Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bulldog Pottery Holiday Weekend

Bruce and Max peaking into the kiln
 Maxwell and Bruce are peaking into the kiln. At this stage the kiln is hot and slowly taking the bricks off the door helps cool it down so we can unload. If we didn't do this, the kiln would probably not be ready to unload for another day, on top of the 40 hour wait to this point.  We posted this image on our facebook page, and Mountain Cousin Michael Kline wrote some funny ha ha's. We want to share a little pottery humor with you.
Michael Kline writes:
 "We (Mark Shapiro and I) always had this battery of tests: (he is referring to; when is the kiln too hot
if the kiln....
  •  burns paper/too hot.
  • cuticles burn? too hot
  • spit on finger, touch pot:sizzle/too hot
  • now we have the "red ball/melt=too hot" test!

Bruce writes 
  • Red Ball to Black Cinder would be a reasonable too hot indicator?

Michael writes 
  • Check. Rubber ball cinder test has been added as an indicator to impatient potter standing next to kiln battery of tests.

Unloading a kiln can be full of mixed feelings. There are subtle nuances and expectations for the glaze surfaces that we look for.  Just the right melt, just the right color, hue, and texture. To us as potters there is our favorite way the glaze turns out, but most of the time it may only happen on a handful of pieces. For example, This particular kiln load was a bit on the cool side. We wish we had waited at least 20 more minutes before we turned off the kiln, we like a little bit more of a melt in the glaze surface, but we also realize we did not lose any of Bruce's bowls due to glaze running, and only a couple of jar lids, and hey, it still came out really good overall! 
We usually start pulling pots from the bottom of the kiln since it is always cooler than the top.

Samantha unloading the front part of the kiln

Our kiln has two layers, the front and the back.
Bruce is getting closer the the second layer of pottery in our kiln
Bruce added a turquoise glaze onto his lustre shino this cycle
We wanted to show you a sample of the variation that occurs with Bruce's shino glazing.  The two cups below are the same glaze. The one on the left did not get any carbon trapping, and the one on the right did. Maybe some time we can write a separate blog post about shino specifically, or if you are in our shop and are interested let us know.  One reason we like this glaze is because of the variety in surface color depending on where it is at in the kiln.

An assortment of Samantha's covered jars

Samantha kept this cup. She added another glaze onto it and wants to keep it as a reference.

This is a cup of Bruce's that we kept. 

Saturday morning started early. We scheduled the kiln opening to start at 9:00 and people were on time! Wonderful. We were not quite ready. We were still walking pots up from our studio. Everyone was patient with us and enjoyed looking through the new work as we unpacked the pottery from the boxes.

People visited us throughout the day. We are very happy with the turnout, and appreciated everyone coming out to our Bulldog Pottery event. We have begun to clear out more of our old studio space for pottery display. 

Eventually, we will turn these two rooms into our shop as soon as we can move all of our stuff out. We sure can collect it, stuff.

Ed took a picture of Bruce and me at the end of the day. We want to thank everyone for coming out this past weekend, and thank you to everyone that thought of us.  
We have had a blast this year! Here is to an awesome 2012!

Friday, December 16, 2011

And They're Out

All of the pots are unloaded and out of the kiln. We transported them down to our studio. The troops are out in full force tonight polishing up the pottery. Tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn we will be setting up the pieces in our studio. More pictures soon.

A little Peak

Maxwell and Bruce taking a peak at the results of the firing.
We are slowly unbricking the door, to let the hot air out. Stay Tuned for the "After" picture later today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Can you Come Out to Play Today

Bruce preparing a bit of glaze with Maxwell
The kiln is full and firing as I write this.  We are a bit ahead of our usual firing schedule which is a good thing because it means (cross your fingers) that we will be able to turn it off at a decent hour this evening. We have been steadily glazing our pottery since we last checked in. We are relieved, happy, restfully tired, excited, and filled with anticipation for what will come out and thrilled that we have completed this cycle.
Bruce added a new color combo to his pots, he is working off of a test tile so we are hoping that this doesn't cause any trouble for us. Stay Tuned.
The Moka glaze was behaving a little different in application this time. So there is a tad bit of wondering if the pots will be affected.  When getting ready for a kiln opening like we are doing now, there is a certain level of anxiety that happens.  We have specially invited people to come out and we are hoping that we have a kiln load of successful pots for them to see. It is all part of the territory of being a studio potter.

