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Monday, September 01, 2014

Kitchen and garden days continue

Waiting for the water to boil so I can get a few tomatoes skinned and processed for another small batch of  pizza sauce. Yesterday I made the stewed apples and they're in the freezer; but there are still more apples to use up, so if I have the energy when we get home from our son and daughter-in-laws place, and a quick grocery stop, I might make an apple crisp for tonight, since there's no more room in the fridge to store them! The creme brulee has to wait for tomorrow since I don't have enough eggs and cream on hand.

Jim didn't groan when I handed him another tomato lunch yesterday - a thick slice of a Brandywine tomato, salt and peppered, then drizzled with olive oil, topped with a generous slice of mozzarella with another drizzle of olive oil, a couple of drops of Balsamic vinegar and topped with baby basil leaves. Today I'll give him a tomato rest, since I've harvested enough padrone peppers for a light, tapas lunch. The Spaniards are geniuses with so many of these simple and so delicious tapas foods.

As you can see, with all these veggies and now fruits coming in, cooking is taking most of my spare time and energy at the moment. I'm going to be very happy when fall arrives and these gardens can be put to bed. The Farmers Almanac says it's going to be another very cold winter, so we might get an early freeze this year - something I usually dread, but not this year. It would be very welcome!

Time to make the pizza sauce and get some beans processed for the freezer.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Play days

Sometimes you just need a play day or even just a half of a play day. Yesterday was a half a play day with our son taking me on a guided fishing trip on the Rogue. I met him at 6:30am and shortly after we were on the river with the guide. It was a lovely, coolish morning for fishing or just cruising down the the beautiful Rogue, through the gentle rapids at times and enjoying the enjoying the scenery, and alone time with my beautiful son.

We fished with bait, plugs and a few other setups with the aim being,  to catch steel head and salmon. The fishing wasn't great for us and didn't seem to be for others we passed on the way. We caught a few cut throats and trout but no keepers and nothing we used could tempt a single salmon; but the day and river awarded us with wonderful sightings of some herons, many ducks, and several osprey as well as the usual, exquisite views in and around the river and of course, the great weather.

The guide dropped us off at our sons boat ramp around 12:30, where Jim and Bodhi were waiting to drive me home; but first there was some fruit to pick. The pears and apples were ready for harvesting, so I picked just enough for us to eat some fresh and some for  cooking and left the rest for others to enjoy.

After morning watering chores and breakfast,  I'll be making some stewed apples for the freezer. I'm not sure what I'll do with the extra pears - maybe make a creme brulee tomorrow with poached pears on top with a sugar threads topping for the pears, or maybe just cook and freeze them tomorrow. I also have to figure out what to do with these ripe tomatoes - maybe another small batch of pizza sauce for the freezer with some and some beefsteak slices with mozzarella and fresh basil with a bit of vinaigrette for lunch.  Jim has just about had it with tomatoes this time of year, so it's time to freeze more or get more creative.

With all these pears and apples available to me, I was wishing that I hadn't given away my fruit dehydrator a few years ago; but on second thought, I was relieved that others will be able to process much of this fruit.

I was wiped after over five hours of fishing and wound up taking a 2 hour nap when I got home. This body is still not where it should be energy wise, so I've decided not to fight it and just let it rest as needed till it makes up it's mind to re-join the living.. Or maybe this is just what it's going to be from my mid 70's on.  My friend Kay sells some very good supplements and since she's going to be 80 in about two weeks, and a dynamo (the perfect advertisement for her products), I'll start taking some of those supplements today that are supposed to make me feel like 20 again. Frankly, I'd be happy if they just made me feel like 70 again! 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Funk isn't just a ceramic movement

So many people in a funk lately, including two of my favorite bloggers, so what the heck is going on! I haven't blogged for the past 11 days because I've been dealing with my own funk. The way the past 2 weeks have gone, I feel like the guy in the old joke, who stands up in the filled stadium and says, "ten thousand people and the bird had to shit on me!".

Of course it could be worse. It always can be; but the past two weeks have made me want to stop the world and get off. Kiln shutting off at 700 and then almost 1000 degrees, and having to abort my soda firing, unloading it next day and re-wadding everything, then getting a deep gash on my pinkie trying to deal with frozen kiln plumbing. I switched gears fast, put a double bandage on the ever bleeding pinkie and glazed enough earthenware pots to  fire the electric kiln. Next day was for unloading, pricing and packing and going off to the yearly luncheon show that was a total dud. So far, no positive change in what the universe was sending my way.

It doesn't help to sell anything to a group of retired women with houses already filled with stuff, and it's especially not conducive for people to want to look at members work, when one member of the club has a stroke in the middle of lunch. The poor dear passed away the next day. Well, at least this 74 year old, well worn body was still moving; but barely.

Next morning I woke up feeling like someone had sucked every ounce of energy out of me and I spend all day sleeping on and off dealing at the same time with intense stomach pains and a low grade fever and wondering "What now!". After three days of that, it seemed to be leaving but I was still darined. Self diagnosis, made it pretty clear it had been an intestinal virus. Evidently, they last 3 days, so I figured I'd better get back to living.

The past few days I've been dealing with catching up on food shopping, dealing with garden maintenance and the  abundance from two gardens, making pizza sauce, marinara sauce and today, a tomato based vegetable, macaroni soup. Yesterday was the first day I felt like my energy was coming back, so now I'm checking out the weather report for the next ten days and starting to think about firing that little soda kiln as soon as the replacement baso valve arrives and I can get someone to deal with that frozen kiln plumbing. I have one, still a bit store, scarred pinkie to prove that some things are best left to the professionals!

PS: I did make some good use of that down time. I started a Soda and Salt firing group on Facebook that now has about 140 or more members.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Good the bad and the ugly

The firing is kind of what I expected with a couple of unpleasant surprises, which is why the blog today it titled "the good, the bad and the ugly!


 The best pot, or my favorite in the firing is this tiny test cup. Like Mary Poppins, it's practically perfect in every way. I love the color and design combination and will use it on larger cups and bowls as soon as I can throw again.

 Jim and I love this bowl which I made for us since my only big bowl met it's demise a month or more ago when it become at one with the kitchen tiled floor and broke into enough pieces that only a mosaic artist could appreciate. I'll put a big price tag on it and that should keep someone from buying it tomorrow. I love how brushing the slips with the intent of having some of the red clay show through works, so I'll be doing more of that. My pea green mason stain, used in a low percentage is a slip color I will keep. I love it and it works well with the gold.


  • Since I no longer can have chickens, I'm enjoying putting them on some pots. My real ones always made me smile, so hopefully others will enjoy seeing them on some of this work.

The bad:

One of the bad ones is this bowl with the Axner red under glazes crawling, pooling and running; and I have no idea why this happened.

                                              






Another bad puzzler is why the bisqued slip and well dried glaze jumped off this pot in the firing. It is certainly a puzzlement. It happened on a couple of the pots. I'd love to know what caused this so I can avoid it in the future. I'm just grateful that I made a lot of small experimental pots at this early state of my working with earthenware. It certainly is a different experience than high fire and soda fired work.

 
I will spare you the ugly!  Actually, there was only one ugly - just way too much of a good thing because I didn't know when to stop decorating! All was well until I decide it need a bright blue center. Bad decision!

When I opened the electric kiln to see how the firing went. I already knew that there was a problem with the Ayumi slip on many of the pots. I slipped some of those at the pretty hard leather hard stage and when bisqued, the slip crazed. A lesson learned on this earthenware journey. But, I wasn't expecting to see the other problems that showed up in this firing. It was definitely a WTF moment looking at some of these pots.

Some pots as one example shown above, had little chunks of slip and glaze pop off.  I glazed yesterday, dried the pots outside and then fired with a 6 hour hold at 100 degrees just to make sure they were dry, and continued with a slow firing after that.I was sure that would work, and it did for most of the pots.

Some under glazes crawled and even ran on a flat plate in one instance (like the bird house pot above). The pots were clean, and sponged before glazing, so why did this happen on some of the pots? Was the under glaze applied too thick, or is cone 03 too high for them? But probably not the temperature since some others were fine fired at the same temperature. It's a mystery to be solved and re-solved.

Some of the under glazes applied to bisque and glazed over, were dry. Another WTF moment, since the rest of the pot was fine but the handle or knob on one pot not. These pots were dipped, so why was the same color under glaze dry on one part of the pot and not another?????? It's all a mystery right now.

