Friday, July 24, 2009

yunomi workshop day 5: wrapping up

It makes sense that the last day of the workshop, we'd be wrapping up projects, reviewing notes and digesting the week's information. Well we did that (and digest more good food too!), but the last day was no less a continued exploration and adventure as the rest of the week.

We met as became our ritual at Roots for yet another great breakfast, and while there we met up with Eileen & Marty Black of the nearby Potter's Mark studio. They were about to open a kiln, and kindly invited us to come by and tour the studio and see the results. Unfortunately, I did not have camera in hand to document that, but it was great to see yet another studio layout, see the results (great firing!) and talk more 'shop' with two who have pursued a passionate life in clay. Matt even discovered (possibly, yet to be confirmed) that a gifted batter bowl is likely to have come from Eileen & Marty's studio. kind of small world we love!

At the studio, we had yunomi to trim and our little batch of test lizella to throw. Matt had trimmed a couple yesterday, but they were a bit wet so the rest were saved for today. One trimmed yesterday sports added 'organic' elements: while trimming, his tool caught an edge and sent the yunomi flying off the wheel and slamming against my tool cart, landing in a nice pile of dog hair. I knew he was a full fledged Crazy Green potter when he calmly picked it up, blew it off and put it back on the wheel and kept trimming.

our yunomi fun - it wasn't about quantity, it was about our exploration of the form,
and it came in many ways, both on and off the wheel.

My aim to get Matt more comfortable on the wheel had the best evidence of success when he said he wanted to throw the lizella on my kick wheel! Not only have I restored his comfort on the wheel, but after a demo and his own go at making a few guinomi (sake cups), I have a solid kick wheel convert! The lizella was very nice to throw, and I'm looking forward to some fun firing tests with that later.

Matt, falling under the spell of the kick wheel...

Once all trimming and throwing were finished, it was time to pack up tools and wares, as the rest of our day was outside the studio.

stuffing a week's worth of goodies into the car for the trip home...

Our first stop ... can you guess? Lunch! One final visit to Roots, and Matt and Lisa succeeded in working their way through the menu. It was the perfect place for us to start and have our mid day break for the week - great setting, great people, and you may have gathered from earlier comments, really great food! As a token of appreciation for taking such good care of us all week, Matt gifted Katie with one of his vase frames, complete with sunflower. It's hard to tell for sure, but I think she liked it!

we swear, it's not a staged shot!

Well fed yet again, we headed out for a few more studio tours. We were on more of a schedule, so I didn't keep the camera with me here, but follow the links to see what we saw!

First stop, Clay Space Coop, where Melissa Weiss was cleaning pots from her latest wood fire. We saw great work by all the Coop members in their gallery, coming close to licking several very yummy pieces.

Next was a visit to Constance Williams studio to see her encaustic work, then next door to the clay artists at the Curve Studios, where Maria Andrade Troya and Jenny Mastin welcomed us to crawl around while they worked.

After that, it was time to shop! Matt wants to try some of the glazes I use, as well as the oxide washes we used on our tests, so a stop at Highwater Clays was a must. Jennifer was there, so she got to see some of the firing results that came about in good part because of her earlier suggestions. Well stocked with glaze materials and a few new, tools, it was time to say goodbye to Matt and Lisa. We met at Highwater at the beginning of the week, and it was a natural completion of our adventure to end there.

It was a great week, and I know I'm taking away as much from our time and discoveries as Matt has, and will continue to as I know he'll be updating me on his own firing results, using some of the new techniques and firing programs that we explored here. And I'm very interested to see how he continues his wheel work, although I also came away with a few new slab techniques that I'm looking forward to trying myself.

And in addition to the great information, deeper friendships and new inspirations, I also have great treasures from both Matt and Lisa. From Matt, one of his slab built yunomi cups from our test firing, and from Lisa, delicious refrigerator pickles that she says will last a month, but I highly doubt it!

newest addition to my yunomi collection

mmmmm...spicy, crunchy, pickles!

yunomi '09

Thursday, July 23, 2009

yunomi workshop day 4: kiln results & some trimming...

