Posts Tagged ‘Pottery making’

The accidental Entreprenuers.

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Yesterday Lee and I spoke at Snow College’s Entrepreneurial Seminar. I was a little bemused when the invitation came simply because we have never thought of ourselves as entrepreneurs. If an entrepreneur is “an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative”. Then I suppose we are. There certainly is a fair amount of risk involved and initiative required to make it as artists in this economy. We had a good time and I hope the students got something they can use. I began by reading Wedell Berry’s “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer’s Liberation Front“. I talked about Dicken’s character Jacob Marley and his regrets about having spent his career concerned with “the dealings of my trade” instead of the real business of the common welfare of Mankind. Ed Abbey said that “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell”. When it was over the director said it was unique in the history of their seminars. I’ll bet. THat is what they get for inviting old hippies to talk about business.
Pictured above are Lee, me, Allan Christensen and Jamee Wheelwright.

In other news the wheel keeps cranking out holiday bargains for the upcoming sale days just a few weeks off.






24 Plates for the Holiday Sale

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I made twenty four plates and stamped them with little slogans. The the slogans are things I would like to invite people to consider and live by perhaps. They are slogans that I have tried to integrate into my life. Some successfully and others not yet fully realized but works in progress.



I also trimmed eighteen pie dishes from Saturdays throwing. The Holidays are upon me and I need to get a firing off before I go under the knife for knee replacement.

The last pots of early summer.

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Down to the final stretch throwing mostly small fillers. The glaze firing stats next week with the first one coming off just ahead of Heritage Day.



Don’t forget to drop by and stock up on Mom’s Stuff for the summer.

Meanwhile back at the pottery shop

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

After month spent de-rigging, pruning the orchard, planting the garden and writing the newsletter due out May 1 I wandered into the pot shop this week and made some things. I’ll be firing again in mid to late May just in time for the annual Heritage Day home tout which brings a load of people to Spring City for the Memorial Day weekend. Between now and then is one more river trip. I’l spend the week of May 2-8 taking some folks through Cataract Canyon.

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Honey pot, utensil holder, small jug and detail.
I made vases like these in three different sizes.

Making a lidded oval baker.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010


A year ago I tried making a couple of large lidded oval bakers. They turned out well and were sold as soon as they came out of the kiln. (Why does Dave Ericson a;ways show up to help unload?) I decided to try a longer run of the last week. Here is a simplified step by step of their making.
I started by throwing a series of low wide cylinders and reshaping them into a trefoil type oval.

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The rim is thrown thick and formed into a gallery to accept the lid.

After the body of the pot has set up a while but is still pliable I throw the bottom. I like throwing rather than rolling it because i get that nice spiral in the center.
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The body of the pot is then placed on the bottom and “wiggled” around until I feel it start to stick. I then smooth down the edges with my finger inside and out and cut all the way around it with a wooden knife tool and then trim away the excess clay from the bottom with a fettling knife.

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Using a triangular rib I scrape away excess clay from the base and undercut it a little. I like to leave the “deckle edges” where they occur.

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With the oval baker still on the wheel I stick a couple of handles on and pull them in place.

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Next I cover the bakers with light plastic and roll out a slab of clay a little bigger than the pot for each one and set them aside.

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After the slab has had time to stiffen up some I use a hard rubber rib to press the slab into the rim of the baker carefully stretching it to give it an inverted dome shape.


After I have finished shaping the lid I trim around the edge of the baker with a needle tool and let the lids and bakers dry and stiffen together.

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When the lid is stiff enough to handle but still pliable I turn it over and trim it along the line left in the clay from the rim of the baker using a needle tool on the outside and a fettling knife on the inside. I also smooth the rim of the lid with my fingers and a little water if needed.

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With the lid trimmed and smoothed I pull a strap handle, bend it and attach it to the lid. I fit the lid to the baker by gently adjusting the shape of the baker to conform to the lid and by shaping the lid with a sureform. This is only going to work if the baker is still somewhat pliable. THe moisture content of the baker is critical and can be maintianed by wetting the baker and keeping it covered until the lid is ready.

These six bakers were made and put together over a three day period.

Sliding to the river.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The launch date for our Grand Canyon trip is galloping toward us. I am making as much pottery as I can so I’ll be able to fire before we go. I have a client who wants dinnerware so I need to throw enough to make a firing. Hands on clay, mind in the ditch….a very big ditch.


Here are some of what I have been making.

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Cooling off

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Photo Credit:Jason Olson, Deseret News
I fired the wood burner yesterday. I have been catching up on some things today and getting the shop ready for the studio tour on Saturday. One aggravation has been the fact that the Deseret News of Salt Lake City printed a couple of stories in Tuesday’s edition about our artist’s studio tour and plein air painting competition. They were very nice pieces except for the fact that they got the dates wrong. They printed that the studio tour was September 9-12. It is only on Saturday. Both yesterday and today a lot of people (80+ each day) have been wandering around town asking where the tickets and guide books for the tour can be purchased. I had to put a sign up at my studio asking people to please not come back to the kiln because I lose concentration and miss my stoking rhythm. For the most part these are people who won’t be coming back Saturday and probably went away a little ticked off. You never want people going away from your event less that very satisfied. It is bad business.
Here are some photos and such that I have not had time to post during the past few days because of hectic kiln packing and firing.
Small and large jugs.
Jug handle detail.
A 12 lb vase thrown in two pieces. After it was joined and had set up a little I put handles on the sides.
Here are the bisqued and glazed pots packed in the kiln and ready to fire. I mostly glaze my surfaces. I leave a little naked clay for the fire to write on but not too much. I finished packing and bricking up the kiln later that I would care to admit.

