Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday morning eye candy video with Matsui Kosei

We're still in celebratory mood after Thanksgiving. Last night was leftovers with family and friends at our sons and tonight it's more partying with friends.

Yesterday we go the Christmas lights and wreaths up outdoors and the Christmas tree is on the table waiting to be decorated; but that probably won't be until tomorrow or Monday.

This morning I have to figure out why all the app updating and operating system updating has made my app to connect to the internet with my iPod touch unworkable. So it looks like I will be dealing with that issue after breakfast for a bit.

With a lot of cold and snow on the way in a couple of days we want to get out and do some food shopping. I also got my light box hung up in the guest bedroom, and set the new folding table in place; but I need to stop at Lowes hardware for a expandable curtain rod to attach he background paper. My photography setup is in front of the window and it was the only place in the house where I could it.. Slowly, all these little projects are coming together.

My centering arm should be coming in another week or so. As I thought, the potters were off doing a show and when they got back there were a whole bunch of orders for the centering arm waiting for them. So I'll be picking up a few boxes of clay today. These days with storage being almost non existent I'm just buying small boxes of clay. If they  can't fit under my wedging table, they're not coming home with me. 

Now I just need to find time in between Christmas decorating, getting the photo setup finished, cooking and other chores to get int the studio to finish up and make some more  pots.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kirk Mangus passing

Just found out yesterday that Kirk Mangus passed away on the 24th. We've lost 3 great potters and teachers in the past couple of weeks - Angela Fina, Val Cushing and now Kurt.

On a brighter note - hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday. We had quite a large crowd. It took 3 extra big dining table setups and one smaller kids table to fit us all. We'll be doing leftovers again tonight. After all that heavy eating and good wine drinking, we opted for plain oatmeal this morning - a feeble attempt to counter all that cholesterol in the gravy and mashed potatoes and desserts yesterday!

We have the handyman coming over in a half hour to get our heavy boxes of Christmas decorations down from the rafters in the garage and get our tree up on the table. Neither Jim or I can handle that weight or bulkiness alone and Jim is not allowed to lift more than 5 lbs of anything and I can't deal with the bulkiness of some of those big plastic containers while standing on a ladder.

Today and tomorrow are our last tolerably cold days so we'll need to get outdoors and get some of our outdoor lights and wreaths up. The colder weather arrives Sunday night with rain and slow a day or so later, so this is our last opportunity to get any outdoor decoration up for this season. The smarter neighbors got theirs up earlier. We'll remember that next year. Living in a golf community with all sorts of codes and covenants, limits how early and how late you can keep your Christmas decorations up. I really hate living under such restrictions but we didn't have many options when we moved here and at this point, the idea of moving again is not something I can even bear to consider.

On the plus side, I'm grateful that we are close to our sons place, have excellent, nearby shopping and restaurants, excellent hospitals, good doctors and dentist and a one story, newer house that we were able to play with a bit to suits our needs. There is always much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hoping you are all expecting a wonderful day with family and friends, enjoying great food and all in all having a fabulous day!

We are just waking up after partying at friends last night. Our Thanksgiving will be at our daughter-in-law and sons place on the river, along with a lot of friends as well. Last count, there are at least 18 of us. It will definitely be a Norman Rockwell kind of day with a house full of grownups, children and everyone's dogs. I already packed up a fresh bag of liver treats for our furry friends and relations so everyone will all be enjoying abundance on this day of Thanksgiving.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on food prep. I made two different cranberry sauces just for comparison (the one with the apples was the winner hands down!), and a big batch of cole slaw.  After early grocery shopping, dealing with a frozen USB cable in the new car and cooking, there was no time for the studio. I did get a bit of studio time the day before; but instead of slipping pots I had to switch gears and make handles for the slab pieces that I'll be using to impress small plates and trays. The slabs were pretty far along in the leather hard stage, so the other pots had to wait.

After breakfast I'll get the baguettes for the pate finished baking and get those cut and buttered and ready to toast before we leave this afternoon, and then I'll see about getting some studio time. Our Thanksgiving dinner is going to be a mid afternoon affair so I won't have much studio time, but should be able to get a couple of hours in there.

Our son Sean will be deep frying a couple of turkeys today and our daughter-in-law will be doing the veggies.  I'm bringing my pate to add to the appetizers. Nicole, will have a lot of other good appetizers waiting for everyone. She is an amazing cook, great mom and wife - everything you could ask for and more in a daughter-in-law. 

