Monday, March 31, 2008

Marbleware and Mochaware Drying, and It's Snowing Today in the Twin Cities

Quote of the Day: I'm trying to make eye contact with each and every stranger that I pass. Thinking about the city it's living proof people need to be together. I'm thinking about how I just want to open up and give and give and give. And it's ok for you to care cause I can feel you in the air. And while you wonder "how's this gonna end?" I only want it to begin. Ben Lee, Song: Begin, 2005.

Hey folks, thanks for checking in today. I have these pots trimmed up, and now they'll enjoy a little rest since they've been stressed out being thrown and slipped over the past few days. I like how these are slipped, and think it'll be interesting how the colors will come out.
And now for some fun in Minnesota . . . 9 inches of snow! I love it here, seriously - anyone else?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Slipped Work, and Video Camera

Good Morning. I was able to get these pots slipped last night, in between plays of the UNC vs Louisville NCAA game. I like how these pots turned out: some of them Mochaware decorated and some are marbled. I have 8 slips that I use right now, and I think they give nice contrast on my Mochaware, so I gave it a go on these Marbled decorated vessels. It was fun decorating in that fashion.
In the lower-left hand corner of this picture, is a nice spoon-holder. The decoration is Mochaware, but if you look closely - and I'll be sure to get a close-up after the glaze firing - it looks like a stick-figure man. You have to have superb control over your Mochaware application to be able to do this. I'm planning to make other animations using Mochaware in the future, I have a few in mind.
Close-up of a Mochaware decorated pot with my white Mocha tea.A set of dipping dishes or rice bowls.
Have a great rest of the weekend everybody. I hope to have a few videos from around the studio this week. It's a new thing for me posting videos, but I'll give it a hearty try.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mochaware Explanation in Ceramics Monthly 2008

Hi Everybody,

I just received my copy of Ceramics Monthly in the mail today. I recommend that any potter subscribe to this magazine if they can afford it, because it does provide a nice variation of articles. Typically, there is at least 2 articles that I find appealing and will read those. Plus, there is always a nice listing of vendors advertising their products in there, and I can check out what's new.

I was surprised to see in the Q&A in the beginning of this issue (Ceramics Monthly, April 2008), a write-up by Robin Hopper. I thought this was a new article, but to no avail - it's just a reworking from an article already published and been on the web for quite sometime. Save yourself the money on this article if your specifically looking for Mochaware related articles, and check out the following link if your interested in Hopper's words on Mochaware decoration: Honestly, even Robin Hopper's article won't even get you very far, unless you use exactly the same clay body, firing conditions, mocha tea preparations, and slip preparations. My strong recommendation is to experiment. Determine what slips fit your clay body, what colors you like the mocha tea to be, and you will be well on your way to creating YOUR most beautiful Mochaware decorations. Keep notes though like your life depended on it, and don't always trust those test kilns (if you have one); specific gravity measurements, % oxide in a batch, and how long you dipped the pieces into the bucket - all these things and more are required for success. Nobody said it would be easy, but it will become second-hand when you make it your own.

Pictures will be up tomorrow; I just wanted to quickly provide my perspective on the Mochaware article in the new Ceramics Monthly magazine. ciao!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Late Start, Early Finish

Quote of the Day: If you want a good life, you gotta sacrifice more of your soul and body. If you want a extraordinary life you must sacrifice everything just to get a little bit of heaven. Gregory Rundell, 2008 (

I had about an hour tonight to sneak into the studio, and get as much done as possible. As I said in an earlier post, the shelves of freshly thrown work were getting a little bare - so I sat down at the wheel and played! It was fun: taking 25lbs of clay, breaking it into ~1-2lb chunks, and throwing whatever I wanted. This was the result:

20 pots fresh off the wheel in 1 hour time:
A close-up of the bottom shelf. As you can see I use canvas to protect the bottoms from the particle board underneath. FYI: Particle Board and Clay don't mix well! In the small little bowls/dipping dishes, you can see where I've lifted the pot off the wheel with my fingers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pottery for the Soul

Quote of the Day: I'm staring at the asphalt wondering 'What's buried underneath where I am?' Postal Service, Song: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, 2003.

