Tallest Coil Pot Contest

A few hundred pounds of dried out terra-cotta blocks rehydrated in a trash barrel have coiled into form recently with 8th grade....

I teach art in two buildings.  In one case I have the opportunity to share the art room and co-teach with another art teacher.  Not only do we share past projects that are tried and true, we also get to develop ideas for the students we currently teach.

A couple of months ago, another art teacher in the district told me she inherited several boxes of clay in her current teaching assignment and that I was welcome to use some.  The catch is that the clay is dried out.  We are talking bone-dry earth bricks in neat 25 pound cubes, two per box, lining the walls of her supply room.  At first I said I didn't want any part of that labor.  But then I thought about it and in 24 hours, had a change of heart.  Over the course of that one day revelation, I had a few discussions with the art teacher with whom I co-teach.  Considering we wanted to do more clay projects with junior high students and what we had budgeted for clay purchase, we were limiting ourselves.  You know what, I thought, we could do so much more with the terra-cotta on top of the clay we were going to order.  So I got in touch with the other art teacher and said I reconsidered.  She was a bit surprised.  I told her we could arrange for the district to truck it over with our principals' blessings. After it was a go, the clay arrived a few weeks later.  Without going into the details of the muddy mess and painstaking task of wedging, I'm sharing some pictures of the clay being used in class.  Of course I use my knowledge founded in the pot shop at Slippery Rock when I work on my own pots.  Going through the process with bringing the terra-cotta back to life for the 8th grade coil pots was a sort of "getting back to your roots" endevour.

New Stuff

This season of making pots has taken on an evolution.  My first plan was to add more facial texture to the monster wares. They just felt too plain.  This added detail slowed the process and in the end I have produced less work.  But the monsters just look better.  Secondly, I started making most of the pots with a different clay body.  Third, I decided to fire the kiln to cone 5 instead of 6.  In that game of inches, we're talking saving some firing time and cost that would be worthwhile over the course of several firings.  This actually led to a couple other things.  I found that some of my glazes seemed to have a little more gloss to them at cone 5.  It also inspired me to resurrect a couple old buckets of glaze that I had left for dead.    The results have been gratifying.

So There Goes Summer

As we sit outside on a mostly gloomy morning on our last day of summer break as teachers, we distract ourselves by looking forward but also in reflecting.  I know as I sip coffee and finish breakfast that the "end of summer blues" will fade and do so quickly as I get immersed in the school year.  That's fine.  The school year wears out the strongest and most energetic of teachers.  And many people outside of education will say oh you have two or three months off, I don't feel bad for you.  Then in the next breath they may tell you they could never do it.  That's all fine.  This is what we do.  Our calendar has a cycle with beginnings and ends deeply rooted in what we do as teachers.  And so here we are at the end of the refueling, resting, recharging sequence.
For me I am thinking about a few school things.  I was thinking about new things I can do to manage the classroom and also which projects to roll out over the first few weeks.  Always looking for new things too.  But making pots to sell especially closer to the holidays has already started for me.  I think about that going forward and how I will find the energy to do that after a full day of work at school.
There is another thing that can come to mind.  What will I do next summer?  Where to go next year?  Some place new and some place old and beloved.  Now those thoughts over the next few months are ways to briefly satisfy the nostalgic longing for summer and travel.  Fast-forward to February and we will surely start planning for real.
I know what much of this sounds like.  It sounds like always living for the next moment or next thing, which people do way too much.  I am guilty of it but thankfully, somehow, I am not as guilty of it as I used to be.  Somehow I have naturally become a bit geared towards living in the moment.  Often it is sitting in the yard, like right now, looking over and over again at the plants growing here.  That includes weeds.  Maybe it all comes down to balance, I remind myself.  Slow down and live in the now but also dream about what is to come.
Hopefully, my thoughts are organized enough here for a reader to stomach.  But here is the actual prompt for this post that I stumbled upon while stumbling upon an article-slideshow covering the 25 Best Dog Beaches in America.  I'll share both.

Anon 85

Anon 85
Creature Spoonrests


Paths in Clay cover

Paths in Clay, a novel

Paths in Clay is a coming-of-age story about Jack, Allan, and Miller; three friends who return to the “palace”, a place where they studied Koh Loh ceramics, an ancient clay tradition passed on from an extinct culture.

When finished with studies, one must depart from the palace and venture out, not returning until they have established a direction or "path" as a clay artist.

Ten years have passed since they left their great Koh Loh Master Potter. Reminiscing about their days as students, Jack, Allan, and Miller embark on their anticipated return to the palace, during a ceremonial kiln firing and celebration - a time when the Master Potter’s former students, their students, friends, and friends of friends all come together to fire their pottery in several wood-fire kilns.

The journey takes them far from their humid tropical region home of the lower peninsula and delivers them to the bitter season of the snowy highlands. When the three men arrive, Jack is face-to-face with his palace-time girlfriend, Kirsten. She informs the three men that their master has grown ill. Amidst a celebration, among old friends, Jack, Allan, and Miller will discover the true nature of their friendships and complete one cycle of their lives and enter the passageway to another. The choices they make will forge ahead a renewed purpose as their roles in clay traditions confirm their paths; passing on Koh Loh clay to the next generations of potters.

family reunion







creature wine stoppers