Kim Medeiros and I took to the highway yesterday, driving six hours of the Massachusetts Turnpike from the ocean to the Berkshires to bring back a half-ton of clay from Sheffield Pottery in the extreme southwestern part of the state.
Nice folks there at Sheffield, with big warehouses for mixing clay bodies and good, helpful people in the retail end. We also took Kim's recently collapsed kiln furniture for a diagnosis of the problem. The verdict - everyone was surprised they lasted 15 years of reduction firing. Kim found herself a whole new set of much beefier posts for her kiln.
On the way back, we stopped in Great Barrington for a sushi lunch at Bizen, a wonderful Japanese restaurant decorated with genuine anagama-fired pots. And then we stopped at Asia Barong, a stunning retail shop with a warehouse and grounds filled with Asian work, new and antique - Buddhas of all sorts and sizes, old Japanese doors, entire Indonesian stilt houses, kimonos, pots, tools, paintings, prints, carvings, jewelry - there appeared to be no end to what they bring back from Asia to the hills of western Massachusetts. Go to asiabarong.com for a tiny sampling. We were enthralled.
Now we're back in our studios, both anticipating a fun Saturday evening when "Facets of the Harbor" opens formally at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford. Come see the show, please, finger food and wine June 8 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Here's an image from Asia Barong yesterday.
It will be interesting to see if two Cape Cod potters - Kimberly Sheerin Medeiros and myself - can draw fellow Cape Codders across the canal and down the highway to New Bedford this Saturday. Personally, I'm doubtful; it's difficult to draw Cape people off-Cape in the spring and summer. But there's always a chance.
Kim and I have been working together on pots for "Facets of the Harbor" at Gallery 65 on William for the past month - throwing, stamping, slip-trailing, trimming, glazing, firing ... and we think it will be a good show at this lovely cooperative gallery in downtown New Bedford. Our pots and John Robson's photographs should work well together in the old whaling city.
I have longtime links to New Bedford. My grandmother, Edna Jackson, was born there on January 1, 1900. My mother went to nursing school there. For much of my childhood on Martha's Vineyard, New Bedford was served by a ferry from the island and was the "big city" Islanders went to for department stores, dentists, doctors.
But the city has had some hard economic times in the past few decades, as the fishing industry suffered, and the downtown is not the magnet that it once was for shoppers. Still, it's rallied with the conversion of a big department store into the arts department of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. And the New Bedford Whaling Museum is a first-class attraction just a block or so from Gallery 65. New restaurants and galleries have been opening. The Zeiterion, an old theater downtown, books tours of national and international performers. It's become an interesting place, particularly as artists trained at the downtown school have decided to stay and work in New Bedford. And Kim and I are delighted to be asked to be part of it.
If you're on the Cape or in Southeastern Massachusetts, please come to the show and see what the artists are creating on the cobblestone streets of the old fishing port. The opening is this Saturday, June 8, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Here are two pots from the show: At top, a platter thrown by me and decorated by Kim; bottom, a vase from my wheel, altered, stamped and glazed by Kim.
My friend Kim Medeiros and I are stumped as to what caused the splintering of three of the posts in her kiln yesterday. So I thought I'd try some blogger crowd-sourcing.
Here are the facts: Kim has been firing to cone 10 with these posts in her Olympic updraft kiln for 15 years. Never a problem. (They were bought from Sheffield Pottery in western Mass. I've emailed Sheffield, but have had no response yet.) When she opened her kiln Thursday, one side of the stack was tilted ominously. Reaching the bottom layer, she found all three support posts tilted and splintered at the bottom, as you see in the photos.
It seems to us that if a prop was going to give way after 15 years it would happen one at a time. Or, perhaps, one in one part of the kiln and one in another. But all three on the same shelf strikes us both as a clue ... but a clue to what? We have no idea. Stacking was the same as usual, with heavier pots in the center of the stack, lighter ones to the outside.
