Day 2: a target

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” – Steve Miller Band

Hey Carter,

God, I hate that stupid song. Fly like an eagle… glurb. But it’s such a good fit, today, that I’m going with it.

“I feel like one third of a Brandon Phillips.” Ha! That was a good one. I was still chuckling to myself about that at lunchtime. I hope he reads this and doesn’t see that coming, and has to do a double take on a bite of burrito or something.

So, here’s what I learned today: the problem with 24×3 is that it consigns the next day to chasing plastic, and boy was I chasing it today. I have so little recent experience with making that kind of volume in a day that I totally underestimated how long they would take to finish. I was also surprised at how quickly things are drying here, so I accidentally got them all to trimming/feet cutting consistency at the same time. Duh.

I also wanted to get caught up to “real” time on the blog posts here before I headed to the studio this morning. Computer stuff is always such a time sink. Then I had to at least start a few new pots. A day without throwing seems like kind of a waste. (I made a half dozen medium-sized plates with  chunky rims). Then I realized I should make some draw rings for the salt kiln, and some test tiles with this new clay body, and that while I was at it that I should try both the white slip and black underglaze that I’ve been using at home… so that got pretty elaborate. And then — it was after lunch and I still hadn’t broken out the trimming tools. Clearly, some better planning and discipline are in order.

Where does all that time go? It just zips right on past like I’m a bystander, even when I’m trying to keep my nose skinning-distance from the grindstone. Crazy.

On the plus side, though, I have something approaching a half kiln load of wares started now, which ain’t nothing on Tuesday. And I’m glad I thought of testing this clay to see how it (and these kilns) respond to some of my typical tricks. That seems like some Old Bilbo wisdom; none of this impetuous, nine-fingered rolling the dice and thinking about keeping the Ring for myself.

I’m pleasantly surprised so far at how little rust was on my machinery. I was a little worried at first. Especially given how… let’s say “quirky”… the wheel I’m using is. The wheelhead’s placed a bit off center, and the whole frame sways sideways if I crank the treadle bar like I’m accustomed to on mine. I think the tail end of one frame piece, where it attaches to the rear post, is stripped out — the bolt there just spins, and it’s one of the few that doesn’t have a nut on the other end. Bummer. Looks like this baby has seen some wear and tear.

It’s also a little undersized for me — I swear it’s a bit smaller than mine, although I thought I’d heard at some point that both Gates and Polglase built them to careful measurements of original Leach wheels — so I’m not in the best posture at it, either. But I like that those imperfections are forcing me to spin even a little slower than usual, and that it’s making me rethink these things that I’ve long come to take for granted, like breathing. And television.

“Sloooooooooooooooooooooooow it down.” (That’s right; I’ll quote Coldplay if I damn well feel like it. I’m 41, which means I’ve heard enough pop music by now to know the truly awful crap from the actually pretty good crap, and most of what I’ve heard by Coldplay falls comfortably in the latter category for me.)

The studio here continues to impress. I mixed a small batch of white slip and found everything amazingly well thought-out: all the materials you could want, clearly labeled and alphabetized; spare plastic buckets for the taking; a vent system that works so well you can feel a stiff breeze go past with only one blower on. Compared to my morass of clutter and distractions and crazymaking junk at home, it’s like the pottery equivalent of a distraction-free writing environment.

Penland: A Distraction-Free Potting Environment.

“Calmer than you are.”


Here’s a sketch I did some time ago with a drawing app on the iPad. Because I’m working with white slip and black underglaze, it’s got me thinking about how to do something like this in clay:


Maybe that’s not feasible — probably not — but it’s at least a reference point. A target. Something to aim for.


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January 30, 2013 · 6:44 pm

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