April 19th, 2010

Great news, I’m one of Ceramics Monthly’s Emerging Artists this year! Look for the full spread in the May issue of Ceramics Monthly.

Ceramic Arts Daily (the web division of Ceramics Monthly) is also having a "People’s Choice" contest, I would really appreciate every vote.

Here is the link

April 4th, 2010

Just returned to Red Lodge from a three leg trip; first to Tahoe and then onto Philadelphia for NCECA. Overall, it was a really fabulous time with great spring conditions and a mix of old and new friends in both locations. Upon return we found winter still has a hold on Red Lodge, it snowed while we were gone. I went cross country skiing today for probably the last time of the season. It was brilliant blue skies and lots of sunshine, but definitely want the rock skis.

I have some great news to share, next year I will be a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation! Both Nicole and I are pumped, and are looking forward to moving to Helena in August. In other good news I have a few current publications to speak of. I’m in the upfront section of the current issue of Ceramics Monthly for my work at the 31st Annual Contemporary Crafts show at Mesa Contemporary Arts in Mesa, Arizona. I also got this awesome write up from Diablo Magazine, which is published right near my hometown of Orinda.

Tomorrow I will start back in the studio, at the very beginning of my process in the woodshop making some new shapes. So far on the agenda is a oil/vinegar cruet, 3 sizes of bowls, spoon rest, toothbrush holder, and soap dish. I’m trying to expand beyond food and beverage pots, and I really love making new forms for more uses.

March 6th, 2010

Some pictures from the studio.

studio view
The view from outside the studio looking South towards the Beartooth Mountains

Pouring lots of molds

New platters casting

Nick working

January 10th, 2010

Small observation, that today's date is binary.. 1-10-10. Tomorrow's will be too.

The arrival of the New Year doesn’t carry much significance to me, because I still live on the academic calendar. However, January brings an annual reminder to take stock of what has happened over the last twelve months. Overall, I have to say that I had an amazing year, and that 2009 treated me well. I will always remember it as the year I received my MFA and finished my formal academic studies. My work also developed significantly, and it feels great to look at what I was making a year ago versus what I’m making now. I established a sole proprietorship to open my own business, working towards my goal of being independent. And, Nicole and I got to relocate to a small town in the mountains of Montana to make art. Sweet.

And now for something completely different…I have been thinking quite a lot about the definition of handmade, and how my work relates to it. Working in the Red Lodge Clay Center Gallery has been an eye opening experience in dealing with the tourist/public perception of pottery. The general consensus I’ve heard is that because my work is made using molds, it does not require the development of skill or the sensitivity to the material required by wheel-thrown work. Often, the “general public” does not perceive my work as handmade. That said, I feel catering to them only leads to mediocrity, and a further regurgitation of objects that already exist. The counterpoint to this experience came several weeks ago, when one woman walked into the gallery, spread her hands out, and stated with enthusiasm “THIS, is AWESOME!” We talked and she paid me a wonderful compliment: ”I’ve just never seen anyone make pots like these, they don’t look like anything else here.”

So, how does the individual determine if an object is handmade? I feel that is a very personal question. Reading the article published in Ceramic Review (July/Aug 2007), Janet DeBoos discusses the experience of having her work mass-produced and working in industrial factories in Italy and China. She tests her hypothesis …”that there is no difference between studio-produced handmade objects and factory produced objects that just ‘look’ handmade.” That hypothesis was proven when she herself found it challenging to differentiate between a teapot she had made in her studio and one that was produced from her original in an industrial ceramic factory. Additionally, there are ceramic facilities in China (and elsewhere) that are producing work on the wheel in mass quantity that appear to be machined. These examples lead me to the conclusion that the appearance of an object, and processes used to produce it, can no longer be the primary signifiers in assigning the title “handmade” to a particular object.

