Friday, July 31, 2009

Morning glories taking over the rose arbor

The hotter weather slowed down the roses on the arbor; but the morning glories came in to fill in the color.

I got a few hours in the studio yesterday and kitty Bonnie wasn't too much of a distraction. I threw a tumbler just to see what her reaction to the wheel would be, but she totally ignored it. It would be nice if that continues. My old cat Shino, would attack the spinning clay!

Bonnie found a big, shallow, plastic container with dry, scrap clay and it looked like she was starting to use it as a litter box, so I quickly removed her and added water to it to let it slake, and will put it in the clay mixer at some point today. She's starting to explore the studio a bit more, jumping higher on to shelves, tables and ware carts, and I'm very quickly finding the things I have to move, that can get her in trouble.

My studio time was spent mainly on paper work - got all the scraps of glaze recipes and some other papers sorted and into numerical order and into various folders. I brought another big folder into the house after wards, hoping to work on it after dinner; but I had a strong headache and the last thing I wanted to do was to sort through unrelated, tiny scraps of paper, so I watched one of my Netflix movies, ordered a new larger, graduated background paper for my photography setup, did some computer clean up work, watched some late night tennis and went to bed.

Since they've changed the weather forecast for today and the rain isn't coming in till later, we've decided to go out for lunch and do some pick up shopping. There's a plant I'm looking for and a wine Jim is hoping he can find locally. We're taking our dog Bodhi with us so lunch is going to be a aMacDonald's car picnic, since we can't leave him in the car in this heat. Unlike our late dog Shanti, he loves the car. He also doesn't mind the hamburger treat that goes along with these summer outings.

Pottery throwing Wedgewood plate

This is a plate I have hanging in my studio. It's an old Wedgewood plate that I found on ebay.

Yesterday I got a few hours of studio time; but the paper pile is overwhelming and is taking longer than I thought. I even brought a folder of papers in the house and worked on sorting them while I watched some Netflix British mysteries.

We're expecting another rainy day, so I don't know when I'll be able to get any desperately needed gardening time. After breakfast I'll get into the studio with Bonnie and bag the clay I reclaimed yesterday and get another batch soaking while I continue sorting and file all those papers.

We're going out to the seafood buffet for dinner, so I'll be able to get in some good studio time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Morning raindrops on the daylilies

Rain, rain and more rain. I did a short walk through the flower garden this morning and these daylilies caught my eye.
The weeds are taking control again, so I need to get out there as soon as weather permits and try to get on top of them as well as getting the rest of my planting done. I was hoping to dig more potatoes today; but the ground is probably too wet and more rain is expected.
Right now I'm waiting for the carpet stretchers to arrive. They're already a half an hour late.
We got the allen wrenches at our local Ace Hardware yesterday. I'm hoping my friend Jim and Aaron will show up to tilt my monster pugmill to drain the oil so we can get new oils in there and get it working in time for me to start a throwing cycle.
I still have more paperwork to file in the studio. My desk looks like a hurricane blew threw, as I'm in the middle of sorting and filing all these papers.
I'll take Bonnie in with me this afternoon. So far, she's been good in the studio. It will be interesting to see how she responds to me throwing; but that may be a few days away.
I haven't even though about tonight's dinner. Last night I made one of Jim's favorites - fettucini Alfredo. I topped it with some cold, leftover salmon.
At some point today, maybe when the carpet people are her, I have to feed my sour dough starters. There's always so much to do, and seemingly, so little time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bonnie kitty's day care center

My studio has now been turned into a kitty day care center and she loves it.
Our weather has cooled (gone from 88 yesterday to an expected 73 today with more thunderstorms), so it won't be a gardening day. I'm suspecting that some of these annuals will never get planted! The perennials are high priority right now, including the new Crape myrtle I got a couple of days ago.
Yesterday was another running around day. I got a few goodies at the rock and gem show, then headed for Walmart to get the band on my new watch made smaller, and in search for a few other things that they didn't have, and then lunch at the Spruce Pine Golf course, and Ingles for some grocery shopping. Once I got the groceries and other things put away it was time to start on chopping all the tomatoes for our light supper - bruschetta - one of my favorite summer appetizers, which we actually use as a meal.
I hoped to get to the studio after breakfast and get the clay mixer going with some reclaim that I've had soaking, and see if I can finish cleaning off my desk. There's still a great deal of sorting and filing to do; but unfortunately my desktop memory maxed out so I've been spending the last couple of hours deleting enough files to make it work properly.
After lunch I'll take Bonnie kitty and her new toy - the remote control mouse to the studio. It should work better on the concrete studio floor than it does on the tile in the master bedroom bath wing, where it keeps getting stuck in the grouted areas.
Yesterday her favorite toy was a rubber band she found on top of my desk. She got hours of amusement out of it.
The work on the pug mill has to wait until my friend Jim and his assistant come back with the right sized Allen wrench. Walmart didn't have any, which seemed odd. I'm not going to start a throwing cycle until I get it working. Fortunately there's are plenty of studio chores to do, including cleaning and stacking the kiln shelves from the last firing.
I have some leftover Salmon that I'll serve cold tonight along with some Fettucini Alfredo, for a simple dinner. It's always challenging to find quick and easy, satisfying dinners for those long work days.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

C10R test tiles group 5

This is the last group of cone 10 R test tiles. Names and recipes are available at my web page:

We had a real frog strangler downpour last night, so I don't know if our painter is going to be staining the porch and deck today.