While we've had lots to do over the past two days, and in many ways it's gone by so fast, there's another part that has run in slow motion, and that's the timeline from when we finished loading the kiln Monday night to when we could finally open it earlier today. Even while bustling through wheel work and studio tours, always in the back of the mind is 'how long till we can open the kiln!?!?!?'.

Well Christmas in July has arrived, and we had some very, VERY nice results. Even better, Matt was able to see a distinct difference in the results he has had in past firings and those we had, using a different firing program and going to a slightly higher temperature.

Here are some results:

Matt's slab-built yunomi with added texture.
These were rubbed down with oxide washes before
glazes were applied. One will stay with me!

Matt's 'vase frames' - a fun design and beautiful in function!
Some had oxide wash, some underglaze brushwork
under the glaze.

our 'super secret slip tests': lizella slip dipped on bisqued test tiles,
and then dipped in each of Matt's glazes and a couple of the house glazes
We were very pleased to see the glaze stayed on, and the textural and tone
results also give us more to play with going forward

more slab plates (I can't wait to see future tests with his wheel work!),
he put texture lines in the wet pots, and the glazes made
some nice accents in those lines.

platter tests: these were lined with the lizella slip. Matt then
painted a line of wax resist up the middle before painting a
different glaze on each side. Again, the tone, color and texture that the
lizella slip brings will be the starting point for many more tests!

plate tests: Matt picked up a couple of new commercial
glaze colors to test, and these are some of the combos.
the bottom two are his commercial glazes accenting
one of my house glazes. The quick & dirty photos don't
show it well, but some of those combos, along with
slow cooling, produced some nice crystallization.

more plate tests, putting various combos of the commercial
glazes together. Again the photos don't do justice to the
way the glazes and combos are working with the texture
Matt put in the plates.

the bottom plate is one Matt fired in his studio, and
the top plate is the same clay body, with the same base glaze,
but fired to a higher temp and down fired. He was very
pleased to see the difference!

We did do some trimming on the yunomi we threw on Tuesday,
but the wet box did its job too well, and Matt left some to finish tomorrow.

Tomorrow is our last day, and we'll be pulling it all together, discussing materials and methods for mixing glazes, oxide washes and conducting line blend tests. We'll talk about equipment and take another look at our glaze results, and finish trimming the yunomi. We also have a bit of lizella clay that we'll be throwing for guinomi, or sake cups. Add to that a last shopping spree at Highwater, some local studio visits and of course ... lunch at Roots! I think I will succeed in my goal of sending them home well fed, in both body and mind!

yunomi workshop day 3: tour of the four potters

It's field trip day! Tuesday night we fired the kiln, so while the studio cooled down from 120 degrees or so, we hit the road. Here's our day:

First stop: Breakfast. Yes, it's the most important meal of the day, but the secondary purpose of the workshop week has turned into working our way through the menu at Roots Cafe, and we attack that task with enthusiasm equal to that of our work in glazes and on the wheel!

Matt Parris of Roots Cafe, Matt & Lisa with delish eats!

On the road, Potter #1:

Becca Floyd opened the doors of her studio in Mars Hill and was a most gracious host. Her beautiful studio, recently built and completed for her by her very talented husband Mike, is across the beautifully gardened and landscaped yard from her house (Lori's note: this tour reinforced the observation that many excellent potters are also excellent gardeners ... I can only hope my thumb turns greener as my pottery experience increases!).
Becca by her kiln, getting loaded for a bisque firing

Becca not only gave us a tour of her studio and kiln, she took time from her own production to give a quick throwing, trimming and decorating demo of her yunomi forms. Becca is a fabulous teacher as well, so although short and sweet, we got a lot of good information, and we got to see her yunomi form take shape before us with all the intricate layers of how she throws and decorates the piece with the glazing in mind.

Matt taking note of Becca's throwing demo
after trimming, Becca gave a quick demo of some of her decorating techniques

Local clay enthusiasts will note that Becca is teaching a double session at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in the fall and winter - check out the Odyssey site for details but sign up early before it fills up!

Matt and Lisa also picked up some of her very cool small boxes and salt cellars with various animals atop for their gallery ... I am lame for not getting a shot of those before we packed them up, but if you're in the Winterville, NC area in the next week or so, you should find them at Inkstone Gallery while they last!

