Wednesday, 11 November 2009

New Web Site

So today the kiln was unloaded and this was one of my favorite mugs so I had a cup of coffee from it within an hour from removing it from the kiln.  

I now have an official website!!!!  It was just put up a few weeks ago.  There are still some gallery pictures that need to be uploaded, but other than that it is good to go.  The domain is  Check it out and let me know what you think!! 

Drying Madness!!!

So all of these pots needed to be dried in a hurry and luckily the weather made it nice and easy.  It made for some good photos too.

Happy Meaninglessness

So the wheels have been turning about 100 miles an hour around here the last 3 weeks or so.  I went to the Burlon Craig festival about this time last month and sold more pots than I thought I would.  So in response to that I had to make a load of work for the Fairgrounds show this weekend.  I had about 3 weeks to turn work and believe me it got done.  School pretty much hit the back burner during this very short, yet strong period of concentration on my work.  
I finished up the throwing last Wednesday (Nov 4) of cups and little things.  There were about 100 pieces or so total.  I loaded and fired at the beginning of this week and got them out this afternoon.  They all look pretty crazy awesome except we had an accident with some of the ceiling falling down on a bunch of the big pieces.  The kiln got a little hot too, but it really just made things look crazier.  The clay and glaze took it fine so all was good.  
So needless to say the past few weeks I have been in another world concentrating very hard on making the best work possible.  I have also been reading in Ecclesiastes lately and it has really been speaking to me.  I am very thankful that I am doing work that if looked at from a certain angle is extremely meaningless.  I mean, people don't really need pots to stay alive or give life meaning.  They are simply a luxury or enhancement.  I am glad it is not something like selling tires or something that seems very needed by the world.  I prefer to live life in happy meaninglessness.  Seeing the work like a spiritual act of worship that is for the furthest thing from myself is the most gratifying choice I make on a daily basis.  When the work it is looked at after being fired into a physical object it almost humors me to thing that I put all my time into what comes out to be a simple physical object that can be held or touched.  Something on the same playing field as every other meaningless worldly thing.  
We make the choice as the artist not to get too attached to the work we do, nor to ourselves as the maker.  When you loose touch with what the work needs in order to start focusing on what will make you look better as an individual, the work suffers and doesn't speak for itself properly.  If you look at making pots like a natural living response such as breathing or walking then what you make should speak like a natural living responsive act.  Hopefully, subtle yet bringing life and energy to the surrounding environment. 
I suppose the first thing anyone must do in order to obtain a subtleness to their stride is learn to stand up and walk.    

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Poem and Thought from a Thesis

I have taken a break from making work for a while just to read and write for my thesis.  I have to say that it has been so great to do some writing and thinking on a deep subject I build tremendous amount of my life around.  I have read a number of books so far, but none have hit the nail on the head more that "The Unknown Craftsman, A Japanese Insight into Beauty."  If one understands what makes an object, or work of art of any kind beautiful and balanced before you read it then your world will most likely be rocked.  
  Lately I have had so much churning through my head that I keep note paper with me to write down ideas all the time.  I had a great thought last Tuesday night while I was at a worship service at school.  The song was about dancing.  It brought to mind an incident that happened to me about 3 weeks ago when I went contra dancing.  
I was swinging with a girl in the corner of a dance floor.  It must have been a 16 count swing because it seemed like it lasted a lifetime.  There was a connection we had that was out of this world.  Our eyes were locked so tight that it was like we were reading each others minds, knowing the next move the other was going to make like it was magic.  
The only thing was that I did not realize how beautiful this moment was until someone tripped the girl.   Here is the Poem:


I go to a dance hall to dance none the less,
To have fun and not impress, 
But I have achieved a state of mind that has put me on a quest,
For mysterious beauty,
Engagement in a intimacy only attained through a state of mind rarely achieved where two minds become one.

We become like our own world spinning in the corner of a dance floor,
Everything else slowly diminishes as our eyes lock tighter,
as our swing grows smoother, faster, stronger.
We become closer, 
not physically,
 not mentally,
 But because we have shared in a moment we both interpret as a mystery.

We have found it, but neither of us can pinpoint exactly how,
But because IT IS BEAUTIFUL,
We hang on to this moment as long as the two of us can.

WAIT! your eyes have left mine,
Can this moment be ending?
The look in your eye is of defeat,
Someone has tripped this world off its axis,
Broken this trance like meditative state,
Has interrupted my life like an earthquake,
The downfall so dramatic I can feel the earth shake.

