Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Well,another year, filled with productivity, challenges, and world changing events has passed. Jim and I continued our current solitary celebration, early, with a lovely 5 course dinner at our favorite local restaurant "The Knife and Fork", followed by a relaxed evening in bed, with a great bottle of Frank Family Winstone Cabernet single vintage, red wine, while listening to a the wonderful PBS concert of Leonard Bernstein's score of West Side Story, with those amazing counter melodies - what a score in it's time and it still stirs the soul! And now, they've switched to Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. What would life be without music that takes you to such heights!

While Jim takes our little furry, Jack Russel terrier, Bodhi, on his last walk of the evening, I'm taking a bit of time for this blog.

Today was a busy kitchen day, spending lots of time chopping and cooking, but a delicious, spicy, shrimp and chicken gumbo is cooked and ready for tomorrows house guests. In the morning I'll be baking corn bread and a breakfast nutty fruity, sourdough bread which I had hoped to make today; but that job had to be put off because i forgot that it needed sourdough and my sourdough needed feeding. The sourdough's been fed and the bread will get made in the morning. Then it will be time to tidy up the papers which seems to shroud my sitting area of the living room, which has become my other office. When am I going to slow down and just enjoy retirement! Busynesss is a lifelong thing for me and even at 72 is one that is hard to release. So rather than fight it, I just stay productive and let it take me where it takes me. If this body fails me totally, I guess that will be the time to just contemplate my navel.

House guests arrive tomorrow, for just a day, so it will be a lovely start of the New Year with family, belly warming, spicy seafood and chicken gumbo for dinner along with home made fudge and some other, lovely, store bought candies, and Jim, our in house sommelier, sharing one of his lovely white wines for the gumbo.

Hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration with loved ones, and/or dear friends, with good food and quality liquor if that's your choice! And I hope you all have the most productive, healthy, joyous and prosperous New Year, filled with joy, challenging and rewarding experiences and live well lived!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mish mash sort of day

The only remotely studio related things I did today were copy and print out the four pages of the charted notes on the cone 6 soda firing and driving them over to John's studio. I also compiled all the information I've been gathering on earthenware clay bodies, slips and glazes and will print those out tomorrow. Exploring earthenware is one of my 2012 projects.

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping for company dinner Sunday (shrimp and chicken gumbo), having lunch out, then back home to put away groceries, tend to house plants,email, make dinner, then after dinner, make a batch of fudge.

It was then time to give Bonnie kitty some mom play time. She loves this crazy laser light. Fortunately, she chases it with such vigor that she tires herself out in about 5 minutes. Time for the adults and a Netflix Midsomer mystery before meditation and sleep. It's been a busy, smorgasbord kind of good day; but a good one.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chicken soup and test tiles

I'm bleary eyed, and waiting for these back spasms to ease after getting over 7 dozen test tiles lined up in numerical order on my slab roller and making followup notes; but the job is done! In the morning I'll photo copy these 4 pages of notes for John, my testing partner in this venture and drop them off at his studio.

Next step will be for me to re-fire some of these tiles, and make new tiles for another firing; but that will have to wait after this weekends company leaves, and the weather is mild and dry enough for two consecutive days, to wheel my little gas test kiln outdoors to fire. The weather forecast for next week is pretty gruesome (cold, wet, snowy), so it looks like I'll be focusing on getting the cone 10 pots finished before I can re-fire these cone 6 tests.

Meantime, there's the house to tidy, and food shopping and cooking to do before house guests arrive early Sunday, as well as a studio to tidy if I can squeeze in some time after I get back from shopping and other chores tomorrow. I'd like to start the New Year with the studio a bit more organized; but it looks like I may not have the time to complete that goal, with all the other things I have to do between now and the New Year.

Tonight was a good night for chicken soup and fortunately I have leftovers for tomorrow. If we get home early enough and I'm not too wiped, I may just get an hour before dinner to do some of the studio tidying. That would be nice!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cone 6 soda test tile results

The cone 6 soda test tile firing looks very promising. I will need to re-fire tiles because we only reached cone 6 just starting to soften. Cone 7 looked like it was at 3 o'clock; but it turned out that it was just in the process of toppling over. Guess I didn't seat it well enough in it's little house. With only one cone pack visible I asked John to just shut it down, rather than risk over-firing, which was a good call, since I was more interested in getting a true picture of the flashing slip at cone 6, not cone 7.

These tiles look more promising than the tiles from the Energy Exchange's wood/soda firing. They're brighter, and with the new soda mix, it looks like they will flux more at a full cone 6. They also showed more flashing potential in this firing with this new soda mix. As I suspected, the wood in the Energy Exchange firing made the tiles drier. The yellow slip was a great example to show the difference. It was buttery on all 3 tiles but dry at higher temperature in the Energy Exchange firing.

The draw rings were very good and some of the glazes are good at cone 5. One oribe is a beautiful, rich, dark green and the turquoise oribe also looks promising. A matt white was under fired at cone 5 as was Reeves green, and another oribe.

I'll make new tiles for the shinos and a few others and start body reduction a bit earlier next time and do it a bit heavier,reduction next time. Two of the of the shinos were mature at cone 5 and look good as potential liners. They just need more and earlier reduction to shine. The one temmoku in the firing was brown; but re-firing might help. I think I'll also do another version. I have to check which Iron I used, but I thought I used a very high purity iron and was expecting black, not dark brown. John has one C 6 temmoku that I'll try as well. I forgot to put my celadon liner in this firing, so that will go in with the re-fires along with another one from John.

My new gloss base looked good, but some of the tiles got hit with too much soda - difficult to avoid in a small kiln with only test tiles. My yellow slip (Linda's yellow with my revisions) turned out great on all bodies tested. Another really nice surprise was 2 versions of a known glaze called Juicy fruit - better at cone 5 in soda and light reduction than in my full cone 6 oxidation firing using Steven Hills firing schedule.

I'll be spending another day or two making some charts, cataloging these with follow up notes, then it will take another couple of weeks after the holidays to make, bisque and dip new tiles and then wait for two days of consecutive good weather to fire them; but I'm very happy with all the information and more potential good results with some tweaking and re-firing.

I also want to batch some new revisions of a couple of flashing slips using Ronans excellent suggestion of replacing Grolleg with EPK and Newman red with Redart.

Time now, to get a cup of herbal tea and start cataloging the other two shelves of tests.

Cone 6 soda test firing cooling

The firing went well and I was home before 7pm. Love it! I think we may have gotten a bit hotter than our goal. Cone 6 in the only cone pack that was visible didn't seem to be moving although the pyrometer showed it should be. So I opened the burner shutter more and adjusted the damper for light reduction and we went off for a few minutes and when we came back cone 7 was at 3 o'clock, even though cone 6 hadn't shown any sign of movement a couple of minutes before! With soda you never know if that's a true reading; but I had the cones inside a little open hut of sorts to protect it somewhat from the soda in an attempt to get a truer reading. The tiles should tell the story.

The last draw ring showed good gloss from the new soda mixture (which Dan Hill uses for cone 6) which was 4 parts sodium bicarb, 2 parts soda ash and 1 part borax. This soda test kiln is small - maybe 4 cubic feet of setting space, and I didn't even finish the 1 gallon of solution which had 1 1/2 lbs of the soda mixture. In fact, I may have gotten a bit more in there than ideal. We'll see.

John thinks we may be able to open it this morning. I'd be thrilled to have one workable flashing slip from all those tiles! If not, we should have enough information to explore it further.

The high grolleg flashing slips tend to be dryer than some others unless fluxed a lot or have some clay substitutions. Ronan Kyle Peterson said that his experience has shown that replacing the grolleg with EPK was an improvement. So I can try that in future tests if needed.

In our first soda firing, using the Gail Nichols method, straight cone 10 flashing slips were all dry or very dry; but there were some that had more possibilities - Randy's, one of my Avery clones, and two others. I didn't put those originals in this firing with the newer soda mixture; but I did have several variations of those in the firing. Looking back, it might have been a good idea to put at least one tile of those 4 original ones in the firing with the new soda mix as a good comparison.

Another very good suggestion from Ronan was to sub Redart for some of the more refractory clays. Randy's uses Newman red which is classified as a fire clay, so that is another possible, future test.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day after making merry and firing day

Moving slowly after all the holiday merry making and too much rich food. Friend John Britt said he'd be lighting the kiln around 8am this morning, so at some point I'll be heading over to his studio with this soda mix and my fancy, battery charged sprayer.

