Sunday, July 29, 2012

A happy Saturday selling pots and coffee

Saturday's "Among Friends" kiln-opening and pottery sale was a wonderful one-day event. Not only because everyone seemed happy with their sales, but because it was just a good time. The trick to enjoying this occasionally iffy business of staging an event in the summer on Cape Cod is to have a group of people that like each other and are fully capable of having fun, no matter how many pots go out the driveway.
But quite a few did. The joint firing was successful, Mike Race brought good coffee, Tammy Race made scones, Jo Ann Muramoto made a tomato tart, we had dozens of bagels and many, many chile dogs. What could be wrong with that? I suspect we'll do it again next year and give people a reason to come to Hatchville. Now ... if we can figure out how to plan cloudy, non-beach weather like yesterday's.
Photos: Top, Denny Howard sets up, with Kim Medeiros behind him and Angela Rose in the background; three of my pots from this firing - an oversize Shino teabowl; a low, ragged-edged teabow and a small vase with overlapped Shinos.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kiln fired, tents setting up, come on down

We fired yesterday for the opening and pottery sale today here at Hatchville Pottery in Falmouth. If you're nearby, come on down. We've got the work of five potters and one local coffee-roaster. Potters are me, Denny Howard, Kim Medeiros, Annie Halpin and Angela Rose. Mike Race makes the coffee. The sky is cloudy but so far there is no rain. We'll see ...
Above, Kim at work on one of her big vases. Below, setting up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Loading the kiln for "Among Friends" firing

I shot the top picture earlier today, about halfway through loading my kiln with my work and work by Kim Medeiros, Denny Howard, Anne Halpin and Angela Rose. All five of us have pots in here, to be fired Friday and opened Saturday morning for ourselves and whoever responds to the newspaper ads, posters and e-mail blasts we all (and coffee roaster Mike Race) have sent out.
The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday the 28th, here at Hatchville Pottery in East Falmouth, on Cape Cod. We open the kiln at 11, but before and after the opening all of us will have other pots on tables and under tents here at the pottery. Angela Rose, a landscaper in her other life, had her crew in here Monday to mow, trim and weed the property to within an inch of its life. Thanks to her - and to Dee's gardens, which are now so well-displayed - the place looks great. We're hoping for no rain or thunderstorms. Ideally, the weather will be cloudy enough to discourage people from going to the beach but not horrible enough to make them stay home and play Monopoly. This business of selling pots in a summer resort community is like that ...
We'll have Mike Race's freshly-roasted coffee, pastries of several kinds to go with it, chile dogs with genuine New Mexico red chile at lunch. Call 508-563-1948 for more information, or e-mail me at

And in other art-related news, the Cahoon Museum on Route 28 in nearby Cotuit opens "Come East at Our Table" tomorrow evening. I have yet to see the show, but there are several of my pots in it, as well as pots by several other Cape potters. Included in the show are the Nuka/copper red bowls at the bottom of this post. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A summer meal, taken from the water

Dee's away in New York state this weekend at a baby shower for our niece, and I stayed here to clean up the studio and bisque new pots in the freshly-repaired (and now functioning) Skutt electric kiln.
But she'll be back tomorrow and so my meal-making responsibilities resume Sunday. Fortunately, we dug hardshell clams (locally called "quahaugs") last weekend at the edge of Buzzards Bay and I have enough left to make white clam sauce. Done right, this is a marvelous meal, mixing the very briney clam juice with the rich olive oil, and the pungency of fresh garlic and jalapeno.

The recipe can hardly be more basic: Olive oil, garlic, a couple of fresh jalapenos from our garden, parsley from a local farmer, as many clams as you have. Saute the garlic and peppers in a cast-iron skillet, drop in the clams and chopped parsley, steam the clams open. Let them cool, take out the meat and chop it, combine with the oil and clam broth and heat up. Cook pasta until just short of al dente, then add to the simmering clam mix. Let it cook just a bit longer, serve with grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am an electrical engineer ... not ...

