Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Zealand salt glazed storage jar

Here's a large (over 20"), salt glazed, storage, jar that we brought back from New Zealand in the eary 80's. It's too large to fit in my ez cube, so I had to take the photo where it sits in the living room.

Yesterday was a day dedicated to in town shopping, picking up signs and tour maps for the TRAC tour. They had my studio location listed on the wrong part of the road which I corrected for them weeks ago, before the new maps were printed, and the new map doesn't have the correction. They sent in the correction but obviously did not check a test printing before giving final OK, so now they'll probably give me a refund on my tour fee.

The movie "Slum Dog Millionaire" arrived from Netflix, so I watched it after dinner. I can see why it won the Academy Award - powerful movie and a wonderful love story. After the movie I got into the studio, covered some pots and cleared one of the ware carts of non pottery items so I'd have a place to put all the raw pots that were on the slab roller, which I need to use today.

It rained overnight so we don't have to do any hand watering this morning. I have so many things to plant right now, that I need to try to find even an hour a day if weather permits, to get these things in the ground. Rain is a possibility every day this week, so planting is going to be iffy to say the least.

I think I may have enough pots now to fill the kiln. The ware cart is filled to the brim. I have a piece of cardboard cut the size of my kiln shelves and when I can fill it 12-14 times I know I have enough pots to fill the kiln.

There are a few pots left to trim and assemble. That, along with rolling out some slabs should be it for the day. I'm hoping to start dipping pots in flashing slip and decorating tomorrow.

Till later,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blooming Azalea

This spectacular azalea sits in the middle of our driveway. The true color isn't showing. It's actually, a brilliant magenta. The tree filled with white blossoms,in the distance is an old apple tree. It looks like it's going to give us a bumper crop this year.

Since I'm still working with all that reclaim I decided to throw some plates and more larger bowls, etc. yesterday. My Soldner clay mixer went kaput again last night even though I have very clay left in there. It suddenly smelled like something was burning, so I shut it off and got back to finish the pot I was throwing. I'm going to have to get out the instruction manual and see if I can rectify the problem.

I got about a half an hour of garden time yesterday - just hand watering some of the newly planted perennials and picking a handful of weeds. I was going to cut some asparagus but decided it will be better if I waited till today to get a bit more growth out of them since I'm counting on them for tonight's dinner.

This morning I was in the studio before 7am checking on yesterday pots. They're still too wet to trim, but they were firmed up enough to be inverted and hopefully they'll be dry enough later this afternoon or tonight, for trimming. I also cleared one half of my slab roller which was covered in test tiles. When I get back from Spruce Pine, I need to clear the other half because I need to roll out some slabs for some sushi plates and for the base of an oval tray I threw yesterday.

We have to take Bodhi, our Jack Russell terrier, in for his spring grooming later this morning and that takes three hours. So rather than coming back home for couple of hours, we'll stay in town, have lunch, stop by TRAC and pick up the tour signs which should be ready and do some shopping before picking him up at the groomers.

If we get home early enough I should get an hour of studio time to roll out those slabs before I have to start dinner and maybe get some trimming done after dinner.

Till later,

First Iris to bloom!

Here's the first Iris this spring. This is one of my two rebloomers. There's another bed of standard irises which are looking like they'll be opening soon as well.

Yesterday was pretty much a "no studio" day other than trimming a couple of bowls after dinner. After an osteopathic treatment I'm too sore to plant or throw pots and anyway, there wasn't time. After the doctors we stopped for a big lunch followed by a Walmart run for some household items, but mainly for 12 bags of mulch which is all we can fit in our car. And of course I bought a couple of other things to plant - a pretty lavendar and white dahlia,and a veggie pack of banana peppers to replace my normal frying peppers, Corno de Toro, which did not sprout for me. I really like them so I may such try to replant some.

By the time we got home, unloaded the car, put everything away, it was time to start supper which was just some tomato bruchetta on olive oil and garlic infused, toasted sour dough - perfect after a big lunch.

Got the last of the two sourdough starters finished yesterday. That one was called North West sour dough and doesn't have quite as sour an odor as the San Francisco sour dough that was finished a couple of days before. It will be interesting to test them in bread recipes to see the flavor difference. I don't think I'll have time to make bread this week since there's just way too much to do; but maybe I can squeeze it in somewhere, since I'm really eager to try my hand at making a San Francisco style sour dough bread. Tomorrow is out since our dog Bodhi has to go in for his spring hair cut which takes 4 hours of our day, so we'll stay in town, have lunch and pick up more mulch and do some other grocery shopping until we can pick him up. If the weather is ok by the time we get home I'll probably put down some of that mulch, since the weeds seem to be very aggressive with all the rain and heat we've been getting. No sooner do I weed an area, than the little suckers are coming right back!

Today is going to be a full studio day after I do a bit of hand watering of things I planted this week and check if some more asparagus are ready for cutting. Jim is taking over the hand watering on the potted plants for me which is a nice time saver. The garden is starting to shape up with more and more perennials emerging.

I'll be struggling with that too soft reclaim clay today and probably just throwing some low wide bowls and plates. I'll probably make a bunch of clay bridges and hope that they'll firm up enough today or tomorrow so I can make something other than bowls and mugs. I already have plenty for this firing.

Till later,

Monday, April 27, 2009

Low fire salt dish

Here's an example of low fired salt work I did in the early 80's. There hasn't been time this week to take more photos of my collection. Maybe I'll find time in the next few days to do that.

Other than cutting asparagus and pulling a couple of weeds, I resisted spending more time in the garden. I did have to search for a misplaced pair of pruners, which I found half buried under the mulch where I was planting the day before. Most of the rest of the day was spent in the studio trimming, waxing, and assembling pots. I also got the clay mixer working. Fortunately, I only had to remove the control box cover and reset it. There was obviously more than the limit of 125 lbs in there, which is what caused the shut off. So before I turned it back on, I removed and bagged about 75 lbs of the reclaim.

After an easy barbecue shrimp dinner, I went back to the studio and threw a couple of 4 lb bowls using the reclaim I removed from the mixer. It was too soft, but I threw practically dry after centering and opening. I left them out overnight and cut them off the bats this morning so they should be ready to trim this afternoon when we get back home.

We have an appointment with the osteopath, lunch out and a stop at Walmart to load up as many bags of mulch that will fit in the car. We have a couple of mulch piles from last years tree work; but to save time and energy, the bagged material will be a faster fix for now. It's important to mulch the newly weeded flower beds as soon as possible before more weed seeds emerge.

Time to see if there are any more asparagus ready for cutting, breakfast, move more over wintering tropical plants from the basement, and get going with the rest of the day.

