Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10% off Holiday Sale

Anouncing a 10% of sale on ETSY. Enter holiday as a coupon code at checkout and recieve 10% off of your order.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I have been making a lot of the same pitcher form trying to fine tune all of my ideas. One of the main things for me is making the handle continue the line created by the bottom section of the pot. This form needs a handle to complete it, but if the handle is wrong it throws off the whole pot.

I have also noticed that I like the pitchers to be more narrow and cylindrical shaped. I think that on the wider ones the angle created by the two planes meeting is too sharp visually. I made a couple pitchers in various sizes to create a sort of set. I'm not sure if I will photograph the finished pitchers as a set or as individuals. But I think if done well, sets like these can be a pretty powerful image.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just a Slab

Jan Mckeachie Johnston
Simon Levin

Shoji Hamada Ruggles & Rankin

I have been working on making some slab hump/drape mold plates and platters. I like the idea of slab plates for several reasons. First off, they are different from anything else that I am currently making. They also offer lots of variety in surface decoration and texture techniques, like Simon's wadding resist or Ruggles and Rankin's brushwork. I learned a while ago that making molds and pots from molds is not easy; however, Once you have made a good mold it is a relatively easy process to produce multiple good pot's.
It is frustrating to me that the thought of using molds takes away from the idea of handmade pot's. I know this is many peoples first reaction to the idea because it used to be mine. The word mold has a negative connotation for whatever reason. I think that making pots from molds, when done well, is just as valid of a process as throwing. It is definitely not easy and deserves better recognition.
I am very excited about the new possibilities that this opens up and I will post some pictures of my interpretations of these great pots shortly. And if all goes well they will eventually wind up on my Etsy page.
What is your opinion of pots made from molds?

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Pots and Etsy

Pitcher with Flashing SlipYunomi with Flashing Slip
Mug with flashing slip (a favorite of this firing) Rice Bowl fired upside downLidded Pitcher

Some new pots from the latest firing at Mark Terry's Anagama. I had Kindof a lot of variables going into this firing new clay body glazes and slips. All in all im pretty happy with the results. The only problems I had were some issues with the functionality of some of the pots, all my fault. I was really happy with all of the surfaces though and I have a lot of new information to go off.
I would also like to anounce my first etsy sale. I have posted a couple items in my etsy store from this last firing and they are all waiting for you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

progress in the studio

I have been focusing a lot on feet lately. When I think of good feet words that come to mind are satisfying, and confident. These words seem to contrast somewhat because a satisfying foot needs to be of a certain size; however, enough material needs to be removed in trimming in order to show confidence with your chosen tool. When these two factors are well balanced the resulting foot can be spectacular but if a foot is to skimpy or to chunky then it can ruin a pot. On the bowl pictured above I wanted to create a very tall foot. I feel that I may have over emphasized the satisfying part of the foot with its large scale, while not successfully conveying a confident statement with the foot because of how much cutting is required to produce this larger foot.
I have been having some problems with these inset lids. I need the knob to be a certain height to be easy to grab but I do not want it to be too tall and break up the flow of the pot. I have also been working on cleaning up the knobs and adding the same texture to them as the rest of the pot.
This is a new vase form for me. It is kind of inspired by Bede Clark, but I think they are still evolving. I am usually not one for the little pellets or smeared balls of clay but I think they work as little handle accent things.
I also revisited a faceted bottle form I haven't made for a little while. These pots are really about the small details and proportions, which makes them very difficult and frustrating to make. I'm not sure if I will make anymore of these, they may have to be one of those pots that I admire of others but never make myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Feet: Round Two

Some more good feet, no repeats this time, any guesses?

Monday, November 1, 2010


I have been working on a new pitcher form. I have continued to explore the idea of creating distinct planes with different textures. The bottom section of these pitchers are skimmed over with a trimming tool while still wet on the wheel. This exposes the sand in the clay and creates a kind of raw looking surface.
Another aspect of these pitchers I am working on is continuing the flow of the form in the handle. I want the handle to continue the line created by the profile of the lower section. I like the idea of creating a form that needs a handle to make it work visually. I think that this helps to integrate the handle as part of the pot and not as an afterthought. These are probably the last pots I will make before my next firing, more on that later.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Feet-any guesses?