I have to get to a hardware store and get a set of Allen wrenches so I can get the oil changed in my pug mill and get it working. Why is it you always have the wrong size! I'm going to buy a whole set today and guard it with my life, since these things tend to go walkies!

Since I'll be out doing various shopping, I'm going to stop by the gem show in Spruce Pine. They have dealers from all over the country with about every type of crystal, rock, gem and rock hounding tools you can think of. I need to pick up another set of diamond bits that I use to grind that nasty soda drips on the pots.

I took Bonnie and her new toys into the studio with me yesterday but her favorite toy wound up being a rubber band she swiped off my desk while I was doing a few hours of paper work. Around 2 o'clock I decided I had had enough of paper sorting and filing, did a few more studio chores and called it a day and started on some dinner prep.

The squash saga continues. I picked even more yesterday and of course, we had squash again last night. This time I used the summer squash, sliced and sauteed with some diced green pepper, red onion, garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs (basil, oregano, Italian parsley). Jim loved it - so happy I'm finding ways to cook it that he'll actually eat. There's more I have to process for the freezer this afternoon, which I'll use in soups this winter.

I also found an interesting recipe for Lebanese stuffed squash, that's a bit complicated with having to core out most of the squash. I think I can use the same recipe and just cut the squash in half, dig out the center, stuff it and then add the tomato, mint, lemon sauce, in the bottom of the pan and bake it instead of cooking in on the stove top, which is this recipes traditional way. The vegetarian version is stuffed with a mixture garbanzo beans, rice, mint, etc,etc. and I think it will make a nice, light, vegetarian meal along with some cornbread.

Time to hit the shower and think about breakfast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cone 10R test tiles #4

Here's another group of cone 10 reduction test tiles. Names and recipes are on my web page:

This morning I have a handyman coming early to do some work but later I'm heading for the studio with Bonnie, kitty, and her toys. The first thing I need to do is tear the studio apart to find my clay mixer manual. If I can't find it, I'll have to call Soldner and get a new one. I've already checked their web site and nada, so my morning is going to be spent going through piles of folders and papers and hoping that I just misfiled it.

We're expecting rain, so I doubt if I'll get in any garden time; but there's plenty to do in the studio today - find that manual, take the pug mill apart and change the oils,and do some more organizing to make sure it's safe for Bonnie.

If my energy holds, I'll work till 4 and then come in and get started on dinner which is simple broiled salmon, baked potatoes and guess what vegetable - squash of course! LOL

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some of gifts of the garden

Here's a photo of some of yesterdays harvest.
I'm definitely in squash hell - need to find a food bank, fast! The freezers are maxed out and so are our squash appetites. It's here if anyone wants to pick it up today or tomorrow. Just let me know.
Yesterday was a very productive day. I'm definitely feeling like this bug is going, going, and almost gone. I got in the garden for two hours and planted a bunch of annuals, another Russian sage,did a some weeding, dug up a few more potatoes and picked tomatoes, squash and the first bush and pole beans.
A raccoon or deer knocked over my one, mature corn stalk, but only nibbled on the not quite ripe, ear of corn. The new corn seedlings seem to have been left alone, for now.
I made pizza again, for dinner. That was the last of the current dough which was in the fridge because there was no room in the freezer, so we wound up having pizza three nights this week. We had home made banana ice cream for dessert and then enjoyed a relaxing night of TV starting with the Brit coms on PBS, followed by Inspector Poirot. I fell asleep mid way but Jim filled me in on the ending this morning - the husband did it!
Overnight, some critter or critters attacked our biggest peach tree and there are only a few peaches left, which I'll pick later. I have to keep remembering that it's best to share! The culprit broke a good sized branch a couple of days ago and we cut it off yesterday. Fortunately, the break didn't damage the trunk.
I must be ready to get back in the studio. I dreamed I was throwing bowls last night; but I'm giving myself one more day of heavy vitamin therapy and hopefully Bonnie and I can get into the studio tomorrow.
We just got back from breakfast and a shopping run at Walmart. My almost thirty year old watch finally died and it was time for a replacement. I got a couple of new toys for Bonnie - just for the studio, so I don't have to schlepp all her stuff into the studio when I take her in there with me for the day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cone 10 R test tiles group 3

You can find the names and recipes for these cone 10 reduction fired test tiles here. This link should take you directly to that page.

Still feeling draggy but had a lot of fun porch sitting with good friends last night. Today I'm going to try to get in the garden for a short while to plant a few little things. I saw that my newly planted corn seedlings are up around 4 or 5", but it looks like some critter bent the one and only corn stalk from the first planting, that had an ear of corn on it, so my one corn may have been a nice snack or meal for the raccoon or deer who came by last night.

I've got someone coming out to do some handyman work Monday or Tuesday and I'm going to have him look at my clay mixer. I'm going to try one more time to see if I can find the elusive manual before he comes. It's not in the folder where I keep all studio machinery and tool manuals, so I'm just going to have to dig deeper.

