Jun 18 2013

Elemental

Wouldn’t it be lovely if galleries would promote their artists and their work as beautifully as Goldmark Gallery in Great Britain does? Here is a trailer for the film ‘Elemental” featuring Ken Matsuzaki, a Japanese potter working in Mashiko, Japan.  (I believe there is a longer

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Feb 12 2011

The Art of Slip Trailing

I’ve long admired the skill it takes to slip trail a design on a pot and make it look right. Not only do you have to execute an artful design and be sure of your line, it takes some coordination, being aware at all times of the exact amount of pressure you have on the bottle to control the flow of slip and have it come out in a controlled and continuous flowing line. Air bubbles in the slip bottle can be disastrous, and a clogged tip can break your flow too.

Here are just a couple of video links I came across by people who have got it down. The first is Scottish potter, Hannah McAndrew. Her work is quite lovely and in the long slipware pottery tradition of Great Britain.

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And here is Minnesota’s own Paul and Denise Morris of Morris Pottery, who do wonderful slip trailed designs on wood fired pots. Denise, slip trailing here in the video, sure makes it look effortless.

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Enjoy!


Nov 13 2007

Protecting Potters’ Hands

As potters, we subject our hands to a good deal of abuse. Prolonged handling of clay and loading kilns, seems to just suck the moisture right out of my hands, sometimes to the point of being quite painful, especially if a crack develops. If your hands are out of commission, you can’t make pots. I thought I would share some of the things I personally like to use to help maintain and protect my hands and fingers.

I have tried many kinds of hand creams to keep my hands from drying out and cracking over the years, but not very many actually penetrate the skin or do much good. The two ones I’ve had the best luck with are Corn Huskers Lotion and Bee Balm Lotion (BeeBalm is actually my favorite). Both can be bought at my local pharmacy, and the Bee Balm can even be bought through at least one of my pottery suppliers.

Its also unavoidable sometimes to get abrasions, cuts, scratches, hangnails, etc.. While an adhesive bandage works great under normal conditions to protect and keep a cut clean, it has a tendency to just be cumbersome and usually won’t hold up or even stay on after a few minutes of throwing, let alone continue to keep bacteria out once it gets wet. And clay has bacteria.

Several years ago I was reading about a new product on the market called New Skin. It was a new kind of waterproof, flexible liquid bandage that you could just brush on like nail polish. As soon as I tried it, I was sold. While I don’t think its recommended for big deep cuts, it seems to work great on scratches, minor cuts, etc., and is quite unobtrusive.

I also found these handy dandy little First Aid Cots in the bandage section of the pharmacy, right by the New Skin, bandaids, etc… They roll on like little finger condoms and can even go over a bandage, keeping your digit dry and clean. Much more localized coverage than a latex glove, although just as effective. They work great.

I also like to keep some little nail clippers at hand and around the wheel. They’re handy for trimming bits off fast-growing nails when they get too long and start to gouge the clay, and are perfect for nipping off hangnails before they get out of hand.


Sep 12 2007

Sick Potters Make No Pots

I’ve been out of commission for almost a week now with a bad head cold. I have no idea where I picked it up, but it hit me like a truck early Saturday morning as I was getting ready to go run my usual errands.

Today, while still a little foggy, is the first day I’ve felt semi-human. The possibility of a wholesale customer popping by sometime in the afternoon was motivation enough to get presentable and head out to the showroom to straighten up and take stock of what I had before my guest arrived.

Took the opportunity to snap a few photos in the gap between when my customer left and my daughter’s school bus was to arrive.

One thing about being sick and out of commission, no pots are being made. Its even more challenging when you have small children (and I have 2 less than the age of 5).

It was good to see the pots and think about clay again. Time to regroup and get back into the groove.


Feb 1 2007

Beautiful Handcrafted Sinks and Udu, Air, and Skin drums

Rusty Wiltjer - Waterford MaineStarting back in the early 90s, in the early days of Clayart and various pottery newsgroups, there was a group of us who used to log onto the #pottery channel on mIRC, spending long hours happily clicking away at the keyboard talking about anything related to clay, pottery, glazes, firing, kilns, design, life as a potter, apprentices, etc etc etc.

One of the people I haven’t lost touch with from the channel is Rusty Wiltjer (aka Grulox). Rusty has been potting for over 35 years now and is one of the more technically capable potters I know.

Wiltjer Pottery Sink For the last few years, Rusty has focused on developing and producing his handmade sinks, including his pedestal, vessel, and self-rimming models. They are all individually made on the potters wheel, glazed, then high-fired in his gas kiln . I’ve seen a lot of sinks potters have tried to make out there and .. well, there are handmade sinks, and there are handmade sinks. Rusty’s a precision thrower and his sinks are thrown well, designed well (including back-flow), and are finished well.

Wiltjer Pottery Air Orb 2H DrumWhen I visited his site yesterday I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of clay drums he now has up …and each with a sound clip! Its amazing how a slight variation in vessel shape can affect the tone and pitch. Did I mention Rusty also drums professionally and has on and off since he was a kid? For some time now he has been having a weekly drum gathering session at his house where a bunch of like-minded percussionists (I assume all on handmade or primitive drums?) get together and just jam.

Wiltjer Pottery - Captain Drum Head, 28Rusty’s studio is nestled just outside the town of Waterford, Maine, about one hour north of Portland. If you would like to find out more about his sinks, drums, and pottery, or would like to contact him yourself, please feel free to check out his web site www.wiltjerpottery.com.
Rusty Wiltjer live performance.. in his bandana
Here’s a picture of Rusty playing a live performance with singer songwriter Kristen Short. (Nice bandana eh?)


Dec 21 2006

Webb Pottery: Coastal Artisans, Potter Charles Smith, Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Anagama Opening

Well Christmas is right around the corner and December seems to have passed as soon as it came. There were a lot of pots made in between illnesses and the different obligations and distractions that typically pull you away when you have 2 small children.

Our much anticipated Coastal Artisans Art Show took place on December 2nd (the invitational art show that we had been busily organizing since early last spring) and I am so very pleased to say it was a great success, thanks to a lot of elbow grease on everybody’s part, great community support, and, of course, a buying public. It was a very positive experience and imminently rewarding. We have a really personable and eclectic group of artists and I feel very fortunate to have been able to get to know them over the last several months. I really look forward to working with them again next year. In case you who were involved are reading this blog, I wish to thank all of you who participated and to everyone else who so generously helped us make everything happen.

Designed Stoneware Tripod Vessel by Charles SmithOne of the members and a co-founder of The Coastal Artisans, is Charles Smith. A native of Mobile, Alabama, he is one of the region’s most well known, widely recognized, and certainly respected professional visual artists. He is a true craftsman with a shrewd business sense, a great sense of humor and a heart of gold. Some of you may be interested to learn that a number of video interviews with Charles have been posted on YouTube, where Charles reflects upon technique, design, and artistry, among other things. To view these eight videos, including a slideshow of some of his pots, go to http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=smithpots.

Something else that has gone on in the early part of the month, as mentioned in my previous posts…… On Saturday Dec 16th, the Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society had the official opening of their anagama kiln. Sadly we weren’t able to make it over be there for the event, but not for lack of desire (my 4 year old brought home yet another cold from school and this time, everybody here got it.). According to a recent email from Marty and Brenda Stokes, the firing took 5 days, as it did last year when Brian Harper helped them fire it. I can’t wait to see the pictures and, with any luck, a video of the event on their web site.