Monday, April 21, 2014

On the Farm- Chicken Shadow Puppets and Barn Progress

 We were heading to check on the chickens the other evening and as we approached their blue tarp-covered house, we noticed it looked like a band of shadow puppets playing across a stage. Once they realized the farmer was nearby, though, they all herded toward the door to greet him.
 Above is a photo of our newest additions. We don't know which ones are hens and which ones are roosters quite yet, but we're hoping for more hens than roosters! These little biddies will be our new laying flock.

Work on the barn progressed, and we now have flooring down! We're still working toward our 100 bottle goal on our fundraising, and looking forward to lots of events in June at the farm!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Letter to an Historic Potter

Uzziah Kendall jug, second quarter of the 19th-century

On Facebook the other day, I penned a quick letter to a potter I have been researching:

Dear Early 19th-century Cincinnati Potter,
I apologize for casually talking about and using the name "Uriah" when it seems you prefer to be called "Uzziah." At least the number of times "Uzziah" shows up is comparatively larger than something that looks like "Uriah." So, Uzziah from Maine who might have gotten his clay from Missouri, I hope we're on good terms now.
Yours truly, A Crazy Contemporary Counterpart

"U. Kendall/Factory, CIN"

Uzziah (isn't that a great name?) Kendall probably started making pottery in one way or another in the late 1820s in Cincinnati, Ohio. He likely started a pottery factory in the early 1830s, and even ventured toward making yellow ware (a yellow-glazed pottery popular in the 19th-century).  His father may have been a ship captain, which is pretty exciting, too.

I'll be speaking in a few weeks at the Midwest Antiques Forum in Lebanon, Ohio, sharing my work as a contemporary potter and researching historic pottery. I'll also be talking about some research on Kentucky and early Ohio River Valley stoneware production. I have some pretty exciting tidbits to share! There's still time to register

Thursday, April 10, 2014


"Patience is a virtue" is the old adage that I did not pay any mind to this morning. My pottery is single fired, meaning that I glaze raw pots without bisque firing first. This brings in the conundrum and graceful dance of putting moisture (in the glaze) back into a drying clay vessel. The walls soak up the wet glaze pretty fast and can become very flexible, very quickly. I make my pots pretty thin and this usually works out just fine. When I put glaze on the inside and the outside of the piece I usually need to wait between glazing the inside and glazing the outside in order to let the walls set back up a bit. I was rushing to get ready to go to the museum for work this morning and thought, "maybe it will be okay if I just go ahead and double dip these mugs now." WRONG!
I arrived home this evening to find the handles collapsed off of the sides of the mugs and sitting in little, sad pools next to the vessel. These are the lessons that keep me humble.
The nice thing about single firing is that when I screw up a pot, it goes back to the pile of scrap clay to be recycled for future use!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Productive Day

 After working over the weekend at the museum and on the barn, I had a hard time getting into gear yesterday. Today, I felt like I accomplished quite a bit in the studio. I made a small herd of mugs today, some small pitchers, small dishes, flower pots, and mixing bowls.
Small dishes

Small dishes and flowerpots

Shorter pitchers
 I also did some slip trailing for decoration this morning before the pots got too dry. I've found that putting the slip trailing on when the clay is still a little moist helps it stick on the pot and not pull away while it is drying, or worse, in the firing.
Work on the barn/workshop is going well. We almost have the floor joists done!
Floor joists almost finished
It is amazing to think that a month or so ago the base of the workshop looked like this:
We are hoping to get some framing up later this week. We're back at the Greensboro Farmer's Curb Market this Saturday, April 12th from 7 am-12 pm, so come visit!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On the Farm - It's SPRING!

Arugula coming up in the greenhouse
Spring has sprung at the farm, and with a vengeance. We went from 30-40 degree (Fahrenheit) weather last week to 70-80 degree weather this week!

Zucchini went into the ground this week and into the greenhouse.
Small spring lizard spotted at the farm
I spotted our first lizard of the year while I was moving firewood the other day!
Honeybee on flower
Our honeybees are out and about. I spotted them on quite a few plants around the farm, including a flowering tree near the road that a lot of insects are enjoying (circled in red above).

We went into the hives this evening and saw a lot of activity inside. Mike unfortunately got bopped by one bee, but it looks like things are going well inside of the hives. Now we just have to stay ahead of them to keep them from swarming and leaving our hives!
Work on the barn/workshop is going well. Above is what the barn looked like yesterday.
We were on to the second bay of floor joists today. I had never heard floor joists called "sleepers" until I was talking to someone later in the evening. The person who said it told me that "sleepers" is just what carpenters sometimes called the joists.
We launched our "Help Raise Our Barn" fundraiser campaign in order to offset some of the costs for building such a large infrastructure for both of our businesses. We are grateful to the responses we have received and look forward to our 100 bottle goal!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

52 Form Project- Week 11

The 52 Form Project 

What is it?
My 52 Form Project is devised to help me stretch my creative muscles, explore new forms, or finally get to making forms I have been wanting to try for a long time. I am planning to make a new or modified form for every week of this year.
How can you help?
Your input on the forms, their shape, decoration, appeal, and function would be greatly appreciated. Some forms, if they seem like they may do well in the market, may become a part of my regular production.
Delayed Week 11
Week 11's form was a bit thrown together, literally and figuratively. It admittedly was not the focus of my week since I was absorbed in getting things finished for the kiln firing. Then I was absorbed in the cleaning, packing, and the show. So it goes.

Finished piece before the firing
However, this form has been on my mind, and I think it was something I was edging toward in week 2 with the lobed flower dishes. I've been hesitant to make a footed dish since I fire with wood and have to prop things up to protect from the salt, but I forged forward to give it a try.
Trimmed, low dish
First I made a low, wide dish and trimmed the bottom to have rounded edges.
Foot thrown off of the slightly-dried base

Small cuts into the foot to make it have three sections
Then, I  threw a foot off of the dish. So, the dish set up for a bit until it was a little past leather hard, which allowed me to literally throw a blob of clay onto the base, pull it outward, and then raise it to make a foot. Because of the need to prop the piece up in the kiln, I cut the foot into three sections so that it could have the chance of balancing itself if it got a little wobbly in the kiln. 3's and 5's balance much better than even numbers when making cuts.

I slipped the base and rim with a white slip and decorated it all over with cobalt blue slip.

I was pleased with how they turned out in the recent kiln firing, too. The base fired fine and it seems pretty level overall.

For one dish, I cut into the base and created a pattern that pierced through the wall. I was not terribly impressed with the outcome though, and enjoy the other base much more.  
Perhaps with the slip it just did not come out as smooth as I was hoping, but I also think it detracts from the overall decoration, particularly on the rim.

Thanks to the enthusiastic response to our fundraiser we just launched! We're still working our way toward 100 bottles though, so don't miss out on the opportunity!