Maxwell likes to remind us that we still need to play, if only for a few minutes.

In the image above Max was wondering if now is a good time for Bruce to take a break to play a little. Alas, Bruce had to tell Max to go find Gloria and see if she had anything to help entertain him for a spell.

Maxwell with Gloria while she cooks, one of Maxwell's favorite places to be

Max went with me up to the studio. How can you say no to those baby brown eyes? 
Maxwell proposes a trade with Samantha for her shiney new Grinch pants.
She threw it instead.

We tossed the ball together. One of Max's sole purposes in life is running with and after his red ball. His friends Joan and Paul recently sent him a new red ball, he wants to give them a big thank you for his new shiny ball.  
Maxwell with his shiney new ball

Afer a little ball toss we went to find out how Ed was doing with his pottery job. We found Ed half way through the recent grouping of pots that came out of the bisque kiln. Ed is our official pottery washer, removing the dust that would cause problems in glazing.  
Ed and Maxwell

Maxwell knows he can always get Ed to play
Ed tossing Maxwell's ball

Maxwell in his element


I know it can be cliche to say enjoy everyday, be in the moment, and never take for granted our happiness with the ones we love. But cliche or not it is the truth, and we should always remember how valuable every living moment is, hug one another often, and take presious moments in time to smell the roses. 

Samantha carrying a board up pots to the kiln

Our kiln is in the old hog parlor

A before image of the kiln
This is our kiln before we have bricked up the door.

We want to thank the Studio Potter Archive blog and Carolina Arts Unleashed blog for helping to spread the word about our upcoming kiln opening this weekend on Saturday December 17.
Also we want to thank Randolph Arts Guild and Central Park NC for including us in there weekly e-mail.
Also the Heart Of North Carolina, Randolph County TDA.
If I missed anyone let me know, I will add you on! Thanks!!

Also I posted some images on Three Corners Clay of the other Seagrove potteries having kiln openings this weekend.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On Our Way

Samantha is matching different shaped thrown knobs to her covered jars
Last weekend and up until this past Tuesday we were finishing our pottery for our upcoming kiln opening on Saturday December 17th. These images are a bit behind, but we have been focused on moving these pieces through the bisquing cycle and mixing glazes.  This is always an exciting time for us. We are on our way to concluding a cycle which is both satisfying and filled with anticipation. Not to mention this comes at a very special time of the year. Now we are at a juncture when we can sit back and allow ourselves to have a little down time.
covered jars without their knobs
the knobs are thrown separately

Below are the finished covered jars that are now in need of decoration.  There are so many glazes that we have been wanting to explore, and we want to dedicate some time to experiment in 2012. One of these days we will build a small gas kiln, about half the size of what we have now. This way we can turn our pottery cycle around a bit more frequently.  For example these pieces could be for two different kilns back to back instead of one kiln. That way new glazes can be discovered and worked out.
the finished jars
There is something very satisfying about trimming. For the past couple of years Bruce has received a gift certificate (from me) for Bison tools. These are trimming tools with carbide blades that hold up very well to the rigors of trimming abrasive clays.  They are so hard and sharp that Bruce uses the edges that don't contact the clay to sharpen other tools and knives.
Bruce is feeling the bowl to see where the clay is that he want to remove

Because of rain at the beginning of the week, we made this quick drying cart using plastic sheeting with a dehumidifier placed on the bottom shelf.  The idea was passed on by master mold maker John Ryall for speeding up the drying of plaster without damaging it with too much heat.  Works great with clay as well.

