Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"E" Is For Excellent!

So Cal Potters was recently rated "E" for Excelent by another blogger, Dorlana of Supernatural Fairy Tales. Part of accepting this award is you have to pass it on to ten of your favorite blogs. So here they are...
Colorado Art Studio, The Fawnskin Flyer, Eco-Friendly Life & Toys, One Black Bird, magentaRaves, The Pondering Potter
Life, Art & More, Recycled Clay Blog, Potters Blog, Imagination Box Co.
All great blogs with lots of information on different subjects, check them out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today Is Earth Day!

The first Earth Day was in 1970. Since then we have seen ever increasing evidence of the need to care for our environment, to care for Mother Earth. We must all do our part, whatever we can in our daily lives to help our planet. We as artists can encourage people to lower their carbon footprint by purchasing locally handmade functional ware, YOURS!
Encourage your customers and collectors to buy locally, there is even a whole movement around this concept and a term "Locavore" it's all about buying locally grown food to help reduce greenhouse gasses and buying locally made functional ware instead of something made in a far off place that has a heavy cost on our environment.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Need To Be Green

More and more you hear about people wanting to be green, green homes, green workplaces, green practices. One of the first posts I did here on So Cal Potters was about what we as ceramic artists can do to make our studios eco friendly and I have continued to scour the Internet for more information. While inherently not the most eco-friendly of the arts there are many things you can do to make a difference, to be Green Potter!
Keep Your Studio Clean! ~ Keeping your studio clean is one of the easiest things you can do to be eco friendly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and regular wet mopping; this will eliminate the danger of airborne silica dust. Don’t use running water, use separate buckets for clay washing and glaze washing. Many people will recycle the glaze collected in this manner; then test it to see how it looks. You never know, you just may end up with something interesting! But you will never be able to reproduce it. You can also siphon off the water from the clay bucket, strain it then use as slip.
Energy Use ~ Go Solar! You can utilize solar panels to power your studio and kiln. Many states offer subsidizes and rebates to users of solar power. If you are worried about losing power or not being able to generate enough at times if you live in a stormy area, most people who go solar remain “on grid” connected to the power grid just in case. You can also purchase carbon offsets from power companies in some areas that may help you feel better about your energy consumption. Many potters’ studios are at their homes; by not commuting to work you are not contributing to air pollution, another way we offset our carbon output. The heat generated by your kiln can also be “reused” to heat your studio and/or house in the winter
Reuse & Recycle! ~ Always recycle your clay! I know a lot of potters don’t like to, but it saves money and the environment. Keep a barrel of cast-offs and trimmings to be reclaimed later. If you want to be real anal about it use different containers for different clays. Or just throw it all in one container, wedge it up and see what you get! Bisque items that don’t fit the bill can be ground up and used to add texture to soft clay. If you have glazed pieces that come out cracked, break or you simply don’t like, collect them and offer to a mosaic artist who can turn your discards into art. Even if you don’t and discard them they aren’t toxic and therefore will not hurt the environment, bury them in the yard for someone to discover in the future!
Old Stuff ~ New Tools ~ I love going to garage sales, searching thru other peoples cast-offs for interesting pieces to use for adding textures. Try it, go to a garage sale and look at things just for that purpose. Think, “Can I make a tool out of this?” Old credit cards make great ribs. You can also cut them to make ridges etc.
The Handmade Movement ~ Promote your work as an environmental alternative. By purchasing locally made functional ware your customers are offsetting carbon emissions that it takes to ship items from across the country or overseas.
Shipping ~ Make sure that the materials you use to pack you work are all biodegradable or reused. Those pesky plastic bags from the grocery store work great for packing. Save packing materials from anything shipped to you, reuse them later to ship your products.

These are just a few of the things we can do in our everyday life in the studio to be eco friendly. If you have any thoughts or ideas, please share them! Look for "The Green Potter" logo, I will be placing it in one of the outside columns to post new eco-tips!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ink And Clay

Karen Sullivan sent allong some images from the annual competition "Ink & Clay ~ established in 1971, of prints and drawings; ceramic ware and clay sculpture sponsored by the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The hours for the gallery are
Tue-Fri 11am-4pm
Sat 12-4
Be sure to check it out!

