Nov 28

Peter Clapham Sheppard


Sunset, Prospect Lake, Muskoka


Lake Paudash, Ontario

Peter Clapham Sheppard was born in Toronto on October 21, 1881. He apprenticed at engraving houses such as at Rolph, Clark, Stone Ltd. in Toronto, where he became a highly skilled lithographer. He received his art training at the Central Ontario School of Art and Design and the Ontario College of Art under George Reid, John William Beatty, and William Cruickshank. Between 1912 and 1914, he obtained nine Honours Diplomas for for painting and drawing and was awarded the Sir Edmund Walker Scholarship and the Stone Scholarship (Life Classes).

After 1912, Sheppard travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1918 and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1929. His works were shown in many of the annual R.C.A., O.S.A. and C.N.E. exhibitions, along side works by Tom Thomson, Frederick Varley and J.E.H. MacDonald. His artworks were also included in The British Empire Exhibition, Wembley 1925, L’Exposition D’Art Canadien, Paris 1927, The Exhibition of Contemporary Canadian Painting (Southern Dominions) 1936 and The World’s Fair, New York 1939. Sheppard’s work is held in collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery of Canada.

In 2010, Sheppard’s works were prominently featured in the “Defiant Spirits” exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, curated by noted Canadian author Ross King. Powerful images such as “The Building of the Bloor Street Viaduct (1916)”, “Toronto Gasworks, (1912)” and “The Engine Home, (1919)” attested to Sheppard’s unchronicled contribution to modernism and to the city of Toronto in the formative years of its art history. P.C. Sheppard’s artwork is visible at the thirty-three second mark within this “Group of Seven: Defiant Sprits Exhibition” video -

(Source: The Estate of the Artist)


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Nov 25

More pottery samples

So I worked on another set of sample tiles.  This time it was bronze, called Lamp’s Bronze.  The recipe is pretty straightforward with nice results but I am having troubles with changing it.

The base recipe is

Lamp’s Bronze

7 – Ball Clay
86 – Cedar Heights Redart
7 – Silica

14% Cobalt Carbonate
14% Copper Carbonate
64% Manganese Dioxide

I wanted to play around so from left to right these are:

5% – frit 3134
5% – Nepheline Syenite
2% – Lithium Carbonate
5% – G200 HP Feldspar
5% – Tin Oxide



I have to admit I am still shooting in the dark.  I think the guys who are really good at this know what sort of results they will get with a particular chemical whereas I am still trying to figure out what each of them do.  I ended up signing up for Digitalfire insight.

This is hard-code pottery here.  It’s science based with dry tests and melt tests and all sorts of information.  It has already proved helpful.  And along with John Britt’s Complete Guide to mid-fire glazes I am confident I can start producing some kick ass pieces.  I already have a few I like.  This is a semi-gloss cream with a variegated blue dripped on it.  I love the warm oranges and the random spots of blue.


But again I am relying a lot on chance. I need to get more control.




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Oct 28

Lessons from pottery

I am learning some very important life lessons since I started throwing pots.  The most obvious to me is patience. Patience is everything in pottery.

First in throwing.  If you try to rush a piece and pull to hard your piece will end up lop-sided and uneven.  Since “there is no mercy in this dojo“, such a piece ends up back in recycling. At the moment I throw away more than I actually keep.


This sounds a little new-agey but I find if I am not centered and calm, I have difficulty centering pieces and throwing decent pots.  If my mind is tumbling some thoughts about the day or something that has happened then making the clay do what I want becomes difficult.

You also need patience in letting the pieces dry completely.  You will read about it on forums where pottery repeatedly mention “let it dry completely” sometimes that can take days.  If you rush it, you get bad things happening.  When you hear about pieces exploding in the kiln it is more often than not because of moisture in the clay.

You need patience when firing as well.  The first firing, the bisque isn’t that bad. You can stack tons of pieces together and as long as they are dry the firing will be fine. but when it comes to glazes you need to wait for the heat to do it’s thing.  Sometimes longer soaks produce better pieces.

19776800886_27f315dd93_k  19803356696_9ac93a5f4f_k 19305737004_4a29dfe34b_k


If you look at the really good artists, it’s clear their pieces take day if not weeks to produce. Just watch these 5 Korean masters at work.


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Oct 27

Thanks Matt!


As I continue in my creation of my own glazes I look to other potters as a source of information.  Matt Fiske’s Blog was one of the first sites I hooked into and in short order I read every post.  I highly recommend you check it out.  You can also see Matt’s posts on


One of Matt’s series of glazes is a variety of celadons. He is kind enough to provide the recipe:

Fiske 6/10 Clear Base:
F4 (Or MinSpar) Feldspar 34.9
Whiting 12.8
Zinc Oxide 11
OM4 Ball Clay 13.8
Silica 27.5

I tried this base and then tried three mason stains: light green, red, and peacock.  Of the three I light the light green best.  One thing that I need to do before i put this into production is ensure that I mix it very well.  I think like making your own paint the more you mix, the better your results.

Along the same vein I tried to make Hansen 5 glaze which is

Wollastonite 20.0
Frit 3134 20.0
Kaolin 20.0
Silica 20.0
Custer Feldspar 20.0

I tried adding mason stains French Green, Yellow, Light green and red. And I tried including Dolomite to increase the opacity of the glazes.
img002 img003


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Oct 26

St.John’s Black



I have started making my own glazes. I found a great recipe called St. John’s black.

Nepheline Syenite – 25
Alberta Slip/Albany – 75
Cobalt Carbonate – 5%

But I wanted something more dense, so I tried working on the recipe by adding other materials.

Going from left to right I added:
5% – Black Iron Oxide – The first one ended up matte
5% – Manganese Carbonate – I like this one best.  It has a sort of oil spot quality.
5% – Talc – This ended warm in tone. Not quite as glossy, and less oil spotty.
1.6%, 1.6%, 1.6% – Black Iron Oxide, Manganese Carbonate, Talc  – Was an attempt to get the best of all of them.  In truth though I think the Manganese Carbonate had the most interesting results.








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Sep 26

Witch Doctor

A critique on the pseudo health sciences? Great video though.

De Staat – Witch Doctor (Official Video) from STUDIO SMACK on Vimeo.

Oh little sicky, seems to be the pain?
Got all these herbs don’t mean a fucking thing
I am the witch, with the magick tricks
Mistrust the white house, come and get your fix

It’s not about the numbers, what you feel is real
Crystals, rays of light, the taste of orange peel
Open the mind, change the mind, that’s how we achieve
Can’t hurt to try right?
It’s what I believe

Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor

I taste the green when you come here and complain
I’ll give you cleanliness, while I make it rain
I’m a corpse eating vulture, who tells you how to feel
Don’t trust the white coats, i’ll make a better deal

Put a needle in the cheek so turn the other one
Come back tomorrow, because we’ll never get it done
Open the mind, change the mind, that’s how we achieve
Can’t hurt to try right?
It’s what I believe

Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor


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