Sunday, January 30, 2011


As I was uploading video demonstrations, I fell into the labyrinth of endless rabbit holes that is youtube connectivity. I came across this interesting little video...

Like, totally free and stuff. Just add compressed air. No fuel. Just car+air=GO, man! For two hundred miles at a time!

At a time?

Yeah, at a time.

Then what?

Compress more free air. Just, you know,
compress it. It's all around us. Just, you know, compress it. It's free, after all.

So it's totally free, but you just have to stop every 200 miles and, what? ...let it catch its breath?


...wait. I think I just got an idea....

Well, I know you may be skeptical. So, as your intrepid on-the-scene repotter, I took it upon myself to investigate. I was able to contact the CEO of the fledgling company. He graciously allowed me this interview....

ME: Thanks so much for allowing me this interview.

CEO: I'm always happy to talk about our break-through new car.

ME: I think the advantages of a car that requires no fuel is obv....

CEO: Not "no fuel" does require air. But, of course, air is nearly limitless on Earth and, best of all, it is free. For now.

ME: Okay. So it runs on a free, limitless fuel. Have there been any notable drawbacks?

CEO: Well, the exhaust is perfectly clean -- even breathable. But it blats out the back end of the car with a Thhhbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbttttt! sound and the car just sort of flies willy-nilly down the highway. We tried throttling down the exhaust to quiet it just a bit -- try to get the car under control. We got better air mileage, but what we also got was an annoying high-pitched whining sound until all the air was gone. So we're still working on that.

ME: Any other problems?

CEO: Well, parking garages are a problem. If the car develops any static in its outer body, it wants to stick to the ceilings of parking garages. It's hard to get them down from the ceiling.

ME: Sounds like some real issues.

CEO: Well, the American auto industry has had 100 years of development to come up with its product. Give us a few more months and I think we'll prove that we're not just full of hot air.

ME: Can we see some of your models? I assume you have operational prototypes?

CEO: Certainly! I'm proud to show them off! First, let me introduce you to our chief engineer and designer, Bob.

Here are some of Bob's first design blueprints...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

10 Pound Jar

Today I wedged up a bunch of porcelain that's been laying around in various plastic bags. I decided to go ahead and make a video of how I turn my ten pound jars. Now, I understand that watching a video of jar making isn't high drama, but I explain a bit of what goes through my head as I'm throwing, so maybe someone will find it useful.

As I mention in the video, I expand these a bit the next day when they are stiff enough to hold up without collapsing...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just Off The Wheel

I've spent the last couple of days making some one quart casseroles. It all started when I was getting clay ready for a run of different pots and decided that this clay was too stiff for what I intended.

I think it's interesting that the stiffness of the clay can play such a role in the success of a piece. Clay that is too stiff for some pieces -- draining the life from them -- absolutely animates other pieces.

Because this clay was on the stiff side, I was able to push the roundness factor to the limit on many of these casserole bases -- adding tension as SO much of the pot suspends over the foot, and adding the look of being inflated from within. I like that. I like animated pots.

Last week's 2 quart casseroles are dry now. The one quart casseroles look a little disproportionate at this stage, not having shrunk yet. Here's some pairings. I love to display them in pairings. It's one of the joys of having been so intentional with my palette, and with decorating with texture.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Old Tyme TV Pottery Hour

I have compiled a short list (I'm still working on it) of my favorite old-time television shows or characters.

  • Potter Gunn -- private eye. TV Noir. String ties and pensive grimaces. Works as a potter -- wishes to be thought an artist.
  • Potterdin, Have Wheel Will Travel.
  • Welcome Back Potter -- starring that young yet-to-be-famous John Travolta as the young wheel man, and comic relief Horshack as the handle-puller.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show -- Remember? ..Rob Pottery wrote for the Alan Brady Show? Cute wife played by Mary Tiler Moore?
  • 77 Ceramic Strip -- Kooky, Kooky, lend me your's I can texture this pot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Musical Cheers


CHICAGO, IL – Attorneys representing a group calling themselves "Latter Letters For Equal Labor" (LLEL) filed suit in district court yesterday on behalf of this newly formed organization, claiming that letters A-G should no longer be allowed to double up in function by merely adding a "#" or a "♭".

Yesterday, at a rally staged on the Cook County courthouse steps, several of the plaintifs were interviewed.

H, a disgruntled letter had this to say, "It's really not fair. There are 26 letters in the alphabet, yet only seven of us get work?! What's up with that?"

J added , "Yeah there's no fairness, and there's really no good reasoning behind that unfairness either. I mean, there is no particular "G-ness" to G#. It's a whole different note for gosh sakes! I'm sorry to get so riled, but it really angers me that the same few notes get to work, while the majority of us letters remain in the unemployment lines. We'd rather be on the treble or bass lines, believe me!"

"The way I see it, if every letter that doubles itself up by the dubious act of simply adding a sharp or a flat were required to give up the act, H, I , J, K, and L could have full employment" , added L. "And if you add to that the number of times the other letters claim a sharp or a flat, other letters could have at least part-time work.".

