Category Archives: Blogging

Resources for Soda Firing

I thought that it would be fun to try to round up as many online resources for folks who are interested in soda firing and put it together into one handy post. Since there isn’t that much publish (relatively speaking), I think it has the possibility of being relatively comprehensive. I hope you enjoy reading the results of my research as much as I did!

Online Soda Groups:

Salt/Soda Firing Discussion Group

You might remember this site that is all about Salt and Soda firing that I wrote about a while back. It’s a social networking site for all people interested in these firing processes. There are some fantastic potters and sculptors that are a part of this site as well as students who are just beginning to dabbling in soda. I highly encourage you to dive in- sign up and make a page. The more the merrier (don’t be shy if you’re just beginning in soda!) There are recipes for slips and glazes as well as a forum for putting questions out there. Are you thinking about converting an old electric kiln into a soda kiln? There’s a discussion going on here for you. And this site is always evolving- it’ll be whatever the members make it.

Salt & Soda tags on the ClayArt archives on Potters.org. It’s worth digging into. It’s quite possible that someone else had the same exact question as you 8 months ago.

Blogs that focus on soda firing:
(I had to draw a line somewhere… so I drew it at soda firing bloggers. If I’m missing any, please let me know!)

Of course there is this blog, PotteryBlog.com. About 95% of my pots are soda fired, and I try to share with you interesting soda information. Soon I’ll be posting a whole bunch of information about the use of whiting in my soda mix (the soda geeks will be psyched for this one!)
Here are some posts that you might find extra interesting if you’re a soda firing fool:
What is Soda Firing
A Happy Soda Firing
Hot Pots 

Julie Rozman, a fellow Lillstreeter, also writes a blog, Design Realized. She shares a lot of her glaze testing and firing info on her site. You should be sure to check it out!

Scott Cooper makes beautiful wood & soda fired pots. He also writes about his work and process in his journal, This Week @ St. Earth. You should also be sure to check out his “process” page where he has tons of information that is interesting and helpful.

 

Keith Kreeger makes salt/soda fired pots at his studio/gallery on Cape Code (although he has been venturing into earthenware lately). You can learn more about his soda work on his blog, Kreeger Pottery Blog.

I just discovered Joy Tanner’s Blog. I’ve gotten to know Joy’s work through the Salt/Soda group and I’ve excited that there is another soda firer writing a blog!

Websites that have a wealth of soda info on them:
(These are sites that have information on them about soda firing- kiln info, recipes, etc…)

  • Julia Galloway’s Alchemy page. Julia generously shares with her information on cone 6 soda firing, including slip and glaze recipes.
  • Scott Cooper (as mentioned above) has a great process page with tons of information on kiln building, glaze recipes and even clay recipes. Not to mention some beautiful pots!
  • Robbie Lobell makes beautiful, elegant soda fired ovenware and tableware. He has a page on his site about his kiln and soda firing process. He lives in Coupeville, WA mentions on his site that he will rent out 1/4, 1/2 or the whole kiln to experienced firers.

Books on Soda Firing:

Soda, Clay and Fire by Gail Nichols is a must have for anyone interested in firing with soda. This book is the culmination of Gail’s PhD work in soda firing in Material Science at Monash University in Gippland, Victoria, Austrailia. The research is incredible and it’s an easy read. Two things that don’t always go together so easily. I think if you picked up this book knowing clay, but not knowing soda, you might decide that you need to start soda firing by the end. But I’m a bit biased on these things. You can also learn a bit more about this book here.

Ruthanne Tudball’s book, Soda Glazing is the original text on soda firing. There has been so little actually published on soda (especially in comparison to other firing techniques) because of the youthfulness of the process. This is a book that I kept close to me for many years. There are overviews of different potters and their soda approaches as well as a great index of glaze, slip and clay recipes. Again, this is a book that you need to have on your bookshelf if you’re making soda fired work.

