Category Archives: Ron Philbeck

Summer’s here…finally!

The end has finally come to the long, dark and cold winter here in Chicago and summer is emerging. In celebration of the warm weather (and in between making pots), I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, soaking up the sunshine.

A couple of weeks ago, Ian and I took a road trip to Minnesota to visit his family and to do the Saint Croix Pottery Tour. It was a great weekend, and we came home with quite a few pieces to add to our pottery collection.

One of the high points of the trip was to meet blogger Ron Philbeck. (Live and in person!) Ron was up from North Carolina to volunteer at Bob Briscoe’s studio for the weekend. I have gotten to know Ron through his blog over the past two years, but it was just wonderful to meet him in person. It was super busy so we didn’t have a lot of time to talk, but I hope that some day in the not too distant future we can meet again, perhaps in Chicago or North Carolina. Here’s a picture of Ron and me at Bob Briscoe’s (borrowed from Ron’s site):
Ron gave me one of his wonderful tea bowls as a gift. Since our return, the bird cup has been spending lots of time outside on our porch. Our porch is a happy space that is filled with flowers, herbs and veggies; a colorful rug; lots of places to lounge, strings of bright white lights; and a swing for our nephews to hang out on. It’s our happy little urban oasis. Here is our 6 month old nephew, Shiya, enjoying Ron’s cup last weekend while hanging out in the swing:Next up on the porch tour is a great big tumbler that we picked up from Matt Metz. It’s hanging out in front of this fantastic VW bus planter. My friend Dave Trost made an incredible series of car sculptures a couple of years back. The roof of this bus cracked off during the bisque firing. He gave me the remains, and Ian painted it, polished it with wax and now it lives on our porch filled with flowers and moss.
Shiya’s big brother, 2 year old Ayrie, enjoyed Cherrios and raisins out of a Jordan Taylor cereal bowl. Drinking the milk from the bottom of the bowl is an important part of the cereal eating experience for Jordan, so he makes them with a “drinking lip” that Ayrie is happily taking advantage of.

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Last week was the final week of classes for the spring session at Lillstreet. A Lillstreet tradition is that each class has a potluck and critique on the last class of the session. My soda class decided to go all out this time around and have a bbq. The day was glorious and a great time was had by all. Below is a photo of Gary, me and Mike during the festivities out front of Lillstreet (taken by Greg).
We grilled out on this little patio that’s outside of Lill’s front door. There are gorgeous greens and flowers, a big mosaic bench and a brick patio that is made up of firebricks from the old soda kiln. Seemed like an appropriate place for the soda class to hang out!

Last week was my last week of teaching until fall. I’m taking a short hiatus from teaching for the summer so I can focus on making pots and spend time traveling with my sweetie. We have several family trips planned in June and July, and then we’re heading to Europe in August. I still need to work on the concrete plans over the next couple of weeks, but our basic plan is to visit Germany, Denmark, Norway and Holland. If you have any suggestions for places to visit, please pass them on to me (especially clay focused things to do and see).

I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine in our corner of the world!

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.
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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? 

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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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:
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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…
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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.

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!