Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ken Matsuzaki

Here's a nice little promo of an upcoming show of Ken Matsuzaki's new work. He only fires his wood kiln twice a year, and from this promo, it looks like so more impressive work will be on display at his June show at Goldmark.

For me, it's been a week of great family time. Our son and his family flew up Thursday and left Monday and Jim's sister and brother in law arrived Saturday and left today. I miss them all already.

It's been a great week of eating in and out, porch sitting last night with margaritas, my pate and our sons amazing wild boar sausage and a selection of raw veggies to dip, escargot, and indulgent toffee candy and kettle corn.

I managed to get a bit of garden shopping and gardening time in for my daughter in law today and got 13 more tomato cages set up in her garden and planted some veggie starts and pole beans. She did a huge amount of planting Sunday and Monday and the beds are full now until the garlic is ready to harvest and the spinach is done. Then I can plant the bush beans.

When I got back from plant shopping and gardening at their place, I had to do some of my own garden chores. By then it was time for dinner, followed by doing absolutely nothing but some computer time.

I'll try to get a bit of studio time tomorrow before Jim comes back from the dentist and we head back over to our sons place so I can check on a possible watering problem that reared it's head today and maybe move a couple of things. Fortunately I have a leftover pate and margarita mix, cheeses and boar sausage, so we're going to do a leftover porch sitting for the two of us. I'll go back on my diet Thursday. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Coming down to the house guests wire

The house and back yard are almost ready for our house guests. There's a bit more to do, but I promised our daughter in law that I'd come and help her plant this afternoon, so I have a box of vegetable seeds and some organic tomato fertilizer ready to go. I delivered all the veggie and herb starters yesterday and she's going to do some of the clean up of her raised beds before I get there.

This week has been dedicated t house and garden work and doctors visits. I finally, after a year, found a family practitioner - an internist. He's young which I appreciate. At my age, I don't want a doctor who I might outlive. His credentials are amazing, so I will listen to him even though I'm not looking forward to all the tests he's scheduled. So if you hear any screaming coming from Southern Oregon, I'll be getting my first mammogram in years. Then I have to have a bone density test since some medication I'm taking could make the osteoporosis worse. There are others including a meeting with the surgeon to deal with this record breaking hernia I have. Guess my body didn't like lifting all those 50 and 100 lb bags of raw materials the last four decades or so.

Time to water my last few, un-planted  annuals and herbs and do some last minute tidying.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Color of Purple

This year I changed the color in these wall baskets. The purple certainly pops more than lasts years, lighter pink. The heat spell got everything growing at a rapid rate. Tonight we're going back to a cold spell for several days. This seesaw weather is definitely a challenge everywhere this year.

This is what I've been doing the past few days - planting, weeding, cooking, computer and paper work and getting the house ready for house guest arrival at the end of the week.

The clematis on the right is one of 3that I planted last summer and they are doing great. I was concerned about them because of the water holding quality of our pure clay soil; but the mushroom compost I added, plus the minerals of all that clay seems to be making them very happy. The other two are even lusher and taller than this one.

The sourdough starter I fed this morning is now well activated, so it's time to get my nutty fruity bread started. Then I'll be off to plant the last few annuals, before coming in for lunch and then making pizza dough for dinner. Needless to say,  studio time will probably just have to wait till guests leave next week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hang in there

Here's my latest space saving idea - a 5/8 piece of plywood suspended with chain from a previously installed ceiling storage unit. I just needed something for bulky, not too heavy items. It suspends over my slab roller and I can easily access everything. It's the most economical easy thing I could think of to store a lot of these things and free up more space on my heavy metal storage unit.

I also got a bit of decorating time in between garden and other work.  Decorating with these under glazes is taking a lot of time. I tried the foam stamps that I've had for 36 years, but they didn't make a clean imprint. I still had to use a small brush to even out the under glaze, even though I had brushed it on to the stamp evenly. The other stamp I tried was pieces of some commercial stamps. Those had the same problem, but I think worked a hair better. Looks like I'll have to practice some brushwork if I want to get some of those simple designs and maybe use oxide washes with the sponges on top of the clear glaze. That's how I used those stamps years ago for my high fired reduction work.

We didn't get out to the store to find a replacement for my corrupt, stand along hard drive, so we'll be doing that right after breakfast. It's raining this morning so the other half of my fertilizing job will have to wait till later or another day.

