Woodfired Pottery in Richmond, VA

My friends Mike and Alex have fired their woodfired kiln at Tree Hill Pottery in Varina, Va which is just south of Richmond, VA off of Route 5, down on the James River.

I have been reading about the area and have found it has a historical connection with pottery. Back in the late 1700’s potters from New England and New York relocated along the James River, dug clay from large deposits located there and made utilitarian ware on location. They then sold it in the Richmond, VA area.

In one article listed in Ceramic Review, Thomas Jefferson purchased pottery from the area.

This historical information is very interesting to me and the pots they made are quite beautiful. For some reason, I really like thinking about these things. When I get a chance I’m going to go dig clay.

Soon I’ll post some pictures from the latest firing.

Cups From The Kiln

Mug and bread/dessert plates in a summer gnome design.

I like the sound of this title. It makes me think of a horror movie title. I know I’m reaching with that one, but I have a vivid imagination.

These birds were made to match a commission. I wanted to try the design on a smaller surface

Here are a few cups I just photographed from my last firing.

These mugs have the Japanese Oribe black markings on a white background, but instead of green glaze I added colorful splotches of color in stylized sassafras shapes.

It is quite an assortment of different designs. The Gnomes and the songbirds are for a commision, but the others are for sale.

mugs are $55.00, just contact me at hardwickhandmade@gmail.com

contact me at hardwickhandmade@gmail.com if you are interested in purchasing them.

New Pottery Fresh From the Kiln

The goldfinches always came to my yard when I planted sunflowers to eat the seeds

 

Last weekend I fired twice getting out several plates for a dinnerware order. Pictured here are the ones I have not sold. I did several Virginia native wildflower designs as well as geometric and Eastern songbird designs. I really liked working on them.

This series is based on my love of Persian pottery.

Each style is working for me, but I like to change them a bit each time I do them to (in my mind) make them better or maybe, just to tickle my mood.

Dinner plate inspired by my time in the west where I gained most of my production knowledge.

I hope you love them as much as I do.

This little plate has my Dogwood flower pattern on it.

Throwing Pottery on Treadle Wheel

Back in the ’90’s I worked in Woody Creek, Colorado at the Aspen Community School. I did after school programs in organic gardening, resource efficient construction and pottery.

While I was there I used a treadle wheel to make pottery which is not electric. You kick it and make the wheel head spin.

It is a great way to connect with the rhythm of making pottery. I loved doing it, but no longer have access to a treadle wheel and they are expensive to purchase. I think they go for $3000 nowadays.

 

Barnes Foundation Collection is Amazing

One of many Cezanne masterpieces @ the Barnes Foundation

I drove up to Philadelphia, PA to see The Clay Studio and the Barnes Foundation Collection because my friend Leigh is turning 50 years old and I wanted to be at her party.

The entire weekend was amazing. First I went to The Clay Studio in the Old City part of Philadelphia and spoke to the shop director Dominique Ellis. I don’t know if I’ll get my work in there, but it was a great space in a cool part of town.

Dominique went to UNL which is where I went to Grad School, so it was cool talking about old friends and places.

While waiting for for The Clay Studio to open, I ran over to see the Liberty Bell which is around 7 blocks away. That was cool too.

Matisse @ the Barnes

Next I went to the Barnes Foundation. What an amazing collection of Impressionistic art.

This Toulouse-Lautrec is magnificent

Let me say, it is pathetic that they broke Barnes’ will, but this collection is so worth going to see. I would have loved to see it where it is supposed to be, but I’m guessing that the light is much better now which allowed for the images you see here. The old mansion it was in was renowned for dark lit rooms.

This Picasso haunts my dreams.

Anyway, some of my favorite all time paintings were there. Included are just a few of the amazing artworks up on the walls.

Bad image, but amazing painting by Redon

This article isn’t right without a Modigliani painting. So here was my favorite.

Reclining nude by Modigliani

New House and Studio (pottery)

Yes, I’m in the middle of moving my home and studio to a new place. I’m very excited to get a new place in Richmond, VA that has a garage where I can set up my pottery. I hope to stay here for a long time.

Why, you might ask? I have way too much stuff and half of it is clay materials, bricks, tools, etc. for my pottery. It is cool to have everything for a working pottery, but way too heavy for the lifting.

On the bright side, I’m getting my workout and I’ll be able to put everything in the same area. Yes!

I’ve been moving everything around from storage units to sheds to crawlspaces to piles of materials out in the desert, so having everything at my studio and home is a big thing.

Now all I have to do is finish moving it…

Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA

Close-up of orchids

I went to NCECA and visited Phipps Conservatory to see if they wanted to carry my dinnerware line. They said they would get back to me on carrying my line.

The self guided tour was amazing. What a dynamic place. One of the first rooms I went in was filled with orchids and they were all in full bloom.

Also noteworthy, though I didn’t take many pics was their administration building which is one of the greenest buildings in the world. I was so impressed with their entire enterprise. Way to go Phipps!

Yellow orchids at Phipps Conservatory

Goblin pottery has arrived

Goblin Mug $55.00

Yes, it seemed that only gnomes would enter the realm of little people seen on hardwickhandmade pottery, but the dark side has made an appearance. A small one granted, but an appearance none the less.

Two mugs have been designed with drunken goblins dancing about in a mushroom filled background with slipware highlights.

goblin detail

This series will draw from the slipware pottery (which are extremely difficult to pull off well) as well as from landscape painting traditions.

 

I hope you enjoy.

Next up is the lonely ogre walking in the forest…

Recent Firing

Hiker Dinner plate

I finished a load of pottery and fired over New Years which was alot of fun.  I had several items that I fired for a commission and then others that I was doing to figure out some design work.

Virginia Bird Series- Titmouse, Goldfinch & Chickadee

The whole kiln came out well. As discussed in the last post, I am working on a commission of eastern songbirds.  I’ve got to do plates and bowls which makes the layout a little more complex.

A group of gnomes were fired as well and I liked how they came out. Also, I did a group of drunken goblins dancing around which came out well.

Here are a few examples.

Bird Bowls & Plates for Hardwick Handmade Dinnerware Commission

Titmouse process painting

I’ve finished painting the bowls and have moved on to painting the plates for my Eastern Songbird commission. I’ve very excited as the results are turning out better than I anticipated.  Some bowls are glazed and out of the kiln as indicated by the featured image of this article, but others are still waiting to be fired. This weekend I will finishe painting the plates. My last one to do is the Goldfinch which takes extra time as I have the bird sitting on a group of sunflowers that requires more work. Luckily, I love what I do.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker dinner plate process

This picture was taken after the underglaze was painted, but before it was glazed. The color is muted, but will pop once the durable clear glaze reaches temperature of 1948 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

13oz. mug with Chickadee in the snow

 

 

The bird cup is an example of what can be done with this imagery on other forms.

I completed a new sample series that came out of the kiln last weekend and looked really good. I made a chickadee bowl, a goldfinch bowl and a titmouse bowl with an abstract pattern background.

Chickadee dinner plates

All my work playing around with backgrounds is starting to pay off. I’m using a combination of painterly brushwork and stamped color that together is organic and colorful. It took a while to find something subtle enough that let the birds stand out.

 

My next round of imagery should be just what I want. 🙂

Matt

Chickadee bowl process
Goldfinch & Sunflower plates