http://www.webbpottery.com/blog/

Saying goodbye to wordpress.com for now. I’ve made the plunge and moved my blog to a hosted site. I’m still tweaking my gallery pages, but I’ll be posting to my new blog site from now on.

http://www.webbpottery.com/blog/I hate to inconvenience anyone, but if you have already linked to this blog (http://annewebb.wordpress.com), and you get a chance, can you please change the link you have for me to my new site.


Look forward to seeing you over there!

Sorry I’ve not been posting *to* my blog lately but I’ve actually been busy *with* my blog and website, working to integrate the two.  The plan was to not only place them under the same URL umbrella but to give them both a consistent look.

I was going over my blog and web site last week, trying to come up with a plan of action of where I should start. I had already moved my original website over last fall to Bluehost (I took the plunge) in anticipation of the move to an integrated site, so that was done.

In the process of looking over my site and doing a little homework of looking at LOTS of other sites online, I ran a site optimization thingie through websitegrader.com to see just how far off I was from having a good site. Well.. there was lots lacking and having my web site and blog running independently on different sites (it didn’t matter that there were links on each to each other).

My meta tags were too long, I had no headings, my site wasn’t listed in places like http://www.dmoz.com or http://www.zoominfo.com, it couldn’t find my blog.. no RSS Feed.. and the list goes on.  The final grade my site got was a dismal 27 out of 100. My blog faired quite a bit better, at 79/100, but it was still lacking in some areas. Interestingly, one of the things toward the end of the report that was a blaring X mark was: “blog found on a free domain” and had a link to this article Why a business blog should not be on Blogspot.com.

So anyways, my old web site is now officially gone and I have moved everything over to a hosted site using wordpress.org. There’s definitely still some tweaking to be done that I will hopefully be able to resolve the bulk of  in the next few days, but I have to say, the tech support guys at Bluehost came through like champions to clarify and correct some tough loading issues I had this morning.  Yay Bluehost!

My new blog URL is: http://www.webbpottery.com/blog .  Come leave a comment! Hope to see you there! :)

Cheers!

A few kind people from the UK posted this excerpt from the 1965 film ‘Isaac Button: Country Potter‘, directed by John Anderson and Robert Fournier .

The last time I saw this film (and it had no soundtrack at the time) was at that wonderful Fusion clay conference in Ottawa I had mentioned a few posts ago.  We were very fortunate that conference to have John Leach not only as our presenter, but for his  wonderful narration of this silent film, talking about Mr Buttons and his pottery, as well as fielding questions.

Isaac Buttons was one of the last in a long tradition of country potters.  It is said that he could throw a ton of clay in a day, and gauging from his systematic and efficient way of throwing (a pot in 22 seconds), and the scale of some of his pots, that is certainly not inconcievable.

I would love to have a copy of this film in its entirety to add to my collection, but I have yet to find it for sale.  I’m forever hopeful that it will come up one of these days!

peaceoneartha

Coastal Artisans Show Dec 6 postcards Can you believe that it will already be December 6th tomorrow?

Don’t forget to join us at the  Mobile Botanical Gardens between 9 am and 4 pm for the Coastal Artisans’ 3rd Annual Christmas Art Show and Sale.

For more info about the artists and directions to the Gardens, please visit: http://thecoastalartisans.blogspot.com

Webb decorated bisque ware I love the look of pots all laid out whether they be green ware or pots  waiting to be loaded in the gas kiln, as these are.   The mugs almost remind me of a regiment of soldiers, or a tightly packed school of fish all swimming in the same direction.

I’ve been finishing up a gas firing this morning, busily trying to keep the gas tank from freezing up until the propane truck finally makes it here this afternoon.  We’re cutting it pretty close though.. down to less than 5% in the tank and I have the garden hose dribbling some water on it so I don’t lose gas pressure completely.   Thankfully though,  cone 9 is bending evenly top and bottom so we’re in the home stretch.

I made a little adjustment to the way my target bricks were positioned this time (an experiment) in hopes of making the firing more efficient.  Evidently it has had some effect because the last time the kiln was stacked similarly, I had a good cone or 2 difference from top to bottom .   I guess I’ll only know for sure once the kiln is opened.

Looking forward to this kiln opening. I have several pots in there with clay from our new clay deposit I mentioned in my last post.

A couple of weeks ago we had a dumptruck load of clay delivered from the new clay deposit.  I guestimated the pile was around 5 tons or so, but as it turns out, our neighbor, who drives for the same kind of truck, told me one of those trucks heaped up with clay like it was, holds something closer to 27 tons (or more?)!!  All 27 tons, just for the cost of trucking it to our studio not 15 – 20 miles away.  (If you have bought commercially prepared clay, you can probably do the math for what the equivalent would be).

