Thursday, 28 March 2013

Beware The Modern Age

Thought I'd just share these low quality photos! I made this a few weeks back for Mothers Day, as a gift for jakki (yep, another piece of junk in the house!). This sweet, innocent girl is posting a letter, it reads "SHE TOLD HIM SHE WAS 24 AND LIKED TO PARTY". I felt it summed up the modern day world of the internet and folk not being who they say they are! Be warned people.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


My fellow studio mates always comment on this mug's handle whenever they're making a cuppa. It's the most comfortable handle possible, the whole mug is comfortable. it has good proportions and the right weight, nothing catches you out. Looks good and feels great. I've been to ceramic shows where I've picked up pots and got this weird sensation of feeling like I'm dropping it, losing my grip, even though it's safely in my hands. Surely that's not a good sign for a pot! Anyway, this mug is the first pot I bought directly from it's maker. i picked up every available mug and moved them around in my hand and this one just spoke to me loudest. It's made by Matthew Bayman, out near Uckfield. It's only 40 mins away, but hardly anyone seems to know he's there. He coppices his own woodland for chestnut wood to fire his kiln. He did run classes, but when i discovered his little pottery he said he had stopped as it just produced too many wares clogging up his studio. I was hoping he might have made an exception for a very keen beginner, but sadly he never. I must take another trip out and pick something else up.

I've taken this from Matthews website... and weirdly it's the actual mug i bought.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Another Kiln/Glaze Firing

Oh boy! I fired another load the other week and it's still got rim issues. I did put lots of test strips in, from scraps of slab that i'd played around with, to see how my black slip and various oxides were coming out with this glaze..... and they all came out perfect. There was no glaze coming of of sharp ragged edges or on any of the edges... yet all the other thrown and slab pieces i made had bits come off. They look more like they've been nibbled by a mouse than my earlier ones where it was small flakes. My rounded forms fared better but around small lumps for ears etc i can see the glaze has lifted and wants to pop off! I'm taking from my test strips that it's not so likely a 'fit' issue, but possibly more a temp/ramp thing. The glaze on some rims seems thin and a bit matt. I tried firing this glaze a bit harder and faster (which I read could solve any shivering) and it seems a bit better than last time. I had the turn up from 0ºc to max in 5 hours and the whole firing was about 7 and a half hours. Mini bar 03. I'm now going to ask around a few potters locally, i have 3 firings worth to examine and compare, so they have something to go on. Although i know most will say to bisc higher!!.. i explain that 900ºC is the way to go with this lead based earthenware glaze and they look at me like I'm nuts!!.. but I know better (well, actually Doug Fitch and Matt Grimmitt know better! and they make this stuff). Anyway, the joys of learning something new! I know I'm nearly there, i just need to nail it down and know in my own mind what is happening. meanwhile the ideas just pile up. I shall resume my throwing practice next week too. If nothing else it gives me things to test the glaze on! Which also made me wonder if there was something in my thrown pieces that caused the glaze issues, compression etc, but even pieces i built from slab have the nibbled glaze edges.... so why were the slab test strips so perfect???? AAAARRRRRHHHHHH.

'nibbled' rim!!!
These were fine, i'd messed around with some oxides on these.
I liked this little head, but the glaze looks like it will eventually pop off around one ear.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Gifts of Clay and Sound

I received these in a package the other week from a new friend, Clay Harper, that I'm working with on a fun project. He'd taken time on his travels to drop in on fellow blogger Ron Philbeck... and picked a couple of things up while he was there! Good music and good pots. Thanks Clay, and thanks to Ron. It's a great mug and lovely to finally have one of Ron's to hold and drink from. It's seen as something of a novelty in our house (still!) that I have to have a handmade cup, mug and bowls (I still don't own any plates). Jakki says she has to drink from a white mug, so all my variations just seem brown to her! The kids just see it as my little quirk too. I'll teach them eventually. It's just so nice to hold a handmade/thrown mug and examine it as you drink, think about how it's made, feel the undulations and surfaces. It's just a real pleasure, a simple pleasure, but these things really add to your quality of life. It's more than just a cylinder to hold a drink. Any of you out there still use a motley mixture of random factory made mugs, treat yourself, go and buy a really nice mug, preferably from a really nice maker in person, something you just feel a link to and use it... use it daily, you won't go back.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

I Said F**k It

Here are just a few of my simple illustrations that appear in the new e-book I Said F**k It, by John Parkin.

It was great to work on a project that was just a stream of positive stories! The book is a collection of peoples stories who had read the book F**k It- the ultimate spiritual way, by John Parkin. I've posted about that book on here before and it's a great book... so is F**k It Therapy, the follow up, which came out last year. They're great for all those people out there who really do need to just stop caring what other people think of them! You feel like it's ok to say "fuck it, i don't want to do that, so I'm going to do this instead" or do the opposite and say "fuck it, i'm not going to put that off, I'm just going to do it and see what happens". It's laid back, or it's go for it! depending on how you feel. Basically, it's a lot of Eastern ideas wrapped up in a Western approach. Anyway, go buy one if you're curious, i doubt you'll be disappointed.

