Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some Good, Some Not or This is a Learning Opportunity

Last week I got my new POTTERY MAKING ILLUSTRATED in the mail and found a new twist on an old trick. When making sectional pots, I had learned to make the sections, stiffen, join, and do a little final shaping. The article ( by Rich Briggs ) suggested centering and opening a large ball of clay for the bottom section of the pot. Once opened, the walls are pulled straight up and left very thick. Thick like an inch and a half. A mating area is made by beveling the inside of this section at about 45 degrees. A slightly smaller bottomless cylinder is made the same thickness and diameter but beveled on the outside. This section is carefully inverted on the first one with no drying in between. With both sections still soft, no scoring or slipping is needed. At this point, turn the wheel slowly and put light pressure on the seam. Lo and behold, you have a fairly tall, thick walled cylinder that is straight and even. A few more pulls to thin it, a little shaping and there you are. I have made sctional pots before, but here is my first one with this method. Worked like a charm. I have included a 5 gallon bucket for scale.

I have seen lots of folks putting glass in the bottom of pots for color. Theirs looked great. Mine pulled   themselves apart. I think I may have put in too much glass. Oh well, it's all practice anyway.

Lastly, here are a few pots that came out nice. Thanks for stopping by. I'm heading for the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro next week. You should too. It's a great show and a good time

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pots from the Gas Kiln

We unloaded the gas kiln at Middletown Tuesday and had another good firing. I did not have anything spectacular in this load, mostly more whiskey cups and mugs for Christmas sales. Here are pictures of some representative pieces with the glazes noted. Coming up next time, cone six with glass accents and a 20 lb vase.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Art on a Stick

Most of us have been at an Art Fair where we are having a tough day and seen people buying the tasteless crap known as "Art on a Stick".It baffles us why that stuff sells and our art (which rivals Michaelangelo's) goes untouched. Well, Gaffney S.C. actually has one piece of" Art on a Stick" that I like ,so in all fairness, I am including a picture. Yes. they love their peaches.


The trip thru Gaffney followed a lovely weekend with our daughter Kate who teaches H.S. Art in Charlotte.It was a very nice weekend that included a trip to the new Mint Museum.On the way home, I went thru Asheville and stopped at Highwater for a ton of clay. I was anxious to see how the new van handled the load. I had to stop at the next rest area to make sure they hadn't given me empty boxes.The van didn't even notice a ton of cargo.Same pick up same gas mileage, wow. I'm picking up pots from the gas kiln at Middletown later today so I'll be putting up some pictures in a day or two. Stop back.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Worth Repeating

In a couple of weeks, Ohio will be voting to repeal the odious law known as SB5 .When the law was passed I posted my opinion of it. Since then 1.25 million Ohioans signed a petition to put a repeal of the law on the ballot and backers of the law have ramped up their scapegoating of public employees.While giving millions of our tax dollars to their corporate backers they are claiming the only way to balance the budget is on the backs of public employees. They try not to mention that the law also severely restricts bargaining rights of public employees and prevents unions from collecting fair share fees,  basically killing public employee unions as we know them.The following is a re-post of the original article.If you are in Ohio vote no on issue 2. If you are in another state, look out this may be coming your way. Thanks for listening.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an image circulating on Facebook of a button that read" Those who can ,teach. Those who can't,  pass laws to restrict teachers."As often happens, this got me thinking. Between my wife and I, we have over 50 years experience in the classroom and/or supervision of educators. We both have  Masters Degrees and many additional credit hours of training.. I think this qualifies me to speak with some authority on this subject.

The Ohio General Assembly has taken it on themselves to restructure the state's educational system. The need for reform was obvious to the legislators because even though the average educational level of teachers in any school in the state far outstrips the level of education of  the legislature and even though the teachers had specialized training, they were still not smart enough to agree with the opinions of big money donors who want to privatize and industrialize public education. Clearly, if the most qualified people did not have the correct opinion, the system must be broken.

The notion that we can standardize and quantify education comes from manufacturing. It assumes that if the proper processing is given to all children, they will all come out of school with the same competencies.No Child Left Behind assumes that all children are going to the same place on the same bus at the same time.If this doesn't happen, it is the fault of overpaid teachers.Make no mistake, this is the first assumption. No one ever mentioned that the Captains of Industry who are being encouraged to manage education would never agree to manufacture the simplest widget if they had no control over their raw materials coupled with no control and little knowledge of what the second and third shift was doing. No one would ever agree to these conditions but we expect teachers to do it every day.

