Archive for March, 2010

999.00 “Jar” Revisited…

March 30, 2010

About a year ago Sofia and I stopped by a local nursery to get Mom a butterfly bush for her birthday and I posted about my surprise when I noticed a tall ceramic piece for sale for 999.00. Here’s that post. Well I was out at a retail place yesterday that sells my pots to take a picture of a certain bowl that a customer wants multiples of. I stopped at the same nursery on the way home to see how much some arbor vitae might run and found out that they grow too tall for what I wanted them for. Anyway, as I was leaving I saw the same pot (although in the original post I said it was blue and it’s red… not sure if it’s a different pot or that there were so many other blue ones around that I just remembered it wrong). I also remembered that Michael Kline commented on that post and was wanting a picture of the pot to better evaluate it’s worth and I realized that, indeed, I have my camera in my pocket…

What makes me think that it’s the same pot and not the blue one I mentioned in the post last year is first of all… it’s still there, no one bought a 999.00 imported pot from the nursery! The other thing that makes me think it’s the same pot is the label which says, “Glazed Tema Jar Volcanic Red”, is weathered to the point that it’s difficult to read the magic marker…

It’s gonna be a beautiful day today so I can’t get stuck going here and watching the NCECA pre-conference demos being held at Montgomery County Community College. I tuned in twice yesterday and tried not to stay too long but there’s something about watching potter make things. That being said, in the comment from Michael Kline I mentioned above, he sent me a great link of his favorite flower pot guy, Guy Wolff. I love this video and am constantly amazed that he just talks like he’s in a conversation with you while centering and throwing a 12 lb. hunk of clay, I’d be breathing hard and have to stop and take a breath…

And of course, here’s a picture of Sofia’s new favorite hand-me-down socks with articulated toes. She loves them but needs me or Mom to help her get her little toes into the little toe sections…

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Easter Schmeaster But Thankie Pysanky…

March 29, 2010

I don’t know, I may have mentioned before that I hate holidays and the only good thing about Easter is that the weather is usually nicer than it’s been in a long time. Well, yesterday, Sofia and I were invited over to our good friends, Susie, Jeff and Holden’s home to spend the better part of the day making pysanky. Pysanky are Ukranian easter eggs and the process consists of decorating eggs using a wax resist similar to batik. The process is also similar in ways to a particular hydro-abrasion process that a certain potter uses on his wares. What one needs nowadays is a pysanky kit (I think you can get them online) which you only need really for the dyes and the little wax styluses… then you need candles, beeswax, raw eggs and plenty of patience. I love doing this because we showed up at around 10 and there was coffee, bagels and fruit and we sat around a big table sometimes chatting but mostly quietly and intently decorating our eggs. Before I knew it, it was 4 in the afternoon.

I often romanticize about this sort of thing because it reminds me of the manner in which previous generations entertained themselves before television. Usually, I think about it in terms of playing cards, especially poker, because as a boy I would wander over to my grandparents’ home which was the same house as I was in and there would be a poker game going at least 3 or 4 days a week. The regulars from the neighborhood might drop in or maybe it was just family but it was always a festive atmosphere and it became clear to me in later years that it wasn’t so much about the card game as it was about an activity that required everyone to stay put, focus on a common thing and socialize. So anyway, here’s a picture of the styluses or styli, you put little pieces of beeswax in the tiny cup on the end and hold it over a candle until the wax starts to flow, then you draw with the wax on your egg…

OK, so here’s the process in a nutshell… you draw with wax on an egg and dye it, then you add more wax and dye it again and repeat until you’re done and then you melt the wax that’s accumulated and wipe it off with a napkin. After that you carefully put holes in the ends of the egg and blow out the insides. Later, varnish is applied to all the eggs. So, if you start with a white egg, for instance and you draw a big “X” on it and dye it yellow, at that point you will have a yellow egg with a white “X”. Then if you draw your name above the “X” and dye it orange, the orange will cancel out the yellow and you will have an orange egg with your name in yellow and a white “X”. If you add circles all over the egg and dye it in green, you will have a green egg with orange circles, yellow name and white “X”. And so on and so on… so most people dye from light dyes to dark dyes because once you put a dark dye on, you can’t really get it to be lighter after that. This is similar to the shellac technique that it used on my pots because you have to think backwards a bit if you’re gonna do more than one layer of shellac. So here’s some pysanky-ers intent on their eggs…

And here’s the dye station with dyes segregated into lighter and darker…

And of course it always makes me happy to see children playing with fire (right Gordo?)…

It takes quite a while to complete one pysanka because you have to constantly immerse the stylus in the flame and load up the little cup with wax. I was there for 6 hours and only completed 3 and of course some get lost while the innards are being blown out, some get lost from merely dropping them on the table, some get broken when little girls play with them and some get squished when you’re rubbing the wax off after the dying is finished like this one…