I was listening to this song today, and it really got me into a groove of a good day. It is so organic, and I live in an apartment building so I connect to it on that level I suppose too.

I'm thrilled Summer is coming, but I like Winter too - the change of the seasons in Minnesota appeals to me.

Last summer, Josh Grenier and I attempted a reduction firing in an electric kiln - and it almost worked! We attempted the firing off a weed burner (probably not the best choice in the world), especially for our Cone 10 glazes (essentially this means stoneware, high temp firing). The glazes fluxed, but the coloring wasn't great. I won't get into too much detail here, but if you're interested check out Josh's page: I'm thinking of trying it again this summer. Here's a picture I had taken on one the night of the firing.
Onto other items: I'm thinking of having a pottery party like they do for Mary Kay products. Have someone organize it, invite their friends over to their house and prepare snacks, and sell pottery. The host would take a % of the money, and I would as well - similar to consigment, we could work out the details. Anyone interested in hosting a Pottery Party? Seriously, let me know because I think it would be a gas. I'd even volunteer to make a killer Penne Rossa pasta that is sure to please - even for those fans of Broder's Pasta Bar over on Penn Avenue in South Minneapolis. Have any of you been to Broder's before?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Online Shop,

Quote of the Day: I cooked up a plan I thought you could accept. I was all alone you were all I had. Tegan and Sara, Song: Nineteen.

Hi, and thanks for checking in today. I'm glad that you've joined me here, and will think about doing so in the future. I'm continually updating, so hit update on your browser constantly. Honestly, I'm going to try to post here (crossing fingers) every day, and I don't think that's a lofty goal but feel free to give me a nudge if it has been a few days.

Please check out my new online shop at I've listed a few items there which I think will be a unique offering for that community.

Here's one last picture I'll post from the last firing, a nacho dipper in Saffron yellow. It's a two-piecer, so dishwashing will be a cinch. I like the organic contrast with the earthy red terra cotta body and Saffron Yellow Glaze, plus the single black band on the edge. I'm starting to have the feeling I know what I'm doing, but then I look over at my screw-ups and the pile is huge - so that quickly grounds me. The lovely thing about clay is that it can be recycled, provided it hasn't been fired first.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pic of Studio and Part III of Kiln Load from Easter

Quote of the Day: Smells like the 40's, like Europe in rubble. The Locals don't know you, they're the ones you want love from. Ike Reilly, Duty Free - 2001.

Hi folks. Thanks for checking into my blog. I hope some of you have now found my new blog. I'm slowly phasing out my Apartment 51 Pottery Blog - well actually I'm trying to delineate my stoneware pottery from Mochaware decorated works, and since I've been working on the Mochaware heavily right now this is where you want to be.

A very nice mug out of the last firing. Mochaware decorated with superb mocha agate patterning on this one. I love the thick band under the rim, and the handle stuck perfectly. I've said in an earlier post that I've worked up a special formula of adhesive to connect handles to pots, what I forgot to mention is that it is a clear adhesive - so no messy slip running underneath the handle, and no pesky cracks. I like it . . . a lot.
Dipping dishes. Set of 5 with one Mochaware decoration inside each. Nice saffron glaze color.
Picture of my studio. Pretty typical, heh? Pug mill to the left, wheel in the center, shelving behind, and chemical station and kiln to the right. A nice setup helps me keep on top of the work, and see where things are getting backed up. Or in this case, the shelves are empty! Need to make more pots!!! Gotta go.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Part II of Newest Kiln Firing


Sorry for the short post earlier today. Like most, I enjoyed a nice Easter dinner and relaxed.

