Breaking Up

So apparently it’s been ten months since my last entry. I know, I know…bad blogger. Very bad blogger. There’s good reason though. This has been the year of changes. Big changes.

My last entry was in May of 2014, spotlighting our annual Photo Contest that coincides with our Mother’s Day show. That month I was put in touch with Jake Allee, one of my favorite potters, who agreed to send us some work for the gallery. The show sold well and Jake sent reinforcements. In August the family made our semiannual trip up to Northern Indiana to visit my wife’s family. I made a few calls and ended up meeting with Justin Rothshank, Todd Pletcher, and Troy Bungart. I also had a chance to sit down and talk shop with Dick Lehman at his studio, which was one of the highlights of the year. The man exudes thoughtfulness. We all hit it off and I came home with boxes of Justin’s work and Troy’s handcrafted pottery tools. Justin’s show sold out 5 days before it opened and he was good enough to hustle some more pots down before his opening. By this point it was clear that things were changing so we broke up Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery (except on Facebook) and built It was a bit sparse when it began, but I figured the ol’ ericbotbyl site wouldn’t quite keep up with what was happening. These folks deserved a site of their own.

In October we featured Amelia Stamps and received wonderful new work from Merideth Holder. For the Holiday season we featured Kelsey Nagy, our long time intern turned ceramic super star. Then the weirdest thing started happening. Instead of soliciting makers,  I began to receive emails from folks who wanted some representation in Tennessee. Not cheesey potters either,  awesome potters.

So as it stands right now, beyond my capacity of comprehension, here’s the line up so far for 2015…

February- Bill Wilkey, Helena, MT

March- Patrick Rademaker, Louisville, KY

May- Matthew Schiemann, St. Petersburg, FL

July- Iren Tete, Minneapolis, MN

August, Ron Philbeck, Shelby, NC

September- Dick Lehman, Goshen, IN

November- Todd Pletcher, Goshen, IN

Going forward, this site will become what it was in the early days…thoughts and images from my daily studio life. I’d be so grateful if those of you who follow along would check out our newest endeavor,




Photo Contest 2014…And the Winners are…

Tony and his Cigar Box...this guy has the right idea.

Tony and his Cigar Box…this guy has the right idea.

After Swimming Practice. Quirky. Really quirky.

After Swimming Practice. Quirky. Really quirky.

Outside the Alaska Alchemist Coffee House.

Outside the Alaska Alchemist Coffee House.

Sally gets the Far and Away Award. She brought this little Keepsake Box all the way to Shanghai and photographed it all over the city. It even made its way to the Panda Preserve in Chengdu before finding its home.

 Then of course we have the serious coffee drinkers with unusually fantastic facial hair…

The Comedians…

The Tragic…photo

And the rest…

Thank you all for making this so much fun. And thanks for making our pottery a part of your daily lives. We appreciate you!

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.


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.


Christmas Open House

As Luck would have it, we scheduled our Christmas Open House for this weekend…also known as “Ice-Pacalypse 2013”. Regardless of school closings and bread shortages at the grocery stores…we WILL be open to the public as scheduled.

Our Open House runs from 11am-6pm on Friday & Saturday. We have been working long hours in preparation and have had many early bird visitors already this week. The shop is all decorated for Christmas, complete with coffee and hot chocolate. We’ll have a fire in the wood stove and Christmas tunes on the radio.  On display will be works from Kelsey Nagy, Caroline Cercone, Shadow May, Amelia Stamps, Made on Acorn Hill, and little ol’ me.   If it does turn out to be dangerous…please stay home and enjoy your families. We will be open during regular business hours from now until Christmas. If the weather cooperates, bring a friend, we would love to see you!

If you’re out of town check out our Store section at the top of the page…we are all stocked up!


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