We’ve left the dumped clay uncovered and open to the elements now for two weeks or so, in order for the rain to wash away a little of the residual sand off that was picked up in the dump truck onto the clay’s surface. The mound is already starting to turn from a reddy orange to more of a amethyst-y pink clay color.  Yesterday I broke apart a clump  to reveal a piece of nice, clean, sandless solid clay.   Since the time the of the delivery, three or four batches of clay have been mixed.  I have thrown some of it,  and the rest I have left to age a little more.  ..well, until tomorrow, at least, when I start my throwing cycle again.

best digging toolBefore it was time to mix the second batch, though, Lowell took me out to the new deposit site for the first time to help gather some dryer clay for the mix, since the clay we already had at the studio was still a little too damp to crush to a powder.  So off we went..

We drove for about 20 minutes down familiar roads and around familiar turns, when all of the sudden Lowell turned into a little dirt driveway entrance.  It was a lot closer than I thought it would be.

clay mountainWell!  I thought the truck load that was delivered was a lot, but I saw where it was excavated from and it took barely a dent out of the mountain that lay before me.  Here is a picture of what I first saw.  It stands about 20 feet high and is at least 60 feet long .   Its mostly pink clay, though there are layers of white, and red, and a layer further in the middle of some dark shale-like material which I assume is the remnants of decomposed vegetation .

I was chipping away dry surface clay and filling up my bucket, as  the fog gradually cleared.  It was almost like a dream.  Off to my right, was another clay mountain .. and yet another further on.

excavated hillside revealing striationHere is a photo of a hillside that had been excavated with a backhoe.  Sorry,  I couldn’t get the entire hill in the shot but you can get an idea of the various strata.   This layer starts down about 6 feet from the surface and, in this spot, is about 4-6 feet thick.

I’ll try and post more pictures as I can.

Ontario Clay and Glass AssociationSeveral years ago, when I was *very* new to clay, I attended my very first clay conference.    It was really my first introduction to the clay community.  I remember it being a wonderful and unforgettable experience.  I got to try rakuing for the very first time at the preliminary workshop hosted by Ottawa Valley artist Leta Cormier in her, as I remember, extremely immaculate studio.  I also got to take part in my first mug exchange in which I remember receiving a lovely salt-glazed mug by potter Jackie Seaton.  My name was even drawn and I won some nice oriental brushes. But that was not all (and this was the pinnacle for me), John Leach, of  Muchelney Pottery, was the main presenter.  His pots were like nothing I had seen before (I told you I was new to clay) and I was impressed by what a real person he was … very gracious, generous, and down to earth. He left a lasting impression on me.

I recently discovered John’s brother Simon Leach has posted a series of videos on YouTube over the last year or so, showing demos, kilns, visits back to England and to friends’ studios, his philosophies, etc etc.  What I like is he presents things face on and shares his victories and disappointments, the good and the bad,  taking it all in stride.  I don’t think a lot of people are aware how hard it can be to be a potter and that things, quite beyond your control, can go extremely wrong after many, many hours of hard work, and all for naught.  Here is the 2nd of 2 of Simon’s videos taken while unloading Seth Cardew‘s kiln:

As you may know, the majority of the clay we use for our functional ware is native clay which we dig locally and process right here at our studio. (I posted previously about our clay mixer)

A few weeks ago we got a lead on a new clay deposit, again, here in Baldwin County.  We are quite lucky here in this part of the country because you don’t have to dig very far from the surface to find clay.  Typically it can be found along road sides, waterways, and construction sites.  The clay we use is not of any use to anyone but potters, it seems. In construction, it is just cast off or covered over and is sometimes referred to it as “chalk”.  Of course its not chalk, but its not the kind of clay that’s good for road base, like that bright orange clay one typically sees everywhere down here and what Alabama is known for.

The clay we look for is typically bubble gum pink to white in color.  We fire it to cone 10 (approx 2400 degrees Fahrenheit), but I know through experience that it can go higher.  It makes for a nice durable stoneware body, that usually fires to an offwhite to toasty light brown in reduction.  Clay that is more yellow or orangey red (more iron) seems to have a lot more imperfections causing problems in firing such as popouts, bloating, pinholing etc.

Unprocessed native clayAnyways, I wanted to share a photo of what the clay looks like right out of the ground. Its very pretty and is almost amethyst in color. In fact, its probably about the pinkest clay I’ve seen since coming here.  It is remarkably clean and relatively free of debris, and it crumbles so nicely.

