Steven Skinner BlackTree Studio Pottery


Bio

My Favorite Bowl #3553 My Favorite Bowl #3560 My Favorite Bowl #3554 My Favorite Bowl #3559

~Frequently Asked Questions~
Q. Where is BlackTree Studio Pottery located?
A.BlackTree Studio Pottery is located south of New Carlisle in Northwest Indiana, eighty miles east of Chicago, between South Bend and Lake Michigan... about six miles south of the Michigan/Indiana state line.
Q.Why is your studio named BlackTree Studio?
A. The name BlackTree Studio originates from the large black walnut trees that surround my pottery studio.
Q.How long have your been making pottery?
A. I have been an artist many years, primarily as a watercolor painter. I began pottery in 2006 at Lill Street Studios in Chicago, established BlackTree Studio Pottery in 2008 and began selling my pottery in 2010. Visit my Bio page for details about my artistic career.
Q.Do you have your own kiln?
A. I have an electric kiln that I use to bisque greenware, and two brick downdraft gas fired reduction kilns that I use to high fire my glazed pottery.
Q.Why do you "bisque" greenware?
A. Pottery must be fired twice... Once in the bisque (electric) kiln to vitrify the greenware so it is durable enough to glaze, and next in one of the reduction kilns for the final "high fire".
Q.What is greenware?
A. Greenware is pottery that has not been fired and is still clay. Pottery that has been fired is ceramic.
Q.To what tempurature do you fire?
A. I heat my electric kiln to cone 04, about 1900º fahrenheit, and fire my gas high fire kilns to cone ten, which is about 2350º fahrenheit.
Q.How long does it take to fire your kilns?
A. The electric kiln bisque fires to tempurature in about 10 hours. An average firing of my high fire kilns is from 14 to 16 hours. It takes three to four days for the reduction kilns to cool.
Q.How many pieces can you fire at a time?
A. Depending on the size of the individual pieces, I can fit eighty to one-hundred pots in my smaller gas fired kiln. The larger kiln will hold about twice as many pots as the smaller kiln.
Q.How often do you fire your pottery?
A. On average, I fire every four weeks.
Q.Your pottery looks like it is wood fired!
A. People say that, but actually all of my pottery is gas reduction fired. My pottery sometimes has the appearance of being wood fired because I don't glaze the exteriors of my pots.
Q.Why do you glaze only the interiors of your pottery?
A. I like the look of clay, so I leave much of my pottery unglazed. The look of natural clay is very appealing to me, plus clay is the medium I am working in and I feel it is important to show and even emphazise its beauty.
Q.I like your glazes!
A. Thank you. The glazes I use have been chosen with care. I use each glaze sparingly to emphaze my sculptural forms and colors of the clays I use.
Q.Do you make you own glazes?
A. Yes, I make all of my own glazes. Doing so allows me more freedom in the choice of colors I use with the clays I prefer.
Q.Do you use a potter's wheel to make your pottery?
A. I use a potter's wheel in conjunction with specific hand building techniques in the making of my pottery to give my work an organic hand sculpted look. Though I feel I am more creative when I use handbuilding techniques.
Q.Is it difficult to inlay the porcelain in your pots?
A. It is quite difficult. Porcelain shrinks more than stoneware so it can crack or pop out when fired, but I have learned and developed several techniques so it works consistantly.
Q.What kind of clay do you use?
A. I use several types of clay. The clay I prefer is a sculptural fireclay stoneware. It has a small amount of iron oxide added to give it a sandy color. I use another type stoneware for lighter changes in tone and color and I use porcelain for most of my inlay and marble work.
Q.What is the difference between stoneware and earthenware?
A. Earthenware is made from red clay or terra cotta and is low fired to about
1900º F. It is porous and more fragile than stoneware. The stoneware I use is a high fire clay that I fire to about 2400° F. It is extremely durable and is impervious to liquids and will not absorb water.
Q.Do you dig your own clay?