Becca also gifted Matt with a yunomi, and far too soon after we arrived it was time to say our thanks and hit the road for the next stop.

Lisa, Becca (w/yunomi) & Matt

Potter #2: Akira Satake

From Mars Hill we headed to Swannanoa and to yet another beautifully landscaped home and studio. Akira Satake also welcomed us warmly, and when we told him about our focus on the yunomi this week, he hopped on his wheel and gave us a throwing demo.

Akira throwing a yunomi

Matt & I met last year when he took and I was assisting Akira in a workshop, and in the time since, Akira's been developing his own clay body and various firing results with shino glazes and without in his train kiln. He just returned from the Southern Highlands Craft Fair (where Lisa picked up a sweet sake cup from that kiln), so while work was still in stages of packed and unpacked, he let us comb through his work in the house and gallery, with much fondling admiration of textures and forms and ash drips.
Matt & Lisa with Akira in his gallery

More thanks and it was time to hit the road again, but if you've been following along, you could only guess that it MUST be time for lunch, so we headed back down toward the River District and to Roots Cafe.

Lisa & Matt with the lovely Katie from Roots Cafe

Well branded for the day (we wanted to buy Roots shirts in the morning, and when none were available, we made our own), Katie helped us continue our tour through the menu, and sufficiently sated we hit the road yet again!

Potter #3: Judith Duff

When planning our workshop week, Matt told me that one of his aspirations is to become the 'cone 6 oxidation Judith Duff', so a trip to her studio and gallery was a must! Judith makes wood fired and shino pottery in yet another little slice of NC heaven. We've had good rain this year (and a really good one as we drove to her studio), so everything is lush and Judith's studio is no exception. The work inside is equally luscious, and she gave us a thorough tour not only of her studio, but through her process and the progression of her work and study of Japanese clays, shinos and research of local materials to produce a comparable NC result. That alone is breathtaking (plus seeing all the kilns, some with work still in them from the recent kiln opening), but then you add her gorgeous forms, and we spent a lovely part of the afternoon fondling and fawning over many pieces.

Judith showing the results of a recent firing to Lisa & Matt

work in Japanese clay/shino and NC clay/shino,
still in the kiln from the recent kiln opening

yummy, wanna lick 'em pots from the recent kiln

Matt & Lisa (with new treasures!) with Judith & her grandson

A few pieces made it past the fawning and fondling, and into shopping bags before we left, along with many thanks for yet another gracious host.

But wait there's more!

Potter #4: Harry Potter!

What can I say, we had a theme going! On the way back to town, we stopped in Flat Rock to catch the latest Harry Potter movie. We got into town just in time to take a quick tour through the nearby Hand in Hand Gallery, and stop for a glass of wine at the Back Room of the Flat Rock Wine Shoppe. At the Flat Rock Cinema, we had some dinner snacks and appropriate amounts of popcorn, then settled into the comfy chairs in the intimate theater for the latest installment. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was the perfect end to our 'day of potters'.

We drove back to Roots Cafe to pick up my car a mere 14 hours after we started our adventure, and decided that Thursday would have a more leisurely start and agenda. Kiln opening is next!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

yunomi workshop day 2: bowl chi

After the marathon glaze testing day yesterday, today we were ready to take it easy and settle in on the wheel. Well, Matt may have had reservations as he's been working mostly in slabs, but he approached it with open mind and heart!

We made a gentle approach, working off the mound, and there were delightful sounds of progress throughout the morning. We grabbed our Roots lunch on the go and headed over to Odyssey Studios to see Kyu Yamamoto's slide presentation, and the afternoon was back on the wheel. We made a batch of lizella slip to play with on the little loafer's clay we're throwing, and it's warm and toothy texture and color on the lighter clay are very nice - on Thursday we'll be throwing the test batch of lizella clay (perhaps with some porcelain slip, just for giggles!).

Matt & Lisa are taking in galleries this afternoon. Tonight the kiln fires and tomorrow is our big field trip day while the kiln cools, visiting studios and potters and some nice western North Carolina scenery on the way.

Some images from day 2:

Matt, making progress...

...with me looking over his shoulder ...