Over the weekend, the first batch of it was slaked down and mixed. This batch has about 85% of this ‘new’ clay and the rest is reclaim.  Unfortunately its still a little wet to try to throw so I’ve got some drying out on the wedging table.  Its very strange to see it next to our usual clay which I always thought had a bit of a pinkish tinge, but this new stuff is positively rose colored.

stoneware bisque waxed and ready
This photo was from last night before I started glazing.  Oh yeah, there’s a ware rack outside the shot besides this lot as well.  I am glad to say its now all glazed and in a lit kiln, finally.  I’m relieved.  In the morning I’ll load another bisque load, now that things are finally dry, and probably fire the gas kiln again Wednesday night.

The weather is fantastic tonight.  Clear skies, 73 F, and (a rare occurance) no wind blowing across the clearing toward the kiln (and burners).  How nice for being out by the kiln and firing!  This is a relief after a summer of incessant rain. I was getting so tired of having to wear my muck boots seemingly everywhere to trudge through orange mud and puddles, not to mention having to deal with the headaches of trying to navigate my car strategically up our driveway without getting sucked down into a pot hole and stuck!  Anyways, everything is drying up nicely and I am back to wearing flips and birks.

Recycling tradeI’ve mentioned before that we’ve been working on expanding the studio for a while now.  Its actually been an ongoing project for a long time.. scrape together a few dollars, buy a few more boards and nails. I would just love to be able to have all the materials on hand and get it done in one fell swoop so I could get back to some sense of order and normalcy, and maybe take on some students again, but for now, this is the way it is.   This afternoon Lowell headed off to the recycling place in town to trade in some cans and metal stuff that was lying around, to clear up around and get a little pin money, I suppose. Well evidently he ended up having more than I thought because he came back with these.  “These will look great in the studio upstairs!”, he said, with a big silly grin across his face.

Bake your own bread today – A simple, symbolic act for big change.

In today’s society, and actually since the beginning of the industrial age, we have been inundated (and programmed) from all sides as to what we must have, what we must buy, and how we must live.   “Don’t think, just get it bigger, faster, and more of it… NOW!  Get more and more stuff.  Keep up with the Joneses!”    ..but In the grander scheme of things.. why?

Fast food, convenience food, and processed food, not only take a toll on our health and pocket book, but our taste buds too.  Here in Alabama, the price of a so called “better” loaf of bread from the grocery store is over $3-$4 now.  You’re certainly not paying extra for flavor (of which there is little) or quality, but for the manufacturing, transport, packaging, preservatives, and convenience.   (it cannot possibly rival taste, texture, and nutrition value of homemade)

Slow Sunday, a day designated by Britain’s ecology magazine, Resurgence,  to encourage people to slow down.  Small actions done collectively, can speak loudly.  Baking bread today is a small act to defy consumerism and help the environment.

Webb Pottery mugs

So Its Tuesday night (Wednesday morning), its 12:20 am, and I’m up waiting for the cone to bend in the bisque so I can turn it off and go to bed.  Grabbed a cat nap a little while ago and though still a little bleary eyed, ready for the final stretch.

No matter how organized you *think* you are, the last 2 weeks leading up to a show tend to be somewhat more tense than usual, what with trying to make sure you have enough fired and hoping everything makes it through the firings okay (can you ever have enough pots?!).  With the studio more or less a construction zone, I have to work around the weather forcast  when it comes to glazing and other related outdoor activities.  Potting is a lot like a well coordinated dancing act.. timing is everything.

The first fall show is just over a week away.  The roof is finally on the studio (yay!) though rain can still blow through a bit from the sides, and I am still working out the house and around everything else.   Pushing things through the bisque as I can, relying soley on the small electric kiln since our other 2 larger ones are out of commission due to faulty bits that still need replacing.  Coming to the realization that tomorrow or the next day are probably my very last throwing days for the show Oct 4 & 5 (The George Ohr Festival in Biloxi, MS) and after that its just glazing and firing and hoping for good weather!   Doh.. forgot to order that replacement part for the canopy.  Tomorrow.

…And so show season begins!

Hope in these days of war. elections, and lip service  promises.

September 21st ….”A day of cease fire, a day of non-violence, a day of intercultural cooperation on a scale that we have never known before” – Jeremy Gilley

Please visit: http://peaceoneday.org

I’m not quite sure what this is about, other than a friendly way to draw attention to and share other peoples’ blogs.  I’ve found some of the neatest blogs by word of mouth.   I pass this on from Gay Judson of http://sistercreekpottery.blogspot.com/ .