I dragged myself into the studio to weigh out the soda mixture, and make sure both battery packs for the sprayer were plugged in, before my first cup of tea. Until I hear from John about when my presence is needed, I'm going to just vegg out and catch up on a lot of correspondence and get my own battery recharged.

Hope all who celebrate had a great Christmas and a great Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

From our house to yours

From our house to yours - wishing you a very Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and a joyous, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

June and Jim Perry

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night before Christmas

This is for the children in your house and for those of us who still love to tap into our childhood memories every Christmas.

Today will be an all day baking and pre Christmas dinner prep day. Yesterday I went through all the flashing slip test tiles that were in the Energy Exchange firing and most still seemed too dry; but I suspect the wood ash also contributed to some of the dryness.

John and I put off our firing of the 175 plus slip and glaze tiles till Monday. Hopefully by then, we'll have heard back from Ronan on how hot they fired the kiln and what kind of soda they used in the firing. Till then, I'll be cooking and baking and indulging in some wonderful holiday meals.

Tomorrow we'll be having our family's traditional Lithuanian/German/Polish breakfast of home made babka, ham, kielbasa, hard boiled eggs and horseradish. Dinner will be pretty much a repeat of the Thanksgiving turkey dinner since the store was out of the rock cornish hens which I had planned.

Wishing all who celebrate it, a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mr and Mrs Claus

Jim's sister Pat gifted me these delightful Mr and Mrs Claus dolls several years ago and Jim found the perfect place to display them for the holidays.

Yesterday was a busy day getting the last paper work done for the test tiles, dipping a few last minute ones and packing them up along with draw tiles and cone packs and delivering them to Johns studio. When I got there I got a quick peek at the tiles that he had just picked up from the Energy Exchange firing. At first glance, most still look a bit dry, so I'm waiting to hear more about the firing. John hasn't been able to reach anyone yet; but it looks like they did a light salting; and my guess is that they only used soda ash. I'm hoping that using bicarbonate of soda and some borax in our firing will flux those slips more.

John had some tests with laterite which had a much better finish but were darker than my current flashing slips. I brought home the box of his tiles with my slip revisions which I'll examine closely today.

I'm not sure if we'll be firing today. It will be Johns call; but I'm thinking it might be better to wait until we get the information about the Energy Exchange firing.

It's going to be turkey again for Christmas because the store was out of rock cornish hens, my first choice; but I got all my Christmas food shopping finished yesterday and if we don't fire today, I'm going to relax and go through the piles of unread mail and get this living room company ready for next weeks house guests.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Foggy mountain top morning

We got a little antique Baker figure (actually looks more like a butcher holding a roast; but the ebay listing said it was a baker) to put in front of the bakery under the tree. This year Jim lit up the buildings which is an improvement. You can actually see what's inside some of them now.

Yesterday I got 175 of the finished tiles in numerical order and charted them all against the list I made when I dipped them; and got the last 6 raw dipped tiles bisqued. I found a couple of unmarked and two obviously mis-marked, so this morning I'm going to check those against the containers of glaze and slip. Counting the 6 I bisqued overnight, plus the couple John included in the Energy Exchange firing, there are at least 185 made so far. This morning I'll probably re-dip a few of the missing and obviously mis-marked ones; but first I need to make another list of all the slips and glazes I batched for this project.

When I left the studio around 6 last night, I forgot to turn up the tiny test kiln. Fortunately, I awoke around midnight and hobbled out to the studio, turned it up to high and went back to bed; and I was able to empty it early this morning. The base of one of the tiles broke off; but I think it was one that was broken before the firing and patched with some sodium silicate and not because of firing it so fast.

Our lobsters didn't arrive till almost 7 o'clock last night; but they were worth the wait. We decided that 2 lb lobsters might work better than the 3 lb ones since neither of us could finish those big lobsters even though we only have a little salad before. So I put aside the few leftovers bits and will make a tiny amount of lobster salad which we'll have as a lunch snack on crackers today.I also think the smaller lobsters would be a bit more tender. The lobster dinner ended my delicious, week long birthday celebration.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lobster day

This is another section of Jim's, under the tree village.

Today is the last day of my prolonged birthday celebration, with an indulgent lobster dinner. Jim ordered two 3 lb lobster which will be delivered some time today. With our advanced years, we decided that we should do this prolonged birthday celebrations starting this year and it's been great fun!

I would have been in the studio early; but some good friends stopped by for a visit this morning, and brought a present of home made cookies. I'll still bake some of my own, but not as many as I had planned. For now, it's time to get to the studio and finish making glaze notes on those tiles which I'll be delivering tomorrow to John Britts studio for our Friday cone 6 soda firing.

Yesterday we were out and about all day with doctor's visits, lunch, food and other shopping and didn't get home till dinner time. Fortunately we had the leftover lamb shanks so I didn't have to cook. One of our stops was to pick up some prescriptions for Jim's back; and I can report this morning that they're working. Now I just have to keep him from doing any more heavy lifting in the future!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A working birthday

Was prepared to get a full studio day since we celebrated my birthday with friends yesterday with a brunch at the Grove Park inn; but as often happens, a planned day goes awry with unplanned chores which demand attention.

A huge amount of emails this morning, mainly from so many wonderful birthday wishes, notices that my Norton anti virus software has expired, and using the last of my bread, changed the plan. So now I'm downloading the software on one computer, with two other computers to do after this, then I need to start on another loaf of bread, and get an early start on tonight's braised lamb shanks dinner before I can even think about the studio.

I will get in the studio at some point this afternoon to finish sorting the test tiles and making those last minute notes, which I didn't get to do yesterday because we didn't get home till around 5 o'clock and still had to unpack the car and get groceries put away before thinking about dinner, which wound up just being some popcorn with some parmesan and spices.

After the lovely brunch and working through the tourist crowds at the Grove Park Inn viewing the gingerbread house contest entries, followed by a Sams Club shopping trip, there was no time or energy to do anything more than rest for the rest of the evening. Our friends have these insulated bags that they bought at Sams club, which work great for those long drives home from Asheville. No need anymore to spend several dollars on ice or deal with large, bulky plastic boxes. We bought two of them ($9.98 each),and everything was still solidly frozen after an hour and a half; and we can leave them in the car since they lay flat and hardly take up any space.

Time now to get that bread started, finish those downloads, and get the dinner started early.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A play day

Here's one of the middle sections of our under the tree village decor.

Having an early birthday celebration with friends and brunch at the Grover Park Inn. We haven't been for two years and are really looking forward to the brunch and checking out the yearly gingerbread contest entries and the lovely Christmas decor.

Doubt if there will be any time studio when we get home. If I'm up to it, I might just go in and finish getting all those test tiles in numerical order and go over my notes. I have a couple of tiles I forgot to mark, but I did make a chart and enter which tests were dipped on which clay bodies, so maybe I can figure it out enough to either mark them or just re-dip new ones.

Before I get back to glazing the cone 10 soda pots I really need to do more studio tidying; but that job will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fettucine revisit

We're having a repeat of this fettucine, ham, onion, mushroom dish from two nights ago. I made enough of the sauce, so I'll just have to cook fresh pasta.Since dinner is covered, I'll be able to get in a full afternoon in the studio.

Yesterday I got all the draw rings and cone packs made for both cone 6 and cone 10 soda firings and just did a bit of studio tidying (a never ending chore)since I didn't have enough time to batch that last glaze because we had to do a Walmart run before another great dinner at the Knife and Fork.

Time to head to the studio and get that last glaze base with six color variations weighed out. At this point, I'm pretty saturated with this glaze testing, so I hope all this work brings forth some encouraging results for me to switch to cone 6 soda next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hubble photos to Bach's Air on G string

Hubble photos and Bach's air on G string - what a great way to start or end the day!

Didn't get much done yesterday other than dipping a few more tiles and doing the attendant paper work. Too much standing on the hard, concrete, studio floor the day before made this bad hip and knees act up, so yesterday was a day to find mostly sit down jobs.

This afternoons plan is to get some cone packs and draw rings made for both next weeks cone 6 soda firing, and my later cone 10 soda firing.

