Archive for July, 2009

Plumb Crazy…

July 31, 2009

Maybe I should say plumb sick. I went to Home Depot and rented a snake to use which is not the most fun job in world but worse than snaking is the actual draining of the water that’s filled the house’s pipes. As you can see in the rather squalid-looking photo, when I moved into the house 19 years ago and replaced the rotted cast iron with pvc, I had to attach it to the clay pipe bricked into the foundation with a rubber contraption. Because this seemed half-assed, a “clean out” was added just big enough for a snake.

plumbing

This clogging has happened twice before (about 3 years ago and about 7/8 years ago) and what was done before was this… a wastebasket was held in front of that little 2 inch pipe and the cap was pulled off. If you know the basics of hydraulics you know what happened next… the weight of all the water above the release produces a certain amount of potential energy and stepping the pipe down from 4 inches to 2 inches increases this pressure, not sure how much but let’s just say, a whole lot. The wastebasket which full would hold enough water that it was almost too heavy to carry was filled in maybe 2 seconds and pressure of the stream practically blew the wastebasket out of my hand. Then I had to recap it so as not to have the rest cover my basement floor and forcing the cap over that stream basically splashed so violently that I was covered. Then empty the wastecan in the back yard and do it again until the pipes were empty (about a dozen times). I did it this way twice and contrary to the facts, I am capable of learning. This time I got an outside trash can which holds much more and placed it under the lowest part of the system and drilled a hole up through the pvc and let it drain into the can leaving only the sewage that was below the hole I drilled to come out the “cleanout”. So, as unpleasant as it was, it wasn’t nearly as bad as in previous years. I did manage to get a couple hours in after this fiasco…

greenware

greenware

Un’altra Nuova Ciotola…

July 30, 2009

I hope that’s the right word for bowl or as Filippo would say I’m writing Italiana di merda. Anyway I have a plumbing emergency and will probably not get anything done today and maybe tomorrow. Every couple years the drain to the sewer under the sidewalk gets clogged with little hairy roots from the trees and stops up. Slowly all the pipes in the house fill with water from shower, sink, washing machine and of course the worst place. If ignored the water will finally reach the lowest opening in the system which is the downstairs commode and if say, one is taking a shower upstairs, it will go down and overflow in the bathroom downstairs. The only solution I can afford is to release the pressure in the basement and I will not elaborate on how horrible a job this is but it’s definitely the worst thing I’ve had to do since becoming a homeowner and then snake out the drain. This is just like a car accident insofar as it is never a good time and it’s a terrible job so here’s a new “ciotola” and I’ll see you in a couple days…

bowl

bowl

Whenever A Dog Poops…

July 29, 2009

A devil get it’s little red pitchfork. Woke at 6:30 this morning, standing in a downpour with an umbrella in my backyard that had been turned into a pond over night in my shorts only waiting waiting waiting… for the dog to have a COP (Canine Outdoor Poop/Pee). I love starting the day off this way because at 2:00 a.m. I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep because I was obsessively composing a letter to my doctor to tell him why I’m pissed at him and why he’ll never see me again… of course, the whole meandering fantasy is simultaneously accompanied by the impotent feeling that he’ll never read it and after all I wouldn’t have started thinking about a letter if I were able to talk to him on the phone. This is something that I have never done in my whole life (talk to a doctor on the phone… except a couple phd’s I know) because doctors, much like our presidents, are far too important people to actually have unchargeable telephone conversations with their patients. I’m not worried though because I know that doctors talking to their patients on the phone is in the new health care plan. On another note, we went to get some beers last night with our friends Andy and Cody (Coco) and had a great time. They had just seen “Food, Inc.” and we’re excited to share their revelations with us and tease us as I’ve been waiting to see it and haven’t been able to yet… probably have to wait for it to be on DVD. They are a relatively new couple and we talked even more about the nono’s of early dating and how long to wait to breach these “taboos”… very funny. Anyway, here’s some pics…

andy/coco/sofia

Here’s Andy playing with Sofia on the stage where they have a whole pile of toys for kids to entertain themselves with while their parents have a beer. There’s nothing much better than having conversation and beer with friends…

sofia_andy

I got slip on the piece from the day before…

greenware

greenware

The Long And Winding…

July 28, 2009

Trail of Resist… Tha-at Leads To Your Doo no Bisque. Not much going on today except work… gotta get to the studio. Well, there’s beers tonight, almost forgot that (almost). Anyway here’s that bowl with the black slip ready for bisque… hard to tell because the contrast is so low.

