anagama shift.

my last night at the clay company was spent doing the 8-midnight shift with j.  at midnight matt said we might have as little as 45 minutes left so i decided to stay until the end.  approximately 5 hours later we shut the anagama down.  it made for a pretty delirious day at work, but it was worth it!  here are a couple of pics i snapped between side stokes.

"i'm hot to burn this sonovabitch" (paulina, what up!)


super hot and bright.

basically freezing except when stoking.

i found it really amazing to watch matt and don work.  they seemed to know what was happening inside the kiln at every moment.  or they would open up a peep hole and glean a ton of information.  when i fire the little soda, i’m never FULLY confident that i know what is happening.  in the anagama with multiple stoke points and all kinds of dynamics going on inside i was totally blown away by their extreme knowledge, confidence and control.  amazing!

first work of 2010

am i turning over a new leaf?  no, not really, but i did delve into the new year making some functional work.  the residents at st. pete clay (and a few others) are doing a shot glass exchange.  i’m running around with a chicken with my head cut off with moving preparation and working as much as possible but i took a few hours on jan. 3rd to make some shot glasses.  you can’t really tell from the images but they are just a little bigger than a large shot glass.  i had to bring my operation inside to the kitchen counter because it was absolutely TOO cold to work outside.

the cups are currently roasting away in the annual anagama firing at the clay company.  visiting artists don reitz, matt long and john ballisteri are captaining the firing.  i was disappointed to have to be so much less involved than last year, but thems the breaks.  i signed up for a stoking shift on saturday with some of my favorite girls (wilson, marlena) and we were kicking it old skool around the anagama.  i have no idea what the p10 porcelain will look like wood fired, but hopfully it will be nice.  i even lined them with shop clear.  i felt like a real potter!

actually the kiln won’t be opened until after my departure for philadlephia, but i’ll happily await my first mail in philadlephia: a package of shot glasses from every resident 🙂

i have another shift coming up tuesday night which promises to busy and HOT and side-stoke-tastic.

it’s a bit of a bummer to be on the periphery of this exciting event, but what a nice way to say good bye!

the move is on…


the above picture is of some tiny sculptures i call the saskunei seeds.  saskunei means “no worries” in the fukushima dialect of japanese.  in late 2007 i attended a sweet kiln workshop in mashiko, japan.  it was my first time to fire woodkilns and we fired 4 kilns in 4 days.  one of those kilns was the saskunei smokeless kiln built by kusakabe masakazu.  months later i would get to visit him at his studio in fukushima, two times and spend a couple of weeks there total.  while i was visiting his studio, i made the sculptures above.    pretty soon after that i returned to the united states for good.  on the way back i had a layover in atlanta, which i extended so i could visit my good friend and potter kelly sullivan.  she works over at an awesome studio/gallery mudfire and during the visit, i got to do some work there.  i made some monster sculptures and more of these little seeds, which she fired and glazed after i headed back to florida.  over one year later, on a trip up to bowling green, ohio, a friend and i stop in on her and after all this time i get to see the finished peices.  when i returned to my studio in st. pete, i decided to make a some more of these little guys, as favors for the folks who purchased work from my exhibition.  i’ve given a lot of them out as little gifts, but kept at least a few from each batch, and i’ll keep making them. 

which brings me to the next stop on this train line, philadelphia, pa.  i’ve “graduated” from my residency in st. pete and in january i’ll be moving up to philly.  i started this blog to write about the good times, struggles and process of the clay life and hopefully the next year will bring more to write about.

hot out of the kiln.

last post before atomic.  i’ll definitely post remotely from the bazaar with pics of everything going on. come on down and get a group of these little guys for your home.  i’ll also have some of the large wall peices and an assortment of rattles and tiny sculptures.

getting ready for atomic.

small wall piece, wood/salt fired.

last year i wrote about shopping at the atomic holiday bazaar in sarasota, fl.  this year i’ll be there selling my work.  i was honored to be selected and even more honored to be rocking my space with team sarasota!