I'm really happy how the last firing turned out. I seem to be getting the conditions just right for Mochaware decoration. It took a lot of tinkering with glazes, slips, and clay over the past year to get where I'm at now. It's a great feeling. I had always thrown with stoneware, but over the past three months, I'm working in a low-fire range with a terra cotta body. The clay I've been using now, is in my opinion of great plasticity for larger forms (which I think are my specialty), and I used the stoneware out of convention since I had always used. Needless to say, I now know that one clay body doesn't necessarily fit all pottery artists. Now, I season commercial clay with my own special mix: a little bentonite, some grog to taste, and some ball clay. It suits me.

I love experimenting, for those who don't know me. But, eventually it's nice to see an idea actually make it on a pot after much testing. The following is an example. It is a sky blue pot with black Mochaware decoration and black banding. Experimenting with 1/2 % increments of cobalt carbonate in my slip, I was able to get a good color swatch - the trick is to make the test batch bigger than usual because the amount of cobalt in grams is so low it can be hard to reproduce the result. It helped that I was able to procure 5#'s of Cobalt Carbonate on trade with a potter in Washington who was getting out of the business. She got some of my nice glacial blue pots, and I got a lifetime supply of Cobalt, pretty good deal.
Mochaware decoration on a plate.
Close-up of above picture.
A nice mug. Good Mochaware decoration here. Mug attached without any smudges. I use my own special formula for attaching handles. Many potters experience cracking problems, but with my method I have very few handles cracking.
A little marbling using a black and white slip with a clear glaze.
I have so many pictures to share, so I hope to keep uploading them over the course of the next few days.

I'm planning to start selling on Etsy. I have started a shop there,, and am still working on it. I'm debating on whether to accept PayPal. I'm leaning towards no because PayPal waives your right to consumer protection laws, and why pay for the service (?), whatever happened to trusting someone to send a check or a money order??? If I experience any problems with that, I'll just stop selling online and keep selling locally. By the way, if any galleries in the area read my blog, and you have space at your gallery, please contact me as I'm looking to sell my work via those channels.

New Pictures from Kiln Firing - Happy Easter!

I just unloaded the kiln this morning. I don't have much time to write, but will later. I had about 50 pieces in this load. I snapped these pictures quickly. Gotta go, but check back later tonight around 9pm CT for more.

Nacho dipper, or just use it as a plate?!
Mochaware decorated plate.
Gosh, I love this mug. It's my favorite out of the kiln.
Dog bowls! I can customize these with your pet's name if you're interested. I like these colors.
Marbling. Two colors mixed. I will try mixing with more colors in the next load. Should be interesting . . . or a complete failure.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kiln Firing Today - Mochaware Load & Studio Pictures


Thanks for checking into my blog. I have the kiln firing today with about 60 pieces, some nacho dippers, vases, a few plates, a couple bowls, a few jewelry-related items which is new for me - should be interesting or a complete failure.

The pots on the rack here are already bisqued, and I got up early this morning to glaze them with my Saffron Yellow Glaze and Clear Glaze. Most of the pots are Mochaware decorated, and are looking great. A few are a new technique I've been having fun with called Marbling. The two vases on the middle rack are decorated in this style.

Large marbled platters. These were fun to decorate. I threw a very large plate on a 16" bat, and threw a short wall, and decorated a la' Marble. I made two, in case one cracked - which sometimes happens.

Dog dishes?! That's right folks, these fantastic terra cotta decorated with the text H20 and CHOW are sure to please your favorite pooch. Probably a bit too big for cats, unless your cat eats a lot. I can make smaller ones, so if you're interested please let me know. Custom text is available too!

Spoon holder/vase, that didn't quite get into the kiln. I like the long tree-like design on this one, decorated a la' Mochaware. Nice banding too. I hope it turns out in the next kiln load.
Any potter reading this would appreciate this picture. The fruits of experimenting. These tiles are of the Mochaware decoration I've been working on the past year.
A bisqued vase. This one got into the kiln load. I like the shape of this vase.
Marbled plates. I made 7 of them.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mochaware Pictures

#9. Mochaware Bowl

#2. Mochaware Vase in Old Yellow with Large, Black Dendrites and Multiple Bandings.

Mochaware Vase (#11) in "Old Yellow" with Black Dendrites.