Friday, August 9, 2013

Hello everyone... anyone?

Yes, it would not surprise me a bit to learn that this blog has been tossed into the dust bin of eternity.  Especially for those who may have shown an interest in it at one time or another.  It has been a long, long time, and I am sorry for that; but like so many other bloggers these days, I had simply decided to take a break.  My post from March 6th, Slow Blur, pretty much tells the tale of my vacation from this journal.  I still check it on a regular basis, and I still enjoy reading the blogs of others; but I have noticed that many of the long-time bloggers I have enjoyed over the years have also slowed down.  I think we are all suffering from a bit of communication overload.
I have been very busy this past year, but you wouldn't know it from looking at my blog. In the past twelve months or so, I think I've added something (text or a picture) about once a month.  I'm pretty sure that that's not called active blogging (ha).  Life zips by in a slow blur.  But I am starting to feel like opening up again. I am waking up and looking around... maybe this blog will wake up too.  Hope springs eternal. Peace.

Oh, and by the way... I've been making some pottery.  How 'bout that.  More to come.      

Friday, May 3, 2013

and the crazy weather continues...

I'm sitting at my desk here at work right now looking out the window at light snow falling.  It would be an understatement to say that that is an unusual event around these parts, considering we are a few days into May.  Two days ago our afternoon high was 80 degrees.  We've had good rainfall this spring, and the last days of April were beautiful and sunny and just the way you want Springtime to be.  Despite some early warnings of a cold snap headed our way, I was sure that it was finally time to get our garden in.  It couldn't be that bad, right?  And yet, yesterday the temperatures were falling all day, and a cold rain was moving in. We were catching just a small portion of a much larger system that has brought cold temperatures and tons of heavy, wet snow to an area that stretches across most of the northern half of the U.S.  When my alarm clock went off this morning the temperature outside was one degree above freezing, and a half inch of sleet had fallen, with scattered reports of fender-benders and slide-offs in and around Springfield. That is no fun.  The projected high for today is 39 according to the National Weather Service.  It could certainly be a lot worse.  Fortunately I covered my plants last night, so I'm sure they will be fine, but we really should be past all of this by now.   Oh well, there's not much you can do about it.  The weekend is pretty much a washout... wet and cold.  Our band is playing tonight at an Irish pub on the south side, but with weather like this we are kinda expecting a thin crowd.  Hopefully it will be above freezing when it's time to pack up our gear and head home after the gig.  And thankfully we are supposed to have a fairly quick turn-around with this; by the middle of next week they are calling for highs in the 70s again.  That will be nice.  In the mean time... let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.... ha.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Slow blur...

I have a good life.  That's an understatement.  And I have plenty of things going on in my life that keep me occupied... keep me moving; if not forward, at least moving.  I don't feel like my life is hectic, it's just full.  But unfortunately many of the things I do every day are simply little more than consumers of time; and those tend to move in slow motion and more often than not, simply keep me from getting to the things that I would much rather be doing.  I doubt I am very unique when it comes to that. There are people out there that lead much busier lives than I ever will, and yet it seems that most of the things I experience on any given day, the things that actually deserve to be held and turned over and caressed, and allowed to soak in; instead sweep past me in a blur, before I can even take the time to process what has happened.  Not quite sure why that is, or how to fix it.  And blogging about any of that?... well, obviously that won't happen very often.  By the time I've thought about most things I would want to share with you all, it's 50 miles behind me.  The little voices whisper... simplify your life.  They tell me that I need to treasure the love that comes my way, every day. And give it back in full measure.  That's a given.  Clear away the clutter and realize what is important and what feeds your soul.  That's what they say.  I need to get back into the habit of getting out and exploring the world around me.   Reignite my curiosity and wonder.  Walk in the woods... pick up neat looking rocks and moss and bones, get my feet wet... and let those things have a happy reunion with my 200,000 year old self.  Yes, that's what they say... and then 
Dang! look at the time; I've got to get back to work.  My lunch break is over already.  Sigh.  Peace to you all. ;)
I will be home in a few hours, and enjoy the evening with Pam.  And maybe later I'll go down to my studio and make something out of clay.  It's almost like a walk in the woods.  Almost.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

colorful characters

I did a bisque firing this past Wednesday evening (the 30th) and everything came out great!  I was glad to see that these guys survived.  They are a bit of a departure from my usual effigy pieces.  I made a similar, but smaller, version of these tall vases (or bottles) back in early January, and noted at the time that that form presented a lot of possibilities.  I wanted to try adding some color, for one thing, and see how that played out; plus at around 13" tall, they are pretty much the largest pieces I have ever hand built.  So far I am fairly happy with the results. I spent a good part of the day today glazing this load.  If all goes as planned, I will do the glaze firing tomorrow afternoon.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

A giant among men...

