31 December 2010

Were You Exposed to Craft Theory as an Undergraduate Art Student?

I have posted a polled question on the right side of my blog. I am trying to gather information on how many undergraduate art students are exposed to craft theory. I am interested in gathering poll data, but please leave comments under this thread too.

When I refer to "craft theory" I am not simply referring to craft as related to art, or the classic "is craft art?" argument. This seems to be constantly discussed and argued within academia. Instead I mean the study and relationship of craft within the context of society, industry, design, and yes... art too.

07 December 2010

Approaching Ceramics Criticism

I will be starting to post links to ceramics criticism and reviews under the page heading "Ceramics Criticism and Review Links" at the top of the page, as I come across them... few and far between as they seem.

06 September 2010

Published Essays by Rob Barnard

Rob Barnard has a great collection of essays spanning the last twenty-five years. They encompase a number of topics which he has categorized them by: "Use," "Tradition-Is There Room For It In The Future?" "The Modern Crafts Establishment," etc... Thoughtful writings which I highly recommend, and a great website in general:


02 September 2010

The Smithsonian Institution's "Archives of American Art"

The Smithsonian Institution has a great resource called the "Archives of American Art." On their website is a link to their “Oral History Interviews” which has interviews with prominent arts and craftspersons in a written transcript form. It is a great resource and the first place that I read about Warren McKenzie. There are interviews with Val Cushing, Jun Kaneko, Kurt Weiser, Charles Furgus Binns, Beatrice Wood... the list goes on and on. I have provided a link below, or find it later in my “Podcasts and Conversations” page:


31 August 2010

BFA Show

I am finally documenting my BFA show pieces... now that I have my photo booth set up permanently, it will be easier to tweak the setup and at last get good shots of my work. Now I just have to eliminate user error from the shooting process.

These are far from perfect shots, but I am starting to understand the process. For whatever reason, even after custom setting the white-balance, the shots seem to have a pink hue... working on that issue.

26 August 2010

Lectures on Ceramics and Craft

I have added a new page to my blog, "Podcasts and Conversations." As you may guess, I have begun collecting the links of websites which host lectures, podcasts, articles, etc... which contribute to the field of ceramics, clay, and craft.

As my second and newest addition, I added a link to the Museum of Contemporary Craft. It has a great collection of podcasts which span 2007-present. They are diverse and engaging and include such lecturer's/writers as Garth Clark and Glenn Adamson... well known in the ceramics community, but also so many more.  Anyway, most are worth a listen. Enjoy:


19 August 2010

Kiln Plans Revised

So after taking into consideration comments from the ClayArt community, I have begun to make changes on my design. As you will see, the step-grate portion of the firebox has been extended further, and dropped lower. Now there is a clearly defined step up where the pottery can be stacked.

Still a work in progress... but it feels like I am getting closer to a sound kiln design. I will be adding mouse holes below the noborigama's side stoke grates, and reconsidering the height of each of the two steps up inside the kiln. Although it is smaller than most kilns of similar characteristics and design, I don't think that translates into short steps. I will see what I find out through more digging...

13 August 2010

Kiln Plan: Noborigama with Extended Firebox and Step-grate

So here are the plans for my Noborigama which features an extended firebox and step-grate system. I am expecting the extended firebox to act similar to a train kiln, depositing a lot of ash on the pottery and other clay work, while the chamber behind the firebox should have minimal ash. It will be constructed out of large, industrial, rotary kiln brick and standard high duty firebrick.

After reading Dick Lehman's article "An Approach To Long Woodfire" I was sure that I wanted to build in the "step-grate" system he mentioned. The nearly four feet of stepping grate (which has mouse holes coming underneath it... maybe gopher holes would be more appropriate in this case) should allow me the option of stuffing the firebox with wood and very slowly firing accumulating ash for a few days before really kicking off the firing. 

The last picture shows the kiln with its side cut off to better show the step grate... I may even add one more row of brick to the length of the firebox, extending the top step. This would add another 8" roughly to the firebox.

The design needs a little bit of tweeking and dimension checking, but is nearly ready to go. 

28 July 2010

My Glaring New Ceramics Studio

Well... here is the gleaming, glaring new ceramics studio. It is nearly complete in all of its fluorescent glory. Now that the white boards are up, I have hardly any excuse to not be producing work. I was hoping to be completed with everything by now, but nothing ever goes so smoothly as we plan and I have to pour the plaster for the wedging/drying table and put up racks for the ware boards.... back to it.

