Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

It's been a few days of computer hell. While trying to clean up my website, uploading the changes  wiped out the website - twice! My hostmonster server recommended a new, free software which I will download after breakfast. They were able to re-load my site from a few days before;  but of course, all the changes I worked on for two days were gone.

Then Verizon emailed saying I had two days to transfer all email to Frontier since they would no longer be forwarding any of the Verizon mail. So, I spent most of yesterday's free time taking care of that chore. At least I'll be starting the New Year with a lot those piddling little jobs out of the way so I can concentrate on getting back to work. 

This morning I'll be baking bread after breakfast and then back on the computer loading that new web creation software and seeing if I can finish the most basic web page tidying. 

I'm so itching to get back into the studio but the tip of my sliced thumb, although healing, is still tender still very tender, so throwing has been out of the question; but hopefully by Monday I'll be back in the studio and if I can't throw, there will be plenty of other things to do. I have a couple of B-mix clone formulas I came up with that I'd like to batch if I have the right ball clay on hand and there are more glaze tests to weigh and mix and always some paper work to deal with.
Hope everyone has a fun filled and safe New Year's Celebration! We're opting for an early dinner with someone else doing the cooking, and knowing us, we probably won't be awake to ring in the famous New York ball ringing in the New Year;  but will catch the taped celebrations on the news tomorrow morning. Life is good and certainly, never boring.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our White Christmas

Here are a few shots taken from the front porch and out the front door and our bedroom door. I took a nice hard fall yesterday, walking back from the studio  (don't walk in slippery snow wearing moccasins!), so today I decided to stay inside and enjoy this beautiful snow from a warm, safe place!

Christmas was wonderful and now we're enjoying the leftovers and staying cozy while watching more snow falling. We're expecting another 1-3" today with strong winds this afternoon, which will probably remove the lovely white snow blanketing the tree branches.

I made a few changes on my web site this morning - added my Etsy link and finally got around to entering my new email, at least on the front page. Today will be spent making a few minor changes on the other pages, if I can access them. After that I'd like to hit the books and try to start on a whole new design for the page - new color, new format,etc. It's a good, time consuming job until I can get back to making pots, once this thumb heals.

Hope all who have to travel today have a safe journey home!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas on the way

From our house to yours - wishing all who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!

Woke up with chills and general cold/flu symptoms and hope I can muster up the energy to do all my Christmas cooking. Following family tradition I'm making a big Polish breakfast (ham, kielbasa, hard boiled eggs with horseradish and sweet bread. Dinner will be a white wine basted roast duck, asparagus and au gratin potatoes (a menu change over the rice originally planned). Jim loved last nights au gratin potatoes and there's plenty leftover for tonight. He's picked a lovely Frank Family Pinot Noir for dinner - a very good choice for the duck.

Yesterday I took a small chunk out of the tip of my right thumb while slicing the dinner potatoes, so between that and this bug, it doesn't look like I'll be able to do  get my hands on clay for while. Instead, I'll  shift gears and continue this computer clean up and just maybe, finally have the time to tackle my out of date web site.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Wishing all who celebrate a most Merry Christmas, filled with love, companionship, good food and lots of merriment. And in the words of Tiny Tim "God bless us everyone!"

We made merry last night with dear friends at the Knife in Fork in Spruce Pine. The place was packed which is well deserved! Chef Nate smokes his own trout and his delicious smoked trout appetizer is a meal in itself. That was followed by pork belly, mashed potatoes and squash with a cinnamon bread pudding and vanilla ice cream dessert which I shared with everyone at the table. Great meal.

Today I'll watch some Christmas movies, maybe tidy some bits on my out of date web page until I can get around to working on the new one, and continue with this Nikon D100 re-education. I'm still not getting the focus right, even on manual. Yesterday I intended to spend more time with it, but I made a couple more Etsy sales, so I had to get those pots packed up and ready to ship. A bit of a cold is slowing me down as well; but I did manage to take a few more photos but still can't seem to stabilize the head on the tripod. Next time I'm going down there with a little level so that some of my photos won't look like the pot is sitting on a tilting, sinking ship!

Tonight I'm making a simple ham steak dinner with scalloped potatoes.. My big cooking day will be tomorrow, starting with a big Polish breakfast, and a dinner of white wine basted roasted duck, asparagus, wild and white rice with sauteed mushrooms, currants and slivered almonds, and friend Betty's cookies for dessert. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our under the tree village

Once I get the tree decorated, Jim's spends the day arranging the village scenes under the tree. He always does such a great job. It's a painstaking process which he actually enjoys!

Now that I've made some Etsy shipping charge changes, after finding that actual shipping was more than I thought, and figured out the focus and F stops on the Nikon D100 (with the generous help my computer friends), it's time to try to figure out how to stabilize this camera on the tripod. If it works, I'll try to redo some of those blurry photos on Etsy.

I've decided that Etsy is way too time consuming when you weigh the monetary profit against the amount of time and effort of photographing, measuring size and volume of each piece, getting each entry listed with all the descriptions, pricing, shipping and other information, then packing and shipping. You can't write off the time you spend, against the profit, doing all those things either. The profit from a mug, for instance, is cut in half when you consider the hour plus time it takes to get all those things done to list a single piece, and the time and cost of getting it shipped to the customer. So for now, I'll leave up the current pots, maybe post a few more since it will be quiet after Christmas any way; and unless I  can find a reason to change my mind, that will be it for my Etsy experiment.

If Jim could work a computer, cook or garden, maybe I'd be happy to give it that time; but since I take care of all those areas and more, as well as making pots,  I'd rather use that time making the pots and spend non studio time in the kitchen and garden.

My winter project, when not making pots, is going to be a total redo of my website which is pretty pathetic and long overdue. Once that's done, I can set up a for sale section on my website if I want, since I now have a Paypal business account.

