Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Post on Pottery

I've been working on formulating a white, low-fire clay body. I've tried 50:50 Talc, OM#4 Ball Clay, it works well - too plastic, so I've added grog, 48mesh, 1/2% - works well in throwing. Add zircopax and bentonite to taste. Currently, I'm cleaning out my pug mill of all that red clay which has lots of red iron oxide. My initial tests with Talc Nytal have been scrapped, I'm using a new American Talc from Texas, I'm more aware of buying USA made clay supplies as shipping them across the ocean is prohibitive and costs a lot - Wollastonite comes to mind. On tap for the new year: fire inspection of the studio January 6th, formulating business cards, a few shows next summer, and working on lithographic transferring of images onto pottery using mason stains.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Talc, Texas - no more Nytal

I'm formulating a new clay body with Talc. Previously, Nytal-100 was stocked up at my local shop, but due to recent experiments it was believed by some to be an asbestos-like particle. Thankfully, I my experiments use the new Talc, from Texas - so I'm guessing Mike over at Continental will charge a bit more for it. The new Texas Talc is not like asbestos, a scary word. Also, Mike let me have a little sample of his white clay with the new Texas Talc, I'm going to try out their formula, and see how it works compared to the one I came up with, a little bentonite, grog, ball clay, and talc.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Clay Recipe

I'm trying out a new clay recipe after reading a couple books on what constitutes a clay body suitable for different applications. I made a cone 03-2 body, that I can slide up and down with a particular ingredient that is 50lbs per $8.00. I'm hesitant to release the recipe quite yet until I do some testing for fear that someone might think it works right now, and it hasn't been fired yet. Will write again in a few days after some more work on absorption, vitrification, and glaze fit - have a good week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Work in my Online Shop

New work fresh out of the kiln, now available for sale in my online store. Order in the next few days (by December 12th, let's say) , and I'll be sure to get the package to you by Christmas. Most of my new work employees a printmaking technique along with terra sigillata - a very fine clay resulting in a shiny coating. This Marilyn Monroe coffee mug with a candlestick-type handle has Marilyn's image on both sides.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Urban Experiment Part I

I conducted what I consider an interesting experiment today, with humanity in general and also the neighborhood and City in which I live, Saint Paul, Minnesota. The two pictures below speak volumes, specifically people love free things. Today, December 6th, 2008, I put out a table of 'seconds' which potters typically sometimes try to sell at a reduced rate. 'Seconds' are usually considered to have some type of defect in design or manufacturability. To be more specific for example, glaze defects or a crack in the pottery during firing are usually tops on the list, which can compromise the longevity of the product and usefulness.


Back to the experiment now. I left out the above pottery items on Grand Avenue, along with a sign as you can see in the picture that says "FREE POTTERY." Also, I put a jar next to the sign with the words "$ Donations Optional, But Encouraged." 10 minutes later after seeing several families, and a few gentleman on their way to the liquor store, I looked inside the jar and there was $15 plus - with 5 items missing from the table, specifically a large pitcher and a few coffee mugs and butter dish. I took the $15 from the jar, and headed over to the Midtown Global Market where there was an art fair and ethnic foods for sale. I picked up some fruit for smoothies this week, and returned for home about 2 hours later. Now, for the next picture:

An empty table. No pottery left, and no jar with the sign on it. Now, whether there was money in the jar or not, I do not know for sure - someone may have very well wanted the vase, and there was no money in it, but let's both be honest, if in 10 minutes $15 was collected, after 2 hours and 20 pieces of 'second' pottery, there was probably a little. For me, this wasn't frustrating, but a validation of the world that I've always known it to be, selfish. This happened to Warren MacKenzie too, a famous Minnesota potter that used to have his studio wide-open to the public, people would craze after his stuff. I'm not comparing myself to Warren in the slightest so don't even go there, but he no longer sells from his workshop and I believe it's due to the selfish who bought more than they needed, turned around sold them online for triple, and being that he has always sold 'humble pots', closed down his open gallery (Lee Love is an expert on the story, so to learn more go to ClayArt, www.potters.org, and just search for Warren MacKenzie and you're sure to find more information). I bet I felt a little like Warren today, a bit taken advantaged of by humanity, or at least someone with imbalanced morality, but it doesn't turn me away from making great pots. I talked to someone else about my experiment, and they said that every person walking by was probably thinking the same thing, wow, I could steal that money in that vase and wouldn't get caught. I responded with, I wouldn't and does that make me a better person? Hopefully, the vases and mugs and other items people picked up on their stroll are going to be welcomed into their homes and used, and I bet a few stocking-stuffers. So long for now, happy holidays to everybody.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Pottery Pictures - been a long time coming

