offcntr: (be right back)
It's the last weekend before Saturday Market. The van is loaded, inventory done, the pots for my next glazing cycle are dry, bisque fires starting. What better excuse to run away for a couple of days?

I may have mentioned that my wife, Denise, is also a craft artist; she makes handmade paper and hand bound books, which she sells through Saturday Market as Pulp Romances. We sometimes play in each others' playground: she'll glaze empty bowls or make small ceramic pieces. I'll pull paper and experiment with different bookbinding techniques. And this weekend, we got to play in someone else's playground.

Heather Fortner is a printmaker based--for a little while yet--in Toledo, Oregon, just east of Newport. She's in the process of retiring to Mexico, and was offering a farewell workshop in Gelli printmaking.

Gelli plates are soft, flexible printmaking plates, that you ink up, and then place various resists--pressed leaves, cheesecloth, paper stencils, feathers--on top, before you lay on your paper, burnish, and pull off a print. You can then re-ink the plate in a contrasting or complementary color, lay down different stencils and pull a second color onto the print, a third, even fourth. There are ways to pull prints from residual ink on the plate, ways to create textures in the ink layer before printing, just a whole bunch of different ways to manipulate the image.

It's essentially mono print, but on a flexible, forgiving substrate. The process was lovely but challenging, especially as we were using acrylic inks, which dry fast, so you had to commit to your design, or see it sitting dry on the plate.

This is my workstation at starting. On the right, you sell the clear plate and ink brayer (roller), top and left, leaves to use as stencils, and bottom left, tubes of printers ink. I started with cobalt blue (of course), cadmium red and titanium white. The first print I did was two-color, in red and blue using the Japanese sea weed. Worked pretty well (see below, left), though I quickly found I needed to move my table out of the sun, as the ink was drying too fast in that corner.

I also quickly got too engaged in the process to remember to take photos, so I have no process shots at all, not even of Denise working (though here's one of her cleaning off her gelli plate). She did some things I didn't, like overprinting on text blocks, and pulling second prints from dried ink residue. (As in the top left and bottom right prints, below.)

All in all, she made a lot of prints...

But then, so did I.

I also found myself being called in to consult on color choices, not just by Denise and Hope, but by Heather, who said I had the best color sense she'd seen in a while, and invited me to help some of the other students choose color blends to overprint on their pieces.

All in all, a very satisfying day's workshop. But we didn't buy a plate to take home. God knows we don't need another art hobby...

Cry wolf

Mar. 14th, 2019 01:11 pm
offcntr: (live 2)

Linda Williams is a colleague at Club Mud who builds beautiful wall-mounted face-vases. Beautifully serene humans, cats in several sizes, even a grizzly bear, pressed from slab into molds she's made from her original sculptures. This year, she's adding some canines: a coyote, and this rather enormous grey wolf, here in its first pressing.

Show time

Mar. 9th, 2019 03:10 pm
offcntr: (live 1)
My friend Shelly has a show!

It's called Singing the Animal, Singing the Earth, and it's at Maude Kerns Art Center, 1910 E. 15th Ave., Eugene through March 22. Featured are drawings and sculptures by Chris St. John, as well as her brilliant animal sculptures, including this happy boi!

offcntr: (Default)
Skimming my Dreamwidth Reading list tonight, and conuly had a link to an interesting Atlas Obscura article on ceramic repairs through history. I've done a bunch of them over the years, most recently a decorative earthenware tile that I reassembled with the help of white glue, spackle, acrylic paint and gel medium.

My most cherished fix-it piece is this one, knocked off a table by cats, reassembled with epoxy and copper epoxy putty, with an appearance not unlike the kintsugi (gold powder and lacquer) repairs described in the Atlas article.

I've always loved this piece, which I bought on an undergraduate pottery class trip to Warren Mackenzie's studio in Stillwater. It's an unusual piece--I don't know that he did that much with porcelain--with a really nice celadon glaze splashed with a blue ash glaze and Mashiko stone. It's particularly precious to me now, as Warren passed away just before New Years.
offcntr: (Default)
Came across this on the Futility Closet website recently: a house made entirely of fired clay.

Very cool, but I wouldn't want to try and hang a picture in it.
offcntr: (bunbear)
You remember Harriet? Hamster heroine, riding into adventure on her bold battle quail, Mumfrey? The sculpture I exploded, rebuilt, and completed just in time for Ceramic Showcase?

Here she is on her way to her new home. That's Dan Chen, by the way. Multi-talented painter, sculptor, pastel and printmaker. He's kinda famous around here, and I've admired his work for years.

