Friday, January 2, 2015

Sad Update

Hi, my followers--

I've had a serious health issue the last 2 months. I am finally at home, propped up in a lounger and able to blog a bit.

First let me tell you that no matter what you think is important in your life, the love of your family and friends is paramount. If you've got a complaint with parent, child, or sib, DEAL WITH IT NOW! You have no idea how much time is left you--or them.

I've had a bit of time to lie around, and I found that David & Gail Stewart actually have a little gallery somewhere in San Diego. His paintings (no pots anymore)--full of red, vivid colors, flowers, and female nudity (what's not to sell)?   ;-)  He's having a blast, I think. Go to

His Lions Valley ware is no longer being made but can be bought here & there online.

I feel I'm kind of out of it and that I am not telling you anything you don't already know...

In fact, this will be my last post in this blog.

Perhaps I can share an anecdote or two about a time when I was studying with him at his Dulzura home...

Ah, what to mention? The family of skunks under the house? The cactus/euphorb garden decorated with many shards of failed pots? Nyva's beautiful handmade rag rug on the living room floor? Wildenhain pottery in a glass case? Drinking tea from on of Dave's special teapots with the leaf filters? Smoking... explaining that his yellow teeth were actually from the natural fluoride in the water in Deaf Smith county TX where he grew up (he had no cavities)?

There were two handbuilt kickwheels in his studio. If he was throwing something large, he could let it dry a bit on one and use the other to continue on other pots.

He didn't use a chuck, just threw directly on the wooden wheelhead (some hardwood, looked like maybe he mounted a cheese cutting block to the flange on top of the rod). He had a handmade wire cutter, and just cut each pot off while rotating the wheel. You can see the distinctive twisted spiral cutmark on most of his piece bottoms.

His "drying room" was a wooden trunk, with plaster cast into the bottom which he could keep damp when he put the lid on the trunk. Never fussed with wrapping stuff in plastic. OK I take that back--if he had something handbuilt going on the work table he covered that up with plastic.

He took me through all the "forms" or representative types. I think that info is out there thanks to Marguerite...short cylinder (dog dish!), tall cylinder, bowl, etc...

He worked with colored slips that he made from scratch, and did all the sgraffito decoration work in greenware. Then he bisqued, and basically dunked everything into one glaze. More efficient than at colleges where almost nothing is done to greenware and all your time is spent figuring out which glaze of a dozen to use.

He used bits of raw clay on the bottom of each bisqued, glazed, and wiped-bottom pot, to prop them in the kiln. These popped off easily after the glaze firing (though I remember he had a grinder in his studio--for goofs!)

The trouble with doing all your decorating on greenware is that there is a window of time you've got to get it gone in, then you're out of luck. I found that if I bisqued my pots, then used black wax resist to carefully outline my designs (carefully! as one mistake ruins it), then I had all the time I needed to apply underglazes with a dropper to make my colors...then I could dunk the bisqued pots into a single semitransparent matte glaze.

The results were not Marguerite, nor David, but Barbara.

If you should see a Marguerite Wildenhain Retrospective Art show somewhere, I hope there are many pots of her students there to view as well. You will see that each potter is unique--BUT--that each screams "Wildenhain" as well. We're all old farts now, but the legacy of her Pond Farm teaching lives on in the work of hr students; David was her chief assistant, and his influence lives on as well, in the work of those he helped.

Well, I am going to sign off. 

Thanks for following my blog,