Archive for January, 2011

Lose A Quick 10 Pounds On The LAID Diet…

January 30, 2011

The hell with all those gimmicky diet solutions that you can’t stick to, try the LAID diet… that’s the “Lying Around In Delirium” diet. All you need is whatever we’ve got and you won’t have a choice to slip up and overeat. Well, it’s 1 week today and I’m still not better… actually Sofia’s still not all the way better and she got it days before me and poor Mom just got it a couple days ago so she’s got quite a bit to go. I realize that when people describe being sick there is a tendency toward hyperbole but this one (flu?) is a monster. I was unable to get out of bed for 3 days and I’m still a bit blurry mentally as I type this between the hacking. I guess this says it all as the bug has had a very long week of her parents barely being able to acknowledge her…

I guess I’ll just post some pictures because all I could really talk about here is what’s been going on for a week now and that would be long drawn out descriptions about what a horrible virus? this thing is. No reading, no typing, no eating, no drinking, no watching a movie, no playing with your child, no making pottery, no anything except various types of misery. Of course running through my head whenever I’m sick and cannot even pretend to function are two recurring stories that must’ve had a tremendous effect on me because I always think of them. One is the Shackleton expedition to the south pole, or should I say toward the south pole. The entire crew survived almost 2 years on and in the frozen ocean near the southern pole. They went about 6 months at one stretch in complete darkness with and average temperature of -30 degrees F. I remember this because, well, really, what kind of wimp am I? I’m in a warm bed with central heating and working kitchen downstairs and electricity. A more recent example of the same thing with is more along the populist lines is… 1997 Game 5 NBA Finals and Michael Jordan is so sick that his teammates weren’t sure he was going to be able to get dressed. I remember watching the game and whenever they showed him, he looked just like I look when I’m sick (I mean, he didn’t really look like me… I do have catlike reflexes but the similarities end there). Anyway, he forced himself to play and in the last quarter played what could only be described as miraculously and that would be if had been well. So again, the sad, sick dad lying in bed with a repetitious delirium drumming in my head everytime I close my eyes… not much admirable about my coping when compared to these two stories, I not only couldn’t play basketball, I couldn’t button my shirt. OK, so that’s enough of that. Here’s another drawing before the illness kicked in…

Maybe a bit foreboding without even realizing it. So, this year I broke down and got one of these electric space heaters because our house is so unevenly heated. My idea was that it would warm the downstairs enough to keep the thermostat from kicking on as often, thus keeping the upstairs from being continually too warm while the downstairs is continually too cold. The final word is still out but suffice to say it didn’t work out as I intended but I’ll tell you who is happy about the addition to our climate control. The dog. Now one of the selling points for me on the damn thing was the ad shows a cat sleeping on it while it’s working meaning that it is not a fire hazard or a burn hazard for children or pets. I only saw this as a positive thing and never thought how it might swing to the other end of the continuum. The dog not only sits and stands in front of it, she actually sits/stands with her chin resting on it…

And when her chest gets a bit heated, she rotates like she’s on a rotisserie…

So I’m not sure about the effectiveness of this thing heating 1000 sq. ft. of living space but my dog’s chest, shoulders and back keep pretty toasty. Here’s some greenware from before my production was so rudely interrupted…

Here’s one that I just did because I wanted to, not highly functional or should I say, ergonomic but something about it I just like. I even have two pics of it…

Last but not least, yesterday the sun came out and it must’ve been in the low to mid 50’s. Sofia and I spent some time on the porch and the sun really did me some good. Of course, even though she’s still hacking through the night, the other symptoms have dissipated to being for all intents and purposes back to her normal ebullient self…

I really liked this picture because, quite by accident, the sun in the background made it look like the broomstick the bug’s holding like a samurai sword is actually enchanted like in all the Oz books we’ve read…

Here’s the obligatory long-in-the-tooth-bleary-eyed shot at 80% recovered, as you can see, Michael Jordan I’m not…

