PREVIEW – Firing 100 – April 2019
I’ve written a couple of lengthier articles about packing my old salt kiln, and the actual 100th firing, but these images and words are about the results, and the people who helped get us here.
The images don’t do the pots justice. It was an amazingly good firing; it really, truly was one of the greatest ones we’ve ever had, if not the very best. The quality of the pots throughout the kiln was consistently excellent, or even better. Each time we’ve picked up a pot as we’ve cleaned and washed them in preparation for the Kiln Opening, we’ve been elated. I’ve never been so delighted by an entire kiln load of pots.
Whether made by me, Hamish, or Stillman, the pots are terrific. Whether it was the front of the kiln where the natural ash drips that run and dapple the surfaces were the perfect length, or the celadons that were properly reduced and more luminous and luscious and limpid than ever, or the big pots that came out gloriously, all were dreamy. The mugs and tumblers are fabulous, plates and bowls knockout, pitchers plump, jars robust, vases elegant, 10 gallons poised. And I’m being modest.
This is Hamish’s last firing, and he raised his game tremendously in all departments – making, decorating, glazing, general thoughtfulness, kindness, and most importantly, tea making. Indeed from the beginning of his apprenticeship until now his progress has been stellar, his curiosity and flair evident in all his fine pots. Having a fellow Englishman in the workshop has been a boon for me too, our distinctly British humor, cultural references, and invective, have brightened many an hour. So, thank you for all your help these last four years old boy, and Godspeed!
Stillman has been terrific too, scampering around in his usual enthusiastic manner, attuned to the needs of the work place, making lovely pots, notably a few hundred adorable miniatures. Folks who remember the sweet miniatures made by Celia Cole at the A. R. Cole Pottery in Sanford will be delighted to see Stillman’s unbelievably precise and lovely little teapots, coffeepots, covered jars, pitchers, mugs, vases and more. These alone are worth a trip here!
We welcomed our new apprentice, Will Baskin, the week before loading the kiln, and enjoyed his warm spirit and helpful disposition. We look forward to getting to know him and helping get him on his way.
As you know, in honor of the milestone of the 100th Firing, we’re having an enhanced Kiln Opening, with food trucks, music, and a panel of phenomenally distinguished academics and pottery scholars. To celebrate the occasion, we also had a limited edition of some T-shirts and baseball caps made with my logo and the number 100 on them. Get them while you can!
You won’t want to miss any part of this extravaganza, or potapallooza, as someone described it! Learn more about the events.
And then there is Carol. She’s the reason all of this is happening. Obviously, I wouldn’t be here without her. But to reach this particular moment has required all her energy, intelligence, kindness, and determination. She’s an absolute marvel. Her experience running the coffee barn at the Shakori Hills Festival of Music & Dance for the last 20 years has enabled her to piece together and execute this phenomenal event. We’ve been married for 36 years, worked beside each other every day, and raised our lovely daughters, Emma and Meg, who will both be here, and I’ve never been more amazed and in love with Carol than now.
As if that isn’t enough, my father, aged 99, has flown over from England to be here. It’s a miracle. My brothers, Peter and James, will be here too. And a bunch of my cousins. And Carol’s siblings and spouses.
It’s a family affair, and you are invited!
Firing 100 was my last as an apprentice at the Hewitt Pottery. I’ve made my last batch of pots in the embrace of Mark’s workshop, and am nearly ready to fly the nest! I’ve been here for a month shy of four years. The time has flown by. It doesn’t feel like its been that long at all: it’s been a wonderful experience, and I have learnt a great deal, not just about pots but gardening, beekeeping and the south in general! Mark has shared his knowledge and craftsmanship with me, and I am truly grateful (also grateful for him putting up with my abject clumsiness and lack of common sense).
As you can see, Firing 100 was one for the books and we got some spectacular pots out of the kiln. It’s wonderful to be here for the 100th and to have such a climactic sendoff. I particularly enjoyed making coffee pots for the first time this cycle, and refining my renditions of classic Hewitt shapes such as pitchers and barrel mugs.
It has been a privilege to be here, and I hope to continue the traditions and practices that Mark has instilled in me. I also hope to push forward and develop some of my own ideas and style as time progresses. On my horizon this summer is a trip to Japan for a residency at the Shigaraki Cultural Park, and in the fall I’ll be heading home to the UK for a couple months to see my family and spend time at Whichford Pottery (a flower pot manufacturer). The first two weekends in December I’ll be participating in the Chatham County Studio tour from my home studio in Chapel Hill. Thank you for all for being loyal customers to this pottery and affording apprentices the chance to be here.
I drove myself a little mad this cycle spending so many hours on tiny pots. I made a few styles I hadn’t before, coffee pots, and teapots, but only ones large enough for doll houses. Little lids the size of a quarter and handles that my pinky finger won’t fit in. They were a fun challenge. I’m really happy with how they came out of the kiln. I spent plenty of time making full sized pots as well. Trying some new incised decoration, I’m quite pleased with how they came out inside the mixing bowls. It’s been a great few years with Hamish but I’m looking forward to working with Will and really excited to see what Hamish gets into next.
I learned many things from Mark. Things that I didn’t know before such as slipware, different way to make pots and how to use kiln made a big change for my pottery. I’m making pots with mixing Koishiwara ware and things I learned from Mark.
I was very nervous when I go to United States for the first time but Mark and Carol were very kind and I was able to get used to it. Therefore, Misch and Steelman were also kind and they took me many places. I love Pittsboro because of them. I really appreciate all the people that I’ve met there. Special thanks to Mark and Carol.
Congratulations on your 100th kiln opening.
Meet our new apprentice, Will Baskin, from Advance, NC, who started days before we began to load the kiln. We’re enjoying his warm spirit and helpful manner, look forward to getting to know him better, and helping him on his way.