Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gullible's Travels

It all started with our daughter Kate wanting to buy one of my woodfired pots. Her future Mother-in law had requested one and I had promised to send Kate some pictures, then mail the pot she selected. As usual, I waited too long and decided since I was overdue for a road trip anyway, I would just drive down to Charlotte with some. Hauling pottery to North Carolina in a blizzard was a fool's errand so I was the obvious man for the job. I knew it was a hellofa storm that hit West Virginia Friday afternoon and into the night. That is why Friday night and Saturday I checked the West Virginia DOT website for info. That is why I called their hot line repeatedly on my way to Charleston Saturday morning.Every updated report said the turnpike was snow covered over Flat Top mountain. Sounds like-it's open, we're plowing, we'll get it cleaned up soon.After driving over roads with some slush and a few slick spots, I got to the first tollbooth where I was told the turnpike had been closed for 20 hours already and there was no hope in sight. Trucks were jacknifed all up and down the mountain and the national guard was trying to rescue people who had spent the night in their cars.So much for Saturday. I turned around and went back to Ohio. If I had stayed over, there was no guarantee the road would be open Sunday,or even Monday.

Sunday I decided to take a chance and go through Asheville.The route is a hundred miles longer. With I-40 closed at the rockslide by the N.C. border, you have to take I-81 north to Johnson City and pick up I-26 over the mountains to Asheville.It was a very long drive through an area that had had up to 24 inches of snow Friday night. There were cars abandoned all along the road and wreckers working hard to pull them out of whatever hole they had slid into but the traffic lanes were open. As long as I kept the truck pointed south, I was fine. Any stops for food or comfort involved parking lots with slush a foot deep.Reports from potters I know in the area above Asheville reported power outages and paralysis but the traffic lanes were open on I-26.

I got to Charlotte about 11 hrs. after I started what is usually an 8 to 9 hr. trip. I had a lovely visit with our daughter and her fiance. They settled on a woodfired teapot for his Mom.(see picture) I wouldn't be a good Dad without geting Kate a Christmas gift so we went to Trader Joes and blew it all on wine. Nothing like the gift of alcohol to show your kids you care.

The trip home Tuesday was the same long route except that I stopped at Highwater and got a truck load of clay and stopped to see a friend and swap pots and stories before heading North. No trouble in the high country just the Ipod jacked into the radio and Robert Earl Keene, Guy Clark,and Ramblin' Jack cranked up loud.I finally got home about 8pm tired but alive.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

General Updates

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Holiday show at Anderson Station. It was a great sale. We had customers non-stop all day. All six potters sold well and were still talking to each other at the end of the day. I sold out of my Open Baking Dishes and am frantically trying to make more for a January show. Soup mugs also sold very well and some folks even got in the holiday spirit and took home some cookie jars.

Construction is at a standstill until January. Duke wanted an outrageous amount of money to set a pole so I could go directly to the barn.It will be just as cheap to do a larger service to the house and pull a sub panel off that box and bury 50 ft of cable from the house to the barn.More than I planned to spend but the house needed to be upgraded anyway and this way I get a twofer for about the same money. End of the story is this got too complicated for me to do by myself so I have hired a real electrician and she can't start until January.

On the home front, I am heading to Charlotte this weekend to take some things to our daughter. Monday will be a stop at Highwater for clay and hopefully a visit to Crazy Green Studios. Lastly, since I-40 is still closed, a slow and scenic drive through the Cumberland Gap will get me headed for home.Tina's side of the family is coming for Christmas dinner so we will spend next week cleaning and cooking.

