Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pots in the Park May 20-21, 2011 Oil City, PA

Pots in the Park
May 20-21, 2011. 

Pots in the Park
May 20-21, 2011
Historic Oil City, PA


 We are sponsoring a potters only (clay people) fest in beautiful Justus Park, located on the banks of the pristine Allegheny River.  

This get-together will be an annual event, and we plan on having several well-known potters from around the country.  We are planning various demonstrations and will have the entire park for you to set up and sell your wares.  (15' x 15' spaces).  

Booth fees will be low ($25.00) and the fun will be huge.  Plan your schedule to attend this inaugural event that we believe is the first in the country.

There will be pottery sales, auction, demonstrations, and exchanging of ideas and techniques.  Whether you're a polished pro or just beginning, this will be an event not to be missed in 2011.

Several manufacturers of pottery materials and supplies will be in attendance.

Buyers and collectors of studio pottery will also be in attendance.

or call Mark:  814 657-1345 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Insulating firebricks for sale.

Insulating firebricks for sale.

"I bought some insulating bricks yesterday. They are new K23s and K20s, 9" x 4 1/2" x 2 1/2". "

"They are $1.50 each, and are palletized in the following numbers of bricks per skid: 888, 843, and 4 skids of 1036 bricks - all K23s; there are 836 palletized K20s. - and can be fork-lifted onto a truck. "

"They're here in Huntingdon, PA.
Of course they can be unstacked and loaded individually if there's some bluegrass playing nearby to set the pace and mitigate some of the tedium.  No hurry, but please let me know your intentions when it's convenient."

Jack Troy

I have picked up, moved, shaped,
and lightened myself of many tons of clay,
and those tons lifted, moved, and shaped me,
delivering me to this living-space
I wake and move about in,
space perhaps equal to that I have opened and enclosed
in plate, cup, bowl, jug, jar.
I am thankful no one ever
led me to the pit I'd help to make in Earth,
or showed me all the clay at once.
I'm grateful no one ever said, There.
That heap's about a hundred fifty tons.
Go make yourself a life.
And oh, yes, here's a drum of ink.
See what you can do with that.
I wouldn't have known where to begin.

from, "Calling the Planet Home" by Jack Troy. 

Jack's website: 

Wood firing at Clarion University.

Wood firing at Clarion University.

 The site and kiln.

The wood kiln (anagama style was built on the side of a hill located on the far side of Clarion campus beyond the football field.  The clay program is run by "Greeny" Greenberg and the kiln was designed and built by his predecessor, Jim Brashear. 
The kiln is fired at least four times per year or more, depending on Greeny's desire and the availability of interested participants.  I attended the firing that was done late summer and the participants were a collection of a few students, former students, and other potters in the area.  

Most of the pictures were taken by Mark Anderton with some by myself and Lisa Sittig.  Greeny's name is spelled correctly (his official signature on campus documents).  Ignore the misspelling by Mark on some of the photographs.  Mouse-over the photos and click to enlarge for better detail.  Also, if you are interested in participating in a future wood firing, drop Greeny a line to express your interest:

 Greeny and Dr. Karen M. Whitney, the president of Clarion University.  I'll let you figure out who is who. 

 Inspecting the entry fee for the firing.

"Coca-Cola!! Sorry, you failed.  Go home."

 As most of you know, one of the first steps is wadding each piece so it does not stick to the shelves or to other pieces.  Wadding is usually fire clay mixed with sawdust and held in place by glue.

 More wadding and more socializing.

 Potters sometimes have to improvise.

 Chopping wood.  Greeny asked me to help him find an inexpensive, mechanical wood splitter.  Some of his log splitters have aged and they complain too much.  Much of the wood is gathered from trees that have fallen or taken down on campus.

 That is a small door opening to climb through if you ask me.  On the other hand, it does not take long to brick it up.

Ready to load.

Kiln loading.

More loading.

 Loading finally done!

 Hot coals being prepared for the start of the firing.

 Last minute modifications.
 The firing.

More firing.

And more - it gets intense at times.

One log at a time.

Stirring things up.

The blaze.

The flames.

The stack.
Stack, at night.

Night firing 1.

Night fire 2.

Night fire 3.

Night fire 4.

The kiln dog.  Someone got confused and wrote "We need a kiln god", but god came out dog.  Maybe he works better than a clay kiln god.  Anyway, he is Greeny's and he is part of every firing.  He keeps the pests away and nips complainers in the butt.

It takes a whole village to fire this wood kiln.

Workers resting.

"You said, what! I have to go check the cones again?"

The results #1.

The results #2.

Results #3.  

The results #4.

The results #5.  Suspect this was Greeny's.

The results #6.

Essential kiln unloading tool.

The cone packs.  As with many wood kiln firings the temperature and the results vary from firing to firing.  This one turned out well.  Kiln reached Cone 14 at the back and that is where the porcelain was stacked.

