Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cone 6 Ceramic Glaze Weekend Talk/Workshop

Cone 6 Ceramic Glaze Weekend Talk/Workshop
January 16-17, 2015

8290 N Dixie Dr, Dayton, OH 45414

(937) 454-0357


This workshop will be a general overview of ceramic glazes, focusing on but not limited to cone 6 glazes. It is designed for beginner to intermediate potters. We will discuss cones, kilns, firing dynamics and principles as well as applying those principles to various firing cycles. This will lead us into some basic classifications of glazes, like ash, celadon, temmoku, etc. We will discuss how and why each type of glaze works and how you can achieve them, how to adjust your glazes and how to find new ones. We will discuss glazes from my new book: “The Complete Guide to Mid-Range Glazes: Glazing and Firing at cone 4 – 7”, but will go into more detail than the book allowed.

There will be a slide show on Friday night and John will bring tiles samples from his book as well as pots.

Friday 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Meet and greet

Saturday 9:00 – 4:00 p.m. Glaze discussion

Sunday 10:00 – 3:00 p.m. Glaze Discussion

Cost $175.00

Registration and payment by Dec. 15, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Feldspar and Highwater Clay in Asheville NC

Flippin Feldspar 

By: Jennifer Hoolihan

So, the feldspar industry has been in a bit of a flux (ha!) over the past few years. Feldspar is an important melting agent, kinda like a natural frit, which promotes fusion and vitrification within a glaze and clay body.

I've sung the praises of feldspar before (Feldspar Rocks!), so I won't go into all the technical aspects here. This is more of a mineral update. Some time ago we all learned that G200 was no longer being produced, although G200HP, which made up about 70% of G200, would still be available in its place. Now production of G200HP has ceased and the mine is closed. That was at the end of last year. At that time Custer Feldspar was the only commercially available potash feldspar. In anticipation, we squirreled away a lot of G200HP and tried to let folks know that our stocks would soon be depleted. Well that time has come. By the time you read this, porcelain production will have used up every last full bag of G200HP.

Custer has been mined in South Dakota for about 80 years and long-term supply looks good. It's pretty similar in composition to G200 though it does have a higher iron content. The  differences in potassium and sodium levels are within a percent or two, according to the chemical analyses provided by Pacer.

New on the North American market is a potash feldspar from Spain, G200EU. It is very similar to the original G200 feldspar. Of course, due to shipping costs it is more expensive than any other feldspar we use. We will stock this feldspar for retail sale and it's also available for custom recipes on request. However, we are hesitant to depend on it for clay production due to location and cost. G200EU comes in 44# bags and smaller weighed out quantities. 

In order to understand the difference in the feldspars beyond their chemical analysis sheet we ran melt tests at cones 6 and 10 oxidation with G200, G200HP, G200EU, and Custer feldspars.

Testing at cone 6 oxidation

Testing at cone 10 oxidation

Custer and original G200 appeared most similar in terms of color, while G200EU and original G200 are the most similar in terms of melt, and should substitute out for one another without problems. However, anytime raw material changes occur it becomes extremely important to test. Sometimes potters are working right on the edge without knowing it, and these slight differences in oxide levels can cause unpredictable results or failure. Please contact us if you have any questions about feldspar futures!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Team Centering (Gabriel Kline and Anja Bartels)

Thanks Odyssey

Team throwing by Gab and Anja

Wanted to thank Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts for hosting the Clay Club last night. He had Demopalooza and a great pot luck!

Thanks to Jillian Wolf for orchestrating everything and Gabriel Kline and his Residents for doing demos. It was great fun to see everyone too!

I will be posting videos as they upload so those who missed the event can see some of the stuff we did.

Thanks again!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Glaze Thickness or Specific Gravity

Artist run amok (Response Carter Gilles)

I agree that some folks use the description 'artist' as a measure of prestige, but that usually has more to do with an art economy that thrives on the distinction between ordinary creativity and the 'special stuff' that apparently only 'real' artists produce. The notion of art as something prestigious is often a wedge used to divide the things this particular marketplace deems worthy from those that it doesn't, as if those things were categorically different rather than simply the historically contingent and often arbitrary choices of gatekeepers. And if you notice, the stuff these gatekeepers talk about as 'the real art' is only the stuff they can make the most money with. Why would we ever trust their self serving definitions?

It ends up being a means of oppression when its the difference between who gets to eat and who doesn't, where they get to sit at the table or even if they get to sit. Discriminating like this is just one more empowered establishment telling the undesirables to sit at the back of the bus. And maybe most potters have gotten so used to coming out on the losing end of the craft v art debate that they won't try to dispute the exclusionary interpretation of art, but that doesn't change that its a poor use of the word that doesn't include pots. If Duchamp made it possible that anything could be art how is it that pots have simply slipped through the crack? Isn't that an inconsistency worth noting?