So here’s the a couple shots of the finished ones up until the time we left…

And of course Sofia was way to impatient to make pysanky and the process is a bit abstract for her still (maybe next year) but Susie was gracious enough to help her use some different techniques to dye like just drawing on hard-boiled eggs with a crayon, then dying and using food coloring to do a rolling tie-dye method in a colander. Keeping her busy resulted in almost 2 dozen eggs that Sofia dyed. She was beside herself and loved playing with the dyes. When she wasn’t doing that she was harassing the dog named Simone that Jeff calls Skeletor. Here’s Sofia’s collection…

And, They’re Off…

March 28, 2010

Yesterday was an absolutely perfect day. It was 65, sunny and breezy and it was a bug day. The day started with Jeff Campana, who graciously agreed to drive my pots along with his to Chicago, showing up at about 10 to load my pots into his car. I have to admit that there was a strange anticlimactic feeling as Jeff drove away. I’m sure I’m not alone but after 3 months of work towards a goal and hurriedly packing it all in boxes and then it’s just over… kinda. We were up earlier and while we were waiting, Sofia was trying to fly off the stump…

I was in such a mad rush to get everything together that I don’t have any good shots of the pots. Here they are all sprawled out on tables and then in boxes…

After Jeff headed out, Sofia and I set out for some coffee, tea and pomme frites. I struggled with the NYT saturday crossword puzzle and then we headed home. Our neighbor who rescues Great Pyrenees dogs (you may remember from this post) has gotten another batch of pups… 6 this time. I didn’t take my camera but they were all outside and the puppy spectacle has turned into nothing short of a neighborhood tourist attraction. We were merely looking through the fence at the pups when the owner came home, then a girl from down the street, then 5 boys on bicycles stopped, then a lady and her daughter driving by, then a couple with their two kids that were interested in adopting showed up, then the first girl’s aunt and uncle. All these people and us were inside these peoples’ yard petting puppies. The two strangest things to me were first that because the pups were 5 male and 1 female, they named them after the 5 University of Kentucky basketball team’s starters and they named the girl Ashley Judd. The 5 boys that stopped by while out riding their bicycles were very approving of the name choices. btw, UK lost last night to WV. The other thing that only a curmudge like myself would find strange is that all 5 of these 9 or 10 year old boys had cell phones with them as they were out marauding the neighborhood and at one time they were all going from pup to pup taking pictures of the dogs with their phones… whatever dudes, what, do you have a blog or something? After this, bug and I went shopping for some fruit because she wanted a smoothie. When we got home we made smoothies with grapefruit, strawberries, bananas, ice and a little lemon juice. One thing that makes smoothies even more enjoyable to Sofia is if she can drink it out of a wine glass so we headed out to the porch…

The green stuff in the smoothie is mint. I have mint growing in the flower garden and like to use it for tabbouleh and Sofia eats it all the time. She found a bunch of little sprigs coming up and put the mint in her smoothie, here she’s stirring it in…

Then we took a really long walk with Dingus and laid in the grass in the sun and the bug ran around flapping her arms saying she’s a butterfly. It really couldn’t have been a better day…

Prof Proof From Back In The Day…

March 25, 2010

The internet is a very strange and amazing phenomenon. I was on Facebook the other night and checked a friend’s page. My friend happened to be my drawing teacher back in 1978 at Murray State University. I noticed a post from the “Old Murray Art Students” group and thought, I’m an old Murray art student. Anyway I went to look and art department alumni have been uploading pictures from back in the day. I was there from 1977-1982 and there was a surprising dearth of pictures from that period but I did recognize people that were juniors and seniors at the time I was a freshman. Then I came across these two pictures that I just love. What are the chances that I could find a picture that had not 1 but 2 people in it that left such an indelible mark on my life representing 8 of 9 years of college life. The best part is that neither of them look out of their 20’s. Now I’m not sure of the chronology or details so I apologize to both of them if I get it wrong but Fred Shepard, my first ceramics instructor, taught ceramics at MSU for a very long time and he was a great teacher and a very funny guy and apparently he had either hired Tom Walsh, my eventual graduate sculpture instructor, or was instrumental in his becoming a teacher at MSU. I had always known that they knew each other but they both always talked like it was centuries ago. So here’s the two pics I found…

There are so many things about these photos that crack me up, not the least of which is how young both of them are. But also there’s the posed nature of them all gathered around these crazy pots from way back when (my guess is early 60’s but could’ve been earlier) and of course the three bohemians are on the left side of the first shot. The telltale signs of this bohemian beatnik look are the mustaches, lack of crew cuts and of course the PIPES! I can’t tell if the woman on the right wants to kill them or give them haircuts. Anyway, Fred eventually sent me to Montana to do ceramics with Rudy and after 1 year I transferred to SIU-C and studied sculpture with Tom for 3 years. Both of these men were forces of nature in their own way, are retired and continue to make pots and sculpture. In other news, I met up with Jeff Campana shortly last evening and he told me that he will be spending the summer at the Archie Bray Foundation. Congratulations Jeff! Last but not least, here’s the birthday card Sofia picked out for me…

Mom got me a coat and when she told Sofia about it she thought she said a goat. So the bug thought for a bit that I was getting a goat for my birthday and was concerned about where we’d keep it and how Dingus would get along with it. What if Sunglasses chews on it’s horns? Going to unload the kiln.

