In the Studio: Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like an oval platter

I'm still full from Thanksgiving. I had actual turkey this year courtesy of Bubba's in Pudong. Thats right I did say Bubba's. Texas style BBQ has a surprising foot hold in Shanghai. Full size ovens are rare so most Americans have their turkeys cooked by a restaurant. It was delicious and we thankfully had enough for turkey sandwiches the day after. We had a pot luck complete with stuffing, sweet potatoes and an apple crisp.

The meal pictured above was not actually from Thanksgiving but I had to grab my camera to capture the colors. Cherry tomatoes are always good for a picture. This lunch feast was faithfully prepared by our PWS Ayi. Her mushrooms with cilantro where a nice compliment to the salty taste of the fried chicken. One major perk of my job is that we have a home cook meal everyday at noon. Makes the company feel more like a family.

In the studio I have been working on oval plates and platters. The large rimmed platters are about 12 inches long and are designed for fish or meat. They are based on woven wicker bread baskets. I've been slip trailing the exterior shape to loosen up the edges. The smaller oval plate is sandwich sized with a slight curve to hold the food from rolling out when you carry it. I look forward to getting these glazed and fired in the next few weeks.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I'll be doing my Thanksgiving give away drawing December 1st. If you would like to participate in the chance to win a tumbler check out my last post by clicking here. Have a good week.


Free Pottery! Would you like this tumbler?

It has been great to have the encouragement of other artists and patrons over the years. I will be randomly selecting a new owner for this tumbler from my mailing list on December 1st. If you haven't already joined please click here to fill out the sign up form. Both new and old subscribers are eligible.

The tumbler form is one that I started making a few years ago. This one is made from Yixing stoneware covered with sgraffito drawings through Jingdezhen porcelain slip. At around 4 inches tall it is perfect for sweet iced tea. Here is an image of it surrounded by its tea brethren.


Check out my studio visit in the December issue of Ceramics Monthly

I'm very excited to be featured in the December issue of Ceramics Monthly. I want to thank Jessica Knapp for asking me to submit the article about my studio life in China. She deserves a high five for the work she put into making this happen. You can access this article on Ceramics Monthly's site by clicking here. To learn more about the Pottery Workshop organization that I am a part of please visit our site by clicking here.

To download the article for better viewing click here.


Jazz guitarist Josh Maxey's new album Approach

Jazz guitarist/composer Josh Maxey's latest offering, Approach, is a straight ahead trio album featuring Brian Charette on Hammond B3 organ and McClenty Hunter on drums. (For more information click here.) This stripped down lineup allows plenty of room for the musicians to improv over the compositions. In a radio age flush with heavily produced songs it is refreshing to hear the clean sound of three musicians with only their instruments.

Approach is the second album in an extended suite of six. Maxey falls into the uber-productive category with his plan to release the suite within two years. I have a hard time wrapping my head around this musical feat. Imagine having six solo shows that relate to each other but are independent in their own right over the span of twenty four months.

I plan to post a full interview with Mr. Maxey about his life and music in the near future. I've uploaded three songs to the music player on the right side bar of this blog. They are the title track from Maxey's release Incarnate, "Lineage" from the Approach album, and "Light and Sound" from Maxey's early band Plan A. I've also posted "Greens and Blues" from the Incarnate album below. It features guitar great Rodney Jones sitting in with Maxey. Enjoy!


The blog hits lucky number 10,000

Tales of a Red Clay Rambler just reached 10,000 visits! I'm very appreciative for everyone's support over the years. The blog has become one of the main ways I communicate with fellow artists and friends. The feed back and support I have received has been a much needed life line throughout my travels.

I'll be doing a cup give away in the next few weeks to celebrate and thank you guys. More details to come. Thanks again.


Yixing: The Clay Pt. 4

The drive way of the big pot museum was lined with mill stones stacked on their sides. From the pictures above you can see how massive the stones are. Their circumference varied based on how long each was in use. The older method of mill stone grinding involved a horizontal rotary system. Mule or human power would have been used to turn small mill stones that lay on top of each other. A more recent method involved a mechanical dual stone system. In this method two vertical stones roll slowly around a lower horizontal stone. The compression crushes the parent rock into a fine dust. After the stone is pulverized it would be soaked in settling ponds for many years before it could be worked to a plastic state.

I am fascinated by the geologic time it takes for clay to become workable. The parent rock for Yixing clay is a sedimentary stone local to the Yixing area (the striated rock pictured above). Over hundreds of thousands of years igneous rocks from local mountain ranges were eroded by wind, rain, and the freeze/thaw cycle. Over thousands more years this erosion collected in low lying areas where it rehardened. In total we are talking about a process that stretches over millions of years. This is mind boggling to me. I touch clay everyday but I rarely consider the time it took to come into being.

Over the process of erosion and sedimentation the Yixing clay picked up large amounts of Iron. This coupled with trace amounts of Manganese give the clay it's unusual purple color. Their are many clays in the world but few have the same purple mixture of colorants. For my fellow tech nerds I have included a chemical analysis and a list of comparable terracotta clays in China.

Seeing the process of preparing the clay was a fitting end for my trip to Yixing. We saw so much in one day but I left feeling like I saw so little. Every studio had a new technique or piece of history that I want to absorb. I will try to visit the area again before I leave China.

This post is the final in a series about Yixing teapots. They are produced in the town of Dingshan, which borders the city of Yixing in Jiangsu Province. 


Highlights from Interpreting the Cup: Process, Influence, and Intent

Pattie Chalmers

Jennifer Allen

Israel Davis

Jr. Kane

Nicholas Bivins

Wanted to post a quick follow up with highlights from Interpreting the Cup at Crimson Laurel Gallery. Pattie Chalmer's Practicing Tea with the Queen was one of my favorite interpretations of the theme. Her Queen Elizabeth look-a-like seems quite content to have her fantasy high tea with the queen's picture. After seeing this show I wish it could have been held at NCECA. This would be a great teaching tool for students who are learning to create diversity around a central theme.

For more work by these artists check out their websites.
Pattie Chalmers www.pattiechalmers.com
Jennifer Allen www.jenallenceramics.com
Israel Davis israeldavis.com
Nicholas Bivins www.nicholasbivins.com

Cups and saucers were my contribution to the show. I've been working on patterns that are as pleasing to touch as they are to look at.


Interpreting the Cup opens at Midnight

The Crimson Laurel Gallery opened the Interpreting the Cup invitational at midnight tonight. This is yet another great cup show that has gone online in the last week. Jason Bige Burnett curated the show around the cup form as a starting point for ceramic art. It's great to see how this form was interpreted by sculptors and vessel makers.

After a quick viewing my favorite work is this sculptural form by Lisa Clague. It is both sculpture and vessel as the top head comes off to be used as a functional cup. Clague has a unique approach to color and line, as well as eye contact and body language in her figures. Check out more of her work on her website by clicking here.

The show will run through the end of the year at www.crimsonlaurelgallery.com.


Get'em while their Hot! New work in Cup: The Intimate Object VII

 Shawn Spangler  
 Autumn Cipala
 Brian R. Jones
 Doug Peltzman
 Erin Paradis
 Jason Bige Burnett
 Mel Griffin 
 Sue Terrill

Cup: The Intimate Object VII opened last night at the Charlie Cummings Gallery. (Click here to see it.) In only ten hours so many good cups are already sold. You better get there quick before they are all gone!

I posted a few of my favorites above along with the artist's websites below. The straggler at the bottom is one of my contributions to the show. Enjoy.