Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best Pottery Tip Ever

Merry Christmakwanzakah to all my readers and thank you for visiting the blog this year.Thanks to everyone for your opinion on the pitchers last time. For some reason I only got a couple of comments posted to the blog but a bunch of folks responded on facebook. The winner was "C" with "B" close behind.

After a brief hiatus, I have decided to bring Potters Tips back to the blog for this Christmas edition.The tool I am showing you today is simple but very useful.It can measure the thickness of a pot you have on the wheel without putting a hole in it.You can use it on a narrow pot that you cannot get your hand into and lastly, you can use it as a trimming gauge to see exactly how much clay you have left to trim.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pitchers Again

Well, Christmas shows are over and the slower season approaches.Our Holiday show a couple of weeks ago was a disappointment so I am pretty well stocked with market pots for a while.I've also been asked to help fill a couple of kilns later this winter.This is allowing me to focus on skill development for a while. I've been making some larger sectional pots and I've been exploring pitchers again after making so many last year for our daughter's wedding. Here are six different options and there are more to come. How about some voting here? Just click on "comments" and list your preferences by letter. Please add any opinions as well. I'm a big boy, I can take it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soup and Sales (not Soupy Sales)

We'll start this edition with my favorite soup for this weather.It's very hearty but has nearly zero carbs.
1. Go to Costco and buy a roast chicken. Don't even bother to roast your own. For $4.99 you can't come close. The extra brownness really helps.

2. When you get home, cut the meat off the bones.

3. Throw the bones, wing tips etc. in a pot with onion carrot and celery.Brown this stuff then add water to cover and simmer for as long as you can stand to wait.( 3 hrs is good) Skim occasionally.

4. This is the best chicken stock you will ever have.Strain it, pick the bones and add as much meat as you like back to pot.Season to taste then stuff handfuls of baby spinach into the pot until the spinach wilts.That's it and its delicious without any noodles, crackers, or beans.

So much for soup. Now sales. Don't try to sell pots on Thanksgiving Saturday in Cincinnati. Last year we all did great at our Anderson Twp. Holiday sale but a week earlier this year and hardly anyone came.I made my share of expenses but that was about it.After that I was very pleased to go to Mike and Karen Baum's home sale this weekend.Mike has been a professional potter for 30 years, studied with Byron Temple at Penland and apprenticed in England in the 70's. He makes great unpretentious functional pots. Here are a few pictures from the sale.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

John Boehner Blues

My mind has been wandering again.This little ditty has been evolving in my head. Pickers can use a simple 1,4,5 accompaniment. Add verses at will and share with your friends if so inclined.

I'm sitting here lookin at the TV set,
Need to see the doctor but I ain't been yet.
I've got the John Boehner blues.

Last time I saw the Doctor the Doctor said
You got no insurance go back to bed
You've got the John Boehner blues.

Election night my eyes filled with tears
the writin' on the wall said two more years.
We're gonna have the John Boehner blues.

I've seen the future and it couldn't be bleaker
He looks in the mirror and says MR. SPEAKER!
I've got the John Boehner blues.

Gentleman Johnny leads the party of nope,
No more change,no more hope.
I've got the John Boehner blues.

Johnny doesn't worry if he gets ill.
He goes to the doctor we get the bill.
I've got the John Boehner blues.

John don't care if America's healthy
As long as the rich get a little more wealthy.
I've got the John Boehner blues.

He gives the rich a big tax cut
while he gives it to me in the butt
I've got the John Boehner blues.

Johnny says repeal the healthcare bill
he don't like and he never will.
I've got the John Boehner blues.

Johnny's plan has just one goal
He gets the doughnut I get the hole.
I've got the John Boehner blues.

I've got Diabetes but I'll beat that booger
I'll strain my blood and sell the sugar
I'll beat these John Boehner blues.

