Monday, August 31, 2009

Onta, Japan potters, etc.

Here are a couple more pictures from Onta, Japan.

Yesterday we changed our plans (does this sound familiar!); and decided to drive up the Blue Ridge to the Orchard at Altapass for lunch and maybe listen to the music and buy some goodies. We didn't stay long - lunch was mediocre and the music wasn't the best and they're no longer carrying the chocolate licorice that we enjoy; but we did get a little piece of home made chocolate fudge for later, and had an ice cream and then took a leisurely drive home.

When I got home I picked what may be the last of the tomatoes. Seems that potato blight has reached us and has hit most of the vines . About about half the tomatoes were rotting on the vine; but I did get one bag full and will probably make another pot of tomato soup with them.

Last night's dinner was upscale grilled cheese on English Muffins, baked with a topping of gruyere cheese, bread crumbs, garlic and basil. Tonight I'm making Italian sausages, a side of pasta with the fresh sauce I made two days ago and a salad. Fortunately we like tomatoes. Even with the blight, we still got plenty from the 28 or so tomato plants I planted this spring.

It rained this morning, so I headed for the studio to check the pots, which were still too wet to trim, so I worked on my photos, and then went out to pick grapes after the rain stopped, only to find that there were no grapes left! The deer and birds had wiped us out, so there won't be any home made grape jam this year.

The rain kept the workers away, so the driveway grading will have to wait till later in the week.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Onta, Japan pottery with the days clay supply

Here are another couple of pictures from Onta, Japan. I love the color of this clay!

Yesterday was spent mainly scanning two carousels of slides from my Japan trips and cooking. I thought the scanning would be OK for all these injured chest muscles; but I'm really sore this morning, so I need to halt the scanning for a bit.

I have to get out to the garden once the fog lifts. There are a lot of tomatoes to pick, so I'll probably be making another pot of sauce or soup for the freezer, in addition to the normal days cooking. If it doesn't rain, I'll try to pop in a couple of small veggie starters I bought the other day - broccoli and cauliflower. I gave half of them to a friend, so I'll be able to plant the rest in less than ten minutes. Since they're so small and the soil in the terraces is pretty light after all the compost I've been adding to those areas for the last two years. If I start hurting, I'll try to get Jim to plant them for me.

There's still a huge pile of papers and magazines to go through as well as 2 new cook books to browse, so I'm never at a loss for something to do with my time. Throwing will have to wait till I heal and I have no idea how long that is going to take. I've decided not to do the December studio tour and give myself permission to heal and not angst about not being able to make pots right now.

I will take Bonnie kitty out to the studio with me later and try to get in some non throwing work.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Onta, Japan

Here are a few pictures of Onta, Japan. It's a mountain village of potters who rely on the clay deposit you see above the kiln photo. When I was first there in the early 80's they said that only one member of a household was permitted to become a potter because they projected that they had about 100 years worth of clay left for the community. The whole nature of the place was so spiritual to me. The sounds of the bamboo forest, where it seemed you could hear the bamboo growing, and the rushing water and clay crushers formed this amazing pulse beat that was almost transcendent. The residents live and breathe their craft - shops attached to the their homes, pots drying on shelves overhead in their living space, etc.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time scanning some of the Japan slides, so I'll be sharing more in the days to come.

It's another rainy morning, which will help the newly planted bamboo; but it's sure taking the flavor out of the tomatoes!

I'm taking it easy this morning after a fun night of porch sitting with friends. I wouldn't say I had too much wine, but it was enough to get me to sleep the minute my head hit the pillow!

Today I'm just going to continue on my scanning project and see if I can figure out Pain Shop Pro enough to right some of the colors on some of the pictures. At some point I'll get in the studio for a bit to wrap up some of the thrown pieces that caused my chest injury to flare up. I guess the universe is telling me it time to get some of these long postponed projects completed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mushroom Gougere

Here's the Mushroom gougere I made for dinner last night. It's basically a choux pastry with gruyere forming an outside ring, with sauteed mushrooms, onion, shredded carrot, etc. in a curried cream sauce, topped with almond slices, in the center - a rich and delicious, vegetarian dish.

Yesterday morning, Ron Slagle came over and he and Jim worked very hard to plant my new bamboo. I felt bad that it took so long, since I assumed it would be an easy dig because we were planting it where another tree young, small, tree had died; but that clay soil made for hard digging even after all the rain. I was able to cut off one of the new shoots for Ron to add to his bamboo collection. There were two tired men after that job. I definitely owe Ron a nice dinner for that!

Ron said it looked like the persimmon we dug out might still have some life in the roots, so I quickly got that potted in a large bucket. It did well for two years and I have no idea what happened over the winter; but it would sure be nice to have it come back to life next spring.

