Saturday, December 22, 2012

...NOT!


"We are still alive!", my daughter exclaimed as she came downstairs this cold December morning. That's right folks, another "end of the world" has come and gone! Silly Mayans.

Since the world did not end, I must once again resume my normal daily routines...and maybe take back the shiny red sports car I bought, stop looting the neighbors houses, and put away my "Mocking jay" brand bow and arrow. Then its Christmas time as usual...hurrying to finish last minute projects, frantically cleaning up the house in preparation for visiting family members, scratching and clawing my way through the stores with the rest of the last minute shoppers...hmmm, that end of the world stuff doesn't sound so tough compared with this...

But, we will make it and we will be happy we did. When I am able to sit and reflect and just take in the goodness during this time(perhaps in a haze of egg nog and glazed ham), I know it will all be worth it. We here at homefry sketchbook hope you will also find that moment of peace...that moment that reaffirms all the reasons you put the extra work in, the extra care in to all that you do...for your family and yourself.

Much to come in 2013...starting with the first in our series of artist interviews...Kwak-Pong "Bobby" Tso...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Hope Santa's good to you...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Santa Came Early...


This week as I was scurrying around getting things ready for Christmas...shopping, decorating, cleaning up this house...Santa paid me an early visit! HO HO HO, I got my new kiln! This is a major thing for me as I have never had my own brand new electric kiln. I have had a couple clunkers that I used as bisque kilns that I either got free or really cheap but not a new one and not a nice shiny digital Skutt either. Just look at that baby, look at those bricks...no chips or chunks torn out, no hanging or bulging elements, no shards embedded into the soft brick, no glaze stuck anywhere! Maybe I just won't fire it....ha, NOT.

The kiln has a new home in the new super secret studio. I have been getting all my stuff into the new space and slowly getting ready to pump out a very big body of cone 5/6 mid-range work... and now, I'm pretty much ready. This has been a long and somewhat difficult transition from firing the wood kiln with Nancy at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery, who is now 2 hours away, to deciding to go all electric in a somewhat weathered old mill town. Thanks to the love and support of my wonderful wife and her family here in the greater metropolitan area of Beaver Falls, we are making it happen.

And while I am in the thanking mood, let me say thanks to all those folks who have been keeping me busy sending out orders. MUCH APPRECIATED!

While Santa was dropping off my big present at the studio, he slipped a little something in my stocking too...via Barbara Donavon down in Baton Rouge. I purchased this really cool, shifty-eyed, wild hog mug from Barbara when I saw the recent post on her blog...which you too can see by clicking on the link just above or over on the side bar blog roll. She is donating 100% of all the sales from these mugs to CERF+...Craft Emergency Relief Fund...monies that will be going to help artists recover from Hurricane Sandy. Click on the link to check it out...or maybe see if Barbara has any more mugs left in her Etsy shop by clicking HERE. Its a great cause and I applaud Barbara's efforts to lend a hand...and it was a good excuse to finally purchase one of her mugs that I have been checking out for some time now!

Stay warm...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Its beginning to look a lot like...

...first snow of the season today
....NO, don't say it... I'm not ready...but its a comin'!

Remember this weekend ..shop small, shop local and most importantly shop online!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

...


...that pretty much says it all. Cheers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hello November...

mid range electric flamingo fantasy...
I've been taking a bit of a break. That doesn't mean the rest of the world has, quite the contrary. In the past couple weeks or so since my last blog post a whole lot has happened. We have elected Mr. Obama back into the White House, which I am very happy to say, "I voted for him". I just could not relate to Mitt the corporate goon and his anti arts and education, conservative, republican agenda. After all, that's what I do...art and education...in fact that's what I have been doing in one way or another for a long time now and I could not sit back and simply NOT cast a vote against his politics. We also had a doozy of a storm not that far from me..."superstorm Sandy" was devastating to many, many people and I feel fortunate to have been just at the ends of its reaches...Pittsburgh was spared the major destruction and power outages. Besides these two major events, I have been busy packing boxes and shipping out pieces....numerous pieces to California ...they must really be into Etsy shopping...also had pieces go to New Mexico, Montana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and even a couple to my friend in Norway! I love the fact that people will be drinking from or using my work in so many far away places. Heck, I even sold a 300.00 sculptural piece from a local gallery. Keep it comin' folks, there is plenty more. And, and this is a big AND, I am patiently(not really) waiting on my first ever brand spanking new kiln. I have had other electric kilns and they were either junkers or well used pieces of equipment that I acquired for cheap or free, but this one is NEW. Never been used... a KM1027 digital Skutt. I can not wait. This does mean a lot of changes to my work. I have always produced mid range electric fired work on the side but mainly concentrated on the wood fired pieces, well that is going to flip flop. The electric kiln will be used to make my main body of work and wood firing will become a luxury for me. I have included a few images of mid range work that I have produced in the last few years to give you some idea of what is to come.
damn fancy high ball cup...

