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.

Down to the wire

Here are a couple of views of the pots waiting to be wadded and fired.

Yesterday we took most of the day off to join friends for a lovely drive to the Toe River Lodge for their Sunday buffet, which was very good and reasonably priced as well. I did manage to get in the studio while the dinner beans were cooking to batch a couple of more test glazes and get them on to tiles.

Most pots are decorated and dried, and most of the glaze tests are batched and test tiles dipped. I  just have one or two more glaze tests to weight out and dip this morning and then I start wadding, and waxing lids with a liquid wax with some alumina hydrate added.

My plan was to fire Wednesday until Jim reminded me that I have a doctor's appointment for an osteo treatment, so it looks like I'll be firing Thursday unless I can finish wadding and loading today and feel like I have enough energy left to fire tomorrow.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Glazing and cooking

Yesterday morning I got this loaf of whole wheat started before I went to the studio. I love this bread machine! This is the most even loaf I've gotten yet, probably because I opened the machine after the last kneading and quickly re-shaped it. I also converted the machines recipes to grams and weighed out the ingredients which gives a much more accurate measurement. The lamb shanks leftovers from Wednesday are tonight's dinner.

Yesterday was a 9 hour glazing and decorating marathon, and if my energy holds, I should be able to finish today. Then I have to get some test batches re-mixed and tiles dipped. Looking at the forecast for the coming week, it looks like Wednesday is going to be a good day to fire.  I'll probably wad and load Monday and take Tuesday to recharge my energy for the firing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another day of glazing and decorating

I'm still in glazing/decorating mode. Yesterday I batched up a small bucket of 3% Shaner Oribe to test on a couple of pots. The test was a bit more transparent than I wanted, so I added 3% tin, which is what I use in my own, darker green Oribe.I also got the tenmoku, somebrite and shino glazes sieved and lined and glazed some pots and weighed out a bucket full of my celadon liner which I'll strain and use to line the rest of the pots today. It was definitely a "donkey work" kind of day.

This third bisque kiln only has a few shelves worth of pots but I  fired it anyway since those are pots I want in this firing. I just hope the power stayed on overnight and that the firing completed.  There's still those few pots to glaze and decorate and more test glaze batches to re-mix and test tiles to dip. Hopefully it will all be done by the weekend so I can start loading and fire Monday or Tuesday.

I'm cooking braised lamb shanks tonight, so I'll get my veggies chopped now, start cooking right after lunch and get back to the studio for a couple of hours while the lamb is on simmer. I'll just get Jim to volunteer to watch and stir the pot periodically.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Susan Feagin and Mike Henshaw from Spruce Pine show

Here are two more booth photos from the Spruce Pine show - Susan Feagin and Mike Henshaw.

Got the bisque kiln unloaded and reloaded with the last pots, waxed some  pots, planted two of the four heads of garlic and an azalea. I then decided to take a short lunch break and see if I can figure out how to post that top website medallion. With help from the blog help forum I was able to get it installed and placed where I want it.

Time to head back to the studio and mix and strain a bucket of oribe and dip and decorate some pots for a couple of hours.

Top Blog

Wow, top blog. Now I just have to figure out how to embed this so I don't have to post it every day. Does anyone know how to embed this code into my page?????

The second bisque is finished and I'll be emptying it this morning and re-loading. Yesterday I got enough cone packs and draw tiles made for a couple of firings, made a test batch of a shino I want to try as a liner on bisqued pieces, threw a couple of tumblers to use as test pieces and did a bunch of paper work. I checked my liner glazes and I have enough temmoku and bright blue, but need to make another batch of my celadon liner, which I'll do today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shawn Ireland's booth at the Spruce Pine Pottery market

 Here are a couple of photos of Shawn Irelands booth at last weekends show and sale. I love his warm, folk inspired wood fired pots.

My 2nd bisque firing is done with one more to go. When the power came back on, the kiln  re-started, which is nice to know since I've never had the power go off while firing this Skutt, with the digital controls.

This morning I've got to check my liner glaze buckets. I think that I there are at least two new batches that have to be weighed out - my celadon and temmoku. I also want to make another shino liner that would be more suitable for bisque application than the higher clay one I often use. I also want to make a small batch of oribe with a lower copper content - about 3 - 3 1/2%. There are also draw rings and cone packs to make. 

I took some frozen Bolognese sauce out of the freezer last night, so I'll just have to heat it and cook some pasta - the benefit of cooking for two - there's often enough to freeze for long studio days.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Power out

Finished loading the 2nd bisque and started firing later this morning and at 4:30 this  we had a power outage and two hours later the power was still out. Our generator is big, but now big enough to power the studio, so I'll  resume the bisque and weighing out glazes tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bandana pottery at Spruce Pine Potters market

These two shots are from Banana Pottery's booth at the Spruce Pine potters market. This young couple (Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish)as you can see, are making some wonderful, wood fired work.

