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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.

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.

Raku Urn with Magnolia Design

Magnolia Raku Pottery Jar by Anne Webb

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

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).

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?


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.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day when blogs everywhere talk about one thing: the environment.

Potters tend to have a reputation for being frugal. Some stems from necessity, some stems out of principle. I started thinking about ways in which we here at the studio try to make a difference to the environment and recycle:

– Building: recycled wood & windows in building studio (reclaimed lots of waste wood from hurricanes which would otherwise be taken to landfill or burned).
– Plastics: We recycle grocery bags & use them for shows (people don’t mind when you tell them it is for the environment) as well as dry cleaning plastic which works perfect for covering pots & protecting controlling how they dry
– Paper: Newspaper and newspaper roll ends are used in the studio for a multitude of uses. Also excellent for packing pots away for/at shows
– Metal: We bought a can crusher and while they don’t pick up recycled items here, we take our tin/aluminum cans to the recycle depot when we are in town.
– Appliances: We have two defunct refrigerators & freezers make excellent damp cupboards and places to keep moist clay.
– Old Machinery: our clay mixers are 2 recycled old machines: one is made from an old WWII anti-aircraft gun and the other a 1915 dough mixer.
– Waste wood & pine needles: We get scrap wood cast offs from the local wood mill and use them to fire the wood kiln. Wood and pine needles burn much more efficiently and with less smoke at the temperatures we fire the kiln to, than it would in a burn pile.
– Cast offs: We use cast-off bisque ware (cracked and unusable) in holes in our driveway, and try to use as many of the glazed cast-offs as bird feeders, planters, dog bowls, etc.. Lots of other shards go to a friend who does mosaics. (We have also used waste oyster shells from the local fishery to fill holes in the driveway – smells a bit at first, but definitely organic)
– Our clay: Now that our clay mixer is operational again, we try to pay extra attention these days to recycle all of our scrap clay into a new batch of mixed clay and make it go as far as possible. A lot of the clay we use, we dig ourselves. The white and bubble gum colored clay that we like to use is considered waste clay to contractors (not good for road base) and they are quite happy if we cart as much as we like off.
– Organic Gardening: We try our best to garden as organically as we can. We have several neighbors with horses that are glad to part with their more than ample supply of muck.
– Commuting: Our little chunk of land houses both where we live and the studio, so thankfully I don’ t have to commute anywhere (except to shows, wholesale customers, and some of my suppliers, of course).
With a group of like-minded artists, we also started a small artist collective to hopefully open up more marketing opportunities closer to home and cut back on travel. Less traveling not only saves us expense, time, and wear and tear on our vehicles (and us) but also means less fuel consumed and less impact on the environment.

Coming from away, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of things such as public transit for commuters and carpooling lanes when I first got down here. SUVs are the vehicle of choice it seems here and its not uncommon to see a Hummer or 2 cruising up the road. No attention to carbon emissions on old vehicles either. Big cars, big boats and often big inefficient houses too. How do permits get granted to construct on valuable wetland? Always has baffled me how a place with so much sunshine has so few people taking advantage or even the slight bit knowledgeable of solar power. Welcome to the Alabama Coast. Consuming with very little thought of conservation. You used to be able to see to the bottom of Mobile Bay not 50 years ago, apparently. Not now though. Pollution from industry-friendly Mobile and other places upstream have unfortunately taken its toll. Its a pity.

Southerners are known to be resistant to change but hopefully they will sit up and take notice before it is too late.


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.

Since I moved my wheel outside, I’ve noticed a surprising number of new little creatures that I probably wouldn’t normally see on my usual trip to the studio. Gekkos, Red headed skinks (a lizard), blue racer skinks, crab spiders, a rainbow of different colored dragonflies, etc., all going about their business seemingly undisturbed by my presence and the constant hum of the wheel. A great place to look for design inspiration.

Saw this unusual little fellow hanging out on a loquat leaf around dusk. His/her body alone was close to an inch long. Always suspect of unusual looking bugs since moving to the south, I checked online to make sure he/she wasn’t venomous. From the Dave’s Garden web site (a great gardener’s resource, btw), I learned he/she was a “Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans)” that loves to eat bugs (including wasps) but is not known to bite humans. I was glad to know that since the plants in that part of my garden, especially my gardenia, have had a bit of an aphid problem the last 2 yrs. I’m always in favor of a natural predator vs using pesticides.

