Copyright and other blogs currently being worked

A young"ish" Buckminster Fuller and a flexible skin geodesic dome about the time he taught at Black Mountain College!

Please come over and see my comments and photos on my other blog "When I Was 69." And sometimes I have some ancestry information on the blog "Three Family Trees."

My info

Sunday, September 30, 2018

I'm small, not tiny

 A small vase next to a tiny vase!
 Some fun layering of glazes...white clay, Plum, Matt Bronze Green and Glossy Green...with a Nutmeg tree

Saturday, September 29, 2018

What's new here?

Just a few leaves on the ground show color.

Yes, more tiny pots!

Coming up on my 10th anniversary of blogging.  A few less years of doing this particular blog.  Makes me wonder where all the other blogs have gone.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Three Tiny vases

 Vase Number 1 - one side
 Vase No. 1 - other side

 Vase Number 2 - one side
 Vase number 2, other side

Vase number 3 - one side

Vase number 3, other side

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hands offering food in this bowl

I'm sorry the eggshell glaze breaks on the ends of the fingers turning darker looks like there should be a bowl full of chocolate to match!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday gratitude day

I'm so very grateful for all the hours I've spent in the studio with the community of potters here in Black Mountain.  They are my people!
Thanks to Black Mountain Center for the Arts for running this studio.

Thanks for 11 years of making things out of clay.  A few of the first efforts are still around, but most of them have (thankfully) gone to other homes or become part of landfills.

I'm grateful beyond measure that I have health to take part in this venue of creativity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday Art History - Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe

I couldn't possibly do justice to the wonderful vistas, still lifes, and giaganitc flowers of Ms. O'Keeffe's work...but will give you a couple of sites that you might be able to enjoy.  I've been one of her admirers for many years...probably since being smacked in the gut by the first sensuous flower with bold colors in a museum.  I've been glad to have Ms. O'Keeffe's calendar art on my wall many times, to enjoy that "this is what she had to say" on a daily basis.

Yes, she was a painter, not a potter.  Surprise!  The arts do enjoy the other media that are used through our inspirations.  We'll be back with clay soon enough...

 photograph of O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz. New York City, 1918
(b.Nov. 15, 1887, Sun Prairie, Wis.-d.March 6, 1986, Santa Fe, N.M.) 

Modern art in the 20th Century was a period of a vast creative revolution ...the work of the singularly talented and unconventional painter Georgia O'Keeffe.  In her long career she became renown for her portrayal of a vivid, powerful and private sensibility in natural objects such as flowers, clouds, and most notably animal skulls and bones.  This combined with her use of thin paint and clear colors evoked feelings of mystical silence and put her years ahead of her time. 

Of Irish and Hungarian ancestry, Georgia O'Keeffe was born on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wis.  She grew up an introspective child who did things her own way and decided early to become a painter because as she once said: "That was the only thing I could do that was nobody else's business." 
As a teenager Georgia moved with her family to Williamsburg, Va., where she attended the Chatham Protestant Episcopal Institute, graduating in 1904.  During the next few years she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League (New York).