The Energy Exchange wood/soda kiln is being fired to cone 6 today with some of my cone 10 flashing slips revised (hopefully) for cone 6 included; and I'm really eager to see if any of the alterations bring up a couple of good results. I really only need one good flashing slip as a base to make the switch to cone 6.

Glazes for cone 6 soda/salt are much easier to design - just make sure you have enough calcium, boron, barium and/or magnesia in the glaze to repel the soda/salt; but the flashin slips are a bit trickier, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed so that when that kiln is opened Monday or Tuesday, there might be some encouraging results to use, or at least, to build on for next weeks other cone 6 gas/soda firing in John Britt's small soda kiln.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mashiko "Broken Earth" exhibit

Here's some morning eye candy of the Mashiko Potters "Broken Earth" exhibit in the Netherlands. Thanks to Swanica Ligtenberg for making and sharing this body of some exquisite work.

Nothing new to report at this pottery - still dealing with cone 6 soda tests for a bit. I got all the current flashing slips done and some liners like celadon, temmoku and shinos batched, along with a couple of colored slips; but now I'd like to get some exterior glaze possibilities batched. I designed a couple of bases and will start weighing those out today. By the weekend, I should be finished and then go back to getting these cone 10-11 soda pots lined.

John Britt and I are planning on firing all his and my test tiles in his small soda kiln later next week, and I might even be able to get my cone 10 soda firing in after Christmas. It will be good to have both of these projects wrapped up before the New Year. It's been a bit of a mind scramble, multi tasking journey, having to shift gears in the middle of one project to start another, then merging the two into a bisque firing which I unloaded yesterday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

R.I.P. Malcolm Davis

Malcolm Davis passed away yesterday - such a loss! He took American shinos to another level with his years of work on carbon trap recipes and firing techniques, discovering how wax resist over the glaze could give these wonderful patterns, etc.etc. He will be sorely missed.

Spent part of the morning with John Britt, dipping some of his test tiles in some of the flashing slips I made. He'll be putting them in the Energy Exchange wood/soda firing this weekend. I opted to skip it since it turns out it won't be just a firing of tiles as I was originally told, and with 155 of my tiles alone (so far), they wouldn't have room for all of them. So John and I will be doing another firing in his small soda kiln in another week or so. That will actually work better for me since I fire with gas and only introduce a bit of wood in the kiln, so I'll get much more useable results for from that firing.

In the meantime, the flashing slip tests in the wood/soda kiln will give us a good idea if I've fluxed them enough for cone 6 or too much and make some adjustments before we fire in Johns kiln.

On another note, this gives me more time to batch some more cone 6 glazes I've designed for soda. So, it's all good.

I spent the rest of the day (still at it), redoing my notes and chart on the finished tiles, and got my early dinner prep done for tonight's dinner - fettucine with an alfredo type sauce with sauteed mushrooms and ham. It's one of my favorite pastas, but since I put it in the category of "heart attack specials", I only make it once or twice a year and hope the wine will lessen the damage from the cholesterol. :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

One more day of test tile batching and dipping

Here's the second section of Jim's wonderful, under the tree decoration. It's such fun to wake up and turn on the Christmas tree and other Christmas lights on the staircase - such a happy pre dawn vision.

Before breakfast I headed to the studio to clean up a couple of the cone 10 slipped plates and dipped a few more raw tiles and got the bisque kiln loaded with the tiles and the last of the cone 10 pots. They're warming up a bit to dry things out and I'll start the bisque this afternoon.

The cone 6 test tile count is up to 137 tiles with more to be done today. Tomorrow I'll be wadding them all. If it were my kiln, I'd just lay them on a good layer of alumina hydrate; but in the wood/soda kiln I think it best to wad them.

With some very early studio time, I need to get my tonight dinner prepped early. It's potato pancakes tonight. The potatoes and onion are peeled so I just have to grate the potatoes and get everything mixed and ready to go so I can work till 5 o'clock.

Friday, December 09, 2011

111 Test tiles

A hundred and eleven test tiles done and the test tile marathon will continue for a few 3 or 4 more days. then I can get back to finishing my cone 10 pots and get a soda firing in - hopefully before the New Year!

I quit at four o'clock when Jim arrive with 60 clams which I had to get soaking and scrubbed. Then I steamed them with white wine, onion,garlic, thyme, parsley, garlic and pepperonici pepper. That lovely broth along with butter to dip the clams and crunchy bread made for a very satisfying and filling taste treat.

Time now for some mindless TV and maybe some computer scrabble or Word with friends (my new discovery).

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The day's agenda

Made another loaf of this delicious nutty, fruity bread yesterday morning. Instead of going back and forth - house to studio, during the various risings, etc. I opted to take care of other pre Christmas chores like getting family Christmas cards done and some on line Christmas shopping and then spent all afternoon on getting another 12 tests tiles done.

This morning I prepped all the veggies for tonight's Mexican stir fry,enabling me to work till five. Today I'm weighing out some oribes, temmokus, and maybe another shino or two.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Under the Christmas tree farm scene

Jim spent a few hour yesterday setting up the farm and village scenes under the tree. Most of these are from my childhood, with a few new and vintage additions over the years. These go very well with my overly decorated, Victorian looking Christmas tree.

Started another nutty fruity sourdough early this morning and it should be finished it's first rise in half hour or less. I'll be back in the studio right after breakfast, then running back and forth to the house, dealing with the bread, as needed.

I met yesterday's goal of dipping and marking 28 new test tiles. That makes a total of 64 tiles now finished. There are two batched which I need to dip this morning and more glazes and slips to weigh out later today. Glazes are not a challenge for cone 6 reduction, but flashing slips are, so I've tweaked some common flashing slips, upping the Neph Sy in some, doing the same in others but adding some borax and/or soda ash.

We had a lovely steak dinner at the Knife and Fork last night, and brought half of it home, so we have leftovers tonight which means I get a full studio day. Life is so very good!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pizza and margaritas after a studio day

Got a head start on batching soda and glaze tests and threw more porcelain test tiles. Tomorrow I'll smooth them out and apply the slips and glazes I made today. Between today and tomorrow day I should have about 28 new test tiles to add to some already made.There are more to make in the next several days - definitely a week of marathon weighing, mixing and dipping.

The first gas, cone 6 soda firing didn't result in usable flashing slips, so I'm re-doing some of them with added neph sy, and some with both extra neph sy and a bit of borax. They also didn't get enough body or later reduction in that firing which could may have affected the color and surface. Hopefully the extra fluxes will makes one of more of them useable at cone 6 and the natural reduction in the Energy Exchange wood pallet kiln may give rich color in the flashing slips and even more fluxing of the iron in them and some of the clay bodies.

Time to kick back for the night, play with kitty and finish watching A Christmas Carol.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Cone 6 soda/wood project back on the calendar

This morning I heard from John Britt to say our cone 6 wood/soda test firing is on again at the Energy Exchange, so I need to stop working on these cone 10 soda pots, and focus on getting more cone 6 glazes batched and on to tiles in the next ten days. Fortunately I have a lot of Cone 6 test tiles already bisqued, and some tests already weighed out; but I want to make the most of this test firing and have a lot more tests ready to go since there will only be test tiles in this firing.

This morning I got a loaf of oatmeal bread started (the bread machine comes in real handy on busy days), then tidied up the gallery and studio. I had to move some of the finished South American pepper plants outside, which had been taking up studio space until the peppers ripened. I hadn't planned that job for today, but one of my customers called about coming over, so it was a good opportunity to get those jobs done.

I spent today's spare time going through some of my glaze notebooks and finding more likely cone 6 glazes and flashing slips for testing. I'll go through a couple of more glaze books tonight and early tomorrow; but I already have a pretty big stack of test sheets written out to get me started right after breakfast tomorrow.

After that, I started on dinner - a new Malaysian shrimp,green bean, shallot, hot pepper,coconut milk, shrimp paste peanut sauce dish. I'll make that one again and maybe try it with chicken next time. I also found time to do some on line Thai grocery shopping so I can continue exploring more recipes in this South East Asian cookbook. I like these recipes, because, although they have a lot prep time, I can do that earlier in the day and the actual stir fry cooking time at the end of the day, when I'm tired, is only a couple of minutes.

It was a good and busy day; but I'm ready to relax with my glaze books for another hour with some TV in the background.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Todays project

Two days of dealing with computer and printer problems gave me time in between to get earthenware slip and glaze recipes and other information neatly organized into a new notebook. Dipping my feet in the world of earthenware is one of my projects for next year, along with working on lowering my soda firings to cone 6.

