Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Meeting Jack Troy

From left to right- Michael Kline, Peter Lenzo, Jack Troy, Samantha Henneke, Bruce Gholson
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of going to Bulldog Pottery in Seagrove for the third annual Cousins in Clay.

Bulldog Pottery's work

The crystals on this piece were rather fascinating!

This is the underside of one of Bulldog Pottery's lidded dishes. I thought the detail and attention to the foot and decoration beneath the piece was great!
Their guest this year was Jack Troy. As I have told many people, birders have a life list of birds they hope to see, I have a life list of potters I hope to meet. Jack Troy is one of those potters, or should I say, was one of those potters!
Jack Troy, looking pleasantly captivated.
Jack Troy's pitchers, what splendor!
I asked Jack about his recommendations for making good handles. He said it was important to think about handles like arms or legs, or the parts of plants where leaves are attached. The joint where the two meet, or where the leg attaches to the torso-- it is thick at the joint, and then it gets thinner from the joint.
Oh, look at that handle!
Not only did I like this Jack Troy mug body, but the handle felt especially good

I especially enjoyed Jack Troy's bottles which he stamped at the neck and fired in his wood kiln. The flashing and ash on the bottles was spectacular. I wanted to take them all home! We joked about how bottles always seem to be in good company with one another, I definitely think this is true!
Jack Troy's bottles
It was also a pleasure to finally meet Michael Kline. We had a great conversation about archaeology and historic pottery. I especially appreciated picking his brain about local clay mining and processing. Speaking of archaeology, Peter Lenzo had some of his work there, and I was fascinated by the sherds on many of the pieces, sadly, I did not get a chance to talk with him about his work!
Michael Kline's work
Michael also demonstrated his painting techniques and talked about the slips he uses.
Michael Kline demonstrating

Thank you Samantha Henneke and Bruce Gholson at Bulldog Pottery for hosting such a great event!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How Many Compost Crocks Can You Throw This Morning?

Happy Memorial Day everyone! It's sunny and warm here in North Carolina, which is one of the reasons why I did not stay in the studio very long today. Distractions!
Have you ever heard the song "How Many Biscuits Can You Eat This Morning?" Well this afternoon I was  humming in my head my own version of this, singing "How many compost crocks can you throw this morning?" I've had some designs in my mind for some small alterations on the shape I already make. This has mostly entailed making a wider opening at the top, so as not to capture the compost within the crock, making it difficult to dump the contents out. I made several that were a little taller with a slightly bellied side and a narrow-ish opening. The interior of this is not restrictive to compost being dumped out though.

This is such a fun shape to throw and watching it evolve always enamors me. Not quite as much as bottle-making, but close.
I also made a few with a very wide rim and a bellied side. I think these will be very handsome when they're finished. I just cannot decide what style of lid to put on them. Angled? Round? Flat?

I also have had some ideas for new forms. I had a request for one with straight sides, similar to the regular crocks, so I made a few of those.

Plain and functional, the way I like it. I think the woman who requested this shape said "nothing froo-froo," so that works too!
I also tried some that are shaped somewhat like a tall bowl. I think these with the flared sides will look great with angled lids on top.

I think I am going to really like these. I especially enjoy the really fat rim.

"How many compost crocks can you throw this morning?
How many compost crocks can you throw this evening? 
How many can you throw?
Eight for now, and then a few more.
How many compost crocks can you throw this morning?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Old Salem Pottery Fair on the Square

This past Saturday was a great day at Old Salem in Winston-Salem for their first Pottery Fair on the Square.

It was so good to visit with the potters, meet new people, and see some of the curators and staff members from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. George Washington was visiting Salem in the 1791 Moravian world surrounding our little square of potters. He did not actually come over to see any of the potters, but we got a glimpse of him a few times. I told a customer that he would likely not have a lot of interest in my pottery as he rather liked Chinese porcelain, although he may have been supportive of the domestic production of ceramics.
It was sunny, and the weather was great until about 1:00 when it started to get pretty warm. I broke down and bought an iced drink and a popcorn from the food vendors next to me. I had resisted the smell of the popcorn all day until the afternoon!

My other half took a break and I was envious of him while he napped
Rumor has it that there will be another sale next year!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Debut of the Crockery!

I am quite excited to finally have a good batch of straight-sided crocks! The kiln firings from last week yielded some spectacular results!

After cleaning and pricing the pots last week I took a few crocks down to the Liberty Hardware Store in Liberty, North Carolina. Rhonda, one of the owners, put them in the front window! So if you're passing through Liberty, be sure to see the crocks in the front window!