Here are the ‘game’ rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog. (this is what you’re now reading.)
3. Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them. (This is only a game.)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six Random Things About Me:

1. I have 4 dogs, 2 cats, and used to have a turkey called Einstein. (all live outside)
2. My favorite color is purple
3. When I was 27, I took flying lessons.
4. I’ve always wanted to bungee jump or do sky diving! (They’re still on my list of things I want to do before I die)
5. I’ve knitted since I was 18 and learned to crochet off of YouTube last year.
6. I am *very* wary of power saws and sharp spinning blades since having my finger nicked by a shaper tool a few yrs ago.  Needless to say my woodworking ambitions were short lived.

Six People Tagged – these are only some of the many blogs I like… not all clay:

1. Tascha Parkinson  http://timewithtascha.blogspot.com/

2.  Cynthia    http://coloradoartstudio.com/blog/

3.  Pam McFayden   http://lureartsceramics.blogspot.com/

4.  Eleanor Hendriks   http://eleanorhendriks.blogspot.com/

5.  Almapottery  http://almapottery.blogspot.com/

6.  Carpediem  http://carpediemchris.blogspot.com/

Yellow Garden Spider found by the wheel

I spotted this *little* fellow as I sat down at my wheel the other evening. These yellow garden spiders usually live outside but somehow this one had made its way inside.

Spider set free onto elephant ear leaf outside

These spiders (unlike black widows, brown widows, and brown recluses , among others) don’t really concern me too much since they are not aggressive and just eat insects. Still… the size, especially if you are not accustomed to them, could be quite disconcerting (hopefully the photo with my hand will give some idea of scale). Thankfully I’m not petrified of spiders so I trapped this one in an empty yogurt container and put her back outside.

Anyone who does anything with clay in the south, I am sure, are already quite familiar with the mud dauber wasp that takes bits of clay and builds tube-like structures where its larvae can grow to maturity. Apparently they are natural enemies to black widow spiders! Knowing that, I will think twice about removing a nest that’s stuck to a beam, wall, or post the next time I see one, especially around the studio.

This spring I took one of Alyson Stanfield’s latest art marketing workshops based on her recently published book I’d Rather be in the Studio. I’ve been following her blog on and off for a few years now and it is great, but its nothing like having her right in front of you to interact with and ask questions of, not to mention feed off some of her positive energy.

I regret that this summer has been crazy with both kids home and increasingly demanding as they get older. In preparation for the upcoming time with *both* of them in school and a fairly regular daily schedule of uninterrupted time in the studio (its been so long), I’ve spent the last few weeks cleaning, sorting, organizing, and FINALLY going through bits of Alyson’s book, hoping to start this fall show season off some good footing. With several bags of trash and reclaim removed and the wheel moved to a different spot to allow a better work flow, my work area is so much more inviting and I actually really like being there. The girls went back to school this past Monday and its been really good.

Late last week, in my cleaning frenzy, I finally came across my little tabletop camera tripod which I thought would be really helpful in shooting some pottery videos unassisted. I’ve posted a few videos on Youtube in the past 2 yrs, but my intention all along was to post some demos online as well. Youtube is another great free resource available to get our work and names out there! Making a demo tape is a lot harder than it looks and most certainly different throwing for a camera than for someone in front of you.

Baby Mockingbird

On a sadder note, I haven’t posted much about my little baby mockingbird lately. After his first week of successfully being spoonfed, he/she jumped up one day and bunged up his/her leg. I guess their little legs and bones are pretty fragile because that one never came back. He was lame in the one leg, then a few days later he stopped using his other. Last Saturday morning we found him/her motionless in his little box. I’ll miss the little guy. I was really rooting for him.

Have you visited the NCECA web site lately?

For those who are not potters, NCECA is the “National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts”. Their objective is to enrich and promote the ceramics through education. Most people know NCECA for its annual conference they put at different locations across the country, their exhibitions, and publications.

One of their upcoming events will be a symposium this fall in Jingdezhen, China!
NCECA/Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute International Symposium -
Shared Journeys: Chinese/American Ceramic Art Education

October 22 – November 2, 2008

On the Preview page of the Symposium are slideshows from around Jingdezhen, the Ancient Kiln Museum, as well as a few great Quicktime videos of people there skillfully making and decorating pots, all compiled by Richard Burkett and Joe Molinaro when they were there earlier this year .

The pure magnitude of some of the pots produced there and the skill of the craftsmen is, to say the least, somewhat humbling. ..five foot platters, 4×8′ handmade porcelain tiles, 6/9/12+ foot tall urns… almost unfathomable, especially to those who have worked in porcelain before and know its finicky and particular nature.