Instead of going to the studio, I tagged along with Jim for lunch at the golf course, followed by a Walmart run. On the way back I stopped at a friends house to pick up embroidery backing fabric that I'm going to use to create diffusion panels to help with my photography setup. She has a lot of bamboo she wants to get rid of and when I arrived she had two workers there cutting it down. They assured me that I could just take some of the cut pieces, stick them in the ground, keep them well watered, they would root. So when we got home I got the pieces trimmed and pushed them into a pile of leftover sandy top soil and got it well watered. This worked in Florida for one of my neighbors, so I hope these will root here, although I have no idea how long it will take.

By the time all this planting was done, I was hurting a lot and still had dinner to cook; and the hurting continues this morning, so I'm going to take it real easy till after lunch and if I feel up to it, I'll get an hour or two in the studio doing non muscle straining chores. Otherwise I'll just work on one of my other projects till our Friday porch sitting with our friends Laura and Jim at their place.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Suze Lindsay and Jane Peiser

Here are two more wonderful pots from the Liz Zlot Summerfield's benefit auction at Penland. The tall form is by Suze Lindsay and smaller piece is Jane Pieser's.

This morning Jim and Ron Slagle are going to plant my new timber bamboo. Ron will get the new baby sprout for his garden and hopefully in a few years we'll both have the start of a nice stand of this rare, yellow and green timber bamboo. There's still the black bamboo to plant now that I've finally decided where to put it - a sloped area on the edge of the woods, in nice loose soil, with full day sun, which should be the ideal exposure and environment for it. Plus, it's an area where I don't mind it spreading - a big consideration when planting bamboo!

Yesterday wound up being a busy day with little studio time. The workers came to disassemble a couple of stone planting beds, enlarged them and created another one. The area will now make a nicer looking curve when the new driveway goes in next week.

The only studio time I got yesterday was just checking on the pots I threw two days ago, to make sure they were well covered. I'll try finish up those pots later today; but throwing is out of the question until my chest heals from that fall.

I have plenty of other, non studio things on my "to do" list, including putting the new slide scanner to work, and getting a light box made and get the photo setup done. And of course, there's always cooking, weeding, paper and computer work to do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kristen Kieffer vase

Here's a lovely vase that Kristen Kieffer donated for the Penland benefit auction Liz Zlot Summerfield.

Yesterday I threw some porcelain mugs, etc, and it greatly aggravated the injury from my fall a week or so ago, so Jim said he would sit on me to keep me out of the studio today; but I swore that I wouldn't do any throwing, which was easy to promise because just a minor cough or sneeze puts me in momentary, but severe, pain.

This morning we had Chris Boone and Keith here to finish up some stone borders before the driveway people come in to do the paving. Since I had to be out with them while they were laying the stones, I didn't get any morning studio time. After lunch I need to pick tomatoes and then I'll head for the studio to see if pots are ready for handles and trimming.

We have leftovers from last night dinner at the Inn, so I'll just have to make a veggie dish with some summer squash and tomatoes to go with my leftover rack of lamb and Jim's leftover fillet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michael Kline's Etsy store opening

Here's a small sampling of Michael Kline's work. Michael's brand new Etsy shop opens today at 10am! Check out his wonderful wood and salt fired pots.

I never made it to the studio yesterday. Instead, I spent half the morning chopping veggies for a tomato based vegetable soup. I decided to make some parmesan coated garlic bread and have some of the soup for lunch and freeze the rest.

The slide copier I won on Ebay arrived, so I unpacked that and got the software installed. I'll test it out later today. The rest of the afternoon was spent on paper work and computer clean up. My back and chest are still very sore from a bad fall I took a few days ago. I should know better than to wear leather moccasins while walking on wet, grassy slopes without proper footwear. Bodhi pulled the lead and down I went hitting hard, flat on my back and I've been on 3 aspirins a day and practically bathing in a glucosamine chondroitin cream ever since.

Since we had a bigger lunch than normal we decided to put off our plans to go out to dinner till tonight, and instead I just made a little pasta to go with the leftover pesto sauce. We had a quiet evening watching the first few episodes of "I Claudius" which I was happy to find was available from Netflix.

This morning I'll hit the paper pile for a bit and then get to the studio with Bonnie after I check out Michael's new Etsy shop.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Slip and oxide washes cart done!

I finally finished the last organizing project and here it is! Got all the oxide wash containers and slip containers moved, washed and lined up in numerical order. Now I just have to get the most used slips mixed and sieved. That will be today's project along with putting the last few things away that are in and on the spray booth.

It was raining at 5:30 when I took Bodhi out for his first morning walk, so I don't know if the driveway people will be here to start grading today. Getting the drive way paved is last big project we've planned for this property and I'm anxious to get it done. I'm tired of looking at all those weeds coming through the gravel!

After breakfast I'll head to the garden and collect some herbs and whatever veggies are ready. I want to make a simple tomato based vegetable soup this morning, using some of our garden abundance - tomatoes, and zucchini, along with some store bought carrots, since the bunnies or other critters ate most of my carrot seedlings. It's super simple to make. I don't even peel the tomatoes - just wash them and throw them in the Vitamix with some onion and garlic, then into the pot with the sliced veggies, basil, oregano, and some tamari and pepper for seasoning. If the tomato base is too strong, I add a little bit of water or veggie stock. This soup will go into the freezer since we're going out for dinner tonight.

