Friday, February 27, 2009

Pre-Tournament Practice

Yeah, I know, this blog is supposed to be about life in the studio... but hey! It's the end of hockey season and we're tearing up the ice. This weekend we travel to the Clifton Park tournament. Looking at the lineup, I am thinking we'll play 3-4 really hard games and maybe come out near the top. This team is just growing and learning by leaps and bounds!

Last night's practice was my dry run with the new borrowed lens. To say that it is a heavy hunk of metal would be an understatement. I use my arms and shoulders all day every day... and this lens is HEAVY. Lots of metal and lots of glass. The upshot is that it helps me capture the moment so much better than any other lens I have used. Small sacrifice.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More Organ Pipe Monument Pictures

Aurora asked if we could pull all of her Organ Pipe pictures into one website.
So, without further ado... here's the website.

New Lens

Today I am jazzed. I borrowed a 70-200 f2.8 VR lens from

This lens is massive. Just like it is advertized, it is a pro lens. If you cant catch it with this lens, you probably should take up accounting. It is amazing in low-light situations where other lenses fail.

We borrowed it for the upcoming hockey tournaments this weekend and next. Hopefully this will enable me to capture more of the girls' skating!

So, here are my first few shots playing with this spiffy new lens. (only wish I could keep it!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Taken to a new/old extreme

I think that by and large potters feel like they're part of a long standing tradition. Often you can see the lineage in someone's pots. The spout turns this way, the footring is cut this way, the throwing lines wind here or end there... all coming from previous potters. Yet combined, somehow, it becomes new. Eventually, it becomes the potter.

Here's a modern (humorous) take on this evolution.

I have no idea how I came across this image. Probably found it on StumbleUpon... so if anyone knows who made this, please let me know so I can give credit. I love this !
Makes me want to see some Yixing teapots made in modern forms... milk jugs, remote controls, shoes... something other than trees, pumpkins...the usual forms. Then again, I just think it would be funny. Not sure it would be art. But Robert Arneson might be smiling in his grave.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona

This is a saguaro cactus, probably upwards of 150 yrs old.

This is the view from Bull Pasture, 800 ft up from the valley floor.

These are the leaves of the Occotillo, a stick-like succulent.

Panorama from a hill top about a mile from our camp.

The other 180 degree view panorama from a hill top about a mile from our camp.

Panorama from the Ajo Mountain drive.

Talk about an awesome February break! Aurora got a chance to head down to the Sonoran Dessert for her break from school last week. Came home on the red-eye, landed at 9am, played HOCKEY at noon... what an amazing way to end a great week.

Here are a few of her marvelous images from her trip. Annotations are Aurora's.

To see a complete array of Aurora's images, click here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Enough hockey, MORE POTTERY!

Let's talk about feet.

Last night I was helping teach a class on trimming. It really made me much more aware of how much effort (and time) I put into trimming feet. I was explaining that designing feet for pots was sort of like designing shoes to compliment an outfit. Part of the process is purely functional, but part of it is definitely style. Some of my best friends mock my choice in footware... I wear Crocs. BUT they feel great. I wouldn't be caught dead in them at a wedding though. So, the outfit determines the shoes. I think if I could find/afford them, I would wear Keens more often. I just destroy shoes in the studio.

So... looking at feet on pots....

The things I try to see:
How does the foot relate to the floor of the pot?
How does the radius of the foot relate to the lip of the pot?
What functional constraints are we dealing with?
Does this pot even need a foot?
What would the WRONG foot be?
How do I want someone to feel when they turn this pot over?

I think as potters go from being beginners to starting to develop a style, there is this assumption that one foot will suit all their work. Sure. It just looks like wearing the same shoes to every venue. Sneakers look funny in the snow or at a formal dance. Pots are the same way. Some pots DEMAND certain foot treatment.

One of the things I have been trying to work through in my mind (haven't even come close to putting thoughts to clay yet) the idea of altering the foot during the trimming/throwing process. I have done precious few thrown feet. I think I may be at that point where I need to branch away from the strictly trimmed foot. New dance to learn!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More hockey pics

Gettin' to the end of the line

This is what my camera provided as "auto white balanced".... green balanced more likely!

After twenty minutes of color correcting, this was my best effort.

This is my favorite image after adding a layer of a black and white filter over the color image.

Hockey season is almost over. I can tell it by the tell-tale signs in the air. The roads are less hazardous, there is more light at the end of the day, and we're starting to see birds that had left town months ago. Still cold out, mind you... but a day or two above freezing does wonders for the heart in February.

Come the middle of March and hockey grinds to a screeching halt. We have 3 more major weekends of games before we're through. We play the dreaded Camillus team this weekend. Then we have a tournament in Clifton Park. Hopefully, the following weekend we will have another tournament in Canandaigua, but that seems less likely now that we've heard that few other teams have signed up. Might end up being a home game or a scrimmage with a boys team.