small wall piece, soda fired porcelain.

i know it’s going be a good time.  last year i ran into an old friend who i hadn’t seen since before cell phones and internet!  crazy.

get to the bazaar early for sweet swag bags including some tiny sculptures by me!

small wall piece, soda fired porcelain, lots of yummy carbon trapping...


my clay co shelf near entrance...

back shelf/tide pool.

today i unpacked the work i’d taken with me to “eclectic and then some”.  since most of the smallies had just come out of the kiln they hadn’t made it to the shelf before heading over to gulfport.  these are some quick snaps, but you get the idea of my shelf space at the clay co.  i am really loving the pieces all together like this.

john cage says “Rule 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different
processes.”   gettting a look at everything together, the low fire wall pieces i made about a year ago and the small ones which i made a couple of weeks ago really get’s my brain going.  the collection in the second picture feels like a display case of a natural history museum.  shells?  fossils?  an aquarium?  this is the kind of situation i would like to put people in.  and then they realize they can take a little piece of the display home with them.

welcome to my collection of specimens…

fireside interview with a.i.r. danielle sigler.

super busy day.  y and i mixed up 1000 lbs of clay for don reitz’s visit.  red, m, y, j and i loaded up the wood train kiln today and tonight, after grilling up some dinner, we started the fire.  red and i are on first shift: 8 pm -4 am keeping the camp fire burning.  red is a new a.i.r. and moved in to my and j’s house after sarah tancred moved up to gainesville to do post bac at uf.

so we are posting live from the fire.

starting it was unceremonious.  y twisted  newspaper and placed it with wood into the bottom of the fire box and red took a torch to it.  in mashiko, japan we poured sake and rice into tea bowls and placed them on ledges specially built into the kiln for that purpose and passed around a lit candle until everyone involved with the firing had touched it and then took it to the kindling.  but i guess in mashiko we didn’t have a barbecue……anyway

nicole: red, how’s it going?  whatcha doing over there?

red: singing and dancin to Kanye and my phone is vibrating annnndddd stoking/stiring the fire 🙂

nicole: so you came from iowa city.  that’s a big wood fire school isn’t it?

red: true that…we had an anagama and some cat arch wood kilns before the flood hit.  Chuck Hindes was a big deal and left as I was entering the program.  So it’s interesitng to see other methods of wood-firing.

nicole: you and m and y fired last month, when i was out of town[ :-(]  was that your first time to fire a wood train?  what were some of the similarities and differences from your past experience?

red: yes, it popped my train kiln cherry…and it was also my first time doing 8 hour shifts with 1 or 2 people.  It was intense because I’m used to 20+ people participating in any wood-fire. The fire was very successful with little to no problems.  It seemed like it was one of the smoother wood-fires I’ve done.

nicole: for you, what makes a wood-fire successful?

red: a successful wood-fire=a pretty even kiln from front to back and  little to no chunky ash left on the pots.  so, the surfaces will have a nice color gradient, and the functional pieces will be functional.  also, less people=faster and smoother loading/unloading and all around firing. side note-a good firing in florida=I won’t pass out from the heat.

nicole: yeah, that had to be hard for you northerners, especially last month, when it was even hotter than it is now.  in japan, they call that chunky ash koge which means “burned”.  i see why koge would be undesirable on fuctional ware, but how do you feel about it on sculptural work?

red:  yes, the florida heat is kinda killing me-especially when I wood-fire.   unchikoge is awesome on sculpture work.  i am trying to put more non-functional pieces in wood-fires anymore.  for instance, i have some pumpkins I made that look pretty awesome in the train kiln.  you have a couple of pieces in this kiln.  have you wood-fired your work a lot?