Once that's done, I'll head for the studio for the rest of the day. Bonnie kitty is loving her studio time , but when I start making pots, I'm afraid her studio time is going to be greatly curtailed. She's way too rambunctious at his age, and is particularly fascinated with my brush holder - constantly knocking down brushes and climbing all over the ware carts - which won't do when there are freshly thrown pots on the carts!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Last night's pizza

Last night was pizza and margaritas. I'm starting to get the shape better. I think this was one of the closest to round yet.

Yesterday was another day to not follow my initial plan - at least for the morning. After breakfast I decided to put off planting the bamboo. My upper back was way too sore from digging all those potatoes the other day, so I got a bunch of hand weeding done instead and then headed for the studio where I continued putting things away. I got the seconds off the ware cart and into boxes, sorted through a lot of other small items, did a few other chores, then came in and made some marinated eggplant crostinis for our lunch.

After lunch I got started on my pizza dough, got the toppings all prepped then back outside to pull more weeds. After dinner we watched the Brit coms (our Saturday night ritual), while I went through some of my pot sketches.

This morning I spent a lot of time printing out a bunch of recipes from Top Chef, Master Chef show, and others. Now it's time to get Bonnie kitty and head for the studio. This mornings job is to move those bottles of oxide washes and slips, which I didn't have time for yesterday. After lunch I think I'll just relax, read the Sunday papers and watch the tennis while I do more paper work.

Dinner is gumbo that I had in the freezer, so I'll just make some cornbread to go with it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Liz Zlot Summerfield box

Here's a lovely box by Liz Zlot Summerfield that was part of the Penland benefit auction for her. She's an incredible hand builder, as you can see. Her boxes are like little treasures.

Having a 5 month old kitty as a studio mate is proving to be interesting to say the least. Yesterday she learned to climb higher on the ware carts, decided the hanging brushes were a great toy, particularly when she could knock them down to the floor and roll them around. I'm afraid that once I start making pots, she is going to have to be relegated to the kitty day care center in our bathroom/laundry room area, since she finds my toys so much more interesting than her own.

Yesterday I hung some pictures, moved the last of the glaze buckets, got a lot of small stuff sorted and stored away, cleared some things off the slab roller which was covered with the grow light fixtures that I used all winter when I indoored my tropical plants in the studio, swept the floor and moved some of the bagged clay off my wedging table.

When I decided to re-organize this section of the studio, (a job I had put off for quite a while) I had no idea it would take me this long; but it's been well worth the time and effort.

After breakfast I want to get one of the timber bamboo planted, and then I'll head for the studio, with Bonnie Kitty. I want to move all the bottles of oxide washes out of the portable cart and get them on to the new shelves and put the small jars of slips that I use while throwing on to the cart so I can move it next to the wheel when throwing and move it back when I'm not. That will clear the table between both wheels for freshly thrown pots. All this reorganization is going to minimize my walking on the hard concrete which is hard on my new hip and bad knees.

Dinner tonight is the pizza I was going to make the other night, so after lunch I'll make my dough and get the toppings ready and maybe get back in the studio for another couple of hours.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sandi Pierantozzi butter dish

Here's a beautiful butter dish that Sandi Pierantozzi donated for the Penland benefit auction for Liz Zlot Summerfield.

Yesterday was one of those change your mind three times days - at least as far as dinner was concerned. In the end, Jim went and got some KFC while I finished up studio work. The original plan was for me to make pizza. Then Jim suggested we go to the Inn at Little Switzerland - great idea; but mid afternoon he realized that the tennis we wanted to watch came on at 7 o'clock, so we decided to put off that dinner. It was too late, and I was too involved in the studio to stop and make pizza dough, so at that point take out was the best choice. It was either that or grilled cheese sandwiches!

Studio work consisted of putting more things away, drilling, threading and hanging more brushes, mixing three thick slips for decorating, and cleaning out a few tiny slip applicators that had dried out. Both the slip making and cleaning were very time consuming. The applied slip I use is too thick to make in a blender so I have to slake small pieces of clay, then squish it by hand and force it through a strainer a few times and then clean up all the mess. Kanjiro Kawai, who used thick, raised slip as a decorative technique , added a lot of grog to it. I got his formula years ago from Doug Lawrie, a wonderful American potter who lived in Japan until the mid or late 80's. I think Doug said that he had apprenticed with Kawai. If I don't make that decorating slip, super thick, it doesn't hold the shape enough for the look I want. If the grog addition works it will save me a lot of time and effort.

