New Call for Artists Exhibit at the Overland Gallery

IMG_0936 2From an email I just received from Cynthia at the Overland Gallery…

“All artists of The Overland Gallery,
We have set the date for our next “Call to Artists” exhibit.

The title of the exhibit will be WABI-SABI (capturing the beauty of “imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness”)

The opening of the exhibit is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2015.

Images of your work will need to be sent to the gallery by August 26 for the jury review.

Each artist will be able to enter one piece to be juried.”

Looks like a good opportunity for all my ceramicist friends. The Overland shows are always fun.

Ice, Crystals, Winter in the Studio

The lizard has not reappeared. It’s been very cold this February. We’ve had several days in a row below freezing. That’s unusual for eastern NC. We even got into the teens for daily high temperatures a couple times. We’ve also had a few days with highs in the ’60s. Then back in the freezer. It’s been odd.

Keeping the studio from freezing has been a bit of a concern, too. I have a heater/air condiitoner in one wall, kind of like what you would find in a motel. It works pretty well. I also have a couple milk house heaters. These are farm equipment. Noting fancy, but when the temperature gets into the mid-30’s, they kick on and run until the room gets back into the low 40’s. Then they cut off. Just enough to prevent freezing. The milk house heaters, combined with the wall-mounted heat pump, make it possible to work in the studio.

My primary concern is keeping the clay and glazes and other materials from freezing. That makes more work. I learnered long ago not to let clay or glazes freeze. I didn’t know glazes would suffer crystalization in cold weather. Apparently, cooling enough makes concentration of chemistry in the glaze bucket high enough to crystalize. My bucket of albany slip glaze had huge chucks of sheeted crystals in it. Stirring it for use was a real adventure, and required screening. I need up with a peanut butter jar half full of chucks of crystals I’m pretty sure need to be in the mixture. (A bit of research showed that adding a bit of water and heating them will revert them to a solution to add back into the bucket. That was good to find out. I expect after the current cold snap, there will be a lot more crystals to put back into solution.

The cink, my recirculating sink, is another concern. Not just freezing, but being warm enough to use. The trick here is to run out a bucket of cold water, and replace it with a bucket of warm water from the office. It’s good enough to get to work.

For the first part of the year, I haven’t had as much time to work in the studio as I’d like, but slowly, the work on the drying rack is mounting up. This evening after work, I trimmed another 4 beer mugs, a couple bowls and a nice vase. I think I still have enough clay to throw one more time, then a trip to get more will be essential. I’m looking at Friday as a candidate for a trip to Wilmington, but weather may not cooperate, with snow and sleet in the forecast. We’ll see.

Well-used Lockerbie wheel winds up in Barley Hollow studio

Well-used Lockerbie wheel winds up in Barley Hollow studio

I also added a kick wheel to the studio. I found and purchased a well-used Lockerbie. It’s huge. It’s immensely heavy, and it spins very well. I was fortunate to get one with a motor. The motor runs at one speed. A pedal pushes it against the flywheel, spinning it up. That’s about it. Perfect for my interests as a second wheel. I like trimming on a kick wheel. I also like assembling multi-part pieces on a kick wheel. So, we’ll see how it works out.

It came home from Stokes, NC in the back of the Toyota. A couple friends, George and Ben, helped wrangle it from the back of the truck into the studio. They also helped shift the kiln enough to make room for the Lockerbie. It all fit. Amazing.

The fellow who sold me the wheel tried his hand at pottery, and decided to move on to carpentry. We were discussing the advantages of being able to put a project on hold with minimal consequences. Clay has it’s own timing and the potter pretty much has to work with it. Wood will wait for the carpenter to return. Somehow, I appreciate the commitment clay demands and the role of timing in the whole process. The weather, the cold, plays a role. It all has to be considered in the process of making, which makes me feel more grounded in my practice.

And I keep looking for the lizard. I’m glad I haven’t found him lifeless, but I’m concerned about him in the cold. Spring will be here soon, and we’ll all be happy about the return of warm days and green grass and little bugs and birds. But for now, we have our tricks for dealing with the adverse conditions and still make progress. Some seasons are easier than others.

Odds and Ends

OK. Lots going on, and I thought this might be a good time to note them.

The Arts Council’s annual Soup and a Bowl will be held this Sunday, January 25th at the Arts Center on N. Queen Street in Kinston. Pick from delicious home-made soups, select a handmade pottery bowl to take home, and have a great time at the Arts Center. Check out the Artists Table, featuring a great selection of pottery donated by the Potters Gathering, a group of potters from Lenoir and Greene Counties.