I got the old desktop and old laptop back working but still haven't figured out some of the problems caused when I tried to install the printer software on this laptop. The computer guy is coming Monday, so maybe he can figure it all out. Until then, I'll keep busy in the studio, and hope mercury retrograde doesn't create more studio delays for me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's snowing!

I've been dealing with computer and printer problems all day and still don't have it all figured out; but I did get my desktop to stop freezing after a few hours of cleanup and setting changes. It took about an hour to get the printer to stop a "no paper" error message. The only fix was to unplug the printer from the computer.

Now I have to see if I can find a way, by using the printer computer settings, to stop it from printing backgrounds, so I can make copies of Jim's new book. At the moment, he's transcribing it by hand! :-(

So much for my intended studio day! Since I have the sausage,bean,potato,escarole soup made and just have to heat it and make parmesan toast, I'll continue this computer work for another hour and enjoy the vision of the falling snow from my office window.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's been a bit of a manic week getting ready for Thanksgiving and getting outdoor Christmas lights up before the bad weather hits, and doing the majority of indoor decorating. Yesterday I got the tree decorated, and Jim and I got the garlands up on the fireplace and staircase and a few other little Christmas accents around the house.

Jim still has to do the under the tree village and farm set up; but most of Christmas decor is now done other than some live arrangements. I'll wait another week or so before I go tromping through the woods to cut some evergreens for fresh holiday arrangements. Meantime, it's time to think about getting back to the studio.

I'm way behind on this firing which was supposed to be done late October; but with a viral bug that keeps coming and going and holiday prep, I'm trying to play catch up. Thank goodness I opted to skip the December TRAC tour because my stock is way down. But with one of my ten minutes dinners planned for tonight (linguini with clam sauce), I'll get a full studio day today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Joy Tanner soda/wood fire teapot

Here's another lovely piece from Joy Tanner, with one of Anita Connelly's lovely painting in the background. They're both available now at the TRAC gallery in Burnsville, NC.

Spent forever trying to find the new chili recipe this morning, to no avail;but fortunately I had made out the shopping list so I knew some of the core ingredients and forged ahead to make up my own recipe. It turned out very well, with a two thumbs up from Jim, so I'm sharing it here, since that's just about all I did today - make chili and corn bread and dealt with a lot of mail.

June's chili- Serves 4 -6

1 lb Ground Beef (I use ground chuck)
1 C diced onion
3 cloves garlic minced
1 large green bell pepper diced
1 small serrano chile or ½ of a larger one, trimmed and minced (can use ½ or more of a jalapeno or to taste)
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 can of rotel tomatoes with green chilis
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 small bottle of beer
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin or more, depending on your taste preference
1/4 tsp oregano leaves
salt and a few grindings of black pepper to taste
1 or 2 T Extra virgin olive oil.

Put a thin layer of the olive oil in a heavy pan and turn on high. When pot is very hot, add the ground beef and stir, breaking it up to brown it a bit. About midway in the browning, add the diced onion and green pepper. Stir and minute or two then turn the heat down to medium high , and cook stirring occasionally, till the onion is transparent, then add the minced garlic and cook, stirring about 30 seconds. Then add the tomato sauce and rotel tomatoes, kidney beans and black beans and the spices and beer. Bring to a boil, then turn to low and let simmer for an hour or two, stirring periodically.

Serve topped with grated cheddar or other cheese and diced onion. Cornbread goes great with this.

++NOTE: The chili will taste hot in the beginning and look thin, but when you top it with the cheese and onion when serving, it will lessen the heat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Joy Tanner pots from the TRAC show

Jim and I went to Burnsville Friday for Joy Tanner and Anita Connelly's opening at TRAC. Joy is a young, very talented soda/wood firer, currently serving a residency wit her equally talented potter husband, Will Baker at the Energy Exhcange. Anita's watercolors and other paintings are wonderful. It's a great show pairing!

Yesterday we took advantage of the beautiful weather to drive up to Banner Elk for some shopping, antiquing and lunch. When we got home I baked another, different loaf of a sour dough nut and fruit bread. We decided that we liked the first recipe better. The evening was topped off with a lovely dinner with good friends.

Today has been a day for dealing with some paper work, getting my Thanksgiving turkey in a brining solution, and now time to start on some early dinner prep of salad, mashed potatoes and fried shrimp.

I got the last of the pots slipped Friday, but still need to do some decorating. Hopefully I should get a pretty full studio day tomorrow and Tuesday. Wednesday will be an all day of food prep and baking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yummy, Nutty, fruity bread

The fruity nutty sourdough bread I made yesterday is a wonderful breakfast bread. I have two other similar recipes to try; but this one is definitely a winner. I'd been looking for a heavy, chewy, nut and raisin breakfast bread for a while - similar to the ones you can buy at some artisan bakeries. It worked great with the new bake pan.

It's cold this morning and they predicting that it's going down to 17 degrees tonight, so I'll have to check those covered peppers and pick what I can as soon as the day warms up a bit, because even a thick layer of remay is not going to help with cold at that level. I should have put the cover on the cold frame and I'm just hoping my artichokes have enough life in the roots to save the plants if I cover them today.

I'm finally getting into the studio today; but will work part half a day. I have to quit early and head to Burnsville for some chores and then to Joy Tanner's and Anitas Connelly's opening reception at the TRAC gallery.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New baking pan

Finding studio time this week, while planning Thanksgiving and tending to outside chores has been a challenge. Since my bread supply is low I decided to try a new recipe and the new baking pan. The fruity, nutty, sourdough bread is now wrapped up in a towel and sitting snuggly on a living rooms club chair waiting for the first rise to finish.

Chicken soup was a good choice for this cold, windy, rainy day; and I have leftover stove top rice pudding for dessert, thanks to Joy Tanner's mouth watering post about this recipe the other day.

There's still a bunch of email and snail mail to go through and some lunch waiting;but first, there's a kitty to be fed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cooking morning studio afternoon

It's a foggy, rainy, mountain top morning - a good morning to cook. After a buckwheat pancake and turkey bacon breakfast, I'll start on my meat sauce for tonight's ziti casserole. And since my mouth was watering after reading Joy Tanners note on her cardamon flavored rice pudding, I just have to make that as well! Thanks Joy!

Then it will be on to the studio for most of the afternoon. There was no studio time yesterday, which was a running around day - first to the osteopath for treatments for both of us then, then the big meal of our day at the buffet, followed by some early Thanksgiving grocery shopping. If you're price comparing, Ingles fresh turkeys were 40 cents a lb more than Walmarts - huge saving if you're buying one of those big birds!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kiln shelf cleaning day and long term planning

OK, I've put it off long enough. Today is kiln shelf cleaning day - doing it outdoors this afternoon when it warms up to the mid sixties. This morning I'll slip the last pots and continue glazing and decorating. My daily horoscope said "expect to have a very trying day". Now how did it know it was kiln shelf cleaning day - one of my least favorite studio jobs.

The past few days have been dedicated to kitchen and household duties and studio paper work - sketching, working on glaze recipes and researching some low fired slips and glazes. Since that viral bug came back again for a few days, it was an opportunity to take it easier and get a lot of these kitchen and sit down chores done. My daughter tells me a friend of hers with this same bug has been dealing with it for 6 months - oh joy, NOT!

My long term plan (as long term as you can plan at almost 72 years of age, :-), is to switch to cone 6 soda as soon as I get some good test results and then play around with some earthenware. After this cone 10 firing I'll be getting a lot of the cone 6 tests done and hopefully get a small cone 6-7 soda test firing in next month. I have a lot of glaze tests already batched - just have to get them mixed and sieved and on to test tiles which are already made, so it should only take me a week to complete that project. Having a good digital scale is a real time saver when it comes to weighing out glazes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Margaritas, caviar and chicken wings

I'm enjoying my somewhat lazy weekend, catching up on kitchen and other household chores. The pureed pumpkin is in the freezer after first having it sit on cheesecloth to drain for a couple of hours this mornng. Half of that big pumpkin only gave me 5 cups of puree (gave the other half to a friend for his restaurant); but it's enough for two pies and a couple of cakes or batches of pumpkin soup. The pumpkin seeds were roasted after being tossed in a mixture of butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt and garlic powder.