Club 52 Is History…

March 24, 2010

It’s my birthday today and I’m the youngest of the 4 friends that all went to school together and meet on each others’ birthdays. We went out last night while my last kilnload before the show delivery was firing to conclude Club 52… the next meeting in June or July will be the 1st of Club 53. Yesterday, the bug wouldn’t let me go out in the front yard while I was loading the kiln, until she said it was ok. When I was allowed out, she was excited to present me with a pink hyacinth that she picked out for me to add to the fragrant purple ones that are blooming in the garden…

She is way more excited about me turning 52 than I am. So I met the gang last night, here’s the motley crew…

I came home with assorted booty. One thing was the John Fahey CD that I’m listening to as I type this and there is this pocket knife that’s carved out of wood…

I also received this ceramic fuse with purple and yellow glaze. I apologize for the photo and not being able to get a real definitive pic but the camera was flashing “low batteries” and I didn’t want to have to wait to charge them to write this post. Interestingly, inside of the fuse is a small piece of kiln element. The bug decided that she was going to be a monster for this shot, pretty convincing…

Perhaps the strangest gift was a self portrait that I did when I was a mere 20 years old. It’s truly a strange sensation to see something that, quite frankly, I don’t have any recollection of but at the same time have no doubt that it’s mine. Why and how my friend had it is an unanswerable question. Sofia likes it though, probably because I was making a face. Here’s a closeup…

While we were at the tavern (more like a restaurant though), a young couple was sitting a couple tables over trying to roll cigarettes and noticed that my friend rolled his own cigarettes. The girl eventually came over to the table and asked if we could teach her how to roll. It’s so nice that us old guys had some valuable information to impart to the young and of course my friend was none too happy to demonstrate and elaborate the finer points of density and tightness of the roll. Alas, it’s a lost generation that doesn’t know how to roll their own cigarettes…

So it’s lunch with the bug and Mom today and maybe I can open the kiln first thing tomorrow morning, then select pieces and pack them.

P V (C)ontraption…

March 23, 2010

You may remember if you happened to catch an earlier post where I showed my pvc glazing cup holder thingie…

Well I decided that I’d like to do the same thing with some bowls and see how it worked but to balance a 12″ bowl on a single point didn’t seem like a good idea especially when I considered the dumping of glaze onto the precariously balanced bowl. So that means that the pvc stand has to have 3 points for the inside of the bowl to rest on, so off to home depot and add a little support to the base as well…

Here it is in action and I have to admit that it worked like a charm. You can set the bowl a touch off center so that the glaze tends to ride along the rim of the bowl and collect on one side instead of droplets spaced all around the perimeter…

Glaze firing tonight and beers too.

My Body Lies Over The Ocean…

March 22, 2010

I’ll start by saying that I absolutely love traditional Irish music. The other day Sofia went to spend the afternoon at her grandparents house and after she returned we got in the car to go somewhere and before she was even buckled in she started up with the… “can we play that new music, can we put on the new music?”. Her favorites have changed over the years from Counting Crows to Ani DiFranco to Third Eye Blind so I’ve been glad so far that it hasn’t been Raffi (or whatever his name is) or Alvin and the Chipmunks. So I turn to Mom and say what new music is she talking about and Mom says, “oh, my Mom gave her a disc by some guy I never heard of, it’s Irish music”. This peaks my interest but I’m skeptical of grandmommy Irish music being the Irish music I know and love. Mom follows this by saying that she played about 4 songs but it was so bad she couldn’t stand it any longer and had to turn it off. I thought, what the hell? and fished around for the CD cover. It was a Mitch Miller sings Irish songs CD. Showing my age, I say that I actually remember the “Sing Along With Mitch” show from when I was a kid. I also remember hating it but I was very young and we had the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. So I start up the car and Sofia shouts out… “play the song about my body over the ocean” and Mom says it’s #4 on the disc. We motor off and a men’s choir starts singing “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”. It’s really awful and it harkens back to a simpler time (and I don’t mean that in a good way) that about half our population seems to long for when this kind of thing passed for high entertainment. On the one hand I’m thinking… gag me with a spoon but on the other I was surprised that I knew all the words (actually I think the Beatles covered this tune early on, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it). When I remember stuff like this, it really makes me wish that our brains had a “compress and defrag” option like on a computer hard drive because I guess my head is so packed full of useless information that it doesn’t have enough room any more for information like… where I set my damn reading glasses. The CD went on to “School Days” (not school daze) and “Tura lura lura” and I knew most of these lyrics too although I was surprised to hear in “School Days” that the narrator starts by reminiscing about school where they used a hickory stick as discipline but the last verse ended up in New York City. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the bug getting tired of this favorite. Here she is playing in her sand box, it’s spring…

Here’s a rare picture of Mom, she was working in the back yard while Sofia was playing…

And of course while I was trying to type out a quick post yesterday, Sofia decided that I was a xmas tree and decorated me as I typed away…

Glazing continues today, bisque came out fine with everything intact.