Online articles about soda firing:

Videos about soda firing:
(if you’re reading this through your email or a blog reader, you’ll won’t see the videos below. Just head over to Pottery Blog to see the videos)

From Pottery Northwest:


And a series of 3 informative videos from
Jeffrey Huebner:



I really have enjoyed this. Please send me links to things that you think might be missing from here and I’ll keep updating this post. This was a big project and I had to put some sort of limits on it. I decided not to include links to soda firing potters & sculptors in this post. I know that there a ton out there with great websites, but I thought I’d limit it to sites that had technical information on it. Another post will be soda firing ceramicists. That will be fun ; ) If you want to give me a hand with that, just leave a comment with suggestions for me to include. Just remember: folks who fire with*soda* or *soda/salt,* but not just salt.

Peace, love and leather hard pots.

One of my favorite moments when I’m making pots is that moment in time when the clay has firmed up enough to handle without distortion. The moment when you can take a trimming tool to the bottom of the pot and you get nice long ribbons of trimmings that don’t gum up your tool.

Normally, the moment in time when the pots are perfect for stamping, carving, slipping and trimming is a moment that I experience in solitude with my pots. But I thought that I would try to share a bit of this moment with you. Below are some images of cups that I made today. They are freshly stamped and awaiting a second trip to the wheel for trimming.

You can see in the image (below) on the left that the soft clay is impressed deep enough that you can see the stamping on the inside of the cup. I hope that you can get a sense of the depth of the stamping from the image on the right from the pictures (click on them to see the image larger). The clay has to be dry enough that the stamp doesn’t stick to the clay, but soft enough to get a deep impression without cracking. More to come on this series in future posts!

 

I know that I am not alone in my love of leather hard clay. I see lots of freshly made pots in the posts of my fellow clay bloggers! I have put together some pictures (and links) from their sites to share with you.
***
Eleanor Hendricks of Fenelon Falls, Ontario, shared some great pictures on her blog last week illustrating her love of the process of making. She ended her post with this question:

Does anyone else sometimes treasure the process more than the finished products? 

***

Amy Sanders, of Charlotte, North Carolina, shared this image on her blog of her carved plates. What beautiful lines! As usual, with pots, it’s all about the timing!
***
I love how these drying beer cups from Euan Craig caught the sunlight in Mashiko, Japan. The perfect moment of leather hard met the perfect moment of sunlight streaming in his studio.
***
Cheryl Alena Bartram of Golden, British Columbia, shares this great image of tumblers on her blog. I can imagine the board of cups going on and on and on and on…. I have been known to base the amount of pots that I throw in a sitting based on the length of a board or the size of the table.
***
Douglas Fitch makes pots “in middle of nowhere, north of Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom,” far from my studio in Chicago. But when I see these images of the rough leather hard pots I think I can smell the mustiness of the clay… and that’s a great thing.
***
I find that there is little more satisfying in a day’s work that a table covered in finished pots.
John Zhender (from my home state of New Hampshire) posted this satisfying image of finished banks and lidded cups on his blog:
***
Look at these gorgeous plates that Ron Philbeck made at his studio in Shelby, North Carolina! I think I have to throw some plates tomorrow…
***
One of my favorite clay books is A Potter’s Workbook by Clary Illian. The images in the book are almost all photos of leather hard pots. The focus is on the forms without any distraction of decoration or firing technique. If you make functional pots, I highly recommend adding this book to your collection.

Updates and shout-outs!

I had a bunch of things piling up that I have been wanting to share with you, so I decided to compile everything into one big shout-out blog post. Enjoy!

Some (blog) updates from me:

  • I have been tweaking my blog template and have made some small but good changes. I updated my ceramic blog links. It’s now connected to my blog reader so it will be automatically synced and up to date from now on. Just head on over to the right side of the blog to check out all the great links. 
  • I have changed and added the categories on the side of the blog too. This way you check out all the How-to’s & Tutorials in one place or all the posts about Soda Firing in one place too. Hopefully this will make it easier for folks to search the archives (they’re pretty big!).