I know what you are suggesting by pointing out the loss of meaning when it is said that "everyone is an artist", but do we lose meaning in the same way when we say that everyone speaks a language? "Everyone is a language user"? If you understand art as a capacity then it is exercised only occasionally, just as we only occasionally use language. But we know the difference between using it and not using it. Understanding what we do with language is an important tool for how we navigate the world. So I wouldn't say that the broad use of 'art' and 'artist' is either meaningless or unimportant. Perhaps it even helps define why humans are different from other species. Are cats artists? If aliens exist, would they have art? Could an artificial intelligence ever create art? If those are meaningful questions then the idea of humans being artists surely must mean something, even in its broadest interpretation.

Personally, I would say that perhaps not everyone is an artist, since obviously newborn babies, sleepers, and coma patients at least are not practicing art. And even if every normal conscious adult somehow were practicing artists they would not be making art full time every waking moment. So some things would still have to count as art and others as not art. Its a good question what makes things art, and we don't need the criteria to simply map out in a consistent way. Sometimes there will only be a family resemblance that makes two diverse things art. Sometimes no connection at all other than that they are the creative expression of two different human beings. Music and painting are as different as it gets, but they are both art, it seems..... Are pots less related to ceramic sculpture than painting is to music?

I don't think the 'rinse and repeat' idea of craft negates craft as an exploration of art. If repetition invalidated something as art then photography and printmaking might be in trouble as well. What about images of actual work? If we look at a book of Monet paintings are we looking at art? The reproduction is not the same thing as the original, but is it no longer art when it gets published? Wouldn't it be strange to say that you are only looking at art if you are face to face with the original? How would we ever know that Monet was an artists if we never saw one of his paintings in real life? So it seems that 'art' has to mean something different. And it obviously includes the idea that there can be more than one example and even an infinite generation of replicas.

It seems to me that sometimes art is the object, but at other times it can be looked at as the process, and the object itself is irrelevant. 'Art' can also be a verb. At other times the idea is what is important and not the product or the process by which it gets made. I think you have to understand the variability of ways that creativity gets manifest to appreciate that art is not one thing specifically but many. If the pots themselves are not specifically art, can we say that the process behind it was art, or the ideas that gave rise to it? That seems to require an answer.

Potters are a special branch of artist, just like musicians, sculptors, dancers, painters, etc are each different types of artists. Its a field specific designation for the kind of artist we are. And even within the broad field of pottery not everyone is doing the same thing. If not every piece is functional have we stopped being potters? Does wheel thrown or handbuilt make a difference? Does surface decoration or unvarnished form divide pots from non-pots? Wood fired or electric? Greenware or bisqued?

In the end it seems there is nothing simple about pottery and there is nothing simple about art. The more we understand their diversity the less we may be bullied by the chauvinists who use these words to punish the people making work they don't like, appreciate, or perhaps even understand adequately. If Duchamp was right in that anything can be art its up to us to learn to see different things that way. Its not just a lesson in making, but a lesson in curating. Its a lesson in how we look at the world and how we group the things we find.... What kind of gatekeeper are you willing to be? Generous or miserly? And why? What is being served by calling things one sort of thing or another? How do our biases and prejudices play out in that?

If I see a small kid drawing with crayons and finger paints I want to say that "art is happening there". If I see a kid making volcanoes with playdough I want to say that "art is happening there". Sure its not van Gogh or Voulkos, but the verb of 'arting' is definitely there. Why would I ever say that an adult sitting at the potter's wheel is not an artist? The lineage of creativity seems quite obvious, to me, at least....

Carter Gillies


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Notes on Creativity

Our conscious thoughts, wishes and fears are largely based upon what should have been; it seems to be the way we are conditioned. As a result we are mainly involved in a problem-solving cycle. Creativity in its core is not a problem solving driven attitude. Creativity is based on embracing opportunities that are beyond the projected outcome. This distinguishes creation from production.

Creativity is driven by the notion of not knowing and based on the understanding that the process
between an idea and projected outcome is not just a bothersome phase to achieve results.
It is based upon the understanding that the process of making, thinking, researching bears meaning. Understanding that ‘mistakes’ can be valuable sources as they clearly reflect our assumptions. Our thoughts, wishes and fears are driven by assumptions. By allowing a dialogue (as opposed to discussion or monologue!) with what surrounds us and what is in us, our thoughts, wishes and fears can serve as a mirror to detect our assumptions. Creation thrives if we are willing to be in dialogue
with what surrounds us and what is in us.

