Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two new hands at the pottery

I was joined in the studio this afternoon by Alli Connolly, a senior at Falmouth High School and an enthusiastic clay person. Alli is part of a high school art student mentoring program run by the Cape Cod Museum of Art. The program puts students into studios several hours each week to learn the things that happen there. Not just throwing pots, but everything from pricing work to mixing glaze to planning for shows.
Linda Kemp runs the program and members of the Cape Cod Potters have been participating for years. This is Alli's second internship; her first was with sgraffito potter Tessa Morgan in Woods Hole last year.
I've been making a lot of faceted and torqued pots lately, and was doing that when she came in. So I threw a couple to demonstrate and then turned the wheel over to her. She's made a good start, especially considering that she hadn't thrown on the wheel for several months. Now she has to come up with a project to work on over the next couple of months. Her work and mine will be in a show at the museum in May, along with the other students and mentors.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wet and wild Wellfleet

The people who plan the popular and tasty Wellfleet OysterFest every October roll the weather dice, wish for luck and live with what the gods give them. The past three years it's been brilliant sun and a bit of cold. This past weekend the dice came up cold and breezy on Saturday and really freaking miserable Sunday. Winds up to 50 miles per hour, leafy trees bending over, and rain, rain, rain.
Late in the day Saturday, craft show organizer Deirdre Oringer was going from booth to booth, saying something like, "If I were you, I'd pack up tonight and relax on Sunday. The weather forecast does not look good." And indeed it did not.
Saturday was not a bad day for selling, with pretty good crowds of bundled visitors, and a number of buyer/friends that I only see at this show. Bowls, plates and teabowls were popular among my buyers. None of the new teapots sold, but these side-handle teapots are strange to most U.S. buyers and I spend a lot of time explaing that "no, it's not a bong." But I made my expenses and bit more. (And friends Milene Chioatto and Paul Lefebvre showed up with a bottle of Aberlour single malt ... which is a nice thing to have toward the end of a cold day.) A good Sunday would have made for a good show, which is usually the case with Wellfleet. Not this year, though.
At the end of the day, I packed all the pots back in their boxes, folded up the tables and took down the tent. Falmouth potter Tessa Morgan, who was two tents up from me, helped me pack the tent in its bag and I helped her pack hers.
I had a free room that night in Wellfleet, so I stayed at the Inn at Duck Creek and had dinner and a few Bloody Marys with Falmouth friends Chris Bromfield and Denise Marcoux. (Note to Paul Jessop: Chris and Denise will be in Somerset next month.) We toddled from the bar back to the inn with no major damage, Denise insisting on me walking on the sidewalk because, she said, "Dee would kill me if you got hit by a car." I didn't.
The next morning all the storm predictions came true, as you can see by the image of the car throwing up torrents of water on Route 6A, somwhere near Dennis on my ride home. What New Englanders call a "nor'easter" blew in in full force. The next thing I will do today is unload from the truck all the soaked wooden boxes and paper-wrapped pots.
Better luck next year.
Photos: Splashing along the soaked road home; teapot and teabowls; the crowd of buyers; one mittened woman handling a bowl in my booth.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Some good pots out of yesterday's fire

For some reason, I always want to have new pots for a craft show. It never occurs to me that the pots from the past few firings will be new to anyone who comes to my booth ... but what the hell. So I fired yesterday, a cold, wet day. Which is also the situation today, only more so. And will apparently be the situation in Wellfleet at the OysterFest over the weekend. Things do not sound good, weatherwise. Still, I'll go, set up the tent, drink coffee and hope for buyers.
This was the first firing of a number of the faceted and torqued forms I've been making the past few weeks. I think they generally came out well, though I'm not crazy about the Miller 700 clay from Portland Pottery. I was up at Portland a couple of weeks ago to get clay and they were out of the high-iron stoneware Miller 750, my usual dark body. So I got a box of the lighter 700, which does not react nearly as well in heavy reduction with my glazes. I'm sure it's fine for other firing conditions, but I'll be happy to go back to the 750.
Otherwise, things worked more or less predictably, except for the dipped and poured Shinos, which I never expect to act predictably. But I always expect to like them and that was the case this time.
The pot photos: A couple of rows of teabowls, as always; a carbon-trap Shino vase; several side-handle teapots; tea for two with one of the ash-glazed teapots; and an adaptation of Willi Singleton's maple leaf/slip combination. I'm trying to be subtle with the leaves, leaving a hint of them rather than a full portrait of each leaf. This plate is beginning to get there.
Now, to pack for the weekend show. I hate that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I am a messy, messy potter

I thought I would come out of the closet and show the world what a slob I am when glazing for a firing. And, truthfully, all the rest of the time, too. I spent the past couple of days dipping and brushing and spattering, loading a kiln in preparation for this weekend's OysterFest craft show in Wellfleet, far down the eastern end of Cape Cod. (Now high winds and rain are predicted, so who knows if anyone will show up?)
This kiln is firing now, probably getting up close to Cone 012 and the beginning of hard reduction as I write this. It's full of faceted teabowls, a few faceted side-handle teapots, some of my friend Donna Sutherland's word as she gets back to making pots after years away (her stuff is on the second shelf, front), serving bowls, a bunch of simple ice cream or cereal bowls, and a few vases and plates.
Assuming all goes well (knocking on the wooden desk top), I'll open tomorrow morning and start packing for Wellfleet.
Nice to be back blogging again.
(The photos read from top to bottom, left to right, taken about a quarter of the way through the glazing process.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Clay, New Pots

I've been making faceted bowls for years, throwing thickly and then cutting facets after a bowl or cylinder was roughly finished, but this week I started making them differently. I caught a bit of a YouTube video of someone(sorry, can't remember who it was) throwing a very thick cylinder with a bowl-like bottom, cutting the facets, and then opening a bowl from the inside with dry fingers. The dry fingers pushing out the wall of the pot torques the clay and distorts the facets as the bowl walls open. The result is dynamic motion in the pot. I like the look of it. We'll see how it looks in the glaze firing.
I'm planning on firing in about ten days, so that I'll have new pots for the Wellfleet OysterFest, a big two-day oyster and craft fair at the far eastern side of Cape Cod Oct. 17-18.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Skiing in the Land of Fire

The title of this post refers to Tierra del Fuego, on the Strait of Magellan, in far southern Argentina. Our son Marcus, his wife Anastasia Pantelias and their friend Andy Toyota traveled from their homes in Seattle this past summer to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, to find snow. What will these people not do to ski?
The photo with this post is snow and the three young skiers and some of their friends last June on Mt. Rainier. I put it up here because I hate to run a post without a photo. But there's better photography in the video on Marcus and Anastasia's blog, Pantengliopolis Blog of Phat, which you can see by clicking their link on my blog list to the right.
I'm posting this because maybe there are skiers out there waiting for the snow to fall in a couple of months, people who might like to see what summer skiing looks like. Or maybe there's someone, like Dan Finnegan, who have never actually met Marcus and wonder if he really exists. Marcus and Andy are about to start a video documentary course in Seattle, but this shows they've got a pretty good start already.
Back to pottery tomorrow.