In fact, when we bought our house back in 2000, one of the first things we got for ourselves, a housewarming present if you will, was an enormous pastel of a ringneck pheasant, to hang above the fireplace. It's still there, one of our prize possessions.

So selling him one of my pieces feels a little like selling a rough sketch to, oh, Picasso.

But I guess it's a fair trade. I got the pheasant; he gets the quail.
offcntr: (window bear)
A few weeks ago, Saturday Market management asked if I'd be willing to talk to reporter from the Eugene Register-Guard. They'd done an article for opening weekend featuring new vendors; now they wanted to interview established folk. Old timers.

I'm always willing to open my mouth, so I said, "Sure!" Was a little intimidated when I heard the company I'd be keeping: the other three vendors had all been members of Market for at least 30 years, one of them over 40. At 25 years in the booth, I was the baby of the lot. (Also the only guy. Not sure what that signifies.)

Interview day was a cold, grey morning. Not a lot of customers, not the best day to show off a vibrant marketplace. Photographer Colin Anderson arrived first, shot a few pics of me in front of the booth. In deference to the gravity of the occasion, I did not have a teddy bear in my hands, though I was tempted. Reporter Christian Wihtol arrived a little later, asked a bunch of very good questions, called later in the week to follow up and check his notes. Came back again the following Saturday to talk to customers and fill any gaps in his information. Said the story would print sometime in early June.

Well, the story came out yesterday, in the Blue Chip, the RG's local business supplement. And it was actually stories; they wrote a feature about each of us. Colleen Bauman of Dana's Cheesecake got the cover story, but I got the center spread. And for the first time in my experiences with journalism, he got everything right. No misquotes, misunderstandings, no bending what I said to fit a preconceived agenda. I'm impressed.

The other stories seemed just as good, as far as I can tell. I've linked to all of them, below.

Dana's Cheesecake (Colleen Bauman)

Screenprinter Diane McWhorter

Designs by Dru (Dru Marchbanks)

And, of course, Off Center Ceramics (me)


May. 16th, 2018 11:12 am
offcntr: (Default)
I went to Denise's Book Arts Group meeting last night, because the topic sounded like a lot of fun: Artist Trading Cards.

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) were first proposed by Swiss artist M. Vänçi Stirnemann in 1997. They're a non-commercial, collaborative art project wherein individual artists make small artworks, not to sell, but to swap, like a potlatch, or the early days of baseball card collecting. (Not unlike baseball cards, they've also gone commercial, with "Art Cards, Editions and Originals" (ACEOs) now selling on Etsy and online auction sites.) Designed to fit standard collector card sleeve (3.5 x 2.5"), they can be collaged, drawn, painted, stamped. Possibilities are endless.

I took along brush and ink, of course, both black china and a homemade brown ink we cooked from black walnut hulls. Also my watercolor kit and a couple of bamboo pens I'd made while preparing handles for the brush making workshop. Denise took handmade paper, glue stick and a collection of rubber stamps.

Results? Denise's... Then mine. And then the ones I traded mine for, at the end of the meeting.

offcntr: (radiobear)
I was listening to Verity, the Dr. Who podcast, in the studio yesterday. They were playing an interview with Lalla Ward, the actress who played Romana (second regeneration) back in the Tom Baker era. Turns out that, in addition to acting, she's a textile and ceramic artist.

A few minutes with Google Images turned up her husband's Flickr account, featuring photos of both her fabric work and the series of plates and bowls she glazed/decorated for a fundraiser for Galapagos conservation. The mockingbirds are striking and graphic, and the frigate bird isn't half bad either.
offcntr: (rocket)
Many years ago, I taught for a couple of summers at a camp in Connecticut called Buck's Rock. They were a pretty amazing place, focussing on visual and performing arts. Performance options included band, orchestra, choir; drama and clowning; there was a radio station and a computer shop. They had a garden, and a farm--complete with a pregnant heifer, guaranteed to calve sometime during the session. They had shops for silkscreen, batik, fibers; intaglio and letterpress printing; painting, drawing, sculpting (with bronze casting), woodworking, ceramics, and hot glass.

Let me repeat that, for emphasis. They had glassblowing for 8 to 17-year-olds.

I was in ceramics, of course, shop head my second year. But I played around. I joined the choir for the first half of the summer, making up the entirety of the tenor section. Batiked a bandana in pattern of holsteins on fields of green. Printed some cards on the letterpress, using a block I made from bisqued clay. And I wanted to try glassblowing.

wanted to try glassblowing.

The shop only had two adult counselors (plus a seventeen-year-old junior counselor and a couple of fourteen-year-old counselors-in-training), with two work-stations--bench, glory hole, marveling table--so it was more-or-less in constant use by the campers, JC and CIT's. While all the rest of the counselors looked on with longing.

