Invisible Work

"I oversee production, throw, handle, glaze and fire. It’s to the point that everyone’s so productive, my oversight role looks idle. That’s fine with me. I call it the "invisible work". I keep everything in sync with the clay and kiln clocks."--Walt Zotter

When Walt wrote the previous paragraph, I wasn't quite sure what he meant. Most people associate  potters' work with the actual act of throwing pottery. Here's our rock star Keith doing what he does so well.
However, there's a world of "invisible" work between throwing, stamping, the bisque fire and the glaze fire. Now that Walt's gone, we are learning that the clay phases do dictate our clock. Once the pot is thrown, we have to wait for it to stiffen up enough to stamp our personalizations without distorting it's shape, but not so hard that we can't stamp into it's surface. Once the pot is stamped, we have to encourage even drying of the pot so the act of drying does not distort the shape. The top of the pot, for example, dries faster that the bottom. To encourage even drying, we have to turn the pots upside down slightly precariously over the edge of the shelf so that the air can be "sucked" inside to help dry the pot. The pots are under plastic to help keep them soft enough to stamp. The stampers hate when the pots fight their fingers when pressing into the clay.
You can't flip the pots too soon. You have to wait for the top of the pot, which dries faster, to become hard enough to support the weight of the pot upside down. You can tell when it's ready to flip when the top is a lighter color than the bottom.
And then, you have to pray a strong breeze, or an inadvertent move doesn't knock any of the pieces perched precariously on the shelves onto the hard concrete floor. 
Here are the shop dogs engaged in some invisible work too. I just haven't figured out what.


Happy Solstice!

Because my husband is a photographer, I never know what to expect when I tag along on his various assignments.  June 21st, his work took us to the Mesa Creative Arts Center in Burgettstown, PA where they held their special 6th annual solstice celebration to greet the first day of Summer. We were able to photograph and participate in a Native American Medicine Wheel Ceremony and learn a little bit about it.
I thought it was a special place to be.-Jo --ps sorry, these are my photos, not Ed's, but you get the idea :)
Our test glaze firing was a success!


Father's Day Brunch

Hofbrauhaus in the South Side was hopping on Father's Day. Besides their centuries old beer tradition, they offer a brunch that complements their beer brewed on site. Sausage, pretzels, spaetzle, red cabbage, their special mustard and Belgium waffles. It couldn't get much better for this dad. Meet the Riekers.

We think they are building a marina behind their summer biergarten. Time will tell.


Summer on the trail

The pottery studio sits along the South Side bike trail. We love it.


The studio

If you look at Walt's pots on the shelves, it's amazing how little deviation in size from one pot to another there is. They are each hand-thrown. There's a lot of beauty in their consistency.


So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish

I couldn't get the title of this book out of my head for the past few days. I hadn't read it in years so I went to amazon.com and looked it up. The very first customer review I read seemed to hit the nail right on the head. It read like this: "This is basically the story of the young lady who figured out the secret of happiness just seconds before Earth was destroyed by a Vogon fleet preparing the way for a hyperspace bypass. It is also Arthur Dent's story. Sure, we got to know Arthur fairly well in the first three books, but he does spend an inordinate amount of time saying things like: What?, I don't understand, Is it possible to get a cup of tea? and That's it then, we're all going to die. Once you get him out of that well-traveled bathrobe, Arthur Dent turns out to be a real person-a little weird, of course, but real, rather complex, and surprisingly interesting nonetheless."  Thank you for writing this Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA)--Jocelyn