This weekend in Historic New Harmony Indiana.

Lots of fun!

Lots of music!

Lots of crafts!

Lots of brats! (yum)

I’ll be set up in the Orchard Area between the Antheneum and the log buildings.  Please stop by and visit!

For more info:


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No, not the academic kind.  The kind that goes: small, medium, medium large and large.  That’s what recently came from the kiln; a graduated set of shino glazed jars that was inspired by a customer.  Some of the best ideas come by way of people asking if I ever thought of this, or that.  Trust me, “this and that” are too often just floating around my brain and it takes the “butterfly net” of a comment by the customer to help me catch it.  That’s when  “this and that” becomes This.  Does this make sense?  Anyway, 

 here are the jars out for a walk in the garden.   The reduction of this kiln was just right and added a nice rust accent to the pieces.

Another piece I really liked  from this kiln was a sweet berry bowl.  No, I don’t mean for sweet berries,  I mean , a SWEET berry bowl.   The way this copper ash glaze ran and moved was magnificent.  I thought it might run back in to the holes, but it followed these beautiful paths that really gives the piece organic movement.    That’s what is so great about doing art/studio pottery.  The surprises that come from the kiln make every kiln a joy to open.       So, I guess “This” is what makes “That” the best job in the whole world.   And that does make sense!

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Here is one of the face jugs that was fired in the last kiln and she is like most “ugly” jugs…….ugly!  Actually with this cream glaze she’s kind of spooky.  But that’s OK.  The jugs were originally meant to scare children away from the contents; whiskey, medicine or poisons.  If I were a child and wanted a drink of what was in her, I think I would back off, turn toward the fridge and grab a cold Coke and spare my life.    I don’t make many women in the face jug genré but this kiln had two.  I like the glaze on this one because if you could feel it, it is very smooth; like she’s been pampered with goat milk skin treatments at the finest Swedish spa.  Her hair is beautifully coiffed into coils of the finest barley twist.  So, is she really a high maintenance diva?

Naw.~~~  She’s high fire stoneware which means she’s dishwasher safe!

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No expectations; life is easier this way

As promised, the kiln was opened this weekend and as usual, there were surprises; some good, some bad.  I now know Tenmouku loves Buckwheat.   I know it sounds like an international chick flick, but alas, they are two glazes that married well and will live happily ever after in future kilns.   So, I thought I’d post images to show just how colorless the mineral glazes are before they get burned to 2345° and after, when the minerals melt in to colored glass over the clay objects.

The glazes rest on the pots like powdered sugar on marbles.  You can literally dust them off if you handle them improperly.  ( the one blue vase on the left  had been fired once before and I put it back in for a refire)   A lot of the glazes before hand appear to be tan, pink or gray because of the raw minerals and clay in the glaze recipes.  (Now you can see why when a potter is trying new glazes or combos, having no expectations is best. )   When the pieces are fired, they sometimes are more beautiful than  one can imagine, and I find myself growing more attached as I let the pieces acclimate to the world and my way of perceiving them.  But if you think your copper red glaze should have been bright red and actually turns out frothy green, (because of technical reasons too boring  to go into here) one may feel disheartened; yet upon further reflection, it may be one of the most beautiful pieces in the kiln.  (This has actually happened to me) ~~Thus, No expectations.  In the next couple of posts. I will show some pieces from this kiln that I like for different reasons.

a study in white~~ $500

The above is really one piece I call “a study in white”.   Five pounds of different white clays for each of five vases.  I used my copper red glaze.  Learning from past firings and having no expectations, I can  achieve both red and green out of this recipe by manipulating it’s thickness on the piece and firing in a medium to heavy reduction atmosphere.   I feel it gives the glaze a very organic look which adds motion to the pieces. 

No expectation-No disappointment ,

just beauty to those who open their minds to the flow of energy in the artful kiln.  

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Game Day!

Probably when most people think of potters at work they think of a person hunched over a spinning wheel with hands full of clay; but to get to that favorite mug you’re probably holding right now sipping green, peppermint infused tea,  is a little more involved.

I was thinking about that today as a thunderstorm rolled up out of the west as I was firing the kiln.  Actually two other things came to mind first: 1) whether a kiln full of mineral coated pots under a tin roof makes for a good lightning rod and b) if the electricity should go out, how sad I would be to be a mere 100° from clay maturity and have to shut the kiln down because the electric blowers help mix the air/gas combination going into the kiln.  One without the other does not work for my kiln.   But, back to your mug…

Regardless if a potter digs his own clay. mixes it, or buys it moist, hauling 50 lbs. of it around is pretty standard.  Then there’s the wedging; making sure the clay is nice and homogenized which makes for more efficient throwing.  Oh yeah, here’s the image in your mind of the potter at the wheel throwing, but wait, do you also imagine him pulling the handle, yes the one you’re now holding, and attaching it to the cup?  OK, then there’s the trimming, usually done before the handle goes on; that’s what makes for a nice bottom.  Then we wait, wait, wait, for it to dry so we can put it in a kiln and do a bisque fire.   Are we there yet?   NO!  The bottom is waxed to resist the glaze so you do not have to hold a kiln shelf attached to the bottom of your mug to drink your green peppermint infused tea.   Now we come to Game Day!  The kiln is loaded and fired.  Getting ready for this for a studio potter is like preparing for a sporting match.  Once the match begins, fine tuning of the kiln is a must.  Atmosphere, temperature and timing are all in play and the potter now becomes clay tactician.  This is really what I was thinking about before the storm rolled in.  I was in my final reduction phase, (see the gases coming out of the flue at 2298° in the image),  when thunder captured my attention.

