Friday, October 24, 2014

Feldspar and Highwater Clay in Asheville NC

Flippin Feldspar 

By: Jennifer Hoolihan

So, the feldspar industry has been in a bit of a flux (ha!) over the past few years. Feldspar is an important melting agent, kinda like a natural frit, which promotes fusion and vitrification within a glaze and clay body.

I've sung the praises of feldspar before (Feldspar Rocks!), so I won't go into all the technical aspects here. This is more of a mineral update. Some time ago we all learned that G200 was no longer being produced, although G200HP, which made up about 70% of G200, would still be available in its place. Now production of G200HP has ceased and the mine is closed. That was at the end of last year. At that time Custer Feldspar was the only commercially available potash feldspar. In anticipation, we squirreled away a lot of G200HP and tried to let folks know that our stocks would soon be depleted. Well that time has come. By the time you read this, porcelain production will have used up every last full bag of G200HP.

Custer has been mined in South Dakota for about 80 years and long-term supply looks good. It's pretty similar in composition to G200 though it does have a higher iron content. The  differences in potassium and sodium levels are within a percent or two, according to the chemical analyses provided by Pacer.

New on the North American market is a potash feldspar from Spain, G200EU. It is very similar to the original G200 feldspar. Of course, due to shipping costs it is more expensive than any other feldspar we use. We will stock this feldspar for retail sale and it's also available for custom recipes on request. However, we are hesitant to depend on it for clay production due to location and cost. G200EU comes in 44# bags and smaller weighed out quantities. 

In order to understand the difference in the feldspars beyond their chemical analysis sheet we ran melt tests at cones 6 and 10 oxidation with G200, G200HP, G200EU, and Custer feldspars.

Testing at cone 6 oxidation

Testing at cone 10 oxidation

Custer and original G200 appeared most similar in terms of color, while G200EU and original G200 are the most similar in terms of melt, and should substitute out for one another without problems. However, anytime raw material changes occur it becomes extremely important to test. Sometimes potters are working right on the edge without knowing it, and these slight differences in oxide levels can cause unpredictable results or failure. Please contact us if you have any questions about feldspar futures!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Figure Sculpture Class With Live Model


The Dynamic Figure With Susannah Zucker
Wednesdays 3- 5:30pm, October 29- December 17
This class will cover hand-building techniques for creating figurative sculptural work with an emphasis on personal expression. We will examine the challenges of creating mystery and power in artworks that spring from life experiences. Technical and aesthetic concerns will be addressed, as well as assistance translating complex ideas to the medium. In addition to technical demonstrations, basic anatomy, and an opportunity to work with a figure model, the class will incorporate image presentation and discussion on major figurative artists in the field.
Odyssey ClayWorks, 828-285-0210

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebration for Norm Schulman

  From  Gloria ,
   A celebration  honoring  Norm Schulman will be held at the TRAC Gallery (upstairs ) in Spruce Pine , NC         4-7  on Sunday  November 2 ..
  Bring a dish to share if you wish ….

Special Tea & Pottery Class At Odyssey ClayWorks


Tea Tour Around The World With Anja Bartels
Mondays 10am- 12:30pm, October 20- December 8
Tour around the world to tea cultures of different countries. We'll learn about each region's teas and the pottery that accompanies them. Each class will include tea time and hands-on practice of new techniques. Discover how traditions shape the objects we use in our daily rituals.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Raku Workshop


Exotic Color Raku With Michael Parry
2-Day Workshop, October 25- 26
Saturday & Sunday 9:30am- 4:30pm
At Odyssey ClayWorks

This workshop will focus on the magic and depth of color possible when using copper matte glazes in the raku kiln. With the goal of achieving a variety of iridescent metallic colors, students will participate in group firings throughout the weekend. Glazing and masking techniques for creating designs on your work will be demonstrated. Students bring their own bisque ware to fire.

Monday, October 13, 2014

NEEDED FIRE BRICKS for new kiln (In Asheville NC region)



Hey ya'll,

Just trying to help Joey Sheehan get some bricks for a wood kiln he wants to build. He is looking for 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 9" hard or soft fire brick (could also use 3"). He can pick them up.

As you know it takes several thousand bricks to build a wood kiln (4000 in this case) and if anyone knows of any cheap or free bricks out there it would be a great help to Joey.

He is trying to do this on a shoestring budget  so if anyone has any leads it would be great.

You may know Joey and he is a "Potter's Potter" - so just trying to help him out!

THANKS!!