Here's some new work I've been intending to get uploaded onto the blog. I've ditched the backdrop for the pots for the blog, easier on the eyes. All this work is fired cone 03 in oxidation with a clear, transparent glaze. I'm working on a volcanic ash glaze right now that's beating me up, but I've got 200lbs of the stuff and I'm determined to use it. From what I know volcanic ash = pumice, and for cone 03 I don't need much of it. I've been using Frit3195 and Gerstley line blends, will post some test tiles sometime soon.

























Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Acrylic Paintings coming soon . . .

I did a little painting, a diversion from pottery this weekend. I'll post a few pics after they dry up. Thanks for stopping by, take a look early this week and let me know what you think of my acrylic painting.

Regarding pottery news, I'm still waiting for that pug mill part which has put my clay mixing on the back burner. Over the winter, my plan is to produce less pieces but of higher value to me. This may include terra sig work which I've had my eye on for awhile.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rubber Spider for Walker Pug Mill - Still Waiting

First, a picture, then some administrative stuff:
Supposedly the rubber coupling I need is discontinued, but I was resourceful enough after several phone calls and emails later, a part is on the way! If anyone ever reads this and owns a Walker Pug Mill, there probably isn't a part available anymore for the rubber spider as G-coupled Jaws are being phased out by a company called TB Woods and Lovejoy. If this rubber spider fails on me, I'll probably have to replace the whole jaw coupling. Should get the part by the weekend, or first thing next week. Then, to mix up some clay.

In other pottery news, I stopped by the Grand Hand Gallery on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, where fine potters such as my first pottery mentor, Steve Lloyd, and others including Robert Briscoe, Sequoia Miller, and other fine potters, I came across some pottery by Lisa Buck here in Afton, MN. I really like here work, especially that she uses a similar earthenware clay. Lovely gold and black colors decorated in an oval baker (drool . . . $110, I'd like to have it). I'd like to visit her pottery studio in Afton. On the little notecard in the gallery, it said she apprenticed with Warren and Linda.
Thanks for reading the blog again, Matt! I like the # sign on the lateral fins of those fish!



Monday, September 8, 2008

Walker Pugmill

I have a really old pugmill, which is really like a clay mixer, it's called a Walker-Jamar. It is a single-auger machine driven by a low-speed AC motor (3/4HP). Made here in the USA, Duluth to be exact. I love this thing. It doesn't de-air or anything spectactular, but it lets me toss in some goodies like bentonite (plasticizer) and grog, to make the clay my own. Currently, I buy clay by the box from a local supplier; which is a lot easier than making it myself regarding cleanliness of the studio and the fact that I ran some numbers the other day even considering 30% of the clay I buy by the pound, it turns out to be a 4 cent "savings" of mixing it myself and that's if I don't pay myself for the labor that goes into it. I did not calculate the cost for purchasing the materials (air-floated things like Redart) separately; my calculations were based on purchasing already mixed, dry clay, where I just add water, and throw it into the hopper. I use the Walker to recycle the clay scraps that don't turn into a pot immediately, with the hope that this clay will make a pot.


Here's a picture of the rubber gear coupling that I extracted between the motor and the auger shaft. Hope to have the new part by the end of the week. It's nice to have Grainger's nearby.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hand Parched Wild Rice in Duluth and Barb Crowe Pottery

Hiking this weekend on the trails of Gooseberry, Duluth (MN). Portrait taken on the lower falls. Growing out a beard. I'll re-post if it keeps.