Till later,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Asparagus

Here are a couple of pictures of our first, cutting size, asparagus. I forgot I planted the second, younger ones,in another bed and just spotted them amongst the weeds this morning. My intent was to move some of them this spring but there was way too much else to do in the garden. If the roots aren't too well developed, I may try to move them once the cutting period is over, or when they go dormant.

The plan yesterday was to plant a couple of hostas and then get into the studio in the afternoon; but I wound up working till 5:30. For me, planting is like eating peanuts - I can't just stop at one or two. I wound up planting 3 hostas, two ferns, two white bleeding hearts and four red poppies (only one looked alive), and did a lot of weeding and some hand watering. Then I stopped for a quick lunch on the porch with Jim and our dog Bodhi, and after lunch I took Bodhi for a short walk in search of morels, but none were to be found on our short excursion. This morning I'll try to check our lower meadow and walk a bit deeper in the woods, without Bodhi, whose chain kept getting caught on the greenery.

I also harvested our first asparagus and got enough for us as a side vegetable, or maybe I'll wait another day since some of the thicker ones should be out enough for cutting tomorrow and I can do a light supper of asparagus on toast topped with chopped hard boiled egg, bacon bits and lemon butter. The asparagus row I planted this year is not showing any sign of life so far. The ones I'm cutting now are two and three years old and the three year old are about 1/2" - 3/4"thick.

We had a great time with Ron and Marie Slagle last night. Ron, a great potter and artist as well, lived up to his reputation as a fabulous cook with two amazing pizzas. His crust is to die for; and on top of that he made bananas Foster for dessert - one of our favorites. The company and conversation were as great as the food. On top of that Ron loaned me his book on Flatbreads which I'm hoping to find some time tonight to peruse and maybe scan some pages. My next pizza is going to be made with his crust recipe.

I have all the tomato seedlings hardening off but I'm not going to take a chance planting them just yet. We have to take the rest of the tropical plants from the basement outside today and that will be all the gardening for the day, other than hand watering seedlings and potted plants which Jim says he'll do for me.

Today will be an easy,all day studio day trimming,assembling and waxing pots. I also need to take the cover off the clay mixer control box and see if I can reset it and get it back working. Hopefully, it just needs resetting and hasn't gone bust on me.

Till later,

Ancient photo of me at the wheel

Here's an ancient picture of me, taken at a Karen Karnes workshop in Davenport California in the early 80's. I'm out of photos for the blog, so I'm having to dig through these ancient photos. Hopefully I'll get time next week to photograph some more pots from my collection.

Yesterday was another intense garden day. I planted four roses, a couple of perennials, pruned all but one rose, did a lot of weeding, moved a lot of seedlings outdoors and planted two large outdoor planters and one hanging planter. Jim moved all my studio, tropical plants outdoors and I got some re-potted with new soil and new plants. When I dumped the soil out of two of the pots, I found sweet potatoes growing! I don't remember planting sweet potatoes in a flower pot - too funny! I harvested the larger ones and put the the vines with young potatoes back in another big pot. Maybe this is the way to grow sweet potatoes. Who knew! LOL

After two heavy duty planting days, today I'm going to ease up and maybe just plant a couple of shade plants and then get some studio time in this afternoon.

One of my San Francisco sourdough starters is ready today. I've been feeding it for three days and it's looking and smelling pretty ripe. I'm looking forward to trying my hand at making some sourdough bread this week.

Ron Slagle and his wife have invited us over for his home made pizza tonight. Ron's been working on perfecting his pizza making for a while now and I understand he's a fabulous cook. So this is going to be a great treat! I'm going to bring him some of this San Francisco starter to try.

Time to think about breakfast and get on with my work day. There are seedlings and more over wintering plants to move outdoors, hand watering and a bit of planting to do before I head to the studio. Jim just spotted the first hummingbird of the season so I need to get the hummingbird feeder filled and hung this morning.

Till later,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thank God it's Friday!

Here's a picture of the Japanese style fountain in front of my studio. Our stone contractor got the bamboo cut and installed a new pump and it's working great. I grew this bamboo at our Florida house and brought it up here. I wish our climate was warm enough to plant this variety of timber bamboo. It's rather spectacular! The rock is from our old house in California. I had a stone mason create a bowl shape which was a lot cheaper than having to buy one of those granite rocks and have it shipped from Japan.

This old body is moving slowly this morning. Yesterday was an almost, all day planting, except for one long phone break talking to Dell about problems with the new laptop, and short meal breaks. The outcome of that phone call is that they're picking up the new Dell XPS laptop today and building me a new one with XP instead of Vista. I was never given the option of operating system, which I should have been, so I don't have to pay a 15% restocking fee, nor shipping costs. The new computer should be arriving around May 10 or therabouts, if there are no parts delivery delays which is what happened with the first order.

We had sourdough pancakes this morning and they were good; but we decided that we actually prefer the buckwheat pancakes. Next time I make sourdough pancakes I'll use whole wheat flour. I now have four sourdough starters going. Two are ready and the other two need one to four more days till they're ready. After that I have two more cultures to start. What was I thinking! I figure I'll eventually get down to the two best tasting ones.

I worked in the garden till 7:40 last night. The weather was incredible and my energy held up long enough to plant 17 perennials, some of which had to be dug up and moved, 15 lettuce plants, a couple of rows of leek and a few parsley plants. I also go a lot of weeding done, enough to fill 3, large, empty compost bags. Needless to say, I was in bed early and slept late. There was no time for the studio, which I knew would be the case; and today may be somewhat of a repeat of yesterday. I want to take advantage of this incredible weather to make a good head start in my planting chores. After today's planting, I'll go back to just an hour or two planting on non rainy days and get on with studio work. I have till the end of this week to throw pots for the next firing, and then it will be time to finish the trimming and start slipping and decorating. I want to get this firing in by the end of the month and it looks doable, even with alloting an hour or two a day for the garden.

This morning I'm planting four rose bushes, 3 hostas and a white bleeding heart. There are 3 planters I'd like to plant as well if time allows. We're doing our regular Friday porch sitting with our friends Jim and Laura tonight, so whether it's gardening or the pottery, I'll have to quit around 4 o'clock so I can get cleaned up, get the house tidied and get the plates ready for the appetizers.

Well, time to pick out two pots for the gallery show for the June, Trac (Toe River Arts Council) artist studio tour. The deadline is tomorrow, but the traffic in Spruce Pine is going to be a mess tomorrow because of a big, in town, craft show, so Jim is going to take the pots in for me this morning.

Till later!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Planting day!

Here's a picture of some plants I need to plant today. This whole row, all the way up the walkways, represents only a third of the plants I have waiting to be planted. This is going to be more than a one day job - more like a week!

