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 :)
A nice short video where my father explains a little about what he does, how he got started and what makes his work unique.
During the last firing, we had a very shocking, and potentially dangerous surprise. Midway through the firing, well after starting reduction and getting to around 1800 degrees fahrenheit, a piece of the kiln floor broke and fell into the fire box. This was a real scare since we didn't know the extent of the damage, and it was a VERY large piece that fell. Did the floor completely break? Did the pieces inside move? Could the whole stack have fallen over? It was nerve wracking but at the same time, we didn't have any choice. We didn't hear any shifting or feel anything move, so we continued and hoped for the best. Luckily, nothing was damaged in the firing, but we definitely dodged a bullet this time.
Once everything was unloaded, we could see the extent of the damage. The large fire brick we had used for the bottom had cracked and broken nearest to the flame and firebox, and with over 30 firings in this kiln, had finally given way. Luckily none of the other floor pieces were damaged, and we managed to hammer and chisel the piece out.
We are also lucky in the sense that because of the manner in which we built the kiln, we were able to remove the bricks above the floor, piece by piece, without having to worry about the entire walls or arch coming down. This means that with the extra new bricks we've picked up, we can slide one back into place without too much hassle.
This was a very powerful reminder of the fickle nature of wood firings and older forms of pottery, and how even though we're going back to the basics, things can definitely go wrong. We will definitely be keeping a much closer eye on the state of the kiln going forward and make sure she's not falling apart on us.
My father and I would like to thank everyone who came and spent some time with us this weekend and made the studio tour such a joy. There are definitely moments when you are burdened and worn down by work, tired and exhausted, wondering, 'Why torture yourself every year?' These usually come when you've a mountain of cleaning, waxing, decorating and glazing to do, or at 3 am, covered in soot, sleep deprived and firing the kiln. We definitely had several of those moments these past few weeks, but now that the dust has settled, and the weekend has passed, we're so happy and glad we did it. It's not the work, good or bad, that makes it all worthwhile, but the people you meet, sharing your passions, and showing the love you have for working with your hands with others. We met a lot of incredible people over the weekend and we hope that visiting our studio gave you all a small glimpse into what drives and motivates us. For all of our long time customers who have popped into our studio over the years, we hope you're still finding something new and exciting to keep things interesting and fresh :)
I think for my father the highlights were definitely sharing his now semi-famous (I still don't like it, but everyone else seemed to love it) fruit punch, his grapes from our backyard, and talking about his fig tree's. For me, I really appreciated it when someone found just the right cup or mug for wine, or whisky or even sake. I love the feeling when I find the perfect cup, that sits just right in your hand, and you can't wait to sit back and really enjoy something in it. To see that look of excitement when someone picks up one of our pieces is a true joy.
Unfortunately I barely took any photo's, but here are a couple of some of my new pieces that came out of the kiln and two pictures of the work in the studio.
Once again a big thank you for everyone who visited and we hope to see you again and talk about pottery, or figs, or gardening, or anything else :)
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!
So, in one week's time, my father Joseph, my girlfriend Ayano and I, will all be at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, at Nathan Phillip's Square, July 4th, 5th and 6th. We are busy rushing to have one more firing this Sunday, just in the nick of time before the show, so please come by if you're downtown, stop in for a chat and see our latest work :) We will be at booths H13 and H15, side by side. To see all the other amazing artists at the show, check out http://www.torontooutdoorart.org/
And if you are in the Simcoe/Norfolk area, I am also participating in the "40 below" exhibition at the Norfolk Arts Center, which showcases 40 young artists from the Norfolk area. The exhibit opens on July 12th, and the opening gala is on the 18th. http://www.norfolkartscentre.ca/events.php
and now, back to work :s
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 :)
As I mentioned in our last post, my father and I submitted 6 pieces for the Hamilton Potter's guild Biennial Show at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, Ontario. We're very proud to say that 3 of the pieces, a large jar and plate by Joseph, and my elephants at the beach piece were all selected. It's quite an honour since over 140 pieces were submitted by artists all over the Hamilton region, and only 50 were selected. What's really wonderful is seeing the wide range of talent and skill, with everything from gorgeous wall mounted pieces, sculptures and functional work displayed. I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Dundas Valley School of Arts award, and was even more pleased by how many people enjoyed my piece and found it fun and refreshing. If you have a chance, stop by the gallery and have a look at all the pieces on display. The Carnegie Gallery is one of the finest galleries in Ontario. Also, our close friends and fellow potters in the Norfolk area, Melissa Schooley and Anne Armstrong, also had work selected, and Melissa's beautiful large plate also won an award!
Melissa's work: http://www.ragingbowlpottery.com/
Anne's work: http://annearmstrongpottery.com/
The show runs until April 27th.
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)
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
The fish mugs inspired by our close and dear friend, Al Simmons.Read More
Here are some pieces from the newest firing! I was extremely happy with the new celadon glaze my father mixed, it's a lot more stable, less crazing, AND the oxides came out nicely :) Again, the brown and black glazes are made from local clay, right from a farmers field here in Norfolk :) Among the pieces are a simple decorated tumbler, large, medium and small bowls, a sake bottle and cup, and a normal tea cup on it's own. ~ Peter