Hand parching some wild rice with Chris at Barb Crowe's Pottery.
Have a good week everybody.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ron Meyers Lecture

I attended a lecture by Regis Master Ron Meyers tonight at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It was well attended. This is the first of what I hope many lectures and exhibitions I'll attend in the future, and it was a real treat for this to be my first one. I sat right in the middle with Warren MacKenzie and Randy Johnston ahead of me. I really didn't recognize anyone else, although I'm sure there was some other famous potters. I was likely the youngest one there, which made me feel a bit out of place, but felt well-connected to Ron Meyers lecture. I was surprised to hear that he uses red earthenware for his lovely clay creations. He has been recently experimenting with his pots in a wood kiln, and has had some previous success in firing his earthenware creations in a salt kiln at earthenware temperatures, Cone 02-03. Ron provided a thorough retrospective of his life in clay, right from the beginning when he was in high school and then in college at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). How he had been declined to Alfred University, and used his first wheel when he was in Graduate School, which was then only 1 year. Ron commented on how he was a 'C' student and his professor commented that he made 'C' - work relative to those undergrads, graduate students, and even the entire history of ceramics. Everybody laughed. Ron went on and discussed his time with Michael Simon, and how originally it was a very relaxing setting selling pots as they did on the weekends, but over time, it was crazy how they sold all the pots in less than 5 minutes, and people didn't care about the pots, look at them or anything, just bought and ran. This was frustrating for him. Ron said that this was the first time he's been able to tell his whole story about his Ceramics history, and that it was really nice because in workshops conversations are usually abbreviated and only spurred by audience questions. A slide show was presented towards the end, and he discussed how the pieces were made and the progression of 'cute' rabbits to toothy, scary rabbits and other creatures. One of his pots had the whole Family of animals which I really liked plus the Femme Fatales - sexy women, which gave the audience a nice 'hmm-hmm' chuckle. During questions, Warren asked Ron why Ron had sent him a pot with no drawings on it, and Warren commented on how he liked it. Ron said that he makes very few pots with no decorations on it, and usually saves them for his personal collection. Ron would like to make more pots without decoration, as that appeals to him right now.

All-in-all, a good lecture for me to listen to. Not necessarily inspiring, but useful information on another potters journey to success.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

American Pottery Festival this weekend


Located 5 miles away at Northern Clay Center. Should be a good time; I will be missing some of the events because I'll be up North relaxing on the North Shore in Duluth, MN. However, I'm planning to attend the Minneapolis Institute of Arts opening reception with Ron Meyers headlining tomorrow night.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Online Store, and RNC News

I've started a new online store, http://SaintPaulPottery.etsy.com. Please click on the banner to the right to see what I have to offer. I will be posting 1 new work every day for the next 1 month in the store. My old store, http://mochaware.etsy.com will be closed in the coming weeks. There's still a few great items in the old store.

Due to Hurricane Gustav, the RNC here in Saint Paul was cut a bit short, but tonight McCain and perhaps President Bush will be in the Excel Energy Center. I have yet to wander downtown, but may tonight permitting the thunderstorms subside long enough. It's about a 15 minute walk downtown from the studio.

I will be posting pictures of my brief pottery sale this past weekend, so check back later for an update, thanks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

RNC coming to town, a few new pics




Hey,


The RNC bustle is already spilling over to Grand Ave.


I hope to write more tonight about my plans for the weekend. Here's a few pics I took a couple minutes ago, gotta go. Have a good night!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Republic National Convention in Saint Paul, MN

The Republic National Convention is going to be a 1/2 mile from my studio this weekend. I plan on wandering down close to the Excel Energy Center where the action is, but I'm planning to setup my pots out on Grand Avenue. I have a 10x10 tent, some pots and shelves to put them on, so I should be set. I just finished firing two glaze loads this week. Lots of great pots which I haven't taken pictures of. Lots of marbleware, some mochaware, and a few of most forms that I make. All-in-all, I'm happy with the pots I've been making the past few weeks.

Regarding the Convention, I get a feel that Saint Paul as a City is a bit nervous right now, not sure what to expect. City officials that have previewed the Democratic Covention in Denver say that we're ready.