in AbiquiuNew Mexico, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1950.
  She developed her artistic ability by painting still lifes; most successfully the oil on canvas Dead Rabbit With Copper Pot.  Though it won her a scholarship in its medium and was an early indication of her genius, it brought Georgia little personal satisfaction for she felt it differed little from the works of still life painters before her.  Ergo, she resolved to put painting aside for a while.  Briefly she was a freelance commercial artist in Chicago and then found a more pliable career for her art work in that of teaching.  In 1912, she became a teacher of art and supervisor of art for the public schools in Amarillo, Texas and in 1918 she became head of the art department at West Texas State Normal College in Canyon, Tx. 
In these years Georgia studied the art theories of Arthur Wesley Dow, a lecturer of art at Columbia University.  Dow taught her that pictorial art must create its own two dimensional reality based on pure aesthetic principles and that composition must be abstract and based on line, color, light and dark masses, repetition, and symmetry.  These along with a state of isolation, emotional ferment, and solitude following a conflict with her boyfriend, cemented a theoretical and personal meaning in art for Georgia.  Free of artistic conventions and all their influence, Georgia resumed her painting, experimenting with oils and watercolors, as well as drawing in charcoal. 
In 1916, Georgia mailed some of her charcoal drawings to a friend in New York City, which would bring her inadvertent artistic immortality.  Ignoring Georgia's wishes, this friend showed the drawings to Alfred Stieglitz, the pioneer photographer, who exclaimed: "Finally, a woman on paper!"  He exhibited them at his famous art gallery "291" on 5th Avenue in New York City, and immediately they drew attention.  Georgia, a reticent person as always, was appalled and went to New York to demand their removal.  However, Stieglitz persuaded her to let them remain and to continue her art work in search of her own personal vision within abstract design. 
The charcoal designs in this exhibit were of rounded, bud-like forms nestled in between a jagged silhouette and an undulating ripple.  Art critics thought them to be sexual much to Georgia's chagrin, for her main focus was femininity and tenderness.  In 1917, Stieglitz presented a solo exhibition of her work and in the summer of 1918, Georgia relinquished her teaching position and moved to New York City.  Here she became a member of  Stieglitz's circle of painters whom he patronized such as John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and Charles Sheeler.  Additionally, she became a model for Stieglitz in a series of sensuous photographs in which she posed in the nude.  Moreover, Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Steiglitz–though 23 years her senior and married with a daughter–became lovers. 
The whole decade of the 1920s saw the flourishing of Georgia O'Keeffe's artistic talent.  The most important of her art work from this period is her paintings of flowers, as exemplified in Black Iris III and Red Poppy.  These, as well as others, possessed a certain style that Georgia broke artistic ground with: magnification.  In this Georgia would enlarge the painting subjects to intensify their specific identity, increase their importance, and dramatize their emotional power.  Part of the meaning behind these paintings was to prove nature's equality with industrialization.  Georgia painted her flowers as large and as noticeable as the skyscrapers being built nascent in the cities via the prosperity of the "Roaring Twenties." 
The vibrating fragility and intimate centrality of Georgia's flowers led some art critics to liken them to female genitalia, consequently they believed Georgia was interpreting the Freudian sexuality rampant in "Roaring Twenties" society.  In truth they saw only half the picture (no pun intended): Georgia used the flowers as a sexual metaphor to arouse enchantment with its beauty.  Other important paintings include: Canna, Red and Orange, Calla Lily in Tall Glass II, White Calla Lily with Red Background, and Petunia II
In 1926, Georgia O'Keeffe began to paint from the industrialization end of the spectrum with images of urban landscapes and skyscrapers which include: City Night; Shelton Hotel, New York #1; and New York Night.  In these Georgia captured the height and distance of the structures in addition to the atmosphere in which they stand: the daylight or nighttime, the sky, the wind, etc.  However, other characteristic urban components such as automobiles, streets, and people were not portrayed.  In fact Georgia O'Keeffe never in her entire career painted people or any living creatures. 
In 1929, Georgia spent a summer in New Mexico, where she was mesmerized by the dry magical landscape and broad desert skies.  From this she painted what remains one of her most compelling paintings entitled Black Cross, New Mexico.  In this Georgia depicted a somber, intimidating, monolithic black cross, literally devouring the earth and sky behind it.  However, the succulently rippled purple and red hills and the horizon preserver.  This juxtaposing of stern order and riotous passion would be a recurring theme in Georgia's paintings. 
It was also during this artistically fruitful decade that Georgia would be joined in matrimony to Alfred Stieglitz.  After living together for six years, Stieglitz persuaded Georgia to marry him as soon as his divorce from his wife of thirty-one years was final.  With that the sixty-year-old Alfred Stieglitz and the thirty-seven-year-old Georgia O'Keeffe were married on Dec. 11, 1924. 
In the 1930s, Georgia O'Keeffe began painting another subject which would enhance her prestige as an artist.  These were animal bones, in particular cow skulls.  Just as with the flowers, Georgia enlarged, centered, and simplified the bones on the barren desert.  Her depiction were of quietude, remoteness, and perseverance along with the beauty of the desert that is so often unrecognized.  In some cases she painted the bones even more enigmatically by adorning them with flowers painted in the same vein as her previous works.  Probably, the most enigmatic from this period is Cow's Skull with Calico Roses (1931). 
These years would be personally difficult ones for Georgia however.  In 1933 she suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, curtailing her painting for about a year.  Also, Alfred had begun to be bothered by recurrent heart problems.  Nonetheless, they both continued their work. 
Georgia continued to paint animal bones and in the 1940s focused the subject on the pelvis.  Depicting birth and infinity she painted the pelvis suspended in the sky both abstractly and realistically; the sky was painted to appear clear and endless.  An example of this is Pelvis With Moon (1943). 
On July 13, 1946, Alfred Stieglitz died of a stroke at the age of eighty-two.  He and Georgia had been married twenty-two years.  It would take Georgia three years to settle his estate and her painting became sporadic.  In 1949, she moved to Abiguiu, New Mexico and began painting again, but the emotion seen in her earlier works had faded. During the 1950s she painted a series based on a rectangular wooden door on an adobe wall.  While majestic, these paintings were very formal and less inspiring. 
In 1959, after a world tour by airplane, Georgia painted the Sky Above Clouds series based on an aerial view.  The most notable painting of which was her largest work, a twenty-four foot mural entitled Sky Above Clouds IV (1965), in which the clouds are painted rhythmically on a placid sky, depicting peace above earth. 
Despite that her later art work was less potent than her earlier ones, Georgia's retrospective paintings were exhibited at the 
Intimate Gallery, An American Place, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and other places through the 1960s and 1970s,  In 1970, Georgia received a well deserved honor in that of the gold medal for painting of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.  Then in 1977 President Gerald Ford presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 
It was unfortunate that by this time Georgia was losing her eyesight and could not paint unassisted.  Ultimately she was totally blind.

