Thursday, July 30, 2009

Results are in...

Good News!... We unloaded the salt kiln yesterday morning and were very pleasantly surprised. For the most part we all agreed that it was a successful firing and everyone got some nice work. I got a handful of real nice mugs and some cups, a few vases, a beaked pitcher,bowls...the usual fare I guess, but boy they do look nice.
As we obsessively examined all our work we all decided to fire the kiln again and quickly made new clay. Great flashing throughout the whole kiln and a nice salt sheen all around. For a number of the pieces we threw a salt body recipe that was given to us by visiting faculty Frank Martin and I was really pleased with the fired look ...oh and by the way, Frank , your big pot turned out real nice... a little blush and a pebbled surface around the large leaf areas! In the above picture from left to right: Sam Howell from Maryville in Tennessee, Dan Kuhn from IUP, just north of Pittsburgh, and Bobby Tso from Hong Kong via Missouri.

Above are a few images I shot informally of some of my own work that came out of the kiln and also a couple pieces of Bobby Tso's.
Here's another couple of "ify" shots but I think you can get the idea of what the firing looked like from this. Well, gentle reader, I have allot of stuff to post in the upcoming weeks. We are in high gear here and I am getting a good bit of my own work done too. I am also posting a bunch of pictures on, so if you use facebook, search me out and check out the rest of the images...until next time, happy firing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Almost famous...

Here in the bubble of the Chautauqua Institution at the art quadrangle, we have marathon "Raku Fridays". They can be long and grueling starting around 9:00 am and going on until well after lunch most of the time. We fire the class work as well as visiting faculty and resident students' work too. Mostly its small things but once in a while we get some whoppers...I'm always up for a challenge and a new burn. This past week we did our little Raku circus for the benefit of a film crew that was here making a documentary on the history of the visual arts at Chautauqua. It was a blast and thanks to Maria Mangano, who serves as the print studio tech, we got a whole lotta great images as they shot their own of us. (She also has a great blog that you should check out too.) The ceramics studio tech Dan Kuhn and I have both done plenty of raku in our lives and we have the firing/pulling and holding of the breathe down to a science.

We went through the motions with the film crew so that they could get their set up for the shots over and over and then we went for it! They were an easy going crew led by producer John Grant. They are from a PBS station called WNED out of Buffalo, NY. and the entire program will air a year from this coming Fall. The above shots are of Dan and I rolling back the handy dandy raku kiln and then us being as dramatic as we could be while handling the hot pots. The below is of me being a ham for the camera...grrrrr, be a fire tiger...rowrrr...much more Cha to come...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A garden interlude...

I fled the Chautauquan bubble this weekend to get home and whip my garden back into shape and also whip up a fresh batch of pesto. The Echinacea was thick and in full bloom with the Black Eyed Susans hot on their heels. I am overrun with Nasturtium but I imagine there are worse things to be taken over by...I have several varieties of Nasturtium, its one of my very favorite things in the garden. Enjoy the photos as I enjoyed being home to commune with my outdoor space. Monday morning its back to the bubble where I am as busy as these bees buzzing through the cone flowers. We are loading the big salt kiln on Saturday...stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Big Pots/ Big Hedge...

OK...hey, it may not look like much, but I call it my Chautauqua summer studio. Its not big, but its cozy and it works for me. There is not any water out there and I have to haul two five gallon buckets from the main studio for clean and dirty water usage... is removed from the hustle of the community studio and I really do like that idea...I don't care about hauling a little water. Recently in my space, I threw a bunch of large vases to hold some of the great flowers that are still in bloom up here around Lake Chautauqua...three for the upcoming salt firing that we will be doing next weekend! Speaking of the upcoming salt firing, the above piece is a big pot made by one of our last visiting faculty members, Frank Martin, that will be going in the kiln. Its already slipped and ready...we are hoping to fire it off next Sunday...Thats my studio space outside the window...see, not such a long haul. We also had a recent visitor in the art quad... Porta Hedge - Mobile Observation Lab. This rolling art piece is the brainchild of artist and Chautauqua summer art school alum Justin Shull. I am hoping to have Justin stop by the IUP area in the Fall with his mobile installation. He is currently hauling it and parking it across the country and will be back my way in November. Please see more about this very cool piece and all its secrets at

The Porta hedge was an interesting addition to the art quad. The interior was outfitted with spy holes, observation cameras and swinging seats. ...I am looking forward to seeing him again in the future. I leave you now gentle reader with an image of Dan Kuhn, our dedicated studio tech learnin' them dedicated work study students some...Sam Howell, Heather Couch, and Heather Kopek(right to Left)...more Cha to come later.