Studio time today will be glazing the bisqued slip tests I unloaded this morning and decorating  a few more pots.  I promised Jim a crab cake dinner, and that will cap off the work day other than hitting my ever so slowly, diminishing paper piles.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Time to get on with it

Test kiln was turned on 5:30 this morning and now I'm dealing with computer related woes (won't bore you with details). I will say that at some point today I'll be sending Jim out to buy me the biggest capacity stand alone hard drive he can fine.

Yesterday after a morning of garden work, and then, after lunch, finishing the last test tile, I bit the bullet and found a few minutes to decorate a couple of pots before dinner. After a bit of research, I learned that I could apply the lug and velvet under glazes on bone dry, slipped pots, so I timidly decorated a couple. It's the first time I've used these under glazes on anything but test tiles. It's guesswork about how thick these should be. I'm also having to  take time to decide which colors to use since I'm not yet familiar with the fired results, so I have to keep going back to the test bars.

Since almost all of the current batch of test pots have stark white aka toilet bowl white, slip, they really need some color.  I combined sgraffito, some brushwork and stamping using the under glazes on some and other will just be white slip background with underglazes. Hopefully as time goes by I'll feel more comfortable with this than I did yesterday.

I'm finding this type of decoration daunting. Soda pots were a lot easier - relying more on form and flashing slip  with either no other decoration or a minimal bit of colored decor on some. Silly me threw some of the forms that were part of my soda/salt firing body of work and now I'm looking at them and wondering how I can make them look anything but silly with these under glazes. I guess there's always the option of a solid colored glaze and I may just use that as a way out for those. There is a lovely tealish blue test that will be a good option if I decide to take the cowards way out.

Part of my continuing testings of slips has been the hope of finding a few warmer, yet subtle slip colors using oxides rather than expensive stains. After I unload these latest tests tomorrow, that's going to be it for testing for a while. I'm sick of it and want to move forward and make a few small workable batches of basic black, a warm yellow, and a soft, green to use as background color, even if it means having to use stains for one or two of them.

Time to get on with it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Table full of test tiles

Yesterday was my Mother's day off; and of course I didn't get to all those paper piles, but I did get to actually read the whole Sunday paper on a Sunday. I usually don't get through that till Tuesday or later. A couple of household and gardening chores were done early in the day and I updated some glaze notes and did some glaze chemistry.

Jim took me to dinner at the Rogue River Lodge, which was good enough to go back another time. The drive is lovely and the river is always beautiful. We even saw a couple of pairs of Canadian geese and their goslings relaxing at the rivers edge.

I quickly perused these test tiles and made a couple of follow up notes Saturday and got a couple more tests weighted out, and threw some test tiles. The stains and lug and velvet under glazes give luscious colors, but I'm hoping to get a couple of these colors in slips without having to use expensive stains for large batches of dipping or pouring slips, so I'm going to do a couple of more of the green tests and see if I can refine some the colors I've already gotten. Ideally, the lugs and velvets will be used for small accent colors.

This morning was spent hand watering and planting a few more annuals and filling out a whole bunch of papers for our new doctor. We've been here a year and still didn't have a family practicioner. Then I had to get on the phone to order some things.

Next stop will be the studio for me to do weight out a couple of the altered green slip recipes and get those on to the tiles I threw Saturday.

All in all I'm happy with these tests. Some are what I was looking for and others are close enough to give me a clue as to how to tweak them. So far, I have my own clear glaze which is really good; and it doesn't rely on ghastly borate. The black slip tests are fine, so I'll be making a small batch of that soon. I figure that will be lovely on small pitchers, mugs, slab trays, etc with green, yellow or orange slip trailing.

 I'm close to the warm, buttercup yellow slip and somewhat close to the two light greens I'm looking for, so I'll weight those out today and get them on to the test tiles which are leather hard now and hopefully they'll be dry enough to fire Thursday.

Time to get moving. I have five hours before I have to come in and start on dinner.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mothers Day

Jim thought one Mother's day bouquet wasn't enough so he brought home two, so I thought I'd share my bit overstuffed arrangement in this lovely Robin Hopper pitcher. Hope all you mothers out there are having a deservedly, fabulous day. 

Other than plant watering and paper work I'm taking the day off. I was in the studio around 3am because I had one of those two plus hours of wide awake time and decided to get in the studio and cut off the test tiles I threw after dinner and get them trimmed and under plastic. After some email I crawled back into bed a bit after 4am and blessedly got two more hours sleep; but I'm still dragging.