Juan Hamilton, a young potter, appeared at her ranch house in 1973 looking for work. She hired him for a few odd jobs and soon employed him full time. He became her closest confidante, companion, and business manager until her death.

O'Keeffe dabbled in pottery herself, and had a large kiln installed at the ranch for firing pots. 

A final triumph for Georgia was in April 1985, when President Ronald Reagan awarded her the National Medal of Arts.  A little less than a year later on March 6, 1986, Georgia O'Keeffe died in Santa Fe at the ripe old age of ninety-eight.  The brilliance of her art work has proven timeless as it continues to intrigue and inspire people.  This phenomena has been maintained in a variety of ways, notably the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe that opened in 1997

  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • First retrospective show of a woman's art at the Museum of Modern Art
  • Awarded the Gold Medal of Painting by the National Institute of Arts and Letters 
  • Awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor 
  • President Ronald Reagan presented the National Medal of Arts in 1985.
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum 
Georgia O'Keeffe Gallery 
Georgia O'Keeffe - Ellen's place illustrated biography 
Georgia O'Keeffe Art Links - links to works viewable on the Web  
I get out my work and have a show for myself before I have it publicly. I make up my own mind about it–how good or bad or indifferent it is. After that the critics can write what they please. I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. 
- Georgia O'Keeffe

most of the above information is from:
There are several documentary films, books on her life, and her work is exhibited in most of the large Art Museums in America, which says much more about her life.  (Interested?  Just google her name!)

A repost from Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Monday Mug

You never know when a mug with all kinds of unexpected changes from the kiln will be just what a friend likes.

I hope she won't be too disappointed in looking at my other work, where this amount of fluxing glaze doesn't seem to happen as often.

But then, there are the black and white bowls...

we shall see .