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I Love Paris…

January 19, 2011

in the winter, when it drizzles. A friend sent me this link and I’m passing it on because it is really cool…

For all those photo geeks, this is supposedly the largest photograph (pixel-wise) ever taken weighing in at a whopping 26 gigabytes. Someone mentioned to me that there were legal problems because as you zoom in on the image the resolution consistently reveals more and more detail and they apparently had some problems getting permission from anyone who may have gotten “caught” in the picture (walking by a window or whatever). I’ve never been to Paris but I’m sure I would love Paris if I traveled there. I take that back, I have been to Paris only the one I’ve been to (many times) is Paris, Tennessee. I went to college in Murray, KY in the western part of the state. I had come south from NY state and in 1977 I was 19 and had already been drinking alcohol legally in NY for a year because the drinking age was 18 then. It was a different time back then and visiting prospective colleges never entered my mind (or anyone else’s in my little hometown). So the first time I visited Murray, KY was the day I got off the bus and had to register for class. Much to my chagrin and completely unbeknownst to me, Murray was in a dry county (it has since been voted wet)… hell, I never even heard of a dry county and that was simply my sad introduction to some of the backwoods, knuckledragging silliness I’ve come to not necessarily accept but definitely overlook now. I was stunned and resorted to hanging around fraternities simply to be able to drink beer… oh, the horror. So, due south on 641 was a town named Paris on the north Tenn. border which catered to the college’s drinking population… which is the same as saying the college’s population or better yet, the college’s mar1juana smoking population. Far be it from me to question the wisdom behind the prohibition which only promoted lots of kids driving 35 miles one way, buying alcohol, and driving back (and of course they all dutifully refrained from drinking until arriving safely on campus). The funniest personal Paris story was that a friend and I had recently both read “Lust For Life” by Irving Stone which is a biography of Van Gogh. Of course the thing that appealed to us most about this story of artists was the parts where Van Gogh and Gaugin would periodically drink themselves into a stupor imbibing absinthe. The book assumes that one already knows what absinthe is but alas we did not, save that it was an alcoholic drink. The link goes to wikipedia’s absinthe page but suffice to say that it’s a horrible tasting alcoholic beverage made from distilled wormwood and when made unsupervised like homebrewers do with beer today can be made in such a way as to cause hallucinations. Note that the “absinthe” being served in trendy taverns nowadays is not the absinthe that for so long has been illegal in the US. Anyway, we had no idea what it was and more importantly that it was illegal so we took a road trip to Paris to “get us some absinthe”. Imagine the scene as we entered the liquor store and asked the good ol’ boy running it where the abinthe was located. He was nonplussed but in the southern tradition tried hard to hide it and asked us a couple times to repeat ourselves as though we were probably just mispronouncing it… “a, sint?” “a, sint?” “what you talkin”, boy?”. Actually he reacted more like the waiter in the mexican restaurant when I had my little conversation about arcilla mojada. Needless to say, we didn’t purchase any absinthe and left with something more parochial. It was only later that we realized our mistake and the situation took on the hilarity with which I now view it. (To those under 30, this was the kind of fun you had when you didn’t have access to your online brain [g00gle or w1k1ped1a] doing all your thinking for you.) Sorry couldn’t resist. Now that I’ve mentioned a couple examples of my southern indoctrination, I must admit that when I realized I would be a dad and a dad that lives in KY and would raise our child in KY, it really never occurred to me that I would be raising a child that talks in a way that, as a native northerner, I’ve always associated with, well, let’s just say “goin’ around Kelly’s barn”. It started when the bug was 3 and somehow had already learned to make the word “hill” into a two syllable word… hee yul. Oh it was cute at the time but she has since taken on her Mom’s family’s habit of putting an “L” on the end of words that end in “aw”… draw is drawl and saw is sawl (it’s not lost on me that saying drawl incorrectly is ironic because it’s the drawl that makes it wrong). So as time goes by we all become a version of our own parents. Mine used to correct us incessantly because we learned in school (from other kids no doubt) to say “don’t got no” and they corrected us to say “don’t have any” about a million times. With sawl and drawl, I’m not up to a million but I’m also not making any headway as Sofia simply says back to me after I correct her, “I say it my own way”, which is a version of what she said the other night… “I’m gonna do everything that I want to do and nothing that I don’t want to do”. Hear, hear. The bug and I had a great weekend and here’s a collaborative “drawling” that we worked on…