Realising that what you're worrying about and stressing over doesn't really matter so much in the grand scheme of things is the door to freedom and healing. And the little profanity 'F**k It' is the key to that door. Ask anyone who's come close to death, or lost someone close to them, or discovered they have a serious disease and they'll say the same thing: that the little things don't matter, F**k It... enjoy life in every moment for what it is, not what you want it to be... worry less, live more... remember what's important and forget the rest. – John Parkin

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Yucca, Morongo and Gar

Back to our january trip (only one more vaguely related post to come, i promise). We'd been to see Jakki's friend, Gar, play the two previous evenings up at Pappy & Harriet's out in Pioneer Town... great food and a truly lovely place. In fact it's pool room was just about as ideal a space as i could dream for playing some pool, drinking some beers and listening to some tunes on the jukebox and drinking some beers while hanging out with friends. Beat up old leather couch? check! Old jukebox? check! lots of wood and old fixtures? check! Would i like to live in it? CHECK! Did I get to play in it?... Hell no, not when you're juggling two boys, dinner and a live band! If you get to the Joshua Tree Inn you HAVE to go and find Pappy & Harriets, I loved it up there!

My dream home!

So, the day before we leave the desert to head back to LA we just spend in the area from our hotel in Joshua Tree, to Jakki's friend Gar's house in Morongo Valley. First we had a good breakfast and then went back to Desert Christ Park, which we'd been to 6 years ago on our last trip out there. It was cool to be returning to these places with the boys... cool, in both senses, it was freezing up there!... but it doesn't seem so bad when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

Then we visit Gar's place and the cool recording studio he's built in his barn...pretty cool. Anyone want to record their next album out in the desert just give Gar a call.. At times like this i really wish i could actually play an instrument! The boys gave it a go, with Gar at the desk. They enjoyed themselves... nearly as much as getting to play Angry Birds back at his house! they'd had video game withdrawals. The view from Gar's lounge window had me mesmerised, just watching as the sun set on the mountains in the distance, like a large painting that changed every few minutes. wish I had a photo of that. Did I say i like the desert and mountains out there!

tennessee was feeling it a bit more than Tex!
I wish I'd taken more pics of the actual studio space, it was fantastic, with separate control room
and a little loft for extra gear and beds for those late night sessions.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Jason Molina -The End Of His Road

A Sad day in this house as we learn the news that Jason Molina died on Saturday after a long battle with alcohol. His body finally succumbed, his organs had finally had enough. Tragic. He was only 39. I've posted his music on here before, he was a talented guy, writing many brilliant songs and fine albums. I've been a big fan since his early Songs:Ohia days and equally loved his Magnolia Electric Co.  Just tragic. Go explore his music, he's right up there with the best.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Signs of The Time

I borrowed this from Lloyd's blog. Do take a look at his blog and books if you're unfamiliar. It's interesting how we're learning to value these crafts once more... thank god!

SIGN PAINTERS (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from samuel j macon on Vimeo.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Slab City and Sandi

While we were out at Salvation Mountain we also popped around the corner to see Slab City. A collection of RV's that come and go with the seasons, but some just stay and one of those is Sandi. Sandi has a couple of wagons up there and she makes art out of stuff she finds out in the desert. She sells it to help cover her minimal costs (as far as we made out that was just water, food and a little gas, she had solar for electrics and no ones paying any rent out there!!) We bought a piece of her art made from an old guitar and managed to get it in the suitcase at the end of the trip!... i had to unscrew the head and legs, and i packed the body out pretty good. Now we just need to find somewhere to put her. maybe out in our summer house (shed/shack), once i get her painted up this summer (if we have one).

Jakki, Sandi and the guitar.
Slab City Art HQ

Oh, the boys stayed in the car it wasn't their kind of thing... yep, not even that display of toys lured them out!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Animation Teaser- Wish List

Click on the link to see a very quick teaser for the forthcoming animation of my  WISH LIST, which my mate Griff is busy working his way through. It's looking good and hopefully on schedule!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Salvation Mountain 2013

On our first full day out in the desert we took the drive out past Palm Springs and on to the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain in Niland. Again more info back at this old post. If only we'd made sure we had enough gas it would have been a bit more relaxed! We just about made it, though we were counting the miles at the end there.

This is an addition to the mountain, intended as some kind of museum wing

It's an amazing sight inside with all these painted 'trees', built from found branches
and car tyre trunks  all helped with a good amount of adobe.

It was so good to see the Mountain again as we were concerned at how it was being kept now that Leonard was no longer living out there. They've done a great job preserving and maintaining it. The boys loved it, well, they could climb it, so what's not to like?

We took a load of photos and i even grabbed a small bag of dry clay from a stream bed, just to see what it will be like (it's now wet and in a small tub!) It's always cool to see Salvation Mountain out there in bright sunshine, that place just blasts out happiness. Leonard Knight has built himself a fine monument. Put it on your lists, go and see it for yourself... and have an adventure along the way. Next up... Slab City. 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Mistakes & The Handmade

Here's a nice little clip that was doing the pottery blog rounds, but it applies to all of us interested in making things with our own hands and minds. I guess the important thing is leave the mistakes in. I'm trying to deal with this with Tex and his drawing/writing, if it's not right he can get real mad and scribble it out and I'm trying to stop him, "leave it, i like it... start a new one but don't rip it up or scribble all over it". We're human, we make mistakes.