Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pottery Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope

Project: A lot of writing
Mood: Embattled
Media: Pottery Podcasts - Tales of a red Clay Rambler - Brian R. Jonescast - The Potters Cast

A little ranty, a little rambly.

When I started, all those years ago, I had so many plans, the world turns, things change. I never set out to be a ceramics instructor, I just wanted to make things. My work is super specific, meaning no one buys it, at least not enough to really survive. Over the last few of years I have discovered, or should I say embraced, the love of teaching. and the peculiar knack I have for teaching pottery techniques to people that have always had trouble doing it.

I've been aiming for teaching so I was advised to upgrade my diploma to a BFA, two humanities classes, did that.

The world turned, things changed.

Now I need my MFA, because 24 years of experience apparently does not equal 16 months in school for a piece of paper. Sorry, a little bitter still. I have been ruminating on that for a while, mostly because I am stubborn. Also because I have BFA students auditing my night class. They are still learning from me, I'm just not getting paid for it, nor getting the credit for teaching them. Despite that, I am happy to teach them, haven't said no, won't say no to them, they're good kids.

Dammit, I think I'm a teacher. It probably doesn't help that I just taught a class to K-12 teachers on how to teach pottery. :-/

Recently I created a piece of work that I consider one of the best things I have ever created, the Temple of R'lyeh Cookie Jar. I entered it in a couple of shows, didn't get in either show, yes there were many entries to the shows but still. I also recently entered a big Cup show down in the US, which I have been in before, and was also rejected. Depression Mode Activated!!

Fuck that!!!

I'm a fighter, I tend to wallow sometimes but eventually I get up and keep moving forward. Production will continue, things will eventually sell and I will get that MFA. I'm in the Medalta International Spoon Show too, so love those guys! Buy my stuff, or tell your friends to buy my stuff, or tell your enemies to buy my stuff, tell complete strangers on the street to buy my stuff.


I have been listening to a few Ceramic based podcasts recently and that is getting me all fired up as well. I've been thinking about an artist I met briefly last year, Steven L. Gorman, who didn't really start his ceramic sculpting career until after he had taught for 25 years, backward from myself but relevant. In addition, a little over 10 years ago I exchanged a few letters and phone calls with the amazing Paul Soldner when I was trying to arrange a workshop with him up here. He had reminded me that he didn't really consider working in clay until he was in his 30's, and that there was "plenty of time to do stuff", he had a relaxing laugh. He was 83 when I spoke with him but he showed no signs of ever slowing down. I think I need to make a little Paul Soldner/Yoda/Kiln God/Gargoyle/Guardian.

I'm 46, nearly 47, whatever that means, plenty of time.

SOMEONE BUY MY PRETTY POT!! It needs a good home. :-)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cthulhu awakes. . . then goes for coffee.

Project: Everything!!! - New stuff, old stuff, show entries et al.
Mood: Optimistic, full of energy like a man on the edge, until the aliens get me!
Media: The X-Files and The X-Files Files Podcast

Two new limited edition Cthulhu items are fresh out of the kiln this morning. I was going to have a vote-off to see which one I was going to produce BUT so many people have been wanting more Cthulhu mugs that I've decided to make them both!!

The Cthulhu "Cathedral" Beer Stein and the Cthulhu "Hex" Beer Stein will be a limited run of 25 pieces each. Everything is in production now, so if you missed out on my first Cthulhu mug from my Indiegogo campaign last year, this is your chance to get something now. My Steampunk Gear Steins are also still available for order (Plus the new Rusty Gear Stein) and there are 3 Limited Edition Cthulhu Steampunk Cookie Jars available for order.

If you like the Cthulhu imagery you may also like the newest cookie jar I made for a competition entry, "Temple of R'lyeh". It is currently not for sale, as its entered in a competition, but if that changes I will post about it.

*** FAQ MODE ON ***

But why are you only making limited editions?
- I do not describe myself as a production potter. I cannot sit and make the same thing a hundred times a day, I would go nuts.The best I can do is to make the same thing about 10-25 times then I am done with it. The more complex, the less there will be.
- I do actually have regular production work that I make, its sufficiently diverse that I can make it over and over, go here to see!

Will you be making more Cthulhu Mugs?
- I have an idea in my head for one more design, a red clay pint glass beaker style Cthulhu beer label thing. I want to clear everything else on my plate first so this will not be produced until January 2015, then I'll probably put it down for a while.
- I will also be designing some other limited edition non-Cthulhu mugs too.

Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FAQ - A Short Video - Various Projects - Moby

Project: TrespassersEye
Mood: Sustainable Sad Hulk
Harmontown Podcast

The most Frequently Asked Questions I get about my work fall into three categories; Production, Price and Ghost. Let tackle a few of those Questions.


How long did it take you to make that?
- For my typical faceted mugs/bowls with sprigs and a handle I spend about a combined hour per mug, between throwing it on the wheel, decorating and glazing.
- My faceted tea-pots take about 3 hours each.
- The work that is completely covered in sprigs like my Indiegogo mugs or my Steampunk Gear Mugs, the RusTeaPots, and my larger works are totally variable but the mugs average about 3 hours total.