Anyway, pottery will be here on the Avenue, and a beautiful weekend for it too. Write more soon, but hopefully just pictures because those are more fun to look at.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buying in Bulk

lbs price boxes savings
500 144.6 10 12.85
1000 272.5 20 16.7
2000 497.2 40 47.8
4000 914 80 80.4

Cost savings in buying in bulk. This is a calculation for clay at a local supplier, Continental Clay. The more you buy, the better the savings. Of course, storing it may be the limiting factor.

I'd like to dig my own clay someday, plenty of areas to scope out along the Minnesota River and also near Red Wing, a famous pottery in Southeastern Minnesota about 30 minutes from my studio. Several 5 gallon buckets and a shovel should do the job, especially since the ground isn't frozen now. Something to consider. Richard Bresnahan came across quite a find several years ago, http://www.csbsju.edu/pottery/happenings/video.htm. This is in Collegeville, MN near St. Cloud, about 2 hours away from Saint Paul.

All this would require testing though. Firing temperature for vitrification, how the glaze interacts with the clay body, reformulation of slips maybe, the list goes on. But an endless supply of useable clay would be a treat.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

That's right. I turned 28 years old today. Planning a night with no clay involvement, some Umbria Pizza, and a nice walk around a nearby lake. Beautiful 80 degrees here today; I might sneak into the studio and load up a bisque, shh!, don't tell anyone.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Linda Starr

Hi Linda,

Thanks for writing. I've recently come to terms what blogging is for me, and that is interacting with other potters. Whether it be encouraging one another when the pots aren't coming out so great or commenting on an exceptional piece or really anything clay related. When I first started blogging, I didn't have any expectations other than people (really, anybody!) reading what I wrote. Over time, my expectations were to use my blog in conjunction with my Etsy site (online store) to help customers realize (or maybe appreciate) what goes into making a pot. It was a diluted sense, and tangential looking back, hindsight is 20/20 right?! However, putting a site counter was the best thing I could ever do. A testament to the fact that people were reading it, maybe not leaving a comment, but at minimum in their minds as they enter the internet . . . What is that Brandon guy doing in his studio recently?

So, here I am, publishing pictures onto Blogger, writing a few words about how my day went in the studio, and what I may work on tomorrow. End of story, but a perfect plot for journaling. However, I wanted something more and I'm striving for it locally and I'm lucky to be in a hotbed - and to use the term loosely, matriarchs. There's Warren Mackenzie, Linda Christianson, Matthew Metz, Kevin Caufield, Mel Jacobsen, Tom Wirt, Guillermo Cuellar, Jeff Oestriech, and countless others in this rich area of pottery. I try not to look at their work too much (other than to be aware of it in a general sense), because as an artist we often make things from our life experiences and what we see with our eyes, and I think that’s what you addressed to me in your email - So many directions, but are they really you or are they diversions into a territory that’s been worked over before.

That’s what has attracted me so much to Mochaware. There are 3-4 artists in the United States making it, and the literature is sparse. A few words here and there from a Robin Hopper book, can’t remember the name of it, and if you really are resourceful you’ll find an article in Ceramics Monthly, but that’s essentially it. From the other Mochaware artists I’ve talked to early on in my foray, Ryan Forrey and Don Carpentier, they do the process much differently, the latter more traditionally, and Ryan more of the experimenter which I can relate to. It’s an adventure getting here. I’ve been making pots for 10 years now, I’ll be turning 28 this week, and look at the horizon of all that I want to accomplish in making things out of clay. There are so many questions racing through my mind, and excuse me if these paragraphs have come across a bit scattered but I only have 15 minutes to type all this, and get down to the studio for what most don’t know, I carry an 8-5 job. So, when it seems like I’ve cranked out a good many pots in a days work, it’s really burning the midnight oil, my favorite time of the night to get dirty.

By the way Linda, at one point I was looking at doing leaf impressions on my pots too, but didn’t have the patience for it. I really like how yours are turning out; I’ll check back and see the glazed result.

