Monthly Archives: August 2007

What I’ve been up to

I’ve been busily working away in my studio lately – and I thought I’d share a little. Below are some small teapots that I just fired last week. I usually make larger teapots, but the one-person teapot has won my heart over!When I’m not making pots, I’ve been working on my blog. In addition to writing posts this week, I’ve discovered Google Analytics and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

A little sampling of the information that I’ve gotten from it this week

Visitors of Pottery Blog are from:
US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Israel, Mexico, Brazil, France, India, Romania, Japan, Switzerland, South Africa, Taiwan, Germany, Denmark, Philippines, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Norway, Poland, New Zealand, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Singapore, Estonia, Iran, Lithuania, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Finland, Indonesia, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal

A sampling of search phrases:
In addition to the basic phrases and keywords (soda firing, Emily Murphy, pottery blog, ceramics blog) there are some other more in depth searches like:

  • using shino in soda firing
  • ceramic kiln timings
  • ceramic wedging boards from plaster
  • site:potteryblog.com pottery blog tour part 2
  • can i have a signature stamp made of my signature?
  • how to throw a pottery mug
  • eat his heart out with a spoon (!)

And some things that I think my blog was probably not helpful with:

  • how to pronounce “pottery” in korean
  • emily murphy “neuroscience”

I have also been spending time reading other people’s blogs. You can see my list of links on the right side of the page (just scroll down a little). Between reading all of these great blogs from around the world, and then seeing where my site visitors are coming from, the world is feeling very small.

I’m off now to have a completely different art experience. Ian and I are heading out to Burning Man in Nevada for the next week with a gang of folks from The Opening Planning Project and friends. Most of this will not be clay related, but some is. There is going to be a tea stand/ house at our theme camp that I made teapots and tea bowls for.
Burning Man is known for an event with virtually no commerce, and lots of “gifting.” The gifts that we’re bringing are necklaces (pendants) that are made out of both porcelain and stoneware, and have some of the soil (playa) from the host land rolled into the clay, and then soda fired. The soil fluxes to a temoku like glaze. Photos to come!

Surface Decoration Techniques: wax resist and underglaze/ slip inlay

I have been creating, soda firing and documenting simple straight sided cylinders with a variety of surface treatments for examples for my classes and this blog. The original idea was to create demos to show students that aren’t specifically “my pieces.” The fun result of this project has been that it’s given me an excuse to return to things long forgotten, or try something new.
Watch out for upcoming tutorials with lots of pictures and slip and glaze recipes.

Wax resist and underglaze/ slip inlay
A great way to make a clean line without too much mess, step by step.

 

Step 1: Paint slip on leather hard piece.
I used several porcelain slips (grolleg mixed with Mason stains) on Lillstreet Soda Clay 

Step 2: After the slip dries (no longer tacky), paint wax over entire surface.

Step 3: Using a small loop tool, carve in your lines.
Step 4: Paint underglaze into the carved lines.Step 5: Wipe away any excess underglaze.
This is a great way to get make a nice clean, sharp line in the leather hard stage.

 

The inside of the piece is glazed with a simple matte black glaze, and soda fired to cone 10 in reduction.
Because the line is inlaid, it’s protected from the soda and doesn’t “bleed” when hit directly.

 

Some close up images 

Ceramics Classes

Soda firing classes with Emily Murphy
at Lillstreet Art Center, Chicago, IL
fall classes begin the week of September 10, 2007

_________________________________________
Soda Firing Fundamentals
This class is for the advanced student of ceramics who is interested in exploring a varied and unpredictable surface for their work. Soda firing is an atmospheric firing that produces flashes of color, a textured orange peel surface, and reacts in a variety of ways with different slips, glazes and clay bodies. We’ll delve into forms that work well to accentuate the soda process, play with surface decoration with particular focus on slips and textures, and experiment with glazing for the soda process (including the use of the spray booth). Kiln loading will be taught and all students are required to share loading and unloading of kilns on evenings outside of class.
Tuesdays, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Starts Sept. 11, 2007 

