Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Technorati Profile


As the year is ending I've been taking some tiles (3 days actually) of going through buckets of test tiles to sort out the soda salt tiles, line them up numerically on my slab roller. Some broke during the process and I had to stop and start gluing them to make them somewhat photo ready.

Here's a photo of them backed by my temporary studio greenhouse, which is the winter home for some of my citrus, avocado and other tropical fruit and decorative plants. If you double click on the picture, it will open a very large version of the tiles.

The next step is going to be cataloging them - copious note taking before I weed through to discard some and keep some that I think I want to use in the future.

If anyone from Clay Club or other interested soda salt firers want to look them over, they'll be up for about another 3 days or longer - depends on how long it takes me to go through all of them and make my notes.

Hope everyone has a safe and very Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Today has been cooking day starting with a huge, traditional Polish Christmas eve breakfast and then making a batch of pate after lunch. Tomorrow will be another all day cooking with the same big breakfast of kielbasa,ham,hard boiled eggs, horseradish and sweet bread and a dinner of rock cornish hens with a balsamic reduction, wild rice/basmati rice with almonds and currants and green beans. I was going to skip dessert but Jim brought home a box of chocolates which will go with the lovely wine he'll be serving.

I'm slowly catching up with the house paperwork so I can be free to be back in the studio after I'm done with these antibiotics. There's still a lot of work to do on getting all my scraps of pot sketches into my permanent sketch book.

Here's a lovely "snow" picture our daughter sent. She was in San Cassiano Italy for a singing engagment and took this photo from her hotel room.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Down with something

Today is my 69th birthday and I'm celebrating it with antibiotics and a Tapas meal with friends tonight!
My hopes of getting in the studio this week have been dashed with the arrival of some kind of upper respiratory crud, so I I'm hoping these antibiotics will do their work quickly so I can get back to making pots right after Christmas.
In any case, I'm tired of playing on the computer trying to figure out how to do things to this blog, that it seems I can't do with this software, so tomorrow I'm going to the studio to sort out a lot of test tiles of soda slips and glazes and take some pictures of them and see if I can post them next week.

Till later,

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Here are a few more pots from the last firing. There are more under an earlier blog.

Well, I've had a few days to relax a bit after the TRAC tour. We didn't get a lot of traffic and all my sales were made to local repeat visitors. Things were definitely slower this year but sales weren't as bad as I thought they could be in this economy. For the spring tour I think I'll take an ad out in the local paper. With anywhere from 80 to well over 100 artists on the tour which covers 2 counties, people can't see every studio in 2 days, so it's time to do some promotional work. I get sales from half the cars that come which is good, so I just need to get more people to come.

I've been catching up with some paper work and doing a bit of cooking that needs more time and attention instead of those quickie recipes and frozen pizza that I rely on the week I'm getting ready for the tour, and getting our Christmas tree decorated and getting the rest of the house decorations up. This is the earliest I've ever gotten that done!

We had our Clay Club meeting Wednesday night which is always fun. There was a call to bring pots for show and tell, so I brought a couple from the last firing as well as a present mug for John Britt to thank him for his help unloading my kiln last fall before my hip replacement surgery. I was a mess and could hardly walk and he volunteered to come over and help me unload - what a sweetheart! He had admired one of my fish mugs but wouldn't accept it when I wanted to give it to him. He said if it doesn't sell, you can give it to me. Well, of course, it wound up selling and so I had to wait for the next firing to get one to him!

Our meetings are mainly social with some pottery talk in between and always a lot of good things to eat and drink. Kyle Carpenter, a young, very talented salt firer, came all the way from Ashland to join in on the fun. I had to leave early so I didn't have much time to chat with some of the late comers.

Joy Tanner and Will Baker two other young and very talented soda and wood firers, came in later because they had just finished firing at Linda McFarling's. I'm eager to find out how that firing went since they tried the whiting/bicarb of soda mix this firing. Linda and I have the same kiln, built by Shane Mickey and we've both been dealing with uneven firings. Joy said that cones were even throughout the kiln, so I'll be interested in checking out Linda's new bag wall arrangement.

I solved the cold bottom in my by getting Shane to chimney raised and having him redo the bag wall; but it worked too well and the bottom was too hot! Next firing I'll have to close up the bag wall at the bottom and raise it a couple of courses, or maybe just use Linda's configuration and see how it works with the higher chimney. My kiln is in the garage and has a 12' ceiling so I needed taller chimney that she has in her kiln shed.

