Friday, October 31, 2008


Randy's workshop was so inspiring. And probably being away from the studio this past month has also stirred up some fire. So with great enthusiasm I got into the studio on Tuesday to get my hands back into clay. The night before, Jim had commented that we need a/some platter/s for serving as we don't have any to use with the plates I've made and that we enjoy using. So that was my mission--make some platters to see if I could get one that I would be pleased with. Well, too bad. I had much trouble trying to get a plate big enough to be a platter! And of course it will shrink lots before it gets to the table--if it makes it through the rest of the process. I threw three pieces. One I tried altering into an elipse shape by cutting out a section in the middle and pushing the sides in. It does not look promising but is still on its way...
Well, the end of the story is how discouraging the whole process was/is. I've trimmed them and they are drying, slowly, under wraps but I have very low expectations--but high demands! Such is the life of this potter. I should have started my venture back into the studio by throwing 500 rice bowls--that might have warmed me up enough to tackle platters with more success.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kenny is coming home Saturday

He has such great spirit! He has remained so positive through all of this.

Randy Johnston workshop

I’ve been trying to find a way to describe the Randy Johnston workshop this past weekend in Houston. I enjoyed it so much and was so impressed with Randy himself that I’d really like to share some of it with others.
Randy started both sessions with a slide show: Saturday morning he gave a broad overview of the history of ceramics in Japan and the pottery lineage from Leach/Hamada/Yanagi to current potters in the US by way of England. Randy studied under Warren MacKenzie in the 1960s and worked in the Japanese pottery of Tatsuzo Shimaoka in the 1970s. He had interesting stories to share of his work there and his acquaintance with Hamada whose pottery was next door to Shimaoka’s. Sunday morning he showed of some of his work and some of his wife’s work (Jan McKeachie Johnston) with references to the inspiration for his work and what he learned from it. Randy gives great attention to detail and keeps detailed notes that serve as reference for development of new work. He wood fires his pieces and is very attentive to variations he gets based on placement of the pieces in the kiln.
Following the slide shows Randy demonstrated techniques for making several of his best known works. These sessions were 5 and 4 hours long—which amazes me, now that I calculate the time, as we never became tired, lost attention or wished for a break. Perhaps because he was so relaxed and comfortable with what he was doing. He stressed the importance to him of drawing in preparation for new works. He demonstrated how he transformed his 2D drawing into a 3D piece, quite literally, by constructing patters, from the drawing, for a handbuilt coffee pot using geometric principles!
Here are the pieces cut from the patterns. (Sorry about the dark picture.)

And here is the coffeepot, without lid, made from the pattern pieces.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Kenny's surgery went well. He was pleased--and surprised--to come out of it alive! He really expected that he would not 'wake up' after the surgery. He has asked several times if I have told 'so-and-so' that he came out OK. But he has experienced a serious set-back--from the anesthetic, I understand. On the thrid day he could not take even one step forward even with assistance. He could not feed himself. But he is at a rehabilitation hospital and receiving 4 sessions of therapy each day. On Thursday--8 days after surgery--he walked about 150 feet with his walker taking only one rest stop in the middle. That is a huge improvement. He is feeding himself now. I think he will be in the rehabilation hospital for another week. I am optimistic that he will be back to 'normal' by then. He looks forward to being 'normal' so he can help me when I need it!

This weekend I am in the lap of luxury. I am in Houston attending Randy Johnston's workshop here and staying in the lovely home of my friend Toni. I was planning to stay at a hotel--had made my reservations--when Toni learned of my trip and invited me to stay with her instead. Her home is so lovely and I am so fond of her and we so seldom have a chance to visit face-to-face that I could not resist the temptation to accept her hospitality. What a treat it is!

And I am really enjoying the workshop with Randy. Today he took us through a pictorial tour of the lineage of his and Warren MacKenzie's work. Randy was a student of Warren's in the 1960's. They live near one another and maintain a close relationship. I really enjoyed hearing the history of the Mengei movement and how it has come down to us. Tomorrow, before returning home, I plan to sneak in one more visit to the exhibit of Warren MacKenzie's work (and Randy Johnston's along with other of Warren's students) before driving back to San Antonio.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I'm hanging up the "closed" sign on the pottery door--and on this blog--for a while. Kenny is expecting to have surgery next Wednesday. And I am expecting to be very occupied with him and his care for the next month or so. I will put up the "open" sign when we are both back in the studio doing what we love to do! Thanks for your friendship and support!