Monday, May 28, 2012

Thinking About Future Things

This is a table of glazed ware ready for tomorrow's firing.  If it comes out well, it could signal a new direction.  If it comes out poorly, it's back to the drawing board.  It's a glaze combination borne of frustration with one glaze that is SO beautiful, but SO equally untrustworthy. 
When it is good, it is very very good
And when it is bad, it is horrid
...and it is being used in conjunction with a glaze so dependable and yet, in that steadfast dependability, is utterly dull.  Functional, but dull.  Perfect, even.  But dull.  It's neither matte nor glossy but rather, a perfect eggshell.  And it's a white that is neither cold nor hot.  Just true.  And opaque.

I guess it's one of those opposites attract things, isn't it?  One glaze that can deliver better results than one should dare ask for....but only if all the planets are aligned, and the wind comes from the right direction, and the proper incantations are uttered...

...hopefully made dependable by marriage to another glaze, milquetoast, but oh so dependable that I could be breaking mirrors, walking under ladders, and drawing aces and eights while firing it, and the thing would look the same every time.

The tests have been hopeful.  And 100% positive.  So far, so good.

In other news....

I'm going to be doing my local art fair for the first time.  Why haven't I done it before?

1.  It's always held the same weekend as at least three other art fairs that are some of the best in the midwest -- Cincinnati Summerfair, Columbus Street Fair, and Kalamazoo's Bronson Park.  And I've always been lucky enough to get juried into one of those great shows.

2.  I've never wanted to face the possibility of doing poorly in front of my home town.  Sounds silly, perhaps, but there it is.  Through an odd set of circumstances in the history of my pottery  -- mostly that, until Etsy came along I sold 99% of my work at art fairs -- I've never sold very much pottery locally.  

In fact, though 20 years ago I had a "local"  (in quotes because it included South Bend and Fort Wayne, both of which are not local) mailing list of 900+ names, since I closed my gallery 20 years ago, I've been a business entity almost entirely disconnected from my community.  Most Warsonians aren't even aware that I have this pottery on the edge of town. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that Warsaw is not my market.  Oh, the stories I could tell of when I DID have a gallery.  And so I've always been a bit reluctant to find out whether or not I could sell locally. 

But last year I was set up in the near-100 degree heat in Kalamazoo watching a heat-beaten crowd shuffle by my booth.  I spent the better part of the weekend concluding to myself that I could be doing that bad at my home town show.

But I have another reason for doing the local show.  I'm going to put out a poster to see if there's any interest in pottery classes or workshops in Warsaw.  This has been an ongoing thought I've had for some time now.  Maybe I'll discuss that in future posts.  But, in short, I've been thinking about passing along some of the stuff I do.

Additionally, I had the pleasure of visiting Seagrove, NC a couple of weeks ago on my way to a show in Greenville, SC.  Yes, I know that Seagrove is not on my way to Greenville.  But it was as close as I'm likely to come in the near future.  So I took the opportunity.  I'm glad I did.  

I had the pleasure of spending several hours picking the very experienced brains of Meredith and Mark at the Whynot Pottery .  They patiently let me ramble out my jumble of thoughts on the topic, and then gave me some really wise advice and direction.  It was just helpful to talk to some other potters about the idea.  Just saying it out loud to such a sounding board was an opportunity to see if it even sounded plausible to MY ear in the telling.

Anyway, I'm rambling again.  I haven't blogged much and it appears my tires need a retread.

So, here's the poster.  I'll be set up in Winona Lake this Saturday and Sunday.  I say that to nobody in particular.....Google Analytics assures me that I do not, nor have I ever had any readers from the Warsaw/Winona Lake area.  Maybe that will change after the weekend, eh?  (I threw in the "eh".  I DO have Canadian readers)


  1. It's good that you're doing a local show which may open up all kinds of new possibilities for you! Love to read what you write.... Have a great show!

  2. Hi John,
    It's only paper if it doesn't work and your only paper could become green paper if it does work. I hope you find that the area has just been waiting to have someone say, come on give this a spin.
    We have a friend who has a gallery and teaches. She started with 2, went to 4, now has 8. Says it pays the overhead.
    Here I am rambling like you were right here.
    Best of luck and i know you will keep us posted.

  3. You do great videos and they have helped me a bunch in developing my skills. I would be interested in a several day seminar, hopefully in the summer months. I'm in Louisiana and to get to your neck in the woods would require a summertime trip for this schoolteacher.

  4. Nice looking glaze! Me like!

    Hope you do the teaching. What you share on your blog is always fantastic, and I firmly believe that the more folks out there who have even a bit of experience with the skills of making the better off the professionals will be. Our audience can only understand so much of what we do without trying it themselves....

    Good luck!

  5. Nice new glaze.I stopped in to see Mark and Meredith in April and really enjoyed my visit as well.I had thought about it for a while so I finally said Whynot.

  6. Hey John,
    I guess I never realized you were so close. I live north of Goshen and I would be interested in a workshop or class. I'm trying to get a little more serious about this whole pottery thing and I'm looking for some learning experiences. The Goshen Clay Artists Guild is offering a summer class but I'd love to learn from you as well. Especially since I love your work.

  7. Teaching, eh?

    (Sorry, couldn't help my Canuckistani self....)

  8. I'm sure you'd be a fine teacher, John, and you'll learn plenty along the way. There is something about explaining the hows and whys to people who are keen to learn that I really enjoy.
    The new glaze combo reminds me of one I used to use...a clear feldspathic glaze over a saturated iron glaze did some great bubbly intermixing...when I put a cobalt slip underneath, a beautiful blue peeked through.
    Good luck with your pursuit of repeatablity!

  9. I am from the Warsaw area and have read your blog off and on for about two years. Also I am interested in taking a class. A year ago I almost approached you to inquire about such a thing. Just did not think you would have the time.

  10. Thanks for the encouraging words, the feedback, and the compliments.

    Thanks to the locals (Fuzzy and AC) who chimed in as well. It's interesting to me to know that at least there are a few out there who might be interested.

    I'm really at the ground floor as far as investigating this thing. Actually, the first time I hinted at this idea, I posted about it more opaquely here:

    That building is still empty and I still like the idea. But there is a HUGE roadblock to getting anywhere with this -- I don't, at this point, have a facility. My pottery is too small and very dedicated to my production (I have 12 ware carts and they're mostly full). I only have two wheels.

    If I do receive feedback that there's sufficient interest, I'll more seriously pursue some facility. IPFW has been asking me for two years now to teach some sort of continuing ed course -- included an email just last week asking if I could at least teach hand building since between us (the U and me) we don't have wheels). Beyond that, Grace College also inquired, though they have since hired some guy to teach what they call "ceramics" (please don't read any more sarcasm into that than I put there. I already put enough in there).

    I've been aware of the Goshen potters guild for years now (I play music up at the Farmer's Market once a month when I can). But since many of the Goshen guild are aware that I'm down here and yet they've never approached me about visiting my shop, or me visiting the guild, I assumed there was little interest in my pottery from the Goshen scene. So it's interesting to hear from you, Fuzzy.

    Anyway, I'll stay in touch -- keep you updated on my progress.