Friday, September 11, 2009

A Visit to the Potter's Shed

Joe Winter is a potter who lives a half mile north of us on the same dirt road - he made the big pot that's in the hall that GD Lexie is finally taller than - bad sentence. He and Ian had been emailing each other and set up a studio visit for all of us on Sunday morning. He offered to demo throwing a pot.
And now that little lump has been formed into a tube. GS Logan was completely captivated and I do believe this will be one of those defining moments that he looks back on.

You can see the shape begin to change and bow in the middle. Logan is nine and Joe told us he started throwing pots when he was eleven.

The piece has taken on the form of a vase and Joe is explaining to Elise how he shaped it.

Joe put a fan on this vase to get it partly dry in order to form it into a flounder shape with the use of paddles. That's his name for the shape. I've been calling it blowfish, but it's the wrong swimmer. We have one of these pots - and more.

The final steps are a matter of smoothing and shaping - from round to flat. His shaping tools are all remnants and really unremarkable - it's his skill that make indelible shapes. He entertained all questions, no matter how mundane.
Joe planned our visit to coincide with some raku firing. One minute he was throwing a pot, the next we raced us out the back door because it was time to pull a pot from the kiln.
He established a safe zone for us because this kiln fires at 2,000 degrees and you can feel it. This pot glows orange because it is so superheated. The material in the kiln is good up to 2,700 degrees and I know this because one pot fell over and collected some of the lining material. He said he would sand it off and apply another finish.

We all gasped and aahed when he plucked this pot from the kiln.

From the kiln it goes into this trash can. In the can to the left you can see strips of news-
paper. Joe tossed in handfuls of the paper and popped the lid back on to produce the flames you see. This step draws the mineral in the glaze to the surface.
And cooled, here's that same pot. I am always astonished at Joe's magic. For him it's all in a days work.

This is Joe's MFA thesis equivalent. He said it took more time to build this than his house. He threw the pot up to near the top and then built the rest. He said that when this was dried as greenware, he laid it on the ground and smashed it. Every piece was labeled on the back, glazed, fired and then reassembled. I've seen him build big. He throws in pieces and then seams. I love to watch him work. If you come visit me, I promise you a visit to his studio.


Candice Chin said...

Omg that's wicked! :)

Valerie said... that an invitation to come and visit? (giggle)

I used to throw pots, then I got a loom and that was the end of being a potter.

You really are going to make us wait to hear the grandson story, aren't you?

Sharon said...

You are so right Val, and it's worth the wait.

Theresa said...

Wow, that's some fantastic pottery.

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for taking us on that studio visit!! How cool to have it so close to your house!!

When I clicked to make some of the pictures bigger to see the shape of the flattened pot better, I was amazed at how much interesting stuff there was in the background in the studio. Fun stuff!

I've definitely wanted to see a raku firing. Glad I got to see one vicariously!! Thanks!


PS: I, too, noticed the "if you visit".... Hmmmm.....

bspinner said...

I love pottery!!!! Thanks for taking these pictures. His pottery is amazing!!! How lucky to live so close to such a talent craftsman.

Free internet service and now a pottery studio tour. Can't beat that offer.

beadlizard said...

DH said WOW many times as we read the post together. Thank you -- especially for that first bit about your GS remembering that moment.

Michelle said...

Oh my, I'm glad I'm not the one living that close to such a master, or all my other hobbies and chores would be seriously neglected! I LOVED the pottery and sculpture classes I took in college, just never had the means to collect the equipment on my own.

vlb5757 said...

That was awesome. I just love the vase. I have seen these demos on TV but I bet that is nothing like being there in person. Very beautiful. I think it's great that your GS was so interested. Whow knows, he could be the next great pottery guy.