Kenneth J. Nowicki on mon 22 mar 04
San Diego (1st NCECA, wandered around feeling like a fish out of water,
hardly knowing a soul - even in my home town)
Las Vegas (missed the "Clayart breakfast" dammit!... overslept)...
Charlotte (my 1st "Clayart Room" experience... Mel "pops my cherry" with a
bright orange sticker... felt like I "belonged" for the first time )
Kansas City (awesome experience, "Clayart Room" during NCECA begins to take
on a whole new meaning for me)...
San Diego - again (ahhh... this one felt much more like "home"... reinforced
those Clayart friendships... and made many more in the process... great
INdianapolis (Just keeps getting better and better... amazing. The "Clayart
experience" solidifies that this is the main reason I attend NCECA, all the
other goodies, the demos, the lectures, the commercial exhibitors, the
exhibitions... well... they are just "icing on the cake")
So... this was number six for me... and... after Charlotte... I made a pact
with myself to make every effort to try and attend each year. It is my treat to
myself. It is my break away from the kids and wife for a few short days...
not because I don't love them... but because I DO love them. A happy Daddy makes
a happy family... right? It is my time to rejuvenate my creative
soul... spend time with old friends... and make new friends... and fully immerse
myself in clay and wonderful people for 4 days.
This year was no exception. Better than the last... and each year seems to
improve on itself... amazingly. I saw lots of familiar faces and was able to
chat with old friends (I won't even begin to list them all cause the list is
extensive, and don't want to offend anyone if I accidentally leave them out)...
but I will mention some new faces I met... great folks too! John Niehaus, a
local potter in town... super nice guy... Mary Lou Alberetti, a college professor
from CT who does the most amazing sculptural relief architectural tiles, from
cone 6 to 10... Lynn Johnson, from Sioux City, IA... super nice gal who drew
my "4 fingered" shino mug in the Clayart exchange... Wayne Seidel, from FL... I
liked this guy the minute I met him (nevermind Nan Kitchen's had already told
me he was her new "best friend" ... finally was able to meet the nice man
behind "the product"... Feriz Delkic, from ITC (thanks Mel for making the
introduction)... Phil Smith from Pasadena... Kathie Wheaton, from Glen Ellyn, IL
(who made me laugh AND made me hoarse from trying to carry on a conversation
over the loud music at the Friday Night Dance )... Helen Bates, the woman
behind the computer who brings us all those great sites to check out... yay
Helen!... finally got to meet our own, Phil Poburka from Bison Studios at his tool
booth (and elsewhere)... was so happy to see him doing well at the exhibitors
booth... man... there is so many... okay... those of you that met her will
agree, this is one "kick-in-the-pants" girl that had me in stitches every time I
saw her... Gail Philips from Indianapolis (what a spunky, smart, and fun
person she is... very talented to boot!)... OMG... almost forgot... the amazing and
talented Kelly "PrimalMommy"... she is even more of a delight in person than
in her posts!... of course one of my highlights came when Mel introduced me to
Greg and Steve Lewicki from L&L Kiln Mfg. Inc... I've been wanting to buy one
of their kilns for years... and this year I plan to. (I won't go into the
details for now, but let's just say that Steve made me a very generous offer to
help me customize my kiln right in his factory... more on that another time)...
I'm sure I'm missing others from this list of new faces... but my mind is
still reeling from the experience of it all. (Forgive me if I forgot to mention
The mug exchange was awesome. Kudos to David for pulling it off so nicely...
and man... that is one hell of a paisley sportcoat you own dude! It was bigger
and more festive than in years past... which was way cool. I helped take a
few group photographs with my SLR, and I hope they come out. I promised to have
them put on disc and shoot them over to Mel to post on his webpage... so
hopefully soon... they'll be up for all to see. Lots of really major coincidences
during the exchange this year... as Joyce pointed out... the one where Phil got
Kurt's cup... and Kurt got Phil's tool was just but one of many. I had
previously met a fellow Clayarter out here on Long Island last summer, totally by
chance. We were driving out to the "east end" for the day when we spotted a
pottery sign... I of course pulled over to check it out and stumbled upon C.C.
Bookout's place (Calista)... we had a wonderful conversation and realized we were
both members of Clayart. She has very beautiful functional ware, and I bought
a few pieces to take home. In the Clayart room, we met again not knowing
either one of us was going to be there... chatting it up before the exchange a
bit. Low and behold, who's cup do you think I pulled from my little brown bag?
Calista's of course! A beautiful little ash glazed single fired piece
too... it's gorgeous! A few nights earlier, I was given a huge surprise by David
McBeth. I'd been in touch with him after the KC NCECA after I saw his gorgeous
beer stein he brought for the exchange, and emailed him that I'd love to buy
one from him someday. One thing led to another and we sort of lost touch about
it... but here... in the Clayart room... he strolls up to me and hands me...
not one... but TWO awesome shino glazed stoneware steins!!! I tried to pay him
for them, but he wouldn't accept my money. Turd! Now I really have to
light a fire under my butt to get my studio up and running again soon, cause I
promised to send him something I made as soon as I am able to. :-) What a
super nice guy he is... and an excellent potter as well. I could go on and on
about all the great people that I met and spoke with... it truly has become what
NCECA is all about for me now... it is most definitely a "people" experience
for me... and seems to be what I get the most enjoyment from by attending.
I too began reading Mel's book on the flight home. What a delight... and how
lucky we all are to have him sharing his experiences and wisdom in our pottery
lives. Everyone should own a copy of this book in their collection.
Saturday, Kurt Wild, Mel and myself drove in my rental car over to Gail
Philips home to check out her new gas kiln. Joining us there were Lisa Skeen and
Wayne Seidel, and Gail's husband, John. We got turned around and were an hour
late... Mel being my navigator... of course blamed me... I "took the fall" for
him... I didn't mind... he's an old guy you know... gotta be careful not to
piss him off . Gail had kindly laid out a huge spread of food for us all...
and we all had a grand time together... chatting about... what else...
pots... kilns... you name it. Gail has the makings of a kick ass gas kiln, and she's
about ready to install a killer burner system from Marc Ward. Go girl go...
get that beast fired up! Her hospitality was amazing... and I left feeling that
I'd known her for years.
We got back to the hotel, I went up to my room with the intention of doing
some work on my laptop. It was around 7 pm. Picked up a book to read for a
second... made the mistake of trying to read it while lying on the hotel bed... I
passed out cold. Exhausted I guess. Woke up around 11:30 pm... oops... grabbed
a late night bite to eat at Champions downstairs... and was so keyed up
thinking about everything... couldn't fall asleep until about 4 am... boy was my
clock messed up. Checked out Sunday. It was beginning to snow outside. The lobby
was a mass exodus of potters heading home. Everyone looking tired, yet happy.
Another conference behind us... another year until Baltimore... happy to be
home... yet I'm missing everyone already.
You all are one awesome family. Thank you for being so cool. I love you
all... and I'll see you in Baltimore!
All the best,
Kenneth J. Nowicki
Port Washington, NY