Friday, February 27, 2009

Anagama firing in the land of enchantment, NM

The firing this weekend will take place at my friend Trevor Dunn's anagama located just over the New Mexico border about 40 minutes south of Durango. Trevor has been kind enough to allow some of us to fire in his kiln while he is away studying in the graduate program at USU in Logan, UT. We spent the last few days transporting, glazing and loading pots. It has been about three years since I've had a chance to fire my own pots in an anagama and I'm really looking forward to the whole experience.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Say no to crack[ed pots]

The frowning crack on the pot below says it all. Of the 4 large Onggi style pots I bisque fired (with about a 20 hour candle) exactly 4 of the pots cracked. Between the clay body, speed of drying, application of slip, and coil joining technique, I feel that I can make some changes to fix this problem in the future. If anyone has any advice on a clay recipe that may be up for the rigors of the onggi technique, I'm all ears. Fortunately I have plenty of other pots to fire in the wood kiln this weekend. Went down to the kiln and glazed some pots today and plan to load tomorrow.

A big thanks to my local oak ash supplier, they make the cleanest oak ash this side of the Rio Grande, not to mention a damn good chunk of BBQ'd meat. With the help of the good folks down at Serious Texas BBQ I was able to mix up some ash glaze for the firing this weekend.

Also, a problem of growing concern, someone has gotten their little hands on my camera recently and has been taking some pretty cute self-portraits. I'm on to you mister!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pots and...

Well, as promised, here are a few pictures from the studio of work I've been making lately. I mentioned a few posts back how impressed I've been with the great clay community here in Durango, not only have I gotten plenty of help setting up the studio and with moving larger pots, but they've opened their kiln doors to me as well. Just two months after moving in and I've already fired in my neighbors soda kiln and am now making work for an anagama firing this weekend. The pieces in the images below are of the pots made for the upcoming firing.

The pots below are a traditional Onggi form with a treatment on the rim that I've used quite a bit in the past, I'm pretty happy with the combination.

I mixed up some porcelain slip for a "Sang-gam" technique, known in Japan as "Mishima", and tried out some traditional stamp patterns I picked up in Korea as well as one that I made by cutting off the head of a drywall screw and rolling it on the clay (crosshatch pattern).

Mixed up some stoneware slip to build up some texture on some cups.

These last two images have nothing to do with pottery, but I thought they were interesting, the first is of some kind of wild berries that caught my eye on a recent hike with my son, love the way they jumped out of their surroundings.

The last image is my son's breakfast sandwich this morning, my wife likes to get creative with food and presentation and I thought this one was top notch.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Four hands are better than two

After a few weeks of making Onggi pots in the new studio it has become obvious that I will need to do some serious planning in the future when it comes to moving these big pots around. As you can see in the video post (below) most of the steps for drying and glazing these pots take two people. Fortunately Durango has a generous community of potters and all-around good folks so I've managed to get by for this first round of pots. A BIG thanks to all of you who have helped out: Tyler, Cole, Joe, Dave & Sage.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This is a video that some of you have seen already, I originally posted it on youtube a few months back and thought it was worth another post here on my blog. The time-lapse covers about 2 hours of work.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Back to it

It's been about four months since I made the last pot of my apprenticeship in Ipo-ri, Korea, in that time we've moved to Durango, CO and have been busy setting up home and studio.

While I was able to start making pots on the electric wheel shortly after we moved in, it took a bit longer to get my traditional Korean Onggi kick-wheel set up. The wheel itself is quite simple, just an oversized banding wheel really. In korea the Onggi wheel is traditionally placed in a shallow clay pit (see image below) with the wheel head about level with the floor making it easy to move/access the very large Onggi jars. Unfortunately our new studio didn't have a clay floor, so I had to design and build a bench around the wheel.

I finished the bench early last week and was able to start on some traditional forms.

Despite my fears, I hadn't completely lost all I had learned in Korea. After the third pot I was able to work out most of the kinks and was feeling much better about the forms.

It feels strange to be making theses forms in such a foreign setting back here in the states, I honestly feel like my teacher is standing right next to me watching every move. Although I intend to break away from the traditional forms, I somehow feel a responsibility to make them to the right size and shape at this point, can't quite break the training yet. My first step in breaking tradition will be in the firing of these pots, I plan to fire them in an anagama, I'll be sure to post some photos after the firing.