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer & The Rookwood Pottery

The Rookwood Pottery and Maria Longworth Nichols Storer (1849-1932)

The Aladdin Vase, 1882, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer
The Aladdin Vase of 1882 was one in a series of Aladdin Vases first created in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols Storer in response to another work of art. She had learned that her artistic rival in the city, Mary Louise McLaughlin (1847–1939), had successfully created the largest ceramic vase decorated "under the glaze" in America. McLaughlin was the first person in America to discover and master the technique of decorating pottery using this glazing technique (See yesterday's post). 

Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, (to be called Storer for the rest of this article) who was extremely strong willed and never happy in second place, was determined to outdo McLaughlin’s creation. Her response was the Aladdin Vase. Although this vessel is not quite as tall as the Ali Baba Vase, it is wider, and thus technically more difficult to produce.

Around the shoulder of the vase is a modeled dragon that is raised from the surface of the vessel. The dragon, complete with snarling face and sharp fangs, holds itself up with a thin craggy arm that grasps the neck of the vase. The work also has two catfish in relief with bulging eyes and areas of raised white swirls of clay. The dragon and catfish are motifs found in Japanese folklore. Following the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, Storer was fascinated with Japanese art and culture. 

The first of the Cincinnati Museum’s Dueling Divas, Mary Louise McLaughlin, (to be called McLaughlin for the rest of this article) was born on September 29, 1847. She was the youngest of three children and the only girl. Her father, a prominent and wealthy dry goods merchant, supported his daughter’s artistic endeavors as she showed great talent from a very early age. She took art courses at Miss Appleton’s Private School for Girls (1871-1872).
Maria Longworth Nichols Storer

Storer was born two years later in 1849. Like McLaughlin, she was the youngest of three children and the only girl. Storer grew up in an extremely comfortable household; her grandfather was Nicholas Longworth, a great philanthropist and patron of the arts, as well as the city’s first millionaire, and the nation’s second richest citizen. As a child she was surrounded by her family’s art collection, and she had her early education in art and music in a schoolroom at Rookwood, her family estate. Later, she also attended Miss Appleton’s Private School for Girls (1862-1865).

Storer was tutored privately at home. McLaughlin studied at the University of Cincinnati School of Design, later the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
MLN Rookwood vase

The first important event that showcased the china painting work of the two divas and their colleagues was The Centennial Tea Party, held in 1875. The mission of the Tea Party was to raise funds for the Cincinnati display at the American Centennial Exhibition that was to be mounted in Philadelphia for the 1876 centennial celebration.

MLN Rookwood Vase

Storer's enthusiasm reached such a fever pitch in 1880 that she asked her father to import an entire Japanese pottery to Cincinnati, including all the workmen and supplies. He refused, instead offering her an old schoolhouse he had purchased that she could convert to a pottery, which she would open by the end of the year.

In late September 1877, McLaughlin had published her book on china painting titled China Painting: A Practical Manual for the Use of Amateurs in the Decoration of Hard Porcelain. This was the first manual on the subject in the United States written by a woman for women. . The manual was so popular among women that it was published in at least ten editions and sold over twenty thousand copies.

details, Rookwood vases

Published shortly after in 1878 was George Nichols’s (Storer’s husband) book on pottery in which she did all the illustrations in the Japanese style. As each woman contributed to the field, the other followed with a trump, cementing their rivalry.

To promote women’s work in ceramics, in 1879 McLaughlin created the Cincinnati Pottery Club, the first women’s ceramic club in the United States. Thirteen ladies were invited to join the club, however, one individual, Storer, did not respond.

While McLaughlin did in fact invite her to join, Storer claimed she did not receive the invitation, reacted with indignation and refused to join. (There are still conflicting accounts of this perceived snub in internet sources).   Storer's biographer, Anita Ellis, says she would take a back seat to no one, and joining the Club would mean that she would become a follower to McLaughlin, the club’s president. Her refusal to join ultimately led her to begin her own company, which she called Rookwood Pottery in 1880.
Rookwood Pottery

From the beginning, Rookwood faced several obstacles. Located on the river, in her father’s schoolhouse, the pottery was victim to annual flooding. Also, in the first years, the Pottery made very little money and Storer pulled from her own purse and that of her father’s to support her interest. In late 1883, Storer’s father helped her select a reliable, experienced manager for Rookwood. William Watts Taylor would be the saving grace for the struggling pottery. By 1889, Rookwood was a national and international success and truly considered the center of art pottery in Cincinnati.

