Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Life, Liberty, and Happiness

When you don't know where to start, the beginning is a good choice. Our last stop on our visit to Seagrove actually started several years ago. I was reading Dan Finnegan's blog and he said something like "You all need to read Brenda Hornsby Heindel's blog Well, Dan usually knows what he is talking about so I took a look.I learn something every time she publishes. She is a potter, a farmer, and part time historian who lives in Liberty N.C. near Greensboro. One of her areas of expertise is excavating early kiln sites and looking at the shards and leftover bits of kiln furniture to figure out how the kilns were loaded and fired. She is a real life History Detective. She lectures and has been published on the subject. How cool is that ? Her pottery reflects the Southern salt/wood fired traditions and is available at the Greensboro Farmers Market on Saturdays along with seasonal produce from the farm she and her husband own. Pots are also available on ETSY. You can access it through her blog. Anyway, comments are the currency of the blogosphere. I started reading her blog, she started reading mine. We exchanged enough comments for me to learn that she is from Lebanon, Ohio where I live, She graduated from the ceramics program at Berea College, and that we have some friends in common.We also love the same kinds of pots.

Another of her projects is curating an exhibition at the North Carolina Pottery Center. After she posted about it, I commented and she offered a guided tour of the exhibit.From the curator no less ! We met her at the pottery center after we had lunch and had a very enjoyable tour. There were old pots, new pots, a display of kiln stacking techniques and the best explanation ever on the threads that tie it all together.Time marches on so we gathered around the trunk of her car and sorted through the pots she had brought with her. It put one final dent in our pottery budgets but once you get your hands on her pots you know you need to take some home. Brenda gave us a great tour and it was very generous of her to offer. Currently on her blog, she is trying a new form every week for a year and soliciting constructive criticism on the project. Help me thank her by stopping by her blog and leaving a comment. Here are some pictures. If you click on them you may be able to read the info. I didn't take notes so I only captioned the ones I was sure of. Thanks for stopping by.


Two of Brenda's Pots
Kim Ellington

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Back to North Carolina

Ok, I'm leaving the music behind today ( I sense a silent consensus on this ). Back to my Seagrove tour of last week. After leaving Whynot, we continued south on 705, or the pottery highway as they like to call it. A little ways down the road, we found Jeff Brown and Michele Hastings. Their distinctive big blue mailbox was in front of their log cabin studio. It was hit by a snowplow a few days later . Third time. It's always something. If you go to you can see how it used to look and see a lot more of their pots. Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back.There, weren't those nicer pictures than I could snap on the fly? OK you caught me, We were having so much fun talking that I didn't take a lot of pictures. You'll find the same problem when you visit them. Anyway both Jeff and Michele are very talented with the balance seeming to tip slightly in Jeff's direction for throwing and a little bit Michele's way for decorating and finishing.Their carved bowls and mugs are very popular and Michele's signature piggy banks are wonderful. She manages so much charm and expression from two ears, two holes and a cork that it is hard to believe. The copper shino glaze makes me drool and I love what they do with textures and a cobalt blue. After buying mugs and the cutest piggy ever, we got some advice to head south to Westmore for lunch as the pickin's are pretty slim in Seagrove proper. It was a good choice and we were well satisfied my the time we headed back to the North Carolina Pottery Center for a private tour!You'll have to come back in a couple of days for that but it will be worth your visit. See you soon.

Cutest Piggy Ever  !

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day !

It's too snowy to trudge to the studio again today and all my bats are full anyway. It seemed like a good day to learn a new song. Consider it your Valentines present. Thanks for stopping by and tune in in a day or two for installments about Michele Hastings, Jeff Brown , and Liberty Stoneware.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

As Promised

As promised, it is time to revisit Seagrove, N. C. The entire area down there is currently buried in white death that will be the end of southern living as they know it but we will go back to a happier time, last Saturday. Saturday was a very nice day for a trip. My daughter Kate, her friend Margie and I left Charlotte about 8:30 and took rt. 49 to Asheboro then headed south to Seagrove. 90 miles took 2 hrs. but I think a lot of it was spent getting out of greater Charlotte. If anyone knows a more direct route let me know for next time. First stop was the answer to the old question " Why go to Seagrove for pottery?" The answer of course is "Whynot." Mark and Meredith Heywood have been making and selling pots in the crossroads south of Seagrove called Whynot for 30 years or more. They make beautiful work and are among the nicest people you'll ever meet. They were getting ready for a firing but took time to give us the grand tour of the studios and gallery during our too short visit.

There had been some discussion on " Clay Buddies" about ball openers recently. I have included pictures of one that Mark uses for larger pots. A fellow made a few some years ago with plans of mass producing them but he never did.The consensus in North Carolina seems to be that if you make bigger pots they can help you do it with less wear and tear on your body.

