The yams had to be eaten tonight, the mangoes all turned ripe today; there are a few roses lingering in the kitchen from the six-day-old bouquet.

Casa T and garden in the latest weather.  Florida is most beautiful in the summer!

Armory Art Center Artists in Residence Exhibition : showcasing the work of 2009-2010 Armory Artists In Residence including Doug Crocco, Tyra Forker, Bethany Krull, Jill Oberman, and Stepahnie Stuefer

April 22 – May 14, 2010 @ The Armory Art Center 1700 Parker Ave, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-2pm

left to right: Doug Crocco, Bethany Krull, & Stephanie Stuefer

Jill Oberman’s soda fired wall pieces in the upper left, Bethany Krull’s “Homeless Hermits” and “Starter Pet Adaptations” and my “Family of Dishes”

… a detail of one soda fired dish from the family

left to right  …”Storage Jars (Landscape Series)”, “Striped Charger”, “Family of Dishes”, and “Sauce Boat”

“Striped Charger”  …soda fired stoneware + glaze, 19″ across

…yes, I love those lil’ irregularities

“Sauce Boat” …salt fired porcelain + glaze

A view of the gallery with work by Stephanie Stuefer, Jill Oberman, and Bethany Krull…

… Stephanie’s teapots, pitchers, and cups & saucers.

…a lil’ of what’s been happening in my corner office.

A series of porcelain cups…… all similar, but different.

Sketches of jars…

Two 20″ plates in the process of being glazed for soda firing…

A series of new planters in a black stoneware clay body, most likely destined for the soda kiln… and then my patio!

… one of my favorites so far, upside down & still only greenware.

More greenware… cups, jars, and bowls.

I think I’ve lost count of the number of soda kiln firings now, but this one filled with work from the students at the the Armory was as beautiful as many of the recent past.  And the top cone pack let out this drip of  a m a z i n g all the way down the brick it was perched on.

I was just re-reading a section on “Feet” for bowls by Clay Illian in A Potter’s Workbook:

Page no. 54: “Choosing the right tools and catching the clay at the perfect degree of wetness allows the metal tool to speak with its own voice, with its own gesture.  Treat even the insides of foot rings with respect.  When bowls are turned over they should reveal pleasing shapes fashioned with bold strokes of the turning tool.  The difference between the thrown surface and the turned surface is subtle but enhancing.  Sometimes glazes react differently to the two surfaces, and this can be a wonderful thing.  Polishing the surface after you have turned it so that it resembles the thrown surface is usually counterproductive.”

She puts it so well.  I think it was just maybe the unexpected reminder I needed before heading to the studio to trim some porcelain bowls…


Just before Christmas we loaded the soda kiln at the Armory for the last firing of the year!  The stack was a little loose but Kara (Armory ceramics instructor, photographer, and ray of sunshine) had plenty of pots to help fill the space (above, right).  The photo above, left shows the addition of a skinny stack of 5″ x 24″ shelves in front of the two deep 12″ x 24″ shelves.  The skinny stack helps maximize stacking space in the kiln and leaves about three inches for circulation between the front and back kiln walls and the shelves.  There weren’t too many small pots for this kiln, but it will be a fun space to fill with mugs, tumblers, and cups for future firings.


Above: The top cone pack and some of Kara’s pots (still too hot to unload) in the kiln.  Her raw stoneware surfaces turned out beautiful with the soda!

Ta-da!  Kara and the almost unloaded kiln …with some pots still too hot to unload.


These two bricks were part of the bag-wall of the soda kiln at the Armory.  The kiln’s north bag-wall had started to shift and lean toward the wall of the kiln through recent firings, and during firing no. 7 they had finally moved enough to fall into the firebox during the firing.  (I was trying to wait a few more firings and for the Holiday break to work on it, but… and it wasn’t major at all and was very easily repaired!)

The bricks became fused together in the direct path of the flame and the soda solution spray…  add the heat and accumulation of soda from many previous firings (as part of the kiln’s interior) and the form, texture, color, and surface changes into something rather amazing.



(soda kiln stack no. 2)



(pots loaded and waiting in the kiln… and starting to unbrick the firing with Ms. Bethany Krull)


(No.2 stack, post firing)



(a drawing found in the youth area at the Armory.)


(No.3 loaded and ready to go…)


(above: pots loaded and ready to fire, below: spraying in a solution of soda ash & borax)



(No.3, the fired stack)



See more pots from the last two firings in “portfolio” or click here

Last week (September 23rd) we loaded the soda kiln at the Armory Art Center full of student work, resident artist work, and some tests.  It was my first time firing the soda kiln here and I was pretty amazed with how many pots it gobbled up, having started off thinking that we might not have enough to fill it.  ha!