There are some household repairs that take top priority, so I'm hoping he'll get those done quickly so he can at least take a look at the mixer and maybe get the old oil out of my pugmill and get new oils in and get it working so when I get done with the flu bug, I can get in there and start throwing.

Time for another handful of vitamins, then head for the garden with kitty so she can play while I get a few small seedlings planted.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Joy Tanner's photography class

Here's a photo of Joy Tanner from her wonderful photography class last week. When I fully get over this flu bug (I think it's finally leaving) I have to get cracking on constructing the light box and duplicating her setup; but first I want to get to the studio and do something - anything!!!!

Yesterday I had enough energy to get a bunch of squash processed and in the freezer. I made zucchini fritters for the first time and Jim really loved them, so now I have at least 4 zucchini recipes that he really likes - zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, zucchinis sauteed in olive oil with garlic, basil and oregano, and the fancier version of zucchini sauteed in olive oil with tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, then topped with Parmesan reggiano. I could eat the last one as an entree with some garlic bread.

When Jim took Bodhi for a walk around 8am, a young raccoon was near the bird feeder - not a good sign, since there's a good chance that a nocturnal animal out in day time is rabid, so I waited a couple of hours before taking Bonnie Lass, our kitty, out for another outing. I got to weed the oak tree shade bed while she played and explored this new, to her, world.

Now that she's had a taste of the outdoors, she is not happy to be inside; but she's still too young for me to let her roam on her own. Fortunately she hasn't wandered away from the garden beds around the house and with her white and light gray coat, she's pretty easy to spot. After ten or 15 minutes of running around, she starts to slow down enough for me to catch her and bring her back in the house.

Think I'll head out to the deck with a book and enjoy this lovely weather.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gardenia in zone 6B

Here's a gardenia that I planted this spring. We're in zone 6b and this is a zone 7 plant; but I'm hoping that some heavy mulching this fall will help it make it through the winter. If we don't have a severe winter, I think it might survive. For extra protection, I'll put some rocks around the base to retain heat during the day then release it over night.

I took a brief walk in the garden yesterday and guess what? There were 3 more summer squashes to pick - two pretty large zucchini and one yellow. Hopefully, my friend Betty will take some off my hands today!

If you've been reading my blog, you'll remember that the critters ate all but two of my corn plants. Well, miracle of miracles, one of the surviving stalks actually has an ear of corn. I have no idea how that happened since the only other survivor is too far away from it to have pollinated it. Maybe one of the birds we feed daily, or the bees who dine on all our flowers took pity on me and pollinated it. Jim says I should eat it all by myself; but I couldn't do that. I'm hoping the late corn I planted will give us a few more ears before the first frost.

I noticed that I have some beans on my few bush bean plants and the newly planted seeds are up, so if the bunnies leave them alone we'll have another small, late crop. I picked a few more peaches off one of our three peach trees. Seems the peaches on the two older trees have some disease. I don't use poisonous sprays on the food I grow; but I'll have to see if there is some organic sprays to prevent this next year.

I'm feeling a tiny bit better this morning, so maybe all the vitamins and homeopathics are having some effect on this bug. I hope so. Being this tired and not being able to get in the studio or do necessary garden work is beginning to try my patience.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pizza night

Last night was pizza night. I tried a new healthier, no preservatives, pepperoni but Jim felt it didn't have much flavor. I guess all that MSG and nitrates in the regular pepperoni give it it's unique flavor. :-(

This flu bug has gotten worse and I'm taking tons of Vitamin C, nutribiotics,and other assorted vitamins, herbs and homeopathic flu medicine. I'm not a happy camper. There are so many things on my "to do" list, and there's no way I can do anything but some computer clean up and sleep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peach pie

Here's the peach pie I made yesterday. I hadn't made a pie in quite a while and forgot just how labor intensive it is. How did my grandmother make all those pies, keep a garden, can, do laundry without our modern washing machines or dryers, no permanent press clothing, no frozen foods, cook on a wood stove, clean house, etc! With all my gadgets I still feel like I have less free time than she had!

I think these computers, for as wonderful as they are, really do eat up a lot of our time that we would be spending on doing all those other more creative and more productive things.

Yesterday, I got in the garden long enough to pull a few weeds, harvest more summer squash (what am I goin to do with it all!). The freezers are pretty maxed out but I'm hoping I can get some of it in small baggies and find some little spaces to squeeze them in. I sauteed some of the thickly julienned zucchini in olive oil and garlic with some fresh chopped basil and parsley last night, which is one of the few ways Jim actually enjoys summer squash.

Tonight is pizza night, so I'll get started on my dough after breakfast. I've got some real Buffalo mozzarella that I got at the Italian deli in Cornelius last week, that I'm eager to try. Jim likes pepperoni on his half and I found some at Earth Fare that doesn't have all those preservatives.

By the time dinner was over, I was too tired to start on my light box project; and I was fast asleep halfway through the Anthony Bourdain show. For the past week I've been super tired and really having to force myself to do anything. The leftover flu bug from months ago comes back every time I tired myself with too much hard, physical work. Maybe it's just old age telling me to slow down a bit.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pie making time and C10R test tiles

Here's another group of Cone 10 Reduction test tiles. You can find recipes and names at my web page:

After seeing the weather report this morning, I decided this was the day for making a peach pie and maybe figure out what to do with the rest of these now, ripened peaches.