I’ve stopped horsing around with the terra sig until I see a bisque and went back to throwing. I started throwing these altered bowls with tall feet the other day and I have no idea why…

I like this one with the split rim and maybe I’ll try to make some mugs or yunomis with the split rim, who knows…

I also like the tall foot like the bowl is on its own little plinth but it does require a bit more trimming…

Well, back at it.

Write/Save/Print/Voila…

January 14, 2011

I usually don’t relay anything of much value here on ye olde blogge shoppe but I finally found something the other day that I’ve been looking for ever since I started the blog. And even though this is not an arena to “pimp out” stuff (as the beer wench might say), this is gonna be an exception. This is my 406th post and aside from the fact that relatively new readers will neither have the interest nor inclination to wade through the nonsense of all those old posts, thereby absorbing the full extent of my silliness, I kept thinking about the bug. When Mom was pregnant and I realized that I was really a little long in the tooth to be having a child, I went out and got a Moleskin sketch/diary book with the cool leather cover and the built-in rubber band to keep it closed and set out to write a journal of my thoughts to my adult daughter in case I didn’t live long enough to see her grown. I know, it’s a bit pessimistic and maybe a touch maudlin too but my dad died suddenly at age 56 and if his genes are dominant in this realm, I may only have 3 or 4 years left. There’s all kinds of reasons to think this isn’t going to happen but, unlike many people I’ve encountered, I do not know the future. So back to the journal. I was well into it and then I started the blog and I really didn’t think the blog would take all my “writing” energy because I couldn’t for the life of me think of what I might blog about. Soon I was blogging almost daily (things have dropped off a bit since then) and subsequently the journal lay idle. Being a veteran computer user, I thought well, I’ll just save the blog to a PDF or export the blog to a PDF or something like that and someday when w0rdpress runs out of electricity, there will be a hardcopy of the blogging for Sofia to read… complete with pics. To my amazement this does not exist… sure you can export an xml file from this blog and maybe yours too if you are on bl0gsp0t and migrate to a new blog but “saving as” or exporting to PDF, no dice. I’ve been told that I might be able to do this if the w0rdpress server were installed on my home computer but I’m not going there… the best thing about the blogs is they’re free. Well I periodically (no pun intended) go digging and this time I found it! (clicking the graphic takes you to the site)…

So I tried it and it works. It’s a bit slow but who cares and it has a choice of fonts and how many columns, etc. So if you want your blog to be a book someday, go visit the blogbooker.
Keeping with the theme of potentially useful but arcane (and maybe even known by everyone already except me) information I went to mail off a package to Europe a while back (if you’re reading this signore, I hope it has arrived by now). I expected the shipping to be steep but I had based it on other packages sent to other continents. The dude at the library weighed the package and said, “can you take out an ounce and a half?”. At first I thought, yeah, right… I’ll just stick a hypo in there and draw out an ounce and a half. But he was serious and explained that when the package goes over the 4 pound threshold that the price almost doubles (this is USPS). I was dismayed mostly because I thought it would be more sensible (read: fairer) if the price gradually increased correlating to the weight gradually increasing but nevertheless I went home and unwrapped the whole thing and removed a little piece that Sofia had put in the box and packed it all up again. So, if you ship international through USPS, keep it under 4 pounds. My apologies for admitting here where my brother, the (U)(P)(S) driver can read, that I ship with the PO. One more item of interesting and not necessarily useful info… a bit back a comment was made on this post. To paraphrase it decries the fact that I am yet ANOTHER potter who thinks I’m going to get rich by putting g00gle ads on my blog and that although they have been a faithful lurking reader for almost 2 years that because of this they are finished with my blog. The confusing thing to me is that I don’t have g00gle ads and I have no idea why they think I do. I mention this only as an illustration that no matter what you do or say, it’s possible to drive away readers (as if what I normally write isn’t enough to accomplish this already). I did some more goofing around with the terra sig yesterday and I had some company when the bug got home from school. The dog and her sat on the studio couch with me while I painted and she ate about a pound of food that included pecans and clementines…