Yesterday turned into a mostly shopping day. I had to get some steel posts for the new berry plants and grape vine which still have to be planted, an Idiots book on Vista and some food shopping for porch sitting with friends tomorrow night. A tree limb fell on the gazebo and busted through the screen, so we had to get a patch for that.

Jim wanted a seafood fix so we had dinner at Red Lobster and headed home. The drive over the mountain was lovely and Tennessee is about a week ahead of us with the warmer weather and there were so many beautiful red buds and other flowering trees in bloom - just lovely.

My original plan yesterday, was to work in the studio till mid afternoon, but Jim wanted to get an earlier start, so the only studio time I got was trimming one plate and closing up the studio and getting changed.

While Jim was showering, I got two more dry sourdough starters going and had to re-feed them twice before bedtime. One is just called North West sourdough and the other San Francisco. It will be interesting to see what,if any, difference there is between those two. They have to be fed a couple of times a day and kept at room temperature for at least 3days, maybe longer. I hope this is going to be worth it and helps to make a sourdough bread that resembles those wonderful crusty, San Francisco sourdoughs.

The cd with the wood pizza/bread oven arrived yesterday, but it's just a series of photos, just like the website. I was hoping for more information - like a material list, some verbal instruction, etc.

Today will be planting all, or most of the day. After breakfast I need to call Dell and see if they can get my wireless mouse and keyboard working, get my seedlings watered and take some plants out from under the basement grow lights and outside now that the evening are going to be above freezing. By then it should be warm enough to start planting. If not, I'll just head for the studio and get a few things done. There's a teapot that I need to assemble today, if possible and other pots that need trimming. They're all covered well so if needed they can stay that way another day.

These days are way too short lately for all the things I want and need to do!

Till later,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hawaii Big Island

Here's another photo of the Big Island in Hawaii. This was on the other side of the island from our hotel. The view is spectacular, and to the right of this view, is another great view of a canyon.

Yesterday was a great day for a plant fix. Two of my friends and I got to the wholesale nursery only to find that it's closed on Monday and Tuesday. My friend Laura got on her cell phone and called them, did a great whine about how long it took us to get there, and they took pity on us, opened the gate and off shopping we went. The place is huge and we managed to fill 95% of the back of Laura's Explorer; but since they didn't have some of the plants we were looking for we headed for Lowe's hardware where we all found the plants we wanted, plus some paint Laura needed and more grow lights for me. At this point the car was stuffed to the brim - plants everywhere! Fortunately the rain didn't come until we were on our way home and by the time we got up the mountain the rain had stopped.

When we got back to Bakersville,transferred all those plants to our other cars, I drove home, and unloaded. It was windy, cool and damp -not looking or feeling like a time to plant plant potatoes so I took a short computer break, and hoping it would warm up a bit,and then went out and planted some beets which only took a few minutes.Then I re-planted some of the seeds like serrano chiles and some cosmos that never sprouted.

No sooner did I finish that, when Jim called from downstairs to say that my new Dell XPS laptop just arrived. So I uncrated the two boxes from Dell and set up the computer to make sure it worked and started dinner.

The new laptop case is really cool and there's a nice, mini, digital screen just above the keyboard that flashes a clock, date, then cpu and ram information, and countdown and stopwatch numbers (I'm not sure what you do with those!)

Now I have to figure out why the wireless mouse and keyboard aren't working, as well as figuring out Vista, which seems like a total mystery to me! I need to get an idiots guide for Vista, for sure! This laptop has blue tooth and that has something to do with the mouse keyboard setup but the instructions don't bring up the button the book says it should point to, so a call to Dell is probably on the morning schedule. I've paid extra for 30 days of calls and I will definitely use it! The color on the new computer is a bit faded looking so I need to figure out how to get the color as intense as it is on my desktop.

I'll play with this laptop until after breakfast at which time I need to get into the studio and see if some of the pots I uncovered earlier are ready for assembling, trimming, etc.

There are also a lot of software and documents to load on this new laptop. This is not going to be a one day project for sure!

Late afternoon I'll head for Johnson City to get myself an idiots guide to Vista, do some food shopping at Sams club and make another stop at Home Depot for a couple of things. Tomorrow is going to be sunny and in the high 70's so I'm planning on using the whole day to just plant. Showers are forecast for part of the weekend so that will give me some full studio days.

Till later,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My old studio

Here's a photo of my old studio that I designed to resemble some of the studios I saw in my trips to Japan. The other half of the studio was the industrial side - raw material storage, glaze mixing etc. But this side was used for throwing and display. I designed the throwing area with bat storage underneath and had removable tops that could be placed on top of the throwing areas to hide the wheels when I was having a sale. It was a beautiful studio in and out; but my current one, although not pretty, is larger and finally gives me an indoor kiln space which I love.

I'm off early this morning with my friend Laura. We're meeting at 8am and driving down to Old Fort to a wholesale nursery to get a plant fix. Painters nursery opens it's doors to the public for 3 months every spring. I don't know why I'm going to buy plants since I still have so many to plant; but I think I can get a lot planted starting Thursday when temperatures are going to be in the mid 70's and sunny.

I was able to get some good time in the studio yesterday - still struggling with wet clay but got some throwing done. My clay mixer died, so I've got to remove the cover and see if it just need re-setting, or if I have a serious problem. Right now I'm trying to devote studio time to throwing, trimming and assembling so I can meet my own deadline of having all the work ready for slipping and decorating by the end of the month, which is going to be a challenge since I have to try to devote time for planting and seedling care as well as cooking, shopping and everything else I have to do.

What I need is a wife so I can just make pots! I'd settle for a husband who cooks!

I'm hoping I can get an hour in the garden after lunch to plant the rest of my potatoes, and maybe even plant some carrots and beets. I doubt if there will be any time or energy for the studio after planting. The pots I threw yesterday are covered with plastic so they'll be fine till tomorrow.

Till later,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hawaiian Sunset

This lovely sunset was off the Big Island in Hawaii. Just an hour or so before I took this picture, our daughter Erin and her fiance Sven were married on that knoll, overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful wedding in a most glorious setting.

Yesterday I enjoyed a deliciously lazy day. My body was still achy and I was still wiped from all the digging, potato planting and Saturday busyness, so I opted for a partial day of rest to recharge.

I did manage to get about an hour or so in the studio but my heart was definitely not in it. My body was much happier reclining in my office chair doing glaze chemistry, watching TV and only getting up to tend my seedlings and cook.

Today I should be able to get at least 6 hours of studio time, unless the predicted afternoon rains don't come, in which case I'll take an hour or so break in the afternoon and finish planting my potatoes and maybe even transplanting my leeks.

I'm doing a simple, orecchette pasta with an oil,anchovy, garlic sauce with pignoli nuts and steamed broccoli florets for dinner. It's one of my quick dishes for busy days, and a favorite as well. Any kind of pasta is my idea of comfort food.

