"The chief source of art is man's pleasure in his daily work, which expresses itself and is embodied in that art itself."
William Morris (1834-1896)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Return from Florida

We've returned from our Florida fair and family holiday visits. We hope you all had a wonderful holiday too. The 30-50 mph winds and no cable service greeted us but hey! it is definitely not Florida here...or is it? There weren't any hurricane type gusts of wind down there!
We took a chance on a show in St. Petersburg on the Gulf mid coast across the Tampa Bay from where my folks live, CraftArt2009. How was it? beautiful, lovely weather, good artisans, good food and hospitality but no buying crowd........ so it was disappointing... Russian roulette at best. Fortunately, we did make expenses and combined it with a family visit so it served its purpose. However, for a true test of how we would do at a Florida show, we'll rely on Winterpark in 2010. Winterpark is a very well established show so we would expect it to have a good buying clientele (i.e..people that wait for that particular show to purchase beautiful hand crafted objects for their homes and as gifts). CraftArt2009 had one strong recommendation in a trade magazine.
Our pots looked great! We even tried to wax local by placing palmetto in our wall pockets rather than the usual long grass. Instead, there were quite a few New Yorkers who stopped by recognizing our listed address in Saugerties!

Just look at that pedestal bowl in the front right corner .... Wow!
Here is a measure though of our sales: the crowd was so thin that we had time to add up the value of the pots we had on display. That is a first! a first in over 30 years!! Any idea? Give me a guess in the comment area... come on.......

Now for the drive there, we got stir crazy and stopped for a mile walk in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge in Summerton, SC. It is so close to 95 that it was a blessing for sure. The landscapes were beautiful and could inspire some landscape pieces for next year.

Doesn't this Spanish moss remind you of Newcomb pottery from Louisanna?

After the show, we meandered over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the other side of the bay and found that the locals on Anna Marie Island had already set up their sandcastles for holiday viewing.

Then on the way home, we drove through some luscious scenery in SE Georgia. What a beautiful and varied country this is! We counted our thanksgivings!

all except for the green boiled peanuts....ew!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kiln Firing 11/16/09

It is difficult to choose the best of the kiln. Sometimes all the pots look equally beautiful but the newest pieces will be the ones that make the top grade. That's because they are special to us for pleasing us with their success. It could be a new glaze, new glaze combination, a new form or just a perfect balance between form and glaze that captures our appreciation. Sometimes the artists' pick of the kiln really should be two pieces... a toss up! Well, that is the case tonight. I can't choose between these two. The bowl is a new shape Steve threw and large as well. It also has our new glaze on a geometric design....very handsome.

However, I have to show you this white lotus. It is gorgeous.

So there you have it ... two for one, so to speak....
We leave for Florida now and will catch up with you on our return.....
Have a good Thanksgiving. We are grateful for your support.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The pedestal process

We are working overtime to get pots to take to a show in St. Petersburg, Florida this coming weekend. Last night was another glaze firing and there is yet one more before we leave on Wednesday.

This one had the bowl for the pedestal I raved about last post. Here are a few snapshots of the finished piece and a lot of photos of working with the pedestal. Enjoy!

If you take a look at the slide show ('November Pot of the Month') I posted at the beginning of the month, you'll see the throwing process involved in building up a tall piece. Here you'll see the difficulty in just handling large pieces without breaking them. The two photos above capture the before and after decorating.

Because they are so fragile when dry and not fired, Steve placed the pedestal in the kiln to dry slowly (without the heat). The weight alone would require too much tension in handling for a dry piece.

This is the bowl that will sit on top of the pedestal drying on plaster. They were made separately.

The pedestal has been through the first firing and is ready to glaze.

Ready to fire.

Kiln Firing 11/14/09

Sometimes the kiln is just filled with special pieces. This kiln firing was one of those. Just look at these wonderful pots. The pedestal made it! I'll post some more photos of Steve making and glazing that piece. To give you a better idea of the accomplishment, I should mention that the finished pedestal measures 20 1/2" high and 12" wide. The bowl pictured actually is not the one he made for it but another darker one we have. The bowl in the kiln firing tonight is glazed similarly.
The next piece is beautiful as well. It is close to an original Teco design. At 17 1/2" high it is quite large too.

and this is the lotus I was making in an earlier post.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kiln Firing 11/6/09

We fired a glaze firing last night and started
propping the kiln lid open at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

a little more at 460 degrees

Lid wide open at 300 degrees

completely unloaded... a nice firing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The making of a Lotus

There is a special beauty of a pot just decorated. It is what it is. You can feel confident that you've done your best and appreciate your success. Subconsciously I often consider the piece finished at this stage. The amount of control I have is larger. Once it is bisque fired, there is no more manipulation of the material only glaze application and firing. Glazing and firing are the more scientific side of ceramics. They are extremely important because obviously, if the glaze quality doesn't match the quality of the craftsmanship of the pot, then it fails as a piece. It is also a bit of a gamble, less so with experience but still there are variables that can go askew. Materials can vary as mines become depleted of chemicals you use in the glaze. You can space out (!) while you are mixing the glaze and end up with a disastrous glaze. (You can not see the glaze colors until after they are fired.) Thickness of the glaze is an intuitive thing too. We use a hydrometer to measure the thickness of a new batch of glaze but after that, it is really by feel that you decide the glaze is good to go. Kilns fire differently depending on the number of pots you put in the kiln and their placement within the kiln not to mention the firing schedule. Fortunately, kilns themselves are much more controllable today than in the 1970's because of the ability to digitally program your firing schedule, once you decide on it.

I was working on a Lotus today. It really turned out beautifully. Take a look.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

update on pots

Steve finished decorating these beauties. You see the beginning of the process in the last post.