…So Do Something Already

You watched the news in horror.

“Somebody should do something for those people,” you told your family over dinner that evening. They agreed with you.

“Somebody should help,” you told your coworkers the next day. They agreed as well.

Some people did help. Thousands died. You sympathized idely.

Then the second quake struck. Many of those who were unharmed by the terrible April 25th earthquake in Nepal were not so fortunate two weeks later.

Have you done anything to help yet? I’m ashamed to say I have not.

Fortunately there is something we can do. And it is easy. And can take minimal time and expense. And we can get something beautiful in return–in addition to the beautiful feeling of knowing we have offered some small measure of help.clay for nepal bannerMany of the world’s most famous potters have generously donated their work to an online store and auction called Clay for Nepal. This is an opportunity for you to purchase fabulous works of art that you might never have access to in the US.

Pippin Drysedale

And since the artists are donating their work,  almost all of your purchase price goes to relief for the Nepalese people.

Kris Coad

Kris Coad

BRIDGET BODENHAM TEAPOT CUP & SAUCERCheck out the cool clay artwork on the website http://www.clayfornepal.com. The site is packed with eye candy for all pottery lovers.This is an incredible opportunity to acquire some fantastic pots, so log onto the site early to get the pots you love before someone else does. But keep your curser off the Ayumi Horie cup. That little baby is mine!

Too Cold to Pot

A fraction of Otto Pearsall's Ceramic Library

A fraction of Otto Pearsall’s Ceramic Library Ready for a Cold Winter Day in front of the Fireplace.

So what does a potter do when the mercury drops out of the bottom of the thermometer and his space heater just can’t warm up the garage studio? Well I’m planning to spend the day in front of the fireplace with Otto Pearsall.

I never met Mr.Otto Pearsall, but I’ve enjoyed many winter evenings in his company.

His son, George, and I met at a craft show shortly after I took up potting. George showed me pictures of his father’s finely crafted pots. He told me that his dad  threw pots well into his nineties. When Mr. Pearsall became unable to prepare his own clay, George wedged and pugged it for him so his dad could still practice the craft he loved. By the time George and I met, his dad was too frail to sit at the potter’s wheel. The last of Mr Pearsall’s clay had dried in his pugmill, locking the blades for good.

George asked if I’d be interested in his father’s collection of pottery books.

“Sure!” I said, unaware of the incredible library he had amassed.

There were boxes and boxes of pottery books. There were books about wheel throwing, slab building and coil pots. There were books from the seventies with pictures of earthtone pots suspended from macrame hangers. There were books about Pre-Columbian pots from Panama, Pennsylvania German tulipware, Anasazi pottery, redware, Japanese ceramics, and Mid-Century earthenware.

There were books by and about the masters, MIchael Cardew, Lucie Rie, Warren MacKenzie, and of course Bernard Leach.

Mr. Pearsall Kept this Note from the Crafts Council in England Inside Lucie Rie's Retrospectiv

Mr. Pearsall Kept this Note from the Crafts Council in England Inside Lucie Rie’s Retrospective

THE Book (a Collector's Item) by the Man Who Reignited the Pottery Movement in the Twentieth Century

THE Book (a Collector’s Item) by the Man Who Reignited the Pottery Movement in the Twentieth Century

There were portfolios of carefully curated ceramic exhibits. And there were academic monographs.

I suspect some university ceramic departments maintain lesser libraries than Mr. Pearsall’s collection.

A Few o Mr. Pearsall's Books With the Tabs Annotating Important Images

A Few of Mr. Pearsall’s Books With the Tabs Annotating Important Images

I discovered that the pages of many books still held tabs and sticky notes he had inserted to mark key passages and pictures.  It was like having a personal pottery professor to highlight the most important points.

Unfortunately Mr. Pearsall passed away before I had the opportunity to meet him. But as I spent time with his library, I began to feel that I was spending time with him, sharing his love of the art form that is at once ancient and contemporary.

Rized Pots by Voulkos, Takemoto and Others. 1969

Ceramic Art In America: Pots by Voulkos, Takemoto and Others. 1969

There is nothing I enjoy more than potting. But when it is too cold to pot, a day with Mr. Pearsall and his library is a pretty great alternative.

Of Paris, Pots, and Rhum de la Reunion

This colorful earthenware bowl compliments the curves of the rush seat chair in our little Paris apartment. A simple salad and cheese became a feast in this setting.

This colorful earthenware bowl complements the curves of the rush chair in our Paris apartment. A simple salad and chevre became a feast in this setting.

Our daughter, Julia, could not make it home for Christmas, so my wife and I flew to Paris to celebrate the New Year with her. We were fortunate to find a perfect, little Paris apartment on Airbnb. The flat, just steps from Rue des Martyrs, and artfully furnished by a young designer, became home base for our exploration of “The City of Light”.

pot shelf

My wife fell for glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, sparkling at night, from our kitchen window. I fell for our landlord’s collection of pots: some terracotta, some earthenware, some painted, a few chipped, every piece functional.

My favorite pot was a tiny, asymmetric cup with mottled green and white glaze. I suspect it was intended for espresso, but I pressed it into nightly service for sipping the smooth Rhum de la Reunion that Julia brought for me from the island in the Indian Ocean where she has been teaching English.french terracotta vase

We hit all the obligatory tourist spots: Montmartre, Champ-Elysees, the Eiffel Tower (during the day and at night),  Notre-Dame, museums, parks, and statues, statues, statues.

But when you travel anywhere with a pottery nerd, you must be prepared to spend lots of time looking at pots. My wife and daughter graciously indulged my “pot thing”, and patiently walked through room after room of ancient pottery in the Louvre while “normal” tourists swarmed the Mona Lisa.

Prehistoric pots in the Louvre with amazingly contemporary silhouettes.

