she’s happy to be the salad spinner welcoming committee for yours truly… the salad spinning virgin. So, as smoothly as I do all my small talking I say… so you have one like this with the lever? Undaunted, she says, “no I got one a them old ones with a string”. I say, well they have one of those but the string on the demo was already frayed. I think this went right over her head and then the cashier interrupts but not before she has one last testimonial and she says, “I put some stuff in mine about a week ago, spun it up and took it out o’ the fridge yesterday and ate it up and it was still good”. Need I say more? If you haven’t used one before, just refer to her statements and you will know exactly the purpose and procedure involved of this mysterious device. Continuing with the spinning, turning theme, I would just say that my head is spinning from the lack of turning of the wheel in the last day or so and of course there’s always my favorite turning and spinning thing…

Hand, Feet And Velvets…

July 12, 2010

A couple weeks ago I was at my friend Ray’s (remember he gave me all the baseball bats that Sofia painted) and while he was giving me stuff, trying to get rid of stuff as he said, he asked… you want some glaze? I said, what kind of glaze, skeptically? He said it’s underglaze, I think, I’ve got boxes of it. I said, give me one and I’ll take it home and test it. To make a long story shorter, I took it home and looked it up on the internet and it fires to ^6 and it’s called a velvet. Anyway, on Saturday Ray, Sofia and I went to a get together at the home of the inlaws of my first sculpture teacher from 1978. He had gotten married again and they were having a little celebration complete with gourmet catering and an irish band. To my delight there was a woman playing the Uilleann pipes which is a kind of bagpipe with a bag under the elbow strapped to the waste and has the advantages of allowing the player to sing while playing and the air provided is not moist because it isn’t coming from the player’s mouth so the dry air doesn’t wreak havoc with the reeds. So Ray drove and picked us up and brought this…

Yesterday, the bug and I went through it all to see what colors and it’s a strange assortment (only 6 or 7). Of course she wanted to “paint” right away and she selected “cinnamon”. When I opened the little jar, there was kind of a cystalline residue and they had all settled, probably because Ray had them for years along with all the other stuff he’s collected. So we got all the cinnamons and stirred them and dumped them into the blender…

Sofia was getting bored by the tedium of this and decided to smother the dog. And eventually, all blended and screened and all the little cleaned jars refilled (and Sofia painting in the background)…

Now before I get to the next part, I have to give a bit of background. Ray is a collector, he’s got so much stuff that sometimes it’s hard to believe and he got much of that stuff by being in the right place at the right time and just vigilantly and always being on the lookout. So years ago, there was a now famous ceramic artist (that will remain anonymous) that lived and worked for some years in Louisville. We knew a young woman that worked for this person and when this person moved away and on to other things, they took what they wanted and threw tons of stuff on a big discarded garbage heap behind the studio. Most of it was defective in one way or another but the woman we knew took Ray out there and he salvaged whatever appealed to him. So when he picked us up and gave me the underglazes he also gave me a box with perfect little hand made cubes and a pyramid plus some plaster molds and some little cast heads. Here’s the bug contemplating the power of the porcelain pyramid…

Not all the molds had all the parts but we decided to give it a try as I had some gallons of casting slip in the basement. So we filled them up…

And here’s the yield…

Of course Sofia was very excited about getting the pieces out of the molds and not at all excited about waiting for the slip to harden. Our first try was this head that not only the bug, but Dad had a bit of trouble waiting for it to harden enough and it pulled apart as I opened it up…

Reclaim: Fail…

July 9, 2010

Well, I was gonna switch up and throw bowls this week (which I did) and I thought since I just reclaimed quite a bunch of clay that I would use that because it was that nice soft consistency I like so much. That didn’t work out like I wanted and like has happened so many times before. I’ve come to realize that the drywall mud mixer attachment that I have in my drill and that I use to mix up my reclaim after it has slaked down was painted with a heavy duty black paint and due to neglect on my part (leaving the mixer attachment submerged in the slurry for long periods of time), the paint came off in little black chips which distributed nicely throughout the reclaim. So early in the week I kept picking little black paint chips out of the clay wondering where they were coming from and then when trimming those kept coming upon more. I really gave it a good go and after a couple days of slow going, I just had to go against the economical side of personality and ditch the reclaim (maybe Sofia can use it and it won’t slow her down). Anyway, it pissed me off and now I have to get a new drywall mud mixer and I’m not sure how many buckets of slaked clay I mixed with the chipping one. So I got my fresh clay and kinda got stuck on this form for a bowl which is new to me and reminds me of something but can’t put my finger on it…

I’ve finally gotten really into the throwing groove and I’m running out of room for greenware. I really don’t want to enter the shellac zone quite yet. In other news, it’s been hotter than hell here this week with record high temps and consecutive days of 95+ degrees with heat indexes of 106 and 107. I’m staying with the cycling thing and haven’t missed a weekday in weeks. I even went today during a thunderstorm… all the while trying to remember if I ever heard of a cyclist getting struck by lightning. Sofia asked me as I was leaving if I thought I might get “caught” by lightning so I guess she was worried about it too. I was almost done and it came down in sheets and my speedometer stopped working… the damn thing’s only about 15 years old. They can put a man on the moon, you’d think they could make a digital speedometer/odometer/clock thingie that’s impervious to thunderstorms. Of course you’d also think that if they can drill an oil well in water that’s a mile deep that the braintrust behind that great idea could also plug it up if they need to. It’s gonna cool down today and it’s raining already which means I’ve got to post this in a hurry and unplug the computer because the radar shows an ominous storm a comin’. I posted both the big bowl from the Pottery Making Illustrated article and a similar chocolate one to Etsy in the past couple days. Here they are (clicking sends you to Etsy)…

