06 Jun

Virginia College is Class Act

Just received a thank you letter from the Birmingham Symphony Decorator Show House Design Team. The Virginia College students have learned their lessons well and listened to their mothers instructions on etiquette.  They were great to work with for starters and now they have proven themselves gracious and well mannered. Below is the text of the letter.

The 2009 Designer Show House has come to a successful close. The entire Design Team from Virginia College would like to thank you for your willingness to help us achieve our goal of creating an interesting and inviting playroom in our assigned space. We would not have been able to create our vision without the generosity of supporters like yourself, especially during these trying economic times.

The room was a child’s “Enchanted Forest” playroom and the gorgeous handmade cabinet you loaned us was the perfect addition to the room. Not only was it the correct size but was beautifully handcrafted and received many favorable comments on the quality.

Once again thank you very much for loaning the cabinet to our effort, it helped to make our room a popular and well-liked living space. We look forward to patronizing your business in the near future.

Yours truly,

2009 Design Team

Virginia College students are a class act.

22 Feb


I can really see how my limited skill as a potter has improved. Of course, I had no where to go but up. I don’t know how it happened but I was able to make some nice bowls that I can actually use as serving pieces. I also made a small plate on the wheel–I am told that plates are difficult. There were so many talented people in my class who made much more difficult pieces, but I am very pleased with the loot I brought home. I love the blue glaze and the red also turned out very rich. I tried some spotting for artistic effect with a white glaze and I kind of like it too.

BowlsMore Bowls

22 Feb

Experiments in Shaping

I finished my latest round of classes at Cahaba Clayworks. Just to finish up my last round, I found my “experiments in shaping” that had been bisque fired and finished them up. I do not know exactly what these might be used for but I think they might have a function as a pencil holder or as a weird flower vase.

Shape Shifting

This is a lovely glaze called varigated blue. I used it a lot on the finished pieces from this last go round.

09 Jan

Mud Wrestling: Round 3

Ever seen pictures of the aborigines where they are covered in white clay from head to toe? I looked at myself in the mirror after my latest pottery class and that is what I saw. White clay in my hair, on my face, halfway up my arms, and all over my clothes. A particulary messy passtime–but oh, so satisfying.

I am on my third round of pottery classes at Cahaba Clayworks. It had been a while due to a hectic fall and early winter. I thought I would forget alot of what I had learned, but it is like riding a bike (even if I am still on training wheels). Much came back and Larry (the teacher) was there to explain a couple new things. I am not sure where I am going with this round of classes but I hope to make better pieces than the last time and figure out how to see what the clay wants to become and shape it accordingly.

If you have the opportunity, get out there and get muddy.

09 Oct

Physics Rules

I just returned from a trip to Corpus Christi, TX where I had the good fortune to meet Ed and Cornelia Gates of Aloe Tile Works. Walking into their shop was a totally random thing and so fortunate for me. They make custom tiles from red clay and paint them using a pigmented clay. Beautiful work that is garnering a lot of local interest in TX. They have done some very big tile mural projects for the state and schools and they do a lot of “ceramic certificate” work (plaques commemorating events). They also do custom tiles for home projects like backsplashes and bathrooms. They showed me beautiful crosses, Christmas ornaments, and mirrors they have custom made. Just beautiful!

Aloe Tile

Ed is the Potter there and Cornelia is an-ex lawyer turned artist/organizer of the place. (This is an over simplification, of course.) They were both so warm and generous with their time. They showed me around their Studebaker-garage-turned-pottery studio and the adjacent gallery which is housed in the showroom of the former dealership. Ed explained their processes and I asked a lot of questions. Both he and Cornelia were so generous with their time. I could have hung around for hours chatting and watching the processes.


A light bulb came on as to another reason (besides the availability of clay in some locales) why many great Potters take up residence on the coast. [ Shearwater /The Andersons for example] Ed says it is the humidity. This allows the artists more time to work with the clay without it drying out. So it comes down, again, to physics. If only my physics classes had explained the effect of this most basic science on real life rather than focusing on equations and fuzzy math.

Thanks Ed and Cornelia! You remind me that there are cool people doing what they love and creating beautiful/meaningful things all over the country.