As you can see, I'm kicking off the new year with something a little different.  Despite what the title might suggest, this piece really isn't that  big... (it's maybe 10 inches tall) but it is quite a bit larger than the effigy pieces I normally make.  I've still got some tweaking to do, but I like the overall look of it, and the elongated form.  I'm sure I will be making more of these; there seems to be quite a bit of room for exploration there.  It was enjoyable to make.  I started it Wednesday evening with the lower torso (the legs and hips) and let that rest overnight to firm up a bit, and then last night I finished it.  Most of it was built from the ground up, using slab coiling.  I could see going even bigger with these... 12 inches tall or more.  Heck, I'm thinking that maybe a 6 foot Moai like that would look pretty cool standing in our front yard!  I'm almost sure Pam would go for it.  Right?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

North Shore Goodies...

I'm pretty sure that this stuff is made by angels, wearing Hula skirts. 
And now, sad to say, it's all gone.  I may have to order more.  The stuff  I'm talking about is called Liliko'i Butter, made by the North Shore Goodies Company in Oahu, Hawaii.  From what I've read about it, the Liliko'i vine is closely related to the purple passion fruit plant that grows here on the mainland.  The Liliko'i Butter is made of Liliko'i fruit, honey, eggs and butter... it's tart and sweet and creamy smooth, and every spoonful reminds me of Hawaii.  I've never tasted anything else quite like it.  It's particularly good on Pam's home made bread.  We first discovered North Shore Goodies when we were vacationing in Hawaii a few years ago.  They had a booth set up at a farmer's market in downtown Honolulu, and we tried samples of several of their products, including their coconut peanutbutter (which is also very good) and brought some home with us.
This Christmas, Pam & I both got the sneaky idea that we would order some goodies from North Shore Goodies as a nice surprise.  It was pretty funny once we realized what we had done. So now we have plenty of coconut peanut butter, but unfortunately my little jar of Liliko'i Butter didn't last very long.  I guess we'll just have to go back to Hawaii and get more.  Sigh.... That sounds like a pretty good idea.  Let's see, right about now the sun is setting over the islands; and it's 73 degrees F with partly cloudy skies in Hilo, Hawaii.  And here in southwest Missouri? Well, it's dark out, and 22 degrees (not too awfully cold) with an expected overnight low of 19 and a clear sky.  Which means I do have to put on my shoes and go out and pull the cars into the garage so we won't have to scrape the windows tomorrow morning.  Hmmmm.  We have such a tough life, don't we.  ;)     

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

More to come in this new year...

Here are a few of the new pieces I've made recently.  These are all red earthenware, except the feller with the hole in his head. That one is made of white earthenware, with a generous coating of red earthenware terra sigillata, applied when the piece was bone dry.  That one is an experiment... I'm mainly just looking for a different finished surface.  I gave it a slight sheen by rubbing it with the tip of my finger.  I added some terra sig to the surface of the red earthenware bowl in the top photo, also, just to smooth it out a bit.  Can't wait to have a kiln load... I'm getting anxious to fire again!

Monday, December 31, 2012

On the eve of a brand-spankin' new year...

LtoR: the Professor, Burrell, Kelly, Rus, Ray and that's me in the back, there.
This picture was taken by our good friend and photographer, Billy Rude.

Our band, Sock Monkey, is playing a New Year's Eve party at the Double Tree Hotel this evening.  We are all set up and ready to ring in the new year.  It should be fun... it's for Doug Pitt's charity (and yes, that is Brad's brother) called Care To Learn.  No word on whether Brad and Angelina will be there.  Hmmmm   
It has been way too long since I've posted on this blog, so tomorrow I plan on sitting down for a long session of reflection on the year that has gone by.  Peace to you and yours.  Please check back on the first day of 2013... late, and hopefully I will have something new here to read.  :)  Heck, I may even bring up pottery.  Which might be a good idea, considering that this is supposed to be a pottery blog.  We'll see...  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

a good day...

