Thursday, November 14, 2013

Empty Bowls/Auction @ St. Pete Clay This Saturday

Come out to the Empty Bowls event at St. Pete Clay this Saturday at 6pm...Admission is $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.   There will be a silent auction to benefit the Artist in Residence program running concurrently with the Empty Bowls event- donated pieces include work by Don Reitz, Josh DeWeese, Julia Galloway, Matt Long, McKenzie Smith, Michael Schwegmann and others.  All of the residents and the owners of St. Pete Clay have donated work for the auction as well.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wood Fire Invitational Opening

The opening for the Wood Fire Invitational at St. Pete Clay is tonight from 6-9pm at the Trainstation.

St. Pete Clay@ The Trainstation
420 22nd St. South
St. Petersburg, FL, 33712

If you miss the opening tonight, the show is up until November 30th!


When I was little I was really into Legos- building castles, elaborate houses with landscaped yards, various vehicles of sorts...and then I saw the people who are really into them, and thought "WOW."  (Immediately followed by "I need to get more Legos").  This article on Slate features some of the most fantastic and beautiful Lego constructions I've ever seen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

St. Pete Clay- first two months

After two months in Florida I've determined that it's hotter back home in Illinois, it's more humid in North Carolina, but it's definitely weirder here in Florida...where else would you see a 60+ year old woman riding down the street on a bubblegum pink scooter with sparkly pink and silver handlebar pom tassels, wearing a bubblegum pink top, pants, and shoes, hot pink socks, and a bubblegum pink helmet with hot pink fake hair pigtails coming out of chrome "scrunchies".  Nowhere else, I tell you, nowhere else.  There are some pretty good old hotel signs from the 50's and 60's too.

Now for the real reason I'm down here- making pots and firing kilns.  The first firing, in the train kiln, was a test firing for me- I had never fired in a train before, so I tried lots of different slips, and several different clay bodies.  The firing was a reminder of the lesson I learned firing Rosie the new wood kiln at Penland during Spring Concentration, namely that I just don't have the stamina for multi day firings... I'm fine for a 16-20 hour sprint in a fast fire, but days 2 and 3 are not pretty.

Jeremy holding the door closed during a mid-firing repair

I did get a few nice pots out- this little baby casserole has a cobalt slip test of a recipe I got from Elisa Helland-Hanson...

...And this creamer was a test of Michael Schwegmann's porcelain body from back at Boneyard Pottery (with a little Shaner Oribe beauty spot).

Unfortunately the success rate was only about 40%...most of the slips alligatored and buckled, and came out looking like concrete.

Since then I have been making pots for the salt kiln, and I'm also gearing up for two firings with Kim Kirchman, Mark Fell, McKenzie Smith, and Jonathan Barnes up at Hidden Lake Pottery in Odessa.  If these guys sound familiar, it's because I helped them fire last Fall.  After Christmas I'm going to start looking at the little Olsen Fast fire wood kiln too.

Here's the stack of my first salt firing with the door down.

These are some of the pots from that firing- they (and more!) will be up for sale soon on St. Pete Clay's online gallery.

This little frangipani vase I'm saving as a potential show entry.


I have also gotten back into baking down here- two recent adventures were Banana Ginger Cake...

...And a layered strawberry shortcake trifle: homemade sponge cake spread with a strawberry reduction, and layered with whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries.

Pippa "The Squeak" Corgi

Pippa had been sick all Spring, and unfortunately shortly after coming down here Pip's illness became much worse and I had to put her down.  I miss her very much, as do all her friends.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Penland Love Letter

I've been wanting to do this post for a while, my take on a wonderful place that has meant much to me and to many, many others.  Maybe someday it will mutate into an artist's book of the meantime, here it is in blog form.

Things I love about Penland

The dogs waiting outside Northlight or the Pines, waiting for attention and treats.

 That handmade things are everywhere, from the handrails, to the curtains, to the toilet paper holders in the Pines...

...To the serving dishes in the Kitchen...

...To the "take away" cups in the dining hall.

Though sometimes you have to look to find them.

That the chalkboards in the Pines can be pretty darn funny...

...and so are the kitchen doors.

 All of them!

The pranks you can pull.

Spontaneously deciding to have Crazy Sock day.

Finding creative ways to comment on some of the problems of dorm life.

Nice bumper stickers.

Really nice people.

Really crazy people.

How everyone, regardless of fame or fortune, does their share of the cleaning.
(Though it helps if you have some good music to sing and dance to.)

Knowing how to advertise a party.

That there's always a nice view, regardless of weather or season.

Down time on the Clay porch with friends.

And remember:

Spring Concentration, Part 2

 After the first firing was over we had Michael Kline come in and demo for us- he threw a small jar/jug form, and also decorated some plates he brought with him.  He uses a wax tinted with various oxides and then coats the whole piece with crackle slip.

This is during the second firing, while finishing off the last chamber...mysteriously I seem to have no photos from the unloading of this firing, but this time we fired primarily with oak and pine (as opposed to the poplar that was the primary fuel the first time around) and the ash was much softer, with better color (not as muted) and fewer crunchies on the pots.  Porcellaneous stonewares were definitely the winners clay wise.

This is a nice picture of what the salt kiln looked like right after salting, as viewed through didymium glasses.

As the kilns were cooling we had a chance to get out and about more- during morel season!  Some of us went mushrooming, and then I made a lovely four course dinner of strawberry cucumber and spinach salad with peppercorn balsamic vinaigrette, cream of asparagus soup, pasta with morels sautéed with butter, and spiced vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey for dessert.  Mmmm!

I also found a new hiking trail that I hadn't been on before- with many, many more wild flowers than I had seen up here before...

...Including orchids!

The night of the session Scholarship auction we had a studio sale before dinner- a nice show and tell...that also helps with the gas money for the trip home!

For show and tell at the end of Concentration we all brought up pots, and Dan brought up the book plaque that he had made for the it wouldn't have been practical to bring the kiln!

After Concentration

After the session I went to visit Suzanne (a.k.a. Satan) in Charlotte where she took me to visit both Mint Museums (very interesting, especially the original one), the Bechtler (not as interesting- I'm not that big on modern art), and several gardens, including UNCC's greenhouses and botanical gardens.

 Some things were just plain neat to look at- like the luscious color on this cacao pod...and others will probably end up on my pots in some form or another!