Blog

Studio Tour this weekend!

In the past week my father and I have crammed in more work than we can ever remember! Two wood firings, back to back, over just 6 days, and we hope we're ready for this weekends Norfolk Studio Tour! We'll be open all weekend and welcome everyone to come see the fruits of our labor, enjoy some snacks and also visit the many other wonderful artists in the Norfolk area :) We have a lot of new work and we will be opening the second firing on Saturday :) You can find all the information for the studio tour here, as well as see the other artists participating: http://www.norfolkstudiotour.com/

Click on the map for a larger image, we're number 4 :)

To show just how much we've done, here are some pictures of our pieces as we prepared for the firings :) Hope to see some of you this Saturday and Sunday!

Fresh out of the electric kiln and ready to be glazed

My father's bowls glazed with oxides and copper red

All the work drying in the sun

Getting all the work ready to be loaded into the kiln

My father applying some cobalt oxide

These are the pots we put into the bottom front row every firing

and finally, the kiln all loaded and ready to go! We'll be able to open this one up on Saturday!



We've survived!! Two days at least . . .

And so, after the weeks of working, trimming, bisquing, waxing, glazing, firing, cleaning, pricing, packing, driving and setting up, we've survived 2 days of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, and are in the home stretch. We've had a wonderful time meeting new customers and seeing some familiar faces, some customers who have been buying my fathers work since he first did the show, back in the 80's!!! Knowing that there are people who still cherish and love my fathers work really makes him proud and this whole ordeal worthwhile.

Here are some pictures of my work being set up and displayed, you'll notice the scapes, berries and strawberries from the garden in case I get hungry :)

 

If you have time, come on by tomorrow on our final day, we're at booths H13 and H15. A lot of our prized work has sold, my fathers large teapots are almost gone, and I even found a wonderful home for my beach elephant bowl (the one with the blue water), but we do have a lot of other work we are proud of, and would just love to catch up :) The end is in sight, I can't wait to sleep in and catch up on all the rest I've been missing :) Hoping everyone who saw the show had a wonderful time, thank you

 

~Peter

Two summer shows down, one big one to go!

In the past few weeks we've done both the Guelph Potter's Market and the Windsor Art in the Park shows, and loved both. Now it's really crunch time as we prepare for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, July 4th, 5th and 6th downtown at Nathan Phillip's Square! Here are a few pictures from the last shows and what we've been up to. We will be having 2 wood firings this month, so I will post new work as soon as they come out of the kiln :) Hope everyone is enjoying the amazing summer weather!  ~Peter

My work on display at the Guelph Potter's Market :)

These are my newest pieces, I'm mostly using the local black farm glaze and a natural wood ash glaze, they give the pieces a light, crisp feeling and I'm enjoying the results :)

Bella was an absolutely gorgeous little doggie that stole my heart at the Guelph show, and I think she liked me too!! She always got excited around my booth! (well, my grilled salmon lunch might have had something to do with that :p )

working on some elephant pieces

I made some more unique bowl shapes recently (huuuge rims) because I wanted to put on some elephants and make a kind of tableau. Nothing crazy, just whatever I'm in the mood for or what strikes me. Here is a group of elephants relaxing at the beach. I also don't want to over crowd the piece or make it too busy, so I'll probably leave it like this. The second photo shows the shape of the bowl a little better.

How I make my faceted bowls

So these bowls are a labour of love for me. They're a little off, skewed and asymmetrical, but that's part of the joy and beauty in them. And they are a pleasure to make, since I surrender a lot of control and intention, and let the clay and the wheel take the lead. Sometimes if I cut too deep, they will rip and break, sometimes if I don't cut deep enough, they remain static and lifeless. But when I get it just right, the bowl has a very unique, dynamic flow and feel, and it just makes me happy. So, here in brief, is how I make them.

First, I start with a normal cylinder, as if I was making any other form, bowl, cup, etc. But I leave it thicker than normal, giving me room to cut off pieces with a piece of fishing line.


I'll continue cutting pieces off, not worrying too much if they're exactly the same, all around the piece. Having different thicknesses will cause the bowl to warp and 'move' later.


Now I begin to open the bowl gently with a metal rib. If I go too quickly or roughly, it will break the walls and ruin the piece. I want to push the clay outwards, forcing it to change. You can see how the lines warp and move because of this.


Now the bowl is fully opened. The hardest part is getting a nice smooth line on the inside. Because I have to make the cylinder so tall in the beginning, it's really pushing the clay far from the center, which can sometimes make a nice rounded bowl form difficult. This one wasn't too bad.


And finally, the finished form. Like I said, these aren't all that difficult technically, but I love them since they're something I discovered on my own, and they have a wonderful feel to them. I was reflecting on this while watching a video of Warren MacKenzie throwing, and he said that each pot should have something unique about it, so that every time you pick it up, you're learning something about it. So this is how I infuse a little of myself into my work, and make it fun for me to do. A good form, that's nice to use, and makes you smile when you use it, that's all a potter can ask for.

