Sulphur Bluff, Texas, USA


making stuff

I apologize these images aren't in very good order. I am not too savvy at organizing that sort of thing. Things have been very busy around the pot shop!

(above) - stack starting to get hott

(above)- preparing fuel for the kiln

(above)- a few new pots that are in the kiln

(above)- new paintings in progress

(above) - the only way to handle snow: making a big fire

(above)- Melissa and our Thanksgiving bird.


fire weekend

This weekend is going to be full of firing. I am loading the wood/salt kiln tomorrow and firing saturday. Loading the gas/soda kiln sunday and firing monday. This is my favorite type of weekend.


The biggest anti-war movement in American history, The America First Committee, was funded by conservative businessmen from the Midwest.


ready, set, fire!

loaded and started the kiln this morning. I hope it's a good firing. My goal for this next month is to start an online store through my website, keep it updated, and put a choice few pots for sale from each firing. Inside of the kiln I have some pots with new ideas, dead fish, babies, and longhorns.


I fired the kiln yesterday. Cone 9 up top and 10 was good and down at the bottom. I heard someone say a good downdraft gas kiln fires hot at the bottom? Maybe that's just what I tell myself. Oh well, I hope I had a good firing. I will unload tomorrow morning and probably take pictures later tomorrow. I peeked this morning and it looked pretty good. There is some sort of mystery when you turn off a kiln...all you can really say is, well, I hope it went o.k.! Then when it is time to peek you get so excited to see 1/4 of a pot, haha! It is kinda ridiculous.

I have two new test glazes I am eager to see, one is a subtle matte blue and the other is a green. I like to use a little color for accents sometimes. I think with this load I am going to update the portfolio on my website and probably goin to enter a couple of juried shows. Most of the pots in the kiln have drawings on them that I am pretty excited about. Some whales, fish, birds, horses, and a few hogs as well. It should be interesting.

Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise...



Overdue (or just pastdue)

These are a couple of cups I made from Michael Kline's last kiln firing

Below are some pictures of a few pieces I had in the Animal themed show I had with photographer Tammy Mercure

At the table we had swine sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, rabbit food, blue chips and lemonade.

Love, John


Penland continued...

Well, I have been on the mountain a full week now and things are going well. I've met some pretty great people and had some good times. I gave a slide show last Tues. and things went alright I guess, it was my first slideshow so I was a little nervous. In the pot shop we are rakuing and I think I have removed (or canceled out?) 5 to 7 years from my life. That stuff is like mustard gas! It also completely saturates your clothes with the raku smoke stank. It is a very distinct scent. Its the kind of scent that makes you want to wake up in the middle of the night and smell your t-shirt, then punch yourself in the throat, and splather ferric chloride on your pillow.

Next Session: Posey Bacapaulos-Majolica- Cone 05 and 1/2

I am going to start taking pictures to document all the madness.

Then the final session for me is Jack Troy.

I've got 5 more weeks left up on this mountain and I miss my darlin' girl, wears them sevens on her sleeve, dances like a diamond star, tells me lies I love to believe. Her age is always 22, laughin eyes a hazel hue, spends my money like water falls, loves me like I want her to. Loves me like I want her to.


The show was a success!  I sold several pieces and there was plenty of schmoozing to boot.  More importantly, the Blue Plum Festival was in full gear.  People filled the streets of downtown Johnson City, three stages were set up with some great bands, and there were funnel cakes.On Saturday afternoon I pulled out the lawn chair, propped up my feet, and watched cornholing for about 2 hours.  I have a lot of practicing to do before next year...did I mention funnel cakes?

The pot shop is now buzzing.  I am teaching a special topics summer course called "intro to wood-firing".  We are gonna fire the Hogagama and the cross-draft wood/salt kiln.  It has turned out to be an interesting and diverse class.  They are making some pretty exciting work!  I have never fired a kiln with such primo wood, we have several bundles of kiln-dried stickers from peerless wood working in Bristol.  Its all hardwood with "less than 9% moisture".  So over the last few days I drug out ye olde saw buck and fired up mandy(chainsaw).  Load, Saw, stack, repeat.  I hope we have a good firing.