If I get a chance I'll try to get one or both of my new sourdough starters mixed some time today, if I can, so I can make my first sour dough bread later this week.

Till later,

Pizza saga continues

Here's my second attempt at sourdough crust pizza. As I said, this seems to be a long learning curve! I think there's a problem with this dough recipe or with the sourdough starter. Next time I'm going to try a different recipe. The toppings (kielbasa,extra mozarella,onions,yellow peppers, mushrooms,and fresh basil leaves, were great, but the crust was tough and didn't rise, which makes me think the problem is the starter or the instructions. I even got my studio gram scale to weigh everything but the dough was still dryer than it should be, so I added a little more water - maybe too much. :-( Since I'm a cockeyed optimist I figure every failure is a learning experience.

Yesterday wound up being a planting and cooking day. I got one row of potatoes started,came in to make some guacamole for lunch, then went back out and continued planting, finished that row and started another. I called it a day when I was too tired and my lower back was too sore to continue and by then it was time to do the 90 minute oven preheat for the pizza and get the dough for the crust out of the fridge for another rise.

All the red Pontiac potatoes are planted and most of the Yukon golds are in. Last month I planted a row of Kennebecs but I have more of those to either plant or give away. How many potatoes can 2 people eat!

My potato planting techniques is to dig a hole about 18"x18" and around 7-9" deep, sprinkle some organic fertilizer on the bottom, cover that with some soil and plant the potato seed. Some of our soil is pretty heavy clay and that's what I hit when I started the second row. I think I'll try a straw technique where you just lay the potato seed on the ground,cover with straw and put a strong tomato or similar cage around it. You keep adding more straw as the plant grows, always leaving about 11" of leaf and stem growth exposed. Harvesting would certainly be a lot easier and you can get a lot more potatoes by going vertical.

There are pots to assemble and trim, and more throwing to do today. We're expecting thunder storms, so I won't even try to get any gardening in since I'm still tired and sore from yesterday. I'm going let myself enjoy a lazy Sunday morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and read some of the Sunday paper before I head to the studio.

Time to check the freezer and figure out what I can make for dinner tonight.

Till later,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finished and ready to fire test tiles

Here's a picture of test tiles on my slab roller. The finished tiles on the left are some cone 10 chun tests which I dug out of my buckets of test tiles. Now I have to check the recipes and see which ones will be suitable for testing in soda. The ones on the right of those are cone 6 soda tests waiting to get fired and the rest on the table are blank tiles. I had a lot of those (more than on this table). I'm hoping to get all my pots thrown before the end of next week, then a few days to get them slipped and decorated before bisquing. While they're drying and firing I'll get started on batching some glaze tests for the next cone 10 soda firing.

This morning I'm moving a bit slowly after dinner with friends at the Mexican restaurant in Spruce Pine which is now serving margaritas and beer after voters passed a liquor bill. To celebrate I had 2 margaritas, which is probably why I'm a bit graggy this morning! LOL

After the restaurant the guys wanted to check out the wine department at Ingles and Jim celebrated the opening by buying 6 bottles. Now he won't have to drive all the way to Banner Elk to buy some wine. Ingles had a very good selection of low and medium priced wines, and fair prices, plus another 10% discount if you buy 6 bottles.

It's so nice to be able to buy wine locally or have wine with dinner in a restaurant. Now that the bill passed we may actually get a couple of better quality chain and other restaurants. Interestingly, some of the people who opposed the bill are having a hissy fit and boycotting Ingles, one of the one two large grocery stores in town, as well as the Mexican restaurant for selling alcohol. Wonder where they'll shop when Walmart opens their wine and beer department. I suspect this boycott will be a temporary thing.

Tonight is another attempt at pizza making. When we got home from dinner last night I made another single batch of pizza dough, adjusting the batch a bit and hopefully it will work better than the first batch. This time I'll watch it carefully and if this doesn't work I'm going to try another recipe!

Well, draggy or not, I have to get to the studio and finish some pots for a few hours. It's going to be 76 degrees this afternoon and I want to get out after lunch and plant potatoes, lettuce starts and whatever else time and energy permit.

Till later,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reclaim bridges

Here's a picture of some of the reclaim bridges. I have at least 200 lbs of this reclaim that I'm going to have to dry out like this.

Looks like another beautiful day ahead but potato planting will have to wait till tomorrow . There's too much to do in the studio right now - pots to assemble and trim and some reclaim clay that will hopefully dry out enough to wedge and throw. I was in there at 6:30 this morning cutting off some pots and uncovering those reclaim bridges. That reclaim clay is super wet, but boy is it deliciously, plastic after sitting for months in that wettish state.

Yesterday's pizza experiment was almost a total disaster. The 3/4" silicon carbide shelf worked great. I preheated the oven for 90 minutes and turned it up at high as it would go 550F; but I thought it would take longer to cook than it did, so I went out to the studio to cut a few pots off the bats and cover them. Guess I lingered in there too long, because as I was walking back to the house I could smell that dreaded, almost burned odor coming from the kitchen vent.

Jim loved it because I made it quite thin and overcooking it made it really crispy which is how he likes it. It was disappointing but the whole pizza was gobbled up, so it wasn't a total waste.

I made a basic margarita pizza - mozarella, tomato sauce, and fresh basil leaves but I added thin sliced kielbasa since I didn't have any pepperoni on hand, and some thin slices of yellow, bell peppers.

My preference is New York style pizza - a crust you can fold up without cracking - nice chewy, not too thick, not too thin, and extra, stingy, mozarella. I'm eager to try it again this weekend with a different crust recipe. This seems to be a long learning curve to get this right; but there's plenty of on line help including very informative, and thorough, how to videos.

Time to get a start on what will be a busy work day followed by Mexican food with friends tonight. Somewhere between work and play I need to make another batch of pizza dough and feed my 250 year old sourdough starter.

Till later,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another group of pots from Shane's Anagama

Here's another group of pots from Shane Mickey's 2005 anagama firing. The large casserole is Linda McFarling's and the pitcher to the right of it is a Tara Wilson pitcher. Notice the unique way she has to carving out the base. The large platter with the bluish glaze is one of Shane's. I believe that glaze is a 50 Plastic Vitrox, 50 Gerstley borate which has a wide firing range suitable for anagamas and other kiln which have one of more cone difference zones.

Bodhi got us up at 5am this morning. Good thing I got in my 6 hours sleep, which is all I need to function.

Today will be another work day. It was nice to finally get back in the studio for a while and throw a few things and finish up a few pots. I'm still struggling with way too soft reclaim clay. I think I'll go in early this morning and get some of that and make some clay bridges to dry it out a bit before using it in the afternoon.

