Monday, June 29, 2009


Over the weekend Jennie and I got a chance to go to Glenfidich Farm. The farm is just west of us, near Leesburg, Va. We've been there before but it is always a delight! Richard Busch and Olwen Woodier own Glenfidich and have what I think is a dream of a set up.
The Farm: Glenfidich is a "170 year old former dairy farm located near Hamilton, just outside of Leesburg in the beautiful Virginia Piedmont region of Western Loudoun. Originally called Gobblers Knob after the multitude of resident wild turkeys on the farmlands, it was later renamed Glenfidich -- Celtic for 'Valley of the Deer' -- to celebrate the many deer that continue to reside on the property." After a long way down a pebbled drive you come to a few humble buildings and converted barn with gorgeous land surrounding them. Richard and Olwen grow vegetables and herbs and keep chickens (for fresh eggs!).
The Pottery: Richard Busch is a wonderful potter with incredible knowledge, experience and talent. He has created a work and living space that is ideal for a potter. The land around him must be so refreshing and inspiring. He was outside under a porch with his wheel set up when we arrived. Throwing outside may be one of my favorite things! He had the ease and friendliness of a potter and graciously showed me around. He has a huge Japanese influence, reminding me of the potters I most admire. His pottery is graceful and substantial at the same time. His vases and large bowls have an ease about them that reminded me of him. They were definitely my favorite. The seemingly spontaneous decoration on his pots is very traditional of Japanese aesthetics but he makes it his own.

The Cookery School: Olwen, a wonderful and energetic British woman, runs Glenfidich Farm Cookery School. Anyone can go take classes with her! Check out her classes and themes on the website. Makes my mouth water just reading it. A little while ago she bought some of my sister's handmade aprons for her school. She has written cook books and used to write for the New York Times Living section. Richard invited us up to their kitchen/living area where I fell in love with the light and airy ceilings, hand made pottery, exposed woodwork, and open cooking space. You can see that their creativity is bursting!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Wheel

Yesterday, at one of my many jobs, a co-worker told me that she had a surprise for me in her car. A few hours later we went out to her car and a Brent Potter's Wheel was waiting inside! She used to do recreational pottery and the wheel had been in storage for 15 years so she kindly passed it on to me... I couldn't believe it!

The wheel is the tool a potter uses to spin or turn the clay and form it. Wheels can spin either direction and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from kick wheels to these motorized ones. And just like cars, wheel motors make a big difference in what the machine can handle. You woulnd't try to pull a stump out with a Mini Cooper and a potter wouldn't try to throw 50 lbs of clay on a lower model wheel.

I will have to take it apart and check out the motor but I'm looking forward to having two wheels for a little while. I may eventually sell my Shimpo (another brand of pottery wheels) because the foot pedal is a little bit of a pain. As you can see in the pictures, the Brent Wheel (top left) has a foot pedal that you can move into a comfortable position as you throw. The Shimpo's pedal is attached right to the side with a metal stick jutting up which is supposed to be for adjusting the speed with your hands. I detached the metal stick on my Shimpo to get it out of my way but still get a little frustrated with the pedal itself.

Why would I want two wheels at a time? Well, if I throw a large pot or a pot that requires a second step (meaning that I need to let it stiffen up just a little bit), it would be convenient to be able to leave it on the wheel and come back to it rather than moving it to a shelf and back again, allowing for any number of "whoops!" moments. Its a young potter's luxury...

Monday, June 22, 2009


Junk shadows. A crazy idea.... check it out.

Thanks to SLM for the heads up!

[Warning: may be some offensive content]

Also, if you are interested in installation art or sculpture check out Oddee, a website devoted to finding and sharing really wacko, interesting things. See below:



Storm Drains:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

You're a what?!

"What do you do?" is a common ice breaker question along with "where are you from", etc. While it can't completely define someone, context is important for getting to know a person. Its a quick little introduction and insight into what they've chosen and what values they have. For a few, it is an easy answer: their full time job is what they "do". For many though, it brings a rush of confusion: Do I tell them my full time job even though that's not me and I don't want to be pigeon-holed? Do I give them a list of my hobbies? Because money and circumstances play such a huge part in what a person "does", many times what they "do" and who they are don't necessarily match up.