Work from our latest firing~

Getting started early this morning, we braved the elements and wonderful Canadian weather, and opened the wood kiln. With a lot of work hopefully destined for show applications, we were anxious to see how everything turned out. Much to our delight, the copper reds and oxides came out beautiful, without almost none of them oxidizing or washing out. To get these kinds of results, and keep them consistent, in a wood kiln is something of a nightmare. A lot of potters would wonder why even try to do gas firing-esq glazes in a wood kiln, but for us, it's a matter of necessity and love. We're simply not drawn to the heavier forms and glazes of a traditional wood firing and maybe we're too stubbornly routed in celadons and copper reds. It's a love hate relationship as the ash fluctuating in the kiln, the flashing, and the uneven temperatures that are bound to flare up, wreck havoc and ruin on some of our best pots. But sometimes, just maybe, the results can be magical. We've had some beautiful pieces in this firing, especially my fathers large jars and plates, which came out stunning. I wasn't over the moon with my brush work, but then again, I didn't have to throw half of it into the garbage either. And there were some fun pieces in there as well with some elephants for good measure. Here are some of the results :)

soupART on the way!

Every year my father participates in the Norfolk SoupART fundraiser, which combines local restaurants and the Norfolk Potters guild, to put on an amazing event where people can have all you can eat soup, right out of a handmade unique soup bowl they get to choose and take home. This year I will be donating 10 bowls, and here are some of them, decorated with oxides, and waiting to be sprayed. They're actually in the kiln right now, cooling down, and almost ready to serve up some delicious soup! For more info, check out the event here: Every year my father participates in the Norfolk SoupART fundraiser, which combines local restaurants and the Norfolk Potters guild, to put on an amazing event where people can have all you can eat soup, right out of a handmade unique soup bowl they get to choose and take home. This year I will be donating 10 bowls, and here are some of them, decorated with oxides, and waiting to be sprayed. They're actually in the kiln right now, cooling down, and almost ready to serve up some delicious soup! For more info, check out the event webpage: http://www.norfolkartscentre.ca/events.php

12821282133_d487b804d1_k.jpg

trying to get started

Every time we get ready to do a wood firing, there is a hesitation and resistance that engulfs us when faced with exactly how much work we need to do. Everyone always see's a potters job as working on the wheel, but in reality, that is probably only 10% of what we do. Drying, trimming, cleaning, bisque firing, cleaning again, signing, waxing, painting, glazing, cleaning again, stacking and then firing; all these things weigh heavily upon us like an insurmountable summit ahead of a weary climber. Of course, when you are motivated, when you are under the gun, go go go, and working without thinking about how much is left to do, then it's not so bad. But in the winter months, when business is slow, there aren't many shows, and really you just want to hibernate, well, that's when it's hardest to get started. Here are some pictures of my work in the process of being decorated and glazed, something I did today, although I should have done a lot more. 

In these photo's you can see some of the mess and chaos of the studio right before a firing. Work is piled up all over, glazes need to be remixed and passed through a sieve (this can be a real pain, especially when certain glazes, like copper red, settle and turn into mud/glue at the bottom of the buckets), all my brushwork is done by hand, and then dipped into the clear glaze, and each layer of glaze (outside/inside) needs to dry completely before the other one can be applied. All in all, it's exhausting, and we're worn out even before we've loaded the kiln. Although, we'd never admit to any of this of course because being an "artist" is all about expressing ourselves and 'living in the moment' :p Fun romantic ideas which are usually so far from the truth.

 

~Peter

Firing Update, a Grueling Affair

It's 3:20 am, I'm exhausted, covered in soot, ready for bed and there's no rest in sight. Over the past few days, amid the abundance of snow, we've been working feverishly trying to get all the work ready for one last firing before Christmas. Sunday I was working at 10 am until past midnight, glazing, spraying and cleaning all my work. Today, even with our best efforts, we didn't get the kiln loaded and ready to go until 4:15 pm. So I'm 11 hours into this firing, with a possible 1-3 more hours left to go, (if not more due to the cold weather) and I feel downright drained. But the end is in sight, and without any mishaps, the kiln should be ready to unload Thursday evening. It's moments like this that make me wonder why we do wood firings, and why we don't charge a huge premium for all this extra labour.

Our First Christmas Open House!

Today marked the beginning of our first Christmas Open House as part of the annual Norfolk Country Christmas Tour! Joseph, Robin and I were all delighted to welcome everyone into our studio and we want to extend a big thank you to everyone who helped with our kiln opening! We hope you all enjoyed the excitement of first opening that kiln and seeing all the surprises (good and bad) waiting inside! We hope it brought you a little closer to our work and what makes us so passionate about wood fired pottery.

If you didn't have the chance to visit us today, we will be open tomorrow, November 17th as well, from 12-5pm, and we hope you'll drop by, have some apple cider and see what we've been up to. Please check out the other wonderful venues on the tour. This years Country Christmas Tour features amazing art work and local delicacies with 9 wonderful places to visit. You can find out more about them in the Events section.

 

~Peter