Jim did the last of the Christmas food shopping yesterday and friend Betty showed up with a big plate of home made cookies this morning, so my plan to bake cookies today has shifted to other pursuits - mainly taking those photos if I can correct the wobbly tripod head.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost totally useless day yesterday

I don't know why I try to do anything during Mercury retrograde! The day started with good intent to photograph pots with the Nikon D100, which seems to be something of a dinosaur after only 6 years. After spending some time with the manual to refresh my memory, I reset the camera to it's original settings and started to view and delete some photos; but almost immediately, the battery needed recharging, so that job had to wait. Recharging seemed to take forever. So while I waited I ordered another battery, did a lot of computer filing, got the current email read, and then after checking the Nikon site to check for any current changes on memory cards that might be compatible with this Nikon, spent hours trying to find a higher capacity memory card. What a futile, frustrating few hours that was. Messages like "no longer available", and "this item has been discontinued", etc. kept coming up. I finally had to settle on a Scandisk 256MB capacity that I found on Amazon, when I was hoping to find the Lexar 1 gig. The only other one I was able to find that was compatible with this Nikon D100, and available, was an IBM 2GB one in the $200 range and I didn't want such a high capacity.

Jim had better luck with his early car shopping. He came home very excited with the Subaru brochures. Seems we both like the Forrester better than the Outback which means less money, better mileage and best yet, I don't have to dismantle and rebuild my whole kiln since the Forester is shorter than our current Highlander.We even agree on the color!

Getting the Forrester, means that my kiln won't have to be totally rebuilt. I'll just have to buy some new, more powerful burners and Shane will tweek the burner ports and bag wall.

After a comforting and easy linguine and clam sauce dinner, I faded fast and never made it to the lunar eclipse. Tonight is pizza and margaritas and if this camera battery can hold a charge, I'll try to re-take some of those pottery pictures after breakfast, start my pizza dough after that and do some kitchen cupboard reorganization this afternoon.

Some spice and Indian food orders arrived this week and there's no room in the cupboard I use for my international foods and spices. Some of the least used items will have to be moved down to the basement pantry.

My aim this week is to complete these little household projects and get the rest of the studio items ordered before the New Year and before I start another throwing cycle.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Going back in time

Around 4am this morning (I had been up since 1 am not able to sleep), after I got my emails down below 800, I decided to change my facebook photo to this ancient one, taken around 1982. Where did all that time go! I want to get a pair of those overalls again. They were great for the studio.

Yesterday was filled with birthday cheer, family all calling, friends stopping by with a bottle of nouveau beaujolais and Chritmas cookies. Needless to say I never did get to take the photos I intended. To get better clarity on the pictures I'm going to switch to my Nikon D100 instead of using the Powershot. It's been so long since I used the Nikon, that I'm going to have to tackle the manual to refresh myself on the basics. That will probably be the chore of the day, then an easy linguine and clam sauce dinner.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Etsy avatar

Here's the new photo I uploaded as my Etsy avatar. Someone suggested I put a picture of the kiln, but the avator space is so tiny, the kiln didn't show well.

Yesterday I announced it was my birthday,instead of today. Guess I should have looked at the calendar. On one hand, I love that my life is such, that most of the time I can ignore calendars! In fact, I don't even keep one. Jim has one on his desk and if I need to be forewarned about a date, I have him note it in his calendar.

Yesterday was a busy day starting with getting the new table down to the basement and redoing my photo setup, then kiln meeting with Shane, followed by getting antivirus setup on all three computers which took quite a while and other computer work, recipe filing, and cooking a lovely Chicken Normandy for dinner.

Shane is going to get two new burners for the kiln, and make some other minor modifications on the burner ports and bag wall and we're going to make pots and aim for a February firing and see if the modifications will make it fire a little more evenly. If it works, I won't have to take the extreme measure of taking the whole arch down and starting from scratch.

The Emeril Lagasse Chicken Normandy recipe is divine. It's not an every day dish with all that cream, butter, and bacon; but it was delicious and the two chicken breasts I bought were large enough that we have leftovers tonight. My friend Betty made me a lovely birthday pumpkin roll cake with a cream cheese filling - really delicious! It went great with the Bremer chardonnay Jim picked for dinner.

I didn't have time to redo some of those Etsy photos so I'll try to do that this afternoon. Later, dear friends are coming over to share some of the special cheeses I ordered from Murray's in New York. It was an indulgence; but those cheeses are sublime and not available locally or in Asheville. Today is going to be a nicely balanced day of non strenuous productive activity, and relaxing time with dear friends. What could be better!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Made my first Etsy sale

Here's another wood fired, soda, pot available on my Etsy shop. Love the flashing on this one.

When we arrived home after food shopping and dinner out, I found that I had made my first Etsy sale. It's a start!

Yesterday was a busy day. At home, I was mostly on the computer - spent quite a bit of time reading about Etsy and modifying my listings accordingly. I had planned to re-take some of the photos, but realized that the table I was using needed to be replaced. Because of a bow in the middle it was making some pots look cockeyed. So we headed for Walmart and I got a smaller, 4 foot long, solid table which is going to work much better.

My antivirus software expired yesterday, so that was another long session trying to download it and get it installed, after several error messages. Tonight I need to get it downloaded to my other computers. Hoping those installations will go smoother than the first one!

This morning I have a meeting with friend and super kiln builder Shane Mickey about the possibility of doing some modifications on my kilns size. After that I need to get the new table down to the basement,redo my photo set up and retake some of those Etsy photos.

Today is my 71st birthday and plans for dinner in Asheville have been put off because of the expected snow, so I'll be cooking Chicken Normandy for us and Jim will probably open one of our special chardonnays to go with it.

