When Materials Mean Something

Mark Twain said that the American wood stove was more work than a baby…and I agree. A large portion of my day is dedicated to preparing wood and maintaining a fire. The last thing I do before tucking the studio in at night is pack the stove to the seams and chop kindling for the morning. The first thing I do in the morning is chop enough wood to last the day and haul it into the studio to stack.  Chop, haul, stack, stoke, clean, repeat. It really is like a baby…feeding, cleaning, feeding, cleaning. Uhg.

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So why all this work? Why not just install a gas heater and be done with it, right? Ashes. More specifically ash glazes. It’s become my thing, and there really is something to it.

The trick is I’m firing to cone 6-7. Pottery books are full of cone 10 recipes, and honestly ashes don’t need a whole lot of help at cone 10. Wood firing is a great example. It’s essentially a slow accumulation of wood ash fired to 2400 F. It’s beautiful all by itself.  Cone 6 is another story. Ashes need a lot of help at 2240 F. I’m endlessly testing new recipes, which is also more work than a baby.

I could just buy fake ash glazes from the supplier but that feels icky. And empty. I’m looking for more than that.

We think of ashes as being the end of something. We think of them as being all that’s left after something good is gone. But there is a lot left behind. It just needs much more heat and a nice form to hang on. There’s a sense of redemption in the process and I need that. It gives a fullness, a richness, and a history to the materials to where even the materials themselves have meaning. And if we are going to spend our lives doing something it had better mean something.

 

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Valentine’s Day Show Preview

With Valentine’s Day just a week away…

We are happy to announce the opening of our 4th annual V-Day Show!

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New work from Kentucky potter, Amelia Stamps

We have  new work from all of our artists…teapots, platters, serving bowls, lidded jars, keepsake boxes, wine goblets, flower vases, baking dishes, and of course coffee mugs.

Lots of coffee mugs.

We are loaded up on jewelry too…with new designs from Mary Parker and Becky Rosenkrans.

Join us Friday February 7th and Saturday 8th from 11am -6pm

3638 East Mitchell Street in Humboldt, TN

Companion Gallery(731)267-7784

A special thanks to Kristi Woody for the lovely images of our gallery

Fall Open House Preview

Each year we open up a large part of our gallery to our students. Jill and I view this as a time to honor them, applaud their accomplishments, and just say “Thank you”.

Clockwise from Top Left: Bobby McAlexander, Lesley Rickman, Debi Sullivan, and David Blackwood

Student Work…Clockwise from Top Left: Bobby McAlexander, Lesley Rickman, Debi Sullivan, and David Blackwood.

Our students come from all walks of life. Some are new parents, some are grandparents. Some are blowing off steam from the pressures of a new career, while others are building new steam after retirement. We have mommas, teachers, nurses, engineers, doctors, beauticians, carpenters, and railroaders. We have salesmen, seamstresses, dietitians, HR people, and a school principal. All of these folks have carved out a portion of their lives and dedicated it to learning the art of handmade pottery, and we think that’s worth cheering.

Teapot by Heather Blackwood

Teapot by Heather Blackwood

In addition to all of the wonderful student work, we are so proud to introduce 3 new potters to our gallery…Amelia Stamps, Caroline Cercone, and Shadow May.

Porcelain Vase. Amelia Stamps, Lexington KY

Porcelain Vase. Amelia Stamps, Lexington KY

Shino Teapot. Caroline Cercone, Nashville TN

Shino Teapot. Caroline Cercone, Nashville TN

Side-Fired Coffee Mugs. Shadow May, Chattanooga TN

Side-Fired Coffee Mugs. Shadow May, Chattanooga TN

Carved Porcelain Butter Dish. Kelsey Nagy, Jackson TN

Carved Porcelain Butter Dish. Kelsey Nagy, Jackson TN

Of course my own wheel has been humming too….

Large Rectangular Serving Bowl with multiple ash glazes.

Large Rectangular Serving Bowl with multiple ash glazes.

Chip n Dip with lots of glaze...

Chip n Dip with lots of glaze…

Barn Wood Serving Bowl...a personal favorite

Barn Wood Serving Bowl…a personal favorite

Ash Glazed Teapot. Eric Botbyl, Humboldt, TN

Ash Glazed Teapot. Eric Botbyl, Humboldt, TN

As you make plans for this coming weekend, please consider joining us for our 3rd Annual Fall Open House & Student Show.

Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery

3638 East Mitchell St (Behind the Crown Winery)

Humboldt, TN 38343

Friday October 25th  11am-5pm  Reception 6pm-10pm

Saturday October 26th 11am-5pm

Daily updates on our facebook page

Out of town? Check out our Online Store

Busy Season

This summer has flown by. We began the month of June with a full schedule for kids Clay Camp, headed up by our fearless studio assistant, Kelsey Nagy. We also received a pretty hefty wholesale order from our friends at Hallelujah Pottery Gallery in Monteagle, TN. After the whirlwind of getting the order made, fired, glazed, sanded, photographed, packed, and shipped…I was seriously ready for a little R&R.

We received an email the evening the order arrived saying that 90% had sold to a single customer that afternoon…please send more….twice as much…asap. This coincided with a reorder from Nest 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, followed by another.  So…back to work.

As of today my obligations are fulfilled… I’ve got a twinge in my wrist and a knot in my back…and an ache in my chest from pure thankfulness. I get to do this for a living. Looking back on this crazy summer…with kilns blazing and mixers churning and wheels spinning and clay and glaze everywhere…to the quietness of this rainy Friday in September. It worked. We’re still here. The bills are paid. The fridge is full. It’s a good life, and I’m grateful.

The first day of Autumn is this Sunday. Now for the busy season….

First order to Monteagle TN

first order to Monteagle, TN…early summer

Second order to Hallelujah Pottery Gallery in Monteagle, TN

…second order to Hallelujah Pottery Gallery in Monteagle, TN

The ol' Soldner mixer...working overtime

the ol’ Soldner clay mixer…working overtime

wrapping & packing…and packing & wrapping

display at Nest 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, FL
display at Nest 30A in Santa Rosa Beach, FL

new work at Nest 30A

New work at Nest 30A

Thanks!

Studio Open House

Please join us this weekend for our Second Annual Student Show & Fall Open House. Each year we clear out part of the gallery and give our students the props they deserve. This show is our way of honoring our students, celebrating their work, and giving them a chance to show off their skills to family and friends. Click here to check out some of their work. Join us Friday October 19th, noon-10pm & Saturday October 20th, 11-5pm.

Here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to…

Faceted Jugs. Available at Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery

Small Leaf Plate. 2012

Ring Jugs. Palladium glaze. 2012

Leaf Plate. Black slip and Ash glazes. 2012

Wine Steins. Available at Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery

We hope to see you this weekend!