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Truffle basket, 8 in. (20 cm) in height, earthenware, fired to cone 04 in an electric kiln. Photo from Ceramic Arts Daily.

I really like the work of Lisa Buck.  I first saw her work on the poster for the St. Croix Valley pottery tour, and then read this article about her on Ceramic Arts Daily.  She lives in Afton, MN, and even though I am not from Minnesota originally, I really enjoy looking at the work of potters from the area.

What initially caught my eye were the juicy little feet on this piece!  I love interesting feet, and her work does not disappoint.  Many of her pieces have expressive little feet that beautifully finish off the bottom.    Many of Buck’s pieces have a beautiful gesture to them, and that expressiveness is perfectly finished in the feet.  I also love that the feet are heavier than lots of other feet I’ve seen.  There’s substance to them; they have a little meat on their bones.  I also have a soft spot for any potter working in earthenware.  I gush over the wonders of low fire clays all day in the studio that I think some of my classmates have tried throwing with it just to shut me up for a while.  Little do they know that tactics like that will never work!  I’m from a family of talkers, and I’m not about to stay quiet about my love affair with earthenware any time soon.


I have recently started researching face jugs.  They were jugs with expressive faces (with abstracted features reminiscent of African art) made by slaves in the antebellum American south.  There is only one name that comes up in that search: Dave the slave potter.  He was a slave who made pottery and was the only slave potter to sign his work.  He wrote poetry on some of the pieces which is truly exceptional because few slaves were literate or could write.  The jugs are amazingly simple and beautiful in and of themselves, the fact that some have a poetry on them makes them more exceptional to me.  An example of one of potter Dave’s couplets:

The forth of July is surely come
to blow the fife = and beat the drum.
4 July 1859

More information on potter Dave at

I really love figurative sculpture and I really love coil building jars.  Why didn’t I think to combine those before?  My current project, very much inspired by face jugs, is a large coil-built stoneware vessel with a porcelain face of an elderly person coming out of it.  Yes I am concerned about how much porcelain shrinks compared to stoneware, but I am interested to see what that does to the piece.  I also love the allusion the white clay body makes to Roman death masks.  And I thought in an homage to Dave the potter, I thought I would inscribe a few lines of poetry onto the side of the jug.  I chose the last stanza from Billy Collins’ “On Turning Ten:

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

This one is my favorite of Dave’s couplets because it alludes to my power color/animal:

I saw a leopard & a lions face
than I felt the need of – grace
3 November 1858

I submitted probably my best baby arm cup (which is not saying much because the glaze was untested and wonky)(and it is the only one I withheld from Shannon), to the NCECA cup sale.  From what I hear, people arrive outside the door at 5am so that they can get the cups they want (3 per person) when the sale opens at 8am.

Lets play FIND the BABY ARM CUP!  Answer after the jump.

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Yowza, yesterday was an awful and awfully long day of travel.  I went to the airport with Julia, John, and Drew at 7:30 even though my flight was at 3:00 pm.  We got to the airport 45 minutes before they anticipated (because we got to use the carpool lane and bypass the traffic) so I had so much time to kill at the airport.  Basically I got about two weeks worth of class reading done.  Anyways, here are some photos of us around the airport in the morning.

This was a game apparently called "Ninja"

This morning I attended a really awesome demonstration by Richard Shaw about silkscreening decals.  Jhanna and I tried to do a little of this last term during the decal assignment (for which Emogene did her clouds that I posted about) but it was only moderately successful.  The most successful was screening directly onto clay, and we never really got the decal part of that off the ground.    Well Richard Shaw (who was so amazing and totally hilarious) gave us some great ideas including printing on newsprint.  The decals we used for the project were on rice paper from China, so we tried using different kinds of thinner papers (iwaki, tissue paper, etc.) but none really worked.   I can’t believe we never thought of newsprint.  Shaw also coated decal paper in gum arabic and then silk screened onto it so that the underglaze would release off the paper!  That is so clever.  I think that was for overglaze decals and requires a thicker kind of paper, but still a great idea.  I am so excited that we will get to try these new techniques when we get back.

The demonstration was also super funny (I thought) because he had to explain a lot about printmaking to the ceramics people.  Suckers!

I should mention that this was a simultaneous demonstration with Kari Radasch, who did some incredible things with hand building and I am so excited to bring those back to the studio.  I really liked her because she just looked totally rad.  Like someone I would be friends with/what my friends will probably look like in 5-10 years.  She was awesome, funny, and real talented.

Jhanna and Alexandra with one of Richard Shaw's silk screened decals on newsprint


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