Thursday, March 31, 2011

Artists Group of Charlestown Spring Juried Show

We're headed to Boston tomorrow afternoon for the opening of the AGC's annual spring juried show. Three of my pots are in the show, along with art from people all around the Charlestown and Boston area. The Artists Group of Charlestown is an organization I joined two years ago, after selling at their annual September show in downtown Charlestown. They're a good group of people, wonderful artists, and they work and show in an old factory building that has been converted into studios of all sorts.
The Stove Factory Gallery was renovated last year into a peaceful, bright space for displaying work of all kinds. The show that opens Friday is a precursor for me and my friend Dara Pannebaker for "The Potter and the Painter," a two-person show that we are putting up in the gallery toward the end of April. Dara and I will be using the lovely space to integrate her paintings and my pots. More about that after the British potters' workshop next week.
Photos: Top, the postcard for the spring show; below, one of my three pots that are in the show.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The British are coming to Cape Cod April 9-10!

There's still plenty of time to sign up for the Doug Fitch/Hannah McAndrew international slipware roadshow workshop here in Falmouth next month. Doug and Hannah, two potters from the United Kingdom, should be starting to think about what kind of woolies they want to bring to Cape Cod, followed by shorts and flip-flops for their workshops in Virginia and North Carolina. We had an inch of snow last week, kids, so consider that fair warning about spring on Cape Cod.
The workshop will be in the pottery studio at the new Falmouth High School, a couple of miles from downtown Falmouth and a couple of miles from Hatchville Pottery. Stephanie York, the teacher there, is our host.
Members of the sponsoring Cape Cod Potters organization will pay $145 for the two-day workshop, non-members will pay $165. Lunch each day is included in your entry fee. One-day attendees can come for $75 and $90.
For more information on the workshop, and for a downloadable entry form, go to and follow the links to workshops. There is no closing deadline for coming to this workshop, so don't think you've missed your chance.
Photos above: Hannah and Doug and their friend Alex in a recent picnic shot from Devon, with all dressed appropriately for spring on Cape Cod; a view of Hannah at work that we will all get to see soon; one of Hannah's recent pieces; Doug brushing on glaze; a group of Doug's recent pots.
And PS: For those of you who follow these pottery blogs and might know her, we expect Angela Walford of Adelaide, Australia, to be visiting during the workshops. Angela is a friend of Doug and Hannah and is latching onto their tour to see a bit of the States and hang with friends. Also likely here during part of Sunday will be Fredericksburg, Va., potter and blogger Dan Finnegan. Dan will drive the visiting potters on to another workshop at his place the following weekend.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A few more from Sunday's firing

I've had a little success with rolling heavy slab trays in the past few weeks. Here are two more from Sunday's firing. Plus a group of small cups saggar-fired in sawdust on the bottom shelf.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rough pots in this firing

I fired a new load of pots yesterday, making progress toward both summer inventory and a good selection of work for "The Potter and the Painter," in late April at the Stove Factory Gallery in Charlestown. (First mandatory publicity reference ... ) Many of the pieces in this firing were my usual stoneware clay with ground granite or pond sand wedged in.
For some reason, my work is getting rougher and rougher. I'm trying to get inclusions in the clay that will pop out or melt out. Easy enough to do if you're digging clay from the ground, but I don't have ready access to a natural stoneware clay, and thought I would wedge in some foreign matter. I also will need some rough clay body for Doug Fitch, when he and Hannah McAndrew come to Cape Cod for their workshop April 9-10. (Second mandatory publicity reference ... ) Doug digs his own clay in Devon, but gave up on the idea of shipping it to the US for this workshop, so I'm trying to come up with something rugged enough for him to feel comfortable throwing. Some of this stuff might work for him.
Both the sand and the pulverized granite (sold in feed stores as "chicken grit") roughen up the throwing and the surface of the fired pot. And they beat up the Shino a bit, as well. They make for rough pots, but I like them.
More new pots tomorrow.
The photos: Top, the two pots to the left are from this firing, thrown from unwedged trimming scrap; next, small dishes influenced by the Karatsu work of Takashi Nakazato; next, pair of Shino vases; next, three Shino vases; bottom, ash-glazed vase.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The loading and glazing routine here

Kathy at Kings Creek Pottery in Schoharie County, NY, asked in a comment yesterday about my kiln-loading routine. So I thought I'd post it on the blog rather than in a comment. Might help someone else out.
My Olympic DD-17 natural gas reduction kiln is pretty small, about 17 cf of stacking space. So I can make that many pots in a few days, drying and biscuit-firing permitting. Each stack usually amounts to about 100 pots, depending on their size.
I have fired three times now on new silicon carbide shelves, which I like a lot because of their light weight and the fact that they shed glaze drips pretty easily. Not the great amount of grinding and kiln wash that was necessary the first seven or eight years on the cordierite shelves.
I learned one of my loading tricks several years ago from Toff Milway, a terrific salt glaze potter at Conderton in the Cotswolds of England. ( We were visiting Toff and he told me that he dry-stacks every load of pots. That is, he takes his unglazed pots and loads them onto the shelves, building up the stack until he's satisfied with the full load. What that does for me is show me first that I've got enough pots to fill the kiln and second it helps me understand how my shelves have to be stacked and what pots can fit where. This is all a little vague as I read it, but it works for me.
Once I've done that, and cleared the big table in my studio of debris, I unstack the kiln, pulling down the front shelves (usually still with pots on them ... I know, it's dicey) and placing them on the table in the order that they come down. I have about enough space to place the front shelves on the table, leaving the back shelves still in place.
Then I take all the pots out of the bottom two shelves, glaze them and put them back in, starting with the pots in the rear and working forward. I usually put shorter pots on the outside, climbing upward in size to the pots at the center of the two lower shelves, trying not to put pots into any kind of flame shadow. That holds true all around the bottom shelves, since those are at the same level (about 9 inches in height). The bottom two shelves always take the longest to glaze. I always feel like I've made real progress when I can begin glazing the upper shelves.
At that point, I've managed to free up a bit of space on the table, so I usually bring down the back shelves and set them out in order. I'll glaze the pots on the back shelves right to the top of the stack, then begin again on the lower shelves. I try to stagger the shelves front to back to allow for full penetration of fire through the stack.
Using cordierite shelves, to which my stoneware pots often stuck during a firing, I adopted refractory wadding from wood-firing and now I still wad all my pots. I hated the chipping footrings that often resulted from firing on those shelves, even if they were kiln-washed. Wadding adds a step, but I've fired woodkilns so much that I'm used to it. The fired wads do get underfoot after an unloading, though.
That's how I do it, Kathy. It seems to work pretty well for me, but as you know, everyone does things a bit differently.
The photos above are pots that will be in a joint show called "The Potter and the Painter," with Dara Pannebaker, at the Stove Factory Gallery in Charlestown, MA, part of Boston, in late April.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Help for Mashiko ... and getting on with firing