Care For Some Tom Frites?…

March 21, 2010

It was only a matter of time before having pomme frites at a place owned by a man named Tommy would turn into having Tom frites. My bisque went off yesterday morning and I will be glazing today and this week Dad and bug day was replaced by Dad, Mom and bug day. Mom’s on vacation which will be a slight windfall to get one last glaze firing before the delivery date of Friday. So we all headed down to Tommy’s and had coffee, chamomile tea and pomme frites. Here’s the bug in her element…

Here’s some pics of some of the very last bowls to get into the bisque on Friday. I was in a mad rush to get them etched and slipped to get the bisque started Friday night.

I met Jeff last night to discuss logistics and it looks like I may not be traveling to Chicago with him. He is almost sure he’s gonna hang with some friends and I cannot stay overnight so he offered to just deliver all the pots himself. The best part of this is that it will be more likely that I can justify making a trip up for the closing in April.

Let’s Have A New Rule…

March 19, 2010

First off, who’s this guy?…

It’s Paul Jessop from the United Kingdom visiting Doug Fitch, filming a movie about potters (what could make a better movie than that?) and drinking out of the cup I sent Doug for the secret santa at xmas. Check out their blogs if you have a hankerin’ because there’s a lot of goings on making movies and of course many beautiful pots. I commented on the pic of Paul on FB and he left a comment saying he looked as “rough as a badger’s arse” (got to remember that) but I think Paul looks rather debonair and definitely photogenic. On the 5 year old front we have a policy with the bug that when we start to notice something that we don’t like and want changed we sit her down and say… ok, here’s the new rule and explain what the new rule is and what we expect from her. So Mom’s driving somewhere with Sofia in the back and she announces out of the blue… Let’s have a new rule, much the same way that we do. Mom asks what the rule is and Sofia says… I get to do everything I want to. Saw that coming I guess. Well, it’s T minus 7 days and I have to bisque and glaze fire and pack pots so can’t be spending time up here on the ‘puter. Here’s some greenware that has to be etched today…

Here’s a shot looking through the valley betwixt the mountains of Bowlivia…

Dog Day Afternoon…

March 17, 2010

The dog days of spring have arrived which will be followed in a while by the dog days of summer and then the dog days of autumn. Every year now, we wait for the winter weather to break and look forward to leaving our stuffy cocoons. We decide to eat on the porch or work in the yard and then we realize once again that we have forgotten that with the beautiful rebirth of spring comes the unfathomable inconsiderateness of our neighbors who are now free to put their dogs out in the yard on there way to work to drive us that are either retired, work at home or have non-traditional schedules to long for the country life and fantasize on how to make the incessant barking cease. The person directly across the street has 2 jack russell terriers that will bark at anything and do. They bark at ants, worms, passers by, butterflies, falling leaves, airplanes… basically any sound or movement including each other. They bark for hours on end and they bark in a way that sounds like something catastrophic is happening. The first nice day, my other neighbor came over looking for commiseration as he seemed about to do something rash and this is the normal state of affairs. The jack russells’ owner has been approached and talked to on several occasions and on one occasion her ex-next door neighbor even had a screaming match porch to porch where I heard him yell that she was “the most inconsiderate person he’d ever met”. Luckily for him, he lives somewhere else. All of us have called animal control and pardon the pun but the dog ordinance for the city definitely has more bark than bite. This leaves us to constantly contemplate drastic measures that none of us have the heart to do and after all, we all love dogs and it’s not the dogs that are really at the heart of the problem. Mom has recently started shopping online for little fake birdhouses that emit an ultrasonic noise when a dog barks but I have no idea if they really work and it would only work when the dogs are in the front of the house, not to mention that they run on batteries and since they’re on 24/7, I guess you’d be climbing up in the tree every couple days to change out the batteries. All this has led me to thinking outside the box and I suggested to Mom that the next time the dogs’ owner is out doing yard work that the three of us (she, my other neighbor and me) stand on our porch and bark like dogs really loudly for an hour or so straight. Mom thinks this is hilarious (her funny bone is finely attuned to people acting like dogs and dogs dressed as humans) and insists that she would bark at our neighbor if our other neighbor and I would too but I know us all well enough to know it’s not going to happen. Even if it did, I really think that the neighbor with the dogs is not able to be shamed or it would have happened a long time ago. On the other dog front (next door to us), the neighbors with the 4-6 dogs (depending on events we were never privy to) in a yard barely bigger than our living room have officially moved out. Our new neighbor in that house has one older husky named Zeus that doesn’t bark so I consider that a net gain of 6 less dogs. Here’s the only relic of the old neighbors, the door to the garage (I think it sums things up nicely)…

So had a long day of getting shellacked yesterday and am soon to start another one today, things are starting to accumulate…

There ya go… green-ware on St. Paddy’s day.

