Archive for July, 2011

Crushed Glass…

July 30, 2011

Last weekend, the bug and I traveled up to Mount St. Francis for the clay center’s outdoor jazz evening. I was thinking that it was gonna be very trying because it was an extremely hot day but when we got there and got down by the lake (where the quartet was), a nice breeze was coming off the lake making it seem much cooler than expected. The band was very good and it’s always hard to beat jazz by a lake outdoors with wine. Here’s a shot that our friend Jennifer took of Sofia and I…

In this particular picture, I’m striking the “you see dear, that’s a UFO over there” pose. I was also alerted to this picture this week from a fellow potter who received one of my favorite beer glasses for an anniversary gift (I think it was anniversary). Thanks John for posting as it’s always nice to get feedback and pics of pots…

The text below the pic describes the subterfuge to keep Mr. John from catching on to what his gift might be. This picture turned up while looking for something else…

I made these lamps quite some time ago (almost 15-20 years), the “shades” are made of copper mesh sheets folded into the shape, I now realize, of a cardinal’s chapeau and grommeted into place. Also there’s cedar driftwood from the Falls of the Ohio and two pieces of foundry white pine shapes that I got from the American Standard (the sink/bathtub company) factory when it shut down decades ago. On the terra sig front, I decided to make a new batch out of grolleg kaolin instead of ball clay because I wanted some white white terra sig. It didn’t settle the way I thought it would or should and was about to consider it a failure. Then I mixed some of the thicker with some of the thinner and started experimenting. Anyway, I got really excited when I started goofing around with it because it buffs up very easily and looks almost exactly like thick white enamel paint. Of course, I have no idea at this point how it will hold up after firing but it looks very cool at this point…

I thought I was done throwing vases but I kinda go where the wheel takes me and it took me making more vases this week…

And here’s the obligatory glamour shot…

So here’s the adventure of the week, a biking adventure so if you’re against reading long posts, stop here. It was very hot all week but on Monday, I decided to go out for a longish ride and see how I held up. I got to 15 miles where I would turn around and come back making 30 in total but I felt great so I decided to go to the 20 mark which would make 40 total. When I got there I still felt great and went to the 25 mark and finally decided to go to the terminus of the bike path which ends at the historic Farnsley-Moremen House. At the parking lot my odometer was at 30.1 and I turned around to return the way I came. Earlier that day, Alicia had told me that she was on call which meant that starting at 7, she was to be available to go in and work which means I would have to be home by then because of Sofia. As I turned around at Farnsley-Moremen, I glanced at the clock on my speedometer and it seemed as though I had plenty of time although 60 miles would take almost 4 hours. As I rode, I thought… did I “spring forward” on that clock or is it an hour off. Then I figured even if it was wrong, I’m 30 miles from home and I can’t go any faster than I already am. So as I was coming back into the downtown, I went around a corner and my rear tire felt like jelly again (this is the fourth time this year) and I look down and my tire is almost deflated to the rim. As impossible as it seemed (all four times), the tire stopped deflating at about halfway flat. I thought that if I sat down on the grass and changed the tube that that would cost me another half hour and I was already late so I decided to see how far I could get without changing the tube. I went another 5 miles or so and thought it felt like the bumpier parts of the road were actually touching the rim and I didn’t want to ruin my rim so I stopped. I figured that if the tube was holding some air, that if I just gave it a blast of CO2 it might get me home. Now, I have one of these…

It’s called a Red Zeppelin and it is quite a handy gizmo. Of course there are other brands I’m sure that are essentially the same thing but seeing as how I played Houses of the Holy so many times when I was 17 that I practically wore through the vinyl of the LP and made it so that, to this day, my brother can’t listen to Led Zeppelin, it seemed inevitable that I would choose this one. Anyway, there’s the CO2 cartridge with a red insulator around it so your pinkies don’t get cold when it releases the gas and there’s a nozzle/valve. What one does is screws the nozzle to the cartridge, breaking the seal, then screws the other end to the air tube’s valve and when everything is ready, one opens the red knob slowly and that releases the CO2 into the tube… easy right. Well, I was in a hurry and had already ridden 55 miles but excuses aside, it’s really because I’m a dumbass but the last time I used the red zeppelin, I left the red knob valve open. This means that when I broke the seal on the cartridge the gas started whooshing out and I desperately started turning knobs trying to stop the flow. As it only takes seconds for all the gas to escape, I was soon standing there with a cold spent cartridge and a flat tire. I looked up and across the road from where I stood was a mercedes mechanic’s garage. I thought, they have forced air and went in and asked it they could inflate my tire. Sure was the answer but their compressor had only a tip for the standard tire valve and not the presta valves that are on most road bike tires nowadays. They spent about 15 minutes looking for a converter tip but couldn’t find one. Meanwhile, time’s a wastin’ and it’s already past 7. Finally, I asked if I could use their phone and called Alicia… no answer. I called my friend Ray who only lived a couple miles down the road… no answer. Now last year I got stranded downtown as elaborated in this post and I ended up walking 6 or so city blocks with my bike shoes on that have the clips on the fronts of the shoes and this set the healing of my plantar fasciitis back years so walking with my shoes on was out of the question. So I took my shoes off and clipped them to the pedals and stuffed my socks in my pocket and hit the road barefoot. The road must have been about 130 degrees and my tenderfeet were burning and I could feel the blisters forming. I walked quite a ways (at least quite a ways for me) and eventually a serious cyclist stopped as he was passing me. I could tell he was serious because his legs were shaved. I haven’t gotten to that point yet because there are so many other things slowing me down that have to be taken care of before I start shaving. Anyway, he had a cartridge too and offered it to me. I gave my tire a blast and it held so I put my shoes and socks back on, thanked the man (Frank) and headed a slightly shorter route home. My ride ended up being only 56 miles instead of 60 and when I got home I lied down on my stomach and let Mom and the bug pierce my blisters with a needle. I really can’t say that I wasn’t prepared but when push came to shove, I made one stupid mistake and that was that. On wednesday, my friend Vern came over to ride the route I take for the first time and I was complaining that I’ve had, I think, 6 flats this year. After about 10 miles, he said that considering how much broken glass was on my route, it was a wonder I’ve only had 6 flats. So I’ve decided to name the ride the “Crushed Glass 60”.