greenware

Here’s a backbreaker from yesterday…

greenware

greenware

Squaresville, Man…

July 27, 2009

Here’s some bowls with those little squares all over them…

bowl

bowl

I think I have another half dozen of these that are ready for bisque but still not enough to fill the kiln. Hopefully this week but all I have left is big ones so maybe not. The weather’s still holding and we will end with the coolest July maybe on record. On another note, I got up a little before 6 to take the dog out because I still don’t trust her and her ICE. Instead of going back upstairs and waking everyone up, I hurry to the couch and try to fall back asleep. Sunglasses has made the back of the couch her perch where she looks out the window at any activity she hears. I was just about to nod off and she must have heard a bird or something and came running full speed across the living room floor and leapt springing both front and back legs off of my groin to bound to her perch. This is not a good way to wake and face the day.

Do What Your Mudder Tells You…

July 26, 2009

I’ve got Sofia for the weekend as always and it was a rainy day yesterday. We usually go looking for big mud puddles but yesterday we found the mudderlode. I didn’t have my camera because it threatened to rain again so no pics of the actual mud tract that we happened upon next to a construction site. I happened to be barefoot too (explanations in a later post) and we spent a good hour up to our ankles… actually it was up to Sofia’s shins. I’ve heard that little girls don’t like to get dirty and I guess that’s true. I managed the pic when we got home but she had already cleaned off a little playing in a mud puddle on the way home, still I think it conveys the general mudlovin’ fun…

sofia

Here’s a closeup… all I can say is “oh yeah”…

sofia

About Time For A Makeover…

July 25, 2009

I don’t post many pictures of myself because I am not a very photogenic person. Of course maybe I just don’t like being confronted with the way I look and how much that look is in sharp contrast to the way I think I look, you know, when I’m just living my life. Anyway, I saw someone on a ceramics blog do a before and after haircut and I thought that was funny. Now I didn’t really need a haircut (as is evident in the before side of the photo below – that’s the left side) but my barber was in today and I guess the stars aligned in a way. I go to an old fashioned barber shop in my neighborhood run by two women, Denise and Denise’s partner. I’m not as picky as I am cheap when it comes to haircutting and Denise has been cutting it for many years now. It’s funny to me that I stuck with her because I’m not a chatty guy especially at the barbershop and the first time she cut my hair she thought it was fine to confide in me about her yeast infection. I didn’t know what to say really as I had never had a yeast infection and I guess I just kept looking in the mirror trying not to think about what she was saying and convince myself I wasn’t looking older. She has since moved on to much more palatable topics. Anyway, took a pic before I left because although it doesn’t look like I need a haircut, I knew that when I took the “after” shot it would seem more like I had needed one. So the haircut has made my hair much more manageable and if you look at the picture on the right, I think I even look smarter although I told Mom that I felt like it made my nose look bigger. Right after I said it though all I could think of are the jokes about “does this make my butt look big?” and figured it was just a figment of my imagination. Here’s the before and after…

dad

Of course there is someone who sees me in a positive light no matter how silly I look and we got a pic together…

sofia_dad

Let The Tedium Continue…

July 24, 2009

And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I bisque. Still decorating, I used to decry my wee little studio because I could never have much more than a kilnload of greenware before I ran out of room. Since I extended the room, I can have 3 and maybe 4 kilnloads of greeware before I have to fire. This is good because you have more time when you’re throwing to “get in the groove” but I’m finding that decorating 3 loads can be a bit tedious. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s just that it seems such slow going and I’m anxious to see the work completed. So I put on some Irish tunes yesterday and zoned out…

greenware

greenware

greenware

And then thankfully I was interrupted by a beer obligation. Club 52’s first meeting was last night and we sat outside on the sidewalk along side Flanagan’s pub and drank and talked into the night. Then I got in my car and remembered that my headlight doesn’t work. I only have one because the passenger side headlight and everything around it was crushed by my little tussle with a Chevy Suburban. Anyway, I took as many alleys as I could to drive home without a headlight.

