Saturday, August 7, 2010

In My Van I'm Going To Carolina II

In Friday's mail was my exhibitor's packet from the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival! I got my booth assignment. It looks like I'll be right next to my friend and fellow Hoosier, Larry Spears and just a couple of booths down from my other friend, Michigander Jim Reinert.

Additionally, I'll have the chance to reconnect with Tony Winchester -- a terrific potter who I haven't seen in a few years, and Mike and Karen Baum -- potters from Ohio with whom I've done shows for about thirty years. It was Karen who first told me about this North Carolina festival.
I haven't blogged in nearly a month. The busier-than-usual show season finally caught up with me. By the time the Ann Arbor Art Festival rolled around, I had done eight shows in ten weeks -- too many for a single potter pottery.

I had cannibalized the last of the pottery in my Etsy shop just getting ready for the seventh of those shows (Madison, WI's "Art On The Square" ).

But I had also noticed that readership here had really waned. So I assumed everyone was just as Summer-busy as I. But the packet from the North Carolina show gave me something to post I'm waking up this blog.

It's been a VERY productive three weeks. The day after I got back from Ann Arbor I went right down to Indianapolis to pick up some Coleman porcelain from Brickyard Ceramics.

As luck would have it, my friend, Bob Reiberg, had ordered a full ton, but had come to re-think that order, and wished that he hadn't ordered so much (It is EXTREMELY expen$ive!). This came up in conversation over dinner, late one Ann Arbor evening. I quickly jumped on it. His over-buy was my chance to split the ton with him. We both won in the deal.

And this batch of porcelain is GREAT. The last ton I got was so hard that it literally bounced off the wedging table as I tried to prepare it. The thought of doing anything large with it was pretty much out of the question. But this batch is perfect -- soft enough to wedge even 15 lbs at at time/stiff enough to stay put. Wonderful stuff, really.

I started right out making some larger bowls that I'd been putting off for most of the year. I've missed having them on my display. Here's a few of the 25 I threw the first day with the new clay...

I've also been out of porcelain pitchers since the third of those eight shows. I did a number of them with my new textured rims, and the shapes came out very much to my liking...

I've sadly been out of my acorn-topped casseroles too. These caught me off guard this year. I started the year with a very large number of some of the very best ones I've ever fired....and they didn't sell as expected. Hmmm. First time ever, and I never did figure out why. But then, suddenly I turned around one day (at my fifth show) and realized that I was out of them. They had been selling. I just wasn't selling the 10 or so per show that I had expected. Here are just a few of the new ones waiting to be bisqued...

Meanwhile, I'm also busily making the pumpkins I'll need for the next several shows. I started with the very large ones (12 lbs) -- made a dozen of those -- and then the same day I made a dozen of the next size down (the two quart casseroles).

As nice as the new batch of porcelain is -- as with any porcelain -- the bowls require some extra care in drying. Here's a shelf with some of the bowls -- their rims wrapped in plastic to allow their centers to dry first. If I don't do it this way, the bowls will more than likely (probably greater than 75% chance) crack in the center. Wrapped, I rarely lose one...

On the music front: I've been working on a new arrangement of "Hard Times (Come Again No More)" -- the Stephen Foster song. I've just about settled on some musical ideas I really like and in the next week or so, I'll probably upload a video.

I hope in all your busy-ness the Summer's been treating you all well. I hope to see some of you at Okonomowoc in a few weeks, Bloomington in about a month, Louisville in about two months, and, of course, Dillsboro, NC at the beginning of November.

I'll sign off with a little fingerpicking...


  1. Smooth roads and good sales to you!


  2. Nice to hear the fingerpicking again. It does get busy in the summer around here, so there has been less blogging. But I try to do at least one a week, if not more. Not always about pottery. Good luck in NC. Take the guitar with you.

  3. SO glad I was able to snatch up a little teapot before you cannibalized your etsy shop!


  4. I am so glad you are back blogging. I check your site daily - love the way you write about pottery and life. Sweet video - how do you manage to keep the callouses on your fingertips with your hands in clay so much?

  5. I'm so glad you are back to blogging. I always look forward to what you share with us, and I have been missing your posts this past month. Thanks for putting so much of yourself into this blog!

  6. your productivity is just get it done it seems--very impressive to those of us that seem to piddle through the workday (i blame it on the a.d.d.) :)
    happy to hear that sales have been good...great summer for pottery selling in montana as well..yay.
    i hope that you have some time to yourself soon.
    take care.

  7. Thanks for the welcome back! And thanks as well for the kind words.

    Let's see...
    I will be taking a guitar and a mandolin to North Carolina. I hope to find a few people to play along with (maybe if I cross my fingers, a fiddler or two).

    I've been watching your blog, and particularly the Studio Potter thing. I dropped my subscription to SP several years ago when it became evident (to me, at least) that it was no longer going to be about studio pottery.

    Anyway, being thus unplugged from the magazine, I was pleased to see that you were writing something included in it. Maybe I misjudged the magazine. Could it possibly be that I was wrong? Say it ain't so!

    The calluses...
    Curiously, I probably play more than an hour a day (combined time) and I don't have calluses. I play right behind the frets as much as possible, and don't press any harder than it takes to sound the note. The only time my fingertips get sore is when I play with a (particularly) loud group. I get all hopped up on adrenaline and press too hard.

    It's glazing that takes its toll. In the winter, my fingertips often crack from dry skin. That's when it's hardest to play.

    As to productivity...
    Sometimes. Sometimes I can really put it out. I love to get lost in a good audio book and turn around at the end of the day and see full shelves. Throwing is really productive-feeling time. But I spend so darn much time on detail and decoration that I usually lose lots of ground on those days. It's a price to pay for being mildly obsessive.

    Glad the Montana sales have been good. I've been hearing lots of people reporting good years so far.