Contact him at :

joey@meltingmountainpottery.com 

Creative Starvation- Jim Kransberger 2014

CREATIVE STARVATION - 20-1/2" x 11" x 6-3/4" (White Earthenware, Acrylic Paint)

There is no way for this woman to support all her children. She is surrounded by 41 absolutely dependent babies. Most worldly problems can be traced to over population (with attribution to Terry for unintentionally presenting the argument).

All this can be said differently as: I want to swim in deeper waters. Be my lifeguard if I get to far from shore . . .


Jim

Jim Kransberger
85 East Euclid Parkway
Asheville, NC 28804


828-505-1907
Email: kransberger@charter.net
Http://www.jimkransberger.com

Heather Spontak carves porcelain

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Artist Run Amok (Lori Gilcrest)

I have so appreciated your discussion of THE ARTIST, John. Thank you. I have to admit I think your perspective and mine are very similar, so I'm bound to think your commentary is brilliant. : )

I've been trying to have a discussion recently (and pretty much forever from time to time) along these lines. I think many people are diminishing the possibility of making a living as an artisan or ARTIST by insisting on the capital A and by making inaccurate connections between living a creative life and making a living.

When I was in graduate school a Poet who taught for a living objected to students in her class calling themselves Poets, or Writers, or Artists. She said Robert Frost once said Poet is a gift word. You can't call yourself one, someone else has to give you that gift. She said Artist was the same.

I was at a workshop once where Kurt Vonnegut caused the entire room to gasp when he said the very possibility of literature was dead. Later he told me he believed that was true because Literature, capital L, as Art, capital A, is what happened when through hard word the working writer who had learned the craft of making salable work to support himself and his family wrote something that transcended and was recognized as ART. The world of celebrity writers and literature through the lens of an economic system gone wild had, according to Mr. Vonnegut, killed the possibility of transcendence in that way.

As always, thanks for elevating the conversation and trying to get us all to think.

Lori

Lori Gilcrist
Executive Director
Communities in Schools of Mitchell County
(828) 467-0970
lgilcrist@cismitchell.org

Cousin Sal Pranks Aunt Chippy at Ceramics Class

Friday, October 10, 2014

Travis Winters Demostrates how to make an Eye

Final Word (Aritist Run Amok) Carter Gillies

I think you nailed it when you described the differences between the small 'a' and capital 'A' artist, and I think that differentiation describes very much about what we are talking through. Your argument seems mostly directed against the prestigious 'A' type artist also being humble potter sorts, and I agree that potters are such second class citizens of the art world that very little we do could move that celebrity focused side of our culture. There are no true potter rock stars the way that there are rock star musicians, sculptors, painters, etc. Maybe Grayson Perry is helping to put a more socially acceptable face on potters (even if its occasionally in drag).

When art gets promoted to the mainstream populace its generally not potters who receive the attention. The publicity machine of popularizing artists shies away from what potters do. No wonder potters have learned to keep grounded and humble! Whatever tiny prestige we garner is more to do with our own niche than any broad cultural context. If you ask a random sample of average Americans to name ten musicians, ten painters, and maybe a sculptor or two, my guess is that they would have no trouble. If you asked them to name even one potter who was famous you'd probably draw blanks. At most they might know the name of the local potter selling at the farmers market or the guy teaching at the University, or the camp instructor who teaches their kids. We simply don't know potters the way we know painters, musicians, and any other participants in the celebrity art culture that feeds on reputation and tabloid headlines.

The only point I'd make is that this division between big 'A' and little 'a' is more about perception than it is either what we do, how we do it, why we do it, or what kinds of things get done. The big 'A' seems to intentionally operate in the spotlight while little 'a' potters and their ilk eek out meager incomes in craft fairs, farmers markets, clay oriented galleries, and home studio sales. The game was decided before we even picked up a lump of clay: Potters will only ever be the poor cousin of the accepted 'A' artist culture. Its not that we did anything wrong. Its not that our work isn't good enough. Its not that what we do doesn't add real value to the world. Rather, its just that the scale we operate in is often insufficiently grand enough to warrant pedestals in the capital 'A' art market. Its too hard for gallerists to pay rent in SoHo selling $42 mugs.......

When you say, "It isn’t just an object but an artifact. It is presented in many museums, countries, talked about over all media, etc.It points to meaning beyond itself and calls attention to huge culturally significant things", I have to point out that not everything we call 'A' art does these things. What you describe seems more felicitous to conceptually oriented art. Most historical paintings that are venerated as capital 'A' art are simply paintings of this or that. They are acclaimed because of their craftsmanship, their beauty, who painted it, what departure it represents from contemporaneous painting craft, etc. What you are describing is how the art fits into cultural practices and the publicity engineered to put it there. And if cultural practices are what makes things art, then it simply matters how we treat them rather than what they are. What this suggests is that pots are not necessarily inherently different from some of the things that get pointed to as 'A' art. If we but treated them differently they would then be 'A' art.

