Friday, September 25, 2009


Layer 18 is in and it is time for the arch once I get the metal work fabricated and installed. I also need to make an arch support. But this is a milestone.

I was pleased that the tops of the skew bricks are level and even.

The plane of layer 18 seems to be within 1/8 inch, which also pleases me. Of course, this will all change when the bricks start moving around during firing, but it is a good start.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to work

I finally gave up waiting on the rain and started working on the kiln between showers. Row 14 is done leaving only 4 more rows to go before the arch goes in. I am going to do some electric kiln testing today, with some test tiles thrown in, but should be able to dodge the showers and get a layer or two more completed. I have a friend who is going to do the metal work for me. I need to get him a material list so he can order the angle iron and square tubing. I briefly thought about buying a welding machine and learning how to weld, but my mother's voice still rings in my ears about risking my one good eye (I lost an eye to an accident when I was about 3 years old).

After several years I finally got around to trying Wes Smith's suggestion of "marks of addition". He noted during a critique, that my work was all "marks of subtraction". He was right - but it takes me a while to get around to things (just ask my wife, Elise). Here is the vase I was coil-throwing. It is about 23 inches tall. The medallions and dragons are from a sprig mold that I bought.

Here is a shot of the sprigs.

Not all experiments are successful. These are the extruded hand built bowls that I was working on. I am not happy with the results, but will fire them and glazed them for the Habitat for Humanity Bowlathon in Cookeville. They may be bad bowls, but they will help in a good cause.

As you can see, I have been playing around with the HTML and CSS. I still need to fuss some more, so expect things to change a bit more - when I get around to it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Middle Tennessee got a good dose of rain today. There was some flooding over in Cookeville which is about 30 miles away. So I decided to work in the studio and actually do pottery. I extruded some square tube that I am going to try and make bowls out of. And I did some coil-throwing as you can see below. I tried using a fan and a light blub to stiffen up the clay instead of my usual weed burner. It seems to be a gentler way. The weed burner brutalizes the clay.

The other task was to check the kiln's temperature readings versus my pyrometer. As expected it showed that the kiln is reading cooler than it should. It was colder by 20 to 30 degrees. So it over fires by about a cone at cone 6. So now I can calibrate the controller. I made up some cone packs for that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Craft Fair Done, whew!

Craft fairs are tiring. I survived without my ego being completely brutalized and met my goal of coming home with fewer pots. People admired the big churns, jugs and art pieces, but they bought small bowls, tumblers, tiles and business card holders. Actually, it was the other vendors that bought the business card holders. So, do you change what you make? Another question I face is that I fire in a number of different kilns and atmospheres: from oxidation in an electric kiln to wood, fired salt kiln. Should you try to tell the customer how it was produced? Is it a matter of disclosure? Or should you go into the spiel just if they ask? Or do I limit myself? Or would that be better said as to focus myself?

Things that worked:

1. Presorting, pricing and placing the ware into plastic tubs.

2. Not cramming the display with all the ware at once. The tubs were placed under the tables where things could be pulled out to replace something that sold.

3. The TrimLine Craft Tent. While it does take longer to put up, it seems to be real solid and might have a chance in a stiff wind.

4. Relaxing and just chatting with people.

Things that sort of worked:

1. Paper bags that I bought at Sam's club. People really want something to carry away their stuff in. I got the 25# bag, which worked well for small stuff, but started to be a problem as the stuff got bigger. I need to find a cheap solution for a larger bag with handles.

2. Table layout. It is just adequate. Need to improve with pedestals and shelves.

3. Money handling. The first day I just used an envelope in my pocket. The second I used a money belt we had bought when traveling to Europe. Neither worked well. Most of the vendors used a “cash box”, but one had his stolen out of his booth while he stepped out for just a moment.

4. Firing@CreekBendPottery blog. There was a lot of interest in this. Need to clean up the concept and integrate it into a total marketing plan. Yeah, that is going to happen ;-)

Three moments for me to smile about. One was a young lady, maybe 19 or 20. She came in and spent a long time looking at a little faceted bowl. It was the size you might use for paper clips maybe a little bigger. It was salt glazed. I had it priced really cheap as it took no time at all to do. You could tell just by the way she looked at it, it had found a home. It makes me happy to know that. Next, a wood sculptor and his wife, a fiber artist came in. At the last show, I had traded with them and they had ended up with, among other things, a small cereal sized bowl. Well, it seems this bowl had been causing marital strife. Each morning it was a conflict on who was going to use the bowl. So, they bought another. He came in on day two and said that things had gone better at breakfast. Made me chuckle. And last, a lady spotted a tile I had done with a pig sculpted on the face. She bought it. Her friend asked her what in the world she was going to do with that? She said, I don't know, it just makes me smile. And that makes me smile.

Now, back to kiln building. Tomorrow, today I rest.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Off to White Oaks Craft Fair

The tent is up and the ware is unloaded. Tomorrow morning it is off early to finish the set up. Hopefully , the weather will be good and the people will come.

We opened the wood kiln this morning. See Firing@CreekBendPottery.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Waiting on the kiln opening.

Even though I only have one pot and 9 test tiles in the kiln, I can't wait to un-brick the door and see what the Kiln God gave us. I posted some pictures of the firing on Firing@CreekBendPottery.

I had some sad news this weekend. The small catenary arch, test kiln named "Kitten" that I built at the Appalachian Center for Craft is no more. Owing to a problem with the soda kiln, the bureaucrats in TTU's administration decided that the kilns had to be moved from where they have been for the last 20 years. Kitten just wasn't made to be portable. Oh well, she served well for a while.

I am anxious to get back to building my kiln.

Done firing

We finished salting the kiln at 3:45 AM and I just got home at 4:00 AM. Will post pictures and details on firng@CreekBend Pottery after I catch some sleep. It seemed to go well.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

All Loaded and fring!

The kiln is all loaded and firing started this morning at 5:45 Am. I will be off to do some shifts at stoking (and eating the pizza that has become a traditional dinner during firing). I made out my to do list this morning and I can see I will not get back to kiln building until next week. One of the things I have to do is sort all my ware and price it for the craft show. I hate putting prices on stuff. I just don't know what to charge. I know that I am building up an inventory, so I need to get it out the door - one way or another.

If you want to follow the firing see firing@creekbendpottery.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Wood Firing at Creek Bend Pottery

Last week it was DIY, this week it is a firing of the wood kiln tomorrow and the White Oak Craft Fair in Woodbury, TN at the end of the week. If you are interested in following the firing I will be posting on the blog Firing@CreekBendPottery over the next couple of days. If the craft fair is successful, I may post some about it here. If it is not, I may be hiding under a basket somewhere...