Friday, September 23, 2011


In blogging back and forth, Dan Finnegan and I have been discussing these thumb grips and the different ways we've done them. In the discussion we talked about both of us having done this smoothed out coil version. This, strangely, is the only photo I could find of one of mine done this way. The other technique (of which I don't have a picture) is to place another coil atop the handle and smooth it out in the other direction, leaving a small gap (or even a little bead) between the two coils.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Circleville Pumpkin Festival

This show has been calling to me for more than a decade. The Circleville Pumpkin Festival
October 19-22, 10 AM to 10 PM each day.

After a Summer season of art fairs, this celebration of autumn and harvest should come as a welcome change of pace.
I plan on bringing not just my pottery (LOTS of pumpkins and gourds), but also my wheel in order to demonstrate each day (and into the night).

By coincidence, I was set up next to Jill during that Ann Arbor Art Fair this summer and found out LOTS about the competition of growing giant pumpkins. See, Jill has been growing the giants for a few years and what she described was a wonderful culture of gardening and crazy competition to create these monster pumpkins. I will be furthering my education on the sport, as Circleville hosts one of the country's biggest weigh-ins for the competitive growers.

There will also be TONS of pumpkin pie and other baked goods made from pumpkin. I will be in heaven. I LOVE pumpkin pie! And pumpkin bread. And pumpkin souffle. And....well, you get the idea.

I will be madly making gourds for the next three weeks!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Kiln Dance

It’s that wire that no one sees but draws us to the magician’s hand.

It’s the true north that mysteriously keeps our needle pointing one way.

One day we saw something-out-of-nothing spin into existence beneath a practiced hand. Material we once thought of only as solid as concrete suddenly appeared as flexible as fabric.

Or maybe in our youth, on a late evening walk past the college art department, we chanced upon a firing -- a glowing kiln. It caught our attention as fire has since…since forever. We were imprinted.

We notice everything pottery. In the background scenery of a movie set, in a commercial on TV, we'll notice the pots.

If we walk into a strange place and there happens to be a hand-thrown piece in the room, little else occupies our mind – at least until we’ve had the chance to pick that piece up, feel its heft, and look beneath it. It calls our attention like an overheard conversation that sounds more interesting than the one in which we’re currently engaged. "Oh, excuse me. Did you say something?”

Now even the wares we use everyday take on new meaning. We’ve glimpsed behind the curtain and what was once a mystery – the “I-wonder-how-they-did-that?” – becomes de-mystified one discovery at a time. Ah, and it is answered with a satisfying life of pursuing new “how-to-do” mysteries to put back into the world.

So, perhaps it’s the process that hooks us at first. But almost simultaneously we’re drawn to these objects that we’re making. On the one hand we observe the component parts of glaze, form, function. And often times, especially at the beginning of our lives in clay, we see the parts in spite of the whole…

..but then, as we grow with the clay and the process, we start to direct our attention to the objective end in form and function. We begin to see the whole becoming greater than the sum of those parts.

Add the fire that takes so much of the end result out of our hands – out of our control -- and we can be utterly surprised by that new whole that somehow managed to exceed our imagination. Upon opening the kiln, it’s like meeting and being charmed by a stranger.

Proof? -- the kiln opening dance. You know the one. You’ve done it. With mitted hands you hold the still hot pot by rim and base, and slowly rotate it in that graceful 360 degree pirouette – attempting to take in the whole of it. Then you set it down and turn, as if to leave – only to echo the pirouette yourself. You spin on your heel, return to the pot and pick it back up for that second look…

…Fred, meet Ginger.