Preview Gallery December 2015

Adrian King’s pots

While this has been the last firing Adrian has in the old kiln, luckily it will not be his last firing here, as we will be firing the newer kiln this winter and spring. When I am lucky enough to have an apprentice as talented as Adrian King, who is willing to stay a little longer, all sorts of wonders unfold. His pots have matured tremendously; he’s an efficient maker of glorious pots, a deft decorator, an insightful co-worker, and a trusted confidant. It’s going to be such fun to work with him and the new kiln, with so many mysteries to unravel, and so many dreams to realize.

Don’t miss his wonderful pots! He writes:

Progression is defined as, “a movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, especially gradually or in stages.”

During my time here at the pottery, progression has been my key focus. I decided to come work at Mark’s to improve my skills without having to attend another academically affiliated program. To me, the idea of working as an apprentice is to gather as much knowledge as I can to fine tune my skill set, so that I can, in turn, open my own business and be successful enough to raise a family.

Looking back at the first pots that I made three years ago, it is extremely pleasing to see my progression from there to these pots from the 94th firing. Not only do I feel I have progressed in my skills as a potter, but also in my general knowledge of the material, the craft, the business, and myself.

This firing was one for the books, to say the least. The firing went very smoothly from beginning to end, with everything seeming almost too easy. Despite the ease, the kiln produced some of the best pots that I have seen during my time here. It is extremely rewarding to have such success after so much work has been put into the whole process.

I hope that you appreciate the pots from this firing as much as I do, and for all of you who have seen my progression, and been part of the whole process, I thank you for the support!

So, enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Hamish Jackson’s pots

Hamish has been growing by leaps and bounds this cycle, trying his hand at new shapes and bravely exploring every decorative technique. His good nature and hard work are a boon to us all, but most wonderful of all is his insistence on the venerable British ritual, afternoon tea! He writes:

This has been my second cycle as an apprentice with Mark. I am getting to grips with the way the pottery runs and figuring out what needs to be done in order to prepare for the firing. Processes such as chopping wood and grinding kiln shelves are becoming familiar! It was great to return to forms like honey pots and mugs, but also to try out new ones like little creamers, whisky flasks, and planters. I am particularly happy with how some of my canister jars came out.

My wife Lauren and I have been enjoying life in Pittsboro, particularly the gorgeous fall weather. Our chickens are growing up (now three months old) and we’ve been letting them roam free in the day. It’s a fine sight to see them foraging happily; scratching around in the hedgerow and compost heap.

In England, you don’t see many bright mild autumnal days; it is a treat to walk out to blue skies in November. The morning of the firing was particularly spectacular. I reported to the kiln at 5:45 a.m. when it was still dark. It was chilly and the sky was peppered with stars. I was glad to be stoking the firebox to begin with, feeling the wave of heat against my chest. The sun rose as we started side stoking and coaxed the temperature through the kiln. When I left the kiln shed to check the fire out of the chimney, the light was coming up in fractions.  A great V of geese silently flew over, then some ducks, and then a pileated woodpecker. The scene felt all the more serene with the kiln racing along at 2350°F. The firing went very smoothly, helped along by an experienced crew, and the pots reflect that.

PREVIEW Firing 94 – December 2015

Measured by the variety and quality of the pots, #94 was one of the great firings!

We all clearly enjoyed making our work this cycle. I had fun with the bright inclusion stains on both big and small pots, learning how to use the bold colors effectively, all the while finding new expression in the older color palette. I seem to want to play all the instruments in the orchestra; the new colors provide a flourish, a trill, embellishing the harmony and rhythm provided by the trusty ash and salt glazes.

You will no doubt have heard about the United States Artist Fellowship that I was awarded in November. Well, as you might imagine, it’s been thrilling to receive this endorsement, and it gives me tacit permission to continue ever deeper into my craft.

So far, I’ve already gone on a pioneering rock-hunting quest with Adrian King to Kings Mountain, NC, to gather minerals to make into new glazes for the next firing of the newer, big, three-chambered climbing kiln – built by former apprentice Zac Spates – We’ll be testing these minerals in our gas kiln before the Holidays, and I look forward to producing yet another range of glaze types, colors, and textures for the Spring Kiln Opening.

I also have several conceptual projects in mind concerning the use and display of pots. Watch this space!

There are tools and equipment to buy, a new roof to put on the barn, and a revolving loan fund to set up for apprentices to buy equipment when they set themselves up in business.

Thank you USA!

Meanwhile, it’s all about these beautiful pots, so come on down and see them!

(By the way, Adrian and Hamish have both been gardening this fall, Hamish up the road, and Adrian here, taking over my vegetable patch. In honor of their endeavors, the pots were photographed amongst the collards and turnips. Don’t forget to eat your vegetables!)