Saturday, August 27, 2011


...this happens:

Then you go ask your wife for a hug.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There were happenings this weekend.

First among them, I came down with a nasty stomach bug. One of those 24-hour varieties, but ugly nonetheless. Sleeping it off was my solution. As much as possible. But UGH! Well, I shouldn't complain too much - our friend Katie was up from Tucson to visit for the weekend (You remember Katie? She pops up around here every-so-often) and she seems to have come down with the same bug, except that were I got to curl up in my bed and sleep all day, she had to travel home whilst being ill. No fun. So, Katie: I hope you are feeling better, or at least soon.

So that was the low point of the last 96 or 120 hours or so. I'll finish on the high point and deal out some pots in the middle. So, pots:
These big bowls are now trimmed, decorated, and drying. And I'm not a photographer.
The other big bowl.
This is a large platter.
This is another large platter, trimmed and drying upside down. The platters will hopefully turn out all right. Each is battling potential issues, but I should know before they bisque whether or not they remain issues post-drying.
Krystal has allowed my pots to take over even the finished portion of the basement to maintain a visual sense of inventory in preparation for my fall show.
Hey look, a tea set!
I'm sure you're wondering why you haven't seen pictures of that tea set in progress? Because I had to keep it a secret! It's that simple! Gosh! This was a special order from a friend of mine (Joan) for a friend of mine (Jon) on their (shared) first wedding anniversary. And he, apparently, supposedly, keeps up with this blog. And I probably could have kept my purposes on the sly, but I preferred absolute secrecy. Here's a situation of glazes going awry - which is painful for me, especially on special orders, where the end result must be judged by someone other than me. But you see the cream-colored portions in there? Supposed to be sandstone. I.e., not milky-white. But I shipped it, and they were pleased. Or so they say. Speak now or forever hold your peace! Ah, the angsts of being an artist. But how about that blue? Beautiful! So there you have it - in case there were any doubts - I will make teapots. But they'll cost you. Just saying.

While I'm at it I'll mention that Jon keeps a couple of blogs on food & foodie-ness and biking & fittie-ness, respectively. And while he's a great friend, and a decent blogger when he blogs, he's actually fairly horrible about doing any of the latter. But you can check out the stuff he used to write and mourn with me.

My other realization this week (sort of a low point) is that I totally bought 200 pounds of the "not right" clay while I was in Minnesota last week. I say "not right" because, as it's now the clay I have, it may turn out to be a very fine clay, and as such, certainly not wrong. But for the time being, and until I see positive results, it's the not-right clay. And that's totally my fault for not keeping my vernacular, loose-tongued naming of the company produced clay straight with it's ACTUAL names.  See, even though I would describe my clay as a buff-colored stoneware, to Continental Clay it is actually a "Mid-Range Oxidation Body." Because the name "Buff Stoneware" was already taken. By this other clay that I happened to buy instead. So we'll see what happens. It will fire in the same range, but it does have a different color and consistency and will take me a bit to figure out. But, bottom line: 200 pounds of clay purchased 600 miles away = not going to be returning that anytime soon, so I might as well throw it.

Moving on up, I did also buy 200 pounds of the correct white "B-Clay." So expect more white pots on the horizon.

Finally the highlight of the weekend came when we got to go to the annual Crow Creek Hunkpati Oyate Wacipi (powwow). Krystal's work kept her pretty busy with an affiliated event for the weekend, so that left plenty of time for Katie and I to take in the dancing and, in Krystal's words, "eat indian tacos* 'til you throw up!"** This was not my first powwow, nor is it the biggest (By any means. Whatsoever. Even a little.) in the area, but it was the best weather, food, and dancing that I've seen at one recently. The dancing was wonderful, and powerful, and the traditional dance costumes and regalia were beautiful. Stunning. And I happened to have a camera. So I'll leave you with a few pictures.
Mostly I'm awed by the tenacity of any people's spirit of cultural traditions. Which is not something I'm going to try to get into here, as it's a deep and complicated issue and I'd hate for the meaning of my words to be lost or misconstrued. But the celebration of deep, rich, cultural traditions is a beautiful thing and I'm glad to have the opportunity to witness and participate in even the tiniest way. 

*Fry bread + taco fixin's = awesome.
**Little did she know...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To the Northwoods and Back Again

I'm pleased to announce that in spite of spending 22 hours on the road this past weekend I have continued my streak of productivity. Friday saw us headed North by Northeast to Duluth, Minnesota, for the wedding of my dear friend, fellow artist, and sometime-brother, Alexander. It was a wonderful wedding, with much merriment and mirth and dancing and such. And you should click on his name there to check out his work. One of those folks that just oozes creativity. Kind of makes you sick, actually. But seriously, he does some phenomenal things in digital/illustration/mixed-media/printing/typography that are worth checking out.