It is the mystery of what creates that moment that makes me want to live in the state of a dance,
The state of a trance like swing,
Where there is nothing living on that floor but you and me,

To live is to dance,
Maintain that trance.

-Brad Lail

I have been reading some Thoreau looking for some ideas about how seclusion can make work have presence.  I do believe seclusion can enhance a mindset that is great for making art of any kind from poetry to pottery.  The night before I wrote this I slept outside to enhance a mindset.  I believe it worked out very well.  When you wake up to the sun instead of an alarm clock your desire to arise is much stronger.  To be able to pray and concentrate is no challenge at that point.  It was excellent for writing.  I am planning on doing it again.
Anyway... this poem is about goals.  The reason I set the goals I do is because I have seen or experienced something I love.  I love beauty.  I love the mystery that creates the beauty in a swing, a pot or any work of art that has presence.  
The works with the most presence are created intuitively.  They are made without crowded thought, so in essence the work is not crowded or overworked.  Attaining a mindset that is proper for creating intuitive work is not easy.  It is much like the type of trance I am referring to in the dance poem.  When something is made by an artist that has presence it sets a higher standard, and the artist should then be on a quest to make more art with that type of presence.  The work you can see emotion in.  The ones you can feel when you walk into a room are the ones that have presence.  It is something hard to pinpoint, but one knows when something is beautiful.  Even when you cant explain it.  
"Neither one of us can pinpoint exactly how, 
but because IT IS BEAUTIFUL, 
we hang on to this moment as long as the two of us can."  

This is also very applicable with a Christians walk of faith.  There are people that will try all day to define God.  They overcrowd religion with intellect.  They try to define something undefinable with some kind of scientific reasoning.  
What makes nature beautiful?  It is because these seemingly miraculous things happen? Beautiful colors bloom, trees grow, live thrives onward and there is a presence living in nature at all times and in every place without an overwhelming amount of human interaction.  The fact that we cannot define everything that happens in nature is what makes it beautiful.  
Therefore if we try and define something as immense and beautiful as God we do nothing but rob it of the beauty.  We take so much beauty from life by trying to define it.  Why do we need to know?  If we know it is beautiful then why cant we just live in the beauty?  Why do we try and fix something when it is not broken?   


Last week I got together with a friend and peeled apples for about 3 hours for 3 jars of home made applesauce.  
One large pot was made into applesauce and the other was left simmering to make into apple butter.  I have not tried any of the butter yet, but I am pretty excited to see how it tastes.  I had never made applesauce before this so it was a pretty awesome learning experience.  It takes alot more work than I thought to make applesauce.... and ya know what I peeled around a whole box of apples and did not have one get finished in one solid peel.  A bit of a shame, but at least it sets a standard for the next apple I peel.  

Friday, 25 September 2009

My Thesis

So I am currently working on my senior thesis.  It is called "a quest for presence".  It is out to prove what gives a piece presence.  Like a pot you can feel tension from the minute you walk into a room.  It is a cultural ceramic comparison of east and west as well.  Here is a quote I developed after reading my professors thesis on Cezanne and Matisse that I thought was extremely applicable to a potters lifestyle and work. 

 "There is an innocence, a beautiful innocence that is created within solitude.  Because with no influence one is permitted to create only with the resources available to him which are yourself and your God, in an honest responsive way."    

Right now I am standing in front of one of the best kiln loads I have ever had while pictures are being made.  So expect some sweet pics from the most recent firing very soon.  Thanks all!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Rare Old Seagle

This is a ten gallon jar made by a potter a man named Daniel Seagle.  He lived in the Lincoln County area and was an absolutely phenomenal craftsman.  This jar was probably made around 1840 or so which is pretty insane considering I picked it up and it has almost no cracks or flaws.  Seagle had some of the best bulbous forms created in the Lincoln County region So it was  areal pleasure to be in the presence of a jar made by one of my favorite old time potters.   
I got a call the other day from a good friend who told me he was getting his hands on this amazing piece.  I told him I would love to see it so he stopped by school on his way back from picking it up.     
Here is a picture of the DS (daniel seagle) stamp on the left soldier lug handle along with some real sweet ash drips.  
Here is the other handle with 10 stamped on it.  This is because it is a 10 gallon jar.  