I was throwing mugs today. My 3 1/2 year old wanted to smell the pots as they came off the wheel. She leaned very carefully over to give one of the wet pots a sniff.

“What smell like?”

I kept throwing and absently said “Uh.. mugs..?”

She huffed then said “No, Mommy. Not smell like mugs.. Smell like money!”

..little parrot pottery child..

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.

I think I may do it all over again tomorrow. No rain in the forecast until later in the week.


Native clay jar with brushwork
Stylized dragonfly design

by Anne Webb

approx 11.5″ H


Today was the first run of our “new” clay mixer. In the spirit of recycling, the mixer is a converted 1915 dough mixer from an old bakery.


As you can see here, its powered by the still useable motor portion of an old generator.

(Our other mixer, which served us well but finally rusted out this spring, was made from a Second World War anti-aircraft gun.)


Designed Stoneware Vase
Tenmoku Variation & Celadon glazes
Incised design

Approx 7″ H

Anne Webb, 2007



Lotuses & Dragonflies
Raku Vessel

Anne Webb, 2007


The other day, after a chat with my friend in Manitoba, I went to searching the CBC broadcast archives and this one on Michael Cardew came up. Michael Cardew, in case the name doesn’t ring a bell, is an internationally well-known and well-respected British potter who, as I discovered after watching this clip, was actually the first student of Bernard Leach. Nicely presented on this video.

The description from the CBC site about this video:

“After a lifetime at the potter’s wheel, making a bowl is second nature for Michael Cardew. He starts by kneading a hunk of brown clay to remove air bubbles, then positions it on the spinning wheel. He drives his thumbs into the clay, creating a depression in the centre. With intense concentration, Cardew pulls the sides up and out to create a bowl shape. The process, known as throwing, is the focus of this clip from the CBC series Hand and Eye.”

Video link: “How to throw a pot” with Michael Cardew

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.)

One of the pieces we have up on ebay this week:

Raku Pottery Plate
Incised Spiral Design
approx 11 7/8″ W

by Anne Webb, Webb Pottery

ebay Item 130082820501

To view all our auctions, search for our
ebay ID: webbpots

Peacock Feather Designed Raku Jar, Anne Webb

Raku Jar with Stylized Peacock Feather Design
8.5″ H x 5.25″ W
by Anne Webb
Item #130079977793

Raku Bank with Art Nouveau Bee Motif, Anne & Lowell Webb

Raku Bank with Art Nouveau Stylized Bees
3″ H x 4.75″ W
by Lowell Webb, decorated by Anne Webb
Item #130079980946

The only pictures of designed raku pottery I’ve had up on the blog have been finished ones. I thought it might be kinda cool to see what these pots look like in their raw state.

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.
Green Webb Pot with Incised Iris design
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.

Incised Bay Magnolia Design - raw clayAfter 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.

Anne Webb Pottery Stoneware Pitcher with Stylized Iris Brushwork Design
A big part of the appeal of pottery for me has always been the ongoing learning curve; no matter how “advanced” you get there is always some new avenue to explore, experiment, and discover.

I’ve been experimenting with brushwork for a while now, trying different styles, brushes, pigment, and subject matter. The brushes that I like best for the designs I’m doing are ones that Lowell has made from local bamboo and deer/dog tail hair. Each brush has its own personality and make for a nice spontaneous bold brush stroke.

Anne Webb Stoneware Pottery Pitcher with Stylized Iris Design, 2004Today as I was cleaning up my computer hard drive, I came upon some photos from over the last few years. I was intrigued at how much some pots and designs have changed or evolved in a relatively short period of time. A natural progression I suppose. I had been told that the more you do an image, the more it seems to take on a life of its own.

It never hurts to go back every so often and revisit and reflect upon your work from the past. It can be a good point of reference or even source of inspiration.

I mentioned in my last post about my friend Charles posting some of the film clips of him being interviewed on YouTube. I can certainly see the value of having some sort of presence there from a marketing perspective, but it also gives me an excuse to go play with some of those movie or video programs that have remained up to this point, at least, unused.