Next week I'll be back in the studio and I want to spent a day or two batching up some glaze tests and throwing some test tiles. My goal for the new year is to do more slab work, get the new compressor working and start experimenting with my Bailey pneumatic extruder. My other studio goals the coming year is to get new business cards and postcards made, get more colors in the body of work (therefore more glaze testing), and play with some of the new forms I've been sketching. If there's time, I also want to learn more about web page design so I can do the things I want on my web page; but that's being a bit ambitious because besides the studio and house chores, by February I start thinking about the garden and start my seed planting under lights. It's amazing how the time seems to be flying lately - so many good intentions and not enough time to do it all!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Today has been super buy pricing pots, getting the gallery cleaner and set up. Fortunately my husband Jim did the gallery cleanup and I just have to price and set the pots around, get last minute rattan handles woven, pictures taken etc.
I'm on schedule with the preparations for the TRAC tour this weekend.
If anyone is here in western NC this weekend, the Mitchell and Yancy Counties TRAC tour is a real treasure trove to top potters, glassblowers, weavers, metal workers, basket weavers, etc. There are tour maps available at the TRAC galleries in Spruce Pine and Burnsville, or you can pick them up at the various studios.
If you need directions to my studio, just email me at:
Here's a picture of the beautiful winter wonderland view from our front porch a few days ago. All the beautiful snow is gone now except a few small patches; but it was wonderful while it lasted.
Here are a few pictures from this weeks firing.

Till later!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Finally got my soda kiln fired after several glitches with bisque,, liner glaze problems and just plain clumsiness and equipment failures! Getting back to work after a year off due to a non working hip and then recovery from hip replacement surgery, has been a bit challenging, tiring and awkward at times. First there was hundreds of pounds of hard clay and reclaim clay to deal with as well as major studio cleanup to do before getting started throwing.
Throwing went OK other than dealing with clay I over softened; but it didn't take long to get those muscles back. Then there was the joy of getting all the slips and glazes remixed and sieved - another daunting task.
Loading the second of the two bisque kilns went fine, and then unloading the second bisque turned out to be a crashing experience, as one of the tall posts on one of the half shelves decided to topple as I was walking away from the kiln to put down another shelf. That little crash resulted in several cracked pots. No problem. I had extras. Then several bowls with a cream liner, which looked fine on application on a raw, dry pot (evenly watered it down quite a bit),cracked horribly in the Cone 03 bisque and was too fused to be removed -more lost pots.Then, while wadding and loading the soda kiln , a 9" half brick post toppled onto 3 small pots sitting on the kiln floor, waiting to be loaded - more broken pots! Suddenly my full kiln load was looking pretty sparse, so I went around the studio looking for a couple of likely candidates for re-firing.
There was a nice, large bowl among the likely candidates and that filled half a shelf, and I found a couple of old plates to glaze, so things were looking pretty good. Kiln finally got loaded, bricked up, with pilot burner on overnight. Next morning it was over 300 degrees and I proceeded with the firing, going nice and slow, as I always do. Around 550 I heard the explosion -fortunate that I was there to hear it!.
I turned off the kiln and had to wait the following morning to deal with it. Got up at 4am, walked the dogs, unbricked the kiln door to discover that it was the big refire bowl that was the culprit. The kiln gods weren't too cruel, as it was on one of the upper, front shelves, so I didn't have to unbrick the whole door - just the first 8 -10 courses or so. I was able to reach down to the floor to pick up some large chunks and was able to reach the likely places to remove chards that had settled inside of some pots. There were some shelves that had to be removed, and I had to re-apply some loose alumina hydrate and reload those shelves and brick her up again. By 7am I was back firing.
Great, I thought;but the kiln demons weren't done with me! Twice during the lower temperatures, the burners kicked off; but I was so tired that I had affixed myself to my camp chair in the kiln room and was there both times to re-start the burners immediately. Other than bathroom visits and one fifteen minute break to quickly gobble up the Kentucky Fried chicken dinner that Jim had brought home, I sat near the kiln. I wasn't taking any chances with how my kiln luck was going!
Well, at 2000 degrees, the kiln kicked off again, so I jet propelled myself out of my camp chair and quickly depressed the button on the safety valve. 10 minutes later, after multiple tries, those burners refused to go back on without me holding the button down. By now the pen hanging on my sweat shirt was burning me and my metal watch was burning my left wrist, and the water was dripping off my forehead at an alarming rate. So Iquickly released the numb finger on the button, closed up the ports (burned several fingers doing that), and damper ran into the house and screamed to Jim to call Shane. I quickly ran back to the kiln room, started the burners again, and they were kicking back (I forget thatI had the damper in and didn't remember until Shane got there!) But I at least got the pilot on and in about 10 minutes Shane showed up and determined what I had already figured out, that the basal valve was probably shot. He said it could also be the thermocouple in the pilot burner, so using his amazing strength and two large wrenches, he managed to take the thing apart and jerry rig his extra large C clamp to keep the pipe connections closed so Icould finish the firing.
By the time we got the kiln turned back on it had dropped to 1700F.
Another thing - the kiln had been firing hot at the top in past firings so I had Shane add to the chimney so that it would be about 3' higher the the roof peak. He also adjusted the bag wall earlier when he did some other work on the kiln and burners. Unfortunately,we probably should have only made one adjustment because the higher chimney did what I thought it would do - make the bottom hotter! The problem is that we also opened the bag wall a lot at the bottom, so it got a lot hotter! I wound up with cone 12 at the bottom left and on the opposite bottom at the read, with cone 10 barely starting in some places on top, and various levels of cone 10 and 11 in some other places.
Since it was already past my ideal peak temperature, I decided to accelerate the salting (I had already done some of the Nichols whiting/sodium bicarb mix and some wet soda ash applied to scrap wood pieces, and one salt burrito) and wound up throwing in 2 more salt burritos, a couple more angle iron doses of the Gail Nichols mix, and one round of spraying soda in about 8-10 ports. The draw tiles looked like I got some surface shine, so I'm hoping I put enough material to do the job. I have no idea how much salting material actually went into the kiln! In panic mode, and time being of the essence, I wasn't going to be fussy about weighing anything. At 2am after a much needed shower, washing and blow drying my hair (I smelled like a fireman after a day fighting fires!), I finally crawled into bed, convinced I should take up book binding or or some other less strenuous, less dangerous activity at my age.
I un-bricked the door a while ago and as I suspected, the pots are quite dark from the 3 salt burritos, and also too dry, which I also suspected, so there will be a lot of refires. One refire in the front looks great, so I imagine I can get these satisfactorily re-fired.. One plate has a couple of pieces of debris in it and that's one of the pieces I check earlier. It was clear then, so it's a major puzzlement where they came from.
I'm waiting for a delivery of my new video cam which is due tomorrow and I'll try to take some video of the kiln and then I'll unload it and see what we have.
Well that's the end of my woeful tale, if you've had enough stamina to read this novelette!