Jim enjoyed his birthday caviar so much that he requested it again tonight; but tonight we're using the inexpensive white fish roe instead. The freezers have gotten full again and I'm needing to start using some of the over flow. So, I'm defrosting some margaritas to go with the defrosted curried chicken wings we'll have after the caviar. It's definitely a smorgasbord kind of appetizer meal.

Hopefully I'll be back in the studio tomorrow; but I had one of those night where I was up at 2am and never able to go back to sleep so I've been moving real slow today. The dinner margarita should work it's magic and get me to sleep early - I hope!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin day

Today is kitchen day - finally tackled this big French pumpkin, got it dissected, cleaned, baked, and scooped out the hot flesh. Half of it took up the entire large baking sheet. Looks like I'll be making pumpkin pies and pumpkin soup, etc. in the near future. For now I think I'll freeze most of it once I run it through the food mill.

There's no time for studio work today, so I'll just do a bit of filing and catch up on some reading, before an early dinner and some pick up grocery shopping. The days sure do fly by too quickly lately.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Moving slowly this morning

Enjoying a somewhat lazy morning after sleeping in late. I'm perusing my new Lidia Bastianch cookbook "La Cucina Di Lidia",and writing out a shopping list for tomorrow and doing some of tonight's pre dinner prep.The recipes are from Italy's Adriatic coast, so there are some nice fish recipes as well that I'll be eager to try.

There's a mushroom pie recipe in this book made with puff pastry, porcini mushrooms, pancetta, cheese and shallots in a cream sauce, that sounds really good. Think I'll try that one sometime next week.

Right now I need to prep Jim's birthday caviar toppings (tonight's first course). The eggs are boiled, so I just have to finely chop them and the onion and get the bread rounds buttered. With that done, I'll be able to stay in the studio until about ten minutes before dinner.

There's just one last bowl to finish trimming and then I'll start slipping this latest group of pots that were thrown to replace the ones I knocked off a table a few days ago.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slip sliding away day

Glad to say that the little test pot was fine at cone 10. Yesterday I was wary about the clay that I used for the latest group of pots and thought it may have been a mis-marked cone 6 body; but all is well, so I can go ahead and slip those pots after I finish a couple of made yesterday.

Before dinner I need to bring that big French pumpkin in off the porch, cut it up and get it baked, pureed and into the freezer. Other than some swiss chard, and I think, some parsnips, all the vegetables are now harvested.

We had a lovely birthday dinner for Jim at PF Chang's. It was like a tapas meal - (we mainly ordered appetizers); and as full as we all were we still shared a couple of orders of their banana stuffed egg rolls with coconut ice cream. Jim asked me to thank everyone for the birthday greetings!

Time to start a loaf of whole wheat in the bread machine before breakfast, and then on to the studio for the day. It's a month of completions in a sense. Jim is starting on the last chapter of his book and I will get that soda firing in within a month. Life is very good!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Propane ouch

Didn't get the kiln shelves done yesterday because the propane people didn't come till late afternoon and I didn't want to set up saw horses in the driveway, be in the middle of a job and have to dismantle everything. The checkbook is now over eight hundred dollars down after writing the check for the propane. OUCH!

I did get the replacement pots thrown yesterday but not sure of the white clay body I used since I think the bag was mis-marked, so I dried out a tiny test pot and am firing that to cone 10 this morning in one of my tiny test kilns. If it doesn't melt down or badly warp then I'll know it's cone 10 and will slip those pots tomorrow.

It's Jim's 78th birthday today and he requested poached eggs for breakfast, and we're celebrating tonight with dinner with friends. The caviar I ordered for his birthday present is due to arrive tomorrow. I serve it on little, buttered toast rounds, topped with finely chopped hard boiled eggs and onions - food of the gods. It's a delicious, decadent and indulgent treat. I didn't know that beluga is now considered part of an endangered species and no longer available, but fortunately, the other high quality caviars are still available for these very special occasions.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Escarole sausage bean potato soup and parmesan toast

This is an easy, comfort food dish after a busy studio day; and the other benefit is the recipe makes enough for us to put two more dinner portions for us in the freezer, with a smaller amount leftover for lunch another day.

It was a super busy day yesterday with workers in and out; but I managed to get a lot done even with all the interruptions. Unfortunately, I was rushing a bit trying to make up for the lost time and knocked over a bunch of stacked cups and tumblers and of course, they all broke. So, this morning I'll do some throwing to replace them and with a warm, sunny day in the forecast, I'm planning on setting up my new saw horse outside this afternoon and cleaning my kiln shelves.

This time of year is always so busy getting ready for a firing, putting the garden to bed and getting the house winter ready; and it seems that there's never enough time and energy at our age to get it all done; but I'm amazed at how much we can still actually accomplish, so that's a good thing!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Cruelly abandoned cute dog needs a loving home

This cute little guy was cruelly abandoned near the Creek walk here in Bakersville. A woman in a car pulled up to a person walking by and asked if they wanted a dog, and when they said "no", she just dumped the dog out of the car. Please, pass this along and let's try to find this little guy a good, loving, permanent home. David Trophia at the Crimson Laurel Gallery, got him off the street and is trying to find someone to adopt him.

I got the bisqued sorted and dusted yesterday, got three liner glazes mixed and sieved and got some pots lined. I stopped an hour earlier than intended because I had forgotten to set the studio clock back, so I used that extra hour to work transcribing glazes recipes until it was time to start dinner.

Time to head to the studio, work till 4 then come in to start on tonight's dinner - salad, Sausage, bean, escarole, potato soup and parmesan toasted sourdough.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Least favorite studio job

Getting a late start probably because I have to remix and sieve glazes (my least favorite studio job)- lots of donkey work, mixing settled glazes and washing all those sieves and buckets. But, with a good, big breakfast under my belt, email read, etc. I have no more excuses, so it's time to head out and get to work.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bodhi and his pillow

Bodhi has certainly found a way to make himself very comfortable.

As I thought, there wasn't much studio time yesterday; but after we got home from a lovely lunch and visiting Jim's sister and brother in law in Little Switzerland, I did at least get the bisque kiln unloaded and mixed the decorating slip and finished one pot before coming in for dinner.

The evening was spent transcribing glaze recipes from my latest spiral notebook which is falling apart, into a more substantial, hard cover,bound notebook. This will be my evening's work for a while. I have glaze notebooks that are close to 40 years old which are in better shape than this one year old one. There's no substance to the paper in these new ones and they're definitely not suitable for long term storage. It's a tedious job; but fortunately, the falling apart notebook was only about 1/3 full of recipes.

As soon as I finish this morning's "wake up" tea, I need to get to the studio to spread our some reclaim on plaster so it will dry out enough for me to throw a few things after breakfast.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Albino stag

Here's a picture of the albino deer that was enjoying a relaxing afternoon in our woods two days ago. It was a pretty sight!

Yesterday was an Asheville day with stops at Highwater for some studio supplies and a few more grocery stops. Going to Asheville is always an all day affair so there was no studio time other than to check the bisque kiln which was still too hot to unload. That will be today's job when we get back from lunch with Jim's sister and brother-in-law.It will be another day doing local chores and probably no more studio time than emptying the kiln.

I got some Carolina shrimp at Fresh Market yesterday and will be trying a new S.E. Asian recipe tonight. I couldn't find the long beans called for in the recipe; but in the photo it looks like green beans to me, so I'll just get some of those on our way back from lunch.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Great cup show

Check out Charlie Cummings gallery cup show - some amazing pots. If this link doesn't show, just copy and paste this:

I spent quite a while viewing this huge, very diverse, wonderful cup show this morning.

The bisque kiln is on (turned it on first thing this morning). I'm feeling a bit wiped this morning, so I took the morning off to do some pot sketching and making out tomorrow shopping lists. I need to get to Highwater and get a few supplies and do some pick up food shopping. After company and a long weekend of entertaining, the cupboard is a bit bare.

I still have to weigh out another liner glaze and then get it and the one I made yesterday sieved, so I'll try to get to that chore right after lunch.

Monday, October 31, 2011

No rest for the weary

Since I was up so early, I decided to get in the studio around 5:30 am and tidy up the pots I slipped yesterday, get them decorated and drying. As soon as the sun comes up I'll put them outside and hopefully the sun and wind will help them along and I'll be able to fire this last big load of bisque tomorrow. There are a couple of small pots which I still have to quickly slip this morning and they'll get bisqued in my tiny test kilns as soon as they're dry.