In a world that seems to be mad at times, I'm thankful that we have a special day to remember and to be grateful for the good and positive things and wonderful people in our lives. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New car ate my usb cable

Since we're going to our son and daughter0-in-laws for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd  try a couple of cranberry sauce recipes to take over tomorrow. The Tyler Florence one with the orange zest and juice is good but the real winner was the one made with sweetened dried cranberries, cranberry juice, sugar and gala apples. I could see that working well with pork or a lot of other things as a side dish - really delicious!

Jim is off to the car dealer because the USB port has taken the USB connector from my iPod touch hostage. It's frozen and won't budge. It worked fine yesterday and went in fine this morning when we went out to do some pick up grocery shopping. What the heck!

Time to take a little cheese and apple lunch and then get back in the kitchen to make some coleslaw for tomorrow. No matter how fancy and far away from your moms cooking you might get for holiday dinners you always have to have some of the things Mom made when you were a kid and coleslaw is that one thing from my childhood that I miss if it's not part of Thanksgiving. The first time Jim had moms coleslaw the asked "where are the raisins". So, I add raisins, because that's what Jim's Mom put in her coleslaw. Gotta make everyone happy happy! I'll be even happier if Jim comes home with my iPod touch cable out of the USB port!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy happy happy

Jim went shopping yesterday and this Highlander Limited is now residing in our garage. The color is Cypress pearl - a guy color. Jim chooses the car, I choose the color.:-) It's a nice green in bright sunlight and medium grey in the shade. He is happy, happy, happy. This is a stock photo, since I'm not up to getting out of under the warm covers into a cold garage to snap a bad photo among all the garage paraphernalia.

Needless to say there wasn't any studio time yesterday. Between half a day prepping and cooking the gumbo and car buying drama with numerous phone calls back and forth and then finalizing the sale, we had to transfer everything out of the old car into the new car. We thought we were so thorough, but found that we left all the CD's in the CD player and Jim left a pair of his glasses, so he'll be retrieving those things this morning as well as tidying up all those things we quickly transferred before heading to our sons place.

The really nice guy who delivered the car spent a lot of time helping us set up the garage door opener, showing us how to enter phone numbers, etc. etc. My sweet Jim, the resident luddite, asked "what's bluetooth?" Oh boy is he going to have fun this week trying to figure out all the things you can do with this car besides driving it. When he got his first not so smart smart phone a couple of months ago, the buyers regret and grumbling could be heard for days. He still hasn't entered phone number in that phone; but the nice guy who delivered the car at least showed us how to enter them in the car. So now Jim can just speak to the car and say "call home or call Sean" - the two numbers that are now in memory.

Once we transferred everything to the new car, I grabbed Bodhi, the gumbo and rice and we headed over to our sons place for dinner and some great wines and great company. By the time Sean retrieved the third bottle of wine from the wine cellar we were all getting pretty happy, happy and very philosophical, except for Jim who exercised great restraint since he was the evening's designated driver.

This morning I'll be processing the last ripened tomatoes and making a puttanesca sauce for tonight's pasta dinner and the afternoon will be studio time which car buying interrupted yesterday. Jim will probably be sitting in the car in the garage reading the manual and trying to figure out all the new toys and I'll be only a few feet away, working  in my studio part of the garage. Hopefully with the car door closed, I won't hear all the grumbling as he tries to figure out what all those buttons are for,  how to set up the built in GPS and what bluetooth is.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Jean Nicola Gerard video

Found this new, Jean-Nicolas Gerard video this morning. I just love watching him work; and those amazing platters - WOW! There's something deliciously childlike in the way he throws and decorates. It's seems purely instinctual and so playful.

Got some studio time yesterday. I made a small bucket of black slip. If I had more stain it would have been a bigger batch but this 3,000 + grams is enough for these test cups which I hope to glaze today. I got those pots smoothed and trimmed and waxed yesterday and later realized that I probably should have not waxed them but done some terra sig on the non footed ones, when they were drier.

That and doing a bit of under glaze accents on a slipped teapot and cleanup took up all my actual studio time, but I did studio related paperwork, made to do notes for another day and went through my notes looking for possible yellow and reddish slips not using stains. I'll probably try rutile, yellow ochre and crocus martis in some tests when I finish slipping and glazing the current pots.

I went through about a half a dozen glaze and slip books not only looking for those slip colors but looking for a rich, deep reddish amber glaze not using lead. I may have to resort to stains for that or maybe a combination iron and manganese. There's always something new to test!

The studio heat is on, time for my first cup of tea, then breakfast followed by making gumbo for tonight. Hopefully I'll get a few hours of studio time after lunch. I'm both eager and nervous to try some finger wipes and slip trailing for the first time on those little cups. It will probably be a very good idea to do a little practice run on paper!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Morning amusements when the studio is freezing

This was the only creative thing I did all morning! The studio after 4 hours with heat on, was still too cold, so I did the usual morning chores, made out a shopping list, some computer chores,  email and played with this app my son told me about this morning. It was a lot of fun to do and now I have to dig up a few other animal photos and make a couple more to amuse myself on these too cold to work mornings.