Till next time,

Friday, November 21, 2008

It was snowing at 5am and there was already a lovely, light coating of white on everything.It's 7:30 am and it's still snowing and judging the by sky, it doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon.
I finished my wadding last night and will load the kiln after breakfast. I don't know if I'll fire it tomorrow or Sunday. It will depend on when I get some more test glazes finished.
A kiln shelf toppled on some bisque ware and broke a bunch pots as I was unloading, and a new, high clay liner glaze crawled horribly on a few bowls even though it was applied quite thin, so I'm hoping I still have enough pots to fill the kiln.
My friend Shane extended the chimney yesterday and put on a new metal cap that he fabricated. I'm hoping that couple of extra feet will help the draw so the kiln will fire more evenly.
Well, time for poached eggs, a healthy dose of vitamins followed by kiln loading!


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Well, the studio is somewhat organized, at least organized enough to actually throw a couple of pots. My friend John Britt invited me to put some pots in his upcoming oil spot firing and that gave me the impetus to sit down at the wheel and see how it would go. I was concerned that my new hip might present a problem with throwing, but so far so good!
The garden weeds are taking over but I just couldn't stay out of the studio a minute longer to pull weeds! It's taking enough of my time processing all the veggies I planted! So I'm back to a regular studio schedule - finally!
We're having an incredible summer here in the mountains but the the local katydids that forewarn frost, have been making their noises for a couple of weeks now, so if it's true that they start their cacophony six weeks prior to the first frost, we may be getting that frost the beginning of September rather around mid October.
Well, lunch break is over and I'm heading back to work.

Till later,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, summer is going by so fast but at least now I'm able to work in the garden. After my hip replacement surgery in April, I had to wait 3 months before I could work in the garden or studio. Today will be my first day in the studio - a week later than I thought because my garden helper hasn't been able to come and I've had to focus my time and energy on catching up with garden work and trying to get back into a normal routine.
Since it's my first day back to work, it's going to be spent mainly organizing and cleaning up a studio that has been sitting idle all this time, reclaiming all the clay in the clay mixer and getting some machinery oiled and working. I need to figure out how to get the oil in the big new compressor for the extruder and maybe finally get the old oil out of the pugmill and new oil in so I can start using the de-airing feature. It's been sitting idle for a while until I could settle on one major clay body.
I should take a picture of the mess - before and after!
I'll try to post some pictures in the next day or so of the studio and garden.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Here are a couple of pictures of the new master wing I designed. Also, since my toddling around with a cane isn't conducive for physical labor, I've also been working on my web page. Here's the URL:

There are some photos in the gallery of the last firing.
Well, the new addition is done and looks fabulous; and it was completed just in time for this bad hip of mine. I'm having hip replacement surgery on April 8th, so full time studio work is going to have to wait until the summer.
I did get in the studio the other day to just throw some test tiles; but most of my time is not being spent taking 35 years of save glaze recipes (numbering over ten thousand now), and hand copying them into studier, hard cover notebooks.
As I'm going through these glazes, I've been adding more soda/slip slip and glaze recipes to the text files in the Yahoo soda/salt group I started a while back.