large cone 5 landscape platter
Speaking of things to come, I will be showcasing a new "feature post" on my blog...interviews. These will be interviews with ceramic artists and potters that are flying just under the radar, not the big names or the trendy clay hipsters, but people who are consistently producing solid work or whom may be just on the cusp of something big. I am finishing my first set of questions and sending them to an artist that you should see...that you will see here and I am certain you will see way more of later. I will not reveal this person's name quite yet...lets let the anticipation build.

I hope you will embrace my new work the way you have supported the wood fired work...enjoy the images and I hope they give you a better idea of what I will be making. While I play the waiting game, I am throwing so that I can be ready with a kiln load when it arrives! In the mean time, I hope you are all safe, warm and dry out there.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recap...

keepin' warm outside by the fire...
Ahhhhh, I 'm still winding down from the weeks of travel and firing and also the studio tour last week...ahhhh, again. Nice to have all that behind me and I want to thank all of those folks who came out to the tour to visit or to pick up a new mug or something or other...it was great to see familiar faces and equally as nice to meet new ones!
The tour was a good one and I am quickly spending my loot on wicked salted caramel mochas from that dastardly corporate coffee monster...you know the one. I am addicted to their deliciousness this time of year...that salty salt on top of the sweetness all mixed with foamy, creamy espresso and whatnot. DAMN your yumminess salted caramel mocha!!! I am having to add an extra day to my gym schedule because of it!
my new crow mug from Nancy!
In between salted caramel mochas, I have been repopulating my much neglected etsy shop. Right now I have two dozen pieces in the shop that are looking for a good home. Feel free to stop in and pick up a new mug or serving bowl or whatever...think Christmas or just think like me...of yourself...and treat yourself.

Well, that was my sales pitch...

Finally today I would like to extend my thanks to Nancy Smeltzer for having me once again as her guest for the 5th year in a row on the Potters Tour. I am thankful for her generosity and hospitality for allowing me to finish my work, fire and crash out at the house... and also for the good eats and numerous beers. Thanks to Mr. Daniel Kuhn for squeezing me into a couple last minute 04 firings as well!

inside the gallery

more...

return customers and cool people!

 
hula mama tumbler...
 
Utensil holder with jellyfish...
 
large stacked wood fired vase
  Hope you enjoy the pics from the tour and also some pics of new work that is waiting on you in my etsy shop...much more to come, the Fall is just starting to get going!

pour-over and mug set...brew your own!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Potters Studio Tour 2012

The Gallery at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery...see you this weekend!
Its that time again kids...3rd week in October, peak Fall leaf color...time for the Indiana County Potters Studio Tour! This weekend, 10/20-21 from 10 am - 5 pm each day...Woohooo! This is my 5th year as guest potter at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery. I would like to go into all the details with you today but I am running around like a crazy person trying to get it all together so I am ready for you this weekend! So here are a few pics of what you can expect...if you are in the western PA area, c'mon out and see us and don't forget to check out the other studios on this great tour! Hope to see you !Click this link for more details and directions.  and click on the pics to see bigger...
lotsa new graphics on lotsa new wood fired pieces!

double espresso!
lidded jar fresh from the firing!

perched and waiting by the window...wood fired mug by Nancy Smeltzer

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Its All in the Firing...

Little Mahoning Creek Pottery
And once again, the wait is on because literally IT IS all in the firing...well, all the work is cooling in the kiln that is. Nancy is unloading the wood kiln this evening and I will be heading back there on Monday to check out the booty! I have a whole lot of work in this load...Nancy said she peeked in and only saw Kyle, Kyle, Kyle! Woohoo...GO KYLE!

