Archive for August, 2009

Those Sheep Are So Phony…

August 31, 2009

My friend Ig sent me some pictures yesterday… they are made of discard telephones. A somewhat different model than the ones I grew up with but I remember the rotary dials and the coiled cords. I actually held out (in a curmudgeonly manner) quite a long time and although my phone was touch tone, it still had a 25 foot coiled cord up until about 10 years ago. When talking the cord would get tangled up and knock things off the table and the dog would get caught in it. Ironically when I finally had had enough and got a cordless phone mounted on the wall right where the old one was, I ended up standing next to the wall unit even though there was no cord. It didn’t occur to me that I was doing this until at least a year had passed. Anyway, apparently some of those old phones went out to pasture…

phonysheep

Here’s my latest upload to Etsy (clicking the 1st pic goes to Etsy the next enlarges)…

bowl

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Too Nice To Be Bloggin’…

August 30, 2009

It’s 60 degrees and I have the bug all day. It’s August in Kentucky… can’t believe the temperate weather this summer. Someone’s cutting down a tree across the street, not sure why because there weren’t any that need to come down. Urbanites get freaked out about trees, not sure why… I think they are looking for a guarantee against future damage. If only I could see the future so accurately. Here’s a chocolaty bowl that I listed on Etsy today (clicking 1st pic goes to Etsy & the others enlarge)…

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Anyway, here’s a bunch of cups with different experimental glaze combos on many of them. Some worked better than others.

cups

Going to go outside now… and miles to go before I blog, and miles to go before I blog.

Bug Time/New Pot…

August 29, 2009

It’s going to be a nice weekend with the bug. Supposed to rain a bit today but the temp is going to drop and tomorrow an autumn-ish 75 degree high. Went to the new location of Sergio’s last night with Mom and had 3 beers from the over 1000 to choose from. They were very good and all rather hoppy… yum. I have one blue and white vase left from the 20 or so I made a while back and decided to take pictures of it since the picture I have on the “Vases – Blue and White” page is a bit washed out. Anyway I decided to put a couple pots on etsy every day for a while since I have pictures of everything and so I listed the last blue and white vase…

blueandwhitevase

Here’s another newly fired bowl. I have all these shots of the same piece and it seems wasteful to have them all shot and not use them. So here’s another bowl from different “hangles”…

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Three Sisters…

August 28, 2009

Finally got the pics in the can as they say in the photography world… or is it the movie world? Anyway they’re not in the can they’re on the harddrive. Processing starts tomorrow as I shot them with the highest resolution my camera can go and that means to use them on the web they will have to be “res-ed” down. Thanks to everyone who had advice and if I didn’t follow it this time, I will next time. I got the feeling since I ended up shooting everything twice as it is that I could shoot endlessly as long as I keep noticing things and start understanding more about the lights. Here’s a picture of the three fat sisters…

cups

This shot was taken early and has really hot areas where the light is not diffused at all. The cups have been re-shot but not grouped together like this. I have to say that although in general I’m supposed to be diffusing the light to keep the it from obscuring details of the pot, I find that some highlights are essential to indicate the glossiness or lack thereof on the pot. Also a hot spot on the side of a textured bowl allows the viewer to get an idea of the tactile quality of the piece. Well, since this was only my second time shooting and first with this camera, I feel like I have learned a lot and have a good place to start next time. Also, I think I’m ready to give the new Canon a big thumbs up as it was easy to shoot manually, set a custom white balance and the 2 batteries lasted quite some time.

I Feel Like A (Pot)parazzi…

August 27, 2009

Instead of standing in a crowd yelling “Brad” or “Angelina” or “Elvis” and adding to the decline of civilization, I’m merely standing/sitting behind the tripod yelling “damn hot spots” or “shite, I scratched my graduated background again” or going upstairs and loading it all on the computer only to find a porcelain-ish fingerprint on the rim that I couldn’t see because my reading glasses make the LCD picture on the back of the camera clear but the pot’s just a blur when I look up from said camera. I guess it’s difficult to portray this kind of work as anything but tedious but I’ve got experience with that. Here’s some chocolaty goodness from every angle (or as they say in the south… hangle)…

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More of the same today.

