Monday, April 30, 2012

A blog-reader ... and new greenware

Gail Laughlin, a Pennsylvania potter and reader of a number of pottery blogs, turned up here yesterday with her son Scott. Gail has been here before, visiting Scott's home down-Cape from us, and she often buys pots. This time she was drawn by the Nuka teabowls that came out of the kiln last week. However, after looking at pots in the upstairs gallery, she took away two crackled Shino teabowls and two of the shallow Shino bowls with copper red pours on them that were also in last week's firing. Sometimes you have to have pots in your hands to decide what fits your needs and desires.
Gail also got to see the three Tracey Broome houses that we have here. Being a blog-reader, she knew about Tracey's wonderful work and wanted to get a sense of the houses' size first-hand. I think she was quite taken with them.

Meanwhile, the last few pots of the next firing have come off the wheel and are drying now. I needed about 20 mugs for the bottom shelf and I used up a bit of brown clay on a few teabowls, with feet cut into them that I have never done before. We'll see how this works out. Firing should happen late this week or early next.

Friday, April 27, 2012

First Etsy pot shipped to Texas

A couple of weeks after setting up my Etsy online shop (with the IM advice of North Carolina potter and friend Ron Philbeck), the first pot has gone out the door via UPS. An artist in Houston will soon have the Shino platter with a pour of copper red across it. I'm hoping that is the first of many pots sold through Etsy. It's a more complex way of selling than I had anticipated, but so is almost any other way, and I'm slowly getting into the routine. Glad to see that first pot sold.
I spent an hour yesterday afternoon in the ceramics room at Falmouth High School, doing a throwing demonstration for the clay club there and for a number of other art students who stayed long enough to watch me throw mugs and bowls and talk about some pretty basic throwing principles. On the shelf behind me were several Doug Fitch and Hannah McAndrew pots, made a year ago during their workshop presentation in the same classroom. Tough work to live up to.
I volunteered a few weeks ago when teacher Corine Adams came out to the studio and she promptly got me in there and throwing. The audience was a quiet and attentive bunch and it appeared none of them fell asleep during the presentation, or had a long cellphone conversation.

It's possible that the 20 students and the hour or so of attention was because Corine had promoted my visit as an appearance by "world-famous local potter Hollis Engley." World-famous? Ummmm ...
I will also add a selection of teabowls from the POTS gallery in Seattle, set up during NCECA. Most of these pieces are, I think, by Steve Sauer of Port Orchard, Washington. Nice stuff.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Throwing resumes ...

I went back to making pots on the weekend, with a couple of dozen bowls and about 20 teabowls and a half-dozen spoon- and brush-holders. The easy stuff, basically, the work I need to fill the shelves in the summer craft shows. I have a slowly developing plan for the next firing, which ought to be about two weeks away. It requires stamping and scribing of the pots, high points in other words. More on that as I think about it more. Here are some drying bowls. Time to cut feet on the teabowls now, while the rain pours down outside.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My pots and the dragon emerge

There are a couple of minor things to tend to with Alex Urbina's dragon, but it's out of the kiln and looking pretty much like she expected, I think. She hasn't seen it yet, so I won't post a full photo, but I will give you a profile shot. I am probably more relieved than anyone that it survived the whole process.
And other than that, my own pots were rather quiet in this firing. Most of them glazed in a gray Shino or the Nuka that I am beginning to love.
So here's a look.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catching up a bit ... and firing

With all the hoo-hah in the past month or so about NCECA and the resident Hatchville Dragon, I neglected to post a couple of photos of new pots in our cupboard. When Carolina potters Ron Philbeck and Michael Kline were here for a workshop several weeks ago, we traded pots and I ended up with a lovely and lighthearted sgraffitoed flower mug from Ron and a beautiful woodfired cup from Michael. Each is a great addition and both have been well-used. Those guys make drinking vessels that are very comfortable to use. I'm loving both of them.
And, I should mention that I actually got two mugs from Ron. The other was a rabbit mug, which went to our favorite local rabbit farmers, Mike and Tammy Race, well known to some of you. I've seen that one in use at their house, so I know it's also appreciated.