My very first sale this past Saturday at Old Salem's Pottery Fair on the Square was one of my favorite crocks. This was one of those pieces which is hard to part with because of how great it looked. It had such good orange-peeling and the cobalt had hints of blue along with the darker variations.

Oh, that orange peel!

This summer I plan to make some crocks with lids as I personally know how handy those are when making sauerkraut and pickles! First thing for the summer though is a large batch of compost crocks! I have been scheming some new designs and modifications for a while now, I think it is time to get on the wheel!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sneak Peek

Peeking into the top of the kiln as I unbricked the door.
I unloaded one kiln and picked up the pots from Sid Luck's kiln last night. I thought I would post a sneak peek for what is going to show up at the Pottery Fair on the Square at Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina tomorrow! The large cobalt decorated dishes I made turned out really well, but I am only going to tease you with that and will post the photos of them later. Enjoy!

Pots coming out of Sid Luck's kiln always remind me why I love wood firing so much!

A few of the clay bodies turned out a little creamier than I was hoping, but they still look pretty good.

This crock is going to be one of those pots that is hard to part with! the orange peel on the side is just amazing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kiln Drips

Have you ever wondered where those large drips on antique pots such as this come from?
I love the color variation in the drips on the shoulder, I don't know if you can zoom in enough to see the flecking of other components from the kiln brick, or just general atmosphere. 

Yes, I'm the person that buys the pots with blobs, chips, and broken handles. They have character!  I will say that this bottle was a rare purchase of a non-ovoid bottle. I mostly purchased it for the kiln drips. 
I was crawling around in Sid Luck's kiln the other day and grabbed my camera to take a few photos of the origins of kiln drips. What you are seeing in these photos is a combination of the build up of ash and salt on the interior arch of the kiln, and in some part a degredation of the brick from the ash and salt. Older kilns which did not necessarily have hard brick or soft brick and just used locally made brick broke down faster. Sid was saying this past weekend that his ancestors' kilns were fired until they collapsed in because they were made from local brick.

This angled shot shows how the melting drips hang from the ceiling. 
And just like the way in which different clay bodies turn different colors in the kiln, different kiln bricks melt and react differently to their environment. Some of the brick in Sid's kiln was salvaged from his grandfather's (or father's?) kiln, so the darker- colored ones could be made from local clays. 

Kiln drips may also come from glazes of other pots, such as this drip on one of my pots when it was fired in Joseph Sand's kiln.
The blue drip on the left side of the bottle was not intentional, but very beautiful. 
Historically though, pots were generally only glazed on the interior (if they were glazed at all) until industrialized potteries started glazing the interior and the exterior. And I should say I am referring to stoneware, not earthenware, because that is a whole different ballgame!
And even when the pots were glazed on the outside, sometimes the kiln still got the best of the pot. For example, this alkaline-glazed Meaders piece in the collection of Steve Ferrell in Edgefield, South Carolina has a huge chunk of kiln which fell from the ceiling during the firing, slid down the side of the pot and adhered itself to the base. The fluke of this piece is probably what kept it from getting broken all of these years!

The chunk of kiln brick is at the bottom left of the piece in this photograph. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Busy Weekend

Part of Friday was spent loading a gas-fired salt kiln. I was wondering whether I would get everything in when I unpacked the car and put it all on the table:

Pots spread out on the table always looks like there are so many more than there really are!
Luckily everything except for a few bowls made it in.

I was rather awestruck by the cicadas which were on everything though! Apparently the 13-year or 17-year cicadas are out and about, and were REALLY loud! They also kept flying into the kiln and crawling around on everything. So I had some winged company when I was loading.

Cicada on the kiln brick
On Saturday morning I went to the Carolina Clay Guild meeting in Greensboro. Elizabeth Boles did a fascinating presentation on one-stroke brush painting. As I told another potter, it's like someone watching a potter make a piece, it looks so incredibly easy! I may give a few of her pointers a try. And I, having not really done a lot of underglaze painting, have never tried things like gum arabic to carry a slip for trailing or painting. So I may give that a try too.

Elizabeth Boles presenting one-stroke brush painting
Saturday afternoon was spent helping Sid Luck get things glazed, and I ended up having to leave before the loading took place. Sunday afternoon was the firing, which is always nice. I had some great conversations with several of the other potters there, and with Sid, of course. I'll post the results of the firings later this week!

Jason Luck, Sid's son, above the kiln and Paul, who has been working with Sid for a few weeks, in front of the kiln
Also, the Pottery Fair on the Square sale at Old Salem Museums and Gardens is next Saturday, May 21st from 10-5:00. There will be quite a crowd of potters from across the state there! It should be a lot of fun!