It's amazing how quickly the days fill up!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The world of Etsy

Here's one of the pots I put up for sale on Etsy yesterday, along with a couple of other new ones. There are now 20 on the site and maybe more to come. Some disappeared after posting and it took a bit of digging to find out where Etsy put them. I think it's wise to not put all the work up at once so that your pieces show up on the first page whenever someone does a search for your category. Etsy charges $7 to be showcased, and I think that just spacing your listings will serve a similar purpose; but I need to do some more reading on this Etsy marketing tool.

My photos looked fine when I downloaded them from my camera,but looked fuzzy when uploaded to Etsy, so I need to re-take some of them. After reading some Etsy hints, I'm going to follow the recommendations and take multiple views of the pots.

The other thing I found is that shipping to places like Australia can be higher than the $30 price I put up, which I had seen on other potters Etsy sites. Someone on another clay group said a single pot cost her $56 to ship to Australia. After hearing that, I immediately went back to my Etsy site and removed all shipping location fees but US and Canada. All the pots I posted on Etsy are $75 and less, so I can't imagine someone wanting to spend $56 to receive a $30 mug Another bit of shipping information she share was that shipping a mug, using USPS priority mail with the free boxes was a bit over $8, which was cheaper than packing her own box.

What I'm finding is that even with great feedback on my work, I haven't sold a pot. That affirms my idea that people are more prone to buy a pot from you on line if they've already seen, held or purchased your work. Having a large mailing list or a national reputation is definitely a benefit.

Unfortunately, I've never put in the time to develop that kind of mailing list and at my age, I'm not going to attempt to become a marketing expert; but I will ask studio visitors in the future, to put their email addresses in the guest book.

One of the other things I absolutely need to do, and soon, is to revamp my web site which is in bad need of updating. Now that I have a Paypal sellers account I will be able to set up a shopping cart on my web site eventually. I loaded up my software yesterday and realized after some glitches that I need to relearn it. It may be easier at this point to just trash the old site and start from scratch.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Etsy shop is up

I just finished uploading the last of 16 pots I've put up for sale on my new Etsy shop. You can copy and paste the link because, for the life of me I can't figure out how to make it open by just clicking on it. Anyone know how to do this? Or, you can just scroll down below the Etsy bar on the right and click on my name and that will take you to my Etsy shop.

My Etsy shop

I tried to post a good variety of shapes, sizes and colors, but kept it to the more affordable pots for the most part. You'll see that I've only put shipping costs of US and Canada. I did that after reading another Etsy poster who mistakenly posted what she thought was a reasonable fee for shipping a pot to Australia, only to find it cost her $56 to ship the item. Yikes! So if anyone wants something shipped Australia, Europe, the far east, S.America, I'll have to find out just how much that would cost.

At this point I don't know if this will work as a sales venue for me. It's a lot of work and I'm not sure it's not better to just use retail outlets who do all the work, leaving me time to make more pots. We'll see.

On one hand, I thought "what if I don't sell a single pot (it's possible!); and on the other hand, I thought "what if I sold a lot of these pots and have to pack and ship them all. Do I have enough packing material". Ah, the dilemma.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Etsy shop a work in progress

It's been a few frustrating days trying to figure out Paint Shop Pro enough to get my Etsy banner created. It's not what I want; but I still need to figure out how to get a more complex banner.

Here's the link to my new Etsy site, which is still in progress. There's no work for sale yet; but hopefully will be by next week, or sooner.

Suggestions and feedback are very welcome. I could use some Etsy hints, for sure!

It was 2degrees F here this morning - good weather for just staying inside cooking, and working on this Etsy and other computer projects.

I'm heading to the studio and gallery this afternoon, only to get my laptop and to select a small group of pots to list on Etsy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keeping warm by the fire

It's a balmy 6 degrees F out there this morning. Guess it's going to be another couch potato day working on the computer and trying to learn to make sense of some software.

Yesterday I registered for an Etsy account and now I have to find out how to set up a page. Since we can't get out of our driveway at the moment, due to snow and ice, it would be pointless to try to sell anything (I am optimistic), since it's questionable about when I'd be able to get to the post office to mail anything. In any case, just getting registered is a start.

This morning I'll spend time again trying to get 3 or 4 photos side by side and save it as a single photo file that I can use as a header on my Etsy site, using Paint Shop pro. The first step was to pick a few photos and crop them. That went fine, to a point. I made all the photos the same size, but when I brought them back up on the screen, some appeared larger even though they're saying they're the same size. Why???? Another problem to solve.

After frying my brain reading my two help books, it seems I have to use layering to make a montage; but can't find explicit, step by step instructions that make any sense. Even the "Paint Shop Pro for Dummies" book is confusing to this brain; but I am determined, so I'll forge ahead. The problem with these books, is they don't focus on the job at hand; but go off in all sorts of tangents of information not needed for the job at hand.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yesterdays breads

These are the whole wheat and light rye breads I baked yesterday - perfect, snowy, cold, windy day chore.

With more of the same weather today,  we're looking forward to tonight's Polish pork stew over egg noodles dinner.   In between cooking I'll be continuing this computer cleanup. There are still over 800 emails that have to be read, filed, etc.This is going to be a winter project as it's taking a long while to get these read, sorted and filed. My aim today is to get the number under 800. 

I'm not venturing out in this blizzard, so the studio "to do list" will have to wait till tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I've gotta make me one of these

I saw this video this morning and thought it was a great idea. Today was an in town day - osteo appointments, food shopping etc. Since I was out and about any way, I stopped by the auto supply store in Burnsville and ordered a couple of the foam sponges shown in the video so I can make a couple of these trimming sponges for myself.

I've had a few days after the tour to catch up with the house paper work, household and outside chores and the last of Christmas chores - i.e, sending grand kids cards and presents sent, etc. My menu for next week is planned and the larder is stocked, so I'll be able to get in the studio by Sunday to finish some post TRAC organizing before I start a new throwing/making cycle next week.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wonderful slide show of pottery from the 4 corners region

This is a spectacular collection of Native American pottery or the Four Corners region.