More Scrabble Babble…

August 26, 2009

We had another round of Super Scrabble last night. It was a rip-roaring game until the last hour or so as I jumped out to a big lead in the beginning (this is usually ominous) and had it slowly whittled away until it was tied after about 2 hours or so. Then I got a damn Z I couldn’t play and I actually dumped it three times and kept getting it back. I didn’t actually find a place for it until the my penultimate play. That along with the ICIC’s doomed me, of course, Terry played a great game as always…

scrabble

I spent yesterday fighting with my camera. I got things so they looked pretty good but when I came upstairs and loaded them into photoshop and zoomed up to 100%, they all had a “grainy” quality. If you’re a photoshop user you would have probably identified what was going on in the background as a kind of noise pattern. This was the first time I had used my new camera to shoot work and was starting to feel as though maybe I had purchased the wrong one but after fiddling around with it for quite some time, I realized that the ISO had somehow been set to 800. Not sure if I inadvertently set it that high or the munchkin got hold of it or what but I reset it down to 100 and the noise went away. Then I went to move my flood light with the Eiko 250 watt, 3200 Kelvin bulb and the bulb blew. I went to the camera store to get more and they informed me that you cannot move this kind of light until after the bulb has cooled because the filament is incredibly fragile when hot. I’m sure all you photo experts knew this but I didn’t until then. Home again, home again and start all over with new bulbs and new settings. Things are starting to come together but I think next time I get a graduated background, I’m gonna get white to black instead of gray to black or maybe it’s another brand because there’s a blue tint to the gray that I can’t seem to get rid of. So here’s the same pot I posted yesterday, I’m pretty pleased with this one (click to enlarge as always)…

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Photography Schmotography…

August 25, 2009

That’s just another way of saying a pox on ye photography and I used that title twice already. Maybe I just need a better attitude going into it. Lighting drives me batty. Maybe tomorrow. Here’s a couple trying to get the light right without the proper background.

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bowlBowl came out nice though… if only I could convey it through photography.

Matt And Dave’s Clay…

August 24, 2009

A while back Matt sent me some of Matt and Dave’s Porcelain For The People and I did a post about how I thought it threw. Although a bit different from the clay I’m used to which I would expect with any new clay, my overall feeling was that it was an excellent throwing porcelain. That being said, it was only a relatively small part of how I abuse clay so I withheld judgment until it went through the gauntlet. I decide to beat the hell out of it (at least metaphorically). First, it was thrown thin and then the foot trimmed just as I always do. Then I put on a layer of resist and usually I’m pretty gingerly at this point because I’m not trying to etch it too deeply because I know I’m gonna etch it again and the pot isn’t thick enough, but in this case I really etched it quite deep. I was trying to find out how the resist held up and how the clay responded to “hydro-abrasion”. Two big thumbs up here as it worked very well on both counts. Then after drying completely, I applied more resist and did it again and still it held up extremely well, in fact some areas that were left were extremely thin, maybe 1/16″ – 3/32″ in places. I felt this would be interesting when I gripped the bisque pot with some glazing tongs. After the bisque, the pot was a bright white, even a touch brighter than what I currently use. For glazing I dipped it once, then applied wax all over the piece, wiped away the exposed areas and redipped again after drying. It was fired to ^6 and down-fired to 1500 degrees F. I have to say that Matt and Dave’s clay’s performance was excellent during the entire process. Here’s several pics of the same pot…

M&D01

M&D02

M&D03

M&D04

M&D05

Photography this week, which I hate but it will be nice to get it out of the way and upload some pots to Etsy.

And Pandemonium Ensued…

August 23, 2009

The cousins stopped in yesterday. It wasn’t as long a visit as I had hoped but long enough to unload the kiln with my brother and for Sofia to play with her cousins and her cousins’ friend from NY. Sofia loves her cousins and and the dog loves everybody so all this high energy resulted in piles of kids and dog. This is the least blurry picture I could get because of all the squirming around…

sofia_nieces

And I couldn’t just post one of the album covers so here’s another fave…

albumcover

I actually knew people with haircuts like the guy with the axe (it really looks like a bike or motorcycle helmet) but unfortunately I was not blessed with that type of hair. I would have given anything to have been a fly on the wall when this “concept” was agreed upon. At least they could have had a tree nearby instead of leaving the viewer to decide which of the other members of the band the axe dude wielded his weapon on.