So what is their secret? Apparently, I was told, the porcelain in Jingdezhen isn’t like the smooth plastic body we know here in the west, in fact its not very plastic at all, but they have learned to work with this. They throw thick There’s a picture of one segment of a particularly large pot on the Symposium page being thrown by a team of 3 people. For large pieces such as the massive urns pictured on the website, sections are thrown separately, let dry to bone dry, then the segments are bonded together using slip. Once that’s done, they trim the assembled vessel and decorate.

There are still some spots available too.. I sure wish I could go.

TweetLowell came in this morning with this little baby mockingbird he found hopping across the road with no parents in sight, no nest in sight, and on his way to getting run over. Pretty obvious he had fallen out of his nest. He is quite a skilled hopper, even for a little guy.

For now, we are spoon feeding him and hopefully we’ll be able to set him free once his flight feathers grow in. As anyone who has found little wild chicks like this can tell you, it can be a challenge to keep baby wild birds alive once you take them in. I hope this little guy, who my daughter has already nicknamed “Tweet”, makes it.

To feed him I am using a tiny baby spoon which is actually just a little narrower than the inside diameter of his beak. A teaspoon can also work well if you bend the edges of the spoon in and kind of over to fit inside the bird’s beak enough to get the food down its throat.

Hooray! Finally, a day without any rain in the forecast so I can do a bisque firing!

River flowersLate yesterday we were out on the boat and took a ride up the river to see if I could catch any photos of the shoreline, shore flowers, and hopefully an egret or heron. There’s so many things out there in nature to look to for inspiration. We did see a blue heron but, unfortunately, he flew off before I got a chance to get close enough to grab a shot. (Did I mention its hard to snap shots with a chatty and fidgity 4 year old in an aluminum boat)

I’ve been curious about the movie function on my digital camera for a while and how it would look once I uploaded it to YouTube. Unbelievably, I’ve had this camera for close to 4 years now and have never used the movie function. Anyways, on our trip up the river, I tried it out. (Maybe now that I have straddled that hurdle, I can start putting together some demo clips. ) Unfortunately, I discovered, the zoom capability (macro) on my camera only works when taking still shots. For now, though, I will just have to work with the technology I have.

I had a bit of fun last night editing it with the MyMuvee AutoProducer software that came with my computer then I uploaded the clip to YouTube so see how much distortion there would be. I am glad to say, I noticed no difference playing the video off my hard drive than online. I had hoped to just upload a straight shot, but the editing software I was using (that I’m not all that familiar with yet) kind of forced me to use a “style”, so I chose “classic sepia”. Its not all that bad though because the sepia and the addition of a bit of music seem to distract from the roughness of the filming.

Knowlty Creek is not 2 miles from the studio. Its part of the tributary system that feeds Weeks Bay, Mobile Bay and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Its part of the Weeks Bay Watershed. It is also part of one of the two remaining water postal deliver routes in the U.S..

Playing with Fire, DVDI found this lovely video/DVD put out by the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) online and thought other people might like it as much as I do.

For those of you who raku, or simply love raku pottery, you may or may not know that Paul Soldner is known as the father of modern raku as we know it today… but that is only part of the story.

This video is available at: http://www.playingwithfirethemovie.com

Please check out this video trailer of the film I’ve linked in from YouTube below:

:

Raku Urn with Magnolia Design

Magnolia Raku Pottery Jar by Anne Webb

Well this was an education posting videos on WordPress.com. It was actually quite easy. Apparently you need to use Vodpod. You install a widget-like menu item on your bookmark toolbar and you can add and embed videos into your WordPress blog from Youtube, Animoto, or various other sites.  WordPress has a Vodpod widget that you can add to your sidebar of videos you have faved on Vodpod. 

Anyways.. Here’s that video again that I put together through Animoto. Hope you like it.

more about “Webb Stoneware Pottery Selections“, posted with vodpod

 

 

 

I was messing around with a Animoto, a website that helps you put together videos. Simply upload your pictures, choose some music, and voila.. a video. 

A selection of stoneware pots

Animoto is still quite new to me and have to work out how to embed the video window properly here in WordPress..

The Shimpo Aspire Tabletop Pottery Wheel.

This little wheel weighs 25 pounds, goes on a tabletop, and is supposed to center 20 lbs. Yeah right. Looks like a toy doesn’t it?

Shimpo's table top wheel for beginner to advanced throwers

Well I tried it out and here it is. No toy.

