Fall Break

•November 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

Just a hint of fall color.

A whole month come and gone since the last report.  The general conclusion is that October seems to have disappeared some how.  It’s been a busy month here on Roan Mountain, with a kiln firing the first week and back to back craft shows in the middle.

Just started working in the studio again for the next firing, but somewhere in the middle of all that Joy and I found time to get out into the hills.  We found several amazing spots just around the corner and over the mountain, and spent a few days hiking through the wilderness of the Linville River Gorge and climbing around some neighborhood waterfalls.

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Still Here

•September 22, 2008 • 2 Comments
Finished
Finished
Fresh off the wheel

It’s been an awfully long time since the last update. Busy as usual since the last firing, mostly working in the studio with occasional distractions. I have about a week left to make work for the next firing, so hopefully I’ll be cranking out some good ones for the upcoming shows in October. Above are some of the square bottles I’ve started making recently. These are a taller version than the first ones that I fired, the first picture shows them right off the wheel where I’ve squared them from the inside before continuing to throw the top part. The second picture shows them after all the refining, or fussin’ over, I do to sharpen the edges.

Just finshed a kiln building proposal for a project that may happen in the future, perhaps more on that later. Had an interesting time at a one day craftshow this weekend. It was a beautiful day in the “suburbs” of Asheville, NC. Didn’t sell too many pots, but I did come home with “blue ribbon” so that helped out quite a bit.

Kiln Log #8

•August 13, 2008 • 3 Comments
Top Shelf

Top Shelf

You may have noticed an obscure reference to the recent firing here on Roan Mountain. It was firing number 8 and sadly not as successful as the last two. After making some adjustments to the bagwall and firing approach I had two very good firings in a row. Almost all of the really cold areas had disappeared and it felt like I was pulling nice pots out of the kiln left and right.

This time I had some casualties, a few cracks resulting from raw-glazing first attempts and a few cracks from just plain ol’ too thick. Aside from these, the bottom shelf or two on the two outside stacks showed signs of that ol’ terrible cold spot returning. To make matters worse, the whole firing ended up about one cone cooler than I have come to hope for. I’ve learned that the main conepacks tend to sit a very weird little pocket in this kiln, and that cone 9 flat is fine there as long as cone 11 is flat in the very front fireface. Although this firing seemed headed for greatness and high temperatures for a while there, in the end only cone 10 was flat on the fireface with cone 11 hanging tough. In the main packs I had only one cone 9 down and a lot of 8’s just falling. Oh well I thought, at four in the morning it was decided to call it off and see if that would be hot enough.

Before

Before

After

After

Not quite hot enough. By no means was it a total disaster. Joy shared the kiln load and although she did not fare too well overall, she had a few nice ones come out. I did have a lot of nice ones come out too, some of the flashed surfaces from the last firings were still there but some of the surfaces were just shy of my expectations built up from the hotter pots of the last time round.

For the next firing I think I’ll reverse the small changes I had made in some of the settings and try to get headed back in the right direction.

For now, off to help Shane Mickey with another of his kiln building projects. He’s already got a start on it and it’s not to far away, so in a few days we’ll have it finished and fired and be headin’ home. Then I can get back in the studio and try it all again.

Take A Hike

•August 9, 2008 • 1 Comment
Photo by Joy Tanner

Photo by Joy Tanner

Recently finished up the little summer tour here in western North Carolina. After 3 “craft shows” on three straight weekends, plus a kiln firing somewhere in the middle, it was finally time to take a break. Joy and I snuck away for a quick trip into the surrounding backcountry. I am often reminded of what we take for granted right before our eyes, in this case the beautiful landscapes I live amongst. A quick trip down a country road, a few miles trek along the Appalachian Trail, and we found some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. After dinner with a sunset view Joy snapped this shot of some of the wildlife. A rare species we guess must be the mountain hermit.

All in all the retail shows could have been worse. The attendance and sales were pretty slow, but between the three I came away with a little profit. Enough to carry on until the next show anyway. When the sales are slow I try to remind myself of the tales I’ve heard of the many potters who have gone before me. It helps a little to know I am not the first one struggling to find a market for “brown” pots out on the streets.

The Booth Shot

•July 30, 2008 • 2 Comments

Just finished the latest firing here on Roan Mountain, but more on that later.

At long last here are a few shots of the new booth, making a valiant effort last week at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands. The display turned out as well as I has hoped, the general plan being to present a simplified booth which left plenty of room for the work to stand out. In this respect I think it worked well.

On the other hand, the new booth was less successful in the “increasing sales” department. To be fair, this one show does not make for a fair jury on the effectiveness of the new booth, and it will have many more chances to be loaded and unloaded in and out of my truck and prove itself worthy.

Over the last few years I have been slowly doing a few more craft fairs each year and it seems there is a general trend developing. It goes something like this…catch wind of a “good” craft fair, attend to find that last year‘s show was much better, attendance was high unlike this year. Luckily there is always something to blame it on, sometimes the weather is too hot or too rainy, sometimes it is too nice outside. On one occasion the local state university’s home football game was to blame for keeping the masses away. This time I heard someone saying something about high gas prices and the economy heading in the tank… I’m not sure what they were talking about but I’ll look into it.

Yet another stack of wood

•July 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Well the new display booth is finally resting for the night, ready for its maiden voyage tomorrow. The woodworking project turned out to be a lot bigger than I had imagined, as many things do. But after almost two weeks the booth is finally built and painted. I found myself pondering questions of craftsmanship, the art vs. craft questions I never studied, and then I remembered I was sometimes using power tools and better to just stay focused on the task at hand.  The view from the “workshop” was distracting enough.

Come on down to the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands this weekend and check it out. If you’ve never been to Asheville in the summertime you’re missing out. Really. What are you waiting for?

If you just can’t make it, stay tuned for a photo of the new booth in action sometime soon.

New Pots

•July 1, 2008 • Leave a Comment

A few more pots from the last firing, finally photographed. I had a few forms which were new or improved which I left bare, meaning no flashing slip or nothing. Just the raw clay, loaded strategically into certain areas of the kiln. These two square bottles were a small version of a new form which I will definitely be continuing. They may never again measure up to the flashing marks on these two.

The square jar is a larger version of a form I have made for some time now. The little plate is just nice. It has been nice to watch these plates come and go from the last two firings. A lot of them have come out of the kiln with just the kind of marks I am hoping for, and they’ve disappeared quickly too.

Finally got the metal on the chimney at Jane Peiser’s today. “Chet” came to do the welding, we hoisted the angle irons into place, and then he welded a few extra support pieces from the chimney to the metal on the kiln, just for good measure.

I did get some work done in the studio last week, but now I’m getting into the wood project pretty deep. Hopefully I’ll have the display racks and pedestals built by later this week so I can get them painted and get back to the wheel.