Greeny's tired and it's time to go home.
Good job girls and guys!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sale and Retirement Party for Elvira Peake

Sale and Retirement Party for Elvira Peake

 Elvira Peake

When:  December 11, 2010 Sale from 11-6  Party from 6-8.
Where:  The Clay Place and Ceramic Supply Pittsburgh, One Walnut Street, Carnegie, PA 15106
Sale:  50% off  11-6 PM
Celebrate:  6 to 8 PM

Elvira started The Clay Place with her husband Steve 37 years ago. In December 2010 she will be retiring from the business. The Clay Place will continue as a gallery and exhibition space under Standard Ceramic Supply Company’s ownership with Elvira as Director Emeritus.

Please join Elvira’s friends in celebrating the role that she and The Clay Place have played in the ceramics community and Pittsburgh area art scene.   Eat, drink and enjoy the music of Phil Salvato.  Proceeds from the sale will go to Elvira’s retirement fund.

Artists: If you have work on consignment at The Clay Place, you may arrange to either pick it up or contribute it to the sale as a gift to Elvira. Please contact Carla Flati or (412) 489-5240 before December 10th.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gallery Reception at The Clay Place "Works by Steven Hill".

Gallery Reception at The Clay Place "Works by Steven Hill".

Where:  One Walnut St., Carnegie, PA  15106

When:  Saturday, November 20, 2010
6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M

To learn more about Steven Hill and his work, visit his website at 


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Program profile: Manchester Craftsmen's Guild

Program profile:  Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG)
by Terry Rorison

MCG was started over 30 years ago by Bill Strickland, a potter and visionary who is still the Executive Director of the Manchester-Bidwell Corporation.  (Note:  For purposes of disclosure, the author was an early board member and employee of MCG in the early years.)   

Bill grew up in Pittsburgh's Northside and, as a high school student, was influenced by the late Frank Ross, who taught art at the local high school and later at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

After finishing an undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh, Bill, with the help of others, established the Guild and occupied a house as a pottery studio in Pittsburgh's Mexican War Street neighborhood. A non-profit was established and, through grants from foundations, classes for children and adults were held.  Over time, the Guild moved to its present facility.  Bill and the Guild's story is remarkable, and Bill tells his story himself better than I do.  

See the YouTube video link below:
Today the ceramics studio is housed in a state of the art facility that primarily serves a population of inner-city, school age children.  The facility also contains a photography studio, design arts and digital arts studios, a gallery, and a superb 300 seat performing arts theater.  Since this is a blog aimed at potters, I will focus on the ceramics studio.

The ceramics studio is equipped with a slab roller, 16 potter’s wheels, a myriad of hand-building tools, 3 electric kilns and 4 gas kilns including raku.

My tour was led by Amanda Wolf, who is a ceramics instructor at the Guild.  Amanda graduated from IUP with a BFA and is a producing potter active in shows and galleries in the area. See her blog and the her new website. 

Amanda Wolf

The Guild runs an after school pottery program for the city's high school students with a different group coming each day from Monday through Friday.  There is a nice mix of arts oriented students and those students whose main benefit comes from student success and building self esteem.  There are also other classes including an adult evening class attended mostly by teachers who receive credit for continuing education.

Student Work
More student work.

 Student work in glaze area.

 Wheel throwing area.

Clay  mixing area with Soldner mixer.  They buy a dry stoneware mix from Standard Ceramic.

Venco Pugmill.

Glaze area.

 The Guild has 3 large electric kilns, used mostly for bisque.

 They have two Alpine updraft kilns of 30 and 60 cu ft.  Most work is glaze fired here at Cone 10 reduction.

 New Advancer, nitride-bonded silicon carbide kiln shelves that are only 5/16" thick.

70 cu ft soda kiln in shed outside.

Another view of soda kiln.

Raku kiln.

Visiting artist's work.  The Guild sponsors talented ceramic artists to conduct workshops.

Gallery.  The Guild also has a large gallery where it conducts exhibits of both student and instructor work and also work for other ceramic artists.

More gallery.

Until recently, Josh Green was the VP of Operations for the last 25 years.  Josh just recently accepted the position as the Executive Director of NCECA.

Dave Deily will take over many of Josh's duties at the Guild, so he will be very busy.

Manchester Craftsmens Guild is a unique facility that focuses on ceramics training for inner-city youth.  The pottery studio is only one aspect that makes up the Manchester-Bidwell Corporation.  I encourage those who are not familiar to explore it through a visit to their website or facility, attendance at a concert, or see an exhibit at the gallery.  It is truly remarkable and Bill is on a mission to see it replicated in a 100 cities across the planet.

Manchester-Bidwell Corporation link:

Drew Mattieson Center for Horticulture Technology Training:

Manchester Jazz (winner of 4 Grammies):

 National Center for Arts and Technology: