Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Very Own Studio!

That's right, friends, I'm so very excited to announce that I have set forth in the new adventure of setting up my very own studio, complete with wheel and kiln and boxes of clay and plenty of dust to share!  It's been, I think, a long time coming, and yet the decision to move forward happened very quickly.

I'd like to first off thank my dear friend John X. for egging me into making this move.  He's an old friend from college (we spent more than our share of nights sitting around playing cards or guitars when we should have been writing papers and doing homework) and has been a supporter of my pottery for almost as long as I've been making it. 
John, wearing one of my pots on his head.  My, we were a wild bunch back in the day...
Long story short, John told me I'd better get back into my pottery or bad things would happen to me.  Well, more to the point, he made the case that living in South Dakota was no reason not to be a potter, and that my work was still in high demand.  See?  Great friend, great support!  I credit John's friendship and support as instrumental in my artistic confidence, if nothing else.

I set off to do some fact finding, with plenty of online window shopping followed by a visit to the Continental Clay Company in Minneapolis, MN.  A follow-up call to Ed Swartout at Continental Clay to inquire about some kiln specs (better to have the information before having the garage rewired!) led me to discover that Ed in fact had a rebuilt kiln on hand that would be available for half the cost of a brand new one.  HALF!  And not a used kiln, but essentially a brand new kiln stuffed into a slightly used shell.  Brand new heating elements, brand new wiring, brand new computer controller.  Slightly used bricks and frame.  What a deal!  For those playing along at home, cutting the cost of my kiln 50% reduces my entire start-up cost by 25%.  That's pretty significant.  So I took the plunge and told Ed to put my name on that kiln and I would liberate it as soon as possible.

Made my way up to those Twin Cities on Friday with a borrowed van (thanks Mom and Dad!) to pick up my order.  Can I stop for a moment and say that the folks at Continental Clay are a fabulous bunch?  I know that every region has their own dominant pottery outfitters, and I'm sure they're all more than swell, but I wanted to make it clear what a wonderful experience it was to work with Ed and Helen and everyone else up there who made placing and picking up my order a totally slick experience.  Now, if only somebody wanted to help make paying for the order a little easier...

After walking through my order - prepped and ready on two palettes! - the Continental crew went to town on getting us loaded up.  I tried to help, but they wouldn't let me.  Kept mumbling something about how I'd get to unload it myself on the other end.  I guess that was a true statement.
Here's my "new" kiln, a Skutt 1227, all loaded up.
That's me and Ed (left) with the fully loaded Odyssey.
We finally made it home Monday night after an extended stay in Iowa due to some family obligations.  Pierre welcomed us with near blizzard conditions to help make unloading the van extra fun.  Really, it wasn't so bad, although it would have been nice to borrow a skid loader to help with the heavy lifting.  Krystal was a trooper, though, and we had the van unloaded in no time.  She was kind enough, however to leave the kiln for me.  By myself.  In the cold.  While she was inside snacking on bon bons - just kidding! But seriously, the kiln breaks apart into pretty managable sections.  Here are a few of my new toys:
My kiln!  Broken up and waiting for the electrician to come work his magic so I can reassemble it in place and get to work!
Glazes, chemicals, etc.  Good stuff!
Got some clay here, and a little bit of potters' plaster for good measure.
Kiln furniture - little kiln tables, divans, and bureaus.
Awful excited to have my own wheel.  Brent Model B.  She's a beauty.  All bright and shiny and mustard yellow.
Part of my work space.  More pictures as it comes together, I'd imagine.
My own corner of the basement.  Officially the first piece thrown on my wheel!  Nothing too fancy, since I didn't have much time for it today, but just enough to get some clay under my fingernails.
So there it is.  I spent some time trying to get my studio space organized today, but it didn't really leave a whole lot of time to get back into the throwing.  It will probably have to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday, but I'm all set up now and ready to roll.  Except for the rewiring in the garage.  But we're working on that.