It's another very cold, snowy morning - perfect for staying indoors and catching up with computer and paper work again. Got both old hard drive working and am finished retrieving a lot of the data from one drive and half finished with the other one. I didn't get it finished in time to tackle the wireless router/modem which I might try today.

Yesterday, the only studio time I got was clearing my slab roller which doubled both as my sales/wrapping area and hospitality table. A deep gash on my thumb, testing some new knives two days ago, is keeping me away from clay for a few days; but once I clear the paper pile here in the living room, I might head back to the studio to deal with the paper pile on the studio desk. There may even be time to watch one of the two Netflix movies that have been sitting here for well over a week.

We'll stay put today, grateful for the freezer full of food that frees us from driving for groceries in this snowy, icy weather. The wind/chill factor is well below -5 today.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing but I can weather the storm.

I think that only the most hardy will venture out in this weather today. It's been snowing lightly for hours and there's a lovely coating on everything; but Jim says that it's icy under the snow which may make our 400+ foot long driveway a bit tricky. The fridge and freezer are usually full so we're fine  and can just sit tight if necessary.

This morning, when walking Bodhi, Jim found a dead hawk and a dead morning dove right next to him. We think the hawk must have been hunting in the low snow visibility this morning, caught the dove, and then hit the side of the house - very sad.

I'm using this quiet time to make my studio "to do" list for next week and I think I'll tackle the paper pile. I might even read the instructions on the new wireless modem and router and see if I can set it up without outside help. I couldn't get a modem to work in the studio and friend Jim, who's an electrical contractor,  said it may be because it need  heavier wire. 

After that I can get the old, dead hard drive from my studio desktop into the case I bought last week and see if anything is retrievable. There's always something to do!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Gallery photo

Here's my main gallery. It's was a cute, gambrel roofed, tool shed that came with the house. I had it insulated, covered with bead board, electrified and carpeted with indoor/outdoor carpeting; and installed shelving. It works really well. If it weren't here already, I would have picked a slightly wider size so I could more work on pedestals for more of a gallery presentation; but I've solved that by creating the annex gallery in the studio (see yesterdays blog for photos).

Since a TRAC error kept me off the map, look for my Shambhala Pottery and TRAC tour signs which will be posted on Cane creek road and in front of our mail box just off Cane Creek road. I'm 3 miles out of town,  past Gay Smith's pottery and before Shane Mickey's. The TRAC gallery has a little map next to my pots at the preview opening tonight.

I've been up since 4am getting my "to do" and other lists made and catching up on emails. Now it's time to shower, get some food made for for the tour and doing all the last minute things before noon. The morning is going by super fast!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Annex gallery photos

My little gallery was too full so I created a little annex gallery in the studio. Here are a couple of shots of it.

We stopped in to the TRAC gallery right before it closed and got a quick preview of some of the of work that will on the tour.  We'll be able to spend more time tomorrow, at the official preview; but even with a quick peek, we could see just how wonderful the work is. We are so lucky in this area to have some of the finest artists/crafts people in the country.

The people at TRAC put a little note on my pot display about my not being in the tour pamphlet and they put a little map on the pedestal showing my location. Jim and I were very touched to see how well and generously they handled the error of an ex employee which resulted in the mess up of my tour application getting misfiled and not processed.

Jim dropped off some cards at my friend Lisa Clague's studio. Lisa is an amazing sculptor who is doing the tour this year and typical of her generous spirit, when she heard of the TRAC mixup/losss of my tour application, she wrote and offered  to have me bring some cards to her studio so she could send people my way. Joe Comeau, another potter friend also offered to put some of my cards on his stores counter. With all this generosity, I may actually get a few tour goers. Life is very good!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Soda salt fired cruet and stand

Here's a cruet and stand from this firing, which will be for sale during the tour. I usually make them without a knob on the lid, but this time decided to try a little flag like knob, which I think works well with the form.

This morning I finished painting the other sides of the last two shelves and got the A frame display unit set up with the shelves that were already dry. That was followed by seven hours of studio tidying and cleanup. My desk will need tidying but the rest of the studio is  good. I'll run the wet dry vacuum over the floor in the morning, because today's mopping left streaks, which is the norm in a pottery studio.

With just 2 days to go, I'm more ahead than usual. The gallery is in good shape and the only job I'll need to do is arrange some pots in the annex gallery I'm setting up in the studio and get the hospitality and wrapping table set up.

I'm not expecting a lot of visitors due to the TRAC mess up that kept me from being listed in the tour pamphlet. Also, there's possible snow in the forecast for Sunday which may also impact the tour turn out. On the bright side, I have a clean and tidy studio, ready for the next cycle of work. It's all good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas tree

We're ready for Christmas other than baking some cookies and doing a couple of more decorating tasks in the house, most of which will be done in the next few days.

Yesterday was a day to return a bunch of stuff at Best Buy in Tennessee, stops at Home Depot for some painting items, a Michaels stop for dye for reed/cane for handles and a few other stops including lunch at Red Lobster. After 4 days of turkey we were ready for seafood.

That Johnon City trip took all day, so by the time we got home, there was no time or energy for painting, so I'll be heading to the studio in a few minutes to continue that job.

I've been working this morning on getting the hard drive that I removed from the old, dead, laptop set up with  in
new enclosure drive. The good news is that it wasn't the hard drive that died, so I'm able to retrieve all those files I thought were lost. I hope I have the same luck with the hard drive from the dead studio desktop.

Took some escarole,bean,sausage soup out of the freezer, so dinner will be easy, allowing me to get a full day to finish most of the painting and get some studio cleanup started.

Monday, November 29, 2010

soda salt tumbler

Here's another soda salt fired tumbler. I augment the firing with some wood and I really like this tumbler. It has a lot of the "marks of the fire" on it, the kind of richness I hope to get in this type of firing. The folk, mingei type pots have always been my favorites. For me, they're the type of pots that I never tire of viewing and using.

