Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Shino-heavy firing ...

I squeezed in a firing yesterday, a couple of days before we head to Maine for a brief visit. I need more pots for the Wellfleet OysterFest show Oct. 15-16, and I wanted a few more squared bottles, a bunch of serving bowls and more mugs.
I was careful to keep the temperature to only a bit more than cone 10. Things got away from me a couple of weeks ago and I produced a record amount of ash glaze running off the pots. This firing was heavy on Shinos, which I know won't run. And things worked out pretty well. I'll post some photos. All for now.
Except ... let me give you some sizes for these pots. The shallow bowls at top are about six inches across, more or less; the vase with the finger swipes is about ten inches tall; the larger serving bowls are about nine inches across; and the taller bottles are perhaps eight to nine inches tall.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Damp, damp, damp ...

I swear, the small low bowls I threw 48 hours ago are still more or less as wet as they were on Thursday. And the brown stoneware and B-Mix mugs are still way more damp than they should be after three days of sitting out in the studio. It's been a warm, wet and humid week here on Cape Cod, after a cool weekend. My plan is to fire next week, probably Wednesday, but the chances of that happening are reduced with every passing hour of rain and/or humidity.
Whine, whine, whine ... I'm trying to get a fresh batch of serving bowls, squared bottles and mugs for the Wellfleet OysterFest show in mid-October and thought I'd have them fired weeks ahead. Think again ...
The top photo is of the big pan of paella we cooked one night last week when Meredith and Mark Heywood were visiting from North Carolina and our friends Henry and Louise were here from the UK. A great gathering of friends, with really good food.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Competing with Fairy Princess Halos ...

Well ... not really competing. I'm guessing that the young parents with little girls who seemed to swarm around the display of beribboned haloes at the Harwich Cranberry Festival last weekend would be unlikely to also go for a layered Shino teabowl. Just a guess on my part ...
It was a bit dismaying to be on the same aisle as the haloes when I set up Saturday, but I grew to appreciate the diversion of seeing little girls try on the ribbons and then march off through the craft fair with them. And, to be completely fair, these items were personally made (along with stuffed frogs and magic wands) by the women in the booth. I saw them making them as the show went on.
The pottery buyers found me, though, and it was a pretty good show on a cool but pretty Cape Cod weekend. I sold some good pots and made some money, which is a large part of the whole point. I continue to be fascinated by the things people touch when they come into my booth. There were six chowder or chile bowls on one table, and a hundred people over the two days must have picked up the bowls and showed them to a wife or husband or significant other. No one ... that is, not one person ... bought one. On the mug shelf, one Shino mug and one crackle-slip-amber-glaze mug were handled an equal number of times. I still have both. It's remarkable how people in a crowd seem to latch onto one or two things as visually interesting, but not something they want to purchase. I don't get it.
But many other things found new homes, including some very nice layered Shino pots. Who knew you could sell crackled and crawled Shino on Cape Cod? Next up, in mid-October, the last show of the season - the Wellfleet OysterFest.
Photos: One boy, with a bacon-and-egg skull and bones shirt, who did not go for the Fairy Princess Haloes; four funky squared Shino bottles, two of which found buyers; much handled but not purchased mugs; ditto on the chowder bowls.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exotic consumables on Cape Cod

This post is mostly for Doug Fitch and Hannah McAndrew of England and Scotland, who were the first potters we took to the UK section of the Stop&Shop, our local supermarket, when they visited in the spring. While there this morning, I thought I'd photograph Meredith and Mark Heywood, North Carolina potters, with PG Tips and Marmite, two of England's most stalwart and delicious exports. Here's to Hannah and Doug, and Mark and Meredith.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunny City Square Park in Charlestown