Our kids had very busy day yesterday but managed to call early this morning which is always sweet. Erin was performing last night and while I was up between 2 and 4am, not out of choice, she was on stage in Munich Germany. Sean and our daughter-in-law Nicole had a full day of working at the grand children's school fundraiser which Nicole was in charge of.  It was months of hard work and there was a lot of celebration last night with a lot of good wines, so the early calls were very appreciated.

This self appointed vegging out day is a good opportunity to tackle some of my paper piles which seem to grow every time I turn my back.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Summer has arrived

Yesterday I fired the tiny test kiln and unloaded these latest velvet under glazes and  some other bisque test tiles. Some of these colors are so luscious!

Yesterday was a mixture of studio and garden time. All my bush and pole beans had sprouted on damp paper towels in plastic baggies on top of the fridge for a couple of days, so I had to get them planted. My tall bean tower looks so awkward sitting inside a two foot high raised bed. Once those beans start climbing it's going to look like a modern version of Jack and the beanstalk.

Now that morning chores and hand watering are done, it's time to head to the studio. The fellow who I've been waiting for the past couple of week to replace some bricks in the larger Skutt kiln, has been a no show and I need to clear the slab roller (my only work table), of these pots that need bisquing. So I'm loading them today and then I'm going to do the job I couldn't get to the other day - lay all the tests I've done the past couple of months in numerical order and separate those that I want to use, along with a few I want to do further testing on and get the rest of them stored away from my work area.

It's going to be 90 degrees here today, and after work, I may just jump in the pool. I think it's time to test it. After all, it's been a year since we moved here and I have yet to set a foot in that pool!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Peter is assembled other than tightening some of the bolts. Jim kindly went out a while ago and got me some more support pieces for the tomato cages and a 9/16th wrench - the only size in my large collection, that I didn't have, and the size I need to tighten these bolts. He bought a set of six various sizes and now I have at least 3 sets and a bunch of other loose sizes.. Putting the rest of the pug mill together was pretty simple - just one call to the manufacturer to clarify one or two things. I still have to check one part that doesn't seem to have any instructions. It's a knob and I put it under the pressure gauge, which seems to be the place it fits. Unfortunately, the name of the part is not listed in the numbered parts list, nor is is shown in the sketches. So I think I'm going to get on Google and see if I can find other photos of this model

I spent the past hour or so perusing the manual and made some basic, important notes to help me get started. This Peter Pugger is not the same animal as my Bluebird Powerstar. It will take a few times of using it to remember the sequence of loading, mixing, and de-airing.

Right after lunch I'll get into the studio and mix some of my firmer clay with some reclaim to get a softer mix, get it de-aired and ready to use tomorrow.

The tiny test kiln is filled with slip and underglaze tests and ready for another firing tomorrow. 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Plugmill has arrived

My Peter Pugger was delivered half an hour ago and I got the smaller box unpacked and took what I could out of the larger one; but there's no way I can even slide this out on my own. I did try.

Jim called our handyman and he'll be here as soon as he can find someone to help him get this machine out of the box and on to the table. Meantime I'll read the manual before I get to other things.

This morning I busied myself with  unglamorous household and garden chores; and the rest of the day is going to be designated to sit down jobs. Three hours yesterday on those hard Costco, Lowe's hardware and nursery concrete floors, then another couple of hours unpacking the car and planting a lot of the perennials and annuals I bought, was enough to do in this cranky hip.

All that activity, then a double margarita to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, added up to a great night's sleep.  I was out cold by 8 pm and didn't get up till 6am which is amazing, since 6 hrs of sleep is my norm.

Time to see if I can make sense of this pugmill manual, redo my veggie garden plot plans, and sgraffito a couple of pots - all good sit down jobs geared to quiet down this cranky hip.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Timing and pacing

Here's a photo I took this morning when I went out to cut the lettuce for tonight's dinner. I planted this and two other clematis last summer. This heavy clay soil with bad drainage didn't bode well for them, but so far they're all doing well.

This time of year I'm much more aware of timing and pacing my day. In this hot weather, garden time becomes an early, mid  and maybe late morning and very late afternoon affair. Before breakfast I do some dinner prep, then move the last of the seedlings outdoors when temp are in high 40's, make breakfast, then back to the garden to do more hand watering and planting, then studio time before lunch, or lunch if I stayed in the garden too long. And on and on it goes - flip flopping back and forth between chores, allowing short rest breaks for email and other on line chores, and all according to weather and personal energy.
Not much got planted yesterday because it was too hot by the time we got back from the neighborhood garage sale; but I did feed all my root veggies and plant some annuals and get those watered in. Then I headed for the studio and glazed a couple of test tiles and got a couple more slips mixed, on to test tiles, re-loaded the tiny test kiln and did my followup notes from the last test firing. Today I need to make one more test that will fill that little kiln to the max.