The Republican Governors and legislatures of Midwestern States are systematically passing laws to severely restrict the bargaining rights of teachers and other public servants. They may not strike, they may negotiate pay but not benefits( so what goes in one pocket may be arbitrarily taken out of the other) Seniority means nothing. Pay must be merit based with 50% based on those tests that we don't"teach to" wink wink. It has never been shown that students who do well on these tests are more successful in the real world than others. It has certainly never been shown that these tests are valid for assessing teacher performance nor has any other formula to account for student differences been proven. The answer?  Ignore student differences and assume that everyone is capable of learning the same skills at the same rate. Of course this is totally ridiculous but you have to do it to make the math work.

When I went into the classroom, I had a wife and two kids.If I had been the only earner in the family we would have qualified for Food Stamps.The only thing that made it feasible to go into a job with no real career ladder was the assurance that with regular scheduled increases, and professional growth my wages would improve. The Ohio Legislature has removed this incentive for people to enter the field.

Ohio has passed and the Governor has signed SB5 that dictates these and other changes. Currently petitions are being circulated for a voter referendum on this law. Polls show a 60/40 split against the law but it is still an uphill battle to repeal it. I'm not saying our system is perfect. I'm not saying that public employees shouldn't be asked to help out and tighten their belts a little. And finally, far be it from me to suggest that CEO's whose wages are up 27% this year, banks that we bailed out, and Oil Producers who got 4 billion in federal money should kick in a little more

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bowling for Dollars

To celebrate Craft Week and promote our upcoming Empty Bowls event, friends from Core Clay were invited to Indigenous Gallery in O' Bryonville to throw bowls and sell tickets. I stopped down to join the fun and throw a few myself.I guess it's all those years of teaching, I love demonstrating and explaining. The throwing was fun, the company delightful, and our hosts at Indigenous extremely hospitable. It was a great afternoon. Empty Bowls benefits the Free Store Kids Cafe and is being held November 6. Ticket info at

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New (er) Pottermobile

In September, I had a show every weekend.This involved dragging those boxes, shelves, tent weights etc, etc, etc out of the old F 150 too many times. It was a great truck but was not really meeting my needs.Hard to load, worse to unload, and really stuffed to the brim.I spent the last weekend on a van search and here is the object of my affliction. A 2005 one ton 12 passenger Chevy van.Perfect condition, low miles and a great service record.I had been looking for a cargo van but they actually cost more used than a passenger rig. I'm not going to load it past the windows anyway and now I can carry a ton and a half of clay with the seats out or 11 friends with the seats in. Field trip anyone?

PS Ceramic Arts Daily ran my plans for a homemade banding wheel again yesterday.The layout was scrambled but blame them not me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Short Snorts

I have been working on coming up with a Christmas item that I don't hate making. I'm doing a sale that has limited space and even with shelves on my table, there is not a lot of room for big jars and sets of dinnerware.So far, I'm liking these Whiskey Cups/Juice glasses( depending on what time of day it is. Well, I guess you could add both together too.)They are made with under1/2 lb of clay and are a little bit of a challenge for my big hands. Challenge enough to keep it interesting.I know I could throw them off the hump but that means I have to trim them to compress the bottoms and ward off those pesky "s" cracks. I think no trim and featherweight suits me better, They are loosely made and measure about 3" high. I'm sure some will pair up but that's up to them. I'm not going for sets. I have thought of displaying them with a stylish bottle of whiskey and maybe a small card suggesting other uses. Any other display suggestions out there? chime in by clicking the word "comments" at the end of the post. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cheap Trick

The other day I saw a blog photo of someone who was loading up for a show with concrete blocks in her car. I'm not going to mention who this was but you all saw the same picture. Oh, they make secure tent weights but they also scuff up your hands and the carpet in your car. The visual appeal leaves a bit to be desired too. We all know we can spend $$$$$ for "happy feet" weights for our tents or $$$ for EZ Up sandbags. We can get 4" PVC, eye bolts and concrete mix and make up nice weights that roll around the truck for $$. I am offering an alternative so cheap that I am even using a recycled picture of my studio plumbing system to illustrate the new "handy weight". They may not be the prettiest weight in the world but it beats a concrete block. Just recycle your (or another cat lover's) kitty litter jugs. Fill them with sand or gravel and you have a great weight that is easy to carry, has a handle for hooking a cinch strap to, and does not scuff up your vehicle.They also can be positioned in 3 different ways to tighten up your load when you are ready to go home with all that empty space in the car. If you get stuck on the ice in the winter, you can even tap your grit supply and get back on the road!