Merry Christmakwanakah

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The barn builders are finished. I still have to wire it,insulate,etc and I probably will install a couple more windows that I got on the cheap at an auction last week.Then it will be time to build fixtures and get to making some pots.
Milestone number two is an 8 cu ft Bailey Gas Kiln that my neighbor gave me a lead on last summer. The previous owner was kind enough to keep it until I had a place to put it but today was the day to bring her home.It took a large truck,a Bobcat with forks on it,and a lot of care but here she is at last.The kiln has low mileage and two sweet little power burners so it should be nice to fire.Of course I still need propane service and a vent in the roof but this is definitely a step closer to being set up at home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

One Step Closer

At first I said he would never get the truck back there. Now I don't know if he will ever get it out! Concrete is a great thing to have and it puts me very close to bidding farewell to the pole barn crew. The only thing left for them top do is hang the overhead door. That will probably happen Monday, then I can get going with electric service and finish work. The kiln shed is cleaned out and the gas kiln can come as soon as I can arrange to move it.Progress marches on.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Well,the project continues.The rest of the siding order showed up Thursday and the boys put it on yesterday.Here is what the finished exterior looks like. We still need to pour the concrete floor and install the garage door. Hopefully that will happen this coming week so I can get on with wiring, gas service, insulation,and oh yeah, getting the gas kiln set up!

Here's hoping for a great Western N.C. Pottery Festival in Dillsboro today. I really wanted to go but with everything going on here I just couldn't work it in.Hopefully, next year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Short Report

The barn is coming along with a few snags. The lot was not as level as it was supposed to be so we had to build up the back and sides with extra 2x8's at the bottom and fill with much more gravel than anticipated. At this point I am probably $1000 over budget but that's not too bad. I was also disappointed to find out that the builders did not order enough siding and more will not arrive until the end of the week.All this beautiful dry weather is going to waste.All I can do right now is order more gravel and hope things go smooth next week.

Last Sunday was Empty Bowls at the Baker Hunt in Covington.I had donated a dozen bowls and several large boxes of seconds. After I worked my shift on the Early Set Up crew it was great to see the hundreds of people that turned out for the event.The "seconds" were a big hit and mine were flying off the tables. It is a wonderful feeling to see people walking around hugging your pots.The event was a big success and many hands made for light work and a good time for all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Construction and Simon Leach Workshop.

Sometimes you can't find any news of interest to write about( as my readers will attest). Sometimes you have too much news to fit it all in. This week is one of the latter. The big story is that my studio is rising in the back yard as I am typing.The crew from PDQ Pole Buildings is living up to their name and working hard in tight quarters.They broke ground yesterday and even with a four hour standstill while waiting for a footer inspection the framing will be finished today.The studio space is 24x24 large enough for a one person workspace but small enough to heat.The bay on the left is a 12x24 covered "carport" where I can park the boat.Here's a picture of the boys doing the rafter dance.

Over the weekend I attended a workshop led by internet sensation Simon Leach. He was very entertaining and I learned a few things as well. It was hosted by Amphora Studios(Core Clay) and Laura Davis and her crew did a wonderful job with hospitality and facilities. If you get a chance to go to one of their workshops, don"t miss it.Here are Simon throwing with his hands and Daniel Luck throwing with his feet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

They say the barn is coming!

The back yard is excavated.I have 20 yards of gravel on site.The permit is issued. All I need now is for the builders to show up.I talked to them yesterday and we are hoping to start next week (weather permitting of course.) I am starting to get excited now that it looks like having my own studio is going to be a reality in a few weeks.It will be nice to have some elbow room and 24/7 access.Stay tuned for updates and news of the christening party.

                                                  In other news. Empty Bowls is in two weeks and I have a lot of greenware bowls that I am going to bisque fire Monday. They should be glazed and fired in time but they may still be warm when I deliver them.

One other pottery item, I have just started trying scraffito on some pots.Maybe I should have learned to draw first.

Well, Tina has been touring the south in the motorhome for two weeks and last night she said she was going to start meandering home. I have to get busy hauling out the liquor bottles and sweeping up the confetti before she gets here!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Last weekend I did my first three day sale at Old Clifton Village in Greene County. Friday we had rain, lots of rain so nothing was really happening except that I learned to appreciate my tent a little more and had time to work on a new arrangement for the woodfired pots that adds some height to the display.