The Ides Of March…

March 15, 2010

These damn holidays, they never stop… one right after another ad infinitum ad nauseum. Well, maybe the rest of the country has time to celebrate and take the day off work but I’ll have to forsake Caesar and get shellacked instead. Besides, it ought to be “beware easter” or “beware from late november to january 2nd” and leave poor ol’ ides of march be. Well, quick post today. Sofia and I went to a vegan potluck last night and tasted lots of great food. It was held at Mom’s uncle Ron’s home and everyone brought a dish and 20 copies of their recipe. We showed up with some napa cabbage soup that we’ve been on a kick with lately. Here’s the recipe (I’m pretty sure the cobalt carb is vegan*)…

Sofia ate tons of food and toward the end of the evening got to make a necklace with Mom’s cousins Meaghan and Carly. She was very happy about this and didn’t want to leave. This morning I went down to the kitchen and Mom was making some toast and coffee and Sofia was sitting at the table eating breakfast. We both were facing the counter with our backs to her and she said, Mom, I want a tattoo. I thought it would be a couple years more at least before I heard that. Anyway, here’s another bowl…

* Note: to non-potters, the cobalt carbonate is a joke… you will most likely die if you add this, although not sure why you’d have it on hand.

I’ve Sprung (Not Sprang) Forward…

March 13, 2010

“I’m like a coiled spring of industry”. Yesterday was an atypical half work day. The bug stayed overnight at her grandparent’s house and I got to work until about 3:30 before going to pick her up. I unloaded the kiln in the morning and aside from the mystery glaze that I went back and added the cobalt to thinking that it might work… not working, everything else was fine. I put three re-fires in there and they all worked so I felt better about having those. By afternoon, I really missed the bug. It’s amazing the difference in the house when she’s not there or not on her way there. I was glad when I picked her up that she seemed to miss me as much as I her. We stopped at the brewpub on the way home and her friends that are usually there on Sunday were there on Saturday. I was hoping that they wouldn’t be there because their familiarity has resulted in being less nice and I still don’t respond well to impertinent kids and it’s gotten so I am having to parent them while their parents sit a half a room away, obliviously watching tv and playing on their laptop. So I found myself sitting with 3 kids all coloring. The odd thing to me is that they immediately sit down and ask if I brought the markers and coloring books and then go on to say that at 5:30, they had been there since lunch. Far be it from me to make suggestions to parents but if you’re gonna take your 4 and 8 year old to the brewpub for 6 hours, a pack of magic markers and a couple coloring books would go a long way to keep them occupied while they’re there. So I settled in with my new family and decided to do what I always do… give them a hard time. The eight year old got relatively upset (this is the same one that became annoyed when I told her that I owned everything) when our conversation came around to me stating that we were animals. She was adamant that she was not an animal. I said, well, food goes in one end and poop comes out the other like all animals and you’re covered with hair like all the other mammals. She argued fervently that we were not covered with hair and I said that if she went home and got a magnifying glass she could see little hairs no matter where she looked. She stated that they didn’t have a magnifying glass. Then she asked her 4 year old sister… are you an animal? Her sister immediately replied that she wasn’t and she looked at me and said… see? Who could argue with that? At least my little bug stuck up for me… I think she got irritated that the older girl started saying that I was the weirdest person she had ever met (ad hominen) and she chimed in and said… I’m an animal. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that these girls may go their whole life not realizing that they’re animals. In other news, on Friday while I was holed up in the studio with the door closed, Sofia and her cousins were outside ruining my corylus avellana contorta (contorted filbert/hazel tree). Notice that all the catkins have been removed from the height of the reach of a little girl down to the ground…

Here’s what they did with all the catkins…

I have to admit that I understand the visual appeal of their primitive catkin/rock cairns but I’ve had this tree for 20 years and it’s my favorite plant that we have. In the summer it has beautiful big crepe-like leaves and when the leaves are dropped the branches hold snow and ice in a very dramatic way and they are also all randomly squiggly like the squiggles on my pots. I have no idea if the loss of catkins will harm the plant in the long run but I hope not… (any horticulture people, please weigh in… hint hint Mark). Anyway, got some work done before all this. I’m going to see how much I can decorate by friday, then bisque, then fire and finally deliver. I must say that having the fan in the open window next to my work area is infinitely better than the months upstairs spent with respirator on in the stuffy house. Here’s the big one I got covered yesterday…

As you can see in the background, I did have the company of Dingus McDingus in an otherwise empty house. She slept next to me for most of the day. I decided yesterday was going to be a classical music day and played the 4 Rachmaninoff piano concertos straight through. The funny thing is that in several places during these concertos there is a relatively long flourish of solo piano which ultimately ends with the entire orchestra busting in with a huge loud contrast. Each time the soft tinkling was interrupted by the loud full orchestra, Dingus would be jolted from her deep sleep and jerk her head up to see where the attack was coming from. It got so I looked forward to these passages.

You Say You Know Me And I Say Yunomi…

March 13, 2010

And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye… no, wrong song… let’s call the whole thing off. Here’s the announcement for the AKAR Yunomi 2010 show…

If you would like a sneak peak at the yunomis you can go to this link. There’s tons of people this year (200) as the show gets bigger each year with lots of familiar names. An incredible number of yunomis are sold within the first 24 hours. This is my 4th time at the show which I always look forward to. Here are my cups from the previous 3 years in order…

It’s strange to see a progression like this and then add this year’s to it. I think I like some of the older ones, I may have to revisit some ideas there. Anyway, no time for blogging… the bug’s at the grandparent’s and I’ve got a kiln that’s ready to unload and a half a day to get some more shellacking done. Not sure how many posts this week as I’m in the midst of crunch time. Cannot believe how quickly a week disappears.