So here is a slideshow I threw together with some photos I had on hand. A few things to work out yet, but, like anything else, there is a learning curve. Man, the technology that’s available to us is amazing isn’t it? And I didn’t even need a Mac to do this.. who knew!
(NOTE: To play the video clip, please click the little “play” right arrow thingie icon in the bottom left corner of the window below. )

Webb Pottery Stoneware Mug for The Coffee Loft, Anne Webb 2006 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.

Webb Pottery Stoneware Coffee Mug for The Coffee Loft, Anne Webb 2006They serve freshly brewed coffees, teas, baked goodies, sandwich wraps & other fare made on-site. They also have a nice assortment of coffee beans, ground coffee, and teas to choose from. (My fave to get are the chocolate covered espresso beans!)
The Coffee Loft is located just down the street from the Eastern Shore Art Center, at 503 North Section Street, Fairhope AL
(251) 929-2299

Comfortable & roomy seating. Lots of parking.
Good Hot Coffee
Open 7 days a week.

Well Christmas is right around the corner and December seems to have passed as soon as it came. There were a lot of pots made in between illnesses and the different obligations and distractions that typically pull you away when you have 2 small children.

Our much anticipated Coastal Artisans Art Show took place on December 2nd (the invitational art show that we had been busily organizing since early last spring) and I am so very pleased to say it was a great success, thanks to a lot of elbow grease on everybody’s part, great community support, and, of course, a buying public. It was a very positive experience and imminently rewarding. We have a really personable and eclectic group of artists and I feel very fortunate to have been able to get to know them over the last several months. I really look forward to working with them again next year. In case you who were involved are reading this blog, I wish to thank all of you who participated and to everyone else who so generously helped us make everything happen.

Designed Stoneware Tripod Vessel by Charles SmithOne of the members and a co-founder of The Coastal Artisans, is Charles Smith. A native of Mobile, Alabama, he is one of the region’s most well known, widely recognized, and certainly respected professional visual artists. He is a true craftsman with a shrewd business sense, a great sense of humor and a heart of gold. Some of you may be interested to learn that a number of video interviews with Charles have been posted on YouTube, where Charles reflects upon technique, design, and artistry, among other things. To view these eight videos, including a slideshow of some of his pots, go to http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=smithpots.

Something else that has gone on in the early part of the month, as mentioned in my previous posts…… On Saturday Dec 16th, the Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society had the official opening of their anagama kiln. Sadly we weren’t able to make it over be there for the event, but not for lack of desire (my 4 year old brought home yet another cold from school and this time, everybody here got it.). According to a recent email from Marty and Brenda Stokes, the firing took 5 days, as it did last year when Brian Harper helped them fire it. I can’t wait to see the pictures and, with any luck, a video of the event on their web site.

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

Please check out this exhibit by Joe Molinaro and my good friends and Nan Coffin and Richard Burkett at the Charlie Cummings Clay Studio and Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana:

http://www.claylink.com/currentexhib.html

This exhibit runs from Oct 6 until Oct 27th. Unfortunately we have already missed the date for Joe Molinaro’s free lecture at the gallery: “Evolving Traditions and Outside Influences Facing the Ecuadorian Amazon.”

Richard Burkett teaches at the University of San Diego and Joe Molinaro teaches at Eastern Kentucky University. Joe, Nan, and Richard have spent extensive time doing research in Ecuador working amongst potters and collecting their work.

Webb Raku Vase - Stylized Art Nouveau Oleander

Vase with Art Nouveau Stylized Oleander Design
Incised design, Raku fired

Approx 12″H x 6.5″W

Anne Webb, Webb Pottery, 2006

Recently listed on ebay: Item #130030461617

In line with my last couple of posts, here are a few more links for you …just some of the many out there.

