For our annual Clay Day event in May, we pre-planned a special fundraiser to benefit the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Students from Exeter High School joined us in the spring to handbuild 100 earthenware seedling pots. We planted parsley, sage, basil and other herbs, and sold them at the high school, at Clay Day, and at the Exeter farmer’s market. The proceeds were divided between a microcredit organization, and Partners in Health, based in Haiti.
It’s very hard to remove the mountain, but we’ve started shoveling.
Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy, on the need to change the government of Myanmar.
Reality, no matter how widened and heightened our perceptions, never ceases to be anything but the effect on us of an infinite mystery.
Laurens van der Post
There should be a name for those things that one feels one has always known without ever having learned. And a name for those things that are central to one's life without ever being thought about or felt.
The only thing we can remake is ourselves.
Back in the '70s, when I began making pots, I visited a studio in Georgia and was given a cloth patch that read: "Support Your Local Potter". Thirty years later I still wear the patch on a shirt, but it has gained in meaning with the passing years. In the '80s, when I was in Japan, potters in Tamba asked me where I got my clay, and as soon as I opened my mouth to tell them the name of my supplier I knew I was in trouble. They urged me to use the local clay from my area, as they did theirs. They pointed to a distant hill, and showed me the yellow lumps of dry clay gleaned from it, in a nearby pickup truck. On the long plane trip home to Exeter I thought a lot about what they'd said.
A bit of research revealed that the blue-green earthenware clay of my town was widely used both for pottery and brickmaking in past generations. It was a wonderful natural resource, although increasingly difficult to gain access to. (Did you know that the WalMart in Epping is built on a remarkable claybed, right next to Goodrich Brick— if only we'd asked and convinced WalMart to leave an area open for access to clay, rather than buying Fimo (don't!) in their store...).
Using local materials such as Exeter clay and apple wood ash have been a particular interest of mine, growing stronger over the years.
Friends Joanie and Charlie Pratt have made available to me the burnings of apple boughs each spring at their Apple Annie's Orchard. I gather the ash in buckets, soak, wash and sieve it, and dry it in the sun. I then combine it with other materials in different proportions to make glazes. Each year, indeed each firing, the results are different.
Below is ash, newly gathered, from this year's burning.
Behold within the curious chemist's cell
Agrippa d'Aubigne, Les Tragiques, Book VII
A fundraiser for girls' literacy featuring the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson was held at the Water Street Bookstore in Exeter last summer. An exhibition of my tea ware was in the store window.
This Shino tea set was donated to be raffled at Water Street Bookstore fundraiser Three Cups of Tea.
We were fortunate recently to have Becca Van Fleet,wonderful young functional potter from Eaton, NH, visit our studio for an afternoon of throwing and fellowship. You may see Becca's work at the Sunapee Fair this August, and visit her website at BeccaVanFleetPottery.com.
My three week journey to France last May filled my mind with beauty. In Nice, Picasso's chapel, portraying the effects of peace on one side & war on the other, strengthened my resolve to work for peace.
In Paris, the Sevres Museum & workshops exceeded all my expectations. The ability of the French government to nurture the ceramic arts over nearly 300 years is remarkable.
Change, they say, is the only constant... and change has come to the pottery.
Our new kiln leaves New London...
...and arrives in Exeter.
Construction and installation complete.
Flame coming from the spyhole of the kiln handed to this
studio by potter Carol Marshall. Pheidippides is its name, given by my
brother builder Has Haslam. It's a 20 cubic foot car kiln, half the
size of my original brick kiln and more tightly constructed, as it has
a metal jacket. Baltimore Clayworks potter Sam Wallace spent a week in
August firing both kilns with us.
Makoto Yabe is said to believe that it takes as many as 50 firings to become comfortable with a new kiln.
For me, a kiln is a mystery to be explored. -- Kit Cornell, 2004