And if not all 'A' art "draws attention to huge culturally significant things", some potters such as Kathy King, Grayson Perry, and probably at least one out of four newly minted pottery graduate students actually DO use pots as a kind of social commentary. Pots are just one vessel for potential meaning, a canvass that creativity can be exercised on. Art isn't one thing and pottery something else. They are kindred media for the creatively inclined to put to use. They are the tools of our expression. Pots are only immune to being called 'A' art if that's what we believe. Only, you have to wonder who told us to believe that and why. If you look deeper you see the weight of social conventions and contingent and arbitrary cultural decisions. The machinery that promotes some things as art and others as not art is part of a very profitable industry. If things are run according to their self interest alone its easy to see that potters will never get a break.....

There is no reason potters can't just call themselves 'potters'. I've seen some prefer to call themselves 'Ceramics artist' or 'Ceramicist' too. It turns out there is a lot in a name. Potters are not 'A' artists in the sense that we've been voted off that island. And as second class citizens of the art world maybe we need a 'Potters Pride' movement to help us restore credibility. Its not wrong to be a potter, even if top notch galleries would laugh you out the door, even if many academic art departments would shoo you away or stash you in the basement somewhere, sell off the wheels for more hand building tables. Potters seem tolerated in the art world at best. Not respected or really appreciated. And its easy to get defensive and stick to feeling good about the things that DO make us different. There's nothing wrong with us. If we are made to sit at the back of the bus, well maybe we can achieve some solidarity with the rest that are also sitting there. If its them against us, maybe we can make the 'us' thing stronger..... "Potters unite! There is no shame in being called a potter!"

That would be one response to the discrimination against potters. The view I take is that the discrimination is simply wrong and it is unjustified in any way that I've ever seen proposed to make sense of it. I'd rather fight the injustice than learn to live with it quietly in some vaguely protected corner of the world. Too may artists playing the 'A' game have a big head because folks have told them they are 'special'. Most of them are not. The fortunes of publicity are no true measure of a person's value. Its an accident of history that potters are respected so poorly in our culture. If we were living in Japan many of us might be acclaimed National Living Treasures. I simply refuse to play the game that has potters starting out with a raw deal. The game is rigged, and potters can never come out on top the way its being played. They tell us "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" but I think we should know who is pulling the strings and why. If the Emperor is wearing no clothes I'd rather shout that out than act dumb and 'ooh' and 'ah' as he passes by. If artists are special, then so to are potters. Some of us, at least......

So maybe I'll end this with agreement that, yes, potters do need to stick up for themselves. There is no shame in calling ourselves potters. But maybe we can do more than that as well. Maybe we can earn a place at the Art table, even if that means upsetting a few people who don't seem to want us there. If potters deserve respect we may simply have to fight for it. A broader understanding of art, less controlled by the ominous warnings and prescriptions of gatekeepers, only seems to point to a larger brotherhood and sisterhood of creativity. The 'A' artists are mostly a mythology of publicity agents. Some are geniuses, true. But how many geniuses are hidden in the dark corners of the world simply through lack of opportunity. Potters lack that opportunity through no fault of their own. I'd like to change that.

(Could you include this video here? Its the first of six videos, and they all explain a useful perspective on ideas related to our conversation.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPTusunJJjg


Thanks for the stimulating conversation!

Carter Gillies

Joey Sheehan throws a large platter

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Artist Run Amok (final post)



Obviously I haven’t communicated well so let me take another run at it. The question was Why can’t we just be called potters, painters, sculptors, etc.? Why does it seem everyone today want to be called an Artist? This was my contention. Maybe I am wrong but that is my impression. I ask, “What is wrong with being a potter”?

There have been a bunch of definitions of artist thrown out such as – An artist is someone who makes art -which is not the definition I was hoping for. So maybe it is my problem. I need to explain it better.

Perhaps a real example of an Artist with a Capital A is necessary. I certainly know that there are children’s art, good art, bad art, art supply stores (where you presumable get stuff that will end up being – art- when you are finished. How would it be otherwise asked Candide?)

It is kind of similar to people who say that they GOLF. What that usually means is that they want you to think that they golf and are in the same category as Tiger Woods or Rory, etc. They certainly never want to say I suck at golf. They just say they golf. But when you get out there with them on the golf course you find out that they have a 120 score for 18 holes. Tiger Woods could beat them using just his shoes to kick the ball. They will back track once on the course because it is will soon be obvious. But without the actual playing of the game --they let you fill in the blanks – which means that they want to participate in the “Golf” mystique. The wealthy, talented, sophisticated, well dressed, manicured Country Club, player, etc.