The production of man-made things makes consumption possible. But before a thing can be produced it has to be created. Creation is therefore a vital entity in society. A society that focuses only on production and consumption is decadent and will become insignificant in time.

Anton Reijnders
-Transcribed on 10-6-2009 from


Artists run amok

Have recently had web discussions on Art, artists and craft. I don't have time to really spend on this but is seems like an important topic that constantly goes astray.

I always find that people want to call themselves "Artists". This is strange to me. Why isn't it enough to be a potter? or a painter or a sculptor? No ...people want to be called Artists.

I can only assume that this is to add validity or prestige to their activity. It isn't just pottery it is Art. I am an Artist - meaning they participate in the grand social structure of Art. They are creating and thus participate in a similar activity as the great Creator!

But then you get to asking what "Art"is or what an "Artist" is and it is a confounding mix of  denial and hostility. Things like "I hate the Art vs craft " debate or an "Artist is anyone who makes Art". This definition seems strange to me because it is so broad as to include everyone. And yet the entire purpose of being called an "Artist" is adding prestige. So if everyone is an artist, it isn't that special. If Artist is an all -inclusive term then it is a useless word indicating nothing.

Another attempt was: "Anyone who designs and makes an object". Well it seems to me that would include an engineer. They design and  make objects. So do cooks, they design and make many objects that you eat. Or a cake maker at Wal-mart. They design and make cakes, sort of like slip trailing with sugar. Or birds like the Bower bird, they design and make beautiful nests that vary. What about bees? So you see, if a cook, engineer, birds and bees are all in the definition of Artist then what good is the definition?

What if I asked "what is a writer"? Many people want to be writers and to participate in the mystique of being a writer, novelist, etc. But if the definition of writer is, anyone who writes how prestigious is that? Everyone is a writer. Even a two year old can write "Mommy"? So there has to be a better definition of the term "writer" or "artist" for it to have any real meaning.

Then we come to crafts. What is wrong with being a craftperson?  Seems like a fine occupation to me.

But evidently being an Artist must be better. Craftsmen make repeats of the same or similar objects over and over. Ever look at a potter's life work? It is not life of "creating" but rather of making objects. Most potters create a line and then reproduce it. Occasionally there is variation but generally you are producing a line of work to sell. Just look at the life time products of most potters....rinse and repeat (with slight tweeks). Just because you use a different glaze on a cup doesn't make it Art. Variations on a form aren't that profound. Nothing wrong with them but color variations don't make it Art.

Nothing wrong with that! I am a potter. I have been rinsing and repeating for a long time. Sure I make some new stuff but Art?  I don' think so.

How many cups are "created' or how many are "made". There is no ambiguity in the end product..it will be a cup. It is never going to end up being an installation of "the cupness" of a cup.  ....Those don't fit in the kiln! It isn't Art it is craft.

So I know that this isn't a philosophical treatise on Art or Craft but it seems to me someone has to address the absurdity of all these Artists running amok.

I return to the initial question - Why isn't it enough to be a potter? or a painter or a sculptor?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Clay Club October 8, 2014 at Odyssey in Asheville NC

The October Clay Club is going to be at Odyssey in Asheville NC on October 8 from 6- 8:30 p.m. and we are having about 8 demonstrators. Right now we have :

Joey Sheehan,
Terry Gess,
Gabriel Kline,
Anja Bartels,
Nick Moen,
Genevieve Van Zandt,
Travis Winters,
Lee Wolfe

We will probably start the demos very close to 6 p.m. because some people have to leave early. 

The pot luck is Harvest Theme so whatever that means to you.

See you there!  Should be fun!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dirty Girls are the Best!

I just wanted to say.....and I don't represent these folks....because who would recommend a "Dirty Girl"?.....

But these are the BEST WIRES out there!

I love them and they are now in small sizes too ...which I love!

Here is the link :


Residency Opportunity at the Bascom in Highland NC

Great Opportunity ---

-In exchange for materials, the Resident must teach 6-8 hours a week of basic level classes.

-Studio asst for all studio barn clay workshops for 2015

- Pay is $12 an hour for 40 hour week- teaching and managing the studio. Clay, glaze and firings included. (See Application for more details.)

-Resident will provide own housing. (We can help find places or names for them top make contact with.)

For an application go to : "The Bascom Dave Drake Studio Barn Resident Artist Application for 2015" :

Contact Frank Vickery for more information:

Richland Balsam Overlook BRP 2014

Finally got the selfie. 

Leaves are turning...after the freeze this weekend ...it will happen quick!

Thursday, October 2, 2014


There is a very nice !!!field of sunflowers on Highway 26 just outside of Asheville - think it is exit 17.