Here’s the demon dog… she shat on the floor last night. My fault probably because I took her out in the freezing cold last night before bed and after what seemed like 15 minutes (but was probably only 5) or watching her sniff around and graze on the snow, I just gave up and came in the house…

Here’s some terra sig-ness, just trying to get all the different colors I got on there…

And of course although part of my interest in terra sig was to have an alternate way to treat the pots that would be less labor intensive, I’m already leaning in the direction of it being more labor intensive for a couple reasons. One is that this texture is what I like the most about it (of course I still haven’t seen it fired)…

So I’d like to cover much of the surface with this “raised” texture and when I combine that with the time it takes to “burnish” it and maybe even go back into it with the shellac etching anyway, I may be heading in the direction of even more time per piece. Time will tell.

Blah(g) Post…

January 11, 2011

I think this is the longest I’ve gone without a post since I started the blog and today maybe I should call it the blaaahhhg. It really doesn’t seem like that long but what can I say. I have nothing to take a picture of… unless I want to take a picture of sick people. Mom’s been sick for over a week and the bug’s been sick for about a week. A bird shat on my head several days ago and I wished I had my camera with me then. It’s cold and snowy and I’ve been trying to navigate a household full of germs without catching the dreaded ailment. I’m actually quite amazed that I’ve dodged it for over a week and if I don’t get it, it will be the first time ever that I was the one who didn’t get sick. Of course I’ve been washing my hands about 20 times a day and I’ve started to view the house in somewhat the same way I imagine H0ward Hugh3s would view it. The diseased people sneeze and cough into their hands (if I’m lucky) and then they use these same hands to, I don’t know, grind coffee, pick up the teapot, use the faucet, pick up the remote or the telephone. The bug’s cough is one of those dry heaving coughs that hurt when you finally give in and it’s been keeping her up a little at night so I’ve been keeping her company until she falls back asleep. And when all else fails, we’re gonna go get a beer tonight as they seem to finally be coming out of it and what could it hurt? I hit a terra sig snag (terra snag… could be my specialty) because I don’t want to commit to a big firing when I’ve never even seen one terra sig piece fired and I don’t want to simply do a test and fill the kiln with the other stuff, thus delaying when I find out what the test looks like for quite some time. I’ve been told that I should just fill the kiln with a few test pieces and put all the shelves in there and fire it like that but I can’t make myself do it so I’ve just been throwing and delaying a decision. Anyway, just January blahs… here’s some more pics that I got off of “sofia’s camera”…