The colors on the  test tiles were awful, but I wanted to test a 2% black iron version of a honey glaze on top of various slip colors to see how they would modify the colors. They did modify, but not only didn't offer anything, but made them look dull and brought in some funny speckling from the black iron on a few. Another good learning experience.

I'm eager to get back and make more pots now, since I do not give up easily  on anything; but this very injured pinkie has to heal before throwing, so maybe my initial attempt at soap making will come sooner than this fall. The swelling is down a bit more this morning, the purplish color is still present, but looks a bit more faded than yesterday. There's no pain and it doesn't feel like there's any nerve damage, so all is good. My only problem now is to figure out why those under-glazes acted the way they did. Hopefully some readers will come up with some helpful reasons and solutions for this under glaze problem. Please feel free to offer all opinions!

Monday, August 18, 2014

What a difference a day makes.

What a difference a day makes isn't just a line from a song! I thought I'd be useless yesterday after the finger trauma, but I perked up enough to get a couple of little test earthenware cups in the mini, one cu. ft test kiln And since my finger seemed to stop the heavy bleeding, and was no longer hurting,  and the clear glaze was made, I decided to start glazing and doing a bit of decorating on a few pots. The finger is still very swollen, and the purple, black and blue on the whole thing is starting to fade into a more softened version of the color combination, bordering more on light gray, and lavender. LOL

Since it wasn't made long ago, I didn't re-sieve the clear glaze, but mixed it well with my good  turbo mixer and am hoping for the best. It was time to take some calculated risks and short cuts if I have any hope of having pots for Wednesdays show. Over the years I've learned to not make the pots so precious that I'm not afraid to lose them.

As I glazed the pots, they were put in the sun and with it, along with a little help from my heat gun, I felt comfortable loading them after dinner. Checking the weather, and getting an all clear, I decided to fire overnight with a very slow firing just to make sure they were as dry as they seemed. So a first ramp of 100 degrees an hour with a 6 hour hold, and then proceeding a bit normally after that seemed like a good choice.

At 2:30 am I was awakened by the sound of thunder and then saw the flashing of lightning coming through the bedroom window. So much for the clear weather report. A short, sense of panic arose not just for the electric kiln but the gas soda kiln.

Jim had covered the small soda kiln with a tarp, but couldn't wheel it next to the house (he didn't know I had locked the wheels). So there I was in the middle of night risking getting hit by lightning while unlocking the wheels and pushing the kiln against the house. Good thing, because I noticed a tear in the tarp and it was right on top, so I got a big bat and put that over the tear. The storm, so far, wasn't bringing any rain (it's those dry storms that cause these August fires on the west coast), and the electric kiln was still going, so I decided to let it continue firing, since it seemed the thunder and lightning was moving west and on it's way out, I hoped!

The kiln was still going this morning and is now 1070 degrees. So far so good. The little test pots in the tiny kiln were not great. I fired them to cone 03 and that might have been too high for that glaze. All three had the same amber glaze over black slip; but two had pin holes and one was perfect. There's only one small cup with this glaze in the larger kiln and the rest of the clear glaze, so I'm hoping the pots will be OK with the longer firing and a 15 minute soak at the end. It's time to cross the fingers and maybe ask for some heavenly help!

With summer starting to wind down I'm hoping that I can get a bit more on top of this earthenware. I've certainly learned a lot with just a few firings, and have a long list of to do's and not to do's, and add to the list with every firing. The Ayumi slip I'm using doesn't seem to like being applied to firm leather hard pots (got cracking on drying on the thinly applied slip). Also learned that you have to be very careful slipping pots and be very thorough cleaning the slip off unwanted section, because even a slight shadow of remain slip will show through under the clear glaze over the red body. These clear glaze want to be quite thin (not sure I have that one done pat). In the current firing I dipped some and brushed some. It will be interesting to see how this first attempt at brushing glazes went.

The rest of my day is going to be spent with cooking after morning garden chores and breakfast. I have a lot of eggplant and other garden produce that I should be cooking today and the next couple of days. Since we have leftovers tonight, I think I'll make an Italian marinated appetizer with one or two of the eggplants and save the others for eggplant parmesan on another day. Our daughter-in-law sent Jim home with three packages of mozzarella that she didn't get to use while they were here for a few days, as well as other garden veggies I gave her, so the eggplant parmesan and pizza will definitely be on this weeks dinner menu. Somewhere in there will be cucumber salad or one kind or another.

The garden awaits!




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Never too old to stop dreaming

Decided to not get this deep gash stitched up, so I sat up with my hand above my heart till bedtime to slow down the bleeding; but added three more band aids to protect the sheets. This morning I cut off the band aids and cleaned the area. It's still oozing a tiny bit but I think it will close on its own in another day or so. The swelling hasn't gone down and the  black and blue from being traumatized is now on the whole pinkie, but it feels a whole lot better than it did last night and the cut area looks a lot better.

Needless to say I didn't get to say goodbye to our son and his family. Jim drove our grandson home and brought back some lovely brownies our daughter in law made. Fortunately I had a mac n' cheese in the freezer and a lovely big beefsteak tomato that I harvested in the morning, so we managed to have a comfort food dinner and finished off a lovely bottle of Seghesi Zinfandel with it all.

Our daughter-in-law has left us a leftover dinner care package of pulled pork which we'll pick up this afternoon so I get a dinner kitchen break tonight.

Since it looks like I won't have to sit with my hand above my heart today, I'll get my morning hand watering done and after breakfast get back out to the kiln and continue spraying the liquid wrench, which is what I started doing before I got attacked by that concrete brick the size of a double hard fire brick. Hopefully the liquid wrench application will help the plumber remove those burners so I can clean the orifices and also get that bar that they are attached to unscrewed, and moved so that the burners will sit upright and be centered in the ports.

Jim, my sweet husband said "just get a new kiln". That would be nice, but Olympic is the only company these days making these small gas kilns which is the only kind I can have here. If circumstances were different, I would build another soda kiln, but since they're not I just have to deal with what I have to finish firing these bisqued soda pots and probably just focus on the electric kiln after that.

These hobby type, small Olympic gas kilns with the upward facing burners and insulating firebrick won't last long with soda firing. I think it will last long enough for me to get all these pots fired but who knows. If it lasts that long and goes even longer, then I'll switch to cone 6 soda. My other option would be to look for a free, non working, larger electric kiln and set it up with a single, quality, powerful burner  coming in from the side, and hitting the center of the floor placed target brick to disperse the heat and flame. I could probably use the current stand which I put on rollers, to hold it - just might have to put a piece of steel slightly larger than the stand to hold a larger kiln. I guess there are always options. Another possibility is to use the current stand, put a heavy steel plate over it and build myself an updraft  IFB kiln, first spraying the bricks on five sides with ITC 100, and use an ITC 100 treated, high alumina fire board for a lid  At my age and life circumstances, it may all be wishful thinking; but I figure that you're never too old to stop dreaming.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blood sweat and groans

Got the kiln unloaded and of course the glue on the wadded pots had gone up the flue during the aborted firing, so I brought the pots on the shelves into the studio and got all the wads glued back on.

Then I installed the new thermocouple for the pilot burner and turned on the kiln. Fine so far, turned the heat up high no blue flame and a couple of seconds later the kiln shut down. So it look like I need a new baso valve.

I tried to clean out the orifices by reaching into the kiln with my make shift long piece of wood with a  thin sewing needle taped to the end. This has worked for 40 years, but I just couldn't feel the orifice opening, nor see it with the 3 flash lights I tried. I also noticed that the burners were not only slightly tilted, but not centered properly in the port openings. So I got out some pliers figuring I could loosen the bolts that hold the metal bar that the burners are attached to, and try to remove the burners to clean them. All the bolts are frozen. Being prepared for most studio problems, I went in to get some liquid wrench spray to unfreeze those bolts and as I was spraying, my left hand was in front of one of the wind screens, which was secured from wind with a very large, heavy brick.