It was obvious that this would still leave letters with no hope of employment. When asked about this, Z responded, "I'm here at this rally to stand in solidarity with my LLEL brothers. What's good for them is good for the whole alphabet!" He then added, "…….I was told there might be free beer at the rally?"

Asked for comments, F, who often uses a # and thus would certainly stand to lose if this case were to go forward, had this to say, "You know, you just can't win these days. I mean, in the current political climate, when so many jobs are going overseas and off-shore? … and now they are demanding that we begin to outsource? I just don't get it."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Conspiracy Theories

If you threw a dart into the shelves of the 800 section of your local library, the odds are great (what with the number of Dan Brown novels alone) that your dart would end up stuck into the spine of a novel based on Masonic Conspiracy theories.

Heck, there's even a book for the short-attention-spanned among us to guide us through such conspiracies...

And it's not just books/novels. There are a huge number of movies based on the same theme:

Well, give me a few hours at the pottery wheel with my mind spinning at least as fast as my wheel, and I'll come up with at least a dozen more good Masonic Conspiracies of my own...

Mason Reese Conspiracy -- Cute children take over the world.

Mason Williams Conspiracy -- The world is taken over by the use of a new WMD -- classical gas.

Mason Dixon Conspiracy -- The South rises again.

Mason Stains Conspiracy -- The world is covered in glaze, fired, and decorated with fritted oxides.

Perry Mason Conspiracy -- At the last minute, the world survives, but Hamilton Burger loses yet again.

Molly Mason Conspiracy -- Folk fiddlers force-feed fiddle fever to an unwitting world.

Mason Shoes Conspiracy -- Only those with sensible shoes will survive.

Mason Jar Conspiracy -- we will all be trapped in a jar -- like lightning bugs -- by a kid who forgot to put holes in the lid.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Separated At Birth?

My friend, Dick Lehman, just posted this close-up detail of a wood-fired pot on his facebook page. Forgive me if it immediately reminded me of the photos I've been posting here and on my Etsy page -- the close-ups of my "sunburst" bowls. Interesting that two similar surfaces could be arrived at by such completely different glazing and firing methods.

It's a good excuse to re-post my blog visitation on the subject of Dick:

Dick and I started our potteries at just about the same time. And we met while doing art fairs back in the late 1970s.

Dick appears a very soft-spoken guy -- very philosophical. Yeah, he can project a mien that appears studious. And if he struck you as "thoughtful", you wouldn't be wrong. But when you get to know him, it’s the great sense of humor you remember. And some of the serious stuff.

He's a man as complex and interesting as the glazes he favors.

In the early eighties Dick and I were doing a local show together (we live about 25 - 30 miles apart). I had just paid good money to have a sign painter friend work up what I thought was a very cool new sign for my booth.

So, the morning of the show’s opening I walked over to Dick's booth and asked him if he wouldn’t maybe come over to my booth and tell me what he thought of the new sign. And he was his usual quiet, gracious self as he kindly complimented me on it.

The next morning as we were setting up, Dick pulled his old lemon-custard-yellow Ford van right in front of my booth. I barely looked up because our booths were fairly close to each other -- just across a wide, grassy aisle -- with his set-up only about forty feet beyond mine. I just figured maybe someone was parked directly in front of his booth and he was waiting for them to move.

Instead, Dick got out of his van and walked over to me. He appeared a bit sheepish as he asked, "I hope you don't think I'm copying you....I know this doesn't seem like a coincidence, but, really, it is."

I said, "Huh? What are you talking about?"

He continued, "...but I actually just had new signage done too."

"Really?” I said. "Cool! Can I see it?"

Dick said, "Sure. In fact, one reason I parked where I did is that I could actually use a hand with it."

hmmm. Could use a hand with it? But I dutifully followed Dick to the back of his van.

First he pulled out a huge, full-sized street sign that read: NO STOPPING AT ANY TIME, and proceeded, with mini sledgehammer in hand, to pound it into the ground in front of MY booth.

Then he calmly and wordlessly walked back around the driver’s side of his van, hopped in and pulled forward just a bit, got back out and proceeded to pull out another huge street sign. This time it was an ATTRACTION AHEAD sign.

He continued this way, slowly and wordlessly pounding in signs, returning to the front of the van, pulling forward a few feet, and repeating. I don't remember all of the other three or four signs, but I do remember that by the time he pounded in the RIGHT TURN ONLY sign in front of his own booth, he had a crowd of uproariously laughing artists gathered and watching the spectacle.

But, of course, this is a series about potters I know and how they have influenced my pottery over the years...

Dick is as responsible as anyone for making me aware of the value of being connected to a broader world of clay – other potters, other methods, other approaches.

Up until I met Dick, my clay world was pretty small and I was mostly consumed with making a living. I remained fairly oblivious to just how, working in isolation as I was, I was making that pursuit much more difficult than it needed to be. I watched as Dick approached being a potter along a much different path than I had chosen.

