Advice to sink in slowly, on this icy, rainy, winter day. Slow down; drink tea. Make it in a teapot. Take a moment, while drinking tea, to look at the teapot look at your cup. Really look. Are you looking? Consider what you see. Consider the memories you already have of these things, and the memories you are making right now. Enjoy.
“Slow down, drink coffee from a handmade mug. Slow down when making the mug. Pay attention to the earthly processes that are involved and the full nature of what a mug has been and could be. Once again, it will be good for you and good for the planet. Buy from your local potter. Even if the handmade object is not utilitarian, it is a slow object. It still requires a stilling in the making and in the enjoying. Slow down; take it in on a sensual level. Add to that basic appeal whatever experience you have had with similar objects, be it resonance or the surprise of unexpected elements. Buy from a local artist. Attend your local gallery exhibitions. Clay sculptures, installations, conceptual works: they all ask us to slow down and pay attention, to examine our preconceptions.”
Chris Weaver, teapot with wooden handle
There’s nothing slower than a teapot on a chilly winter day. Teapots have been on my mind this month, what with winter and wood stoves and contemplation. These are some of my current mullings, and may they inspire you to pull out your favorite, boil up some hot water, and sip away…
On a day that consumerism overwhelms (yet I still post on Etsy). Fellow potter Malcolm Davis died (yet we still have his glazes and humour). A quick pass through fellow clay blog musings about mud lends a quote for the day…maybe the best we can do is do what we love as best we can.
From travel comes inspiration….looking at algae pools at Yellowstone National Park this spring brought to mind the complexities of glazes in wood kilns. One of my favorite forms to fire is a wine decanter, side fired on shells, with multiple layers of glazes. These glazes run, drip, combine, layer, and mingle with ash to highlight their complex history in the kiln. I crave this.
…one of the Japanese words for wads when wood firing pottery. Wads are the little balls of clay that rest under each and every piece in my kiln, making sure that the pieces don’t stick to the shelves, the shelves don’t stick to the stilts (bricks that stack in between the shelves), lids don’t stick to jars, etc.
Luck has it that there are many coffee houses in Shepherdstown WV that are more than happy to share their wealth of used grounds, which are mixed with clay and silica grog to make the best smelling wadding around. Glazing, wadding, then stacking…
After stacking, the door is built brick by brick, and the next morning early, flame hits twig, and we’re off! (That’s tomorrow!)
A few pals are coming to stoke, soup ingredients are ready to go, and the wood is split and stacked. Autumn is cooperating with a full-splendor show of leaves, and a gorgeous weekend on the horizon. What more could a person want?
My love for wood fired kilns has lead me astray….to wood fired bread ovens. The Burr House Bread Baking Guild meets monthly to bake artisinal, natural yeasted, wood fired bread. I’m in love…and here’s the images to prove it:
Nine years ago, I met my mentor and friend, Jack Troy, potter, writer, and curious-about-all-things artist, while he was teaching clay at Juniata College, and quickly became his studio tech in the college Pot Shop. One of my memories from that autumn includes the day that he told his students to “Get With the Program,” and buy books for his class over the internet. I’ve pulled out his quote regularly as fuel to transition from Luddite to tech savvy.
So as the wood stove crackles nearby, this old fashioned potter moves yet again towards the 21st century. Thanks, Jack, for the prod.