The proof is in the pudding.I don’t remember how much clay I used, but the pot stands 13 1/4″ tall. Not bad. Like any Shimpo I’ve used, (and despite the fact that this one is belt driven vs direct drive) it handles clay without breaking a sweat. Very quiet as well. I like the fact that despite all that strength, its very light and I can easily pick it up, stick under my arm, and go. I’ve tried a Soldner tabletop model (made by Bluebird) and it was great.. sturdy and strong, but very heavy.

Anyways, I was impressed not only by its ability, but by its exceedingly reasonable price.

Thanks to my friend Kathy, here is a great quote by Bernard Leach, the father of modern day studio pottery:

Every artist knows that he is engaged in an encounter with infinity, and that work done with heart and hand is ultimately worship of life itself.
Bernard Leach

Mixing glaze (by the way, the drill and mixer are actually being supported by an adult out of the photo)

Mixing glaze

We try to nurture interest in the clay process and art whenever the opportunity presents itself. (A few years off from being able to wedge clay though. hehehe)

When we originally built our kiln in 2000, we used all recycled brick and built it around the size of shelves we already had. It was a flat top, built mainly of stacked arch brick for the walls and a fiber (ceramic blanket) and heavy sheet metal roof. Not fancy, but we had a kiln and didn’t have to spend much money to put it all together.

Cordite shelves beside new flat nitride bonded shelfIt took at least 7 years of painstaking tweaking and firing before I really got to know its ways. About 5 years ago a dog we had knocked over the entire stack of old brick we were using for the kiln door, breaking most of them!! (..sigh) Long story short, it has been a struggle from the get-go to achieve reduction with any reliability, if at all.

As I think I mentioned in my last post, the old kiln as it was is no more. The flat roof – gone. The danger of fiber bits falling down into pots if you accidentally brushed the roof of the kiln with your head when stacking/loading – gone. The flat top was replaced with a retrofitted sprung arch and we finally were able to get new brick for the door. Extra fiber and roofing tin wraps the outer walls now as well.

The other exciting change made was replacing the old severely warped cordite shelves in favor of 6 new nitride bonded silicon carbide shelves. As you can see in the pictures, some of the old shelves were warped an inch and a half to two inches in places (I put one of the new nitride bonded shelves beside the stack of old shelves to show the difference in thickness and flatness). As with a wood or soda fire, loading typically involved painstakingly “wadding” each and every pot for the firing with a mix of 60/40 china clay to alumina hydrate. It was the only solution I could see to prevent warping. I have several potter friends who have those zoomy Advancer shelves that run about $100 a shelf in the size I was looking at. The nitride bonded are a step down from the Advancers, but are a lot less cost prohibitive, costing maybe $20 or so dollars more than a comparably sized cordite shelf.

Thin, flat, and light nitride bonded shelf

These new nitride bonded shelves weigh all of 11 pounds (the old cordite shelves in comparison weighed 44 pounds!), so loading the kiln takes a lot less of a physical toll on me and I can load it independently. I still do wad some – little teeny wads – (vs using kiln wash or sprinkling alumina hydrate on the shelves), especially on those clay bodies I might be firing that might be a bit tighter than our native clay to prevent sticking, Loading takes a fraction of the time as does the preparation of the wadding itself. Now that I have flat shelves, the wads can be glued on in advance as well.

The new arch in combination with the new flat shelves gives me at least, I am guessing an extra foot of stacking space. Not only that but the kiln now reduces and fires more efficiently using about a third less propane per firing. With the rising price of propane ($264 for 75 gallons this last delivery), the upgrades to the kiln and shelves couldn’t have come at any better time. (Better for the environment as well.)

As an aside, we got our new shelves and brick from Larkin Refractory Solutions in Atlanta. Wonderful customer service and knowledgeable staff.

Last fall I started experimenting with bas relief (low relief) design on pots and hand built forms. This style of carving and design seemed to me a natural progression/extension of the designed raku pieces I already do.

Unfired Designed platter

I had a number of pieces ready to glaze, but when we started having serious issues last fall with our raw materials that consequently, left our old standby glazes unusable, I put the pieces safely away until some of the technical issues were resolved. With all that work, I was reluctant to commit them to the fire.

With some long needed changes to the kiln this spring, and a fresh full bucket of celadon glaze, I finally felt brave enough to commit them to the fire.

Carving a relief design and knowing how the glaze will play with it, has its learning curve like everything else. I am anxious to see how this process evolves.

Relief Designed Platter with celadon glaze

Here is that same platter after it came out of the kiln last Friday. It was glazed with celadon then fired to Cone 10 (2400 F) in a gas kiln.:

Here’s where we’ll be this weekend. Maybe see you there!