Busy Bug Day…

August 22, 2009

Just a quick post, 63 degrees out this morning and we’re going to walk the dog. Then we’ll unload the kiln, I peeked in and it looked like it fired correctly. Then my brother and nieces are coming to visit. Here’s one that I was working on yesterday. It’s kinda ’50’s-jazz-album-coverish don’t ya think?

greenware

Using an irresistible segue, someone posted this list the other day of the all time worst album covers. Here’s one of my faves, one that would probably really cheer you up on a one of your down days…

friendsdead

Kiln Is Firing Again…

August 21, 2009

I was going to fire two nights ago but they forecasted storms, then there weren’t any. Same forecast again yesterday and for the next 3 days so I just figured I may as well do it because I didn’t want to wait 4 days anyway. After this load… photography, which I don’t enjoy, but might some day if I ever figure out the lighting. My brother is visiting from central NY state and he’ll be here tonight or tomorrow. He’s really depositing my niece to college but I’m hoping somewhere in there that he and I can sneak off to Sergio’s to try to decide which 3 beers to get out of the 1000 he has now. He is open finally but I haven’t made it in yet. Yesterday, did some more work on greenware that I won’t be able to bisque until I make more work (throw), here’s an action shot…

greenware

Here’s one of the bowls that I like from the last firing that I will be taking better (hopefully) pictures of next week. The bigger pictures that display after clicking on these seems less blurry to me…

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Guacamole Time’s A’ Comin’…

August 20, 2009

Sofia was sitting on the porch when the mail came today and she gave birth to 6 huge avocados. Actually, Miri sent them from their tropical paradise backyard in Puerto Rico. If you go to Nick and Miri’s blog you can see videos of Nick getting mangoes out of their tree and hacking coconuts in half with a machete as well as all the clay making that goes on there. Miri recently did a pretty exhaustive post on some cone 6 glazes that is well worth a look if you fire to cone 6 oxidation. Anyway, thank you both so much for the package and Sofia says thanks too. The avocados aren’t ripe yet which is good and they will no doubt all ripen simultaneously which will require big bags of corn chips, beer and …. GUACAMOLE! Here’s the bug with the bounty…

sofia

Miri knows that Sofia is big into tile making and was very gracious in sending Sofia one of her lovely tiles. Sofia was beside herself with the little drawstring bag that it came in and since it had a magnet on the back, she decided it was the sun to hold up her winter scene collage on the refrigerator. Thanks again Miri

sofia

Clay and Beer, Like Florida And Sunshine…

August 19, 2009

No rain yesterday, what a surprise… I have to hand it to the forecasters. So I didn’t have to play leak detective. Got most of a kilnload glazed and should be able to load it today short of a couple of those crawly experiments. What a persnickety glaze, a touch too thick and it falls off and too thin, it doesn’t crawl. And then when it’s over some glazes it looks like demonic froth. It does, however, make a really nice matte surface. If it didn’t, I’m not sure I would be sacrificing all these cups to find out if I can make it work. Here’s one of the matte ones…

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Jeff Campana and I had some beer last night and talked of all things clay. It amuses me when potters get together and don’t have to curb their enthusiasm for talking pots. Once we went to lunch, 4 potters and one of the potters’ friend that wasn’t a potter. The initial frenzy of conversation went from firing to glazes to kilns to technique to shows and I looked over at the non-potter friend and was wondering… he must think we’re crazy. It’s very nice every once in a while to talk shop as opposed to working away at home in seclusion (save the internet). We talked about beer too which is always a hot subject. He told me about this annual event in Madison, Wisconsin called Beerfest where hundreds of brewers have booths and taps and you pay to enter and go around with a wee cup tasting beers all day. I was assured that I would be able to sample 100 different IPA’s if I wanted or as they say in the south… if’n i had a hankerin’ to. This set my mind a’reelin’ to figure out how to have a vacation in Madison during this event and I think it’s in August to boot which means a break from the summer baking in Kentucky. Anyway, it was fun and here’s one of the new pots from the last firing…