Now I can't sing and I can barely pick
but my advice to you is don't get sick 'cause
you might catch the John Boehner blues.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blatant Self Promotion

Six Clay Alliance Potters
Dennis Allen, Ben Clark, Trina Feldhake
Karen Herbert, Ruth Radin
 & Barb Terry

Saturday, November 27
11 AM - 4 PM
Anderson Center Station
7832 Five Mile Road
Anderson Township, 45230
Anderson Center Station is located
behind Anderson Town Center Shopping Mall
Lots of easy parking!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let's Get Serious for a Minute

OK folks today's post is about a serious proposal.It won't have pictures of pottery or even a self promoting plug about the pottery extravaganza sale of the century I'm participating in Saturday (Anderson Towne Center Park and Ride Building) with Ben Clark, Ruth Radin, Trina Feldhake, Sandy Manteuful, Barb Terry and Karen Herbert. No mention either of the music, the treats, or diverse collection of fabulous pottery you can choose from to finish your Holiday shopping.

No, today's post is about TSA screenings.Have they gone too far? I say they haven't gone far enough !The new congress already says they are not going to fund Health Care. Why not combine health screenings with TSA checks at the airport? They can already feel those lumps and bumps. Why not add prostate and breast exams? If they feel something strange, they can put you in the full body scanner and crank it up to high to see what your problem is. How long would it take to say" turn your head and cough" when they already have their hand in your pants? We need to stop this wasteful duplication of service now!

Everyone knows that men put off health exams.Instead of having men examine men and vice versa, we could have the optional screening by someone of the opposite sex for a small extra fee. Your trip could have a happy ending at the beginning.

My niece Lisa has inherited the curse of the Allen family wit. Her suggestion is that we hire sex offenders to do the pat downs. Most of them have trouble finding a job so they are readily available. They would be dedicated and thorough, and we would know where they are. Everybody Wins. Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy plus glaze notes

Everything has been going a little too fast since I got back from North Carolina. Laura Davis had asked if I would like to join her Holiday Sale. I said sure, then all of a sudden, I realized it was this week. I grabbed a few boxes of pots and hurried down there Tuesday to beat the drop off deadline not really knowing what I had brought.It turned out to be mugs, cereal bowls,some spongeware,and a few baking dishes. Not a bad mix but I did find that instead of sets of six bowls, I had some sets of three as the others were home in another box. Oh well stuff happens.

I went down Friday afternoon for final set up and discovered that Laura's staff had unpacked my boxes and put pots out on shelves. I had expected to use my own display but they chose to mix everyone's pots on the available shelves.That was fine, but I had not priced my pots yet so I had to scour the whole place to find my stuff to price it.

By the time that was done and I helped with the general chores it was time for the opening. The crowd showed up at six and kept coming through the evening. I sold some mugs and a bowl or two but the best part was spending the evening with a lot of nice people that I don't see often enough.This coming Saturday I am joining with some friends from Anderson Twp.for a repeat of our Holiday sale from last year.We had a great time and sold very well so I am planning to be a lot better prepared for this one. It is at the Anderson Towne Center Park and Ride near Beechmont and Five Mile.There will be five excellent potters, and me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Last Saturday was the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro. My friends Mike and Karen Baum and Laura Davis had booths.Mike had been urging me to go for a while and I'm glad I did. I drove the little motorhome and was allowed to just stay in the parking lot all weekend. It was really nice to have my own little warming station to retreat to.

The day dawned cold with a dusting of snow. Pots has little snowy accents on their rims as I walked thru on my way to coffee.There were 40 booths and every one of them was very high quality.I took pictures as I went but the battery on my camera pooped out early so there are not as many pictures as I would like but you should get the feel of the showfrom them. When the show opened, the crowd surged past the barricades and the frenzy was on. Mike said the crowd was not as big as last year but people came to buy. Dillsboro is very small so most people were from out of town and did not want to go home empty handed.

There were demo's all day, including featured potter Stephen Hill. Where else can you get a Stephen Hill Workshop for a $3 admission? I met many potter's whose work I respect and really enjoyed myself. I particularly liked meeting John Bauman, Joy Tanner, Doc Welty, and Mark Sudlarek. Google them to see more of their work.

