Monday, January 24, 2011

Third Friday

This past Third Friday at the North Carolina Arts Incubator was a little quiet, but they have a great exhibition up to support the Haw River Assembly! If you have a chance and are in the area, I highly recommend going to see it. The exhibition is of the Paintbrush Forest project.

Showing how I smooth the edges of my pulled handles by running my thumbs down the side
I brought my work up from the basement studio area and finished up some teapots with a small audience.  It's always great to have a chance to talk about your work as you're doing it and having people ask questions. It makes me think more about the whole process and get a second set of eyes analyzing how I proceed. I put handles on a set of mugs and finished up some teapots I threw earlier last week.
Attaching the handle and talking about placement and making sure it is securely attached
When I attach the spout to the teapots which have spiral facets, I always feel like the base of the spout looks a little odd. I think it's because I don't feel like the smooth base blends in well with the spiraled side. So I have been adding decorations to the base of the spouts on my teapots lately.
Two new teapots. A little larger than the last ones. 
I showed a few decorations when I debuted some new teapots, but I've been going for a little more this time around.
Close-up of the decoration at the base of the spout
I'm excited about putting together a few tea sets and the (hopeful) exquisite outcome!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter Messages

I've been making some dishes similar to the piece below:
Wood-fired stoneware dish. I like the broad rim and the slightly dipped-in interior.

I also really enjoy how this shape has a bowled interior, but a straight exterior edge. I've also started rolling the rim, making it a little thicker than what is in the photo.

 I've been thinking about the potter Lester Breininger lately(I've linked an article by he and Greg Kramer since he doesn't have a website. A photo of him can be found here). Lester is a renowned potter and scholar who specializes in traditional Pennsylvania German red earthenware. He has very infamous  "porch sales" at his rather large and rambling home in Robesonia, Pennsylvania where people come from all over to see and buy his pottery. I picked up a few pieces about a year or so ago, and found that most of his dishes/plates have little messages or notes on the back. They're notes like, "it rained today" or, "It was sunny." 

Dish made by Lester Breininger Pottery.

The back of the dish reads, "Breininger Pottery/Robesonia, Pa./March 11, 2009/cloudy skies"
 I was told once about a "dirt dish" someone has that on the back was written something along the lines of "I made this for ---- who lives down the road and past the tree" which I also thought was kind of nice. So I decided to start writing some observations on my dishes. Here are my first few messages (sorry they're a little hard to read, I had just scratched them in and had not cleaned them up yet):

"Started to warm up today and the sun came out." Full date.

"Ice and some snow remains in the shade." I think I might just go with month and year.
I guess someday when the waster pile at my pottery studio is excavated hundreds of years from now (hahaha) people will have to piece together my funny messages. Remember potters, ceramics do not break down, so everything you make is likely to get dug up somewhere! Frightening thought isn't it? It makes me self conscious about the first pots I made...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Austin, Texas

Doorknob at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas
Texas was one of those states which seemed like an interesting place to go if I ever got the chance, but I didn't think it would be one of the states I would actually make it to someday (nothing against Texas!). Well, that changed when I was invited to present on a panel at the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) conference in Austin, Texas!

What in the world would you present at an archaeology conference, you might ask?
Well, my Master's thesis with the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture was on the Moravian potters and pottery of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Because there are no intact objects with firm attribution to the Bethlehem Moravian potters, the work was largely archaeological. By reassessing and analyzing archaeological material excavated in the 1970s, and doing a lot of archival research, I found some really great things.
Archaeological ceramic sherd excavated in the Moravian Industrial Quarter of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The dark red color is the lead glaze which remains on the red earthenware body, and the lined pattern is from the white slip trailing which has popped off. Courtesy, Historic Bethlehem.

Archaeological ceramic sherd excavated in the Moravian Industrial Quarter of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The yellow slip trailing is actually white, but appears yellow beneath the lead glaze. Green, white, and black were the three most prominant slip colors used. Courtesy, Historic Bethlehem.

The SHA conference presentation revolved around some archival evidence I found that the Bethlehem Moravian potters may have been sending pottery to the Virgin Islands. I have been working with Stephen Lenik who has been excavating in the Virgin Islands, and we have been comparing archaeological sherds from the Virgin Islands and Bethlehem (keep your eyes peeled, we're working on an article!).
    I also went to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and got to see some mid-nineteenth century stoneware produced in Texas with alkaline glaze. I never realized that pottery was being produced as early as 1839 in Texas! I also got a chance to go and see the State Capitol and the rotunda inside:
State Capitol in Austin, Texas

Rotunda in State Capitol

And, in case you ever wondered where O'Henry lived in Austin, Texas for a few years before going to jail and then New York, well, here it is:
O'Henry House, Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not Going to the Studio Today!

The only problem with not having my studio in my backyard is that I cannot get there with bad weather! My intention of going into the studio has been put on hold until everything thaws! So I thought I would just share a few photos I took around my house of the ice accumulation, and I'll work on getting a post up about this past weekend. I went to the Society for Historical Archaeology conference in Austin, Texas, and had a great time presenting, talking to archaeologists about new projects, and learning about various excavations and components of studying archaeology! Nerdy? Yes. I'm okay with that. Stay warm and safe!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Beginning of a New Year

A happy new year to you all!
I made it into the studio on Saturday, January 1st after doing my best to make it to midnight the night before, and making it to about 12:05. A glass of champagne, and then I was gone (I didn't drink the whole glass in 5 minutes, I promise)! While my few hours at the studio on Saturday were not as productive as I had hoped, I did get to making a few things I've been thinking about. I finished them up this evening.
My first intention with these guys was for them to accompany the teapots I am working on. However, these jars ended up being almost the same size as the teapots! Now to ponder just how large should a "sugar dish/jar" be?

Lidded jars
On to pitchers. I had made this pitcher last spring:

Pitcher with twisted handle. Flashing slip on exterior, wood-fired.

Handle detail
It had been my intention to make a few more of these pitchers, but it got put on a backburner. I worked on tightening up the twist and making the curve of the handle more balanced. When I first made this type of handle I was concerned with how it would feel in the hand, but was surprised that it actually fits quite nicely and is not awkward. So here a few of the new(er) pitchers:

Tighted up the twist, and have been playing with handle terminals
May the new year be productive for all, and each day a happy and learning experience.