Monday, November 30, 2009


Every year at this time when I make the pies for Thanksgiving, I have this thing I wonder about.

My mother always cut the top pie crust in a design that looked like either a Fleur de Lis or Prince of Wales feathers. For years, I thought everyone made their pies this way. Then I began to notice that none of my friend's mothers put distinctive designs on their pies.

I asked her once and she said that that's just the way the pies were cut. Her mother did the same design.
So, was it a Loyalist symbol? I know people who supported the Crown in England quietly signaled to others their political sympathies in subtle ways like this. Is the design the three Prince of Wales feathers? If so, who did this? Maybe it was from the Scottish side of the family in support of Bonny Prince Charles.

Or is it a symbol of the French Fleur de Lis? My mother's grandmother was named de Bord. Was she showing her French heritage? Maybe she was from a Huguenot family??

If you compare the Fleur de Lis and the Prince of Wales feathers, they are very similar.

Our genealogy traces her famly to the Sanford family and back all the way back to the Plantagenets. Their symbol came from a plant known as common broom. It grew wild and the founder of the French branch of the family liked to wear a sprig of the plant in his hat.

Could the family have held onto this design for generations?

A sprig of the broom plant that the name Plantagenet refers to.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

These are blueberry leaves.

For a brief time, they turn this glorious color; each leaf a variation of red/yellow/green depending on where it is on the branch, how much sun it gets and where the shadow of other leaves fall across it.

There is just no match with Nature.

Every year it's a wonder. Sometimes I pick them and put them into an old bookbinding press between sheets of blank newsprint. They keep most of their color.

This year, though, I just picked and handful of the prettiest ones and laid them out on the kitchen table.
Think I'll use this in our Christmas letter.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Spontaneity. Easy. Just let yourself go.

Oh, yeah?

Sometimes it just isn't that easy.

Sometimes you can work a piece to death.

But when you find that capacity for spontaneity, when you pull it off, when you breathe life into your work,

it's like dancing.

It only works once.

It can't be undone.

It can't be 'corrected'.

This little stoneware trivet was wheel-thrown upside down with a rounded concave base which was altered when leather the piece was hard. I trimmed away the rounded base to create four feet.
It was glazed with white glaze and a thick cobalt stain applied with a large Japanese calligraphy brush.
Fired at oxidation, cone 6. The cobalt sizzled and jumped making small dots. A surprise when I unloaded it, but looks great.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kung Fu

I don't know why, but for some reason I find this photo hilarious.
And not that I haven't taken the hammer to a few things in my time. When I tell people who are not potters about this, they take a fast in-breath and say "Why?".
For one thing, I want my work to reflect the best level of skill I can.
My thought process was that if I sold seconds or flawed pieces I would be mortified to find them again. And it would be easily be identifiable as my work, since I always sign things. But I must say, I used to be more strict early in my work, (There was so much to trash). As time has gone by, I'm not quite so rigid about flaws. I came to this conclusion after seeing shows and visiting museums and finding that even the giants in the field show work that is not perfect.
Some 'flawed' pieces, I actually find to be quite endearing. I have a wobbly rimmed seconds bowl from one of my potter friends that somehow delights me every time I use it.
As long as a flaw doesn't jeopardize the integrity of the pot or the safety of the user, I let it survive now.
For one thing, it is a testament to the fact that the work was handmade and not belched out by some machine. For another thing, it's the realization that perfection is an ideal some of us strive for, but seldom attain. Sorta like people.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tiny Teapot

Once in a while, it's good to change your work and challenge yourself to make something completely different.

I've just finished photographing this little piece for entry into a teapot show.

It's made in the style of Yixing teapots. The clay is unglazed, only stamped and burnished. All of it is either slab or handmade.

The teapot is just a bit larger than the photos.