Tuesday, March 25, 2008

That's not Sugar

It's snow! Yeah, that's right, it snowed over night and was still there when I took this picture at breakfast. It was really pretty and pretty wierd since it was so nice on Sunday. Maya, Fletcher and I took bets on how long it would stay. I bet it would be gone from the open fields by 10:30 am, I was right.

The other awesome thing that happened today was that my first pottery teacher, Charlie Tefft came up from Greensboro for a visit. It was great to see him and catch up with him about his teaching, family and pottery. He demonstrated for our class one of his 'wren' pitcher forms. Charlie also brought up some clay that he dug in Greensboro. I'll run it through the tests that we've performed on other wild clays and see how it performs.
I guess I haven't really talked about the focus of this workshop other than the short blurb, but we've dug some local clay to test and the instructors, David Stuempfle and Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish also brought other North Carolina Clays for us to test and use. The first week of the workshop was really focused on figuring out which of the eleven clays we wanted to work with. This involved a series of making test tiles of each of those clay bodies, firing them, then analysing the tiles. Since some clays aren't that easy to use straight out of the ground, we then made blends of the different clays to utilize the different properties unique to each clay to give us a couple good bodies to work with. We want to be sure that the clays we'll use and fire in the wood kilns will be able to withstand high temperatures of the fire as well as be plastic, workable clays that take glazes well.
So, I've got to make some tests of this new clay that Charlie brought and see what it's like. Another material that I'm testing, is a Vermont local clay that came from a clay bed a couple miles from my apartment. I will keep y'all posted on that progress.
We're getting ready for our first wood-firing so that past couple days have been spent glazing. We're also getting ready to make some really big pots with a coiling/throwing technique.
Time for bed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter at Penland

Easter Sunday is a pretty big deal here. About two hundred people from the community show up for lunch and a crazy easter egg hunt. All the studios contribute to make interesting eggs for people to find. They're on display before lunch and then hid by the core students while folks are chowing down.

After lunch everyone gathers, when the blowhorn sounds bedlam breaks out. People (kids, teenagers, and parents, lots of parents) bolt and run around the campus looking for all the eggs.

More bedlam.

This kid is sitting on top of the world. He found the biggest craziest easter egg; it's made of glass.
Then there was Bocce to be played on the llama hill

left to right: Marybeth, Marc, Aaron, Josh and Kirby
Josh and I dominated 11-3.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Working in Sections

This week we started making bigger pots out of sections.
Here we have a ten pound piece of clay turned into a base for a larger form

Next, I throw the top piece. I think this was six pounds of clay. I left enough clay at the rim to make a grove to fit over the rim of the base.

Here the two pieces have been joined and the seam is smoothed over.

Here it is finished the next morning once the cap was done

Week Two?

This second week was titanic. I dug some clay and rode in the back of pickup sitting on the pile of clay. I went to Marshall, NC to see the kiln of our studio assistant, Josh Copus. I threw a couple big pots in sections. Ok, so the following are a bunch of pics I took this week.

This is James Ward, he's my roommate and also in my workshop. He's rad.

This is a klezmer band that two of my instructors are in. This picture is of them practising and us partying. The quality of the picture was compromised by all the dust we were kicking up.

Time is Getting Fast

First of all, I apologize that this blog is not update as regularly as anyone would like, but my schedule is a bit crazy. Here's a sample of a normal day: I wake up around 8:15, get some breakfast and then do some dishes. I head over to the clay studio around 9:30 until lunch time, around 12:15 then do some dishes, then I head back to the studio and hang out there until about 5:30 or 6. Dinner starts at 6:15 and then there's some dishes to do after which I'll head back to the studio until my body tells me it's time to quite, usually midnight, sometimes later.

So now that I've been here for two weeks, I've aclamated to my schedule and I've met most of the people on campus and checked out most of the studios. The first week before all of that was true time was really slow and everyday seemed like a whole week. Now, I feel like the next six weeks are just going to fly on by.

The other thing that's happening is that my southern drawl that I developed while living in Greensboro is returning. Quinn was the first to point this out to me. It's like a old friend that's come back to live in my throat. I keep saying that I'm from Ver-mont, not Vermont; I don't get it, it's totally unvoluntary, I cross the Mason-Dixon and bam! I'm talking like a Haw River hick.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Week One

It's hard to believe I've been here for a week already. When I think about it, it doesn't seem like it's been a week, because things move so quickly. But on the other hand, I've done so much, met so many people that it seems much longer than a week.
Pictured above are the two llamas that live in the paddock in front of the building pictured above right. That building is called the "Pines", I live on the top floor and the cafeteria is on the first floor.

Here are a bunch move building on the campus.

This is the sweet-ass clay studio that I get to hang out in 24/7.

And this is the first ware-board of pieces that I threw.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I made it! After only four hours of driving through the rain I made up to the campus. I did get seriously lost for a little bit in a town called Little Switzerland where I almost hit a turky buzzard that had no intention of getting out of the road. Everything was really foggy and it is super rural here and it was a lot like a creepy movie, like Scarecrow or Cabin Fever.

Anyway I drove up a mountain and found the school which seemed a little deserted, but only the work-study students were arriving then.

I settled in to my bunk room, which resembles an orphanage or a civil war hospital room: it's big in and old attic and has about fourteen beds. I met two of my roomies, who seem pretty great and like we're gonna have some fun. After some beers and whiskey is was time for bed.

And this is what I saw looking out my window the next morning!

Road Trip

I left snowy Vermont directly after voting in the primary and waving to Allison, Sebastian and Dorian who were just getting to the polls.

By the time I hit New Jersey, I was already entering Spring with Canadian geese flying north and grass sprouting up from the groung. I stayed in North Philly with my friends, Marco and Anna; staying up late drinking wine listening to mid-seventies Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk album.

The next day brought me to south Philly to visit another friend, Josh. We had a great visit and some tasty burritos.

Then I drove to D.C. and got royally (or maybe I should say 'presidentially') lost among the retarded city planning in DC and Arlington, VA. I stayed with Davis and Lauren, who graciously put me up, fed me fantastic Vietnamese food, drank me under the table and humored me with some Rock Band.

I drove to Greensboro, NC the following day with a stop in Durham to visit our friends and their new baby boy, Ayers. Sarah and I spent some time in a local park with Ayers who was in a grat mood and we totally bonded. They are so lucky to have such a cute baby. I just tried not to break him. I think I succeeded.

Greensboro is a great place to return to after having been gone for almost four years. Andrew and I had a great time catching up, drinking (you may notice a pattern here) beers and some of his home-brewed mead (smacks of viking). After and nice long sleep I hit the road going west for Penland.

I love having the opportunity to reconnect with friends while driving somewhere. Thanks to all for your couches and hospitality. Another added bonus was the chance to spread the good word of Quinn and mine engagement, people seem to be excited for us, which feels pretty awesome.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

getting ready

Ok, I'm going to Penland. It's two days before I leave so it's time to pack. Here's a picture of just some of my stuff I'll be squeezing into the car.

I will be leaving snowy, snowy Vermont for rainy, rainy, North Carolina.

I will also be leaving my fiancee, Quinn for two months to fend for herself in the frozen north. Sorry about that babe.
Right now and probably until I'm settled in at Penland, I'm kinda nervous about the whole thing. I don't know anybody there, I don't know what my work job is, I don't know where I'm going to sleep. But all that will be answered probably in the first couple hours after I get there. So there's nothing really to be nervous about.

I'm excited for the road trip south. I'll be visiting friends and family and rest stops all down the I95 corridor.