So we spent some time driving through the Northland and accompanying Northwoods. Beautiful country, beautiful time of year to be there (as opposed to, say, January). If only we'd had time to stop and hunt for wild blueberries, it'd've been perfect. 
The woods. There are roughly 10,000 lakes somewhere in that picture. I think. Stunning view.
In the Northwoods, you can even look stunning while chatting it up with your mother-in-law. Well done, Krystal.
In an attempt to avoid the myriad stretches of construction on the interstate between there and here (and for a change in scenery on this drive we've been doing oh-so-often) we pulled off and took the back highways for the last couple hours home. It included Krystal's first visit to the world's only Corn Palace. I've been before, but Krystal needed to experience it. I think it also fits into the "stunning" category. And to think, after all these years, nobody else has even attempted to take the "world's only" qualifier away from the Mitchell Corn Palace. I mean, really?
I'd like to know just what it is we're voting "yes" to in the mosaic up there.
For those not in the know, yes, that building is covered in corn. Ears and shucks and tassels and all of it corn. I hear tell that the exterior mural is redone every year, which is why it isn't all rotted out. And of course everyone there was thrilled to meet Tempy. Because she's perfect.

But yes, this is supposed to be about pottery, right? So, despite all that driving I still got to do some throwing and other sundry pottery projects this weekend, last week, this week thus far. I'm working hard to stay productive and harness all that road-weary pent-up anxiety into something positive.
I made more slip. And put it in a nice big jug. And put a pretty blue label on it. Yeah!
Threw these big bowls Sunday night after 7 hours on the road. That's what makes me a go-getter, I guess.
These bowls are all dried. Not a particularly "active" process on my part, but it's shows what I  produced last week, I suppose. I'd like to note that I spent a few seconds trying to turn "productivity" into a verb before I settled on produced. It's been one of those days.
My little corner. It looks like a potter lives here. Also, this vantage point shows you exactly how tall I am. Bam!
And that doesn't even show the trimming of large bowls or throwing of additional large pots or recycling of 25 pounds of clay that have occurred. Take that! I had a picture of this little vase from a different angle, but I thought the overhead shot of my workspace had a better feel. Artists call this "view point" or "perspective" and it tells you something about the "agency" of subject and auteur, but unless you're really into art you really wouldn't know anything about that. No big deal.

All that to say that I've been staying busy and will continue to stay busy as long as allowed. Which might not be long. I'm getting tired of busy, to say the least.

So keep up the good work, and I'll see you here again soon-ish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New pots, busy busy busy...

Well, the busy-ness has been maintained. More potting has been had. And while I haven't been very photographic lately, I did manage to get some snapshots of the pots that are taking over our home. They've all been sanded (nice smooth feet!) and are ready to head down into storage (most of them) for my October show. Still a lot of work to do on that front. Hopefully.

Also, I am, I think, supposed to post an official retraction of a statement made in my previous post. According to this bit of information presented to me (thanks a lot, Dad), rhinoceros (rhinoceroses? rhinoceros'? rhinoceri? rhinos!) do in fact have hooves. Not toes. Hooves. They are a part of a grouping of ungulates (hoofed mammals) called perissodactyla which covers all odd-number-hoofed mammals, with three subcategories - horses, rhinos, and tapirs. On a related note, it is not clear to me whether or not rhinos and tapirs are unclean to eat in the Levitical sense. Horses are obviously unclean, on account of not having split hoofs. But the Law is not explicit on the number of splitting of the hoof (three toes = twice split). Also, I don't know if rhinos chew the cud. Not generally a distinguishing clue for our guessing game. But there you have it: Krystal was right, rhinoceroses do, most certainly, have hooves. 

Now that that is out of the way, here are some pots.
New pots. 
More new pots.
A creative caption that tells you, "Look! New pots!"

That's all for now. I'll try to get some of what I've been working on lately up in here. Until then, I bid you, "Adieu."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Busy Weekend (and still one day left).

I've had a busy weekend so far. But a good kind of busy. Pottery, non pottery. All good things. Well, mostly good things. There was the 30 inch vase that I had to trash, but it wasn't too much time loss (section thrown; pieces thrown quite nicely, quite quickly; went a bit too far dry before joining, too much weight in the top half; the pull of reshaping and the added weight caused some issues in the support on the bottom of the vase. I'll be trying again this week.). But productivity was not lost on me. This is what I woke up to this morning:
Them are glazed pots in there.
So of course yesterday was filled with the accompanying sort of messes of glazing and such.

Not the final arrangement: still playing with the best spacial arrangement.
It only took me 4 hours to glaze this kiln-load. Had the table cleared before dinner!
Speaking of dinner, the First Course: garden-fresh grape tomatoes and basil on an olive oil brushed whole wheat crust, topped with feta and just a touch of mozzarella. Grilled. Fabulous. Needed more tomatoes, which we had. Had I known, it would have not been a problem. As it was, hardly a problem.
Among the other things that happened yesterday: we started the morn with a 14 mile run. My longest run to date, Krystal's longest run in nearly 7 years. When we were within a mile of home (we were delirious - debating whether or not rhinoceros are hoofed mammals or not. Because seriously, if you've determined that you're trying to guess a horned, hoofed, herbivore native to the African plains that isn't a cow, buffalo, antelope, or goat, this is an important point. I'm pretty sure they're not hoofed, and I convinced Krystal* as such, but seriously.) - so, let me restart this thought. When we were within a mile of home I observed to Krystal that the Marathon will just be this, twice. Not too shabby, I say. I think I can do it. I think it will not be fun. I think it will hurt. But yeah, I'll get medieval on those 26.2 if that's what it takes.