The kiln reached maturity temperature just as the storm let up and moved past the woods to the east.  Game day was over and now anticipation for the opening begins.  I will post results in a few days because I have to wait, wait, wait for it to cool. 

So, you can just relax, take another sip of your green, peppermint infused tea and imagine all of the good energy that made this moment possible. Amen.

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It really is pleasant at Pleasant Hill

If there ever was a place where the name described exactly what it was like to be there, this is the place.

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill Kentucky

Coming the weekend of August 6 and 7, Shaker Village will host their 16th annual fine juried craft fair, where over 60 artisans will present their wares, from contemporary crafts to the crafts of early America.  Like the potters of old, I will be hauling as much of my redware pots as my wagon will hold and be displaying and selling to all who will take time to visit.  I just unloaded a kiln this morning and will be bringing some new items never seen before.  Here’s a peek at 3 small pieces that I thought came out rather charming.



$20 ea 

Please come and visit and see lots of other new pieces in the style of 18th and 19th century redware.

Next to my booth, I am pleased to say is my friend Lydia Allen of Peace Works, creating wool appliqué works also in the style of early America.  Her work is impeccable and must be seen (and you will want to touch) to be fully appreciated.

This is a special wall hanging that samples a lot of Lydia’s technique.  You will have to stop by to hear the special inspirational story behind this piece.

So, please come and visit Bee Tree Pottery, Peace Works, and Pleasant Hill.   I’m feeling calmer just thinking about it.

For more info


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Harmony, simplicity and me

The one thing I can tell you about me is I like things simple.   The world has become so complex that I think sometimes it is  needless complexity.  For example, I would rather double dig the garden than get the tiller going.  I know it is more work, but it is quiet and physically satisfying.    I know this sounds as if I’m off the path of pottery, but it is this basic philosophy that draws me to the 19th c.  Harmonist potter, Christoph Weber.  His forms are simple, quiet and physically satisfying.   I just unloaded from the kiln some pots inspired by Harmonist pieces and thought I would share them.

As one can see, the redware grabs your attention in an unassuming warm way.  Kind of like the colors coming from the warmth of the hearth.  Both, I believe, do something to calm the human spirit.  Weber’s use of slip squiggles is playful and not overdone; teaming them with black or brown banding is just the right touch for quiet, balanced and simple decoration.

The large bowl above is grounded with brown clay on the interior that gives it depth and a physically strong appearance.   I am told that the Harmonists would use these bowls as solar collectors to proof the bread dough.  Does it get any more simple than that?  As I review Weber’s pieces, I am always reminded to not forget the beauty of harmony, simplicity and how it effects me.   I wish you harmony in all you do today.

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Can you say “sesquicentennial”?

The town of St. Meinrad  Indiana is not only saying it but they are celebrating it!   150 years of well deserved celebration will be enjoyed on June 5, and June 9-12.    A list of events can be obtained at the St. Meinrad celebration website. 


I am very excited about being asked to display my pieces at the St. Meinrad Archabbey Library Gallery along with Ferdinand quilter, Jane Potter. (yes, Potter is the quilter, not the potter)  This exhibit will be up through July 13th, so if you get a chance, do some celebrating and then head to the library for some quiet, cool reflection.   Even if you can’t say sesquicentennial, you’ll be able to experience it.   Congrats to St. Meinrad!!

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With many hearts and hands…

With many hearts and hands, a beautiful plate was created.

On May 13th, I was a guest at Washington Catholic Elementary School for their 4th grade Pioneer Day.  I have to say it is great fun for the children and for the guests.  My pleasure was teaching about early American redware pottery from garden to table.   We all then decorated a redware plate with a heart of the children’s choice in the sgraffito technique of the period.  I was so pleased with their concentration and effort at the time; but as every potter knows, the proof is in the puddin’, er,  kiln opening, and I must say,

“Many hearts and hands made one beautiful plate!”

Thank you to all of my many apprentices!



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Liberty or Death


Can you imagine living by this credo?

The founders of this country did.   The brave acts performed are beyond comprehension.


This coming weekend in Vincennes Indiana, you will be able to feel what a colonist felt during the revolution; from the battles, to the music, to clothing, to items needed for household and basic living. It will all be on display for your enjoyment and education at The Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous.   I will be there demonstrating the craft of sgraffito decoration on redware pottery.  Please stop by and visit, grab a turkey leg for lunch and enjoy a little period entertainment.  It’s all fun.  Be aware though, you may be mustered in to the militia.            

Do you believe in Liberty or Death?


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