Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hewitt Pottery Kiln Opening This Weekend (and next)

Hewitt Pottery is having their summer kiln opening this weekend and next, August 29th/30th and Sept 5th/6th (Saturday 9 til 5 and Sunday 12 til 5) . I know that I should have mentioned this earlier, but we were so busy getting ready that I haven't had time. Here are some photos from yesterday's preview. Unfortunately (or fortunately) a lot of these pots now have new homes. But come out if you have a chance, there are some beauties left and new pots not previously seen saved for next weekend.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Freer and Sackler Gallery visit

Last week Mark took us to Washington D.C. to visit the Freer and Sackler Galleries.

In addition to seeing the current exhibits, we visited the storage facilities of each museum. In the storage facility, accompanied by a curator, you can take out most pieces, handle them and take photos. One of the oldest pieces we took out was a Neolithic vase from Northern Thailand from 1000 B.C.E. The people that made these pieces have been dead for centuries, yet these pots survive. I was informed that they find a lot of ancient pottery shards in trash piles and old wells. (Note to self: if you really never ever want someone to see that ugly pinholed piece with the kiln goop droppings, you might want to dispose of it in several different places.)

A few of my favorites were the Shoji Hamada pieces (the big platter that I am holding, the plate, and the tea bowl). I had only see these in books, so it was quite a thrill to hold them. I also liked this tea bowl with bamboo decoration (bottom photo), artist unknown from the Edo period. This Shigaraki tea bowl (top photo) was another one of my favorites. The Sackler gift shop had a fabulous selection of books on ceramics. I purchased Shigaraki: Potters’ Valley, published in 1979 and reprinted in 2000, by Louise Cort, curator of ceramics at the Freer and Sackler galleries. It contains a lot of information on tea-ceremony wares as well as a complete ceramic history of the Shigaraki area of Japan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Two Weeks at Hewitt Pottery

This month I started a one year apprenticeship at W.M. Hewitt Pottery in Pittsboro, NC. I am so excited to have this opportunity. I hope to gain more wood firing experience and refine my throwing skills. Things have been going well so far and I am thrilled to go to work everyday.

Last week we started loading Mark's massive kiln. It took 5 full days to load in all the pots made by Mark and his two other apprentices Joseph Sand and Alex Matisse. I also helped roll thousands of wads for the pots (thanks Alex for the secret double and triple wad rolling technique).

On Tuesday evening the firing started slow using gas to dry out the pots. Formal stoking with wood started last night and continues on until late Friday. May I add that we are currently experiencing a miracle with the weather. On Tuesday it was 100 degrees (with the heat index in some areas at 105). Today was a lovely and pleasant 82. It was a perfect day to fire. I had a cool and relaxing 4 hour shift around lunchtime.

The top picture is after 4 days of loading. The photo is from the front of the kiln. Then next photo is the stack that was placed in the very front on day 5 (in front of the first photo's stack). The last photo is from the side door where the large pots are placed.