LAC Members $340 / Nonmembers $350
Soda Firing Lab Fee: $60
register here
____________________________________________
Advanced Topics in Soda Firing: Surface Decoration

This class is for advanced students with previous experience in soda and atmospheric firing, who are looking to investigate the process more deeply. This class is going to focus on surface decoration in the soda kiln. We’ll explore texture from stamping to carving and how to enhance the surface in soda. We’ll delve into slips from flashing to porcelain with a variety of application techniques. The ultimate goal is to enhance your forms with surface decoration in the soda atmosphere. Open to students who make both functional and sculptural work. All students are required to share loading and unloading of kilns on evenings outside of class. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Wednesdays 12-3pm
Wednesdays 7-10pm
Starts Sept. 12, 2007

LAC Members $340 / Nonmembers $350
Soda Firing Lab Fee: $60
register here

____________________________

I thought I’d share a sampling of work from some of my student’s (past and present) that have come through the soda firing program at Lillstreet over the past couple of years.
You’ll see many have their own websites, or albums with more images. Just click on a linked name to see more!


Greg Schultz


Beth Burkhart


Nancy Pirri


Fred Follansbee

Robert Milanowski

Lalitha Bardalaye

 

A tour of blogs about pottery and ceramics (Part 3)

Here is the next installment of my tour of clay blogs. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to see the community of blogging ceramic artists expanding. There are bloggers from all over the world, at different stages of the profession. They’re making high-fire and low-fire pottery and sculpture in every type of firing process imaginable. A little something for everyone. I just did a quick count of the total number of clay blogs that I have visited collectively on the 3 tours- and it’s 44!
Enjoy! 


Ceramic Focus: Ceramic Arts and technique blog
This is a site to get lost in and end up following link after link and ending up in an exciting place. Lots of images (and links) of work that is on exhibition around the world


Webb Pottery:
 Anne Webb
You have to check out Anne’s clay mixer! Beautiful work and a thoroughly interesting blog.

 


Ambrosia Porcelain
“We believe in creating beautiful, functional objects that bring happiness to your daily life.”
What perfectly named work. These pieces make me happy.

 

 

Sandwich Mountain: The Adventures of the Little People
More work that makes me really happy. This blog by Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi is fantastic. They each have their own personal blogs with really interesting work (click on their names to get to them). There are some exciting things happening with clay in Australia! 



Smokieclennell
: Tony Clennell
A brand new blog, but already with regular postings. I’m looking forward to reading more!
 

 

 

The Pondering Potter: Renee Margocee
“exploring the life of a clay artisan in the 21st century”
This is another fairly new blog, but I anxiously await Renee’s honest and thoughtful posts. I first came upon her as a guest blogger on One Black Bird and I’m happy to see that there is more where that came from!

 


Strange Fragments: Shannon Garson
Another Australian potter! I’m still digging through the archives finding one great post after another. Right now the line that’s hanging in my head is: “Make your work for yourself.”
We all need to be reminded of this! (read that post!) 

 



musing about mud:
Carole Epp
Anyone who is making work out of clay needs to read this blog! Carole is keeping us all informed about what’s going on in the ceramics world from calls for entries to spot lighting new and exciting work from different artists. And her pots are gorgeous too! 

 


Little Flower Designs
:Linda Johnson
Linda calls this her “inspiration blog” and I love that idea. It’s a great way to share that part of the process.

 

 

Peppa Studio: Where Beautiful Things are Made by Hand
More happy porcelain pots! There are some stories of the challenges of working in a community studio. I think there are a lot of people that can relate. I can’t wait to see more of the little plump blackbirds.





Colorado Art Studio
: Cynthia Guajardo
Cynthia is a super blogger. She has everything here from studio updates, to tutorials, to suggestions of books to read and music to listen to. Thanks Cynthia!