Prehistoric pots in the Louvre with amazingly contemporary silhouettes.

We saw African pots at the Quai Branly Museum, huge garden pots at Versailles, and humble, vintage pots at the Paris flea market.  And on one lucky day we stumbled upon A Ma Table, a fantastic shop with contemporary and vintage pottery from across the globe.A-ma-tableThe shop was always bustling with locals. I watched a woman inspect dozens of handmade pots, one at a time, before selecting a delicate pinched bowl.  I realized that the French are as discerning about their tableware as they are about the food that goes on it, oh joie de vivre!

new years treats edited

Treats for our Veille du Jour de L’An celebration purchased from shops along Rue des Martyrs. We were lucky enough to score a few beignets, which the patisseries make specially for this holiday.

Paris was perfect: the food, the wine, the art–and the pots. I returned home with such beautiful memories, that I expected to bask in the afterglow for a long time. So it was heartbreaking to wake up on the morning we returned to news of the terrorist attacks on the city.

I just recently learned that “City of Light” or “City of Lights” is a crude English translation for Ville Lumiere, which actually means “city of enlightenment”, the model that the United States adopted for a culture of free speech and the exchange of ideas. Lets all pray that Ville Lumiere will blaze through this terrible darkness of terrorism.

Third Annual Open Studio Pottery Sale Monday, Dec 1


The pots are all ready for tomorrow’s open studio pottery sale. Monday, December 1, 3:00pm-8:00pm. 132 Windswept Drive, Latrobe PA.

We have great gifts for everyone on your list and potted Christmas plants for your home.

Enjoy great food and spirits while you finish up your shopping.

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Hand carved terracotta planter

The pots are all ready for tomorrow’s open studio pottery sale. Monday, December 1, 3:00pm-8:00pm. 132 Windswept Drive, Latrobe PA.

We have great gifts for everyone on your list and potted Christmas plants for your home.

Enjoy great food and spirits while you finish up your shopping.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Because Nothing Says “I Don’t Care” Quite Like an Olive Garden Gift Card

The Christmas shopping season is well underway, so folks are snapping up Olive Garden gift cards at  grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations.olive garden gift card

I know that life is especially busy this time of year, so we all have to be extra efficient. But Granny knows just how much thought you put into the gift card you bought for her while picking up chicken breasts, cereal, and two bags of driveway salt.

Not only do you hurt Granny’s feelings with such a thoughtless gift, she probably doesn’t even like Olive Garden. Olive Garden gift cards have become the most dreaded Christmas gift of our time. They are this generation’s fruit cake. The main difference is that some people actually like to eat fruit cake.fruitcake

I suspect Olive Garden cards are re-gifted more often than crock pots and bad Merlot. There are actually websites that will let you resell your gift cards in case there is no one on your gift list that you dislike enough to give the Olive Garden gift cards that you received last year.

But you’re busy, and Granny has everything she needs, so what to do?

This year wow Granny, and everyone else on your list, with a little pot. I mean a handmade mug or bowl or soap dish. You can pick up a some really cool pottery for less money that you probably spend on gift cards. Granny will be thrilled that you were thoughtful enough to buy her something unique. And buying pottery is quick and easy since most potters have open studio sales in December as well as online pot shops.

Of course I hope you’ll visit my online store now or my Open Studio Sale on December 1st. But there are lots of great potters online and across the country to patronize this shopping season. Granny will love it, and you’ll help hard working artists.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite potters. Check out their websites, swing by their studios, and show everyone on your gift list just how much you care.

Jennifer Allen Gravey boat

Jennifer Allen Gravy Boat

  • Jennifer Allen  creates wheel-thrown and hand-built pots embellished with cheerful motifs at her studio in West Virginia. I took a workshop from her this year and was struck by what she said got her interested in potting. She said that as a child she admired the “good dishes” in the china cabinet that only got used on holidays. She wanted to create dinnerware that was as beautiful as those special dishes, but could be used every day. Her gravy boats are especially beautiful and would make a your holiday meals extra special.
  • Alex Matisse is my favorite potter. This year I treated myself to one of his marvelous slip trailed runlets. It now holds a place of honor in my home. His wood-fired pottery
Ales Matisse Charger

Ales Matisse Charger

is rooted in traditional North Carolina clay culture, but he is a potter of the future.

  • Brit McDaniel just opened her Memphis Tennessee studio in 2013,
Brit McDaniel pitcher

Brit McDaniel pitcher

and already she is getting national press. Her contemporary ceramics are casual. clean and spirited.

Kip O’Krongly is a Minnesota potter whose rural-themed pots make me smile.

Kip O'Krongly Chicken Flock Mug

Kip O’Krongly Chicken Flock Mug

  • Harrison McIntosh  celebrated his 100th birthday this year. His Mid-Century modern pots are  as awe inspiring as their prices.
    Harrison McIntosh Vase

    Harrison McIntosh Vase–all I want for Christmas.

    I’m telling Santa that I’ve been a very good boy this year. Do you think his elves will log onto 1st Dibs and pick up a Mcintosh pot for my stocking?

Three Weeks and Counting

pottery pilsners Three weeks from today is the third annual open studio sale at my home studio. I’ve been throwing like crazy to make sure I have a wide selection of pots for the event.

Today these pottery pilsners came out of the kiln looking good. I used a rich, dark brown glaze that is new. I’m really happy with the glaze.  I’m thinking I may just keep a few of these back for myself. They’d be perfect for a pint after a day of potting.

The open studio sale is Monday, December 1st  between 3:00 and 8:00 at my home studio.

I’m also working on some really cool pots inscribed Buon Natale. They will be for sale at the marketplace at Rizzos Malabar Inn.

If you are in the mood to do some early Christmas shopping now check out my online shop here.