Mixed results from two summer 2023 firings

My first two glaze firings since 2020 produced some great, and less than great, results, with the problems resulting from some uninspired throwing and continued serious issues with one of my two key glazes.

The firings took place the first weeks of both August and September and were, once again, in Jennifer Dinklemeyer’s gas kiln in Alexandria, Virginia. The two kiln loads were populated with pots thrown in my new Gainesville Studio, from October 2022 to July of this year. They consisted of 14 lidded  jars, about 80 mugs of three  different styles, and 8 bowls. A dozen of the mugs and three of the jars  were the first results of my recent attempts to bring faceted forms into my family of forms.

My new Suburu Forester, purchased with just such  glaze firing safaris in mind, proved perfect for the task, comfortably accommodating me, 11 small Home Depot moving boxes, 8, two gallon buckets of glaze and enough clothes and sundries to last both weeks in Alexandria, one in Washington, DC, one in Manhattan and one in Montreal. The latter three cities were for play, not pottery.

Jennifer’s Bailey kiln underwent a fine-tuning overhaul since I last fired in it, and it performed as well as ever for both firings. The August event was the best of the two, mainly because it involved two flawless glazes, Lafeans turquoise and tea dust tenmoku. The torquoise was spectacular on five cap lids jars, while the temmoku was as dependably dynamic as ever on the bowls and several dozen white stoneware mugs, although a fair number of the mugs would have benefited from more trimming. Six more turquoise jars in the second firing were equally nice, but most everything else was compromised in some way: 45 small, squared mugs marred by a continued problematic Woo Blue glaze, and Blue-Black-glazed faceted jars and mugs suffering from over-reduction, due to poor placement in the kiln on my part.

The continued issues with Woo Blue was the most disappointing aspect of the experience, as it continued issues encountered all the way back to 2019. Thinking a different formulation of rutile — light vs dark — was the issue, I mixed a new batch of the glaze with the former, only to have it turn out a completely bizarre opaque olive green! Back to the drawing board. While these mugs cannot be corrected, the Blue-Black pieces may come to life with re-oxidation in my electric kiln.

Counterbalancing the Woo Blue issue was my successful exploiting of a serendipitous discovery made in 2020: that multi layering Lafeans turquoise might produce some lovely results, particularly on cap lid jars, which I’ve accentuated with more bulbous shoulders and more curvilinear bases.

Most of the pots from these firings will be for sale in my next sale the first weekend of December.


First faceted mugs in turquoise and shino


Tenmoku mugs


Forester made for kiln firing safaris











Vine mug sale set for Friday- Saturday, February 22-23

I’ll be at Vine Bakery and Cafe selling mugs Friday, February 22, 5-9 pm and Saturday, February 23, 10 am – 4 pm. I’ll be offering three mugs styles, pictured below. Prices will be $18 for students, $22 for non-students. For those flying in for the event, Vine is at 627 N Main, Gainesville, Fl. I look forward to seeing you @ Vine :-)

Leach White glaze over Laguna Dark Brown clay; reduction-fired
Blue Black (out), Waxy White (in) glazes; reduction-fired
Shino and Woo Blue over Shino glazes; reduction fired

District Clay Center Spring Sale

I’ll be selling work at the District Clay Center Spring Sale, on Saturday, May 5, 11 am – 4 pm. The event will be at DCC 2414 Douglas St NE, in the District.

Almost 30 potters will be selling their work. I’ll be selling mugs and bowls of the varieties shown below. Please join us!


New batch of mugs delivered to Vine

Yesterday, I delivered several dozen new mugs to my home cafe away from home, Vine Sourdough Bakery and cafe, in Gainesville. Most of the mugs are from late 2017 and early 2018 firings, though a few were fired as far back as 2015. I’ll now sit back at Vine for a few weeks and enjoy being around others enjoying — hopefully — my mugs :-)

Vine customers will be able to purchase some other mugs at Vine, on Friday and Saturday, February 23 & 24. Sale details will be provided in a subsequent post.

Successful DCC firing includes mugs destined for Vine Sourdough Bakery and cafe

Two late January glaze firings in the District Clay Center gas kiln were successful enough that I will be able to bring a slew of pretty nice new mugs with me to Florida in early February.

I’m still having issues with two key glazes — White Salt and Woo Blue — but I’ve successfully substituted Leach White for the former and have simply deemphasized the latter, for the time being. I’m also getting excellent results with Blue Black (essentially VC AA Blue Green, but with bentonite) on a particular mug shape that I informally call Thin Curvy. Examples of both Leach White and Blue Black glazed mugs are below.

The Florida-bound mugs will be distributed to friends and at Vine Sourdough Bakery, some for Vine to utilize for customers, some to sell on a yet to determined date in mid-February.