Brandon

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saint Paul Empty Bowls, http://saintpaulemptybowls.blogspot.com/

I'm organizing the 1st Annual Saint Paul Empty Bowls. If you live nearby or not, please let me know if you can help.

http://saintpaulemptybowls.blogspot.com/

Thanks,
Brandon

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Looking forward to this weekend


Should be a productive weekend. I have no plans except to make pottery and watch the Dark Knight, which I've been meaning to get to but the summer has been busy. I might venture over to the Uptown Art Fair. But, be sure to check back this weekend, I'm planning to have a new post on Saturday and Sunday. It's going to be hot and humid here this weekend, 90 degrees, so the kiln probably won't get fired, but I'm planning to make a bunch of pots and look up art fairs for this coming Fall. Talk more soon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A few dog bowls . . .


I've been getting into making pottery for pets recently. Dog bowls and cat dishes mostly. There was a Paws on Grand event here in the Cities, and I made several sets. It ended up raining in the afternoon, but a good turnout in the morning saved the day (4,000 pets were estimated for the day) and a few friends from the coffee shop I used to work at stopped by too - what a surprise!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More marbleware pottery coming soon!

Here's an image from the last firing of the marbleware. This is an area of pottery that I think I'm really excelling at, but still flying by the seat of my pants because there are so many color combinations that I'd like to try! Hit reload often, as I'm constantly updating with new images.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Red Wing Lime Kiln and Booth Picture

Lime kiln in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Nice looking red tent really made the pots look nice and earthy red. Next time I do another art fair, I'm going to get one of those nice white ones everybody else had, but this time around I kept the overhead costs low and borrowed this Mac Tools tent from a friend.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Volc Frit

I just got a few free bags of volcanic frit from a potter in Richfield, about 10 minutes from my studio. 150lbs in all, so I hope with some testing I'll get it working for some cone 10 glazing. As I had no idea what the composition of the stuff was, I called the company on the bag, Calvert Corporation in Norton, KS, and thankfully they were still in business. They provided me a chemical analysis and melting point, so that should help, and also that it's very fine meshed material compared to what they've been screening these days. Later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eagan Art Festival

I wanted to let you know that I will be having a booth at the Eagan Art Festival this weekend. It is a free admission festival with ample parking, a variety of food, music and entertainment, and I will be selling my pottery too.

Here are the more specific details:

Saturday, June 21: 9am-5pm

Sunday, June 22: 10am-5pm

Eagan Community Center Festival Grounds

1501 Central Parkway

Eagan, MN

For more information, please visit http://www.eaganartfestival.org/ or contact me.

Let me know if you might come, and I’ll look out for you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pottery on the Avenue

Hi,

I was out on my swinging bench yesterday, the day before Father's Day, and a lot of folks stopped by. Everybody in good spirits with the wonderful weather. I displayed my work on a few sawhorses with wooden boards, pretty simple. A young potter named Caleb Olson (spelling?) stopped by, and I showed him around my studio - which I think he thought was cool. He works out of Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis teaching youngn's in the 12-year old to teen age group.

Sold some pots, beautiful weather - except the tornado siren went off at 10pm which was a bit scary, and met some more locals.

On tap for this week: making some large, hanging platters with interesting designs, loading and unloading the kiln for the Eagan Art Festival next weekend, and testing some new glazes. Happy Father's Day if that applies.

Peace.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Work in Progress

As promised to you faithful readers - is just one person reloading my page several times (?), Patricia is that you?! I have some pictures finally.

From left-to-right, a set of 5 soup bowls, a half dozen 'drinkers' for the kitchen, some dipping dishes in the foreground stacked 5 high, a few spoon holder vases behind that, and finally a set of four dinner plates. All-in-all a good batch, waiting to dry for the kiln.
Test tiles for a cone 9-10 glaze firing. These have been bisqued already.
A few casserole dishes, and a marbleware bowl.
A few large-bellied vases, and a 23" wide bowl on the far right.
It seems like many bloggers have posted their scrap pots - mine go in this large red bucket, which I'll add my throwing water too. You wouldn't believe all the good stuff that's in the throwing water that many potters throw out! I add a little bit of grog and bentonite plus a few other tidbits to make the reclaim that much easier to work with, in fact the reclaim clay is a treat to work with - nice and soft clay that can be thrown super high and wide if needed.

