We did it! We are now in Maputo, Mozambique. Packed everything and off we went. I maintained my membership with the Ottawa Guild of Potters but I needed to let the Gladstone Clayworks membership go. I look forward to finding my way through the pottery community in Africa and posting about it. At the current moment there isn’t much to tell. The majority of the work I found on line was low fired earthenware. When I ask the local friends I get an inquisitive look and then they typical response, “I don’t know anyone personally but I might be able to put you into contact with someone.” This is progress and very much appreciated. Ceramics/ pottery is not a typical thing as a profession within our current circle. We have artist friends within the circle, even a jewellery designer, and all of this is fabulous. Just no potters.
Well… My ceramics anyway. I have this lovely Guanyin bust Chris purchased while in Singapore. She lived in many different parts of our home but now she is in the kitchen. I rather like her here, especially next to a lovely wood fired plate by Anne Creskey and a huge bowl made by Leta Cormier. The light in the kitchen just seems to really bring these things together. Too bad in live in such a tiny house. I would love to display and use all of the work that I have collected. Each one has a special place and meaning for me.
I’m also getting lots of use from my Christmas gift. Thank you Chris… I love my iPad.
It has been so cold outside that it’s starting to turn into one of those bad jokes… you know, “It’s been so cold out side! How cold is it? It’s been so cold out side that my nose hairs freeze within the first two minutes of walking to the bus!”
Never mind that. This is the time of year I start thinking about what I’m going to start making. I have listen to many creative people and it seems to be a theme. After the holidays, and your post turkey hangover is done, potters start to think about and plan their year. Some have already signed up for festivals, sale events, booking classes, workshops, and many other things. It makes me think really hard about living a crafters life. You are an independent business person and, as such, are responsible for everything. If you don’t make money at an event it really is a big deal. Thinking about everything from travel expenses to accommodations to simply justify your time at the festivals – you are not creating anything but you are making contacts and chatting with others who have the similar views as yourself. There are many things on your plate when you are not traditionally employed. It is a whole new way of thinking and I just keep going through the list in my mind. I have been reading and talking to creators and independently employed friends and most of it sounds possible but it also sounds like a lot of work and effort.
I think I’m going to start with this blog. I think I’m going to try and blog my path through this and see where it takes me.
I hope to document this and maybe, like an journal, a little perspective will help me… and maybe others. Maybe I could get some of my readers to chime in too!
Currently tucked away in the land of ice I start to think about what I to do in the new year. The projects I would like to accomplish. The one thing I know are the duties that fall upon me. Cleaning this and that. Organizing this thing and the other. I am also looking into purchasing a few new books, renewing magazine subscriptions, and planning out the next few months. Some potters think about experimentation and adventure in their work. I am thinking about the Ottawa Guild of Potters Spring Sale as well as Great Bowls of Fire.
Shows me the dedication I must have to get through this. I hope to be posting more on my site, including photos. Keep visiting my friends!
I also want to take a little time to thank all of my family and friends who have supported me during these last few years. Showing me support and encouraging me. My very first public sale was at the Ottawa Guild of Potters Holiday Sale and I did well. A great big thank you to all of you. Although not all of you could attend I was ever so great full for all well wishes.
“Laid Back Wood Firing” by Steve Harrison (5th Edition, Revised and Enlarged, includes ) – an initial review of the book. My first impression of this book by Steve Harrison was quite frankly surprising. I was happy to see the nice DVD in the back but he took the time to sign it. (swoon) I had emailed Steve in the summer of 2011 just to see if he had any copies to sell and replied the next day he had. I told Chris and earmarked it for my Christmas gift.
When I arrived from Haliburton, exhausted from the 4 month long ceramics program, I started to organize the house a little before the Christmas holidays. I found a stack of papers on the kitchen table (aka my desk and general work area in our tiny home) and started leafing through bills, letters and magazines only to find my Christmas gift!! I couldn’t very well stop myself. I plunged into the book with a freshly brewed cup of tea, the stack moved from one side of the table to the other. I only lifted my eyes from the book when I heard Chris’s voice, “Hey! You weren’t supposed to see that! It’s your Christmas gift!” to which I replied, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa came a little early this year.” I really couldn’t have stopped myself. After having an extra long week of emotional and physical stress I really needed something and this was it.
