Thursday, July 31, 2014

Updates in Photos

Sometimes it is embarrassing to see how long I go between posts. Since I have been so delayed in doing even weekly updates, I thought I would share a bunch of updates with photos. The biggest update I have to share is the following announcement our dogs made on Facebook recently:
Yes, this means yours truly is going to have a baby sometime in January. Needless to say, that has been a fairly major distraction from posting! It should make throwing pottery pretty interesting later this fall, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Compost crocks


Hanging planters

Shortly after returning from my ventures in New England, I gave a presentation at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts' Summer Institute on Kentucky pottery. I enjoyed that thoroughly. It took me a little while to get back in the studio, and when I did I got right back to making lots of pots. This was in preparation for a firing this coming weekend with Joseph Sand.

I participated in Blowing Rock's Art in the Park in mid-July, which turned out to have 60 degree (Fahrenheit) weather and rain. Needless to say, the crowds were not quite as expected, and it was a soggy day.

Slip trailing on large bowls

Just before the Blowing Rock show, I cleaned the studio up, wiped down the wheel really well, and got out some new clay. For a long time now I have had in the back of my mind the want to fire earthenware in the wood kiln for several reasons. One, when I have seen wood-fired earthenware pots I have always felt them to be warm and inviting. Two, for a purely experimental reason, I want to see whether the salt that is now coating the interior of my kiln will flux and off gas onto the earthenware at all. Call it a bit of experimental archaeology, but I am incredibly curious to see what happens. The firing is coming up in a few weeks in mid-August. I'll be joining forces with Anne Partna from Blue Hen Pottery for this venture.
Marbled and slip decorated dishes

Slip decorated bowls
Making earthenware has given me the opportunity to play with a lot of slip trailing and marbling that I have also wanted to experiment with for a long while.

Earlier this week I helped Joseph Sand load his large kiln and will be on the firing crew on Saturday. So, here's to rolling into August with the hopes of more posting to share some of my experiments in the world of earthenware and keep you updated on the developing human being I am incubating. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Traveling Potter Part II

My hope to have this posted mid-week last week clearly did not happen. Another part of my traveling adventure last weekend was to Don Carpentier's Eastfield Village in Upstate New York.

Each year, Eastfield Village hosts a series of lectures and workshops centered around various aspects of the structures and collections there. One such weekend is generally focused on ceramics of one kind or another, and is fondly called by many, "Dish Camp." It is a great experience that is unlike any conference. It's a laid back environment with presentations in an historic church. People bring archaeological material as well as intact pots to talk about various things or to get other opinions on what they have. The lectures are by people from various aspects of the ceramics world- collectors, scholars, researchers, archaeologists, enthusiasts- and it makes for a great weekend of learning and camaraderie.

I had the pleasure of presenting some of my newer research on Kentucky and Ohio River Valley pottery production There were some great speakers this year talking about a variety of things from archaeological adventures in Burslem, England to new aspects on Philadelphia-made earthenwares.

Rick Hamlin from Massachusetts came to talk with Dave Graci about Whately pottery, and he also demonstrated a few pottery making techniques.

 I did a pottery demonstration, but also demonstrated how kiln furniture functioned in the kiln as well as a demonstration of stacking pots with kiln furniture.

One thing I try to make sure to point out during a demonstration is how the thickness of the walls vary and also that the heft of an historic pot is not always because the potter could not throw well. It also had to do a lot with the clay and whether it had enough plasticity to have high walls, or absorbed water and slumped some at the bottom making for thicker foot profiles.
Each Saturday evening attendees are treated to a period meal cooked by kitchen demonstrators from Old Sturbridge Village. Dinner is served in the historic tavern on site, and often accompanied by music!

I tend to have shop envy when I visit Don's shop!

Don showing how the engine turning lathe operates
On Sunday Don showed everyone his shop and we watched several videos demonstrating his pursuit to learn how to build and operate a potter's lathe and an engine turning machine for making engine-turned creamwares as they did in England in the later 18th and early 19th-centuries. I thoroughly enjoy attending "Dish Camp" and highly recommend anyone interested in historic ceramics to go for a unique experience!