Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Concepts in Clay" opens Friday

Gail Turner, of Mill Stone Pottery in Dennis, and I talked with a group of docents today at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, answering as many questions as we could about the work now on display there. "Concepts in Clay" is a show of work by members of Cape Cod Potters, a very loosely organized group of clay people here on the Cape. The show was juried by Ellen Shankin, of Floyd, Va.
The show was designed to challenge clayworkers to think about their process and their ideas, and then put those thoughts into words and into clay. That's the way I understood it, anyway.
The result is a fine show of work, from functional to sculptural. Each entrant's work is mounted separately on a pedestal or pedestals, allowing separation from the other pots or sculptures in the show.
And on one wall are eight large photographs, shot by this photographer, showing steps in the clayworking process. Images of Kim Medeiros, Dan Finnegan, Sarah Caruso, Tessa Morgan, and myself make up the wall display. Firing is represented by my loaded kiln and flame protruding from the noborigama of Robert Compton, in Bristol, VT. You can see the photos in one of the overall shots here.
The show opens this week, with a formal reception (that means free beer and wine, people) this Friday, from 5 to 7 p.m. Come one, come all.
Photos, top to bottom: bottles by Toni Levin, Oribe work by Linda Riehl, big serving bowls by Kevin Nolan, coil-built and wood-fired vases from Frances Johnson.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunshine after the storm

Sandy went away from Cape Cod yesterday, taking a sudden left into New Jersey. The winds died here in midafternoon and then the clouds made way for the moon around 9. We survived just fine, without even a power or cable TV outage. Some of our friends in town were not so lucky, and power is still out in some parts of Falmouth. Trees came down in the gusts of 50 mph wind and knocked out power lines and poles.
But other than a few traffic hazards and thoroughly undermined Surf Drive on the south shore, we got through OK. Even the coffee shop was open this morning at 6, as always.
I spent most of the day glazing pots for the woodfiring this weekend. Kim Medeiros was here using my Shinos, temmoku and a couple of other glazes. We're hoping this weekend's weather will be entirely anti-hurricane.
Here's a look at our back yard, the day after the (not very) big storm.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Sandy and its wind ...

The wind is still rising here on Cape Cod, though Hurricane Sandy is still hundreds of miles south of us. It's a big storm, winds apparently reaching out more than 500 miles. It's gusting into the 30s here right now and the wind has driven the water south of Falmouth into rollers and whitecaps. High tide drove water up over some docks and low-lying beach roads, but that will no doubt get much worse in another seven or eight hours, as the winds rise and high tide returns.
These photos are from near the entrance to Falmouth's inner harbor, right on Vineyard Sound. No doubt by high tide tonight, I'd be good and wet standing in the same place.

I'm ignoring the storm for the moment and going to the studio to make room for Kim Medeiros and me to glaze pots tomorrow for next weekend's woodfiring in Truro.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Picking up shells for firing ...

I spent part of the day yesterday walking the Falmouth beach along Vineyard Sound, head down, filling an old clay bag with bay scallop shells. The shellfish live on the bottom not far from shore. Their shells wash in and eventually are crushed and become part of the beach.
My old hometown of Vineyard Haven is on the horizon there; that part of Martha's Vineyard lies only three or four miles from the Cape Cod mainland. I always wonder what's happening in that place I left so long ago.
Anyway, these shells will hold wadding and lie against the Shino glazes on some of my pots in the wood kiln in Truro next weekend. Their remnants will be ground and sanded down a bit after the pots are out of the kiln, but that mark of where they were made will remain. They'll fit right in with the kind of glazing I do - overlapping Shinos and general glaze chaos, combined in this case with the ash and flame of the Castle Hill kiln, fired on the bluff above the Atlantic.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Aiming toward the Truro kiln

I just finished up making pots for the loading late next week of Castle Hill Center for the Arts' train kiln on the bluffs at Truro, a few hundred yards from the booming Atlantic.
I've never fired there, though lots of friends have and Dan Finnegan came here a couple of years ago to lead a woodfire workshop. I've resisted, for some reason.
But this year Gail Turner of Mill Stone Pottery in Dennis persuaded me to fire in the kiln and I persuaded Kim Medeiros of The Barn Pottery in Pocasset and now the three of us plus Brian Taylor and a few others will fire the kiln the first weekend in November. Brian heads Castle Hill's clay program and is apparently the one elected to remain more or less sleepless through the whole 35 hours or so of the firing.
We'll get in somewhere between 30 and 50 pots. I'll bring more than I need. If they're not there, it's certain they won't get in. So I'll bring some bisque home for my gas kiln. For me, it's B-Mix with a couple of Shinos and perhaps some crackle slip, plus some unglazed B-Mix woodfire clay body with flashing Helmar kaolin. Fat vases, a group of medium-size mugs, big and rough faceted teabowls, smaller faceted cups, and the pinched and coiled-foot teabowls I finished today.
We load Saturday Nov. 2, then light the kiln early in the AM Sunday and fire into Monday afternoon. Should be fun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