Relatively Successful Experiment…

July 23, 2009

Here’s a couple bowls that show my attempts at something a bit different. They looked alright after the bisque but I wasn’t sure how they would be after the firing. They are similar in color but they are actually two different glazes, one a little greener (or one a little bluer). Tonight is the first meeting of Club 52. I have 3 friends and with me it makes 4 of us who all went to Murray State University together, majoring in art, from 1977 to 1982 (roughly). We are all the same age and we meet to have beer on each others’ birthdays 4 times a year. As of yesterday we were all 51 and my buddy Al’s birthday is today and he’s 52 so Club 51 becomes Club 52… how quaint. Al’s blog is about the Falls Of The Ohio and I’ve linked to it before… it’s here. Anyway, here’s some pots…

bowl

Lower angle (or as they say in the south, “hangle”) to get a better idea of the pattern…

bowl

bowl

Beer Is Food…

July 22, 2009

I’m thinking that most dads wistfully look forward to the day when their child is old enough to take them out for their first beer. I’m no exception and after waiting almost 5 long years, we finally did just that last night. I ordered Sofia an American Pale Ale because I hoped the hopped preference was maybe a genetic thing but alas she winced at even the smell. I haven’t given up hope though because they say children have way more sensitive taste buds than adults and their bitter receptors outnumber adults by a long shot. Anyway, here’s Sofia sheepishly sneaking up on that first pale ale…

sofia

“Beer Is Food” is the slogan of our favorite local brewpub, BBC (Bluegrass Brewing Company), and when the waitress/waiter asks you if you want something to eat and you say, I’m just gonna have a beer or two, they say… beer is food. I have to say it really puts me at ease. We come here all the time mostly because they have a stage for bands but during the week or any time there is no band they have a huge pile of toys. It’s deplorable that they entice those 2 and 3 year olds to start drinking so early with piles of toys but we’ve gotten over it because when the bug hits the stage, mom and dad get to have a brief conversation. Sofia really wanted me to take a picture of this car so I obliged…

sofia

Here’s a glamour shot of the pale ale (the one in the foreground). Sometimes I look at it and think… that truly is my favorite color. Wouldn’t that be a great glaze color… deep, rich, dark, transparent amber, mmmmm it would go good with chocolat <–french.

beer

New Yoga Pose…

July 21, 2009

Necessity truly is the mother of invention and I’ve invented a new yoga pose. Fortunately the weather has been temperate and it’s not a Bikram Yoga pose. I suppose I’ll have to name it but haven’t decided between “Dissecting The Frog” or “Treacherous Rhinoplasty” mostly because they remind that one slip during the operation results in something ugly. Here’s how you get into the pose: (remember your breathing) Sit down, bend forward at the waist and look forward stretching your neck up and out, put the left elbow on the left knee and extend the left arm up slightly with the index and middle finger of the left hand gently touching the banding wheel, extend the right arm straight forward from the shoulder and bend the right elbow inward at a 90 degree angle (or as they say in the south “hangle”) and hover the hand holding a paint brush over the rim of a bowl. Hold for 2 hours. The 2 hours part is what make it work and once you get the hang of it here’s what the results are…

greenware

greenware

greenware

Aaaaaaahhhhhhh, now relax a minute, turn the bowl over and your reward for holding the pose is…

greenware

Funky Bowl…

July 20, 2009

I was gonna run two consecutive glaze fires but the sizes of the pieces seem to be dictating that I need to finish decorating so that I’ll have more variety in sizes. Then I will be able to more efficiently pack the next two firings. Now that I know how the glazes are working over the black, it should be less harried. Here’s another unprofessional set of pics of a bowl from this firing…