It seemed an ordinary firing other than the collapsing posts. Any ideas? Let me know.
Kim Medeiros and I have been busy in our studios for the past month making work for our "Facets of the Harbor" show at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford. The "Moby Dick"-era whaling port - and still vital deepsea fishing port - is climbing out of decades of a depressed local economy. But the old downtown is in good physical shape and shops and restaurants have been slowly returning, spurred in part by the conversion of a local department store into the art department of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. That's brought more art and artists to the downtown. It's exciting for both of us to be part of that.
Our pots for this show will reflect the long-ago whales and sailing ships, and the motorized ships of today and the fish they hunt. We should have more pictures tomorrow, since most of the pots are in my kiln and Kim's kiln as I write.
I'll post pots for the show tomorrow or Friday, after all of them are out of the kilns. Meanwhile, I'm still making my own pots, as Kim is making her own pots, and I've been happy with the work lately, particularly the Shinos and some of the overlapping glazes. Here are a few from the past couple of firings.
Photos: Serving bowl, Malcolm's Orange Trap Shino, with ash celadon pours; small vase with Trap Shino and ash celadon; bowl with Nuka over Temmoku; bowl with crawled Trap Shino; another bowl with crawled Trap Shino; small lobed vase with Trap Shino under an overcoat of ash celadon.
My friend Tracey Broome's most recent blog post (go to "A Potter's Life for Me" on the right side of this page) made me smile. Tracey's talented musician/filmmaker/artist daughter Wesley had one of my cups with her at school this year, a cup I sent her after one she acquired here on Cape Cod unexpectedly leaked. (I never expect them to leak ... ) Wes told her mother, "This cup was an important companion to me this past year."
That's the kind of sentiment that keeps a lot of us making pots. We're about to enter the craft fair season here on Cape Cod, a crazy and often maddeningly unrewarding way of marketing these pots that I love to make. I sell pots not because I love selling, but so that I can keep buying clay and making pots.
But I always hope to find a buyer like Wesley, who spends time finding the cup (or mug or pitcher or vase ... ) that speaks to her and then has a relationship with that pot in her life. They're out there, but they're a minority.
As I sit here, I've got a Michael Kline teabowl, just emptied of morning coffee, next to my keyboard. And I have many more by friends and acquaintances, pots that get me into the morning, through the day and sometimes through the evening. English potter Paul Jessop's big tankard, for example, often holds the water with lime that I drink in the evening. I have relationships with all those pots.
Wes's teabowl (behind the rabbit in the second photo) was made a few years ago and might be one of the stack of three shown in Linda Bloomfield's 2011 book "Colour in Glazes." In any case, it clearly was made about the same time as those three crawled Shino cups. I'm glad Wes and the cup know each other so well.
The top two of these photos were pirated from Tracey's blog. That's Wes in the first photo. The bottom photo is the one that appears in "Colour in Glazes."
I make and sell functional pottery at Hatchville Pottery in Hatchville, a neighborhood of the town of Falmouth, at the west end of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I'm a former journalist - 20 years as a photographer, writer and editor - who began to make pottery about 20 years ago in Alexandria, VA. My training is in pots for eating, drinking and displaying flowers, often with an Asian or late British influence. Hamada Shoji, Phil Rogers, Dan Finnegan, Nakazato Takashi, Kanzaki Shiho are all influences.
Married 40 years to Dee, a massage therapist in Falmouth, with one child, Marcus.
To see more of my pots, go to my website at http://web.me.com/hatchvillepottery/Site/Home.html
DIRECTIONS TO THE POTTERY: We are at 494 Boxberry Hill Rd. in East Falmouth. Take the Route 151/Mashpee exit off Route 28 in North Falmouth, go east on 151 to the first flashing light, take a right onto Boxberry Hill. We're about a quarter mile down on the right, at the corner of Brady Drive. Call 508-563-1948 for more information, or email email@example.com