Tonight I'm going to try to make pizza. My dough has been sitting in the fridge for two days and should be soured enough. One experienced maker suggests preheating the oven for an hour and a half or more and I'm going to use Ron Slagles idea of using a silicon carbide kiln shelf instead of the pizza stone. I have a couple of 15X15", thick silicon carbide shelves which should work if my oven is deep enough.

Jim is going to have to go to the store if he wants pepperoni on his pizza. I'm fine with just a little tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella and maybe some mushrooms, but he's a pepperoni or anchovy kind of guy.

Years ago when we lived in California, Spagos had wonderful, wood fired pizzas. They had an unusual array of toppings - everything from roast duck to lox and cream cheese which wasn't on the menu but one that the regulars knew to order. As soon as I get my garden going and get this next firing out of the way, I'm definitely going to focus on getting a wood fired pizza/bread oven built.

Well, time to head to the studio and get some of that reclaim into bridges to dry out a bit.

Till later,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cynthia Bringle Anagama pots

Here's another group photo from one of Shane Mickey's anagama firings. The two large jars in the foreground are Cynthia Bringle's - a well known, respected potter who lives and works at Penland.

The smaller jar between and behind Cynthia's is one of Shane Mickey's gnome jars and some of the mugs in the front are also Shane's.

Yesterday seemed to fly by, taking it's own direction. I've been investing time this week, in researching sour dough starters. My first starter was ready yesterday and I used it to make my first, small batch of pizza dough. Unfortunately, the recipe I used must have used very wet starter, even though it didn't state that (mine is firmer). Even after adding extra water the finished dough wasn't as wet as it should be to get the best, lightest, pizza. It's tacky enough that I hope it will still make an edible crust. I figure it can't be worse than frozen pizzas!

This dough has to sit for a few days before using. I also started my own San Francisco type sour dough starter the day before. It's very simple: Let a cup of whole milk sit out,uncovered, for 24 hours, then add and mix in a cup of unbleached, white flour. Leave uncovered up to 5 days until it gets a nice sour smell. You can add a bit of milk if it looks like it's drying out. It has to be in a warm environment (in the 80F range).Since I'm not about to turn the house heat up to that temperature, I have it sitting on a heat pad, set on low. I hope it's not too warm!

Ron Slagle, another of our wonderful, local potters came over to pick up some of my starter. He looked at my finished dough and said that it wasn't as wet as his. Ron's been experimenting with these starters and pizza making for quite a while and Shane tells me he makes great pizzas as well as being an overall fine cook. We spoke about these starters and cooking in general and the possibility of getting our own wood burning pizza ovens. Down the line (maybe later this summer or early fall)I'd like to get one of those built since the best pizzas are supposedly cook in just about 3 minutes in an 800F oven.

Besides pizza, I want to make my own crusty, sour dough bread. I've ordered a couple of other starters and a sour dough book which should give me a good place to start. I also have a few books on artisinal bread and pizza making which I loaned to Ron. It's really nice to have someone with his experience and enthusiasm, to exchange information with and compare results.

My other tiny package of dried San Francisco sourdough starter went walkies and I had to get on line and order another one. Here are some of the sites I've ordered from and found useful:

This site has a lot of recipes for everything from home made bagels, pretzels and just about every type of bread you'd want to make. They also carry special flours for making some of those great,heavy, crusty European breads as well as various starters and other baking tools and even have their staff available for answering questions, solving baking problems, etc.

Two other sites I found with recipes, forums, wood pizza/bread oven plans etc are:

This bread/pizza making project took half my day yesterday. A nice visit with Ron, getting in some planting and weeding in between the rain, cooking, email, blogging and poof, the day was gone and there was no energy or time for the studio other than going in there to water plants right before bed time.

We went to bed early and Bodhi, our Jack Russell woke us up at 6am throwing up on the bed, so our day started early this morning. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have given him that leg of lamb bone!

Time to get to work!

Till later,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shane Mickey anagama fired platter

Here's another great pot from Shane Mickey. I think he called this the "hand of God platter" - great piece!

Yesterday was one of those busy, screwy days. My studio time consisted of uncovering pots to dry more so I could trim and then never getting back into the studio, other than to recover them for todays work!

My plan for yesterday was to make my two sour dough starters. Well one of the starters I ordered and received went walkies. Jim and I searched the whole house and it was no where to be found, so I got back on line and spent a couple of hours researching various starters and wound up ordering two new San Francisco sour dough starters and one new Sour Dough cookbook since one of the sellers said you need to follow the instructions in his book to get good results. We'll see. I was intrigued because he swears his starter comes from the orginal. So I figures I'd order two types and see if and what the differences might be.

By the time I finished all that, I decided to start on the one sourdough starter that I had. It's a 250 year old starter I purchased from the King Arthur flour site. I should have read ALL the directions because it has several steps for getting it going. I had to stay up till 11pm to do the first halving and feeding, then up again at 3am to do another, and up at 7am for the last. Needless to stay I'm dragging a bit this morning.

After getting the sourdough started I made dinner - a simple fresh roma tomato sauce on linguini. This is a nice, light, vegetarian comfort dish. Here's my recipe for 2:

18 Roma tomatoes blanched, skin removed, and cut in chunks (I cut them vertically into 4 pieces and then cut those horizontally 3 times so I wind up with 12 pieces the right size).
3 large cloves of garlic minced
white wine (about 1/4c -1/2C) I don't measure just hold the bottle down and count 5-6 glugs! LOL
olive oil (I used about 4-5T) I don't measure, just put enough in a very large frying pan to make a nice coating.
fresh chopped basil leaves
fresh oregano or dried to taste
1/2 small jar of capers, drained and rinsed
fresh grated parmesan reggiano cheese
salt and red pepper flakes
1/2 - 3/4 lb linguine depending on how much pasta you like.

Heat the olive oil over med to med high heat. Then add garlic and saute about a minute (don't brown). Add the tomatoes and wine and cook about ten minutes or till you see that they are breaking down and the sauce doesn't look too liquidy. Add salt, red pepper flakes to your liking, the capers and the chopped basil and cook a minute more to heat through. Taste and add more salt and/or red pepper flakes to taste.

It's another no planting day and looks like tomorrow won't be either, so there will be time to trim pots today and maybe do some more throwing.

Time to do something with my finished sour dough starter. I might do the first step in the pizza dough recipe which takes several days to age.

Till later,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shane Mickey anagama jar

Here's a spectacular jar from one of Shane Mickey's anagama firings in 2005. We had just unloaded the kiln and had the pots spread all over the lawn. I'll post another picture tomorrow of some of the other pots in that firing.