At bottom, the loaded kiln, which should be fired Thursday. Note the undulating form of the dragon on the bottom shelf.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One more dragon step ...

I'm making my own pots, honest. There will be plenty of my work in the kiln this week when I do my next glaze-firing. But the big deal here is Alex's dragon, progressing to the point that today she glazed it, cleaned off stray puddles of ash glaze, wadded it and then I set it gently down onto the first shelf of the gas kiln. She decided to go with true-to-life lizard green ash glaze on the sculpture, instead of Shino. And there will be copper red eyes and tongue, also. She left some parts of the brown stoneware body unglazed, to help add to look of the mottled scaly body.
She did a good job right along of attaching the ten cylinders that make up the sinuous body of this mythical beast. And no doubt overlapping the hundreds of scales makes a difference in holding it together, as well. In any case, only the right front leg detached in the bisque kiln and that will be separately fired and then re-attached once the animal's out of the fire later this week.
The photos give you an idea of how hard she concentrated on the fine detail.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A dragon update ...

For those of you out there worrying about the progress of my intern Alex's dragon ... here's what's happening. A quick glance at the photo should show you the telltale pink of bisque-fired brown stoneware. The dragon dried for about three weeks and then did 48 hours in a 160-degree kiln before a very sloooooowww bisque a couple of days ago. Voila! An intact dragon. I love it when a plan comes together.
The next step is glazing in a carbon-trap Shino, a green ash and perhaps a bit of copper red on the tongue, and then the glaze firing. After that, the project has to be delivered to the Cape Cod Museum of Art to be part of the may student/mentor show. Alex has done a great job with this project and, though we're not over the hump entirely, surviving the bisque is a big step.

I'll be piecing out the glaze firing next week with yet more teabowls. God help me, I can't stop making faceted teabowls. Anybody want one?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Etsy site is up, with help ...

The Ron Philbeck/Michael Kline workshop here on the Cape a few weeks ago was inspirational, and not just because those two Carolina guys make great pots. I'd been thinking about creating an Etsy story for some time, but it all looked waaaaayyyy too complex. Ron and Michael both have such stores and talked about them at the workshop, how they managed them, how they kept inventory, packed and shipped pots, all of that.
So that was one of the main things I took from the workshop. Once back from NCECA a week ago, that was one of the things I wanted to get to. So I did.
With a longish and extremely encouraging IM consult with Ron, I got the store up. Go to and look for Hatchvillepottery in the shops. Tell me what you think. I still haven't got it all figured out (it's a whole new language), but there are a bunch of pots up there and they look pretty good. Take a look.
And many thanks, Ron and Michael.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Around Seattle and NCECA with a camera

I'm now at the point where I'm not telling stories about NCECA, but posting visual impressions. Soon I'll be making pots again and posting my own work from here on the Cape. (In fact, I'm building an Etsy store now ... more about that in a day or so.) But I always carry a camera and I always get visual impressions of things far from home. So ... here's a look at a few things from last week in the great city of Seattle, not all of it necessarily clay-related.
- Top, these two young women were trying to figure out what book the Chinese astronauts were reading in this sculpture by Xu Yihui. They were all over the lot and never once thought of Mao's Little Red Book. I told them that in the mid-'60s Chinese leader Mao Xedong's thoughts were collected in these tiny red books with plastic covers and that even students in the US had them. Even if, like mine, they were just a curiosity. They had never heard of the book, but of course it made perfect satirical sense to have two Chinese astronauts consulting Chairman Mao while walking on the moon.
- My contribution to the displays of pots at NCECA. This little window show was sponsored by Watershed in Maine, juried by Dylan Beck and on display at Fuel Coffee on Capitol Hill, some distance from the Washington State Convention Center. We went there to see the show and get coffee on the first morning we were in Seattle.
- One of the exhibition rooms on the sixth floor of the convention center, this one filled with displays by galleries from across the US. Full of wonderful pots and sculpture for sale.
- Far from NCECA, the koi swim in a pool at Swanson's, a garden and plant center and a place where Dee and our daughter-in-law spend money whenever we're in the city.
- About a block from the two POTS galleries is Lucky's Pho, a place to eat warm fragrant Vietnamese soup on a cool day in the Fremont neighborhood. This was my bowl of beef and meatball pho.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tip Toland, hands, head and clay