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It’s Gwine Take A Leak Detective…

August 18, 2009

My basement has finally dried from last time and I was thinking maybe in a day or two I could build a wee parapet around the base of the furnace with that hydraulic cement… but I looked at the forecast and it’s gonna rain for 3 days straight. Hard to believe considering the amount of rain this year already. Last week I went outside the house to explore my last hypothesis about where the water was coming from and all along the wall where I thought it might be coming in was bone dry. My friend is building a website for one of these basement leak fixing companies and while going through the info on the site told me he read that sometimes the water comes from underneath and can be virtually untraceable as far as where to look for repair. Of course they would say that. So I guess when it starts to pour, I’ll set up a little chair and play leak detective waiting for the river to emerge. I hope it’s not from under the big workbench that blocks most of the wall on the side that seems to be where it’s coming from because it will take me days to figure out where to put all that stuff and how to get the bench out of the way as there’s not that much room in the basement to begin with.

basement

Here’s the four different colors I have so far for the little squares bowls…

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From Demon’s Vomit To Chocolat <– It's French…

August 17, 2009

After my last glaze firing, I had decided that the chocolat glaze worked well with the black underglaze so I put it on a couple different designs. I was particularly interested in the little squares design imagining them with the same glaze but different hues. Anyway here’s the chocolat glaze with the little squares…

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I think I’ve tried the crawly glaze over the top of six of my workhorse glazes. If I factor in that some have the same base glaze then it’s only over 4 different glazes but the range of how the crawly glaze acts is pretty dramatic. Yesterday I posted the Demon’s Vomit cup which represents the not cooperative end of the spectrum, then there’s a couple in the middle and then others where it was on pretty thick but didn’t crawl, just made the glaze underneath go matte. This is not a bad thing because I like an easy way to get a matte glaze. Then there’s this one where the glaze underneath has lots of FeO (10% if I remember correctly) and I’m not sure if I like it or not but since the crawly glaze didn’t have any problems sticking, I might give it a go with a thicker application.

cup

Much Ado About Nothing…

August 16, 2009

Well, not exactly nothing but the pots look fine or should I say they look like they’ve gone through my normal firing but… I still have no idea why my total firing time as displayed on my computer controller is more than an hour short. Can’t really think of anything I can do except maybe replacing the thermocouples but the pots fired the way they were supposed to. I didn’t have time to get pics but I couldn’t resist on one wee experiment. Remember this mug?

crawly

I was worried that the glaze would flake off and make a glaze puddle that I’d have to dig out of my kiln shelf. That didn’t happen but check this out…

cup

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Now here is where those years of ceramic experience are able to provide insight when I could never have figured this out when I was younger… these two glazes were not meant to be put one on top of t’other. That being said I’m kind of drawn to it in a way. I’m not a big glaze namer and calling my last experiment Chocolat (<–French) was… well, it was meant to be but this one, so many come to mind. How about Poisonous Frog Skin or Satan's Froth or Demon's Vomit. I don't actually believe in hell but I can picture Cerberus taking a break from guarding the 3rd ring (the one I'd end up in where all the gluttons go) in Dante's quaint tale, drinking some fine java (Fair Trade of course) out of a mug with this glaze. Of course I could go the other direction and try to make it seem more desirable with Teal Lava or Sensational Sencha Effervescence or Melted Pistachio Sorbet but now that I've said the icky ones, they'll stick in our heads and there's no turning back. Robin's Egg Hocker?