Doug also gave me Kawai's Uranium yellow recipe which I have never tried. It calls for spent uranium which is no longer being sold; but I bought a tiny bit of it when it was still available in the 80's. It was very expensive, so I think all I have is about a teaspoon of it - just enough to make a tiny test batch of the yellow glaze. If I remember, it was a cone 8 glaze. Maybe I should add that to my "to do" list -make and glaze a small, radio active porcelain vase as an homage to Kawai.

During yesterdays lunch break I ordered an inexpensive slide scanner from Ebay. I hope it does a passable job of some of my old slides. I particularly would like to get some of my Japan and other trip slides on to the computer so I can share them on the blog.

Today will be another full studio day, mainly sorting and putting the rest of all those duplicate tools and other tidying, sweeping up a bit, and if I have time maybe even throw a couple of things. This whole organization project(and I've only been focusing on less than 1/4 of the studio space) is taking forever! Silly me thought I'd be done in a day or two.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shane Mickey Anagama vessel

Here's an exquisite anagama fired vessel by our friend Shane Mickey. We won this beauty at the Penland benefit auction for Liz Zlot Summerfield, this past weekend.

The sun came out yesterday morning, so I did a quick change of plans and decided to dig up the rest of the potatoes, collect the days harvest and do a lot of weeding. After that I was pretty well done for a few hours and just did some computer clean up work, made a few phone calls and by four o'clock I was ready to get started on the pesto sauce for dinner.

After dinner we watched one of our Netflix mystery shows, followed by the season's premiere of Top Chef, and then the finale of Master Chef. I've got to check the shows web site in the next couple of days to check out some of the winning recipes.

My upper back is sore from all that digging, so I'll stay out of the garden today and head for the studio in a bit and maybe get started on cleaning the advancer kiln shelves - a job I always put off as long as possible - usually too long. So this time, I'm going to tackle it long in advance of the next firing.

We still have one of the workers here finishing up a concrete job in the basement and we're definitely looking forward to a quiet weekend and having the house to ourselves. We still don't know if they'll be here tomorrow to start grading for the new, paved driveway. I'd be happy if they didn't come until next week to start what will be a very messy, routine interrupting project.

I was going to make pizza tonight; but Jim had a better suggestion - dinner out; and who am I to argue. :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shaunna Lyons

Here's a lovely earthenware bowl by Shaunna Lyons, that was donated as part of the Penland fund raiser auction for Liz Zlot Summerfield, a very talented young potter from our area. On September 1st more pots will be posted on Etsy, giving the general public a chance to bid on some lovely work by top craftspeople. I'll post the information at that time or as soon as I get it.

Yesterday wound up being a day of overseeing work crews and cooking. I finally got to make the Roasted Tomato Tuscan bisque and it was delicious - definitely worth the trouble. Plus, I had enough leftover for a bowl for lunch today and there's more in the freezer for another meal.

The cooking binge continued today - made two loaves of zucchini bread, an eggplant antipasto which has to marinate over night, and a simple marinade for tonight's London broil.

I picked a bunch of veggies today, including lots of tomatoes, a lone summer squash, basil and green pepper and what looks like the last of the pole beans. My pole beans have either stopped producing or something is eating them! The summer squash and zucchini plants are fast expiring; but boy, did they produce this year!

If I'm not too tired, after dinner I'll make some pesto, otherwise I'll do it in the morning. The basil is at it's peak and I've yet to make pesto this season, so that will be part of tomorrows dinner.

Needless to say with all this cooking, there was no time for the studio; but when the garden offers up it's abundance, the kitchen calls and the studio has to wait.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My tools AKA the command center

I think I win the "she who dies with the most tools wins" award. Years ago I had a license plate rim on my Jeep Laredo that said "he who ties with the most toys wins". Guess my life has changed a lot since then!

Here's a picture of my newly organized wheel areas. As you can see, I am a tool junkie! Whenever I'm in a new country, the first thing places I want to check out are the local hardware and pottery supply stores!

Doesn't look like a studio day today. The morning was and still is busy with workers here. The carpet cleaners just left and someone is here doing some concrete work in the basement.

I didn't get to cook my Tuscan tomato soup yesterday so I'll do that after lunch.

We attended the benefit auction for Liz Zlot Summerfield at Penland yesterday and didn't get back until well after 4 o'clock, so we just settled on some quick pasta and frozen meatballs for dinner, a nice wine and fudgecicles for dessert.

The auction went very well. The money from yesterday, plus what they will get when more pots are posted on Etsy September 1, will give Liz more quality time with her little girl and husband as she deals with the therapy for Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. Liz and her family were there and when she spoke of her gratitude and what this money will do for them, it made us and everyone there, I'm sure, happy we could play a small part in this.

So many artists don't have health insurance, mainly because they can't afford it. It makes me sad to see politicians whose need for power and greed, over ride their sense compassion. I often wonder if they ever stop to think what they're doing with the gift of their life.

Jim and I came home with a few treasures - a wood fired casserole by Linda McFarling, a faceted bottle by Michael Hunt, and a huge, anagama fired vase by Shane Mickey. I was surprised that we were actually able to find space for them among all the other pots in our collection.