I love the photos of inspiration and the pieces they inspired. (Like this.) The imagery is stunning throughout this blog. And I’m intrigued by the little snippets of life, like the shot of the Boggle board.

 

 

I think this blog wins an award for the best name of a clay blog. Another blog with stunning imagery! It’s no wonder that Josie is making the pots that she is making when I see the environment she lives in. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m endlessly fascinated by how our surroundings effect our work. I think people are effected by it in different ways, but in general potters (and 3-D makers) are more effected then others. Perhaps because we’re thinking not just about the forms – but how they function and interact with the user and live in their new environment.

 

Christa Assad
A fairly new blog by Christa, currently documenting her latest adventures: starting a new job, moving to a new city, and setting up a new studio. I’m looking forward to what’s coming up next. 


Clean Mud: Jeffrey Guin
Most potters have at least a touch of pyromaniac in them, and I think that Jeffery has a little more than most! He’s self described as “unfocused,” but for readers it just means that there’s a little bit for everyone. If you wanted to learn about raku, this is the blog to read! He also has an offer to trade a pot for $20 that’s go towards food in the local food pantry. Take a look and maybe take him up on it.

 



Anne Murray:
“Currently studying design and ceramics at Glasgow School of Art”
Another new blog with an interesting and different perspective – that of a design and ceramics student. Anne is already posting regularly and I hope it continues.

 

 


Firing Log: Ancient Kiln / 21st Century Logbook
Yet another great ceramics blog that I cannot believe that I didn’t know about! I’m diving into the archives and loving it. The title of the blog is fantastic, and I can’t wait to listen to the podcasts. Again, something that I can’t believe I didn’t know about. I spend much of my day in the studio listening to podcast after podcast – but they aren’t usually clay-centric because there aren’t too many of them out there.

 

 

That’s enough for today!
I hope you enjoyed this tour, and don’t forget to check out the previous tours:
Tour of blogs about ceramics and pottery (Part 1)
Tour of blogs about ceramics and pottery (Part 2)
And as always, let me know what else is out there if I’ve missed something. 

If you’re new to reading blogs, or if your regular sites to visit have expanded out of control, I suggest some sort of reader like Google Reader, which is what I use.

How to: Mix two different clays

This is a problem that comes up all the time- two different clays that need to become one. Maybe you have some clay that’s too hard and some clay that’s too squishy. Or you have some stoneware and some porcelain (a great mix in the soda kiln!). It’s really hard to just wedge them together, and it’s a lot of trouble to put it through the pugger- especially if it’s just a small batch.
This will save your wrists from some stress and get out any aggravation that you might have at the same time.

Slam down onto your table (or wedging board) one type of clay on top of the other. 
Then slice it in half through the middle. 
And stack on top. (slam it down!) 
And slice and stack (slam!). 
Watch the clay mix together! It’s very satisfying to see the two different color clays mix like this.
Keep mixing until the slices of clay are really small (even smaller than this). 
Once it’s mixed through the slice and slam process, then wedge.
It’s much easier to slam the clay down then wedge the big hunk that well. This method is really great for clay that’s too hard and too soft. It’s nearly impossible to wedge those two consistencies together. And as I mentioned above, a porcelain-stoneware mix is great for the soda kiln (or any other atmospheric firing). 50-50 is my favorite mix. Through a little extra sand in for extra orange peel.
Maybe this how-to will make your wrists a little happier.

How to: Make a Foam Bat

A foam bat is endlessly helpful for trimming large pieces, and having a soft surface to work with altered pieces on.

You will need:
*A new clean bat. I used a 22″ Hydra Bat from Continental Clay.
*High density foam (it won’t flatten out when you put a heavy piece on it).
*A can of spray adhesive.
*An electric knife.
*A Sharpie or any permanent marker.

Take the bat outside and spray the bottom of it with spray adhesive.

 

Spray one side of the foam with spray adhesive. Put the adhesive sides together and press evenly.