Didn't get studio time yesterday since it was too cold in the morning and the fact that we were going out early to the local Clayfolk annual show and sale and dinner afterwards with friends. I did manage to face the cold studio long enough to cut some pots off bats, recover them and quickly get back into the warm house.

I don't know what's going on with the centering arm I'm trying to order. The fellow hasn't responded to my email nor my phone call, so I'm just assuming that they must be out of town. If I don't hear back in a few days, I'll call again. I don't need it at the moment, so there's no rush.

Our son flies in tomorrow and the rest of the family will be coming a day or two later. Looks like there won't be much time for studio between now and Thanksgiving but I will try to get these last cup tests slipped if the studio ever warms up, before I put my focus on some pre Thanksgiving cooking and house tidying.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stains, slip and test cups

Yesterday was pretty productive for just an afternoon of studio time. Got the little test kiln fired remixed some slip slip and got the last little pot slipped, pugged some clay and rolled out some slabs, and mixed up a 500 gram batch of pea green slip to use as a trailing list. Straining it will be this morning's first job. I love the look of a light green trailing slip over black which Ron Philbeck's been using on his wonderful earthenware pots lately. It's a striking combination; and works just as well over white, cream or yellow I suspect.I tested chrome and Mason pea green stain and I liked the pea green version the best. I think that may have been discontinued, so I should probably see if it's still available somewhere and get a few pounds.

I re-fired a nice little mug and found that the glaze blistered a bit. That's good to know in the future. It needed an under glaze touch up on the handle (that worked just fine); but the glaze wasn't happy on the body of the mug. That could have been because half the kiln was filled with bisque. The firing was slow, so  that wasn't the problem. I may re-fire that mug in an all glaze firing in my big kiln with a long soak and see if that works. There is still so much to learn about this journey into earthenware.

 My other job was to go through all the test  tiles in search of all my black slip tests since the last tests were gawd awful. It turns out that the best one was a base with 15% additions of two different Mason black stains - 6600 and I think the other was 6650, so I'm going to go with that for now. There was not much difference between the two. Both were a rich black and the clear glaze looked fine over it.

As soon as the studio warms up I need to pug some clay and throw some small test cups. I also want to weight out about 5,000 grams of black slip and get that mixed and sieved. If my slabs firm up, I'll make my templates. I ordered a piece of 5" thick upholstery sponge this morning which I'll use for those small trays and dishes. I used to have a piece, but it's another one of those things that went walkies during our move. 

Time to grab my notebook and head to work. We had our first hard freeze last night, so I'm hoping the studio has warmed up enough.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lazy day guilt

Lord, have I been feeling lazy the past couple of days. Jim says he's happy to see me taking some well deserved rest, so why did I feel guilty for such indulgence! Anyway, I did manage to get the little test kiln loaded, touched up a couple of pots, and finally cleared the slab roller and a did a couple of other studio chores. I found an old flash drive and deleted a lot of files from it and did a bunch more computer filing and cleanup - a good lazy day chore.

My first basil seeds are up so I moved them into my office and have the pot under a grow light now along with the lemon grass plant I brought in for winter. Besides being an office it serves as a plant nursery and meditation room now that we don't have a basement which is where I used to start all my seedlings, nor a fourth bedroom which was a meditation room in the old house.

My black slip tests turned out God awful the other day, so I spent a lot of time yesterday on the computer, checking out other possibilities. Does anyone have a good, true black slip recipe that would work at Cone 04-03 that they are willing to share? Some of the recipes I tried came out grey, not black. The glaze bubbled horribly over another one and only one looked like it might work, but I'll have to make a separate test with that one. I'll have to check that one, but I suspect it may be one with a very high oxide content.

After breakfast I have some late tomatoes to deal with. Enough have ripened, so I think I'll just get them peeled and pureed and make a small pot of  minestrone soup which we can have for lunch. Then I'll head to the studio, and get the last pot slipped, and roll out slabs for the templates I made a couple of days ago. Dinner is leftover pasta carbonara, so I'll be able to work a bit later.

