Monday, June 30, 2008

Saying Goodbye Too Soon

(91098E) - The Belugas ©

(91098E) - The Belugas - detail ©

I wasn't ready for the phone call today. It was one of those things you just don't expect. This one was from the museum at Cornell, letting us know that one of our platters had fallen from the wall and was now cracked into multiple pieces. They wanted us to come to the museum to figure out an alternative way of hanging the remaining platters. So Aurora and I went, having no idea which platter it was that had fallen. It was 91098E- the Belugas. Aurora's favorite platter.

Walking into the gallery was almost like walking by the scene of a car accident. Everything was just stopped. Turns out the bolts we use for hanging are designed to anchor into studs. The museum's walls are 1.5" of plywood.... which just happens to be about the amount of bare smooth bolt beyond the threads of our anchors. So the platter rotated the bolt and it slid... crashing down to the floor and leaving a nasty dent in the hardwood to boot!

I have to give the museum staff credit. They did all the right things. From the very outset, they had asked us how best to hang these platters. They even wanted our input as to how they should be hung as a series on the wall. When the platter went smash, the first thing they did was pull ALL the other platters down until they could figure out WHY it happened and what could be done. Then they called us. Very professional. We spoke with nearly everyone involved in this show, from the folks doing the hanging to the curators, to the registrar. Everyone was in the same sort of shock that Aurora and I were in. Nancy was still at work but had heard via phone about this and was pretty worked up too.

We've since come up with a solution, thanks to Will and George. Looks like we'll be cutting an eyebolt into a new shape, since eyebolts have threads all the way to the wall's edge. Excellent pullout strength too. So, tomorrow I will take another platter up the hill in hopes of filling the space this platter left vacant. No platter can replace another. No amount of compensation can make up for the loss. It isnt about loss ... at this point, it is just about grieving. Here's to the Beluga Platter.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday and loving it

©(598) - "from a clam shell, inside looking out", currently on loan to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. Ithaca Ceramics exhibit will be having an opening on July 11th, 5pm - 7pm

©42998VII - untitled

Today was one of those days where the air was just as thick as peanut butter. About an hour ago the rain finally came and brought some cooler air with it. The forecast originally called for a fairly still day, winds of less than 10mph. Well, sure enough, as soon as I was setup outside to spray some pots, the wind kicked up and made me work that much harder to get the spray ONLY where I wanted it. Got it done and turned my attention to some BIG platters that needed some epoxying of eyelets on their backsides. Betcha never imagined that epoxy goo, slathered all over, on paper plates could be considered aerodynamic! Yeah, well.

In all, it was a fantastic day. We had visits from some wonderfully fun customers and still managed to get a lot of work done both on the house, the garden, the yard and in the studio. Nice day!

Here's another couple of platters from the vault. More to come.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ideas that slowly crystalize

(12199C) - whole lotta crunch goin' on

(82098I) nearly 3 days of cooling after a 4 day firing to cone 8 in a brick saggar

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is that really ties things together, what sums them up, what leads to the solution, etc. I think that crystallization explains it succinctly. First off you have to give ideas, problems, chemicals...lot of room to flow, expand, explore. Then there's a certain amount of work that has to be input (heat! stimulus, $$). Time becomes a factor too. Too much time during the input end, and you just burn out. Throw too much money at something and it may as well be burned. But JUST the right amount... and at just the right time, and it is better than gold. Same with glazes.

Where it gets interesting though is when time becomes a MAJOR player. By leaving things alone, and not changing or inputting new information... sometimes this becomes the catalyst. With these glazes, the super-slow cooling of many days made such a huge difference. Crystals I have never seen before in ANY glazes, were not only happening, but they were popping up in ways I am still amazed by. Imagine layers of ice forming on a lake. Then rain on top, freezing. Then a cold snap, and more ice forming below the first two layers of ice. I have glazes with similar behavior. Stranger still, are the ones where there is still a very fluid and sometimes gaseous bubbly interior! Those are some amazing glazes.

