Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Jesus Did!

Last night I was asked to do a demo and talk about pots at The Brantford Potter’s Guild. I was asked by my friend Christie Gruppie to shake em up a bit. Thanks Christie for the invite and for trying to get me in more trouble than is possible on my own.
I know what Christie meant. It was not to shake up but to explain a passion and aesthetic that is perhaps different from one that most profess to be the Gospel. She wanted to have them hear the Gospel according to Clennell.
“People decide to live their truth, even when doing so isn’t simple. Each and every one of them had the courage to say – this is who I am even if you’ll crucify me for it. Just like Jesus did.” Cheryl Strayed from Tiny Beautiful Things.
I did have two of the members compliment me on the fact that the Hamilton Potter’s Guild Wood Fire Mentorship Group I formed almost 3 years ago still fires together and we are so tight as friends. We have The Campaigner (that’s me) , The Commander, The Negotiator, The Mediator, The Advocate and the rest have yet to take the Briggs Meyers Personality Test.

Thanks to Adriana Romkes of The Brantford Potters Guild for the less than flattering pic of me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Cactus Lounge Flame Throwers

We just finished firing #18 in Cassius Clay with Cone 11 melted everywhere. Cassius always does a rope a dope with us and makes us think we are winning and then reminds us who is The Champ.  Cassius Clay is one of my heroes and I never ever want to go in the ring with him unprepared. The Flame Throwers are the best back up I have and overcoming some bad wood took some punches to the body. Teresa Dunlop and Duncan Aird worked at getting the cold outta of a chimney packed with ice.  We had on loan and as a guest Kimmy Harcourt who did the night shift with Emma Smith and between the two of them they landed some significant body punches of their own. It was up to the closers Chris de Takesy and Jen Drysdale to deliver the right jab and the left hook. I just sat, pointed and grunted. Who could forget our faithful mascots Roxy and Maggie.
On Saturday while the kiln was firing Herm had a jam in The Jammin’ Cabin. He had 12 musicians out to jam. The best experience you can offer is to appeal to all of the 5 senses. We had music, laughter, the smell of smoke and good food in the Green Frog Tearoom, great scenery in the pines, flame in the stack of the wood kiln, the sound of the woofing of the firebox and the Jammers. What have I forgotten? It was all covered.

So now we wait till next Saturday when we all gather to unload. Plans are for a crit ,a glass of wine and some munchies. Tonight I ache where I used to play.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Green eggs and ham

Happy St. Padddy's Day everyone. We had our fair share of green while we loaded the wood kiln in the white.  We had green eggs and ham, green butter and green bread. Emma had bragging rights of the largest pot in the kiln. She's getting way too big for herself. We loaded several hundred pots into the kiln. As I write this Teresa is at the kiln listening to an Ibook on her phone and cuddling up to the firebox. New technology meets old tech.
Heated debate after pot luck  at The Cactus Lounge about branding and pricing. One side says you must have something to sell to everyone and the other side saying no I don't want to do that. I want to be a one of a kind and the others saying pile it high and watch it fly.  It goes back to my blog post of the other day. There is more than one way to get an Ceramic Education and there are even more mays to make a living in this game.
If I just look around my house I know there isn't probably 2 families on my road that would like their decor to look it mine. That's Ok if there are 2 in Mytown

, 2 in St. Thomas, 2 in London, 2 in Stratford and on and on I will make a living.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Sweet Smell of Grass

Dear Grass A BIG congratulations on your receiving the Order of Canada medal for a life time of achievement in the Arts in Canada and all over the world. There isn't a potters library that is complete without one of your books in it. Your teaching and written work have been legendary.  I must say you and your bride look amazing along side The Lieutenant Governor of BC Judith Guichon and the Aide-de Camp Jamie Webb. What a wonderful day for the two of you and for craft in Canada.
I am indeed humbled tonight to look at your picture and think back some 40 years when I was starting on this journey. Thank you Robin and Judi for all you have both done for me and for craft.
My love for you until Niagara falls. T

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I usually say it takes 7 years of full time potting to learn how to make decent pots on the wheel. It then takes another 10 years to develop a recognizable signature. So 17 years in and you should have a look about you.
12% of the population believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife so I can say a lot of things and have people believe me. 
I had prepared a talk for the Hamilton Potters the other night but it was cancelled due to a bad snow storm.   For the talk, I had been contemplating what my legacy will be. I was hired for 15 years at Sheridan College to teach production throwing but I haven’t really produced any production potters.  I have however nurtured a gaggle of potters that are what I would call studio potters and damn fine pot makers. Some potters believe there is only one way to make a living in clay and that is their way. 
Emma Smith is attending the University of Hard Knocks. She is probably less than 10 years into the game and a recognizable style is surfacing. Lots of pots, lots of firings, lots of reading, lots of workshops and travel, lots of pots in her collection, and lots of time focused on her craft. She is full on and it’s showing. New work is upped in scale and very distinct in narrative. Here are some examples going into this weekend's firing.
Tonight Andrew Kellner is presenting his Graduate Show at West Virginia University.  Andrew has been full on for probably the 17 years I mentioned.  Here is a  3 tier stacking box of Andrew’s he gave me for Christmas.  I wanted to be at his grad show in Morgantown, WV but I had an appointment at the hospital where they were apparently looking for my head. Luckily it was not found where they were looking. 
You will be seeing more from these two. I don’t think it will be a career of production but it will be a life in clay.  Here is a shout out to both of you and the muddy roads you're on. Hey Andrew, I'm with you in spirit tonight. Cya on the weekend Emma. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Borrowing a chain saw!

Here is the chainsaw I give to people that ask to borrow mine. It requires no explanation when I hand it to them. I have loaned my Husky before and it came back with the chain hanging off and the teeth looked like they had bitten thru steel. My saw for loan

was made by Dog Bite Steel . The company is run by an old friend Brenda Tucker and her husband. They make great stuff!
I have a cast iron bra and bullet proof panties in the Unemployment Office otherwise known as my bedroom. Their flowers are blooming in my garden and the devil watches over my kiln.
Once in the middle of a firing I ran out of cut wood and my saw wouldn’t start. I ran down and asked the neighbour to borrow his. I thought I would return it better than I borrowed it so I took it next day to have it professionally sharpened. The Chain saw store owner who I knew thru teaching his daughter “Said where did you get this saw?”. He then went to his window and pointed at a serial # written on it. The saw had been stolen from him. Oh shit! The police were involved and my neighbour never spoke to me again.

Here is a glimpse at what my day looks like. Cords of ash!!