Friday, December 31, 2010

Fool Me Once, Shame On Petey and Hank-Bob

Okay, I assembled a panel of experts with unimpeachable-like credentials -- Hank-Bob and Petey (hank-bob's coon hound), Ed, and Rufus (who promised to put down they's beers during the session wherein we's t'do all our analyzin', speculatin', and labratoryizin'. We had to explain to Petey that "laboratory" has nothing to do with retrieving)). What we came up with was this:

The actual fakes in the video:

Running on water. Not too hard to google up the article in popular science that points out that, given the principles of displacement vs. surface tension -- there's no way the dude's running on water, no matter WHAT kind of shoes he's wearing. In fact, if we're talking surface tension, them shoes'd have to be a mile long to support the average guy. Okay, since this guy is taking the serious time out of his life to make a video to prove that he could run on water, it could be argued that he's not "average", but still...

And if we're talking displacement, he'd still need him some pretty serious foot-canoes to stay atop the water utilizing the archimedes principle (don't go looking for your old Archimedes and Jugheadamedes comix. This was a different guy)

Conclusion: there's a dock submerged just under the surface and some wise guys with a camera decided to take advantage of some unusually high water levels to pull off a spoof.

Cheerleader through the hoop. B-ball hoops are 18" in diameter. Not at all impossible for a smallish cheerleader (provided you could find such a thing) to fit through one -- but not in the manner of the video. Not after being launched into the air and falling back to earth at the speed of gravity.

As with most of the short vids comprising the main video, what explains them is what you don't see -- the numerous out-takes/misses/etc. But, jumping through a basketball rim would take exceeding amounts of practice. Our panel doubts that such practice occurred. And call us skeptical, but if such practice DID occur, we on the panel think that we'd be watching a severely bandaged and damaged cheerleader in the final video. Not to put too fine a point to the speculatin', but catch that cheerleader's chin on the rim on her way down just once and, well, they's many a cowboy tale with a similar ending.

Basketball long shots. All the basketball long shots are okay. But they represent the one success in one thousand shots attempted. Still, we suppose that the video serves as an ode to illustrate the admirable value of persistance. And the valuable creativity that results from the marriage of college-age men to beer.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sign Of The Times

It's been five years now since a City Of Warsaw snow plow took out my road sign. At the time I didn't worry too much about it. It had been quite a while since I'd intended to do retail out of this shop. The plow-wrecked sign was but a vestige of the past Bauman Stoneware gallery on Zimmer Rd.

Back twenty years ago I had a local mailing list of about 1,000 folks interested in my pottery. It seemed the logical thing to do to open up a local retail gallery. So we sold our little bungalow in town and moved out here to the edge of town. Here we could not only have our gallery (with a zoning variance), but we were also zoned "I3" (heavy industrial). We were finally comfortable with our kilns -- not worried about whether disgruntled neighbors would demand that we take down that fire-hazard of a kiln.

But within a short year or so of opening up that gallery, art fair sales just exploded for us. Suddenly we were selling out -- or nearly so -- at most of our summer shows. And preparing for the next show was a more efficient use of our already short time. Certainly it was more efficient than keeping store hours and trying to stay ahead of the next-new-thing demands of a local customer base. It was simple numbers. Hundreds of thousands of potential customers at the art fairs vs. hundreds of local customers.

Still, those locals were faithful customers before I finally shut my gallery doors a dozen or so years back.

Enter the internet!

Suddenly, through the magic of the internet -- and the visibility of a sign -- the local pottery collector/devotee can peruse my virtual gallery, order online, and driveby pick-up.

And so it was that I ordered up the new shingle that I hung out by the road yesterday afternoon. Welcome, Warsonians, Fortwaynians, Southbendians, Goshenians, et al! Maybe it's time we got re-acquainted?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Handled With Care

I'm happy to say that so far, sales are continuing even after Christmas. That means I'm still making trips out to the UPS Store. Dar takes care of most of the shipping, but I take the packages to the UPS Store quite often.

Dar packs our pottery extremely well. In two years we've shipped over 800 pieces and (though I shouldn't say this out loud and jinx myself) we haven't had a single piece break.

