A potter’s work is never done…..

Its always something. I’ve got a sale this weekend, and getting my ducks all lined up is turning into a matter of pleading with the relevant persons, cajoling my household into a proper state of being, and furiously whipping my studio into shape as I juggle about ten different high priority tasks all at once. Just how many more pots can I push through my kiln before I need to set things up for friends and customers this Saturday and Sunday?

Sanding, sanding, and more sandiing. I wad the bottoms of my pots so I can put glaze on the underside where I have interesting cut-off patterns from the wire tool I use. The wads always leave a bit of crust that needs to be removed, so its either the drill with a silicon carbide grinding tip or a variety of sandpaper grades to finish it off.

Sanding, sanding, and more sanding. I wad the bottoms of my pots so I can put glaze on the underside where I have interesting cut-off patterns from the wire tool I use. The wads always leave a bit of crust that needs to be removed, so its either the drill with a silicon carbide grinding tip or a variety of sandpaper grades to finish it off. My quick and easy photo set up in the background is how all these next images were taken. Doesn’t need to be anything elaborate really…..

Another sale season….. Whoo hoo!

This time around I have made the potentially catastrophic decision to commit most of my pot-making to untested clays rather than limiting the experiment to samples of a few as supplement for my tried and tested source of clay. I can’t do many things in small measures, it seems. But it started out as merely a first step rather than any grand plan. I swear! The initial ambition was noble, I thought. At some point I’ve gotta use up the reclaim I’ve been hoarding for over a dozen years….

So my first departure from the norm was finally digging into my 7 barrels of reclaim and seeing what I could do with that clay. To be honest I thought that most of what I was using was slop from my preferred clay, and maybe some of it was, but the majority turned out to be either straight porcelain of undetermined provenance or contaminated by it. What was I thinking when I saved all that old clay and didn’t clearly label it!!!!!!

My next departure was that with the company I get my preferred clay from still being out of that clay I had to find a commercial substitute to work with. A rival local clay company weighed in with an alternative that was marketed as supposedly “Just like ‘X’….”. It turns out there was so much more body flux in the clay that it bisqued much tighter and my glazes not only failed to apply correctly but some of the glazes actually boiled in the glaze firing!!!!!

So a few months into my production run and I’m still out of my regular clay and I decide that one possibility would be to use a red clay with white slip on it. That worked alright in the past for at least some of my glazes. And some of my best experimenting with new forms this time was done with this clay. I had big hopes! Several hundred pounds of clay later I discover that the glaze I was counting on wasn’t working any more after I had remixed it with ingredients sourced from different batches of raw materials. Yikes!!! What else could go wrong?!

Go ahead and laugh, but after inflicting all this chaos on myself through random acts and overestimation of my resources, I actually woke up one morning late last week having twisted my leg overnight and discovered that I could no longer bend my knee. This with so much left to do, including most of my advertising campaign getting the word out in the neighborhood by dropping postcards off on peoples porches….. I wasn’t sure I could walk onto my own porch much less get on my bike and tour around the ‘hood…..

Well, believe it or not, I somehow muddled through, managed to bend the knee enough to get on and off the bike and get postcards out (biking actually seems to be good for it once I got over the initial pain :) ), and have some 3-400 new pots to show for myself. I eventually DID get my hands on the right clay before it was too late, and made a few runs of pots that I wanted to make. Phew! Along the way I tested a few glazes and came up with one that I really like. The blue in the pictures below. Now I just need to clean the studio and price pots.

Wish me luck!

DSCN4124

DSCN4154 DSCN4161 DSCN4171 DSCN4175

 

Would you believe new salt & pepper shakers? This was my riff on those old sugar dispensers that you see in classic restaurants.

Would you believe new salt & pepper shakers? This was my riff on those old sugar dispensers that you see in classic restaurants.

Peace all!

Make beauty real!

.

About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
This entry was posted in Art, Ceramics, Clay, Creative industry, Creativity, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A potter’s work is never done…..

  1. Meg Beaudoin says:

    hope your knee feels all better real soon and that you have a great sale. don’t forget to pick me out a great mug to buy. Meg

  2. Scott Cooper says:

    Good luck! That new blue/grey glaze looks fantastic, and I think it really works with your new handles.

    • Thanks!

      Yeah, I couldn’t have imagines a better reveal of all those attachments either. The light break just pops! This small artistic step forward is probably enough success that even a poor sale can be accepted. But I’ll take the cash too!

  3. Joseph says:

    The work is looking really amazing. I wish my job paid for the amount of pottery I would like to buy!

    • Thanks Joseph!

      I really only have one vice, and its buying pottery, but I’m with you about falling short of how much I am able to afford. There were maybe two or three years where I didn’t buy a single pot, but other than that I seem to be able to add one or two or even more if I am lucky. At this point I have shelves around the ceiling of two of my rooms, and all the bookshelves have more pots than books on them. The kitchen hasn’t had a single mass produced cup, bowl, or plate for over 20 years. I decided long ago when my space was getting maxed out that I could still justify getting new pottery with a motto of “Upgrading”. Sometimes you just have to let go of the older pots that have lost interest for you. I occasionally give them away as presents to friends and family. They still can have lives where they are enjoyed by other people. Its actually a good deed setting them free to have these other lives, and if its the excuse you need to discover new beauty in your world, the its a win all around!

      Good luck in your quest to surround yourself with handmade beauty!

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