Craig Wisner

Art / Ceramics

On Tenkara Nets.

A slow process, but my first net is finally complete.  I believe this sat in my shop for nearly three years before adding the net.

Tenkara Net

With quite a few years of tenkara fishing in alpine lakes and streams under my belt, I’ve found that the net should probably become an indispensable part of my kit.  The art of landing fish with a tenkara setup is often physically more complicated than in Western fly fishing, namely because the line cannot be shortened and fish must be brought in with the rod and an opposite hand on the line.  In real-world applications, combining factors such as a rocky shore, 7X tippet, an 11′ rod, ~14 feet of line, and balancing on a log with trees and brush behind you, it can be more than awkward to successfully land a large fish.  Needless to say, I’ve lost many good trout at this critical moment.

I typically don’t fish catch and release (a topic perhaps worthy of another post).  While the contemporary justification of a net is very often to cause less harm landing a fish prior to release, my use of net is more selfishly motivated; I don’t want to lose a good meal.  Killing and eating fish aside, I still see it as an obligation not to cause any additional suffering prior to the fish meeting the knife; bouncing fish onto the shore has never been appealing.

This net is Jeffrey pine, known for pliable green branches that oppose each other, very forgiving to shape.  Netting is fine .9oz no-see-um mesh.  The tip is deer antler.  While the Japanese apparently believe the antler provides a bit of “luck” or protection in the water, I’ve found that the smooth, pointed antler allows it to slide in and out of a belt at the small of the back quite easily.  It also adds a pleasant weight as Jeffrey pine is fairly insubstantial.  It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the bend in the handle also aids in the ergonomics of landing a fish; I find this style is easier to dip than the typical straight Western net.

Tenkara USA describes the build process quite well.

I have a few more branches that have been sitting and curing for years; like all things, I suppose the second and third nets will be more refined.

Tenkara Net Drying

Recent Drawings.

Enjoying a little down time out of the sun while my shoulder heals…Two new thumbnails.  I’m enjoying the Ramen Head logo.

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Skull and Toad.  Ink on paper.

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Ramen Head w/Wisner Logo.  Ink and acrylic on paper.


Spearing, 3/16/14

North of Malibu with Adan, in the water at sunrise.  The boogie board dive float works well; a nice base camp for storing fish, water, and gear.  Visibility wasn’t great, but still doable.  I shot one small perch; not many other opportunities presented themselves as fish were sparse.

The highlight of my diving was discovering an octopus lair.  Deep within a crevice I spot a large pile of empty shells strewn about, the garbage pile of an old underwater recluse piled outside its doorstep.  The the actual lair was too deep to find the creature living inside of it; I tried to stick my head in on successive attempts but couldn’t penetrate the darkness.  I like to imagine an old fellow sitting back in the darkness wondering about me.  I wouldn’t mind being an octopus.

I’m enjoying doing gyotaku, starting to get a feel for things.



Perch gyotaku.

Perch gyotaku.


This is my first attempt at gyotaku, the Japanese art of “fish rubbing”.  It is my understanding that the practice originated amongst fishmongers in the 1800s, fish being printed and posted as advertisements prior to being filleted, as well as being printed as evidence of trophy fish amongst fishermen.  Lacking sumi paper, my first attempt is on 90 lb. Stonehenge printing paper, far too stiff to capture proper detail.  The sumi paper traditionally used is far more flexible, allowing for a cleaner and softer wrap around the fish.  The fish is spread into position, inked, and pressed with paper.  Details are then sharpened/enhanced with a brush.  The following print is a rockfish, just a hair under 15″ in length, taken by polespear after work on Thursday (3/13/14) while solo diving in north Malibu.  Diving visibility was excellent and I thought I had some great pics of the day on my Gopro…only to return home to find that I forgot to put the SD card back in.

I’m anxious to continue developing my skills with this.


Recent Clay.

IMG_3850 (1024x913)Dimpled Bottles.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5, wheel thrown.  5″ height.

IMG_3852 (1024x683)Dimpled Bottles, detail.

IMG_3854 (1024x607)Squared Bowls.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5, wheel thrown.  10″ diameter.

IMG_3859 (804x1024)Water Bottles.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5, wheel thrown.  8″ height.

IMG_3861 (683x1024)Big Head, detail.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5, coil built.  39″ height.

Little Things.

Bowl: Cone 5 glazed stoneware Spoon: hand carved curly birch, flax seed oil.

Bowl: Cone 5 glazed stoneware.  Spoon: hand carved curly birch, flax seed oil.