At 7 am I got my tiny test kiln started and cleaned up some tests tiles and got them into the the larger bisque kiln which is now 3/4 loaded. There are few more pots to decorate and load, and I should be firing it tomorrow and then going on to making and mixing some of my liner glazes. At the same time I'm watching/listening to  the amazing TV coverage of the miners being brought to safety.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall color has arrived

One of our Japanese maples is in it's full, fall, color and is spectacular. We have two other varieties that aren't showing color change, just yet; but I suspect that in another week everything around here will be in full color.

Today is another studio day till 4 o'clock and then I have to call it a day and start prep on our beef stroganoff dinner.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More great pots from the Spruce Pine Potters show

Here are a couple of shots of Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin's booth. They always have so many new and wonderful pots.

I managed a half a day in the studio till my back gave out after bending over for 4 hours at the wheel touching up some of the slipped pots, scraping slip drips, etc., so I came in and spent time making some decorating notes and then got started on an early, pasta dinner. The gardening that  I thought I'd do today has been put off since I really want to focus on the pots for the next few days, as well as doing the last bit of cooking for a while.

Tomorrow I'll use the mushrooms and steak and make a beef stroganoff. After that it will be some leftovers for two days and a couple of dinners out later in the week.

The pasta sauce I made tonight was interesting. It's a Giada de Laurentis recipe. The sauce is basically a couple of cups of cherry tomatoes mixed with 1/4 c washed and rinser capers and 1T olive oil,  a teaspoon and a half of kosher salt and about 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (I also added a pinch of pepperonici (dried red chili flakes).tossed well, then  topped with about a a cup and a quarter or so, of Italian bread crumbs and  olive oil drizzled on top and baked in about an 8" square baking dish, at about a 350 -375F oven for about  30-25 minutes till the bread crumbs turn golden. After resting 5 minutest the whole thing in put on a pound of cooked tubular pasta, like ziti or rigatoni,  mixed well, then tossed with 1 1/4 cups of fresh ground pecorino romano cheese, and the cooked pasta, and topped with some fine chopped fresh Italian parsley It was easy and tasty and made good use of all these cherry tomatoes we have. If you don't like the stronger taste of pecorino romano, you can use all parmesan or  half parmesan and half pecorino romano.

I'm always looking for some new and interesting, and fairly quick and easy vegetarian recipes to add to our weekly menu and this one is a good choice. The capers and cheese give it a bit of a kick which is often lacking in vegetarian recipes; and pasta is always a comfort food for me.

Eva Zeisel on the playful search for beauty video

This is a wonderful talk by potter designer, Eva Zeisel, who was still working in her 90's. What an inspiration! Thanks goes to Tony Clennell for finding this one!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Spruce Pine Potters Market

Here are a couple of pictures of the many wonderful potters showing and selling their work today and tomorrow in Spruce Pine, NC. I'll post a couple every day for the next few days. This first one is Will Baker's elegant wood and soda fired work. These pots as well as Joy Tanners wonderful forms, in the second photo, are from the second firing in the new pallet kiln that Mark Peters designed and built at the Energy Exchange.

It was so crowded that I had a hard time trying to get in a good position to take photos; but these will give you an idea of the quality and variety of work available at this annual show and sale.

I actually got some studio time this afternoon - mixed and strained a couple of slips, and dipped a bunch of pots; but unfortunately I tipped a 5 gallon of flashing slip and spent the rest of the time cleaning up the mess. Fortunately, I managed to grab the bucket before it totally emptied - not a fun job. I also broke the rim of the porcelain platter I was dipping - another one of those studio AARGH moments!

By the time I finished the cleanup it was time to come in and get dinner which was easy since it was the escarole,sausage, bean and potato soup I made the other day. Tomorrow I'll try to get more slip and  brushwork done on some of the pots after breakfast; but in the afternoon  I have an azalea, a fig tree and some garlic to plant  and a baked pasta dish to make for dinner, so I'll need another couple of days to finish decorating this group of pots, fitting studio time in between the fall garden cleanup, meal prep and animal care.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Cooking marathon continues

Thought I was done yesterday, but realized I needed to deal with the leftover chicken livers (I only used a couple in the Bolognese sauce yesterday). So this morning I made this batch of pate. This recipe from an old Michael Fields cook book, using chicken livers, is the closest you can get to the taste and texture of a traditional pate de foie gras. It's a bit of work; but fortunately it makes enough to put one in the freezer and another to eat right away. I just had to clarify some butter to top it off to keep it from darkening. It's one of Jim's favorite things in the whole world but I restrain myself from making it too often because the recipe calls for a half a pound of butter - not exactly a heart healthy recipe!