At some point today, I also need to make some small batches of two of my celadon liner glazes. If the cone 6 soda tests in the December firing are fruitful, this may be my last cone 10 soda firing and I don't want to batch any more glaze than I need for this group of pots. If all goes well, I'll still have some cone 10 clays to use up, but I'm thinking I might just do a couple of straight cone 10 gas firings of shinos in my small Olympic kiln, or even the big kiln depending on how many pots I wind up with. My thirty year old shino soup bowls have been well used and are starting to look a bit shop worn, so it would be nice to make us some new ones.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Partying weekend coming to a close

Tonight or tomorrow morning I need to pack up these pots and ship them to Oregon. Now I'll have make some more of the larger bowls during the next throwing cycle.

Last night's party was a great hit and the weekend partying has ended with a lovely brunch with our son Sean at the Knife and Fork. Sean is now on his way back to California, the house is post party cleaned and tidied and my focus is already on what I need to do in the studio; but first I have to plant a magnolia bush/small tree to replace the dead Redbud tree which Sean dug out for me yesterday, and then I can get a couple of hours of studio time before dinner, which is going to be super easy with leftovers - pate, chowder and a fresh salad.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Party time

This morning, our son Sean grabbed a bunch of my best pots out of the gallery to ship to his Oregon house. The shelves are looking a bit bare right now so I'm going to have to get in a lot of full studio days next week and get that last load of bisque fired and batch some more of my liner glazes which are all very low. Now that I'm over that 3 week plus virus, I have a lot of catching up to do.

After last nights wonderful dinner, with great wines, I had no trouble going to sleep. I found out that I can't finish a 3 lb lobster by myself, even when I only have salad to go with it; but Jim and Sean had no trouble finishing theirs and mine.

Although I had no trouble going to sleep, I had trouble staying asleep and have been up since a little past 3am, so I've been getting a good head start on preparations for tonight's party.

The dining room table is set and the living room is company ready, so I have very little to do the rest of the day other than making some toasted bread rounds for the pate and reheating the clam chowder that Sean had sent along with the lobsters. Our friend Jim is contributing the pork butt and the fixings for the sliders, and my Jim is in charge of the wine and acting as my "go for" person.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lobster fest tonight

After doing some seeds saving after breakfast yesterday, I got a bit of studio time finishing a small group of pots and then spent a lot of time at the sink washing clay bags and other things, and sorting through some paper work. After thatI got in some good garden cleanup time and harvested the last French pumpkin which I gave to Nate and Wendy at the Knife and Fork where we had another lovely dinner. My pork chop was unbelievably good! After dinner, we topped off the days activities with some weekend food shopping.

This morning will be spent cooking. I need to bake bread and make a pate for tomorrow's indoor porch sitting with family and friends.Our son Sean is flying in from California for the weekend, and he's having Maine lobsters and chowder shipped in (he already sent the wine), so we are going to dine royally tonight! All I have to do is make a salad and cook the lobster and re-heat the chowder.

I'm not planning any studio time today because once the morning cooking is done, I still have a lot of little household chores on the agenda to get the house company ready.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aji Cito peppers

Yesterday was a pretty full studio day. I quit around four thirty and took a few minutes to pick more of the hot peppers. These Peruvian aji cito chilies are still green but hopefully useable at this stage. Two are starting to turn yellow, so I'm hoping to save the seeds. The plants will remain covered and hopefully survive the colder weather and freezing nights this weekend; but I will put some heavier weight remay on them tomorrow.

Since today is the last good weather before rain and freezing nights this weekend, I need to plant a few things and dig up one of the aji lemonade pepper plants which is loaded with unripened peppers. It will be joining the other potted pepper plants in the studio.

A large Indian blend food order arrived yesterday and now that I have the fresh turmeric I'll be making one of the S.E. Asian recipes from that new cookbook - Kyet-Tha Khauk-Swe-Byoke (another Burmese dish I can't pronounce!). It's a spicy chicken, noodle dish with coconut milk, fish sauce, shallots, etc.I hope we love this one as much as the Burmese pork recipe I made last week. I'll get a lot of the prep done this morning and that may allow me to get a bit of studio time after planting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Potters of Japan part 2 video

Going to enjoy a lazy morning catching up with a bunch of magazines, then afternoon brunch with visiting relatives and back to lazy mode for the evening. In between I'll be popping a lot of vitamin C, immune system boosters, and anti cold/flu concoctions to relieve these symptoms. Three weeks dealing with this bug is enough!

I've been using this down time to do a lot of studio paperwork, sketching, etc. Yesterday I went through the first cone 6 soda test tiles and made followup notes. Almost every one of the flashing slips was too dry as is, so all will need tweaking before another cone 6 test firing. Changing the soda mix and instead of using all soda ash, replacing all or part of it with sodium bicarb with an addition of borax might help to flux these flashing slips without too much alteration.

The best flashing slip out of about eight or more, in that firing, was Randy's, which has some high iron fireclay and I think that iron helped with the fluxing because a 70 grolleg, 30 N.Sy. slip was dryer than the Randys, which has less Neph Sy. So I'm thinking some of these may not just need the Neph Sy upped, but may need some soda ash and/or borax additions as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Potters of Japan video

This Part 1 video of Potters of Japan has been generously shared on you tube. Enjoy!

We got a freeze last night and the garden looks pretty sad this morning. I'm not sure if the remay and towel coverings on some of my peppers plants saved them. After tonight, the rest of the week will be above freezing, so I'm hoping that will be enough to ripen some more of these peppers. If they survive these two freezing nights, I might dig up one or two of them and bring them indoors.

I changed my studio plan yesterday. Instead, I covered plants, harvested all the veggies I could and did some weeding. After that I was wiped and decided to spend time on glaze chemistry before going to friends for a lovely shrimp dinner. This darned virus thing is on another re-run since yesterday so I'll try to get some studio time after breakfast if these chills go away and I perk up. Otherwise, I'll just work on this paper pile and glaze project.

I've been going through my glaze recipe books this week and making notes on C6 glazes to batch and test; and re-calculating some cone 10 recipes to try to get them to work at cone 6. It's a big project and one I want to and need to do, if I'm serious about changing to cone 6 soda in the future.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Drying herbs

This Thai basil drying on my dining room table created an interesting pattern and reminds me of a Japanese scroll painting.

Got all the pots slipped yesterday but will have to do some touch up of the slip and decorate a a couple of them today. Spent the evening still going through glaze books and doing some pot sketching - was even dreaming of work last night.

Looks like we're getting the freeze tonight, that we escaped last night, so I'll be covering some pepper plants and harvesting what I can and hope for the best. After two nights of low temperatures, we'll have several days of above freezing at night and hopefully the last of those pepper will ripen enough to be used.

Time to get to the studio for the day. Since I don't have to cook tonight I can get in a full day.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Snow on the way

Wow, rain turning to snow tonight. That might be the end of my pepper plants if I don't get some waterproof covers for them.

Yesterday was a busy studio day, and as always, never quite getting as much done as I wanted; but some pots got trimmed, handles and knobs made and attached,etc. I had to take time to clean the studio fridge (the one I've been using as a damp cupboard), because the house fridge and freezer are over stuffed and we needed to thin it out.

I worked till 4:30 and came in to prepare dinner. A headache and aching back made food prep a real chore; but the new recipe I made was a hit, and I had dinner on the table in about 40 minutes or less.

I can't even pronounce the Burmese dish I made: Wet-Tha-Khauk-Swe-Gyaw. It's a stir fry with thinly sliced pork, noodles, onions, chiles, fish sauce,garlic, ginger, soy sauce and celery. The best part is that we have leftovers for tonight.

I'm looking forward to making more recipes from this South East Asian cook book.

Well, just finished breakfast and getting a large on line order in for Indian groceries, so it's time to head to the studio for the day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Will Baker

Here's another amazing wood/soda fired bottle of Will Baker's from this years Spruce Pine Potters market - a spectacular piece!

Finally getting to the studio this morning to trim pots. It's a rainy day so cleaning kiln shelves outdoors on my new saw horses set up, will have to wait till the weekend when the sun is due to reappear.