I still haven't received a call about the order I put in for the centering arm so I'm going to have to call him this morning. Right now I have to finish my tea and deconstruct a lovely looking caramel glaze glaze recipe I found on line. It has industrial dust as one of the ingredients, but I have the formula for it, so I'm going to see what I can come up with. The problem may be that Edouard, who posted it, says that this Slater dust has traces of lead, cadmium, nickel and chrome, molybdenum, some of which I wouldn't want to be adding to a glaze.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Val Cushing video

Found this Val Cushing interview on you tube. There are some lovely thoughts about his work patterns over the years and some great photos of his work. He was such a master of unique and beautiful glazes - so many still in use all over the world and will be forever.

Got the little test kiln fired yesterday and almost cleared the slab roller. First I had to go through all the earthenware test tiles covering the table and then separate them into the ones mostly liked to be used. Then I went through a lot of paperwork which was really going through scraps of notes and getting some followup notes in a little notebook. There were other things to put away and a few other organizing chores to do, some slip to mix and dip some more test tiles to bisque today if they're dry enough,  and that pretty well took up all of the studio time.

I organized those notes in categories - slip followups, glaze follow ups, slips to batch, glazes to batch, etc. etc. There's a lot more to do with the large piles of other notes and pot and glazing ideas. My brain can think of pot decoration when I sit down with pencil and paper, but when I'm looking at the pot, I'm clueless. It's really bizarre how my brain works.

I'm going to have to figure an organized way to store all these sketches of decorating ideas and group them according to form and get them into a big three ring binder with plastic inserts with section designated for mugs, jars, plates, etc.etc. It will be a good winter evening project. In fact, I think I already have one of those big three ring binders filled with plastic inserts, from my soda/salt firings - just have to replace the data.

Time now to get my first cup of tea and open the kiln and see how those black slip tests turned out. I'll be back in the studio this afternoon to clear the rest of the slab roller and make some slabs. Dinner's going to be easy tonight. Jim requested pasta carbonara - not very heart healthy but definitely comfort food. I'm sure he'll have enough wine to cut the cholesterol. He's good that way. :-)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Studio day

Got the tiny test kiln loaded last night and turned on first thing this morning. Yesterday I got about a half a day of good studio time which is about par for me these days, for what I consider to be a good, retirement, studio day.

One of the items in this firing is a small slab with few black slip tests, with two clear and three transparent, honey glazes over. Most of my time yesterday was spent mixing, sieving and applying those glazes and cleaning up. I also have a small group of pots that I washed yesterday and was hoping to glaze today. That glaze is too powdery and needs some help. I tried to glaze a couple of things but wasn't happy with how the glaze was behaving, so I mixed up some CMC and got that strained and added to the glaze and re-strained the glaze. All these little jobs certainly eat up studio time.

My current frit version of the clear I originally tested is really tricky. It has to be applied very thinly otherwise it can leave a white shadow. Fortunately, I only made a small batch of it, so I'm thinking at this point that I may have go back to the Gerstley Borate version which seems to be much less finicky about thickness; but first I'm going to wait a couple of days until I make some other tests with various specific gravity batches of this fritted version. If I'm not satisfied, then I'll go back to the original, non fritted version of this clear glaze. 

Tomorrow I'll bisque those few un-slipped test tiles and the following day, dip them in a couple of different thickness of that glaze. This  means putting off glazing this group of pots, but there are other things on my "to do" list, like clearing the entire slab roller and rolling out some slabs that I can use for the templates I made earlier this week.  Some of these templates will just be used to outline what will be small trays or dishes and others will be use to make bisqued pieces that can be used to impress dishes and trays. I've done that process using some antique wooden tools that were traditionally used in India to print fabrics. I also have some other wooden forms made to be used as drape molds or to depress a slab, set on a thick piece of upholstery sponge. Here are a couple of samples using that technique.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Thank you Uncle Looie

I just treated myself to this strong arm centering tool, which my ancient, arthritic neck and spine bones will really appreciate. My late uncle Looie left me a small insurance policy and the check arrived today. So I'm treating myself to this Strong arm centering too, and giving the rest to Jim to go toward a new car. 

My day was planned, I thought, then changed and changed again. I was supposed to get a whole day in the studio; but then Jim wanted to go out to lunch and do some shopping at the mall. So I put off studio time this morning other than unloading a couple of mugs from the tiny test kiln. But after being up a while, Jim said that he wasn't really up to the mall, so we've put that off for another day.

Then the mail arrived with my little windfall, I decided to check on centering tools currently available. This one seemed the best from a short list, so I got the ordering process started. Seems I have to wait for a call from the maker to finalize the sale.

