Friday, May 31, 2013

Julie Crosby's latest woodfired pottery

I always get excited when Julie Crosby brings over new work to be photographed. Not only do I get to see these pots before they head off to an exhibition, or a gallery or show... but I get to handle them, figure out which "face" works best,... I get to know them (however briefly).

I have been photographing Julie's work now for over three years. When I look back at the first few sessions, I think about all the things I had no clue about, and it makes me wonder how I will look back on the work I am doing now. Probably much the same way I felt about my clay work... the next firing is always the best firing.

Back to Julie:   In addition to making great woodfired pots, Julie is also an amazing kiln builder. This winter she was building a kiln on Whidbey Island, near Seattle, WA. I know most folks would think that building a kiln in the cold wet climes of the Pacific NW in the winter would be a horrible gig, but you haven't lived in Upstate NY. 50 degrees and wet is balmy compared to February in our little pocket of frozen hell.

I wish I had images of her kiln building to show off. Heck, for that matter, I wish I could go around to photograph some of the kilns she has built all over the country. For potters, seeing a finished kiln is nice, but seeing one being built is often more helpful. You can see the inner workings and the plan unfolds slowly, brick by brick. A little part of me is hoping that Julie will be able to add her kiln building expertise to her website in the coming years.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Work from Cary Joseph

It is kind of like Christmas when my friend Cary Joseph, brings a new batch of pots over to the studio to be photographed. The textures and colors are always a surprise! This is the first time I have seen Cary making lidded jars that weren't teapots. They are very reminiscent of some of the iron jars I have seen from Japan. These particular jars were made for use in Tea Ceremony.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Old Bowls, Old Friends

This porcelain bowl was made back when I was an undergraduate at UMASS/Amherst, and working on a series of copper red experiments. After struggling with firing copper red glazes in an old Alpine updraft kiln, I was invited to fire some pots in Michael Cohen's kiln. Some of my tests also were fired in Tom White's kiln. The hardest part was trying to get reproducible results. The Alpine updraft, while not a bad kiln, is certainly not what most people think of as a go-to kiln for great reduction glazes. Getting even reduction, and even temperature was a constant struggle. The upside to this was that is enabled me to visualize how things melted at different times, and how that contributed to the finished reduction surface. After graphing out 5 complete firings, every single pot in the kiln, where the glaze turned red, or blushed red, whether it was oxidized... all of that information was graphed out... I finally realized that early body reduction was critical for getting good reds. This bowl was fired in Mike Cohen's kiln (and dripped on one of his kiln shelves too). I love the long slow cooling that allowed the blue and red to separate and form delicate textures all over the bowl.

This old bowl was made about a year earlier, in Miami, when I was home for the summer. My friend Marc and I were trying to make pots together in a studio in Miami Shores. It was interesting seeing what we both liked and pushing each other to grow. When I look critically at this little bowl, I see that the glaze is too thin, the rim is sharp and harsh, the decoration on the inside of the bowl is boring. When I made it, I thought it was the bee's knees. I guess that is the nature of learning from our experiences. There is certainly nothing that makes this unusable as a bowl. If anything it informed all of the bowls that would follow it.