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??)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Photos Of My Work

I've finally added a gallery of images to the blog. New images uploaded as soon as stuff comes out of the kiln. They're uploaded to my Flickr account, so if you're on Flickr, find me and send me a friend request!

All of these images were taken by my sweetie who cleverly made this photobooth out of a broken sink in the old studio. Neither of us had any idea how other people take product shots but this works really well. If anyone knows how other people do it, let us know, we're both really curious.

Stay tuned. My Etsy shop is launching soon. And my next day at the gallery is Saturday, June 29. Come on down!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Now at Mossy Creek Pottery

Last month, I called my friend Dan Wheeler, a potter who owns and runs Mossy Creek Pottery with his wife Susan, about selling my pots at his gallery. I was thrilled to get a call back and have a two hour phone call, reconnecting with my old friend. I sent him a few pictures and he said he'd love to sell my pots. So I got a load of platters, serving bowls, soup bowls, snack bowls, tea bowls, mugs, and small pitchers glazed and fired and took them up there.

If you haven't been to Mossy Creek, it's right off of Highway 101, south of Lincoln City, on the Siletz River. The gallery is in an old farmhouse and the surrounding gardens are beautiful and peaceful. Besides Susan's glass work, there's nothing but Oregon made pottery here so I love coming up and seeing what potters are making these days. Not to mention, Dan and Susan are hilarious and a riot to talk to. It's worth the trip just to chat with them!

It's really cool to see my work in the company of peers.  A dozen different styles of throwing, firing and glazing are represented in the gallery my pots definitely have their own unique style. Here's a sampling of what I took up there:

When I got home, though, I had a problem. I'm out of pots! With summer around the corner, I need to have inventory for fairs and festivals, the galleries, and to start a shop on Etsy for people outside of Oregon. So back to the wheel I went. This time, I made teapots, bud vases, salt bowls, mugs, and more snack bowls. My sweetie and I experimented with new glazing combinations and are thrilled with a few including these:

I'm currently selling teapots faster than I'm making them but hope to catch up soon. I'm really happy with how they're turning out and they look great with a couple of tea bowls, a bud vase and a snack bowl. I'm thinking about selling them as a set. Here's a sample:

And here's a teapot set I sold last month:

In other news, three new artists are joining the co-op I belong to -- For Artsake Gallery in Nye Beach, Newport, OR -- so if you're in the area, come by Friday night, June 7, we're having a party and I'll be playing guitar!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I just got reprimanded by "the boss" for posting this on Facebook first. Dang. What do I know? She says there's a little button you can click to share the blog post on Facebook. Sure enough, there is. I think I'm going to try it now, so please forgive the redundancy. Actually, let's just say I meant this twice. Deal? Deal!

Here's what I said:

I'm making teapots again. Body, lid and spout are thrown, then trimmed and assembled when in the leather hard stage of drying. Knobs are compressed clay squeezed between the palm of my hand and the base of my index and second fingers, then attached to the lid. Spouts are cut and canted to the 5 o'clock position because - and this is quite interesting - the spout "unwinds" clockwise when the pots are firing. Hopefully, the cut is perfect and the spout unwinds to the 6 o'clock position. The pots are under plastic so that everybody can "get to know each other" in terms of moisture content before allowed to continue to the bone dry stage. Pottery lesson now over! :-)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Native Clay - a thing of the past

A native clay is something of the past. I mean that in two ways: 1) A century ago, potters searched for deposits of material that came right out of the ground and was ready to mold into pottery. But that's pretty much a thing of the past in our country. Sure, it's still done in a few places, but it's rare that a potter is fortunate to find such an ideal lode. 2) Clay is tens of millions of years old. If ever there was a thing of the past, it's clay. Clay is broken-down rock. Clay is not dirt. Most potters I know (including myself) do not generally incorporate native clays into their repertoire. We buy our clay from companies that charge by the pound. They put it into neatly packed 25 lb. cubes wrapped in plastic bags, two bags to a box for a total of 50 lbs per box. You do get a price break if you order it by the ton. I order it by the ton. But I got lucky last week.

Last week, a guy who came into the gallery told me where some dark clay was. He gave me good directions. I checked it out last Friday (April 12th). He was right. I could not believe my eyes. I have found native clays in Lincoln County before, but never so pure and always that yellow-to-red colored clay. But this stuff was really, really dark, was really, really pure, and was really, REALLY sticky. And whereas the native clay my mentor, Jeff Procter put me onto went to make a nice glaze, this stuff felt like it might even work on the wheel. And boy-howdy, it worked great. Here are some pictures:

 The first pot I made from the black clay was this little tea bowl. I put it to the throwing test right after I got home. I didn't even wedge the stuff. I simply formed it into a ball, sat down at the wheel and threw it!

 I lugged that white bucket filled with my shovels-full of clay from the location to my car. When I got home, I dumped half of it into the blue bucket and added water. I then blunged it until it became a thick slurry. I then screened it through a 40 mesh and almost nothing was left on top of the screen. It all went through. Just look at the very interesting "oil spots" on the surface in the following four photos. Click on them for a closer look. The patterns are amazing!