Gus and Steve were saints. After working all day teaching kids and adolescents, and keeping them from setting themselves on fire, they came back to the shop after put-to-bed to do their own work. They didn't have to offer lessons to the rest of us at night, but they did. What with the level of demand, we basically got one chance per summer. My first year, I brought home a shot glass. The second year, I made a little squared-globe vase about the size of a baseball.

Glass-blowing was equal parts familiar and foreign, fascinating and terrifying. I very quickly noted similarities to throwing. Heat was analogous to moisture: wet(hot) objects are softer; dry(chill) your piece to make it firmer. You rotate your piece to address all parts uniformly, though the axis of rotation is horizontal, not vertical. Apply and remove force gradually, no abrupt changes. And gravity is always the enemy.

On the other hand, you rotate the piece back and forth, unlike on the wheel. And you form your pot from the inside, with air pressure, then turn it upside down on the punty to shape and finished the lip.

Now fast-forward 26 years.

Denise and I have a tradition, for Valentines Day: we do an art project. We've made mono prints and woodcuts, bound books and made tiles and pulled paper. This year, we blew glass.

Valentines Day was really awkwardly timed this year. February 14 also happened to be Ash Wednesday, so chocolate and fancy dinner were kinda out. The following weekend had a federal holiday, though. Presidents Day gave Denise a three-day weekend, so we went down to the coast for the weekend.

The weather was terrible: rain, sleet, even snow. So we looked for things to do indoors: galleries, bead stores, the aquarium. And I found a glass studio that offered lessons.

Oregon Coast Glassworks is located just as you enter Newport on US 20 from Corvallis. It's an unassuming little blue shed-like structure, with gallery in front, hot shop in back that's about the same size as at Buck's Rock, space for two people blowing, with a little extra room for spectators.

We arrived right at opening Saturday, and got lucky. You normally need a reservation, but they hustled us in before their first scheduled lessons. We each chose a form to make, and a color scheme. The teachers did the initial gather, then showed us how to pick up the bits of colored glass on the marver. We held the pipe and glass in the glory hole, rotating back and forth until it was well melted, twisted the glass on the table, introducing a spiral to the colored bits. The very tip of the gather was pinched off, leaving a bright marble in the scrap bucket, then additional eddies were introduced by twisting the surface with needle-nosed pliers. After another trip to the glory hole, the glass is forced away from the pipe by the edge of the table, then rounded off in the block, a water-soaked wooden cup.

The instructor introduced the first bubble, a quick puff of air trapped in the blowpipe by their thumb on the mouthpiece. Expansion of the air by heat forces it out into the glass. Afterwards, they attached a hose to the mouthpiece, allowing us to inflate the glass while they slowly rotated the pipe to keep the piece on center.

Lastly, the instructor chills the glass at the end of the pipe with a cold file, then separates it with a brisk tap. A dollop of hot glass seals off the end, making a hanging loop (on mine) or a base (for Denise's). Then the piece goes in the annealing oven to slowly cool overnight, for pick-up the next morning.

I didn't get any pictures of Denise working, as I was busy on my own project. Which blew out coming out of the glory hole; apparently the violet opal glass is weaker than the blue and I had too much in one place. A second attempt with a more even distribution of color was much more successful. Denise, bless her, got my phone out to take some pictures, even catching a little bit of video of the pinching and twisting process.

offcntr: (window bear)
Found a great quote in the book I'm reading, Edmund de Waal's The White Road: Journey Into an Obsession. The quote is about a potter he studied with in his teens:

He made pots for use. They had to be cheap enough to drop, he'd say, beautiful enough to keep forever.
offcntr: (live 2)
A few months back, a woman and her two grandsons stopped in at Club Mud to visit. They'd seen a photography show at Maude Kerns, then got permission to look in on us.

Annie Heron was making pots, so gave them a quick demo. I was glazing, so invited them back to watch, painted some animals on pots, even took a couple of requests. As I recall, I did a lion and, I think, a raccoon. I also showed off a few things I'd just finished, and was particularly pleased with, including a nice octopus plate. They were nice kids, interested in art, and I quite enjoyed the visit.

About a week ago, Maudes' education director Tanna dropped in to show me their thank you note. With enclosed artwork.

What do you think? I think I need to look into hiring apprentice decorators…
offcntr: (snoozin')
One of the drawbacks of being a potter, especially one who buys other people's pottery as well, is finding room for it all. A few years back, I happened upon a nice little four-shelf thing, about 3 inches deep, that was perfect for unomi, handle-less cups and tea bowls.

