Friday, June 10, 2011

Chickens for the Cure

My friend and neighbor Liz Paley is offering her "Chickens for the Cure" to inspire support for this year's NC Race for the Cure, on Saturday June 11. Donations go to the Komen Foundation on behalf of her team (Team Amazing Us). For every $50 you donate, she will give/send you a wood-fired chicken as a token of her appreciation. Details and picture are here.
Many of these wonderful chickens were fired in my last kiln firing a few weeks ago. It was a pleasure to have these chickens amongst my other pots. Here is a photo of them, I like that they look like a little army in their row on the top shelf. The second photo is the after firing photo, many of the chickens turned a warm brown color.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pottery Sale This Weekend

This Saturday is the first kiln opening sale from the Julie Jones kiln! I had not originally planned to have a sale, but have had many people asking to buy pots so I decided to do one this weekend. I have lots of tumblers, mugs, plates and bowls available in various glazes. Check out my previous post for more pictures.

It is supposed to be a beautiful sunny day, a little cooler than it has been, with a high only reaching 90 (bring a sweater, you may not be used to temperatures this low). We will have some lemonade and snacks under the big oak tree. The sale will be from 9 am until 4 pm Saturday only.

Come out to Stem and take a look at the pots and the new kiln this Saturday. Bring your friends and family for a beautiful day on the farm. Hope to see you there!

Directions from Durham or areas south of Granville County:
From I 85 North
Take exit 191 toward N Carolina 56 W/Butner Creedmoor Rd 0.3 mi
Turn left onto N Carolina 56 W/Butner Creedmoor Rd
Continue to follow N Carolina 56 W 0.2 mi
Take the 1st right onto W Lyon Station Rd 2.4 mi (you will see a Hardee's on your right ) Follow this road until it ends.
Turn left onto Brogden Rd 1.7 mi
At a 4 way stop in downtown Stem, turn left onto W Tally Ho Rd
W Tally Ho T's into Old NC 75, Turn left onto Old NC 75 S
Destination will be the immediate house on the left at 201

Or an even easier route from Durham, is to take Old Oxford Hwy from where it begins at N. Roxboro Rd. It is a straight shot, about 16 miles out. Look for the kiln on the right after you enter the city limits of Stem.

Directions from Raleigh:
Follow N Carolina 50 N/Creedmoor Rd 19.5 mi
Turn left onto N Carolina 50 N/N Carolina 56 W 0.2 mi
Turn left onto N Durham Ave 400 ft
Take the 1st right onto Lake Rd 0.3 mi
Take the 2nd right onto Brogden Rd/Stem RdContinue to follow Brogden Rd 5.6 mi
Turn left onto W Tally Ho Rd
W Tally Ho ends into Old NC 75, Take left onto Old NC 75 S
Destination will be immediately on the left

Friday, May 27, 2011


I've finally sorted through the pots and picked some of my favorites to share with you. Overall I'm very happy with the firing. There was one glaze that bleached out in the salt from green to white. Now that I think about it, that is to be expected! I won't be doing that again! I favor the pots from the first chamber, the ones without salt. I think I can figure out more glazes I like in the salt, but for now my favorite combo is the Tile 6 flashing slip with the black brushwork. Above and below are some tributes to Durham. I've enjoyed etching into plates lately. The best contrast turned out to be the Starworks Okeewemee clay and tile 6 slip. The white slip did not work very well (not pictured, white slip etching).

Tile 6 slip with black slip brushwork.

Red shino and white shino with brushwork.

Yellow amber with black slip.

Slip trailed pots.

The pitcher on the right (below) was slipped trailed the Hannah McAndrew way, with iron slip on top of wet white slip. It was much harder than the demo! I hate the fact that it is a one shot deal, so I need more practice on pots I'm not planning on keeping. This one is okay, but it scared me to death.

Teapots inspired by John Britt's teapot demo. Also, not as quick and easy as the video.

Marie and I after unloading the second chamber.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Entire Kiln Firing of the Apocalypse Stoker Gallery

Well there was fire on May 21, 2011 but thankfully no brimstone. I was pretty bummed when I heard God scheduled the end of the world for Saturday, but I guess he changed his mind. I'm thankful for this. Here is the stoker gallery for the firing of the apocalypse.

First out to help was Ana. We preheated the kiln overnight and I started heavier stoking at 6:30 am. Ana arrived around 8:30. She stoked until she had to go to work at Claymakers.
Wendy used her Popeye like strength to keep the fire going after lunch.

After bringing out pizza and drinks, Emily took this photo as the pyrometer reached 666. Her headline was "Fire-starter Enraptures Stem". I missed getting a photo of Emily myself but enjoyed her coming out post hip surgery and keeping us nourished and motivated. Also not pictured is Darren and Shadow. Darren stoked for a little while before heading to work as well.

Spence lent a hand not only stoking the fire but he also used his construction skills to cut part of the roof that was near the chimney (I have been meaning to cut that off since it was touching the kiln). This had not been done before because we lacked a large enough ladder and the tools to do it. He also came up with a great plan for an inexpensive heat shield that will be in place before the next firing. You can see in the photo below the kiln shed is a little close to the chimney. I've had no problems so far but imagine that after several firings of being exposed to heat it could get damaged (or catch fire easy).

