Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Quick Solution for Making Custom Sink Shapes

Yesterday I took on my first custom sink order of the year (and brother could I use 12 more of these to get me through winter).  Over the last 5-6 years my sink business has become a pretty regular feature of my shop production.  This is a GOOD thing.  People that are in the market for sinks have something major going on in their lives--building a house or taking on a large renovation--and there often are a lot more orders to follow.  Beyond the look of my work, I think one reason that I've been a regular choice  with many of the designers and builders in my area  is that I'm able to custom make sinks to match almost any size or dimension needed.  I used to shy away from anything other than a wheel thrown vessel sink (mounted above counter top)until I discovered the wonder material for making custom molds:  blue board insulation.  With a jig saw and a sheet of blue board, I can produce in ten minutes a mold for almost any order that walks in the door.  I've done my best to document the process in the pictures that follow.
Using 1 " blue board, Set a Jigsaw to 45 degrees and cut the desired sink shape
Trace the bottom of the cutout on the next piece of blueboard and cut it out.  Repeat until a desired depth has been achieved.  Tack all pieces together with epoxy.
Drape a slab into the mold.  Most Sinks I use 3 overlapping slaps.  Compress and scrape.
I usually add and texture an extruded rim.  For sinks, heft is good.
Complete texture and interior elements while sink is in the mold
Important:  build up the bottom of the sink to ensure proper drainage to the hole (no flat bottoms).
After a few days, encourage the sink out of the mold.  I like to hold it on its side and separate the pieces.
Use a hole saw bit for making a 1.25" hole.  Here I added an extruded coil to make a foot.
I'm stiffening the foot so I can flip the sink and adjust for level.
Notice textured outside.
Nice sink.  Lousy photograph.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not Your Typical Pottery Clip

Brian's little cat under construction
I recently came across a great little pottery film made by Montana potter, Brian Free.  Brian initially intended to make a "how to" film about process but instead was overcome by surreal impulses and made a film about the sensuality of a moment in his studio.  Definitely check out his blog where more such creative stuff can be found. Lately, he's been documenting his journey constructing a super cute little catenary arch wood kiln:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tagine Making: A Culinary World Adventure

My version of a traditional Tagine.

The other day a friend of mine came into the shop to guide me through the throwing of some "Tandoori" pots he wanted for gifts.  I thought I had a pretty good idea of what a "Tandoori" was because a few years back a restaurant in town had me make some dozen or so for them.  Later that day, when I did some research to verify that what I had made was actually a traditional shape for a Tandoori, I came to learn that I had made not a Tandoori but a "Tagine."  Tandooris are in fact huge cylindrical clay ovens used to roast skewered meat over an open flame and are used all over India.  Tagines, on the other hand, are Moroccan decent and are used for cooking stews which traditionally are comprised of lamb or chicken with a medley of ingredients or seasonings:  olives, apples, pears, apricots, raisins, prunes, dates, nuts, with fresh lemons with or without honey.  Traditional spices used to flavor include ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika and pepper.  YUM!!!!!!!!!  I cannot wait to fire a few of these for myself and start exploring the wonderful exotic world of Moroccan Cuisine.  I'm going to start with a few of the more famous tajine dishes: Mshermel (a pairing of chicken, olives, and Citrus fruits) and Mrouzia (lamb, raisins, and almonds).  I'll let you know how they turn out.

Traditional Tagines at Market

Giant Tandoori pots being made

I'll leave you with an excellent BBC video that looks at Tagine cooking in Morocco.  If this doesn't make your mouth water, nothing will.  I'm already making plans for our next dinner party.

Friday, January 21, 2011

John Thain and I Are Fellow Renovators

john Thain the rennovator
     Lately, I've been reading many potters' blogs on the topic of studio design.  Emily Murphy in particular has documented her lengthy journey in the last year moving from a group studio situation at LillStreet Art Studios in Chicago to setting up her own studio in the basement of a new house in Minneapolis.  She notes how such a move includes emotional and social adjustment as well as a whole litany of practical challenges.  And, of course, work that is produced in the new space is sure to be shaped in some way by the new environment. 
Her posts on this subject have made me reflect on my own experience this fall setting up a micro studio at my home.  In an effort to both make my work life more comfortable during the coldest months and to help me better meet the needs of my young family, I converted a gloomy 4" x 8" carport closet into cool little space for producing portrait sculpture.  My pottery shop is a mere mile down the road from my house, but it's heated with a single wood stove and in the colder months can take an hour or more to become something close to "comfortable" for working.This was only a slight inconvenience back in the old days before my wife and I started having babies.  Now, with morning diapers to be changed, and mouths to be fed there simply is no time to be blissfully staring into a wood stove for an hour every dawn waiting for the shop to warm.  My new space at home is making my winter much more comfortable as I can now quickly get to work in a cozy space not 8 feet out the door of the house AND more importantly, I'm at the ready should a baby need tending.   
   Ironically, one of the first portraits I was to undertake in this new space was fellow renovator, John Thain.  Remember him?  John was the former head of Merril Lynch who commissioned a 1.2 million dollar upgrade on his office as the American taxpayers went on the hook for billions of dollars to keep his bank from cratering.  Well, sure, John did a much fancier job on his space than I did but I'm thankful for my garage closet turned sculpting studio just the same.    
I think I like John  better as a patio torch than a banker.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Season's Greetings from The Duckpond Pottery

This past fall I began taking on greater numbers of commissions for doing portrait sculpture.  I enjoyed the work so much I made the decision to continue my focus on this work into 2011.  I've always been a fan of the great California "funk movement" sculptor, Robert Arneson, and really appreciate how the avenues of satire open up with this personality directed approach to sculpture.  You can begin to pick up on this new direction in the following slide show where I include a series entitled, "Pricks on Sticks: A sculptor's interpretation of the Financial industry." This is an ongoing creation of hand sculpted patio torches which include many notable figures in the banking and political realms. All the people I have chosen in this series have demonstrated having a great hand in crashing the world economy while unscrupulously helping to enrich themselves.  I find this kind of work empowering.  After so many years of just producing craft for an art market, I have enjoyed the political voice that this work has enabled in my work.
     As with all my potraits, they are made from wheel thrown and hand sculpted stoneware and are fired in heavy reduction to cone 10 using an electric/gas hybrid kiln.

Monday, January 17, 2011

 One of my favorite things about mountain living is when the winter snow hits, "island time" begins.  After the frenzied pace of making and selling pots through the Christmas season my body and soul need a few weeks closer to home and family.  And with two toddlers afoot, a few feet of new snow means Dad's not going to work for a while.