Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Studio Sale - May 7th, 2005


As you can see from my postcard image above, I'm having a studio sale at my studio (an innovative idea...) in Chicago on May 7th from 10am - 5pm. To learn more about this sale and to get important information like directions to the studio and payment options, please head on over to sodafired.com and you'll see all the pertinent information you need right there. I hope you can make it.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Tour of Blogs about Pottery & Ceramics

One reason why people blog is to participate in their community. For me, it's a way to have a conversation about clay and related topics with a larger clay community. In the more technical world (programmers, etc.. ) bloggers read, link and comment to one another- creating a larger dialog. In the ceramics world, there is less blogging going on. Most potters that I talk to about my blog respond "what's a blog?". Today's post is answering that question, in part, by showing potteryblog.com readers what else is going on out there in the clay blogging world. I think it's just beginning- hopefully I will be able to update this list in the future with many more clay weblogs.

Here is an overview of some clay related blogs- in no particular order. I left out some blogs that haven't been updated in a while, or didn't have much content about pottery. Otherwise, this is a pretty good sampling of what's out there. Please let me know if I'm missing something or if something new comes along. Enjoy the tour!


John Norris: Containers of information: Art, Ceramics, Information, and You.
John has an extensive website that covers lots of topics including clay and conceptual art. He has t-shirts that he has designed for sale...handouts for teaching purposes, and perhaps most exciting: he has a pottery podcast called: Cone 11 Forced Air (a podcast is a regularly produced MP3 in a radio format). Take a listen and enjoy. I'm looking forward to more!


Nathan Pearlman: Political Mammal
Nathan's blog is not actually a blog that is specifically about pottery, but includes a couple of nice articles directly related to clay- the one that is linked above, and a previous one that I linked to in the Soda Fired Mug post.


Mashiko Potter: Things Related to Making Functional Pottery
Beautiful photos of Lee's work- finished and in progress, in Mashiko, Tochigi, Japan.


kasumipottery.com weblog: An authorized weblog of Kasumi Pottery Studio by Rolando
This is an interesting site. It's not written and maintained by the artist, but is about the artist. A different format- kept up to date well.


Paper Clay
This is a blog about paper clay (to state the obvious). Not what I'm really interested in at this moment, but the direction of this blog is interesting- a focus on a very specific subject matter.


PBA Pottery Blog - Muddlings
A nice name, and the accompanying site is nice too, but this blog doesn't have too much content related to clay & pottery- despite the name. I'm hoping that there is more to come- check back for more.
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As I am writing this, I'm listening to NPR. A story on Warren Mackenzie just came on during All Things Considered. You can read the text and view the photos on the linked site, but you should also click on the "listen" button and listen to him in his own words.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Potter's Mark: Signing Pots

I just got a new stamp with my signature to sign the bottoms of my pots with. I ordered the stamp at NCECA, and it arrived in the mail last week. Todd Scholtz, owner of claystamps.com was set up at the Brackers Good Earth Clay, Inc booth.

He had me sign a piece of paper to get the right signature. I think that I wrote it about 40 times to get the feel and look that is most consistent with how I usually sign my work. The 10th signature ended up being the one that I used.

He then scanned the chosen signature into a computer and resized to my specifications. He then engraved the stamp and added a nice wooden handle. I am really happy with the results. It stamps beautifully- wet, leather hard, and even a little past leather hard all come out clearly and easily. If I want another stamp- smaller or larger, I can have the same signature, just resized. If you have some other sort of mark, it would work as well- whether you have it as a digital image already, or you have Todd scan it in for you.

I've tried to figure out a good signature stamp for years. I don't like the chunkiness of a clay stamp for my signature, and the fragility always worried me. Rubber stamps are easy to have made, but they aren't deep enough or firm enough for stamping the bottom of a trimmed, leather hard piece. This stamp seems to be a good alternative.
Take a look at the results:

The flashing from the soda kiln on the bottom of this plate could not have been any more picture perfect!

I have always felt that it is important for me to sign my work. Here are some thoughts on signing or not signing pots...
  • It is an historical record of the maker. There are lots of books about the marks on old pots. I'm not saying that my mark is going to end up in a book, but the idea of being able to figure out who made a pot, a print or a painting is still interesting to me. Having a clear and identifiable signature would make that much easier.
  • I own several pots by different potters that aren't signed (or it's hard to make out). When I bought them, I remembered clearly who made them, but as time has passed, some of those names have left me. If I wanted more work by the same artist, I'd sort of have to wait to come upon it again at a gallery.
  • Ceramics Monthly has started including the stamp or mark of each of the ceramic artists that are featured in their magazine. This seems to be some sort of recognition of the importance of the stamp even in contemporary ceramics (as opposed to the historical documentation that I talked about above).
  • The Potter's Council is asking for potter's to send in their marks to create an archive of stamps and signatures. They can be sent to: Jennifer Poellet, 735 Ceramic Place, Suite 100, Westerville, OH, 43081.
  • Over time my signature or stamp have changed and evolved. All clearly are by the same maker, but it is a way that I can sort of "date" my pieces, without actually recording a date on them.
  • I come from a family of artists, and the bold signature of MURPHY is something of a common occurrence on our work. Here is my dad's signature (Jim Murphy) from one of his paintings:


I think that this blog entry will be the first of many about signing work. There is much more to talk about. I'd love to hear your ideas about signing or not signing pottery, or what your method is.

If you'd like to sign up for the Pottery Blog mailing list, go here. You'll get automatic emails when I write and post a new entry. As always, it is a private mailing list- no information will ever be shared!

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Sodafired.com Update

As you probably know, I have these two websites- the one that you're reading, potteryblog.com, and my main one for my ceramic pots, sodafired.com. My hope is that visitors of both go back and forth between the two without necessarily realizing that they have technically gone to a different site. They each serve their own purpose, but those purposes overlap one another.

I just started a sort of "mini-blog" on sodafired.com. I will use it as a way to share studio announcements and that sort of information. It's little news box on the front page of my site.

Tonight the first entry is posted. Just go *here* to read it. I will update it several times a month- or as often as necessary. In the almost 6 years that I have maintained a website of my pottery, I have tried to figure out a good way to fulfill these objectives:
1. Notify people of sales, shows and new work.
2. Make it obvious that the website is really up-to-date and, in general, make it obvious that the site is paid attention to.
3. Showcase some of my new pieces without having some really obnoxious flashing "NEW" sign.
4. Give people a reason to come back to visit the site, and hopefully to come visit me in my studio.
5. And very important: something that is easy for me to update. If it's not, then it won't be very up-to-date! Lots of good intentions, but not enough time.

I think that this format fulfill the above objectives. Hope you enjoy it.
Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Soda Fired" Mug

This is the sort of mug that I think of when I think about what a soda fired mug is. Warm, rich coloration from the flashing. Orange peel texture built up on the high points.



This is also a soda fired mug:

John Norris has come up with this hilarious idea. It's a standard, industrial produced mug with the IMAGE of soda firing wrapped around it. It's the "perfect" soda mug.

I enjoy the cleverness of this, but it also helps remind me what I'm doing making handmade pots in a world of industrial pots. Making something that is beautiful in surface and form; designing a form that is not only visually pleasing, but ergonomic. And perhaps most importantly, making a human connection between the maker and the user.

I came upon this essay, "Potters, the Values of Craftsman, and Living True to Self" by Nathaniel Pearlman on his blog: Political Mammal, and I encourage you to read it. It puts into words another reason why potters make.

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