Smoke My Bacon Please


It’s just a tad beyond smoky at the cabin this year. Normally we would be looking across the lake at the Rabbit’s Bush blooming on Horse Butte. This photo was at 11 in the morning and by the evening we could make out the flowers…but nothing like we normally can.

I could bitch and moan but I won’t. I will instead think of all the brave men and women who work so hard to keep the fires away from people and property. I can only imagine what it must be like…and that’s coming from a guy who works with hot open kilns for a living.

If any good can come from this smoke filled sky I’m hoping the slab of bacon that I hung in the tree yesterday will be even better. Let’s hope that it attracts the smoke and not the bears.

I Do Trim My Pots

Sometimes…when a show gets slowish…like the last hours of the last day…craftspeople start “talking shop.” My insistence of trimming my yarnbowls sometimes comes into the discussion. The other potter’s concern for speed is usually the anti-trimming portion of the discussion.

Some would not trim the bottom of the pot, leaving is a flattish sort of bottom. By necessity of the process the edge that meets the table will be terminated below the visual top…sort of like the pot is sitting in rather than on the table.

I prefer to give the pot some visual “loft” by trimming a foot into the pot. This gives the pot the appearance of sitting on the table and from a distance, it looks lighter on the table. All my opinions of course, but I think the pot looks more finished.

Watch a video of me trimming a yarn bowl. It’s a little slow to load so don’t panic.

When I make yarnbowls I know (remember my wife, Brenda, is a knitter) that there will be time when a yarnbowl or two doesn’t have yarn in it (we have multiple bowls in the house)…and when it’s just sitting there, I want it to be a little piece of art.

Now this trimming process takes about as much time as throwing the pot in the first place. I think it’s important enough to take that time to make the pot look the way I have designed it in my head.

OK…and I like to trim.

The Crate

thecrate For those of us who are following the progress of LickinFlames, this crate is no real surprise. But what may surprise you is the length of time that it has taken to grow the little flame to the point where we are shipping our display and product to various shows rather than driving it in the Explorer.

We started the LickinFlames idea about four year ago. Although I have been in the clay/pottery business for over 40 years, the whole notion of full-time saggar/obvara/raku work didn’t come about until about 2011…then the tests…the clays…the glazes…the firing and so forth. Then it was the small local shows, then mid-sized shows and then toe dipping into the STITCHES events…then the wholesale shows with The National Needle Arts Association (TNNA for short). All along the way, we listened to our friends in the fiber world and continue to make better product.

We are so grateful for all the folks who have helped us. Some have given us some great ideas…colors or shapes or new products…some folks have purchased from us (thank you for that)…some have introduced us to clients…many many people have shared our work with their friends and family. Behind the scenes we have been helped by welders, woodworkers, sticker makers, laser artists, rock hounds and on and on. You know that saying about taking a village to raise a child…well it takes a whole lot more than one person to do LickinFlames.

Through all this…and while it might be only four years in the making…all this “stuff” crammed into this short period of time, Brenda, has been so supportive…incredibly so.

So the crate is off to Chicago and #STITCHESMidwest. Supportive Brenda and I fly out in about two weeks, one year after the first major test of our product.

Obvara and Feathers…two peas in a pod


You could almost see the steam coming off the pot as I snapped the picture. Talk about being fresh from the kiln!

The yarn bowl came out just the way I had planned…AND I figured out how to develop more of the “lichen” patterns like on the this piece. That alone is exciting for me.


Usually when I do a number of pieces in the obvara technique, I wind up my day firing with feathers and horsehair. Today was no different.

All this is in preparation for shipping to #STITCHESMidest and #STITCHESTexas. Why do I always go to the wire on the deadlines? I know why. Someday I might write about it.

Today! The Kiln! RAKU!

raku 6-7-15-4

For the all the advancements in digital photography one would think that the color could be more accurate on a consistent basis right? The bottom half of this pot is silvery in appearance…the top is that intense.

raku 7-6-15-1 raku 6-7-15-3

Today started a tad slowly. I wasn’t too thrilled with the breeze (which ended up as a gale in the evening)…but I really needed to be firing the kiln. I’ve been waiting for about a week and half for a calm day. HOT weather in the valley makes the cool air from the ocean rush through our area…it’s been 115 or so in Redding (yes…115…or so)…and over 100 for a couple of weeks. I need one more raku day. Brenda tells me I need to “man up” and deal with the wind…is she forgetting the fire?