Here are some pictures of some of my favorite feet. These are all pots that I own and non of them were made by me. I really like feet (of pots) for whatever reason, I think most potters do. Feet are often times the best part of a good pot, for me. They are also often what make bad pots bad. I think the pots above represent a wide enough variety and display well what I am interested in. Anyone care to guess who these pots were made by. There are two pots made by the same person but other than that there are no repeats.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lidded Pitchers

I am finally getting to a point with these lidded pitchers where I feel like I know what I want from them. Meaning that I feel that I have worked out enough of the details so that I can actually be somewhat satisfied with them. This does not mean that they are done evolving, It just means that they are to a point were I will fire them.

The two pitchers above are quite small. I think I would envision them as personal teapots. I am avoiding telling you to many of my ideas about them because I would like to request some feedback on them. I would like anyone who has time to give me a one word critique of the two pitchers above. Just simply comment on the post with the word that comes to mind when you see them. All feedback will be much appreciated.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mill Creek Pots

Semi Famous Firing

I spent the better half of this past September in Gresham, Wisconsin assisting Simon Levin in firing his Anagama. To date, this has been my most influential experience in ceramics. Working with Simon and his apprentices, who are all very talented potters, has taught me a lot. Through working with them I have learned the importance in deciding who you surround yourself with. It is very inspiring to me to be at the bottom of the pack and feel the need to catch up.

We fired Simon's Anagama for six days and then downfired. Downfiring is a technique Simon developed. It is similar to reduction cooling but he lets the kiln re-oxidise after every stoke in the downfiring as opposed to keeping the kiln in reduction during the entire cooling cycle.

Simon also fires his kiln a lot cooler (in temperature) than most people. Cone ten's were down in the hottest parts after firing for six days. The kiln never got over 2200 degrees. The ash was melted by the heat work as opposed to just temperature, meaning heat over time.

The kiln is fired in a very controlled manor with a detailed hourly kiln log and thermocouple. Simon's goal is to produce lots of "information" on the surface of the pots. He has adapted the firing schedule in order to emphasize the surfaces he wants. He is also very conscious in loading the kiln. Every pot is very carefully wadded in place and some wads are hung between pots to create more information and flame path on the pots.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

pouring pots

I have Incorporated a cup form that I have been working with into some pouring pots. I took the essential form of the cup and changed the proportions and size of them in order to make them work with a teapot and lidded pitcher form. Although the cup form was originally influenced by a cup of sequoia millers that I have, I feel that I have stolen the form rather than borrowed it. Stealing means that you take the idea and make it your own while borrowing suggests that you use the idea but do not change it. I have found that using the same essential form for a teapot and cups helps to make sets that "work" visually.The spout and lugs on this teapot help to balance the angular form of the pot. This teapot will eventually have a woven reed handle. The handle will also aid the balance and help to soften up the angular body of the pot.
I have been working with a sketch book a lot, drawing pots that I may eventually make. I arrived at this lidded pitcher form by drawing different versions of the aforementioned cup form and stretching the proportions. Then I think about what form it could be and add the necessary parts to the drawing. I think that drawing pots really helps to balance out the proportion of pots and also to weed out a lot of bad ideas.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mugs Continued

I have been working on the same mug form and made a few changes. I changed the handle by making the bottom attachment similar to the top. I also made the handle a little bit thicker and wider. I really don't like small skimpy handles and I felt that the previous ones were a little thin for my liking. I have also been working more with throwing these off the hump. I found that I would cut them off so that the bottom was very thick. Since I do not want to trim these this was a problem. I think judging the thickness of the base will come through practice more than anything but I have definitely been paying more attention to it. I want the handles to taper to both ends. I want the bottom attachment to be the thickest and significantly larger than the top attachment.
I have also started to make a sort of travel mug shape. I am not interested in making big bulky travel mugs, in fact I really don't like the idea of travel mugs at all. My idea is to kind of mock the form of a "travel mug" but bring it down to a smaller size, and also tweak the proportions a little. Since I find these "travel mugs" big and ugly I thought it would be an interesting challenge to make some that I actually like.

I have also been working on a new yunomi form. This form is kind of inspired by a Michael Simon cup that I saw at Guillermo Cuellar's house. I think that it is a very interesting form with a lot of potential. My cups are definitely still in a very rough prototype stage but I am interested to see how they work out. I like how the foot kind of stands out in the profile of the cup.