Just A Wee Peek…

August 15, 2009

It’s Friday night and I’m writing part of this because I have the bug all weekend and it’s getting more difficult to do a blog entry before walking the dog and all the other errands of a Saturday. Since it’s still Friday, I haven’t been able to take a wee peek in the kiln yet. In yesterday’s post I fretted about a bit unusual kiln behavior and am worried about whether tis or tisn’t gwine ruin my whole load. I’m not superstitious so I don’t have anything crossed but the waiting is killing me… I’m sure all you potters are familiar with this feeling. Anyway, the bug’s on the mend but not 100%, she is however, milking the kinder, gentler parents for everything she can. Mom made her pancakes for dinner tonight and she sat on the counter next to her and added all the ingredients herself. When the pancakes were finished and put on a plate awaiting the maple syrup, she looked up at Mom and said…”could you accidentally put too much syrup on those?” I busied myself decorating some of the bigger bowls yesterday while pretending not to be preoccupado with the kilnload in the dungeon. These are all about 12 – 13 inches in diameter, of course, they will probably shrink an inch…

greenware

Here’s another bowl from the last kilnload that I hadn’t posted yet although it is that familiar yellow and black combination…

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The Braidy Bunch…

August 14, 2009

It was one of those days yesterday. The bug woke up early with a bug, headache and fever. Dad had to lie down for quite some time and get her to go back to sleep. I felt a little funny myself too. Mom took her to the pediatrician and I started loading the kiln. Later they were playing on the couch and Sofia just fell asleep, here’s a pic of sleeping beauty…

sofia

Sunglasses even seemed a little subdued… here she is docile as can be with the sleeping demon inside.

sunglasses

We did, however, find something that the demon dog does not like. I was cooking rice for stir fry and didn’t want to have the rice cooker, which vents off steam, fill up the nice cool kitchen with that steam… so I snaked an extension cord out the window of my studio and put the rice cooker on the little back porch. Sunglasses had to go do her thing (COP) in the back yard and when we opened the door to let her out, she was afraid to pass the evil rice cooker. I wish I had known earlier, we could have put the rice cooker on the couch whenever we left the house. Later Mom put some braids in Sofia’s hair and of course that means everyone has to have braids. She would have done the dog’s if her hair wasn’t so short…

braidy

Obviously Mom doesn’t want me taking her picture. So the kiln just went off and I guess I’ll unload sometime on Saturday, although a strange thing happened and I’m not gonna be able to relax until then. I didn’t look at and remember the time when I turned the kiln on but I think the temp was at 68 when I hit “on” and I thought it was around 5:00. I went to the dungeon at about 6:15 and the temp was at 444. The program (from memory) goes to 200 at 100 degrees/hour and holds it for either 10 minutes or half an hour. Then it proceeds way past 444 at 300 degrees/hour. So at 100/hour, it would have taken almost 1 1/2 hours just to get to 200. I could be not remembering the time but doubt I could be that far off and then I kept going down to see if it was acting squirrelly in some other way. It seemed to follow the program after that and I was starting to think maybe I just imagined it or didn’t get the start time correct but when the computer controller is done with the firing, it flashes the total duration of the firing and it is over an hour shorter than most firings. I guess I’ll find out in a day or so.

When It Rains, I’m Poor…

August 13, 2009

Well, it all started one Monday evening. We let Sofia stay over at the grandparents’ house and went out to dinner and a concert. There’s a first time for everthing. But what to do about the dog? She’s completely ruined our couch and it’s not like it’s gonna be fixable but on the other hand we don’t want to let her continue to have a styrofoam and stuffing orgy every time we leave the house. Here’s the solution we’ve come up with since then…

barricade

The pic isn’t so good because of the light coming in the window. But that night we decide… put her on the tether in the back yard. What we didn’t do was check the weather… it’s not so much out of neglect, but more that the curmudge in me believes that the weather forecasters don’t seem to know if it’s gonna rain until they’re wet. So off we go and right as we arrive at the theater, it starts to rain. We thought about it for a minute (actually I was preoccupied with it during the entire opening act) and decided that a little water was going to hurt her. After the concert we raced home to let her in and it turns out the storm was much worse than we thought. Sunglasses acted relieved that we hadn’t moved to another state and left her in the back yard forever but she was a little worse for wear. We had to carry her immediately to the bathtub and wash her off because she was covered with mud. Here’s the little demon with her new toy, doesn’t look like she trusts me anymore…