Some shout-outs:

  • The Salt/Soda Firing discussion group/ social network is really taking off. If you’re interested in salt and soda, I highly suggest that you join this group! There are some great potters that have joined (including my friend Gary Jackson who finally has images of his work up online). I’m excited about the sharing that happening (slip and glaze recipes for soda!!) and for it to continue to evolve and grow. 
  • My friend, Jayson Lawfer, has left Chicago for Italy and has started a new company: The Nevica Project. It’s focus is bringing collectors together with art. The focus of the art, at this point, is on ceramics. From Jayson:

    “Creation is the first step. Though it is no doubt one of the most important steps, it is also the connection between artists, patrons and dealers that make the art environment a complete circle.” 

  • My friend Machiko Munakata is an amazing ceramic sculptor who has taken her talents into a new direction. She’s making these amazing felt foods, like this yummy plate of yakisoba to the left. You can find all of her creations on her Etsy site. The plate that her creations are displayed on is from Kristin Pavelka. Machiko has been my biggest cheerleader for me to join Etsy. I’ve taken one step closer and set up my page. There’s nothing for sale yet, but that’s to come next week (after taxes!). Update: Machiko’s work was featured on Boing Boing today.
  • Lindsey Holmes, a potteryblog.com fan, told me about what looks like a great show. Lindsey works for Hedge Gallery in San Fransisco. The gallery has an exhibition of Welsh potter, Paul Philp’s work that will be on display through mid-May. Thanks for the tip! 

  • Cattle Barn Clay Co. is a new clay company that was started by fellow Earlham grads Billy Cooper and Li Hunt-Cooper. It’s located in Royal Center, IN (sort of between Indianapolis and Chicago). They specialize in raw materials and new and used refractories. And their prices are really great. Kiln shelves that are up to 50% off retail prices. Check it out!

A Semi-Complete Tour of Ceramics Blogs (part 4)

When I started out on the venture of writing this blog almost 4 years ago, I could only really find a half dozen or fewer ceramic bloggers out there writing. Things have really exploded and there are new blogs popping up every week now (as well as some casualties). I thought I’d share with you links to the blogs that I read. (UPDATED)

You’ll notice that my blogroll is long. 63 blogs to be exact. There is no way that I could remember to check in with these blogs on my own, so I use the blog reader, Google Reader, to subscribe to these blogs. Instead of visiting all the sites, the newest posts are compiled into the reader automatically and keeps track of the unread ones, etc… It’s very easy to set up (really…it is!).
If you’re interested in subscribing to my list (below), and you’re using Google Reader, just follow these simple steps.

  1. Login to Google Reader
  2. Click on this link and “save file”: http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user/15666827403315601321/label/public
  3. Figure out where the downloaded file is located. (for PC users) Right click on the download and click on “open folder containing.” That will tell you where the downloaded file is located
  4. Click on “Manage Subscriptions”
  5. Click on “Import/Export”
  6. Click on”Browse” and locate the downloaded file.
  7. Click Upload and then start reading! You’ll be overwhelmed with posts to read at first, but once you get caught up, it’s quite manageable :)
    You can always use this as a starting point and add and subtract subscriptions from this list to suit your interests.

I do plan on continuing sharing my “tour of ceramics blogs” with little write ups and images, but there has been such an explosion to pottery bloggers that I thought I should take a moment to catch you up with what’s happening in the world of ceramics bloggers.

I know there are more blogs out there, but it’s not always easy to find them! When looking for blogs to subscribe to, I look for the following criteria (it’s not an exact science):

  • regularly updated… or interesting enough that it’s worth the wait!
  • the content of the blog is multi-dimensional. (it’s not just a blog that is just showing what’s new in the writer’s online shop)
  • The focus of the majority of the blog posts are about clay. (pottery, tiles, sculpture, etc…)

The way that I have found out about most of these blogs is to follow the links from the blogs I read, and wander off from one blog into another. The linking and referencing between blogs has created a sort of community the exists between bloggers and readers from around the world, but within one’s own computer.