Saturday was drippy but there were people downtown. I engaged the crowd and found a number of appreciative people but "atta boys" don't pay the bills and it was extremely difficult to close a sale.I ended the day with two sales and some "be backs". The crowd had come for the yard sales and concrete lawn angels, not for Art. This was very apparent. It was also clear that the economic recovery has not reached the hinterlands.It was not an upscale crowd and people just didn't have any extra money to get themselves something nice.

Sunday dawned a little brighter.One of my "be backs" had actually come back after I closed Saturday and left a phone number with a neighboring vendor. I called her and she wants three pots which I can deliver as she lives in my area. The crowd was a little more upscale Sunday and I sold better than I had Saturday, including a very large covered jar that really helped tip the balance. Three days like Sunday would have made a good weekend. I need to look for some better shows next year.

The good news is that things are progressing on the home studio. The back yard has been excavated and leveled, most bids are in for construction and I have agreed to buy a slightly used Bailey gas kiln at a great price. Hopefully, I'll be set up by the first of the year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Tale of Two Pots

Every woodfiring has pots that don't quite measure up. From our last firing, I really liked the form of the jar on the right but the surface looked like the cup on the left. My friend Mike Baum suggested that we refire it in his gas kiln to see what would happen. Wow , what a difference. The dry soda and ash fluxed and turned clear revealing the wonderful color beneath.It's good to have friends.

This week has been busy. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't getting any younger and pole barns weren't getting any cheaper. If I am ever going to build a studio, I might as well do it while I can enjoy it. I have a couple of bids that I might be able to live with if I can get the lot level at a reasonable cost. I have re-fenced the yard so I can push dirt around with the tractor without the dogs getting out and am waiting on a bid for fill dirt and /or professional excavation. I'll keep you posted.

Don't forget Art in the Park in Bellevue Ky. Saturday and Second Sunday Stroll in Waynesville on Sunday. This is the last Waynesville show of the season and I hope they can get a crowd into town. It is a lovely little village but it has been a slow summer up there. The end of the month, I am doing a three day show in Old Clifton Village in Greene county near Yellow Springs.( 25,25,27 of Sept.) Harvest Festival at Maplecreek on Oct 10 and then taking time to get ready for our Christmas sale the first Saturday in December.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Not About Pottery

I took a day off yesterday and went to Metamora Indiana with some old bicycling buddies to ride the steam train. The locomotive was built as a switch engine in 1930 and worked full time until 1950. It has now been restored and they truck it around the country on a flatbed trailer to pull various excursion trains.

Metamora is an old canal town and the canal is restored for a few miles. There is a canal boat that they pull with horses and an operating grist mill as well.The canal goes through a covered bridge that is a wooden aqueduct that runs across a creek that runs below it. Pretty cool.The highlight of the trip was that we saw a bald eagle flying up the Whitewater valley. Magnificent.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Xenia Rail and Art Festival

The picture at the left may look familiar( Same as last time) but the message is different. These were a big hit at the Xenia festival. I sold half the baking dishes and three fourths of the handled soup bowls that I got out of the kiln last week. It's nice to pick a winner sometimes.

There really wasn't a crowd but traffic was pretty steady and people seemed to really like my work. There were 35 tents that were a mix of community organizations, railroad and model train enthusiasts, and art. There were some painters, jewelers, and photographers as well as a woman who made slab built items from clay. (I'm sorry but I can't find polite words to describe it and refuse to call it pottery). I had a flurry of sales in the morning and they kept trickling in through the afternoon. Many people bought more than one piece and I ended up with my best day except for the big Clay Alliance Spring Fair.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Pots

People have liked this color combination this summer so I made a kiln load of these "Market Pots" recently. Nothing fancy or elegant, just good serviceable ware that you can bake in, serve in , and throw in the dishwasher. I have a show in Xenia, Ohio this Saturday so I'll take a couple of cases of these along and see if I picked a winner or not.