I also asked Krystal, somewhere around halfway (so, we've already run 8 miles) if going out and running for hours on end ever just seems stupid. She just gave me the look.

All that to say, by noon or so we were all cleaned up and ready to tackle the day with the rest of our tasks, like glazing and groceries and teaching Temperance how to dance. Because she's awesome.
Our dog is an awesome dog: she trains with power and love, our Dog is an Awesome Dog.
So that was our day. Running for the better part of the morning, teaching our dog to dance, buying groceries, glazing pots, grilling pizza. Ready to do it all over again. Except with less being on my feet. Cause I'm sort of done with that. Here are a couple more pictures of things that have been happening this week and last week and such that never got photographed or posted.
This one's actually in the glaze fire already, so a bit behind the times.
This one's drying. Discovered I have sore few of bowls in this style for October show. Time to kick it up a notch. BAM! (Must be channeling my inner Emeril this morning. Don't know what's up with that.)
Bigger mountain vase. Pretty nice balance to it. And the camera's autofocus needs some help apparently. Sorry!
Well, that's all I've got for now. Still working on shots of the last firing, and there may be new pots in view by bedtime tonight. As you saw above, the kiln is still glowing. In fact, it needs to drop about 2000 degrees before I can open it yet. So that may be awhile. But I'll certainly keep you posted.

Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to keep your Sabbath holy! Or at the very least, restful!

*in Krystal's defense, when we play the "Guess the Animal Game" she normally goes places like "Grevy's Zebra" or "Reticulated Giraffe." Most people are all like, "Horse" or "Cow" or "Bear."** So, she's hardcore, don't think otherwise. I'm willing to say this one was just misstated.

**In my defense, she has met her match. She may know the rare specifics of Blank Park's collection, but I'm all like, "Amur Leopard, BAM!" or "Narwhal, BAM!"*** Yes, in fact there is such a thing as a European Bison, and that's why I kick butt at this game. And I've got a secret weapon for the next time around. Been saving it for years. She'll be like, "What? Can't be!" and then I'll come home and bust out or Guide to Wild Animals of the World and be all like, "Read it and WEEP!"

***I'd also like to point out that she required three (3) reliable sources to convince her that Narwhals were real and not just fantastical. Yeah, take THAT!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Heat Wave!

It's been hot around here, and I've been busy. Our heat index (think opposite-effect wind chill) has been well over 100 degrees for the last couple weeks, but it's finally starting to break. I think we've been steadily in the high 80's for the last couple days, so of course I thought that would make the best time to run a firing.

Well, that and some time sensitive pieces that have been sitting on my greenware shelf for just a little too long. So the bisque ran last night.  Could have fit another 3 or 4 vases in the top shelf, but I didn't have any more, so that was just too bad. But like I said: time sensitive. I set it up to preheat for 3 hours (holds temp at 180 to help get all the moisture out before hitting the boiling point for water) and then ran a slow cycle. Firing completed mid morning (not optimal - but I didn't get the kiln turned on early enough last night) in 14 hours and some change.  Sitting around 600 right now; might be able to unload before bed. Glazing this weekend, and another firing by Sunday night.  Then it will be new pots.

In the meantime I've been making pots. I just haven't been blogging them. And with purpose. I've been selected to show at the South Dakota First Lady's Art Showcase, which coincides with the Governor's Invitational (Pheasant) Hunt. Kind of a big deal in this state. That show will be October 21-22, and I need to make a lot more pots between now and then. So I need to get better about buckling down and cranking some work out. I'm very excited about this opportunity, and also a little freaked out about not whether or not I'll have enough quality work pulled together by the time the show rolls around. I basically sold everything worth selling before our move - everything that was left has slowly been whittled down as gifting away and such. And a lot of time since establishing my current studio has gone to test pieces and special orders. Which are essential (the former) and much appreciated (the latter), but haven't left me much time for building up general stock. So here's hoping that I won't be a complete dud at showtime. So that's what I've been up to.

Well, among other things. Krystal and I are in training for a fall Marathon (the weekend before the big art show - crazy?) which will be my first, and her third. So, that's taking a lot of time and energy and effort. The good news: if the pots aren't done by the weekend before the show, I've probably done something wrong anyway! And I don't have to travel, as the show will be in Pierre!

I also have taken some "good" shots of my last firing (good being relative - I've mentioned before that there's a reason I'm a potter and not a photographer) but haven't gotten them edited yet for online consumption. So here's a little teaser.
Trying to get more detail shots to compile a glaze chart for folks who want to order something. Easier to e-mail out a chart than e-mail a whole swarm of photos and try to connect which one we're talking about.
Sorry for my failings at being online: believe me, this time around it means good things for the artwork. Hopefully sooner than later, and have a great weekend!