July 5th I head up to Penland School of Craft, I will be there until Aug. 16th or so.  I am assisting 3 sessions in upper clay and am pumped about it!  Beware the Wookies.


Animal Show

This weekend is the Blue Plum Festival in Downtown Johnson City.  I have a themed exhibition going on at the tipton gallery with photographer Tammy Mercure.  Opening reception is at 6pm.  Also on saturday at highnoon the cornholing tourny starts.  Google CornHoling.  First place team gets 200 bucks!


Johnson City Press

Contemporary, historic exhibits on display

By Allison Alfonso
Press Tempo Writer

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I dropped in on John Simmons last week when he was installing his pottery and painting exhibit “Functor” at the Johnson City Area Arts Council.
Windows were open to let in a soft breeze, and he was measuring with a level the placement of the black letters of the show title, seemingly relishing the moment.

I wish I could say I was that careful about hanging work when Mom and I ran our gallery. Eyeballing it was sufficient to judge if work should be higher, lower or if it was crooked.

“Take your time and do it right the first time” often took a back seat to “Let’s just get it done.” Slight exaggeration, but I use the story to illustrate a difference.

Simmons is a worker, he said. He doesn’t mind the details.

He asked if I’d be attending his reception that Friday. This is one of many shows for him, perhaps, because he wants to be a practicing artist, not a teacher. Ceramics are his real love.

So, ever the questioner, I asked why he painted? He shrugged his shoulders as if amused by the question. That’s the worker in him.

Latex house paint on sheet metal is his chosen medium for paintings such as “Hecho en China,” which deals with the decline of American manufacturing.

It’s the formal concerns of art that really interest him, though. I was struck by the jagged and oblong shapes that puncture and ooze and repeat in various forms in his works. There’s a visual theme, but is there an intellectual one?

“Functors are used throughout modern mathematics to relate various categories. Within this show many different forms, techniques and concepts are used,” he said in his show statement. “Instead of categorizing everything, I would rather generalize – this work is a result from curiosity of how art functions. Not how it functions in the literal sense, but how it functions visually.

“Both the pottery and the paintings are a result of compositional problem solving, and what connects them are their formal qualities. Concept and process are equally important to me; they inform each other.

“Trying to make art is not easy to me, and my first idea is usually the most pedestrian. Sometimes on my third or fourth or fifth attempt I can find something genuine. Instead of inspiration, I look for possibilities.”

Exhibit hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The nice thing about living in an area as diverse is this is you can see a contemporary exhibit one day and a historical one the next.

“Trail of Tears” is up through June 15 in the Atrium Gallery of the Kingsport Renaissance Center and features 50 photographs of contemporary sites along the Trail.

Photographs are by David G. Fitzgerald, and text for the exhibit and accompanying book are by Duane King, Ph.D.

King, vice-president of museum affairs and director of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla., will deliver a show lecture Thursday May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Center.

Between June 6-Dec. 5, 1838, more than 15,000 Cherokee were forcibly removed from their homeland in the southern Appalachians to the Indian Territory on a journey named the Trail of Tears.

Man is still trying to understand why, how it affected the people and how it changed the future of American political thought and justice, King wrote.

Principal Chief Chadwick Smith of the Cherokee Nation wrote in the book forward that the Trail of Tears violated the fundamental principles of fairness, justice and equality this country was purportedly based on, but it also proved evidence of the Cherokee legacy of surviving and excelling in the face of adversity.

The 12-minute film “One Road” accompanies the show and documents the process and building of “The Passage” at Ross’ Landing in Chattanooga by Cherokee artists from Oklahoma .

It’s the largest public art installation of contemporary Southeastern native American art in the country.

Exhibit hours are Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Allison Alfonso is a Press Tempo writer. Reach her at


North Carolina Potters Conference

Well, the potters conference this year was good!  The presenters were great, the company was good, and the food was delicious!  I was fortunate enough to be a student assistant to Phil Rogers, mostly wedging, and let me tell you- he likes a little bit of clay with his sand. These are some pictures from Dwight Hollands collection....can you recognize any?  There are some heavy hitters!  His house is ridiculous, and being there was the it was last year.

and of course, Simon Leach posing with a pitcher:


Things are very busy around the pot shop.
Today I got some shots made of new work!
The website will show these fruits soon.