Friday, December 18, 2009

Cousins in Clay June 5 & 6, 2010

The Cousins in Clay pottery sale will be held at two locations this coming June 5 and 6, 2010.
Val Cushing and Micheal Kline will be joining Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke at Bulldog Pottery.
Allison McGowan will be joining Fred Johnston and Carol Genthesis at Art Pottery.

We are conveniently located 5 miles apart. Johnston and Gentithes Art Pottery are located in downtown Seagrove and Bulldog Pottery is located 5 miles south towards Star on 220 Alt.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cousins in Clay -- June 5 & 6 -- 2010

This upcoming year Val Cushing will be joining the three of us at Bulldog Pottery for the 2nd Annual Cousins in Clay pottery sale. The pottery event will be on Saturday June 5 and Sunday June 6.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Layers & Patterns in Nature & Art

I find it very interesting how certain visual textures and patterns can reoccur, and compel our personal awareness of the world around us. Layering, veining, and grain, all seem be major players in the composition of the natural world, and for sure in my appreciation of it. I believe many others gravite towards such surfaces because of their active and visually rich contrasts, and potential for decorative use. We, or many of us, let our minds guide our eyes into realizing fantasy images found in these whirling lines and shadows.

Over the years Samantha and I have even been moved to adopt pets that have the rich contrasting coats called brindle. That we might pick a pet based on its coat color seems to have interesting implications, but that would be a topic for someone else's blog. Suffice it to say that brindled,

veining, and wood grain like effects are compelling. Below, these flints or cherts, are shards or flakes left behind from the labor of crafting some tool, projectile point, or blade. If I am lucky, I may find an actual point, or at least part of such a tool made from this material.

It seems that weaponry may have made a major contribution to the use of grain pattern as a decorative effect. At first it may have been just the natural by product of forging metals together that had different compositions to provide enough stock metal for a particular object. When grinding through these layers to achieve a shape or blade, the metals are different enough for a contrasting grain effect to be revealed. This can also play a major structural role for metal, and blade smithing in particular.

A close -up of knife blade: "Art and Design in Modern Custom Folding Knives", author: David Darom, artist: Van Barnett, page 65

As a rule, the harder the metal, the better the edge holding quality, but it will at the same time, likely be more brittle. By layering with a softer, but more resilient metal, a composite material is achieved having the positive qualities of both metals. This is probably how Damascus steel blades evolved and flourished in the past, and currently have had a dramatic resurgence as an art form. Contemporary knife makers have made many amazing innovations, achieved through the use of modern metallurgy techniques and technologies. There is a whole lexicon of Damascus terminology, describing the different patterns and effects that are currently achievable, as well as the historical ones.

A close -up of knife blade: "Art and Design in Modern Custom Fixed Bladed Knives", author: David Darom, artist: Jerry Fisk, page 125

A close -up of knife blade: "Art and Design in Modern Custom Folding Knives", author: David Darom, artist: Van Barnett, page 68

A close -up of knife handle : "Art and Design in Modern Custom Folding Knives", author David Darom, Artist: Glen Waters, page 228

In clay, the great mimic material, I would be surprised if the use of layered and contrasting colored clays wasn't an attempt to exploit the decorative effects that had already been achieved in metals. Unfortunately, for pottery, there doesn't seem to be any inherent structural benefit to layering different clays that I am aware of. In reality, it actually poses some seriously important technical hurdles to compensate for. For one thing, the shrinkage rates must be relatively close, or cracking can occur at the seams of the differing clays. The clays must also mature at a similar temperature range, or serious warping and or bloating can occur. So far, the oldest examples of marbled layers of colored clay used decoratively, that I have come across, are from the Tang Dynasty of China, but I have read of Roman pottery from 1st century AD using the technique.

"A Journey into China's Antiquity- volume three- Sui Dynasty--Northern and Southern Song Dynasties", Porcelain Pillow, Tang Dynasty, page 101.

"The Museum of East Asian Art: Bath England Inaugural Exhibition Volume 1 Chinese Ceramics", Offering Tray, Tang Dynasty, 684- 756 AD , page 63

"The Museum of East Asian Art: Bath England Inaugural Exhibition Volume 1 Chinese Ceramics", Green marbled-ware Tripod Jar and Cover, 684- 756 AD, page 62

"The Museum of East Asian Art: Bath England Inaugural Exhibition Volume 1 Chinese Ceramics", Marbled Ware Cup, 9th century, page 74

"Oriental Ceramics the Worlds Great Collections: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm", Tang Dynasty, 7th - 8th century AD, plate no. 25

I am guessing that the above examples from the Tang Dynasty were all made by press molding, which maintains the pattern developed in slabs of clay. The mug below was thrown from a ball of mixed clay and the act of throwing the pot swirls and distorts the pattern as the piece is pulled up.

A variation of such patterning is known regionally as swirl ware. A wonderful example of this is over at Sawdust and Dirt.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Family of Potters

I wonder if the pots I make were to go to a "reunion" of the pots that have influenced them, would they find it funny that they shared certain characteristics or had similar gestures? Would they be able to see which side of the family they were from by physical similarities, or share similar quirks in their personalities!? Would they find it humorous or would they be horrified on some level? Would they realize that they really weren't that unique in the scheme of things?
We, as potters, can trace personal influences and may remember when we first saw someone throw a pot. During the course of finding my own voice, I find that it is more a matter of continuing the good ideas of the past. By doing so I find "cousins" I didn't know I had. Our own histories are sometimes vague and memories fade, but we find kinship in the pots others make. We are more alike than we may think. The pots we make are born from the past. Some may say that this point of view is 'nostalgic', but I like to think of this process as being part of a greater truth, a continuum. Good ideas make the way for even better ones, they build on themselves.

These are just a few thoughts I had just now. Maybe I will elaborate or correct some of these thoughts as I digest them. Please feel free to share your thoughts on being a potter or being a collector of pots. How do you see your work or your collection? Does it bring together certain ideas or does it reveal your own personality in some way?

[images taken from "Ash Glaze: Traditions in Ancient China and the American South" by Daisy Wade Bridges. I bought my copy at the NC Pottery Center gift shop.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cousins in Clay : Pottery Show and Sale

Michael Kline's Bird Jar

Who:      Michael Kline, Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke

When:    Saturday and Sunday. June 6 and 7, 2009

Where:  Seagrove, North Carolina at Bulldog Pottery to have a joint pottery sale.

Times:   9:00 am - 5:00 : Saturday
               10:00 am - 5:00 : Sunday

Bruce Gholson's Vidalia Vase

Samantha Henneke's teapot