Special thanks again to Ed and everyone at Continental Clay; to my dear friend John for his encouragement and coercion, and, of course, thanks to my lovely Krystal for her unending support, for putting up with clay everywhere, and for always encouraging me to follow my dreams, even when I'd rather just find out where they're going and hook up with them later.

Friday, November 5, 2010


None too soon either, huh?

Let me begin by offering many extended apologies to anyone who may have been waiting with bated breath for news from this blog. Eight months is a long time to hold your breath, so: I'm sorry. The simple fact of the matter is that there has been a lot of "life" happening and not so much "pottery." Some of that "life" has included:
  • A cross-country move, leaving behind beloved friends, jobs, mountains, and sunshiny Colorado Days to settle somewhere in the middle of the Great Plains.
  • The Great Plains.  Actually, this is just an open meadow on La Framboise Island on the Missouri River.  That's French for "Raspberry" attached to the English for "├«le."  Anyway, I thought it was appropriately scenic.
  • A new job for Krystal (Please check out Hunkpati Investments for more information about the really neat work she's doing)
  • Buying our first home!
  • Our new home.  It's super cozy!
  • New job for me.
  • Gardening (no pictures of this one: we were too busy fighting the grasshoppers for our veggies to worry about photography this year).
  • Grilling.
  • Despite whatever it may look like, I do actually know what I'm doing with that thing.
  • Lawncare: and then our mower died.  Fortunately, it quit raining just around that time, so the grass didn't grow much after that.  It's been fixed now, for anyone who's concerned about the well-being of our Toro.
  • Part of our lawn.  Our backyard is pretty much awesome.  When  it isn't being overrun by grasshoppers.
  • More grilling.
  • More yardwork (the joys of homeownership)
  • Look at me, all handy-like and building a fence!  I'd call this close enough to constitute yardwork.
  • Rock Concerts
  • Jars of Clay, for example.  Always a good show.  And totally appropriate for this blog.
Retaining walls.  One night it rained and then most of our lawn was laying on top of the sidewalk.  I don't think this wall will let that happen anytime soon. 

I think we met more people while building this wall (letting us know how nice it was to see us improving the neighborhood) than in the entire rest of our time here so far.

  • And more grilling (It's what happens when you live half-a-block away from the most fabulous little butcher's shop ever.  Also, we discovered Nathan's All-Beef Franks.  Phenomenal.  I may never eat another Ballpark again.)
  • I met a funny-looking chicken.
  • Chicken Little this is not.
  • Quitting my new job (not a short story, and not very interesting).
  • Apples: a month later, we're still working our way through that bag.  Total awesomeness.
  • Isn't my wife all fashionable and lovely?
  • I forgot to mention blueberry season, but I enjoyed it immensely while it lasted.
There it is.  You'll note the complete lack of pottery.  It's kind of what happens when you have workd as part of a Guild and don't have your own studio gear and move to a small - charming, mind you, on the river and all, but small nonetheless - town in South Dakota.  While there's nothing official to be said about it just yet, I hope to be doing something about my pottery situation in the near future.  Stay tuned (cue bated breath) for news (possibly) on that front.

In the meantime, I'll be making a better effort to keep updates of some sort rolling on here.  If you've read me at all you know that what begins as a discussion of art or pottery or aesthetics (have I ever started with aesthetics?) often devolves into a post about what music I've been enjoying lately or why I don't wear polo shirts or "Hey look! Here's a doodle I drew today!"  So it really shouldn't be hard for me to find something to write about in my currently ample free time. (You'll note that "Another new job" is not one of the above bullet-points.  I would like to reduce the amount of freetime that I have.) 

So, if you're reading this, thanks for sticking with me, sorry it's been the better part of a year (that better part being spring, summer, and fall), and hopefully you will be hearing from me soon.

P.S. - if you're in the Northern Colorado/Front Range area, please remember to check out the Northern Colorado Potters Guild Holiday Show & Sale next weekend, November 12-14, at the Guild in Fort Collins.  Click on the blue letters right there or the link to your right fo find out more about the Guild and the sale.  I obviously won't be there, but it's always a good time and a great place to pick up some early Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus gifts.