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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dr. Seuss & The Lorax... "I speak for the trees..."

A couple of years ago I worked at White Flower Farm, a well known greenhouse in CT. I fell in love with the Innula flower. It reminded me of Dr. Seuss and I sold one to a customer following a conversation about Dr. Seuss and how much the flowers looked like his world.

So I brought home about 50 of them as roots and planted them in a mass "grave" in my veggie garden till I could figure out what to do with them. Last spring I planted a 3 x 8 foot space... with just Innula's. They came up, all blossomed at once and I knew I had to make a Dr. Seuss sculpture for the garden. Today I finally did. I chose the Lorax, for "he speaks for the trees". Soon he will be standing on a stump in the mist of Innulas in full blossom!

This Lorax was made with red clay. I will over-fire it so it will have a metalic, tight bond... and will look like iron.

Oddly enough, my son-in-law is an arborist, although he has been out trimming trees in my yard, he is careful not to cut them all down like the Once-ler.

Tune in later to see the finished Lorax in the garden.

Also, I made some baby dragons today to go with the nest of dragon eggs that Alicia and I made a few weeks ago. All out of clay...

What a charmed life I live, to sit outside on a warm spring Sunday afternoon sculpting with clay and listening to the birds!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Demonstrating on a foot-powered treadle wheel...

I have a new 1800s wood treadle wheel that was designed after one of our local potters, Hervey Brooks, nearby in Goshen, CT. Hervey was a farmer who dug up red clay on his property and turned household wares and flower pots in the mid 1800s. There were hundreds of potters in the early days of European settlements in New England. Not every town had a potter and some towns had many. Potteries in the smaller towns tended to be a part time job and quite a few potteries were often passed down to sons and son-in-laws.

This wheel is foot-powered and is made entirely of wood with a steel shaft and pins. The shaft is a crank style mechanism like an old treadle sewing machine. There are no ball bearings, just a strip of leather with grease to keep the shaft from rubbing on the frame and crank. The wheel head is a circle of oak.

It goes very slow. At first I doubted I could make anything on this wheel, but after I resigned to the fact that trying to make it go faster would only tire me out and cause "disturbances". Pottery should be a peaceful, relaxing craft. And once I relaxed and got into the rythum of my foot moving, the wheel noises and adjusted my mind and hands accordingly, I learned to love it. Old machines and tools are so quiet. The sounds they do make are clicks and clacks and tend to relax you rather than the whirl of engines and modern machinery.

Below is the wheel mechanism... and a few of the tools used for trimming and decorating.
Above... close-up of the wheel head... pressing whistles in a plaster mold...

We set off into the world as sutlers...

Museums, civil war events, fairs and villages...

Lately, we have been attending more
re-enactments. We have our new
sutler tent set-up. After a few trials
and errors as to the design... what
to use for posts, how thick the rope
should be, and several other attempts
at tie downs (the 8" nails painted black
from Home Depot pulled out, so we
now have 12" nails painted black
from Home Depot)... still these are not
strong enough... I am praying the
wind does not rise up toooo much.
I am thinking about painting a
"Rufus Porter" mural on the back wall.

And what to do about shelves? My old
crates and planks seem to be working well.

Wrapping it all up in brown paper and
bits of strings is my next plan to round
out the overall effect of stepping back
in time.

A day on our farm...c. 2008!

One lovely, warm and sunny spring day in April, we set up our canvas sutlers tent,
donned our costumes,
dressed up the new babe,
and set out to take some
old time photos....

It was a bit breezy too...
Our sutlers tent above...
Our new babe below...
Erin working on the tape loom....

Reggie... Early American Pottery & Crafts

Here is some pottery for
Revolutionary War,
Civil War,
& Early American Re-enactors...

We make Yellow Wares,
Mocha Wares,
Red Wares,
Stone Wares,
Cut Sponge,
Fun Clay pieces like:

Fire place Cookery,
Face Jugs,
Clay Pipes,
Chamber pots,
and so much more....

Some of our styles....