Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Here's to even more creativity, artistic success, and (most hopefully) the recovery of the economy in 2009. I know many of you are feeling the effects, from the potters who are seeing sharp downturns in people buying art to those of you who make pottery as a hobby and are pinching pennies just to be able to afford to support your sanity-saving pottery habit.

I am getting a lot closer to getting the new website finished. I'm hoping that we can go live in the next month, as long as I can focus a lot of time getting the database with our products filled in. But I thought I'd give you a sneak peek at the home page for the site, just to whet your appetites. :-)

Finally, we had great success with the start of our Second Saturday Artist Series. When someone would call Bill Bracker (co-founder of Bracker's Good Earth Clays) an expert, he would always reply, “please don’t call me an expert. Think of it...when you break down the word, an ‘ex’ is a washed-up-has-been and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure.” So we won’t call these artists “experts” but they are definitely very good and more than willing to share their experiences and techniques with you. Each Second Saturday will feature a different artist. We will be inviting artists who throw, handbuild, decorate, create, and innovate. No purchase necessary - just stop by and see the artist at work. Feel free to observe for a few minutes, ask a question or two, or stick around for a couple of hours. Some artists may choose to bring other examples, work in progress, or even finished work (which might be available for sale). We leave the details up to each individual artist. Danny Meisinger visited us on Saturday, December 13th. We had a steady stream of people visit to watch Danny throw some amazing pots and talk about his life as a full-time artist.

Our next artist visit is Saturday, January 10th. Larry Brow will be here from 10 am to 3 pm:

"I graduated with an MFA in ceramics from the University of Iowa and considered teaching, but found the job market in 1989 barren. I have since derived a great deal of satisfaction from teaching at the Lawrence Arts Center, and briefly, at William Jewell College. Lately, my inspiration for my artwork comes from the integration of throwing, handbuilding, architecture, tattoos, wood-firing, Dr. Seuss, and Frank Gehry, in an improvisational creative method. A certain portion of my production is on display at Diane’s Artisan Gallery, on the second floor at Eighth and Mass. I also sell purely functional ware at three fairs a year as Please Touch Pottery. I use both porcelains and stonewares, firing in electric, gas, or wood-fueled kilns as appropriate. My youngest son, Hunter Tilghman, has honored me by asserting that he, too, wants to be a potter when he grows up. Indeed, he has been helping me set up and take down at Fairs since the age of two."
"On my Second Saturday, I suspect I will divide my time between throwing double-walled vessels and building a functional armchair or sculpture using my characteristic paddle and anvil handbuilding techniques. My slip decorating techniques may also come into play. Questions are always welcome."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sweeping changes with Mason Stains

Blended Material Inventory Change
What Mason Says (quoted from the Mason Color website):
Basically, we will be reducing the number of inventoried pigments from around 160 to about 100. Each color section will be impacted, some more severely than others. All of our existing pigments that are manufactured as single calcinations will continue to be offered as they have been for the last 100 plus years. The majority of blended pigments will no longer be held in our inventory after the current supply is gone. A full listing of all the blended pigments will be available to you, including up-to-date inventory levels and the formulas that will enable you to make your own blends from the large supply of pigments currently being manufactured. Since it is customary in ceramic businesses to blend colors to achieve a desired shade, we do not expect this to be a problem.

Mason Stain Changes
What Bracker's Says (how these changes will affect Bracker's and our customers):
Oh, should have seen the look on Anne W.'s face when we heard this news. Shock and awe, people. It was complete and utter shock and awe. The new color chart (now available) looks pitifully small compared to the previous chart (no longer available). At this point, we have a decent supply of all the colors that we currently carry. We'll sell the blended colors we have in stock and will continue for as long as we can get them blended. But we'll also provide you with the chart of how to blend the single calcination colors together to get the other colors for which you are familiar. For example, if you love 6265 Leaf Green, you'll just need to blend 67% 6204 Victoria Green and 33% 6219 French Green to get the same Leaf Green color. We strongly recommend that before the existing supply of stains runs out, you try blending a few of them yourself to see the original and the version you have to blend yourself in a side-by-side test.

We expect that we will have to explain this issue a couple hundred times and do a lot of hand-holding throughout the change, but that's what we're here for. Check out the NEWS section of the Mason website (3 pages into the news section as of this posting) for even more details or give us a call. Our current website will NOT reflect these changes immediately, but please be patient with us.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Art from Iraland

That's Iraland, not Ireland. As in the artist, Ira Winarsky. I had a delightful conversation with him on the phone yesterday, which led to him mentioning his website. I was entranced enough that I thought I'd share it with you, too.

Ira went to Kansas University in the 60's to study architecture, but took a ceramics class from Sheldon Carey as an elective and fell in love with clay. Sheldon is the man who convinced my dad to apply for a teaching position in the Art & Design Department at KU, ultimately leading us to Lawrence, Kansas in 1975. He feels that architecture is art on a much larger scale and has continued in both sides of the same world. His degree in Architecture is from KU, his Masters degree in sculpture is from Temple University, Tyler School of Art.

Check out his amazing iridescent glaze palette, based on inspiration from his pet peacock, Gilgamesch

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Groovy Tools

Groovy Tools are a great alternative for people who loved the high quality Dolan Tools. Groovy Tools are made by Susan & Dave Burge from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Aside from living in a city with a name very close to our city, they're also a very nice couple. Susan is a potter and Dave is an engineer (he confesses to having absolutely no artistic talents). Together, they have come up with a great new concept in trimming tools. Here's what the Groovy Tools website says about their tools:

Groovy Tools is a new concept in trim tools. We start with a blade of the highest quality steel. The 200 SERIES HEAVY GAUGE TOOLS are made from true tool steel. The blade is heat treated, tempered, and then re-treated cryogenically to produce a molecularly superior steel. In our NEW 300 SERIES MEDIUM GAUGE TOOLS we use a high carbon steel that is hardened and tempered to withstand the abrasion from clay but tough enough to be impacted and not break. From the type of steel, to the treating process, right down to the blade angle, this tool was designed to hold an edge.

The finished blade is then mated to an acetate handle that is impervious to moisture. No more worries about wooden handles swelling, blades loosening, or having to wipe your handles with oil. Our handles are light, strong, and will last a long, long time.

The final touch is an ergonomic grip. This gives the handle just a little softness for a better grip with less fatigue. And the bright colors are really groovy!

Kemper's version of Dolan Tools

We love Kemper Tools. We've sold them for 25 years, and we'll continue to sell them. Kemper recently came out with a new series of tools, based on the original Dolan Tools. However, we will NOT stock that particular line of tools, nor will you find them listed on our website. "Why?" you might ask. The reason we won't publicize or stock them is because they are a DIRECT copy of Dolan Tools, down to the rings at the bottom of the handle and the tool numbers.