doug fitch

Pulling a Fitch

After watching Doug make several jugs while he was here it's only fitting that I felt the need to have a go at a few.  Doug makes it all look easy and it's really fun to watch him make a big jug all in one go by using the weedburner to speed things along.

I made these two today and they seem okay for the most part.  They are about 11" tall and rounder than most pitchers I usually make.  I used the burner and got them this far.

I'm going to let them rest over night before coating them in slip.

I haven't really felt like blogging too much to tell you the truth.  After having Doug and Hannah here for so long it's not very fulfilling to be here in the virtual world. " There's nothing like the real thing baby."

I'm sure I'll get back in the swing of it as time goes on.  I'm struggling with being a bit down and I feel like one of the best things I can do is practice being in the present moment.  Maybe I can blog about that.  Well, we'll see.  For now it's back outside for some time w. Karma and then off to the Gallery Crawl in town.

Cheers everyone!

Fuller Style

I had a chance last night to catch up with Doug Fitch.  We had a good chat.  He's been super busy getting ready for a show and exhibition.

Doug and Geoff Fuller have an exhibition together at Earth Marque next month.  I knew about Fuller but hadn't seen but a few of his pots.  I was happy to find he now has a website.

Inspired, I made a few pots today similar to Fullers.  Below are images of some tankards and funny little pouring pots. (Hand built spouts)

That little hood is necessary so that the liquid doesn't flow over the top when pouring.

I'll get a thin layer of white slip on these tomorrow and then who knows what.

I'm In a Book

Techniques Using  Slips by John Mathieson is out. And guess what?  My work is in there! Yey. I've never been in a pottery book before*.  I'm so excited.  Thanks to John for asking me and for being so patient when I had issues with my photos (over and over).  Any how here are a few photos from the book.  These were taken from Doug Fitch's blog. The book is on sale in the UK HERE.  It's avaliable for pre-order in the US HERE.

Here's my bit.

Here's Doug

And the cover

I can't wait to get a copy.

Off to unload the kiln now. Pics up later!!!

*I was in a karate book as a teenager.  I can't remember the title but I was photographed demonstrating punches, kicks and attacks.


I replaced our old spoon jar with this new one yesterday. We had out grown the old one and I thought it'd be nice to have some of my latest work in the kitchen too.
That honey pot is one I made a couple years ago. Salt fired, no decoration, a good, functional, straightforward pot.

In our conversation yesterday Doug and I touched on the subject of constraints in our work. Doug mentioned his materials and I suspect he means the clay he uses and his choices of slips and glazes. I'm sure he'd also say the way he fires his pots and the shapes he makes. Working within certain limits gives much more freedom than some would imagine. It narrows things down enough for you to find your place but gives you enough room to explore and experiment without getting lost in the vast universe of ceramic possibilities.

I have expanded my limits this year to include more decoration and experimentation with forms that I would not have made in the past. The main constraint (I'm not sure that's the word I should be using, but I can't think of another just now). The main constraint for my work is still that it should be a functional pot. The pots should be welcoming to use and should work well. I'm pushing that a bit these days with shapes that are not as common as my old pots and of course the decoration has moved in.

It just occurred to me that I have placed some limits on how I am decorating but I haven't really given it much conscience thought or consideration. Maybe it's too early still. I am still experimenting, but I am doing so within the boundaries of decoration that is drawn on the pot, through the slip, sometimes adding stain and glaze later. I haven't really considered the subject matter constraints or if there should even be any. Something to think about.

I'm getting away a bit here but I guess that's fine as I think I've made my point and you can see how this idea of working within limits gives boundaries and freedom.

Well, off to work. More later on this maybe.

Salt glaze

I've had several people ask me why I'm not making salt glazed pots now or why I made the switch to slipware so I thought I'd talk about that a bit.

I made salt glazed pots beginning in 1994 when I built my kiln here at the pottery. Those sorts of surfaces were my first love and so it was only natural that I pursue that work. Most of my early influences made work of this sort. Those influences being Michael Simon, Ruggles and Rankin, Mary Law, Joe Bennion, Linda Christianson and Linda McFarling. Other potters I liked were, of course, Warren Mackenzie, Clary Illian, and here's the one that plays into this post.....Ron Meyers.

Everyone mentioned above is a stoneware potter except Ron M. He makes earthenware pots that are painted on and glazed or that are salt glazed. I love Ron's work almost more than anyones. He and Michael Simon worked together in Athens, Ga, and we used to go down and buy pots. (A trip to their pottery sale was mine and Sarah's first out of town date, and where we drunkenly declared our love for each other).

Anyhow, for many years I wanted to try to make pots in the spirit that Ron did. His casual style of throwing and moving clay, along with his skilled hand at decoration was certainly something that stuck with me and entered my mind when I made pots. For years I said I was going to take an 'earthenware holiday' and make some pots like that for fun.

If you know my salt glazed work you'll know it was hardly ever decorated. If so, then minimally. I never had much confidence in my brush skills or using color in any way. So thinking about decorating in any way was something that made me break out in a sweat.

Well several things came together at the end of 2007 that led me into earthenware. In no particular order they were: meeting Douglas Fitch online and being influenced by his pots, my friend Amy Sanders taking a class at Penland with Gail Kendall, my salt kiln was not performing very well and I was unhappy with the surfaces of that work, I had begun drawing again a year before and keeping a more visual daily journal, my propane bill in Nov. of 2007 was close to $900.00, it was costing $200 to fire my hard brick kiln and I wasn't happy with the pots. And all along I had this desire to do something different, to make those pots like Ron Meyer's.

So in early 2008, with help from Amy's glaze notes from Penland, I worked up a clay body, slips and glazes that I could use to make earthenware. Kari Radasch's technical page on her website was very informative too.

That's pretty much how it started. I do miss my salt work. I see it in most everyone's home we visit and of course folks ask about it. My slipware has been very well received by most of my long term customers and by new comers. I do have an order for some salt glazed dishes that I need to get fired before Christmas, so I will be getting back into stoneware for a brief time soon.

For now, I am really having fun making my slipware and exploring my drawing. I have struggles with this work, and with the direction it has taken me. In some ways I feel I have diverged from my early belief of simple pots for everyday use. I'm still working that out and so that's for another post.

I hope that answers some questions. I'm really happy making pots right now. I think breaking some of my old habits, rules, and beliefs about certain things have made me a better potter.

Doug at Hatfield

This photo was brought back to me by my friend Fredia (third from left). Fredia lives in London part of the time and here in the big, bustling metropolis of Shelby when she's in the US. Fredia has been to Hatfield 3 or 4 years running, she's a big pottery fan.
Slipping , slipping, slipping. That's what I did today, and put some handles on mugs. Tomorrow will be a decorating spree.