It seems to me the same is true with people who say they are Artists, when we know they are potters or painters or sculptors. Why do they say this? Because they too want to participate in the mystique of the (capital ) Artist not the small “a” artist.

An example of a capital “A” Artist would be Ai Wei Wei. It would be inappropriate to call him a potter or sculptor. Let’s take the Sunflower Seeds. You can read about it here: http://www.aiweiweiseeds.com/about-ai-weiweis-sunflower-seeds

But in short (not doing it justice) the work as about 100,000,000 sunflower seeds made of porcelain and fired, and all poured into a thick layer on the floor of a large gallery. So it was about a foot thick and when you would walk on it you would hear the grinding of the seeds and a dust would come up (probably toxic from silica dust and manganese). This represented the sunflower in Chinese culture with all the smiling faces following the emperor as he crossed the sky. It was made by workers in the porcelain factory in their off time to supplement their pay as their jobs were going away. It represented the toxins of the life in China’s industrial society. And on and on.

So to me that is an ARTIST. The work transcended the material. Not at all in the category of artist (small “a” ) who may make 1000 cups with various decals, printed on a copier with appropriated imagery, pressed on to represent the modern hipster who drinks coffee while checking his Facebook on his I pad . Nothing wrong with potters who do this – I do it too!- nothing wrong with hipsters at Starbucks checking Facebbok-- I go there too--but that is not a capital “A” ARTIST. That is potter!

Image result for ai weiwei sunflower

Ai Wei Wei’s work fits the proposed definition:

X is a work of art if and only if (1) x is an artifact and (2) x is discussed in such a way that information concerning the history of production of x will direct the viewer’s attention to properties which are worth attending to. 3. x exerts (does not exert) influence on artists.  (--Marcia Muelder Eaton)

It isn’t just an object but an artifact. It is presented in many museums, countries, talked about over all media, etc. It points to meaning beyond itself and calls attention to huge culturally significant things, exerts influence, etc.

Perhaps I am wrong but I appreciate the discussion Carter Gillies. You get the last word!





Anja Bartels (pulling porcelain handles)

Team Centering (Gabriel Kline and Anja Bartels)

Thanks Odyssey


Team throwing by Gab and Anja


Wanted to thank Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts for hosting the Clay Club last night. He had Demopalooza and a great pot luck!

Thanks to Jillian Wolf for orchestrating everything and Gabriel Kline and his Residents for doing demos. It was great fun to see everyone too!

I will be posting videos as they upload so those who missed the event can see some of the stuff we did.

Thanks again!!!

Small Reduction Kiln for Sale (Huntsville, AL)



For Sale

Olympic Torchbearer Kiln model 2831G

Portable gas updraft kiln, 11.67 cu.ft
Never used, has 4 [propane] burners with ignition ring, safety shut off

Excellent condition - good kiln for gas firing without expense of site built brick kiln.
and manual

List price $ 2750, selling for $ 1700

Location: Huntsville, AL

For more information contact

ursvan@comcast.net

256-534-8281

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Glaze Thickness or Specific Gravity

Artist run amok (Response Carter Gilles)

I agree that some folks use the description 'artist' as a measure of prestige, but that usually has more to do with an art economy that thrives on the distinction between ordinary creativity and the 'special stuff' that apparently only 'real' artists produce. The notion of art as something prestigious is often a wedge used to divide the things this particular marketplace deems worthy from those that it doesn't, as if those things were categorically different rather than simply the historically contingent and often arbitrary choices of gatekeepers. And if you notice, the stuff these gatekeepers talk about as 'the real art' is only the stuff they can make the most money with. Why would we ever trust their self serving definitions?

It ends up being a means of oppression when its the difference between who gets to eat and who doesn't, where they get to sit at the table or even if they get to sit. Discriminating like this is just one more empowered establishment telling the undesirables to sit at the back of the bus. And maybe most potters have gotten so used to coming out on the losing end of the craft v art debate that they won't try to dispute the exclusionary interpretation of art, but that doesn't change that its a poor use of the word that doesn't include pots. If Duchamp made it possible that anything could be art how is it that pots have simply slipped through the crack? Isn't that an inconsistency worth noting?