bowl

bowl

bowl

bowl

Girls Love Clay…

July 19, 2009

Sofia was so excited to unload the kiln the other day. When unloading I usually have a board with a piece of 240 grit sandpaper stapled to it and I give each piece a little twist to get any kilnwash burrs off. Of course she sees this as a necessary step in the unloading process and there were 30 or so of her little tiles in there and as I handed them to her she savored the result (for a couple seconds) and went on to the important step of rubbing them on the sandpaper block. 30 pieces is not enough for a 4 1/2 year old though and she would have stood there all day as long as I kept handing her pieces. She has names for them too… a certain kind of mark is a “monster” and one is “grass” and one’s “road”, etc. Now she has gifts for everyone she knows (the flipsides are well-sanded too) and can’t wait to wrap them. Anyway, I think she’s starting to understand the computer as a remote communication device and asked if I would be putting pictures of them on the blog. Don’t know where that came from as I don’t recall ever saying the word blog to her (blog really isn’t a word, it’s part of a word). Anyway, here they are…

sofia

sofiatiles

Going down to 56 tonight and I’m loving it ’cause that’s sleepin’ weather. I still cannot believe it though, spent the last 23 summers in Louisville and never had anything like this in July. I may actually don a sweatshirt in the morning.

Cups/Bug Day/Autumnal July…

July 18, 2009

It’s bug day and wanted to get a quick post in. Woke up and it was 60 degrees in Kentucky in July, maybe another record. Yesterday Sunglasses ended her 11 day streak of no ICE but it was raining when mom got up to go out with her. Here’s a cup that had my crawly experiment on it. It was definitely too thin but I like the matte surface and the color…

crawl

And here’s a couple shots of the bottoms where the glaze pooled enough to let me know that the glaze would work if it was a bit thicker…

crawl

crawl

This one didn’t crawl but added a nice matte and it stayed translucent enough to see some iron peeping through.

crawl

Here’s some cups that I’d been commissioned to make and was glad to get done because they’ve been waiting and I’ve been spending weeks decorating bowls to fill up the kiln…

mugs

So it’s autumn in Kentucky, about 65, breezy and I’ve got the bug for two days so I’m off.

Chocolatey Goodness…

July 17, 2009

Well in typical fashion, the thing I never intended worked out the best. I have pots, soon to be made, with no underglaze and I wanted another glaze that would highlight the surface activity (a transparent or translucent glaze). I didn’t have any of these pots to fire and wasn’t going to test this new glaze (chocolat) on any of the black underglazed pots because of the amount of time put into them… I figured it would be dark enough that I might not be able to see the black coming through or that the contrast would be really subdued. Serendipitously, I cracked one of these labor intensive underglazed pots and figured because no one would want it anyway, I could go ahead and use the new glaze. Of course I was wrong but it’s a good thing. Here’s the chocolat glaze and since the pot is cracked, or one could say chipped, this is as close as I’m gonna get to a chocolate “chip” pot…

chocolatebowl

chocolatebowl

The black underglaze actually looks like the color of those really dark semisweet chocolate bars. Not to beat a dead horse but here’s another not so great pic but because it was outside the reflection highlights the depth of the surface relief…

chocolatebowl

I was a bit antsy about this kilnload because I had several experiments in it and started thinking of how they might all end up as failed experiments. All in all the kilnload was a success. The only thing that didn’t really work was the crawly glaze and I know what the next step should be there. When I first tried it on that test tile I figured I’d better make it thin or it wouldn’t stay on the piece and I erred on the too thin side… but the test pots look kinda yummy anyway because they just ended up looking really matte.

Mountains Of The Moon?…

July 16, 2009

When I first looked I thought that’s what it was but then I noticed the ice cream vendor and realized it couldn’t be the moon…

wollastonite

So this is my wollastonite container. Thought a shot of how big those chunks are would be better than my description. I think I have another whole 50 lb. bag that’s been down in the basement for over a year, maybe it will just be one solid brick by the time I get to it.

wollastonite

I think I’m going to unload the first glaze kilnload today. It’s very difficult to not think about it and just wait til the temperature falls. I have several things that I’ve never fired before and although I’m sure they won’t all come out like I imagined in my best case scenario, but it’s still exciting to look forward to. I’ve tried 5 different glazes over the “black” underglaze and I’ve as many cups with the crawly glaze over the top. So if the crawly glaze doesn’t crawl I guess I’ll just have some cups with an opaque white over whatever is underneath.