This morning we slept till 7:45. I couldn't believe I stayed in bed that long. Yesterday was just as busy and tiring as the donkey work, studio cleaning day on Saturday. Guess I just needed to recharge my battery with that extra sleep.

My Easter started with preparing a large, Polish type Easter breakfast, then getting a lot of my dinner veggies and leg of lamb prepped afterwards so I could have a lot of gardening time before dinner.

I knew it wouldn't be a studio day. Between the heavy cooking and the fact that I didn't want to waste such a warm, beautiful day, in the studio, I opted to get some gardening work done before I had to get back to the kitchen.

I planted a few beets, then found out I misread my own planting chart, so I'll have to replant them near the onions, which is what my companion planting book recommends. A lot of time was spent weeding, and while weeding I found a whole bunch of volunteer pansies which I dug up and transplanted. It's raining today which cut into my plan of planting more potatoes. The ground was still a bit too wet to plant them yesterday so I don't know when I'll be able to get them in. According to the Farmers Almanac, I think I only have another one to three days to get them in.

The leg of lamb dinner turned out great. I used an Emeril Lagasse recipe which had a lovely wine, stock, herb reduction. Usually I do a simple, pan gravy, but decided to try a lighter option, and it was excellent.

Well, time to uncover some pots, which will hopefully be ready for trimming this afternoon. I have some glazes I want to check on my glaze chemistry software and then get them into one of my glaze books. By then it will be time for an early lunch and then on to the studio until dinner, which is going to be a simple, fresh roma tomato, basil, garlic, white wine sauce over linguini which will be a refreshing change after yesterdays heavy meat day.

Till later,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunset from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Here's a picture I took from the Blue Ridge parkway last year. For some reason it seemed like an appropriate picture for today.

Yesterday was spent just doing email and my blog, cleaning the studio, visiting with my friend McKenzie, and making some mushroom bisque for dinner. I was exhausted last night. That cleaning was super donkey work, but my large studio floor is well swept and mopped. I got a lot of other things wipes down and put away but there's a great deal more organizing to do that will have to wait until after the TRAC tour early June. Right now there are things to plant, which is what I'm going to do as soon as I peel my dinner potatoes and asparagus and get the lamb roast seasoned and ready for the oven. We had a big Polish, Easter breakfast, so I think I'll just grab some almonds for lunch.

Last night was ripe for vegging out, watching some Brit coms and then retiring to watch Sherlock Holmes in bed. Jim made it through but I was asleep about half way through.

I've already had a quick peek at the garden this morning and was happy to see my Japanese quince blooming. The red primroses have been blooming a few days as well. With the warmer weather and more rain expected this week, I expect the garden to come into greater life pretty quickly.

Hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful Easter day. Our grand children, like some many others today, are enjoy getting sugared out from all the Easter bunny gifts!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jim Romberg stoneware mug

Here's a stoneware mug by Oregon potter Jim Romberg who's more known for his wonderful Raku pieces. He teaches at the University of Oregon in Ashland, Oregon. I purchased this from him at one of his at home sales in the 90's, when we were living there.

Yesterday was a busy day. I got some trimming and throwing in, did a bit more studio organizing,and after dinner I went back in to cover pots and got my wheel, tools and wedging table cleaned. There's still a lot more studio organzing to do; but right now it's more important to get pots made in between the garden chores, preparing meals,etc. After next months firing I intend to do a major reorganization of that space.

My friend McKenzie Smith has been teaching an intensive at Penland and is getting ready to head back home to Florida but is coming over here for a visit after lunch. He's never seen this house and studio, so I want to get into the studio this morning after I tend to my seedlings, and at least get the floor swept and mopped.

We had rain and thunderstorms throughout the day, so I didn't get in any gardening time. Fortunately, we didn't get the hail that was predicted. A couple of late sprouting tomato seeds popped up yesterday - at least two weeks after they were planted! They sure took their time!

If I get some time after McKenzie leaves, I think I'll get out and quickly plant some peas and beets and leave the potato planting for tomorrow. Hopefully by then the soil will have dried out a bit after this rain.

My special flour order and other sourdough starter from King Arthur flour arrived yesterday so I'll try to get that starter going after dinner. I got one bag of a special blend of the types of wheat that are used in that wonderful, heavy, European breads. Home made sourdough bread and pizza aren't too far away!

Till later,

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Mashiko Yunomi

Here's a yunomi from Mashiko Japan, with a saturated iron glaze over a resisted clear glaze. I don't know why, the color in the photo is not true and I couldn't get it right even trying, with Paint Shop Pro. It's actually a beautiful, deep brownish red - typical Mashiko, iron red.

Yesterday was a super busy day. A huge crew showed up to do the rock work and by the time Jim and I got back from lunch and doing our Easter food and other shopping, they were close to being finished with the whole job! There's a lot of transplanting and weeding that I'll have to do down the line since I had them widen a couple of the beds.

After I put the groceries away and changed clothes I headed down to the newly raised terraced beds and got one terrace fully planted with the spinach, kale and broccoli transplants, a couple of marigolds and parsley and then started on the next bed, which had to have some weeding done before I could plant the cabbage and cauliflower. I hope the cottontail bunnies don't visit before I get a chance to put down some blood meal to keep them away.

I need to plant a row of potatoes in that second bed. That was on this morning's planting agenda but rain if forecast for this morning and there's a possibility of hail, so it looks like it will be a full studio day instead.

We stopped at the local hardware store on our way home and I got some Red Pontiac potato seeds. I've already planted the Kennebecs and still have some Yukon Golds to plant as well. It doesn't make economic sense to plant potatoes since they're so cheap to buy in bulk; but I love growing them. More than that, I love harvesting them!

The rock workers dug up a few plants but didn't put them back. If I can beat the morning rain, I'll get those replanted before I head for the studio. It will be a full studio day. Dinner is going to be easy - guacamole, nachos and margaritas. I found some Meyer lemons at Earth Fare and they make the best, smoothest margaritas!

Till later,

Michael Rutkowski plate

Here's a lovely plate from Michael Rutkowski, one of our local potters. This isn't the best picture since I didn't shoot it in the ezcube; but hopefully you can get a good idea of the lovely depth of color in this piece.

Looks like spring weather is back. It's going to be in the high 60's this afternoon. If I get back from Easter food shopping early enough I might even be able to get some things planted. Our Easter breakfast is a traditional Polish breakfast - ham, kielbasa, hard boiled eggs with horse radish and babka, which is a sweet bread. If I can find a panetone or other sweet bread today, I won't bother making my home made babka. Easter dinner will be a small leg of lamb. Lamb isn't one of Jim's favorites but I reminded him that I usually cook things he likes and once in a great while he has to indulge one of my favorites. I told him he'd better not complain too much or I'll go back to being a vegetarian! LOL

Between stops at Walmart and Ingles and lunch at the golf course, and other afternoon chores, I don't think there's going to be studio time today.