Glazed flower arranger and a plate diptych ready for loading… I love the characteristics of raw glaze on pots.  Sometimes it is more interesting than after they have been fired.


They were making fun of my business-professional apron! ha! Spraying the soda solution into the kiln when cone 9 was very soft… we introduced 4lbs of soda ash and 2 lbs of baking soda with hot water into the kiln in two 15 minute rounds.


Stephanie Steufer, fellow ceramics Artist in Residence at the Armory, spraying in soda solution.  Team Red Head was super efficient pumping in the soda solution… we rotated in and out of spraying position every few minutes to get a break from the heat.  The sprayer made the whole event pretty exciting…it is hooks up to compressed air and and feeds solution from a hanging 5 gallon bucket.  (It was as fun as it sounds, and really effective!)

A M A Z I N G.  This is way better than the old garden sprayer method, there is no clogging, no fussing, no melted tips, no pumping… (After using this I never want to use a garden sprayer again!)



Curious toads hang out in cat bowls outside the dry cleaner’s down the street from the Armory every night like clockwork!  We stopped by to say hello post firing.


The front view of the fired stack…


Overall, it was a good firing and am I looking forward to becoming good friends with the kiln…


Some new jars…


Little rocks glasses fired in the front of the stack…





My latest endeavor… rectangular serving dishes (destined for the next soda firing).  Today I started a series of small serving dishes (oval and almond shaped), some more small cups, small bowls, and sundae dishes… Trying to finish a lot of small pieces so I can fire the kiln again sometime late next week… we’ll see what happens!

For the most part, I am settled in my artist-residency at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, FL.  All boxes are unpacked, a work-flow is beginning to take shape, and pots are creeping onto the shelves…  Here is a peak into what I was up to last week:


One view of my studio set up at the Armory Art Center… with my wheel elevated to throw standing up and knobs and rims of a new jar series on the table.


My own take on a flower holder… based on a “Five-fingered Posy Holder” from Pennsylvania-German potters of the 1850’s.


A new series of jars… maybe for the soda kiln (!??!!?!!)

WPBaug09(H  u  g  e  tree along the bike path on the island of Palm Beach)

WPB2aug09(Intracoastal Waterway and Flagler bridge in West Palm Beach)


hurricaneturkey(I am flying the coop and migrating south for a year long residency at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. I don’t know how I will possibly bear a winter without snow, ice, and extreme wind chills, but I am sure I will manage.  Only eight weeks until the silver wagon and I hit the road! omg.)

P1030348(pun intended!  During my last work session at PTP I am focusing on pots with handles or pots that pour, or both!  Hooray for handles! …mugs, pitchers, ewers, teapots, etc…  This should keep me busy while Glick is off vacationing in Hungary at the ICS. ha!)



(We hit up Arizona, before NCECA, to make a road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.  It was an amazing journey and a whirlwind trip… I left Detroit in a spring slush/snow storm and arrived in sunny and hot Phoenix; we hit the road as soon as we hopped off the plane and made it to the Grand Canyon just in time for the sunset!  We stopped along the way for a visit to a white buffalo ranch, they let us in to see the beasts even though they were packing up to move to Oregon.




5webgcd(Little did I know that this atlas would later double as a blanket when it was actually too cold to be sleeping in the car at the Grand Canyon! Talk about multipurpose packing for an adventure.)

6webgcg(Grand Canyon!)

7webgcb(Grand Canyon!  We made it in time for the sunset!)

8webgcf(Red Rocks outside Sedona, AZ.  The drive from the Grand Canyon back to Phoenix was unbelievably beautiful!)

Well, I didn’t take any pictures in Phoenix at NCECA… not one single photograph.  It was great to see everyone, catch up with friends, and make new connections.  As always, I’m looking forward to next year.  Can’t wait to run up the stairs like Rocky in 2010.  ha!


(the amazing weather forced ice carrots up through the snow pile!)

2webwing(this big iron baby kept us warm and mesmerized by the glowing coals)

3webwina(bone dry pots: plates, an altered jar, and some constructed vases wait to be bisque fired)

4webwin(leather hard mugs, recently finished)

5webwinf(a bunch of BS! also known as “bisque scraping” …to remove any unpleasant burrs and grit.)

6webwine(the front of the stack of glazed ware waiting to be soda/salt fired)

7webwinb(the stack post firing: amazing!)

8webwind(luscious bag-wall pots, yum!)