More from the Cape Cod View article

The magazine chose to feature glassblower Bryan Randa, paper artist Ruth Bleakley and fellow potter Kim Medeiros in sidebars that went with the main story of our holiday kiln-opening and sale. Bryan and Ruth have been with us for several years; Kim joins us for the first time this year. Also involved in the event, and mentioned in the magazine, are jewelry-maker Kim Collins, raku potter Lois Hirshberg, coffee-roaster Mike Race and possibly potter Angela Rose. And I neglected yesterday to credit the great maker portraits in the piece. Christine Hochkeppel of Cape Cod Media Group did the photography, and she did a great job.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Magazine spread on holiday opening

Here's a look at the two-page opening spread in Cape Cod View magazine, just out in the past few days. They did a nice job with the story, laid it out well and - aside from too many pictures of yours truly - may have encouraged a few more people to come out to the holiday kiln-opening and craft show here at Hatchville Pottery.
Paul Jessop and Barrington Pottery are forever getting into magazines, so I thought I'd post this to the blog so that he doesn't think he's the only one the print media pays attention to. I'll put up a few more images tomorrow, but right now wanted to get this in here before I put it in Facebook.

Lisa Hammond in the mail ... and Facebook

I've been an admirer of the work of the British potter Lisa Hammond for some time. I love what she does with Shinos. Well, this summer she apparently was moving her studio back to London and relieving herself of some pots. My friend Dan Finnegan harvested a few and one of them showed up in the mail Saturday. A lovely little faceted Shino cup. Thank you, Dan, and thank you Lisa for making it. It held coffee, above, for me this morning.
Those of you who look at both my blog and my Hatchville Pottery Facebook page might have seen the top couple of paragraphs on Facebook a few minutes before the blog post went up. I have had a personal FB page for more than a year, using it to lurk and see what my FB friends, many of whom are my actual human friends, are up to. But I rarely used it professionally to spread the pottery word. 
Now that's changed. I was persuaded a couple of weeks ago by my friend Tessa Morgan, sgraffito potter from nearby Woods Hole, that an FB page would make sense for the pottery. It's one more way of reaching out to not only friends (or "friends") but to people who use Facebook when they come to Cape Cod and are looking for potters or art of any kind. 
This past summer just about fried me on craft fairs, as I've said before. And faithful reader Tracey Broome of Chapel Hill, NC, kicked my butt a little and basically said, "Well, stop doing that!" And she's right. So that's my aim for next year, to avoid all craft fairs with the possible exception of two that I feel personally invested in. 
But where does the money come from? I still need to buy clay and pay the gas bill.
We plan to add on to my workshop over the winter, with our friend Mike Race doing the building. That will give better space to allow visitors to see my best pots in the right light.
The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is doing a wonderful thing by creating a mobile app for the ever-increasing visitors who use smart phones and tablets to plan their trips. Free app, easily updated site for Hatchville Pottery and all those other art people, minimal cost. I've already given them my $150 check and bought into the app game.
Cape Cod View magazine is out now, with a story and photos about our holiday kiln-opening and sale. I haven't seen the story yet, but will post it when I get a copy of the magazine. That kind of attention can't possibly hurt.
And I need to find a gallery (or ten) that will show my pots. Probably off Cape Cod.
All of that (and any other ideas) might add up to the already meager amount I need to keep going.
Ideas still being accepted.
And for my great potter friend (great friend and great potter) Tracey Broome ... I know, I know ... you hate Facebook. So did I. But if someone you know is a member, take a look at Hatchville Pottery's page. There are two pictures of you on the "Other potters" section.

(And for those interested, the FB url is

Friday, October 12, 2012

Off to set up Wellfleet, then to talk Studio Potter

Thanks to those of you who commented on the direction of Studio Potter. I'll take your comments to Boston with me tomorrow for the meeting. I think your sentiments pretty much represent what we've heard from subscribers around the country. The trick is to stay relevant and solvent at the same time. Not an easy trick.
I'm going to get up around 4 to head out to Wellfleet and get the tent and pots set up for my friend Dafney Shufelt, who's going to handle Saturday at the OysterFest while I'm at Mudflat pottery school at the Studio Potter meeting. It's supposed to be a cold morning, warming up through the weekend.
But oysters and clams and beer and music will warm people up. Come on out to Wellfleet if you're on the Cape. Saturday ad Sunday. A crazy and fun time.
Oh ... and if you come Saturday, buy pots from Dafney.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wellfleet and Durango, and Studio Potter

