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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Penland Week 2.5

First firings are out!!!  We unloaded our first two kilns last Thursday- here are some pix of what I got out of them.  I had only one pot in the reduction kiln, but it was a beauty (the pitcher- my shot at layering glazes a'la Kent), the salt kiln pots were slightly less gratifying, but now that I know what works and what doesn't in the type of firings that we're doing, I can adjust accordingly, so the next batch should be better.

No pix, but Friday we went contra/swing/square dancing down in Celo-  fun, fun, fun!  There's some talk of making the clay party an old time dance party!

Now I know I talk about the food here all the time, but have never given an example...until now!  I present Saturday's dinner: the usual salad, pesto pasta, antipasti, caprese salad, rustic baguette with your choice of tarragon or pesto butter...with coconut cream pie and whipped cream for dessert....not an atypical meal either!

Sunday Suzanne (aka "Satan" to the Fall 2010 crew) and I took the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is in peak fall color, ...

...up to Mount Mitchell, which was cold, misty, and thinking about raining...

...and did the two mile hike from the top down to the park office, and then back, for four miles total, through woods which bore no small resemblance to Fangorn Forest.


This week we've been working on bowls- I haven't thrown anything yet this week, but here's a shot of Kent's demo yunomi...and martini glasses!

This little beastie has been taking up a big chunk of my glazing's for the Penland Kitchen.  The leaves will be blue/green, and the background white with whatever pop-throughs of the underneath glaze (Reitz Green and White Salt, KW).

Yet this week: more bowls, firing Ginn-Ginn (big salt) and Big John (big gas reduction), making pots for the wood kiln, a visiting artist (Bill Griffiths from down at Arrowmont), another class occupying lower clay (Margaret Bohls teaching ceramics for collectors...and Bobby Kadis is up for that class!)...and this weekend a whole crew of us are going to go hiking up on Roan Mountain!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Photos From Week 1.5

A couple of views to start with...

Last Wednesday we went on field trip # 1 to look at the pots in Suze and Kent's studio gallery to get some ideas for glazing combinations...



...and drooling at the pots in their personal collection...including pots by my two favorite potters!

McKenzie Smith, Sarah Jaeger

On Saturday we went up to Energy Xchange (see previous entry) to watch them fire the big pallet fired wood kiln...

Will Baker stoking a half-pallet

No pix, but Saturday night we went to the Music in the Mountains old time music and dance festival in downtown Burnsville, which was really good- a mix of old time, bluegrass, shape-note singing, with clogging and flat-footing...and at the end of the evening they wanted to re-create the feel of an old-time dance party, so one of us Penlanders, who knew the organizers, recruited the Penland crew attending (including yours truly) to come up on stage to dance the local permutation of square dancing!  ...And we've all been recruited to go down to Celo for the Contra/Swing dance on Friday night!.

We did our first firing yesterday too, salt (Julia), and gas reduction (Juanita).

 Judy back at it

Michael pulling a ring

Last night's slides were two visiting artists, one from print/letterpress, and an art historian who is visiting metals.  The art historian, Howard Risatti, gave an interesting lecture titled "Art and Artifice", which was based on an exhibit that he had curated about how since the handcrafted object is no longer integral to everyday life with the advent of mass production, Craft now frequently produces "functional" objects that, while aesthetically pleasing, lack functionality, and how the switch to the mass produced object has produced our modern throw away culture.  Each grouping contrasted a functional handmade object with its "pretty" and less to non-functional modern version, and with its mass-produced counterpart/replacement.

Up this week- pitchers, studio visit this afternoon with Shawn Ireland (a wood fire potter just down the road), that dance on Friday in Celo, and this weekend is the Spruce Pine Potter's Market (potters from Mitchell and Yancey Counties).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Penland, Week One

So wonderful to be back on the hill- not just for Penland, but it's also a bit of old home week too; there are some familiar faces this time- Suzanne from last Fall, and Judy from this Summer, and up in Hot Glass is Joe from last Fall...besides Suze, Kent, and all the people who live up here.  This time is a little different as I'm living off campus (just up the road a bit), but it's nice to have the ability to escape the madness at will.

So far this week we've been working on Cylinder based forms -mugs, tumblers, and re-shaped bottomless cylinders with added slab bottoms- and some slab built and slumped plate and bowl forms, plus demos on glazing and slip decoration.  We also went over to Suze and Kent's house Wednesday afternoon for a couple hours to look at their extensive pottery collection and get some ideas (and drool).

Last night was the opening for the Resident Artist show down at the gallery (very nice) and also the instructor show (also very nice.  Suze had in a canister set, and Kent had a 2-foot lidded jar).  There was apparently quite a party down at the Resident Barns afterwords, as there were lots of cars passing my house into the wee hours of the morning.

It's gotten quite cold here (sleeting as I walked up to Northlight)- time to pull out the wool sweaters and hats.  Later today some of us are heading out to the Energy Exchange (a series of craft studios that get much of their energy supply from burning landfill gas) where they're firing a pallet kiln (a wood kiln using shipping pallets as fuel).

I'll post pictures after we get back from Energy Exchange.