Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring or Close Enough...

high fire stoneware, celadon, laser transfer decals, commercial decals
Here in Western Pa. Spring has sorta sprung...sorta. It is warming up and yesterday was beautiful but it did snow just a few days ago too. Damn this crazy weather.

It is starting to feel like a weight is lifting off my head...that weight of our never ending winter...and I am finally getting more work finished. So here is just a short photo full post for your viewing pleasure. I am still dabbling with the high fire gas kiln and getting some nice results too...and if you are ready to celebrate a little good weather with a new mug...please go to my etsy shop by clicking here!!! I'm off to the Pirates game...lets go Buccos!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

old dog/old tricks

Winter Basket...

Forget the new tricks thing...this old dog is learning old tricks and is up to my old ways with these methods.
Winter Basket...detail

I have the luxury of having a large, down draft, car-kiln at my finger tips and as part of my job these days I also fire that large car-kiln with everybody's work packed inside. However I have spent the last 7-8 years making work without a large gas kiln. I spent years working at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery firing the wood kilns and years also spent working out mid range glazes and firing in an electric kiln. For several summers at the Chautauqua Institution I had the pleasure of firing their Blaauw gas kiln which was basically a peeps, no cones...just a motherboard on a clean, red and white box. I haven't really fired a big gas kiln since grad school.

Soooooo, I am re-learning about high fire, cone 10 reduction firings and re-discovering an interest in processing my own work through that beast. I have fired it 3 times now all with different results. The first time was pretty good...pretty even on the top and bottom but just not that great of a reduction. The second time fired really well...very even and a solid reduction producing great copper reds and sweet shinos. The last time I fired it...mehhh...not so great...I over packed it with a ton of little stuff from all the classes. It has very uneven...and and cold all over...not an evenly heat saturated kiln...but, a very nice reduction nonetheless.

I'm learning and getting better. I plan to fire again this week, lets see how it goes. In the mean time here are some pieces that I am pretty pleased about from the last couple of firings. The top image is a real sweet piece...glazed in a celedon and white and then fired again in the electric kiln with my own digital photo images...Winter Basket...I have more decal pieces on the way! I also am enjoying doing a bit of brushwork and figuring out new and interesting combinations of glazes. Monday I will open an electric kiln decal test on all the cone 10 glazes we have at the studio. More possibilities...more challenges...

Enjoy the pics and btw, I am starting to slowly add work to my Etsy if your interested in some things you see here...check it out further there...
homefry ceramics.


Think Spring!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Take a Class!


Thought I would mention that I am teaching three classes this upcoming term at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, maybe one of these three classes are for you!

Raku : A Twist on Tradition

Intermediate Ceramics

On the Surface : Creating Intricate Surface Design

Above are the links for each should take you to the same place and from there you can read a description of each once you click on the title. All three classes are 8 weeks and all three explore a different type of firing for the work completed in class. Raku,obviously, intermediate will mainly make work for the high fire reduction kiln, and  the surface class is geared toward multiple firings in the electric kiln. A little something for everybody.

Come on out Pittsburgh and get your hands dirty with me...

imagine the possibilities!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Passing Time

February is zipping past me, leaving me standing in knee deep snow and still thinking about making new work. Its interesting that as this winter drags and drags, this month seems to be passing so fast. A lot of this has to do with my new position as the Ceramic Studio Coordinator at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. I have immersed myself in the studio there...teaching, making glazes, firing kilns. And honestly, it is very satisfying right now to see the progress, albeit only small steps. But I see the openness and I feel very positive about these directions. So instead of me blathering on about stuff, how about a pictorial update of the last few weeks or so?! Buckle UP!
At the beginning of February I moved my personal studio space from Stray Cat Studio back to my own corner of the world... the basement in my house. I was finding it difficult to get down to the studio there...although its all of five minutes from my house. My new position with PCA combined with the 50 minute commute didn't leave me much energy to again truck back down to another space to make work. I needed a little less community and immediate access(like rolling out of bed and throwing before I brush my teeth). The studio at PCA is a great community and I now have a fully functioning and long time established ceramic studio at my fingertips. I continue to wish Stray Cat all the best!

Making my way from the studio to the kiln house at PCA. The high pitched kiln house is home to a soda kiln and a fiber based car kiln.
I fired the car kiln for the first time at PCA with the assistance of my buddy Dan Kuhn. BTW, Dan is having a grand opening for his new ceramic studio, teaching space and gallery...
TON POTTERY...this weekend 22/ is over 3000 square feet of really great space and if you are in the Pittsburgh area, you should check it out!