Most of my cups are bigger, though, and a cheap commercial mug rack wasn't up to the task of holding oversized or odd-handled handmade cups.

I jury-rigged one from brass hooks and wood scrap, but it didn't hold nearly enough, so last week I took a day off from the studio to throw together something better. It's made from hemlock 1x5's I got at Mike's Bargain Lumber, and a whole bunch of 1-5/8" self tapping screws. Holds fifteen mugs and another bunch of unomi along the top.

Only another fifty or so yet to display...

Wren fair

May. 1st, 2016 09:36 am
offcntr: (spacebear)
Denise and I have both admired Babette Harvey's intricate animal themed sculptures for years.

This year, she decided to do something about it. She'd gotten a birthday check from her Mom earlier this week. Normally, we'd put it aside for unexpected bills, but for a pleasant change, we're actually pretty stable at the moment. So Denise decided to treat herself.

She didn't go for one of the big pieces--we're not that well-off--but a smaller piece featuring bird and (of course) books.

Denise reads omnivorously, writes obsessively, and makes handbound books. Hence, the only possible choice: Wren Journal.

Small gem

Apr. 30th, 2016 07:25 pm
offcntr: (spacebear)
Day two of Showcase, and Denise goes out hunting. Only a few booths down, Hannah Traynham has her exquisite swirling, pierced and wood-fired vessels... and a small collection of equally perfect, swirling porcelain tea bowls. She shows me her small gem and I can only say Why didn't I find that first?
offcntr: (spacebear)
So last November, at Clayfolk, I commissioned a tumbler from Linda Heisserman, with carved porcelain salmon and her signature blue celadon glaze. She made no promises as to when she'd get to it, and to tell the truth, I'd kinda forgotten about it until yesterday, when she gave me this.

Isn't it beautiful? And she traded me for a whooping crane tall mug. So we're both happy.
offcntr: (bella)
Heard a nice story today at Market. A woman stopped in to look at the work, and was inspired to tell a story from her childhood. She was a fussy eater, you see, difficult kid, but her babysitter had a solution to that problem.

If you finish your soup, you get to see the bird in the bottom of your bowl. The dishes all had birds and animals on them, so little miss fussy wouldn't knew which she'd gotten unless and until she finished her food. Cleaned her plate. It worked, too.

They weren't my bowls, she said--mine are much nicer--but seeing the pictures immediately threw her back to childhood. I admit, we both misted up a tiny bit.

So that's my answer to the folks who complain that they can't see the pattern when using the dish. It's just to encourage you to clean your plate.
offcntr: (maggie)
Merry Christmas! We're celebrating quietly at home, which is why I can take the time to show all our handmade ceramic Christmas ornaments. Because our ornaments tend to be on the heavy side, we default to sturdy little trees with stiff branches, noble fir usually, though this year we were introduced to a new variety, the Nordmann fir.

Many of our ornaments were made at the UO Craft Center, back when I taught a one-session Porcelain Ornaments class. Here's a few. (Yes, they were mostly from cookie cutters.)

A few are things we used to make and sell at Off Center Ceramics.

Some we've bought over the years. These four are all by Barb Haddad.

And a lot of them are gifts from friends, potters, over the years.

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday!
offcntr: (bella)
When I go to Clayfolk, I usually bring back a small piece of pottery, something that speaks to me; this year, it was a small plate, colored porcelain inlay, by Carole Paquin. But then I saw this:

and was totally entranced. It's by Lorene Senesac, one of her series of small, beautifully detailed portals, windows and doors on a fantastic other world. I fell in love with it immediately, but couldn't bring myself to spend the money, even though we were doing extremely well.

Enter Denise, who had no such qualms. She talked to Lorene and arranged to get it for me as an early 25th anniversary present. It now hangs on the wall next to my side of the bed, where I can see it every morning when the lightbox comes on.
offcntr: (rocket)
The original post of Other People's Treasures featured a clever bit of coding that allowed you to hold the mouse over each pot and see who the potter was (you can still see it here.) It took me days to figure out, and I am not gonna try and reproduce it here.
So, for the record, the pots on the shelf are by:
Top shelf: Dan Minard, James Tingey, Tea Duong, Jon King, Kathy Lee.
Second shelf: Richey Bellinger, Peter Meyer, Faye Nakamura, Karen Washburn.
Third shelf: Kathy Lee, Kathy Lee, Ron Linn, Michiyo Goble, Michiyo Goble.
Fourth shelf: All by Peppi Melick.
Bottom shelf: Michael Simon, me (undergrad), me again (grad school), Dennis Meiners.

Oh, by the way, the collection keeps changing. I just looked at the rack, and it now contains 24 cups, three of which are mine...

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