Friday, March 27, 2009

Workshop at Maplecreek

Last weekend was the Sarah Culbreth Workshop at Maplecreek. The topic was production pottery and Sarah worked us like we were doing production. I threw 50 pounds of clay Saturday in addition to listening to her and watching her demonstrations. I'm going to have to get my rotator cuffs relined if I do that every day.I was really too tired/busy to even take some good pictures but did get a couple of snapshots of the forms we were working on. Many thanks to Maplecreek for letting me park the little motor home for the weekend. It really beats driving 60
miles twice a day to get out there and back.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happier Kiln Opening

I was very happy when we opened the Gas Kiln at Middletown Thursday. After the disappointment of the wood kiln results I needed a boost. Everything I had in this load came out well. I love how the little expresso cups look. They may be the cutest thing I have made in a while. If you click on the photos, they will open in a larger window.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Saturday was a busy pottery day. I started out in Middletown filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. The day's plan was a throwing clinic and it went very well. The class was 6 young ladies of high school age who were just lovely to work with.They paid attention, asked questions, and listened to the answers what more can a teacher ask for ?

At 11:30 class was over and I rushed to a 12:00 kiln opening that was 75 miles away.This was the wood kiln that we had tried to fire for 3 months. Well, the chambers were empty and most folks were packed up by the time I got there but I saw a few folks and retrieved my pots.The two gallon jug and the big pitcher came out pretty well. The big pot that looks like it needs a lid had a lid that split down the middle and it picked up a couple of cracks on its lip as well. Most of the other pots came out dry with hard black ash crusted on them. Woodfire is always an adventure. You learn from your mistakes. There was plenty to learn from.

Dry, nasty,piles of ash permanently stuck inside, can't be saved. Eight or ten more came out like this.Luckily, some of my friends had better results in the first chamber of the kiln so the effort wasn't totally lost.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Feeding the Dragon

In December we scheduled a firing of the Maplecreek wood kiln for the solstice but were unable to load due to torrential downpours. We tried again a month or so later only to be faced with below zero temps. We got it loaded and fired with all our might but we never got to temp and the grates melted out so the firing had to be aborted. Last weekend we had at it again. Josh Hamaker preceded the dawn on Friday and lit her up at 6am. I joined him about 10. As always, Josh and I worked very well together and the temps came up at 100 to 150/hr. When Josh left at 3:00 we were up to 1400 in the front chamber and 350 in the rear. When the rear got to 500, we started stoking that chamber from the side. Flames were drawing through the front chamber into the rear firebox igniting the wood and burning it cleanly. By the time I left at 8pm we hit 1650 in the front and 975 in the rear. All pretty much as planned. It is always harder to raise the temp of a wood kiln as you get into the upper ranges of temperature. I guess it was very hard this time and many people worked very hard to get the kiln to cone 10 ( we often go to 12) Finally folks finished at 2:30 am Sunday . We open next Saturday. Finally we will see if our work paid off,and be able to pass out some long overdue Christmas gifts.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Surviving the Storm

The weekend was spent in North Carolina visiting daughter Kate.She is moving out of the house she owns,leasing it out, and moving closer to the bright lights of downtown Charlotte.I went down to help her tote, clean, fix, and shine stuff.By the end of the weekend we had a nice ,clean ,cat hair free house devoid of furniture. I wanted to stop in Asheville for a load of clay and to see Lori Therault's new studio so I made a reservation at the Motel 6 and headed across I-85 to Asheville late Sunday afternoon. It was a little later than I wanted to leave but it had been raining hard all weekend so I was sure it would quit soon. Well , it did quit raining. By the time I got to Spartanburg SC it was snowing a wet sloppy snow. How bad could it be ,I was 60 miles from Asheville driving 60 mph. In an hour I would be somewhere warm having a nice dinner. Then I started over Saluda Mountain on I-26. At this point the snow was turning to ice as soon as it hit and you could barely see the Interstate. Visibility was 100 ft and there was a single line of bumper to bumper traffic.Well 40 miles from town I was going 40 mph. at 20 miles out, 20 mph. 5 miles out, 5 mph. It was like I was caught in a curse where no matter how long I drove I was always an hour from my destination. By the time I got to Asheville dinner was no longer to be had near my motel but the room was warm. I got to Highwater the next day but skipped going to Lori's because the surface streets were so bad. The drive home was not too bad except for the last 20 miles of NC where you are coming down out of the Blue Ridge. I don't like that road in good weather but no real problems.

I did stop and see Sarah Culbreth and Jeff Enge at Tater Knob pottery near Berea for a few minutes. It's a little Mom and Pop country pottery that sells pots around the world.Great folks and worth the trip if you are ever down that way.

Sarah is presenting a workshop at Maplecreek the 21st and 22nd. I was at the first workshop she did out there a couple of years ago and I won't be missing this one.When I throw pots, I use a whole box full of tools. Sarah uses a pointed undercutting stick,a piece of kite string and a needle tool. Well, she really doesn't use the needle but she has one.The economy of running a business is not just handling the cash. Economy of motion and process are learnable skills that Sarah teaches well.Attend if you can.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What's wrong with America?

Here's one of those things that we need to change to get out of the fix we're in. Every now and then I give in to those self destructive urges and stop at White Castle. Today I went through the drive thru and the clerk handed me a sack with two sliders in it and said "Have a good one!"
Shouldn't they both be good? How do I know which one to pick and what do I do with the other one?

Tomorrow- Surviving the Storm in North Carolina.