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.