Piles O’ Puppies…

July 15, 2009

My neighbors, Julie and Dan are dog people. Sofia’s known their dogs, Pablo and Annabelle since she was old enough to go for a walk. Julie and Dan have been involved in fostering rescue dogs for a while now which is an important part of finding homes for many many dogs without homes. Recently, a man in southern Kentucky was found living in a trailer with over 40 dogs, many malnourished and one even dead in the trailer. I’ll spare more details and get to the point, which is that Julie and Dan are fostering a Great Pyrenees dog now that just gave birth to 8, count them, 8 pups (the pups are probably half some other breed). We saw them the other day but their eyes weren’t open yet and we were asked back so Sofia could see them after their eyes opened. I anticipated puppy pandemonium but what we got was puppy lethargy. Here’s what we saw upon arrival…

puppies

They have a large cage set up in the basement and it’s big enough for 4 or 5 people to stand in comfortably. I took a bunch of cute puppy pics and decided I didn’t want the server to crash from too much cuteness so here’s a composite…

puppies

Of course the reason for visiting was to let Sofia hold the puppies and she was loving every minute of it although she wasn’t as gentle as we would have liked her to be…

sofia

Dan was very hospitable and although a bit antsy with Sofia handling the pups, everything went off smoothly, that is until Sofia strangled one of the pups and we had to leave. Here’s a pic where I just managed to capture the puppy assassin in action…

sofia

PolyVinyl Chloride (Grownup Tinker Toys)…

July 14, 2009

I used “grownup” instead of “adult” in the title to divert unsavory traffic. My buddy Miri in Puerto Rico (<– Spanish) wanted me to post this because Nick in Puerto Rico (<-Spanish) happens to share my interest in pvc as a sort of adult tinker toys. I'm afraid Nick is on a whole other level though because my little pvc tinker toy project is not nearly as impressive and I tried to let Miri know so she wouldn't be let down. Anyway, a while back, I was glazing these rather tall vases and needed to hold them upside down to pour over the sides. I never like resting them on slats because the "footprint" of where the glaze bunches up is too large and there's 4 of them, two for each slat. So I thought… pvc. No need for glue and actually it's better without glue because in the case of the vases, the vertical piece can be interchanged with different sizes to accommodate different sized vases without them either being suspended too far above the kitty litter tray or too close to the pool of glaze in the kitty litter tray. Later, I started to like some of the poured effects so I made a mini-pvc pot holder for cups. Here they both are… I was short a cap and put tape over the end so glaze wouldn't seep into the pipe and it's still that way (this probably says more about me than most things, but hey, I didn't have to make another trip to home depot).

pvc

pvc

As far as use, it has its limitations like the slats, if the pot is level while upside down glaze drips will dry and when you right the pot it will look like the beginnings of a little tiara forming around the rim. Consequently I usually suspend the pot at an angle (or as they say in the south, a “hangle”) so that the drips all go to the same point of departure and you can deal with it later much easier. Recently I found another use for pvc… talking into a length of it in a menacing voice drives misbehaving canines crazy. So anyway check out Nick and Miri’s great blog which is chronicling their move to Puerto Rico. Here’s one of their pvc posts and here’s another. And while you’re at it, if you are interested in ^6 oxidation firing, Miri is in the midst of a rather comprehensive test of said glazes with pictures of the results, recipes and other detailed info here.