Yesterday was a tiring shopping day - driving to Johnson City and hitting 3 large stores for various hardware, office and other supplies, followed by a nice dinner at Red Lobster. I had hoped to go to the Southern Highland Craft show but we were both tired in the morning and by afternoon we decided it was better to get all those chores done. It was a great day to shop. There was hardly anyone in any of the stores on the Sunday afternoon. Jim cat napped while I did all my shopping. I got the foam core board at Michaels for making a light box. That will be tonight's project - measuring and cutting those pieces.

I have to get on line later and buy one more lamp and daylight fluorescent bulb for the light box. No local stores carry the higher intensity version of these bulbs.

Well, time to start peeling those peaches which I originally intended to start right after breakfast.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Caught in the act!

Found this when I walked into our bathroom a couple of days ago; but we soon discovered the guilty party, who teepeed our bathroom! She doesn't look a bit contrite!

We had planned to go to the Southern Highlands Craft show in Asheville today; but after a very busy week, we're just too tired to move this morning, so we've decided to just allow ourselves a quiet time, a leisurely breakfast, time to read the Sunday papers, and if we perk up later, maybe get out to do some shopping.

I had my photography class yesterday, which was really fun and so worthwhile and now I want to get out and buy some of the materials to make my own light box and get more brooding lamps and 300 watt bulbs and gray board, etc. to do my own setup. Jim wants a Red Lobster fix, so, if after a lazy morning, and if we have more energy than we do right now, we'll head over to Johnson City so I can pick up some of those items and Jim can get his Red Lobster fix.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gas fired Cone 10 Reduction test tiles

Here's a group of gas fired cone 10 reduction test tiles. Most are chun glazes in this group. For the names and recipes, go to my web page:

Last night's Italian night porch sitting was a bit hit. We all decided the long trip to the Italian deli in Cornelius was worth it.

This morning I have a photography class at John Britt's studio. Joy Tanner is giving the class and providing lunch with home made bread. I just have to bring my digital camera and a few pots to be photographed and a notebook.

I'm cooking a simple London broil and salad for dinner, that is, if I'm not too tired after the all day class.

Friday, July 17, 2009

C 10 soda salt test tiles

Here's the last group of Cone 10 soda/salt test tiles from my web page. You can access the names and recipes at my web page:

Tonight is our regular Friday night porch sitting with our friends Jim and Laura, so today I'll be tidying house and hopefully, making peach gelato since I didn't have enough ripe peaches to do it yesterday. The banana ice cream came out great. The secret is to use very ripe bananas. We have some Italian wine,an assortment of imported Italian cold cuts and sausage,hot cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto,marinated artichoke hearts,Italian cheese,Italian cookies and bean bruschetta, etc.etc. on the menu, with banana ice cream or better yet, the peach gelato,if enough of the peaches are ripe enough to make it this morning.

It's raining, with more rain and thunder showers expected throughout the day and night, so there won't be any gardening today.

I did get out yesterday to pull a few weeds, pick more summer squash and spray the newly sprouted bush beans and corn with the rotten egg, cayenne mixture that is supposed to keep the deer and bunnies away; but I think it's the crows that got the corn last time since the whole seedling was pulled out. Hope they'll avoid the corn because of the spray. My plan is to put down some remay cloth over those corn seedlings as soon as the weather permits; and leave it there until the corn is big enough that they can't pull it out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cone 10 R soda/salt test tiles #2

Here's another group of C10 soda test tiles. If you double click on it, it brings up a larger version. The descriptions and recipes are on my web page. This link should get you to the right place. If not, just got to the home page and follow the links.

I've decided not to plan any more days, period! The weather, how these old bodies feel on any given morning, etc etc. seem to determine, or I should say, change each days plan. Because the weather was good yesterday, we decided to shift our Thursday plan to Wednesday and drove almost 3 hours to the Lake Norman area in my search for a real Italian deli! The search was very successful, I'm happy to say. Turns out the owner is from my childhood stomping grounds in Brooklyn, NY.

The deli ( )imports real Buffalo Mozzarella and all kinds of dried Italian pastas, fresh made raviolis, and other pastas,Italian wines (had one of their Primativo reds which was great),canned goods, meats etc. It's amazing how many wonderful food items they have in this small store! We will definitely go back, but decided that we would make it an overnight next time and add some clay and other shopping and a nice dinner in one of Charlotte's many new, and great restaurants. There's a really nice Fresh Market a half a block away from the Italian deli, so with an overnight we can get in a lot of play time, maybe go to the Opera, have a great dinner, pick up some pottery supplies and bring home a lot of gourmet goodies.

We couldn't find a picnic area on our way out of town and wound up having our Italian munchie lunch picnic well after 3 o'clock at one of our regular rest stops in Marion. Dinner was late, but super easy - spaghetti with meatballs (which we bought at the deli).

This is peach season and I was able to buy a basket of peaches on route 16. I was hoping to make some peach gelato today for our Friday porch sitting; but I don't think there are enough ripe ones to do that today. We have two young peach trees and their fruit isn't ripe enough yet, either. So, I'm going to make choclate granitas after breakfast, instead.

