Anne W. Bracker is a thrower. Even in those early days when she was taking classes from her new husband Bill (no one in the class knew they were together, much less married, for a long time) and the assignment was for something handbuilt, Anne always figured out a way to incorporate a thrown element into the project.
When she wants to finish the form she’s throwing, she uses the Kemper WT6 Wood Modeling Tool to cut away some of the excess clay at the bottom of the pot and create a natural end to the piece for where a foot will be trimmed. As I was learning to throw, I would watch Mom use this tool and try to replicate the way she deftly cut away the clay in a wet ribbon as the wheel spun (I would refer to it as pre-trimming as a kid, and that phrase stuck with me). It never worked for me, and I spent many frustrating years trying to get it to work for me. Meanwhile, she would show customers the same “trick” then they would successfully use it mere moments later in the same way she did. Obviously, although I share a name with her, I don’t share that particular WT6 skill.
But there are many other uses for the WT6, whether you share Anne’s skill for “pre-trimming” or not. It’s an excellent hand building tool. I’ve seen Cindy use it for marking and scoring handbuilt pieces. I’ve seen sculptors push and prod clay into the most unusual shapes with it. And I’ve even used it when I throw for marking lines and indentations into the clay.
good through January 9th
Orton Self-Supporting Cones
When Bill and Anne started making pots together, their studio was in a 2-story stucco Teepee about 1/4 mile South of our current warehouse. When they started selling supplies to local potters, the very first item they kept in stock for potters was Orton Cones. In fact, prior to incorporating as Bracker’s Good Earth Clays, the original logo for Bracker Ceramics was two cones leaning into each other to form a Teepee shape, casting a shadow.
This special seemed so obvious – the Orton Cone connection plus Mom’s support for clay artists for the past 30 years, as well as her support for her daughters.
good through January 10th
Dolan 300 Series
Anne has always felt a special affinity for other family owned and operated businesses within the world of ceramics. One of those businesses she’s especially fond of is Dolan Tools. Susan is a second-generation owner of Dolan tools, taking over the successful business her parents started over 20 years ago. Dolan tools are made by potters, for potters, right here in the USA (like Susan, herself!). In addition to continuing to produce great tools for great potters, she’s also produced two adorable boys to add to the next generation of the great big ceramics family.
Mom loves to talk to potters about Dolan tools. We tease her because she’s still referring to them as “the Cadillac of ceramic tools,” like Cadillacs are still the best of the best when it comes to cars. But then again, she WAS born in that era, so people get it. Regardless, she loves her Dolan 310 for trimming the foot on her pots, so maybe you’ll find a 300 series Dolan that you’ll love, too!
good through January 11th
Mom’s love of teapots is well-known, but did you know she doesn’t actually drink tea, nor has she ever made a teapot herself? To Anne W. Bracker, the teapot is the ultimate form for a ceramic artist. The artist must figure out how to gracefully and cohesively combine the most challenging elements in one piece – a lidded vessel, a handle, and a spout. The final result doesn’t have to necessarily be functional, but those elements must come together in a way that speaks to the heart and soul of the artist.
good through January 12th
Jiffy Mixer HS-3
When Mom and Dad were making pots, Mom was the one who always mixed up the slips for their work. Even though they mixed up a 5 gallon bucket size amount of each slip, Mom used the Jiffy Mixer HS-3. It’s designed for 1-2 gallons, so it took her a little longer, but the 30″ shaft allowed her to stand upright with the bucket on the floor while she mixed up the slips. Not only did it save her back from hurting, but it also prevented the slips from splashing back up into her face. Smart mom, huh?
good through January 13th
North Star Porta Roller
Mom has always been a huge supporter of the Lawrence public school system. From her early elementary school visits to introduce her daughter’s classmates to clay to extra help she’s given to the art programs throughout the local school systems, she’s always stayed involved. So when Alan Brummell, a fellow potter and also the elementary fine arts coordinator for the district, approached Mom and Dad in the mid-80s to figure out how to increase clay in the schools, they put their brains together and came up with a modification of the North Star slab roller, which would later evolve into the North Star Porta Roller.
good through January 14th
AMACO CTL-35 Nutmeg
When we were still a young company, we didn’t use computers. Heck, in the early 90s, most of us didn’t (or if we did, it was mostly as a glorified word processor and not a full-fledged inventory system like we have today). Inventory was done by hand, and every time Mom needed to order from AMACO, someone would need to take inventory of all of the glazes we had. And by “someone,” that meant either Anne M. or Cindy. So Cindy would count the glazes and Mom would put together an order to send in to AMACO. For whatever reason, Mom decided that CTL-35 didn’t sell very well, so it would rarely make an appearance on her order list. Cindy happened to notice this and started teasing her about it, “You know, Mom, if you ordered it and we had it in stock, we could actually sell it….” After a few months of that, Mom gave in and ordered a case of 12 pints. Then Cindy would start to specifically mention every instance a pint of Nutmeg was ordered by a customer. Between Cindy and Anne, the mentions got shortened to just one word, “Nutmeg!” To this day, we take extra special notice of every pint of CTL-35 Nutmeg that gets sold at Bracker’s. And you can be sure that Mom gets told, too.
AMACO CTL-35 Nutmeg (Low-Fire Pint Glaze)
good through January 15th