Started at 7am in the studio checking the painting I did yesterday and got the last two shelves of the A frame display unit sanded. There's painting to finish this afternoon after getting back from chores in Johnson City.

Just four days till TRAC tour to get everything done; but right now I need to head up to my office and see if I can extricate the hard drive my a dead desktop computer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Early Christmas decor

 Here's another mug from the firing - temmoku glaze over flashing slip with black slip brushwork.

Since I ran out of paint yesterday (used all 3 cans of flat black to cover 8 sides of 2 display boxes), and couldn't finish the project, I called it a day and decorated the Christmas tree instead.  Now Jim has to do his village scene under the tree and it will be done. He's off to Wally world to get me a few quarts of paint for the A frame display unit which I'll paint this afternoon.

While stored in the basement, some worker spilled dry wall mudding, and varnish or shellac on a few shelves which I was able to get off with remover yesterday; but some thick orange gook on one shelf wouldn't budge with the remover, so  I need to try regular, heavy duty, paint remover on that one and then sand all the shelves and frame. If the remover won't work, I'll try to scrape it off somehow or use very coarse sandpaper, or just give up and flip the shelf and buy a new one when the tour is over.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Soda salt fired bowl

Here's a bowl from this last firing. I think it would make a nice centerpiece, fruit or salad bowl.

After an early dinner I resumed the pot pricing but stopped at 7:30 when my back gave out. At that point a glass of wine with some pumpkin pie seemed like a better choice.

This morning I'll finish up that job. There's just one more shelf of pots to price and then on to the next job which will be spraying a couple of display boxes and my old A frame display unit which Jim will be retrieving from the basement. 

I have too many pots for the gallery so I'm going to set up a little display in the studio once I move a few things around in there and give the floor a good cleaning.

I've been wanting to get those display boxes and A frame display unit done for a while because my gallery shelves are narrow and aren't suitable for platters and some larger bowls and other pieces.

Jim got all the Christmas boxes out of storage and into the living room, so I may be starting on the tree tonight if I get the studio jobs done before dinner - always much to do this time of year.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Here's a yunomi with heavily textured slip under flashing slip. I thought about re-firing it with a bit more soda; but decided on second look, that I really liked it just the way it is.

It's a rainy day - good day to finish pricing pots.The reason it's taking so long is that I'm re-pricing all the pots in the gallery as well as the ones from the latest firing; and I've had to do it in between garden chores and all the holiday prepping. It's been five years since I've changed prices and it's time.

With all the Thanksgiving leftovers, I don't have to cook tonight, so I should be able to  finish the pot pricing and maybe get a couple of other chores out of the way. I also have a couple  boxes that I got at the UPS store to spray paint, as well as my old A frame display which is definitely showing its age.

Jim finished getting the Christmas lights, wreaths and other decorations up around the studio, house and gallery; and turned them on right after dinner . He was adamant about not turning on Christmas lights till Thanksgiving was over, which for him, was when dinner was finished. Once I'm done with the major studio cleanup which hopefully will be done before Thursday, I may even get the Christmas tree and living room decorated before the tour.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Here's a tumbler from the latest firing - Linda's yellow slip and temmoku liner. Don't you think it would make a good apple cider cup?

Wishing you all a most Happy Thanksgiving. It's a day to reflect on gratitude and enjoy the company of loved ones and friends and partake of an abundance of comfort foods. Enjoy!

I got most of my food prep done yesterday, so today will be an easier cooking day. Turkey will be in the oven before noon and I just have to finish off the gravy, add the warmed milk to the stuffing, candy the sweet potatoes and cook the other veggies which are all prepped and ready to go. 

Continuing with tradition, I'll try to sneak in some time watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade in between kitchen duty. And, I may even find time to price more pots, if I'm not too stuffed to move after an early dinner.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Soda salt fired platter

Here's one of the pots I just photographed. I like the simple design on this one. There's a bit of depth to it which would make it a great pasta serving dish.

Everything seems to be going slowly, probably because there's so much to do between now and the TRAC tour. Yesterday was an all day shopping trip to Tennessee for a bunch of computer stuff, grocery and other shopping and lunch at the Indian buffet. Unfortunately all the computer things have to be returned after Thanksgiving unless I can talk Jim into driving back there this afternoon. The hard drive cases I bought don't fit the drives I have and I bought a non wireless modem which was in the section with the wireless one. Next time I'll read the box. 

This morning I'll be starting prepping veggies for Thanksgiving dinner and if I can get it all done early, I'll be back finishing sanding and pricing pots unless Jim thinks driving to Tennessee two days in a row is a fun idea.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Soda fired jar

Here's another pot from the last firing. At the Spruce Pine Potters market I heard this woman asking at a couple of booths for a jar for her kitchen utensils; and she was bemoaning the fact that she's had a hard time finding one. So I made this one, thinking it was for myself, but it was grabbed up the day I unloaded the kiln. I'll make sure I have a couple in the next firing.

This morning I'll continue sanding and pricing pots. I got about 2/3 of them done yesterday, before I had to call it a day. Cleaning and pricing these soda/salt/wood fired pots always takes me longer than I plan. I had to stop work earlier than scheduled, because on second look, that crab stuffed shrimp recipe was a lot more time consuming than I first thought. PS: The recipe wasn't worth all that prep time.

Jim will be getting the small propane tanks filled for me this morning but I'm thinking about skipping the firing of the small gas kiln. Some of the pots, particularly the larger plates and largest serving and couple of other bowls, I thought may need re-firing, looked fine after sanding.