Just-opened DCC kiln, January 30, 2018

Blue Black (out), Waxy White (in) glazes; reduction-fired

Leach White glaze over Laguna Dark Brown clay; reduction-fired



District Clay Center kiln beginning to bear fruit, grudgingly

It can be a challenge to fire an unfamiliar kiln for the first, or even the fourth, time. The Bailey 34/22 at the District Clay Center has been no exception.

The DCC Bailey 34/22 kiln chamber

I’ve now fired the DCC kiln four times and am still a long way from understanding, not to mention mastering, it. Unlike all the other kilns I’ve fired — which were essentially slightly elongated (vertically) cubes —  the 34/22 is a decidedly tall column. I’m still trying to figure out how to manipulate, or at least coax, it with the ideal mix of gas and air.

The kiln has some cool spots, which I’m only beginning to identify. Also, it has a large and very efficient exhaust system, which does a terrific job of sparing the studio from firing fumes, but also obscures one of the key ways I’d grown used to “knowing” a kiln: through the smell of exhaust escaping from it.

As a result, glazes that I’d grown to fire with ease have been very fickle, resulting in about a 50% success rate. My refuse collectors are no doubt getting tired of the weight of my rejects-laden garbage can :-(

Still, I’m starting to get some keepers out of the kiln, the most notable of which are as follows:

Woo Blue and Shino ramen bowls

Blue/Black and Waxy White

Woo Blue over Shino

Stay tuned.


Gay Smith workshop at Truro Center for the Arts

A lovely workshop with Gay Smith at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill (TCA), on Cape Cod, ended today. The 5-day workshop, called Fresh Approaches to Functional Pots, was a hands-on affair, and while I attended Gay’s morning demonstrations, I spent the afternoons working on work from home that couldn’t wait. I also had time to enjoy uniformly spectacular early summer Cape weather — mid 70s, sailing breezes, remarkable light — and buzzing Provincetown, before the arrival of the full summer crowds.

The TCA has been offering workshops since 1971, but this is the first year it has been able to provide accomodations to workshop participants, thanks to the recent acquistion of 11 acres and several buildings about a mile from the main campus.

Gay’s inspired instruction, a wonderful living space, and an attentive  TCA staff, made for a terrific week on the Cape.

Gay Smith making a point at her June 2017 Truro Center for the Arts workshop


Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill


Part of the housing at Truro Center for the Arts

2015 Alfred University and 2017 St Pete firing results posted

I have posted pots from both my 2015 workshops at Alfred University and my March 2017 firing at the Morean Center for Clay in St Petersburg, in the Gallery’s Still Kiln Warm section.

The Alfred firings marked the first time in about seven years that pots of mine were fired by someone other than me, in this case Alfred ceramics graduate students. Given the super high volume of pots fired during  the workshops; the heavy utilization of a new kiln; and the availability of almost exclusively glazes unfamilar to me, I was very pleased with some of the results. Particularly successful were one tall jar and some darkly elegant cereal bowls.

As noted, the March 2017 Morean firing also presented its challenges, in this case of my own making. Nonetheless, it was not an entire fiasco. I was particularly pleased with the results of a new tallish, concave mug form that I intend to explore further.

I’m now back in the studio, beginning production for at least one firing in the DC-Baltimore area this summer and two in St Petersburg later in the year.



July workshops at Alfred (NY) University

Feeling the need to at least temporarily remedy my state of relative creative isolation, I’ll be attending two July pottery workshops at Alfred University in Western New York. Situated about an hour west of Ithaca, Alfred features arguably the country’s top academic clay program.

I’ll be combining a two-week workshop — led by Linda Sikora and Matthew Metz — with the last two weeks of a four-week workshop, led by John Gill and In-Chin Lee. Sikora and Gill are professors in the Alfred ceramics program. I’ve long been familiar with the work of Sikora and Metz; Gill and In-Chin Lee, not so much.

Hopefully, the month will provide experiences and benefits I wasn’t expecting. At a minimum, I’m looking for some serious creative recharging, and some bald critiques of my recent work. And, unlike all my previous workshop experiences — which were the traditional 3-day, weekend affairs — this extended program will provide me the opportunity to apply new things on the wheel in the more long-term presence of the sources of instruction and inspiration.

Beyond the clay, I’m looking forward to some pastoral biking in much less than 99-degree temperatures; a meal or two at Moosewood; a couple of minor league baseball games in Auburn, involving the Pirates’ New York-Penn League affiliate; and perhaps a day at the roots and zydeco-tinged Grassroots music festival.





New batch of mugs delivered to Vine

mugs_to_vine_april_2015I delivered 11 new mugs to Vine last week, rotating the same number out of the mix. All the mugs came out of a very nice, mid-March kiln firing at St Pete’s Morean Center for Clay.

The best results occurred in what I’m calling the “Graphic” and “Shino Blacksplash” mugs, captured in the front and back rows, respectively, in the accompanying photo and in the first two of four images on Page 1 of the Mugs gallery page.

Mugs similar to these, out of the same March firing, will be on sale at Vine from April 10th through the 17th.