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Driven Up The Walls…

July 23, 2011

I’ll just shorten all the complaining about the heat down to this… it’s too damn hot. It’s been driving Sofia up the walls…

The bug is getting proficient on her bicycle which means we will soon be able to ride together and I think she’ll be very excited when she gets on the actual bike path as opposed to streets and parking lots. She’s also gotten proficient on her scooter which she took on our walk with the dog this morning. There was a catch though. When a child starts losing teeth, there’s no shortage of people suggesting that they tie their tooth to a doorknob and slam the door and many have but the bug has invented her own method of dealing with a loose tooth. In fact it’s also good for loosening the tooth in the first place. I didn’t realize this but when a kid is trying to go fast on a scooter and pushes backward with her free foot, her head bobs down (bobs down?) when the foot is thrust backward. If she kicks hard enough, it will drive her head, in this case her open mouth, against the handle bars of the scooter. This is precisely what happened this morning and after the blood and tears stopped, the bug had one less tooth. Here’s the toothless wonder…

And here’s a more contemplative shot…

I didn’t get much riding done this week but did manage to go for a 50 miler on Monday. Apparently, I’m getting to the point when two jugs of water isn’t enough to keep me going well so I guess I’m going to have to start bringing some kind of food or electrolyte replacement with me. I felt good that day though. We had our first meeting of Club 54 on Thursday night and I forgot my camera. As if to exaggerate the passing of years, the birthday boy showed up limping… Al twisted his ankle at the Falls of the Ohio and was on crutches for a couple days I guess. This did not inhibit his (or our) ability to drink beers though. I haven’t studied my glaze testing tiles yet but have pulled out a couple of my favorites. Here’s the one’s I like so far…

Unfortunately, these are not new glazes but older glazes that have a different glaze over the top but I’ll take what I can get. I got stuck severing pots this week and poking at them from the inside. I guess I’ll see where this goes if anywhere…

Bowling For Vases…

July 16, 2011

It’s been a strange week or so. I can’t really elaborate beyond that except to say that the computer has been pushing me away. The heat has been unbearable for one and the computer happens to be situated in the hottest “nook” in the house. We had two days last week with a heat index of 115 degrees which I read was highest in the US… and according to the weather prognosticators, there will be an entire week of the same starting Monday. Last weekend, the bug and I went up to Mt. St. Francis to pick blackberries and we were a bit early. We did find some but I imagine this week it will be gangbusters. Not sure if we’ll brave the fields again this week or not. We had many ticks on us when we got home. I read once that a tick lies dormant on a blade of grass say (for up to ten years sometimes). Apparently when a mammal comes by exuding carbon dioxide as we all do, the tick will come out of dormancy and leap onto a passing deer, for instance, in a split second. I’ll try to remember this the next time I’m feeling smug about us humans and our wonderful self consciousness. Anyway, I also traveled with my good friend Jeff down to Lexington because KY Mudworks (our local clay center) was having their 10th year anniversary and were having a mini-NCECA-type event with demonstrations and lectures, etc. Yosuke from Shimpo was there demo-ing the Whisper wheel which is what I own. I had actually read Yosuke’s name on the itinerary and watched his demo before realizing that he was the same guy that had helped me out with sterling customer service when I had to replace the motor on my wheel some time back… in this post. In my mind, his name was Yoski because I had never seen it spelled out, but I finally caught one. He threw a 50 lb. bowl as part of his demo. I have no interest in throwing 50 pounders but it was fun to watch and I enjoyed the way he wrapped a large sponge around his fist and pushed straight down to open a hole in the clay. Here’s some shots…