It's too late to start on anything in the studio, so Jim suggested we drive over to our sons place and check their garden since it's going to be raining tomorrow and an overnight freeze is forecast. We got lucky earlier this week and skipped the freeze that was forecast, but it looks like it's going to happen tomorrow and the next night. Hopefully there will be a few more tomatoes to pick. If not, at least Bodhi will get a great, chain free run  - one of his greatest joys!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

And the winner is

Yesterday wound up to be a half day of cooking among other things. Since I wanted to get my dinner Escarole, sausage, bean, etc. soup, done early, it seemed that making my sourdough nutty fruity breakfast bread as well, wouldn't be much trouble - just a bit more time consuming. I only made 1/3 of the soup recipe, but that was enough for us with leftovers for tomorrow.

Jim went  to Michael's for me after  breakfast yesterday and got a piece of matboard and a package of Xacto blades.  So in between cooking, I traced most of those tissue and graph pepper sketches on to the matboard and I'll start on cutting those out tonight or tomorrow.

This morning I got an email from Bailey's telling me I won a $25 gift certificate for naming the mystery potter (David Leach). After trying unsuccessfully ordering something on the web site, I gave up and called and got myself a couple of 3mm MKM texture rollers. As one of the ancient ones, I still can't get over how much it costs to ship something these days! It was over $13 to ship two little rollers.

Right now I need to get to studio which should be nice and cozy, and  touch up those pots which I didn't get around to yesterday. Mid afternoon I need to get back to the garden and thin and transplant my winter lettuce. We're going to have a freeze overnight, so I need to get that done and pick the last of the green tomatoes. Then it will be time to start on a simple bratwurst, boiled potatoes with parsley butter and roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and walnuts dinner. The days do fly by too quickly lately!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Playing with cut outs

Studio time yesterday was making patterns for some small plates and trays. It felt more like play than work.  I have to see if there are larger sheets of graph paper available so I can make some larger forms.  Now  I have to track down some fairly thick poster board so I can make some sturdy, re-usable templates for these. In recent years I haven't had any luck finding thicker poster board. Everything I've found locally is way too thin. I'm hoping that it's out there somewhere. I did a bit of Internet searching but thickness is not part of the description. Old templates that I made for slab work over thirty five years ago is pretty thick - about 1/16 of an inch and that's what I'm hoping to find again.

I took advantage of the 60 degree weather yesterday afternoon and planted a bunch of saffron crocuses and picked most of the dried pole beans and got them shelled. There were also a few late tomatoes just starting to ripen, so I picked those as well. I'm really going to enjoy a last  heirloom tomato sandwich of the season in a few days! My winter lettuce is ready to thin and transplant, but that will have to wait till tomorrow when this rain has stopped.

This morning is kitchen time. Sourdough starter needs feeding and I want to make the soup I had planned to make a few days ago. It's a cold, rainy morning. In other words,  a great day for a hearty Tuscan bean, sausage and potato soup and parmesan toast supper.

I'll be back in the studio this afternoon decorating and doing some cleanup on a couple of the mugs I sgrafittoed the other day so I can bisque them tomorrow. I pretty well solved the problem of dried slip chipping when doing sgraffito. Spritzing the dry slip lightly with water does the trick as long as you don't over saturate. There are just a couple of tiny spots that I have to touch up where I didn't wet the slip enough; but all in all it works great.

Time to feed the sour dough starter and get some breakfast.

Monday, November 11, 2013

80th birthdays are a big deal

After a couple of days of shopping and celebrating Jim's 80th birthday, and a total vegg out day yesterday going through days worth of newspapers, email  and snail mail, it's time to get back to a "stay at home day" routine.

Jim's sister Pat sent him a "birthday in a box" from Florida, which included balloons, Happy Birthday streamers, candles, candy and even a rum cake our friend Sylvia baked for him. Our daughter who lives in Munich, Germany, called our local butcher and had him send over a whole box of German wurst and other gourmet elk and buffalo sausages, mustards, cheeses and a host of other goodies. Even our butcher Cam, sent Jim a gorgeous, huge steak which I'll be making tonight. Our son Sean surprised us with paying for our wonderful birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant. When the bill came, it wasn't a bill, just a note saying that Sean had taken care of the dinner bill. We do have great kids!

I'll be making Jim his favorite pate in another day or two, continuing his birthday celebration. After all turning 80 is a big deal and should be celebrated for more than one day!

A bag of winter saffron crocus bulbs arrived Saturday. They're already sprouting, so I need to get  out this afternoon when temperatures are expected to be around 60 degrees, and plant them. I'll get some studio time after breakfast and after lunch, in continuation of my slowly sliding  into potters retirement. I never thought I'd want to spend this little time in the studio, but at this time of my life, it seems like the most natural thing to do. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Angela Fina

Cynthia Bringle just reported on Facebook that Angela Fina has passed away. She was such a lovely lady and a wonderful potter and teacher. Here's a photo of her that I got from her web page. You can check it out at:

I took a great throwing workshop with her in Ontario, Canada in the mid 70's, and remember her fondly.  She will be greatly missed.

