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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A line-up of funny looking Men... Face Jugs are Fun to make!

Jugs are head shaped! There is a face trapped inside the clay... waiting to come out!

I demonstrate early American pottery at fairs in the Carolina's and Tennessee.  People always stop to ask me if I have been to Seagrove, North Carolina to see the potters there. It is a pottery mecca. You can spend days looking at over 100 potteries in the area today. There was a good quantity of good workable clay so English and German potters started making earthenware in and around Seagrove before the American Revolution. No, I have not been there. Although I have been near it, I have not had the opportunity to stop by. Also, I am usually in a hurry to get to my next gig. And, I am a potter. Although we potters do get together and talk shop, admire each others wares and share information, joys and failures... and a little whining, I don't usually go out of my way to seek them out.  No offense. I will stop by someday when I can.

Many people ask me the origins of face jugs.  I suppose the southern tradition is that they were effigies for slaves to mark their graves. There is a great explanation by a modern potter who makes face jugs in Ashville NC. Jim McDowell, Check it out, very interesting.

I found one old face jug made in New Hampshire. As many potters did not mark their wares, I cannot tell what the history behind it is.

Looking down their noses
Look at a jug. It looks like a head. It is begging to see, hear and talk!  It's just fun to make a face on it. "Put a face on me!"

Some people call them ugly jugs. Some are pretty ugly, some are downright scary.  Were they meant to scare away demons?  Some are silly.  I like both. Deformed ones not so much, realistic ones are creepy too. Sometimes at fairs I ask children to help put faces on my little jugs.  These are about 1" tall and kids come up with great faces. Two of my granddaughters love putting faces on jugs. At 4 and 6 years, they can see faces in the little pots just like I do. The faces just emerge.

little jugs... about 1" tall
"See, we made these, it was fun!"
So here is a new batch of jugs. The corn cobs made fine corks and they are cheap, plentiful, hanging around and pretty cool. If they fall in they will eventually rot and you can get them out again, unlike real cork corks.

I mostly sell at shows, but occasionally sell my jugs on Ebay. Check the jugs below for the most recent postings. If you like them and are interested in seeing more, add me to "follow this seller" and you will receive updates and listings on your Ebay homepage.

Big or small, I like them all.


Lovable faces...


Creepy faces...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Weaving... Big Time in Lowell, Massachusetts

Every ethnic group in early America had its weavers to weave the carded and spun wool and linen across America.  In the 16th and17th century, whole families got involved in weaving. Men would travel to area towns and weave on a families loom or bring his own loom on his wagon and stay at ones house for a few days as he wove their cloth.

In the late 1700s, weavers would pick up their yarn at spinning mills and bring it home to weave.  Soon, the power loom was developed and water power was harnessed to produce fabric more efficiently.

Boott Mill 1870s

Lowell, Massachusetts...

Three enterprising men opened the first mill in Lowell in1823. By 1840, 8,000 workers were employed at the mills. On farms and in small towns jobs were hard to find. Young women were lured to the mills for the jobs and pay they offered.  Twelve hours days, 6 days a week, the workers made a salary on the average of 50 cents per day running several machines at a time, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing yards and yards of cloth. In 1851, 362,000 yards of cloth per day where cranked out in the Lowell mills. Three dollars a week was a lot to send home to their families on rural farms.  The Industrial Revolution changed the life styles of many small trades.

Cotton Fiber
Warping spool

The Weaving Room

Boott Mill Today
Roger and I stopped by Lowell a few weeks ago on a rainy Monday afternoon. We took the Boott factory tour and after that, we went through one of the restored boarding houses run for the mill girls.

The mills put many small time weavers out of business. Now in the 21st century, hand weaving on a foot powered loom is coming back into style again. Like knitting and crochet, weaving is a very enjoyable skill to learn.

Today, there are thousands of men and women who enjoy weaving on the old style floor loom using foot power instead of water power. A whole new crop of weavers are joining experienced weavers of the past to recreate old patterns and come up with some exciting new ones. You can never run out of patterns to try or things to make from your weavings.

I found a video with narrow bands being woven on a modern loom in China... a little choppy video, but beautiful music...    

And, the Ekelund weaving technology in Sweden, a patented color pixel modern machine to create the beautiful patterns below.

I weave on simple Tape Looms. This weekend, Saturday, May 24th, I will be at the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival in Commington MA. I will be selling my book, Tape Loom Weaving... simplified and also doing a demonstration on some of my looms.

On Sunday, May 25th, I will be demonstrating pottery and weaving at the Comstock and Ferry Heiritage Festival in Wethersfield, CT. Comstock and Ferry Seed Company is over 200 years old! The festival will be located on beautiful grounds, with musicians, food, crafts, costumed demonstrations and SEEDS!

Come out and enjoy Spring and Planting Season in New England at two of the first festivals of the year!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eric Sloane Museum and the Connecticut Antique Machinery Power Up... Pottery, Wooden Ale Bowls and History!

Roger gets set up to turn his bowls as museum host Barbara admires his work.

Roger comes out from Minnesota in May and this year we were invited to demonstrate at Eric Sloanes Museum in Kent CT.  Roger built a Norwegian style pole lathe last year here in CT, and got to show it off at this wonderful museum.  I brought my tent and my wooden pottery wheel. I made some miniature pots, always in demand at my upcoming fairs and events, the 30 I made today I will add to the thousands for my customers to purchase and cherish this year.  (Still only $3 each, check my web site demonstration page for upcoming events).

My grandchildren love to help display and rearrange my wares! Isobel and Meta 6 and 4, already make little pots on my potters wheel... continuing the love of making simple things with your own hands with slow, meditative methods!

My grandchildren came along with their mom.  The Museum and the adjoining Antique machinery and the wonderful weather we had made it a memorable day for all of us.  We met some new people and inspired many to learn our trades and share their experiences.

Wood carving enthusiasts learn the ancient technique and simplicity of a foot operated pole lathe.

If you missed this years Power Up, sign up for this blog and come visit us next May! We will be there again to enjoy a bit of old fashioned family fun in the foot of the Berkshire hills. Join us!