 

Put the bat, bat side up on a banding wheel and cut off excessive foam with the electric knife. This will give you a nice clean edge.

 

Place the bat on your wheel using bat pins to ensure it’s perfectly centered. Use your marker and ruler to make concentric circles. 
Until you get to the outside edge. 
Then trim away!

Tour of blogs about pottery and ceramics (Part 2)

This is an update (a long overdue update) to a previous post about clay blogs. When I first wrote about blogs that focused on ceramics, there weren’t too many out there. I am so happy to find this time around that there are a lot more now! I didn’t include ones that I listed before. And these are in no particular order. Enjoy- and please let me know if there are more out there for the next time around!

one black bird by Diana Fayt
A wonderful blog that I just discovered. (I don’t know how I’ve missed it all this time!) Great posts by Diana and guest bloggers. It’s been a lot of fun reading through the archives.

 

A Potter’s Journal by Ron Philbeck.
Great photos of Ron’s work in progress. I love the how-to posts as well as the studio updates.

 


The Pottery Blog by Jennifer Mecca
Jennifer writes about her day to day life in her studio, balancing her family life with her clay life. This is why blogs are great- you can share your personal experience in a way that you can’t through a book or a more formal publication.



Davistudio: Modern Table Art by Mary Anne Davis
Seeking to stretch ideas about peace, art, design, function, value, culture and making.” And lots of happy pots!

 

Lurearts Ceramics by Pam McFadyen
A fairly new blog- but I think there will be some interesting things on the horizon, like her new Tool Talk series. Keep ‘em coming!

This Week @ St. Earth
A weekly update for what’s going on at St. Earth Pottery in Fillmore, IN. I love reading about other potter’s work cycles. And I think one of my favorite parts is listing the music and podcasts of the week.


Douglas Fitch Blog
Maker of “country pots.” When you see the beautiful photographs on his Douglas’ blog, you can see how the landscape effects his pots. Something that I think about a lot as an urban potter.

Bluegill Pottery by Vicki Liles Gill
A nice (and fairly new) blog that has a lot about the business side of pots, and some how-to’s and other studio updates.  


Sister Creek Pottery by Gay Judson
“The occasional musings of an overly-enthusiastic-senior potter who recently found her way to the potters wheel.”
One thing that I really like this blog is
that Gay writes abouts the ups and the downs of making pots!  

 

Design Realized by Julie Rozman
A new blog by a Lillstreeter (def: someone who works at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago) which documents her thought process and her new ventures into selling her work. Keep it up Julie! 

  

Jeanette Harris: A Clay Engineer’s Blog
Jeanette’s blog is hilarious! In addition to the humor she has some great info including documentation on her glaze testing, and reviews of books and videos.

Wirerabbit Pots by Taylor H
Taylor has great tutorials – directions on how to make things like plaster bats and terra sigillata. Great information illustrated with helpful photos.  

Soderstrom Pottery Blog
“A Minnesota potter, trained in Japan”
Check out his wind powered kiln :)

this artist’s life – day to day in the clay studio
by Whitney Smith
Most recent posts have been about Whitney’s residency in Japan. An unusual perspective and thoughtful posts.  

Karin’s Style BlogLooking at the world with a designer’s eye
I love this blog! Karin’s work is beautiful and she has endless links to other makers and designers from around the world.

 

Whip-up: handcraft in a hectic world
This is a group submission site that is about all things handmade. A must visit often site!
See this page to learn more.  

 




Tara Robertson Pottery
A great photo tutorial on pit firing. I’m also enjoying reading about Tara’s venture into Etsy.  

Well, I think that’s enough for now… I hope you have enjoyed this tour. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching this. I have discovered some really exciting new blogs to subscribe to!

Show your love of clay to the world

Cafe Press has some interesting products for people who want to proclaim their love of clay to everyone around. The first time that Cafe Press got my attention was when John Norris put up a “soda fired” mug.
Below are some designs that you can get as t-shirts, hoodies, aprons, magnets, bumper stickers, hats, mouse pad, boxers, tank top, coasters and even a throw pillow. I prefer the more subtle ones that only another potter would understand. Something where we can identify ourselves to one another out in the world.

