Sunday, February 27, 2011

Staging & Glazing

Those tables full of pottery in my last post? ...every last pot found a home in Kalamazoo yesterday. It was a good day of meeting pottery lovers and catching up with my fellow potters -- Brian Beam, Jim Reinert, Jeff Unzicker, Mike Taylor, Michael Kifer, Eric Strader...and an added treat to have David and June Otis stop by the show on their way South.

Today I got up bright and early, ran Breeze downtown in the slush and fog, got home and after rubbing the worst of the road grime off of Breeze's underside with handfuls of snow, started right in staging for a few marathon days of glazing.

I've always found that if I'll just take a little extra time to stage the whole process of glazing
-- arrange the pieces by glaze as I wax them, screen the long-dormant glazes, get the tables and ware carts cleared to accept wet-glazed pots -- I can save myself lots of frustration throughout the process, and spare myself unnecessary goofs as I glaze.

I had a weird thing happen. As I was getting things ready for the garage sale, I came across a painting that was done by my Uncle Irving (actually, my great uncle). I've had this painting on the wall and I've alternated it on that wall space with another painting that I inherited from that uncle. Irving, Walter, and Elmer were brothers whose dad came from Germany. The brothers stayed here in the States, though their dad returned to Germany. Elmer is my grandfather. Actually, I was born the year Elmer "EJ" died, and I am named for him. Thankfully, my parents chose his MIDDLE name for mine.

Back to Uncle Irving and this painting....

My Uncle Irving's paintings -- at least the ones that got passed down through the family -- were either landscapes, or they were somewhat playful portraits he painted of his friend Geraldine Farrar in various costumes -- Victorian, Indian, etc. And when I received the portrait above, I just assumed it was another of Geraldine.

Well, this time (going through the artwork as I was) when I looked at the painting, I suddenly saw something different. See, in the time since I last saw the painting, I have been working on a project to digitize old family photos and do my best to photoshop them into some better shape -- clean them up, restore color, erase ugly relatives, etc.

And in all those family photos I ran across this photo of my grandmother, Helen "Gabby" Millring...

Suddenly that painting took on a new meaning. It seems obvious (to me anyway) that my Uncle Irving did one of his playful portraits of his sister-in-law, my grandmother, Helen.

Here's a photo I love of EJ and Helen...


  1. Congratulations to you and the people of Kalamazoo, that's awesome.

  2. Congratulations on the sales and of your discovery.
    Sometimes painting can show different aspects of a person than a camera can see.
    Worth keeping on the wall

  3. hi john, think of how different your life would have been if they had named you elmer. there's a woman potter here in louisville named elmer. i never realized that it was one of those gender-non-specific names like james or terry. anyway congrats on moving the work, it's beautiful as always. kudos to uncle irving, he got the likeness down. your grandma was quite the looker back in the day.