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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.
Before 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.
Well! 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.
Here 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.
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.
Here is one of the mugs I made lately, specifically of native clay for Magnolia Spring’s own Moore Brothers’ Market, a quaint little country grocery store that shares premises with Jesse’s Restaurant . (Their building is officially registered on the National List of Historical Places.)
Magnolia Springs is not very big place, with about 1,000 friendly inhabitants. The focal point of the village is its natural springs, from which it obviously was named at least partially after. Just down the street from both the springs and Moore Brothers, is the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, which has been featured by several magazines such as Southern Living and Gentry to name just a few. It is quaint, off the beaten track, and, if you’re looking for something just a bit different, its a nice change from the more typical hotels & motels located in the neighboring cities of Foley and Fairhope.
Magnolia Springs also boasts one of the only, if not the only, all-water mail delivery routes left in the United States which, in my opinion, fits the character of the place to a T.
Absolutely beautiful day out today, here on the coast. While I do miss my fall days in Canada, on days like today, they couldn’t be further from my mind. Low humidity, sunny, slight breeze, and in the 80s F.
The deck on the studio (all built from wood gathered from the beach after hurricane Ivan) was finally(!) cleared of the last bits of refuse scrap lumber today. Gave it a good sweep off, cut back the blackberry vines that were working very hard at taking over, and I was quite amazed at the transformation.
Once the spot was clear, I just went ahead and brought out my wheel. Not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before but I am so glad I did. Made for a much more productive day. I was able to be outside, have a clear view of my much happier 3 1/2 year old playing in her wading pool, and able to throw for a lot longer with relatively few interruptions. Even the dogs and cat were happier as everyone now had an equally prime spot beside my chair.
Its amazes me, in this day and age, that some people still cannot differentiate between a nude and pornography. I recently talked with someone who even thought a classic like Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” unsuitable for family viewing. I was floored.
Tonight I was watching the local news, having a quiet time after everyone else had gone to bed.
One of the stories on the program was about local reaction to the cover of the latest issue of Current, a local weekly arts & entertainment magazine put out by the Mobile Press Register. On the cover this week is “Nude in the Garden”, a painting currently on exhibit at the Chesser Gallery by local artist Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough. The painting depicts a nude in a non-explicit pose, with one breast showing.
According to the story, one citizen has taken it upon herself to approach store owners to get them to remove the issue from the stands and has plans to contact advertisers as well. At the time of the article she had successfully been responsible for the disposal of 300 issues. How very presumptuous of her to assume that everyone feels the same way as she does.
Another story, though more tragic, comes to mind when I hear things like this ..one that I heard from several reliable sources when I first came down here to the coast. A number of years ago a family donated a sizable collection of paintings to a local art center after the artist, a relative, had died. The old guard of the center, apparently, took it upon themselves late one night to pull out all the nudes and burn them! Criminal.
Where does censorship end?
I certainly wouldn’t expose my kids to pornography, but I have little doubt or hesitation that I will take them to exhibits at museums and galleries that may have nudes (art). .. a better alternative to a lot of what is on TV these days.
I didn’t think much about the presence of that painting on the cover of Current when I picked it up earlier this week, but I congratulate the editor for putting it there. It may have sparked a little controversy, but at least it got people here in Mobile and southwest Alabama to think, discuss, and interact more about ART. Its something we desperately need here.
No, we haven’t fallen off the planet, just everywhere but the keyboard.
Here are a couple of shots of some raku pots I snapped at a show this weekend. Stylized dragonflies and lotuses bottle & a sweet bay magnolia jar.
Other news.. this spring’s last First Saturdays Art Market will be at Cathedral Square in downtown Mobile on June 2nd from 9 am to 3 pm (NB relocated from the Royal & Government location). There will be pottery and painting demonstrations, and starting at 7:30 am on the other side of the square will be Mainstreet Mobile’s Market on the Square farmer’s market. Hope you are able to join us as we go out with a bang.
(fyi This jar is one of the completed pieces from my February 3rd blog entry, where it appeared in unglazed.)
Artists around Mobile and surrounding areas are getting ready for the first of four outdoor art market days that will take place in Downtown Mobile. We have a growing list of participants including painters, printmakers, folk artists, potters, jewelers, glass artists, sculptors, and more.
For more info and updates in coming weeks, please visit our website/blog: http://artmarketdaymobile.blogspot.com/
Hope to see you there!
Here are a few I’ve been working on that are still very much in progress. One has an iris design and the other, bay magnolia. After studying a subject, whether it be a peacock feather or a particular flower, and making my sketches, I visualize the design layout then carefully carve it into the surface of the “leather hard” clay.
Carving a design into clay is much different than drawing or painting it. The positioning of the tool initially can be tricky and carving, like anything else with pottery, takes practice. After you spend all that time and effort making that pot — throwing, trimming, and waiting for the clay to be just the right consistency– you have a lot invested and you don’t want to mess up. Once you lay your tool into the clay and make a cut, there is no going back or correcting it, so extra care needs to be taken.
