Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Trip!

I've just gotten back from my second trip to the Grey Islands this summer and I am happy to say that my camera worked fine this time around (in fact I got a brand new camera just in time for the trip). So here are some pics and notes about the adventure!

We got into Conche at about 3pm and found this little iceberg (and bergy bits) in the cove:

I should mention that I didn't go by myself this time. There were eight of us altogether and a good time was had by all. Here Paul is getting us loaded aboard his boat, and Jordan is in the background.

The boat ride was amazing! We saw dolphins, orcas, minkes and humpbacks, not mention the millions of seabirds. Here are the dolphins that swam under the boat:

We also got very close to some amazing icebergs. There were probably about fifty icebergs gathered around the island:

The first thing we did was walk up to the kiln and unload it. Most of the pots were pretty underfired, as I expected, but it was good to see the kiln still standing nonetheless:

The next day we saw caribou and I managed to get these pics despite not knowing how to properly use my new camera yet:

We eventually reloaded the kiln and tried another firing:

We had to wait through another spectacular sunset before we could unload the kiln in the morning:

I haven't gotten satisfactory images of the pottery yet - that will be the next post.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Home Again

I'm home again after nearly a week on the Grey Islands. I was alone the whole time, and though the weather wasn't too bad I took the easy way out and stayed in Paul's cabin every night. I got some pics of the ride out, some pics of caribou, and a few pics of the kiln before my camera completely died. I spent three full days collecting wood, rebuilding the kiln into a functional form, and firing, and didn't get a single picture of the whole process. What's more is that I never got back to unload the pots from the firing, so I don't even have a piece of pottery to show for all this! I was firing the kiln from 10am to about 10pm on Saturday night, and Paul showed up so early Sunday morning that I was still in bed. I never even made it back up to the kiln to see my results!! I suppose that's just an excuse to go out again later this summer to see what happened. Anyways, here are the pictures that I did get, hope you enjoy.

Paul getting ready to leave Conche.

The kiln just as I found it.

The only real thing that had happened over the past two years is the bagwalls falling over.

The stacking of the bricks also became quite loose, though nothing else fell in. I suppose this is due to the heaving of the ground during the freeze/thaw cycle.

Here's a close up on the loosening of the bricks on the lid of the firebox.

And here are some caribou. There were lots of them around, but I didn't try to get too close, and they were pretty happy about that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Pots Are Glazed And Ready To Go!

Here are some pics of the pots I'm bringing to the Grey Islands with me. If everything goes as planned I should be out there on Tuesday morning, and back by Sunday morning. Although I gotta say, I wouldn't mind getting stranded by the weather for a few days.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Going Back

In just over a week I will finally be returning to the Grey Islands. I've booked my time off work, I've booked my travel plans, and I've started packing my bags. I'm excited!

It's been nearly two years since I was there last. Too long, yes, but a trip last summer just couldn't happen. Well now I will have six days there, probably mostly by myself, to do with as I wish. So what should I do?

Well, for one, I plan to make some pottery. I'm going to rebuild the kiln into a more functional form and put some pots in there and fire them. I don't know if this is going to work - heck I'm not even sure the bricks have made it through two winters in any sort of decent shape. They may be destroyed from the freeze/thaw cycle, or if the little stream they are situated next to has shifted course then they may have toppled into the water. But I will bring some bisque fired pots and put them in there and do my best to make a big bloody fire.

If that doesn't take up all my time then I also plan to have a look around for clay deposits. For the last month or two I've been using a lovely clay that I dug here in the vicinity of Corner Brook so I've become interested in using the materials I can find at hand. Imagine - if I find a nice clay on the Grey Islands then...well, I don't exactly know what I'd do with it, but it's something to think about anyways.

So in the next couple weeks you can expect there will be a few more posts on the blog with pictures and tales from the Grey Islands. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Now that I have the run of a fully equipped sculpture department I can't help but do a few things that tend to interest me from time to time. Like these wooden utensils I've been making:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The First Game

Pics from the opening reception of Mixer:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Game On!

I've just about got my Settlers of Grey Islands game finished. All that is left to do is to print some more cards and cut them out. Below are some pics of the game as it is now, and an invitation to Mixer, a faculty/staff exhibition at Grenfell College where I will be showing the game. And - it's interactive! That's right, if you are in Corner Brook and want to play a game while it's in the gallery just pop down and it can be arranged!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October in Red Deer

A couple weeks ago I was in Red Deer, Alberta, to present at the 1000 Miles Apart Ceramics Conference, an annual get together of students and faculty from the four prairie art schools that have ceramics programs - ACAD, University of Regina, University of Manitoba, and Red Deer College. I did a two-day studio demonstration where I built one of my self-firing pieces. It's been four years since I made one of those things and I had forgotten how nerve wracking it can be (I won't go into detail right now about the time I caught a gallery's carpet on fire). I also did a lecture while I was there - it was a really good time. Here are some pictures of the conference:

The main ceramics studio:

Julia Galloway (who also demonstrated) and Leon Popic:

Some of Julia's pots:

Robert Harrison (also a demonstrator) and Teri Frame (who did a performance):

Me standing next to the new arch that Robert built:

The pizza oven (staffed by Paul Leathers and Trudy Golley):

And the pizza party:

October in Corner Brook

My Grey Islands travel plans this year have been a complete bust. I couldn't go as planned in August because of a family emergency. Then my Labour Day weekend plans were rained out by Hurricane Earl. And now I've got a job, which, as we all know, is the total end of freedom for me for the time being. My next chance will be Xmas if the weather is decent, which it probably won't be, although Paul has mentioned that he has gone out in December before. I don't think that's too realistic for me though - my mother might lose her mind if I went to the Grey Islands for Xmas.

