Sunday, April 12, 2015

May is for Craft Sales

I'll be at 3. Come and see.

 The Talmadge Art Show, May 3 at the Liberty Station Convention Center. That's a new location for them, if you have the habit of going. It's a new show for me, though I've certainly been there as a customer.

The Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Coop, May 9, 11-4, on Voltaire St just south of Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

The North Park Festival of the Arts, May 16, 11-6, on University Ave and adjacent side streets near 30th St.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How about contributing to Empty Bowls this Year?

Empty Bowls is a lovely fundraising event, for services for homeless people, spreading internationally. Have a look at the calendar on the empty bowls website to see that it is all over.

In San Diego, the next 2 events are April 16, at Coronado High School, for dinner, 5-7 pm

and May 7 at La Jolla United Methodist Church, for lunch, 11-1.

Potters contribute bowls, restaurants and bakeries contribute soup and bread, everyone who wants to contributes $20, chooses a bowl, eats a meal, keeps the bowl. I hear you should arrive early for your choice of the best professional bowls.

I really like participating in this. My bowls go to the La Jolla event, as Coronado High School pretty much makes their own. As usual my bowls are unready so far.

It's not the last minute yet!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bringing New Pots to the Roland Street Fair

Hello.  Come by if you like. It's a cheerful neighborhood event. I'll be at the Rolando Street Fair on, where else? Rolando Blvd. in San Diego, on March 29, 10 to 6.

 This is the most fabulous glaze. The more I think of to add to its runniness, the better it gets.

That's a shape to repeat.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


The beginning of a breakthrough at least. I've been focused on that narrow base, with no separate foot, for the smooth curve up and out. Now I've tried working with the top of the bowl.

Thursday I flopped around a pottery class, not knowing what to do with myself. Friday I found this:

YES! This is where I want to go. There's development yet to do, but I'm in a new place. So far I have learned
  --  Fewer, bigger moves/changes/gestures are better than more and smaller ones.

That's boring.

That's interesting. 2 views I think of the same bowl, but it's clear that it becomes better with more depth in the cut.

  --  The line should keep flowing. The one above does, not so sure about the next picture.

  --  The heights and shapes should vary. The relatively flat part above doesn't work so well.

Several years ago, I made a bowl to remember a trip in Arizona. Now I see what its weak points are.

I was thinking of cliff tops, where streams fall over the edge, and carve the beginnings of canyons. I like that part, but not so much the wide bowl base and the rest of the top.

It all repeats the same heights, not good.

Is this new? To me, sure, and it feels like an invention. I  have, though, stopped to look at every pot with an irregular rim for years. In Craft in America, I noticed a Richard DeVore pot that does it wonderfully, looked up more of his work, and bow and step back. Not my invention; he made whole galleries full of marvelous pots with these qualities. He was after something else though, finishes like skin, pots like bodies. Interesting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Where's That Good Bowl Shape?

 New bowls! I've been trying to get into my hands a form I see occasionally in others' work and have in my mind's eye: bowls that lift and flare from a narrow base, up and out. It's a gesture, like flinging out your arms to the sky. I see I wrote about this in October; what a long time til I have concrete, well, ceramic, results. And these are an intermediate effort, not a consistent success.

Is this it? It's got some of the quality, but I think loses the energy of the flare because the top turns inward.

This one? Yes, more lift.

Maybe even better with the top edge turned outward. This adds open hands to that arm gesture.

Here's a rounder bowl, with the narrow base and not much flare. I like it but it's not the same shape at all.

A little more of the flare. Better, definitely. Very small differences make a significant difference in quality. And I am only looking for one quality here. The rounder bowls have other kinds of quality  (I am exploring adding slip for texture and I like it in these 2 bowls.) Very complicated.

What about functional quality? Yes, the bowls seem well balanced with such a narrow base, though I've made wider ones that tip. There is a limit to the width that works.

The top edge seems to look equally appropriate, whether it is level, wavy or cut. So this is not a difference that makes a difference. 

And the glazes? These bowls are  also an exploration of cone 10 glazes I have available.

How about that wild combination? The bowl is a bit tippy, but I like the colors.

Oh yes, though not news. I really like this rutile glaze on porcelain, even better with some texture to enhance the runny effects.

Conclusions? Just keep at it. There is an endless amount of subtle variety in this field, and an endless amount to learn.  Fun. Perhaps every subject is open like this, and so full of possibility that you never come to its end. The world is BIG!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making Pottery in Old Age

What does it take to keep making pottery into old age?

 I do know people who have had enough and stopped potting, when conditions in their lives suggested a change. Most of us seem to love it, though, and want to keep going indefinitely. Bodies don't keep going indefinitely. Besides all the rest of life and health, there are health problems that come with making pottery: carpal tunnel problems from repetitive motion of hands and wrists, elbow troubles, tendinitis. We all know we should not breathe clay dust for years, but how scrupulously careful are you? Glaze chemicals are sometimes dangerous, too. If you would like to be scared/warned, check out Beth Peterson, Is Pottery Dangerous.

The inspiration for thinking about this is an article in last Sunday's LA Times on Dora De Larios. She is a major potter and sculptor now in her 80's and working busily. Perhaps it's more design than hand work at this point, but she seems still to be carving her pieces herself.

And I think of Eva Zeisel, my hero these days. She died almost exactly 3 years ago at age 105. A few months earlier she was still designing, though I think she shifted away from hand work in the 2000's sometime. Early in her long career she started designing ceramics for commercial production, and at the end of her life, began designing pieces in other materials. Never stopping, always creative.

Locally, and more accessibly, there's Jeri Unitt, who continued to take classes at Clay Associates into  her 80's. Over the years, she has not only made lovely indoor pieces, but has created her whole garden, the tiles for the back porch, the edging for planting areas, and table tops and flower pots.

And me? I started potting far too late in life to expect to give it up.  And I love the example of these people, carrying on long in delight and commitment and ability.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pots to Listen to

I've been interested in the sounds pottery can make, in the possibility that ceramics is auditory art/craft, not just a visual one. Of course it isn't just visual, it's very tactile. But most of us look carefully at pots and train our eyes for visual art. How about listening. All fired pots ring nicely when tapped.  There are ceramic drums, flutes, whistles, bells. Barry Hall wrote an intriguing book about this, called "From Mud to Music". So I have an exploration to come, of ceramic musical instruments.

I thought bells would be an easy place to start. Trying to follow instructions, I think by Barbara Dunstreet, on one of those how to websites, I've started with the bells in these pictures. It's not easy by the way, lots of little parts to fit together so that the sound is good.

I've tried stoneware and porcelain for cone 6 firing temperatures. They make a wide variety of sound, in tone quality and in pitch. Why? It it the material? The one above seems best, made of stoneware with a pocelain clapper. But does the shape of the bell matter? I've tried two bell shapes


The second shape sounds worst, but I'm not sure the shape is the reason. How about the place the clapper hits?

This is supposed to be best, the clapper touching the bell's rim. I'm finding that right.

So here's a new area opening up, to explore and learn, before I come up with reliably good bells.

And yes, they should look good,

and these are for decorated for Christmas. Merry Christmas!