Everyone was very hospitable and after I helped Mike and Karen strike their tent and load up, I even got invited to the Potter's Dinner with everyone. My one screw up of the day was watching TV with the generator off. About 3 AM I woke up in a freezing cold camper because the battery for the fan on the furnace ran down and shut down the system.Luckily, the engine has a separate electrical system. I was able to start the bus and head down the road for a couple of hours. This recharged the system so I pulled into a rest area and took a long nap with heat.

I spent Sunday with our daughter Kate in Charlotte and threw clay for 5 hours straight on Monday to demo for her art classes at West Mecklinburg H.S. I needed to get home so after school it was a 9 hr drive to get home by midnight. It was a great trip but as I always say, "No matter where I ramble, No matter where I roam, There is no chair that fits my ass ,Like the one I have at home".A couple of captions did not come through. The picture at the top is Doc Welty, the Crystaline vase is Phil Morgan and the ash bowl is Michael Lalone from the John C. Campbell school. Enjoy the pictures.

P.S. Empty bowls Cincinnati made $32K Sunday. A new record. Wish I could have been in two places at once.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

North Carolina

Last Thursday, I loaded up the little motorhome and headed south on a pottery junket. First stop was Tater Knob Pottery near Berea Ky. My friends Sarah Culbreath and Jeff Inge were both in the studio so I had a very nice visit with them and shared what has been going on in our respective parts of the world.Sarah continues to make some of the finest pottery in Ky while Jeff has branched out into doing woodcuts as well.You can see their work at Taterknob.com.

Next was a stop at the Ky Music Hall of Fame for the quick tour, then on to Racoon Valley Campground for the evening. Thursday is Jam night at he campground and anyone is welcome to join their regulars for Old Time and Bluegrass Music.I got my courage up enough to play and actually sing in front of 30 or so people.(Like I said, they let anyone play.) I had a great time but needed to head down the road Friday to the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro.

Friday I was disappointed to arrive too late for the clay olympics that are held to open the show but ended up having such a fine evening that the heart of the show will have to come in another post later this week.I hooked up with friends Mike and Karen Baum and Bev. O'Daniel from Cincinnati and we headed over to Sylva. Bev and I toured Sylva while the Baums went to check in at their motel.

We found one of the nicest displays of pottery I had ever seen in an antique store. The owner is a pottery collector and had brought in pieces from his stash for the weekend.Beautiful pots, all in great condition.Enough talk. Here are the pictures.Tune back in the end of this week for more from the festival itself.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

All Screwed Up and the Wife has a Fit

I've been waiting for weeks to use this title. The ceiling panels are all screwed up. As in the last screw has been driven. It's clean, bright, white, and there is insulation behind it. I think this technically completes the construction phase of the new studio. I need to build more shelves and add a heater but that is more furnishing than actual construction. I want to thank my brother Norris, my wife Tina, and Laura, Peggy Anne, and Linda for all their help. You just can't hang a ceiling by yourself.

Ok, I just couldn't resist this teaser either.After hard shopping and tooth and nail bargaining Tina bought a new Honda Fit this week.Thanks for stopping by and if you don't have empty bowls tickets yet, go to http://www.clayalliance.org/ to pick some up. It's a good time for a great cause. Feed hungry kids, help them with their homework, hook them up with needed services.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ramble and Rant

The pottery schedule has been light this week so my old brain has had time to wander around.I made a mistake by wandering past the election ads on the T.V. Contrary to the lies that are spewing from every corner, there are a few things that I still believe.

Ted Strickland did not singlehandedly put Ohio in the fix we are in. He has brought school funding in line with court orders. His predecessor fought it and studied it to death but never really tried to comply.He has worked to bring both major parties together in the state house and has been effective in doing so.He believes in Law, Education and the strength of Ohio.I have met with Ted several times and feel he is a good guy with out collective best interest at heart.