So we are left with time. Time cooling. Time left alone. Perhaps that is what this time over the past few years has all been about. Time for me to solidify my feelings about teaching. Time for me to get my head into a space where I can focus on my student's needs. Guess that means it is time for me to get back out into the teaching sphere again. Workshops here I come!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I have spent so much time lately making images of these BIG platters that I am embarrassed to admit how LITTLE time I have spent in the studio making new work. I forgot how much FUN these big monsters are! They are so heavy and huge! Even the 18-19" ones are still around 30-40# !! Having this spiffy new lens (Nikon 60mm micro f2.8) has made ALL the difference.

So what next? Well, my thinking lately has been to make a book of ALL the platters. Try to finally have some way of documenting the whole series. I think the first place they will all end up, is our website. I think it would be great if they could find greater visibility via galleries and exhibitions, but after this year, I wont be holding my breath. Eleven of them are now in residence at Cornell's Johnson Museum. The show will open July 5th.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More platter details

©2008 (81998H) - currently on loan to the Johnson Museum at Cornell University

©2008 (82598C) - wait till you see this one in person!!

After spending the weekend shooting more platters from the Glaze Tectonics series, I am excited! It has been over 8 years since these last saw the light of day. In one crate, mice moved in a made my life an olfactory hell. Other than that, this has been amazing. Here are a few more details from some of the upcoming platters! Hopefully I will get a chance to clean up the larger platter images tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Demands, Diamonds and Demons

detail of 12199C - untitled

These past few days have flown past. My original plans for last week were to get caught up on all the outstanding orders and make way (and time) for new fun stuff before our next shows in July. Didnt happen. Instead, I found myself on Friday, frantically trying to get the LARGE Glaze Tectonics platters ready to head to Cornell's Johnson Museum for an upcoming show. (as soon as there is web info on this I will post it.)

To that end, I tried to shoot all the platters I took to CU. Some turned out well, others not so hot. I will include a few tonight, and more tomorrow once I have had a chance to do some editing and cleaning up.

by the window - shot with Nikon D80, Nikkor 60mm, f2.8AF-S lens, daylight

Best thing that happened on Thursday was Aurora's end of the year concert. I asked her, before the concert, if she was nervous about performing. Nope. She was jazzed up. So, in a brief quiet moment before dinner, as the light was coming into the dining room just right, I caught a quick picture of her.

And lastly a curse goes out to my pal in Miami...Jose... who turned me on to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.... oh jeez! This guy can WRITE! I have seen way too many nights where I slid into bed at 10pm only to turn out the light sometime around 1am. Damn you JOSE!!!! Storyline manages to merge a private-eye wizard, vampires, Chicago cops and hoodlums, demons and fallen angels. Oh boy! Good books, fun plots, wonderful dark humor and a great way to take the edge of the day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's all in the details

finally starting to see bees in the yard more often than last year

among the allium we find....

Sometimes I feel like I get too close to things. Other times I feel very detached. Today was one of those days where I understand WHY I make pots. The mud that flew through my hands just a few days ago really made someone's day today.

Here's to the small stuff.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stopping to smell the flowers

a wonderful columbine given to us by Leah a few years back

nothing quite like a hot pink foxglove/digitalis

This has to be the oddest June in my life. One week we are in the 90's and today could barely get above 60... (not that I'm complaining!... today was NICE!)
The rain has really made a huge difference in both my attitude and in what plants are finally blooming.

Here are a couple quick pics with the new lens my family and friends were kind enough to get me for my birthday/Father's Day... THANK YOU Nancy, Aurora, Mom & Dad, Carrie, Tobi and Bruce.... I LOVE this lens!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Train Track Blues

It has finally happened. The tracks have been laid. Now we're singing the blues with blue rubber bands on Aurora's new braces! Her original plan was to go back to school today after getting her braces installed. Made it halfway home before the headache/jawache kicked in. So she has decided that the afternoon will be spent with popsicles and cold drinks and tylenol instead.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Can you see the moon?

why a red door?

the broadside of a barn

can you see the moon?

It is always hard to find a way to express all the different thoughts running through my head as the day draws to a close. I probably should do my blogging in the morning when I am less fatigued and more focused.