The Overland Gallery’s “Beauty in the Dark” juried show will open  on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 with an artists’ reception from 4 – 7:30 PM and is open & free to the public. This event is is still developing, but the art submitted so far is quite varied and should end up being a great collection for this show. There’s usually pottery in the Overland’s shows, and plenty in the gallery any time. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in town.

And a little farther down the road…

  • Eastern NC Pottery Festival – New Bern, NC, April 11. Potters take over the North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace, right beside the Farmer’s Market. It’s an amazing gathering.
  • BBQ Festival on the Neuse Arts Market – Kinston, NC, May 1-2. Kinston’s BBQ-centered festival turns downtown into an amazing celebration. The Arts Market, housed in an old buggy factory, offers a wide variety of great arts and crafts from area artists and artisans – including potters!

Lots of great opportunities to get out, have some fun and support your local potters. I hope to see you there.

Unseasonal Visitor

TheDoorKeeperWhile waiting for the kiln to cool yesterday, I was thoroughly surprised to catch this little guy under the studio door while closing it! I thought I’d smoothed him, and to some extent, I did. I moved him out of the path of the door, barely moving, but not done in. This morning,while in a different position,  he appeared to be dead. On closer inspection, I noted a small head movement. He was still alive and I felt quite relieved.

At lunch, I found him much more mobile and not at all dead. He had moved a bit and was pointing toward the light from outside. I’m not going to try to move him, letting him recuperate as long as possible. He did sit up for his portrait.

This is a very unusual time of year to see an anole in the studio. During the summer, they’re regulars, and keep the bugs at bay – welcomed and honored guests. I’m going to hope this old trooper rejoins the ranks next spring.

UPDATE: Two days later – the anole is now hanging out at the base of a bucket full of water. I think it’s warmer than other places in the studio. I haven’t seen him move, but I have noted that he’s in a slightly different position every time I enter the studio. He seems to have moved further from the door today during another all-day kiln firing.

UPDATE (2/8/15): All this time, the anole has been hanging out beside a 5-gallon water bucket near the door in the studio. We had several very cold nights since he settled in. I thought he might be dead, but occasionally noticed slight changes in his position. Then, on Feb. 8th, we had a very unseasonably warm day, up to the mid-60’s. I was working in the studio and enjoyed having the door open for light and fresh air. My visitor sensed the sunlight, and started moving for the patio! Over the course of 20-30 minutes he made his way out into the sun. I think he amy have eaten a couple small bugs there. He stayed in the sun all day. When I had to leave, he was still there, soaking in sunshine. This morning, when I returned, he was nowhere to be seen. I looked around the studio, but couldn’t find him. It would seem my visitor has moved on. It was pretty special having a dormant lizard in the studio for a few weeks.

Warren MacKenzie Video Clip

My friend Melanie Waters posted this Vimeo video about Warren MacKenzie in a Facebook group, and I wanted to make sure it’s a widely seen as I can help it be. So, check it out. Mr. MacKenzie is one of my favorite potters and this video is a nice, brief interview with him… []

If you liked this video, there’s a longer DVD program called “Warren MacKenzie: A Potter’s Hands” which is excellent.

Thanksgiving and pottery

I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s about being with family and friends and sharing the bounty of life, or whatever it is that life is about this year. Whether it’s feast or feathers, at some point, everyone sits down at a shared table, and that’s where the pottery comes in.

At our house, there’s pottery everywhere. There’s the stuff I’ve made over the years. And then there’s the pottery my wife and I have collected over the last 30 years, and it’s mostly all stuff we use all the time. It’s an eclectic table with mugs and bowls and plates and serving dishes and lots of little things – some match, some don’t, but they all belong.

Tonight, my mother-in-law had dinner with us. She suggested we ought to have a room for our pottery. I quipped back that we do, and we’re in it. Then she pointed out that there’s pottery in every nook and cranny in the place. That made me feel happy. Looking over it all, I wonder what the potters are doing now? I wonder if they would be happy knowing some of their work gets lots of use in our house? I know I would. As we’re getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I’m having fun looking at each piece of pottery we’re handling, thinking about where each came from, or when it was made. The table will be set with old friends, in wait for family and friends to arrive. I think that’s what I like so much about Thanksgiving.

And the food, too, of course. Best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving celebration for you and yours!