Since most of yesterday was taken up with driving back and forth to Burnsville for our osteo treatments, lunch out afterwards and then dinner prep when I got home, my only pottery related time was spent going through some glaze books noting some likely cone 6 glaze candidates for a planned December cone 6 test soda firing. Even when you can't get into the studio there's always some other work related things to occupy your time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sausage fried peppers and onions heroes

Enjoying some predawn quiet time after a busy, tiring day yesterday. The plan was to set up the saw horses and clean kiln shelves after trimming pots; but I decided to let the trimming wait - good thing, because when I opened the box containing the saw horses, I was faced with more parts than I could count. I started around 10am, took a lunch break and worked till 3:30 - close to 5 hours for me to get those two saw horses assembled and do a bit of kiln room sweeping and tidying.

By the time I was finished with that chore and setting trays under all the plants and trees that I brought indoors, watering them and feeding Bonnie kitty, I was wiped, so I called it a day. I took about an hour break for email and some paper work before starting dinner.

Fortunately dinner was easy - fried Italian sweet sausages, a big, sliced red onion and four sweet Italian and bell peppers from the garden and a half of a hot one. Once the sausages were browned, I added some water and red wine in the pan, salt and pepper and covered it and cooked them on low for about 25 minutes, removed the cover and turned the heat to medium high to reduce the liquid to a glaze. I served them on warmed, crunchy hero shaped rolls. We skipped the cheese for dessert because Jim had some for his lunch. Instead, we had some pumpkin pie with whipped cream and a glass of wine. It was another busy, but very good and beautiful Indian summer day in the mountains.

Today is a day for my osteo treatment so that and lunch out are going to take up half the day; and there probably won't be any time for the studio. By the time I get home it will be time to start thinking about dinner which may just be a simple pasta with fresh tomatoes, capers and olives (pasta putanesca) since I have a very large amount of cherry tomatoes on hand that we harvested two days ago.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Courtney Martin eye candy

Here's a peek at more wonderful work of some of our Bakersville neighbors - Courtney Martins wood fired work on left and Shane Mickey's new soda fired pieces on the right, at this years Spruce Pine Potters market. The show was so crowded I had to settle for these quickly taken shots.

Going to try to get a bit earlier studio start to trim some pots this morning and in the afternoon I'll set up my new plywood top on the saw horses in the driveway and get my kiln shelves sanded. This is the last day of this Indian summer weather before the cold and rain arrives tomorrow, so I must get this job done today.

Yesterday we drove to Banner Elk to Lowe's for plywood and other items, and then some food shopping. Because it was warm and we had our dog Bodhi with us, we decided to grab something to eat at McDonalds and eat in the car. The french fries were soggy and barely lukewarm. McDonalds needs to work on their quality control!

On the way home we stopped at one of the road side stands about bought some freshly made kettle and caramel corn and munched some on the way home. That made up for the lousy lunch.

It was a nice drive, though. There's still some good fall color up there.

Once we got the car unloaded, I filled the new window box that I bought at Lowes and transplanted my basil seedlings which are now enjoying a sunny spot in our kitchen greenhouse window.

After a busy day I was happy to have some decent leftovers for an easy dinner. Tonight I'm making Italian sausage heroes, fried with onions and peppers from our garden. We have some lovely artisan cheeses from Murray's in New York which we'll have with some fruit for dessert. Life is good!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nachos and margaritas

The day was so full of "have to's", that one thing just led to another and I never got the studio time I wanted other than covering the pots before breakfast, that I threw the day before.

After breakfast, I made a mushroom bisque and packed up enough for two dinners and got those in the freezer, and set a little aside for us for lunch.
Then I got the veggies prepped for our nachos dinner. By then, it was time for lunch.

After lunch I had to clean off all my tropical and other tender potted plants and move them, with a bit of Jim's help with the larger pots, into the studio till spring.

Then I headed to the garden to harvest and cover all the peppers and basil because of a frost warning. I also dug up the sweet potato bed and found out what I already thought - the critters ate all of them! Well, to be fair, they actually left me two tiny ones about the size of a small chili pepper. :-(The forest critters really helped themselves to a lot of my veggies this year - more than they ever have.

Jim and I also harvested a large amount of cherry tomatoes (which keep coming and coming). I picked what looks like the last of the green beans, some herbs for drying, one of the French pumpkins and Swiss chard for a friend.

By the time all that was done it was time to start dinner - nachos and margaritas. After dinner and double margaritas, we were ready to call it a night, and at eight o'clock we headed for the bedroom to watch our favorite Brit com "As Time Goes By", followed by an episode Inspector Lewis on Netflix. All in all, it was a very good, productive day even though I didn't get any studio work done.

Today I need to get to Banner Elk for a piece of plywood to use as a top for my new saw horses. My kiln shelves need grinding and coating and I'm planning on getting that done tomorrow since it's going to be the last, warm day this week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gay Smith display at Spruce Pine Potters market

Here's some morning eye candy - Gay Smith's wonderful soda fired work on display at this years Spruce Pine Potters market.

Today is going to be a mixture of activity. I was in the studio at first light covering the pots I threw yesterday. After breakfast I have to make a mushroom bisque, then I'll head to the studio for a couple of hours to finish and trim some of those pots.

Since there's a frost warning tonight, I'll stop working mid afternoon so Jim and I can move all the tropical plants indoors for winter. I'll also have to harvest whatever veggies are ready probably beans and peppers. The pumpkins and squash would actually benefit by a bit of frost as will the swiss chard and the couple of leeks that the critters didn't eat. I picked the seasons last ripe tomatoes this week, and I'll be using them in tonight's nachos.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Claudia Dunaway at this years Spruce Pine Potters market

Here's a quickly taken photo of Claudia Dunaways display at this years Spruce Pine Pottery market - very nice work.

I didn't take many pictures at the market this year. Arriving later than usual, I found the place very crowded and it was difficult to find those little openings past the hoards of people to sneak a photo. Jim was waiting in the car with our rescue dog Bodhi, and asked me not to tarry too long, so I didn't really get enough time to really appreciate all the wonderful work. Next year I'll go back to my normal, early arrival time.

Finally got the last pots slipped and all but one plate decorated. I'll finish that this morning; and probably throw a few more small things to top off this bisque load. It's a windy and so far, sunny morning, so I might be able to get a few fresh thrown pots outdoors to dry enough to trim later this afternoon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Will Baker wood and soda fired pots

These are Will Baker's soda/wood fired pots which were available this past weekend at the Spruce Pine Potters market. He and his equally talented bride, Joy Tanner, are serving a residency at the Energy exchange and firing the new wood pallet kiln that Mark Peters designed and built. They are getting some incredible work from this kiln.

Yesterday was another day of mixed activity - after breakfast meeting with our tree man, walking around pointing out where I wanted saplings and under brush removed, then on to the studio for several hours before I had to quit and come in to make dinner.

I got a few more pots slipped and got them all decorated and today I should be able to finish slipping and decorating the last few pots to top off this bisque load.

Dinner last night was an easy, but delicious pork tenderloin browned and roasted on the stove top with some garlic, thyme and red wine - another keeper recipe ready in less than an hour. I'll post it on my other blog, at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bucatini all' Amatriciana

Yesterday was the first full day of activity I've had in a couple of weeks. In the morning I baked bread, then got about 5 hours of studio time finishing, cleaning up and slipping a few pots, and starting a new shelf of pots in the bisque kiln. I quit around 3 to feed kitty and start dinner and good thing I did.

I was going to try a new Lidia Bastianich recipe and after soaking hot peppers overnight and getting them pureed, grating and toasting bread crumbs, and starting the simple sauce, I realized that this would not be a dish we'd enjoy. We love hot, spicy foods, but 3T of hot pepper puree with just some oil,garlic, and toasted, fresh bread crumbs to complete the sauce would have probably burned our insides. I tested it with just 1T of the puree and that was too hot! So I quickly changed course and found another bucatini pasta dish and basically made that one and added the toasted bread crumbs from the Bastianich recipe. It was a hit!

Jim said, "I hope you remember what you did". Basically I used the second recipe with just the addition of the bread crumbs, omitting the pepperonici flakes and instead, adding enough of that pepperonici paste to get it to the level of heat we'd be able to tolerate. I'll put the recipe on my cooking blog:
www.plant harvest

This morning I have someone coming to cut down some saplings which are encroaching on my grape arbor and vegetable terraces and a couple of other places, then it will be back to the studio to finish slipping the last few pots and hopefully I'll be able to start decorating. I'll probably work till around 3:30 or 4 then come in to start dinner which is going to be a simple roasted pork loin, roasted garlic rosemary potatoes,green beans and apple sauce. Our apple trees were a bust this year otherwise I'd be making some spiced cooked apples to go with this.