Spring Has Sprang…

March 11, 2010

That’s how they say it here in Kentucky. There’s lots of other things they say here in Kentucky like… I have ran out of gas. Lack of participles aside, it’s been a glazing week again and I’ve been able to open the window in the studio and let in the fresh breezy air. Maybe I’ll be able to take the plastic off the upstairs windows soon (when it stays in the 50’s at night) and keep them open while we sleep. Of course, sometimes during the day I get help and company…

Hopefully, I’ll get the kiln running tonight as I think I have a whole load but maybe a piece of two shy. It seems that I keep throwing up roadblocks to inhibit my progress. Yesterday, I was hurriedly whipping up some cabbage soup and sliced the very tip of my left thumb off (about the size of a ladybug). Not a huge injury but wouldn’t stop bleeding and wasn’t so hot about immersing my hand in glaze for any reason. Anyway, here’s a couple more shots of the dynamic duo…

Every now and then I see posts about favorite tools and I got one of mine out recently. Although I prefer the romanticism of tools that do not require electricity, sometimes those circuits are our friends and if the electricity supply in our future is in doubt then I doubt that whether or not I can use this tool will be high on my list of concerns. Anyway, a couple years ago I was doing a bunch of blue and white vases that required painting cobalt (not copper) stains onto bisqueware and putting a clear glaze over the top (or overtop as they say here in KY). The problem with some of these stains is that the solution falls out of suspension rather quickly and you end up mixing the little jar of stain with the brush so that you don’t end up with a brushload of weak diluted stain. Of course after mixing the solution with the brush the opposite is true… you end up with highly concentrated brushload. So a friend loaned me this indefinitely… it’s the Honeywell/Wein WP-MM Magnetic Mixer,

This is a very simple device that has a small motor inside of a housing with a rheostat knob on the outside. Inside, a magnet is attached to the motor and spins just under the surface. There is also a small plastic coated magnet about 1 1/2 inches long and about the width of a pencil. So you mix up your stain (I usually put a bit of glycerin in there), set the jar in the center on the mixer, plop the little magnet into the stain and turn the knob. The magnet in the bottom of the jar spins the same as the magnet that is spinning inside the housing and voila… the stain remains perfectly mixed and in suspension. Here’s an action shot, the stain is spinning…

Copper Carbonate Is Not Cobalt Carbonate…

March 9, 2010

That title should be copper carb is not cobalt carb dumbass. I was sitting there in my glaze calc software tweaking the recipes I tried in the last kilnload that failed miserably and I chose cobalt carb off the list and started thinking… cobalt, cobalt, cobalt, did I use cobalt? I went down and retrieved my mix sheet and it says cobalt and I went and got the containers that I used and hadn’t put away yet and sure enough I used copper carb instead. There’s something about being in a hurry I guess and I missed my chance to test the glaze before this upcoming load. Que sera, sera. So to compound my mistake I decided to add the cobalt in anyway (slightly less) and see what happens. The bug woke me up this morning saying, hurry, come downstairs and look at Sunglasses’ throwup (she pronounces is fro-up). I said, no I’ve seen throwup, I don’t need to see more. She said, no dad, this throwup is different, you gotta come see. I said, what’s different?… is it blue? She said, no, it’s got bubbles. I said, sugar… I’m not getting up to go look at some puke. She said, pleeeeeaaaase. Etc., etc. Sofia and Mom and I were sitting on the porch eating dinner last night (it was a balmy 65 degrees) and the bug asked Mom to get her another helping of pasta. When Mom went inside, I said to Sofia, what should we get Mom for her birthday? It’s coming up in a month or so. Sofia looks at me and says, an ice cube. I said, an ice cube for her birthday? Then she says, no, a salad. So Mom, it’s gonna be a good birthday this year. We spent some time online the other day and I have to post another new favorite website of Sofia’s called badgerbadgerbadger.com. Not sure how I ended up on this video but here you go if you’re a pet lover…

Here’s a bowl from the kiln last weekend…

Pomme Frites And Scooters…

March 7, 2010

The bug and I had our usual Saturday fun yesterday walking the dog and going to Tommy’s. It got up to 55 or so and sunny so later on we took the basketball and her scooter and went for a second walk without the demon dog. We ended up at the school nearby which has a handicap accessible ramp that goes about 25′ one way and then zigs back another 25′ the other with metal railings on both sides. Sofia took her scooter up the stairs and then down the ramps over and over and over… nothing like gravity for scooterin’. Here she is with her tights on her head…

