Wednesday, November 25, 2009

just a pointer

I was not going to post again until after the holiday but...
I just have to tell you about a wonderful blog post this morning.
I met Euan Craig when I was in Japan with a group of potters. We were invited to his home studio where we met his lovely family, watched him throwing pots for an upcoming show and admired his kiln. I have enjoyed reading his blog regularly since then. In today's post he tells a charming story about his just-turned-13-year-old daughter. I think you'll like it, too.
Again, Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

today it begins

..the race to Thanksgiving. Wish it did not have to be such an intense push to get there. But since I am a committed member of the "don't do today what you can put off till tomorrow" group, that is the way it is and always has been! I'll be in the kitchen cooking up a feast with the help of lots of great chefs--the guests! Everyone will bring some wonderful something to offer to the feast. Just the way it all began, or so the story goes! I'll do turkey, gravy, dressing and rolls. Plus linens ironed and tables set. Today I'll make a couple desserts to add to what others are bringing. We are having our largest group this year--18 or 20 plus more just for dessert! It is my favorite holiday--our great family gathered for a day together. So much to be thankful for. Now off to the kitchen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The visit to the museum led me to want to place my 'amphora' in the historical line. I feel a connection to a potter in the 7th century BC who made this wonderful amphora--very similar to mine except he decorated his with geometric motifs in red and black on a terracotta clay.:

While looking through the catalog (for the collection at SAMA that Roy loaned me) I found interesting differences and likenesses. I'm probably not a keen observer and this little exercise has really been an eye opener.

The book led to a serious web search of 'amphora' and turned up some wonderful pieces.

I can see now how I would like to make my next 'amphora'--with some subtle but significant changes. I don't want to copy the examples I've found but I think I will see mine differently as I am making it.

The education of Gay, the potter-in-the-making!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

another rich experience

Today my friend Lani extended an invitation from her son Roy to visit the San Antonio Museum Of Art (SAMA). Roy focused on Art History in his college work and has worked at SAMA setting up some of the exhibits. At the guild sale a week and a half ago he and I were looking a the form of the large vase I had there. That prompted his invitation to look at similar forms in the Greek collection.

At her workshop last weekend, Suze Lindsay spent a lot of time taking us through slide presentations of work she admired--ancient and current. She really encouraged us to study various traditions of forms and decoration.
It is always interesting to see art through another's eyes. I enjoy visiting SAMA but always spend most of my time there in the Asian Wing--looking at Japanese and Chinese ceramics. I have ignored the Greek collection because I am not going to paint designs on my work--the Asian collection is focused more on the glazes. Both, of course, feature form. It was a very rich experience--seeing the collections through his eyes. I came home inspired with lots of new ideas! So many ideas and so little time!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

what a special weekend

I took part in a workshop here at Southwest School of Art and Craft (San Antonio) given by Suze Lindsay. She was great! It was a small group--3 days, hands-on--and so very rich! Just what I needed right now: very stimulating and pushed me in new directions. I found everything she presented to be just right for me right now! She wanted us to work in 'sets'--cream & sugar, salt & pepper, candlesticks and such. And she spent a lot of time introducing us to surface design. I made a set of 'sipping cups' with a tray. After I fire them I may post a picture of them. I am very pleased with them now. Others in the class made MANY sets of things! But I got lots more out of the class than what I made!

There was a down side to the weekend. Saturday afternoon I began to feel bad, then I was feeling awful--like getting the flu. Oh my gosh, if I get the flu I might give it to everyone else AND I'll miss the rest of the workshop. I left mid-afternoon, went home and straight to bed. I kept wondering if there might be such a thing as a 12 hour flu--because that would let me return to finish the workshop. I was running fever and felt achy and all that awful flu stuff. But I was not sneezing or coughing--those germ spreading aspects of the flu. When I woke at 7:00 am I was not sure I could go to class. But 8:30 I thought I could--maybe not for the whole day. I felt better and my fever was just about gone. So I loaded up my pain killers and vitamin C and got to class. Did not have much energy but could stay all day. Did not DO much but was able to take a lot in.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eva's photos

Thanks, Linda. When I re-read your instructions I found the step I was missing--now it works!

a nice showing

The guild's sale was very nice. There was a great collection of work--mostly ceramics but a bit of textiles and some jewelry, too. My friend, Eva, and I shared a booth. She took pictures of our booth and sent them to me but I don't know how to take the pictures from an email and get them into the blog. I took these snapshots here before I packed the pieces to take to the show. We both had 2 shelves--one tall and one short.
I enjoyed seeing potter friends that I don't get to see very often and got to see the work they are doing now--beautiful work. I met a potter, not from San Antonio, whose work I've seen on the web before. Wonderful work. You can see her work at Linda Nowell Pottery
I guess the best part was being fired up to get busy in the studio again. I was flattered that some of my work sold and honored that some of the purchasers were artists whose work I greatly admire!
As I was preparing for the show, I put in more concentrated time in the studio and realized how badly I need to do that consistently. I want to spend lots of time experimenting and exploring. Bur first I've gotta get the studio back into working order!