Maxwell is trying to tell me something!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Samantha has new Kermit the Frog Pants

Bruce throwing a lid to a covered jar
We have been focused at the wheel this last week. A great place to be.  We are cutting it close, but I think we will make our deadline, we usually do one way or another. We have a lot of pots to finish up today and probably tomorrow, then some quick sun drying so we can bisque fire the pots.  Nothing like pushing on through and boy howdy am I looking forward to the holiday vacation I am planning for the rest of December.  I am researching which new Wii games to order (which will be great Xmas gifts for Ed, Gloria, and Bruce) and I will be set to goof off a bit. 

Straight-walled bowls. This form is great to decorate. 
Bruce is going to try out a couple new glaze combinations this firing. We have a couple of overlaps with our new luster shino that look good on test tiles. It will be great to see them on the bowls and covered jars that he has designed. Lets just hope that the glazes don't want to act up on a larger surface than the test tiles. This happens often, but one doesn't know until one tries.

Bruce is throwing covered jars in this image

Samantha's plates drying, I am waiting to flip them so I can trim a foot
I have thrown some larger dinner plates and a series of smaller plates, the size for sushi. We have had a set of these in cabinet for around 10 years. We use them all the time. Slowly our set is being whittled away. Sometimes accidents happen, we need to start replacing the missing pots. It has been a long while since I threw this size.

small sushi size plates thrown by Samantha, they are drying upside down

This is what we are doing a lot of the last couple of days, and will be today and tomorrow. Trimming a foot onto our pieces sometimes takes longer than throwing them. We like the feel trimming gives our pots, and it allows us to glaze the entire piece except for the foot ring.  It is a very nice effect. 
Bruce is trimming a foot into his cup

The other day we did take some time out to plant daffodils. Getting ready for Daffie Days, our spring kiln opening at the end of March. We will have a wide selection of vases for flowers. Max was very sore after planting around 15 bulbs (we have 300 more to go). 

Maxwell didn't want to stop playing. He is a go go kinda dog. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Play Ball!

We are in our last day of throwing. Maxwell has just about had it. All work for Bruce and Samantha makes us very dull companions.  Maxwell is letting Bruce know that he needs his time too!

Play Ball!

We are in our last day of throwing. Maxwell has just about had it. All work for Bruce and Samantha makes us very dull companions.  Maxwell is letting Bruce know that he needs his time too!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

We are back at it in the studio this past week. We have planned one last hurrah for the year 2011. We will have a kiln opening on December 17 with as many pieces as we can make during this past week and the next four days. We have covered jars, mugs, pitchers, and mushroom jars in the works right now and we will see what can be thrown in the next couple of days.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We relaxed a bit, played a little Wii which was very fun, ate turkey and oyster stuffing, drank vanilla chai tea, and threw some pots.  I have not taken the time to sit back and play our Wii for who knows how long, and after playing a little I think I will try not to have so much time elapse. Wii fitness is fun and challenging and after 1/2 hour I was a bit tired and played Boom Blox Bash designed by Stephen Spielberg.  The game is relaxing and something you can do from a sitting position.  I am on the look out for a few more games for this Xmas.

For special occasions we set the table with plates that we have collected from other potters. Whenever we are out and about at a show or visiting, we sometimes buy a special plate. It is enjoyable to set the table with plates made by different potters. Below the table is set with plates by Ken Sedberry, Kyle Carpenter, Mark Shapiro, Sarah Jaeger, Matt Jones, compote by Micheal Hunt/Naomi Dalglish, and of course a Bulldog Pottery plate.
Thanksgiving dinner table

At the Celebration of Seagrove Potters, Tom Starland dropped by the booth. He drove up from South Carolina where he and his wife Linda publish an online arts newspaper called the Carolina Arts.  They include all kinds of Arts information for South and North Carolina. If you want to know what is going on in the Arts, this is a great place to check on a frequent basis.