Right now it's time for breakfast - kielbasa and fresh apple cake (thanks to Saylor's, our local apple orchard).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More colors of fall

It's a good bread baking morning - cold and rainy, so I have a loaf of a new whole wheat recipe rising in the bread machine and it should be done before I head to the studio.

This is the first day in a couple of weeks where I don't have outside appointments and other "must do" garden and household chores, and am feeling well enough to get an early studio start. Hopefully I can get a lot accomplished today before I have to head in to make dinner. Tonight I'm making another new Lidia Bastianich vegetarian pasta recipe with bucatini pasta and a very spicy sauce with a pepperoici paste addition. I've had the peppers soaking overnight and will make the paste later.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beautiful colors of fall

We had a lovely drive over the Roan to Johnson City and the fall colors were fabulous and they're not yet at peak color!

I had to get to Home Depot to get some tempered hardboard and a few other studio and house items as well, followed by some wine and grocery shopping and lunch at the Indian buffet. By the time we unpacked the car, put everything away and fed the cat, it was after four, so the studio will have to wait till tomorrow.

After such a big lunch I think some fruit, cheese and a glass of wine is in order for dinner.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Spruce Pine Potters Market tomorrow

Tomorrow is the Spruce Pine Potters Market and if you are in the area, it's definitely a must visit - great potters, beautiful and varied work and incredible weather at the moment.

We just got back from a lovely drive to Banner Elk - had lunch,did some grocery shopping, and checked out a new gallery and a local country store.It was a lovely surprise to see how much fall color they already have.

My lunch, a meatball hero, was huge (couldn't even finish half of it), so Bodhi got some and I brought the other half home for dinner - same with Jim and his steak hero. It's just as well I don't have to cook tonight. I'm deliciously tired from the lovely drive and shopping.

The past two days I've gotten almost no studio time - still not feeling 100%, so I opted to spend most of my time sketching pot ideas, cooking and doing computer cleanup and some glaze chemistry. I'm in the process of making lists of what cone 6 glazes I want to test in the December wood/soda firing in the pallet kiln at the Energy Exchange. I have a lot more glaze chemistry to do to try to get some 6 versions of some glazes I'm using in my cone 10-12 firings. Most of the current bisque and ready to bisque pots are for the cone 10 soda firing but I still need about two full studio days to get this latest group slipped and decorated. This flu type bug has set me back two weeks so far, in my planned mid October firing date, which now looks more like it will be late October or early November. Fortunately, the only deadline I've had is of my own making - which is how I like it!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hsin-Chuin-Lin video

This squaring and paddling is similar to what I have to do this morning to finish one of my small squared jars. Frankly, if I had to spend as much time on my jars, as he does on his, I'd either skip making them or make a mold of a master and cast the rest.

There was no studio time yesterday because I had an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon In Asheville, about my hip. The bad news is that the hip is going to need replacement; but the good news is that there's a new procedure which reduces healing time from 12 weeks to 5. This new technique doesn't have the post operative activity limitations as the old one either. So I'll probably be having this done sometime in February or early March, and be fully healed time for spring planting.

I made a few other stops, first to the Asian grocery store, then on to lunch at the seafood store/restaurant. I bought some sea bass fillets that I'm going to use for a Burmese dish Ngar-asat-kyaw. It's crispy fried, turmeric coated and marinated fish with crispy chili, garlic and shallots. I'll get the dish's veggies and some garden beans prepped done breakfast so I can work in the studio till 4:30. After a Wally world stop for some pick up groceries, we headed home just in time for me to cook a couple of healthy hot dogs for a light, quick dinner, and crash for the night.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The new electric reduction kiln, The Fallonator

Someone kindly emailed me a link to The Fallonator - the new electric reduction kiln which I mentioned in yesterdays' blog. It uses electric for the actual firing and a small bottle of propane for reduction, along with a digital controller so the kiln can fire automatically and I gather, adjust the amount of reduction.

The Fallonator site doesn't mention the price of the kiln which I believe is available in sizes from 5 - 7 cu feet, but the the puttgarden site says it's $10,00 (probably for the 7cu ft one)- pretty pricy for a small electric kiln, even with the reduction apparatus. If you are already the owner of an electric kiln, you can get on the pre construction list for the $1500 gas reduction unit which they say is very easy to install on your existing electric kiln.

One of the sites mentioned that it's not to be used to do a full cone 10 reduction firing; but instead, is meant for firing down in reduction, yet the main Fallonator site I looked at this morning, doesn't say that. So, I don't know if there have been changes in the design lately which enables a full reduction firing or if the information on another site was erroneous; but if you're interested in this kiln, make sure you find out what if any limitations there are with the reduction firing.

Here are the two main links I found with pictures and information on the kiln and related products. or

A do it yourself, inexpensive way of doing the same thing, would be to just get a tiny burner (a small, weed burning torch available for about $50 or less from a place like Harbor Freight or similar, would work and it probably would come with the hose and connector for small propane tank), and set the burner securely in front the bottom peep by setting in for instance on and surrounded by some stacked bricks or concrete blocks to secure it enough, and introduce the gas when you want to reduce; and if you have an oxyprobe or similar, you can insert that in one of the middle or upper peeps and pretty well accomplish the same thing. The only thing it won't do is fire automatically; but you'd save over $1400. You'd probably have to get a top vent for the kiln or fire it under cover outdoors; but I'm assuming that you would have to do the same with their kiln, since it's not pictured with a top vent installed.

I don't know what elements are installed on the Fallonator. They mention heavy duty elements; but don't specify if they're any different than other well insulated cone 10 electric kilns, like my Skutt, which are currently on the market. So you might want to ask about those elements. There has to be a reason for that big price tag, so maybe they have some globar type or other new very expensive elements installed.

In the late 80's or early 90's I had a tiny burner made for my little cone 10 electric test kilns, by Nils Lou, which used the same principle. In that instance, I just drilled a small port under the kiln and placed the burner under the port.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


At least some of my pepper plants are enjoying the safety of my studio for a couple of days.

We're still in this unseasonable cold spell, which fortunately, will be breaking Tuesday. Tonight it's going down to the low 30's, so I'll be covering a few more tender plants and leaving outdoor lights on to generate a bit of heat to help. I'm grateful that we didn't get the snow that they got in Boone last night!

Since I'm really tired of waiting for this cold/flu thing to totally leave,(mainly, I'm bored!), I'm going to try to get some studio time today. The past two days have been spent going through years of recipe clippings and cards and getting them sorted and filed into various recipe boxes and folders. With that job done, I'm ready to get back to work even if my energy isn't 100%.

Talking to Tom Turner at the party last night, about kilns and glazes, I found myself in firing envy, when he said his new Cone 9 crystalline pots were firing while we were partying. And of course, my husband Jim, who has been bugging me about switching to electric firing in my old age, was giving me that "I've been telling you to do this" look! LOL

I have a base formula for a cone 6 crystalline glaze that a friend in our glaze testing club/group in Oregon, gave me over fifteen years ago; and like Tom's current crystalline glazes, this one doesn't run either. I should play around with those a bit this winter, since I contemplated crystalline firing at that time, and amassed a lot of information on the process. After serious consideration, and after making pots and saucers, I realized that I just didn't want to get into that whole thing of having to make saucers, chiseling them off the pots and grinding those glazed bases, not to mention how often elements would have to be replaced. I know you don't have to make pots you like, you just have to like the pots you make; but I realized, that although I might like those pots; I really wouldn't enjoy the process.

Tom mentioned someone (I think he said in Florida), who's designed an electric reduction kiln that's doesn't destroy the elements after a few firings. I don't know if it has globar elements, or if it's some new technology; but it does sounds intriguing! I'd like to get an electric kiln that's smaller than my large Skutt but larger than my tiny test kilns and one that reduces would be a great studio addition. I don't know if this is a kiln that was just designed for personal use or if there are plans to produce it commercially; but I will definitely try to keep track of it.

Today I need to finish up some pots that have been under plastic a few days. I just hope they're still soft enough to alter and finish. Time to get to work.