Friday, June 24, 2016

Life's Muddy Road

 Followed life’s muddy road from Peter’s Valley back to Aylmer to find a Rat imposter at the traffic lights here in town. Ronnie the Rat is famous up here North of 49. The muddy road took me from my friend Bruce Dehnert in NJ to my friend and tireless editor Lois Wilkins in Pennsylvania and then on up to visit the Rat family( Ron and Hester) in NY.  We sat on the beach and watched a Lake Erie sunset for at least a half hour. It was one of those rare moments lately of breathing in.
 I filled up my tank at a gas station on a First Nation’s Reserve. Wow, I filled the car for under $20. That would be more like $50 here in The Promised Land where we pay for our sins. High prices on gas, booze and cigarettes. I am blessed to have so many friends south of the 48. Gee with the economy tanking in the UK and the US election looking rather scary all roads just may all lead to Canada.
I came home to a fustercluck of events that threw me off my mojo so I went for a run this morning and got eaten alive by deer flies. An itchy start to my enthusiasm for some porcelain to fire in Donovan’s wood kiln. At PV we had some lovely carbon trapping in the first chamber and some killer colour in the salt chamber.  I have a show in The Hamptons in August so I hope to get some nice wood salt porcelain outta the Minnesota kiln. Donovan fires longer than I do so I am pumped to see the results. Also with the past 7 weeks of rich living I have some pounds to sweat off.

Here is a couple of hours of throwing porcelain yunomi’s . I’m going to throw more this aft. I know how long it takes me to trim porcelain so tomorrow will be long buttttttttt it is Saturday and for the first time in months I will be at home alone to trim and listen to the Blues on a Saturday night. Life is good for those of us that know that life is good.

Monday, June 20, 2016


I'm not at Yasgar's farm but I am at Peter's Vallery firing the noborigama. The kiln is a version of the Ruggles and Ranking chamber kiln. It fires like a rocket and we have Cone 11 in 18 hours and held it for another 7 hours. The second chamber was at Cone 7 when we were finished with the first. Totally length of firing was 28 hours.  We had a peak in the kiln as we need to unload tomorrow and it looks killer. The students are all in the studio making pots after  participating in a wellness clinic that includes wine, and bourbon. We went to the local pub for a beer after class and low and behold there were the gang from blacksmithing. Great minds think alike!  My students  filled the studio with some really great pots all in one day. I have been called a slave driver. Sometimes you get a group that exudes energy- this is one! Push them to be better!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

America's Best Kept Secret

I left the Koreans behind and headed for Peter's Valley, NJ to fire off the noborigama with 11 keeners.
We have the kiln loaded and it is firing. We plan to have the kiln off by around 6pm Sunday and open it on Tuesday morning. Bruce Dehnert is a magician at

firing and cooling kilns. To offer 5 day courses he has to pull rabbits out of his hat. Bruce is one of my favourite potters. His work blows my mind. Here is a ewer in a show in the gallery at PV. This wood fired  porcelain ewer with multiple glazes and slips is a steal at $300 US. I still think Bruce is one of America's best vessel makers.  How am I supposed to make any money when I am so tempted by these great pots.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tell Heaven

On my run thru White’s Woods this morning I came up with the meaning of life. My Uncle Jimmie the potter used to tell me that less than 15% of a potter’s time was spent doing what they love to do- throw and make pots. The rest of the time was spent in maintenance- making glazes, making clay, cleaning, grinding, etc. etc. You know the list of 182 duties from my book.
So at the beginning of the love affair with clay you go to the guild or school and you make pots. Someone else does all the maintenance. Wow, this is soooooo cool being a potter. Then you go full time and find you have sooooo little time to make pots and soooo much maintenance to attend to.
I think the same goes for relationships. In the beginning you get all dolled up, go out for dinner and good times. The maintenance is left at home either already done or waiting for your return.  Then you decide to go full time. Maintenance, maintenance, and more maintenance. You need maintenance, the house needs maintenance, the yard/garden needs maintenance, the groceries, the laundry, the car, the book work, email maintenance, friendship maintenance and on and on.
Yesterday I decided not to go for my run in White’s Woods because I had too much maintenance to do. So I forget about my own personal maintenance in favour of all the other things that need to be done. I need the run for my physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well being.  This is my hour each day that is for me and yet I see this pile of other stuff and buckle in. I even skipped my music night to do the damn taxes. Dumb, dumb, dumb!
So full time pottery, full time relationships require some potting time. Some time to be creative interesting and thoughtful. I’m too busy is a piss poor excuse. You will always be too busy..
So if you are the lucky bugger that gets to go in the studio each day and magically groceries appear and are put away, the laundry gets done and put away, the house is clean, the damn book keeping is attended to and all the maintenance of life is looked after for you I suggest when you arrive at the Pearly Gates you just say “ No thanks Pete, I found Heaven on Earth. I’ll just be movin’ along!