No visit would be complete without a stop in the gallery where we all disposed of some of our disposable income. It was a lovely visit and a stop you should make if you are ever in their neck of the woods. If you want to keep up with them from afar, Meredith writes the "Whynot Pottery Blog" blog and does it much better than mine. Don't go too far away, there are still two more installments coming soon!
Margie and Ware Cart
Ware Cart

Ball Opener for Larger Pots

Detail of Ball Opener.

Mark and Meredith in front of gallery
One of my new favorite mugs

One of Mark's Wall Sconces


Monday, February 10, 2014

Tour de Bloggers

Well kids, it's time to feed the blog again. Sometimes it's hard to find something to write about. Sometimes you suddenly have way too much. I think I'll give mostly an overview of the last couple of weeks today then follow up with some more detailed chapters later this week.

You always like to see what I've been working on so here are a couple of jars that I like a lot. I've been making plates, bowls and mugs too but they are pretty much standard fare and do not bear repeating.


I also cleaned the white clay off everything so the red clay can come out this week and I can start replacing the stuff I sold in November.

Then the big adventure came. I had been way too long since I had seen our daughter Kate so I made a quick dash between snow storms to see her in Charlotte. I drove down Thursday and went to school with her on Friday to demonstrate throwing pots for her ceramics students. It's always a lot of fun to do that except for the having to be at school at 6:30 AM means getting up around 5. I'd forgotten there was a 5 AM. 5 PM is a lot more fun. Two 90 minute demos and a 45 minute one were enough to keep me occupied. The students at Hough H.S. were very nice to visit with. They all stayed awake, many asked good questions and no one threw anything at me. That usually makes for a good day. Out to dinner with Kate and her husband Lucas later on had me ready for an early bedtime.
Saturday was the big excursion day of our weekend. We got up at a slightly more civilized hour so we could head over to Seagrove for the day. Kate's friend Margie who also teaches Art at Hough came along for the ride. We had a great trip and saw some wonderful pots made by very nice people. If you ever wonder where to go in Seagrove, just ask yourself why not Whynot ? Mark and Meredith Heywood have been making pots in Whynot N.C. for 30 years or more. The work is excellent and so are the people. Meredith write the COOKING WITH GAS blog found in the blogroll in my right column.
Next stop was to see Jeff Brown and Michele Hastings.
Finally, Brenda Hornsby Heindl met us at the North Carolina Pottery Center and gave us a guided tour of an exhibit that she recently curated.
Each of these stops deserves more than a paragraph and I hope to give you more details later in the week. The day was just too crammed to try to get it all into one post.
Sunday was a drive back to Ohio dodging the snow. I left early and got over Flat Top Mountain in West Virginia before the snow started. It was light and the roads were just wet coming down the mountain . When I got off the turnpike at Charleston, the snow started coming pretty heavy. When I hit Ohio I had one clear lane most of the time but there were no wrecks or delays so I still made pretty good time. I like to think it was Because of my companions, two new mugs and a lucky pig. More to come, stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.
Mark and Meredith Heywood left, Brenda Hornsby Heindl right.

Jeff Brown,  Michele Hastings


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Invest in Your Karma

I've been resting on my laurels since I got the Pottery Blogs mention last month. I think it may just have been that there are so many people who have quit blogging that there was not much competition The laurels are not all that cushy anyway so I guess it's time to start earning my keep again. I've been casting about for a topic. I was set to go out to the studio and take pictures of some current work when I got a call from a friend of mine. He has been having some shoulder trouble for a while but he tripped yesterday and on the way down he stuck out his arm to catch himself. He is in a lot of pain and contemplating surgery and a period of disability. I know the physical pain he is going through, the worry and uncertainty are tougher to feel but hurt just as much. .He is primary breadwinner and does it by throwing pots. Lots of pots.  So what now?

Most of you know that until I retired I taught students with multiple disabilities. In that field, we often referred to the typical population as "Temporarily Abled". At some time in our life we all become disabled. We don't plan to , but it happens. If we are lucky, it hits at a ripe old age and lasts for a short time. If we are not lucky, it hits us by surprise when we step off a curb, slip on some ice, or throw a blood clot. Sometimes we get a little warning, sometimes we don't. Another friends' husband fell off a roof a couple of years ago and landed on his head.The whole thing may have taken two seconds.Two years in he is a miracle man and is able to walk, talk, and care for himself but he will never be 100% again. Shit happens. It happens to nice people.It happens to bad people. It just happens.

Of course it will never happen to me. It will never happen to you. Just in case though, be thankful that most of your body parts are still attached and functioning as they should. If it hurts when you stand up, be thankful you can stand. If someone needs a hand, give it to them while you still have two good ones. Be thankful for today.

P.S. Invest in your Karma. After I wrote this,  a customer came in and bought two big boxes of pots !