Even though I am currently hold about 4 jobs to bring in income, I have one way to answer that question: "I am an artist." Every time I tell someone new that I am an artist, a potter, an apprentice and the like, I know people will wonder at what I "do". It is an unlikely job in this city of politics and engineers. Its like having a great party trick to pull out.
I rather expect people to question my legitimacy in claiming I am an artist but I've come to realize something even more simple. Most people want to say, "You are a WHAT?!", not questioning legitimacy but questioning what that word means. Naturally, when something is not clearly defined or is uncommon, there is a little confusion or hesitancy on the subject. Even after explaining a little of what "artist" means in my case, there are usually blank looks. An "artist" does not have the same head nod of understanding that a "government contractor" or an "engineer" or a "consultant" has, yet all of them have extremely vast and open ended possibilities of meaning. After saying I am an artist I have gotten responses on a wide spectrum. There is anything from the 1. Vague, faraway comment and avoidance of further inquiry, to the 2. Genuine excitement and questions, to 3. Blunt, a little hostile questioning of what the flip that is supposed to mean, to 4. A good-for-you, isn't-that-nice attitude where a head pat and assumption that I must not really need to work would be right in line.

Sadly, many people's experience of art comes from a mixture of make and take crafts in elementary school and a historical memorization or recognition of some famous artists or pieces of artwork. At times it is disappointing to constantly have to explain, no, more than that, defend your calling. But I can't help but be refreshed by the fact that each person I tell is a new person to introduce to the long forgotten but oh so vital and natural side of humans that craves, enjoys, needs beauty in their lives.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Line and Design

[WARNING: This is not a pottery post!]
One of my favorite things to do is take an object or image and turn it into a design by paying attention to line: lines that are visible and lines that are invisible. Invisible lines?! Yes. They are the lines that are not really there but have a strength of presence because your eyes follow them around the composition, they separate shapes or colors, they distinguish shadows, etc. I find a wonderful challenge in figuring out which are those most vital lines and watching the object or image appear with just the suggestion or outline. I think this sort of drawing lends itself well to logos and textiles, two avenues I may pursue on the side in the future. I've been able to do a little bit of it in the past few years. I designed the logo (see image on right) for a local Library Friends group in Reston, VA (FRRL). I also designed the letterhead for the Maryland State's Attorney for Baltimore County, Scott Shellenberger (image at top left).

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to draw an image for her wedding invitation and program. I was so excited to oblige! She will have delphiniums as her main flower and wanted an image of that flower to continue the theme. I came up with four choices as you can see in the sketches below (sorry they are crooked!).
She chose the one below:It will be interesting to see it printed!

Monday, June 15, 2009


Thank you to all who made it out to our show this past weekend! Everything went better than we could have expected and it is always fun to see friends and make new friends.

I am anxious to get back into the swing of normal, nonshow life! Regular postings will hopefully begin again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What the show holds....

Hope to see you this weekend! If you can't make it, I'll see you on here again in a few days...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kiln loads

We unloaded a glaze kiln tonight. Like I said before, its like Christmas! I am trying a new glaze combination of a bronze green, blackish blue, and cream and am SO pleased with the results! I can't wait for the show but there is so much to do in the mean time.

I will take some teaser pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All in the Family!

As is often the case, the art gene runs strong in a family. Many of my relatives have pursued or are pursuing art, all in varying degrees and fashions. My cousin Cameron is graduating from high school and is hoping to be an artist. Here you can see some of his wood carving work. He carves so quickly and really has an eye for balance and proportion. He is creating a lot of faces and people right now, even making his little busts into wine stoppers. Besides wood carving, for which he has won various awards, he is trying his hand at drawing, painting, and even some pottery! It is great to see an artist starting out, figuring out the perfect medium, the right path.

Most artists get their hand in every art form they can and the hard part is focusing. Some find their focus pretty quickly, others take much longer, and the really intense ones keep their hand in a few, becoming accomplished in all of them. One of the failures of an artist is, I think, when the dabbling becomes the focus and no real skill or eye is acquired in any one area. I found it hard to "just say no" in order to devote myself to really learning pottery. I have come to realize that "no" does not mean "never" but there must be a strong sense of responsibility to your craft, just as with any other calling or vocation. Without that sense of responsibility and personal dedication you get yourself fired ... though in an artist's case your public and, ultimately, your own identity are the ones who "fire" you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Go, Go, Go!

We are in full show mode down in the studio. There are lots of things happening all at once. I came home from one of three jobs today and threw a bunch of things including a planter! Not a huge one but pretty good size. I really like it and think I'll do more planters eventually. I work part time for a garden center and love the enthusiasm for planting from coworkers and customers. Planters seem like a natural outpouring of that. Will post pictures as they develop.

Also excited about the numerous bud vases I've thrown. I'll be glazing a bunch tomorrow and can't wait to see the results!

Hope you are saving the date for the show... Less than two weeks!