Of course the thing that I was preoccupied with all day was the kilnload. When we got up it was still a little to hot to unload so we went down about 2:00 and unloaded it. It wasn’t bad but a little disappointing. I didn’t like the results of either of the two glazes that I went through all that rigmarole to get in the load. The raspberry one was ok but I don’t like the glossiness of it and my other experiment wasn’t even in the ball park. There were also a couple pieces with minor flaws that I guess I’ll try to refire but haven’t done any refiring yet and not sure what to expect there either. Here’s a shallow bowl that I liked… the picture doesn’t really show how it sets up off the table surface because the macro on the camera has a tendency to distort a little up close. I really liked the way the chop on the bottom came out, I’ll take my victories where I can get them…

Here’s one of the beer glasses with the ergonomic handprint…

I Know That!…

March 5, 2010

Got the kiln going last night and it’s still going now. My friend Andy and I went to one of our favorite beer haunts, that will remain unnamed for this post (beware the google reader). We used to love to go here for the beer but now it’s transforming into coming here for a bit of perverse entertainment. When we arrived and we past the waiter on the way to our seats, I said to Andy… oh there’s the guy, he’s the worst waiter I ever saw. Andy concurred and started to tell about how he, his girlfriend and her family had met there for his birthday and had had the same guy for a server. I said, the great thing is that he’s so bad, it’s actually good because it’s so funny. So we sat down and Andy turned over his coaster and this was on the back…

The puppy-vac is chasing the cat-tleabra. So the waiter dude comes up to the table… lets call him Marty. He never makes eye contact and when he’s talking to you directly he looks up at the wall close to the ceiling. Andy says, can I get some chips and salsa? and Marty says to the ceiling, are you all going to eat? Andy says, yeah, sure… bring me a menu and I say, I’m just drinking beer. About 10 minutes later he shows up with two menus, puts them on the table and leaves. Another 5 or 10 go by and he comes back and Andy says, I’ll get a tossed salad with honey mustard dressing and some breaded mushrooms. Andy reminds him of the chips and salsa by politely saying, … and there’s the chips and salsa too. Marty turns and takes a step or two and without turning around says to the wall up by the ceiling… I know that! He walks away and we chuckle. Another 5 and Marty comes to the table (still hasn’t brought anything) and stops back a few feet, looks at the ceiling and says quite loudly… the cook doesn’t know how to make a salad. He’s completely serious. Andy just guffaws and says… am I being punked? Marty says, I can’t tell him how to make a salad because he speaks spanish and I don’t. I say, how about ensalada? Marty says, so just a salad… that’s it?, which I took to mean that because we didn’t have the spanish word for “tossed”, that Andy would have to settle for a salad, not a tossed salad. Andy’s still laughing. Marty leaves and returns with a plate that has shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and some onions on top, says nothing and walks to the back room on the opposite side of the tavern. After about 5 minutes, he comes back to the table and says, there’s no honey mustard dressing. Andy says what do you have and Marty says, French, Italian and Ranch. Before he finishes Andy says I’ll have balsamic (because it said on the menu that that was one of the choices). Then he says, I need some silverware too. Marty turns, walks a step, doesn’t turn around and says again… I know that! He returns shortly with silverware for both of us and tosses the little plastic dressing package onto the table in front of Andy. Andy says thank you and I got some chips and salsa too. Marty turns, takes a step and looking up at the wall again says… I know that! Eventually he brings the chips and the rest of it was pretty uneventful. I mentioned that I wished I could’ve gotten it on video because there’s no way that I would be able to convey the events and they be as funny as they were and looking back at what I’ve written, it seems that that is true. It is a puzzle why some people sometimes have a job that they are totally unsuited for but I have to admire Marty’s persistence. Here’s a picture of a happy man…

This is the only beer that I got that wasn’t a draft…

I was hoping that Doug Fitch might be reading this at some point because as the label on the back of this Hoppy Otter states, “Hoppy Otter is the latest artisinal ale from the Otter Brewery, located in the majestic Blackdown Hills, Devon, England…

I’m wondering if this is Doug’s home brewery. It was a very good IPA, twas.

Glazing Daze…

March 4, 2010

One of the things I love about working in clay is when you’re in the studio and you’ve got the tunes jammin’ and you zone out into that world that has no time. Later you look up and hours have past and it only seemed like a fraction of that.

