Al Fresco

Lots of things are better out of doors: Picnic lunches. Live music. Softball games. Small, noisy children.

Even art! Strolling the shady lanes of an outdoor summer art festival is a supremely rewarding experience, especially when you discover the Off Center Ceramics booth.

Okay, it's rewarding, regardless. We're just a bonus.

As has been previously mentioned, we're cutting back on summer shows this year, due to family commitments elsewhere, but we've got confirmed acceptances from all three that I did apply to: the Edmonds Arts Festival in June, and the Anacortes Arts Festival and Silverton Fine Arts Festival in August. Note again that I'm not able to attend the Umpqua Summer Arts Festival in Roseburg this year, nor will I be in Salem (or Corvallis, this fall).

But we hope to see you wherever we do appear this summer.

We'll be looking for your sunny faces.


There's still time to place orders from the Wedding Registry. Luke and Madhu/Miriam's patterns are here. Contact me when you want to order.


So, I've been in the local media twice so far this spring. In late March, I was interviewed by Sandy Brown Jensen and Terry Way for KLCC's Viz City. They made a lovely little two-minute radio piece that you can listen to here.

Then, in April, I was visited in the studio by Megan Shinn of KMTR-NBC 16 to talk about Food For Lane County's Empty Bowls Sale, and my longtime association with it. You can see their very well-crafted piece at their website. With a very unexpected ending.

Sometimes I think I'm the only potter left in Eugene.

Also Unexpected...

The Oregon Potters Association's Ceramic Showcase was held April 21-23 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, in conjunction with the Gathering of the Guilds. It's a nice, well-organized show, particularly when you consider that potters do all the work. There's individual booths, centralized check-out, a kid's clay space, and a Gallery where we all contribute a special piece. This year, I did a sculpture again: Baba Yaga Takes an Apprentice, inspired in equal parts by Russian folklore and a coincidental string of fantasy and young adult novels I read in 2016. I was very pleased with the result, and a lot of people told me how much they liked it as well. And voted for it.

This year, Showcase revived the awards program, where members vote for favorite pieces in the gallery, with prizes for First, Second, and Bennett Welsh Memorial (Surface Decoration) awards.

Guys, I won Best of Show! Totally unexpected. I'd been chasing the gallery awards for years, and never higher than first Honorable Mention. This was amazing. I'm still a little jazzed.

Selling the sculpture was the frosting on the cake. Hooray!

Encore Pattern of the Month:

(In honor of Baba Yaga's chicken-legged house, let's revisit one of my oldest patterns...)

Ain't Nobody Here But Us...

Ever wonder how summer became the time of the chicken barbecue? I have a theory...

We butchered our own meat on the farm when I was growing up; in fact, we butchered a lot of other peoples' meat as well. Grandpa Gosar was a butcher's apprentice in the Old Country, and my Dad learned how to cure bacon and ham and sausages from him. Whenever one of the neighbors had a cow or pig to slaughter, they gave Dad a call.

The thing about pigs and cows is that they're big. They need to hang for a while to cool down before you can cut up the meat. And on a farm with no such thing as a walk-in cooler, that meant you butchered them in fall, after cool weather set in and flies were gone. The same is true for venison, but that's also because deer season in Wisconsin is the last week of November.

In any event, no matter how much meat you smoked or froze in October, November, even January, by July you were down to the last pack of liver or blood sausage.

Fortunately, 'round about April the baby chicks arrived from the hatchery, cardboard cases filled with air holes, little eyes and beaks and downy faces peeping out. And peeping. They used to be delivered by the mailman, though now days I think they use UPS. By late June or early July, while the Leghorn hens were still too little and skinny to produce any but the tiniest of eggs, the Hampshire Red, Cornish Cross or Mixed Heavy roosters were getting big enough to be taken very seriously by a large farm family that's been eating cheese and eggs and freezer-burned liverwurst for the last several weeks.

Time for the hatchet, the block, scalding and plucking and the home-made barbecue pit, stacked out of red brick and old oven racks. And you know what? They really do run around like a chicken with its head... oh, never mind.

So summer's Pattern has to be the noble Chicken: Roosters and Hens show up on virtually everything we make: soup and toddler and serving bowls; mugs; dinner, dessert and pie plates, platters and pasta bowls; baking dishes and casseroles, cookie jars and pitchers, French butter dishes and even the occasional teapot.

Sometimes I think the sign over the booth should read Whimsical and Functional Stoneware Poultry.
Can't get enough chickens? Check out the ancestral ur-Poultry, the Jungle Fowl.

See other patterns...