Who said things shut down on Cape Cod after Labor Day? I've had multiple shows to deal with, prepare for, finish up with ... in just the past couple of weeks.
This weekend it's the Wellfleet OysterFest down at the far end of the Cape Saturday and Sunday, then at the same time the opening of "Three Cups" at the Durango Art Center in Colorado. (And a Saturday annual board of directors meeting of Studio Potter Magazine in Boston ... learning how to be in two places at once.)
"Three Cups" opens Friday night. I won't be there, though my four teabowls will be. And I will be in the company of some people whose work I have admired for years - Warren McKenzie, the late Tatsuzo Shimaoka, Doug Casebeer, Alleghany Meadows, Joe Bennion, Peg Malloy, Sandy Simon - and newly-made friends such as Doug Fitch, Hannah McAndrew and Ron Philbeck. And many, many more. See the photos attached here; just a few of the pots in the show. Wish I could get there. (Adam Field contributed the show photo below.)
The OysterFest in Wellfleet has become for some of us the event that marks the true end of the summer season. It's the last craft fair before the holiday shows begin in November, and it's more or less the last chance for sunny and unseasonably warm weather. Often, the air is cold and a heavy breeze blows in off the Atlantic on one side or Cape Cod Bay on the other. Tents can fly at this show.
But thousands of people come out to it - for the oysters, fried clams and other seafood, for the beer and wine and the oyster-shucking contests and the rock bands on stage. Oh, and a few come to look at the crafts and the art. It can be a big show or - and this happened two years ago - hurricane force winds can blow in and send everyone packing. You never know.
I've got my first Studio Potter board meeting in Boston Saturday morning, so my friend Dafney Shufelt will fill in for me and we'll see if an attractive young woman sells more pots than a scowling 65-year-old male. I'll drive down well before dawn and get the tent up and the pots arranged, then hand it off to Dafney and head for Boston. I'll be back in the tent Sunday.
Speaking of Studio Potter, the board is debating the future of the magazine - in part trying to figure out if we remain a hard-copy magazine or become in addition/instead some sort of online digital presence. It's a very 2012 kind of situation.
Ideas? I'm happy to contribute anything you say to the conversation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The first Falmouth potter's market

This past weekend, the Falmouth Art Center hosted not only the opening of "Art of Clay: Function and Beyond," but also a two-day pottery market on the green lawn behind the center. Eight potters, most of us from the Upper Cape, set up our tents and tables, sold pots and demonstrated throwing and handbuilding. We were joined also by students from the pottery program at Falmouth High School. It would not be accurate to say that "crowds" turned out, but we had a steady flow of local folks who often bought pots. 
The rain didn't come until nearly closing time on Sunday, so we were lucky with the weather. 
The weekend's pottery activity is a kind of subtle kickoff for the art center's proposed ceramics program, tentatively scheduled to get going by next summer. The five-year-old building is about to get an elevator, which will allow classroom and studio space to be established in the spacious basement (where the potters will live) and the extensive second floor. I think we Falmouth potters are excited for both the teaching opportunities in the clay program and the chance to continue to build a clay-literate community here. I am, anyway.
Much of the credit for the success of this weekend's lobby show as well as the pottery market goes to Falmouth potter Sue Wadoski and her potter daughter Sarah Caruso. Each was a cheerful and persistent worker from the first concept of the show last winter. We all benefited from their effort.
Next up for me is the OysterFest in Wellfleet, this coming weekend. The crazy and crowded event happens every year just after Columbus Day. This year, I have a Studio Potter magazine meeting scheduled for Saturday in Boston, the same as the first day of the OysterFest. A friend, Dafney Shufelt, has offered to tent-sit for me Saturday, so I won't actually be on the Wellfleet premises until Sunday. It's going to be an early and looonnnnggg Saturday, since I have to set up the tent and pots around dawn and then hit the highway for the Boston meeting. Not looking forward to it.
OK, here are some photos from the weekend: Top, Kim Medeiros of The Barn Pottery in Pocasset at work during her demo session at the wheel; next, Denny Howard of Howard Pottery in Sagamore deep into his pot; the view to the west from my booth.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wood pots under grey skies

We took off Monday for about 48 hours in Boston and Vermont, touring the continually amazing Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and then heading out to Brattleboro, Vermont, for an overnight. The Gardner is a remarkable place, packed with Renaissance and older art, Roman and Greek sculpture, paintings by the American John Singer Sargent, Flemish tapestries ... whatever Ms. Gardner wanted to buy with her considerable fortune about a century ago. Go see it the next time you're in Boston.
Tuesday morning in Vermont, we headed to the forest and fields uphill from Putney to the remote kiln of Josh Gold. Josh has a train kiln, which he fires with a few friends for close to 60 hours, soaking at cone 8 for 24 hours and then climbing to cone 12 before shutting down.
Lots of nice pots in there, and the kiln was about half empty when we got there. Pots scattered in groups all over the grass outside the kiln shed. The ones I liked best were John Hull's. John was in school with me at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, back in the late '60s. Since then, he's become a teacher and a maker of simple and beautiful pots at his studio in Haddam, Conn. John is the one who invited us up to see the new pots. Many thanks, John. Always good to get to Vermont this time of year.
Below, a selection of photos from the opening. Top to bottom: the kiln shed, John Hull checking out his pots, a selection of Hull pots, teapot and many cups, platter and many more cups, one big jar.
(John's pots, by the way, are made of ordinary Laguna B-Mix, with a light spray of Avery flashing slip. Only a couple of them have Shino liner glazes.)