I'm feeling better than the past two days, so if this rainy morning opens up to something better, I may get out in the afternoon and transplant some of my hollyhocks, otherwise I'll get into the studio and do more paper sorting and filing and clearing on my studio desk.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cone 10 soda test tiles

Here's a group of soda test tiles from my web page. For names and recipes, go to:

If you double click this photo, it will bring up a larger version.

Yesterday I visited Linda McFarling who was firing her salt kiln as part of a two week class she is giving at her studio. There was lots of activity at the studio with Shane Mickey delivering a load of bricks and Lindas students busy at work.

I arrived just about the time they were starting to salt. We chatted about glazes and I got to see some of her new glaze tests - some really lovely glazes. One was the Sam Chung green with 3% copper carb (the recipe is in John Britt's wonderful Cone 10 glaze book). When things quiet down we want to get together and spend more time comparing glazes and doing some serious porch sitting with some wine or margaritas.

My main reason for the visit was to look at Joy Tanner's firing notes since she's been able to get that kiln (same cross draft design that I have)to fire pretty evenly. It took a while for me to copy the notes and now I have to spend some time making cleaner copies and try to figure out Joy's notations.

Since I've still got the bug that's slowing me down, we have a change in the weeks plan and today is now a day for a relaxed, adventure and hopefully, a nice picnic. I'll fill you in tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

C10 soda/salt clay tests

Here are some fire clay,ball clay and kaolin tests I did when I started soda/salt firing in the 90's.Here's the Url if you want to check which clays are in these photos:

Yesterday started slowly. I wasn't feeling great and am still dealing with some little bug; but I did perk up enough after a lot of vitamins, to get in the garden to plant a couple of things, pull a few weeds and pick some more plum tomatoes for tonight's bruschetta. I also made two loaves of zucchini bread.

I'm heading out to Linda McFarling's after lunch. She's firing the salt kiln today and I wanted to check out Joy Tanner's firing notes on Linda's soda kiln. Linda and I have the same basic soda kiln, designed and built by Shane Mickey. It's been fired more than my kiln and Joy has been able to get it to fire evenly, so I want to check out the bag wall and Joy's firing notes.

Hopefully, by tomorrow I'll be feeling better and be able to get into the studio. I'm getting a bit antsy right now about getting back to work. This time of year,with the garden and processing veggies, the most time I can usually get is a few hours in the afternoon. Gone are the days when my energy was higher and I could get back in the studio after dinner and work till after 11pm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

C6ox test tiles

This is the last C6 ox group from my web site. Recipes are there, just follow the links:

The sun is out after a heavy rain during the night; but my swollen glands, scratchy throat and general ennui are going to keep me in the house most of the day popping vitamins, cooking and doing my impression of a couch potato. I'll try to get out to the garden just to harvest any new squash (it's like the energizer bunny - it never stops producing!), and whatever tomatoes might be ripe. The larger ones are just starting to ripen; but chico paste plum tomatoes have been coming in for a week. I think I probably have enough to make a small batch of bruschetta for lunch instead of our usual 12 almond lunch.

Making the leg of lamb dinner and processing squash for the freezer took up most of my time yesterday afternoon. Jim bought me one of those Food Saver machines yesterday and it took me a while to read all those instructions and get it working; but it does work well. I didn't make the chocolate granitas since no local grocery stores had the bittersweet chocolate, nor did I have the time and energy to make the zucchini bread. Tonight I'm doing my simple linguini with broccoli and garlic, anchovy sauce. All that garlic might help get rid of whatever bug has taken up residence in this body.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cone 6 ox ash and fake ash test tiles

Here are some cone 6ox ash and fake ash glazed test tiles, as well as some non ash glazes. The recipes are at my web page (just follow the links)

Woke this morning with a scratchy throat, so I'm moving a bit slower than usual. I have a whole day of cooking ahead, so this body will just have to deal with it. We're expecting thunder storms this morning, so planting will have to wait, which is just as well, since I have a lot of cooking planned for today.

After breakfast I'll start on my chocolate granitas and blanching and freezing all that summer squash; and after lunch I'll start on the early prep for the leg of lamb and garlic mashed potatoes dinner. I have leftover squash casserole so I won't have to make another vegetable; and if I have the time and energy, I'll try to make some zucchini or banana bread as well.

I've been enjoying the HGTV Sunday morning garden and landscaping shows while I read my email and Facebook, and blog - my usual Sunday morning routine. Now it's time to hit the shower, have a light breakfast and start cooking.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Potatoes drying

I've been doing some heavy duty gardening this week. Here are some of my early planted potatoes - Kennebecs and Red Pontiacs, that I dug the other day. There are more of these as well as Yukon Golds to dig up in the next month or so, since I staggered my planting according to the moon signs recommended in the Farmers Almanac. A bunch of volunteers also came up late. It will be interesting to see if there's a difference in the amount of potatoes I'm getting from those and the ones I planted in March and April.
Yesterday was an all day food and other shopping trip to Asheville. I got some new kitchen tools at the restaurant supply store (love those places!), and found some Canadian bacon at Earth Fare. So, this morning I'm making Jim one of his favorite dishes - Eggs Benedict. I also got a lot of goodies at the Asian grocery store and a few items at Sams Club. A nice lunch at the Thai restaurant and then the drive home pretty much took all day.
We were both sore from all the gardening the day before, so this shopping day gave us a bit of time to rest all our sore muscles. I didn't have to cook last night. Earth Fare provided the sushi and I provided the cold sake for me and Chardonnay for Jim.
It looks like we may be getting rain, so I don't know if I'll get any planting in this afternoon. If not, then I'll get in the studio; but I'm really hoping that I can get most of these small annual veggies and flowers planted today; but first there's breakfast to make. After breakfast I've got cornbread to bake for tonight's leftover bean dinner.

