Thursday, December 17, 2009


Here are a few new pots in process. I've been working in the downstairs studio of Donn Hedmans pottery near Smicksburg. Donn has graciously offered me space in his super nice studio with a beautiful view. I'm making plenty and bisquing work for future firings. Out at Brush Valley, I don't bisque, so I thought I would store away a few dozen pieces that I can take to other folks firings in the coming months.
As for this recent work, I've been trying to hold back on my urges to use the colored slips and linear decoration that I usually include in my work. I struggle to not over decorate forms such as these jugs. The shapes, hopefully, will stand alone.
I have return to this form over and over through the years. I have always been intereste in historic jugs and the change in their shapes that trace the development of the industrialization of clay manufacturing. The closer you get to the 1900's, the flatter and straighter the jug shapes become. The more graceful forms of previous centuries leave wasted space in a kiln where the bellies meet and can be difficult forms to make. The early American jug shapes reference their German and English counterparts, with full bellies, long graceful necks and and a narrow foot.
I am also searching for relevance in these forms in today's day and age. How do these jugs fit in to contemporary life? Well, maybe they don't and maybe that's EXACTLY why we need them. These simple containers echo a time of simplicity. Not necessarily an easier life, just different and simpler. I hope I'm not stuck in the past but I think those folks made some nice jugs.
Wishing everyone Happy Holidays over the coming months...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Pots on ETSY!!!

It's been said that I can't just make the stuff...
I've gotta do something with it, right?
So check out my ETSY site, and let me mail you a wonderful handmade wood fired and salt glazed pot! I'll be adding more work over the weekend, so check back often!

Monday, October 19, 2009

After the tour...

Just a few images from the potters tour...

My friend Shana, trying her hand at turning on the
wheel, gets a lesson from me...

I had a great turnout, thanks to everyone
who stopped out at Brush Valley Pottery!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Post-firing Firing post...

It has been a few days since my last post so this one is going to be a long one...all about the salt firing I just finished monday morning at 3 a.m.! This was the 6th time I've fired the kiln here in Brush Valley and the 3rd time for mostly rawglazed pots. For some of you who aren't potters, this means that I glaze the work when it is leather hard, using slip glazes that have a large amount of clay in the batch recipes. The clay in the glaze allows the glaze to shrink with the pot as water evaporates during the drying process. It can be tricky and most people choose to bisque fire their work and then glaze, but out of necessity, with no electric/bisque kiln here in Brush Valley, and the fact that most of my work only needs a liner glaze, I use this process of once firing. Once the pots are dry, it's time to load and fire.

Mugs tumblers, soup bowls and plates, lidded jars
and pitchers.
The firebox extension worked out great
for preheating the greenware/rawglazed pots.
I loaded it up with large cherry and oak chunks,
clammed it up and went to bed around
4am. At 8 am I returned to find
coals still in the box and started the firing...

Without a Pyrometer to gauge the early
part of the drying process
I used this chimney
thermometer for a wood stove.
I need it for the beginning of the firing
to make sure nothng blows up at the point
where the water left in the pots
starts to "boil" or evaporate...

Toward the end of the firing we used the flame
to stoke off of and had a nice,
even firing of cone ten down.

Heres a picture of the kiln shed and flame coming
from the chimney. As soon as the flame went in, I
stoked again, and the flame lasted abut 1 1/2 minutes per
stoke. This temperature(nearly 2400 degrees) really ate up the wood!

I hope to post pics of the finished results soon! Dont forget about the potters tour! Can't wait to see you all here!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

47 not 50

Well the Earthenware firing wasn't a complete disaster, but I've had better...The liner glaze acted up quite a bit, bubbling and looking either over fired or under fired in places...It may have been a thickness thing or the fact that I used it on greenware...Ron usually bisques everything. The planters and silverware strainers turned out great! Not enough salt in the kiln, either. So, next time I might just leave out the glaze ware and just do all planters...

For now, I'm speeding along to the next cone 1o firing, hopefully loading on Saturday and firing Sat night and Sunday. Sorry again, no pictures, but stay tuned as I'm taking plenty of pictures, I just can't upload them...I'm working on it! 

Well, back to the 47 mugs I have to put handles on...yeah, I know, 47? Why not 50?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I've got the recipes for Ron's liner glaze and clay body, so now I can run some color tests and get on with the firing!

Here's some more info for everyone-

Ron's Clay: Cone 04-5 (we tested this in a very fast gas kiln firing and it went to cone 10)

Newman Red: 80 lbs

Red Art: 25 lbs

Fire Clay: 10 lbs

Medium size Grog: 15 lbs

Neph Sy: 2 lbs

Transparent Glaze: cone 04-5

Frit 3124: 80Kaolin: 10

Flint: 10

Bentonite: 2

For Liner add to base 10% Zircopax

Last nite I got the Kiln all cleaned out and started to figure out where everything is going...I'm going to have plenty of room, but it will take some time to fit everything in...Sorry, no pictures this time!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Slipped and drying...

