Breaking Up

So apparently it’s been ten months since my last entry. I know, I know…bad blogger. Very bad blogger. There’s good reason though. This has been the year of changes. Big changes.

My last entry was in May of 2014, spotlighting our annual Photo Contest that coincides with our Mother’s Day show. That month I was put in touch with Jake Allee, one of my favorite potters, who agreed to send us some work for the gallery. The show sold well and Jake sent reinforcements. In August the family made our semiannual trip up to Northern Indiana to visit my wife’s family. I made a few calls and ended up meeting with Justin Rothshank, Todd Pletcher, and Troy Bungart. I also had a chance to sit down and talk shop with Dick Lehman at his studio, which was one of the highlights of the year. The man exudes thoughtfulness. We all hit it off and I came home with boxes of Justin’s work and Troy’s handcrafted pottery tools. Justin’s show sold out 5 days before it opened and he was good enough to hustle some more pots down before his opening. By this point it was clear that things were changing so we broke up Botbyl Pottery & Companion Gallery (except on Facebook) and built companiongallery.com. It was a bit sparse when it began, but I figured the ol’ ericbotbyl site wouldn’t quite keep up with what was happening. These folks deserved a site of their own.

In October we featured Amelia Stamps and received wonderful new work from Merideth Holder. For the Holiday season we featured Kelsey Nagy, our long time intern turned ceramic super star. Then the weirdest thing started happening. Instead of soliciting makers,  I began to receive emails from folks who wanted some representation in Tennessee. Not cheesey potters either,  awesome potters.

So as it stands right now, beyond my capacity of comprehension, here’s the line up so far for 2015…

February- Bill Wilkey, Helena, MT

March- Patrick Rademaker, Louisville, KY

May- Matthew Schiemann, St. Petersburg, FL

July- Iren Tete, Minneapolis, MN

August, Ron Philbeck, Shelby, NC

September- Dick Lehman, Goshen, IN

November- Todd Pletcher, Goshen, IN

Going forward, this site will become what it was in the early days…thoughts and images from my daily studio life. I’d be so grateful if those of you who follow along would check out our newest endeavor, companiongallery.com

Cheers!

 

Photo Contest 2014…And the Winners are…

Tony and his Cigar Box...this guy has the right idea.

Tony and his Cigar Box…this guy has the right idea.

After Swimming Practice. Quirky. Really quirky.

After Swimming Practice. Quirky. Really quirky.

Outside the Alaska Alchemist Coffee House.

Outside the Alaska Alchemist Coffee House.

Sally gets the Far and Away Award. She brought this little Keepsake Box all the way to Shanghai and photographed it all over the city. It even made its way to the Panda Preserve in Chengdu before finding its home.

 Then of course we have the serious coffee drinkers with unusually fantastic facial hair…

The Comedians…

The Tragic…photo

And the rest…

Thank you all for making this so much fun. And thanks for making our pottery a part of your daily lives. We appreciate you!

Botbyl Pottery Photo Contest 2014

Last year marked our tenth year in business, and to celebrate that milestone we held our first ever Botbyl Pottery Photo Contest. It was a great success and lots of fun.

2014 marks my 18th year of making pots and our 11th years in business and we’d like to celebrate again!

Here’s how it works… take a picture of the Botbyl pots in your collection and email them to me. Easy.

-Photos of Botbyl pots in and around your home (on the mantle, in the cabinets, by your favorite chair) will receive a 10% off discount on your next purchase. This catagory is for shy folks who don’t actually want to be in the photo.

-Photos of you or your family using or posing with your Botbyl pots will receive a 20% off discount on your next purchase.

Get creative! Stage shots of your family together, pets, babies, serving dinner, sipping coffee, pouring wine, in your car, at work, or by the pool.

-Everybody who participates gets a discount…and My Top 3 favorites photos will receive a 50% off discount towards the next piece in your collection!

Send your photos with your name and address to botbylpottery@gmail.com with “photo contest” in the subject line. You can even send them straight from your phone.

Entries are due by 10pm- Wednesday, May 7th.

One discount per photo….feel free to send several!

Here are some early entries to inspire you… all the way from Anchorage Alaska!

This lady brings her own mug to the coffee shop. Serious points for brand loyalty.

This lady brings her own mug to the coffee shop. Serious points for brand loyalty.

Outside the Alaska Alchemist Coffee House in Anchorage Alaska

Outside the Alaska Alchemist Coffee House in Anchorage Alaska

Sipping coffee by Cook Inlet, Anchorage Alaska. On second thought...that's probably a brewskie.

Sipping coffee by Cook Inlet, Anchorage Alaska. On second thought…that’s probably a brewskie.

The Photo Contest coincides with our 4th Annual Mother’s Day Show, Friday & Saturday, May 9th & 10th.

We can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

email entries to botbylpottery@gmail.com

Out of town? We’ll email you a discount code for our Online Gallery!

CompanionGalleryFeb2014_001

 

Pulling Threads

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This just seems to be the way I work…I’ll throw a series of “blanks” and tweak them each differently. The first is usually familiar…picking up where I left off with the last series. Ideas start flowing…technical challenges present themselves…solutions mixed with function and style.
Asking “what if I………” has carried me for nearly 20 years now. It’s like pulling on a never ending thread.

When Materials Mean Something

Mark Twain said that the American wood stove was more work than a baby…and I agree. A large portion of my day is dedicated to preparing wood and maintaining a fire. The last thing I do before tucking the studio in at night is pack the stove to the seams and chop kindling for the morning. The first thing I do in the morning is chop enough wood to last the day and haul it into the studio to stack.  Chop, haul, stack, stoke, clean, repeat. It really is like a baby…feeding, cleaning, feeding, cleaning. Uhg.

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So why all this work? Why not just install a gas heater and be done with it, right? Ashes. More specifically ash glazes. It’s become my thing, and there really is something to it.

The trick is I’m firing to cone 6-7. Pottery books are full of cone 10 recipes, and honestly ashes don’t need a whole lot of help at cone 10. Wood firing is a great example. It’s essentially a slow accumulation of wood ash fired to 2400 F. It’s beautiful all by itself.  Cone 6 is another story. Ashes need a lot of help at 2240 F. I’m endlessly testing new recipes, which is also more work than a baby.

I could just buy fake ash glazes from the supplier but that feels icky. And empty. I’m looking for more than that.

We think of ashes as being the end of something. We think of them as being all that’s left after something good is gone. But there is a lot left behind. It just needs much more heat and a nice form to hang on. There’s a sense of redemption in the process and I need that. It gives a fullness, a richness, and a history to the materials to where even the materials themselves have meaning. And if we are going to spend our lives doing something it had better mean something.