NCECA – National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
The Ceramics Web – a Database of all sorts of resource links, datatbases, and material put together by SDSU’s Richard Burkett
Clayart Archives – Clayart, the popular ceramics email chat group originally put together and moderated by Joe Molinaro and Richard Burkett, now moderated by Mel Jacobson, is still going strong after 15 to 20 years. Instructions to become part of the Clayart discussion group, as well as the archives of all posts since Clayart’s inception can be found on this site (www.potters.org). Discussion on just about every aspect of ceramics.
Arts, Crafts, & Theater Safety – Find out a little more about Monona Rossol, one of the leading authorities on studio and material safety.
Hyperglaze – Glaze Calculation Software & Info, Richard Burkett
Insight – Glaze Calculation Software & Info, Tony Hansen & Digitalfire
American Ceramics Society
American Craft Council
Southern Arts Federation
Southern Artistry

I mentioned in my last post how isolating working alone in your studio can be. As any artist knows, the arrival of a new catalog or magazine can sometimes put a little more wind to your sails just when you need it.

On more than one occasion I have had beginner potters come into my booth at a show with that hungry thirst-for-knowledge look in their eyes, excited to see anything made of clay, and sometimes even more excited to meet the artist.

There are so many great magazines out there that offer informative articles, tips on technique, calls for entry, upcoming workshops and conferences, as well as info on suppliers and new equipment available.

I’ve compiled below for those budding new artists, collectors, and anyone else interested in clay, a short list of some of the more well known (in North America at least) publications with links I’ve found to their web sites.

Clay Times (cover pictured here)
Ceramics Monthly
Pottery Making Illustrated
Studio Potter
Art and Perception (Australia)
Ceramics Technical (Australia)
Ceramic Review (UK)
Critical Ceramics
American Craft Magazine
Art Calendar

Working alone in your studio can be a lonely existence at times and the arrival of new catalogs and publications gives us potters a chance to find out what is going on out there in the clay world and makes us feel a more connected member of that community.

For as long I have been potting, I have always been excited to get the latest catalog from The Potters Shop . A few times a year they would send out their thickly folded pastel colored catalog with literally hundreds of wonderful books, videos, and a selection of tools, to pour over and discover as I unfolded each section. I could always count on finding something that was new, or at least new to me, and at a good price.

Steve Branfman, a veteran potter, seasoned lecturer, and author of books such as Raku: A Practical Approach and A Professional Potters Handbook, runs The Potters Shop out of Needham, Massachusetts, along with his wonderful staff. They don’t just sell books, but it is an actual working studio with a gallery, classes, and rental studio space.

You can view their huge selection of books in their Online Catalog, or you can contact them directly for one you can hold and read offline.
Here is their contact info:
The Potters Shop – 31 Thorpe Road, Needham MA 02494
info@ThePottersShop.com (781) 449-7687 fax (781) 449-9098

They announced the awards for the Vasefinder 2006 National Competition yesterday. The winners this year are:

  • First Place: Blue Flower Pod – John Denis Ransmeier, Weaverville NC
  • Second Place: Howling..Ode to Terri – Joe Bruhin, Fox AR
  • Third Place: Large Bottle Vase – Tom Turner, Mars Hill NC
  • Honorable Mentions
    • 3 Holed Arranger Vase – Laura Korch, Ypsilanti MI
    • Vase – John Glick, Farmington Hills MI
    • Bird in the Grass – Nancy Darrell, Marshall NC
    • Wire Cut Vase – Bacia Edelman, Madison WI

The juror was William Farrell formerly of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Vasefinder Nationals is an online invitational competition where each exhibitor is to present their “interpretation of a pottery vase”. It is the brainchild of Mr Charles Blim, an avid and knowledgeable collector and supporter of the arts.

On his web site, www.vasefinder.com , Mr Blim not only presents the Nationals, but he has compiled an online historical database of hundreds of potters and clay artists that he has researched, artist showcases, pottery links and articles, and various other interesting tidbits of information. My conversation on the phone with him earlier this summer revealed a refreshingly genuine and enthusiastic individual who is very much interested in clay and placing a focus on and supporting the artists, while educating the public of pottery’s extensive tradition and diverse history. He explains his mission quite well on the web site.
Please feel free to check it out to learn more.

Peacock Feather Motif Vessel
Approx 4.5″ H x 3.75″ W

Anne Webb, Webb Pottery, Magnolia Springs, 2006

This vessel was recently listed on ebay:
Item #130017712794
under Art: Self-Representing Artists category

NEW WORK POSTED ON OUR WEB PAGE
If you would like to see more raku pieces, please visit our web page and click on the “Original Art Works” section.

Thanks!

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!
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