New Colours and Stories from Cobalt

  Cobalt is an amazing town to visit for local colours! A century ago it had a floating population of 12,000 people living in it, mined almost 1,000 tons of silver in a single year (30,000,000 ounces), and even had the cheek to dub Toronto as, “the place where you catch the train to Cobalt”.

Firing Ochre and Bone

  This week I fired some ochres and bones at my studio in Conestoga. I love this process, and was excited to see the results of heating a few different soils and clays from here in the village in my outdoor firing pit. I’d also been given a large bag of bones last fall from a friend who

Found Wanting Black

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful bunch of people out in Edmonton, Alberta in celebrating, finishing, and perhaps resurrecting Betty Spackman’s Found Wanting exhibition. I was lucky enough to attend the exhibition when it appeared at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia in 2011. At that time, the

Rockhounding: Marmora

Visiting Marmora was an amazing experience.  Mining in this location goes back to the 1820s, and as one hikes around the site, the idea of all this rock being moved by men and horses is mind-boggling. A photograph simply can’t do justice to the size of the open pit (now half filled with water), or

Firing Pigments: Going hotter

While it has been good to see the colour changes that can happen when applying heat to the iron based ochres, this controlled fashion has limits for me.  Without pushing things I can get the pigment samples up to about 1100 °C (roughly 2000 °F) and this gets me well into the brown range of

Making Charcoal

Today the children and I began by pruning the grape vines and ended up making charcoal. With the spring here it was time to prune back the old growth on my vines so that younger, grape bearing vines could replace them.  As I was carefully choosing and pruning, my son came up asked asked what

Kettle Point: Mars Black from Pyrite Nodules

This is one of the very unique places I have been looking forward to visiting for this project. Kettle Point takes it’s name from the round boulders, or “kettles”, that emerge from the underlying Devonian shale beds of Lake Huron. These natural wonders are actually concrentrations of calcite crystals which grew over many centuries around

Mastodon Black: Firing

Firing eleven-thousand year old ivory is a bit of a nerve wracking experience. During this process I began to rehearse in my mind what I would say to Peter Russel if something went wrong; and if I would ask for more to make a second attempt … Early on in my attempts to make ivory

Mastodon Black

In the beginning of my search for a good black I knew that I would be burning something. There are a couple of minerals that can be used to create black, but usually the black on an artist’s pallet is made from the carbon left over after something has been subjected to the fire. And,

Betty’s (Bone) Black

A few months ago Betty Spackman sent three cow bones that she picked up during a trip she took to Albert. Most of the bones she collected are earmarked for an exhibition she is planning, but she was kind enough to send a few my way. As a thank you (and perhaps as something she