Tonight I am thinking about the similarities (and differences) in how I pursue my photography and my ceramic work. Very interesting comparison. More on that tomorrow. For now, more pictures from last weekend's outing to Seneca Falls. I sure hope we can get up there again this weekend for some early AM shooting. Very different light!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Storm Rollin' on Through

Tonight the sky was lit up like I have never seen. The rain came down all at once for 20 min or so. A few hours worth of water in minutes. Then the sky cleared and the sun began to go down. By the time I realized how cool the light was, we were probably 5 min or so from total darkness. Here's my first real attempt at seriously LOW light shooting.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

one of the pictures Nancy shot with my Nikon

That's right, happy birthday to me... yesterday I turned another year older. To add insult to injury, the weather has been wicked hot and humid. Feels like a hairy gorilla came and sat down on my shoulders!

To mollify the humidity and to escape the heat, Nancy and I put our kayaks in the lake for a morning dip yesterday. Paddled around long enough to wake up two herons and a couple of mallards. Great time. Heck, anytime on the water is GOOD time! The big success of the morning paddle... getting out of the boat without tipping, no getting wet, and no falling over. Last thur when Aurora and I were getting out, I stepped backward, tripped over my paddle with one foot still in the boat, flipped end over end, and found myself on the opposite side of the boat, laying in the water and wondering what on earth happened. So yesterday was a better step in the right direction.

After cleaning up and putting the boats away, Nancy and I decided it was just too darned hot for anyone to be out shopping for pottery (seeing as how we had seen NO traffic the Saturday before!)... so we put out a sign saying " TOO HOT TO MAKE POTS" and then headed off for an excursion around the lakes. We found ourselves wandering along routes 5 & 20, driving through Geneva, Waterloo, Canandaigua and eventually ended up out in East Bloomfield, stopping along the way at antique stores and such. Turned north from there and went to Pittsfield. Had fun looking through a bike shop. Finally headed home via route 96 through Victor and Phelps and such. By the time 7pm arrived, we were about an hour from home, the sun was dropping in the sky and we were driving through Seneca Falls. Nancy asked about stopping to take some pics of the rundown mills along the river. Here are a few of my images. More of Nancy's images hopefully later today or tomorrow... or maybe just a link to HER blog!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Flowers don't whine

Second abyssmal show of the year so far

our booth at 100 American Craftsmen at the Kenan Center in Lockport NY

I know "business is always good"... but it ain't. Anyone who argues that this whole economic slow-down will blow over is either obscenely rich and insulated from this insanity, or they are just living in dreamland. This past weekend we watched for three days as sales went from bad, to worse, to nothing. In the 20 years I have made pots and the 24 years I have sold pottery (previously for my aunt Beryl in Miami).... I have never seen days with NO sales. We had wonderful crowds at the show, but no sales on Sunday. Maybe it's one of those towns with the blue laws still on the books.... no pottery sales after 8am on Sundays. Who knows?! All I can say is that we lost our shirts.

The upside: the promoters of the show were wonderful. For the greatest part, our fellow fine-crafters were amazing. There was a much smaller quotient of the artists as hacks. No buy-sell. Overall, there was a really good showing of the state of fine crafts.

Typically, on a given day at any show, we get all sorts of questions. People want to talk about their experience with clay, with what they've collected in the past, whatever. I LOVE IT. The exchange is probably one of the biggest reasons I make pots. I love that sharing! There was precious little of it at this show. Probably our biggest shock was the number of people (42) who asked us if what we were making was Fiestaware. Not comparing our color range to early 20th century American Art pottery.... but asking us if we were SELLING Fiestaware. Mind you, the show is called 100 American Craftsmen. I think the name of the show should have been a clue.

We met a couple at the show where the gentleman was downing a Starbucks tall at 9pm... So I had to know why... late shift? All night drive? Nope. He has 4 daughters that range in age from 4 to 2.5 to 2.5 to 2.5..... yep, triplets.... talk about the estrogen ocean! After ordering some footed mugs we talked about how much they enjoyed the textural elements of our work. Usually we hear the words COLOR first... texture later... so this was interesting. Turns out, like many men, he is partially color blind. Red could just as well be green or dark brown. BUT the texture is what caught his eye. All the raised slip trailing and textured stamping... really made an impression (pardon the pun). I love doing custom orders, but I LOVE doing orders where I know that the pots are going to be used and loved. I look forward to the day when all four daughters in tow, they come to visit the studio. Guess I'll have to make sure to have more mugs on hand!