Friday, March 30, 2012

Catching Up Part 2...

Sometimes I like to jam it all into one single blog post...and then times like this, I like to spread out the love.

I am still playing a bit of catch up here. Last week on the long haul home I stopped by Little Mahoning Creek Pottery...home of my friend Nancy Smeltzer and studio where I spent the last 4 - 5 years throwing pots and firing the wood kilns. Nancy was not home but I poked around and checked out all of her pieces she has been firing...she has been a busy potter. The work was stacked all over the studio and the warm Spring sun flooded the space. Being there in the warmer weather made me think of firing the bourry box kiln and how much I liked to swing open the big barn doors on the side of the studio and throw pots in the light breeze with my tunes going. I don't get that much light or a breeze throwing pots in my basement these days. Above and below are a couple informal shots of work fresh from a recent firing...sets of tumblers, lidded jars, plates, casseroles, one very cool fish mug(hope she hasn't sold that mug yet) name it...and most with her drawings of birds and a few other select critters.
salty owl planter and one fine fishy mug
The good thing about having a basement studio is that at least I can still throw pots...I may take them all over Western  PA to get them fired, but hey, having a place to get the process started is real helpful right now. And speaking of driving my green ware all over the state, today I started to make work for the next wood firing back at Nancy's which will happen in a couple weeks! I will be making some more pieces over the course of the weekend...mugs, bowls, and something new for me...small cake stands...about the size for a cupcake really. I guess we'll see.

Finally, the saga of my bumpy mid-range mugs comes to an end. Dan Kuhn fired them again and they just got worse...not only bumpy but now bloated too...who knows...he and I are both scratching our heads about it. I appreciate the comments and suggestions from those of you who chimed in and I will be doing some tests...and not using that clay body again.  Anyways...there is always more clay...and the wheel keeps spinning.
PS. NCECA... Seattle...oh yeah...whatever.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Catching Up...

empty no longer...
Another week has past and I am here to report on a couple items I have been yammering on about in recent posts. First and foremost, the Empty Bowls event was held this past week and yet again Nancy Smeltzer and Harmony Ritchie pulled off another very successful happening. When I spoke with Nancy this week, she said they made 2800.00 dollars for the Indiana County Food Bank and were also able to donate the remaining soup to a good cause. Not too bad for 4 hours on a single day...way to go! Just think if more people did things like this on a regular basis...think of what could be accomplished....that's my stack of donated bowls at the top of this post and here's a shot from early on...bowls galore!

The other tidbit here is my ongoing saga of the 2 dozen mid range mugs. You have seen pics of them in various states from leather to bisque and now your going to see what I'm dealing with now. Weirdness. Thats what I'm calling it. Dan Kuhn is going to re-fire them in an attempt to possibly flatten out the little blister like texture all over the exterior of the surface. Its like a fine grit under the tell me...please. It might be from the slip, but the slip was pretty smooth and after bisque there was no visible bumps. But that is where it is...where it has been slipped. It might be from the clay body itself...its a very dark body that is very much loaded with iron. Could it be the iron coming out? Now take a look at the problems...and no slip...shit, shit, shit. So, now, after the fact, I'm going to make some tiles and check all the variables, at least I will know what not to do again. Oh well, like I have said before..."that's ceramics".
 In the meanwhile I'm garden planning...and enjoying sitting outside in the mornings drinking coffee and doing a little mental landscaping. I've got seeds started inside and popped in a Japanese Cherry at the new house in Beaver Falls, hope your gearing up for Spring too. Until next time...cheers.
mid range soda fired trusted morning companion back in Indiana, PA.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Empty Again...

Step right up...a week from today, next Tuesday, the Indiana County Potters Group in collaboration with the IUP ceramics department will be hosting the annual event...Empty Bowls. Nancy Smeltzer has been key in getting this charitable happening off the ground for the last several years with help from Harmony Ritchie and other local potters like Betty Hedman, owner of Smicksburg Pottery. In the past we have raised anywhere between 2,500.00 up to almost 4,000.00 dollars and all of the proceeds go directly to the Indiana County Food Bank. For those of you who do not know, the Empty Bowls event is a grass roots movement nationally supported by potters groups with all the money going to local food banks. For the cost of 15.00 dollars, you get to choose from hundreds of handmade bowls...fill your "bowl of choice" up with one of 4-5 selections of delicious soups...which also come with bread, cookie and water...and oh yeah, you get to keep the bowl. What a deal...this happens Tuesday, March 20 in Indiana, the lobby of University Square right next to the Commonplace Coffee Shop from 11am - 2 pm. Come get your soup is a link back to one of the Empty Bowls events from 2010...check it out...and if you are in the area, stop by for soup!

Bowls donated by: Nancy Smeltzer, Betty Hedman, Harmony Ritchie, Dan Kuhn, IUP ceramics grad students as well as undergrads, Josh Floyd, Deb and Birch Frew and Kathy Bizousky from Stoke Hole Pottery...and I know there are a few more people throwing in bowls too, can't remember...oh yeah, and me.

And what's a blog for if not to post gratuitous pretty pictures...I have been forcing a bunch of forsythia clippings from my garden back in Indiana and they are just starting to pop open. May your mornings be filled with hot coffee and fresh flowers...
mug by Josh Floyd...

 And now the seems like Spring has officially Sprung in Western PA,
 ...P.S. I wore my sandals today.
striped crocus from the beginnings of my new garden