Somehow I managed to hit the wind screen and it and the heavy brick came crashing down on top of the front of my left pinkie hitting the bottom edge of the nail and creating a deep gash in the finger. Intense pain, blood everywhere, ran to the studio to run finger under water, grab hand towel paper and get in the house for a better look, antiseptic and band aids and antibiotic cream. The pain was so intense that it made me nauseous. A tylenol or maybe just time made the severe pain go away after about twenty minutes. Now it's just aching.and a lovely color of blackish blue/purple but still bleeding.

Bottom line is I will not be firing this soda or any kiln for a few days at least. I hope when the plumber arrives he
can fix that plumbing, get those burners off and get the pipe they sit on shifted so that they will point straight up.

Time to change these band aids. It's been over a half an hour now with me sitting here with my left hand in the air most of the time, trying to slow it down. I sure hope I don't have to get stitches. It's the family's last night here before they head back to L.A. and I'd much rather be spending it with them, than at the emergency ward.

My daughter-in-laws step father and our friend Doctor Bob is on the way over to take a look at it. Maybe there's a special suture like tight bandage can close this gash. I certainly hope so.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Facebook soda group address correction and firing update

Here's the correct URL for the Soda and Salt firing group I started on Facebook:;

https://www.facebook.com/groups/746611698711026/

Seems the first group I started, was not a true group; but a community. Who knew there was a difference! This corrected one (a true group), now allows members posts to be in the main part of the page instead of off to the side. It also allows member to create albums to post photos of their kilns and work, and add files. Members also have the option of receiving emails whenever anyone posts or they can opt out of receiving those posts via email, and just check messages at their leisure on the Facebook, group home page. Ask to be invited if you are interested in soda or salt firing, or are planning to be involved in this type of firing in the future, or are just a fan of soda and salt firing.

Got my little, soda, test kiln loaded yesterday and candled overnight and then ran into the first problem around 700 and again at 900 degrees (kiln just shut off even though it was well protected with a wind screen). The second time I just shut it down and waited for Jim to get back with the car and then we headed to Lowes where I got a new pilot thermocouple, a 6 inch bar clamp and large C clamp just in case the problem is with the baso valve and not the thermocouple. One or both of those clamps may work to depress that starter button on the baso valve and thermocouple and just light the burners manually.   I thought the bar clamp was a better option at the moment.
I've decided to unload and re-load it tomorrow morning. Once empty, I'll drill a 1/4" hole in the one exposed brick, for one of the Fluke thermocouples. I've been removing the thermocouple during my spraying so this will be a time saver.  I'll still have to remove the other thermocouple when spraying but better one than two to have to deal with.

There was a great heat differential top to bottom early on which I didn't have in the last firing, so I'm going to change the spacing on the first couple of  half shelve,s as suggested by Olympic, and use the solid shelf as the last shelf. Other Olympic owners have reported these huge temperature differences and have come up with some
some interesting tweaks to try to get these kilns to fire evenly. Some have had some success and others have given up. Uneven kilns are a good reason to have glazes with a wide firing range, or adjust your glazes to fit the uneven temperatures, or have a lot of patience and be willing to do many firings to figure out your kiln's idiosyncrasies.

Since our son and family are in town and leave on Sunday, I'm going to put off this firing till Sunday and use the cool of the morning tomorrow to do those little adjustments, re-load, then candle overnight with that clamp depressing the baso valve button for insurance. This kiln should be cool enough to unload late Monday or early Tuesday, giving me enough time to clean, price and pack those few pots for Wednesday. Some kilns like some horses are just hard keepers!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Started a Soda Salt fire group on Facebook


One of the members of my Yahoo soda and salt firing group suggested that it might be a good idea to start a Facebook page for the group, so I did that yesterday. Here's the URL https://www.facebook.com/sodaandsaltfiring for anyone interested in soda or salt firing to check out. I still have to figure out how to get members messages to post in the main body of the page instead of on the left side.

The Yahoo group is moderated to avoid spam mail and the group has been very quiet as of late, but it's a good repository for a lot of soda and salt flashing slip and glaze recipes, as well as photos of members work and kilns. I think the Facebook page, might bring more activity to the group since I allowed anyone to read or post on the page.

Because of the rain yesterday which prevented me from candling over night, I decided to put off the firing a day and load today so I could candle over night. It makes firing day a lot easier that way.

We had some lovely barbecued ribs at our sons last night and right after dinner a couple of the guys went out with the guide to fish the salmon holes right in front of the house. Within minutes we heard a lot of celebratory hollering and they caught the first of salmon for tonight's dinner, so I don't have to cook again tonight. What a treat!

After morning watering and harvesting chores I'm heading right to the studio for the day. Since I put off loading yesterday I wound up glazing and wadding more soda pots, mixing up a bit more wadding, and weighing out a test batch of turquoise oribe and using that as an accent glaze on one of the mugs since I don't have any cone 10 test tiles on hand.

This morning I need to clear the slab roller (my only work table), which means clearing the short side of the table and moving the earthenware pots waiting to be glazed to that side, and getting all the soda pots that are decorated on the table so I can decide which ones to load for this firing. There are enough pots already decorated to do a couple of firings in this tiny, four cubic foot Olympic soda test kiln (now my only soda kiln) so I just have to decide to pick a selection of pots to add the already fired ones to take to the Eagle Point Women's club luncheon/sale next Wednesday. I have no expectations of 20 or fewer, mainly retired women, buying any pots, but it will be the easiest show I've ever done, since they supply the tables and covers and all I have to do is set up some pots on an 8 foot long table and get to know more of my neighbor ladies.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The early bird catches the worms

I didn't catch any worms but I was in the studio at 5:30 am waxing a few more pots and will glaze them as soon as I finish my first cup of tea.

There are more pots decorated and wadded than will fit in this tiny Olympic gas soda kiln, but since the glazes were made and ready to pour, I decided to keep going, so I 'd have enough for another firing when weather and my energy permits. Seeing all these pots ready to be fired is making me think that a larger kiln might be a good thing down the line. My first thought would be an old electric kiln to convert; but then I think about my health and my age and take a deep breath, and tell myself that it may be time to just give all of that up and stick with this little kiln and fire it the few times a year when the weather permits. That would be the most practical thing at this stage of my life.

Checking today's weather (thunder storms, isolated thunder storms, rain and showers, all day and all evening). The forecast says it clears at midnight when I will be happily in restful sleep, so it looks like I'll be up very early again tomorrow to load and start firing. If I see that there's a lull in those isolated showers, I might just take a chance and load and re-cover the kiln, then wheel it out first thing in the morning and start firing. Ideally I would have love to candle it overnight, but that is just not possible with this forecast.

This rain is welcome since the Eagle Point/Shady Cove fire jumped the fire lines and doubled overnight and is threatening 134 homes. There is a mandatory evacuation order for those threatened, so hopefully, mother nature will help the firefighters with a bit of this rain. August is always a big fire season on the west coast. We get these dry storms - no rain, but thunder and lighting which starts the fires.

We have light rain for the last half hour and with more on the way all day, I won't have to spend any time gardening, so it going to be a long studio day. Once I get another batch of wadding made, and finish these soda pots, I'll start glazing those earthenware pots if it has settled enough for me to get a bit more water out of the bucket, and get those fired over the week end.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Soda firing on schedule for Thursday

 Since it was obvious to me that I wouldn't have enough good earthenware pots for a decent display in 8 days, and my clear glaze needed settling before I could glaze, I decided to shift gears and do a soda firing. I have plenty of finished work to choose from and just needed to make a liner glaze and one or two of my accent glazes, do a bit of wadding and glazing and be ready to fire in two days.

Miracle of miracles, I actually got what amounted to a full day in the studio yesterday and it felt great!  Soda firing is my passion and I haven't felt this good about being in the studio for a while. Wish I could get as excited about the earthenware as I am about soda firing.

The morning was the usual gardening chores at two gardens, but afternoon was all studio time and I even went back out after dinner and worked till 9 o'clock.

I made a small batch of my bright blue celadon liner and wadded more pots and got enough pots glazed and decorated for a firing. Since rain is in the forecast for today and tomorrow, I'm aiming to fire Thursday which will be the coolest day in weeks. It's forecast to be in the 80's which is a great change from the 100 plus degree and 90's we've had for weeks.

This morning I have to make up a tiny batch of amber celadon which I use watery thin to make flashing orange halos. For insurance sake, I'll wad and glaze a couple of more pots this morning and if I have time maybe make a small, 1000 gram batch of my temmoku liner for a few pots. I'm not sure a couple of these pots will fit on these shelves in this tiny Olympic kiln. .