 We did have a good firing this past Wednesday...I started the kiln around 3:00 am to prevent us from going too late into the night and it sure worked out. We had about a sixteen-seventeen hour firing on that breezy Fall day. And it was a pretty nice day to boot...a little rain and some clouds during the afternoon  but the wind kept pushing the bad weather away and we ended up with a beautiful, bright Autumn late afternoon...just the way we started the day. During our firings, I have made a habit of shooting pictures. I have a visual record of almost every firing of the wood kiln(both kilns) that I have been involved with there at Little Mahoning Creek Pottery. So, in between stokes, this firing was no different in that fact. The light was gorgeous in the morning and, like I said, when the afternoon cleared up, it was equally as nice. Little Mahoning Creek Pottery is idyllic especially in the golden Fall light. Today instead of showing you some new freshly fired pots, I want to show off the place where I have been firing for the last 4-5 years now. I think that environment truly influences the work...like a biscuit in rich and creamy sausage gravy, the flavor of the place where you make work can come through in the finished product. This  idea is very relevant right now as we have a big studio tour coming up on the 20-21. If you are in the Pittsburgh area/ western PA, I highly recommend making the time to travel the back roads and see the pottery studios, the super work, enjoy the Fall colors and visit with a bunch of friendly potters. The link for this is located on the sidebar or heck, just click here. If you want a better taste, here is the link from my post about the tour last year.
daybreak...the early shift


Nancy is firing the wood kiln one more time this week...probably unloading Saturday during the tour...get your fresh hot pots here!!! Hope to see your smiling face during the tour...October 20-21! Enjoy the pictures here then get out of the house and come see it all in person...
See Nancy Smeltzer in the Smicksburg Chainsaw Massacre...of hardwoods.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dear Etsy...


Dear Esty,

I hope you can forgive me. I have neglected you for a long time now...pushing you aside for other venues that are more direct and with less changes. I have seen the error in my ways and I would like to breathe a little life back into my online shop that is homefry : eclectic ceramics. It seems that the shutters had been drawn and the virtual dust had accumulated on the virtual shelves where once there were wonderful virtual ceramic wares. I pledge to you that those days are behind me and although I will continue to send work out to those large percentage taking "brick and mortar" spaces, I will not, and I repeat, will not use those "other" online art shopping sites. We had some good times in the past and I am hoping we can bring some of those glory days back. I am willing to give you another chance, if you are willing to give me another chance. Your my girl...um,er...site, or something.

P.S.  Below are some pictures of some of the pieces that I have now listed in my etsy shop...click to see bigger.

P.S.S. I hope people visit the shop...homefry : eclectic ceramics






Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Madness of Fall...

on the tour...
 I felt the pressure of  it building at the end of August. The madness and the rushing to make work and to get the work out there...out there in galleries, in the online shop, in various exhibitions, and more specifically for me(beware shameless plug here) The Indiana County Potters Studio Tour, happening October 20 and 21...all ready to be scarfed up by the pottery loving consumer during the all important Fall season. For me, and probably most, its my biggest selling season. Which, duh, totally makes sense as it all leads up to the holiest of all big consumer based shopping frenzys of the year...Christmas.

It happens every year about this time...make, glaze, fire, repeat, make, glaze, fire, repeat, make, glaze, fire, repeat.

And that is where I am right now...currently I'm somewhere between glaze and fire...after already having repeated.

So today instead of posting some deep philosophical musing or pretty pics of finished pots, I thought I would post my current position...you know, somewhere between glaze and fire. I still have a bunch more work to glaze but I have finished the bulk of my mugs, which always take me a little long to finish. I will be driving back over to Little Mahoning Creek Pottery this week to finish all the bigger pieces. Although these large forms are substantially bigger than the mugs and cups, I will be letting the kiln do most of the work for me, slipping and glazing only sections and interiors thus speeding up the process. With drinking vessels I am more concerned about making a smooth and pleasurable contact for the user...glazed interiors, lips, handles, and partial body of the piece. Ahh, who knows, I'm sure it will take me longer than I expect...

image on card: me on top, Jante Runyan, Josh Floyd, Cathy Bizouski, Rita Nichols
Finally, here's the postcard for our upcoming exhibition at the Artists Hand Gallery in Indiana, PA. The potters group has really made the rounds this Fall. Our show at The Clay Place at Standard comes down Friday, October 5th and this one opens the same day...nice. The Artists Hand Gallery opened this summer and is quickly becoming a vital component to the local art communities of the small college town of Indiana. Click back on this link to see more about The Artists Hand...