My Kingdom For A Hose…

January 3, 2011

No, I didn’t forget the “r” and when it comes right down to it I fear my kingdom may not be what King Richard’s was. Anyway this terra sig thing, as I mentioned in the previous post I was unsure about the whole layers thing and Tracey came to my rescue saying that I would know when the terra sig was gone and the thicker stuff was all that was left. So in inimitable fashion I decided this whole experiment definitely thinking that the weak link would certainly not be the siphon. I figured I’d go ahead and siphon the terra sig today and Friday realized that I don’t have an old hose or length of tubing or anything to use as a siphon (which I personally find pathetic) and on Sunday I couldn’t go to my local hardware store, Oscar’s, because no doubt they were celebrating the changing of the year numbers and I also had to go over by H0me Dep0t so I figured that I’d go over there and go to the aisle with the spools of different size and kind of tubing and cut me a nice 5 foot length. Wrong. h0me dep0t doesn’t have bulk tubing (why would anyone want that?), they did however have just the kind and size I needed only it was 10 feet long and they want 21 dollars for it. Now in my mind I just couldn’t pay 21 dollars for something that would work no better than a length of an old garden hose. I made the mistake of asking an employee about it thinking it was in some magical “siphoning supplies” section that I was not privy to and he said they had siphons in the garden section. As if to prove that our consumer culture is facing the end of civilization as we know it, one was battery operated… I actually said to the guy that I didn’t mind getting a mouth full of clay just like the many times when I was younger and got a mouthful of gasoline or whatever it was (no, I never stole gasoline). He just looked at me like I was an old guy and showed me to the 3 dollar ones with a hand “pump” built in. I looked at it in despair but figured if I could get it to work I’d get over it. Monday morning and the hand pump thing doesn’t keep flowing once the liquid reaches the apex of the tube. I was so pissed that I cut the tube off of it and of course it was too short. Here’s the piece of shite…

I had even propped the container up at a slant to afford me a bit more length…

So I just pitched the “siphon-of-the-21st-century” and went down to Oscar’s and of course, they had rolls of all different size and kind of tubing exactly as I had pictured it in my head. I came back and got to it. I started siphoning right away and with only one mouthful of clay. As the bucket filled up, I noticed no difference in consistency and was starting to think that I was missing something but eventually and just as Tracey said, it became very obvious. Here’s what the sludge in the bottom of the container looks like…

I have to say that I was surprised how much the OM4 yielded and was happy about that because it will allow me to try more colors. Here’s how much I got…

Here’s the tube that was so elusive…

I really have no idea what I’m doing but I think if this stuff does what I think it will do, I will be very happy. I found myself more excited than I’ve been since I found out I could cut shellac with pure grain alcohol. I put a couple of different colors on this unfired greeware tumbler and buffed it up a little with a chamois. At this point I have no idea how intense the colors are or, more importantly, how shiny the terra sig will be without glaze. If it looked like it does unfired, I think that would be great. Here’s the test…

In other news, I finally got the hundreds of photos off of my old camera that I let Sofia use to take pictures. It was funny going through what she thought was worthy of photographing. Here’s a few that she took…

Last but not least, Paul Soldner passed away and that’s sad news for the clay world and community. I met him at NCECA once not too long ago but only briefly. As a young ceramics college student in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I won’t pretend that his infamous posters of himself in a hottub full of nude girls (young college clay students in my imagination) or other posters of the like had any undue influence on me being a ceramics major or romanticizing ceramics as a career.

Resolutely Anti-Resolutions…

January 1, 2011

At long last, the day is upon us… January 2nd. No more scheduled fun until Valentine’s Day when millions will go out and buy cheap diamond bracelets to express their undying love to their significant others. I know, ewww, a bit cynical today? Not really, I just never can get past the commercialization of these ha11mark holidays. So last night, the entire earth celebrated the turning of one number to another. Here at casa sofiasdad, we were all snug in bed sound asleep at 11:00 p.m. In days of yore, I stood up til midnight and beyond and partied like it was 1999 but listening to auld lang syne, watching the ball drop and finally having that merciful toast of cheap champagne was, truthfully, always a bit anti-climactic. It’s similar to the hoopla leading up to the 2 minute Kentucky Derby or the 2 week hoopla leading up to the super bowl (especially when one team is totally blown out in the 1st quarter). For me, I like “regular” life, like Tuesday or better yet, Saturday. No scheduled fun, fun just happens and it happens surprisingly often. So what do I resolve to do now that that incredibly rare event has happened… for the 52nd time. I resolve to make no resolutions (isn’t that one?)… wait, maybe I don’t resolve to make resolutions. This reminds me of when I was young and every year my newyear’s resolution was to give up French’s mustard (I gave it up for lent also). Of course I hated French’s mustard and still do so I was very successful… seems like I haven’t really progressed much. One year back in the late 60’s or early 70’s, it was the year when, believe it or not, they not only had telephones with dials on them but it was the first year that condiment makers started using jars with squirt tops. Before that it was just a jar and you dipped a knife into the jar and spread the condiment on whatever you were eating… crazy huh? Anyway, along with the rolls of toilet paper, eggs and shaving cream that made up every kid’s arsenal for Halloween destruction, French’s mustard with the squirt top made a short-lived appearance that year. I overheard friends mentioning that they would be armed with it and I actually did not go out that year on halloween night. I did make important resolutions all last year. Let’s see, I think one was on a Thursday and one was on a Monday but I may be mistaken. Will I resolve to write a blog post every day in 2011… nope. How about every week?… nope. Eat better, lose weight, exercise more? Nope, nope and nope. Drink more beer? Well, let’s not get carried away here. Seems like we need a little cute break…