If you write or read a blog that you think I’d be interested in, please let me know! I am always excited to find a new one. If I have overlooked your blog, it’s not intentional, please send me a link.

And just one other thing that you might be able to help me with. I don’t know the names of all the bloggers who write these blogs. It often just doesn’t exist anywhere on the blog. I am sure this is sometimes intentional, but I think it’s sometimes just an over site. If there are any gaps that you can help me with, please pass on the info to me. I really like knowing the names of the person writing, it allows you to make a personal connection to the person writing. A big part of why someone buys a handmade pot is because of the connection to the maker. I sort of feel like it’s the same thing with reading a blog. I want to know about the maker/writer. At least their name and where they’re from.

Enjoy the trip you’re about to take wandering off into the land of ceramics blog. I’m sure you’ll be inspired, like I am every day.

A path to being a greener potter.

Blog Action Day is a day where blogger from all over the world write about one specific issue: the environment. I am excited to have an extra push to write this post that I have been wanting to write a post for months on what someone can do to be a “greener” ceramic artist. I was inspired by Laura Zindel’s post on one black bird; Mary Anne Davis‘s post on being Carbon Neutral and her list on her work’s environmental impact; and on Soderstrom Pottery Blog. They have started a great discussion that I would like to help continue with within the ceramics community.

I think my aversion to actually writing this post that has been in my head is the same thing that stops many of us from creating greener lives. I wanted this post to be epic, to have all of the answers. It was going to be very complete and very satisfying. But that is truly an impossible task. When I think about all of the environmental changes that I want to make at home or at my studio, the ultimate goal is overwhelming and paralyzing. The only way to get past the paralysis is to stop for a moment, and break it down into steps. The steps will get you closer to your end goal, but they are much easier to conquer than taking a gigantic leap.

Here are some steps that I have taken on my path to being a greener potter…

  • I use almost all recycled materials for both shipping and retail customers. I actively collect bags, boxes, packing paper and bubble wrap from friends, family, students and customers. 
  • I recycle my clay scraps and try to aggressively edit unfired work. I don’t want to turn greenware that is reclaimable into something that is not if I am not truly satisfied with the piece at that stage.
  • I try to make my test pieces as functional pieces (like small cups) that might go on to live a life beyond just testing a slip or glaze.
  • I live close to my studio so I can either walk or drive a very short distance. I teach in the same building that I have my studio so I don’t have to commute to class too.
  • I work in a co-operative type studio that conserves resources in many ways. One specific way is by ordering clay and materials together so there is only 1 delivery truck instead of 20.
  • My studio space is small and efficient. Each space has multiple uses. One table can transform from a wedging table to a decorating table to a glaze table to a display table. Much of the furniture in my studio is on wheels so it can be more easily converted.
  • My studio display lights are on a timer. My studio is often open to the public even when I am not there, and the timer stops the lights from being on all the time. (Does anyone know of nice track lighting fixtures that are energy efficient?)
  • I set up a “free-cycle” area in a common area (hallway) at my studio where the studio artists can pass on unneeded things to the next person. 
  • I sell my seconds as “flawed yet functional.” They are still totally usable, but I can’t send them off to a gallery. Customers get to go on a treasure hunt, and give life to a piece that might otherwise be doomed as landfill. In response to the “flawed yet functional” sign in my studio, I once had a customer get teary eyed and tell me that that was exactly how they felt… flawed yet functional.

I know there are people reading this that are working under very different conditions from 60 different countries. Some are students working at a high school, university or art center. There are country potters with lots of land, and urban potters, like me, that are working in a smaller studio. The problems and solutions that you face are going to be very different if you’re a tile maker, production potter or a sculptor. I hope that you’ll share the steps you take in your clay world to being a little bit greener with the rest of us.

update- 10/15/07 – another clay blogger, Anne Webb, wrote a Blog Action Day post

update – 10/29/07 – Pam McFayden wrote a great post over at lureart ceramics about studio recycling.

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!

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.

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!

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

A Tour of Blogs about Pottery and 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.