Jim and I are taking it easy today after our all day celebration of his 80th birthday yesterday. Today is a day to rest and re-charge after all that rich food and good wines!  I have several days worth of newspapers and snail mail to go through while I watch some of the Barclay world Tour semi finals matches.

If I perk up after lunch I may get in some studio time, but I wouldn't bet on it. Right now it's time to make our cheese blintzes breakfast and then start on this big pile of newspapers and snail mail.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Pretty is as pretty does

OK, I know this is one ugly, malformed pizza. Something went awry sliding it off the peel; but there is  good news. This was a great pizza! Jim said these toppings elevated pizza to a new, higher level. So if anyone wants to try it, I don't have a recipe per se. I saw a picture of this being pulled out of an oven on a you tube video and just heard the maker saying what was on it - no amounts, given.  But here's what I did.

To make: get your dough shaped and top loosely with thin slices (about 1/16" -1/8") of quality gorgonzola cheese, then fill in the open spaces with small dollops s of mascarpone cheese. Then top with fresh figs than have been slice in thirds or half and topped with a piece of gorgonzola and a dollop of mascarpone cheese a few hours before to allow the flavors to permeate the fruit. Bake as usual and when done, lay slices of prosciutto over. Let it sit a minute or two, slice and serve. PS: I used halved figs this time, but next time I'll cut them in thirds instead.  

Yesterday I got another bisque done in my tiny test kiln and did some sgraffito decorating on a couple of pots and a few other studio chores.  Since I never have enough fresh basil, I also got some basil seeds planted so I will have a good supply this winter.

The only studio time I got this morning was to empty the tiny test kiln. Now I'm off to buy a folding table for my photo setup. Jim brought back the right sized one the other day, but the top folded in half and when I had one of those before, it made the pots I was photographing look lopsided because it wasn't level. So that's been returned and I'm off to Bi-Mart since they have what I want on sale. By the time I get back from shopping and lunch I have to start on tonight's dinner - a bean, potato, escarole, potato and Italian sausage soup and cheesy garlic bread. Now that my vent is working again, finally, I'm no longer limited with my dinner choices.

There might be a little time while the soup is simmering to touch up a couple of pots and load the tiny test kiln but that will probably be all I can manage before dinner. And after dinner, I go into my new retirement, do nothing, unless I can do it sitting down, mode.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

New bird jar

Got feet on the bird jar yesterday. Our daughter Erins teapot is slipped with the pale yellow slip of her choice, and today I'll add green under glaze to the lid rim. I also mixed up a small cup of blue glaze for a replacement lid I made for myself for an antique Borden's jar I use as my flour jar.

This morning I unloaded the few bisqued pots from the tiny test kiln and reloaded it. I'll be firing that all day in between other studio jobs. I want to get my clear glaze re-mixed and sieved and glaze the decorated, bisqued pots. The reason I'm having to work in these small batches is because my larger Skutt kiln is pretty much the only place I have to store these pots right now until I have enough to do a combination bisque and glaze firing. At this time I'm finding that my test kiln is too small and my glaze kiln is too big. Jim says "Buy a new kiln"; but that just goes against my practical nature, so I'll have to think on that for a while.

Yesterday was a mish mash day of studio work and cooking and hanging around for what seemed like forever for the repairmen to fix the Venta Hood. After a very long time trying one thing after another, they decided to throw their arms in the air and say we just can't figure this out. So they put the covers back on and turned the power back on at the box, after replacing a couple of switches. And, miracle of miracles, everything was working. Seems there is no grounding wire in the unit, and the casing and other parts of the hood are the grounding and it won't work unless even the non working parts arere-installed. Talk about a major design flaw!

So tonight I'll be making pizza without fear of the fire department showing up again. For lunch yesterday I made figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto, with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a drizzle of honey. Jim loved  them. So tonight's pizza is going to be a mascarpone and gorgonzola cheeses with fresh fig slices and prosciutto added when the pizza is done. I'm hoping it will be as tasty as yesterday's lunch. 

Time to turn up the kiln, get breakfast and on to the studio.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Retirement pacing

Since I was wide awake at 4:30 I decided to head to the studio and load a couple of small pots in the tiny test kiln and get them bisqued today. After breakfast I have to make some feet for a jar and then probably spend the rest of the day decorating before I have to start on dinner.

The repair man is coming at 3 to hopefully get my Vent a hood working with the replacement switches. Since I don't know if he'll show on time or how long it will take him to complete the job, dinner is just going to be something simple like nachos. We changed last night's dinner plan and went out for Mexican instead and I'm not going to complain about having margaritas two nights in a row.

