PotFest 2017 - Part 1

Well, it's been quite a crazy few days.

Right after 'Pottery Staycation' kicked off last Friday, we were all rocked by the events at Charlottesville... And although I had hoped to be completely in the zone all weekend, I was a little distracted to say the least.  Still, between reading WaPo updates and battling a sudden gnarly cold, I managed some quality studio time and cranked out some new work!

My first project was playing with some plaster to make some bats.

No, not the flying ones ;) When you throw pottery on a wheel, you usually do it on a round disk called a 'bat'. They can be made of plastic, wood, masonite, sheet rock... But my personal favorite is plaster.  

Why plaster!? Because, once the plaster has wicked enough moisture out of the pottery, the vessels will literally pop right off the bat! No need for cutting a problematic stuck-on piece with a wire. This is especially useful for large/wide pieces -- platters, plates, heavy vases, etc.

One really awkward Amazon delivery later (latex gloves, vaseline, some large basins, and a scale)... I mixed together 20lbs. of plaster, lubed up some basins, and poured myself some new bats! Watson helped by staring at me in confusion / horror.

For the plaster itself, I used Hydrocal -- it's supposed to be strong, prevent chipping, and sets fairly quickly. I mixed water:plaster 4.5:10 (or 9:20), slowly sifting in the plaster to the water. Manually mixed by hand for 1-2 minutes, then it was ready to pour.

My two new bats are now curing, and should be ready to use in about 2 weeks.  It’s a loving process of moving them into the sun in the morning, and then back inside for the evening. 

Overall, very happy with my results, and I can't wait to throw my first LARGE platter on a bat I've made!

On my next blog post, I'll talk more about my actual pottery throwing!

As a little teaser, here's a time-lapse video of me throwing the base for a large vessel. (That's a blow-torch I'm using to stiffen the piece while throwing).


I like to create.  Most of us probably do, when you think about it.

For me -- and I consider myself fortunate here -- childhood was all about creation. Painting furniture, watching mom & dad in the photography darkroom, making pottery, ikebana classes, helping my parents in the woodshop, making & selling digital art (cutting edge in the mid-90s!), rubber stamping, and a thousand other crafts / hobbies / artistic endeavors.

All of my best memories involve learning how to make things.

I still crave it. I LOVE learning new trades and experimenting with new materials to create.

That's why I was so happy when I got an opportunity, through my work, to participate in a Blacksmithing Workshop at The Crucible. For those unfamiliar, The Crucible is a great industrial arts non-profit in Oakland that offers classes in everything from Blacksmithing to Glass-Blowing to Neon.

For my department's offsite, I got to hammer and twist molten metal bars into jewelry. How cool is that?!?! 

The teachers were fantastic, and laid out a plan to make a bracelet. Starting with just a steel bar, we learned how to draw out and taper the ends, put a twist in the bar, curl the ends, then bend it all into a bracelet. And this was the result! Very fun and very rewarding. I'll definitely be trying blacksmithing again. 

Hand-forged bracelet, 2017. @ The Crucible (

Back on my usual side of the fire-based arts, I finished making what will be a new illuminated side table. This one is much taller than the last one, and I'm really happy with how it came out. It needs to dry, then it will be ready for the first firing, glazing, and final firing. 

I'm so privileged, excited, and pleased to have these opportunities to create. And I encourage everyone out there to embrace the same spirit, and see what a little creation can bring to your life. 

Seeing double!


Today I picked up my first round of print samples for my edition of reproductions of my watercolors.  

I have to say, I'm excited to see these.  The color match is near perfect, and the archival textured paper creates an overall watercolor effect.


 I also had an enlargement test- great clarity from a 8x10 to a 18x 24.


Good stuff today, I'm a happy Grey.