I had no idea there were so many wires entangled inside the nearly invisible inner compartment that holds the computer and the relays and such on my Skutt KM1027. I should have, of course, but I'd always rather just let those things work than look into them. But when the electric kiln I use for bisquing pots began blowing them up with rapid temp rises, it was either do it myself or get in someone who knew what he/she was doing.
Always unwilling to admit that I don't know how to do something, I got in touch with the tech people at Skutt, described the problem and ordered what they said to order, which was three relays (WTF is a "relay"????) and an envelope of what looked like a sample of everything made by some Midwest wire factory. I downloaded a couple of pages on Skutt's website which purported to describe how to put all these new wires inside the box and take out the old ones. Right.
I do a lot of staring when I have one of these projects. And I did a lot of staring this time. Mostly, I stare because that at least will not do any damage. It's hard to make a mistake when you're just looking at something. But action had to be taken, so I carefully replaced each of the three relays ("relays"???), taking off an old wire and immediately replacing it with a new wire. None of this business of dismantling everything and then wondering where all the new stuff goes.
So, got the relays in and started staring at the wires. I can't possibly need all those wires; the ones still in there look just fine. So I e-mailed Perry Peterson at Skutt (God bless Perry ... ) and basically asked him exactly that. "Just replace the black wires with the new white wires," he said. So, carefully and one at a time, I did. Then reassembled the computer/controller box, screwed in the baffle, screwed in the hinges, screwed the whole damn thing to the kiln wall, squeezed behind my gas kiln to plug in the Skutt.
No smoke, no fire, no big noises ... programmed the kiln as I usually do, and over a period of a couple of hours, the temp was raised to 160. And there it sits, at least for now. Which is what it's supposed to do for 20 hours. Halleluiah.
I've got a couple of loads of pots to bisque before I start glazing for next week's reduction firing, which will include not just my pots but the pots of four other local potters.
So, many thanks to Perry Peterson at Skutt, and to Andrea York of Cataumet and Suzanne Wadoski of Falmouth, both of whom today offered to let me use their kilns for bisque-firing if things didn't work out. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On the board of Studio Potter ...

I got word last night that I've been voted onto the board of Studio Potter magazine, a serious and professional publication for working artists and craftspeople. I'm flattered and looking forward to working with the creative people who are part of the organization.
A few years ago, Meredith Heywood (of Whynot Pottery in North Carolina) and I worked with editor Mary Barringer on a story about blogging and potters, and about the subsequent Southern Pines, N.C., show that brought the work of many of the bloggers together in one building. That was the start of wider horizons for me and for my clay work.
Then, a few months ago, I met Elizabeth Cohen of Wellesley, Mass., at the State of Clay exhibit in Lexington. Elizabeth is on the Studio Potter board and suggested that as a potter and former journalist I might be of some use to the magazine. I agreed, and after interviews and applications and a vote, that's where I am. I'm eager to see what happens.
Photos: Two pots whose photos went out last night in an application to a show next year in Texas.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pots headed to Tennessee, via Etsy

Just sold these three pots from my Etsy story, all of them to one guy who lives in Fayetteville, Tenn. I need to pay more attention to the store, get more pots on there. I'll do that in the next few days, after fixing the electric kiln, mailing pots, making mugs, etc. etc. etc. ............

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Very, very small farmer's market

On my drive home after morning coffee, I often take the back road past the high school to avoid the crush of summer traffic. Either no summer people know about the road, or it would take them nowhere they want to go. Either way, I know I can drive more or less uninterrupted.
Plus, my favorite roadside vegetable stand is on the road. Every day from mid-June into the fall, an Asian family puts out lettuce, rhubarb, basil, parsley, cilantro, Swiss chard, mint, and a variety of other greens that I don't recognize but often buy. The prices are good, the food is fresh and clean. What's not to like?
Tomorrow, with Dee's two sisters visiting, we'll have dinner on the deck with a pesto made from the freshest parsley and cilantro in town. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pots in a new Cahoon Museum show

The Cahoon Museum, a small but lively organization in the Barnstable village of Cotuit, will show "Come Eat at Our Table: Items for the Meal" from July 24 to September 16. The show will include work by a number of Cape Cod potters, as well as other Cape craftspeople.

Museum director Richard Waterhouse looked at several of my pots yesterday and selected six for the show, most of them plates or serving bowls (including the one shown here) and platters. The museum is in a two-story building, a former tavern, dating to the late 1700s. Lovely old rooms and narrow stairs. Very Cape Cod.
It should be a fun show.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fireworks kayak paddle

   With Independence Day in midweek, local fireworks displays were scattered over about a 10-day period. Which meant that last night the village of Onset, a few miles over the bridge from the Cape, held its annual show of aerial explosions. 
   We paddled in the sunset out from Monument Beach about 7:45 with friends Mike, Tammy, Diane, Jamie and Jordan and paddled in the general direction of Onset. Close enough that we could see the fireworks, not so close that we had to portage or risk crossing the Cape Cod Canal approaches.
It was a lovely, cool night on the water, the noisy fireworks impressive, though distant. We paddled home in the dark, past the rocks and through the anchorage, everyone arriving safely. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Adding the coffee beans ...