Dinner is my leftover spicy Mexican stir fry chicken and margaritas, so it looks like I will have plenty of time to at least finish these soda pots and maybe even work a bit on the earthenware if that glaze has settled enough since yesterday for me to pour off the excess water.

Time to do my morning hand watering, breakfast and off to the studio for the day.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Abundance

This is yesterdays first harvest of Corno de Toro frying peppers. These grew in half of one of my earth boxes. Bell peppers are in the other half.  Needless to say these were part of  our hero of  fried sausage, onion, and of course, pepper dinner. The rest will be used again tomorrow. Maybe I'll add some tomatoes to the mix and serve it over pasta instead.

The kitchen table is covered with onions, potatoes and shallots which are drying and a part of the kitchen counter is covered with tomatoes. My dinner menu is governed by the abundance of the days harvest, so tonight I'm doing a Mexican chicken, tomato, onion and serrano chile stir fry and margaritas.

The maintenance and generosity of these two gardens is taking up at least half of my days working hours, ; but I did get a full  afternoon in the studio yesterday. It took almost 3 hours just to re-mix six of my under-glazes which resembled settled concrete after sitting for months. I managed to wax the pots, get those under glazes remixed,  which entailed  a lot of pounding, grinding in a mortar and straining (not fun), and at the end of the day, after waxing and re-constituting those under glazes, I had only decorated  one mug and one bowl.

Today should go quicker since not too many pots need a lot of decoration. The only glitch will be if I have to re-mix any more under glazes.  Time to hit the shower,  then do some hand watering out front because someone working on the lawn broke one of the drip system connectors and I would have lost a lot of plants if I hadn't discovered that yesterday. It's always something!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Bisque unloaded



Got the bisque unloaded last night and forgot how few pots were actually in there! I had a lot of test tiles and impression stamps and not many pots that could be for sale. The teapot is a special order for our daughter, the large bowl is one I made for us. A couple of the pots have a problem with the slip cracking and I think it may be because I didn't slip them early enough - still learning on this earthenware journey. With this scant amount of possible pots, I may just have to fire my soda kiln early next week. The pots are made, just have to line and do minor glaze decoration on a few more. I'm not thrilled with firing a soda kiln during these mid 90 and 100 degree days but it looks like I may have to.

One nice thing about earthenware is that you can fire bisque and glazed pots in the same load. One of my experimental decorations turned out to be ugly to the max.  It might have been OK if I just omitted the bright blue center on the plate.  This was definitely a case of the need to remember the "less is more" philosophy.. 

 I'll head to the studio late morning after all my garden and other chores, and start glazing and decorating these pots till late afternoon when we have to go to town for some shopping and dinner out. There definitely won't be enough earthenware pots for the sale in a few weeks, but I do have some finished soda/salt pots that I can add to the mix, and if I get another small soda firing in, all should be fine.

These are for our women's club annual luncheon and members craft display/sale, so I wasn't wanting to lug boxes and boxes of pots to start with,  just make a small presentation of my current work, have a nice lunch and finally meet some of these ladies, after over two years of being a member and being too busy or not intrigued enough  to attend a single event.




Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Bisque firing day

Doing a bisque firing today. The kiln isn't full, but I have enough other bisqued pots to fill it for a glaze firing, so all is well. I signed up for the Eagle Point Women's club annual member sale/show and I have about two weeks to get all these pots finished, which shouldn't be a problem, even with only half days available for studio time.

There's no expectation that this is going to be any kind of a money generating event, since so many members of this club are retired and on fixed income and this is not a club with a huge membership; but I figure that after living here almost 2 1/2 years, it might be time to temporarily end my happy, almost hermit like existence, and see if there are any kindred spirits in the community other than my friendly neighbor Kay.

My garden spraying was done by 7am and I just have to get the hand watering done before breakfast and the rest of the day will be for cooking and re-mixing two of my glazes and decorate and glaze the few bisqued pots on the ware cart. I'm hoping that the air conditioner will make the studio comfortable, even with the kiln on; but that remains to be seen. If it turns out to be an oven in there, I'll put off those chores till tomorrow, which may not be a bad idea, since I've been fighting some kind of bug which has really zapped my energy the past three days.  I'll continue with my mega vitamin and oscillicocinum therapy and keep moving, albeit, at a slower pace.

Half the slab roller table is clear, now that the soap making storage area is complete, so I just have to clear the rest of it and get it ready for glazing. This big slab roller is my only work table, so I'm always having to clear it for the next job. After decades of having very generous sized studios, it's still taking me time to get used to all this moving and shifting in such a tight space. It's doable, just a pain in the butt at times. But this is a first world problem, so I'll quit my bitchin'.

 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Tomatoes and peppers are doing great


My two earth boxes are loaded with tomatoes and peppers.; and the hot peppers and other tomatoes in the raised beds are doing just as well, and maybe even a bit better if I got by size of the largest tomato in the garden. I'm going to have to look up a lot more tomato recipes soon, and probably do a bit of canning and/or freezing in another week.

Went to the store after breakfast to buy some canning jars and pectin and was ready to make peach jam when I got home, and the bottom rack of my big canning pot is missing, and no where to be found! AARGH. It's another thing that may have just gone walkies during our move. Looks like peach jam is not going to get made today or till I get a bottom rack. Oh well, there was Buffalo wings, fresh corn on the cob, garden fresh wax beans and margaritas for dinner. I shall not complain too much!

Got my gardening chores done before 8am. It's was smoky out there and got worse as the day progressed. We now have 7 fires here in the valley,  plus that very large one east of Ashland, so it was a good day to stay indoors once my morning gardening, and a trip to the local farm for corn and another quick stop for some canning jars and a few other pick up groceries.

I  found a vintage canner rack on Ebay this afternoon, and it should be here within the week. The Amazon reviews on the new ones were not good (the word flimsy came up a lot) so it was time to look up vintage racks and Ebay has quite a few. Fortunately, peaches will still be in season for another couple of weeks, so there may yet be some home made ginger peach jam in the Perry cupboard this fall.

Since the day's plan was thrown off,  I got in the studio a bit and moved some things around while searching, in vain, for the bottom rack of the canner. I think I can free that whole shelf  for those test glaze containers. I'll finish that right after breakfast tomorrow.

 Jim wants a quiet Sunday at home and he'll get his wish, but not until after the morning drive to our sons place for me to do some garden chores.

I should get the whole afternoon in the studio since, at Jims request I've put off gumbo making till Monday. He loved the corn so much he wants it again tomorrow, so corn on the cob, a tomato salad with these garden fresh tomatoes and a mild Italian sausage will make for a fast, easy dinner in this 100 degree weather and give me a decent block of studio time, which has been a rarity for me this summer. Next year I'll be content with just dealing with one garden to care for. That's about all this old body can manage these days if I still want time and energy for the studio.







Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's almost there; but one shelf wasn't enough for these soap making supplies. I just need another hour in the studio to finish it - just have to find a place for the rest of those glaze test batches.

Yesterday I had my gardening chores finished before 8am. With these hundred degree days, getting out that early is a must. A few days ago I had a bout of heat prostration and that was not fun, so I'm being super careful for the rest of the week.

The rest of my day was spent cooking and getting some of these soap making supplies off my slab roller and getting them on the cleared shelf, which obviously wasn't big enough, so I found another large, deep container and filled it with enough glaze test containers to open up another half of the shelf below. Today I need to find a place for the rest of them. I also put together that wooden two tier stand. That was a great $9.999 buy at Fred Meyers, because it is perfect to double as a soap drying rack.

I made some truly delicious oven baked zucchini fries for lunch the other day. Even Jim who prefers the flavors of high fat foods love these.  If you want the recipe, you can check our my other blog: www.plantharvestcook.blogspot.com

 Dinner was quesaillas and an apple crisp with vanilla gelato for dessert. That was pretty much my day other than making a chart for all the soap ingredients I have on hand, doing email and some computer cleanup.

Time to do my hand watering, have some breakfast and do some refrigerator cleanup and process some of those surplus veggies for the freezer. I'll get in the studio after lunch to finish that soap supplies storage and maybe actually get my hands on some pots. Our son is in town for a couple of days and we're going to have pizza at the river house tonight. He has a fishing guide there for till dusk and I might just go out and cast a few while the guide works the salmon hole.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Now this is some kind of wonderful production throwing skills




This video is wonderful. I'm sure he could do this blindfolded - amazing demonstration of remarkable, production, throwing skills.