I really wish I had one of those blue throwing suits that Yosuke’s wearing. So the event was fun but when we decided to leave we couldn’t get on the interstate. I was beside myself as I tried to maneuver the streets and find a way to leave town but everywhere we turned was just more traffic jams. We decided to stop and have lunch and let it pass but an hour later, still knotted up all over town. I felt like I was at the hotel california and I couldn’t leave Lexington. We couldn’t figure out what kind of event could completely shut down a whole town’s roads. Eventually (2 1/2 hours later), we took a blue highway to Frankfort and got on the interstate there. I looked it up on the interweb at home and it turns out there was a 47 car pile up on I-64 which included a fire truck and a large boat that had fallen off it’s trailer. I’ve been pretty busy in the studio. On those hot days, I was throwing while wearing my birkenst0cks with bare feet and I was sweating so much that the sweat was rolling down my legs and making puddles in my shoes so that they squished whenever I got up to walk to a table or something. We gave in and turned the AC on that evening. So I’m done with the vases for now and have moved on. Wouldn’t it be wild to set these up and roll a bowling ball into them?…

I’m really looking forward to decorating these but I imagine it will take me forever.

Ahoy Troy And Goodbye Cy…

July 6, 2011

It’s always nice to get a testimonial from someone and that’s just what happened the other day. This was a whole blog post about a couple pots that Troy Bungart had purchased from me. Troy’s post is here and if you get a hankerin’, go ahead and check it out as Troy has a way of waxing poetic about pots. Here’s Troy with a bowl he got from me…

As it turns out, aside from being a potter and a pot aficionado, Troy also makes beautiful throwing tools out of hardwoods. Here’s a “surfboard” rib…

Check out his etsy store here if you get another hankerin’.

Thanks Troy. In other news, Cy Twombly died yesterday. He was a mark maker extraordinaire and I have been a big fan ever since the first time I saw one of his paintings in person. I have a friend who happens to be the father of an old girlfriend (no really, it can happen) who’s a painter and apparently one of his friends hung out with Cy some time ago. Anyway, he insists that the pronunciation of his last name is Toom blee as opposed to the way I’ve said it for 25 years or so as twom blee. Here’s one of Cy’s pieces…

The weather’s been nice for cycling and I upped my ride to 45 miles yesterday. I was making good time as I am feeling stronger until I ran head on into a thunderstorm. The headwind slowed me considerably and for the first mile or so I was riding in a sunshower. Then the storm got real and I had to take shelter. As I resumed my ride, a bit of fatigue had settled in and the drop in temperature combined with the fact that I was soaked through made me colder than hell even though it was still around 80 degrees. I’ve continued making the fat jugglers but they are looking less like batons. Curiously enough, I can’t stand to not trim the bottom and trimming the bottom of a tall long necked vessel presents a problem. I know that if I was more systematic that I would have made several chucks to use for this but I haven’t and I never seem to remember til I need one. Anyway, enter Mr. Giffin…

While trying to get this (and all the others) centered, I began thinking that the real Mr. Giffin may not have intended his wonderful tool’s envelope to be pushed this far. The main problem is that 80% of the pot is above the longest little foamy “holders” which means that taking any real “bite” with a trimming tool will pull the whole thing off center and dent the neck where the “holder” thingies are. So in my normal daydreaming overanalysis, it occurred to me that this might be something Mr. Giffin or Mr. Sherrill (I love his tools too) might consider if they’re wondering what to make next. My idea is a series of four cast aluminum or plastic chucks ranging in height from 4 – 6 – 8 – 10 inches tall that fit over the allen screws that hold one’s bats on the wheel. Each chuck has some of that spongy styrofoam that will not mar the neck of the bottle, vase or even lid with a tall handle. Maybe each chuck could have three inserts where the hole is 2, 3, and 4 inches in diameter. So what do you think? I’d buy one. Don’t you just hate non-entrepreneurs that come up with ideas like this. Just to set the record straight, I actually invented the sweatshirt with the slit from the neck down about 6″ inches that was worn by the girl in the “Flashdance” movie years before the movie was made. No one believes me and after that movie everyone was wearing them. Anyway, until someone jumps on this adjustable chuck idea, I’ll just continue with Mr. Giffin’s grip (here’s the after shots)…

Fat Juggling Batons…

July 2, 2011

So my friend Susan in N. California sent me this print the other day. It has a beautifully romantic poem about clay (you may have to click and enlarge to be able to read the text)…

Sofia spent the first half of every day this week at some sort of “theater” camp help up at the school. She apparently had a ball. Mom took some shots on the last day and here’s my favorite where she’s caught mid-spin…

Not sure why but I started throwing these tall skinny-necked vases this week, they kind remind me of juggling batons…

The weather was hot but the rain held off and I was able to get over a 100 miles in on the bicycle this week. I only narrowly escaped death twice which is pretty good for that many miles. My good friend Vern had an opening and the bug and I dropped in (the bug was mostly interested in the potential that there might be cheese there, there wasn’t). I’ve seen nearly all of Vern’s digital work on the computer but it was great to finally see all of them printed out and large. Here’s a new one that wasn’t at the exhibition…

Here’s some of the pieces recently loaded up to the etsy site (first click goes to etsy, the rest enlarge…

The real big news of the week is the beginning of the dog wars here on our street which is long overdue. Maybe I’ll tackle it in another post… or maybe not as the generally irrationality surround dogs evident by recent events will undoubtedly assure a lack of commiseration. Tata.