Well, it's a little late notice, but this weekend is our annual Christmas Open House, alongside with other local artists and artisans, showcasing some of the best work and local products in the Norfolk area. We hope to see some of you out as we'll have our newest work on display, some snacks, and the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit a little early (and despite the wonderful warm weather). Doors open at 10 am, and we're open until 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday (November 14th and 15th.)
So two weeks ago, I was home for my reading week, which was the perfect way to get back into some potting. With the busy Christmas and Holiday season fast approaching, and guild sales, open houses and everything else mixed in, it was important we got another wood firing in.
Focusing just on glazing, I wanted to try a lot of new designs and colours this time around, to try and break up the style of work I had been doing. Here are some pictures of the glazing process, including a before and after view of the spray booth that desperately needed to be cleaned.
The firing itself was a little long, around 15 or 16 hours, but it was definitely one of our best. We loaded the kiln a little looser this time to encourage more air flow and heat distribution. I was worried since all my pieces had copper red on them, one of the hardest glazes to do consistently in a wood kiln. The fluxes and changes within the kiln can wreak havoc with the finished piece, especially as you're trying to keep a constant state of reduction over many many hours.
We didn't finish until sunrise, but it was definitely worth the long wait. A few days later and the results were wonderful. This was one of our best firings to date for colour and consistency. Here is the opened kiln, as well as some photo's of how my new pieces turned out.
Sorry for the long hiatus, living in another country makes it hard to keep in touch and update things. Now that I'm back, briefly albeit, here are some quick updates and a gentle reminder that we are still here, hard at work :)
Perhaps most importantly, is that we will be proudly participating in the 2015 Norfolk Studio Tour. My father will have his work on display, and we invite everyone to come out for the weekend, see what's new in our studio, and also discover some of the other amazing, talented artists in the Norfolk area. You can find all the information on the website, http://www.norfolkstudiotour.com/pages/home
Hope to see you soon, and I promise to update this more frequently now that I'm back in Canada :)
Some of the wonderful members of the Norfolk Potter's Guild, where my father and I are both proud members, came by and participated in one of our wood firings :) You can see some of the lovely work they produced on the very front table in the following photo. I hope everyone had a wonderful time and wasn't too tired after such a grueling (yet rewarding) process! :)
You can learn more about the Norfolk Potter's Guild on their website: http://www.norfolkpottersguild.com/
A nice short video where my father explains a little about what he does, how he got started and what makes his work unique.
The last firing of the year, always the toughest. Without my son Peter to help with loading the kiln with his work, I had to make enough work to fill the kiln. It took two weeks longer than I had hopped.
I managed to finish last minute orders, and work for galleries just in time for Christmas. My daughter April was able to help me fire the kiln till 4:30 am in the morning, another marathon when firing with wood. In the photos you can see the back two rows before and after the firing, it feels like old black and white photos and then full colour. The whole process is still very magical, not knowing exactly what you're going to get. Sometimes the results are a gift from the kiln, and other times, even with all your best efforts, nothing turns out right. But like everything in pottery, you keep trying your best and become the eternal optimist. Yes, my next firing will be even better, right!
A sincere THANK-YOU to everyone for your generous support and encouragement throughout the year. A heartfelt Merry Crristmass to everyone.
Joseph and Peter
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/
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!
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
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 :)
So, with the addition of a new(ish) shimpo whisper wheel, and a little bit of free time, I sat down and decided to make some forms that were less practical, and more fun for me. I used recycled clay, which lacks a lot of the plasticity and strength of a new bag of clay, which means there are a lot of imperfections and even ripping in the pieces. But I wanted to make thinner, lighter and more appealing shapes, something to make me happy and enjoy a bit of throwing, not worrying about how practical or dependable they are. Here are some of the cups, ~Peter
I've submitted 3 pieces, all featuring elephants on my bowls, and here are two of them, just fresh out of the kiln and already on the way to be juried. Hopefully some of them get selected :) Here is the website for the biennial information, http://www.hamiltonpotters.ca/hamilton/events/biennial/ it's held at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas from April 4th to 27th, 2014. There will be a lot of amazing work from potters in the Hamilton region :)
(oh, and I've added a 'pinit' button for all those people on pinterest, if you're into that kind of thing)
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.
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.
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 :)
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