Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
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
Sunday, September 14, 2008
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
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Hand parching some wild rice with Chris at Barb Crowe's Pottery.
Have a good week everybody.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
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
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
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
Thursday, August 28, 2008
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
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
Monday, August 4, 2008
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.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
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
Friday, June 27, 2008
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
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
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
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
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.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
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.
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
Frit 3124, 10#
Nepheline Syenite, 25#
Frit 3195, 50#
Low-fire Red Clay, 500#
Chrome Oxide, 1#
Black Copper Oxide, 1#
Custer Feldspar, 50#
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
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
Did I see it coming? Yes, to be honest.
To those who do read my postings frequently: please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'd be happy to update you occasionally with pictures and new work in progress.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
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
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
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
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
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.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
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
Sunday, April 27, 2008
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!