Friday, November 16, 2012

2012 Hart's Square Groundhog Kiln Firing

I was fortunate to have some pieces loaded and fired in Hart's Square groundhog kiln over Catawba Valley. It's my very first hand on wood firing experience and very first time using alkaline glaze.  
The shape of my pots that usually works well in gas reduction firing doesn't seem to fit with alkaline glaze. I need to explore new forms that would hopefully amplify the quality of alkaline glaze.
How ironic. Alkaline glaze was dominant type of glaze used by Chinese potters for over centuries, and I, a Chinese potter, after potting for 12 years, finally used alkaline glaze the very first time in Catawba Valley, North Carolina.

Large Bowl with regular Alkaline glaze

Large planter with regular Alkaline glaze

Groundhog kiln at Hart's Square
Future firing crew

Blasting to cone 11

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Catawba Valley Clay

Today, I just tried the clay that Kim Ellington gave me few weeks ago. It is the local clay Kim dug out from a site in Catawba Valley. The clay is a little bit groggy during wedging, but surprisingly smooth to throw. It also has an unique aroma which reminds me of the clay I used to play from my uncle's pottery shop in my hometown, Nantou City, Taiwan.
I now believe that only the mother nature can produce the best clay for potter. If you have read " A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park, you might remember Tree Ear's first job from potter Ming was to dig clay. My clay experience might need to re-start from the beginning: digging clay.
Here are three pots made from Catawba Valley clay. They are going to be fired in a groundhog kiln in November. I will make sure to share pictures of a groundhog, ME, climbing in and out of kiln!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Koi, Shrimp, and Turtle II

It's been a busy semester. Beside teaching at UNCG, I am also teaching at Catawba Valley Community College this semester.

Being Able to work with Kim Ellington at CVCC is worth of driving between Greensboro and Hickory. Kim Ellington is my favorite American folk potter. He just like an encyclopedia of American traditional folk pottery. I am looking forward to this valuable experience at Catawba.
Hopefully by October, I will have some big wood-fired pots with alkaline glaze on them......from Kim's modified ground hog kiln.

After returned from Taiwan, I am struggling with getting new concepts for my works. Lately, I can only work with some traditional works to refine my skills. I am hoping that this "exercise" will lead me to something new.

Here are few carved black slip plates with celadone glaze from my latest firing.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer in Taiwan

This May, I brought my son, Alex, visit Taiwan. While enjoy delicious food and beautiful scenery, we also made a few trips to some pottery related sites.
The first pottery site we discovered was quite an accident. I  took Alex to  the park where my father used to take me to. It's very close to my old house.
"Those who have attended my workshops before probably remember about my hometown, Nantou city. It's the only city in Taiwan that is not next to ocean. Instead, it's surrounded by  mountains. With its rich natural  clay deposit and  abundant wood, Nantou was famous for its functional pottery, especially, large water jars."
In Nantou park, I  found this small wood-fire kiln. It's  based on traditional Nantou "snake kiln" and reduced to 1/8 of  its original size. I couldn't find any information about this kiln, but, according to the burn mark on the kiln, I  believed that it has been fired few times. It will be a good model for me to build a smaller wood-fire kiln in North Carolina.
I will return to  the US in late June. Before then, I will share more photos from this trip!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I wasn't a big fan of wood-fire pottery until I learned about Kim Ellington and Catawba Valley pottery from a local public television program. I wasn't aware of such rich American pottery tradition exist just right here in North Carolina!!
I rarely seen a pottery that can really touch my heart. The last time when it happened, it was in the Art Institute of Chicago Museum. A couple of weeks ago, I gave a wheelthrowing workshop at CVCC Potters Workshop and had an opportunity to visit Kim Ellington's kiln and studio. I was so inspired by his works that I threw some six-gallon planters right after returned to my studio. I have no access to wood-fire kiln so I use some of my cone 6 glazes to "imitate" alkaline glaze effect.
Mr. Ellington agreed to teach me firing his wood-fire kiln. I can't wait to see how this will change my works.

6-gallon planter

a home for my peony

Friday, April 13, 2012

Koi, Shrimp, and Turtle

Here are some pieces that I am working on lately. I try to incorporate combing and slip-carving on one piece. I will glaze them in different type of celadon and fire next week. I will share the result soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Balance Act

Last summer, my wife and I bought a new house in Greensboro. Three years after moved to NC, I finnally felt a sense of settle-down. I remodeled my garage into a studio. It ended up to be my kids’ favorite activity room. My son loves to build his model cars there, and my daughter would spend hours there to work on her drawing. My dream of working in home studio didn’t turn out as I planed.
Right now, I am sharing a large studio with 4 other potters near UNC-Greensboro. It works out perfectly. However, I am still juggling between teaching, family, and my studio times. I will try to post my updates at least once a month to share my news.
Here are some of my recent works for an up coming three-person show this week. The reception is this Friday, March 23, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. If you will be around triad area, please come to the show.



WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.Sawtooth School for Visual Art presents – REFUGE -running March 20 through May 11 in the Davis Gallery.  An Artists’ Reception will be held Friday, March 23, 5-7pm.

Refuge; a place of safety and shelter

      Artists Po-Wen Liu, Joyce Teta and Benita VanWinkle share their responses to “refuge.” Po-Wen creates ceramic vessels that provide an interior space of spiritual refuge, Joyce explores the fabricated safety of story lines in ink and Benita shows us photographic stills indicating the silent refuge of movie theaters.

  In addition, Salem College intern Diana Vasquez and Richard Barco will lead in the creation of a 3D inflatable refuge. Sawtooth students and visitors to the gallery will be able to enter the sculpture and contribute their own ideas of refuge.

The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

The Eleanor & Egbert Davis Gallery is located in the Sawtooth School for Visual Art at 251 N. Spruce Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.  Gallery hours are: Monday through Friday 10-7 and Saturday 10-2.

Sawtooth School for Visual Art is the premier community visual art school in the Piedmont Triad and provides art education for all ages.  For more information about the Sawtooth School for Visual Art, visit or call 336.723-7395.  Note: photos available upon request
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