We are back to the well over 100 degree days. It was over 106 yesterday and the heat really got to me. Today I will get all my gardening done before 8am and stay indoors the rest of the day. I have veggies to process for the freezer, after breakfast, and early dinner prep to do after lunch and maybe a bit more time in the studio.

I was in there yesterday but even with the air on it was way too hot to stay in there too long. Too much of that lovely cool air just leaks right through the garage door gaps. This morning I was in there at 5am, trying to make space for the rest of the soap making supplies and  filling a big rubbermaid bin with containers of glaze tests. Seems that one shelf is not enough for all of those soap and mold making supplies.

Yesterday I bought a couple of shelf organizers to make better use of my tall,  metal shelving unit. The wooden one that I unpacked this morning will help. With it's spaced, wood slats, I realized that this little $9, double shelf unit would be a perfect soap drying rack, so I'll probably be back to Fred Meyers in the next couple of days to buy another one just for that job. Now I just have to figure out where I'm going to store the rest of those earthenware slip and glaze test batches. Hopefully I can find some space under the Bailey slab roller. It's the only possible place left unless I buy another outdoor storage unit. Now that's an idea!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Where do you put it all



The last of my necessary soap supplies arrives today. Since lye is used by some people with some not very good or legal intentions, the government keeps track of lye sales and I have to sign for delivery.

I was lucky to find the right non virgin olive oil at a Cash and Carry store in town. I was told that it's hard to find except on line, and shipping would be horrendous. So I went to Google(the font of al wisdom) and searched wholesale foods and restaurant supplies in our area, and found this store. I was even able to do a search for their products which saved a driving trip if they didn't carry that particular oil.

It's a great store for restaurant cooking tools, food storage items,  and large,regular and gigantic sizes for food, etc.  and discounts for case purchases, and even fresh veggies. We were on our way to Ashland for some grocery shopping yesterday, so I didn't spend a lot of time checking out the whole store. They have stores  Washington state, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho. I was like a kid in a candy store just roaming down the kitchen equipment aisle; but Ashland was calling, so I'll have to go back another day and see what other goodies they have.

My other goal was to stop by a few charity shops in search of a crock pot for soap making and I got lucky at the Salvation Army store, where I got a Rival crock pot for five dollars.

Right now, the short end of my slab roller has all these soap making fats, oils, scents, molds, bowls, mixer, etc. taking up that space and I'm scratching my head wondering where I'm going to store these things. I've gone up as much as I can in my garage/studio with shelving and two metal racks suspended from the ceiling, so I may just have to look under my big slab roller and see if I can consolidate some of those buckets and made room for these all these supplies. Or, my only other possibility is a tall wire shelving unit which now houses lots of glaze test containers, bowls of fired glaze test and other studio related things.  That just may be the better choice, since it would put everything closer to my scale.

I'll just have to get in there at some point today or tomorrow. If my delivery comes early enough, we want to drive up to the mountains this afternoon for lunch and maybe check if the wild blueberries are ready for picking at Blueberry flats. If not, then I'll get in the studio and figure out this storage dilemma.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quiet Sunday in lake country

We had a lovely, quiet Sunday afternoon after a busy morning of  running around town shopping. We took a drive up to Fish Lake for a burger dinner. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as it's been in the past, so next time we'll order something else, or try one of the other lakes; but we prefer the smallness, and less glitchy, non resort vibe of Fish lake. I brought my fishing pole but was so relaxed, just sitting near the lake, with the lovely breeze, that there was no need or energy to fish. I did take a little stroll with Bodhi along the shoreline which he loved, since there were several other dogs there who he was happy to meet. He is a very social guy!

In the morning we ran around to a bunch of stores for me to get more of my soap making supplies and a bit of food shopping. No one had the brand of silicone I was looking for, so when I got home I watched a few more mold making videos and saw that there were other brands people were using. So tonight, on the way back from doing evening gardening work at our sons place, I'll stop and pick some up. I did get lucky at Good Will and found a couple of silicone molds made for cooking, which will work fine for soap making.

Later this week I should be able to have all the soap making equipment and raw materials either on hand or waiting for delivery. There are only 3 things left to buy, so that fall project will be ready to go and I can focus on finishing up studio pots. One order is due to arrive on the 29th, but everything else will be here sooner.

Jim is off to the hospital for a test and wants a pancake breakfast when he gets home. Yesterday I made him bruschetta for lunch with the first tomatoes. He was smiling with every bite. I have a lot of baby artichokes that I have to find recipes for. The large ones are easy  - I just stuff them with a bread crumb, parmesan, herb mix. In the past, I always got large artichokes but this year, the plants are giving off a whole bunch of babies. Don't know how that happened. It's a mystery yet to be solved!

I'm still transferring files from the hard drive that I salvaged from the Dell XPS laptop that died, and I have to get my old iPad set up for emails. I was at ATT a few days ago and they got it set up for cellular, but I'm hitting a wall trying to set up my email up on it.  Following their on line instructions is repeatedly giving me error messages about my password and user name, so after breakfast I'll have to call them and see if they can figure this out. None of my other apple devices are sending emails, only receiving them after upgrading to the new operating system. So maybe they can help with that problem as well because I've tried every solution I found on line and even one call to Century Link a couple of weeks ago, proved useless. Maybe this time I'll get a more knowledgeable tech person. One can only hope!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oregon is on fire

This morning the news is reporting that 150,000 acres are on fire in our state. Luckily, so far, the fires are north and east of us. I hope this year isn't as bad as last year, which was horrific. We had to stay indoors for weeks at a time because at one point we were surrounded by several big fires.

I was out at 7am planting some more beans, tying up and pruning some tomatoes, harvesting some chiles and repotting a,  going to seed, dill plant to make room in the raised bed for the beans, and doing my hand watering. The Serrano chiles are now producing well, so it looks like there will be nachos and margaritas this weekend.  Some critter has stuck his nose into the bottom of my earth box with the big, beautiful tomatoes, and has eaten half of the one just starting to ripen. There's been a skunk smell around a couple of times this week, so it's either him or a large rodent - probably a relative of the one I named Ratatouille last summer, who came face to face with a rat trap and lost, thanks to big time hunter - my husband Jim. Time to find a critter repellant or something more drastic.

Some more soap making goodies (shea butters and a couple of essential oils) arrived late yesterday and I got those unpacked and gave myself some pre-breakfast email, soap making reading and note taking time. Now it's time to make some breakfast, put the laundry away, hit the shower, feed the sourdough starter, turn on the studio air conditioner and watch a couple of soap making videos while the studio cools - not necessarily in the order given. One must always remain flexible, since the unwritten rule that  man/woman plans and God laughs, will always prevail.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

107 in the shade

Got my hand watering, transplanted a couple of veggies, and fed all the veggies before 9am. I'm not going out again till around just before dusk, when I'll plant some of my spinach starts. It's going to be 107 today!

Last night, I got in the studio after dinner and went through my tools to make up a package for the potter in West Virginia who just lost his house and studio in a fire. When I had a much larger studio, I had a couple of wheels and a lot of duplicate ribs, trim tools, and some other small tools, sponges, etc. So it was just a matter of going through boxes and trays to sort out duplicates. 

One can only imagine how dreadful it would be to not only lose your home but your studio - the source of your income.

Other than cooking, gardening and a couple of meetings with  the lawn guy and TV repair man (good news is that the TV isn't dead. Bad news is that it's a $450 fix!). It was a costly day since it's going to cost that much  or a bit more to replace our sod in the front yard.). Good thing I decided to put off buying a new computer and the iPad mini after I found out that new iPads are supposed to be coming out this fall.

I spent some time after dinner ordering some Pyrex bowls and a vintage double burner cook top for the studio. I can use it for soap making and for heating wax. My old one was going strong after 38 years or more but it was pretty raggy and I left it in North Carolina when we moved; but after reading reviews on modern versions of anything electrical, they seem to all be junk - don't work well, fail in a matter of months, have cheap plastic gears, etc.

There's still an immersion blender,some old pots and wooden spoons to get before I get started on my first attempt at soap making. So far, I haven't found a used one, but I'll look a bit longer before I bite the bullet and buy a new one since the quality choices all seem to have limitations.