During the two-day Walter Keeler/Tip Toland workshop in one of the Seattle convention center ballrooms at NCECA, Keeler worked fairly delicately as he assembled previously thrown parts into complete, functional stoneware pieces. Toland, a slender but strong woman, was at the other side of the stage, pummeling her clay as she built the big head - pushing it onto the piece, slamming her fist into it, dragging a rib through it, only occasionally caressing it.
I loved the way she used her well-worn hands to push around the clay, to make it what she saw in her mind. So here are a few images of Toland at work, in no particular order. Lots of finished work is at Look it up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NCECA ... where to start?

We arrived home Monday after a redeye flight from Seattle, bleary-eyed and not at all sure which time zone we currently inhabit. I believe I am at this very moment somewhere over Red Lodge, Montana. I think. I'm certainly not on Cape Cod, timewise at least, judging by the way I feel.
In any case, we spent 10 days in the Seattle area (that's what they call it on JetBlue ... as in, the plane is descending and the flight attendant announces, "Welcome to the Seattle area." What, you don't know where the airplane is actually going to come down? Could be Bellingham, could be Bainbridge Island?) OK, sorry about that.
Back to the reason for this post. We were visiting our son Marcus and his wife Anastasia, but my pottery business there in the city was the NCECA conference. I'll concentrate here on NCECA. I know some people wouldn't miss the annual event, but this was a first for me. Given it's Northwest location this year, it was difficult to resist combining the conference with a family visit.
And so, on Wednesday morning I was dropped off at the huge Washington State Conference Center and joined several thousand other potters, sculptors, stars, groupies, arts administrators, teachers, students, alumni, hangers-on, activists, wannabe clay people, whoever had a stake of any kind in the clay world and the money to get to and stay in Seattle.
So, some conclusions about NCECA, keeping in mind that I'm new at this thing:
- It's enormous. At any one time during the Thursday-Saturday part of the event, an attendee had the choice of attending four or five lectures, demonstrations, panel discussions. And the lectures changed every half-hour to 90 minutes. All day. There were also galleries of work to be seen; a marvelous show of Chinese sculpture and several galleries from around the country representing their own makers with pots and sculpture for sale.
- There were literally dozens of venues around Seattle with high-quality shows of pottery, from the Fuel Coffee shop on Capitol Hill where two of my teabowls were part of a small show sponsored by Watershed in Maine, to the two POTS Galleries in the Fremont neighborhood where there were dozens of cups, a lovely small Gail Nichols soda-fired show and literally hundreds of wood-fired pots from anagamas in the Northwest.
- More spotty quality-wise but equally interesting was the annual sale of donated cups. The tables in that room filled day by day as people dropped off their donations. The cups covered the gamut of maker talent, method and experience - from a couple of lovely Jack Troy wood-fired teabowls at $175 to kind of ... ummmm ... funky mugs made by enthusiastic beginners and priced around $15. And there were many, many pots in between. I think the sale Friday raised more than $20,000 for NCECA's scholarship program. Well worth doing. Somewhere in this country are three of my shino teabowls. If you bought one, let me know, I'd love to hear where the pots are living now.
- The best programs I went to? An hour in a small room at the end of one day with two women from the Leach Pottery program in St. Ives, Cornwall. We explored, as much as time permitted, the uses of Mingei today. For the first time at NCECA (for me), we talked with each other rather than simply listen to a lecture.