Kyle kept us on pace for a couple of hours. "You need 2 degrees a minute, I can do that. " He did get us ahead by four minutes at one point, in doing so I hope he didn't ruin the pots. Just kidding, he was amazing and I really appreciate him keeping things going while my mental status started to decline.

Bob and Carrie grilled dinner for us, a tradition I think I want to continue for future firings. Yummy jerk chicken wings, the BEST potatoes I've ever had and grilled sugar snap peas.

Stewart came out and took some professional photos. See the entire lot here

Amalia and Elizabeth were out late in the day, helping move wood and eat pizza, cookies, crackers and strawberries. Let's guess which job Elizabeth preferred.

Steven came out after working in the pharmacy for 12 hours and side stoked for a few hours. I hadn't planned on still firing past 10 pm but we went slower than originally planned. I think when I look back I can see where we lost an hour here or there. Next firing though I hope is in the 14 to 16 hour range.

Bob was the right side stoker. He was quite dedicated, stoking at least 8 hours.

Oh yeah, and this guy. Joe helped a little. Little being all week by reconstructing the firebox, hanging the door, building the bagwall, loading pots and probably a thousand other things I'm leaving out right now. Joe is the best, that's all I can say.

What is this? A smile at hour 18? Must be a bit delusional at this point. Thought I was sleeping or something. Just happy we missed the apocalypse in the west coast time zone so most likely we will all live to actually see the pots come out of the kiln.

Amalia was the last person to stoke the main firebox, finishing up around midnight if I recall correctly (may need to check cardboard notes for precise time). Oh, it was 12:15. We fired the second chamber until around 3:15. A big thank you to everyone for their help. It takes a lot to fire a kiln!

And we have a few double entendres that kept us laughing throughout the firing. I started notating them because I knew it was unlikely I'd recall them later.

Wendy to Spence, "I'm giving you 15 minutes to get it up. " (temperature)
Stewart to Bob, " I'm really in to thighs lately." (regarding grilled chicken)
Me to ?, "Grab your own wood. " (this pile of wood is for the firebox)
Me to Amalia and Elizabeth, "If I get too obese we can get a hoe". (stating that if I gain too much weight I will be unable to crawl in the firebox to clean it).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ready to Fire This Saturday

The firebox has been rebuilt and we are set to fire on Saturday. Not much time to blog but Joe Cole made it to NC on Monday, started to work on the kiln yesterday and finished up today. Bob and Matt helped coat the kiln and I have been glazing pots for what seems like an eternity. Also Steven came out and cut posts so that I'm ready to start loading tomorrow. Very tired, going to bed to get an early start tomorrow. I'll probably only have time for a few pics until then.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hannah McAndrew and Doug Fitch Workshop

(Plate by Hannah McAndrew)

(Jug by Doug Fitch)

British Potters, Hannah McAndrew and Doug Fitch taught a workshop Saturday in Shelby, NC. They demonstrated their throwing, altering and decorating techniques. Below is a puzzle jug, made by Doug and decorated by Hannah. I've never seen such a jug and it is a puzzle! How do you get the water out without spilling it all over? Not going to spoil it for those that want to figure it out. I must say, I would have never gotten it on my own.

Here is a picture of Hannah's high tech slip trailer. Amazing what she can do with it, it is essentially an old bike tire inner tube with cork and a mechanical pencil held together by a paper clip. I am definitely going to give this a try, it seemed that the slip came out more consistently. I'm sure it had nothing to do with Hannah's years of experience and skill.

Here are some of the pots they brought with them to sell in the gallery.

Hannah's pots above. I ended up with the tall dark pitcher (jug) with yellow slip trailed flowers in the back.

Doug's gorgeous pitchers (jugs) and mugs. The mug on the far right below with sprigs made it home with me too.

Of course, I had to be a nerd and get a photo with Hannah. She was so sweet and charming. I hope they both have had a great time and have a safe trip home. A big thank you to Ron and Sarah Philbeck for putting this workshop together. They did a great job!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Art in Clay Exhibit at Old Salem

I enjoyed an impromptu field trip today to Old Salem Museum and Gardens, after doing some part time pharmacy work. I've wanted to visit for years now but have never had a good opportunity until today. They currently have an amazing exhibit until August 14, 2011, "Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware". It is a ground-breaking exhibit that features approximately 120 pieces of masterfully decorated slipware, sculptural bottles, refined creamware and faience that are but part of the rich artistic legacy of North Carolina's first earthenware potters. I had the best day, looking at slip trailed pots, snacking on Moravian sugar cake. Sometimes you need a day like today to take it easy and get inspired. Now I'm even more psyched about this weekend's workshop in Shelby, NC featuring Hannah McAndrew and Doug Fitch. I feel it was serendipitous that I had free time today to see these wonderful pieces right before my slip trailing workshop. Look for many slip trailed pieces to come! Sorry, there is no sugar cake left to share.

Below is potter Michael Fox making an ink well.

These nice gentlemen are cutting my freshly baked sugar cake.