Below is a short stop motion animation I did with the help of my son Alex showing the construction process of the TrespassersEye Cthulhu Mugs.

Do you carve all of those decorations yourself?
- Yes, I carve original designs and make a mold from that carving. The mold is then used to create sprigs which are applied to the pottery.

Your mugs/bowls/etc. are all cast from a single mold right?
- No, everything I make is traditionally thrown on the potters wheel, then the handles and sprig decorations are added after as seen in the video above.


Why is your work so expensive?
- Its not actually expensive when compared to other artists or when you consider the time put into each piece. I've been producing work since before I graduated from the Alberta College of Art in 1990, I started making pottery when I was 16, that was 30 years ago. If you've been doing something for 30 years, and are really good at it, wouldn't you want to be paid a proper price for your work.

I can buy a mug for $5 at Walmart, why would I spend $30 on one of your mugs?
- Yes, people have actually said this to me many times.

- *heavy sarcasm alert* Yeah . . . sure . . . those two mugs are exactly alike, I shall only charge $5 a mug from now on. *sarcasm over* (no, my mugs are still $30)
- Walmart, and other similar stores ,sell mostly machine made, impersonal, utilitarian, disposable items by the thousands. I make one of a kind, personal, unique and opulent pieces that people love and take care of.
-My mugs are also twice the size, bad-ass, and if you attend a business meeting with one of my mugs, you win the meeting!


Hey, did you ever . . .?

- Don't even start, Hollywood is not reality, you should know that by now. Except Community. ;-)

Enough FAQ's for now, I'll post more in the future.

I'm also working on a few experimental items in between the Indiegogo TrespassersEye project and regular stock. Some ceramic spoons, new Tea-pots, a portable fire pit and many other things. Head over to my Instagram feed in the right column or my Facebook feed to see some images of work in progress and finished product.

Also a quick shout-out to Moby, yes, that Moby. While I was putting together my little mug animation I was looking around for some copyright free cool music to put in the background and found out that Moby has made a large amount of his music available for free to use for non-profit use. Just head on over to to check it out. An awesome thing for him to do!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A year in the life - To survive is not enough

Project: Survival
Mood: Dour as fuck
Media: Dredd & Pollock

Last year I ran an Indiegogo campaign to save my eyesight, as the needed surgery was not covered by Alberta Health, even though my eye-sight was un-correctable by any lens and I was effectively going blind.

The campaign was a success and I had the surgery.

Then Calgary flooded, my regular income disappeared as a result and the IGG funds that were supposed to help me partway through the 12 month recuperation, and pay for shipping of the IGG items, are gone in three months for rent and food. I'm then forced to move, see my previous post "90 Days on the Roller Coaster" for more info on that. Tore a tendon in my shoulder in November, couldn't work for almost 3 months, killed my Xmas production and sales season. I'd go into more detail of my last year, which has been pretty fucked up, but that would be TMI. Death, injury, destruction, the usual soul crushing things. I'm still upright and moving forward despite complications, healthy today.

Before I go any further . . . 

To everyone who contributed to my Indigogo campaign, a huge thank you.

To those who contributed and/or sent words of encouragement, double thanks.

Not everything has been distributed yet, and quite a few things, mostly mugs and cookie jars are still in process. All the smaller beads have been sent, and half the Cthulhu pendants and bottles are waiting to be mailed. Some quick math for you, I need to mail out around 25 mugs and 30 Cthulhu pendants at and average cost of $25 each, that's going to cost me about $1500 when they are all done. Not a small sum, when you are also trying to work to pay your rent and find time to make stuff. Taking on a third job this spring/summer, I guess I'll sleep when I'm dead, as they say.

Please don't worry, they are all still coming, the mere matter of survival is just delaying things. The last year has been a constant scrape and struggle to just survive, I hide this pretty well form those who ask, I don't like to show weakness. A character flaw. 

The local items around Calgary will be hand delivered of course, the rest of the mugs will be getting out there later this month. All the cookie jars will be hand delivered. Shipping insurance WILL NOT cover broken pottery so I'm going to hand deliver all the Cookie jars this August. They are just too expensive to ship, about $150 each, I'm not risking that.

Right here I really want to say a few nasty things to the couple of people that angrily emailed me looking for their stuff, but I won't. You are justified in asking, but not justified in saying horrible things to me. I'm still waiting on two perks from other campaign's I pledged to at the same time as mine, shit happens! That's all I'm really going to say, except for one thing directed at Indiegogo. 

Hey Indiegogo, thanks for blocking that email from the nice folks at Lasik MD who offered to do the surgery for FREE. Lasik MD eventually found me, no thanks to Indiegogo, but I had the surgery done somewhere else already. You could've helped Indigogo, saved me the cost of the surgery, and made it a more survivable year, but if I ever need to crowd-source again I'll be using Kickstarter.

That is enough negativity from me. Lets get this done, so I can move on to the next project.


Any other queries may be directed to my updated email HERE.