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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Mother’s Day Preview

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detail pageDetails, Details, Details

DSCN0245Grafted Wine Amphora

DSCN0250Grafted Coffee Mugs…black, white, & red all over

DSCN0260Berry Bowls…its Strawberry season in West Tennessee!

DSCN0261Large Square Bowl

DSCN0262Barn Wood Sushi Plates

DSCN0273Thrown & Altered Gondola

DSCN0281Chip n Dip with Mossy Ash & White

DSCN0285Large Ash Glazed Bowl

DSCN0288Gravy Boats by Kelsey Nagy

DSCN0289Porcelain Bud Vases

DSCN0290Join us for our Mother’s Day Show this weekend…

May 10th & 11th at Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery

3638 East Mitchell  Humboldt, Tn  (behind the Crown Winery)

Friday 10am-9pm There will be live music at the winery from 7-10pm

Saturday 10am-5pm

Winners of the Photo Contest to be announced soon!

New Work

Here is some finished work from the Barn Wood series…

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Grafted Mugs from the Barn Wood series. 4.5″ high.

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Ash Glazed Coffee Mugs

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Black and Barn Wood Mugs. Eric Botbyl 2013

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Grafted Mugs with Eric’s Ash Glaze

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Coffee Mugs with “Mossy Ash” & “Leather Ash” Glazes

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Black and Barn Wood Mugs…Wormwood & Sawmill

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Keepsake Box. 2013

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Barn Wood Keepsake Box

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Keepsake Box with Barn Wood and Ash Glaze

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Barn Wood Bourbon Bowls. Eric Botbyl 2013.

Available at Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery in Humboldt, TN…and online at BourbonandBoots.com

Cheers!

Valentine’s Day Show Preview

Preparing for a show takes a lot of work. There is the obvious…weighing, wedging, making, altering, trimming, handling, back-filling handles, drying, loading, firing, waxing, latexing, slipping, glazing, glazing, glazing, reloading, firing again, grinding, sanding, photographing, emailing photos, addressing postcards, applying hundreds of stamps, pricing, and setting up in the gallery. And that’s really just skimming the surface.

Thankfully I have help. My lovely wife is beyond gifted when it comes to setting up the gallery. And it’s not an afternoon project. Over the course of a week she’ll turn that space upside down, rearrange, and make it new. I’m convinced there’s a bit of magic involved. And on the studio side of things there is Kelsey Nagy, who aside from making her own work, (refer to list above) is essential to the studio running smoothly on a daily basis.

Our Valentine’s show is special because each year we feature Minnesota jeweler, Becky Rosenkrans. Her work is available all year long in the gallery but this weekend we will be overflowing. She brings hundreds of pieces, each one completely unique. Plus she’s just a lot of fun.

Here’s a peek…

Sterling Silver and Greek Leather Bracelets by Becky Rosenkrans. Companion Gallery 2013

Sterling Silver and Greek Leather Bracelets by Becky Rosenkrans. Companion Gallery 2013

Small Ash Glazed Keepsake Boxes by Eric Botbyl, 2013

Small Ash Glazed Keepsake Boxes by Eric Botbyl, 2013

Ash Glazed Chip and Dips

Ash Glazed Chip and Dips

Porcelain Coffee Mugs by Kelsey Nagy. Companion Gallery, 2013

Porcelain Coffee Mugs by Kelsey Nagy. Companion Gallery, 2013

Made on Acorn Hill...handcrafted soaps, hard lotion bars, and scented salt scrubs. Gift sets available.

Made on Acorn Hill…handcrafted soaps, hard lotion bars, and scented salt scrubs. Gift sets available.

Embossed Copper by Becky Rosenkrans. Companion Gallery, 2013

Embossed Copper by Becky Rosenkrans. Companion Gallery, 2013

Grafted Mugs by Eric Botbyl. Ash Glazed Stoneware. 2013

Grafted Mugs by Eric Botbyl. Ash Glazed Stoneware. 2013

Coffee Mugs with textured panels....

Coffee Mugs with textured panels….

We still have kilns cooling so there will be much more at the show than we could feature here.

We hope to see everyone this weekend!

Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery

3638 East Mitchell (Hwy 152) Humboldt, TN

Friday February 8th 10am-5pm

Saturday February 9th 10am-5pm

New Year, New Pots

Apparently the Mayans were mistaken, 2012 came and went, and 2013 is in full swing. The year began with a complete studio overhaul…loads of clutter to the dumpster, rearranging the classroom, making clay, and the construction of a new wedging table. I started the year with a series of coffee mugs, making 5 different shapes in sets of 6. With 30 “blanks” I decided to approach each mug differently. There never seems to be a shortage of ideas, as each design leads to multiple ideas and possibilities. Some get chalked up to “good learning experiences” and others expose a thread that deserves pulling. Here’s some of the newbies…IMG_20130124_234606_844

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These mugs and their companions are currently cooling in glaze…should have some finished works posted soon.

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!