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

xenovision ~ Christopher M. Gaston

"Some artists paint. Some work in metal or clay or whatever. xenovision, just won't fit into any of those slots. "I", he says, "am here to expand, explore, and create." For him that means, simply, anything and everything to do with art and creativity." This is from the intro on Christopher M Gaston's, also known as xenovision's website. I became online friends with him through the social network "Tribe" and have always been intrigued by his work, not only in ceramics but in all that he does. So when I decided to ask if he would be interested in an interview, and he said yes I was very excited! Given that he is a man of many interests his ceramic work is kept to distinct sessions at various times of the year, then he leaves it behind and moves on to other work, other mediums. His ceramic art is done in series with names like "Atomic Spirits" and "Ceramics from the Abyss". In reviewing his website while preparing for this interview I have grown to admire the man, the artist even more. His creativity is at a place I would like mine to be one day.
Why clay? One word- Durability, clay seems to last a long long time. So, I like to imagine where each of my ceramic pieces will be in 100 years, a 1,000 and yeah, and even 10,000+ years into the future. This is one of the reasons that I choose clay and that I sign and date each piece to the day it is finished being formed before the bisque. If you take a look at the collections of museums you will see that most of the oldest man made artifacts they have in their possession are of clay & glass. In the past, many of the metal pieces have been melted down for war or for other uses like coins and such, so their original art forms have been destroyed and lost to the value or need of the material. Even stone has been reformed or used for reconstructing something else. But with clay, you can make your mark and your own stone to project your art & heart into the future for others to see and maybe possibly enjoy.
Another reason why clay is that I enjoy mixing the elements, earth, water, fire, and the Human Spirit, bringing them to together to dance the form, then baking the earth to high temperatures up into the white light God. Wow, that`s hot! Fire, Earth and Water is part of our human form and added to this the art of our Human Spirit, this is pure creativity.
What gets you in the mood? Being away from clay, not having touched it for a period of time, like 2 or 3 months at the most, then I will start to get a feeling and want to play with it again. Starting a new clay session for me is an adventure where I dive deep inside, losing sense of time and space, then coming out of it having the excitement of not knowing what will come out from my kilns. I do at the most 3 clay sessions a year.
Do you listen to music when you work? First, of all what I do is not work but play, so when I am playing with clay, I will have a large variety of music, talk, or silence depending on the mood I am in. The talk will be NPR, BBC, or old time radio shows, I`ll even have live NASA TV mixed over the music with the visuals playing on the monitor. My music will be like, mornings of Classical, Baroque, acoustic stuff, moving into the afternoons it`s Jazz, Reggae, Japanese Enka or Miyo and then into early evenings through late nights the party begins playing House, Rap, D&B, Techno/Trance and then a chill down of Ambient. During these Sessions I will be up for 2 or 3 days of exploration. What motivates your work? Like I said, "I don`t work", so it is a way of life for me and I am very fortunate to be gifted and to have a good deal of people around me who enjoy seeing my gifts and wish that what I create will support me and my art enough to allow me to create even more. As a child, I was always told that I am talented in so many things, but I was not doing what I do for the praise, I was doing it for the fun of it and the step back and look at what I made and ask myself, "did I make that" and then laugh!
I have done and still do a wide variety of creativity through my art and what I have found out is that, if I am creating something just to get that money, afterwards I`ll get a bad taste in my mouth and a sick feeling inside, really sick and I want to buy it back and destroy it. But, if I do create something I can feel that I am using my gifts and believe in what I am doing is true and real to me, then that is my true purpose here and this motivates me to do more. So, I guess the answer would be- being thankful and respectful for the gifts which I have been given. Being real to myself and not selling out because I needed some more of that paper.
Who are your favorite artists and why? I am, because there is so much to learn, explore, and create from within myself... What`s that song as a child, "The most important person in the whole wide world is you and you hardly even know you". I'm still just getting started to know the creativity within myself and of my art.
What’s your favorite cuss word? Fa-KU!
What is your favorite pleasure? The feeling of being alive and creating something now! What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice? At my exhibitions I have been asked by many Japanese who are doing ceramics as a hobby and also by students studying ceramics or have just gone independent, which means that they have just set up their studio. I ask the independents, "are you OK?", but really, I would suggest that they experiment and enjoy themselves during their time with clay. Take risks and challenge yourself to make your mark, get fired up and get it fired and show yourself what you can do, then show me & the world if you want. What is your feeling on the artist as activist, Artivism? and the “handmade” movement? Never thought about it, but I guess, an Art`s section with bigger color photos, you know just like the have for the sports section in the newspapers and the same amount of time on the arts just like sports have on the TV news and programs. You mention that your ceramics is done in “sessions” do you stop working with clay in between sessions? Or does it all flow together, ceramics, graphics, photography etc? I am really lucky in that, I have many toys in my play box to choose to play with and that, I can rotate or cycle through them during the period of a year. But to answer your Q. Yes, I do stop clay after a 1 to 2 month session of clay time, then the exhibition phase begins and I will be at my exhibition everyday to meet, greet and talk with every person that has taken the time to come and see my show and thank them. I will not go back into my studio to touch clay for 2 or 3 months. But, while I`m in my studio, yes, I can and do multi-tasking so, I photograph and even video tape myself in my studio while I`m creating, this is done most intensely during peek of my session. Self documentation has always been very important to me. You live in a beautiful setting, how much is your work dependent on it? Or could you create the same in a congested urban setting? I could never create the same anywhere I live, but I could and have created in the city. Living in the country side of Japan, just a skip away from Tokyo, I have more output then input. What I mean is, I have more time for my creativity and more money to invest back into that creativity be it ceramics or what ever I'm into. When I was living in Shibuya, Tokyo, I was exploring a different form of my creativity putting together the magazine, "zavtone" and VJ-ing at night in clubs, but I always found myself wanting to return to my country house and studio to smell the Earth and to just to play with clay or what. When the Tokyo adventure started to feel like work, I came back to my country place. At that time in Tokyo, 1 months rent of my apartment in Shibuya, not including parking, I could live for 3 years renting out at my country palace. So by living in the country, I can invest more in into creating my art.
Be sure to go to his website and take a look. Lots of images to see!