I know what you are suggesting by pointing out the loss of meaning when it is said that "everyone is an artist", but do we lose meaning in the same way when we say that everyone speaks a language? "Everyone is a language user"? If you understand art as a capacity then it is exercised only occasionally, just as we only occasionally use language. But we know the difference between using it and not using it. Understanding what we do with language is an important tool for how we navigate the world. So I wouldn't say that the broad use of 'art' and 'artist' is either meaningless or unimportant. Perhaps it even helps define why humans are different from other species. Are cats artists? If aliens exist, would they have art? Could an artificial intelligence ever create art? If those are meaningful questions then the idea of humans being artists surely must mean something, even in its broadest interpretation.

Personally, I would say that perhaps not everyone is an artist, since obviously newborn babies, sleepers, and coma patients at least are not practicing art. And even if every normal conscious adult somehow were practicing artists they would not be making art full time every waking moment. So some things would still have to count as art and others as not art. Its a good question what makes things art, and we don't need the criteria to simply map out in a consistent way. Sometimes there will only be a family resemblance that makes two diverse things art. Sometimes no connection at all other than that they are the creative expression of two different human beings. Music and painting are as different as it gets, but they are both art, it seems..... Are pots less related to ceramic sculpture than painting is to music?

I don't think the 'rinse and repeat' idea of craft negates craft as an exploration of art. If repetition invalidated something as art then photography and printmaking might be in trouble as well. What about images of actual work? If we look at a book of Monet paintings are we looking at art? The reproduction is not the same thing as the original, but is it no longer art when it gets published? Wouldn't it be strange to say that you are only looking at art if you are face to face with the original? How would we ever know that Monet was an artists if we never saw one of his paintings in real life? So it seems that 'art' has to mean something different. And it obviously includes the idea that there can be more than one example and even an infinite generation of replicas.

It seems to me that sometimes art is the object, but at other times it can be looked at as the process, and the object itself is irrelevant. 'Art' can also be a verb. At other times the idea is what is important and not the product or the process by which it gets made. I think you have to understand the variability of ways that creativity gets manifest to appreciate that art is not one thing specifically but many. If the pots themselves are not specifically art, can we say that the process behind it was art, or the ideas that gave rise to it? That seems to require an answer.

Potters are a special branch of artist, just like musicians, sculptors, dancers, painters, etc are each different types of artists. Its a field specific designation for the kind of artist we are. And even within the broad field of pottery not everyone is doing the same thing. If not every piece is functional have we stopped being potters? Does wheel thrown or handbuilt make a difference? Does surface decoration or unvarnished form divide pots from non-pots? Wood fired or electric? Greenware or bisqued?

In the end it seems there is nothing simple about pottery and there is nothing simple about art. The more we understand their diversity the less we may be bullied by the chauvinists who use these words to punish the people making work they don't like, appreciate, or perhaps even understand adequately. If Duchamp was right in that anything can be art its up to us to learn to see different things that way. Its not just a lesson in making, but a lesson in curating. Its a lesson in how we look at the world and how we group the things we find.... What kind of gatekeeper are you willing to be? Generous or miserly? And why? What is being served by calling things one sort of thing or another? How do our biases and prejudices play out in that?

If I see a small kid drawing with crayons and finger paints I want to say that "art is happening there". If I see a kid making volcanoes with playdough I want to say that "art is happening there". Sure its not van Gogh or Voulkos, but the verb of 'arting' is definitely there. Why would I ever say that an adult sitting at the potter's wheel is not an artist? The lineage of creativity seems quite obvious, to me, at least....

Carter Gillies

http://cartergilliespottery.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Notes on Creativity


Our conscious thoughts, wishes and fears are largely based upon what should have been; it seems to be the way we are conditioned. As a result we are mainly involved in a problem-solving cycle. Creativity in its core is not a problem solving driven attitude. Creativity is based on embracing opportunities that are beyond the projected outcome. This distinguishes creation from production.

Creativity is driven by the notion of not knowing and based on the understanding that the process
between an idea and projected outcome is not just a bothersome phase to achieve results.
It is based upon the understanding that the process of making, thinking, researching bears meaning. Understanding that ‘mistakes’ can be valuable sources as they clearly reflect our assumptions. Our thoughts, wishes and fears are driven by assumptions. By allowing a dialogue (as opposed to discussion or monologue!) with what surrounds us and what is in us, our thoughts, wishes and fears can serve as a mirror to detect our assumptions. Creation thrives if we are willing to be in dialogue
with what surrounds us and what is in us.

The production of man-made things makes consumption possible. But before a thing can be produced it has to be created. Creation is therefore a vital entity in society. A society that focuses only on production and consumption is decadent and will become insignificant in time.


Anton Reijnders
-Transcribed on 10-6-2009 from

http://www.antonreijnders.nl/index4.html