Time for me to make the tuna salad and harvest more tomatoes for tonight's Tuscan tomato soup.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Yesterday I thought I'd only work half a day; but I extended that by a couple of hours. I wanted to at least, finish getting some of the tables, wheel tools and brushes organized.
I got most of the buckets under the newly placed tables, and forgot about all those part bags (at least 20 of them), of old test and other clay bodies. Most were getting too firm, so it took a while to open bags, add more water, only to find some were leaking, so then I had to search for new bags, re wrap them, wipe off the leaks on the table, etc.
After those jobs, I spent a couple of hours drilling holes in brushes and putting string through so I could let them hang on my brush holder. It's amazing how long it takes for some of these little projects.
Most of the trim and throwing tools are now in place and sharpened and ready to go.
I'm not sure I'll get studio time today. I want to make a Tuscan tomato soup this afternoon , if I have enough tomatoes. I'm also going up to the Penland school for an auction to benefit one of our local potters Liz Zlot Summerfield. Liz's work was on the April issue of Ceramics Monthly, and a while later is was discovered that she has non Hodgkins lymphoma. Both she and her husband are craftspeople and have a little girl. Neither she nor her husband are able to work at this time. If you can help either by attending this auction please do. There have been a great outpouring of donations from many of our most noted potters. Some of the donated work will be up for auction on Etsy September 1. I'll post the URL at that time.
I'm looking forward to driving up to Penland. I haven't been up there for a while and they have a wonderful gallery and the most wonderful views of our magnificent mountains.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In search of the wild mushroom

I'm a bit late getting into the studio. It was another foggy mountain morning and I had to wait for the fog to lift so I could take a picture of some wild mushrooms I found under the pines yesterday, and possibly ID them. I have a new, pretty comprehensive mushroom book and I'd like to have more than 2 edible varieties to pick. My dad and I used to go mushroom hunting on Staten Island, N.Y. and he only knew two varieties that he knew were safe. We'd come back with a good bag full and that night mom would saute them with onions and smother a pan fried steak with them, and can the rest. I think that first mushroom, a bolete, may be edible; but I'll email the photo to the Asheville mushroom group for their more experienced input.

Will Baker came by the studio around 11 am and brought me the box of the clay I needed to get the pug mill started. He also drilled and cut extra holes in a small gas kiln that I'm converting for soda tests and re-fires and removed the cone sitter, and I'll use that hole for one of my temperature probes.

Yesterday was a heavy, donkey work day in the studio. Instead of sending a 5' table that I ordered, they sent an 8' table. That change in size meant it wouldn't fit the spot I intended it for and after scratching my head a bit and measuring some other tables and spaces, I found that I could put that bigger table to good use. The problem was that now I had to empty 3 other tables that were full of bags of clay, containers of slips and glazes, tools, etc. to make it all work. Before I put everything back, I wiped all the containers and got most of them back. By that point I was really wiped and called it a day. There are still a few of the larger buckets to move under the table and some smaller things to put away, and some jars of oxides mixtures and slips to get on to shelving and get some most used slips for decorating on a wheeled cart that I can sit near my wheels when throwing. I'm hoping I'll be able to complete this project today and get the pugmill going and do some throwing tomorrow.

We're having some frozen Chinese dim sum goodies that I bought at the Oriental grocery in Asheville. That along with some miso soup, cold sake for me, and white wine for Jim should make a nice, pretty light, Saturday night supper.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jim and our son Sean in Ireland

Here's a photo of Jim and our son Sean from their Ireland trip last fall. This was taken at the Cliffs of Moor.

We have another lovely foggy morning which should clear in another hour or so. I'm feeling good after our margarita madness porch sitting last night and will be heading to the studio right after our boiled egg and rugelach breakfast.

The new 5 foot folding table arrived late yesterday afternoon and I'll un-crate it and get it in place next to my spray booth. First I need to wash the walls there. One of my recently moved wheels was located there so the wall needs a good cleaning before I put the table in place. It will be nice to get more of my slip buckets under that table and free up some of my walking space near the sink. Those buckets are also blocking a cart that I need to get access to since I plan to put on some of my most used, brushed, decorating slips and glazes on it. Right now it's just too much trouble to move buckets to get to it.

I will definitely be finished with that and the wheel areas today and will start a throwing cycle tomorrow or Sunday. Will Baker uses the same clay and has a box of Moon White he can sell me, and that along with what I have will be enough to get the pug mill started. It needs 50lbs to get it going. When that's used up, I'll start using the darker, reclaim. Pugmills are not fun to clean which is why I'm using the white stoneware first, so it won't get contaminated from the iron bearing clays.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Timber bamboo

Here's a timber bamboo, one of two new bamboos waiting to get planted. It will eventually get 40-50 feet tall and about 4-5", maybe more in diameter (pottery tools in a few years!).

It's a foggy mountain morning. The air is so still, it's almost meditative to sit on the porch with that first morning cup of tea.

