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Clay Day 2010

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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.

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Quotations

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.

Jonathan Foer



  Do stuff.  Be clenched, curious.  Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead.... Pay attention.  It's all about paying attention.
                          
                                                             Susan Sontag, Commencement address at Vassar College



  Chinese ceramic wares always come to us, whether we wait for them or not.  Korean wares, on the other hand always wait for us, whether we go to them or not.  As everyday wares the latter are more desirable, for they are quiet and reserved and we feel at ease with them.  We feel increasing difficulty in departing from them.  The air of waiting for someone which they always possess attracts us.  They wait for us even when we do not see them. 

                                                               Soetsu Yanagi, Foreward on Korean Pottery

The only thing we can remake is ourselves.

William Pfaff, Barbarian Sentiments


GoLocal!!!

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.

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Behold within the curious chemist's cell
when he would gain the essential salt of plants
he turns them all to ash, the stuff of soap and
from that death revives a perfect work,
restores to life the secret source of ideas enclosed
within the tomb, lilies and roses,
roots, branches, stalks, leaves and flowers
that reveal to our eyes the brightest hues
having the fire for father, ash for mother:
their resurrection then may teach the fearful
that those who are burned, ashes cast to the winds,
rise up again more lively and more lovely than before.

        Agrippa d'Aubigne, Les Tragiques, Book VII



Three Cups of Tea

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.

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The Merrill Magnolia on my front lawn was especially lovely this year. Photographer Doug Armstrong recorded its process of blooming over four glorious days, and here are two of the results. You may see others at http://blindspotimages.smugmug.com

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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.

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November 2007 Open House

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Bob Gelinas, ash baskets
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Floral arrangements by Helen Cohen
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Tim Johnson, drawings and photographs
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Paulette Werger, jewelry
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Liz Niebling, knitting
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Samantha Wood


Travels

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.

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Workshops at Sevres photographed from the museum's window
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Grand Gallery at the Sevres Museum


News

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Change, they say, is the only constant... and change has come to the pottery.


Our new kiln leaves New London...


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...and arrives in Exeter.


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Construction and installation complete.


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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





Stay tuned, more to come...