I spent all day cooking yesterday and still didn't get to make the pesto so after a bit of a break I'll get that made before lunch and be in the studio after lunch. The cooking marathon is now over and there are enough frozen entrees in the freezer for at least ten dinners.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cooking marathon day

We did some food shopping in Asheville yesterday so before breakfast this morning I started chopping all the veggies for a traditional bolognese sauce, and got the rest of the prepping done after breakfast. It's now simmering away for the next 3 hours.

I also got most of the veggies prepped for the potato, sausage, escarole soup that I'll be making as soon as Jim gets back from Spruce Pine with the sausages.

Since I can only  get escarole and thick pancetta in Asheville, I decided to spend the day cooking and will have several meals for the freezer. We'll have some of the bolognese sauce tonight with a nice, light, Italian red Jim found in Asheville yesterday.

When those first chilly nights come upon us, I start thinking about cooking hearty soups, stews,etc. I just hope I have enough room in the freezer for it all. Both refrigerator freezers are pretty full at the moment so it's going to be a juggling act to find room. The last week or so I've been trying to fill up the freezer with some dinners for the next couple of weeks leading up to a firing.

Tomorrow I'll be back in the studio for a full day of uninterrupted work. Jim has to drive into Asheville again tomorrow,  because the wait to get the car serviced yesterday, would have been four time longer than normal, so we decided to skip it and went on to lunch, and food shopping and still didn't get home till after 3 o'clock. I had to go to 3 grocery stores to get everything on my list.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Taking a studio break

Had to take a studio break today. There was a car to register in Spruce Pine this morning so we decided to eat breakfast out. I must be better because I was able to eat a full breakfast.

This afternoon I've been dealing with switching emails since my email service provider is switching over to tomorrow. Since I get so many group messages, which all have to be notified separately, it's not just a matter of copying my contacts into a single email.

With our plan to have dinner out, there just won't be any time for the studio today and tomorrow there are other chores to deal with so studio till have to wait till Thursday.

Temperatures are due to go down to 32 tonight, so the other chore I need to do is harvest the green and ripe tomatoes just in case it gets down to freeze level.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Back to the studio

Feeling a lot better this morning - not 100% but I'm going to head to the studio and see if I can manage some sit down jobs. There are a few last minute things I threw when I thought that I might not have quite enough to fill the kiln, so I'll finish them up and then maybe make a couple of small batches of glaze. My current shino liner is only good for raw glazing, so I want to batch one of Woo versions with a little less clay that I can use on bisque ware. The other small batch I want to make is a 3% copper carb version of Shaner Oribe. The test tile looked promising and now I want to test it on a pot.

If I can manage getting those things done I'll figure it's been a good day. I need to stop at 4 o'clock to start on dinner and make the pesto sauce for the freezer that I didn't have the energy to do yesterday.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Food poisoning does not make for a studio day

Recovering from an interesting night of dealing with food poisoning - probably from the Cioppino at the tapas restaurant, so the studio is going to have to wait a day. Fortunately, yesterday I got studio time in the morning and then  a couple of hours of afternoon garden work done before we headed for Banner Elk for some food and other shopping and dinner. I dug the last of the sweet potatoes (the voles actually left us some!), harvested hot and frying peppers, dried pole beans( that I shelled for planting next year), a lone buttercup squash, lots of basil and some tomatoes and pulled some weeds.

The plan today was to make more pesto for the freezer and if I perk up later, I will do that. Right now I'm going to get in a reclining position and watch the World Equestrian Games.                     

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Decorating continues

 These are the pots for the next firing, other than one or two still under plastic and the few re-fires and test tiles still to come.

Fall has arrived! It was 37F when I got up a little after 6am and there was frost on the studio roof. I finally got a good nights sleep and  I'm raring to go, which wasn't the case the night before. Yesterday I managed to drag myself to the studio at 10:30 after helping Jim move the tropical plants down to the basement. I finished up the last few pots, did a bit of a cleanup, worked till 5 and came in for dinner, which I didn't have to cook. Thank you Jim and Colonel Sanders.

Today I'll only get a half a day in the studio. In the afternoon I need to harvest some more apples, tomatoes and peppers and dig the rest of the sweet potatoes. Then there's household shopping to do, dinner at the Tapas restaurant, and back to the studio tomorrow to continue slipping and decorating pots.