Jim is going out after breakfast and will pick up a small folding table so I can get my photo setup  started in the guest bedroom soon. By the time the priority mail boxes that I ordered yesterday, arrive in two weeks, I should have enough pots finished and photographed and start listing them on Etsy in time to take advantage of the Christmas buying season.

One of the marketing suggestions I read a while back, was that is was better to stagger your Etsy listings rather than put too many things up at one time. That way your work is seen daily in the Etsy search listing by those shoppers looking for your type of work or product, instead of getting buried deep down in the list. It's a good idea to read those little Etsy marketing hints. From all I've read, it takes a while to build a clientele there. It seems to be a slow but steady process for those who stick to it and promote their work elsewhere and point people to their Etsy store. Having a good customer list is of great benefit. Unfortunately, I'm dealing with totally new work, and my small customer list in recent years consists only of people living three thousands miles away who purchased my soda/salt fired pots and may have no interest in the earthenware.

Since my production in retirement is so meager, especially with our kids and relatives all too happy to take pots off my hands, and do, I'd be happy to just sell enough to keep a few shelves free on my ware cart at any given time. At my age I'm not interested in packing and hauling pots off to shows, so Etsy is a good choice. I haven't checked local shops and galleries so that may be another option. Every time we go to Ashland it's to do food shopping or have dinner and there never seems to be time to check out the galleries, or they're closed when we get there. Next time we go in, I'm going to make a day just for that, and have a list of shops and galleries and check those out before we do anything else.

We have a lot of potters here in the Rogue valley now, but  when I asked one of the members where people are selling these days, she said that a large number of them mainly sell at the big, yearly Clayfolk show at the Armory. I did that and other shows when I was younger, but don't find the idea of working on committees all year to get a slot in the show is something I'm interested in any more. In fact, I get exhausted just thinking of the prospect of packing and hauling pots and sitting all weekend at a show! These days I'm happy and thriving on a much slower pace; and for me it's a very good thing. It's taken me almost 74 years to slow down and I rather like it.

Time to turn the kiln up.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Planning and shopping day

Didn't get studio time as planned. There was grocery shopping to do in Medford and I had to made 3 different stops - two for food and one stop at Lowe's hardware to get a shorter handled, very heavy duty wrench since my big, ancient one is too long in the handle to manipulate well under that little Olympic gas kiln. Lowe's didn't have what I needed, but the sales person told me about another tool store in town which I'll check when I'm in that neighborhood.

After getting all the groceries put away I took an email break and then decided to go to the U.S. postal service and look up information on priority mail boxes. I set up an account and then it took me a while to figure out what size boxes would work for me for starters. Fortunately with Michele Hastings input I was able to settle one 3 different sizes that would work with the majority of my smaller pieces, and some labels. 

I'm hoping to get some pots up on Etsy before Christmas and getting these boxes is part of the plan. I have never done much with Etsy, only put up a couple of pots over two years ago and making a few sales without any promotion, so it will be interesting to see if can make that work with my limited output and if I put some energy into promoting it.

In our old house I had a full basement and had a permanent photo and light set up. After checking out our entire house, the only possible place for me to set this up, is the guest room. And since we don't have a lot of house guests other than family for the most part,  I can leave the setup in place most of the time and it would be an easy thing to disassemble as needed.

Tomorrow, while I'm in the studio finishing up some pots, I'll have Jim  buy me another one of those 4 foot long folding tables which works well for my photo setup.  Right now Mexican food and a margarita are waiting for me at our local Mexican restaurant and when I get home I have a huge pile of backed up snail mail and newspapers to tackle while I have the TV mid term election results in the background.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Out of the Fire video trailer

Here's a great, teaser trailer from a new documentary about Kevin Crowe and his gorgeous wood fired pots. I'm very lucky to have one of his pieces; and wish I had room for more!

Today will be a repeat of yesterday, morning dealing with computer and emails and studio after lunch. There are more pots to decorate and that will probably take most of my studio time before I have to head in and start on dinner.
If Erin's teapot dries enough after uncovering it, then I'll have to re-sieve the pale yellow slip and get that slipped.

It's almost instant Indian food tonight, so I'll be able to work till 4:30. These days I rarely go in the studio after dinner (my new retirement schedule). Evenings,  these days are for relaxation - reading, paperwork and a little TV in bed - usually one of our British shows on Netflix. . And, lest I forget, there's usually a little bit of good wine in the schedule. It's a very good life

Sunday, November 03, 2013

A bit of this and that kind of studio day

Got a few good hours of studio time cleaning up a couple of glazed pots. I have to do something about my powdery, clear glaze. Tomorrow I'll get some alcohol and mix up some CMC to correct that problem.