I finished decorating these planters this evening with white slip, a little colored slip, and then carving through to show the dark clay beneath.

I started the last 2 planters that I'll need
for the firing this morning. It was so nice
outside today, they were ready for the rims
this evening and I should have them finished tomorrow!

I even squeezed in a little triming on the
lane coming in from Luciusboro Road.
Seems like time is just flying by and
the Potters Tour is only a month away...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Woodfired Earthenware?

I've finally been in the studio after catching up on the outdoor chores...they say to make hay while the sun I've been making pots while the moon shines.

I'm almost ready to fire up the wood kiln with an earthenware salt glaze firing! I'll fire somwhere between 1800 to 2000 degrees...I was inspired to try this technique over the summer while helping Ron Meyers with his workshop at Penland. Ron fires a wood kiln down in Georgia to earthenware temps. I think there are some subtle colors that will show up nicely in this temperature range.
During second session at Penland, I worked with Ayumie Horie who also uses earthenware. I loved her clay body and brought some home with me. I've taken to combining Ayumie and Ron Meyers clay together, about half and half, both of which were mixed by Highwater Clays in Asheville, NC, and using this mix to make the large planters shown above. The planters shown above were made using Daniel Johnstons Thai style construction technique. They'll be stacked rim to rim in the kiln. The sizes range from 12 inches in height to 18 inches across the top rims. These are some of the largest pots I've made...
I'm making a few cups and some other functional pieces and hope to test some glazes and slips in this firing. I ought to be ready to fire sometime soon! I am really excited to try something new! It keeps things fresh!

If you're interested in helping or just seeing the wood fire process, just let me know!

Here are a few recipes I'll be using for this firing...Thank you Ayumi
Modified Clay c/02 ---3 o’clock
OM 4 Ball Clay 10
Redart               70
Goldart              20
Frit 3124             3
Barium                0.25
Bent                    2
Kyanite (fine)      5

White Slip c/02
OM4 Ball Clay   36.1
EPK                   18.1
Neph Sy               3.8
Frit 3124            25.8
Zircopax             13.8
Buttercup #6406   1.4
Gray #6572          0.24
I'll post Ron's clay body and liner glaze as soon as I find it...

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've been starin down this pile of wood ever since I returned from Penland. After a little help with the wood splitter and some weed eating, I was ready to get this stuff up out the mud.

Glad to be done with just shy of 2 chords of firewood to keep me warm this winter in the studio...It's time to sharpen the chain saw and start all over...I've noticed the days are getting shorter and I want 5 chords by October.

I'm heading to Fairmont this weekend...
...Ya'll enjoy this weather!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back Home

Hi everyone! I'm back home and gearing up for an earthenware wood and salt firing! Can't wait!

I've got a bunch of pitures from Penland and you can see them through this link. This batch is from Session 1 with Ron Meyers and Chuck Hindes. I will be posting pictures from session 2 with Ayumi Horie, and session 3 with Daniel Johnston. Check back soon!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Half way through...

Man, did it rain last week! We had to take to drying work out in the electric kilns...put a layer in, dry it at 200...put another layer in, dry it...and on and on and on...we've fired at least 20 bisques...we will begin loading the wood kiln tomorrow...I'll do my best to keep posting, but we are hoppin' now...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Let the Pastoral begin...

How do, everybody? I'm sitting on the porch at the clay studio here in lovely Penland, having my first cup of coffee and enjoying a little rain. Things will be cranking tomorrow, so we takes it easy today!
Tonight I get to meet Chuck Hindes and Ron Meyers, instructors for the class I'm assisting with my friend Peter Olsen. What a great 2 weeks this will be! Peter is executive director of Seward Park Clay Studio, in Seattle,WA. He knows how to put on a workshop and I'm grateful to be able to work with him!

Let the pastoral begin! High on the mountain, with time to think a little harder about what and why I do doubts, just discoveries...I will be here for 6 amazing weeks. Keep in touch!
PS- Happy Birthday, Bob!:
This is from the writers almanac today:
It's the birthday of the man who just released his 33rd studio album, Together Through Life: Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota (1941). He grew up in the declining mining town of Hibbing, Minnesota. He was a quiet kid, raised by Jewish parents, who loved listening to the Grand Ole Opry. But after he heard Little Richard on the radio, he wanted to play rock and roll, so his dad bought him an electric guitar and he formed a rock band at his high school, The Golden Chords. Then he went to the University of Minnesota, and as soon as he got to Minneapolis and heard a record by the folk singer Odetta, he went and traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic one. He said, "A person is a success if they get up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do."