Yesterday was one of those shopping days where the main items on your list, are not available. We drove to Asheville (a 2 1/2 round trip) mainly for clay and Meyer lemons for tonight's porch sitting with our friends Jim and Laura (our weekly ritual). Highwater was out of both of my clay choices. Seems they've been using the mixer for a lot of special clay blends recently and they won't be making Phoenix and Moon White till next week. This was a first in my 36 years of buying clay. Maybe they need a second mixer. Earth Fare didn't have the Meyer lemons, which make the best margaritas! But, we did have a nice lunch and picked up a few grocery items.

There is still another shelf to put up and a bit more organizing to do today. The low table that held my small containers of slips for hand painting, as well as extra brushes, etc. has been moved to sit between both wheels. The bottom shelf holds bats, and my intent is get most things off the table except the scale, and a couple of cups of brushes and a small sketch notebook with measurements of some of my forms. That will free up most of the table for freshly thrown pots.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rose of Sharon

My three year old Rose of Sharon is in full bloom - glorious color!

Yesterday was a super busy day starting early with an appointment to get an estimate to pave the driveway, then back to the studio for more organizing. Aaron came early to cut and hang two shelves for me and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon loading shelves and organizing and sharpening more tools. I think one more day should finish this project. I would have finished it yesterday but had to stop at 3 o'clock and get to the dentist, then had dinner out at the local buffet.

This morning I'm heading out to buy more clay to feed the hungry pug mill, do a bit of food shopping (hoping Earth Fare has some Meyer lemons for tomorrow nights margarita madness, porch sitting - a weekly ritual with our friends Laura and Jim), and if the rain isn't bad and we can find a parking space, we'll have lunch at the Indian restaurant. They have a big, inexpensive, lunch buffet and their food is excellent.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Penland Auction to help a fellow potter

Liz Zlot Summerfield Benefit From Lindsay Rogers:

I am writing to announce a benefit auction to assist my friend, and fellow ceramic artist, Liz Zlot Summerfield. In April of this year Liz was diagnosed with a type of cancer called non-hodgkins Lymphoma. When she got the news of her cancer all studio work for Liz and her husband, glass blower Scott Summerfield, stopped. For most artists a halt to work, combined with illness and bills, is a hardship too large to manage alone. Like most plans, our ideas for this benefit started out small and have since bloomed in to something that I believe will be a wonderful, fun and supportive event. With all that said, there are several ways that you can participate!

1) Attend the live auction at Penland or visit the online sale as a buyer!

The live auction is August 16th in the Northlight Building at Penland School of Crafts. Doors will open at 1:00pm at which point there will be light refreshments, Bandana Klezmer will provide fabulous entertainment and visitors will have a chance to take a good look at the work available in the live and silent auctions. The live auction of work will begin at 2:00pm and is expected to last around an hour or so. At the end of the auction visitors can pick up and pay for their pieces knowing that 100% of the proceeds will go to helping Liz, Scott and their young daughter, Roby, get through this really hard time.

The online sale will be held on and will begin September 1st. I will post more information about the online auction (including the web address) as we get closer to the date.

2) You can make a monetary donation to a PayPal account created for Liz's benefit.
By using this link below, you can be assured that all donations will go quickly, safely and directly to Liz.

The link to this account is:

Thank you so much for your generosity!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Foggy morning garden view

I took this photo on a foggy morning a few days ago. My garden is at it's peak right now after the abundant rain fall we've had all spring and summer.

Got some planting in yesterday morning - a rose, a couple of crocosmias and a few annuals, as well as pulling some weeds. I took kitty, Bonnie Lass out with me and we had a hard time catching her when it was time to go back in the house. I had to lure her with her squeaky mouse toy. In another month or so she'll be big enough to stay out on her own a bit more.

There was no time for the studio yesterday because of visiting with relatives; but I will get in there today at some point. First I want to check the garden and harvest what's ready. I'm making a bolognese sauce for pasta tonight and want to use my fresh tomatoes. Hopefully there are enough ripe ones ready, to add to the ones I've been saving the past few days. After that I'll get started on planting a few more things.

Aaron may be coming back to finish up some house hold projects; but first, I'd like to get him to get a few more studio shelves up so I can get all the containers and jars off the bench I used for them. That bench is now relocated between both wheels to be used to hold freshly thrown pots. If he's a no show, I'll do the shelving myself and get Jim to help me hold up the 6 footer; but I'd rather use today's studio time to finish getting all those throwing and other tools hung up and put away before I have to start dinner.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Rock N' roll party time

Enjoying a lazy morning after some late afternoon partying at my friend Jim's "man cave" with his old rock n' roll band members. We munched on pizza, chicken wings and other assorted munchies along with beer and the margaritas I brought, and listened to some fine music.

