Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Results

There they were, strewn out on the ground as if a shipping crate had just toppled and everything fell out intact. I approached cautiously as I was surprised by the appearance of many, and in awe of most. I was surprised by the turn out of the Danish White clay body which I showed in a previous post from another kiln firing.
On the left is the Danish White clay body from Joseph Sand's kiln firing, and on the right is the Danish White clay body from Sid Luck's kiln firing
I had never seen Danish White turn out like this! It was not as chocolaty as some of the other clay bodies, but it was toasty! It had some great flashing patterns from the flame though, and showed a good deal of surface variation. Everything was very shiny, and the Aurora clay body turned out very nicely. This made me think a lot about how long a kiln sits in reduction and how much variation there can be regarding reduction in such a large kiln. Reduction draws the iron that is in the clay body to the surface, which means the Danish White clay likely has more iron than I had previously thought!
Bottle made with Aurora clay body
Overall, I was very pleased. As I clean up the pots and get them photographed I will try to post more detailed results on my Facebook page.  I did make me take a mental note for what clay bodies to consider should I get the chance to fire in this kiln again. Or, it will give me the chance to try another white clay body to see how that turns out!
On another note, I had the opportunity to meet Anne Pärtna and Adam Landman from Blue Hen Pottery this past weekend. We talked about being gypsy potters and going from kiln to kiln and gaining an understanding of the variations of clay bodies and kilns from firing to firing. It was humbling and made me think about a more constructive approach to figuring out how to get pottery fired and just having reserved bisque ware on hand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Feature Artist, Third Friday Artwalk

I was able to retrieve a few pieces from Sid Luck's kiln firing last weekend. The results were splendid, I was especially happy with how the Danish White clay turned out.
A few pieces from Sid Luck's firing
The results of a clay called Danish White, which is a clay I enjoy a lot
I had the opportunity to be the feature artist at the 3rd Friday ArtWalk at the Arts Incubator in Siler City yesterday. I set up a small collection of pieces, and will be adding more in the coming week.
My display at the North Carolina Arts Incubator
There was a steady crowd for the whole evening, and Sue Baker, a sculptor at the Incubator, did a live demonstration, working with a live model. The model was painter and ceramic artist Ricky Lindley's daughter. People were really excited to see the demonstration.
Sculptor Sue Baker drew quite a crowd for the basement of the Incubator!

Sue Baker modelling Ricky Lindley's daughter

Joseph Sand is going to start opening his kiln tomorrow, so I will try to post some photos for a Thanksgiving treat! And, if you're near Siler City, stop in and have a look at my pottery and let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Double Kiln Duty

I am exhausted, so I will keep this short. I wanted to share my adventure of helping with two kilns this weekend! It was great to not only get a few pots fired, but also to experience two very different kiln styles. On Saturday I helped Sid Luck with the last half of his kiln firing. Today I helped Joseph Sand with the last part of his kiln firing (well, the last 8 or 9 hours!). At Sid's numerous people help out with the stoking. At Joseph's today, I stood pretty much in front of the toasty 2350 degree front opening where I was stoking.

My "residence" today at Joseph Sand's

Levi Mahan and several other local potters helped with stoking the side ports
It was really great to have the experience of keeping a close eye on the temperature and gaining and understanding of when to stoke, how much to stoke, and how much wood to use. On the mention of temperature, Joseph uses pyrometers! I'm a big fan of knowing the temperature of a kiln, so it was great to see the kiln hooked up in several places.

Pyrometers on top of Joseph Sand's kiln
Both Sid and Joseph salt their kilns with leaf blowers. Sid only uses the leaf blower in the front half of the kiln and puts a few cupfuls of salt into the ports on top of the kiln. Joseph uses the leaf blower in the front and down the ports on either side of the kilns.
Sid Luck and his son, Jason, salting on the left, and Joseph Sand salting on the right
I am deeply grateful to both of these potters for giving me the opportunity to help fire their kilns. Here is hoping all turns out well. I will post the results later this week!
One of my mugs in the center of the photo in Sid Luck's kiln on the front bag wall

One of Joseph's jars during the crash cool

Sid Luck sitting on the swing under the kiln shelter at Luck's Ware

Friday, November 12, 2010

Toasting to the Kilns

A toast to the kiln firings this weekend! I'm excited to participate in firing Joseph Sand and Sid Luck's wood kilns this weekend. I will post the results when the kilns are opened next week!
Toasting with bisque ware!