I approach this entire investigation with the perspective as a maker of one-of-a-kind objects--a studio potter. I use an industrial process (slip casting) on a one-man scale. I consciously maintain a very limited division of labor (someone else mines the materials I use, etc). I vigorously edit and scrutinize each and every piece I produce to be either of gallery quality, or not. Seconds do not exist in my studio; either something is good enough to be sold and live in someone else’s home, or it isn’t. In many ways, this is why I love industry, because it is so unforgiving and absolute. I am tired of many ceramic artists beating us over the head with what they call “the aesthetic of the hand” in dismissal of poor craftsmanship. Handles that crack at the joints, and teapots that don’t pour well are not the examples of handmade that we as a community should demonstrate. Whatever process you’re using, do it well and with love. Take the time, care, and consideration in making. Because, in the end, anything worth doing is worth doing well.

November 25th, 2009

Its not that I mind writing the blog, its that all of my computer attention has been completely devoted to developing my webstore. I had grandiose plans of being able to open the store by Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t make it happen. I now understand why scripting languages are called ‘languages’. But, nevertheless, the store will open soon, and I will have done the entire thing myself.

In other news, Red Lodge is awesome. The ski resort opens on Friday after t-giving, I won’t make it for opening day, but as soon as we get another good snowstorm, you’ll find me in line for fresh tracks. I’ve been busy in the studio, just a couple weeks ago I finished making 38 new molds, and now am onto casting. I’ve needed to push some things through for a few shows, so that has been good on finishing smaller cycles rather than the ‘all the eggs in one basket’ approach.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which I am quite looking forward to. I found a used smoker at a secondhand store in Billings for $17, which I am going to put to work. The wood chips are soaking and the turkey is brined, so we should be good to go. I think I might just wear sweatpants to dinner, just to be prepared for the inevitable expansion. All for now, Happy Turkey Day everyone!

August 31st, 2009

How time has flown by, the summer has just disappeared. After the show came down, it was Nicole’s turn to show off her thesis documentary film, “Full Circle: Stitches In Time”, with a great reception and screening at the Dairy Barn in Athens. Then we walked in graduation at OU, and I promptly left for a 3 week residency at Red Lodge as part of the Artist Invite Artist series. Brad Schwieger did the inviting of Tom Bartell, Von VenHuizen, Ben Alvers, and myself. An absolutely amazing time was had by all. Here is a brief photo gallery...

After getting back from “art camp” (as we affectionately termed it), I had 3 weeks in Athens to glaze and fire the remaining bisque ware, pack and clean the studio, pack and clean the house, and say goodbye to everyone in Athens. Nicole and I also had to say goodbye to many of our favorite places too, including where we met. We know we will eventually return to visit Athens, but not for quite a while.

I packed the moving truck so that we had our bed set up in the back. Worked perfect, no hotels required for the 3 day, 1780 mile drive from Ohio to Montana. The drive itself was fairly easy, we always knew which direction to head….West. We arrived in Red Lodge, unloaded everything, and lickety-split hopped a plane to Santiago Chile.

I was invited by the Ohio Arts Council to participate in a foreign exchange/artist in residence program at the Bodegon Cultural Center in Los Vilos Chile. The purpose of my time there would be to troubleshoot the RAM press and RAM molds, develop new glazes, work alongside the artists producing ware for the center, and to generally share my knowledge of ceramics. It was a great experience, and I can’t wait to visit Chile again. But maybe next time during the summer in the southern hemisphere. Here are the photos...

After Chile, Nicole and I returned to CA for a week in the Bay Area. We saw my family, some great art, and had delicious food. It’s just so nice for Californians to return to California. However, with all the problems CA is having right now, I’m kinda glad I’m not a resident. After 2 weeks in Chile and a week in CA, we finally returned to MT to set up shop and for me to start my year long residency at Red Lodge.

This summer has been a whirlwind. The weather here in Red Lodge is still beautiful, so I’m hoping to sneak in a few more bike rides, hikes, and fishing trips before things cool down. It looks like I will be in a few shows coming up, so I better get busy in the studio too.

May 24th, 2009

Here are two pictures of the install of my thesis show.

MFA Install

MFA Install2

The reception was great. Nicole made an unbelievable spread, and I'm still not sure which aspect was better, the food or the pots. It was very special to have my family and friends here to see the show and to meet everyone.