A. Digging and preparing my own clay would be challenging and fun, and time consuming. Also, the soil where I live is very sandy, so I order my clay from a supplier in Minneapolis.
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Q.Where do you show and sell your pottery?
A. BlackTree Studio Pottery is sold in museum stores and art galleries through-out the USA as well as art fairs and art festivals around the country. We have participated in shows from New Jersey, Rhode Island and Kentucky as well North Carolina, Chicago, Des Moines, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Denver. BlackTree Studio pottery is also sold at The Potter's Wife, BlackTree Studio's retail shop and gallery. Visit my Schedule page to see our show events and dates.
Q.Where is the Potter's Wife located?
A. The Potter's Wife is located In "Feeney's Hometown Goods" which is located in beautiful downtown New Carlisle, Indiana on the historic Lincoln Highway.
Q.Do you teach pottery or give lessons?
A. I am asked this often. I enjoy teaching, but my studio is small and I am to too busy making pottery to give scheduled instruction. I do take on interns though who are interested in art and learning advanced pottery making techniques. This summer, I gave a handbuilding workshop at "Krasl Art Center", and this October and November I am teaching a handbuilding class there.
Q.Do you participate in many shows?
A. BlackTree Studio participates in about twelve shows yearly.
Q.Do you sell your pottery online?
A. Yes, BlackTree Studio pottery is offered for sale from The BlackTree Studio web site. We suggest you visit our “Pottery” page and email or call about the pottery in which you are interested. Contact information can be found on BlackTree Studio's “Shop” Page.
Q.Do you take credit cards?
A. Yes. We honor Visa, Mastercard, Discovery, and American Express.
Q.Do you ship your pottery?
A. Yes. We ship all over the United States and double box our pottery for safety. FedEx is our preferred shipper.
Q.Do you make custom pottery to order?
A. I make custom pottery if the request is in the style in which I work.
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Q.Is your potttery functional?
A. BlackTree Studio is known for its sculpted functional pottery. We make a variety of cups, bowls, pitchers. platters and vases. One of our most popular bowls is used for baking bread.
Q.Is your pottery food safe?
A. All pottery made at BlackTree Studio is non-toxic and food safe.
Q.Can your pottery be put in a dishwasher?
A. We do not recommend putting crafted pottery in dishwashers. We recommend that all crafted pottery be washed by hand.
Q.Can I cook with your pottery?
A. Our crucibles are often used for baking bread for which we offer a recipe. One can also bake in our small crucibles, ramekins, and melon bowls.
Q.Is your pottery microwave safe?
A. Yes. In fact some dishes with vegetables or fish cook very well in microwave ovens.
Q.Can I cook with your pottery on the stove top?
A. No, we do not recommend stove top cooking with any crafted pottery. It is my opinion that fine crafted pottery is best used for serving.
Q.How can I use your wrapped bowls?
A. Our wrapped bowls can be used with soups, salads, pasta, fruit, and flowers or as stand alone decorative pieces.
Q.Are the rock jugs decorative only?
A. Our rock jugs can be used as water or wine karafs and are among other things often used for olive oil or maple syrup.
Q.Will the porcelain in your pottery stain?
A. We tested our pottery with red sauce and red wine left sitting overnight, and it rinsed out without leaving any stain on the porcelain.
Q.Will your pottery hold fluids without leaking?
A. Yes, certainbly. The stoneware we use is impervious to all liquids and will not absorb liquids or leak.
Q.How durable is your pottery?
A. All pottery will break if dropped or handled without care. BlackTree Studio pottery is made with stoneware and fired to almost 2400°F. It is therefore very durable and stronger than pottery made from low fire clays.
Q.How do I take care of my crafted pottery?
A. Crafted pottery needs little special care, but there are a few things one should know to keep it safe. See my “Care of Pottery” page for more information about ensuring your pottery´s safety.