Current work in the Studio on the farm in Iowa – update to 2018
Since finishing up at Dordt College in the spring of 2014, I’ve been geared up for more production in the studio on the farm and organizing my books and materials, print/drawing archives and paper stock in flat files, and collecting framing material and canvasses for on-site painting. I expanded the studio several years ago in anticipation of both retirement from teaching and more studio production. All the work for the Angel/Beast exhibit was produced in my studio space in 2012, 13; etchings and lithographs were pulled from my Wright combination press there and all clay works were made, dried and bisque fired in my wood-fired kiln on the farm. That 40 cu. ft. kiln was originally built for the studio in North Carolina in the 80s using propane, used at Dordt for 10 years with a outdoor cover and then stored on the farm for 10 years till 2010, when I had an advanced ceramics student willing to help me rebuild it and I designed a fire box underneath based on Fred Olson’s writings on wood firing. I use wooden pallets, which are cut up into 2 ft lengths and will burn fast and hot given the smaller, kiln dried nature of the wood. It saves gas of course and will fire quickly to bisque temp. if I stoke it accordingly. The fire box gets too hot to stoke after 2000 degrees and given the labor and constant stoking involved, I will bisque there occasionally, but have since rebuilt an old Olympic gas kiln that was retired from Dordt and after changing the burners for propane gas, and use it regularly in an unheated corner of the studio building and its just a lot more convenient and efficient with consistent reduction firings. I had a month-long exhibit in Jacksonville, NC at the Onslow County for the Arts exhibit space in August of 2014, with whom I’ve had a 30 year relationship, showing a wide range of older and new prints, landscape paintings, as well as mostly functional ceramic work. I did install two, free standing works from the Angel/Beast show and received good reviews with a few sales. I conducted several workshops in printmaking and hand-built ceramics at both the Onslow and Beaufort County Arts Councils and was able to clean up and do some maintenance on the studio near our cottage on the inter-coastal waterway near Belhaven. The studio is a 1500 sq.ft. building constructed from old tobacco barns in the mid 1980s and housed the kiln mentioned above. I was able to make some contacts in the area and hope to do some printmaking workshops at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, who operate a strong printmaking program with several large litho stones.
I’ve had good response to my work back in Iowa, with several local, 2-day displays in Sioux Center and the surrounding area with more sales than I expected, found what people liked to collect by way of new and older prints, with brisk ceramic sales; especially functional ware of course, but a number of special orders for larger clay works and communion sets. I have a restored turn of the century barn I completed in 2007, and have displays there, kiln openings, and studio tours. I do enjoy both the variety of representational and abstract work methods and experiments, as well as functional and sculptural work in clay. Answering questions about my work, how and why it was made helped me to connect with people, get them into original art, and actually sell more work; the same idea goes for this web site and all the support material. After a break of 2 years teaching full semester classes, I now teach a fall introductory ceramics at Dordt, as well as a community adult class in February 2018. Students respond well to my extensive experience in clay, love visiting my studio with ongoing work, and seem motivated to produce more quantity as well as quality work as a result of working under a master potter. Their energy always motivates me as well.