Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, all ...

A happy day with family and friends and good food to everyone. Even those of you among the non-USA readers. You should all have love and friends and food, too. We'll be going to Mike and Tammy Race's home, with about 20 others, and start with oysters and work our way through the menu. Then back to work tomorrow.
I thought I'd post a couple of photos of what Cape Cod can look like on a very, very cold winter day. These were taken five or six years ago, after a couple of weeks of temperatures near zero F.
Dee on the ice of Buzzards Bay in one, rocks in Vineyard Sound near Nobska on the other.
Happy holiday, all!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A firing follow-up ...

I thought I'd post a couple of pots from last week's firing that didn't make it into the Friday post. One is a layered Shino plate which I think worked really well. Plus, a couple of little Shino cups.
Also, in the "oops" department, I speculated last week that the Shaner Oribe recipe that I tested in this firing might need more copper carb to exhibit the green one expects of an Oribe glaze. Well ... yeah. In fact, in checking my notes from mixing up the glaze, I find that I put the smallest possible amount of copper carb into the mix. As in, none at all. But what it produced was a lovely snowy and fat white glaze that I think will work nicely on some pots. And I'll remember to add the copper carb the next time I fire.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A pretty good firing

I opened the kiln all by myself this morning, missing the friends that are often part of the unloading. Sometimes it's good to have the hundred or so pots all to myself when they're still warm.
This was a pretty good firing. One of my unloading friends, who grew up in Minnesota, says that "pretty good" is Minnesotan for "f---ing wonderful." Dan Finnegan sometimes uses the word "tasty." Well ... there were a lot of nice pots in this firing - mugs bound for the Daily Brew in Cataumet, tumblers for the gallery here, Shino vases that might look good to the folks who come for the holiday sale (Dec. 18-19, in case you're coming). The Shinos did what they're supposed to do, with the carbon-trap version carbon-trapping and the new batch of Davis Red Shino behaving nicely. The crackle slip worked well, particularly under the trapping shino. The celadon ash glaze that I use as a liner was a bit underfired, but not much. I tried to keep the temperature right at cone 10, since the occasional cone 10.5 sometimes makes the ash glaze run off onto the shelf. It's a game of inches, this firing business.
I tested a Leach Kaki and a Shaner Oribe, both of which are lovely, though the Oribe looks more like a celadon. More copper carb, perhaps.
Anyway, I wanted to post pictures quickly. So here they are.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Around the disaster of a studio ...

My studio is always a mess. But never more so than when I'm glazing. Which I did over the past few days, finished loading the gas kiln Wednesday afternoon, then fired it off today. During the glazing, I made a few photos of the mess, thought some might enjoy it. Or get encouragement from it, as in, "Good lord, I'm nowhere NEAR as messy as that guy."
I'll shoot the new pots tomorrow and post again. Near as I can tell from the firing schedule today, everything went off as it should have. Turned on the gas about 9:15, cone 10 went down about 3:30. The few pots I can see through the peeps look OK.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Harvesting the shallows in ... a nearby town

Last year I heard protests from my oystering companions that merely mentioning the location of our favorite oyster flats would attract ravenous oyster-nappers from up and down the East Coast. OK, so since I fish at their pleasure (I don't live in their town; they have the appropriate license and I benefit from the short time it takes to get a limit), I won't say where this marvelous beach is. Suffice to say that it's within a day's drive of my house in Falmouth. Well within a day's drive. And it's on the water. In the water, in fact. (Well ... it's a beach. What did you expect?)
And loaded with oysters this year. It took four of us about a half hour to get two half-peck baskets of carefully chosen oysters. (We had two licensed town residents with us, hence we were entitled to two half-peck limits.)
The day was glorious with the newly-risen sun, a cloudless sky, not a breath of wind and a surfeit of shellfish. And shellfisherpeople. (I'd prefer "shellfishermen," which I think used to cover every gender taking shellfish from the ocean, but it's 2010 so what are you going to do?)
It was a lovely morning and we were off the beach in about 45 minutes, which included Mike kneeling on the sand packing the baskets with as many legal-size oysters as possible.
Now, what to do with them?'
Photos: Top, Josh Albright and myself, on a photo break from the hard labor of oyster-harvesting. Bottom, Mike Race at work picking the best oysters to be layered carefully into the half-peck baskets.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Head rising above water ...

I have been back in the studio for the past several days, finally making pots again for the upcoming holiday season, and after a four-day visit with our son Marcus, visiting from Seattle.
Our holiday kiln-opening and open house is Dec. 18-19, with my work and work by painter Jean Swann, jeweler Kim Collins, bookmaker Ruth Bleakley and glassblower Bryan Randa. And for the first time in a few years, pots by another potter. Lois Hershberg, of nearby Marstons Mills, will bring her handbuilt and raku-fired work.
So I need more pots, especially more mugs. I threw mugs today to add to the simple tumblers that I threw over the past few days. One result of our visit to North Carolina last month was acquiring a couple of fine little tumblers from Mark and Meredith at Whynot Pottery. (See previous post.) They seem to make them by the hundreds, along with many more complex pots. I often neglect things like that, forgetting that people actually do buy simple, usable, relatively low-priced work ... if given the opportunity. So above you see some of the freshly-thrown tumblers. And a pile of stuff that came out of the bisque kiln that same day. I'm running out of room in the studio.
At the top of the photos on this post are two teabowls, thrown thickly, faceted and then pushed out on the wheel to form a bowl shape. Both are glazed in a white Shino with some carbon-trapping. I put them up here because they come from a batch of bowls made a few months ago, two of which went out the door last week with a tea ceremony practitioner from Thailand. John Toomey is an American, but teaches tea ceremony there. He was visiting a friend in Falmouth and spotted my pots on a shelf at Coffee Obsession. The two of them came to the studio, spent quite a bit of time talking and John left with two faceted Shino bowls to take back to Asia with him.
It's gratifying to have my pots go to that kind of use. I don't intentionally make tea ceremony ware, but my influences nearly from the beginning have been Asian work, especially Korean and Japanese. I don't imitate the work - and I'm not a tea ceremony expert - but I think at least a part of what I make shows that kind of feeling. Here on Cape Cod, it's rare that anyone knows anything about tea ceremony or about Asian pots. And I was delighted that John found a couple of bowls he liked. One, he said, will be called Octopus Skin and the other White Rabbit. Which makes them, I think, my first named pots.