I know, I know

I said I was going to have pictures to share yesterday, but I need to delete some off of my computer first. So, later today.

Last night, I trimmed some excess clay off a set of bowls, and will do the same tonight for a set of plates. I'm getting ready for the Eagan Art Festival in a few weeks.

In early July, I need to make another stop to my clay supplier for more materials; here's a list I came up with so far:

Kentucky Stone, 50#'s
Goldart, 50#
Frit 3124, 10#
Nepheline Syenite, 25#
Frit 3195, 50#
Low-fire Red Clay, 500#
Chrome Oxide, 1#
Black Copper Oxide, 1#
Custer Feldspar, 50#
Dolomite, 50#
Redart, 100#
A few mason stains to splurge on maybe (?). I like mixing these into slips.

Just a start, but I haven't been there in awhile. I like to stock up for a few months. I have my own pug mill, so I can always recycle the scraps and make more clay in the studio.

In other news, I'm planning to take my wheel out on the Avenue again this weekend. Probably just on Saturday, as it is supposed to be the nicest of the two days. A few pots will be for sale. 10am that day I'll get things rolling.

More later. Peace.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm back

Hi Everybody,

My hiatus from blogging has ended, and I look forward to posting some new pictures later today.

I've been working on a few things:

1. Glazing earthenware pots. I'm now out of this red clay, but will either purchase more or look into making my own. I have one formula that I've been using that works great, but the manufacturer, Continental Clay is a mere skip away.

2. Throwing stoneware pots. I've been working on pitchers, sets of bowls and plates.

3. Test tiles for the stoneware, with cobalt, rutile, and iron oxide additions.

Kind of a boring post overall, sorry, but will make it interesting later - so check back.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Contemplations about Blogging

Why do I do it? I mean, writing entries here that not many people read? What if this Blogger got pissed at me one day, and decided to end my account? I wouldn't be too sad, as I don't think I've had many deep conversations on here - whether pottery-related or otherwise. I know there are different reasons why people blog, but it is all too peripheral for me. I admit, Blogging has got me to use my digital camera more frequently, and sit down and relax for a few minutes while listening to my new favorite iTunes download, but I feel the time has come to take my first steps at getting away from posting here, and so I'll be taking a break for a period of a few weeks - maybe more.

Did I see it coming? Yes, to be honest.

To those who do read my postings frequently: please feel free to email me at mochaware@gmail.com, and I'd be happy to update you occasionally with pictures and new work in progress.

Peace.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Street Pottery

I took my pottery wheel outside on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul a few days ago (one of the busiest streets in the Twin Cities), setup a few tables displaying my work, and had at it. It was wonderful: a warm sunny sunset striking the wheel, a few motorists turning their heads in curiosity, and a few passersby that stopped to talk about how cool it is to see pottery made, plus I sold a few pieces. All-in-all, a great night. Plus, I made several pieces on the wheel that were 'keepers.' I'm heading back into my stoneware clay supply for a bit, as I'd like to try out some new cobalt recipes. One more load of redware clay to fire though, so stay tuned for pictures of that!


Sorry, no pictures of me in these photos, next time!



Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy at the Wheel


Often, it seems like a week since I've last sat down at the wheel making stuff. Glazing, loading the kiln, mixing chemicals for new glazes and slips, mixing clay, unloading the kiln, etc. So many things to do in making a pot, that often the fastest is actually making it! So, the above picture is of me, happy to be at the wheel this weekend. A lovely weekend overall, a nice BBQ at a nearby State Park, a few walks for ice cream and coffee, and hanging out with the Fam, good stuff.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A few pics from the recent kiln firing




Some lovely slipware pottery above came out quite nice in the recent kiln firing. I like the color I had chosen for the pieces, they seem to contrast attractively.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Christmas Morning

A friend of mine, Sue, a potter out in Farmington, Minnesota said to me one time that she plans her firings so that during the cool down cycle she is sleeping. Otherwise, she'll burn her fingers on a very hot kiln, because she can't wait to see the results. Sort of like Christmas morning she described it, rushing to the Christmas tree to see what was under it, Sue said that many times she has blistered her finger tips lifting the hot kiln lid and unloading the pots while they're still very hot.

