Over the past 18 months, I’ve taken a much needed hiatus from almost everything involving my personal studio practice. As I was finishing at the Bray in the winter of 2013, I was feeling a serious sense of burnout. Looking back on it, I can safely estimate I averaged 70 hrs/week making work in the studio, for 104 of the 116 weeks I was there. I left with a huge sense of accomplishment about how I had developed and changed my work, but I just didn’t want to keep working that hard and have no financial progress to show for it. I thought for a while being a hard working studio potter was the title and lifestyle I wanted, but after having the privileged opportunity provided by the Bray to test it, I know it’s not the path for me.
Nicole and I moved to Seattle, and I was able to come full circle to complete a dream and teach alongside my college faculty at the University of Washington. I was also coaching rowing (lots of pictures in a prior post here), and that gave me a real sense of satisfaction being involved with athletics again. Athletics has always been a big part of my life, and reintroducing it felt natural. I was making a few pots here and there, and that felt okay for the time being. I greatly enjoyed no longer being financially dependent on my work. The position at UW was always a temporary one, so I knew I needed to come up with a longer term solution.
After much introspection, I concluded I needed the combination of making, teaching, and coaching in my professional life to be truly happy. I also wanted things that a full-time position provides like a livable salary, health insurance, retirement, paid time off, etc, etc. At this time I was coaching high school boys and really loving it, and based on what the boys and their parents were telling me, I was feeling like a successful instructor for that age group. I realized I could possibly teach/coach/make at a private high school. I followed a tip given to me in graduate school, and applied with Carney Sandoe. It worked, and I am now very happily employed at the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma WA.
I now teach four classes of ceramics and one class of photography. I will also be coaching the golf team in the spring. I am back to making art, and have a few shows coming up that I’m excited about. Life is good.
I recently had the pleasure of working with Red Wing Stoneware, in Red Wing MN. They asked me to come in as a consultant to provide some additional training for their employees, specifically to help with the mold making process’s for both slip casting and RAM pressing.
Red Wing Stoneware has been around for a long time. They have a great history in American production, and its all detailed on their site here.
The show room, the huge signs can easily be seen from the highway
Downtown Red Wing, a very quaint town
Inside the factory, lots of slipcasting in progress. In this case, a gang mold for spoon rests.
Molds being cast during the morning shift, these will be drained before lunch, then dried, cleaned up, and the molds reassembled after lunch.
Besides slipcasting, many forms are made with good ol’fashoned wheel throwing.
The throwers are talented, and quick.
The throwing station.
With a division of labor in play, the throwers do not trim.
Pieces being “blue lined”, a signature of Red Wing
Glazing is done with a combination of dipping and spraying.
While in factory, its impressive the pure volume of work moving through.
Ware carts of work ready…
One load going in…
One coming out, with another ready to go.
Finished work on the shelves ready to go out.
More finished work.
Custom work for Red Wing Shoes, or as they call it in Red Wing, “the shoe”.
Production manager, and head mold maker Bill being introduced to the process of turning prototypes on the wheel. Before this, the throwers would make the prototypes, but could not optimize them for mold making and RAM pressing.
Halfway through making RAM press molds, the lower is already finished, with a handbuilt clay positive.
The air release system for the upper section of the mold.
Fitting the air system in the ring.
Brillant way to route the air, Bill was my teacher about this one.
Ready to pour.
After pouring, cut the cross section. Looks good. The bowl pressed beautifully, mission accomplished.
On the way out of town, had to stop here. Just a fantastic place.
This article by Jill Foote-Hutton over on Musing About Mud is good food for thought. Jill mentions Objective Clay, which I’m involved with, so that was great to read. Hope you like it.
Follow Up: Part II released, and I’m featured in it! Sweet, Thanks Jill!
I’m excited to have the opportunity to be teaching two upcoming workshops.
From June 16th to the 22nd, I’ll be at Arrowmont School of Crafts in Gatlinburg Tennessee, to teach “Prototype to Product”. Here is the link with more info about the hands on workshop on the Arrowmont page.
From September 3rd to the 7th, I’ll be working locally in Seattle at Pottery Northwest. My hands on workshop, “Slip and Slide”, is five days long and will cover all the basics of getting started with slipcasting.
Hope you can make it!
I have just posted “stunt cups” on Etsy. Actually, I posted them a couple days ago, but gave everyone on my mailing list first dibs as a way to say thank you for being on my list. If you would like to receive these type of emails in the future, please sign up here…
Here is the link to see all the pots on Etsy…
These pots are a slight deviation from my prior work. I wrote one prior post about this idea here. A while back I noticed that some of the surface designs I had done looked similar to the cross sections of half pipes, tabletops, etc. I went forward with this idea (and with a lot of digital help from my wife), made vector files of the drawings of the athletes, then had decals digitally printed. Snowboarders, Skateboarders, Mountain Bikers, and the like are now throwing huge tricks on the sides of the pots.
I’ve always been involved with these types of sports, so it seemed like a worthwhile project. Part of me feels that I am misbehaving by doing this, that the pottery police are going to serve me a cease & desist, and that is partly why I like doing it.
Etsy is not the only venue I am going to be selling these through. I am working with the local board shop (snowboards, skateboards, clothing, accesories, etc) here in Helena, called Four O Six, and we are going to have some out for the upcoming fall artwalk. I wanted to release these independently first, then move outwards from there. Hope you like ’em.
My two years as an artist-in-residence at the Bray has flown by. I can’t believe its coming to a close. I just installed my Farewell Show, and it is bittersweet to have it all done.
Below are images of the three new sets in the show…
“Coffee (2)” top view
“Coffee (4)” back view
“Coffee (4)” top view
Here is the link to the Bray website that has images of everything that’s in the show…
I’m happy to say that this month I am the featured artist at Lillsteet Gallery in Chicago. Here is a snap shop of some of the work I sent…