On another note, I just received a booklet from Dan Finnegan " Eddie Hopkins A Potters Life". Eddie was one of Dan's mentors at Winchcombe Pottery and the booklet is a memorial retrospective on his life and career. It has plenty of wonderful pictures and gives a lot of insight into the life of a great production potter. Dan may still have a few copies @ $20 ea. ppd. Check his blog for details @

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hot Time, Summer in the City

Sunday was the fourth Second Sunday sale of the summer in Waynesville. Thirty artists were signed up to show. We ended up with two women set up on the sidewalk and three of us in the tent area. All of us in tents were potters so it was a mini pottery fest. Temps were in the nineties and although there were cars in town there was almost no foot traffic. I don't think there were twenty people in the booth all day. Finally at 3:30 I had a couple of ladies come in together and buy a couple of sets of bowls to salvage the day.The guy across from me sold two or three small items and the woman up the way didn't sell any. I was king of the potters but in the world of the blind, the one eyed man is king.Here is a picture of rush hour at the sale.

Monday, August 3, 2009

New Pots etc.

Sorry I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. We were supposed to fire the wood kiln at Maplecreek in June but were unable to get enough folks together to do it. That pushed us into July to try again. We had enough people signed up to load on Saturday the 18th but when we got the pots together we were short 1/2 stack in the wood side and a whole stack in the soda side. You can't fire a kiln with that much empty space so we all ran home to put together a final batch of pots for Thursday night so we could fire on Friday. As luck would have it I had a lot of greenware waiting to bisque fire and Jean Ann was kind enough to let me jump in and fire them in time for the loading.

Thursday, I finished teaching my high school girls at 3:00, rushed home, jumped in the motorhome, and headed for the kiln. Several other people had brought pots so we wadded and loaded and wadded and loaded until 9:00 pm when we finally got it closed up and ready to fire. I was in bed by 9:20. Friday morning came at 6:30 and I stumbled up the trail and had the kiln started by 7:00. The first shift is not too frantic so I worked by myself until 3:00 when I was very glad to see Carol Osborne arrive. By a little after 6:00 I was pooped and when a couple more people showed up I passed the torch and headed for home. Everything hurt for three days but I forgot about that Saturday when we opened the kiln. OK, enough words, here are the pictures.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Busy Weekend

Last weekend I was up to my ears in pottery. working hard, and enjoying all of it. I had signed up to show at Bellevue, Ky on Saturday and Waynesville, Ohio on Sunday.

I got to Bellevue about 7:30 Saturday and had my choice of locations. I picked a spot in front of the bank and even though the tent was provided, it still took an hour and a half or so to set up. I was really glad I had brought my weights, they are butt ugly but cheap and effective and the wind was starting early. After a slow start, I sold pretty well including a nice sale to a lovely young woman who wanted a little jar for her boyfriend but added a woodfired teapot and set of matching mugs before she was done. My friend Pam was next to me and friends Peggy and Ann were across the street. It's always a lot more fun if there are folks who can help each other and provide booth coverage if you have to run down the street for something. The merchants seemed glad to have us and the committee members were very nice as well. The weather threatened all day and about 2:30 I started to tape lids on pots and get ready to pack. Everything was in the truck by 4:00 and the rain started at 4:02. Nice day. I'll be there again September 12 for their Art in the Park show. Thanks to everyone who came out.

Sunday was bright and clear. There were more people in Waynesville than usual but sales were slow. Thanks to my friends Ed and Donna who came up just to buy a casserole from me that they could have just stopped by the house for. I sold a couple of more oven pieces and and a few mugs to round out the day. I also talked to the show organizer for Xenia's Rail and Arts festival on August 22. I sent them an application and booth fee this morning so it looks like I am getting in deeper and deeper.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rolling on the River

Last weekend Tina and I went to North Carolina for a "meet the fiance's family" camp out and river trip.We drove the motor home through the traffic of the Smokies, past all the Ruby Mines, pancake houses,outlet stores and must see attractions. We finally hooked up with daughter Kate and her fiance Lucas at a campground near the Nantahala Gorge on the south side of Fontana Lake. Lucas' parents, brother, and sister in law were there and our son Ben even made it. Friday evening was great. Kate made Fajitas on the grill, good beer was passed around and we all got to know each other.