I bring this up because my kiln is cooling right now, and I can't wait to reach inside it to see what has come out. Some planned pots that time and again give consistent results, but some pots that I've really pushed the envelope in glazing. A very loose glazing session this morning was hastened by the fact that I only had 45 minutes to glaze the pots and toss them in the kiln. I got it done, but it was hectic. I hope to get some pictures up tomorrow of how everything turned out.

If you're a Twin Citian, I will be having a Sale this weekend on the corner of Grand Avenue and Milton. Located across the street from Birkenstocks. 1 block West of Victoria (Bread & Chocolate, Cafe Latte, and other fine coffee shops). Should be a nice weekend to come and walk the Avenue . . . introduce yourself, and let me know you read my blog. Thanks.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mochaware Professionals

A few other modern time Mochaware artists around the world (note: not a complete list I'm sure, but I've found these deocrators have a deft touch with the mocha tea).

Don Carpentier - Woodbury Guild, http://www.woodburyguild.com/mochaware/mocha.html
Nancy and Bob Samson - The Tobacco Shed Pottery, http://www.tobaccoshedpottery.com/
Vanessa Waller - http://www.potterwaller.com/page8.htm
Kate Scott - http://www.katescottceramics.co.uk/6.html
East Knoll Pottery - http://www.eastknollpottery.com/id3.html
Ryan Forrey - The New Greenfield Village - http://enssc.com/Products.aspx?subcat=77 (no mochaware pictures at this link though!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Summer Plans in the Studio

Hey Everybody,

A lot on my mind these days in regards to the direction where I want to take my work next. So many options. Leading the pack include firing my redware in my electric kiln converted with a propane burner, dabbling more in cobalt blue glazes for my high-fire stoneware, and ramping up production and lowering prices. I think it would be an absolute stunner to offer up coffee mugs for $6-8, bowls for $10, and plates for $15 a piece. Nothing like it around here being done. Okay, okay - I'm not a Revolutionary in the pottery scene, I admit it - but a reformation plays out in my mind. Production runs of dinnerware sets, foodie related pots, and functional pottery. I think this is where I'm going. $400 for a functional pot for daily use? I think not, unless it's a Shoji Hamada! I think my customers will appreciate that pottery is not for those with a deep wallet, and they'll be able to purchase 4 or 5 mugs for their home - and abuse them (not like a 5 year old would), but revel in the fact that they have a set of beautiful handmade mugs that didn't cost them an arm and a leg.

I'm planning to setup an Empty Bowls here in Saint Paul. I was surprised not to find an event here in the City, so I've contacted the Empty Bowls administrators about how to go about it. I've heard of an Empty Bowls going on over in the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis, but it would be great to have the Capital City here do its part for fighting hunger. I have plenty of friends that I think would donate 5-10 bowls, which will help - I don't want to make a couple hundred of these by myself.

Back to the horizon on what's on tap for this summer: I'm planning to prepare my old electric kiln shell for firing again in a reduction atmosphere. Last summer this was tried for high-fire work, up to cone 10 and the glazes we used did flux, but the color was less than desirable. I'm going to try again to Cone 04, and give my friend Josh Grenier (Edina High School Art Teach) a call about firing it, since it was our idea to do it in the first place. We spike in soda ash and sodium bicarbonate (I think) in the peak of the reduction to flavor the pieces, get a little flash, or as Josh likes to say - it's a "brownification" process.

I have about 6lbs of Cobalt Carbonate in my studio, so I'm going to prepare some hopefully striking cobalt blue glazes soon. I have a few base recipes that I like, and chemicals to do it. I haven't been to my material supplier in about 3 months, so in the next month or so I'm going to put in a nice order. Mike over at Continental Clay is a blessing to work with. In fact, everybody over there really is top-notch. I've had a few bad experiences over at Minnesota Clay, plus there prices are about $5-6 higher per pound of chemical and they are an extra 45 minutes away - so Continental gets 100% of my business.