It's always amazing to see ones  perspective on the work the day you unload and a week or so later. That's why it's good to keep pots around for a while. We always seem to have expectations with each firing and when expectations aren't met, it often takes a bit of time to look at the pots with new eyes a few days or even weeks later.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Soda Salt fired jar

Here's a sweet little soda/salt fired jar with blue glazed impressed areas, over a yellow slip. I think I'll be using this technique with other glaze colors and flashing slips on more pieces in the next firing. I've been collecting old Indian wooden dye stamps for years and have recently made and bisque fired some impressed sections of some of them to use for this purpose.

The plan yesterday was to load the little gas kiln and do some soda re-fires today. So I loaded the empty tanks in the car and when Jim got to the local propane supplier, he found that they close at noon on Saturdays. With the change of plan, I spent the afternoon making out a new, extensive price list. It took till this morning to finish it. Next job is making labels and pricing the pots - a nice, easy job for Sunday.

Dinner is going to be crab stuffed shrimp with a side of yesterday's leftover Fettucine Alfredo which is easy, so I may get a bit more time in the studio doing a bit more tidying, and take some more pot photos. The big studio cleanup will have to wait until after Thanksgiving. 

After dinner I'll try to take a few more pot photos.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kiln has wheels

Got the small Olympic gas kiln burner frame over to Mitchell welding yesterday. The newer Olympic models come with wheels but my older one needs a couple of steel plates cut and welded on, so that wheels could be attached.  This morning I got a call saying it was ready, after they said it wouldn't be ready till next week. So, we headed to Spruce Pine after breakfast to pick it up. Big yeah and kudos to Mitchell welding! Now I can get a few of those soda pot re-fired this weekend. 

Since we were already in town  I decided to do most of my Thanksgiving food shopping. Then there was just one more mail pick up stop and home.

The studio time I had planned for today went by the wayside with having to get to Spruce Pine, so I'll take care of some computer work and get some phone ordering done before I have to start on dinner.

I had a peek at the contents of the saved files from the dead desktop early this morning and at first look, it seems like they didn't transfer any files from my photo or music folders, which is what I really wanted to save off that old computer, so I need to search every folder to make sure. If as I suspect, they're not there, I'll need to find out how I can get them off the hard drive in the non working computer,  without paying another $50 to the computer store. Hopefully, I can find some info on Google; or maybe some computer wizard reading this blog can tell me how to do that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Couple of mugs from this firing

Yesterday was bread making day. I wound up making 2 loaves of my standard oatmeal bread in the bread machine. Evidently the Lily bread flour did not work as well as the King Arthur flour, so I'm dumping it. Both loaves were pretty sad looking - not risen enough, and rose unevenly. The bread tasted OK; but I will definitely go back to the King Arthur flour. I'm guessing the King Arthur may have a higher gluten content which made higher loaves.

This morning I'm going to make a loaf of plain white bread, using the King Arthur flour, as a test to make sure it was the flour and not something amiss with the machine.

This afternoon is a running around, doing chores day. I need to clean up the burner frame from the small Olympic kiln, get it in the car and hope I can find someone who can cut and weld some plates to the legs and then weld the wheels on it. There was no one at the forge in town yesterday. Hopefully they'll be in today. If not I'll try a place in Spruce Pine. They were able to save the information on my dead, studio, desktop so I need to pick that up as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Soda salt fired jar

Here's another pot from last weeks soda/salt firing. The extra 1/2 lb of salt along I added, along with the soda gave the Randy's flashing slip a deeper tone than usual. Last few firings I've added a pound of salt to the soda  mix which resulted in a rich red orange color. With just soda, the same flashing slip, depending on clay body used, runs the gamut from light tan to orange. With 1 1/2 lbs of salt it darkened the slip much more.

I'm cooking all day for tonight's dinner party. The pate is already made, most veggies are  prepped and the pecan caramel sauce for the ice cream is done. I just have to cook the braised lamb shanks this afternoon.

Jim, the house wine steward has picked out two lovely red wines for dinner - one of which is a very special Frank Family Cab. Needless to say, there's no time for the studio today other than taking some of the pots I shot back to the studio for pricing tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Soda salt fired bottle from latest firing

Here's another pot from my latest soda/salt firing. Yesterday I found some time to take a few more photos, make pate and get the two pots priced and packed for Jim to deliver to
TRAC for the tour gallery preview.

TRAC finally found my lost tour application in Burnsville. Seems one of the ex employees at the Burnsville office put it in a folder and never processed it. The outcome is, that I'm not in the tour booklet; but they've told me to bring pots in for the preview and put up my tour signs. I don't know how many, if any, people will stop by, but it will be a good opportunity to get a good studio tidying and cleaning done next week, which is in order any way.

Jim and a friend took the Olympic gas kiln apart, so now I can get the frame to a metal shop to get some wheels attached which will make it easy for me to get it out of the studio and on to the driveway for firing. I need to do a soda re-firing of some of the drier pots from last weeks firing in that little gas kiln.  Last time I fired it, I wheeled it out on a cart, but that cart, which is much wider than the kiln, made it more difficult to protect it enough from the wind even with the metal roofing pieces I had cut as a wind shield. And last time I fired it, a light wind shut it down a couple of times - not fun!

Jim is going to take advantage of this beautiful weather today to put up some new Christmas lights and I've got to do some house tidying and some food prep to do for tomorrow. Hopefully  I can find some time and energy to price and get more pots into the gallery.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Art Fair Neighbors - new video

Here's a followup video - this time it's about some of the interesting fair neighbors we've all seen. Those memories still give me the shivers!

Ken Matsuzaki exhibition slide show

There's some incredible work on this You Tube slide show of a 2009 Kent Matsuzaki exhibition. Enjoy!

It's going to be one of those smorgasbord activity days. We need to get to the computer repair shop to pick up the newly purchased, stand alone hard drive that they needed to store all the info off the hard drive from my dead, studio, desktop. Then there are more pot photos to shoot, pots to price and get in the gallery and always paper work on the list.