I should mention that work is going quite well. I've been enjoying myself and putting a lot of work into the clay and ceramic areas at the school. We have a new kiln arriving next week and when that gets here I'll be totally rearranging the clay room.

On my off time I've been working hard on the Settlers of Grey Islands which is finally nearing completion. I'm planning on showing it as part of a faculty/staff exhibition at the college here in November. I've got some volunteers lined up who are actually going to play the game in the gallery during the opening reception on November 13th. I think I will also have a game myself once a week in the gallery while the show is up, and I'll have an open invitation out there for anyone who wants to join me. Some pictures of my progress will be forthcoming shortly - just got to install the new kiln so I can actually fire the hex tiles.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


My weekend jaunt to the Grey Islands seems to be in considerable jeopardy due to Hurricane Earl. The latest track forecasts have the the storm passing either to the east, the west, or directly over, the Grey Islands on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Not exactly a good time to go camping or be out in boat.

So, I would say, in all likelihood the trip will be cancelled. I will have to amuse myself by looking at these amazing pics of Earl from outer space, rather than by making something of the last weekend of summer.

Friday, August 27, 2010

John Neville

I just got an email from John Neville. He went out to the Grey Islands a couple weeks ago, and he and Paul Bromley went up over the island to find my kiln. They came back with this picture.

Which brings me to my plans. I've made arrangements to go to the Grey Islands for two nights on Labour Day weekend. If the weather cooperates it should be a great trip. I haven't decided yet whether I'd like to spend my time out there just hiking around and having fun - I will have a couple friends with me - or if i'd like to spend the time rebuilding the kiln into a functioning wood kiln and do an actual firing. I've got a handful of pots in the works just in case.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Settlers of Grey Islands - Update

Work continues on Settlers of Grey Islands, although it will probably be at a snails pace for the next couple weeks while I'm in the process of moving to Corner Brook. Here, though, is a picture of some completed tiles and playing pieces.

My friend John Neville is heading to the islands next week for a few days. I'd dearly love to join him, but I don't think I'll be able to do it right now. Perhaps I will make a plan to go on Thanksgiving weekend. At least living in Corner Brook I will be that much closer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Settlers of Grey Islands

All spring I've been working on this little project called Settlers of Grey Islands. It started off as just a spare time fun activity, but has snowballed into being something more serious. It is a customized version of the popular board game Settlers of Catan, but based on the Grey Islands. I'm still working on it, and it should only take a couple weeks to finish up if I can get a solid block of time to finish it. Here are some progress photos:

The game tiles will be made from relief-carved coloured porcelain, while the cards use photos from the Grey Islands.
If you are familiar with Settlers of Catan, here is how the two games compare:

Robber = Polar Bear
Soldiers/Knights = Foxes
Roads/Settlements/Cities = Trails/Tents/Cabins

Meadows/Sheep = Heath/Caribou
Mountain/Stone = Mountain/Stone
Forest/Wood = Forest/Wood
Grassland/Wheat = Bog/Berries
Hills/Clay = Beach/Sand

If you are unfamiliar with Settlers of Catan you must go out and play it right now! It is really the most fun game.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Post

It's been many months since I wrote a new post to this blog. I never had the intention of stopping when I did, it just sort of happened. I suppose life is like that.

I always wanted to post some pictures of my cone packs. A cone pack is a small device that is used to measure the temperature (or, more accurately, the heat work) inside of a kiln. Normally one distributes several cone packs throughout the kiln so that a comprehensive record of temperatures inside the kiln is made. Any typical firing can have internal temperature variations on the scale of tens of degrees depending on where the temperature is measured. For instance, it is common for the top of a kiln to be at a higher temperature than the bottom of a kiln simply because heat rises. Furthermore, careful observation of the cone packs during the firing can be helpful to create the most homogenous temperature possible. Minor adjustments can be made to either heat up a cool spot, or cool down a hot spot within the kiln.

Since the entire island was inside my kiln I thought it was important to distribute my cone packs far and wide across the terrain. I placed cone packs at Northwest Point (the westernmost point on the island), Keefe's Point (the southernmost point on the island), Bussey's Ridge (the highest altitude on the island), an unnamed point on the east of the island, and near the kiln itself. Here are the photos of the cone packs where I placed them:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Below are some images of the firing. I actually did two firings, due to the fact that my 35mm camera broke at the beginning of the first firing. I fixed the camera and refired the kiln the following evening. The firings happened on September 11 and 12 and each lasted about 8 hours.