Saturday, July 5, 2008

Blogging leads to Earthenware?

I first used a potter's wheel in high-school.  I never took the class too seriously, but I enjoyed it. The summer after my sophomore year at Skidmore College I took a ceramics class.  That summer I got the bug that any professional and many aspiring potters get when they touch clay. I spent about 12 hours a day in the studio.  I even dropped the anthropology class that I was going to take over the summer so that I could use those 3 hours a day for clay instead.  

Since that summer in college I have worked in high-fire stoneware and porcelain clays.  In college it was strictly reduction firings.  Once I opened my own studio I began with a reduction kiln. During the first couple of years here I used any opportunity I could find to get my work in wood-fired kilns.  I would drive just about anywhere that had space in the kiln and wood for me to help throw inside of it.  

I drove to Chris Gustin's brand new, at the time, Anagama kiln....about an 1 hour away.  I drove to Dan Anderson's kiln more often....about 17 hours away in Edwardsville, IL.  I sometimes ended up out there a couple of times a year.  Once my friend Michael McCarthy became Mark Shapiro's apprentice I would travel out to Stonepool often to fire with them in Mark's large 2 chambered wood-kiln.  As I have said earlier on this blog, Mark has been a great help to me both with encouragement, friendship, and the use of his kilns.  

All of this traveling for pots was centered around one thing...high-fired pots.  This past winter I was out in Western Massachusetts firing yet another kiln at Stonepool.  Michael McCarthy mentioned to me that Michael Kline had a blog about pots and that I should take a look at it.  I have long been a reader of blogs.  Until that time it had strictly been following politics....well, I may check out perez hilton every once in a while....guilty pleasure.  More on that another time. 

Anyways, reading Michael's blog opened my eyes to this great resource out on the internets.  I ended up adding a blog to my website update.  Which has all led to this....earthenware.  Yeah, I'm not quite sure either.

I had never wanted to try earthenware before.  Well, I had once bought 2 boxes of it and I made some unglazed planters for the house.  Other than that, I was a high-fire snob and could have cared less about the dirty red stuff.  I guess I never even learned to spell it correctly.  But after cruising around pottery blogland I became a little intrigued about the stuff.  Hey, this guy Ron was doing some cool stuff with it and he also fired a salt-kiln.  Wow....look at what this guy Doug does!  If only there was somewhere to get some technical info about it all?  I had piles of recipes of low-fire glazes but I wouldn't know where to start.  Ron, thanks for pointing me to Kari's site.  Kari, thanks for putting all of that info out there.  

So, in the past three weeks I went from not knowing a thing about low-fire glazes to unloading about 50 pots out of my electric kiln that I am really happy with and really excited about trying again.  None of it would have happened if it hadn't been for this community of blogging potters. 

The need for community that potters have was apparent to me the first summer at Skidmore. The pottery studio had a vibe all it's own within the arts building.  It's definitely part of the reason that I head off Cape to go fire at Stonepool.  The idea of community is pretty evident in Michael's latest pictures from Penland.  The ability to stay involved with the lives of potters is what I have enjoyed so much about blogging myself and reading others' blogs.  There is something incredibly satisfying about finding great work online and being able to point your readers in that direction.  So, thanks to all who have been reading my blog.  Thanks to all who post what they're doing, how they're doing it and why.  It's nice to see that we are all continually experimenting adding what we don't know how to do to what we have already figured out.  

And, I think I actually like this dirty red clay stuff.  I have a few ideas for next time.  I feel like the decorative options relate fairly closely to what I had been doing with my salt and wood-fired ware.  I'm excited to track this next cycle of work on the blog and see what I can figure out next.  I got just about all of the new earthenware pots up on my

Thanks again everybody.


Emily Murphy said...

Thanks for the warning! I'm going to have to keep an eye out for early signs of terra cotta-itis.

Like you, I am avid political blog reader. I've been writing my clay blog for a while (4 yrs this month!), and I have been amazed at how much both writing and reading ceramics blogs effects my work. The larger the community grows, the more of an effect it has on me.

I love your new pots!

brandon phillips said...

it hasn't infected me yet, but believe me i have thought about it.

Ron said...

Hey Keith, the pots on the website look great. It's funny how all this is connected. Anyhow good to see your earthenware.

Michael Kline said...

Great story Keith. Keep taking chances. It always pays off, sooner, or later.

abigail said...

next thing you know you'll be slip casting.

Keith said...

slip-casting might have to wait. i've never been good with plaster.

thanks again for all of the support guys. i've been getting great feedback in the gallery. a bunch of pieces went to their new homes the first day the work went into the shop.

doug fitch said...

If I can help in any way with your earthenware I will, not that I know what I'm doing!