Thank you xenovision!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Potters From Other Places

I am working on some new interviews to post here, the next will be the first in a series of "Potters From Other Places". Check back soon, I will be posting an interview with American born artist living in Japan xenovision. Here is a shot of him at work in his studio in Yasato, Japan

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It's Out: Potter's Best Kept Secret Miracle Bat

Friday, April 4, 2008

Karen Sullivan

Todays interview is with Karen Sullivan. Karen has taught at Pasadena City College, working with Philip Cornelius and also studied at the Claremont Graduate School where she worked with Paul Soldner. She has had many part time teaching jobs around Southern California and values the experience of seeing the variety of studio practices, teaching styles and personalities. “It is amazing how diverse Southern California is, with pockets of communities with specific national identities. One thing I learned is the firing temperature is a major consideration in creating the ceramic surface. A studio firing cone 8 resulted in significantly softer clay and muted glazes”. Karen is currently teaching at Cal Poly Pomona where she has been since 2001. "My work has moved around three themes; handbuilt box forms from stiff slabs, thrown porcelain, and large coil construction. My bouncing around keeps me from being bored."

Why clay?
I was seduced by the touch of the clay. I continue to create things as a challenge of discovering interesting forms and surfaces. The chance to turn my imagination into physical objects that keeps me struggling to develop a voice . I like the transition of clay in response to the fire. The entire process has the opportunity to surprise.
Where do you like to work?
I am happiest in my quiet studio. It allows me to drift into the process of making, where my hands are busy, my thoughts quiet and I let the process guide my actions. What gets you in the mood?
Having enough time to work, which is somewhat rare.
Do you listen to music when you work?
I listen to the radio, often NPR…sometimes to music.
What motivates your work?.
Having the time to work is the biggest motivator. Seeing work that inspires me.
Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ther are several in clay and for different reasons. Volkous and his followers for the gestural use of clay. Ron Myers for his drawing on pots. Artists who use porcelain with a sensitivity to material. A good friend, Doug Louie, who inspires me always.
What’s your favorite cuss word? Crap
What is your favorite pleasure? Making things
What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice?
That the journey is the opportunity to learn about how you express yourself visually. That we all have a personal touch. And that you will have a Hansel and Gretel trail of work that defines who you are. That trail may not be known to many other people…but you will remember and will be enriched by the journey.
What is your feeling on the artist as activist, Artivism? and the “handmade” movement?
I teach and think of the work as my opportunity to share and inform my students. I value the handmade and think of the expression that comes from the hand as a powerful force of the human condition and our history. And has always been.

Thank You Karen!

Philip Cornelius At Fullerton College

Ceramic Artist Karen Sullivan just sent me some info to share.
Philip Cornelius is the Artist in Residence At Fullerton College, on Chapman Ave in Fullerton this week. Phil will be conducting demonstrations all week and has a great show in their gallery. The show is a retrospective of his work.
Last month in our visit to the Fred Marer Collection I had the privilege of holding and examining one of his "thin ware cups". They are amazing, porcelain so thin they glow when held up to the light and incredibly lightweight as well. Phil is a fixture in the ceramics world here in Southern California. He has been conducting demonstrations all week and has a great show at their gallery....
Another event is the Ink & Clay at Cal Poly Pomona, follow the link for more info
The show opening will be in the gallery Thursday, April 10th, 7-9 pm
An additional event will be a slide Lecture by William Shinn, who participated In the Ink & Clay last year. Mr. Shinn creates vessels with the use of an extruder, I have added some images from the web below. The slide talk will be in Bldg. 13 on Thursday April 10 at 1 pm

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Origin Of The Potters Wheel

This morning I had a thought. What are the origins of the potters wheel? So I looked on Wikipedia which has some great information. Then I found a post on Ceramics Today that is really interesting. It states that there are hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs showing potters at work on the wheel.
The Internet is an amazing thing! So much information available at the click of a mouse.