Some of my soap molds are coming from China and won't be here for a few weeks, so there's no rush to complete the list. Meantime, I'll finish up paperwork here while waiting for the TV repair man who's going to be here within the hour to remove the loaner and get our repaired TV set up.  When Jim gets back from the hospital I'll be heading to the studio for a little while, to do a bit more organizing - a never ending chore in this small space, and more so now that I have to find a place for all these soap making supplies. On days like this I'm so grateful that I put a heater/air conditioner unit in my studio.

In this extreme heat, I'll be making one of my ten, fifteen minute dinners - linguine with clam sauce. It's almost too hot to eat, let alone cook! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

West Virginia potter needs help after a house and studio fire


West Virginia potter Dan Templeton had a house fire that destroyed his home and studio and is in need of donations and equipment and such........donations can be sent to Dan Templeton 1106 North Fork Road
Wheeling West Virginia 26003. He has use of a wheel already but is need of ribs and other small tools and any money donations will help him get backup and potting. Dan makes wonderful traditional style salt glazed pots in the 18th century American nature.......a great guy with a lot of talent. from Ken Westfall

I'll be going in the studio when we get back from my morning gardening chores at our sons place, and start searching for things to send Dan Templeton. I know I have a lot of duplicates as well as things I no longer need. So if you have extra boxes of cones from temperatures you no longer work at, extra brushes, sponges, ribs, trim tools, etc. put them in a padded envelope or small box and send them. And of course, a little donation to help him would help a lot as well.

It's 6:30, I've had my last sip of my first cup of tea, and it's time for me to head out in my nightie and do my morning hand watering. It's going to be another 100 degree day in Southern Oregon, so we'll be heading over to our sons place before breakfast to harvest some veggies and do a bit of hand watering.

Hopefully in the afternoon the TV repair man will arrive to fix this bedroom TV, although I must say the quiet after dinner last night was lovely!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Doesn't everyone garden in a nightie

These 100 degree in the shade days are going to continue for the rest of the week, which is why I was out in the back yard at 6:30 this morning, in my nightie, watering, planting, dead heading and re-potting a bunch of things.

After breakfast I decided to have some Sunday morning relax time, do email and turn on the TV for some background noise and see how the championship soccer was going. The bedroom flat screen Samsung was dead! First the Dell XPS laptop dies and now this TV.  That was my first AARGH reaction! But, It may not be dead. Some google detective work on my part turned up a class action lawsuit around these Samsung flat screen TV's. seems there's a little six or seven dollar capacitor in them that is a faulty design, and since Samsung knew about it they settled and did a recall. So why were were never informed of this? And now they tell us, the recall,  and free repair ended in December.

All they could do today was give us a phone number for a repair person We have a second Samsung in the living room, and that was bought in the period where there were still these problems. They knew of the problem and kept selling TV's. According to court records and their attorney's, about 7 million sets are affected. Thanks for nothing Samsung. There won't ever be another Samsung product purchased in this household. Problems can arise with anything; but impeccability demands you own up and fix it and not sweep it under the rug.

Needless to say we spent a lot of time first with Direct TV on the line, after we had spent a lot of  time on our own trying to fix the problem with re-setting everything. So I checked the Samsung book - no help there. Google was next and that's when I found out about the capacitor problem and the class action law suits in 3 states.

Next it was on the phone with Samsung, who informed us that the deadline was December to request the free repair. How were we to know there was a recall when we were never notified! So the best the Samsung customer service people could do was give us a number for a local repairman. That call made (he'll be here tomorrow), it was time for lunch and back to my email and finding out why all my Apple devices refuse to send emails. That problem still isn't solved, but I'm just too weary to get on the phone with Century link and find out whey they're refusing to let me send emails on Apple devices. It's been a technical over load day.

At least I did get to order some soap making supplies in between all of the above busyness, and join a soap making group on Yahoo, where I got some tips and information about some raw supplies. The past couple of days I've purchased some molds, oils and fragrances. Now I just need to buy a few more supplies, a stick blender,  and maybe some kind of double burner electric cook top, so I can make soap in my studio instead of the kitchen. Since soap making is going to be a fall project, I'll have time to check out local charity and thrift shops and garage sales for some of those things.

I had one of those double burner, portable cook tops in my studio in North Carolina , but I don't know if I brought it when we moved. It was pretty ancient and had been used for decades to hold my large wax pan. I'll check the studio and see if by chance, I kept it. Then it will be time to start on dinner. Tonight, it's a simple sardine, onion salad with boiled potatoes, and  cheese and fruit for dessert. It's way too hot to spend a lot of time bent over a hot stove.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Where will we go from here

In my bits of down time I've been perusing Pinterest and remembering the various trends and changes to pottery since I started in clay in the early 70's. At that time cone 9 was the preferred temperature and a reduction kiln was the dream of many of us just getting into clay. There wasn't much color in those days - lots of oatmeal and matt glazes, temmokus - probably the influence of the Leach era.  There were people like Betty Woodman, Ruth Duckworth and many others whose work went in a different and sometimes brazen direction for the time, but that wasn't was was seen at the majority of craft shows.

There were some great salt pots in those days from Karen Karnes, Don Reitz, and so many others. How many of us wished we had thought of the idea of those wonderful cut lids n Karen's jars, that made her pots so recognizable.

Remember Voulkos with those powerful platters with tears and holes? I always dreamed of owning one of those; but it was a dream unfulfilled; but I can still enjoy them from afar in well documented photos.

We had potters doing selfies, before they were called selfies - doing sculptures of themselves and doing it quite well.

Then cone 10 became the new ideal, and then wood firing caught on and everyone including myself was building wood kilns - lots more brown pots with few exceptions, like David Hendley who found a way to put vibrant color in his wood fired pieces. It seems for a while, and still true in many cases, that many were trying to mimic the historic, mingei and wabi feel of the tradition Anagama and Noborigama kilns of Japan. There were a lot of anagamas being built and a lot of brown crusty, pots in the 80's and 90's. At the same time we became conscious of what we were putting in the air, and all that black smoke coming out of those kilns made us consider an alternate choice for a wood kiln. I and others were building bourry box kilns in the early 80's in an attempt to have it both ways - wood fire pots without filling ours and other peoples lungs with too much of the bad stuff.

For a while temperatures were rising well beyond cone 10 and still may be.

There was also a big Raku trend in the 70's and 80's. There was the crystalline glazes trend with a lot of not very intriguing forms being covered with a glaze that held the hope it might bring an otherwise mediocre pot up to a higher level; but there were those who were also taking it to new heights with exciting forms to match the power of those glazes.

We saw clay being used to create lifelike pieces of luggage, and then there was the funk era with David Gilhooly leading the way with his amazing, outrageous and so funny pieces of frogs and beavers doing the most outrageous things in clay. Have you ever seen his erotica series of frogs making love inside a cheeseburger, and sliding off the melted cheese? It was one not to miss! The 70's were definitely fun.

Shinos were big in the 80's and are still a favorite with many of us potters; but often not so much for buyers. For some of the buying public it was more like shi - no. Temmokus often run into the same problem. Even black dogs are the last to be adopted. There's color prejudice every where it seems. Malcolm Davis made shinos very exciting with carbon trapping and his other discoveries, and opened the shino market up a bit more. People noticed.

We've been through so many style changes, some borrowed from other eras, like the duck bill pitchers and others and the newer, maybe not so new, boat forms, animated, dancing pots etc. etc. In the 90's and currently we've seen a big resurgence of majolica but in a newer, fresher presentation by many, slipware, both traditional and reaching for newer expressions. Raku grew, as all things must, from just shiny glazes that faded in time. And as the glazes in some cases, took a different, mellower, velvety road, the forms also grew.

We've had naked raku for a decade or more. There was salku and pit firings. People learned to wrap pots in silver foil along with some organic  materials and fire them in their electric kilns. I was doing some fun cone 10 saggar firings in the early 80's using jars that were made for industrial use and later sold in new age stores as crystal sounding bells. That was around the time I took as Paul Soldner, hands on workshop for low fired salt. I didn't stay with those too long, although I loved the look - just hated having to tell people that the pots shouldn't be put in a humid environment, like a kitchen or bathroom - usage just too limited for what I wanted to be functional work.