In the meantime, I am psyched... waiting for the 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens to arrive from my lens rental place. Hopefully the VR aspect will make it less prone to blurring as I try to capture these kids on the ice! I know I need the f/2.8 end of things. Light gathering in any hockey arena is a bugger. Trying to capture FAST movement is nearly impossible. Hopefully this lens will make things a little bit easier.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Midweek Thoughts

This has been a pretty sweet week so far. Lots of working being made in the studio. I think I can safely say, we WON'T be lacking for ice cream bowls come summer. Then again, maybe we'll get inundated with ice cream bowl sales in May.

In any event, the shelves are starting to feel full again, and we just loaded our third bisque firing for the month. Granted, our kiln is small. Ten cubic feet is nothing to sneeze at... unless your hanky happens to be a 100cu ft downdraft car kiln. In which case, sneezing would be accompanied by chortling too.

We make do with what we have. Every now and then I get nostalgic for the gas kilns of my past. Maybe someday, when we have more of our mortgage paid down, we'll pull together enough $$ to make a nice car kiln here.

In the meantime, there's hockey! Three more weekends of hockey hockey hockey! Right now, I think Nancy and I are still recovering from last weekend's games. Two very close games. Really fun. On the way home from Saturday's game, Nancy managed to grab this image out the window as the light was almost gone from the evening sky. Pretty wild.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shades of Blue

I am not blue. And today, the sky is anything but blue. We have winds tearing at the pines in our yard. Winter's detritus is strewn from pillar to post. Top it all off with a side order of sleet, rain and freezing drizzle. Locally known as Ithacation.... it is definitely Ithacating today. Supposedly these 50mph gusts will let up around noon. Till then, we'll listen to the trees whistle and the house creak and moan.

So what's happening in the studio? A lot, and not a lot. I have been trying to get a lot of the year's grunt work done during the frozen months. We see the bulk of our sales happen during the summer months. I am sure that's true for most potters. Every summer, for the past three years, we have run out of pots during the summer. Not totally out of course, just out of the pots that someone wants. Usually this means being out of soup mugs, ice cream bowls, or mugs/tumblers. It happens seemingly every summer. No matter how hard I try to keep up with orders, we run out.

To try to cut this dilemma off at the knees, we have tried to estimate what we need to have on-hand for the summer onslaught. Looking at the prior year's sales would probably work, most of the time. Now though, with the economy in the toilet, how to we even begin to estimate (GUESS) what will see us through. Hard to know. So with that quandary in mind, I have been putting in double time in the studio lately. We have almost caught up to where I would like to be. Not bad. But still, nowhere near fully stocked. I think we'll get there though.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Places in Time

It is so hard trying to shoot images from a moving minivan... but we managed! Aurora shot from the back seat, Nancy from the passenger seat and now and then we stopped and I shot too! There are some days where the light is just ideal for shooting... you can't pass those times up.

One of the biggest problems I think many photographers face is what to do when you're faced with great light. On one hand you'll shoot anything if the light is magical. But what if you really want to capture some particular subject ... and instead you get so-so light. It's tough. Sometimes I think the light is really all I am shooting for. Something to bounce the light off, something the light can illuminate... not really sure how to express it.

In the bridge image above, all I saw (in color mind you) was the way the dark silhouette of the girders of the bridge framed the light pouring in from behind. Bear in mind, we were doing about 55mph, in a minivan that had seen the better part of the week coated in salt rime. Dirty doesnt begin to describe that windshield. But I shot through it... while driving.

The first image was a give-away. No potter could resist this shot.

A great drive home last night

It's a long way back from Utica/New Hartford to Trumansburg. We came back the slow route, via Route 5&20... met up with Route 89 and came down the lake. The light was falling fast as we came through the upper end of wine country. Great light though.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hockey on a Saturday (and tomorrow too!)

After over 3 weeks, I finally have sorted through the 700+ images I shot at the Binghamton game back in January. The website is up!

Over the next few weeks I will be editing a few of these pictures. Mostly for fun, but also to see if anyone wants me to jazz up the pictures of their daughters. We'll see.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Footed Mug

I just wanted to share this footed mug that came out of the kiln a short while ago. As beautiful as it is in Lime, I think the sepia-tone really gives it a completely different aura.

More on footed mugs next week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Winter Sunset pics

These are some that Aurora shot yesterday with her camera.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter Sun

Day off from school today so Aurora and I went to the Corning Glass Museum today. I love going to museums with her. She sees everything so differently than most kids. Suffice to say, it is a real treat.

On the way home, we were driving with the sun at our backs. As the sun began to set we had a chance to catch some of it before the sun slipped behind the hills. Here are a few images from today.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


About a year ago, we found this magnetic piece/word laying in our driveway.

So we put it on the minivan.

It is tiny. Not even an inch across.

And yet folks see it. We have only one bumper sticker.... Polar Bears Against Palin...
so perhaps there is enough grey background to see this small white magnetic word on the back of our van.

Either way, it amuses.