Friday, July 10, 2009

More cone 6ox test tiles

Here are some more cone 6ox test tiles. You can get the recipes from my web page:

Just follow the technical info link on the home page and it will eventually take you to the pages of cone 6ox test tiles photos and recipes.

In the next few months I'd like to re-batch some of these and fire them in a cone 6R soda firing.

Today's plan is to drive to Asheville with a first stop at a restaurant supply store that Ron Slagle recommended, for an anti fatigue mat for the studio, then on to Sam's Club,Earth Fare and Oriental grocery store, and lunch at the Thai restaurant.

We're both tired and sore from yesterday's all day gardening session. Jim spent a couple of hours yesterday and the day before just weeding the stone walkway in front of the house. I got a lot planted and pulled quite a few weeds in my 5+ hours in the garden.

I'm pretty sore this morning from having to dig in a very rocky spot on the little knoll next to my gallery. That area used to be the old parking spot and anytime I dig in a new section, I'm faced with gravel for the first 7 inches and then I hit red clay and larger cobble stones for the next few inches. In 5 years, I've gotten a lot of spots cleaned out on that knoll; but yesterday I hit a section that hadn't been done, and it took me over an hour, and probably closer to two, to plant 5 tomato plants!

One more day like yesterday and I think I should get most of the small annuals and perennials finally planted; but that will have to wait till tomorrow.

A doozie of a headache woke me at 3am and I've been up since, going through a lot of unread email. I think the Tylenol has done it's job so I'm going to see if I can get back to sleep for another hour.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Clay Club photos

Clay Club meeting at Crimson Laurel gallery last night. There was a great turn out to munch on pizza and other goodies and have a very worthwhile discussion pricing, led by Shane Mickey.
Here's Cynthia Bringle at the top of the stairs sharing her stories and thoughts on pricing. What we all agreed on is that educating the public is so very important. To that end, I've revised a wonderful list that one of the members of Clayart posted several years ago on what it takes to make a mug. I geared the editing to my soda firing. For me it was interesting to list all the time and steps that go into getting a pot into a customers hands!


1. Make shopping list and drive to Asheville to pick up clay (over a 2 ½ hour round trip).
2. Unload and store clay in studio.
3. Wedge clay.
4. Weigh amount of clay needed for mug.
5. Fill a bucket of water for throwing, put a bat on the wheel head, center clay and throw the body of the mug.
6. Remove bat off the wheel,let mug firm up a bit and then cut it off the wheel, invert, and let sit several hours or overnight, depending on weather, till it’s leather hard and ready for trimming.
7. Put mug back on wheel, center and attach clay lugs to hold it down, sharpen trim tool and trim as needed.
8. Wedge more clay, and hand pull mug handle.
9. Let the handle dry 1 hr or more; depending on weather.
10. Attach handle to trimmed mug and sign mug.
11. Re-mix previously made flashing slips,(which took an hour or so to weigh raw materials, add water, mix and sieve) and dip mug in slip, wipe any drips, sponge off the bottom, then brush, dip or spray second slip if using.
12 Mix and sieve decorating slip and draw design on mug if needed.
13 Clean wheel and bat, wash tools, and sweep the floor. Put clay scraps in bucket or into clay mixer for reclaiming.
14. Let mug dry till bone dry (about a week, depending on weather).
15. Vacuum and load bisque kiln and fire about ten to twelve hours to over 1800 degrees F.
16. Let kiln cool a day or two and unload.
17. Mix and sieve glazes.
18. Wax bottoms of pots if needed. Glaze inside of mug and outside as needed.
19 Wash buckets,sieves,mixer and sponges, and store.
20. Let glazed mug dry thoroughly for a day.
21. Weigh out a batch of wadding, add water and mix, then form individual wads. Glue several wads to the bottom of mug to prevent it from sticking to the kiln shelf. (This takes a whole day for a kin load of pots.)
22. When ware cart is full, wheel it to kiln room. If glazes or slips get bumped on the way or while loading, set aside to redo later.
23. Wedge clay and make draw tiles, and cone packs for the firing.
24. Sprinkle and smooth alumina hydrate on kiln shelf before setting pots on shelves.
25 Vacuum kiln and start loading.
26. Brick up the door of the kiln.
27 Mix up kiln mud and use large pastry bag and large tip to mud up the cracks in the door.
28 Turn the pilot burner on low, and let it slowly warm up several hours.
29 2- 3 am or so get up and turn up that burner. (I drink a big glass of water before going to bed to make sure I get up in a few hours to tend to the kiln) Go back to bed for a couple more hours if I can.
27. Early next morning start firing, by slowly turning on the main burners. While kiln is firing so some studio cleanup.
28. Monitor firing - check kiln every 15-30 minutes, adjusting burners and dampers as needed, and logging the firing as it progresses.
29. Toward end of firing, get the soda solution weighed, mixed and strained, and set aside. Test sprayer to make sure it’s working OK.
30.. When cone 8 is starting, put soda solution in sprayer and start walking around the very hot kiln, spraying in all the ports. Wait 15-20 minutes and repeat (this step is repeated for 1 ½ - 2 hours, until draw rings indicate the desired amount of soda/salt deposit).
31. When kiln reaches temperature (around 2400F), shut off burners, push in dampers.
32. Dump or save any ash solution not used and wash sprayer very well.
33. Next morning sweep kiln room, tidy ware cart, put away unused wadding, kiln mud, and other tools used to prepare for and during the firing.
34. 3 days later, when kiln has cooled to 300 F slowly start slowly un-bricking kiln during the day. When pots are cool enough to handle, start unloading.
35. Move ware cart full of pots into the studio. Examine mug. If it’s looks good, remove the wads, wet it and sand with silicon carbide sand paper, rinse and dry.
36. Price mug and move it to showroom, or set it aside to wrap, pack, and deliver or ship.
37. Scrape and store kiln shelves and kiln furniture, sweep kiln room and clean studio, and plan the next cycle.
38. Last, but certainly not the least instruction to self ; try not to attack the innocent person who asks "Why does this mug cost so much?"