I have posted new pots made during my first four months as an artist in residence at Plum Tree Pottery… just click here or on the portfolio tab at the top of the page to take a gander (thoughts, criticism, and feedback are more than welcomed via email).  I have learned more working in the studio with John than I can quantify… from running your own studio, maintaining equipment, making your own tools, making pots that function well, to making a delicious hot chocolate, and more…  We are presently in the middle of work cycle, enjoying snowy winter days making pots and warming up next to the wood stove in the studio.webwinterpost

(frozen driftwood at Union Pier Beach on Lake Michigan… a few winters ago)

As the first of many Michigan snowflakes began to fall today, I was reminded of my blogging delinquency. At the end of July, I packed up my stationwagon and headed to Farmington Hills, Michigan to begin a year+ long artist residency at Plum Tree Pottery. The last four months have been a great adventure… I have included a few of the best captured snippets below.


(above: Weko Beach in Bridgman, Michigan… one of the last sunsets spent at the beach after spending two weeks at home in the southwest corner of Michigan pretending to be on vacation visiting with friends and family.)

2wpflamingo2(The entrance to my new nesting grounds in Farmington Hills… the Flamingo Motor Home Court. The rent is cheap, neighbors are friendly, laundry room is close to my trailer, and the park is nice and quiet.)

3wptrailer1(My new nest! My very own trailer to call home… it is spacious enough without letting me collect too much junk! It came with my very own mailbox and astro-turfed porch.)

4wpstudiohandle1(At work during the first month at the studio… attaching a handle to cup to practice “pulling” handles. I am finally in the 100 handle club, I can’t believe it took me this long!)

5wpstandingwheel1(Soldner power wheel which has been modified to accommodate throwing while standing up. Learning to throw while standing seemed awkward at first, but now it seems normal. I don’t understand why I didn’t take the hint and start sooner… it makes so much sense.)

6wpbigbird1(A detail shot of ware shelves and bisqued ware for the first few glaze firings at the studio. John added the “Big Bird” sign for my arrival after a tip off about a nick-name. Thanks a lot Steve.)


On the third Saturday in August we ventured to the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise. It was, by far, the biggest car show I have ever seen. In true Motor City style, there were reports of more than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles. The street was lined with people for miles and I have never seen so many cars in one place! The week before the huge event I saw many eye catching rides just cruising around the area.


9wpdreamcruise41(This guy was cruising on his tricycle down the sidewalk at the Dream Cruise.)

10wpdreamcruise11(We saw all sorts of vehicles… Some parked in small car shows in random parking lots and others cruising up and down Woodward Avene. You name the make and model, and we probably saw it that day. From huge modified monster trucks to tiny cars with one seat and three wheels.)



Peeking in our first soda/salt kiln firing. The atmospheric kiln was a treat to fire after two gas reduction kilns. The results were amazing and unlike any other kiln I have ever unloaded!

13wpsodasaltkilnstack1The fired stack…


A group of my porcelain tumblers from the soda and salt firing…

15wpsodasaltcups12More of my tumblers from the firing. John’s collection of glazes are as amazing in the soda/salt kiln as the reduction kiln!)

16wpobamadetroit1On September 28th we ventured to downtown Detroit to see Barack Obama and Joe Biden speak! It was amazing to see them in person…the energy in the crowd was wonderful and inspiring.


Back to a wet working phase in the studio… I started to focus on cups, mugs, bowls, and plates for an upcoming studio event, scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving.

18wppotsdrying21…lots of bowls of all different sizes for all different uses

19wpplates1…a set of ten square-ish plates waiting to be trimmed. These plates have now been bisqued and glazed and are ready to load into a gas reduction firing tomorrow morning!

We’re planning a special event at Plum Tree Pottery for the holidays titled “Eat, drink…” Starting the three days after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28th-30th) and running through the month of December.  There will be lots of luscious pots for happy holiday eating… Stop by for a visit, share some holiday cheer and be merry!



In the middle of a sweaty July night I rolled out of Kansas City behind the wheel of my loaded station-wagon. Leaving Kansas City, my home for the last four years, to return to the great mitten shaped state for new adventures.  For the last three months I have had very strange dreams, including (but not limited to), dust palaces, mexican restaurants, armed robberies, beautiful cantenary arch salt kilns, late night dips in the Ingelnook pool, QuikTrip late night dining, blue koi, big fountains, majestic bicycles, spandex, rooftop sunsets, and wonderful friends (who I miss dearly!!).

Lets go to Panchos: I want a succulent bean, cheese, rice & guacamole burrito with a medium mountain dew, then we’ll split a piece of tres leches.