After the carving is complete, the pot is left to dry usually for about a week or until it is “bone dry”. It is then bisque fired, glazed, then fired raku kiln. (Please see my post from July 18th for a description of the raku process).
I will try and post pictures of these pots again once they have been glazed and fired.
Annually I make a series of custom stoneware mugs for The Coffee Loft, one of two coffee shops in and around Fairhope, Alabama, on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore. Located on North Section street, this popular spot attracts a broad range of people, mostly on account of the excellent coffee and customer service, but I think also because of the wonderfully laid-back and eclectic feel of the place, a far-cry from the typical impersonal cookie-cutter style coffee franchises that have crept in and popped up everywhere.
You can usually find something a little different to look at everytime you go in, whether it be some new art for sale by a local artist, or even just the people who walk in the door (i told you it was a diverse crowd). Just yesterday I popped in (for some real coffee on my way home) and on display was a new crop of whimsical art by Ameri’ca Jones Gallaspy, Gloria Tullos, and a few others.
Further to my last post, and upon searching upon the newly updated Kiln Walk web site, they have four or five great and informative video clips about their 35 ft long anagama kiln and the firing last year that are bound to get your woodfiring juices flowing – the construction, bricking it up to fire, as well as other tidbits from Brian Harper and Don Reitz.
Brenda and Marty Stokes have worked very, very hard in the last 4 or so years at getting the Kilnwalk Society going (including donating a piece of their land for the project), and I can’t personally think of any better ambassadors for such an endeavour. This is one of the most exciting things that has happened to our part of the Gulf Coast potterywise and its open to everyone, not just academics.
(Remember their second anagama firing is coming up in just 3 weeks.)
The Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society, out of Navarare, Florida, has some pretty cool and exciting things coming up this fall, including the second firing of their 32 foot anagama kiln which they built and fired for the first time last year.
Mr Masayoshi Shimizu from Iwade City, Japan, will be arriving November 27th to orchestrate the firing which will take place the first week of December.
Events relating to the firing include:
- Dec 2-4 – Glazing and loading of the kiln
- Dec 4 – The Ceremonial Lighting of the Anagama Kiln
- Dec 16 – 9:00 am Kiln opening
- Dec 16 – 9:00 am – 4:00 pm – 1st Annual Woodstoke Pottery Festival
While the deadline for members to submit a piece to the firing has passed, its a great opportunity to and see a master at work and find out what the excitement of an anagama firing is all about.
Mr Shimizu will also be holding a master class and slide presentation at the University of West Florida on Wednesday, Nov 29.
As per the Kilnwalk calendar, please note that all events are free and open to the public. Please click on the links above or call 850-939-2744 for more info.
Hope to see you there!
The first weekend of November is always a popular weekend for art shows andsales here on this part of the Gulf. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, here are but a few of these events to check out:
- This Friday night, Nov 3rd, between 5 and 10 pm, Main Street Mobile will be closing down Conti Street again and opening it up for the evening to the arts. ArtsAlive! on Conti Street is a bi-annual event, usually held in May and November and is a celebration of “visual, performing, and written arts” as well as local artists. Please refer to their calendar for more info.
- Fri Nov 3rd through Sun Nov 5 – The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival , Pensacola, Florida
- Sat Nov 4 & Sunday Nov 5 – The Peter Anderson Festival, Ocean Springs, MS
“The campaign is designed to be a year–long celebration of the arts in Alabama that encourages both visitors and Alabamians to spend time experiencing every form of art that Alabama has to offer.”
according to the Alabama’s Bureau of Tourism & Travel web site
In addition to a brochure they are putting out, they are compiling a database of artists, arts organizations (including galleries), events, and attractions online that they will be drawing from for future promotional information, publications, and happenings. In the next couple of weeks they will apparently also be revamping the existing web page, making it a lot more extensive, and hopefully a resource that will benefit everyone in the arts community. You can learn more about their plans and keep up with the latest news on their web site.
Sometimes working as an independent artist tucked away in your studio can be a tad isolating. If you haven’t heard anything about this, don’t feel you’ve missed out. Its still not too late to get your name/event/gallery into their database.
Artists have been asked to submit information directly on their website
art organizations (including galleries) at: http://www.800alabama.com/yoa/signup/organizations/index.cfm?action=new,
and if you have an arts event, list it in their calendar at: http://www.800alabama.com/things-to-do/events/submit.cfm.
My apologies to those of you who may have tried to access our web site for the last week only to get a “page not found” message. I can assure you, we have not fallen off the planet and, I’m happy to say, we are still most definitely very much here.
As I had mentioned in a previous post, we, along with 11 other artists, have formed a group called the Coastal Artisans, a self-representing collective of noteable and established artists from the Mobile, Baldwin County, and Surrounding areas. Our mission is to present a broad range and eclectic mix of quality artwork to the public, and increase art awareness in the community.