The State budget does have problems. Guess what, in a worldwide recession people lose jobs. In Ohio that has been lots of jobs. Many of them the manufacturing jobs that have been leaving Ohio for 20 years. When that happens, government's expenses go up and tax revenues go down. No mystery here.If the Republicans had a quick fix, why didn't they tell Arnold so he could fix California where they pay their bills with IOU's and pay state employees minimum wage when they pay them at all?

As CEO wages have  gone through the roof and middle class wages declined, I'm still waiting for Reaganomics to trickle down to me. It didn't work then, it won't work now. The only thing I got was the bill for the tax cuts added to my tab.

For 20 years after WWII auto manufacturing drove our economy and manufacturers made promises to unions that were unsustainable.Then they bought KIAs and Toyotas and sold them as Fords and Chevys.The laid off American workers couldn't buy them and for the workers that made it to retirement, too many of the checks are bouncing.

For 30 years after that, housing values drove the economy.People learned that if they didn't have money for a  car, home improvement, vacation, or to pay off a credit card they could just borrow against their house and get a tax deduction for doing so. When housing crashed, there was no equity to borrow against. Even if you want to sell, most people can't because they owe more than they can sell for. Builders can't build because there is nothing for people to borrow against for home improvements and so it goes.

 Health care reform is not bankrupting America. We already pay for almost all Americans health care, just in high priced ER's instead of lower cost clinics.

Respect for each other and the constitution(all of it if we like it or not) will not bring about the downfall of our nation. Knee jerk reactionaries are a much bigger threat. I don't want to elect someone who says she is just like me (even if she is a witch with super powers). I want someone smarter than me. Well, at least harder working.

No matter what lies are told and what promises are made we are not getting out of this for a while yet.We are not getting out of it until we quit name calling, finger pointing, and ignoring laws just because a loud group of us doesn't "want" some legal activity to go on.I may or may not want a mosque near ground zero(even though there was one in ground zero).Doesn't matter, first amendment trumps what I want. All the noise and hatred makes us look like the noisy haters our enemies make us out to be.We need to return to the idea of consensus, not just majority.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Real Life Gets in the Way

Once again real life has kept me busy this week and prevented me visiting my virtual world in the blogosphere  as soon as I would have liked. The picture at the left is a large platter that I got out of the gas kiln yesterday. You really can't see it online but the ash glaze is shot full of golden crystals. It is about 14" wide and 3" deep. Big enough to say hey look at me but not too big to put away if necessary. It is also one of the few pots that came out exactly as I envisioned it.

Besides working on pots, Studio construction marches on. With the help of friends and family, we got half the ceiling installed and insulated. The metal ceiling looks great, is prefinished and will never need painting. I also added a porch light for those late night trips to the kiln. No pottery tip this week. I have more tips in production but you will have to ask for them if you want them. Let me know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blue and White plus a Quick Tip

The platter shown above is just another example of the cobalt spongeware. Somebody liked the coffee server I showed you a couple of weeks ago enough to buy it so I guess I can make more.

I also wanted to do a little follow up on the MDF bat projects.  First, if you have not used this type of bat before, you should slightly moisten them to raise the surface fibers. Otherwise you may not get good adhesion. Second, if you are patient, you need not wire your pots off the bats. Like plaster, they will absorb water from the bottom of your pots and just let go when they are ready to trim. Lastly, go to the hardware or home center and buy a couple of self adhesive sanding disks. Stick one on one of those bats you made and you can use your wheel to smooth pot bottoms.

The tool at the left is very useful for beginners to use when trying to figure out how thick the bottom of a pot is. Just drive a brad into the end of a short piece of dowel and clip it at the thickness you want your bottoms. If you push it into the bottom of your pot. It will leave an imprint of the end of the dowel. Stick your finger in the imprint and open to that depth.