But not for want of the fates and perverse gremlins plotting, as evidenced by this VERY amusing email from a customer named Kathy:

The casserole was in perfect condition, thanks to your perfect packing.

I had to tell you how it came.

The UPS driver left it in front of my garage instead of putting it on my front porch like he usually does. I had gone grocery shopping and decided to back into my garage. I was literally running the box over!!! I heard a scraping and saw it under my bumper, the box was quite dented in. I thought I was going to cry. Took it in, opened it and it was untouched! I really do love it, and plan keep your lovely work in mind for the future. I won't run it over next time.

Several times in the past, I've mentioned in this blog how concerned I was that selling through the internet would end up feeling like an impersonal interchange, devoid of the contact I've enjoyed in of past 30 years of art fair selling -- that of meeting in person the folks who will be taking my pottery home with them.

But thanks to people like Kathy, and Jasmine -- who recently posted this photo of one of my casseroles in use at Thanksgiving dinner..

...and Lynn in Ohio whom I met at Cincinnati Summerfair, but who also buys from me online, and Nancy, who sent along this photo of her new teapot in service... many others like Susan in Rome, GA (who has also sent photos of the pots in their her home), and Doreen in Maryland, and Miriam down in Texas have been such faithful supporters of my pottery. I could never thank them enough ... and I probably shouldn't even start naming names because there have been so many who have been such an encouragement to Dar and me in this online pottery endeavor.

In short (yeah, I know, when have my posts EVER been short?!), this internet thing has been a wonderful AND personal experience. And I've made new friends all across the country in the process.

I mentioned in the "comments" section to one of my blog posts that just maybe the era of the art fair is waning. As I analogized, perhaps that low-hanging art-fair fruit has been picked. But the internet has given me, and many other potters like me, a ladder and a good reason to get back in the orchard. And just maybe -- as with an orchard -- there're more apples in the upper branches than we could ever have hoped to reach on tip-toes.

I put up a few pieces this morning, but I'm running outta pots! I gotta get some firing done!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Filling Jars of Clay

One of the things I enjoy most when I watch Antiques Roadshow is the number of times I'll see items brought onto the show that are examples of things created simply because someone wanted to make them ... with no future intent to sell them. These items represent the profound enjoyment of working with one's hands and seeing an idea become material.

It's said that the motivations behind a fella's actions and efforts can be traced to an attempt to fulfill mankind's two basic needs -- security and significance. Deriving no significance from that which brings man security leads to the decline of excellence. And deriving too much significance from that which brings us no security leads to potters and guitar players.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Television, Etsy & Other Things

-O Holy Television-

Soon my family will be gathering from all over the country -- from Texas to Pennsylvania. As a family we really love this time of year when families like us gather to celebrate the birth of Philo Farnsworth -- inventer of the holy television set.

It's a holiday gathering like no other. There will be televisions playing football games in the livingroom, televisions playing reality shows in the family room, televisions playing cooking shows in the kitchen....even little flatscreen televisions in each of the kids rooms just in case there's a conflict between the cousins over which shows to watch. And they'll all be blaring at just that perfect decibel level -- the level above which it won't be impossible to shout over....but it will be impractical.

I don't know about your family, but my family has a whole list of Television Caroles that we like to sing at this time of year. Well, I guess I should say we used to like to sing them until it finally dawned on us that some of them were too long (had too many verses) to fit in during the commercial breaks. We might miss actual programming!

First we tried shortening the TV Caroles to fit in the breaks. Then, with the advent of tivo, there no longer were commercial breaks, long OR short, in which to squeeze a carole or two. So we gave them up.

We don't miss 'em of my brothers tivo'd last year's American Idol! Between that re-run "Idol" show and the new "Sing-Off!" there will be plenty of music in the Bauman house without all that pesky participatory stuff.

Back in the days before my family was totally converted to Televisianity, we used to, you know, talk and stuff. We'd spend HOURS trying to sus out just how we felt about things, how the world was treating us, what we enjoyed doing, what we thought about the political scene. Trivial, no-account stuff.

Now, television helps us shortcut through all that mudanity. It helps us waste less time on getting to know each other. And television allows us to spend more time on what really matters. Like who is doing well on "Survivor", or who's who in the NFL.