Had a number of pots develop wonderful metal areas on them…like gold/silver leaf on something ancient. A few pieces didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned they were going to be but were very nice in their own right. What a strange notion to be disappointed in a result simply because one wanted/expected something different…but the result was wonderful. Why can’t be just appreciate what is in front of us and not judge it on an expectation? Oh humans…relax.

Summer Rock Art

AZ_petroglyph-4 It’s hard to imagine living in a region like this…it’s Arizona and from the photo graph, an endless sea of rock or sparse landscape. However, just around the corner is a river which even in the summer had water and the rocky edge of the mesa provides a myriad of opportunities.

AZ_petroglyph-3 This small nook in the mesa edge was over looked by a very small pueblo…and the people of the pueblo likes to peck in the rocks…

AZ_petroglyph-1 and if you look closely, the petroglyph becomes more evident

AZ_petroglyph-2…and even closer it becomes a rather iconic image…


On our way to (and from) the TNNA Summer Show in Columbus, OH, Brenda and I stopped by several sites of rock art in both Arizona and Utah. It was important for me to be able to see the work in the context it was created in. It’s one thing to look on the internet and see photos taken by other people (such as the last of the images in this post……but it’s an entirely different and much more meaningful (deeper if you will) experience to see them first hand. Absolutely mind blowing for me…not sure why they created the images, but it was humbling.

Last Raku for This Month

Today was the last of the raku firings before we head on over to the TNNA show. Some of the pieces that are driving my new designs came out really well. Twenty three loads in the kiln in seven days…I’m feeling it too.

I looked in the kiln and noticed a little ray of sunlight illuminating a particular piece…so I decided to “follow it” through the rest of it’s firing process.


The glaze on the piece has not melted yet. In real time I could see little shiney places where parts of the glaze matrix was starting to melt.


A few minutes later…and 100 degrees hotter…the glaze looks to be melted. I do however know that the glaze needs another 50 degrees and some time to smooth out.


To become this. Same piece as in the first two photos.

No Wind Today…Game On!


After the windy day delay from yesterday, the kiln loads were by and large just wonderful. Two glazes on yarnbowls turned out a bit funky (okay, let’s be honest, they sucked)…but mostly, the loads looked like these two photos.

The post firing cans were unusually smokey today…thick grey with black core types of smoke…the good stuff :-) .¬†Once upon a time this would mean I would spend part of the day choking and squinting. When I started to use the mask it was a bit awkwards and it felt heavy. But now, after dozens of firings, putting it on and using it almost feels natural (almost). Makes the smoke a non-issue…much safer in that regard. Also, I just plain feel better at the end of the day…hmmmm…seems that inhaling all that smoky crud was taking it’s toll.

Second picture…no idea where the blue came from…same glaze as above…same load in the kiln. Two different reduction canisters.


Glazing and Cleaning for Tomorrow


Glazed and sort of ready to go. I will add silver nitrate and then it will be ready. SN is a little on the messy side so I wait until everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is ready for application and then apply it to the everythings all at the same time. You need gloves and safety glasses and long sleeves (or potentially you will have black freckles for a few weeks). With the weather in the low 90s who wants to put up with that multiple times…so I wait a bit. It will be shiny black with silver decorations by the way.

The second one will be finished in a saggar. The white should give the piece a stone-like look…think veining in jaspers. I’ll highlight some of the petroglyph decorations…pictures of the finished piece to follow…maybe. I won’t bother if it turns out to be a crummy idea :-)


SPONGING! (again)


Lambs! I normally get very bored sponging a few dozen of these little critters. Can you begin to imagine how I might feel sponging 400 of them? It’s so bad I’m counting the strokes of the sponge to see how efficient I can be.

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!…seriously, it’s not just the 400 lambs…the 150 triangular shawl pins don’t help with the boredom…nor the 350 plain buttons.

My fingers are cold and prune-like AND…

the CD player has decided to jamb up.