Archive for category Arizona CLAY

Living Legend of Les Laurent

Thanksgiving weekend, a group of artists over in Cave Creek, Arizona open their studios to  the public.  Really too many artists to see in one day so we paced ourselves and limited it to mostly potters.  The weekend is cleverly titled Hidden in the Hills and it actually runs for two weekends every year, ending with Thanksgiving weekend.  It was on this tour we met Les Lawrence in his home.

Les Lawrence

Les Lawrence

When trying to remember a time in ceramics when I didn’t know who Les Lawrence was I kept coming up blank; that’s because he’s been a “bigcheese” potter forever.  Browsing through my very first ceramic textbook,  a 40 year-old book, and there he was.  Outside of the ceramic world he may not be a household name.  But within the realm of ceramic art he’s the master of image transfer, a legend in his own times.  He’s even made the jump to the technological age by figuring out how to transfer computer printer images to ceramics.  The neatest thing about the man is his willingness to share his knowledge  with all who ask.

It’s not surprising that Sandy made it acquisition or two for her extensive ceramic collection.  What shocked me is I found something I could afford and use.  Acquired a dipper I did;  a stoneware ladle that I put to immediate use at the Arizona Clay meeting on Saturday; it dipped up a gallon and a half of hot spiced cider and performed marvelously.  “Aren’t you afraid someone might break it?”  I was asked.  My response was that I’d rather it break, while being used then for me to break it, while dusting it when it had never been used; I’ve done that, I can assure you it’s much more painful.  For certain there is a lot more chili con carne and stew in my dipper’s future.

Another Facet on Pinch Pots

After she viewed my blog, my friend, mentor and fellow artist, Shirlee Aho Daulton, tells me:

“I liked the video. You did a good job.  One difference in my handle is that I leave a portion of clay for the handle as I pinch the pot.  I feel it’s more a part of it ……instead of adding on.”

This is a capital idea!  I have convince Shirley to let me video her pinch pot making for an entry on my blog.  Should everything go according to plan that will be posted  mid-December.  Being that the Arizona CLAY meeting is at my studio, December 5th I will be working full steam on making the studio presentable for the meeting; therefore,  it will be the second week of December by the time I get started on video tape.  I just wanted to give you that to look forward to.

Quite certainly, you know, I had no intentions of implying that I was the first and last word on pinch pots; “there is more than one way to skin a cat” as the proverbial saying goes.  Pinch pots of been around for thousands of years and every artist has their own way of making them.  Shirlee’s technique is exceptional as is her whole approach to art.  I’m excited to have the chance to share this with you.  In the mean time, just to whet your appetite.  I’ll show you one of Shirlee’s pinch pots

pinch pot mug created by Shirlee Aho Daulton

pinch pot mug created by Shirlee Aho Daulton

from my collection.

From a ball of clay Shirlee formed this vessel with the handle, the ornamental elements on either side of the handle were appliquéd on.  It was dipped in multiple glazes then fired to cone six.  This white stoneware mug was fired in an electric kiln for both the bisque and glaze firings.  I’m rather fond of Shirlee’s mug; it’s a pleasure to use.

Hello world!

Always knew I’d have a blog someday even before there was such a thing as a blog.   Owning personal newsletter where I could tell the universe, what was happening in my archaic sector of the galaxy was the idea.  Indeed, many exciting things came and left without me writing a single word about it to you.   For Instance:

  • there is getting my work into a major motion picture, a number years ago.
  • placing sculptures in some rather prominent collections.
  • having my studio profiled on Modern Masters on HDTV.
  • translating my clay work into bronze.

Well, there will be more on this later.  You see when rather exciting things are happening around here it is just too difficult to stop and write about it.  Then when the event is completed, and I have some down time to write, it is yesterday’s news.  However, you can bet your last buck I will write more about these events later, if heaven is willing to grant me the time.  For now, let’s talk about the mundane task of today!

Just a few weeks ago at the Empty Bowls event here at Red Mountain Community College, I got to flapping my lips about when the first Empty Bowl Project was held in Mesa.  All those years ago, that had to of been in 1991 right after Arizona hosted their first NCECA conference.  One potter, Doug Stevens by name, took the empty bowl project seriously enough to get a few of us potters together to make and to donate their bowls.  We got the whole thing together in just a few short weeks. Doug was working for a restaurant called House of Tricks who donated the soup and Mesa Arts Center donated the space to host the event.  We charged five dollars donation a bowl and raised close to $5000 that day, world food Day, I think it was, October 17.   We were ecstatic!  The following year Arizona CLAY, the Clay Guild/club, got involved and adopted it as part of their charter.  However, as the event grew so did the egos, the squabbling came to an apex breaking off into several splinter groups.  There are quite a few Empty Bowl Events around the Valley of the Sun now; I wonder if any of them are affiliated with the national anymore.  While I still attend the affairs from time to time I’ve backed off doing as much work as before.  It has become a few major charities raising some $50,000 a year each, but the thrill is gone!

I digress, what I’d was trying to convey here is that I met Sheila from New Frontiers at the Empty Bowls Luncheon while lamenting the voluntarism I used to do with the schools on empty Bowls project; the opportunity presented itself to teach workshops for the New Frontiers.  This is appealing to me because

  1. I love to teach,
  2. I can do it from my own home studio,
  3. I may converse to a captive audience about one of my favorite subjects, clay,
  4. we’ll be meeting a lot of really nice folks,
  5. it will force me to keep the gallery and studio in a presentable state of organization,
  6. I’m volunteering to do something worthwhile
  7. and lastly,  I have something to blog about.

The subject of my first post is… drumroll please… pinch pots!  That’s right, pinch pots.  Those little humble things we did back in kindergarten, if we were lucky.  My workshop coming up in February of 2010, with the new frontiers group titled ” Clay: QuickStart“.   My  spouse and I worked half the day putting together a tutorial on pinch pots for this workshop.  So, without further fanfare here is a video for you, world, on how to pinch out of clay a rather frumpy looking mug.