Wednesday, February 27, 2008


If I had a wood kiln maybe it would look like this beauty at Hagi. I'm guessing now that this is a standard noboragama firebox.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

We don't know what this says but this pottery book is great.

Christa gave me this book she found in Tokyo. Maybe someone of you who reads a little Japanese can leave a translation of the title in the comments section. At EMU I found a similarly formatted and printed book on Rosanjin that I went through every time I was there, along with the Hal Riegger book. When I was at KU there was a special room at the Spencer Library with books written in foreign language. I made lots of xeroxes of clay processes, kilns, and pots.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Okazaki Teabowl

Above, top, is an example of what Takao Okazaki refers to as his setoguro or black Oribe, done in the hiki dashi style right out of the front firemouth of the kiln. You can view kiln pics at his web site by googling his name or Kristin Muller's site. I met him at NCECA and took this portrait at the gallery opening at Thrown Together Clay in Louisville. The show was 2 person with his large sculptural work and Mullers pots.

Christa emailed me this week from Japan and said the view of Fuji covered in snow was astounding. She has taken numerous business trips to Tokyo over the years but Fuji is normally obscured by cloud cover. While she was away I spent this time developing the premise "Wandering Poets, Crazed Dripsters, and Free Glazers". John Britt thought this sounded pretty good. A few more examples of dripping, pouring, crawling, and crazed glazes will follow in future posts.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Free Glazers, Wandering Poets, and Crazed Dripsters

Christa, Mary Helen and I had a long talk about pop art and abstract expressionism at Chef Michael Richard's Citronelle. There was some disparaging remarks about Jackson Pollock's drip paintings. We all ordered the Sablefish marinated 72 hours in sake and served with miso sauce - and here is the gimmick - when it came time to drip on the miso sauce it was easier imagined than done. All of the sudden the organic fluidity of the action painter became vividly illustrated by the task at hand. Some comment about "dripsters" and a whole new reality sprang to life. The illustration is from Freer/Sackler Southeast Asia exhibit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Trees, Mountains, Sun, Sky

Got this from my Dad today. It reminds me of the composition I am still working on. When we went from Kansas to Oregon the I Ching read "Fire at the foot of the Mountain" - isn't that the truth?

"Dear ones:

Somewhere around the time that we bought the house in San Mateo and moved in there, I was pretty active in the San Francisco Art Directors Club, which I thought was something of a pinnacle of my career (never imagining that membership in any group is only that -- dues being up to date and all).

Someone decided that it was time for the kids of the art directors to show their stuff and have an exhibition. So, it came to pass that the three Hansen kids old enough to hold pencil, crayon, brush or whatever, did their thing. Dad got their finished works dry-mounted to cardboard and dutifully entered.

At the next meeting I was extremely pleased to find that each of you had won in your age categories. Mom and I were more than anxious to preserve the moment for later indulgence since about that same time, Laura Jane joined the family and other considerations began to take precedence.

So, some half-century later as I got deeper into the "downsizing" efforts in the basement, I found the treasure trove of collected drawings and paintings from the mid-forties and fifties safely ensconced in a large portfolio.

In each case, the paper had aged considerably and some of the edges were less than tidy, but the essence still comes through. We hope each of you enjoys a moment or two of reflection and find a little pleasure in these classics as we do. Consider this your Valentine!

Sending love -- Mom and Dad"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doves in the Clay Pit

A pair of Turtle Doves sun themselves in the new clay pit whose first purpose is to remove the earth that is caving in my studio/garage wall. Click on the image for a closer view.