After breakfast I'm going to try to get a bit of planting done, and at the same time, give kitty Bonnie Lass an outing. I just hope she stays close by, because the garden is looking more like a jungle this time of year and it will be a chore finding her if she decides to wander. Then I'll take a break, read the Sunday papers and maybe get a bit of time in the studio before we visit with Jim's sister, her daughter and son-in-law later in the afternoon.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Studio reorganizing in progress

Photos of my partly organized "command center" tool storage above one of my wheels, and a table filled with more tools, etc waiting for new shelves and organizing.
Yesterday turned out to be a pretty productive day. The workers all arrived very early, so gardening plans were put on hold. First we had to have a meeting about paving the driveway, then and a meeting with friend Jim and Aaron about the studio and house "to do" list.
They got the pug mill oils changed while I took down my throwing tools and trim tools that were in various places, near their respective wheels. I filled 3 buckets with these tools! Then I removed all the screws and nails from shelves that held the tools, including my big tool unit, that my husband Jim has nick named "the command center".
They re-cut part of the command center and got it hung for me in a new spot. One of my wheels was stuck in a corner and I hated using it. So Jim and I moved both electric wheels to their new locations, and moved a work table between the two wheels (the messy one in the photo above). I spent the rest of the day sharpening metal and wood trim tools, damp wiping tools, nailing them on to the command center.
It's going to take me at least another full day to get these things organized and in place. I'm pulling nails out of some places on command center and hammering in others. These changes are going to make the studio much more functional particularly in the area of glaze and slip storage, with a new table in the plan for next to the spray booth, which will give me another place to store glaze and slip buckets.
A trip toBurnsville Craft show, which was huge, but pretty mixed in craft quality, was followed by a stop at our local hardware store for shelf brackets and wood for shelving and a couple of quick stops at one or two flea markets.. My table search was fruitless, so I'll keep looking, or just make one.
Time to get lemons squeezed for tonights margaritas.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My old Japanese style studio

Going back in time again, this time to the early 80's, is the exterior of my Japanese style studio.

Yesterday morning, when Jim was walking Bodhi a mink came up through a wooded section on to our driveway. He wasn' t sure what it was until I googled various images of the weasel family. Further research on minks showed that we have the ideal situation for them - a stream, woods with felled or dead trees for their home, and a plentiful food supply. Seems minks like vegetables, snakes, etc; but their favorite food is bunnies. I'm not sure whether I should be relieved since the bunnies have been devastating some of my veggies, or be depressed because there's one more critter who thinks that I've planted a victory garden just for them!

Yesterday was a strange day - one of those man plans, God laugh days. Just about everything planned, fell through, other than moving the treadle wheel out of the studio and sending it on it's way to it's new home to my friend Shane's studio.

My friend Jim, who was supposed to come early to get the wheel on to Shane's truck and get my pugmill set up etc, etc, called to say they were running an hour late. While waiting for them , I got the gallery cleaned and organized, since I was also expecting an Internet potter friend to visit. Then I went into the studio trimmed a pot that I let get too dry, and emptied a big container of slaked scrap clay and added it to the clay mixer.

Shane arrived, and he, Jim and I had a nice visit while we waited and after a while it became obvious that our friends Jim and Aaron were going to be more than an hour late, so I gave the wheel a shove as I was trying to wipe it down for Shane, and realized it wasn't as heavy as I thought, so I suggested that the three of us might be able to get it on Shane's truck; and we did it, very easily. Good we didn't wait, because we got another call from our friend Jim that he had an emergency at home - there were out of water! That's not good news when your water comes from your own well.

Driveway people were supposed to come to gives an estimate and some thoughts on an asphalt type drive, and they had some major car problem and couldn't come. When I went in the house for a break and checked my email, I found that my Internet friend wasn't going to be able to come.

Needless to say, the day I have planned around these appointments and visits had to be re-thought. By the time I got the gallery cleaned up, and after the delay waiting for Jim and Aaron, it was too hot to start digging and planting. So I decided to just pull some weeds, harvest some tomatoes, and then made a salad for our lunch. After lunch I took Bodhi for a walk around the perimeter of our property. So with basket in hand, hoping to find some blackberries (most were gone already), and see if I could find any mushrooms after the rain (found a few non edibles under the pines), off we went. I was hoping to make it down to our stream area which I thought would be a good mushroom searching spot; but with all the rain we've had this year, the undergrowth is so lush and high, I couldn't find a clear path to the stream.

I weeded a bit more after the walk and then started on dinner - pork chops au poivre with a cream and sherry reduction (so easy and delicious), oven roasted garlic, rosemary potatoes and spinach. We also finished the last of the peach crisp and peach ice cream. There's still one more good serving of the ice cream which we'll have over the weekend. Tonight it's seafood buffet.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Going back in time. My first gas kiln.

I'm on the laptop, so I don't have access to newer photos, so here's a picture of me, going back to the mid 70's, when I built my first gas kiln in Campbellville, Ontario. It was a great little (20cu feet or so), hard brick, downdraft plan from Daniel Rhodes book. I could fire that dead even top to bottom - great kiln.