How could I forget to put the coffee in the photo???

Friday, July 6, 2012

Among friends, a kiln-opening July 28

The work of five Upper Cape Cod potters will be in the Hatchville Pottery kiln when it's fired July 27 and opened Saturday, July 28. My pots will be joined by that of Kim Medeiros, Annie Halpin, Angela Rose and Denny Howard. Angela and I fired together in this kiln eight or nine years ago, before her landscaping business took off and she stopped making pots for a while. We started the Hatchville Pottery holiday kiln-opening and open house together and it became a big December event for us in Falmouth. Now Angela's back making pots and the two of us thought this summer thing might be fun.
The July opening and sale will, I suspect, be much less crazy than the holiday party. There are many more things for people to do here in July than in December, so I don't think we'll need to hire a policeman. Though I could be wrong ...
Joining the potters will be coffee roaster Michael Race, whose freshly roasted beans did very well at last December's holiday show.
There will be more details as we get closer, but I just shot photos for our e-announcement so I thought I'd give all of you a bit of a preview.
Left to right, top: Angela Rose tumbler, Hollis Engley faceted vase. Left to right, bottom: Annie Halpin chalice, Denny Howard Shino teabowl, Kim Medeiros vase.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Post-postscript to the Skutt ...

Perry Petersen at Skutt Tech Support diagnoses my recent KM1027 kiln nervous breakdown to bad relays, which some of you have already suggested. Perry got back to me quickly, for which I'm grateful. I've ordered the relevant relays and wiring harness from Portland Pottery and should have them in a couple of days.
Thanks for the advice and encouragement, all. I'm going to go out to the studio and begin some long-necessary shelf-removal and slight re-arrangement so that I can actually get to the kiln and work on it.
Two more photos attached that are not particularly relevant to the kiln problems. First, a bow to you in the U.S. South, who have dealt with temperatures near and above 100F for the past week. Maybe a little snowy barn gable end will help you remember winter is coming. Second, a look at some of Vermont potter Bob Compton. Great potter, kilnbuilder extraordinaire, nice guy, drop by and see him if you're ever near the pretty little town of Bristol.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Postscript to pots exploding ...

Those of you who look at this blog occasionally may remember my post of a few weeks ago, when a bunch of serving platters became thousands of shards in my electric kiln. And you may remember my bafflement at that circumstance. Well ... still a bit baffled, but this time the bafflement is all about my electric technology and not about how I was pounding out the platters.
I normally set the Skutt KM-1027 to rise slowly to 160F and sit there for 20 hours to make sure the greenware inside is fully dry. Then I set it to cone 07 and let the temp rise slowly until it hits 1779 or so and shuts down. I did this the other day with a fresh load of greenware, kept an eye on it through the day (it rose to 160 and stayed there for hours), and then at some point in the night it went rogue on me and rose at least to 1300F. That's where it was when I came down in the morning. I hit the "stop" button and it made the requisite "beep."
But it didn't shut down. It just kept pumping. Only way I could stop it was by unplugging the kiln and letting it cool.
I emptied the kiln this morning and the pots appeared to have been bisqued, but they had the sort of dull "thunk" of pots fired below my usual bisque temp. As far as I know, I have no way of telling what temp they fired to. (Maybe the computer stores that somewhere ... ) Anyway, I've gotten in touch with Skutt, but it's the Fourth tomorrow and it's unlikely I'll hear anything for a few days. And I can always (very carefully) bisque in the gas kiln, I guess.
Does anyone have any ideas this time?
I'll attach a couple of photos that have absolutely nothing to do with this problem. I'm preparing a story about my work in photography, so I'll let you see some of those images.
Happy Fourth, everyone!
Top to bottom: Creek, off Chatiemac Road, North Creek, NY; summer cottage, Maine; summer cottage, Orleans, Mass.; cathedral candles, Greece; Dan Finnegan workshop, Chatham, Mass.