Saturday was a little more lively. Kate and Lucas are expert kayakers and thought we would all enjoy a leisurely float down the Nantahala. Ben and Tina had kayaked before so they elected to kayak along with Kate and Lucas. The rest of us rented inflatable solo kayaks (duckies). The rental included wetsuits and they managed to find a super sized one that I could squeeze into. It wasn't pretty and may have been illegal in some states but I wasn't going to freeze in the 50 degree water. We saw the movie grabbed our paddles and got on the bus to go up river. The river looked very low and I wondered if we would have to walk some of it. I need not have worried. About halfway up the mountain a surge of water suddenly made the river a couple of feet deeper and a whole lot faster.Turns out they release water from the dam every morning and leave the taps on all day while people play on the river. Plenty of water. Plenty.

We were all going to stay together. Well 50 yards into the trip is the first big rapid. No warm up, no practice. I made it through but was swept away with the current and caught in fast water for the next couple of miles. After I finally found an eddy to get into I waited for the rest of the group. Waited and waited. About an hour later Kate made it down to me. Kate told me that Tina and Ben had problems early on and had to wet exit from their boats several times. When this happened, the boats went downstream with the rest of the party giving chase and the survivors struggled to get to shore and beat their way downstream to wherever the swift current had taken their boats. Turns out this was no fun for those involved and seeing no sign of improvement, Tina and Ben abandoned and dragged their boats uphill to the highway to catch a ride with a livery bus.

With the rest of us back together, we soon tried to pull over at our designated lunch spot. Too much current and several of us unable to stop. We went a little farther and were finally able to stop for lunch. My lunch had been left in Tina's boat. My future son-in-law had a spare sandwich. Peanut butter ,turkey, and cucumber. Mmmmmmm tasty!

We headed downriver and were able to stay together this time. Rapids, rapids and more rapids. Overall it was like getting flushed down the drain and coming out 8 miles later. I stayed in my boat and made it down to the falls by the livery. I opted to skip going over the falls. I was hurting enough already but happy and glad to be there.

Ben and Tina were in good spirits when we found them and we went on to go out for a nice dinner then back to camp for a campfire and more getting acquainted. Nice folks and a nice weekend.

Sunday we drove home by way of the west side of the Smokies. We drove U.S. 129 "The Dragon's Tail"- 313 turns in 11 miles of mountains with 12% grades. Remember, we were driving a motorhome. Finally it was my turn to be the asshole in the camper backing up traffic. Actually, there was light traffic and it was a very nice drive. It took about the same time as coming down did but it was much more scenic.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Brighter Day, Well sort of...

Sunday's sale at Waynesville was much better than last month. There were no big crowds but there were more people than last month and I made several nice sales and a few small ones. My pottery friend Karen Herbert and her husband Larry came up from Bethel and set up across from me. It's nice to have a friendly face around.

About 4:00 pm the sky opened up, we got drenched, all the people left and we started packing up. There was water running 3 inches deep in the gutter at the back of the booth but the tent held fast and shed water like a duck.I brought way too much stuff again so I was the last one left when a nice lady from North Dakota showed up wanting to see some pots. Well, they weren't all in the truck yet so I opened a box, showed her 3 pots and sold her one of them for $50.00. Sometimes it pays to pack slowly.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Trying it Again

This Sunday, I will be showing at the Second Sunday Stroll in Waynesville, Ohio. Last month it got off to a very slow start but hope springs eternal. I have improved my signage and sent out a newsletter to my mailing list so maybe a few nice folks will stop by.

