Saturday, February 26, 2011


Jim asked about the oilspot bowls and so here is one from today's firing. It was in the bottom of the kiln, and it only went to cone 8, so it's kind of muddy and not as nice as the ones from the last firing, which were hotter. I have plans to open up the bagwall in my kiln so that more heat gets to the bottom, but this firing was all about two very large copper red covered jars, and the kiln was fired to maximize them, so these bowls were an afterthought as it were.

The bowl below was in the previous firing and it's much nicer, at least to me. These two bowls were identical before putting them in the large kiln, in fact the bowl below was the one I deemed to be the worst of the batch. There were 4 bowls in this firing and I will probably fire them again, or at least pick the worst one and fire it.
The large jars are nice, but I want to fire them again because I think I can make them nicer.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Firing Today in Car Kiln

After struggling with the flu/cold for the last week, I was finally able to fire the large gas kiln today. It was actually the first day that I have had enough energy to do this firing, although the pots have been ready for a week. The photo below is of two large covered jars, which if all goes well, will be a beautiful copper red. So much can go wrong with these and I am a bit apprehensive, though it appears that things went well.

Above this saggar, are several shelves of dinner plates and bowls, and a couple of horse sculptures by my friend Bill Schaaf. There are also some oilspot bowls hiding here and there.

I must say that when I tried to push the car in, things were a little cramped and minor surgery had to be performed to get the car to settle correctly, well not quite correctly, but close. There was about a quarter inch at the bottom where the car did not touch and I did not notice it until the kiln was already hot.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hans Coper

A new post by Tony Clennell got me thinking about how much I love the work of Hans Coper, and how I have been influenced by him over the years. It is without question that Hans Coper is my favorite potter of all time. Perhaps because when I was a young guy of 24 years old, just beginning to make pots, I found a book with lots of his work in it and was hooked.

I call these pieces "Hourglass Vases" and the first one sits on Anne's dresser so I get to see it every day. It's a little under 12 inches tall, thrown in one piece. It has a titanium crystalline glaze and was fired in reduction to cone 10, 11, 12 -- somewhere around there. Both vases were multi fired with lots of grinding, spraying and cussing in between firings. I know how to place a darn or gosh for maximum effect.

This green one is from the same period, and about the same size. Both were made between 1994 and 1998, and both these images are from scans I just received back from ScanCafe. I must say that I like the quality of the work they do. I will make a post about my experience with them if anyone is interested.

In this case, the glaze was applied evenly by dipping, but the fire drew the pattern on the piece. Sort of like wood or soda firing, except with much less success. These glazes were so hard to do that I just stopped making them.

To me these pieces are about opening and closing and then opening again. If we really want to, we have the right to live our lives with an open heart. And that's what these are about for me. They are a technical challenge which makes them fun to make, and they are an aesthetic challenge because there are a lot of really bad forms lurking in there, and the strategy must be precise to get a good one.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


John Bauman just had a post about inspiration and it got me thinking about things I do to keep myself inspired to keep making stuff.

One of the things that I have done for the last 30 years is a collaborative series of pots with my friend Lennie Kesl. In about 1980 Lennie and I were both teaching at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, and I asked him if he would like to decorate some pieces if I made them. He was thrilled and we thus started a body of work that has persisted all this time. We started out with stoneware and slips, progressed to stoneware with underglazes, white earthenware with underglazes, and finally to red earthenware with glazes, underglazes, slips, crystals and whatever else Lennie can put on there. This first one I call the Alien because it seems very strange to me, like it's from some other planet. The glazes and underglazes are built up, sometimes a half inch thick.

This one here is a bit crazier. It's about the size of a dinner plate. Both of these were done in 2004.

Finally this last one is kind of a takeoff on Pre Colombian ceramics. We really have fun with these and this one was one of the most fun. You can not see it here, but there is a face which is facing straight down, and one of the tripod legs comes right out of that face's third eye, as if a horn on a devil. Lennie is quite serious when he does these, and while the humor is there for all to see, Lennie is very serious about it all.

Lennie turns 84 in June. We are going to make some more things real soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Time

I've started to dry out these 7 glaze buckets because the glazes have not been used for 12 years and it's time. These are all titanium crystal glazes that I fired in reduction and you can see some examples of them at

It's hard to just let this go. Those were nice glazes but they were just so difficult to use, and the success rate was so small, that it was just not reasonable to continue with it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Fallonator -- Part 2

My friend Phil, who owns one of the only Fallonators in captivity, has posted some pictures on his blog and here is a link.


The Fallonator

It's a very long story, and one which for now will be without pictures, but my friend Terry Fallon has been developing an automatic reduction system for an electric kiln and it works very nicely. He got this idea a few years ago and I was able to be one of the 5 people that he bounced ideas off of which was wonderful for me because I know nothing about engineering -- though that was my first major in college. But I had fired reduction kilns and was very interested and so I was allowed to tag along.

Anyway, here is the scoop. Terry is beginning to build some systems that are add ons to existing electric kilns. The reduction is accomplished from a small propane bottle like you would hook up to a hand torch. There is an oxygen probe made from an oxygen sensor from a car, and you can program the amount of reduction that you want and it will do it. Terry has a special motherboard that allows you to say, in each segment of the firing, whether you want reduction or not. The kiln can be fitted so that it will send both temperature and reduction information wirelessly to a computer, and you can see the graphs in real time on the same chart. It's pretty neat. Very neat.

Fuzzy Green 2

Here is the Fuzzy Green pot that came out this afternoon. It's a bit different from the first one but quite similar. This one had 4 soaks instead of 2, but the rest was mostly the same. Same batch of glaze, same top temperature, same thickness of application. I found the glaze a little difficult to brush and so I am going to ball mill it some more tomorrow afternoon. I say ball mill, but I have a 30 year old Lortone Rock Tumbler and it is not really a ball mill at all, but it does do a good job for me.

This second photo is a top view of the pot above. You can see the first Fuzzy Green pot in the background. Both of these pots are resisting my efforts to separate them from their pedestals with a torch. This fuzzy glaze is quite hard and it makes a strong bond between the pot and the pedestal.

You can see the cone next to the pot in the bottom photo. I write the name of the firing on the cone -- BB 6-83 -- so that I can reference it in the future. That's the 83rd firing on the 6th set of elements in the kiln called Baby Bear. Mama Bear and Papa Bear are on either side keeping guard.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Fuzzies

Here is the Fuzzy Yellow pot that got fired the other day. It is pretty nice and the glaze eventually behaved. I had to scrape the glaze off the top of the pot 3 times before I finally got it to stick. The pot was glazed by brushing.

Here is the Fuzzy Green glaze that I mentioned. This one just came out this afternoon and it is still on its pedestal, glazed to its catcher. Another hard glaze to make work. What really attracts me to these fuzzy glazes is how nice they feel in your hand. They are really smooth and the glaze also has some internal sparkling and you can see little specks when the light is just right. It's obvious that this is a matte glaze, but this is the most matte of all the glazes I use. Nothing shiny about it, except for that little sparkle.

I fire these mostly one at a time, and change things between firings. I have another pot in tonight, a Fuzzy Green but with a very different firing profile, so it should be quite different. Though I do like this one. And another one for tomorrow night.

Another thing I am trying to do is figure out just which parts of the crystal grow at which temperatures, so I can design effects because different colors happen at different temperatures. So this pot had just two holds beyond the top temperature and yet the crystals are very complex. I was expecting something much more simple but am not complaining.