Since I had a ball of pugged clay left over I threw a box and then went on to the next job which was getting my wheels foot pedal adjusted and tightened. It was going into involuntary, manic, high speed when I walked away from it. - good thing nothing was on the whee head or it would have become a projectile. I made sure the wheel was turned off and then sat at the wheel and on to the next job of decorating a couple of pots.

 Some of those under glazes must have been old when I purchased them because, I swear, I must have spent about fifteen minutes trying to mix the lumps out of each of three of the four under glazes I used this afternoon. 

Right now it's time for some pasta Puttanesca, and one of our favorite Zins, and leftover Halloween candy for dessert. This is the reward for being wise enough to only buy Halloween candy that you like just in case there are any leftovers after the trick or treaters. leave.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

A smorgasbord kind of day ahead

Well yesterday went somewhat close to my planned schedule. I got Erin's teapot finished and it's under plastic till I can get it slipped. The perennials got planted. In fact I wound up planting more than originally planned.  We didn't get over to our sons place because we had to stay around and wait for the parts for our Vent a  Hood.

We have been without a working kitchen hood since August when the thing just went kaput. Fortunately it was still under warrant. After a series of ridiculous mishaps of one local repairman they sent,, not knowing how to even diagnosis the problem, to waiting forever till they found another local company, then that repairman knew the unit, but then promptly left the company before leaving a work sheet or ordering  the parts, then another repairman. I will go on and on but you get the idea. So finally, yesterday, a box arrived with two replacement switches for the hood, but a replacement switch for the lights is on back order and it will be another couple of weeks before we get that. Hopefully, they'll get the repair guy out here right away so I can use the hood.

We've had the fire department out here once already because cooking smoke caused the smoke alarm to go off and I had no idea the smoke alarm was tied to our home's security system. That wasn't fun! Since then I've had to be careful about what I'm cooking. At least after the first experience with the local firefighters, I have since learned to just use our security code to turn off the house security and that also shuts down the smoke alarm. Who would have known that since the former owner didn't leave us any manual.

After breakfast I'll be dealing with the late tomatoes and making a Putanesca sauce for the freezer. We dinner tongiht, we have leftovers from the Italian restaurant last night, which was passable. We ordered a ten inch pizza as an appetizer and figured we'd have a piece and take the rest home. The pizza was not good. The crust was the problem. OK, not a good start. Jim got spaghetti and meatballs. One of the meatballs, I swear, was almost as big as a baseball but it was tasty and they made a decent marinara sauce.. Jim didn't like the fact that they served thin spaghetti which he thought was angel hair. The man has great taste beds, but not good food recognition.  I has the lasagna and both were passable as was the Caesar salad. They have a pretty extensive menu, servings were very generous, and service was very good, so we'll go back again and try some of the other menu choices.

This afternoon if the rain hasn't arrived, we'll probably get over to our sons place to harvest whatever there is in the garden. Otherwise I'll be back in the studio decorating which I didn't get to yesterday after my enthusiastic and long planting and weeding session. Time now for that first cup of morning tea to start my day.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Korea pottery video

Here's some lovely, morning, eye candy to start your day. I've always been partial to the Yi Dynasty pots with their simple, freely applied brushwork,  or the beautiful forms and glazes on the  exquisite Koryo celadons.

We are recovering after a busy night of trick and treaters. Jim figures that we got somewhere between 150 to 155 kids coming by from six o'clock till 9 o'clock. Jim over served himself on the candy last night but doesn't seem the worse for wear this morning. I on the other hand was very restrained. :-)

Jim did all the work while I held the fort in the bedroom with Bodhi and Bonnie kitty. Bodhi wasn't happy but he tends to rush out the front door when it's opened and that just wouldn't have been a good idea. After a busy day I was happy to play on the computer while I baby sat our furry kids and get caught up on some of the TV shows on my saved list. I do love Direct TV and the ability to save shows to watch later.

After breakfast I'll be back in the studio to pull a handle for my daughters teapot, and do some decorating on the earthenware pots. This will be my last day to plant since much cooler weather and rains are starting tomorrow. There are at least 3 perennials to plant, and then I have to drive to our sons place and check the garden and harvest what's there.

We're going out for dinner to one of the local Italian restaurants. The one in our town closed a while ago and we're hoping this one will be a good basic, southern style pasta and pizza place like those I grew up with in New York.  Their menu looks good, so I'm optimistic. It's hard though, to beat those New York neighborhood Italian restaurants.