A hand formed piece made with my backyard clay has mica specs that reflect light - looks like glitter in the clay. Taos pueblo has this in their clay too, and you can see the mountain their clay has come from. I have been reading up in Michael Cardew’s Pioneer Pottery trying to get a better picture about clay. One thing in his discussion is about feldspar altering into kaolin, well with a couple of significant by products, anyway. What Cardew doesn't mention is that 80% of the earths rock is felspathic by definition, which just from the normal process of "kaolinization" might create a wide variety of possible or theoretical primary clays. Naturally that also creates many secondary clays. But possibly as different feldspars become more or less the same kaolin, these many rocks become clay, and clay may be more similar to other clays than the different rocks the come from. Page 24 has the usual system of classification of hydrated sheet structure minerals; the same system is followed in my Field Guide to Rocks and Mineral by Frederick H. Pough, though in greater detail. Cardew states that "granites" produce white feldspars and the whitest kaolins, diorite a pinkish or red kaolin, then discusses bauxitization and the process leading to high alumina fire clays. Moving on to "secondary clays" he mentions clays derived chiefly from micas, and suggests that biotite mica is the source of much of the worlds red clay. The origin of ball clay is skipped over, there is not much discussion of how under clays are derived, but it is the same in England as it is in Kentucky. There is coal over it, so tropical forests grew in the clay, extracting many of the minerals, regardless of whether the clay is kaolinite or illite in origin: once the minerals are stripped away it becomes a ball clay. Clays of volcanic origin are discuused: aeolian clays/montmorillonite (bentonite). No mention of primary clays/micas which are weathered or hydrothermally altered extrusives, e.g. lavas. Hank Murrow and David Stannard were able to shed light on this mystery. Cardew has discussion here of slip clays, marls, or ochres either but maybe elsewhere in the book. Ryoji Koie in his travels always attempts to find local clays of this type. One of the things that has me stumped right now is that the light-orange colored mudstones of Georgetown are compressed mica of which type seems to be the source of clays with same minerals, & what I am looking at here in Alexandria is weathering of this same mineral, ranging from mica sand all the way to a fine plastic clay. Unless I am missing some important point here. This region is mostly metmorphic rock and one of those metamorphic rocks is clay and mica schist. This rock is a possible origin of these clays. Maybe(?)

The hill is called "Strawberry Hill" in the 1946 plat. So "Strawberry Hill Gold" could be a nice descriptive name. The usual classification system:
ball clays 
stoneware clays 
earthenware clays 
slip clays
- ought to be applied for further description. My guess is that it will max out in the stoneware or earthenware range.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hansen's Clay Mine

Okay, it is more of a small hole in the ground. But anyway, I scooped up a clean piece and molded it into a hand formed bowl. In Kansas, we had marine clay about 300 million years old. This stuff here in Alexandria is the various decompositions of mountains that were once as grand as the Himalayas. The clay is toothy, still full of mica. There is an extremely plastic component as well. You could say it has everything between basketballs and golf balls, to use potter Hank Murrow's analogy. Naturally, I will process this clay properly and it can be used for clay body, engobes, or slips, what ever it seems fit for. Recently I have become aware of Alexandria's long ceramics history via seeing Eddie Wilder's book on colonial era stoneware potters in the heart of what is now Old Town. At:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pinch Pot Tea Bowl

Lately I have been trying to remember how to make pinch pots. Rather than adding a coil for a foot i just formed the whole piece at once. I wouldn't be ashamed to use a pot like this. The photo makes it look smaller than it is because the piece is heavy.

Cone 6 Wood Ash Glaze

This is the AG-19 recipe /AKA/ Mark Issenburg /AKA/ "Ashpot" 50/50 Red Art & Wood Ash with added 5% red iron fired to cone 6 electric and "bumped" in the cooling process; when it cooled to low dull red it was spiked back up to orange heat. I think that I want to substitute Alberta for the Red Art and see if it moves a little more. That and add maybe 1% copper and 1/2% cobalt (?). Originally the AG 19 is a clearish green glaze fired in reduction cone 10, or so I am told. There is a similarity to the recipe of Leach's Tea Dust (from his Potter's book) which is 50 raw ochre (a clay rich in the yellow iron-bearing mineral limonite) and 50 wood ash. I think the basic skeleton of these glazes is 50% ash and 50% fusible (as opposed to vitreous) clay. Naturally squirrely since it has no feldspar to broaden the firing range.

Cone 6 Wood Ash Glaze

This example shows layered glazes, the ash glaze is Leach Old Seto, the boron glaze we won't talk about as I don't use it anymore, there are better formulations out there of cone 6 boron types.