Part 1 of the book is what I have been flipping back to for these two months. Sketchbook in hand and the blurry memory of Anne Creskey’s kiln in my mind I have started to sketch out what I want in a bourry box style kiln. The idea of lifting a door to stoke a fire makes me afraid. Side stoking makes more sense to me. Standing upright and throwing down on the hobs from the two sides seems a better solution. The comments I have about Steve’s book are the details are great, the measurements are indicated but I guess I just need to see diagrams or plans to make sense of things like the arch and the mouse hole which contain the measurents. If I hadn’t seen a mouse hole in action at Anne’s I think I would have had more questions about visualizing it. I haven’t confirmed this either but I don’t think Anne’s mouse hole has ever been covered in ash because her firebox burns cleanly. I’ll have to check. I also think the shelf that hovers above the mouse hole also helps to keep things out of it and assists in air circulation (it’s clearly sketched out in Steve’s book but he also mentions that ash tends to seal the darn thing.) Admittedly I’m more of a practical learner so it takes me a little time to work through written directions and explanations but I generally get there.
All of this to say I am enjoying this book and I see many hours sketching things out in my workbooks. I’ll post what I can people. I hope to post more photos of my pots of course but I am without a kiln at the moment so that will have to wait. I think I will start to source out bricks, welders for the wrought iron frame and the cement slab. This is going to cost me a lot, I can feel it. Even if I choose to construct a castable kiln I’m still looking at some major money. Dream…. dream…. dream.
Just to make things even more confusing, I have also been looking at other books about wood firing and I had an amazing opportunity to fire an Olsen Fast Fire while in Haliburton. I am torn between the bourry and the fast fire but I think I am leaning more towards the bourry simply because of the ash deposit. The Olsen is seductive because it is just as reliable as the bourry but the foot print is smaller and you get fabulous flashing. I’m just not good at making choices right now, just dreaming.
It has been very busy! Not only did I visit my family over the holidays but I drove through snow and ice to and from my destinations. Winter driving really sucks. Then new years was celebrated with Chris and friends, Chris’s birthday and then Chinese new year. All that time I have been producing no work because I simply don’t have a place to fire. I gave up my spot at the Gladstone Clayworks just because of budget and took my chances. I hope it works out.
Never staying still I have been reading a few different things. Thanks to a generous Christmas gift from Chris I now have Steve Harrison’s “Laid Back Wood Firing” book and I purchased Fred Olsen’s “The Kiln Book.” While in Haliburton we had a wonderful (not scheduled) opportunity to do a wood firing with Lisa and Matt Mihlik in an Olsen Fastfire kiln. It was an amazing opportunity and it certainly solidified my love of wood fired work. Chris and I have been talking and our little home in downtown Ottawa just won’t do. My previous hopes of an electric kiln and small studio in my basement are all but dashed. I first thought I would work with an electric kiln for a while until we purchased a home in the country or at the very least property in the country I could park a tent and build a kiln for the summer.
I have also signed up for a throwing class with John Ikeda at the Gloucester Pottery School. Second class in and I have improved again. I hope to gather a lot of technique from John. He is a very good instructor although I was expecting something a little different. His technique is straightforward and direct. I don’t know why I thought his technique would be different but I just did. I am going to work with John to see if he can help me refine my dropped lip bowl form. He has seen it and likes the form. Here goes!
My next goal is to look for a place that I can fire without emptying my bank account every time I fire and release all control of firing my work. School is great because it offered me a place to explore all of these things including making my work glazes. I am still frustrated but I hope to build my knowledge while I wait for a place to fire. I certainly hope I can start to fire soon. I really need to work.