In the 90's soda firing and salt firing were very much in view and continue till today. The salt pots were not the pots of earlier eras with the look of brown sewer tile. Flashing slips and directional deposits of soda, gave a new look to the work. I joined the soda fire group, first converting my ancient Geil gas kiln in the early 90's and later went to a cross draft hard brick kiln. Health issues necessitated a move cross country and a huge lifestyle change, otherwise I'd still be solely, making that work. I love it.

With energy costs skyrocketing and communities putting more and more restrictions on wood and gas kilns, we've seen the firing temperatures lower and electric firing become the majority, I would say, of hobby and other work being produced now. Ceramic companies saw the trend and started selling some interesting glazes for cone 6 oxidation. People experimented with slow cooling, firing down techniques and overlapping glazes, using ash glazes, etc. to get more interest in those oxidation glazes. Spraying became a big trend and still is thanks to the efforts of Steven Hill, whose never ending exploration found a way to get the look of his cone 10 reduction glazes to work at cone 6 oxidation. Many professionals who previously worked in cone 10 reduction, switched to cone 6 reduction and oxidation. Many soda firers are now working in cone 6 and I've done a lot of testing at this temperature and may switch one of these days after I get these cone 10 pots fired in my mini, converted, gas, soda kiln.

Earthenware too is ever evolving. Ron Meyers made us look at other possibilities. Animal figures rule lately with rats, goats, chickens, birds, cows, squirrels, possums and others showing up with regularity; and charming they are!

The past few years we've seen birds on everything. I have to admit I love them and have drawn a few and put a few on some lids. But when will they become a cliche? Or, maybe they already have and my liking of them is blinding me, but  happily so, to that fact.

Deconstruction became a word not only in the food world but in the world of pottery as well. Slicing and dicing, nips and tucks are well underway in recent years.

These are some of my memories and observations and I'm sure I've missed quite a few. Hopefully some of my readers will fill in some of those gaps when reflecting on their own memories.




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pinterest an amazing resource

I discovered Pinterest a while ago, and it's been a great resource for anything you can imagine - all types of gardening projects, and gardening hints as well a amazing photos of gardens, as well any kind of art and craft information, organizing ideas, food recipes for any diet you can imagine and any other information you can think of.

When I decided that soap making would be fun to try this fall, I got a video and a few books from the library, and then I thought it would be a good idea to check Pinterest. Wow! It's a wealth of photos of amazing, creative soaps, links to suppliers, tools to buy or make, recipes, etc.etc.

If you want to look at pottery, find how to pottery videos, hints, glaze recipes, and on and on, it's all  there. It can also be a very good source for getting photos of your own work, or link to your own blog on there. You can create folders that relate to your special interest, whatever they are. People will find you if they are interested in your type of work. If you do earthenware, slip ware, stoneware, soda fire, woodfire, salt glaze, or whatever you do, just enter the key word and it will call up pages of that type of work.

If you haven't explored this amazing resource, you might want to give it a try. Or if you're interested in looking at pottery, gardening information, soap making, cheese making information and some other things, just go to my pinterest page and you can see all the amazing things I've saved for my own perusal, on my home page. Or, you can just type a key word in their search box, i.e. wood fired pottery, vegan recipes, cheese making, bread making, do it yourself project, and on and on.

Our day started early - out the door by 7am to get to our sons place where I finished planting bush beans in the other half of the raised bed where I planted some two days ago. We were so wiped yesterday, we put last night's visit off till this morning. I also had to harvest a few things and put out some organic granules to send those chewing critters, who are eating more than their share, to insect heaven. Maybe they'll reincarnate somewhere else next time. One can only hope!

Then we were off to the farmers market for more veggie starts, and few other things. The first peaches are in so I bought some and will be making a peach cobbler as soon as I post this. From there it was off to the  organic grocery store  for a few items, home to unpack, do my hand watering and finally have breakfast - the lovely croissants that I bought at the farmers market. After all that activity, I decided to take an email break and order some soap making supplies on ebay. I'm not sure I got the best prices but I got a bit of this and a bit of that - enough to get started this fall, once I get all my thermometers and other necessary tools.  I also spent time searching Pinterest and found a never ending supply of soap making recipes, links, suppliers and a huge amount of photos of some amazing looking, hand made soaps.

Then it was time to make a fruit salad with almond cream for lunch. Now that all that's done it's time to start peeling those peaches and make the peach cobbler, prep dinner veggie and get back to moving files from the old hard drive to this HP laptop. My days are busy and flying by way too fast these days!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Have anagama will travel



I'd love to see this kiln in action!

Yesterday's garden day started while I was still in my nightie, hand watering and harvesting and tomato plant pruning, and dead heading flowers in my back yard, and ended at 9:30 last night with me cleaning out my sprayers after my second trip of the day, to our son and daughter-in-laws garden to deal with a watering problem as well as regular garden harvesting, digging up the last of the potatoes in their garden, planting some new beans, and spraying for that horrible fungus and rust that seems to be attacking everything this year.

In between garden chores I made an intriguing Italian mac n' cheese, which was delicious. I checked out a few recipes and then changed them, of course, by adding garlic, bay leaf, a touch of cayenne, some fresh parsley and bread crumb topping drizzled with olive oil an truffle oil. Nice part is that there's plenty left over which I'll use tomorrow as a side dish to go with some fish, or chicken.

By the time I could crawl into bed, I had just enough energy to do a bit more reading up on soap making. Last night it was on making transparent soaps. I made out a list of suppliers and  things I will need to try my hand at soap making this fall, and will be searching charity shops and garage sales this summer for suitable bowls, mixing tools, etc.

Since I'm pretty tired from yesterdays very busy day, we're taking a morning break to have breakfast out; but first I need get my early hand watering done.

After breakfast we'll make  quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some Bratwurst to go  with the roasted potato, green bean, onion, garlic dish I want to try tonight. It's basically a baked veggie salad with a mustard vinaigrette. Hope it's as tasty as it looks. When we get home I'll do some of my early dinner prep, make a fruit salad with almond cream for lunch, and relax a bit catching up with some email, and transferring files from the old hard drive.. It would be nice to find an hour and the energy for the studio, but I think that's wishful thinking today.

After dinner, we have to drive to our son and daughter-in-laws house again to see if the water problem has been fixed, lay down down organic granules to put an end to the chewing critters who are enjoying themselves too much in that garden, plant more bush beans and harvest some of the first cherry and grape tomatoes, beans and snow pea pods, and maybe the first cucumber which looked almost ready last night.. It will be another late night, and tiring day with no time for making pots.

Tomorrow morning we'll go to the Farmers market very early for more starter veggies, then home for breakfast and planting.  I should finally have some time for the studio in the afternoon. I'll definitely be ready for a few hours of sit down work - decorating those last pots for the bisque kiln.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Interesting selling quandry

There's been a discussion on Clayart the past two days about alternate options for selling work. A potter in Canada, who like myself, is retired, but still making more pots than she can use, was asking about the possibility of hiring an agent since she lives in an area without many selling options, and her age ruled out the usual options of traveling to do shows. The feedback was what I felt, that paying an agent in our culture, just wasn't viable, unless you're someone making very high end sculptural or similar work. It works in places like Japan for the high priced potters, since selling agents there are many and part of their culture.

But what can you do, as in my situation where you can't sell from home, and your local options are nil. There are a lot of potters in this area but most of them, use the annual fall Clayfolk show to sell their work. But of course to do that, you have to gain points by doing certain jobs during the year, attending meetings, working the sale, etc. and amass points over time to get into the show and get a good location. And for that one show, you are competing with about 100 or so other potters selling on that day to a not very large market. Medford, Or is a small city of about 70,000 people, and it's not a place with high paying jobs, so the customer base isn't that big. I did that show years ago, but in my mid 70's with arthritic bones, and lower energy, that's no longer an option i would choose.

David Hendley suggested that this gal put a sale page on her web page with a paypal option, instead. With paypal you only pay about 3% of the sale. There are no monthly fees or equipment rentals fees or purchases needed. He said that he gets more sales on his own web page than on Etsy. You can also join Square, get a free little plug that goes into a cell phone or ipad touch, etc. and take charge cards. The payment scale is similar to Paypal. That sounds like the best options to me, and for those in a similar situation. I still make more pots than I can use, and don't have the energy anymore to pack and haul pots and sit at shows.