Jim picked up our dog Shanti's ashes yesterday, so we're going to spread them around his favorite garden spots later. We really miss the little guy.

Yesterday's studio time was spent slicing and dipping a few bags of hard clay. I'm dealing right now with reclaim that is way too soft and old, hard as a rock clay; but I'm determined to use up this old clay before I buy new clay. I got a few things trimmed, threw a couple of lids and waxed a few pots. The work is going slowly because of the clay struggle and other things digging into studio time.

By the time I finished cooking our lamb chop dinner, I didn't have much energy left for the studio but I had to get in there to cover some pots and throw one lid and then I called it a day, did some email, meditated and went to bed. Clay Club had a pizza cook off and I was way too tired to party. Hopefully I can make the next one.

The pizza cook off got me to do some research, since I've been planning on making my own pizzas. So I ordered a pizza cook book from Amazon yesterday. Down the line I want to get a wood burning bread/pizza oven and I'm hoping that book will have a plan I can use. I also ordered two different sourdough starters yesterday, since I killed my last starter by not feeding it. My pizza research seems to indicate the best pizza dough is made with a sour dough starter, made into a sponge, with very exacting instructions. I'm eager to try this. I can't cook it in my gas oven to the 800F temperature that is recommened, but at 500F my ovens top temperature, I should get an indication of how the crust recipes works. The fellow who recommended the 800F actually cooked his in his self cleaning oven. His first attempt cracked the oven glass because of the pizza sauce splattering on the glass door. Then he covered the new glass and it seemed to work. I think he now has an outdoor oven!

The rock crew was a no show yesterday which didn't make me happy. They have to get those terrace walls finished and put the top soil in so I can plant all these veggie starters that are getting pot bound. I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy all new ones by the time they get this work finished.

Till later,

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wayne Cardinalli salt glazed bottle

Here's a salt glazed bottle by American potter, Wayne Cardinalli, whose been living in Canada since the 70's. I had his work in my gallery at that time and wish I had kept more of his pieces.

Yesterday is a bit of a blur. It feels like my entire day was spent cooking and researching recipes! The Tuscan bean soup was good, after a shaky start. I served it with some broiled, sourdough topped with Asiago cheese, which Jim said made the whole dish.

Seems I had two recipe cards for two different versions of a Tuscan soup, picked up the wrong card and had half the ingredients in the pot before I realized that recipe didn't have the white beans or fennel. So I spent some time trying to merge both recipes and wound up with a HUGE pot of soup. Guess what we're having for dinner,again, tonight, with two more dinners in the freezer!

The rock crew arrived in the morning, and left pretty quickly. They didn't realize it had snowed here. I expect we'll see them back this morning. The truckload of topsoil to fill the soon to be newly raised terraces was delivered and I hope they finish soon, because I have a lot of broccoli, spinach, cabbage and brussel sprout starts to plant.

After finally getting the soup finished (it was now lunchtime), I decided to do more research on pizza making, got all the information and with recipe in hand, took out the sourdough starter which was looking pretty flat. To make a long story short - my sourdough starter is dead from lack of feeding it. I tried reviving it - even left it overnight in the oven after feeding it and there's no sign of life. So this morning I have to see if I can find some new starter on line. I read that King Arthur Flour sells some, so I'll be googling that in a few minutes. I also ordered a pizza making book from Amazon. One of my projects in the next year or so is to get an outdoor, wood burning, bread/pizza oven. Seems you need an oven to get to 800F to make the best pizza.

Studio time was less than an hour yesterday - just enough time to cut off a couple of pots and trim a platter and later in the evening covering them; but I should get a full day in today.

Before my first cup of this mornings tea I got some of my smallest tomato seedlings transplanted and tonight I'll try to do the same with some of the flower seedlings.
Looks like Jim didn't kill the planter filled with mesclun lettuce by leaving it out the other night. The snow cover, as I suspected it would, protected it. I should harvest it for salad tonight. You can get three full cuttings before planting another crop.

It didn't get as cold last night as was predicted a couple of days ago, so I'm hoping that means the fruit trees and Japanese maples will be OK. Two years ago we have overly warm temperatures this time of year, followed by several days of twenty degree nights which killed a couple of my Japanese maples and killed every fruit bud. We didn't have a single piece of fruit from any of our trees that year.

Well, time to have breakfast and head to the studio.

Till later,

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beatrice Wood luster bowl

Here's a green luster bowl by the late Beatrice Wood. I wish we had bought one of her whimsical pieces which represent the best of her work; but this bowl was pricy enough and those were three times the cost. You have to exercise some restraint periodically!

Beato, as she was called by friends, would hold court in her showroom, reclining on her sofa and flirting with male visitors. At that time her memory was sometimes fading and on one of our visits I asked if she remembered us and she replied, with a twinkle in her eye "I always remember the men!" She was a hoot!

We had dinner at her home one night along with the Heinos and Tashiko. The table was set with all her beautiful lead glazed luster dinner ware. Beato had made a pecan pie and forgot to put in the eggs or something to thicken it. Vivika, who was a good cook saved the day, removed the filling and served it on top of ice cream! I've since taken that idea and use those pecan pie filling ingredients the same way as an ice cream topping. It's delicious! Beato also burned the paneer but Vivika again, came to the rescue and added sugar to the dish. Sugar can mask the burned taste of food. Who knew!

Beato would pot in her beautiful saris wearing all her silver jewelry. I have a photo of her getting a throwing lesson from Tashiko Takaezu, during a Tashiko workshop I was attending at the Happy Valley School in Ojai. I'll have to scan it and post it one of these days.

Congratulations to the UNC tarheels for winning the 2009 NCAA championship. We stayed up late to watch the game. They kept a healthy lead throughout the game - a well deserved win!

I didn't get much studio time yesterday - just enough time to trim and wax a couple of bowls and and throw a platter. The rock crew showed up and I was keeping an eye on them and good thing I did, since they started laying stones up the walkway which was definitely not in the plan. They worked a few hours but the bad weather sent them packing early.

Well, time for breakfast and then I have to make the Tuscan bean,kale and potato soup for dinner. I also have some sour dough starter that's been sitting for weeks without feeding. I hope it's still good. I want to use it to proof some pizza dough. Then I'll head for the studio.. If I have energy after dinner, there are seedlings that need transplanting.

Till later,

Monday, April 06, 2009

Beautiful platter

Here's an exquisite piece. This large platter is quite thin so I shot it on the wall instead of trying to set it up on it's rim in the easy cube. This is another piece that was purchased at that lovely craft show in Melbourne, Florida several years ago. Unfortunately, the signature is undecipherable, so I can't give credit to the maker.