sunglasses

Then I realized that the electricity had gone out and some outlets still weren’t working so I went and reset the breakers. Everything fine right? Nope, the phone didn’t work which means the internet connection didn’t work. Then I checked the basement and there’s over an inch of standing water. The next morning I call the phone company and the guy shows up in the afternoon and was here for at least 4 hours. After doing all the work outside, including trimming 2 trees, he comes to the door and says… “well, you’re all set, I’ll called your phone, did you hear it?” Nope. He looks at the phone and interchanges plugs and calls and listens to dial tones and finally, “your phone’s fried… you need a new one.” But you internet should be working. I said let me check before you leave and he says… “no problem, but I’m sure it’s working, you’ve got a dial tone.” I boot up the computer and open a browser… nope. “Hmmm” he says, about an hour and a half later the diagnosis is that my modem is fried and the ethernet port on my mac is kaput. So I’ve been down for almost 3 days and the storm’s casualties include a traumatized dog (my fault), fried phones, fried modem, fried ethernet port… and I thought I was gonna glaze. Coincidentally, while I was incommunicado, Heidi Fahrenbacher mentioned me on her fine blog and that I post almost daily and of course anyone who visited from her blog noticed that I hadn’t for days. Thank you Heidi if you’re reading this. All that being said, the concert was one of the top 3 concerts I’d ever seen… it was fantastic and seemed tailor-made for me except the part where the leader of the band got everyone to stand up for the second half of the concert. Mr. Old Man Plantar Fasciitis was in some serious pain. The opening band was named Blind Pilot and we liked them alot… they managed to combine great vocals with the normal instruments but with the added distinction of a trumpet, banjo and xylophone thrown in. The main act was the Decemberists who I was only made aware of 6 months ago. It was like a bolt from the blue when I first heard them and I love their music, especially the writing which I haven’t heard the likes of in many years. They played their last CD from start to finish and it was more like an operetta than separate songs. It was a stunning execution of a 45 minute CD with different characters singing different parts. After break, they played some of the older songs. There were 2 female vocalists (they also played instruments) that sang during the first half of the concert and for an encore they were brought back out. I was sitting down because my feet hurt so bad and couldn’t see, then Colin Meloy, the band’s leader started playing the guitar and I turned to my friend and said… “what’s that? I know this.” At first I thought it was hilarious that they were actually going to cover Heart’s “Crazy On You”, but when those two women started wailing, it sent shivers up my spine. Watching the band play and horse around made me envious that anyone gets to have that much fun. Colin Meloy ended the evening by having 4 of the band members wade into the audience at about the 4th row and he narrated a horse race with one guy as Sea Biscuit and a couple as the owners and one woman was a squirrel that also became Sea Biscuit’s jocket. Completely adlibbing, he ended the little horse race with a meteor crashing into Kentucky and destroying it and most of the continental United States. Everyone was laughing and no one seemed to want it to end. Anyway, glazing away and was wondering if any crawly glaze people think this one’s gonna flake off and ruin my shelf…

crawly

Glaze Sloshin’ Comin’…

August 10, 2009

I think I have enough bisqueware for two glaze firings and that’s what I’ll be doing this week. The bisque came out fine with a couple pieces that have great potential. Today won’t be too productive though, probably spend most of it sorting out pieces and trying to decide which glazes go with which pots. Then, tantara please… Mom and I and two friends are going to dinner and a concert. This will be the first time since Sofia’s been born that she will be spending the night away from us. Although I don’t really relish that thought so much, it will be novel to actually go out and not hurry home. So we’re gonna put Sunglasses in a kitchen chair and duct tape her paws to the chair’s legs and tape her mouth shut like they do with hostages in movies. Then we are going to see the Decemberists and I cannot wait. I’ve been waiting my whole life to find a band that plays music like this or should I say writes music like this. I was introduced to them late after they had already released 5 CD’s (how out of touch is that?) and now I have them all and think they’re all great. Anyway, it should be fun fun fun and here’s one of those bisque pots with potential…

bisque

bisque