 Next, I poured about half a bucket of the stuff onto these two large plaster bats to hasten the drying process. The bats quickly became completely saturated with the water they soaked up from the clay.

 In the next photo, you can see how the very outer edge of the slurry is beginning to dry.
 Today, I peeled the two slabs of clay from the plaster bats and after drying them out a little more on some fresh plaster, was able to wedge it up into what turned out to be a 9 pound ball of beautiful, workable clay. I cut off a 2 pound chunk, sat down at the wheel and threw this bowl. The rectangular bar of clay in my hand has received an impression from a plastic ruler and cut to 3 inches. I will fire the clay and be able to determine a rate of shrinkage. Normally, clay shrinks about 12 1/2 percent from wet to fully fired.

 Just look at how smooth the lip of the pot is. I used cellophane to finish it, but this is anything but an impure, rocky clay. I have to admit, there's quite a bit of romance in finding a good native clay deposit. But even more romance in being able to make pots out of it! I told my source that I would give him a pot if it turned out to be something I could use. I'm SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS CLAY!
So, what will it look like when it's fired? I can almost guarantee that it will turn a very dark brown or reddish-brown. Whether you find native clay that is red, yellow, blue, green or black, it's color is almost always determined by iron content. And when it's fired, iron turns some shade of brown. The other mystery yet to be solved is whether this clay will withstand my glaze temperature of 2232 F. It may just be a lucky happenstance that I was able to form the clay into a pot, but that doesn't mean that it won't melt into a puddle of glaze at that temperature. That's why I'll be test firing a very small piece of the clay first. Stay turned (get it? wheel-thrown pot? turned? get it?) to see what happens.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gallery Dates

I've installed about forty new pieces at the gallery and will be there three days this month: Monday, April 8, Friday, April 12 and Monday, April 15 (Tax Day!). If you're in the area, come visit me and check out the new wares! I'd love to see you: 10am - 5pm at For Artsake Gallery, 258 NW Coast Street in Newport (between Nana's and Jovi).

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter "Eggs"

Angelique is a genius. She came up with some glaze combinations that she commande......I mean, suggested I try. Sounded simple enough. 

Here's what she came up with for the blue bowl: "Glaze the foot in blue. Wax the foot. North Fork glaze bottom half up to the design line. Wax the top of the North Fork glaze. Glaze the interior in blue, including the lip. Wax the lip and wax the interior down one inch from the lip. Glaze the exterior top half in the ash glaze down to and including the design line and make sure the glaze "bloops" just under the wax line on the interior.

There are some other pots for which she had combination designs as well. We love the green and the beautiful, buttery semi-matte finish of the brown that the North Fork clay produces.

North Fork clay is a native clay. That means it comes from "around these here parts." That's right -- right out of the ground. Free. Untouched by human hands for tens of millions of years. My friend and mentor, Jeff Procter discovered this rich clay deposit many years ago and actually used it as his liner glaze for his salt fired ware. In January, Jeff took me to his secret spot where I dug two 5 gallon buckets of the greenish clay. Because Jeff's firing temperature was significantly higher than mine is, he didn't have to add any fluxes to the clay in order to get it to melt. 

The interior "liner" glaze of the tea bowl below is 79% native North Fork (..of an un-named river of the Willamette Valley) plus three other materials to make up the 100%. The ash glaze is 60% North Fork clay, plus two other materials to make up the 100%.

I want to give a very loud SHOUT OUT to Craig Martell, the master potter and glaze whiz who suggested the formula for the 79% North Fork glaze recipe. Craig is probably one of the best potters in Oregon and ranks right up there with Pat Horsely, Don Sprague, Dan Wheeler of Mossy Creek Pottery and of course, Jeff Procter (who sadly is no longer throwing pots). 

I hope you like the new pieces!

This mug is glazed throughout in an Oribe green. The chattering leaves a nice surface design on the lower 1/5 of the pot:

Angelique wasn't crazy about this combination of the ash glaze and the Oribe green. I, on the other hand, LOVE IT!

Interior shot of the North Fork on a tea bowl:

"Blue Foot":

Again, Angeliques idea. She wanted to see how the ash glaze bled into the blue. In the Paul Simon song, the orange bled the blue. But not here. No. The yellow bled the blue. :-)

A better shot of the North Fork glaze. Plum Red overlaps the native clay on the lip.

What's not to love about the lattice goings-on of an ash or, in this case, a fake ash glaze?

Tea bowl with the Oribe overlapping the North Fork:

Focal point is on the interior center of the pot so you can see how wonderfully smooth this native clay glaze is:

Focal point is on the lip of the pot so you can see how it lies on an edge:

Angelique likes the Plum Red running and trickling into the center. I'm undecided. I might like such an effect more on the exterior of a pot. We'll have to see.

Again, focal point on the center of the interior:

And then on the lip of the pot: