Over the Mountain Studio Tour 2018

 

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How Time Flies!  How can it be that I’m gearing up for my 10th year with this amazing group of artisans?  How can it be that a decade has passed?

In honor of being in my studio for 10 years, for 10 years of West Virginia living, for 10 years with this vibrant and quirky group, I’m offering all of my older work at a discount. My goal is to clean out the studio this winter, making room for fresh new work that is knocking on the studio door, looking for space to come in.

Won’t you help?  Come gather a generous serving bowl with words all around the outside, as I probably won’t be making those again.  Come pick out a tumbler with words and glaze blending into a mesmerizing weather pattern, as i probably won’t be making those again.  Come see if there is a wall vase that calls out to you, as those will be changing, too, and everything will be priced down, a little at a time, through the holiday season.

 

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Three winter oatmeal bowls, on sale this weekend!

And, of course, the new work is being polished and cleaned in the studio, nearly ready for your eyes and hands.

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Having guests is part of what makes this studio tour a true celebradion.  Rose Mendez will be here with her nature-inspired metal-smithed jewelry, and Tim Wohleber will be here with his twig furniture.  The biscotti are piling up, and the coffee will be hot:

Over the Mountain Studio Tour

November 10 & 11, 2018

Here’s the Map!

And there will be more. I’ll be out-and-about this holiday season, something that I’ve never done before.  Sacred Roots Herbal Sanctuary Herbal Holiday Fair, The River House Holiday Artisan Market, Shepherdstown’s Holiday Marketplace… and more added each day.  I’ll update the list as it grows, and look forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Bourry Box Kiln: From the Beginning

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It’s in the Atmosphere at Hood
Curated by Leslie King
May 5-June 12
Reception: June 11, 3:30-5 p.m.
Whitaker Gallery

(This essay was written about building my bourry box wood kiln as part of the above exhibit…)

Perhaps you remember the day, the month, when you first saw a wood fired kiln in action…the wood stacks waiting patiently while a small group of amazingly cheerful and ragtag enthusiasts fed the fire.  It seemed like magic to all of us, something as improbable as a unicorn, that the piles of sawmill scrap wood could add up to a sustained 2400 degree fire, and that the clay would come out of the kiln with luscious ash drips and flame marks from the process.

More amazing yet is that day when you decide to take the first step towards designing and building your own kiln.  Pick up the old standard, The Kiln Book  (Fred Olsen) to peruse the names of each pattern of brick stacking, differentiating ‘soldier’ from ‘header’.  My own process began while traveling to fire kilns across the country, as I measured outside dimensions and mentally calculated the square feet of space in each area: firebox versus collection chamber, throat arch versus ware chamber height, and realizing how much it all mattered.

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Fast-forward to rebuilding a second-hand brick saw, pallets of amazingly heavy bricks lining the freshly poured cement kiln pad, and a brick-by-brick hand-drawn plan in hand, and it hits:  I’m Building My Own Kiln!  After a few days of help from friends laying the cinder block and soft brick foundation, I settled into the rhythm of stacking one layer of bricks a day.  In taking on a project of this size, we often learn just as much about ourselves as we do about the project, and I was pleasantly surprised by the solitude, the slow rhythm of taking each step as it came, from laying with a 6’ level to stopping to make a few special cuts.  But eventually the kiln was as tall as I was, and it was time for the gathering of good-hearted friends to lay the top arches…and they came. Lynsi and Kate lat-rowed bricks up the roof for the chimney. Beth and Jane and Jerry mudded and set the arch.  After a methodical month of bricks and handmade clay blends, we were ready to light the first match.

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A bourry box firebox lends itself to calm, quiet firings, with no smoke and very little flames visible.  The firebox glows red at night, but compared to the flashy and dramatic visuals of its anagama cousin, the bourry box is the reserved poet often found under a tree at the party in a one-on-one conversation.  That said, a firing crew is always a good thing.  We tend to fire with a crew of four as the core, alternating the overnight shift and working in pairs.  The three day firing goes quickly, and we burn through a big pile of twigs (day 1), a good heap of scrap (day 2) and about 3 stacks of silver maple skinny limbs (day 3), all scrap wood from my property.

If you’re considering taking on a project, pushing your work in the direction of your dreams, take the first tiny step.  Don’t skimp on the learning and observing.  Build on what you know, follow hunches, and do it yourself.  You’ll get there, one tiny step at a time.  Your friends and those who have done it before will be there, lending a hand, listening to your dilemmas, and watching with a smile as the shifts happen, taking you and your work closer to your unique vision.

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