Guest Blogger: Jordan Taylor

This is the first post written by a “guest blogger.” Thanks to my friend, Jordan Taylor for sharing his words. I took these photos in June when I visited Jordan at his studio.

 

 

 

 

 

When I’ve been firing for a long time the boundary between nighttime wakeful stoking and feverish fitful sleeping is thin.

Several firings ago I had a dream and I can’t be sure now whether I was awake and stoking or asleep and dreaming I was stoking. I dreamt that I had put up all my wood for two years and decided to burn it all in one firing. The wood ran out but somehow the work needed a little something more: the ember bed wasn’t lined up on the belly of a jar just so or the like. So I began dumping wheelbarrow loads of brick into the kiln. Several palettes of brick later (all that I had, again) I looked in and the kiln still seemed empty. I couldn’t see the work. So, left with nothing else in the kiln yard I opened an incision and, one by one, began stoking my internal organs. (As is often the case with this sort of dream, there was no hint as to what the work looked like after such efforts.)

After unloading a firing that looked nothing like I’d hoped a friend reminded me that “Clay will break your heart every time.” Her’s was one of a litany of such thoughts that creep in on me during my week of “unloading funk”. Most of the thoughts begin with “Why…?” and many get no further. One of my favorite comic lines from the glitzy mega-cinema of my adolescence is, after hearing of a particularly foxy heist by Costner as Robin Hood, the prince declares to his cousin the Sheriff of Nottingham: “I’m going to cut his heart out with a spoon”. Sheriff: “Why a spoon cousin?” Prince: “Because it’s dull you twit, it’ll hurt more.”

As far as I understand neuroscience, we are not wired to remember pain. I have memories that I felt pain but I have difficulty recreating the sensation simply by recalling the painful incident (the exception for me is the pain of embarrassment, which I will torture myself with for any minor faux pas at a party). Alternately I can remember moments of pleasure, culinary or otherwise, quite well, and will replay such moments with even more enthusiasm than when I torture myself with my own embarrassment. Pain, similarly, is present only as an abstract concept, if even that, in my dreams. The evisceration stoking was pain free without anesthesia. In dreams, as in memory, we are blessed with the ability to remember what causes us pain, but not the pain itself.

Not only did my evisceration not cause me pain, it felt liberating. Risking “new ageism”, I would go so far as to say that my placing my liver in the firebox was an experience of feeling nurtured by the kiln. “Why…?”

Both of my last two firing have happened since my daughter Greta was born (our first, at the time of this writing she is nine weeks old). The feeling I get when my wife is on shift and I bring Greta out to her to nurse by the kiln is echoed by watching a field mouse scamper up to a stone ledge in my kiln buttress to eat from a bowl of raw honey I’ve placed there as an offering. The combination of a being so small and vulnerable in such unknowing proximity to temperatures catastrophic to their state of being, going about the daily ritual of sustenance, moves me in a way that I would prefer not to try and put words to.

Psychologists (armchair and otherwise) reading this may already see where I am going with this: that I repeatedly return to the source of my grief and pain hoping it will heal and nurture me anew. Like an infant, I can’t say why I need what I do, just that I need it. Unlike an infant I can say a word or two about what risk in my studio life does for me: it sets me free. It sets me free from simply executing expectations, each risk allowing for, requiring, another layer of developmental growth.

The author trained as a traditional potter, serving a three year apprenticeship, before establishing his own studio in 2002. He has, despite his own best efforts to the contrary, begun making forms that are purely sculptural. Each paragraph of this piece was written in between stokes of his third multi day kiln firing in the month of April, one in which the kiln reached temperatures three cones hotter for a full day longer than it had in any previous firing … and during which he hosted twenty-five of his most important collectors for a fundraiser dinner. www.jordantaylor.us