PS: If anything goes wrong between steps 3 -18, go back to step 3 and start over.

AND, if you are want to read more, here are some of the hidden steps not included in the above list.

- Answer phone
- Promote work: work on website, blog, design promotional material, call galleries, customers.
- Order promotional material
- Order packing material
- Shop for other, non clay, raw material, studio supplies
- Book keeping, bill paying, filling out monthly sales tax forms and remitting collected taxes
- Sell pots
- Develop and test new glazes, slips and clay bodies.
- Come up with new designs.
- Re-cycle clay
- Attend conferences and/or workshops

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

June Perry (happy to give more detailed explanation of any of the above steps).

***(This is an edited, added to, inspired, modification of the original one by a member of Clayart - Sam Cuttell ). As Sam said “feel free to alter this text to suit your own work”.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cone 6 OX test tiles

These are cone 6 oxidation test tiles. The recipes and more pages of cone 6 Ox tiles are on my website:

Tonight is our Clay Club meeting at the Crimson Laurel Gallery right here in town - only a 3 mile drive from home. Pizza and a discussion on pricing is on the agenda for tonight's meeting. I haven't been in the gallery for a while so it's going to be fun to see all the new work.

Today's plan is to get some planting done after breakfast and get some studio time after lunch. I'm still sore from my osteo treatment yesterday, so a bit of planting is all the muscle work I intend to do today. I'm slowly catching up on paper work though. Yesterday I got two three ring folders filled with recipes I've been printing out. Now I have to get all those little recipe clippings in some other folders; but that will be a good, after dinner project. This afternoon I'll continue my paper sorting and filing of all those papers still left on my studio desk and do a major search for my clay mixer manual, which so far, has eluded me.

After the TRAC tour, I'm usually wiped and need a couple of weeks to recharge and catch up with shopping, household stuff, paper work, gardening, etc. before I start on another studio cycle - which reminds me - I need to may a dental appointment!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


All the hollyhocks are blooming, even some of the potted ones waiting for transplanting.

Looks like I have a good morning to get out in the garden for an hour or two. I want to plant some more bush beans and broccoli and maybe a couple of more plum tomatoes to harvest, and of course there's always more weeding to go. I have a doctors appointment in the afternoon and other household chores to keep me busy before I leave, so I won't be able to get much if any studio time today.

Yesterday I checked the cost of replacement motors for my clay mixer - yikes - over $500 just for the motor, not counting the cost of having the old one removed and new one installed. I still don't know yet if it's the motor. I can't find my documentation and the Soldner web site doesn't have any documentation either, so I'm going to have to go digging through my file cabinet and every place else in my studio. It's not in the folder with all the other machinery and tool documentation, so this may be a long search.

I ordered some black and timber bamboo yesterday after doing a bit of research. There's a large bamboo that can take temperatures to 15 below, and I'll plant that down in our lower meadow and let it do its thing. I'm not sure where I'll plant the black bamboo. It will depend on how big it is when it arrives. If it's not too big it will go in a large pot for a while. Later I have to go back to the Lewis bamboo web site and read all their instructions on bamboo planting and care.

The squash casserole I made yesterday was OK,not great. Jim liked it better than simple sauteed squash with onion, which is my preference, so, I'll have to try some other recipes and soon, since I have a lot of summer squash! I'm probably going to have to freeze some of it today since Jim didn't sound at all enthusiastic when I mentioned squash soup. I'll use the zucchini to make zucchini bread which we both enjoy a lot. Next year I'm going to skip the yellow summer squash and use that space for something else.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Butterflies love the bee balm

It's called bee balm, but I think the butterflies like it as much or even more than the bees!