Monday, November 8, 2010

American Ceramic Circle Meeting

The 'wings' of the Milwaukee Art Museum opened
This past weekend wasthe annual meeting of the American Ceramic Circle. This year's meeting was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is a really nice city! (Not that I'm surprised by that fact, I had just never been there!) The lectures and presentations were at the Milwaukee Art Museum(MAM), which is a wonderful feat of architecture! I had the opportunity to watch the "wings" open twice! The lectures were all very insightful and interesting. I was really excited that there were quite a few archaeological presentations too! I was also excited that there was quite a contingent of North Carolinians there! Archaeologist Linda Carnes-McNaughton, potter Mary Farrell from Westmoore Pottery, and Hal and Eleanor Pugh from New Salem Pottery were there. Mary, Hal, and Eleanor did a pottery demonstration at the museum on Sunday. Potter Michelle Erikson also did a demonstration on how she learned to recreate North Carolina Moravian bottles, such as the faience ring bottle, and the eagle flask (check out the Ceramics in America publications mentioned below for images of the originals).

Michelle trimming the ring bottle

The eagle flask after Michelle popped it out of the mold and assembled the various parts
The exhibit Art In Clay has a lot of the objects which were reassessed in the 2009 and 2010 Ceramics in America publications. It was really great to see them all in one place, and to see archaeological fragments with intact pieces. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any photos! However, I can show you photos of the innovative ceramic displays as a part of the Chipstone Foundation's galleries at the MAM.
The decorative arts galleries have a series of exhibition spaces and thematic arrangements. Each space invites the visitor to get close to the objects, see them at eye level, and perhaps, think about them in a different way. As curator John Prown said, the "awakening of wonder, surprise, and curiosity should always be the goal."

This desk and bookcase is filled with minerals, fossils, and shells in order to have the visitor think about the influences nature had on the carvings and design of the piece in the 18th century
One of the most fascinating displays was called Loca Miraculi or Rooms of Wonder which offered interactive drawers in cases to pull out and see natural materials, botanical prints, and other art which historically influenced ceramic and furniture design. Curator Ethan Lasser did a presentation on the galleries, and explained that they worked to show "aspects of an object which connect it to its cultural and historical background."

The cases were beautifully designed and artfully arranged. For an example of how this exhibit worked, the teapots below were made in the second half of the 18th century. They look very Art Deco, don't they?

The teapot on the left is earthenware (creamware) and the pot on the right is salt-glazed stoneware
These pieces were influenced by a fervor for geological formations in the eighteenth-century. Prints and drawings were widely distributed, and the excitement for the shapes and textures were transferred to ceramic.

The reproduced image pages in the drawer came from A General Natural History authored by John Hill ca. 1748
The same series of cases also put geologic stones such as agate paired with a piece of agate earthenware produced in the third quarter of the 18th-century. I thought this was especially fascinating and beautiful to see the pairs together.  
Agate earthenware compared with geologic agate stone

The lectures wrapped up on Saturday, and I ended my Saturday evening with a lovely dish of sausage, bratwurst, cheese, and sauerkraut at Mader's. Mader's has been around since 1909, and it was wonderful. The Franciskaner Weissbier Dunkel beer was also very good.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Branching Out With Technology

Okay, I know this is not DIRECTLY pottery-related, however, I have recently finished taking a course in audio documentary editing and have been working with photography for years. I wanted to share a piece I finished since it relates to my recent post on Dry Branch Farm. It also has me thinking about how to use these mediums to share my explorations and adventures in historical and contemporary pottery. I would like to know what readers think about combining audio and still photography and whether it could provide enough depth as a teaching and sharing tool. All of the photographs and audio clips were captured and edited by me through the graciousness of those who hosted and attended the event. Enjoy!