In the studio I have fallen prey to my testosterone and been throwing big planters. They are not something you want to haul around to shows but they are fun to make. I'll post some pictures in a few weeks when they are finished.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Planning Time

This post is something that may be exciting to potters but not to more casual readers. A few weeks ago I was given some kiln brick that had been surplus to a concrete making plant ( lime kiln ?) With the help of my brother I collected all that was to be had and hauled them home. Kiln brick are very expensive to buy at retail so this was a huge gift of support to my pottery business. It will allow more convenient firing of my woodfired pots as well as much more control of the process v/s firing in a community kiln. The current question is what sort of kiln to build.

I'm thinking of a small woodfired kiln with provisions for a propane or waste oil burner to help with initial warm up and as a final booster if needed. I know I will have to buy some additional materials but naturally I want to stay as cheap as possible. The tally on the brick is 500 3 inch #2 arch brick and 180 3 inch Key brick. I'm thinking the keys could be laid nose to tail for a floor, half of the arches could be used on their sides to make part of some 9 inch thick sidewalls, and the rest will make a barrel arch with nearly a 2 ft radius. I probably won't be able to start construction til late summer so I have some time to plan things but I would appreciate any input from knowledgeable readers.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Pots and Critters

Jean Ann fired the gas kiln this week and I had several pots come out that I wanted to share with everyone. The jug is about three gallons and made in three parts then assembled on the wheel. It has an ash glaze with Laguna's fake salt. It is striking in person and should make a good attention getter for the sales booth.

The elephant reminds me of one of our local politicians who bellows in the wilderness trying to change national policy. The pig is just cute with a perfect celedon glaze. Both he and the elephant were thrown upside down on the wheel then altered and trimmed to make the bodies. I love them but they were not original ideas so I don't plan to make them for sale.

The small casserole has a nice oribe glaze and a clean white interior.All in all some nice results.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Like a Ton of Bricks

For the last two weeks, I have been glazing pots at Middletown. Jean Ann has packed the gas kiln and I expect she will fire it tomorrow and unload Thursday.That should make for some new pictures for next week.

The big news is that I was given several tons of kiln brick so I may be able to build my own soda kiln later this year.The brick are mainly arches and keys so I'm thinking of a sprung arch built on top of a low wall, sort of a modified Groundhog kiln. I'm really excited but as they say there is no free lunch. My brother made the trip with me to pick up the first load last week. We immediately got his truck stuck up to the frame and had to get it towed out. After that it was pretty smooth but loading and unloading bricks all day Friday has sent me to the Aleve bottle all weekend. Weather permitting ,I'm going for another load tomorrow.

On the upcoming sales front,I'm planning on trying Waynesville again on June 14.Wish me luck.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Waynesville Show

The village of Waynesville, Ohio is trying to find a way to bring shoppers downtown. They used to come in to buy antiques but that has slowed and the merchants are thinking maybe Art will draw people. I signed up to do five "Second Sunday" sales this summer. The first was yesterday.

It wasn"t a total loss. I found a nickel on the way to my truck at the end of the day.There were twelve or so "artists" and maybe a hundred browsers. There was another potter selling his wares very cheaply and he made five or six small sales.The jewelery booth sold $10 or $20 and the metal stuff on a stick guy made a sale or two.My sales for the day- zero. The weather was good and the hosts were very hospitable but the few folks coming by were just browsers who saw some tents and wondered what was up. I'll try it another time or two to see if it develops but I may take less stuff next time. I don't think I will run out.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Every Derby Day the Cincinnati Clay Alliance has a Pottery Fair. This year was my first year to participate. With nearly 50 other potters it was a very big show. We had great weather in spite of a rainy forecast and the crowd was nonstop all day. Sales were strong. I did well for a rookie and one of my friends sold about everything but the tent. It was so busy I didn't even get out to see everyones booths but here are some pictures of my space.