Well... I can officially put my first craft fair on the books.  It went well, and it was good to be able to spend that time with my daughter, Patricia.  We arrived at Belton High School at a little before 7:30, and after some initial confusion as to where, exactly, we were supposed to be, we parked our cars and got started with the load-in.  My wife Pam was a great help carrying things in, running out to buy me a large table cloth, and getting a supply of ones and fives for change (even though she didn't have to).  What would I do without her...  The event was well organized, and seemed to run very smoothly (a testament to the people in charge).  We were surprised to find that we each got our own 8 ft table.  Because we were sharing a booth, we just assumed that we would also be sharing a single table.  So we got to spread out a bit, which was a good thing... it would have been pretty cramped, otherwise.  Festival hours were from 9:00am to 4:00pm.  Traffic was pretty slow most of the day, with only two periods of about an hour each where I would describe it as busy.  Out of what you see on the table above, I ended up selling 12 pieces, which I was thrilled about.  I went with the hope that I might sell one piece, just so I could say that I had sold something, but the final talley, though not a barn-burner (ha), was nice.  I got up Saturday morning feeling a little under the weather, and unfortunately it went down-hill from there.  By the time we were packing our stuff up to leave, I was in the mean grip of a bad cough and head cold... Yuck.  And we still had to drive back to Springfield.  But all-in-all it was a good day.  Next time, I'll be an old hand at it (HA!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting ready...

Ready or not, this Saturday (the 20th) I will be sharing a booth with my daughter Patricia at the Belton High School PTSA Fall Craft Festival.  For all those seasoned potters out there, that probably sounds kind of quaint, but this will be my first showing of pottery for sale.  We all have to start somewhere, and it is time.  I really have no idea what to expect from it, but that's OK... just the fact that I am finally taking that leap is enough at this point, even if I don't sell a thing.   Several months ago, Patricia started a small business making single serving cake mixes (most of them are gluten free), called Just One Bite.  Her business is starting to grow, mainly because she's good at it, and the mixes are easy to make, and very tasty!  So I am fortunate to have her there, helping her ol' dad get going. I will be bringing a variety of pottery with me, including some blue ware flower vases and jugs, platters and serving dishes with sgraffito designs on them, plus some fun, Halloween themed stuff that just came out of the glaze firing a few days ago.  Also I will bring a few of these earthenware effigy pieces that I have been working on.  I really like these, but I don't know how well they will go over with the Craft Fair crowd.  I guess we will see about that.  At any rate, I will be packing it all up tonight, and head for Kansas City Friday evening after work!  Ready or not... here we come.   


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The birds...

As I have noted a few times on these pages in the past, on my lunch break I often go walking along the Finley River, on the trails south of the Ozark Community Center.  They have a paved trail and a loop trail through a wooded area along the river.  More often than not I will walk the wooded trail.  Today I went for my lunchtime walk in the woods, and noticed something that seemed downright peculiar to me.  It began when I startled a large flock of grackles resting on the forest floor, just off the trail head.  Once they took off, the woods sprang to life.  Every 30 to 40 feet down the trail, I would disturb another group of grackles roosting in the leaf litter.  It just seemed odd to me that there would be that many grackles taking refuge in the woods, on the ground.  This went on for a good 100 yards down the main trail.  As the last of the grackles dispersed into the canopy, I began to see flocks of robins (half a dozen to a dozen or more in a bunch) on the trail ahead of me. Some of them were even reluctant to take flight, waiting until I was nearly 10 feet from them before they scattered into the nearby trees.  At every bend in the trail, without fail, I would come upon another large group of robins.  As I said, the whole thing just struck me as odd.  I'm no ornithologist, but it sure didn't seem like typical bird behavior in my experience.  Normally there is also a small band of crows that routinely scold me from the tree tops as I make my way along the trail; they were nowhere to be found. Temperatures are in the upper 80s to low 90s, and it is muggy, with a pretty good breeze in the tree tops.  And that may be the key, right there.  The remnants of hurricane Isaac are headed our way, with the first bands of showers predicted to arrive tonight.  That's really the only thing that I can think of that's different from any other summer day around here.  The wind blowing in ahead of the storm may have them spooked, or maybe the change in barometric pressure is messing with them.  It has been very dry these past few months, so it also may have something to do with the promise of heavy rain coming our way.  A nature mystery.  I asked several of the birds what was going on, and not one of them would tell me.  Hmmm, bird brains.                    