FestforAll, Baton Rouge - May 3 & 4th

(For more info, please visit the FestforAll section of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s web site).

Pink AzaleasI’ve been down here on the Gulf Coast now for about 8 years now. While I don’t care for the oppressive humidity in summer or hurricanes, I do like the fact that when I get the Feb-March gardening jitters and break out the seed catalogs, I know spring really is right around the corner. The unfortunate thing is it makes it very hard to be in the studio because you just know that if you don’t get out there asap, the weeds will take over and you never seem to catch up.

Our area is considered ‘sub-tropical’ which means we can grow certain varieties of citrus that will tolerate mild winter freezes including Meyers lemons and satsumas, as well as other plants too that could only be grown as houseplants or annuals further north. Here are just a few examples of what we have growing: a spineless yucca, a philodendron, and a loquat.

Spineless Yucca

Philodendron

Loquat tree


March 29th, 2008 – 8 pm for one hour…

The World Wildlife Fund has organized a global initiative called “Earth Hour” to help raise awareness of global warming and inspire people to do something about it. Its amazing how much a difference we each can make by even small actions.

Sydney this time last year:

2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. If the greenhouse reduction achieved in the Sydney CBD during Earth Hour was sustained for a year, it would be equivalent to taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year.” from earthhour.org

To learn more about Earth Hour, please visit:
http://www.earthhour.org

I’ve had my blog on Blogspot for a few years now but last week my friend Cynthia from Colorado was singing WordPress praises since moving her blog over from Blogspot. Figured it was worth checking out.

After a couple of days and as many conversations, I ended up transferring all my posts over and am starting to take root. Frankly, I didn’t think it would that easy a sell.

My blogspot URL: http://webbpottery.blogspot.com

My WordPress URL: http://annewebb.wordpress.com

Anyone who has taken or has tried to take pictures of pottery knows the challenges to taking a half decent shot. Good pictures can mean the difference between getting into a show, exhibition, or publication or not.

Anyhow a few people had asked me what I was using as my light set up. I have always preferred to use natural light (ie outside) for digital photos (and actually for slides as well) but that is not always possible or convenient. Last year I found these not so compact daylight compact florescent bulbs on ebay for $35 (for 4). They are 5500K/43 watt daylight bulbs. They make bright and true color, and don’t get excessively hot. (I apologize, I just snapped this photo quickly so its not in focus enough to read the product details on the side of the bulb)

When I was hunting around for photography light fixtures, I found most were way out of my price range. Instead of making a major investment, I found these utility lights at my local hardware store which range in price from $5 to $10.

I usually use 3 of these lights: one on either side and one toward the top. It takes some experimentation with light placement. I jerry-rigged a light stand out of a folding display rack we take to shows, which allows me to move/clamp the lights strategically for best illumination.

Raku Bottle, Anne Webb
The holidays are over and life is finally getting back to normal. A much needed the break and change of pace but now I am happily back to making pots again, and looking forward to the first show of the season and starting a fresh new year.

Just before Christmas I took the plunge and went ahead and opened an Etsy store. What the heck is an etsy, you ask? Well its an online marketplace (not an auction site) where independent artists can list and sell their handmade items of all kinds. You can find the most unexpected things if you look.

Sushi plate & bowl, celadon and tenmoku glazes, Anne WebbI first checked Etsy out 3 years ago and at that time, I admit, I wasn’t terribly impressed. Since then, though, it appears to have has grown exponentially. I was happy to find a growing amount of quality work there as well. What spoke to me the loudest is that things were actually selling and for fair prices too. I have sold quite a few nice pieces on eBay (despite how other potters have said how they had done there) so I am most certainly willing to give Etsy a try too.
My store link, by the way, is http://webbpottery.etsy.com

Knowing there is a renewed interest of people going out and actively looking online to buy handmade and to support indie business actually picked me up a bit and gave me a renewed outlook for the new year. I’m not a big or regular shopper except for groceries usually, but this year as I was out looking for stuff for my girls, I couldn’t help but take notice of how much shabbily crafted junk was in the stores leading up to Christmas, mostly cheap, shoddy imports from China. Sure some of the prices looked pretty good, but that’s little consolation if something is obviously of totally inferior quality and looks really cheap. Needless to say, aside from a few low-tech toys for the girls, I ended up making most of my gifts or buying/trading with other local craftspeople.

Made me think.. do people know what they’re buying anymore? Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. That disposable consumerism mindset – quantity vs quality and all that. Evidently its very easy to become complacent for the sake of convenience, accepting whatever big corporate retail conglomerates put on their store shelves, and believing it when they tell us that we must have whatever *it* is. Sad.