I have been looking at a lot of Michael Simon pots lately. I think Michael is probably one of my favorite potters. I think he is very under appreciated currently, it is pretty obvious when looking at his pots to see how many people have been inspired, or flat out copied them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working on Mugs

I have started to work on a new mug form. Its kind of Ruggles&Rankin/Clary Illian/Sequoia Miller inspired. This mug form is pretty different than the mugs I have been making recently (Simon's mugs). I just got back from a trip, which I will write all about soon (I promise Ryan). Anyways, this trip made me think a lot about the pots I am making and the pots that I want to make. Being surrounded by a lot of good pots and potters made me think a lot about what makes a good pot. This is kind of an unanswerable question but it is very thought provoking.

The point that I am trying to get at is that I am back in a very "investigative" place in making pots. I am trying lots of new things and following lots of new influences. I am very excited about these new influences and new ideas to try out. This has caused me to get back into the mode were all I want to do is make pots. I am trying new things with clay bodies and also I have been throwing almost everything off the hump. I was inspired to throw and trim off the hump by Simon. He throws most of his pots off the hump, including plates.

Throwing off the hump can be difficult to begin with but provides many advantages in my opinion. There are the obvious benefits of not having to make individual balls of clay and increasing how fast you can make pots. But for me one of the biggest things is that the pot is raised up on a pedestal of sorts (the hump). This allows you to see the pot from a more objective angle while you are throwing it. I also like the freedom of making many pots quickly and I also like the process and the marks left from cutting the pot off the hump.

Trimming off the hump (soft clay chuck) allows you to keep the pot steady without using wads and without flattening the rim by sticking it to the wheel head. The pot also moves around a little which allows you to have a little more movement in your pots.

I believe that working in this way, using the processes described above, allows me to move closer to making the pots that I like. I have a lot more ideas I am currently working on and I will share them with you soon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Arizona Pots

(stoneware with flashing slip- small train)
(porcelain with flashing slip- wood-soda/double cat)
(stoneware- side stoke of double wide train)

Here are some finished pots form my Arizona trip. I have plenty more pots from my trip but I thought these were the best. Feel free to ask if you have any questions about the pots/firings etc.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


After reading Don Piltcher's guest post on Sawdust & Dirt I have been somewhat cautious about what I choose to post here. This has resulted in less frequent posts but I hope better posts. I am not trying to write magazine articles here but I respect a well written post and try my best to contribute something of worth.

I have been making teapots lately. I made a new press mold for the spouts and I like this one a lot better than the previous one. The shape and scale of the spout are much more fitting to the teapots I want to make. The mold itself is also much better, I guess the more you do something the better you get at it.

I also changed the handle a little. I made it wider than past handles as I find that a wider chunkier handle is more comfortable and also more sturdy feeling. I made the handle attachment on the front overlap the seem of the top of the spout. I have had problems with the spout cracking in this area so I figure this will solve that problem. I also like the look of the handle kind of wrapping around the spout. I also made the negative space created by the handle more of an elliptical shape as opposed to round. This reflects the shape of the pot better and also leaves less room for error as with a round handle it is very easy to detect any bumps in the form.

The body of the pot is new as well as the lid and the feet. I have not made teapots for a while so, naturally, I have found lots of new ideas I want to try. I am continuing on a process that I have described several times of working in a sort of evolving series that will eventually 'hopefully' end with my ideal teapot form.

I have been looking at a lot of medieval English/ancient Japanese inspired pottery, such as the pots of Hamada, and Bernard leach. And more recently, Phil Rodgers and Jim Malone. I am finding it hard to incorporate these ideas into my work while still keeping the pots 'simple' enough for an Anagama firing. I find that the best pots, for me, out of any wood firing but especially an Anagama are strong and confident but simple. This minimalist style sort of leaves a blank canvas for the kiln to paint on. With teapots especially, I find it very challenging to have all of the elements of the pot working in harmony in an uncluttered way.

There are countless small details that aid this minimalist style. Several that I have chosen to incorporate into my design are as follows. A press molded spout- Simple, smooth, and flowing design helps to not distract from the pot as a hole. A lid that completes the spherical shape of the pot- Simple, completes the profile, continues the texture to the last 1/16in of the pot.
The pictures are arranged in the order in which they were made. The first teapot is at the bottom and the latest teapot is at the top of the page. On the latest teapot I switched to a handle on the back of the teapot as opposed to the over the top handle. I found that this handle helps to balance out the spout. The line is continued from the tip of the spout down to the bottom of the spout through the teapot to the bottom of the handle and ending in the top of the handle.
I am reasonably happy with the latest teapot, but I have some new ideas which will drastically change the design. I think they are moving in a good direction and I am excited to see how my new ideas translate in to a three dimensional object.