May 2010

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I respectfully refer to a friend of mine as a ‘granola potter’ because of his tendency to pare the studio process down; creating is simplified, glazing limited and firing loose.

photo: Amy Mcrary

For clarification: a granola potter is the mountain man potter living in self-imposed isolation in the wilds of Timbuktu (note: hypothetical location.  Feel free to choose any other appropriate geographic area).  This potter digs his own clay from the side of the river bed…any crawfish caught scurrying from the overturned rocks qualifies as dinner.  He throws his simple functional forms from the coarse local clay on a treadle wheel.  He makes effective use of a few simple glazes made from fewer raw materials with unidentifiable organics, spit and apple peels thrown in for color.  Color.  There is white.  Well, really it’s just light with generous iron speckling.  There are greens, browns and a varied assortment of brownish greens.

treadle wheel

~treadle potter's wheel

The whole granola potter ideal is about simplicity.  Simplicity of form, process and life.

Still, my potter friend isn’t atop an isolated mountain, cranking out pots on his treadle wheel while simultaneously generating enough electricity to boil water.  No, my friend is part of academia.  So…the conflict begins.  The nature of the learning process is to allow for risk taking and options.   The teaching environment includes the adrenaline junky, addicted to the rush of opening a newly fired glaze load.  Only to find them self with shoe boxes full of glaze tests – never zeroing in on the few glazes with potential.  This is the sort of student that tries the granola ideals of my friend.  The simplicity is lost…no one needs 15 slightly different, nearly identical rutile blues.  Focus.  Apply the best one to some actual work already!

~rutile blue

While the granola potter can become comfortable, maybe even complacent, in his work, the glaze testing fanatic can get so caught up in the process that they never apply the knowledge gained by the risk.  It’s important to find some balance in the studio.  True enough, I can really only manage a few glazes at a time.  However, I still want the option to move around or away with abandon in order to focus.  Refocus.  Redirection can only happen if we are willing to take a few risks; investigating options that can be feasibly managed.  I really only need one reliable blue.  But green…well, that’s a different story.

For those of you livin’ the dream:

Michael Larose’s Crawfish Etouffee
~this is a microwave version, so best get your treadle wheel going.

1 stick margarine (8 TBS.)
1 C. onion, finely chopped
2/3 C. green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 C. celery, finely chopped
1-1 1/2 lbs. crawfish tails, peeled (about 3 C.)
1/4 C. green onions, finely chopped
2 TBS. flour
1/4 C. parsley chopped or 1 TBS. parsley flakes
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 C. hot water
salt and pepper to taste
dash of garlic powder
1 TBS. ketchup
1/2 tsp.+  Tabasco

In 2 1/2 quart deep dish, put margarine, onion, green pepper and celery.  Microwave on high 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.  Add crawfish tails and green onions.  Microwave on high 5 minutes, cover with lid.  Stir in flour.  Add parsley, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, garlic powder, ketchup and Tabasco sauce.  Microwave on 70% power 10 minutes, uncovered until thick.  Stir once or twice during cooking.  Serve over rice.

Crawfish Etouffee

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