Monday, February 3, 2014

Gulp. Make that Sunday, 2-4 PM

Well, this is embarrassing. I finally get my act together – in terms of letting people know about something – and it changes on me. The Visual Arts Center has decided to have a 30th birthday party on Sunday, February 9, from 2-4pm, in lieu of the second artist's reception on Friday night.

You're all welcome to attend that but I will be working at For ArtSake Gallery that day from 10am - 5pm. So you could still go see my exhibit, support the Visual Arts Center and see me; you'll just have to do it Sunday and you'll have to see me in the gallery.

As an added incentive, the gallery is debuting a special Valentine's show that day: The Dark Side of Love! So sorry about the mix-up. Hope to see you all soon.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Second Reception at the VAC

I know I didn’t give people enough notice about the opening party for my showcase at the Visual Arts Center in Nye Beach, Newport. Thankfully, there’s a second opening!

Join me at the halfway point, Friday, February 7th from 5 to 7 PM for another chance to see my exhibit "Ora et Labora". All the pieces are for sale and there may be still be a few available.

There will be free refreshments and there's great work on the third floor and on the first floor, the Toledo Art Guild has a fantastic exhibit that includes fellow For ArtSake member Cynthia Jacobi.

If you can't make it, you can at least watch the video Angelique made:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

SHOWCASE – Newport Visual Arts Center

So sometime around Thanksgiving, Angelique brings to my attention a showcase opportunity at the Visual Arts Center located right smack at (and nearly on) the beach in Newport. It’s called COVAS, Coastal Oregon Visual Arts Showcase. It’s specifically for professional mid-career visual artists to showcase their work. That seemed perfect for me. The application was due in short order so we rushed to get the paperwork done and the photos and get it dropped off in time, briefly noting that the showcase was sometime in January which seemed miles away at the time.

Cut to a few weeks later. All the pots I’ve made have been delivered to galleries for Christmas sales or put up on Etsy. I’m in the studio working on custom orders to get them done for the holidays. Pots are put aside for gifts or already delivered. Etsy sales are coming in regularly. Then, we get the notice that I’ve been selected for the showcase. Great! We keep going. Nose to the grindstone until Christmas. It isn’t until around December 27 that we finally come up for air and realize that we have no pots left for a visual showcase, much less my absolute best showcase-worthy work. Coly how!

Start to finish, it takes about two weeks to make a pot to allow for all the adequate drying and firing in between the steps I have to do; it just can’t be done any faster. This is not an art for the impatient or the easily distracted, which makes one wonder how I ended up doing it. I have to believe that pottery found me because it was something I needed. I needed to learn patience, to learn to slow down and focus, to have quiet time at the wheel without my thoughts bouncing around in my head, to have something that I can point to and say “I made that, from start to finish.” It might be why my show is called "Ora et Labora - Working to stay centered." 

Ora et labora, which means “prayer and work” in Latin, is how we spent our days at the monastery – which is where I first learned pottery – prayer and contemplative work. This work is intrinsically tied to my experience while a monk at Mt. Angel Abbey and to my faith and as a man of many interests; I need something to return to, something that keeps me centered.

Long story short, I managed to get this thing together though I think it’s safe to say that my best work is still ahead of me. Which means you too will have to practice patience. If you live in the area, I hope you’ll stop by the Visual Arts Center in Newport, Oregon, to see the exhibit. It will have a retrospective element, comparing some of my older work to new work, and will feature a video of me working (THANK YOU, ANGELIQUE! You are an excellent film maker and I'm showcasing you through your amazing video). 

All of the pieces are for sale, though I believe you have to wait until the exhibit is over to pick them up. The showcase has featured artisans working in wood, metal, fiber, glass, paint, photography and pottery and it is an honor to be part of it. 

The showcase will be on display from January 10 to March 1, 2014. Also, there will be an artists’ reception from 5-7 PM on Friday, January 10 with food and drink. If you can’t wait to get your hands on one of my pots, you can always head over to the For ArtSake Gallery to pick something up. I’ll be working there on Monday, January 13. Come visit me!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

'Tis The Season

The Etsy store is stocked for the holidays with great gifts like mugs, bowls, pitchers, yarn bowls and even a whole tea set! If you're looking for something unique, functional, USA made and eco-friendly, you can't go wrong with a handmade piece of pottery from Logsden, Oregon.

