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 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 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 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

Friday, September 14, 2012

When it rains, it pours...

work = making a mess
And even when its not raining and its a particularly beautiful day still "pour-overs" more like it...I guess.

I have been using my "pour-overs" that I recently wood fired and I'm really enjoying the ease of use as well as the very clean, smooth tasting cup of joe that it produces. I am a little late coming to this party as I have never used one of these things before. I have seen them and was aware, but just never had first hand experience with them until the coffee shop, Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea, where I have the Self Serve Pottery Kiosk set up, asked about me making these items. Well, I am happy they did inquire. Bethany, the co-owner, took the time last week to school me in the proper techniques in using the object and also in what makes a good pour-over. We weeded out a couple that did not function so well and settled on a basic design that works very nicely. We measured my wood fired pour-overs up against the plastic type and found that my wood fired ones that are of equal size, maybe a bit bigger, work almost identical to the plastic one. I mean by this, that they produced a fine cup of coffee and even the brewing time was very close to the plastic one. The smaller ones brew a little faster but the taste is still very good.

So yesterday while I was waiting on a few things to dry, I thought I would make a quick step by step visual...I start with a #2 Mileeta paper filter, roughly 2 scoops of fine ground beans and 8 ounces of hot, hot water. I soak the coffee grounds with a little of the water first to let them open up and become a bit aromatic, then slowly pour the water all in the pour-over...the smaller one I am using in the images took roughly around 3 minutes...give or take...and it was goooood.

I think I will be having one more of these late this afternoon before I drive into the Burgh to go to the opening for the "Potters of Indiana County" show at the Clay Place at Standard. I have a few smaller pieces in the show including a pretty  nice pour-over tankard set. Maybe I'll see you there? Then its on to Little Mahoning Creek Pottery on Monday to drop off a bunch of work for our upcoming wood firing. I will post pics from the show next week...until then, stay caffeinated.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Opening Friday Night...

Letterhead Logo
Clay Place at Standard is now on Facebook!
Like us on Facebook 

Potters of Indiana County, PA
Opening Reception - Friday, September 14, 2012
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Vessel by Brett Freund
Participating Artists

Robert Bonnet
Ruth Ferrier
Phil and Haywood
Phil Salvato & Haywood Vincent

Enjoy an evening of art, food and drink, live music,  and great conversation.  

Be sure to visit the NEWS & EVENTS page of our website for local exhibitions, lectures, workshops and other clay-related happenings.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think may enjoy an evening of art, music and refreshments.

Carla Flati
Clay Place at Standard

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Having an "A Fair"...

..."in the Park" that is... OK, that's a bit awkward for an opener but whatever...anyways, that's where I was Friday afternoon in the steel city...A Fair in the Park. I stopped by to see two of my favorite potters, enjoy the warm, late summer afternoon, check out some art work, and gab a bit...and maybe even pick up a mug or two. Well homies, I'm here to say that I was successful on all fronts...I visited with both Nancy Smeltzer and Christy Culp AND got a mug from each one...then enjoyed checking out the other artist booths! Mission accomplished.
check out the fine salty details!!
In the spirit of all mug loving, blogging potters out there, I thought I would share a couple pics of my new mugs...the top pics are of a salt fired beauty by Nancy with a crazy cat, all hunkered down into a big lump ready to pounce, and the one below here is my glossy new majolica mug from Christy...which I will be drinking my java from in the morning.
turning over a new leaf...
If you are in the Pittsburgh area on Sunday, I highly recommend checking out this great three day festival(click the link above for more info)...stop by and say hello to Nancy and Christy, buy your own mugs, and just soak up the fine early Autumn weather...hey, what else do you have to do, the Steeler game isn't on until Sunday night!

Stay tuned for more...things are really starting to pile up around here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


That's how I feel in the studio right now. That is not always the way it has been in the last year or two...that is for sure...and damn, it feels good.

A friend posted the above(click to see bigger) on his Facebook page and I remembered it from grad school. I am not one for having a set list of rules or some manifesto to follow but this is good stuff and honestly as an artist, craftsman, or maker of something...words to remind yourself of your intentions...of who to associate with...of the importance of that feeling of being immersed wholly in what you are doing.

Back to work...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Star(fish) and stripes...

Unlike many potters, probably the sane ones, I do not have the luxury of doing one thing at a time...working in cycles. Currently I am throwing small groups and hauling it a couple hours over to Little Mahoning Creek Pottery for the wood kiln, but at the same time I am working on finishing surfaces. I am up to my ears in decals and after the first small batch, I am in a groove. I am enjoying the new images that I am using to create the collage based surfaces. BUT what I am enjoying even more is the underglaze element that I added to the piece before bisque. The bright stripes with the incised lines create a new and varied surface as a background to my images' foreground. I dig it. AND I feel as if this makes more a connection to the mid-range electric kiln fired work that I have done and know that I will be doing again soon. Although I have always thought of the atmospheric, shino rich surfaces of my wood fired pieces ideal as a contrasting abstract background to my clean and graphic laser printed decals...not to mention the tonality of the decal and the wood fired pieces have a very pleasant uniformity...I'm beginning to broaden this thought.

Besides the addition of the brighter colors, it is the scrawling scraffito work that I found almost addictive. I bought a nice little loop tool that cuts like butter and I love the look of the line in the clay. I am using the underglazes like slips and putting them on while the work is still leather hard so that I can scratch into, over and around until I am satisfied. I am so involved in this portion of the process that I think I am going to start making a WHOLE LOT of wall based works. I plan to be scratching patterns and imagery in as the background layer for the laser printed and commercial decals...and maybe some gold "bling bling" luster too. If I can shift the focus of utility to be more about just the surface image, I think I would be very happy. But in the mean time I will still be throwing mugs and stuff...I doubt I could ever give up favorite thing.

So have a gander at some pieces in process(click to see bigger)...some with the underglazes and scraffito and some with just the laser printed decals...none are fired yet...keep your finger crossed and thanks for looking!