I noticed from my very first meetings with Dick that his education had already placed him within a circle of many potters -- potters who knew each other and shared ideas and information.

But with Dick it went beyond just that – beyond just where the fate of school choice had placed him. I sensed Dick’s voracious appetite for ceramic knowledge. It appeared his path to that discovery was in the acquisition -- first hand -- of whatever anyone was willing to share.
Dick exudes the joy of learning.

And within a very few years of our meeting, Dick was putting his wealth of acquired knowledge back into the ceramic world – submitting informative and inspirational writings in several clay publications. At the same time, Dick also opened my eyes to the world of workshops, the world of other potters who were sharing their ideas.

What a beautiful way to learn. Learn and share. Take and put back.

Additionally, Dick is a master of presentation. I can think of few other potters who show the same level of care in the packaging of the work they sell. Observing how Dick presents his work is a master's lesson to any potter. Dick’s attention to such detail adds even more to the sense of value in the already very fine pottery that he produces.

As a producing potter, there was always value in asking myself “How would Dick present this?”

And that sense of conveying value is on display in everything Dick does. He has the finest short video I have ever seen on what it means to be a potter. You can watch it here, or in better resolution and fidelity on his website "my story" page.

Adventurous discovery
Clay world connectivity
Going-the-extra-mile presentation

...That’s how Dick Lehman has influenced my pottery.

You can read more about Dick here on his website where you can also order his pottery.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stumblin' Through

Stumbling Through
~Pat Donohue~

Stumblin’ through, stumblin’ through
Day after day, look for a way to make it come true
You take what you get when you do what you do
Mumblin’ past, tumblin’ fast, stumblin’ through

Well, I got me a job, and I did pretty well
And I saved my money, ‘cause you never can tell
And I worked every day like a fool, it seems
‘Cause I found my way, but lost my dreams

Stumblin’ through, stumblin’ through
Day after day, look for a way to make it come true
But you take what you get when you do what you do
Mumblin’ past, tumblin’ fast, stumblin’ through

Well I had me a son, and looks like me
I tried to tell him what to do, tried to tell him how to be
Tried to save him the trouble that I’d been through
But he found his own and he’s stumbling too.

Stumblin’ through, stumblin’ through
Day after day, look for a way to make it come true
But you take what you get when you do what you do
Mumblin’ past, tumblin’ fast, stumblin’ through

Well, I had me a time, I thought I knew the way
I just keep on movin’, I’d arrive some day
But there’s no way of knowin’, and there’s no time to spare
And wherever I’m going, I’m stumblin’ there.

Stumblin’ through, stumblin’ through
Day after day, look for a way to make it come true
But you take what you get when you do what you do
Mumblin’ past, tumblin’ fast, stumblin’ through
Fumblin’ fool, rumblin’ past, tumblin’ fast, stumblin’ through

Have kickwheel, will travel -- from craft fair to theme show to art fair. Such was my 70s and 80s. That's how it began for me. My history doesn't go back to some academic training. I didn't apprentice in some famous pottery. I never even attended a workshop until I was nearly twenty years into making my living in clay.

So my pottery training was done the slow, stumblin' through way. Lots of trial and error. Mostly error.

But I loved those years. I loved those pots.

Oh, I'd change some things -- even probably in the best of the pieces. But I loved the feel of them. And revisiting them as I've had occasion too -- cleaning out desk drawers as we attempt to move the office back into the house.

And I love revisiting the inspiration of those times.

I came by my love of crockery honest (<----that's how a good Hoosier says it. The adverb form would sound a bit hoity-toity there). My folks collected and restored primitive furniture. I still live with much of that furniture as I inherited many of the pieces I grew up with.


Besides the art/craft/theme show circuit, we also did twice annual open houses. We'd prep the house -- once even going to a local antique dealer friend and bringing in several of his case pieces in which to display the pottery.

We had a local mailing list of just under 1,000 pottery enthusiasts. One of the more enjoyable tasks was designing a new postcard and poster for each year. Here's a much later one -- one I did after we moved out here to the "new" place....

Here's another old piece of Bauman Stoneware literature. My catalogue. I used to advertise in Colonial Homes and Early American Life. Not successfully. Heh.

I finally started to transition away from the crockery and explore new means of expression. Still pretty much on my own. Here's from one of my early series of porcelain teapots ( about 1988)

...and a couple of shelves of transitional porcelain...

Some people collect baseball cards, old cars, stamps. Some people collect pottery. Dar collects cookie (and baking) recipes. Whenever we'd have an open house, Dar would take off the entire preceding month and bake almost non-stop for the event. We would have two six-foot-long tables full of cookie trays and breads for our customers.

Ultimately, as you might guess, it was such preparation that was the undoing of the open houses. It took too much effort -- even if we enjoyed it -- for too little return. An additional art fair or two was more profitable and easier to do.

When we had a "customer" drive through our circular drive, walk into the studio/gallery/open house, load up as many plates of cookies as they could carry, walk right back out the door (thus loaded down), hop back into their car and drive off, we knew the day of the open house was over.