Rolling on.

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I am working my way through the 2+ tons of clay I had Jim Simmister get for me from Laguna earlier this year. It is a pleasure to see the clay slip through my hands on its way to relative permanence. I still am somewhat amazed that I or anyone for that matter can take amorphous clay and turn it into vessels with what feels like not much effort. I realize that the skills I rely on have been coming along for 38 years now. At this point I don’t think much about all those years at the wheel. I first picked up clay in 1971. I was enamored with my cousins, Scott, Mark and Anne Bennion’s pottery making next door to where I grew up. They had a wheel and a small gas kiln. I’d watch them and think “this has to be it”.
Here is a bit of what is coming off the wheel today. I had visitors from Bountiful and Salt Lake City. I am still a bit amazed at how my local customers are supporting me. No packing and shipping works for me.
Three lb serving bowls.
Batter bowls.
Assorted bowls.
Footed bowls.
Bread pans.
Oval baking dishes.

Work and Play

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Last week the current edition of Ceramics Monthly arrived. With all I have going on preparing for another river trip and getting the garden whipped into shape I am surprized that I had time to look at it at all. Of course I was delighted to see Kevin and Linda Crowe’s words in the Comment section. I read with some interest the focus on working potter’s titled “Work and Play:The Potter’s Life”. The article features the self written expressions of eight studio potters several of whom are old and new friends of mine. It was very interesting reading their various approaches and thoughts about this thing we do. It reminded me of the time when I was a lot younger and just had recently moved to Spring City. I’d say it was 1977 or so. My neighbor Lonnie Brewer who then ran the little filling station in town asked me as he checked my oil and cleaned my windshield (Yes, that was still going on here then.) what my line of work was. I told him that I was setting up a pottery shop. He cocked his head to one side and mused “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play for a living.
Perhaps he was right, potting is a form of play for many. Lots of folks wait until retirement to pick it up. My endocrinologist and his wife make pottery on evenings and weekends and attend a workshop somewhere almost every summer. I have not seen their work but I am sure it is done for the right reason, love.
My career in clay began while I was studying developmental psychology and early childhood education in college and took a potting class to unwind. I am still unwinding I guess. Lee advised me when we were first married that I should think about going into ceramics as a major. She observed that when I came out of my education and psych classes that I was all knotted up and that when I had been kicking it (pun intended) in the pot shop I was relaxed and looked a lot more like the guy she had fallen in love with.
I remember asking my mother when I was about nine years old why it was I had to eat all my food, do homework and certain household chores that I found unappealing. I really felt that life should be spent doing things one wanted to do whether they were work or play.
I am afraid that that sentiment has become a defining element in my adult life. I busy myself with things that I find fun. Not all aspects of potting are as fun as others. Throwing cups is a gas while butchering wood is a bit more like work, but it is all part of what it takes and are all a form of working on my stuff. On the river rowing a big boat into Lava falls is as good as it gets while cleaning the crappers at the end of the trip is less romantic. In my garden planting, harvesting and eating are pure fun, weeding is less so. This morning I was shoveling fresh horse manure out of the corral so I will have compost next year in the spring when I need it. On Fridays I like to hang it up and go sit with murderers , rapists and various other felons because it feeds me and them. Last night I spent a couple of hours splitting large boulders into smaller more manageable blocks of stone for landscaping. Bursitis not withstanding, it was a lot of fun. I wish I had picked quarryman and mason skills a bit earlier in life.
One common aspect of each of the narratives in the CM piece was a breakdown of time spent on ceramics into potting, firing, marketing and bookkeeping. I was surprised at how much these other artists spend on the marketing and bookkeeping end of things. In my last post I talked about how I market my work. I asked Lee to give me a sense of how much of the time I spend on ceramics goes to those things. Her response was “About one percent.” Because my marketing is almost all out of my own front door I don’t spend much on packing, shipping, keeping track of inventory on consignment, traveling to shows and fairs or dealing with galleries. I check the shop (always open) once a day when I am not working there. I spend an hour once a quarter logging sales for tax purposes. Once a year I spend a day or two writing our newsletter and gathering photos. Lee will spend another couple of days on the computer designing the rag. In January I’ll spend another couple of days going through our filed receipts and statements organizing information for our accountant to generate a 1040 and related forms. Lee makes the deposits and balances the checking account. Once in a blue moon I’ll pack and ship a pot to someone who has contacted me from a distance wanting a piece. I don’t think one percent is too far off.
I don’t know if this is a better way. It is just what I do. I don’t make as many pots a some of the people in this article. My time on the river, in the garden and in jail takes me away from the studio. I go there when I need to restock the shelves or when I have a request. I’d say I spend eight months of the year all told making and firing pots and that is enough.

Tools and pots

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

I am not really a tool and die man. I build kilns and make tools out of necessity. I know some potters who make pots only so that they can make tools and build kilns. I am the other way around.
So anyway I decided to make some new roller type tools for putting pattern on pots. From left to right here are:
A roller from Capital Ceramics in Salt Lake. Next are two rollers used to press down seams in wall paper. One is new. The other on is twenty years or more older. I can’t find ones like that any more. I suspect the new ones are all plastic. Then there is Shoe Goo and various strings and cords from the local hardware store.
I start by rolling the glue onto the roller like I would if I were inking a brayer for print making.
When the glue is evenly distributed I wind the cord onto the roller and hold it until it sticks.
Nice tool, eh?
Here is the same idea with carpenter’s string.
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Mugs showing string roller, cord roller and bisque stamp impressions
Here is the same thing on a small vase.
Three slab built platters with rope/string patterns and details of the same. Fun with clay.