Want to know how that brother you haven't seen in three years feels about the world?'s a handy shortcut that has been made available ONLY through the wonder that is television: Simply ask him if he watchs FOX or MSNBC. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. Not only is it a practical shortcut, but it rids conversation of all that annoying ambiguity that used to muck up family discussions. It's as easy as black and white....ironically, brought to you in living color!

Oh holy set
Your lights are brightly shining
There's a game, and the sound's turned up loud

Long lay the world
So bored and unenlightened
'Til you appeared, put remotes in our hands

A thrill of hope
'Round the clock news cycles
We now can tell
Exactly who we are

Fall on the barcalounger
Oh hear those programs ringing
It's simply divine
The night TV was born


Today I uploaded a few more bowls to my Etsy site:

Finally, As I was tossing out some of the gourds I had from this past Autumn, I came across this one....

Separated at birth?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The US Post Office changed from three-letter (Fla) to two-letter official State abbreviations, and suddenly Freddy "Boom-Boom" Cannon's once ageless masterpiece "Tallahassee Lassie" is a dated bit of oldie-ness, the song's heroine now and forever stuck down in EFF-ELL-AY.

Well, I just got in from EFF-ELL-AY. I wasn't sure I was going to make it -- at least not easily. I had a tire blowout on the way down to Florida, and weather concerns on the way up. Just a couple of counties over from here, they have 2 feet of snow on the ground, and more than that where the snow's drifted. But as I drove up through the center of the State last night, the roads only got better further and further north.

I spent the past weekend in the Tampa Bay area as one of the guest potters at the "Tour De Clay". My gracious hosts for the weekend were Glenn and Keith "
The Pottery Boys" Glenn Woods is a talented, hard-working potter who is just a touch passionate about crystaline glazes. It was an interesting world for this functional potter to step into for a few days.

Because I was part of the tour, and because of the distance between the participating studios, I didn't get to any of the other venues. I did enjoy catching up with a few potters with whom I've done a number of shows up in the midwest --
Ira Burhans and Peter Streit. I also had the pleasure of meeting Danny Meisinger. I'd done a few shows with Danny in the past, but we never got around to meeting while at those shows. Danny is known for his monumental-sized pieces and he's been conducting workshops around the country, in addition to the few art fairs he still manages to schedule. I'd highly recommend taking in a workshop, if not at least stopping by his booth at an art fair. Not only is the pottery a wonder to behold, but he's an extremely winsome soul.

Adding to the weekend's fun: I met fellow blogger (and now Etsy-seller), Linda Starr. It was a pleasant surprise -- she didn't know I was part of the tour, and I didn't realize she was in Florida. We talked for quite a while -- pots and Etsy, Etsy and pots. She's obviously another pottery zealot. Heh.

Today as I recovered from the travels, I spent time uploading some pottery to my etsy site:

This is the very pitcher about which I blogged
here and here. Just as an aside, this is one reason I enjoy my relatively small gas kilns -- I like the fact that I can see a pot finished relatively quickly. I can see the finished product while the inspiration for the direction I took with that pot is still fresh in my mind. That's no small advantage in successfully executing rapidly evolving pottery ideas.

In the Winter, I often put these bowls in hotter firings. I get a bit more contrast -- more inky black edges and lines -- and the waterfalls of rutile gold travel a bit further, pushing an almost bluish hue ahead of them.

I also had one more of these pinecone-topped casseroles. They are prototypes of things to come, but I was exceptionally happy with the way they came out, sporting this caramel-colored celadon glaze that highlights every last detail of the intricate pinecone and pine bough decoration.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


In a real rarity for me, I made some mugs. I love making mugs but rarely have the time to get around to doing it. I'm in the "don't-reinvent-the-wheel" camp of mug making. I like simple elegance and I like to drink out of basic cylinders.

We potters like to get creative with mugs shapes, but if you really forced most of us to 'fess up, we'd have to admit that there are few hot drink pleasures so universal as drinking from one of those institutional white diner mugs. You know the ones? ...those fat rimmed porcelanous white cups that held exactly 11 oz (the perfect mix, it turns out, for a teaspoon of sugar in coffee).

