Sunday, April 23, 2023

My favorite day

unloading day pots

I'm always happy on unloading day. Well, almost always. I certainly am today! This kiln load was a little light, because I have an unloading scheduled for May 6, during the Maine Pottery Tour, & I wanted to make sure I have enough pots left for that. 
The soda was a little heavy this time...weird because I always weigh out the soda & measure the water, it ought to be the same every time. Maybe the damper was closed a bit more than usual? I don't know what else would cause a noticeable amount of variation. 

Although I do like variation! I like having some peachy, some grey, some bone, some darker pieces when I set up my display. 

This result was 1300 grams of soda - 600 soda ash, 700 baking soda - in 3 gallons of warm water, sprayed while cones 8, 9, & 10 were falling. I typically lay 11 down. 

These pots will mostly be available during the Maine Pottery Tour. A few will be making hteir way to shop - Bay View Company, Monkitree, and  - new! - the Maine Potters Market. (More on that later! :) )

My kiln is probably cool now so I'm' off to finish unloading. I hope to see you during the Maine Pottery Tour

Monday, April 17, 2023

In the News: Kennebec Clay Works & Native Clay

 This is my friend Malley Weber, who owns Hallowell Clay Works, & Kennebec Clay Works here in Augusta


There’s a plastic bag on the bench in Malley Weber’s pottery studio with a handwritten label: “Ted’s stream.”

Inside the bag is clay.

It’s blueish green. There’s a spot of mold growing on it. The texture is a little crumbly and coarse, not quite like the smooth stuff that’s used for classes here at Kennebec Clay Works. Weber calls it “wild clay,” and she collected it from, as she wrote on the bag, the bank of a neighbor’s stream with his permission.

April is mud season, when Mainers often think twice about driving down a dirt road or trekking into the woods in a new pair of hiking boots. Weber, however, thinks about wet earth year round. She is one of a very small number of potters in the state who digs clay from the ground herself and uses it to make ceramics. (And while the conditions right now might be ideal for mud pies, they are actually terrible for harvesting clay. Imagine trying to dig up a bucketful.)

“The minute I started working with clay, I was kind of curious about, where does this come from?” said Weber.

Most artists order clay from commercial suppliers for the simple reason that digging your clay and cleaning it up to use is a huge amount of work. But it does form naturally in the ground, and Maine is rich in deposits that tell the story of the glaciers that were here 14,000 years ago. When the ice melted, it released sediment into the area, and then the ocean flooded the space where the glacier used to be. The result is a blanket of blue-green marine clay called the Presumpscot Formation.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

The Pottery Stairs: A Very Short Story

Spring has sprung here in Central Maine - we're in the 60s today but we've had a couple days in the 70s. Red is spending his daytime hours in his outdoor pen. It's almost time for the pottery stairs to make their appearance! 

Which reminds me: I never told you my Jon Hamm* story! Some background: usually, I never see the people who purchase items from teh pottery stairs; they make their selections, then take one of the stamped, addressed envelopes, and go on their way, sending me a check or cash once they get home. Once in a while I run out of envelopes, & then occasionally someone will knock on the door to pay for hteir purchase. 

I can't remember if it was last summer or the one before, but one time I answered one of these knocks & standing one my front steps was...Jon Hamm. I know that isn't very likely, but it surely did look like him. I didn't recognize the woman with him, but she was Hollywood-beautiful. Whatever; celebrities use pottery, too. I didn't want to be rude or intrusive, but I was very curious: could this really be Jon Hamm at my door? So, as he fished in his wallet for the fifteen bucks, I said, "You look so familiar to me." He smiled & said, "How 'bout that."

It was that reply that convinced me, actually. I think most people would have said, Yeah, I don't know, do you go to this & such place? or I don't think so, we're not from around here or whatever. "How 'bout that" is what a guy would say if he knows exactly why he looks familiar but doesn't feel like talking about it. 

Anyway, that's it, that's the whole story, & I never did find out if it was really him. 

Happy spring, everyone. 

*Probably. Maybe.