Stay warm.

Friday, September 21, 2012

and more...


                                      
                                        In the other gardens
                                        And all up the vale,
                                        From the autumn bonfires
                                        See the smoke trail!

                                        Pleasant summer over
                                        And all the summer flowers,
                                        The red fire blazes,
                                        The grey smoke towers.

                                        Sing a song of seasons!
                                        Something bright in all!
                                        Flowers in the summer,
                                        Fires in the fall!

                                       ...Robert Louis Stevenson


       
A warm welcome to Autumn this weekend and also Happy Birthday to me...enjoy the images...









Thursday, September 20, 2012

So much...


I have so much to post about right now, I'm not sure where to begin. I have so many new pieces and great pictures along with news of coming events...I'm on overload.

Let me see if I can't just jam most of it into one single blog post here...

I will start with a follow up from last Friday's opening at the Clay Place at Standard and the exhibition "Potters of Indiana County". Admittedly, it was one of the first openings I had attended at this location since Standard had taken over this long standing Pittsburgh ceramics gallery. I quickly understood that I had been missing out. This was a well attended opening with many of Pittsburgh's local clay luminaries coming out as well as people driving in from out of town. I chatted with several of the other ceramists included in the show, gabbed with my favorite maker of masculine majolica, Ms. Christy Culp as well as meeting a ceramic fave of mine, Ed Eberle AND hanging out with Jeff Greenham and his wife that had driven up from West Virginia where he is the ceramics professor at Fairmont State. With all that jawin' I barely had time to shoot many quality pics but here are a couple just to give you an idea. From here on, I will be marking my calendar for the openings and making sure to attend.
Brett Freund

Birch Frew and Cathy Bizousky in foreground

hanging out...


 On Monday, I made my all day, round about drive...first stop: Dan Kuhn's to pick up my decal fired pieces...thank you DAN!...then on to Little Mahoning Creek Pottery to drop off work for the wood firing and to load the bisque kiln...and finally back to the infamous basement of my house in Indiana to retrieve my old friend...the slab roller. What a long ass day of driving...but it was a bit like Christmas when I got to Dan's to check out my pieces from the 04 firing. The decal firing is "the finish" for making of a piece for me...although I have had great results wood firing, I still want more...and many of these pieces were the cherry on top. Which leads me to my dilemma...post it all at once or focus on a more cohesive entry...hmmm...OK, I am trying to focus.
What I will post today are what I am feeling are transitional pieces for me. Transitional in the fact that they bridge a gap in my own creative output that lays between my interest in electric fired sculptural work and my wood fired utilitarian pieces. Although these pieces are in fact wood fired, they feature bright underglaze color and not much(but some) in the way of effects from the wood kiln. This becomes very interesting to me because I have decided to go all electric and I will be focusing on making more wall based works. The new colors, including the sorta "blah" grey, are a big part of the thrill for me. The surface imagery has always been the most important component to me and I plan on flattening out the forms to concentrate more on the composition. The composition now includes slips, underglazes and glazes used in combination with mark making(scaffitto), stamps, and layered decals. In the following pics, I am literally flattening forms so that they become a wall hanging...thrown mugs squashed flat and hung by their handles. Sounds goofy but they turned out really cool...here are a couple that I shot hanging on the outside of the studio at LMCP.


The other real breakthrough for me would have to be the mugs below. Like I said, not much in the way of looking like a wood fired piece but they still retain a certain element from the firing that I like. I am not sure if its the larger loose-ish forms or the fact that the grey exterior surface has a strange clashing sensibility with the interior and foot...but I like it. I think I have been wanting to get a certain look from the wood  kiln for so long now(and been getting) that I have been closed off to explorations. Well, no longer, I have decided to broaden my palette. I have many new pieces to fire that sport uncharacteristic colors and scrawling line work for the next wood kiln firing. So please comment and let me know what you think and I will stop this post here. Next time I will post more pics of my usual suspects from the wood kiln complete with decaled surfaces. As always, click on the images to see bigger. And on a final note, the Potters of Indiana County will be having another group show at the Artists Hand Gallery in Indiana, PA starting the first week in October. This show will coincide with the Potters Tour that happens on October 20 -21. Thanks for looking and hope to see you at one of these events!
Hula Mama

backside of Hula Mama

Double Flamingo Head

Backside Double Flamingo


backside of Go Ask Alice
Go Ask Alice