Archive for October, 2007

Lee’s Virtues

Sunday, October 28th, 2007


Lee and I were asked to speak in church on the topic of Virtue and Vice.
Lee spoke briefly but very powerfully on the topic of Virtue. She listed the virtues she values. Here is her list. I see it as descriptive of her and a laundry list for me to work on. Oh Well…


  • To be patient and kind not only when things are going well, but when things are tough. This includes people and animals.
  • To give service, especially when not asked or assigned.
  • To be sensitive and observant with those you live and work around; Those who are easiest to ignore or take for granted.
  • To pray everyday.
  • To not take offense when none is intended.
  • To be honest with yourself. Do not make excuses or justifications for thoughts or actions you know are wrong. Live in integrity.
  • To hold your toung and not speak guile.
  • To not judge others.
  • To practice repentance .
  • To be industrious; physically, mentally, intellectually, civicly and spiritually.
  • To be modest in action, speech and dress.
  • To be humble in your countenance.
  • To be obedient and submissive to God’s laws.
  • To be generous with your time, heart, back, arms and all of your wealth.
  • To forgive with your heart, not just with your lips.
  • To be grateful and express your gratitude.
  • To be a peacemaker and diffuse or deflect contention.
  • To have faith and to share it with others.

Moving Logs

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

We recently purchased two log cabins from a couple we know. They had disassembled the cabins and stored them under tarps here in town. The smaller of the two (16′x28′) will be a new painting studio for Lee when we move to our new place. The larger one (18′x34′) will eventually be a residence for us. They are both quite old and came from around here in the nineteenth century.


The kids who live next door to where the smaller cabin was stored came over to help us move the logs. The two smaller ones were fun to have around. The largest boy was actually very helpful. Pictured are Lee, Wyatt, J.C. and Tyler.


The logs are now stored in the orchard on our new place close to where the studio will stand.

Recent Work

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

During the past week I have been getting the wheel turning again after a long break. Here are some of the things I have been throwing. Click on the thumbnails to see bigger images.


Truth Restored

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Thanks Kevin. This one works for me.

Pulling a handle on a mug

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

I got an email from a pottery student asking me about how I make mug handles. What follows is some instruction with images I took of myself. Unfortunately, shooting my own demo means I can only have one hand in the photo so you will have to imagine the other one.

I start with a piece of well kneaded clay that looks like this.

Thumbnail image for handles1.jpg

From this piece of clay I will pull a long handle. Note the ridge down the middle. The handle tapers from the ridge in the middle to each outside edge. I use my right hand (not shown) to pull. I alternate between running my thumb down the right and left sides of the handle to accomplish this effect. I keep pulling until I have attained the thickness (or thiness) that desire. Finding what works for you will take some time and practice.


After getting the long handle right I pinch off short handle stubs and lay them out. These stubbs are alter attached to the mug and pulled more so they don’t have to be long. The way these are pulled they taper slightly from top to bottom. Make note of this.


Using a cerrated rib or some such tool I score the clay where I want to attach the handle to the mug. Next the scored clay is dampened with thin slip or water.


I then pick up the handle stub and dampen the bottom (or thinner end) and press it into the scored and dampened clay with a wiggling motin until it feels attached. You will feel it attaching and becoming one piece of clay.


Gripping the handle stub near its attachment to the mug I squeeze and press it into the mug making the attachment more sure. This motion should cause the handle to thicken a little toward that attachment as you see here.


After dipping my free hand in water for lubrication I start pulling the handle with a FEW quick strokes that begin very near the attachment. I am looking for a handle that thickens slightly at the point of attachment and taper away from there. I don’t want the handle too thick or thin. Again, practice will tell what that looks and feels like.


As I return the mug to a vertical position I dampen the side of the mug where I expect to attach the bottom of the handle and make that attachment.


The excess tail of the handle is cut away with a needle tool and the handle is smoothed in place.


Here are a couple of finished mugs with handles. It takes a while to hit the proportions right. Be aware of how this mug will fit in the hand. It is easy to get too much handle. Decide if you wanat a one, two or three finger handle. It is better to err on the small side, I think.

handles11.jpgPractice a lot before you start keeping mugs for firing. There are already enough bad mugs in the world. It is like my early teacher Andy Watson used to say: “The good Lord spent four billion years getting that clay to this point, don’t do something in the next five minutes that will mess that up.”
A great idea for practicing is to take a glass or plastic cylinder and attach handles to it over and over again until it comes easily.

Today’s Music: “Lay it Down” Cowboy Junkies

Today’s Quote: “Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has
no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the
unbending; the soft can overcome the hard.” - Lao Tse

What the Heck

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Hi, I am back. Some time ago an evil cyber nerd ate my blog. It appears that, for now, the “Potter’s Journal” I have kept for the past few years is gone. Oh well. Lessons in non-attachment.

joelava.jpgAs the blog was disappearing I was in preparation mode for my last commercial river trip of the season. I launched September 14 on the Colorado River and ran 13 days through Grand Canyon. It was a great trip. The crew were all geezers. The youngest was 53 and the eldest was in his late fifties. It was nice to have that much maturity and experience on board.

A week later I launched again on the Colorado from Moab, Utah for six days in Cataract Canyon with no one else except my sweetie, Lee. That was the trip of a lifetime. More to follow on that.

Back in Spring City I am now busy clearing out this year’s garden and settling into fall pottery making. My holiday sales are only six weeks away. Whew!