The Artists Group of Charlestown show in Boston comes at just about the perfect time for New England weather. So it was Saturday, with brilliant blue skies, a few clouds, coolish breezes in the afternoon, lots of young couples with babies and dogs. It was a decent day for sales, with the supply of freshly-fired mugs taking a bit of a beating. Some shows I'll sell not a single mug, Saturday I probably sold 10. Go figure ...
I'm beginning to see the same buyers in Charlestown every year, as people who bought last year come back and tell me how they used their pot and then they buy one or two more. I love that. I just wish I could remember their names. One woman last year bought a very expensive (for my price range) teabowl after considering several. She told me she lived in Japan for many years and particularly likes to use teabowls. This year she bought two more.
And our niece Rhobie's brother-in-law Bill and his wife Erin showed up with their four-month-old boy Reed. (Hope I'm spelling these names right.) They found a crawled and squared Shino bowl for a housewarming gift.
Best of all, Whynot NC potters Meredith and Mark Heywood showed up about noon, after getting off the plane from NC and negotiating a rental car through the tortuous cow-path-oriented streets of Boston that morning. They'll be here in Falmouth Monday and touring the Cape for the next few days.
All in all, a good show, planned well by Dara Pannebaker and the people of the Artists Group of Charlestown. And a couple of post-show hours in the Ironside Grill a block from the park didn't hurt, either.
Photos: This little girl was very serious about her painting, at Susanna Ford's "Paint With Suz" spot across from my tent; checking out earrings at my neighbor Jen's display; back-to-basic-boxes in my display (the ladders are history); and a photo of the potter in his booth, which I know you've all been clamoring for.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Art in the Park 2011, Boston

I'm off soon to Boston for Saturday's Art in the Park, in Charlestown's City Square Park. The show is sponsored by the Artists Group of Charlestown, a fine group of creative people of which I am a member.
So far the weather promises to be sunny and late-summerish, which should be good for all concerned. City Square Park is a short walk from the Charlestown Navy Yard, home of the U.S.S. Constitution, and is another short walk from the Zakim Bridge and Boston Garden. The neighborhood has been up-and-coming for several years now, with lots of young couples and their golden retrievers and golden babies. Beautiful restored brick row houses, old churches, hilly streets leading up to the Bunker Hill monument, good coffee shop.
Come on up to Boston and visit. The show opens Saturday at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Out of the kiln, dodging shrapnel ...

Yesterday's firing was a hot, explosive event. Hotter than it ought to have been, and of course any explosions at all are to be avoided. There were three in this one - the top high-temp conepack and two raw-glazed mugs. I've glazed raw before with no incidents, but this time two of the three raw pots blew up and scattered bits and pieces all over. (I'm guessing they were not fully dry after glazing.) As anyone who has ever had this experience knows, shards tend to find their way to all shelves and into virtually any kind of pot. There was a lot of bad behavior by the potter during the opening of the kiln this morning. Fortunately, I had encouraged no one to join me. And I've swept up and discarded the pile of broken pots that landed on the studio's concrete floor.
The other problem was letting the heat get past cone 10. Because the upper conepack was gone, I had to rely on the bottom one and the never perfectly reliable pyrometer. The bottom pack was hard to read, and until the last minute I took the falling 11 cone to be cone 10. So I overfired. Which means little to the Shino glazes, but everything to the ash glazes. The lovely Leach Kaki on many pots became one with the shelves.
I'm only writing this because people should know we all make mistakes. I don't mean to make it sound like I took these explosions and the cone 11 heat and the resulting carnage lightly. I was not a happy man this morning. Still, good pots came from the firing. More will come again. But I don't know if I'm ready to grind all those feet ...
Photos: Shino creamer with crackle slip; three-pound Shino serving bowl; mugs; small vase with carbon-trap Shino.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Moving on ...

Work goes on in the studio here, a few days after the wedding that didn't happen and the hurricane that partially did. I'm trying to get in a gas firing next week before going to Charlestown for the annual Art in the Park event of the Artists Group of Charlestown, which happens Sept. 10. (Also, by coincidence, the same day that the entire staff of Whynot Pottery from Whynot, NC, arrives in Massachusetts for a bit of time off.)
I spent time today trimming mugs and pulling handles. You can see some of them in the photo, still awaiting the application of what Dan Finnegan calls "dust catchers" where the handle joins the cup. That will happen after the handles stiffen up a bit.
This firing will have mugs and shallow bowls and a few vases and ... anything else I can find on the shelf that needs to be fired.