nicole:  i’ve wood fired only a little bit.  when i was living in japan. i’m excited to see what comes out of this kiln.  i have some of my flora wall peices inside.  i did some with highwater p10 and some with a flashing porcelain body.  we’ll see.  too much ash might cover up my textures, but some koge and some flashing might be pretty sweet.  so one more question: you come from a big wood fire school but you did a bunch of research on low fire glazes while there.  how was it working in such a woody place, doing low fire, and do you ever think you might have liked somewhere that had more low fire focus, like uf, better?

red: i’m really interested to see how your pieces will turn out and think they’ll be a good contrast with your soda pieces.  when i first got to Iowa, i did primarily functional work and wood-fired alot.  it wasn’t until my last year and a half of undergrad that i started experimenting more with low-fire sculptural.  it was nice to have that contrast in the studio because i got to work on my own alot while still having the wood-fire community.  i enjoy the process of wood-firing a lot but like the product of the low-fire colors better.  i needed to get more color in my work.  i think i went to a school with more of a sculptural, not wood-fire program, i would have been more experimental in my work earlier.  but, there were a lot of people doing sculptural-like lee johnson (BFA, who is now at RISD), matt dercole.  So i always had artists to influence me and talk to about different firing and building  processes.  but i like how i now have a broad background in different methods of firing and building.  not a lot of facilities have wood-fires.

nicole:  well, you really come across as confident in many different areas, maybe that’s from your education as well as your personality.  so now, here you are, in florida.  for the next year or two.  before we finish up here, any major goals for the year?  and btw, who are some of your favorite artists or influences?

red: florida=skin cancer state lol.  1st, i’m going to try not to get skin cancer 🙂  my goals are to build up a better portfolio, learn from the awesome artists at the clay company and the area in general, and try to get into grad school.  for some reason, most of my favorite artists aren’t clay artists.  some big name artist that influence me are lisa orr, salvador dali, and i’ve been getting into jason briggs.  who are your favorite artists?

nicole: well, you know i’m really intrigued by jason briggs.  i’ve also always admired louise bourgois and eva hesse.  i love how their work is respected within the minimalist movement but it has so much heart.  i’m really excited about work that’s happening now which is beginning to unite clay and contemporary art.  well, yay, that was fun.  thanks for writing about what’s going on with you.

red: samsies  (^^^)

gearing up…

haven’t posted in awhile because i’ve been meaning to take some pictures but keep leaving my camera at work!  november is going to be a crazy month, lots of great stuff going on.  first of all, us a.i.r.s will load and fire the wood train kiln monday.  it will be my first time firing this kiln.  i missed out on a fun filled, peanut butter cup s’mores laden firing last month when i was out of town so i’m really looking forward to this.

wood train

last month's wood train. with autio platter. yay! pic by red.

next up i’ll be rocking a soda kiln.  i think j’s going to join me in firing, very exciting.  i’ve been “cranking’ out work, but for me that never means too much, too slow and trudgy.  especially since my show opened, it’s been hard to get back to the grindstone.  this week so far i’ve almost finished 10 small wall peices.  i’m working on tiny versions of my flora peices, in hopes of trying them in a few different kilns and also, getting them out to people for a more affordable price.

three sales coming up, eclectic and then some in gulfport, fl (will post info next wed.), atomic holiday bazaar (check out vendors now and start planning) and SPCC’s annual holiday sale.

spcc will also host 3 artists this month.  matt long, john ballisteri and don reitz will spend a week and a little with us making work in preparation for the anagama firing in january.  i’ll take the whole time off work to be around and help.  john and don were here firing the anagama on my way in to the residency so it’s very fitting to have them here on my way out as well.

i’ve got a few shows lining up but more on those later.

more in november and then….december.  proper pics and posts coming soon.


it’s 6:35 in the morning

i’m blogging from st. pete clay.   firing the soda for one of the owners.  very exciting to have the internet while firing.

it’s actually not that hot yet today and there is not a swarm of mosquitos surrounding me which is a change from the norm.  i guess fall is really here.  needless to say, the first squeaks of fall  in florida do not prompt sweaters and jeans, just less sweat overall.

firing the soda

firing the soda