Here is a close up of the glaze and clay body.  Check out the big chunk of quartz.  this pot is super light and efficiently thrown.  It is pretty impressive considering the big chunky pieces of sand and quartz in there.  
When I get to see something like this I like to imagine the potter making it.  It was really great to get to feel it and hold it rather than seeing pictures.  I must say being in the presence of a pot like this one is a much more awesome experience that just looking at a picture.  

Loads of Change

So now that I have started school it is a whole new ball park as far as the business of making work goes. I did not want to drive home (like thirty minutes) to make pots so I am renting this 18 by 26 carport with a dirt floor for the semester because it is pretty much in my back yard.  As you can see there is still grass in the floor because it has not died yet.  I am not doing any bisque at all and am moving the work to whatever kiln I can use.  Normally it is the schools salt kiln.  
This picture and some of the others are of the inside of the new studio.  I love the floor, but the walls are somewhat boring.  It is going to get super cold in the winter unless I do something, and I plan to get some insulation of some kind and use a space heater or something.  I am alos planning on making some sort of hot box for my clay and wet pots so they do not freeze and crack.  The shop is super messy in this picture bc it was near the end of my cycle for this load and it got a little chaotic with green glazing.  I have broken quite a few pots trying to get the green glazing timing down.

Here is another view of the new studio.  I really like being able to pay close attention to my work while I am at school.  It is a little strange though when I have more visitors that I am used to, but I like it much more than I thought I would.  Juggling this job with school work has been a whole lot to handle since I have more shows and junk this semester than I have ever had before.  But overall this change has been really great because I can escape and concentrate on my work pretty easily with this awesome resource in my back yard.  

Friday, 7 August 2009

fresh minded work

So I have taken about the last 4 weeks or so off.  I have been gone on a few trips since I have came back from penland and it has really been a great time to clear my head.  I made twenty plates of this size and did a whole bunch of loose sketches before hand.  These are a few of the slip designs I came up with.  The red slip is a slip made from a local clay, the black is a black slip, amd the white is a slip I made from a different clay body I use.
This is a coin I recently acquired from a good friend of mine.  Her father used to be my scoutmaster until he died when I was about 13 or so.  She and her sister are selling a bunch of things from his antique collection.  

The scout slogan is "do a good turn daily" and the point of this coin was to promote it.  You left the coin in your left pocket until you performed a good turn (helping an old lady cross the street, or something of the sort).  Upon performing the good turn you "secretly" move the coin to your right pocket.  I thought it was a pretty cool object.  I hope you do as well.  

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Penland Parade!!!

A very large crowd came around for the 4th of july parade at Penland on the 1st.  Everyone stayed around afterwards for some really awesome fireworks.
So our thai float won an award and the trophy we won is pictured above being held up by the glass flame working instructor.  I think everyone was pretty surprised we won the thing.  About five of us from the class wore sarongs and did a dance to some traditional thai music.  We were with our float which was a small truck with brice sitting in the back of it turning a large jar on a wheel with his feet.  We each also wore one white glove in memory of Michael.  
These are a few members of the photo class.  Pretty sweet costumes eh?
The teaching class which was in lower clay has the coolest float ever!  This awesome huge old lady.  

Here is the float by the drawing class.  Just a golf cart with some of their pieces taped to the sides.  Sometimes it is best to just keep it simple I suppose.  Overall the parade was a real success.  I had an absolute blast. 

Large Jar Class at with Daniel Johnston

Here is a picture of Daniel making the biggest jar he made while he was teaching the class at Penland.
A group shot of most everyone in the class with their jars warm from the kiln.  We had to finish making these pots by Thursday of the first week in order to start loading on time.  Everyone got about one pot in the large wood kiln.  
This is one of the best large pots I made the whole time I was there.  I was pretty pleased with it so I drove it home green glazed buckled up in the passenger seat.  Needless to say it was a bit of a stressful curvy drive home.  Hopefully you will all get to see this one after being fired.
This is Remo who was my wheel neighbor.  He is from Banner Elk and really gave some great advise and provided some humor as well.  He is un bricking the kiln in the picture.  My pot is the one with the rainbow like decoration on the shoulder.  

Here is Brice un bricking the kiln hard at work as we all were the whole time.  

I learned so much about making large pots in the short two week class with Daniel.  It was incredibly humbling to watch him work and I guess the thing I learned most was how much work it is going to take to be able to make large pots that are even worth a darn.  I suppose it was like a starting point of a long pursuit of large pots.  I hope to get a hold of a separate wheel just for making big pots soon.  I plan on doing my senior show just in large jars and other big pots.  In my head it is all beautiful, but I suppose we will see what happens as it comes.   