Opening Reception: June 6, 6-9 pm (First Friday)

The exhibition runs through June 28th…

Our regular gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm

(please visit to view more images of the exhibition…)

“Cups are one of the most used and most intimate objects in our kitchen. The connection people have with particular cups corresponds heavily with our memory of time spent alone or with others during our daily rituals of coffee or tea. Guest curator Lynn Smiser Bowers has brought together the work of thirty-six ceramic artists from around the country who each have their own individual approach to the drinking vessel. From sculptural works to a focus purely on function, at least one of the approaches is sure to captivate.”

Participating artists include: Lynn Smiser Bowers, Al King, Andy Shaw, Bede Clarke, Ben Stout, Brenda Quinn, Charity Davis-Woodard, Chris Gustin, Christa Assad, David Pier, Deb Schwartzkopf, Marie Deborah Wald, George Timock, Helen Otterson, Jose Sierra, Julia Galloway, Julie Johnson, Karen Swyler, Kari Radasch, Kevin Snipes, Kristin Kieffer, Liz Smith, Margaret Bohls, Marlene Jack, Matt Long, Meredith Host, Nathan Carris Carnes, Pete Pinnell, Rachel Euting, Richard Burkett, Ryan Greenheck, Scott Lykens, Stacy Snyder, Steven Roberts, Tara Dawley, and Tyra Forker

(Central pedestal, clockwise from top: Ryan Greenheck, Pete Pinnell, Kari Radasch, Liz Smith and David Pier)

(My contribution to the exhibition: “Highballs”, salt fired stoneware with iron inclusions and glaze)

(South end of the gallery, L to R: Brenda Quinn, Matt Long, Lynn Smiser Bowers and Rachel Euting)

(Two of my favorite cups in the exhibition… left cup: “Cat mug with guts” and right cup: “Cat mug with molecule” by Kevin Snipes)

(A group of some of my favorites from the exhibition. Right pair of earthenware mugs, titled “Legs” by Scott Lykens)

(Lower L to R: Charity Davis-Woodard, Andy Shaw, David Pier, Ben Stout, Jose Sierra)

(east side of the gallery)

(Clockwise from Top: Richard Burkett, Christa Assad, and Margaret Bohls)

(L to R: Debbie Wald, Marlene Jack, George Timock, Julia Galloway, Chris Gustin, Helen Otterson, Meredith Host…)

post graduation). Trolling through my photo library early this morning I found photos from the last events of the semester, indicative of the end. Sans studio, I am still working on correcting my messed up sleep schedule and reflecting on it all (being over). I am just about over my “chill-laxin” phase and realized, while at work today, that I have an itch to make some pots.  So until then… I’ll keep posting about my latest creative endeavors.

[The joy of the last cup glazed for the firing (and the last piece glazed at KCAI)…one of the many lasts that were commemorated. Thanks for reminding and helping me to take a photo Tara!]

[Salt Kiln packed with pots for the last firing of the semester]

[Salt Kiln stacks, post-firing. The right wall of the saggar box on the right collapsed sometime after the first salting, causing the front two stacks of shelves to rest against the wall.]

[All of the pots on the top two shelves were ‘kissing’ each other. Most of the vessels separated with a gentle nudge or tap. My two large double lidded jars toward the back of the kiln were good and fused, but we unloaded everything out without a major incident. Using a wooden wedge and rubber mallet I coaxed the jars apart, after pulling the babies out of the kiln like Siamese twins during a c-section.]

[It was pretty amazing to see what happened in the kiln as the stack shifted. Considering the potential of disaster, it all worked out in the end. Overall the semester was about failure for me and was, perhaps, the most educational of all my semesters. Maybe it was not the best way to end, but, it was the ending.  And the completion of this four-year experience is not THE end anyways, it is more like a beginning.]

[This picture is a classic ceramics department group photograph taken annually on the last day of clean-up. It is specifically posted for Bryan, who talked about this particular moment all semester. Referencing last year’s photo… it is the day when it seems like everything suddenly turns a vibrant green overnight, particularly that tree in the background which always looks so dead during the year. The morning sun intensifies the moment as it creeps onto Warwick.  Another year has past]


[to view larger versions of the images above: just click the photos, you may have to give it an additional click once the photo opens by itself in the window.]

Ceramics class of 2008 and faculty, post graduation ceremony on May 17th. Thanks for the photo Mo! (L to R: Sara Ream, Bryan Morris, Christa Assad, Steven Nichols, Ruby Tapp, Me, Casey Whittier, George Timock, Travis Pratt, Ian Coward, and Cary Esser.)  Click the photo to see a larger image…

Featuring the works of ceramics department seniors:

Tyra Forker, Bryan Morris, Steven Nichols, Sara Ream and Casey Whittier.

I’ll post photos of the space soon!

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