A friend is coming over at noon to see if he can set up one of my laptops to the TV so we can watch some of those instant Netfix movies on the big screen. Seems the new can't use the same plugs as the older one.

Jim and I got out yesterday afternoon and got all the tomato and other garden cages and poles up and put away and got the wood shed organized as well as doing a lot of garden cleanup. There's a lot more to do but I think we'll leave that for another day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Svend Bayer video part 2

Here's the second part of this lovely Svend Bayer video.Enjoy

Svend Bayer video

When visiting Michael Cardew's pottery in the early 80's if memory serves, he spoke very well of the young Svend Bayer who had worked at his studio. Later in the trip I purchased one of Svend's pots in the town of Penzance, on England's west coast. Years later, when thinning out my collection I sold that jar; but still remember the lovely transparent honey glaze over sgrafitto.

I'm planning a lazy morning for a change after a wonderful dinner with friends at an Italian restaurant in Asheville, celebrating Jim's birthday. The four of us finished off 3 bottles of wine, and ate some lovely food and I'm feeling it a bit this morning which is why I'm planning on a slow morning.

There are some pottery related things to order this morning and garden cleanup this afternoon. I also want to tackle the digital camera manuals and see if I can figure out how to deal with some of the settings, particularly the white balance on my Nikon D100. These cameras are great but so complex and difficult to understand (for me anyway);and the manuals are perplexing and confusing to say the least!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Couple of pots from this firing

Here are a couple of pots from last Sunday's firing. These will be on display and for sale at the TRAC preview show for the December tour, which is the first weekend of December.

My morning started with making Jim a special birthday breakfast of Eggs Benedict. That dish is way too rich for my blood, so he wound up eating his and half of mine!

After breakfast and dishes, I got the electric kiln emptied. The re-firing lightened up the soda/salt fired pots as hoped, and did a good job on some glaze touch ups. Some pots from this firing and a wood firing which are were too dry from not enough soda, will need re-firing next week in the small Olympic gas kiln which has been converted to use as soda kiln.

Next on the agenda was writing Skutt to see if I could get a replacement bar to hold up the lid which got lost in the move, and  ordered another Green gorilla battery operated sprayer for soda firing. For five years I've had to struggle with that Skutt lid and have no idea  why it's taken me this long to see if they'll sell me a replacement!

The next chore of the day was to take some pot photos from last Sunday's firing.  It's been a while and I think I've forgotten everything about these digital cameras and lighting setup, so I'm going to have to spend some time reading the manuals again. My white balance card has gone missing which didn't help either.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Kiln photos

Here are the shots  from this weeks soda firing. In  this experimental firing (which didn't work!), I lostt most of the  plates and a couple of  bowls to warping. A friend had the same plate warping problem in this same crossdraft design, but I had pretty good success with mine in other firings, so I suspect the difference is and will be the bag wall arrangment.. Next firing I'm going back to the original bag wall and flue size.. I'm also not going to augment with wood. It's just putting too many little unwanted  pieces of  crud in and on some of the pots and I don't think it's necessary for the look and surfaces I want.

I got an early, 6am, studio start to turn on the electric kiln (doing some refires), and soak some reed for handles. The rest of the day I'll be baking bread, taking apart an old computer to remove the hard drive and ram chips and  get a bit more studio time until the kiln makes it too hot for comfort. 
I have a simple and  easy  dinner planned -   ham steak, garden squash and garlic,rosemary roasted potatoes.  After dinner the studio will  be too hot , so I'll call it a day and  watch some TV and continue clearing some of these paper piles.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Kyle Carpenter opening tonight at Crimson Laurel Gallery

Hope some of you will be able to attend the Kyle Carpenter opening tonight at the Crimson Laurel gallery, here in Bakersville, NC to view these elegant, exquisite, salt fired pots in person.

I'm moving slowly after a good night of partying last night - lots of good wine, pate, shrimp, cheese fondue, pecan pie and the company of great friends who not only brought some of the goodies but also bought 3 pots from this weeks firing. Life is soooo good!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rose and other flowers still blooming in November

The forecast today is for snow showers which seems a bit strange particularly since these roses and some other flowers are still blooming. I took these photos two days ago!

I took a few pictures as I unloaded the kiln yesterday afternoon and will post the pictures later today or tomorrow. Right now it's time for breakfast, followed by some food prep for tonight's Friday night indoor porch sitting with friends.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Unloading day

I think we've all had these show experiences. The blue glaze request reminded me of a customer years ago, who brought in her blue wallpaper and wanted me to make a glaze to match it.

Kiln should be cool enough to unload later this morning - a good rainy day job. The nice thing about a 3 day cooling is that it gives me time to catch up with paper piles. Poor Jim is going to risk a hernia hauling all these old magazines and papers to the dump! There is still a years worth (no kidding) of Smithsonian magazines to go through but going through them and reading what I want, will probably take me all winter.

Got a call from the gals at TRAC yesterday who told me to put up the TRAC sign and bring in some pots for the tour preview. Since my application was lost and never processed, I'm not in the tour map, so I don't know how many people might stop by with this fix, but I'll do my normal pre tour cleanup and put out some cookies and cider and skip making any hot dips, and hope for the best.

If and when the rain clears today I want to harvest the last of the cherry tomatoes before the expected freeze. I can't believe that we're still eating fresh tomatoes in November.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Kiln cooling

The kiln was below 400F early this morning, so I opened the dampers a couple of inches, but left the ports closed for a few more hours and I just went out and opened one port in the front and one in the back. I got a very good peek and the slipped pots don't look as dark as they appeared yesterday, and it looks like I got enough reduction for the celadon liner but not enough to turn some of the oribe pots red. I saw some red at the top of one bud vase, but the few oribe yunomis, from what I could see, look fine. It's also a juggling act trying to get the right amount of reduction and not being able to use an oxyprobe in soda/salt firings makes it a bit trickier.