Where The Wild Things Are…

July 13, 2009

Fell asleep on the couch last night and Sunglasses was sleeping at my feet with her head resting on my leg… awww. I needed to adjust my position which begged the question… will my movement, however small, wake the beast and ruin my chances for more sleep? Duh… after the commensurate scratching, shaking, biting the tail, and licking (about 10 minutes) it became clear that she was gonna have to go out or there would be ICE (internal canine excretion). By the way, we’re on 8 days and counting with no ICE. After 15 minutes in the backyard, completely awake now, I settled back down on the couch and she on the futon. Right as I was about fully asleep, there was a loud noise in the dark of the other room (you know how when you’re asleep you start to doubt how loud the noise was or where it came from etc.). Anyway, the clamor sent a surge of adrenaline that awakened my catlike reflexes. Within seconds several scenarios flashed through my head, all of which were variations of… when I was in the backyard with the door open, a cat/’possum/raccoon/komodo dragon wandered into the house, in the safety of quiet and darkness came out of hiding, then when Sunglasses who demonstrates her desire to maim anything that moves daily on our walks picks up the scent, pandemonium will occur in a mad chase, knocking over pots and furniture, waking mom and Sofia, etc. Not to mention, how will I corral the critter out the door with a rabid hunter dog unrestrained. I looked over and Sunglasses was wide awake on the futon and looking in the direction of the noise. I capered and scrambled into the kitchen, banging my shin on the coffee table and knocking something heavy off the tv. I spent the next 20 minutes turning on lights and looking into every possible crevice that a komodo dragon might hide and found nothing. What I did find upon returning to the couch was the mighty huntress, who, it must be pointed out will pull my arm out of its socket while on the leash to hunt down a 5 legged ant, a blind squirrel, or a baby bird that can’t fly yet, cowering on the couch. I may be anthropomorphizing but the look on her face seemed to be asking… “did you find it? is it gone yet? eek!) Needless to say, instead of falling back to sleep then, it was more like I was on sentry duty listening for the intruder to surface again but it never did. Although it would be really amusing if mom was sorting laundry and a hissing ‘possum jumps out at her, I think it may have just been a mouse that knocked over something. Here’s the mighty huntress with her game face, she seems to be saying, don’t mess with me ‘possumface but now I know it’s only false bravado…

sunglasses

All that being said, there are things that Sunglasses is totally vicious about… like Sofia’s clay studio flip flops. We were glazing her tiles yesterday and in the long held tradition of studio repair we had to break out the duct tape (or as they say in the south, duck tape).

ducttape

We had a great time glazing tiles. I thought for a bit that I might get a little glazing done while Sofia contently brushed away but alas you can’t let a 4 year old alone in the studio for even 10 seconds so I just helped out and made sure she didn’t put her hands in her mouth.

sofia_glazing

sofia_glazing

What A Total Crack(ed) Pot…

July 11, 2009

In my next glaze firing, hopefully early next week, I was gonna do a couple tests of Joel’s (over at FetishGhost) ^6 crawly glaze. He warns on the blog about it’s inability to be handled and other tendencies. I mixed it up with Sofia and grabbed a test tile that already had some glaze on it and submerged it for a couple seconds and set it down behind me. I turned around after a minute or so and here’s what my test tile looked like…

crawlytest

Now here’s where years of glazing experience come into play. Just by looking at it and without any other information I figured out that this was not going to work, hard to believe I know. Decided maybe add some more water and maybe dunk it quickly and maybe even put it on a piece that’s already damp. Anyway, got a couple of tests where it doesn’t look like it will fall off and melt on my shelves so I’ll see what happens. On another note, my second bisque was cool enough to unload. I had several ornately decorated bowls in the bisque, several smaller ones and two larger ones. I didn’t even have to pick it up when I saw this large crack on one of the bigger ones…

bisque

Pretty sure this is NOT due to the firing and I believe that I may have bumped it when the rim was hanging a touch over the edge of the table. I don’t mind losing pots and we all do but I wish I would have ruined it earlier before I spent however many hours I spent decorating. C’est la vie! <– French, I can't help it, it just flows out of me. The bright side is that the chocolat <– ok, I'll stop, glaze from a couple posts ago was really meant for pieces that have no underglaze and I wasn't going to test it on one of the underglazed pieces because I thought that it would be a bit too dark and that the underglaze would get lost underneath the dark chocolat glaze. I wasn't sure what it would look like either way and now since the bowl is ruined, I can try it out and if it's too dark, then it's doubly ruined. Here's one that didn't get ruined…

bisque

The next pic is a closeup of some of the textural details. This is the sort of thing, with the different textures near or on top of one another, that gets me going and makes me really look forward to seeing the finished pot, of course, I had better have a more successful day than today. The cracked pot was only the beginning, read: damn reading glasses and infernal clumsiness! Tomorrow is bug day but might get a bit of glazing in because the bug had about 70 tiles in the kiln and we might glaze together.

bisque