The people of Japan will be digging out and rebuilding from last week's earthquake for a long time, and that doesn't even consider mourning for the thousands of people lost in the tsunami that followed the quake. Those of us who have been reading Euan Craig's continuing blog posts (in the blog links to the right) have a good idea of how one Australian potter and his family are dealing with this terrible event.
Euan lives near Mashiko, the town Shoji Hamada made famous, and his wife works there. Euan's kilns and many of the other kilns in the town were badly damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. So were the museums and many of the homes of Mashiko, a village of many potters. The Leach Pottery in St. Ives, England, has started a fund to help rebuild Mashiko. You can find details at
For many of us, some of our roots in the craft are in that town. It would be good to help.
Meanwhile, I've begun glazing for my next firing. This one with more pots in saggars, a couple of teapots, three big slab trays, a number of small vases and small dishes to fill the spaces between the bigger pots.
Might fire this weekend.
The photos: At top, if I'm reading Euan's blog correctly, is Ken Matsuzaki's kiln, then the front shelves for my firing, and a table of pots destined for a show at the Stove Factory Gallery in Boston at the end of April.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Euan Craig writes from Japan about the quake

For a very personal, very immediate story about what it was like to experience yesterday's giant earthquake in Japan, read potter Euan Craig's current post on his blog. will take you there.
Here's a bit of the top of his story, which is headlined "We are safe": "Yesterday afternoon I was in the studio putting handles on some vessels, when the floor shifted under my feet as if I were riding a train. The house began to rattle and shake, pots began to fall from the shelves and the vibration became a roar. I opened the door and rushed outside, turning back to look at the house as I went. It was swaying, like bamboo in the wind. I turned to see the kiln chimney swing left and right, somehow not collapsing but widening cracks appearing up its length. When the roof tiles came sliding off the roof I began to run; the children were at school."
The story moves from there to making sure his and others' children are safe in their schools, and to the damage to his village, to nearby Mashiko and to his own pottery. It's a dramatic and personal account of what most of us know as a much wider tragedy. Read the blog post.
The photos are taken from earlier posts on his blog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Slab trays today for April show

I've got a joint show coming up in late April at the Stove Factory Gallery in Charlestown. I'm sharing space with my friend Dara Pannebaker, who is a fine painter and one of the organizers of the Artists Group of Charlestown. I joined the AGC two years ago after selling at their September craft fair. A fine group of artists, not only talented but very nice folks. So ... though I live about 90 minutes away, I am, indeed, a Charlestown Artist.
I'm putting together work for the show, and expect to fire once or twice more between now and then. Last week's firing produced a very nice Shino- and ash-glazed slab tray (pictured at top), so I thought I'd make a few more and see how they do. I rolled them out yesterday, handled them and slashed and pressed some decorations. Now they're drying. On to other things while they dry.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Phil Rogers at the Pucker in Boston

We spent last weekend in Boston, about 90 minutes north of here. A weekend of dance, museums, galleries, good food and a Thai dinner with our niece Kate. But we started the weekend on Saturday at the Pucker Gallery on Newbury St., the best place in New England (and one of the best in the nation) to see good pots.
The week before, the gallery opened the semi-annual show of work by Welsh potter Phil Rogers. I've admired Phil's way of making pots ever since my friend Lorraine Colson and I took a workshop with him at a Maryland college almost 20 years ago. Phil works in the Leach/Hamada tradition, and is not only a terrific potter but is also a historian of the craft.
But his pots continue to move me. In recent years, he has used more Shino glazes and has gotten wonderful work out of the wood kiln at his studio in Wales. (Phil's no longer working in Rhayader, and is looking for another place to make and fire pots.)
This show in Boston has many more wood-fired pieces in it than I remember from the last one. His shapes have loosened up a bit - particularly the small vases and teabowls - and he's using in some cases a gritty clay body with almost Shigaraki-like melt-outs of feldspar.
This is a beautiful show, well worth traveling to Boston to see. If you're there on a weekend, you can park reasonably under the Boston Common and take the short walk up Newbury St. to the Pucker.
At the Pucker website - - there is a downloadable pdf file of the show's catalog. I've taken a few images from to illustrate what's in the show. The photo of Phil was taken when he did a workshop a few years ago for the Cape Cod Potters at Plymouth Plantation.