22 July 2010

A Studio To Call My Own

Beautiful, shining, blinding fluorescent lights... ahhhh. This is the current state of my cavern studio, I mean ceramics studio. It looks like there would be more to the left, but nope, just a wall. The throwing wheel was a lucky find and was actually free, but needs a seat. Straight ahead is my wedging table (with a sink directly ahead of it), and to the right is a table for hand building, storing clay and tools and displaying my most motivational work (only old, old, old crap up there right now).

Because I am in a basement and have minimal lighting, I will be backing the whole "L" shaped work space with white, gloss finished board which should reflect some of the light back and make it brighter, but also provide a huge surface to design pots on with dry-erase markers.

A kick wheel would not have been my first choice... but it gets me working again at no expense, and soon enough I will have a electric wheel to add to the space. The last couple of things to do are make a plaster drying table and set up a permanent photo booth, both of which should be done by the end of the week. I am excited to get working again and will post pictures of the finished space.

25 February 2010

New Porcelain Bowl Design

This is a new bowl design that came out of my last cone 10 reduction firing. The outside is a shino which I wax resisted over the markings.

23 February 2010

Successful Firing...Relief

This is a picture of the successful firing of the pieces shown in the previous post. As there are so many pieces, I have posted a group photo and two of my favorite pieces. The intention was to keep the pieces more orange than not, to really contrast against the running ash glaze, but despite my efforts, I still had one piece that carbon trapped considerably (as posted in first individual picture). Surprisingly, I really liked it and now wish that I had a bit more carbon trapping on each piece... the second individual picture is a good example of what I will attempt to get in following firings.

The pieces are all thrown and altered porcelain, fired to cone 10 in reduction. They have been glazed with a carbon trap shino, and then the top portion coated heavily with an ash glaze. 

18 February 2010

Commissioned Porcelain Vessels, and Extras

The ten bellied, porcelain vessels on the left are pieces commissioned for a banquet that have yet to be fired. Unlike previous, similar, pieces these were created from a single thrown cylinder. Previously my ceramic vessels with elongated necks were done in two parts. The body of the form being done separately from the neck. I have finally refined the process such that smaller forms (between 12-16" tall) can be done from a single piece, making the whole process more successful and enjoyable. 

The three pieces to the right are a continued exploration of forms. The smallest bottle will be added to my epoxied body of work.

12 February 2010

BFA Exhibition at the Third Street Gallery!!

This is the postcard for my B.F.A. exhibition. The exhibition will be at the Third Street Gallery in Grand Forks, North Dakota, March 25th - April 16th. The opening is March 25th at 7pm-9pm. As in the photo, the show will present my epoxied work.

Oops...Another wood-fired work from the last firing

21 January 2010

Woodfired pottery and sculptural vessels

These are some of the pots that came out of the latest wood firing in the Manabigama at the University of North Dakota. I was excited to see the results as we chose to do a few things differently this firing, single firing most of the work but also changing how tightly the kiln was packed.

Previously we had used shelves from through the whole kiln, squeezing larger pieces into the front or between the stacks of shelves. This time we left the whole front half of the kiln free to fill with larger pieces, with the obvious result of better ash distribution.

For those that don't know anything about the Manabigama, designed and built by John Theis and Bill Van Guilder, it has an incredible amount of draw and can hit cone 13 really fast (in as few as eight hours). Having fired it a number of times with a hard cone 13 in front and as low as a cone 8 in the back, we started looking at ways to keep an even temperature throughout the firing but also slow the firing down to develop more ash.

To achieve this, we put four bricks into the exit flues and opened only four to eight of the primary air holes throughout the various stages of firing... relatively few considering the twenty that are able to be opened up. The firing ended up being sixteen hours (with a four hour preheat) and fired up to temperature nearly evenly the whole time, reaching between a cone 10 to cone 11. We are finally starting to utilize all the variables of the kiln and it is a real pleasure to fire as a student, especially as I see these kilns popping up all over the country.

07 January 2010

Unfired Porcelain, Oiled and Lacquered... That's Right

There is so much to say about these ceramic pieces... for now I will just say explain what I have done. The pottery is made with with Continental Clay's Grolleg Porcelain. My choice of porcelain allows me to refine the surfaces but also suits my throwing style.

After the pieces are bone dry, I soak them for a number of days in motor oil. After this stage, I allow the surface to dry for a number of days before applying the lacquer.

I am currently using a spray lacquer for the outside and pouring lacquer on the inside, but will be going to a two part epoxy once I have nailed the process as it is a bit more complicated but allows me a thicker and more durable finish.