She loves her new bear. She went to that damn bu1ld a bear place and had a great time. After choosing the cloth with peace signs all over it, the bug ended up naming her new bear “peace sign” even though she really has no idea what peace means because an explanation usually includes a comparison to war and whenever I try to explain war, she simply cannot understand why people would go to war… and that is why children are superior to adults. So yesterday, it was 67 degrees… on december 31. I didn’t make a resolution to ride my bike but I thought I’d get the bike out and take a ride. 28 miles later and having gotten caught in a short downpour, I had second thoughts. I guess I’m still amazed at how quickly the human body can get out of shape. The upside was that it was a very enjoyable ride for most of the way and also as I rode along the railroad tracks for a stretch and perused the graffiti on the rail cars, I was struck by some instructional graffiti which is unusual and quite rare on trains. In the middle between two very nice tags, it read in almost cursive english… “you can’t develop biceps if you don’t do curls”. I had always suspected this to be true but if this person felt strong enough to put it on a train that would most likely travel the country… he/she must have more than anecdotal evidence and I think that that does make it indeed true. I think using the word develop instead of “get big” or “have big” or… “nurture” is what sealed the deal for me. So I couldn’t find this on my last post but here is the envelope to my xmas card from Sofia. It has me, Mom, Sofia and my favorite part is Sunglasses because she drew her tearing up the wrappings of the gifts…

Speaking of Sunglasses who I took to calling Dingus, it occurred to me on her walk today that I don’t even call her dingus anymore. Her name has evolved to Doofus LaGoobus or Dolta Minolta depending on my mood. I was visiting a friend the other day and he gave me something really nice for xmas which I’ll get to in a minute but he also gave me some old pictures from years ago. Here’s one pic of my favorite dog ever, little Butchie… she lived to be 19 and died about a year ago…

Here she is a month or so before she passed…

Another picture was of me posing for a sculpture that my friend had done in bronze of a Louisville hotelier which is located downtown on 4th Street. Obviously he was interested in the pose and the clothing and shoes and not what my head looked like…

So the gift my friend gave me were these two pots, both Japanese. This first one is a sake cup with a lovely red swirl in and out, supposedly 60+ years old…

The other is a blue and white Imari tea cup, supposedly mid Edo Era and around 1760 with the kurafune (black ship) on the inside…

Last but not least, I had this idea to make some terra sig. This was not a stated resolution, but simply something I resolved to do. Anyway this particular recipe called for OM4 ball clay, water, soda ash and sodium silicate. My understanding was that this was something relatively easy and it’s been almost 2 weeks since I mixed up the batch. I also understood that there would be 3 strata after settling… the top, which is water, the bottom that has the coarser, heavier particles settled out and the middle layer… the terra sig that I’m supposed to siphon out. Well, I’ve only got 2 layers and the top one is obviously water. I can see no demarcation in the bottom layer and so, don’t know where to siphon and not. Any hints would be welcome…