Thursday, January 19, 2012

A day at the hospital

I did get some early studio time yesterday to throw more tests tiles, mark others and batch and dip a couple of flashing slip revisions. I expected a full studio day, but Jim reminded me that we had 3 family birthdays this week, so it wound up being only a half day in the studio and the other half card and grocery shopping and dinner out.

This morning Jim had to go to the hospital for an MRI for the severe back pain he's been experiencing for over a month. He told me to stay home since he was feeling a bit better after 3 days of flu symptoms, so I got busy with charting these flashing slip tests, before planning on a day in the studio. Our phone was out and the repair man showed up and he was still working on the problem when my friend Laura was at the door. Jim had called her from the hospital and asked her to come get me. The MRI wasn't working. They tried twice, but his back kept going into severe spasms, so they had to put him on muscle relaxing medication for a while before they could try again, and they said he wouldn't be safe to drive afterwards.

When I got there they had him on oxygen and iv's. After sitting with him about an hour, it was clear that he would be there at least another hour, so I drove home, stopped to pick up a few groceries, got the cat in, walked the dog, put the groceries away and drove the half hour back to the hospital.

I arrived at the radiology deparment just as they were wheeling Jim back out. He was awake and they were able to complete the MRI. Halleluijah! I had stopped to get him a sandwich just in case he wanted to eat. Miraculously his appetite was back and he ate the whole sandwich. After about a half an hour they determined he was stable enough and they wheeled him out, helped him in the car, and we headed home.

He's napping now and looking forward to some wine and cheese and cookies later (his menu choice for the evening). A Netflix movie arrived "A Day in the Park with George" - a wonderful musical that we haven't seen for years, so we'll watch that while we munch.

It will be an early night, since we have to be back at the hospital in morning to go over the results of the MRI. Pots and studio work will just have to wait. There are much more important things to tend to right at the moment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back to blogging

Studio time has been almost nil while I try to get rid of the latest bout of this viral bug. So, other than throwing and trimming test tiles and doing a huge amount of studio paper work, (mainly getting all my glaze and slips notes updated and getting a gathering the next batch of recipes to try for this cone 6 soda project,) the only thing that's occupied my time has been cooking and cleaning up a lot of old email.

Our friend Shane gifted us with 2 lbs of shrimp the other day, so I pretty much spent the day prepping and cooking shrimp and grits and pot de creme for dessert. Yesterday was Mexican night - a chicken, tomato, serrano chile, onion stir fry with re-fried beans.

I'm heading to the studio now with my pile of recipes in hand, and will be weighing out and mixing Cone 6 flashing slips and liner glazes all day. The forecast is for another couple of high 60's days Sunday and Monday, so I'm going to try to fire these cone 6 soda tests one of those days if I get all these new tiles completed.

I have some soups in the freezer, so tonights' dinner will be soup and salad or soup and tuna sandwiches - Jim's choice.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cone 6 soda project continues

Managed to fire some of the cone 6 soda test tiles in one of my tiny electric kilns yesterday, hoping that taking some of them up to a full cone 6 -7 might mature those flashing slips a bit more and it just didn't work. I had cone 6 touching and cone 7 at 2 o'clock and those flashing slips are all, still dry.

So it's back to square one. I decided to not fire the gas kiln as is, unloaded it, and picked out the new, unfired tiles and threw some new test tiles - more to do tomorrow. Right now I need to head back out and cut those tiles off the bats and tomorrow, finish them as well as throw some more.

From what I've seen of photos of cone 6 soda pots, the flashing slips look drier than what I'm used to at cone 10 and higher. When the flashing slip is more of a background base for a lot of glaze and colored slip over, I guess it seems to work well; but my hope is to find a way to get these slips a bit more mature at that temperature. It may be a futile attempt, but I'll keep at it a bit longer

From the various flashing slips I tried, Bauer, Blair Red and Randy's show the most promised Of maturing at these lower temperatures with a bit of tweaking.

In the meantime, I have more glazes to batch and new tiles to dip. Fortunately, most of the flashing slip revisions are batched; but it will still take me a week or two to get it all done. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow and icy conditions

It's looks like it may be another woman/man plans and God laughs day!

Went to the studio at 7am to get cones for the little electric test kiln, and when I went into the kiln room/aka garage, it was like an ice box. Seems that Jim didn't quite close the door yesterday and it flew open overnight. It was around 20 degrees outside and in!

With the light snow cover over an icy driveway, and snow continuing, Jim doesn't want to take the car out of there today, so I'm hoping it will have warmed up enough in another half hour or so I can get some of those tiles out out of the test gas kiln and into the electric kiln.

The kiln is up against one of my large industrial shelving units and the car is too close to the kiln to allow me to fully open the lid. This may be an exercise in futility today. Oh well, there are always plenty of things for me to do both in the house and the studio.

After our buckwheat pancake breakfast I'll head out to the kiln room and see if I move the kiln out enough to open the lid and access those tiles. If not, I'll weigh out a few cone 6 soda liner glazes that which I'll have room for once I remove some of the flashing slip re-fires in the gas kiln.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pizza night

Today was a "stay in" day wrapping up a lot of my "to do" list, like getting on line and ordering vitamins, email mail, snail mail, paper work and then getting an early dinner of pizza made.

Yesterday was a day for osteo treatments and food shopping, so full studio days will have to wait until this latest re-run of the flu bug wanes a bit more.Our doctor said this viral bug is a bad one and many people are winding up with viral pneumonia when it comes around for the fourth time, so I'm not pushing myself until I feel that this current bout is well under control. But saying that, I will be out early tomorrow morning to load and re-fire some soda test tiles which didn't reach temperature in the last firing. Since they had plenty of soda mix in the firing, the plan is to just load some of them in my tiny electric test kiln.