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

New Pots in the smaller category

I just figured all the new pots I posted earlier were pretty big.  The little ones are beautiful too so I figured you would like to see those as well.  Even the little jar pictured is about the size of one of the mugs.  

Even More New pots!!

I really like the shape on this pot, but the yellow glaze did not turn out quite right, but I figured I would post it anyway.
SUPER salty ash glaze jar.

Large ash glazed jar with some slip trailed flowers on it.

Hope you enjoy the new ones!!  If you are interested in buying one please let me know.

More new pots!!

This is the first grave marker I have ever made.  I was inspired after going to Mark Hewitt's place a while back.  I also made a somewhat similar piece for a fountain that was requested by a man that attends my church.  I will have to post about that some time soon.
nice little ash glazed ginger jar

Another one of my composites.

New Pots!!!

These files are quite big so I could only load 3 at a time.  I have a few of the best ones I will show though.  This one above is a planter.  The salt did a little better than I thought working with the alkaline glaze. 
I have not done much manganese before, but this particular one turned out just the way I wanted it to.  It got super salty and got some nice texture.

I went a little composite crazy on this firing.  I made a whole bunch of them just because I thought they were fun to make.  Hopefully they will sale so I can make some more.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Salt firing at school

I spent the last half of this week wadding, loading and firing pots. Martha, Doug, and I finished salting the kiln at around 12 am. I chose to let the kiln cool fairly rapidly to around 1800 in order to achieve some shiney surfaces. Looking in there at the last minute I could see what looked like some pretty nice surfaces. This load of pots is probably the best lookig load I have ever made and I am extremely anxious to see what they look like. I made the big pot with a coil and throw method and it is around 30 inches tall. I am excited to see what happens with it as well as make some more that are bigger some time soon.

This is the front shelf stack packed to the ceiling. I have a number of clay body tests in this kiln load that I really hope work. If they do then I may be digging a whole bunch of clay very soon. I also have the first fountian I have ever made and designed in the kiln, but you cannot see it on account of it being in the back. It was a request from a man who goes to my church. Hopefully it did not crack.
I start Penland at the beginning of the week after next. I am extremely excited. Especially after seeing all the fun Ron Philbeck is having by looking at his blog. maybe I will make some penland posts while I am gone there. I am going to try and take some good photos before I leave of these new pots that hopefully come out well. I will try and get some of those up here.
Talk to ya later.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Im still making pots

Here are just some of the pots I have been making that I plan on firing at school pretty soon.  I have some different alkaline tests I want to try out.  There are some other shelves behind these with other pots.  I have enjoyed making the composite bottles the most and have been working on my lidded jars a good bit here lately.  

These are some goblets I made for two friends of mine getting married.  I wanted to make one with a dragon and the other with a phoenix which are chinese symbols representing male and female.  I made the rooster cup just because I wanted to and I like it the best.  

Firing at Matt Jones

I had such an awesome time helping Matt and his apprentice Alex fire the extremely large kiln full of pots from Saturday to Sunday.  The picture above is of Matt's son London and one of his buddies shooting bb guns at cans.  Matt's son is the boy in the back.  I had especially fun spending time with London and Matt's daughter Sara Francis.  They are really great kids.  
This is just a picture of Mike stoking.  You can see Matt in the background and Alex's girlfriend Molly opening the door for a good hard stoke.  I learned a great deal about kilns this weekend since the wood kilns I usually fire are much smaller.  Although there were many similarities there were a vast amount of subtle differences I really enjoyed.  
Many people dropped by throughout the day to catch a glimpse of firing.  Mike brought a new puppy with him who got plenty of attention from everyone especially the children.  This was such a cute picture I could not resist putting it up.

It rained pretty much the whole time I was there.  The Jones's have two little ponds that are flooding into one another creating a massive waterfall between the two.  It may seem like a problem, but it seems the kids loved playing in it.  The picture above is of water that is harnessed to produce energy for his glass crusher.  There was so much water flowing that it could not go into the tube fast enough.  We cleaned a number of fairly large rocks out of it to help fix it.  I truthfully need to get on the ball and build me one of those pivoting glass crushers.  Those things are so cool.  There is an old post Alex Matisse did on it a while back.  Check it out here.  Look and you can see the difference in water pressure.  It is pretty interesting.