Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sponging Bisque. (something I wrote on an Email List)

I was the main bisque sponger during my apprenticeship.   It is a much more accurate application than spraying or dipping, and in the case of dusty bisque from sitting around or if you do inlay (which creates dust), it is more efficient in getting the dust off.
Especially in the noborigama bisque, firing temps vary to a large degree.  The highest temp was only dull red. 
Bisque temp is a factor in absorbancy, but so is bisque thickness.    By sponging, you can cause more water do go into soft bisque or thick pots.
We always started glazing the smallest, thinnest pots first.   They require glaze with less water in it.   As we moved to larger, thicker work, water was added to the glazes.   We adjusted up to a dozen times.  We always scratch tested the glaze to have an accurate idea about how thick the glaze application was.   Its thickness was important over inlay, so that the inlay would not be obscured or undercovered.
Not only that, from 25% to 5% kaolin was added to the ash glaze, depending upon which kiln it went in and what place in the kiln, the hottest spots requiring the most kaolin.
Photo by David McDonald
Warren MacKenzie watched us glaze one time and was amazed by the process, because all these adjustments occur in silence.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lee Love Ikiru Pottery - 2007 Residency Recipient Lee Love by Rob Silberman


"Mingeisota" can be just a clever tag, a simple way of referring to Warren MacKenzie and the many other potters in Minnesota who combine a commitment to the Anglo-Asian ceramic tradition of Leach and Hamada with a Midwestern devotion to straightforward utilitarian ware. Yet in the case of Lee Love the term may have greater validity, since Love is a kind of one-man bridge between Japan and the United States.


Born in Japan to an American father and a Japanese mother, Love did not grow up or do his undergraduate education in Minnesota; that took place in Michigan (which does not offer the same punning possibilities). He came to Minnesota because of the presence of the master at the Zen Center, Katagiri Roshi. But after the Roshi's death, and bearing in mind statements by both a Zen master and a Tibetan one that suggested artistic creativity could provide its own path to enlightenment, Love turned to ceramics. He took classes at the University with Curt Hoard and Mark Phans- Linda Sikora was a teaching assistant-and then worked in a studio space at Northern Clay Center. Eventually Love became an apprentice for three years in Mashiko, Japan, with Living National Treasure (and Regis Master) Tatsuzo Shimaoka, then stayed on for five years more with his wife, Jean, a printmaker and the person who first introduced him to MacKenzie's ceramics.

Love seems unusually clear about his relationship to the Mingei tradition. Like MacKenzie, Love is not nostalgic; he is committed to making functional pottery that is of its place and time. He says that if he were working in earthenware, he would turn elsewhere for inspiration-to Europe, or Native American pottery. But in stoneware, he believes the greatest achievements have been in Japan, Korea, and China. Love is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary Japanese ceramic culture, and he has been steadily developing his own personal approach. That means working through the influences of the artists he reveres and establishing his own view of Mingei, which stresses the role of nature.

Love's McKnight year has been a period of settling back into life in the Twin Cities and becoming an American potter once again. In practical terms, that means finding clays and glazes equivalent to those he was using in Japan. The process can be complicated. What is referred to as shino in the United States, for example, is not the same as what goes by that name in Japan (and is not regarded by Japanese as shino, just as no Frenchman would regard even the finest California sparkling wine as true champagne).

So far, however, so good. Love has been finding suitable local materials, and exploring a variety of forms and surface treatments. He believes that Japanese culture, and Japanese ceramics, are more delicate than the American, and says he has been developing "more robust" works. On the other hand, Love's years in Japan gave him a more precise knowledge of tea ceremony ceramics, and he is working to create tea vessels that are not tea bowls in a vague sense, as is sometimes the case in America, but satisfy the more stringent requirements of the tea ceremony as practiced in Japan.

Impressed by the catalogue for an exhibition by Hamada, who displayed seventy-seven cups for his seventy-seventh birthday, Love will present fifty-five cups for his fifty-fifth birthday. The tea ceremony bowl is the ceramic equivalent of a sonnet: a small-scale, seemingly constricted form that challenges the artist to go beyond mere technical virtuosity and find an approach that both satisfies and transcends the conventions.

Love is already looking forward to pursuing other ideas: working on a larger scale; making funerary urns (he has so far done one for a friend, and a few others for dogs); finishing the transformation of his garage into a studio, where he might teach ceramics to neighborhood children. Love is also planning to sell mugs at the local farmer's market, an idea that may show a touch of Zen in its simple practicality, but is also just so ...Mingeisota.

Slide show:  See All 55 Chawan Here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Soda Fired Ki-Seto Chawan


Made using modified Rob Fornell "inside expansion" technique.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our First Trip To Japan. With The Monks.


We visited Zuioji Monastary on Shikoku Island in 1993

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gas Upgrade For My Olympic Torchbearer Kiln.

 Just looking at the new rig, you understand why the plumber and gas company refer to "a meter upgrade" rather than a regulator upgrade.  The meter required dwarfs the regulator. 
(the regulator has the curvy vent pipe attached to it.)
There is a shut off to the house appliances and one to the kiln line.
I turn the line off in the house when I am not firing, to discourage vandals.
 New meter from gas street source.  2psi
Meter to old household line/appliances.  .25psi 

Meter before Kiln with protective cap. 
 I will make a cover to protect the regulator from rain and freezing. 
Regulator reduces pressure to 12 water col. inches.
Uncovered meter.  Reduces pressure to below 12 column inches.
Outside shutoff valve.
Inside shutoff valve.  Yellow valve to kiln. 
Kiln in metal shed.