I Finally Got The Axe…

July 5, 2010

Well, technically it’s a cleaver… well, not even technically… it’s a cleaver and a dual-purpose (not multi-task, dual purpose) one at that…

A good friend of mine brought this over and wanted to know if I wanted it and although the only thing I could think of that it could be used for is for Sofia to texture her clay with the meat tenderizer part. But it’s difficult to get rid of things like this. Apparently my friend’s grandfather made this cleaver/tenderizer. If you’re a woodworker or a vintage tool person, you’ll recognize the beautiful heavy and heavy duty steel that the blade is made from because you can’t get it anymore. When I was in school we used to look for chisels made from this kind of steel. Anyway it’s really got some heft and I asked my friend what he thought I might use it for and he said, you could hack a small piece of clay off of a block and I said I already used a wire for that. He mockingly scoffed and said, well, if you want to cut your clay in that milquetoast way… and I do. So, milquetoasty wire cuts it is. Here’s the bug with her “careful with that axe, Eugene” pose…

I’m happy to report that although my bees died last winter and I hadn’t even seen a honeybee in the flowers up through May, this purple flower that I can’t recall the name of is a real bee magnet and there has consistently been 3 or 4 at a time harvesting on it all day…

In other news, Sofia got a mysterious package in the mail from Grandma and lo an behold it was a ratty old skirt that I can’t imagine my mom wearing but she correctly ascertained that instead of throwing it away, Sofia would enjoy playing dress-up with it. I couldn’t get it off of her for the first couple days that she had it…

Of course the best thing about the skirt is its twirling capabilities… it’s all about twirling. Here’s the whirling dervish, I particularly like the last shot because it reminds me of those Degas paintings with everything just a bit out of focus (check out the Foo dog posing in the background)…

So the heat is creeping back up and some Louisville potters were having their annual sale a couple miles from my house but my car stranded me the previous evening at the brewpub (if you’re gonna get stranded, the brewpub is optimal). Consequently I decided to take Sofia on my road bike with her riding sideways ” ‘cross withers” so to speak. It was difficult to start but once we got going it was fine. Anyway, the bug was quite the connoisseur at the pot sale insisting on looking at the bottoms of every pot and calling me over to appreciate a color or surface. I wanted to get her something she could add to her little collection and she was torn between a clay whistle that was shaped like an animal made by my pal, Wayne, who played “My ‘Ol Kentucky Home” and “Louie, Louie” on his to demonstrate and this…

A good friend of mine in Iowa, Mark (I previously mentioned yourgardenshow.com, where he works before and apparently you can start a GLOG [garden log, as opposed to weBLOG] there which sounds pretty cool if your an avid gardener) , sent me this picture of a teapot of mine that he has and I had all but forgotten. I thought I’d post it because I had been posting funky handled cups lately…

I think I have enough cups for now and will be moving on next week to something else… bowls or vases. Here’s a bunch…

And finally, thanks to all the well wishes and congratulatory comments on the Pottery Making Illustrated article.

Pottery Making Illustrated Article…

July 1, 2010

I’m happy to report that the article I submitted to Pottery Making Illustrated has been published in this July/August issue. I wanted to post about it earlier but it wasn’t out yet in the bookstore on Monday (I’m sure you’re all hurrying out to get it if you don’t subscribe). Yesterday I received a couple comments on FB by people who have read it so the subscribers have gotten it by now or maybe they picked it up at the bookstore. Anyway… I’m officially published! Actually, years ago I imagined myself a crossword puzzle constructor and had one of my first big crossword puzzles published in “Louisville Magazine” and they paid me but I spent 40+ hours constructing the puzzle and I got $100.00, I think, which works out to about 2.50/hour. Hey, I thought that was a pittance at the time but with the bowl in the article and accounting for inflation I might have been better off financially to go ahead with the crossword thing. But making pots is 100 times more fun and satisfying than making crossword puzzles. Beside that, I ended up sending the puzzle to Mel Rosen, a veritable crossword legend, to critique and he marked it all up, sent it back and graciously let me know that he would never have published it. Anyway, I’m pretty excited about this article… it explains my process more thoroughly than I’ve yet to do on this blog, mostly because I haven’t had the step-by-step pictures that took a couple months to take because the piece accompanied an entire cycle. So, if you’re out at the bookstore and you get a hankerin’ and you see this cover with Bowie Croisant‘s piece…

give it a look or better yet purchase it. I’ve permanently added the link to a .pdf version to the sidebar here

and of course here’s the first page and it links to the .pdf also…

If you’re new to the blog and have come because you’ve read the article, welcome and please look around… there’s plenty of silliness and if you scroll down the sidebar a bit, there are links to some popular posts from the past year or so. In other news, we woke to a edenic 63 degrees this morning and after the past couple weeks’ sweltering heat, it’s a dreamy relief. Good working weather but also good everything else weather. We had this idea last night that we would travel to another state (Indiana) and drive about 40 minutes to the nearest drive-in theater. We were concerned that if the movie started at dark thirty that Sofia wouldn’t stay awake but decided that she would be so excited laying on the top of the car in a sleeping bag that it wouldn’t matter. We got pretty much ready and decided to call them to get a definitive time that the movie started and when I called up the website, it turns out that the movie not for children was playing first and the “T0y St0ry” movie wasn’t gonna start till 11:45… what? I tried to figure the reason for this and all I could come up with was that they get more teens and younger people during the week and people who have to go to work in the morning take their kids on Friday night (the movies’ order was switched then). So live and learn but the bug was disappointed and maybe we’ll take her to a matinee today.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 80 other followers