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm still here...

This morning, a couple of minutes before running out the door for work, I was down in the basement checking on a bowl I made last night, and I noticed these pots sitting on the drying rack together, just hangin' out.  I figured it was about time I documented a small bit of what I have been doing these past few weeks, so I pulled out my phone and snapped a couple of quick pictures.  The form of these pots is based on a style of prehistoric pottery made by Native Americans who lived within the central Mississippi River catchment, during a period of cultural florescence which began several hundred years prior to European contact.  This is the same culture that built huge ceremonial mounds such as Monks Mounds at Cahokia, in east St. Louis.  There is some Mesoamerican influence in the designs, as well.  This is my humble attempt at recreating some of those pottery forms.  Over the past 20 years or so, I think I have made maybe half a dozen of these "effigy" style pots, mostly out of local clays, fired in charcoal. Very few of them have survived (as with so many of my early attempts) although we do have one pot similar to the guy on the far left, who has sat in our TV room for many years, partially hidden amid the foliage of a heart-leafed philodendron.  I also made a stoneware version of that same pot form early last year, and had it kiln fired (a couple of pictures of that one can be seen in a post from April 11th).  That pot now resides about 3 feet underground, in my front yard... spreading good karma over a repaired section of our water main (ha!). Hopefully it will be there for hundreds of years, and some archaeologist can dig it up and ponder its purpose.  It's always good to leave little notes to the future. 
Anyway,  all of these new pots were made of red earthenware, and were hand built using slabs and sculpting. They will be fired in our kiln to cone 04, glazed on the inside, and fired one more time.  The guy holding the fish is a rattle head water bottle (not to be mistaken for the deadly water mouth cotton rattler).  No, this poor fisherman has rocks in his head.  I put a small bundle of clay balls in his head before I attached it, and when it is fired, they will add a rattle effect to the bottle.  There are examples of this being done in prehistoric times, so it's certainly not a new idea.  Not sure why they added the rattles to some of their pots back then; it may have had some spiritual significance, but I can't help but believe that maybe it was just for fun. When I set my mind to make one of these pots, I can normally finish it in a single evening... four hours or so from start to finish; to the point where it can be set aside to dry.  After that, I normally will go over it with a piece of fine sandpaper, or one of those green ScotchBrite pads, to smooth out any rough areas before bisque firing.  I have a few more to make, along with some other things, before the next bisque firing.  I'm shooting for the first week of September.               

Monday, June 25, 2012


I thought it was about time I posted a few pictures of some of the pieces that came out of the June 20th glaze firing.  Overall, I think it turned out pretty good.  I am pleased with the results.  As I was unloading the kiln Thursday afternoon, I was all smiles.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The beautiful glow...

It's a few minutes after 10:00 and the kiln sitter just dropped.  A little while ago I heard a disheartening pop come from the inside of the kiln, but I'm hoping it was just the soft brick or steel encasement expanding, or something.  I doubt it, but I guess we will see tomorrow afternoon... what survived and what didn't.  I normally don't have much trouble with that sort of thing, but I guess it's bound to happen sooner or later. 

bisque day!

Loading the kiln for a bisque firing this afternoon.  Yahoo!  Had to kick the dogs out of the garage this morning, and they were not very happy about that (ha).  But they have since been distracted by a neighborhood cat that decided to taunt them by walking past our house several times.  The nerve!  Now they are asleep in the back yard.  Tough life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Out in the middle of nowhere...