From what I've observed, the people who do well on Etsy are those who either already have a large customer base or who have used Facebook to post photos of their work, amassed a large group of Facebook friends, and then point them to their Etsy site whenever they list new work for sale. I've seen that work well for a few potters I know. It's a good marketing possibility. The same may apply for setting up a sales area on your web page. So, unless you already have a good mailing list, you might have to get on social networks and find ways of getting people to your site.

Our friend Steve, who lives in the country in Northern Washington state, has a wife with a marketing degree, and Nicole hauled his pots to the city years ago, to sell them at a pottery party. She gave the hostess a certain amount of free pots based on the sales made at the party. That worked very well for them, as an added selling choice. Fortunately, although they live in the country, they're on a well traveled road and can sell a lot from their house, but they also needed another way upping sales away from home.

Another friend in Santa Barbara held sales at her home every year. She invited other artists, weavers, etc. and they all shared their mailing list and costs for the printing and mailing. She didn't have to pack up pots, pay a heavy fee for a show that might wind up being a dud. Instead she had the comfort of her own space and because she had a lovely, beautifully planted, park like property, that was easily accessed, she attracted a lot of people and good sales..

In the economy of the past few years, crafts people have had to come up with some unique marketing ideas to survive; and many haven't. Some made it through with part time adjunct teaching jobs, kiln building and part time work. It's been a hard road for many fine potters. Hopefully, the economy which is steadily improving, will make life a lot easier. We probably won't see a throw back to the 70's when anything hand made was selling like hotcakes; but you never know, it could happen again. Wouldn't that be lovely!

Monday, July 07, 2014

100 degrees in the shade at dinner time

Thank goodness I got the bulk of my garden work done before breakfast. I pulled up all the snow pea vines in one of the raised beds, cleaned up all the dead leaves from the sick pole beans, harvested beans, did more pruning on the tomatoes and did my usual hand watering. It was 100F in the shade at 5 o'clock, and  I had to go out and do a second hand watering because the flowers and veggies in my large and small windows boxes had already started wilting.

Since my Dell XPS finally died, I've spent the last two days taking it apart, getting to Best Buy to help me deal with two stubborn screws so I could get my hard drive out of the holder. So, last night I started copying some of the data files on to this HP laptop. I don't know why, but this Dynex hard drive enclosure is not showing all the files I know I had on that drive. Fortunately, I have been backing up files frequently on a stand along hard drive and have some files in JCloud on line as well, so I think I should be OK.

The family left for L.A. yesterday morning. It was a great visit and now it's time to get back to our more laid back, nesty, daily life, as long as there are no more computer or other problems to deal with.

Their big, annual party was Saturday, and it was a great success as usual. They raised a good amount of money as well as other things for a local charity at the party. It was a feel good, taste good kind of day. We partied well for a week and now it's time for a bit lighter fare for a bit.

It's too hot to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so tonight I'm making a Burmese stir fry "Wet-Tha Khauk_Swe-yaw". I have no idea how to pronounce it; but I've made it before and it's a very tasty, spicy, noodle, celery, onion and pork stir fry. Wok cooking is the only way to go in this heat. I'm also making a Thai cucumber salad to go with it. Maybe a little cold sake would be nice with it.

I got in the studio for a bit the other day just to slip a few more things. By Wednesday I'll be up to date with my weekly garden spraying and heavier garden chores, and hopefully have most of my data from the old Dell laptop,  backed up. If there are no other computer or other disasters on the horizon, I should be able to find a couple of hours of studio time some afternoons.

Friday, July 04, 2014

It was a good morning on the river

These beauties were caught right in front of our sons house yesterday morning. One salmon fed over 15 of us last night and guess what we're all having again tonight!

And this morning, our ten year old grand daughter McKenna, caught this beauty. She loves fishing as much as her dad and I. It's definitely in the genes!

Our friends Alan and Heidi prepped and cooked a magnificent dinner for us last night. Alan is a great chef which is why he has all those successful restaurants. You can buy his cookbook "Lemonade" to try some of his great recipes. Last night's dinner was superb. I loved the beet and wheat berry salad. Even people who were non beet lovers, like our son, raved about it. That and the yellow and red cherry tomato and avocado salad went well with the brined salmon.There was also a pasta dish and baked potatoes. And on top of all that he also made a bunch of peach and cherry pies with a crunchy topping and served a la mode. So wonderful!

Nic, our daughter-in-law, a great cook as well, made a couple of delicious dips and Sean opened up some very special wines. I will definitely be going a diet when this week of partying is over but am enjoying myself immensely and will cry later when the scale goes through the roof!

I'll be off to buy the iPod mini around noon. My teen age grandson Brandon, my in person, family computer sounding board, told me that he has one and loves it. I still have to decide if I want the 32GB or the 64. My old iPad is 64 and I believe the memory is half used, so the 64 may be the way to go; but I'll double check that.

My friend Mike said he'd take a picture of the mug I made for him. So when he sends that, I'll post it. Other than that it's going to be a day of shopping for the new device, and maybe some time getting information out of the hard drive of the deceased Dell XPS which I just removed. This may be more than a couple of days project getting that data out, and doing a major deleting of duplicates and things I no longer need taking up space, and then synching 3 devices and this laptop with the iTunes software. With the Wimbledon finals coming up I'll have some nice background entertainment while I get started on all of this done.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

A smorgasbord kind of week

It's been a smorgasbord kind of week - the usual daily garden chores, dealing with computer related problems (the old Dell XPS finally died in a blaze of interesting green color bands on the screen before it breathed it's last breath). I had to install a new modem, get the smart phone into ATT for a new Sim card since that wasn't working properly either, etc. etc.), some fun social evenings with friends and our son and family who are in town for the week, and spending a lot of time reading up on laptops. The more I read the more confused I got!

Instead of buying a new computer, I've decided to buy an iPad mini. It's going to replace the smart phone I don't need since we have one of those pre-pay phones, and the iPod touch which limits me to wi-fi connections. When my back up computer dies, then I'll buy another computer, but for now, this small, lightweight mini iPad is going to  be a nice, small, lightweight easy to read device for my mobile needs. It also gets a computer out of the living room which makes both of us happy. Now I have to figure out how to get it and my other units synched with the information on the hard drive of the deceased Dell XPS laptop! Any do it yourself ideas, anyone?

We attended a wine tasting at a friends, with the wines from another friends, young winery. It was so much fun tasting and mixing the 3 wine grapes, straight and then blended, voting on them and learning more about the art of wine making. And of course there were a lot of lovely tapas type munchies in between all that tasting. Who knew that adding acid actually made the wine smoother and took away the flabbiness. I never knew wine could be flabby. You learn something new every day!

The next night it was pizza party at our sons, who has become quite the expert at managing that wood fired pizza oven. Our daughter in law is an amazing cook and she's in charge of the the dough and toppings. Then last night it was dinner out at the local Mexican restaurant with family and friends. Tonight it's salmon dinner at our sons (they got lucky on the Rogue River early this morning). Dinner was caught by 8:30am! Tomorrow it's barbecue at their place and Saturday is their yearly party of about 100+ people. I think we'll need a vacation from all this lovely  partying. The scale and I will definitely not be touching each other for a couple of weeks!

With my potatoes having been dug up, I filled those squares with  broccoli starts and another eggplant early this morning. I also harvested the rattlesnake pole beans which are producing like mad, even though the plants are in bad shape from some rust/fungus that I've been dealing with this years on tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers and a few other things. That bean is a great heirloom variety that I've grown for years and this is the first times I've seen anything like this attack them.

My friend Mike loved the special mug I made for him. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product. I've been so busy the past ten days or so, with all this gardening, cooking (spent a whole day making 70 perogis a couple of days  ago) and those computer, modem and phone problems that there just hasn't been time for the studio other than a couple of half days to finish and bisque it and another day firing it with a couple of black slip tests, in my tiny test kiln.

I signed up for our local womens club luncheon next month where members can bring their art, crafts, business ideas, etc. So that will get me moving. There's enough work made - just a few pots need decorating. The kiln is about 75% loaded with pots to be bisqued; and  I have a bunch of pots already bisqued, so I'm in good shape. I just have to free up my afternoons next week for the studio. So much for retirement being a time to slow down!