Related to that hour was 90 minutes of hearing how the potters of Mashiko, Japan, are rebuilding after horrific earthquake devastation a year ago. Ayumi Horie, a New York State potter, talked about organizing the international effort to auction pottery and raise money for rebuilding immediately after the quake. John Baymore, a New Hampshire potter with many friends in Mashiko, talked about being on the scene after the quake. Lynn Zetzman, who formerly taught in Japan, talked about the struggle of one particular young Mashiko potter. All the talk was backed up by very good projected photography.
English potter Walter Keeler and Washington State sculptor Tip Toland demonstrated their making processes in two separate sessions in one of the big ballrooms, watched by literally thousands of people. Each of these folks produces something very different from the other, with Tip sculpting a twice-lifesize head on the right side of the stage and Wally manipulating his thrown clay into lovely pitchers and serving dishes. But each had a modesty and humor about him- and herself that worked well between them and with the vast audience. You'll see a few photos of these two at the top of this post. If you don't know either of them, look them up online. Wonderful work.
- The Resource Room. This ballroom filled with vendors and schools was astonishing in its range. It's hard to believe there was anything clay-related that wasn't there and for sale. Ribs, pugmills, clay mixers, wheel, kilns, brick, aprons, trimming tools, magazines, t-shirts. Think of what's in your studio, it was there and for sale. Or free, in some cases. I ran into a couple from Cape Cod whose first comment was, "Did you get all the free stuff?" Well ... no, I guess not. But a very nice Skutt tech rep talked to me about my elements coming out of their tracks and gave me a package of pins to keep them where they belong. And the South Korean town of Icheon was there to plug its history as a pottery town and a place to make pottery, and they gave me a lovely thick book of the work of their artists.
- In the closing ceremonies, Sandy Simon and Robert Brady, husband and wife, talked about their own careers as functional potter (Sandy) and sculptor/potter (Robert). Both talks, as always, illustrated with projected images. Each talk had wisdom, emotion and humor.
- Not on the program, but equally important, I got to meet Patricia Griffin (, a fellow blogger and one of the people involved in the blogging potters' show two years ago in Southern Pines, NC. Patty is a lovely and enthusiastic maker of beautiful sgraffitoed pots and we'd commented back and forth on various blogs, but never met face to face. She brought along her husband, Mike, who tore up the floor Friday night at the annual dance next door in the Sheraton. At the Mashiko discussion, I met Kris Murabayashi from California (, a maker of lovely minimalist pots and the owner of a dry, sardonic wit. Next to me at the same panel discussion was Lynn Gervens, executive director at Mudflat Studio in Somerville, Mass. (, and a friend of at least a couple of my potting friends.
And early in the conference, Grace Archambeau and I did one of those "wait a minute ... don't I know that guy?" things while passing in one of the halls. Grace ( is from Sandwich, here on the Cape, and a senior at Mass. College of Art and Design. She sometimes comes to our monthly Clay Club meetings in Cotuit. Grace is talking about building a wood/soda kiln on her family's property in Sandwich, and we sat in together on a very useful soda-firing discussion with Gail Nichols and Matt Long. Grace is also looking for a residency or apprenticeship somewhere after her graduation, so ... anyone who has ideas, let me know. She's interested in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
This is just a tiny condensation of what happened at NCECA. I didn't see it all, and much of it, frankly, was not for me. A large part of the conference is geared to education, particularly in college art programs. I'm not opposed to that, but it's not what I do, so I found things that interested me.
And the coffee at Tully's in the convention center was worth starting your day.
Photos: Top, Tip Toland gets moving on the massive head she finished on the same stage as English potter Wally Keeler; Tolan and the head the next day; Keeler applies a handle to one of his signature jugs; Dan Anderson decaled pots in one of the gallery rooms; a tiny selection of pots by (I think) Steve Sauer at the POTS Gallery wood-fire show in Fremont.