I fired my 7th kiln load for 2018 last week, and am well pleased with the results. A few of the pots were whimsical, featuring surfers or fishermen, and made with Darkstar, a local clay. Along with all the usual stuff, I'm building a new, much smaller kiln with the assistance of our good friend Terry Childress. Terry is a master stone and tile mason, and inventive potter. Stay tuned for more pics of this new kiln building adventure!
Oddly enough, Bertha, my 65 cu. ft. car kiln, is firing better than ever. Firing number 6 for this year was highly successful, containing lots of mugs, bowls, cruets, plates, trays and more.
Meanwhile, I am still working on my next kiln, which is less than half the size of Bertha.
Post number 1, 5/1/18. Thus begins a new adventure; building a new kiln in deference to my age :-)
I have built 3 kilns for myself, and assisted others in building and designing theirs. My last kiln, a 65 cu. ft. modified Minnesota Flat Top, is firing great, but due to my inability to fill it as quickly as I have in the past, I am building a smaller, more manageable kiln. My hope is that I can turn around a kiln load, albeit much smaller, in half the time. The total inside volume will be 30 cu. ft., giving me options I have not had in the past.
In addition to the kiln being smaller, I will use a design I have had in mind for quite some time. The 2 burners will be set up in diagonal corners, with an exit flue into the chimney under the shelves, kind of like a central bath tub drain. The burners and exit flue configuration should create a swirling effect, producing even temperatures throughout. Hopefully it will fire faster too, and be far more efficient.
I am sure someone, somewhere has already built a kiln very similar, but I have yet to see one, or hear of one. The ideas I wish to incorporate make a lot of sense to me, but it will be a month or so before I know if they are valid.
I'll keep you posted.
These are from back in the early 90's and adorn the wall of a favorite customer.
Dear friends and family,
April 21st and 22nd marks the 10th Annual Spring Kiln Opening-Celebration of Spring in Seagrove, hosted by the Seagrove Area Potters Association. We have invited our old friend, Lanny Pelletier, of Cape Carteret, and newer friend, J. Britt Gardner, of Black Ankle, to participate in this event with us again this year. We are also offering a good selection of Laurie Abela's wonderful, handmade soaps. Light refreshments will be served, and shoppers can participate in the SAPA drawing for $150.00 of free pottery.
I have a new glaze pattern this year, Cordoba, named after the Spanish city where Cordovan leather originated, and it has become our favorite. When you see it you'll understand the name. There are some new shapes this Spring, too: stew bowls, larger pasta bowls, redesigned olive oil cruets, and brie bakers.
This year also marks 40 years since I first opened Tom Gray Pottery on the shores of Lake Gaston. I am very grateful for those early customers who encouraged me to stick with it and the latest customers who encourage me to stay with it. It makes me smile when I think about all the people who drink coffee from my mugs, dine with my plates and bowls, display their flowers in my vases, and conclude the day with a glass of wine or hot tea in my tea bowls/wine cups. Thanks to you all.
Please keep in touch on Instagram, @tomgrayseagrove and on my blog at handmadeinseagrove.com/blog. Also, please share this email with your friends who might be interested in handmade pottery.
We hope to see you soon,
Tom Gray and Jane Muse
Tom Gray Pottery
I have deleted my personal and business facebook accounts, having determined I can survive without them :-)
To keep up with what is going on at Tom Gray Pottery, please bookmark this page (my blog), sign up for my occasional newsletter, visit my Pinterest page, or follow me on Instagram. Of course, I can always be reached by email.
Regards to all-Tom
A customer sent this image my way today, a teabowl of mine she bought yesterday afternoon. It looks like it found a good home :-)
The second firing of 2018 was highly successful; many glaze tests were included, most of which determined some new glazes not to incorporate into my repertoire. Knowing what NOT to do is obviously just as important as knowing what to do. That said, there were some successes that I hope to put to good use in the coming months.
The 2nd image is of a stack of oversize pasta/salad/soup bowls in TuSk, a glaze pattern I came up with last Spring. There were some new Cordoba glazed pieces as well as the shino, matte black, aqua, and copper reds I have been using for a while now.
The little guy on the far right is Oliver Muse, AKA Ollie, Jane's most recent Pekingese rescue, and a most welcome addition to our home. He is definitely Jane's dog, but has squirmed his way into my heart as well.
More to come-Tom
I am trying some new shapes for some of my old standards this year. My brie bakers have all been made for 8 oz. wheels and these will have the same volume, but are a little more compact, maybe sturdier. I am looking forward to firing some of these with Cordoba, my latest glaze pattern!
Everything tastes better when eaten from handmade pots.
View from the kiln shed smack dab in the middle of the Old North State. 5 in. of snow so far. Mixing glaze tests and glazing pots for the first kiln load of 2018.
Lots of pots! Lots of clay tests, primarily NC clays! Lots of glaze tests!
I am heading toward firing number 16 for this year. I had a slow start back in January, but will have caught up by year's end. Here are some images of my latest foray-into much larger pots. It's been a great year for Tom Gray Pottery, thanks to all who are now gifting and/or enjoying my pots.
Many of my fondest memories were made at the table with friends and family. That is why I make pots; for those times when we gather around the table and celebrate - life.
Happy Thanksgiving from Tom Gray Pottery.