These are some pics of a walk Cathi Jefferson and I took in White’s Wood. Food for the soul.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Dan Goes Under the Knife

One of my favourite little teapots to use is one by Danny Boy Finnegan. Dan's teapot is in the Cardew, Finch, Winchcombe tradition with that unmistakable handle on the front for ease of pouring.
Mine is a little bit bigger than Dan's but he too is circumcised and he doesn't drip and neither do I.  I made 5 little teapots today and after I get through with doing this bloody bookkeeping for the tax collector I am going to go down to the studio and take a knife to the protruding part. The teapots are the same but different. Dan's has a different lid seating and flanged lid and that handle on the front. Mine has a drop in lid and a handle on the side. Now that I think about it placing the handle low and to the left would be appropriate. The standard answer to the question "What side do you dress on?" when getting measured for pants has always been "Low and to the left.
The surgeons knife beckons me. Anything but anything to keep me away from that damn accounting.

Friday, June 10, 2016

My Worst Enemy

I'm my own worst enemy. Whenever I get a line that is successful I move on to something else. Whenever a group advises me they like this better than that I don't do it. I do something else. I am a poor example to follow on the road to financial success. I threw another group of 8 plates to cut and handle. When I started cutting I thought oh maybe I'll leave one end round. I was thinking of some hand built scoops that a potter friend Heather Smit makes that I really like. Then  I looked at this pile of cut offs and thought hmmmmmm they would make a nice rim. Then I once again dinked around with handle placement. I can't think of anything more boring than to have an entire set of matching dishes. If I can't talk a customer out of an entire set of my dishes then I tell them I will only make the set if I can make them all different. How's that for turning away business? I enjoy changing it up. The nicest set I ever made was for a former student that wanted a place setting of 12 with everything including the cups different. I enjoyed making that set of dishes and it showed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Invisible Man

After a 6 week marathon I'm getting my life back slowly. All the things that are important to me I now have some time for. Morning email, coffee, run in White's Woods, eating healthier food,  my pots and now I'm back fixing up the rabbit warren inside and out. There is also some time left at the end of the day to read and I'm drawing again.  All these things are important to the balance of life. In the past year I've been away far too much breathing out and not taking the time to  breathe in .
I'm currently reading a book on my least of all favourite clays- porcelain. I'm reading The White Road by Eddie de Waal. I like calling Edmund -Eddie. It suits my pool hall sense of humour. I should have stuck with Anthony. It has such pompous arrogance to it I might get higher prices for my pots.
This one statement  in the book has stuck with me all day- "Why stand out when you can disappear?"
Down in the studio today I made 4 rolls with a low rider style lid. I don't like lids that stick way up in the air. Who makes their mac and cheese to pile up like a mountain in the middle of the casserole? So when I was thinking about Eddie's statement I thought gee why not put 6 different handle placements on these 6 thrown and cut plates I just made. What if I like one placement better than the others? I do like one better than the others BTW. Is this how you arrive at being different by sketching with clay? I was a production studio potter for so long it would be easy for me to slip back into making 100 similar objects. Don't want to!!!
I sat at a dinner recently with a potter who said _Tony Clennell the guy that makes pots nobody buys! Ha he's The Invisible Man not me.

RIP Mohammed Ali- You were the greatest athlete of my time. To quote him " The man who has no imagination has no wings."