Well, I'll admit that that perfect shape was at least in the back of my mind when I started thinking about these mugs. I just added a little lift from the counter for a lighter, more elegant appearance, and a trimmed foot beneath that ever-so-slight curve of the mostly cylindrical sides.

Next up?


Friday, December 3, 2010

In The Pines

It was a natural. I already made my casseroles with the
acorn knobs...

...and I made them with the
gourd knobs...

So when I was asked about pinecones (thanks Amy), I could easily see it. In fact, a few years ago an old ceramics shop in town was closing down and selling some very old casting molds. I spent a few hours going through their basement full of dusty, discarded old molds. I was thinking that I might find some interesting elements that would be useable on my pots. One such mold I found was for three pinecones.

Of course, the mold was meant for casting, but because of its tiny size, I've found it useful as a press mold.

When I moved to the acre on which I live and work, one of the first things I did was plant pines all the way around my property. My property is an oddity -- I live in an industrial park, but my house is the original farmhouse of the hundreds of acres that were, decades later, turned into the city's industrial park.

Across the street from me is the hay field where this summer I enjoyed watching my neighbor, Kim, baling his first cutting from the field...

So, though I live in an industrial park, because I have the view of the hayfield across the street, and I am surrounded on the remaining three sides by the pines I planted 20 years ago, I have little sense of the industry that surrounds me.

And I enjoy those pines. So do the dogs.

To my north I planted 30 white pines -- now a dense, dark green screen. To my south, I have a row of Austrian pines. Ouch. Running the lawnmower beneath them is a porcupine proposition. To my west, I got a dozen red pines from the soil and conservation department. When I planted them, they were hardly bigger than my finger. Now they're twenty-five foot twisted beauties. In addition to those pines that surround the property, I also have 3 stunningly beautiful thirty foot spruce trees.

I live surrounded by pines. The pinecone decoration was a natural.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hold the Dolby, Pass the Life, Please

I remember when I got my first cassette player with "Dolby® Noise Reduction". It was pretty cool. Gone was the hiss of the tape. Gone were the crackles and pops from the LPs I'd recorded into homemade cassettes.

But the polish came off that apple pretty quickly. Gone along with those vanished hisses, pops and crackles were the sounds of fingers on guitar strings, and breathing woodwind players, and sounds of picks on fretboard ends.

Dolby sucked the life right out of my favorite recordings. Perfect was, in this case, not perfect. Those extraneous noises were very much a part of the vitality of the recordings. The noise reduction that Dolby offered me came at a too high price -- lifeless listening.

Perfection, as a craftsman's goal is admirable. There's a strange balancing act. Always a balancing act -- achieving an end result that, in its perfection both appears to transcend the means of its production -- while at the same time leaving the hint of the humanity behind in the creation.

Craft has historically thrived when technology is perceived as a threat to our human expression. Man vs. Machine. The Steam Drill vs. John Henry romanticism. In this digital age when even much of our "art" is computer generated, there are still those of us who aren't ready to give up the hands-on exploration of human trial and accomplishment.

So, should thrown pottery be perfect?

Yes. In the sense of a craftsman's results coming close to meeting his intentions, yes. Perfection is a worthy goal. Control the medium. No excuses.

But just maybe that craft should also be a celebration of the idiosyncratic material -- clay -- a cussed substance that doesn't always stay where you put it, warps, shrinks, and cracks when handled poorly.

And just maybe the marks of the potter's hands as a reminder that process matters -- matters to lots of us humans -- should not be erased from surfaces, rather, be enjoyed as the part of a better whole.

It's not about celebrating imperfection or rationalizing lazy practice. It's not trying to accept a "it's good enough for..." mentality. The striving should always be there. The striving should always be evident.

I want my recordings to hiss and pop if it means I also still hear the squeak of fingers on strings letting me know that there was a living, breathing human behind the recording -- a human who was participating in the activity of filling the world with exciting, beautiful, thoughtful work.

And I want my pottery to have finger marks, double stamps, bent walls, irregular trailed lines -- not for their own sake -- not as added affectation to elicit calculated response -- but as evidence of process. I want those things that remind me that there was a striving human with lofty goals willing to risk time, talent, and not a small amount of hope that he/she'd be putting something of value into our shared world.