Monday, August 29, 2011

Only a glancing blow from Irene ...

Hurricane Irene blew in yesterday with some heavy gusts, minimal rain, surf, trees down and power out in places here on Cape Cod. We only got the eastern edge of the storm, fortunately for us. Others in the Northeast were less lucky, with the storm barreling up the Hudson River Valley and dropping as much as a foot of rain on some very small creeks, turning them into destructive rivers.
Dee's sister Ellen, visiting from Schoharie, N.Y., near Albany, with her husband Russ, heard last night that their village and nearby Middleburg were both evacuated because Schoharie Creek was expected to be well past flood stage. This morning it's apparent that it went about ten feet beyond flood stage, inundating downtown Schoharie, including the building that houses Russ's law office. Farmers in the beautiful bottom land along the creek have lost their season's crops, tractors, trucks, barns, herds of sheep. As exciting as the storm was for us here, it's a disaster for the Schoharie Valley.
Russ has headed back to New York to see what he can do there. Ellen will go later. All of Dee's siblings were here on the Cape for the Sunday wedding in Newport, R.I., of our nephew Jason. That wedding was canceled because of the storm, apparently with no new wedding date. The honeymoon, we hear, is still on.
I'll attach photos of part of yesterday. Always fun to go out and watch a hurricane. From the top: Surf on Buzzard's Bay at Wing's Neck; Dee's sister Marcy and our niece Rhobie in the surf;
Dee (right) and our friend Tammy, both trying to fly; dealing with the wind, with Mike, Tammy, Rhobie and Dee.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane coming ... maybe

I grew up on Martha's Vineyard, a few miles across the water from our current hometown of Falmouth on Cape Cod. So I have been through a few hurricanes. I know that they come or they don't come, based on their own whims and the doings of the atmosphere. Irene, currently approaching the coast of North Carolina, seems to be certain to give us some high wind and heavy rain, at least, on Sunday. Or it could hit us head-on and really roar. But you never know.
Our nephew Jason is being married Sunday evening in Newport, RI, which could very well be the place and the time that Irene's eye comes ashore in southern New England. Lucky us. Family is here from Maine, New York and New Mexico for the wedding. No one knows at this point whether we'll even be able to get to Newport, let alone drink toasts to the couple on the lawn. Sooooo ... we're waiting and watching the Weather Channel.
I haven't made many pots this week, what with all the prep work for visiting family. But I took a break this afternoon to photograph some things that might not be left when Irene passes through. Last spring, Dee planted a lovely wide row of sunflowers between our property and our neighbor's. They came up beautifully, and provided a nice little border on that side of the yard. Even a brush by Irene will probably do in the sunflowers, so I thought I'd record them. And I just roasted a bunch of tomatoes, with a couple of tomatillos thrown in. The garden is likely to be a wreck after the storm.
All for now. See you on the other side.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Slooowwww Sunday in Harwich

The reason we do these craft fairs this time of year is to take our pots to the people and hope that they connect with them and decide to trade money for them. So that we can buy more clay, or food, or paper towels ... or whatever.
Or, that's the reason I do the shows. Who knows why other people do them. I was in Harwich Sunday in the hopes that the August Cranberry Fesival show would be more productive than the July Cranberry Festival. (There are, by the way, no cranberries in evidence in the summer; they come in the fall.) Summer mythology among Cape Cod retailers holds that August people have more money than July people, or at least spend it more freely. Yesterday was abundant with evidence to the contrary of that theory, which I will add to my slowly-building store of local craft fair lore.
I sold precisely four pots, which I agree is four pots better than selling none. And one tiny soda-glazed vase sold for half-price to a young buyer (she might have been 10 years old) who came into the tent by herself, picked up lots of pots and then went off to get her mother. When she returned, she went directly to a little shell-stamped ink pot and picked it off the shelf. I took five dollars off the price, just to encourage the next generation to appreciate handmade things, and she went off happy. So, I struck a blow for handcraft if nothing else. And it was very nearly nothing else. That's how you learn what shows work and what shows don't, I guess.
And the possibility always remains that I just don't make appealing pots, or I don't know how to sell the ones I do make. That possibility is always on my mind. But the moaning from other craftspeople yesterday at least implied that buyers weren't buying much of anything, not just my pots.
Anyway, some photos are attached. The shiny teabowls in the photos are refired pots from the recent Harvard soda firing and Castle Hill salt firing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Keep saying, "We need the rain ... "

Sunday was the annual Cataumet Arts Center fair, in the little park downhill from the arts center and just a few miles from my studio. It's a friendly little local fair, usually seeing the same folks we saw last year and, for me, selling a few pots and making some decent money. Sunday here on the western end of Cape Cod was also a dismal day of rain and wind. Mostly rain. All day. And few sales.
The day was spent dodging the runoff dripping from the EZ-Up roof, emptying chowder bowls filling up at the front of the tent, saying "Lovely day, eh?" to anyone who came by, selling maybe five pots, changing wet shirts, visiting briefly with Harvard ceramics teacher and potter Crystal Ribich, stomping in the swamp-like conditions around my tent, watching umbrellas pass ...
You know, it was pleasant enough and the tent kept me more or less dry, except when I stood near the dripline. But I was happy to get home.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pots from the Castle Hill salt kiln

I braved the ridiculous mid-day traffic on the Outer Cape Thursday to get to Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro and pick up newly-fired salt pots. Brian Taylor and his crew had the kiln nearly unloaded by the time I cleared the Eastham-Wellfleet jam-up and got to the idyllic countryside where Castle Hill lies.
This was only the second or third firing of this Donovan Palmquist-designed gas-fueled salt kiln. It's a lovely little construction of brick, maybe 15 cubic feet of stacking space. Brian said they used only 6.5 pounds of salt in the firing, which seemed like a fairly small amount. I used to fire with Bill VanGilder and Dan Finnegan at Bill's place in Maryland and we used considerably more than that in a bigger kiln, though I think at times we probably over-salted. (There was always a debate about that ... ) In any case, these pots were fairly subtle in their surfaces. I'll re-fire a number of them in my own reduction kiln this coming week, along with some re-fires from the Harvard soda firing, and we'll see if that makes a difference. I was pleased with the new liner glazes, a blue celadon and a so-called carbon trap Shino, both from the Harvard glaze book, and I'll try them out this week in my own kiln.
I hope Brian continues to fire the salt kiln and that other Cape potters take advantage of the chance to put pots in. I think the firings can only get better. There's always a learning curve with salt - packing the kiln, how much salt, reduction, all of that makes a difference. As a rule, things only get better and better.
I've put the pig sculpture at the top of the images here, mostly because in the last post all you could see were the ham hocks, and particularly the pork-centric folks in North Carolina were interested to see how cone 10 barbecue comes out here in the saltwater North. I apologize that I don't have the pig-maker's name. She didn't want her own photo taken and I neglected my reporter's duty to at least get her name. Perhaps if Brian reads this post he will e-mail me and I can give the sculptor her due credit.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A rare blogging appearance

I haven't felt like I have much to tell people lately. I'm making pots and trying to sell pots. A show this weekend in Cataumet, then another next week in Chatham. Tomorrow I go down to Truro to help unload the salt kiln, with about 20 of my pots in it. Furthering my exploration of atmospheric firing, and deciding what kind of kiln to build. These photos came from Brian Taylor, the studio manager at Castle Hill Center for the Arts in Truro. If you look carefully, you'll see a couple of my faceted teabowls and a couple of my other pots. Back stack, front stack, kiln in action in the rain.