I had hoped to get in the studio this morning; but I totally forgot that we had an appointment to take Bodhi to Spruce Pine for a grooming. We were out the door at 8:30am, dropped him off, then drove to Burnsville for breakfast, back to Spruce Pine to Walmart for some pick up groceries and some things from the garden center, including a new, bigger, hummingbird feeder, back to groomer to pick up Bodhi, home and unpacking groceries. Half the day gone and now I've got to start on dinner prep.

I'm trying a new summer squash casserole to go with the chicken cordon bleu. Once I get that started I'd like to fertilize my potatoes and do some weeding, if it doesn't rain again. We got a lot of rain overnight and another good shower around noon. The weeds are doing very, very well! :-(

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Pizza last night

Last night was pizza night. Jim's side is the one with all the anchovies and mine is the veggie, with extra cheese side.

We stayed up late watching Miss Marple followed by the end of the Boston Pops 4th of July concert. We missed the concert but saw the fireworks which were spectacular!

It was raining when I walked Bodhi at 6am, so I'm not sure I'll get any gardening n this afternoon. If not, I may just get into the studio for a bit.

We'll be having breakfast with Wimbledon again this morning. This is the last day of the tournament and I'm hoping it will be good final. The women's final wasn't great. Venus Williams play was very flat. Fortunately the women's semi final with Serena was one of the best woman's matches ever!

Time to think about getting started on breakfast, watch the tennis, then make my cornbread and get an early start on cooking tonight's supper - spicy beans.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Watermelon and 4th of July, go hand in hand and here's one with a very interesting, star like, interior pattern. I've never seen this in all my years of eating watermelon. That center part had a much harder texture than the rest of the melon - looked and tasted like a mutant!

We're enjoying a nice, slow morning after our late, regular Friday night porch sitting with good friends. It will be another breakfast at Wimbledon morning with the women's final starting at 9am, followed by the men's doubles. The afternoon plan is to take kitty outside with me while I garden, which I didn't get to do yesterday because of a headache that just wouldn't leave until around 6 o'clock, so I wound up just doing a great deal of computer clean up.

I haven't planned anything special for 4th of July. Since we had hamburgers and corn on the cob last night, I think I might just take my last pizza dough out of the freezer and make a pizza tonight. I have all the toppings on hand and it's a good porch sitting food. Maybe I'll make a batch of margaritas to go with it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Dellinger Mill

Here's a photo of Dellinger Mill which is down the road from us. I buy my corn meal and grits here. Mr Dellinger, when he retired, spent a great deal of time, money and energy, refurbishing the family mill and I am so glad to have this treasure so close to home. Double click on it for a better view.

Woke up at 4 am with the same headache I've had for two days, so I'm just taking it easy, watching Wimbledon, and spending the morning doing more computer cleanup of my photo files and Jim is off to the vets to pick up the anti flea and tick for the kitty, which we both forgot yesterday. I want to introduce her to the outdoors today and won't do that without the flea and tick medication.

Tonight is porch sitting with friends, so my work of the day is going to be this computer project, and some gardening while keeping an eye on kitty. I don't know how much I'll get done while watching her, but I should be able to at least pull some weeds.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

My old Japanese style studio

This was my studio when I lived in California. I designed it in the Japanese style, even with a tokonoma. This is the throwing and display room and the other half of the studio was for raw material storage, glazing, etc. There was a large kiln pad at the back for my wood, and 2 gas kilns. The wheels are hidden, down in those cubicles on the right. I had tops made to cover the openings so that during sales they would provide more display areas. The back door top was an oak branch from one of our oak trees that I had carpenter cut to fir the frame and the handle of the door was a piece of mesquite. The studio started out as a 3 car garage which I converted into this lovely work space.

This morning I just did some computer work, cleaning up some old photos,since we have an appointment at the vets for our kitty, Bonnie's, first rabies shot. She is not going to be happy to be sitting in a crate for the half hour drive and probably less happy with the shot; but there's a whole world outside for her to explore once she gets this shot. It's going to be fun watching her reaction to that world!

By the time we get back it will be time for lunch and then I'll probably try to get the rest of the basil and tomatoes and maybe even a few more things planted. The studio will have to wait till tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Here's a picture of my studio. What looks like a garage is actually my kiln room which doubles as a garage.
A strong, all day headache kept me out of the studio yesterday, but I did manage to get to tweak a bunch of glazes on my glaze chemistry software and get a lot of other paperwork done. Couch potatoes can be productive.
This morning I'm tackling the paper pile here in my office while I watch some of the Wimbledon tennis. After breakfast I'll either get some planting done, or head to the studio for a few hours and do the things I had planned doing yesterday - check the mixer for signs of life and see if I can figure out how to get the Bluebird de-airing pug mill up and working.
This afternoon we have shopping to do in Johnson City TN and dinner at Carrabas. We love their mussels in a pernod, lemon, garlic, basil sauce -- soooo good. That, a Caesar salad and a shared dessert top the meal for us.
I need to stop at the craft store, Michael's for a few things and the Pet supermarket; and Jim wants to restock his wine cellar, so we'll make that stop as well. I'm still looking for white port for a recipe and so far, it's nowhere to be found.