The ceramic studio here at PCA also had a big "throw down" for a major Empty Bowls event at the Rodef Shalom Congregation here in Pittsburgh. This is probably the biggest Empty Bowls night in the city and we are a big contributor for the event. Standard Ceramics generously donated 250 lbs of high fire stoneware and we also used quite a bit of our own pugged reclaim to make several hundred soup bowls! The public was invited on a Friday night and we had an invitational on Sunday afternoon! Thanks to all who came out to lend a hand making, trimming, and assisting others(and bringing cookies!)...great to be a part of this!
I also completed another branding commission for an upcoming wedding. 25 high-jacked Ikea feldspar porcelain mugs all freshly adorned with my decals. The wedding is nature/tree themed so I was able to use many of my own digital images of trees, leaves, plants and flowers combined with vector art and vintage images...each has the bride and groom and date in that fancy frame but all 25 are unique and variations on the theme.
Meanwhile, the snow continues to pile up. The above image is actually my back yard and semi shoveled sidewalk from my garage. This was from a few days ago...last night we got another 3-4 inches and my daughter got another day off least somebody's happy about this.

NEW WORK coming soon...I SWEAR!...thanks for catching up with me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Secret Raku Past

During the late 90's through the early 2000's I was a Raku addict. I admit to getting hooked on ceramics way, way  back in the late 80's when I was exposed to the gateway drug...Raku. The drama of the firing process, the flames, smoke and the immediacy of it all really clicked for me and I ran with it. I set up a studio in the down town area of the Central Florida town where I was living sometime around 1997 and did nothing but make work strictly intended for the Raku firing. From there I peddled my charred and glossy goodness to the many out door festivals around Florida and even up to my now adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. on several occasions.

These days I very rarely make anything that I think I will be putting in a Raku kiln. I enjoy teaching the process and students enjoy just what hooked me in as and smoke and the promise of your work finished in under an hour. I held monthly firing workshops back in FLA., fired every Friday when I was in Chautauqua, NY. and even flew my fiber kiln over on a 16 seater plane to Andros Island in the Bahamas to do workshops on a military base...twice! But personally, I went cold turkey in 2004 and although I have fallen off the wagon here and there since, I have never had a serious relapse.

It was fun to revisit a few pieces as I was in need of a high res. image for an upcoming ceramic class catalog. All my Raku work was made pre-digital camera era, so I had to shoot a couple pieces I had around the house still. These images are of  pieces I made sometime between  1998 and 2001...I think...still look pretty darn good. The mixed media piece was most likely made in 2001.

Bamboo Bowl

Lidded Full Moon Vessel

Paragon Five
Glad I got this all off my chest...your a good listener.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Logo Land/North Pole

Greetings and salutations from the frozen north.

 They are saying that ol' evil "polar vortex" is coming to get us again this week...yeah, great. In my now 10 years of living here in Western PA this is the coldest winter I have experienced and as a Florida boy, this is some of the coldest weather I have EVER experienced. I think I have had my fill.

Dear Mr. P. Vortex,
Once was plenty, a couple times just makes you look bad. Please just stop.  
Lots of us in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area

While this frigid winter weather coupled along with my slow recovery from hernia surgery has hampered my making of much work, I have been concentrating on ways to "make" that don't require a lot of physical exertion. So I thought I would post a bunch of shots of some of the branding ventures I have been doing over the holidays. 

Recently I have been firing restaurant grade stoneware and porcelain with my laser transfer decals. I have fired a handful of different types with some variation between the pieces. I have to say, the cleanest and best decal firing on restaurant wares came from a feldspar porcelain cup and saucer from Ikea. That being said, some of the worst results came from other Ikea stuff. 

My local coffee shop haunt, Beaver Falls Coffee&Tea Co. is always up for cool stuff and I recently completed a set of 6 cup and saucers for "in house use" and then a grouping of demitasse and tea cups for the employees as gifts from the owners. I even branched out some and got a similar gig from another great little coffee shop not far from me called Wunderbar. With BFCAT I was allowed to sorta go wild, the only specifications were that it  had to have the business name clearly visible while Wunderbar already had an existing logo they wanted to use as well as specific style imagery on the reverse side. Both turned out pretty darn cool if I do say so myself.
Wunderbar commercial stoneware mugs worked nicely too!

Along with the commercial logo mugs I also handmade a couple for a friend and a larger group for an author in the New England area(sorry no pics) that preferred the hand thrown look. So have a gander at my graphic nature for now until I can crank out a bunch of new work. Oh yeah, its coming, just like that damn polar vortex.
handmade branding!

lovely Ikea Porcelain...favorite to re-fire!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


As we punt 2013 as far down field as we can, lets not reminisce about the passing year's "best of" whatevers. Instead, lets look forward to a positive and productive new year from 2014.

I'm healing well from a recent surgery and looking forward to getting back into the studio and making lots of new work. I am also eager to jump into my new position as Ceramics Studio Coordinator at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Since I have been stranded at home recuperating, I've been planning plotting and scheming about putting together workshops that cover an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to surface design...think I'm right about there. I am even planning to make more sculptural objects in the very near know, so I can be asked "but what do I do with it"...I have missed that.

I would rather make plans... not resolutions.

Thank you for reading, following, looking and lurking. 
I hope you continue to do so.

Hello 2014.
Here I come.

Happy New Year.

(PS. interested in new music for the studio...recommendations for some good tunes ...see the comment section and feel free to post your own!)