Lotus Garden, Raku Vessel, Anne WebbAs a craftspeople, this is something we are constantly scratching our heads over and are all too aware of. People want the big houses, the big car, the pre-fab room settings from “Rooms to Go”, and would rather buy art/accessories from places like “Pier One” than have something unique made by a local artist or artisan. Cookie cutter people. No originality. See and be seen. Automatons who can’t think outside of the box. And the saddest thing, they don’t know the difference either. What does this say about our culture? And more importantly, what does this say about our future?


These mums are one of the first things I see as I come out my door. Such a cheery sight with the sunlight falling upon them like this, I felt I had to share them.


Yesterday I was just getting ready to cut and slam wedge some native clay that had been sitting on the wedging table to dry out, as I often do to pick out the odd little rock or left over hard chunks of debris. Found this little fellow “hunkered down”, as they would say here in the South. He had chewed and burrowed his way about an inch into the clay.

Earlier in spring and summer, we are pestered by some much smaller black beetles, resembling this one, actually, only about 1 to 2 millimeters in length. They come out once the sun goes down and make their way into the studio, seeking out leather-hard pots and damp clay. Groups of them will actually burrow right through the sides of pots. Sometimes I think they make a point to go for those pots you have spent the most time on trimming or carving a design into …pure coincidence, of course.

Since we don’t have screens on the windows and the studio is kind of open, we usually try and wrap or cover pots with dry cleaner’s plastic. We have to also make sure we turn the lights to the studio off when we leave, since they don’t seem to nibble in the dark.

As potters, we subject our hands to a good deal of abuse. Prolonged handling of clay and loading kilns, seems to just suck the moisture right out of my hands, sometimes to the point of being quite painful, especially if a crack develops. If your hands are out of commission, you can’t make pots. I thought I would share some of the things I personally like to use to help maintain and protect my hands and fingers.

I have tried many kinds of hand creams to keep my hands from drying out and cracking over the years, but not very many actually penetrate the skin or do much good. The two ones I’ve had the best luck with are Corn Huskers Lotion and Bee Balm Lotion (BeeBalm is actually my favorite). Both can be bought at my local pharmacy, and the Bee Balm can even be bought through at least one of my pottery suppliers.

Its also unavoidable sometimes to get abrasions, cuts, scratches, hangnails, etc.. While an adhesive bandage works great under normal conditions to protect and keep a cut clean, it has a tendency to just be cumbersome and usually won’t hold up or even stay on after a few minutes of throwing, let alone continue to keep bacteria out once it gets wet. And clay has bacteria.

Several years ago I was reading about a new product on the market called New Skin. It was a new kind of waterproof, flexible liquid bandage that you could just brush on like nail polish. As soon as I tried it, I was sold. While I don’t think its recommended for big deep cuts, it seems to work great on scratches, minor cuts, etc., and is quite unobtrusive.

I also found these handy dandy little First Aid Cots in the bandage section of the pharmacy, right by the New Skin, bandaids, etc… They roll on like little finger condoms and can even go over a bandage, keeping your digit dry and clean. Much more localized coverage than a latex glove, although just as effective. They work great.

I also like to keep some little nail clippers at hand and around the wheel. They’re handy for trimming bits off fast-growing nails when they get too long and start to gouge the clay, and are perfect for nipping off hangnails before they get out of hand.

15 Place will be holding its annual Art Soup empty bowls event during National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week to benefit Mobile, Al’s homeless.

Regional artists of various mediums, not just clay, donate a piece of work: their interpretation of a bowl.

Friday, November 16th, 6 to 9 pm
Cathedral Square Gallery, 260 Dauphin St, Downtown Mobile
Tickets: Just $35 from the 15 Place web site

“…eat hearty soups, drink assorted beverages, munch on artisan breads and gourmet cookies, dance to a great band, BAYRUNNER this year, and at the end of the evening take our bowl home.”

Once again this year our self-representing artist collective of local and regional working artists, The Coastal Artisans, will be holding our Annual Christmas Art Show and Sale on the first Saturday of December at the Mobile Botanical Gardens.

This will be our second year and will once again be held in conjunction with the Garden’s Master Gardeners Christmas greenery and Poinsettia Sale.

To learn more about this event and our artists, please visit our website:
http://thecoastalartisans.blogspot.com

My name is Anne Webb and I'm a studio potter living and working just outside of Magnolia Springs, on Alabama's beautiful Gulf Coast. Please leave comments!
Drawing Day 2008
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