Monday, December 19, 2011

Penland After Concentration, and Back Home

Back home and getting back into the swing of things- scuzzy books, working at the pottery, going to my cousin's wedding...and catching up on sleep.

Let's go back a tetch, shall we?

Just because the session's over, doesn't mean you have to stop firing... The Tuesday after Concentration ended I headed down the road to Bandana Pottery, where I had volunteered to work a shift on their wood kiln firing. Bandana has an interesting setup because Michael Hunt, one half of the operation with Naomi Dalglish, has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including an apprenticeship in Korea, and their kiln is modeled on those he saw in Thailand.  Pictured above is Michael stoking the kiln.

 After Concentration my mom came down for a few days, and for Thanksgiving we went hiking on the Roan again.  Not as colorful as last time, but still very pretty, and not too cold.  The corgis were thrilled to go on the walk of their furry little lives- they've never been on a long hike before, and they had more energy than we did...note the big corgi grins!

One of my excuses to stay at Penland was to make mugs for next Summer's benefit auction patron breakfast, Susan needs 500, so my 50 will make only a small dent, but they all help.  I made some for every taste!  ...Love the titanium yellow slip!

Here's Susan and me soda firing at 2 am in wonderful Julia- totally kiln happy!  (The kiln contained Susan's pots for the Toe River Studio Tour, my auction mugs, and some pots made by and for the Penland Kitchen folk.

Finished Auction mugs...

...and more drying to get in one last bisque before I left for home.

And here are some last pictures of Penland in the snow.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Penland Fall 2011, Last Post.

 Well, it's over now...or it will be after helping with cleanup tomorrow...but let's go back a bit, shall we?

Here are the pots from the last wood firing...

Here's a beauty by Fletcher, one of our Studio Assistants.

Two weekends ago was Suzanne's Birthday party (at my house)'s the birthday girl with Gay Smith's dog Bodhi.

 The pots from the first wood firing were so good that everyone was excited enough to do another firing...

...and once we finished firing (only 15 hours!!!!!! The last one was 28!) we roasted marshmallows in the passive damper (!) and made S''s Roberto, one of our two Brazilian students eating his first s'more.

Things That Make Me Happy #395- Love this bumper sticker seen on a truck in front of the Pines!

...and #396, chicks with chainsaws- Sofie, Marie Claire...and me!

Once we chopped the replacement wood, we unloaded the kiln... are Scott, Day, and Bill from the kitchen, all happy with their new Sarah mugs.

And here we are, back where we started, at the end- here's our last session of porchification, in honor of our classmate Bill (not of the kitchen) who had to leave early...

...And our last dinner together.  (Penland tables are ever expanding- after this picture was taken we added a twelfth person!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just a Brief Little Note...

Just letting y'all know that I haven't dropped off the face of the planet...This week has been total insanity- last week for wet work...the batch of wood kiln pots came out so fabulously that we decided to do a second firing on only a week's notice  (we loaded this afternoon, and will light up at 6am tomorrow...thank you Kitchen people for the snacks!)  ....Let's just say that there will be one, maybe two, more real posts this next week, and then it's curtains for the blog until early December.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Penland, Week 5

First thing's first- last Thursday we unloaded the shino firing from Juanita, the small gas reduction kiln.  What was done differently with this firing was to reduce early for carbon trapping, to add coal to the firebox at around cone 012 for extra heavy reduction, and to reduce more heavily throughout the entire firing.  I didn't have any pots in this firing (saving them for the wood kiln!), but I definitely have some ideas for the next shino firing!

This was one of the best examples of the Malcolm Davis Carbon Trap Shino glaze (this is the exact same glaze that I've been using back home for all the faux woodfire pieces with the wood ash and soda solution.  The one consistent problem with this glaze in this firing was that it crawled like crazy on the in sides of anything that was more of a closed form than this bowl.  I've seen that happen before on student pots back at Boneyard, but never on my own pots.  The primary theory I've heard is that there's dust on the pots that is preventing the shino from adhering properly- I'm wondering if thickness of application has something to do with it as well, (I never wipe or dust off my bisque!)- my pots are pretty thin and are porcelain, so they don't absorb much glaze at a time, and I keep my shino bucket of a consistency to spray (thin), so if I want a thick coat I double dip- hmmm...if any of y'all have any ideas on the subject, let me know.

These are some of Kent's yunomi in his white shino recipe (the light areas are the result of setting the pots next to others immediately after glazing- the proximity to other wet pots slows the drying of the glaze in that area, changing the way that the salts that cause carbon trapping rise to the surface of the glazed pot)...

...and a student pot (I think one of Wendy , one of the assistants') with another nice example of what surface variation can do for this kind of glaze!

The first wild rush of color is over for this Fall (the tulip trees, many of the maples, and dogwoods and sassafrass), now most of the color is the red of oak trees mixed with the green of the pines, and the brown of the bare branches of the other trees.  Some of the tulip trees are still clinging to a few leaves on the uppermost branches- when a strong breeze comes through and shakes the leaves, it looks as though they are glittering with several shades of gold...quite lovely.

I had to stop and take some pictures when I was coming back up the hill from a town run the other day- it had been raining for much of the day, and having everything wet really made the colors pop.

HALLOWEEN!  They make a big deal about it up here...  These two ghouls are Suzanne and me dressed up as clay-themed kabuki actors...

...and here's Susan Feagin as a dust bunny!

These jellyfish are two of the benefit auction volunteer coordinators, up for their annual October meeting.