Yesterday was a full studio day with a one hour gardening break in the late afternoon. I got one perennial planted and did some weeding and clearing gravel out of one of the beds which I extended in the driveway. It's going to take a while to remove all those rocks!

I was hoping to do more planting but we're expecting two nights of freezing temperatures, and snow, so I'll be bringing a lot of those plants in for the next two nights. I hope this is the last such cold spell for the season.

We had the idea of going out for dinner but the golf course restaurant wasn't open, so Jim went out and got some Kentucky fried chicken, so I didn't have to stop working to make dinner.

After dinner I went back to the studio and worked till almost 9pm. I'm tired and sore this morning, so I'm going to vegg out and catch up with some email. I have two orders that haven't arrived and are well overdue, so I need to make some phone calls to find out why these things haven't arrived.

I'll be in the studio all afternoon finishing up some pots and maybe throwing a few more things. I'm just going to make some hot dogs and beans for a quick and easy dinner instead of the Tuscan bean soup I was planning. I'll make it tomorrow instead. It will make a hearty supper for the expected cold, snowy weather.

Till later,

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Soda fired pitcher by Jason Lactara

Here's a really nice soda fired pitcher by Jason Lactara, a young, talented potter from Florida. It's decorated with flashing and black slips with white salt liner. It's one of my kitchen spoon storage pieces. Good pots should be used! \

The North Carolina tarheels won last night. Jim is a huge basketball fan (in his youth he was a good enough player to be offered college scholarships; but turned those down to go to the University of Pennsylvania instead). It was a late night, but worth it. Monday they play Michigan state for the championship. Go tarheels!

Yesterday I got a later studio start and took some more photos of my pottery collection for the blog; but I still got my full studio day in by working another hour or so after dinner. I did some throwing with the way too soft reclaim clay and finished up a few other pots - trimming, handles, etc. That clay is sticky to wedge, but oh so easy to center and throw low wide bowls and plates. I can't throw it as thin so I'll have to spend more time trimming; but I'm determined to use up all this reclaim before I buy or make any new clay.

I never did get any gardening working done but I did take quick peek to see if any morels had shown up in one of the usual spots - but none were to be seen. The nights are still too cool; and with snow predicted a few days from now, it looks like it will be another couple of weeks before we see any.

After our bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese Sunday breakfast, I'll be back to the studio for more throwing. I covered some of the things I threw yesterday so I'll probably get out there before breakfast to uncover them and maybe they'll be ready to trim later today.

It's going to be in the mid 70's so I will definitely try to get at least an hour in the garden after lunch to get some sun and plant a few perennials.

Till later,

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Vivika Heino salt glazed bud vase

Here's a nice, little, salt glazed bud vase by my late friend Vivika Heino.

Most of my day was spent in Asheville yesterday. I only got about an hour in the studio and by 11am we were on our way to Asheville. It was a lovely drive in - so many flowering trees, shrubs and spring bulbs putting on a wonderful show!

We stopped at Lowe's hardware first. They didn't have the grow light bulbs I use, but I did get a couple of plants. From there we had lunch at a new (for us) Indian restaurant, a quick stop of TJ Max where I got a nice print for one of the upstairs bathrooms. Then it was on to Earth Fare and Sam's club for food and wine shopping and lastly, a stop at the Amish food store for some of their great, hand made butter.

We got home around 5:30, unpacked and put away groceries, made some guacamole for supper (we weren't hungry after a big lunch), and had a quiet evening watching the Poitro, Murray semi final tennis match.

In Burnsville we saw a man selling ramps from the back of his pick up, so I think I may do a little walk about on our property to see if we have any growing. Someone on the mushroom list said that found some morels the other day, so I keep an eye out for those as well.

Time to get on with morning watering chores, breakfast and some studio time till mid afternoon. It's going to be in the mid 60's by 3 o'clock, and that's when I'll try to get out and do some planting if I'm not too sore. My new hip has been causing a lot of discomfort the past 3 days. I hope I didn't loosen the one screw holding it all together with all that digging I did a few days ago! That is not a surgery I'm eager to repeat in this lifetime!

Till later,

Friday, April 03, 2009

Tom Clarkson ash glazed jar

Here's a really beautiful and impressive ash glazed jar by Tom Clarkson of Virginia. We purchased this in the late 70's at a wonderful craft show in New York.

Yesterday's rain gave me a digging/planting reprieve and I got a full day in the studio. The reclaim clay was still way too soft for some forms but fine for some small bowls and low, wide bowls. I got a full day in before it was time to clean up and get to friends for dinner.

I'll get some studio time this morning but then we're heading to Asheville to do a Sam's Club, Lowe's hardware,and Earthfare run for some grocery shopping. We'll have our big meal of the day at lunch and probably just pick up some sushi for a light supper, unless Sam's Club has clams. If they do, then it will be clams steamed in white wine, parsley, red pepper flakes and lots of garlic for dinner.

Well, time for breakfast and an early studio start this morning. I have to get handles on a couple of pots, clean up and wax some pots and maybe do some trimming of the pots that were still not dry enough yesterday.

Till later,

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Cynthia Bringle bud vase

Here's a tiny, porcelain, bud vase by another wonderful Penland potter, Cynthia Bringle. I bought this in the early 80's while attending her workshop at the Clay House in Santa Monica, California.

When I awoke yesterday I was muscle sore from all the digging the day before, so I decided to hold off studio time and make dinner after breakfast (corn bread and beans). After that I got my 6 hours time in the studio. It was nice to come in from the studio and just have to reheat the beans, sit down and eat and get another hour in the studio after dinner.

The stone crew didn't show because of the rain and I was relieved that was a relief. It gave me a reprieve from having to dig up some grapevines. I thought I'd get that done this afternoon but the weather forecast was wrong and it's raining again! So, I get another digging reprieve from mother nature which is fine since I have a bunch of pots that need handles, trimming, waxing, etc. and I'd like to throw some pots after lunch.

I have a lot of reclaimed clay that's been sitting a couple of months and I'm hoping it's firmed up enough to use. I'm determined to not buy any more fresh clay until I use this clay. There's another batch in the clay mixer that I have to finish mixing today. There's always one more studio chore waiting.

We stayed up later than usual to watch the Roddick Federer tennis match and then Bodhi, our Jack Russel terrier woke us at 1:40am, needing to go out. Jim took pity on me, got dressed and took him for a walk. Seems the little guy had a bit of a tummy ache. He's on medication for colitis and I think this may be a side effect of the medicine. In any case we were able to get back to sleep without too much trouble but I'm still feeing like I need that second cup of tea to get me going this morning.

Till later,