Peace for now, I hope to write more later!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Drop-rim Mochaware Bowl

This is an interesting one that came out of the kiln. I created it on my wheel by throwing a normal bowl with a thicker edge, and pushed the lip over until it collapsed. Then, I made an concave rim, and decorated it a la' Mochaware by dipping it into some wet slip (runny clay) and adding my special mocha tea. This glaze turned out a bit darker than the yellow saffron I'm used to - and I like it - so I might juice up the colorant I use OR do some more specific testings to get a more specific palette of yellow. I still have a few hundred dollars in cobalt that I got for free - so you might see a lot of cobalt blues from me in the future!

Fresh Pots from Kiln

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Glazing bisqued pots this morning

Short post here this morning, check back later for something more substantial. I'm glazing some bisqued pots for a glaze firing this morning, then heading out to a cool flower show at the local Art Institute, and then off to an 80's wedding (?) - that should be interesting! I was born in the 80's so don't remember much of that time period.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Listening to Music in the Studio

Quote of the Day: " . . . and both hands, now use both hands. oh, no don't close your eyes . . ." Ani DiFranco

I often hear potters ask other potters on whether they listen to music in their studio. Some find it to be distracting, others experience that they are more focused, and some just have it on for background noise. I personally rarely listen to music in the studio, except when I'm away from the wheel - such as making clay or glazing pots for a kiln firing. I find that making a pot is a relationship I prefer to have just with the clay, my hands, and my mind. And I use both hands. Sometimes everything falls into place, like the Earth spinning perfectly at 70,000 mph, and sometimes gravity is too much of a force for my pots. That's just the way it is, and that's the way I like it.

Peace.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Items in my Online Shop - 50% OFF!

Quote of the Day: "Don't break my heart with your brand new look." Ike Reilly.

This bowl came out of the last firing, and I just had a chance to really look at it now. I usually open the kiln like kids do on Christmas morning, ripping threw presents, and looking for more. I'd like to slow this process down a bit, and enjoy it more.

I like how the colors here contrast well throughout the bowl, as sometimes I feel that there's a concentration of a certain color in a certain area of a vessel. I like making these kinds of pots, mixing the colors together and seeing how they turn out in the kiln. I have found it is very important to know when to stop marbling the slips together, as the colors will become so muddied the pots look uninteresting with all the noise.
Take a look at my online store, http://mochaware.etsy.com. Prices are slashed 50% for the month of May.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You win Ikea, Target, and Walmart

I can't compete with your set of 8 dinner plates for $19.99, and your 12 coffee mugs for $30. Should I stay or should I go? I was feverently creating the next big thing in pottery, all the while 130,000 more square feet of Earth under your next control. "What was I thinking!" I ask myself. I must have been wasted thinking I could go up against you. Or is it you I'm even against; where have all the appreciators of handmade items gone? I think I saw one or two of you glancing back at me over the gas pump apologetically, "it's not you." I looked back, and said to myself "I understand, someone always a hand in your back pocket." I'll keep creating my pottery; I do it because I like it. However, I urge those reading this, to pass this blog site (http://mochaware.blogspot.com) to whoever you know. This is the future of art, is it better off dead? If not, support me by purchasing my work at http://mochaware.etsy.com.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What a weekend! Snow, and the Saint Paul Art Crawl

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for checking in now. I was at the Saint Paul Art Crawl this weekend, which is about 1 mile from my house. It snowed of all things in this last weekend of April, so the attendance at the Art Crawl was low - but the people who came were fun to talk to and many were amazed at my demo of mochaware (an acid-base reaction). I'll get a close-up video posted sometime this week.

Another artist joined me at Evoke Gallery, his name is Patrick Ginter. He was fun to listen to, and even brought his stratocaster with a little amp to pep it up on Sunday. Information about Patrick and his Rock Star acrylics can be found here, http://citypages.com/databank/26/1296/article13731.asp.

Here are a few vases drying out in the studio after some interesting slip decoration.
A bisque load fired this weekend of my redware. Hey, there's even a pie plate in there, and a couple of pilsners!