McLaughlin published her second book Pottery Decoration under the Glaze in August of 1880. This manual discusses all steps of the underglaze technique. Since her discovery, underglaze decoration had become so popular that she felt she needed to create a manual in her own words that detailed the process.

McLaughlin’s ceramic career and that of the Cincinnati Pottery Club took a huge blow one year later in 1881. The Dallas Pottery, where they were located, closed when it's founder passed away.  In 1882 the Pottery Club moved to Rookwood Pottery and rented a room from Storer.

This situation served Storer well; she could support her fledgling pottery with the Club’s rent and could keep an eye on the Pottery Club’s work.  So just two years after the club was founded, it became a tennant of the rival Rookwood Pottery belonging to Storer.

The club finally came to an end shortly after their tenth reception, held on May 27, 1890. Their final exhibition together was at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Between 1888 and 1889, Rookwood won several awards in competition, including two first prizes at the Pottery and Porcelain Exhibition in Philadelphia and a gold medal at the Paris Exposition. Worldwide acclaim brought financial success, and Storer transferred ownership of Rookwood to William Watts Taylor. That same year, Storer moved to Washington, D.C. with her new husband, Bellamy Storer, who was in public office.  The pottery remained open another 75 years.

The chapter of her life that included her rivalry with Louise and her creative ventures in art pottery had come to a close. From 1897 to her death in 1932 Storer lived almost exclusively in Europe.

(source: Ellis, Anita J. The Ceramic Career of M. Louise McLaughlin. Athens , OH)

Whether from the rivalry of two talented women, or just the community which supported their creative development, the early women ceramic artists of Cincinnati provided a great impetus for American pottery.  Next we will take a look at some individuals who are alive and contributing to this movement today.

Reposted from Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mary Louise McLaughlin, American ceramist

Mary Louise McLaughlin, American ceramist

America held their first World’s Fair, the “International Exposition of 1876” commonly known as the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.  The Civil War was over.  People wanted to move on, to show the world our best.  And we invited the world to stand beside us, show us their best. 

American women were especially motivated by this watershed event.  For many it began with china painting, the first true ‘ceramic-art’ movement in the US.  Two presidential wives and many future leaders in the movement began as china painters.  But any list of Art Pottery leaders must begin with Mary Louise McLaughlin and Maria Longworth Nichols.

Mary Louise McLaughlin’s Centennial experience motivated her to spearhead in 1879 the Queen City OH Pottery Club, aka The Cincinatti Pottery Club, America’s first all-women’s pottery organization.  Her efforts set the stage for Rookwood and the blossoming of Art Pottery in Cincinnati.  Rookwood Pottery was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, another Centennial convert.  No other pottery matched Rookwood’s uniquely American style.

Mary Louise McLaughlin

But there were many others; Newcomb Pottery in New Orleans founded specifically to instruct young women; Mary Chase Stratton’s Pewabic Pottery in Detroit; Linna Irelan’s Art Pottery in San Francisco, CA, which exclusively used native Californian clays.  These and many more set the stage for Adelaide Alsop Robineau’s porcelain work beginning in 1904 and culminating in her magisterial Scarab Vase.  The stage was set for America’s Arts and Crafts revolution.
(source: thisdayinpotteryhistory.)


She wrote a best selling self-help book on china painting in two weeks. 
At the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia,  Mary Louise McLaughlin examined the art pottery of France's Havilland & Co. where the decorations were painted under the glaze, not over the glaze. This technical advancement was important to ceramic decorators and McLaughlin desired to develop this technique.  It took a year before the materials arrived from France, and in 1877 she began experimenting and in three months discovered the secrets to underglaze painting.  
Mary Louise McLaughlin, Losanti Vase, 1892

 In 1895, she patented a technique for inlay decoration in pottery. In 1898 she built a kiln in her back yard and became the first American to work in studio porcelain, the most difficult of all clays. This phenomenal woman came out of early Americana, but gave methodology to future studio potters.

