“Sometimes I feel like I can’t even sing. I’m very scared for this world, I’m very scared for me.” – R.E.M.

Last week was fucking hell. I’ll spare you a run down of all the hits, but there were a lot of them. It’s astounding to me how three or four bad things can hit in a row: overlapping, double waves, with an undertow to boot. And then you’re lying there in the low surf, scraped up, sand in every orifice, gasping for air amidst the saltwater and snot, thinking, “Fuck me — that was awful!”… when another big rogue comes out of nowhere and just crushes you against the rocks. What fun.

But hey, enough of that! Let’s find some happy and/or distraction!

So it seems I turned the corner from making to glazing. Hairpin turn, that one. I advise slowing down into it. (Trout below, motherfuckers.) Somehow, and maybe for the first time, I have everything from the Dec-Jan-Feb making cycle already bisked, before I’ve started to glaze. So I can see all 166-odd pots that need to go through he kiln in one spot. (Where “one spot” = covering almost every horizontal space in the studio.) Usually, at this point, a third of it is still drying under plastic, a third cooling in the electric, and just the first wave of stuff ready for wax and slips and stuff.

It’s good to see it all like this; it helps my memory of the road I just walked — what I was thinking, how it was all supposed to cohere at the end. It gives a small sense of that “body of work” thing, which I usually see as a polite-fiction-bordering-on-artspeak-bullshit, but does have it’s merits, in terms of planning and confidence and a little, much-needed morale boost. I’ve plotted and strategized and analyzed all the ways my stupid tiny kiln can get filled over the last 11.5 years and 76 firings that I can almost look at the ceramic mass and visualize how it will fit into five or six batches. Almost. (Now that would be a cool and useful layer of AR, someday, if we can ever get around to someone writing those apps for potters.) (I picture it like the displays in Minority Report, floating 3D objects around with gestures, but with an actual haptic interface, where you can “feel” the virtual objects as you load them into the simulated chamber space.)

Anyways. Yay, Sci-Fi.

I spent a solid hour on Saturday morning — primetime for my caffinated brain — collating my loading notes from the last year’s firings, and putting them into a reference chart that shows all the valid stacking options: combinations of shelf heights that fire successfully, give options for putting different height pots into the various (wildly varying) zones, and matches the actual posts I have to use (so I don’t come up short and end up stacking three tiny bricks to make the right size, or using a too tall brick and wasting a bunch of precious space).

I need to do five firings in seven weeks. It's gonna get ugly in here.

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The new chimney I added a year ago added more options — previously, I had to have a tall shelf at the bottom or the whole thing stalled like that old Ford Escort. I could pretty much load the whole thing with mugs now, if I wanted to, which would be pretty rad, since I never have enough mugs on the shelf, but I was clever/dedicated/loony enough to make almost 70 of them this time around. (I probably won’t, because they want to stack too tight, which blocks the salt vapor and makes for too dry in the center of the stack; also because mugs and bowls alternate well around each other, and I made a ton of small to medium bowls this time, too. (Such a sellout.) And if I had a little better handle on glazes that worked well without much salt, or liked the dry flashing slips a little more, I could do it and just roll with those dry zones, but I don’t, at least not yet; so I probably won’t.)

So: five in seven, I hope — weather and health and trout permitting; fingers crossed. [Instantiate Karma boost from my tens of fans]

I’ve still got glaze/firings troubles to solve; always will, I guess, but getting weary of the same old shit. Pots that want glaze x but also sort of need to go in zone C, which won’t stack up well with blah blah blah. Blistering down low, where it gets ridiculously hot; underfired up high, where the cold air rushes across the top shelf. I could/maybe should do another round of testing and tweaking and obsessive note taking to try to close the gap, but I strongly suspect that it’d be more effort than the results would warrant, and it drives me fucking crazy. As the day the arch falls creeps ever closer, it’s time to accept this kiln for the flawed, legacy, expectational-debt-ridden tool that it is and just work around its flaws, instead of fighting them; always fighting.

Same for the relentless, time-sucking march of glaze testing: I think I’m due for a settling-in phase of just rolling with what I’ve got and trying to knock them out well. ‘You go to war with the army you’ve got’, etc. (I use that quote advisedly, because, of course, that was a complete load of horse shit at the time, considering that they chose to go to war when we didn’t have to, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, under manufactured pretenses, but… whatever. It’s still a good quote in other contexts.)

(Fucking Rumsfeld.)

Hey, now that I’ve chased away the proverbial half of my audience (just kidding: I know no Republicans still read this), I’ll tease a new twist for my upcoming spring sale. It’s gonna be in a different place, at a different time, for longer, and overlapping with some other stuff. Should be interesting/crazy/cool/exciting/a complete disaster! Details to come.

Oh, and my group show with my imaginary Friends opens at AKAR this week. cf. the Internet.

Oh, and I know you don’t come here for media recommendations, but since I spent so much time laid up the last couple weeks, I plowed through a whole bunch of stuff. I give a hearty recommendation to Sneaky Pete, on Amazon Prime — produced by Walter White/Bryan Cranston, starring a longtime favorite of mine, Giovanni Ribisi. The OA, on Netflix, was weird and solid and creepy and strange and still has me thinking about it weeks later, especially the NDE stuff and that last dance move. Watch the first hour and you’ll know if the other seven are for you. Like most, I really liked the movie Arrival: good, adult-aimed sci-fi; they handled the technical stuff well enough, great meta-twist, wonderful mood and atmosphere, and it layered in solid characters and themes. I’m really glad we get big movies like this now on a regular basis; just wish it was one a month instead of one a year. And if that 18+ hours worth of stuff still doesn’t fill your schedule, I’m also really enjoying Battlehand on iOS; my 5th campaign through XCOM: Enemy Within on PS3; the first book of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and the Pod Save America podcast, by the Keepin’ it 1600 guys. Dorky, turn-based wizards and warriors stuff, tense strategic alien zapping, atheistic juvie-lit, and all the left-leaning political analysis you could ask for. You’re welcome.

So, yeah. Blogging. So dumb.


“I think about this world a lot, and I cry and I’ve seen the films and the eyes; and I’m in this kitchen, and everything is beautiful, see her so beautiful, see you so young and old, I look at her and I see the beauty of, the light of music. I voice is talking somewhere in the house, late spring, and you’re drifting off to sleep, with your teeth in your mouth, and you are here with me. You are here with me. You have been here and you are everything.”