There are also pictures of new work in the gallery on the blog and even more new stuff in For ArtSake Gallery and Mossy Creek like large utensil jars, steamers, juicers, monks' bowls and altered bowls (below). Hope you're having a great holiday season!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

I have a friend who asked me to make something for her husband's birthday. This is something I had never before attempted to make. The first try ended in failure when I went to trim the piece during its leather hard stage. So, back to the throwing board for a second try. This time, all went just fine...

I totally dare Jack to try to jump over this.

Friday, October 4, 2013


So one day I was working at the For Artsake Gallery and this person walks in whom I will refer to as, "The Hippie Chick." She is definitely giving off the vibe of being very healthy, very peace-filled and very close to all things good and close to the earth. She asks me if I ever make steamers. She said she doesn't own a microwave and she uses her steamer to heat up her leftovers and it's really fast and they taste really good when steamed. She described the bottom part of the steamer as, "It's sorta like a bunt cake pan with a cone in the center that has a hole in it and you just set it on top of a saucepan with some water in it, put the food around that cone and then cover it with its lid."

When I got home, I walked directly into the studio and threw what I believed she was describing. And Oh! My! GAWD, Magnum!!! Was she ever right. We have cooked in our steamer dozens of times as well as used it to re-heat leftovers. I put raw crab in that pot, set the timer for 15 minutes from the time I turn on the burner to begin heating and that crab is done by the time the buzzer goes off. Not to mention the fact that the juice created by the steaming collects in the trough and it's not diluted in water. The shrimp and crab juice goes into our fish stocks or you can just drink it straight from the pot. DELICIOUS!

I was able to fit two crabs in this smaller prototype version. I am making them a little bigger now. The pot doesn't sit directly on the burner, mind you. That last photo is sort of misleading. Don't do that with the burner on. Bad idea. Not good. Actually, I guess you could try it to see what happens and then just order another one from me.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cast a roll? No -- I said, "Casserole!"

Here are some thoughts on a couple uses for handmade casseroles and how to avoid thermal shocking. We bake in our YOOOOOGE "Man Pot" casserole, but we also use it as a beautiful serving dish.

So, let's say you've made a dish that requires a saute of onions and garlic in oil and you just want to add ingredients (veggies, meat, etc.) to your favorite Dutch oven before tossing it into the baking chamber to cook the rest of the way. Well, you could quite easily zip up your presentation by transferring your cooked dish from the cast iron pot into a beautiful lidded casserole. Like this one, for instance:

We serve mashed 'taters and cold broccoli salads and all manner of delicacies in a casserole. Casseroles are NOT just for baking. However, if you do want to bake 'n serve, a handmade pottery casserole is a perfect medium for such. Here's what you do.

It's important to go easy on the properties of clay by making sure you introduce the pot to a cold oven and heat from room temperature. In fact, you might want to take a little more care to bring all the ingredients up to room temperature first by allowing the dish to "set a spell" to make that happen. Me? I'm rather reckless, knowing that if I torture my pottery, I can just go out to the studio and make a new one. You, on the other hand, are hopefully not going to be throwing caution to the wind and you will treat your pottery with some TLC. 

Common sense -- that's all this amounts to. Just let me say however, that after having tortured my pottery baking dishes and casseroles for many years, they have all survived. Except that one piece I made back in 1981 in Otter Rock out of that crappy clay that had no business getting used. But hey -- it worked for many years, even after it cracked back in the 90s.

As I was saying, just place your pottery casserole in a cold oven and let the dish come up to temp. You can cook safely into the high 300s, but I wouldn't go above 400 degrees F. When the dish is finished cooking, you would do well to just prop open the oven door and let all that heat slowly float away from the pot. Give it 5 minutes or so. Use hot pads to grab the lug handles for safe portage onto your favorite glazed pottery trivet.

Speaking of glazed pottery trivets, we discovered the hard way why I will never use a glue gun to adhere those little cork circles to the bottom of a tile. The heat from our serving dish - plucked straight from the oven - MELTED THE GLUE! And marred the surface of our wood serving buffet. Dang. (Frownie face inserted here.)

Whelp -- that's all you need to know. Just give the clay a break and the clay will be much less likely to give you a break. (Get it? Get it??)