Zone is an accurate word and has very positive connotations whereas sometimes the zone can turn into a daze and you’re not even aware except that the blissful feeling seems to have disappeared. That being said, I offer a bit of rare and obvious advice… zero out your scale! I had some base glaze mixed and was ready to add some tin oxide the other day and had to wait (see 2 posts previous). I use a digital scale thats capacity is 400 grams accurate to the 1/10 of a gram. This means that after accounting for the weight of the measuring cup (tare weight), I can only put 300 grams/cup of any ingredient and if I need 1300 grams of EPK, I put four 300 gram cupfuls plus weigh out another 100 to get to 1300. But when I’m done with the base glaze, for various reasons I shift to another cup for colorants. This cup has a different tare weight and this is where I need to re-zero out the scale, otherwise the weight of each cupful will be off by the difference in weight of the two different cups. So when I finally got the tin, I weighed out the remaining ingredients with the small cup and after sieving that went back to start another base glaze. Did I zero it out or no? Well I measured out the entire 8000 gram base glaze and when I set the small cup on the scale and hit the re-zero button, in that split second, I thought I saw the wrong number but it was gone because I just hit the zero out button. I mixed and sieved and the amount of mixed-up glaze just seemed wrong but no way to prove it without starting completely over and comparing the two. After fretting for a while, I decided to trust my gut and I calculated the difference in tare weights and multiplied that by the number of cupfuls of each ingredient and added the percentage of each partial cupful and added all that into the glaze. I feel more than 50% sure that this is correct because when I added up all the numbers (even though there were numbers on my mix sheet like 1448, etc.), the total unmixed ingredients came out to an unbelievable 900 grams even. I bet you’re wishing you had back that part of your life. So this is where you’ve left the zone and entered the daze. The daze is a dangerous place. I have 3 different strength reading glasses lying around the studio depending how close I have to get to something and I had a pot in my tongs ready to go with a recently agitated slurry of glaze and I realized I had my “too far away” glasses on instead of my “medium I’m gonna dip this piece” glasses so I hurriedly reached over, grabbed the correct specs and proceeded to jab myself right in the center of my left eye with the part of the glasses that rests on my left ear. Aside from hurting like hell, I had a side to side phantom image of everything I looked at up until I went to bed. It seems fine now, much to my relief… the fluid in your eyes while you sleep is a miraculous liquid. Anyway, getting there slowly and maybe I’ll get to run a kiln this weekend… I guess only then I’ll know if I zeroed out that scale or not. More pots…

This big bowl is drying because I had to rinse it off yesterday. The shellac leaves detritus on the surface of the pot after the bisque and I checked the outside but forgot the inside (the daze) and there was just a touch around the rim which became obvious after dipping the big boy…

It sounds worse than it was and I did have some help from the bug who came in to glaze some of her tiles. They’re on the shelves in the shot above. Today is a new day though, the sun is out, my eye is healed, the glazes are all mixed and global warming has been solved… oh wait, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

No Shino No Squabble Scrabble…

March 3, 2010

Last night was the first super scrabble game of the year… and it’s March. We’ve been busy. On the board you’ll notice that there is no “shino” where the circled word is… it’s shiny. Before the word “guy” was added there was just the word “shin” sticking out there and I had an “o” but no “e” or “y” so I put the word “glow” going down and adding an “o” to shin to make shino for a neat little 42 points or so because the “w” was on a quadruple letter score block. Now we all know that shino is a word but Terry wasn’t buying it and we go by what’s in the dictionaries. I knew that it was an Asian word but thought since it was so old that maybe it had been usurped by english along the way. Terry challenged and it wasn’t in any of the 3 dictionaries we use. He played the word squab and I foolishly challenged. Not only is it in the dictionary, it’s in there 6 times. Here’s the board…

On the tin oxide front, after yesterday’s post I received an email from Dolita, another Louisville potter who runs the Louisville Clay Club blog, saying that she had some tin oxide I could borrow. Jeff Campana offered too and it was nice to know that there are people around that will help you out if you get in a jam. So I spent the morning glazing with glazes I already have and around noon Sofia and I drove over to Dolita’s home and got some tin oxide. She graciously gave us a tour of her really nice studio… I should have taken my camera (said the blogger with no picture). It was a very well lit and well organized studio space with water, a slab roller, a new spray booth and concrete floors, not to mention it was in a separate building. I was really envious. So thanks again Dolita if you’re reading this. Anyway, I got home, finished up with the glaze I had out and got the base glaze from yesterday. Just as I turned the scale on, the UPS guy showed up with the tin oxide I had ordered the night before from Kentucky Mudworks… how’s that for service? So, Dolita, I didn’t even open the bag… I’ll return it soon.

My Kingdom For A Horse…

March 2, 2010

Or should I say, my kingdom for some tin oxide. I’ve got probably 3 kilnloads to do and I wanted to try 2 new glazes out. Obviously, it would make sense to put the tests in the 1st load and then depending on results use one or both in the next loads. So I’m cruising along mixing up the base glazes and what do you know, I need tin oxide. I know I have some but my mental inventory shows me that I have plenty. I look in my colorant cabinet… hmm, not there. When I extended the studio almost 2 years ago now, I had to stick all the materials I had down in the basement and I’ve only been bringing them up when I need them. So down to the dungeon rooting around and I find the tin oxide… about 50 grams. I need more than that just for the test. Fortunately, even though it was almost 5:30, when I called Kentucky Mudworks in Lexington, they were still there… so the tin is on it’s way but it still throws a small wrench in my gears. Then I ran out of EPK (Edgar Plastic Kaolin) that’s in the plastic container I have upstairs and went to get some more and I had 100 lbs. in two bags at the very bottom of my stack which meant I had to move about 15 bags to get down to it. The whole time I wondered what had made me put one of the most frequently used ingredients on the bottom of the pile. I love that EPK though, here’s a glamour shot…

So, onward and upward… sure everything will go smoothly today. Here’s a bowl that I haven’t decided the glaze for yet…