Friday, November 06, 2009

some of the fruits of the fire

I did not have a packed kiln. Here are a few of the pieces from the long, slow firing.
A compote--about 6+" high and 10" wide

A serving plate: about 10 1/2" wide

A gravy boat: about 4" high and 5" wide

A small pitcher: about 7" tall

well, the firing was fine

Here are the cone packs from the 3 lower shelves (the stand alone was on the top shelf that was very shallow). BTW, I had only one ^7 cone--so what you see are ^5. ^6, and only one ^7 on the middle shelf. Bottom pack on the right:

None-the-less, I will check the lower elements this afternoon. I guess this is an interesting example of 'heatwork=time and temperature'.
The pieces in this firing are fine--I am grateful and very relieved!

PS after the firing

which took 29 hours and 23 minutes, I 'reviewed' the schedule (kiln still too hot to unload). I found that I had made a slight error when I entered the firing schedule...I thought I was telling the kiln to advance from 250F to 2000F at a rate of 300F/hr at which time it would advance at the rate of 108F to 2185F. But, unfortunately, I really told it to advance to 200F at a rate of 300F and then to advance to 2185F at a rate of 108F. Get it? The kiln crawled from 200F to 2185F at a rate of 108F per hour. Well, that does make for a long, slow firing! Once the kiln is empty I will fire it up again so I can see what the bottom element is doing. Hopefully, there is no problem with the elements--which are pretty new--and the whole problem was my careless mistake. Usually I 'review' the schedule if I change it--but not this time! I peeked in and saw that on the top shelf the self-supporting ^6 cone was bent to about 2:00. So I have yet to know what the rest of the kiln achieved. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

if its not one thing...

...its another! A favorite saying between Jim and Kenny--they break into peals of laughter as they chant that over some new challenge. For me, today, it is the kiln. It has been firing for over 24 hours and has not reached ^6 yet. I am wondering if is because I made a mistake entering the schedule or if the kiln has developed a new problem. At ~2140 F there was a bright, glowing yellow light coming out around the rim of the lid and out of each of the peeps EXCEPT the bottom peep--it is dark.

(I did not think to take a photo until the kiln was on the way down--about 1945 F--but it still shows. There are 6 peeps--but only 5 show. And the photo shows that the top 2 peeps are not as bright as the middle two and that the next to the bottom peep is very dull. I do have element problems. Drat...)
Didn't want it to be the elements--they are so expensive. I am so sorry that I don't know enough about electric machines and their care to be able to take care of my kiln. I am totally ignorant in that area (not just that area, unfortunately!)

I had a funny thing happen in the last (bisque) firing. I always put cone packs into the kiln--usually 3, sometimes 4. I have never had the fallen cones break except if I carelessly put then on the table when emptying the kiln--I line them up on the edge of the table to take a photo of the cones to put with the record of that firing. When I was emptying the kiln, I found that the top cone pack had a broken ^5 when I picked it up from the shelf. Curious. The cone was placed near the edge of the 1/2 shelf in the middle of the kiln so the fallen cone melts down over the edge of the shelf. When I removed that shelf I found the broken piece on the shelf below. Strange. Then the next cone pack had done exactly the same thing--^5 broken and sitting on the lower shelf. Very strange. Then I got to the bottom shelf and the ^5 was also broken off--but it was not sitting on the edge of a shelf and there was no broken piece near it on the shelf. Then I saw the broken end sticking out of a element grove. Very strange--so the broken piece had flown across the shelf--inches--to land in the grove. Perhaps that burned out the lower element. But what would cause those cones to break? The ^6 cones were all flat but none were broken. The broken ends of the ^5's were not melted, they looked as if they had just been snapped in two.

Sunday is the San Antonio Potters Guild show/sale. I am participating--sharing a booth with a friend. I don't have much work to show and not enough time to make a lot. So I've been working pretty steadily since early October. (t won't be the end of the world if I don't get anything from this long, strange firing--but I'd like to have this work to add to what I do have.) As I've been working for this deadline I've been very aware of how much I need to be spending time experimenting and exploring in the studio. Maybe I feel guilty spending a lot of time there and neglecting family things--with the show coming up I could justify to myself (and family) disappearing into the studio for most of the days, most of the past month. But I see so clearly that if I want to 'be a potter' I've got to commit to it on a more regular basis. Having the show as a deadline is a great excuse/motivator to be working away. But to really grow in my work I've got to work at it more consistently--without the deadline. I loved the line in the new issue of "Pottery Making Illustrated" on the editors page: "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done." That is my story, for sure!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

what do you do?

It seems like each piece I fire has a lesson to teach me...that is great...but I was hoping to have something I could be really proud of. The really bad part of that is that the problems can't be attributed to the firing! They are all 'hand made' by the potter!

I like the teapot...but I messed up the foot: wax mess and too shallow a foot so the glaze touched the shelf and made an ugly mark.

A pretty little sauce boat...but I think the glaze was too thin and I mended a crack with paper clay and it left an ugly scar that the glaze accentuated. I'm going to remake this one because I do like the idea.

Three compotes that work alone or stacked up. Nice. But I learned why it is not a great idea to get the stoneware pots too thin. Two of the three sagged a bit in the firing so they do not have a nice bowl shape. The largest one did well--probably not so thin.

I am not happy with the cane handle. I can cut it off and remake it. I have not mastered the skill yet! So the answer is to make lots of cane handles till I have mastered the skill--and might as well take advantage of this opportunity make another cane handle! And maybe redo the one on the teapot which I'm not so happy with either!