I'm spending this kiln cooling time to rest and go through months worth of cooking, ceramics and other magazines and other paper work and have made great progressive in two days.

Yesterday I found out that I'm not included in the TRAC tour. Jim and I hand delivered my application and cd with a photo of my work for the booklet a few days before the deadline and I don't know who screwed up, but somehow that application never got processed. They've never gotten my location correct on the map even though I've gone in there twice to hand mark the map and now this.

Deciding to use the experience to find the pony in the manure pile- I realized I can relax and enjoy Thanksgiving, get my Christmas decorations up early and not have to do a major studio cleanup which I always do before each tour, and also start working on the next throwing/making cycle as soon as I get these pots sanded and priced.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Crashing after a long day of firing

It's been a day of trying to recharge my battery after an 18 hour day firing the soda kiln. It was a struggle to get it to fire evenly with the the new T shaped bag wall and smaller flues. I know this works well with normal downdrafts; but it definitely did not work well with the hard brick cross draft. The early part of the firing went fine, pretty even for a cross draft; but once I had to up the power I could not get the top hot enough no matter what I did - burner adjustment, active and passive damper adjustments, etc.etc. Even turning off the front burner and upping the others only made the bottom hotter. It did give me one top hot spot on one side at the back of the kiln. Then one of the thermocouples on my double fluke digital pyrometer stopped working - for hours, so I had to dig through cabinets to find a possible replacement and get it hooked up . Needless to stay it was a bit of a frustrating day, ending with me stepping on and breaking the wand on my best sprayers (the one with the power pack that you don't have to manually pump).

Because of the bag wall and flue changes, I put a lot more cones throughout the kiln. It's going to be an interesting unloading!

At one point I seriously considered aborting the firing but the thought of un-bricking and emptying the kiln, re-doing the bag wall, opening the flues,reloading and re-firing was a more dismal prospect than trying to baby this it with the hope of getting it hot enough in some areas without getting too hot in others to save the firing. I know I reached cone 12 in a couple of spots, cone 10 in others and cone 9 only starting in at least one spot - crazy.

I turned the kiln off at 11 o'clock after only doing a couple of rounds of spraying and throwing in about a pound and a half of salt burritos. Between the glitches, a bad headache, strained back, and rushing the time between spraying to end my misery, I'm hoping for the best. My liner glazes have a pretty wide firing range, so I'm hoping for the best. The draw rings showed some gloss which should be fine since I don't aim for heavy salting; and adding 1/2 lb more salt than my usual one pound addition was my frantic attempt to just get the firing over with without straining my back any further.

It's time to start seriously looking at cone 6 soda in these twilight years as well as scaling down this kiln a bit which should make for more even firing.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Video on how to push in electric kiln elements good information

Firing was aborted early on with the kiln shutting off. Fortunately, this time the kiln was only 300 degrees. It looks like the thermocouple on the pilot burner needs replacing after only two firings. I took yesterday off since I didn't have the part and neither did friend Shane, nor was he available then anyway; and was too sore and tired after an all day loading the kiln the day before. It was a beautiful day and Jim suggested we drive up to the Mast General store to pick up some often used items before winter arrives.

On the way home I stopped at the plumbing supply place and picked up a couple of thermocouples. I hope they fit the burner so I can fire tomorrow. Having that imposed day of rest was probably a good thing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Firing day

I'm trying Mel Jacobsen's T shaped bag wall, modified with an extra 1/2 brick on the vertical part of the T. I closed the flues up a bit for a total of 45 sq inches, which is a few inches more than the last firing. The bottom still seems to be running much hotter at this stage of the firing, so I'll know more as the firing progresses.

Initially this kiln fired too cold at the bottom and last firing, and seemingly now, after raising the chimney a bit, closing the flues a bit, the bottom is now hotter. I suspect it's going to take a few more firings to get this where I want it.

I barely had enough pots for the load because I decided in the end not to include the re-fires from the wood pallet kiln at the Energy Exchange.  I even loaded in a pot that mysteriously got a broken rim on the way to the kiln, just to fill the shelf.

Time to turn up the kiln.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Enjoying a quiet, foggy,rainy, mountain morning

The ware cart if full of wadded pots waiting to be loaded but that won't happen till tomorrow. Afternoon appointments will be filling up the most of the day and I doubt I'd want to start loading after dinner, especially after an osteo treatment.

Got the propane tank topped off yesterday, so we're ready to roll. I have a bit of a dilemma with my celadon liner glaze which I made too thin; and I'm now wondering if I should try to reline some of those pots now that I've poured off the excess water. I've always had my celadon liner fairly  but not  overly thick.  Why the heck didn't I wait a day and let it settle out. I know better; but figured I'd just leave the glaze in the pots longer; but it still looks a bit thin. What to do????

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wadding away and last of the fall colors

Here are a couple of photos of the last of the splendid fall colors. I took them from inside the car; but you can get an idea of the spectacular colors we experience here in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Spent the morning working on more tests tiles. I remixed some of my other big buckets of flashing slips because I realized I had tested and used them in straight soda firings; but I'm now adding a pound of salt to the mix which is darkening and brightening my main flashing slip, Randy's, so this is a good time to see how that little bit of salt will affect the other flashing slips.  By one o'clock, all the tests were weighed out, mixed, sieved and put on test tiles, and I went on to wadding pots. That lasted till  5:30 till it was time to come in for dinner. I only got about half the pots wadded, so I'll continue in the morning. Silly me thought I might be able to finish today - yeah, if I stayed up till 1 am! :-(  Instead I'm opting for a second glass of wine, relaxation and some paper work and maybe some brainless TV watching in the background.

Looks like I won't be loading till Wednesday since I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and firing Thursday.I know I must sound like a broken record, but where the heck does the time go lately!  I'm just glad I allowed myself this extra time before the December TRAC tour.