From the Ashes

It had been a long time since I had spent quality time in my studio.  For the last year I'd been focusing my energy on our wine business in Germany, creating the website and marketing, and it left little time for ceramics. 

But I came back to it with a renewed sense of creativity and commitment to design, experimentation and sustainability.   I've decided to continue my exploration of natural and contrasting surfaces using soft colors.  

More than anything, I want to produce pieces with depth.  With purpose.  Functional but also full of soul.  Years of experience have taught me there are absolutely no shortcuts to this process.  To produce work of quality means going through many phases of learning and self-discovery.  The most enlightening part of this process for me is what every artist eventually learns:  to produce a certain simplicity, you have to know what you're doing.  You have to know what works.  

For me there have been a lot of misfires, stop and go periods, and difficulties along the way.  They still happen. But I have the sense that I am coming into my most meaningful work in the pottery studio.  

The longer I work at this, the more I want to produce works that have a natural quality.  I don't want to produce art in the pottery studio.  I want to produce functional pieces that have an artistic or creative bend.  Most important, I want to use as many non toxic materials as I can in the production of pots.  The one glaze that I love the most is a glaze made from wood ash.  High fired, absolutely pure, it is composed of only four ingredients:  feldspar stone, chalk, talcum and wood ash from my wood burning stove.  

Those four ingredients, mixed together at appropriate proportions and fired over 12 hours at 1240 degrees centigrade produce a beautiful glaze.

It can be gently colored, as it is in the photo above, with just a touch of cobalt.

There are no colorants in this glaze in the photos below.  Its honey colored and shading comes from the glaze ingredients. It's lush - and when it's applied thickly it looks like honey.  Where it's thinner it looks like milk.  

It seems like such a simple thing, to create a simple glaze.  But so many years of experience go into making one, and then making sure you're using the right clay to put it on, and to make sure you are firing it correctly.  

So I am busy in my studio designing new pots using this glaze.  Because I love its effect and gentleness. And because we produce a lot of ash as we heat with wood all winter.  So I can use the ashes to make beautiful vessels.  These pots are dishwasher and oven safe.  Which is kind of incredible, I think.  It has to do with the fact that they are stoneware, and fired at such a high temperature. 

i'd love your opinions on this natural way of creating durable pottery. 

Porcelain

Porcelain

On our way to Italy.  But first, some new pieces out of the kiln for the next Babarolo photo shoot! 

Read More

Drama

Drama

Drama.  The thing we want less of but need more of. 

Read More

A Creative Season

A Creative Season

It's been a most busy spring, full of projects and promise! 

Read More

Choosing For Your Art

When you choose for your art, you choose for a higher expression of yourself. 

This makes life more fulfilling and infinitely more complicated.  Because as you go through the process of figuring out what it is you want to express, you find that what is in your mind's eye and what your hands are capable of don't necessarily match up.  So you have to reach.  And reaching can be very, very humbling and confusing.  Because if you are striving for honesty in your art, be it the written word, brush on a canvass or holding clay at the center point on the wheel, you question things.  A lot of things.

You question your own motivation, your ability, your talent, your drive, your purpose.  And all of those things, plus a million more, are folded into the work you create.  Folded in there is something I call the frustration of non-mastery.  I have pieces from all the stages of my eighteen years as a potter.  I have writings from the last thirty years.   And paintings- I don't even really want to admit the amount of painted-over canvasses I have.  All of these things signify a process.  The same is true of every aspect of visual life.  

 

The longer you do something creative, the more tuned in you become to the details of what it is you are doing.  The rooms I paint today don't reflect the rooms I painted in Italy.  They are a progression from what I did in Italy.  I understand more now.  I am clearer on what I want to convey in my own personal environment.  

I had to get clear on my own non-mastery of my crafts to accept that any point on the non mastery road is simply a weigh station on the route to mastery.  It's all necessary in order to get there.  

So, as you work on your craft, whatever it is, you become more in tuned with the vibration you are creating.  If you focus and stay humble about what you are doing, you improve - and by improve I mean you actually can be self - critical without being self destructive.  There is a healthy amount of ego that should be maintained in the creative process - and a healthy amount of soul.  The ego is there to let you know you are doing ok.  The soul is there to keep you in touch with where you want to go on your very individual route to mastery of your craft. 

As you move through your creative process, embrace the continuous movement you make towards expression of what is a very integral part of you.  Understand stymied frustration as a time not to push, and understand the hectic manic periods as the growth from nurturing the frustration.  Both are necessary parts of the motor of moving forward with creative expression in all of its form.  

Enjoy the ride.  It's why we're here.