We expecting a "no rain", day, so I'm going to try to get some planting in before it warms up.

I'm also expecting some workers this morning and hope they arrive soon, so I can give them my "to do" list, and then get on with my planting. Part of my list is to get the pug mill ready to use. There's some others studio equipment that needs moving, large shelf unit that needs taking down and installed elsewhere, etc.

They have some household things to take care of as well - pick up work from a couple of earlier projects, so it may take more than one day to do everything on the list; but I am going to see if they can at least get the pug mill ready and get the treadle wheel on to Shane's truck so I can do some other studio re-arranging on my own this afternoon.

The gallery needs a quick tidying up because a visiting, fellow potter, may be in the area and stopping by today - a large variety of things on the agenda today.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Peach Crisps Home made Peach Ice Cream in Oribe bowls

This is last nights dessert - home made peach ice cream on top of a peach crisp. The small one was my portion. Jim decided he wanted a much bigger portion and regretted it afterwards - large entrees shouldn't be followed by such a big portion of rich dessert!

I never got out to do any garden work. Making the home made ice cream and the peach crisp took a lot more time than I thought and by the time I was finished, it was too hot to start in the garden. Besides that, there was thunder in the distance, so I figured it was good to stay inside and read some of my backed up snail mail. There are months worth of The Smithsonian magazines that I haven't even flipped through!

I'm enjoying a lazy morning on the computer and tending to some paper work; but this afternoon I'll try to get a little studio time. I need to get the clay mixer going and reclaim more clay and there's still more paperwork to file.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Latest batch of potatoes

Pulled some of the older potato vines and dug up the remaining potatoes. I had already gotten some of the early potatoes from these vines; but there were still enough remaining to fill my harvest basket. Then I smoothed the area and planted a package yellow wax bush beans in the their place. The bean are only 55 days to harvest so I should get another batch for the freezer by the end of September. There are another couple of rows of later planted potatoes that I'll be digging later this month or next. I also weeded and picked 4 more squash. Every year about this time I scratch my head, wondering why I've planted so much.

After breakfast I'll be heading back out to the garden to plant a few perennials and maybe get a couple of the pot bound annuals planted as well. I have to figure out what to do with the small box of peaches I bought the other day. They've ripened and have to be used. It's either going to be peach ice cream or peach cobbler or both, depending on how much energy I have left after planting.

My friend Jim and his assistant came by yesterday but couldn't stay to do some of the household pick up work or any of my studio jobs; but he promised to be back Thursday morning.

We tried an Italian primativo type wine, (around $9) and it was excellent. So he's heading back up to Banner Elk to buy a case and to replenish the tasty cakes (comfort food from our youth) that I found for him up there.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Garden day

This is our son's wood burning pizza oven at his Oregon house. He was making pizzas and slow smoking ribs yesterday. It's been super hot there this week (in the 100's!) which you would think would keep him inside with the air conditioner full blast; but he loves manning the barbecue and making pizzas for his family and friends. They have riverfront property, so hopefully, those lovely Rogue river breezes helped cool things down a bit.

I was going to take more photos of some of my pottery collection but my set up is in the basement which is still partially wet after the flooding we got from that deluge the other day. There was a brief respite with the rain yesterday and I got a few minutes of weeding in; but I'm afraid I'm not going to get totally on top of them this year. I'm trying as much as I can to at least remove as many seeds heads as possible, in the little garden time the weather has allowed.

Yesterday I cooked a roast chicken dinner and made enough mashed potatoes and honey ginger carrots so there's leftovers for tomorrow. Tonight I'm making a simple fresh tomato sauce over linguini. I wasn't sure that I'd have enough plum tomatoes so I bought a few more at the farmers market Saturday. My tomato planting was staggered, so I should have a steady supply from now until frost.

With two days of sun expected, before more rain arrives, the studio will have to wait while I take advantage of this weather to get some good gardening time. After breakfast I'm heading out to dig up some more potatoes and plant some bush beans in that space. It's about time to spray the organic deer and bunny repellent again, so I'll try to get that done some time today, as well.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Perennial sunflowers blooming

These perennial sunflowers just started blooming a few days ago. In the foreground is a volunteer cat mint. The mother plant died last year and I thought I would have to buy another but mamma plant obviously sent out some seeds which took hold this spring.

We had a frog strangler thunder/lightning storm last night which caused some flooding in the basement, so Jim and I spent time mopping it into the drain and getting the dehumidifier going, which he emptied this morning. I'm going to have to go down there after breakfast and see if I need to do a bit more mopping and move some large bags of seed starter mix which got wet and hope that the bags stay intact.

I'm planning on an early roast chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and honey gingered carrots, so I'll be cooking this afternoon, dealing with the basement after breakfast and reading the Sunday paper in between. The ground is way to wet with the extra 2" of rain the storm dropped on it last night, so this is another "no potato digging" day. I just hope they're not rotting in the ground.