Michael does not wedge John's clay, form, alter, or assemble John's pieces, nor wax,
glaze, or decorate any of John's forms in any way. When you purchase one of John's
pieces, you can be assured that John actually did, with his own two hands, make the
piece you have in your home.
General Studio Procedures
John uses a number of clay bodies in his work, each selected for its particular properties
for the pieces being created. A couple of these are commercially formulated bodies
blended by a potter's supply house, usually altered by John to add character, and
also a couple of these are custom formula blends created by John and mixed at the
studio. In his search in his clays for what the Japanese often call "tsuchi aji"
(literal "clay taste"), some of these clay bodies contain some local materials from
the surrounding communities as well as sand from the banks of the Souhegan River
located right behind the studio.
John uses numerous forming techniques to produce the various items that he makes.
The most prevalent technique in his production is throwing on the potter's wheel.
Many of these inherently round thrown forms are then altered to change the shape
by stretching, paddling, fluting, and faceting. He also uses handbuilding techniques
that incorporate slab building, press molding and assembly, hump and slump molding
and assembly, and extrusion and assembly.
The wet clay surface is often enhanced by the addition of colored clay slips. Sometimes
these slips are actually inlaid into the wet clay surface by filling in carvings
or stamped impressions and then shaving the slipped surface back flush with the background
clay, a technique called "mishima". Occasionally, dry clays and powdered rocks are
pressed into the wet surfaces to give "dry riverbed" effects.
John's current glaze palate has been developed over about 32 years of extensive technical
study, and many of the glazes he is now using have been in production for about 25
years. A few of his glazes contain local materials like local clay, granite dust,
powdered river sand, and wood ashes. All glazes are mixed by hand, by weighing out
the proper proportion of ingredients and suspending them in water through thorough
mixing and sieving. The glazes are applied mainly by dipping, pouring, and brushing.
The low temperature overglaze enamels which are occasionally used as accents are
purchased pre-made from a commercial supplier.
All of John’s stoneware glazes, are lead and cadmium free. John also does not use
barium compounds, another metal oxide which, while not currently regulated by the
U.S. government, is suspect by some industrial health specialists as to its possible
negative health effects. The predominant colorant John uses is iron oxide. Some glazes,
slips, and on-glaze decoration contain low percentages of copper and cobalt oxides.
The Apprentice’s Role
For many years John has had a part-time apprentice, Michael Fong, also from Wilton,
NH, studying with him. As part of his ceramics education Michael often helps him
with general studio tasks, studio repairs, firewood preparation, and also frequently
assists with stacking, firing, and unloading the large wood kiln. Michael is now
a BFA ceramics degree candidate at the New Hampshire Institute of Art where John