Sunday, October 15, 2017

Feng Shui



Four more sleeps till The Cactus Lounge Flame Throwers arrive with their pots for our final firing before our big show “Bon Feu.” Five actually but Jen shows up on Thursday and we talk late into the night .   
 Like an idiot I have shown or sold most of the good wood fired pots I have so I’m counting on a really good fire this coming weekend.
I carted some of the slip cast bottles over to put in the kiln kitchen ready for loading. I have a half dozen more to bisque.  Fall is really beautiful at Pinecroft and it is probably the nicest time of year to fire the wood kiln. No snow and ice, no mud from spring thaw, no scorching heat from the Hell’s Kitchen of the summer. It is a beautiful time here in The Promised Land.  We have however been having some torrential rains and blow the trailer park to hell winds.
All I will have are these slip cast vases. I don’t know what has happened to my life over the past month since the show “The Storytellers”?  Even my bed shows I’m in some kind of hurricane. I wake up to find my comforter on the floor on one side of the bed and my Hudson’s Bay wool blanket on the other side of the bed on the floor and my linen sheets all wrapped up around my feet. I have no idea what the hell is going on but if it were an orgy I forget the participants and the details.
The pond is covering over with algae and the geese are landing by the score as they are contemplating going south to shit on America.  I’ve been told they poop every three minutes.  We could give it good reason to be called The White House.




Canada geese are the Armed Forces of Canada. We considered snow balls as our arsenal but goose poop is so much more nasty and effective.

I’ll go over to the wood kiln this week and clean the kitchen, decorate it a bit and prepare the gang to become one with the environment. As one of my wise students told me many, many years ago “ The businesses that will be successful are the ones that  will create an experience!.” I try really hard to make that happen at Pinecroft. The 5 senses are being looked after.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The War Zone


Usually after each wood firing the site looks like a war zone. It is not wise to sweep or cause dust that could be sucked into the kiln so it is left until unload and then clean up begins. In the push to get this kiln built and fired before Canadian winter sets in the firing started in a war zone.  M looks as comfortable in her hammock in the trenches as she would be on the Queen Elizabeth crossing the Atlantic.
They are going to have steps and landscaping as soon as they can catch their collective breath.
Here is the crew brought together to take Queen Anne on her maiden voyage. Barb Murphy, Chris de Takesy, Andrew Kellner, Jesse Black , me and the Captains Duncan and Emma.
  I believe Duncan and Emma named the kiln after the abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace that were flowering at the time of the build. Little did they know that Queen Anne of England’s brother in law was William of Orange or otherwise known as King Billy.  I told M previously that Bill or Bob would be a suitable name for this kiln. So to me this kiln will always be King Billy brother in law of Queen Anne. So we should see some beautiful orange coming from this kiln. That suits me fine as I do love my shino, ash and flash.
My old studio up on The Bruce Peninsula was in the stable of the Orange Hall. The Orangemen were the Protestants of Ireland. I planted thousands of Tiger Lilies on the property as this was their flower.  
The kiln fired like a thorough bred  that could have gone to Cone Infinity given her head. The very front of this kiln can get soooooooo hot sooooooo fast that the chore is to keep it from getting too hot. That is an unusual problem to have with wood fired kilns.
Rumour has it that fires are being lit all over the province these past two weeks getting pots for our group show “Bon Feu” at Shane Norrie Contemporary.

I never want to go to war but if I had to I would want to have the collective of wood firers I have the pleasure of working with covering my back.  I asked M what was the plan for the evening. She answered” we’re done when the cones are down”. That is the correct answer and you stay with the job until that happens. This is not a social,





it is war.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Cactus Lounge Flame Throwers


This band of desperados started out as the Hamilton Potters Guild Mentorship group in Sept 2014. It whittled down to a small pack of buzzards totaling 6 plus the grand daddy of the buzzards little ole me.
Actually come to think of it I am probably the grand daddy potter in Ontario that has been firing with wood the longest. I have been at it now 40 years. Long before it seemed to become vogue.  I’ve built fast fires, Phoenix wood kilns, noborigamas, a train and now the sprung arch bourry box. You would have thought I would have learned more. I should have embarked on a steady diet of sardines.  There was potter Larry Davidson just home from his apprenticeship with Shimoaka in Japan and me. We would take turns driving to each others potteries and firing the noborigamas we had both built. We both managed a divorce out of that chaotic scene.
Ruth McKinley was at Sheridan, Harlan House built a wood kiln and a few others popped up but nothing hard core like Larry and I did. Having been born with a strong back and a weak mind I continue.
When I started there were no computers. I would write to Steve Harrison in Australia about his booklet “Laid Back Wood Firing” and I’d get an answer back in the mail some 6 months later.  Then I’d screw up and write him again. There were no wood kiln books by Jack Troy, Log Books, wood fired conferences and I don’t even remember kiln plans. It was a hard way to learn.
So now wood firing is spreading like a prairie fire and there are plans, conferences, books, magazines, and clay bodies devoted to wood firing. It is a great time to be a wood fire potter.
I am totally thrilled not to be alone anymore. I have this band of banditos that I love to hang out with and fire a wood kiln. Tradition has it that there is a pot luck here at The Cactus Lounge after the kiln is loaded. We strike the match at 6am so we can eat, drink and be merry the night before. To celebrate our group I had my favourite closet artist DH do this drawing for a t-shirt for the members. I love it DH and hope you will join us here at the lounge for some tequila and good eats.

Here is a pic of Duncan Aird and Emma Smith (founding members of TCLFT) in front of their new ride. It is lit and firing as I type. Looks like they’re still talking- that’s a good sign. Here's to another wood kiln- bottoms up, down the hatch, here's to ya and all that stuff. 


in the province.