This past weekend, on our way to Colorado and back, we spent a lot of time out in the middle of nowhere.  Kansas to be exact.  And while we were there, the wind was blasting across the state with a steely eyed focus on Canada.  That was where it wanted to be apparently, and nothing was going to get in its way except a few cars and trucks, some cows... and these giant windmills.  In truth, I suppose we weren't actually out in the middle of nowhere, because we were west of Salina when we took these pictures, and according to all the maps I've seen, that is  somewhere.  The windmills (or wind turbines) are part of an enormous complex known as the Smoky Hills Wind Farm.  There were hundreds and hundreds of these huge wind turbines scattered in loose clusters along I70.  We saw one of the blades for these things sitting on a large flatbed trailer, at a truck stop, and it extended out past the end of the trailer.  It's encouraging to see so many of these being built.  Anywhere the wind blows consistently, there should be wind farms.  But from what I understand, all of the windmills in this complex are owned by an Italian company.  Seems we can't even get our own country to seriously invest in this kind of technology.  That is truly unfortunate.  But over the years I am sure that the coal and oil industries have applied a great deal of pressure on the politicians (always for sale to the highest bidder) to find subtle ways to underfund clean and renewable energy R&D.  Washington pays lip service to it, but when it comes down to making it a priority, and really  getting behind it, the money and initiative always seems to be lacking.  So much of what we do, how we get from one place to another, how we power our lives, is fossil fuel based.  It is ubiquitous; and because alternatives are not being given serious attention here in the U.S., the deck is stacked against the average consumer.  Going green is expensive.  So the car we drove across Kansas (at 75 miles per hour) runs on gasoline, and we used quite a bit on this trip.  That's just the way it is for now, I guess.  Don't get me wrong, this petroleum based system of ours has served us well over the past 150 years or so, but it is clear that the extraction and use of those products is harming our world, and it will eventually become too costly, in a number of ways, to obtain and use.  It is not going to last forever, despite what some would like you to believe.  "Drill, baby, drill!"... the rallying cry of the slack-jawed masses.  The people who embrace that philosophy are inclined to look no further than the tip of their nose, apparently... or they are in deep denial.  There is no such thing as generational thinking for them, it's just what serves them best right now. The future will take care of itself, I guess.  Ugh.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A few pieces headed for the kiln

I am slowly getting enough pots made to have a kiln load here in the next week or so.  I am looking forward to it.  It all just takes time.  In this next firing there will be more skyblue terra sig ware... bottles & jugs, footed bowls, small platters, flower vases, and so forth.  I really like the look of the blue terra sig pots... to me, they have a very light, peaceful quality about them.
This time around, in addition to the blueware, (and a few pots with underglaze deco) I am making some pieces specifically to be glazed. The jug I'm holding (which still needs some finishing) will get a nice burnt orange glaze in the second firing.  I'm hoping that the star figure will catch the glaze nicely and add some dimension to it.  The plan is to have enough pieces ready by next weekend (the 16th) for a bisque-firing.  So far everything seems to be on track.  Keep your fingers crossed.      

Dave Farabee

I lost a friend yesterday.   Dave was diagnosed with leukemia in mid May.  They started his chemo right away, and he was finished with his first round of treatments by the end of the month.  He celebrated his 60th birthday in the hospital; and despite the weight of his situation, and the drain on his body from the treatments, he was upbeat and ready to get on with his life.  Always positive.  On Sunday he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage, and passed away the next day at 4:50pm, June 4, 2012.  Another light has left this world.  Dang it.  It just seems unreal to write those words.

I first met Dave Farabee in June of 2008... not so long ago, I suppose, but it seems like Dave and I have been friends all our lives.  He was that kind of a guy.  I was playing in a band called Electra 225 at the time, and our lead guitarist, Steve Thomas, asked if I would be interested in playing a couple of sub gigs for his other band, Cahoots.  I was more than happy to jump at the challenge.  A few week before, I had gone out to hear them play at a local bar, and even sat in with the band, so I knew their set list, and knew that they were a solid band, with good players... and easy to get along with.  Dave played bass in that band, as well as local favorites, the M-Dock band.  So for two nights on the weekend of June 20th, I played with Cahoots, and started getting to know Dave Farabee on and off stage.  My first and lasting impression of him is that he is a friendly guy, with an intelligent, easy-going manner about him... always ready with a smile and a corny joke, or when the occasion called for it, sincere words of encouragement.  I don't think I have ever met anyone who didn't like him.  In the past four years I have had the privilege of playing music with Dave on many occasions.  Among the most memorable have been the annual Mardi Gras and Halloween gigs at his church, Saint James Episcopal, here in Springfield.  The band included Dwight Gann on guitar, Dave on bass, Greg Hale on keys, me on drums, and Clay Stuckey on guitar.  Those gigs, with that group of guys, were always very enjoyable.  Those are times that will never come around again.  David Farabee was one of the good guys, and I will miss him.   So long Dave.  Rest in peace, brother.