For those of you who are interested, the studio is slowly coming along. I finished painting the drywall. Next is metal ceiling and more insulation

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two Great Shows and a Potter's Tip

Hey everybody. Last weekend I had shows in Bellevue, Ky and Loveland, Ohio. Both days went very well. Not only were my totals good but I sold some larger pieces too. The black and white jar from the last firing, GONE, spatterware coffee set, GONE, all my plates, GONE, large ash glazed jar, yup, that too. And, PRO PAY says there in money in my account so I didn't screw up the credit card info.As a rough gauge of how well it went, It usually takes me two hours to pack up and load after a show. Sunday took an hour and fifteen minutes. I'll find something to bitch and moan about soon enough, but not today.

I can't thank the volunteers for these shows enough, they carried crates and fixtures, watched my booth for me, ran errands and even helped a very good customer carry pots to her car. Another great thing about Sunday was that I won a ribbon and $25 for third place in ceramics, glass and sculpture. The great part is now,(in the true spirit of the internet), I can say AWARD WINNING, as seen in CERAMICS MONTHLY, Whistlecreek Pottery. OK, it's a little much but I had to say it once.

I heard from a few people who were making bats so I added some info on how to make an insert system. If you don't have a table saw, you know someone who does and all the cutting can be done in 10 minutes. Ask them, they'll help you out. Just figure out how big you want your inserts to be and follow the pictures. I wanted to use 6"squares so I started with a 12" square of MDF and banded it with 3" strips.You should also seal your bat holder with some polyurethane or lacquer to make it last longer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More New Stuff and Potters Tip

I have been trying to add some pizazz to the booth and thought the old cobalt blue spongeware might do the trick.I don't know if it will sell but it may get people to give the booth a closer look anyway

I had a big tub full of scraps to reclaim and that soft clay just screams to be platters so I threw until it was all gone. Here are some of the results..

Here is a quick tip that will save you $20. A small Talisman  sieve that fits the top of a jar is about $25 at the clay store. A permanent coffee filter is $4 at Sprawl Mart. It makes a fine sieve in both senses of the word.

With a show Saturday in Bellevue and another Sunday in Loveland, it has been a busy week at Whistle Creek.I have been glazing and firing all week but I did find time to set up an account to accept Visa and Mastercard. Look out big time here I come! If you made any bats after reading last weeks post, you'll want to stop by next week so I can show you how to make a system of removable inserts that are quick and easy.

Finally, a lovely plantation desk has come down from my mother in law who went into assisted living.Very shortly after we sat it down, Eddie, the king of the castle, found a new throne.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Potter's Tip

Well read individuals will have noticed that the banding wheel plans featured in last week's post were also featured on page 14 of this month's CERAMICS MONTHLY as Tip of the Month. I had sent it in several months ago and heard nothing so it was quite a surprise to see it in the magazine. Now I can say my"work" has been featured in CM. ( I just don't have to add that it wasn't my pottery.)

Riding the crest of this success, I thought I would talk about bat making. It seems we never have enough bats, we never have one the right size or both. 1/2 inch Medium Density Fiberboard(Masonite)(MDF)
makes a pretty nice bat especially if you seal them with some clear lacquer or polyurethane. A 4x8 sheet is under $25 and the home center will cut it down to manageable pieces for you. One sheet will make 32 12 inch bats or 18 16 inch ones. That is a huge savings and not that much work. If you spray glue some scrap foam to one of them, you have a trimming bat that will hold most things on center without all those little balls of clay. Just press down with your left hand and trim with your right.

I am trying to show the process with captions on the pictures so you may need to click on them to enlarge them enough to read the notes.I hope I get them up in order but if not, its not rocket surgery.You are smart enough to figure it out.

There has been a discussion about shameless self promotion on the web this week.Please note that I have said nothing about the show in Bellevue on the 11th or the one in Loveland on the 12th. I have even resisted the urge to tell you that if you mention this posting, I will give you 10% off any purchase at these shows. Saying such things would be crass commercialism and clearly beneath me. I just wasn't raised that way. Also just a quick thanks to the folks who came out in Xenia last week. My work was well received and I sold enough to make it worth while. That's it for now. Just follow the pictures to
make your own bats.