...Oh, and a further bear report- sightings at Horner, Cynthia Bringle's, dumpster diving at the Pines, and walking around the new dorm on Halloween night (the school ferried people housed there by car to and from the party).

Lastly for the week- we just finished firing the wood kiln last night!  The firing was just under 30 hours, and pretty even- we spent a lot of time trying to get the bottoms of both chambers in the same range as the top (a  lovely problem to have in a crossdraft!) with pretty good success.

We fired through Sunday night...

...all day Monday...

...and into Monday night.

I was finally convinced to go through the haunted house that was made in the soon-to-be-not-so-dearly-departed Homosote- really well done (we saw a whole new side of Day Dotson and Big John...), though I may have deafened Dean, the glass coordinator, by screaming in his face...

This week- two more weeks of making, only one more field trip (Bandana Pottery and Michael Klein's) and few demos= cranking out lots of pots!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun and Excitement on Penland Road

A whole bunch of Penland folk drove out on the Parkway late last night to try to see the Brown Mountain Lights...We didn't see anything there, but coming back we passed a BEAR on Penland Road, right by Shawn Ireland's studio.  The bear was walking right up the road in the other lane, and was roughly the size of a small sofa-  a big fat bear!

Suzanne took pictures- I'll edit one into this post once I get them from her!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Penland Week Four

First, let's just register the sad fact that the session is halfway over now...a depressing thought.  On the other hand, there are another four weeks still to go!

Dinner last Friday was truly phenomenal -it knocked over the Chicken and Wild Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo from the previous Friday's Core Show Dinner from it's position as "Best Penland Meal Ever"-  This time it was pork loin stuffed with goat cheese, red peppers, wrapped in bacon, and topped with a sauce of artichoke hearts; served with Tuscan white beans (herbed white beans and a little butter in a sauce), rolls with lavender honey butter, and the usual salad bar...I think the kitchen just earned some more serving dishes, don't you?

 No kiln firings this last week -though Juanita the little gas reduction kiln is firing today with a little heavy-reduction shino firing.  The form for this last week was bowls, cont'd, and yesterday we started in on lidded pots.  I threw and slipped some tumblers, a box, and a large 25lb open bowl, the last of which met an unhappy end when the weather changed and became much drier overnight.  This weekend I threw and trimmed 15 bowls for our Empty Bowls event, and softened another 75+ lbs (the donated clay is STIFF) for more throwing yet this week.

On Sunday Suzanne and I took a quick trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Crabtree Falls, and hiked the loop trail to and from the waterfall.

This week- covered jars, slipping and glazing for the wood kiln, loading the wood kiln on Friday, helping to funkify Homosote and turn it into a haunted house for Halloween Monday, and Saturday night is the Penland Halloween Party!!!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things That Make Me Happy #395

Late night tonight- I'm waiting for slip to dry so I can finish decorating some mugs before bed (not happy about this)...however in the quest to kill a little time I've been catching up on a blog I haven't looked at in a while:  one of my favorite NPR shows (National Potters Radio to y'all) is Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and on their blog they have a semi regular feature called "Sandwich Mondays" (see it here).  Kind of a foodie Ripley's Believe It Or Not, with a little Mythbusters mixed in... or a contemporary Regrettable Foods

The KFC Double Down was invented for these people...probably one of their healthier selections, too.

Penland, Week 3...or actually, last Sunday...

Quick synopsis of last week: form of the week, bowls; firing day, Wednesday; kilns, Ginn-Ginn (salt) and Big John (reduction); no field trip.

Friday night was the opening of the annual Penland Core Show, which was very impressive.  Some pieces I particularly liked were an almost carnival-like wind powered machine with moving portions of text welcoming visitors to the show, and a very finely crafted toolbox with many small drawers, both by Ian Henderson; some sculptural hammers by Seth Gould; and a highly entertaining piece by Rachel Garceau chronicling her first year as a Core the form of breakup letters to clay!  Afterwords there was a raucous party down at the Core house lasting into the wee hours of the morning...which I went to solely to see the inside of Morgan Hall...I came, I saw, I left...nice house though.

Saturday night was our clay party...with the best clay party poster ever, courtesy of the magic Photoshop skills of Bill Jones from our class...

Suze and Kent were not in on the making of this, but have put up with it with good grace...including all the comments from passersby.  The party was pretty good too- we lit the studio with Christmas lights, decorated with crepe paper, and had Brazilian cocktails, courtesy of Roberto and Andrea.

Now to Sunday....

It started with a particularly funny daily chalkboard in the Pines...I liked the part on clean sheets...

After brunch Suzanne, Susan Feagin, Joe from Glass, Bill Jackson from the kitchen and I went hiking up on Roan Mountain, which is phenomenally beautiful, with grassy balds that stretch for miles, with fantastic views.

Once we got back we unloaded the kilns...  (nice expression, Suzanne)

...and tested the pots out.

Wendy, one of our assistants, had a beautiful tall lidded jar out of the Salt kiln...

...and Suze had some beauties too...

I had a number of bowls in the salt kiln that had some funkola issues with the slips acting out in the salt kiln (a lot of people did), but I still had plenty of nice pots from both kilns.  Love the Oribe on some of these teabowls!

Also a project this week was making my contribution to the on-going scavenger hunt/hiding of cool stuff on campus...Mini Mugs!

More bowls, and maybe getting into lidded jars this week...a little shino firing...making stuff for the wood kiln...making bowls for an Empty Bowls event, and the official field trip to Energy Xchange.