(source: Jayne Shatz)

The Ali Baba vase, M.L. McLaughlin, 1880
Her biography, by Anita Ellis, "The Ceramic Career of M. Louise McLaughlin" is the first definitive study dedicated to her accomplishments.

Anita Ellis depicts the many challenges McLaughlin encountered in pursuit of her ultimately successful career. Not the least of these was her rivalry with the formidable Maria Longworth Nichols, fellow Cincinnatian and founder of the Rookwood Pottery Company. Another was that of being a woman in the arts: her primary goal had been to paint portraits on canvas, but Victorian society did not afford opportunities in what was considered a male sphere.

Background on the book: Deputy director of curatorial affairs at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Anita J. Ellis is the author of "Rookwood Pottery: The Glorious Gamble", which won the Florence Roberts Head Book of the Year Award, and "Rookwood Pottery: The Glaze Lines."
(See tomorrow's blog focusing on Maria Longworth Nichols of the Rookwood Pottery)

reposted from 
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thursday, September 20, 2018

American Art Potteries


The age of the American Art Potteries flourished at a time when not only was our country experiencing a surge in manufacturing, but also an ecliptic escalation in artistic creativity. The flowery, yet somewhat decadent motifs of European Art Nouveau brought about a diverse amalgamation into the sleek clean lines of Modernism and Art Deco. 
The American Art Potteries acclaimed worldwide attention to ceramic wares that were being produced in our country. Suddenly, individual artists were becoming as well known as the industriously producing potteries. In the latter part of the 19th century, men would throw master vessels and molds would be created for mass production of their work. Then, women were hired as decorators, painting artistic masterpieces on the ceramic forms. These art potteries gained notoriety primarily for their decorators.

Rookwood Vase

There was also a high interest in china painting by the ladies who wanted something to divert their art pursuits from watercoloures and still remain categorized as "ladies."  I learned early in my childhood that the cleaning lady was not a proper use of the term "lady".  My mother, born in 1917, must have learned that from her grandmother, who raised her.  However, when I was supporting my son and myself in art school, (in the 1980s) I gladly was a cleaning lady!

Rookwood Vase
Being a decorator was one of the few areas of employment that was considered respectable for a woman in the male dominated American clay industry. Many women became decorators just to be able to have a chance to work outside the home. Rookwood Pottery developed into one of the finest art potteries in the world that employed mostly women.
An interesting and successful American Art Pottery was the extraordinary Arequipa Sanatorium, which functioned from 1911-1918. This unique pottery functioned predominately  by the work of female tuberculosis patients.

After the 1906 earthquake and fires of San Francisco, the dust and ash filled air created a tuberculosis epidemic. Dr. Philip King Brown founded the Arequipa Sanatorium as a country retreat for women to recuperate from tuberculosis. 

Besides bed rest, handcrafting pottery was seen as a therapeutic activity that provided work for these women, thus diminishing the stigma of charity. This philosophy complemented the bourgeoning ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America. This movement, which originated in England, supported the production of hand made objects over those mass-produced by industry.  

By the late 1850’s there were a great many art potteries; the work became very decorative rather than utilitarian and ultimately became a leading collectible. The Art Potteries became the foundation for women’s re-emergence into the ceramic scene. Several women were able to evolve beyond solely being decorators; they began producing the ceramic forms as well as decorating them. These women became the earliest studio potters.  (source, Jayne Shatz)
Unfortunately for those of us interested in following an artist's style, there are seldom any names designated for the Art Pottery decorators on their wares.  Some of these potters have been identified in museums by consistent styles however.  The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC has a good collection of these wares.

Rookwood Pottery

We have already looked at Adelaide Alsop Robineau, who became much more than a "decorator" and advanced clay art immensely.  Soon I'll share some pictures and details about several other women clay artists from the early 20th century.

Arequipa ware, 1911-1918
Reposted from Saturday, March 12, 2011