Since I tested each flashing slip on 3-4 different clay bodies, I'll probably just
pick two of each for the electric re-fires and have the rest in the gas kiln firing some time next week.

A couple of other Cone 6 potters (who read my block, generously sent me some Cone 6 soda recipes. So I'm hoping to get some time over the weekend to weigh out a few. Thank you Mark and Rebekkah!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Good day to make glazes

Where the day went. Yesterday was a piddly day in the studio, doing lots of little things - wet the towels that keep the clay in the pug mill workable, loaded a few more test tiles in the small gas kiln, moved the kiln and tanks so Jim could get the car in the garage, put away a lot of things, moved all those cone 6 test containers off my wedging table and got them in numerical order, and a tiny bit of the never ending paperwork among other things. I quit early to make a big dinner and after dinner did a bit more paper work before calling it a day.

Today's plan is to weigh out a couple of color versions of one of my revised cone 6 glazes which I revamped to be more of a gloss. I also need to make a couple of small batches of my cone 10 liner glazes so I can finish these cone 10 soda pots. I'm optimistic about the possibility of switching to cone 6 soda in the future, so I'm not going to make any big batches of any of those cone liner 10 glazes any more.

It's easy pot stickers for dinner, so I'll get a full studio day for a change.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Firing postponed

It took longer to get the little kiln loaded, mainly because I decided to batch a couple of new tests earlier. The firing was planned for today, but I'm putting it off till Tuesday, the next warm day, because there's a bit more room in the kiln for more tests and Mark Knott will be sending me his cone 6 recipes and I'd like to hold off the firing to include them.

I need to find a way to set up this little gas kiln indoors so I'm not at the mercy of the weather with the firings.

Time to get to work. Studio time today is going to be tidying and paperwork. I'll quit early to start the dinner I had planned yesterday. Because I didn't finish loading the kiln till it was our usual dinner time, Jim suggested that I close up the studio and relax and he went into town and brought home two prime rib dinners. Love that man!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Almost a spring day on the way

Two days of relative, post holiday rest, and continuing an herbal liver cleanse, have perked me up almost enough to want to hit the studio today. A bit of the sniffles is no excuse - I know, I know, so after breakfast I will March out the mudroom door and walk to my lovely studio and sort the tiles to be re-fired and load that small Olympic, gas, test kiln. Since Jim has doctors orders not to do any remotely, heavy lifting, I'll have to load the empty propane tanks and he can get them filled in town and I'll unload them.

When you have a titanium hip, you're warned to not lift more than 25 lbs, so my trick is to lean and put the weight on the not so good hip. Aging and dealing with a very well used body, force you into some interesting life changes!

We're in for two days of sun and a forecast high of 60 both days, so if I can't fire that small kiln tomorrow, I doubt if I'll get another chance for such warmish, sunny weather this time of year.

Yesterday was a day to do more email catch up, play some computer word games, watch TV, computer filing and some glaze chemistry - sometimes juggling all around the same time.

Dinner was easy last night - spaghetti with bolognese sauce which I had frozen. Tonight's dinner is broiled chicken breasts coated with kosher salt and slathered with a mixture of creamed butter, soy sauce, garlic, mustard, cayenne and lemon. Sides are rice and baked butternut squash with a filling of butter, brown sugar, orange juice concentrate and a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg all mixed together (the only way I could get my family to eat squash years go and it still remains one of Jim's favorites.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

178 cone 6 test tiles

Winter has arrived in force. Late morning, it was still only 14 degrees F, and it only rose to 17F, which is what it is now. So I decided to just sit tight and try to catch up with all the email that backed up the past few days when I had house guests. Our lovely house guests (Jim's sister, husband and daughter)left yesterday and I had the afternoon to relax and just vegg out with some reading,computer word games and movies.

With the snow, wind and cold temperatures this morning, I knew the water in the studio was probably going to be frozen because I forget to leave it on an overnight drip, so I opted to continue to go through some of the 300 plus emails and get some things filed and some read and deleted.

After a hot chocolate lunch I headed for the studio, watered the plants and transplanted a very small Kaffir lime tree which I'm growing mainly for the leaves, which I'll use in Thai recipes. I also made a list of the glazes and slips I batched for the cone 6 firing last week; and now I have to make a cleaner list and match it against the tiles. There are a couple of missing and unmarked tiles; and there's a really great looking oribe which is unmarked and that's the main one I want to track down. Fortunately I made a chart when I was dipping the glazes, and noted which glazes were on which clay bodies, so finding the skipped ones should be easy - just a bit time consuming - a good after dinner project.

After all the holiday eating and merry making, I started a one week liver cleanse yesterday - no wine and lots of liver cleanse herbs. Tonight I'm just making a simple bratwurst on crunchy hard rolls with sauteed green peppers and onions. This is the meal I had planned for yesterday, but instead we opted for just some easy and comforting chicken soup.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year

Our company has arrived and settled in and they're all taking naps; and since dinner is made (did the gumbo yesterday and started the cornbread for dinner and tomorrows breakfast bread before dawn today), I actually have a few minutes to relax.

We had a great 5 course dinner at the Knife and Fork last night. And Jim's opening another bottle of wine when we got home made for a very, "making merry" New Years eve. Tomorrow I go on a liver cleanse to undo all this holiday eating and drinking!

I'm eager to get back to the studio. The weather isn't going to be good enough to re-fire some of those cone 6 soda tests outdoors, in my little gas test kiln till this coming Friday; and I'm not sure I'll even want to do it then if it's too cold. More cone 6 test tiles need to be thrown and the studio needs some tidying before I get on with batching some liner glazes for these cone 10 soda pots.