Lisa in the garden, day 2...

some of today's work

Monday, July 20, 2009

yunomi workshop day 1: 'I glazed the alphabet!'

This week I'm working one-on-one with my very own workshop, student. Matt and I actually met while we were both taking a workshop with Akira Satake, and in addition to being avid clay enthusiasts, he and his lovely wife Lisa have Inkstone Gallery in Winterville, NC (where I am fortunate to have work represented).

Matt and I co-designed the week's workshop, which will focus on working on the wheel and making variations of yunomi, or everyday tea bowls. In addition, we're doing some experiments with the clays and glazes that he uses in the community studio where he does his work. That was the plan for today, and we've had a blast cooking up combinations of his commercial glazes and playing with techniques from underglazes to wax resist. We even have a super-secret slip test in the works...stay tuned for more on that! And on top of it all, Matt helped me remove a very stubborn tick from Lissa's ear and taught me another great use for tangerine oil (ticks hate it!).

Here are some images from day one's work:

Matt, ready to go with recently made glazes

Matt brought bisqued pieces to use in our glaze tests ... 26 to be exact, and all carefully logged and documented, A-Z

for tomorrow's throwing fun, some homemade lizella clay

Matt's wife Lisa decided to take advantage of the Crazy Green 'garden' and got in a nice summer read

glazing in progress

more glazing in progress...

wouldn't be complete without test tiles!

one happily tick-free dog

Thursday, July 16, 2009

studio doings and schedule tweaks...

my, there's a lot more yellow on the schedule! The main change is that the studio will be closed Fri - Mon, July 24-27. I'll be cranking out some work over the weekend, and attending to some studio-related affairs that will just be easier to tend if the studio is closed.

Next week also has adjusted hours as I'll be teaching a workshop during the day, but there will still be open studio Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon/evenings.

As always, anyone who would like to come by the studio outside the posted hours, just get in touch with me and we'll make it work!

Also, a reminder that Crazy Green Studios is an ambassador in the MANNA FoodBank Neighborhood Food Drive, and we'll be collecting canned food and other non-perishables through July 24th. While there will be no open studio hours during the day that week or on Friday, I'll be here with the workshop and the collection barrel will be outside for drop off's.

Check out my previous blog post to see a list of the most needed items, and thanks for pitching in for the neighborhood!

mini road trippin...

The official rule for the official day off is that even if I'm not taking the day off, it's gonna be fun.

And it was officially a good day, although I think I was in the car more yesterday than in the last month or two combined!

The first stop on the road trip was delivering wine cups and small plates to Mountainside Wine in Spruce Pine.

Outside shot only because they're in the final stages of putting the shop together for next Monday's opening (wine tastings and other events follow in the week). I'm not often in that area, so it was nice to finally see downtown Spruce Pine (faithful readers will remember my last attempt to make the Potter's Market, only to be thwarted by a bad fuse...). So locals mark your calendars and check out the shop - it's downtown on Oak Street, right next door to the Toe River Arts Council.

After the drop off, it was time for visits - I'd been stocking up on glazed bowls for Empty Bowls, thanks to folks decorating at 2nd Saturday events, so next stop was to see John Hartom at the Empty Bowls studio.

I arrived to find his driveway full of trucks and roofers! Seemed like far too much work to be going on, so I invited him to join me on my road trippin', and off we went to visit Michael Kline's studio.

It was also my first trip to visit Michael at his studio, which if you're following his blog you know has been under construction and in development - it's a great space and Michael was a most welcoming host.
John showing off his smile for the camera...behind Michael Kline's uniquely designed espresso cup...

John & Michael inside the studio and out in the kiln shed - great spaces, great views, great work being made!

I couldn't leave without my own prize!

I should have snapped a picture of Lissa - she was very happy hopping around in the tall grass, and only one tick removal when we got home!

Back in town after a scenic drive back through road construction on hwy 19, I made it just in time for a meeting, then hung out with friends and visiting friends at Asheville Pizza and got to see the shuttle launch. I've been a fan of the space program from my beginning, and it just never gets old - I feel the same way I did when I was 7, getting to stay up late to watch coverage or going outside my house in Vermont at 2am to watch it pass over us.

A good day off!