Now, the show is down, the peeps are gone, and I am onto playing catchup. I have so many things that I have backburnered. It is great to be able to decompress, and do some things outside of the studio. More to come soon.

May 10th, 2009

I got my MFA. I am writing this entry while I am sitting in Trisolini (no gallery monitors on Sunday’s). It feels really good to be done. As soon as I have images I will post them. Overall, I feel that everything went well. I am looking forward to the reception (this coming Friday), mostly so I can show this work to my friends and family from out of town. Most of them have never seen my work in this context.

In other great news, next year I will be a resident artist at Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana. I am absolutely thrilled to have such a great opportunity. I have been recently informed that it would be ‘unethical’ to move to MT without knowing how to fly cast, so that has risen to the top of my priority list. Along with building a new mountain bike. Let me say this again…it feels really really good to be done. In a funny way though, I am really looking forward to starting making again. I came across so many things I want to do that I just had to backlog in order to get the show finished. Now I have a notebook full of things I want to get at. One will be a Spice Rack, aka a set of covered jars mounted on the wall. I’m anticipating finding solutions with color to this project in particular.

Another project I’m working on is this website. The site has continued to evolve over the past year (omg it’s a year old!) and I hope to have the online store up and running soon. In my efforts to build the site I have a found great appreciation for web designers/engineers. Setting up a portfolio site is one thing, building an online store with shopping baskets, customer login’s, layouts, etc, etc, is an entirely different thing. Anyone know a web engineer who has affection for pottery willing to trade services for goods? Because I could really use some help.

I will write more as I continue to unwrap and process everything that has changed.

April 5th, 2009

Oh, t-minus 29 days until the show opens. I now have finished work that could be in the show, which feels good, but I still have a long way to go. This coming week is going to be very hectic; lots of pots to finish, teaching, and heading to NCECA. I will be in Phoenix for a grand total of 26 hours. Get in, get the goods, and get out. Overall I feel that things are going well preparing for the show. I have most things bisque fired at this point, however the most difficult ones are yet to make it through the bisque. For as much as the ceramic process fascinates me, it equally aggravates me. Why can’t this stuff just work? Phuleease?

I am excited to be done. It’s so close. I realized the other day that I haven’t put up ‘finished’ work in a year. I think that aspect of artistry is not to be underestimated. Putting work into the context that it is meant to be encountered is vital to understanding what one has actually made. There’s nothing like some sharp pedestals and nice lighting to allow me to see more clearly. Really just taking the work out of the studio is a big step.

Lately I have been fighting glaze defects. The first large load I fired, which was done under a very strict self-imposed deadline, was a complete disaster. I lost 100% of the pots to glaze crawling, pinholing, etc. Just pick a glaze malfunction and I had it. 3 weeks later I fired again, and this time only lost 80%. I started to think about this as a 20% improvement, which is HUGE, but one can only go up from zero. Then just recently, I fired again and lost only 40% of the work. Another huge improvement. Still I want my loss % to be under 10%.

March 2nd, 2009

The start of my blog. This is a place for me to rant and rave about all sorts of things. Currently I am preparing for my thesis show that opens on May 5th. As of tomorrow, I have 63 days until the opening. As of tonight, I have exactly zero peices ready to show. So, that conclusion leads me to think that if I'm not working, I need to be sleeping, and if I'm not sleeping I need to be working. My wonderful girlfriend politely pointed out the grey hairs that have started to appear. Grrrr.

Here are a few historical images I have been thinking about quite a bit...

All of these images are from Art Nouveau and Art Deco Silver, by Annelies Krekel-Aalberse. Which is an excellent book that I haven't really had time to delve into. The list of book/articles/essays/etc that I would like to read seems to only expand and never shrink. Another activity I am very much looking forward to after grad school is over....getting a bit caught up with everything I have been exposed to. Anyway, these silver sets are from the early 20th century in the Netherlands, France, and Germany. I find their geometric divison and simplicity absolutely beautiful.