Saturday, May 24, 2014

Actual Pottery Related Post

Hi there. Since Spring Fair, I've posted a song and a pitch for Tony Clennells' book but not much about pottery making. Well, for a couple of weeks, I wasn't making anything but this week I started getting back into it. I often get requests for covered casseroles but don't usually make them. They are time consuming and when I compare that to a $30 open baking dish I have trouble charging enough to make them pay. I have to make a gallery in the body of the pot, throw another pot for the lid  (that fits said gallery), put a handle on the lid, put two lugs on the body of the pot and get them to line up and match each other. Their bowlish nature also requires extra trimming because the lid has to be heavy enough to support itself without sagging on the wheel. I think this turns a $30 baker into an $80 or $90 pot but the market seems to be about $50 to $60 around here. I would love to hear how some of you other potters handle this.

Having some time on my hands and needing some big bowls. I threw the bowls. Then I said well, make a couple of the lidded casseroles for the fall shows. My approach was to standardize as much as possible. All the information I need is written on a measuring stick that sizes the gallery the body of the pot and the lid.

No need to look things up as long as I can find the stick.
 No calipers to knock out of adjustment, no ruler to read, and the lids
are generally interchangeable.
Here are a couple of shots for lid fit. These lids are not quite as dry as the bowls so the gap will increase slightly. No I don't have issues with warping or spreading.

Lastly, Tina decided she needed something a little roomier to haul her dogs in. She claimed this thing followed her home.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any thoughts on making or pricing casseroles, please chime in using the comment section.

Monday, May 12, 2014


A few weeks ago I received a copy of Tony Clennell's new book STUCK IN THE MUD in the mailbox. Tony is still standing by his mailbox looking for a check he thinks I sent him. SHHHH ! For a $24 investment you get the life story of someone who has been in this business since , well before most of you were born. Back when man was busy trying to climb out of that primordial ooze, Tony dove in head first. As a small boy on the great plains of the frozen Hell called Canada he had to trudge through waist deep snow and make his way up the buffalo trace to get to school. There were hungry bear and roving bands of Sioux on both sides. Were it not for his trusty wolf pup Shep he may never have survived. Even so, little Tony made it through school and learned to make pots from his uncle Jimmie. With a business school degree in hand he did the only logical thing, he hung out a shingle and started selling pots to passers by. I think they were mostly French trappers but trading mugs for beaver pelts enabled him to eke out a meager living (meager= great for a potter) . Life and years intervened and many adventures and moves later, Tony and wife Sheila are still at it.
I'm not going to spoil it by telling you about the pirates, the storms at sea, or his time in the Queen's service as 006 1/2 .

I can tell you he knows a good hat, a good whiskey, and a good joke. He knows how to do what he has loved to do for all his adult life and manage to earn a living from it. And especially, he knows how to weave a good story. This is not a book about how to make pottery, it is a book about making the choices that allow you to stay in the game. It is a book about the past and future of the craft and Tonys' struggles and choices that got him where he is.

Since I started reading the book, my sales are up, I have lost 10 pounds, I've been sleeping like a baby and I think my hair is thicker. Women stare at me as I walk through the market and yesterday I made $10 singing and playing guitar. Usually people pay me to not sing but apparently the times are a changin' . I won't guarantee that you will have the same results if you buy the book but I will guarantee that it will be $24 well spent. Find out how to get yours at Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 9, 2014

California Blues

Thanks again to all who helped make Spring Fair a success, especially the patrons who come back every year. I took a little break from throwing big bowls this afternoon.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring Pottery Fair Review.

Last week started and ended great with a lot of work in between. Monday morning I had a visitor from the South. Brenda Hornsby Heindel  of Liberty Stoneware had been in town for a speaking engagement and found time for a visit. Brenda is full of knowledge about early American potting and firing methods. She makes lovely early American style pots and single fires them in a wood kiln.  I gave her the tour, swapped a few tips, and she had to leave all too soon. If you don't read her blog you should. period. you'll enjoy it and learn something too.

The rest of the week was packing for Spring Fair, pushing a load through the kiln doing booth layout for the show and loading. Here's a tip if you ever do booth layout for a show. Get two dowels or pieces of scrap wood. Tie an 11ft long wire( doesn't stretch) between them. It is much faster than getting down on the ground with a tape measure. You're welcome.

Spring Fair is usually my best show of the year and this one was no exception. I took my travelling circus to the show site about 6:30 in the morning. I don't like to rush or fight for a space to unload so early works for me. It was in the 40's with a breeze but that isn't bad with a light jacket while you are doing the heavy lifting part of setting up. We had a tiny spritz of rain but it was done before I even decided to cover stuff up. Other than that, it was cloudy, then sunny with a breeze all day and some big gusts in the afternoon. I use a lot of weights and place the pots carefully so I was fine but a few pots were lost and some people took their tents down. Quick tip here. I love my KING BRAND tent . It works and I've had it for 5 years. When I opened it one of the bolts on a connector fell out. I found the nut and was able to lightly spin it into place but it is an Allen head bolt and it is all countersunk on both sides. No one brings and Allen wrench to a show, I checked. I will next time and go over all of them.

I think the brisk temps and wind chill may have impacted the crowd a little. This is our club show with 60 local potters and it is well promoted. We have a loyal following that comes out no matter what but some casual attendees may have stayed home. Early birds showed up at 10:30 and I started selling. I didn't have to make it all $10 at a time either. People bought mugs and bowls but not just one. I sold several big jars a set of plates, some baking dishes, and a number of very large salad/mixing/bread bowls. Longevity is paying off with return customers coming back for more pieces to match what they bought last year and the year before. I end up hurting all day Sunday but I really enjoy seeing my fellow club members and all the nice, nice people who come out. Every other potter who came by liked the new shelves and a lot of the customers liked them too. One even said I had the best booth in the show ! Five o'clock rolled around and I started packing. By 6 everything was boxed. I started knocking down the booth and was on the road 45 minutes later. I was totally exhausted and hurting all over but it was a great day and I sold very well. It was not quite up to last year but last year was phenomenal and you can't expect that every year. As it was, I ended up at over 1 1/2 times my sales for a good show. Can't kick about that !

The week ended with an unexpected treat. I took enough pain killers Sunday to go to an afternoon jam session. We had a new fellow show up this week. Lynn is 90 years old and plays banjo like nobody's business. He plays some when he was young, then he flew dive bombers over the Pacific in WWII . He says he didn't play much until he retired and got serious about it. That's 34 years of being serious. It was great fun and an honor to spend the afternoon with him.

OK, here are the pictures.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

See You At Spring Fair

Hey Kids,

It's time for my annual look into the big van pictures. I don't know why an otherwise intelligent ( I've been tested ) man would do this every year. I make enough pots to last until September and feel that I have to put them all in the van for Spring Pottery Fair. That's this Saturday so I'd better be ready. Madison and Woodburn in Cincinnati. It's 11 to 5 if anyone is in the area it's a nice all pottery show to visit. I am packed to the gills but it is always a good show for me and we are expecting good weather so it's better to be prepared. I unloaded the kiln and packed the last pots this morning so now I can catch my breath for a minute , review what I put in the van and still make a few last minute additions. I'm really looking forward to the show. It is a back breaker but lots of fun . It's great to show with all your friends. So that's about it for now. I'll let you know how it went if you stop by next week. Here are the van pics and a few things that came out of the gas kiln at the art center this week.