Our artists include: Charles Smith, pottery; Chris Hartsfield, Watercolors; Kurt Thomas, Serigraphs, Screenprinting; Phillip & Jaclyn Benedict, Fine Jewelry & Handcut Gemstones, Rick Tino, Acrylic, Watercolor, & Gouache; “Spike” Cloninger, Fine Lathe-Turned Vessels; Lowell Webb, Pottery; David Atwood, Stained & Fused Glass; Anne Webb, Pottery; William Colburn, Metal Sculpture; Scott Blackwell (Mombo Designs), Cajun Art & Design; Lillie Mack & Marilyn Gordon (Blackbelt Designs), Fiber, Fashion Design; and Jimmy Stroud, Nature Photography.
On December 2nd, we are happy to announce that we will be holding our First Annual Christmas Show and Sale at The Mobile Botanical Gardens from 9 am to 5 pm. Its a one day only event and is being held in conjunction with the Master Gardeners’ and Annual Poinsettia Sale events at the Botanical Gardens.
To find out more info about our group, our artists, and our Christmas Sale, please check out The Coastal Artisans’ blog/website (http://thecoastalartisans.blogspot.com) . We will be adding more info in the months leading up to the show.
As the propane kiln is finally on for a “soak” I thought I would sit down. put my feet up, and write a little bit about what is going on here locally this weekend.
As usual, this Mother’s Day weekend is going to be a busy one. As you can see from this lovely poster to the right, Foley’s Performing Arts Center is hosting their 34th Annual Art in the Park juried art show, May 13 & 14th in John P. Foley Park, at the corner of Hwys 59 & 98. If the weather holds out and it is anything like last year, it should prove to be a lovely weekend. Please, Come and join us!
Something else that is going on is ArtsAlive! on Conti Street put on by Main Street Mobile, Saturday May 13th from 2 to 8:30 pm. This bi-annual event put on by Main Street Mobile, is on Conti Street, on/beside Cathedral Square. Its is a pretty neat event. We were disappointed to learn we had a scheduling conflict and we couldn’t take part on Saturday (the Foley show plus Lowell’s daughter Nissa is getting married on late Saturday afternoon), but we hope to do it again in the fall.
Hope to see you in Foley sometime over the weekend :).
Approximately 10.25″ H x 8.5″ W
by Anne Webb, 2006
Come and see us, Anne & Lowell of Webb Pottery at “Art in the Park”, Foley, Alabama, May 13-14 (mother’s day weekend). We will have mostly our functional stoneware pottery made from native clay, but also plan on having a few art pieces, and some of new Lowell’s pit-fired wall plaques.
Some sad news, the Pleasure Island Art Association (PIAA) in Orange Beach, Alabama, has officially been dissolved. The good news, though, is that the City of Orange Beach has generously offered to completely assume the responsibility for the Center and take over the operation of the gallery and gift shop previously made available to the P.I.A.A.. Among other things, much needed and overdue upgrades and repairs are finally being taken care of, and they are even planning the construction of a new state-of-the-art studio teaching facility sometime next year, which is very exciting. They will continue to hold the spring and fall art shows and encourage local artists and the community to take an active part. In the meantime, the gallery and gift shop are still open. If you are in the area, please drop by. For more information, please visit the new
Orange Beach Art Center website.
Also don’t forget to check out the article on Rick Tino and the Tino Frame and Fine Art Gallery in Gulf Shores on p. 36 & 37 of this month’s The Pelican, a weekly community newspaper for our part of the Gulf Coast. Rick will be holding a gallery open house on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, where you can see first hand work including stained glass, funky folk art, pottery, painting, and some really wonderful blockprints and handmade raku tiles. More news to follow on that, but don’t forget to mark your calendars! Hope to see you there!
Last weekend we took a ride down to Gulf Shores, to check out and take work to Rick Tino’s new gallery, Tino’s Fine Art & Frames. Rick, who lives in Gulf Shores, has been dealing with various frame shops and galleries in the area for years. He noticed that increasingly these places have been gravitating toward selling mainstream art, prints and work that one could find anywhere else.
So when Rick decided last year that he wanted to open a gallery again, he wanted to offer something unusual in a market that increasingly lacked distinctiveness. In his words, his vision was to create something less commonplace, an “oasis for beauty and things that are well made by local artists.”
Rick has invited artists who he feels would help him achieve his vision, offering an eclectic range of work from quality functional pottery to one-of-a-kind two- and three-dimensional works of art. Featured local artists are Laura Hensley(Glass), David Atwood (Glass), Chris Hartsfield (Realism Painter – Watercolor & Giclee Prints), Tommy Cannon (Oil) , Sea Oats Studio – Steve & Dee Burrow (Stoneware Pottery), Wilodean Brown (Pencil, Pen and Ink), Anne Webb & Lowell Webb (Stoneware, Raku, & Primitive-Fired Pottery), and Rick Tino (Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache).
Feel free to contact Rick for more info, directions, or better yet, drop by when you’re in the area!
Tino’s Fine Art & Frames, 2200 East Second Street, Suite H, Gulf Shores AL 36542
Phone 251- 971-TINO (8466), Email: email@example.com
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9am to 5:30 pm, Saturday 9am to noon