Bowl and spoon: simple and open, humble tools for daily living.

Working wood, turning clay.  An exercise in mindfulness.  If we cannot pay attention and discover beauty and joy in the little things…

(More wooden utensils to come.  John has given me a stockpile of various quality hardwoods and a new bandsaw is on my shortlist.)

Untitiled Figures (clay sketches).

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Figure 1.

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Figure 2.

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Figure 3.

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Figure 4.

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Figure 5.

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Figure 6.

All pieces in series are ~6″ in height.  Glazed and salt fired stoneware, cone 5.  All are quick studies for life-sized pieces I plan to build.

Spouted Bottle (dimpled)

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Spouted Bottle (dimpled).  7″ height.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5.

Slab Plate (small rectangle).

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Slab Plate (small rectangle).  7″ long.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5.

Bowl (square, dimpled).

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Bowl (square, dimpled).  5″ diameter.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5.


Bowls (ramen).

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Bowls (ramen).  8.5″ diameter.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5.

Guinomi (sake cup).

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Guinomi (sake cup).  3″ height.  Glazed porcelain, cone 5.

Lidded Jars (faceted).

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Lidded Jars (faceted).  4.5″ height.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5.

Bowl (ceremonial).

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Bowl (ceremonial).  9″ diameter.  Charcoal fired stoneware, cone 11.


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Bottle.  7″ height.  Glazed stoneware, cone 5.

Lidded Jar.

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Lidded Jar.  10″ height.  Charcoal fired stoneware, cone 11.

Bowl with stand.

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Bowl with stand.  6″ diameter.  Raku fired stoneware, wood.

Bodysurfing Handplane

My first handplane; a swallowtail cut/sanded from scrap 3/4″ plywood, thinned in the nose and tail. I’ve yet to decide if I prefer a handstrap or the simplicity of a cutout.  Looking forward to doing some better quality pieces out of hardwoods after I settle on a design I like.  15″ x 8″.

I’ve preferred fins only up to this point but have found that the handplane gives just enough lift to help push your body into a higher planing position and get longer rides.

Bodysurfing:  always double overhead with barrels.

Boredoms, Transcendental Psychedelia, and Distance Running in the Heat

“Transcendence, transcendent, and transcendental are words that refer to an object (or a property of an object) as being comparatively beyond that of other objects. Such objects (or properties) transcend other objects (or properties) in some way.” — from Wikipedia

“The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή (psyche, “soul”) and δηλοῦν (deloun, “to manifest”), translating to “soul-manifesting”. A psychedelic experience is characterized by the perception of aspects of one’s mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters.”— from Wikipedia

Ninety degrees, full sun, cupfuls of sweat, and 5 miles into today’s trail run the glorious occurred.

I typically refrain from using music while trail running, preferring to tune into what’s happening with my body, my environment, the ebb and flow of my own thoughts unmolested.

But the music came with me today; running midday in the sun, I knew I’d need a little something extra to help maintain.  And what a good choice that was…

I cycled through a few things on the playlist, and then suddenly….Boredoms.

Easing into their psychedelic, driving, percussive sounds, I suddenly found a rhythm in myself, rooted in them.  My foot strikes synced with the drums, the cymbals, the crashes of distortion and noise.  We held steady together, operating on exactly the same wavelength, and I was transported.  We sped up, slowed down, cruised through highs and lows…the terrain continuously, effortlessly rolling by.   I became man primordial, sweating, driven by a beat and my turning legs, ancient fires and drums and shamans dancing in the depths of my brain.

Somewhere, sometime later, when the music stopped, I found myself dazed and running a dusty trail, suddenly aware of my minimal shoes and the heat blister forming under the ball of my right foot.

Those brief moments of transcendence, of liberation from time, space, distance, ourselves…

The great connection, of mind-body-environment-self-other…what more can a runner, artist, musician–human ask for?

Scott Haefner Photography

Recently came across a link to his work…Fascinating explorations of abandoned structures, military vessels, theme parks…

Worth a look.

Scott Haefner


Kids and their technology.  I had no idea I was being filmed, let alone being put on Youtube.

The pieces got much better as the day went on, as this was my first by foot in years.

Anyhow, this is why I get paid the big bucks.

Drew Chessie Nowhere

Eugene Smith recently sent me a link to an interview with him.  I had seen a few of his photos in the past, but never knew who he was.

Thanks Eugene!  Good stuff to pass along.

The interview:

Drew Chessie’s photos:

Warren Mackenzie

I love this guy, what a great touch with clay.

One More…

Joy Division, Transmission