Yesterday afternoon, Jim suggested dinner out, and since I stayed in the studio longer than planned,  I thought dinner out was a great idea, so I skipped the Nicoise  salad and we'll have that tonight. Instead, we opted for an early Cinco de Maya celebration at our local Mexican restaurant.

A small order of buckets and pint jars arrived yesterday from U.S. Plastics, and I need to get that unpacked and fill the jars with some of my stains and get those labeled; and get that last test made, dipped and into the kiln.

FedEx says my Peter Pugger is now in Oregon, but delivery is not scheduled till Monday. FedEx certainly has some interesting routing  which makes what would be a straight 5 hour drive from where they picked it up to our house, to a 5 day trip. I'm sure they have a reason for all that up down and around road time,  but I'm clueless as to what it is. LOL

Friday, May 03, 2013

Peter Pugger finally enroute after a few delays

Enjoyed a quiet, retirement like early morning after a long, hard day in the garden, planting 12 tomato plants and other veggies, digging up and moving others and general cleanup and hand watering; and it's still not done. After breakfast we took a drive around the neighborhood to check out the yearly neighborhood garage sale; and of course I found some irises to plant, and the seller kindly or not, gave me a free strawberry plant - like I don't have enough things still left to plant!  My other little treasure was a really old hand held wooden roller, perfect for slab work. It fits great in the hand and was a great deal for seventy five cents. I gave the guy a dollar.

Yesterday I picked our first carrots and radishes. We still have more spinach and lettuce to harvest - maybe a bit too heavy on the lettuce unless we want to be making salad three times a day. Bet you can't guess what I'm making for dinner tonight. :-) Throw in some hard boiled egg wedges, tuna fish, black olives, cooked green beans, boiled potatoes. and we'll be munching on a Nicoise salad - perfect for this hot weather.

They finally shipped out my pug mill yesterday and Fed Ex tracking shows that it left Sacramento very early this morning. It was supposed to have been shipped last Friday, then changed to Tuesday, and changed again. Seems shipment on their current batch of orders was held up because they were waiting for the new manuals.
For now it's time to change into work clothes, make some lunch, get a few hours of sit down studio chores to rest this very achy hip. I want to update my notes after the last test firing and then line all the tests I've been doing and pick out the best of the bunch and those that need a bit more tweaking and store the rest. Reorganization in a small studio space seems like a never ending chore.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Unloaded the tiny test kiln at 6:30 this morning and see some real possibilities, especially on the greens. Some of the flat tiles are just new under glazes that will need glazing and firing. Unfortunately two tiles - a flat one that was leaning against a post decided to become at one with one of the standing tiles. At least I can see glimpses of all the colors so it's not all lost, but I will redo those tiles.

After that job it was time to take my seedlings outside for the last time, do my hand watering, and then make breakfast.  A lot is blooming in the garden - clematis, snapdragons and other annuals, roses, bleeding hearts, perennial geraniums and more. I even picked my first strawberry yesterday. There's no room for a decent bed, but I did buy a few plants and have them in a big bucket. May and June seem to be the most wonderful time in the garden.

I didn't get any of the gas kiln work done yesterday, but by 3 o'clock and a busy day of firing the little kiln, measuring and cutting the stainless steel for the wind break for the Olympic kiln, and dealing still yet, with the watering problem,  planting some of the shade annuals, and some other uninteresting garden chores, the work day flew by and it was time to start on the rest of the dinner prep.

Yesterday I discovered that thin stainless steel cuts real easily with a tin snip; but it also cuts flesh even quicker. A short interruption to clean, medicate, and bandage a couple of shallow, but messy cuts, and that job was done. There's still the rust to remove off those panels, but that can wait for another day.

Since it's going to be in the high 80's today and the next few days, I've decided to put off the gas firing, probably till next week when it will be dropping down to the  high 70's and low 80's. Instead, I'm making this a planting day, because I'm so tired of carting these seedlings in and out every day. The night time temperatures are high enough now and with the  heavy duty remay covering the tender veggies and herbs will be nice and cozy.

It's already in the 60's, so I'm going to get my planting chart out and get moving before it gets too hot. Looks like it's going to be another beautiful and productive day!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Busy morning busy day ahead

Turned the little test kiln on at 6am, had a cup of tea and then made scones and got potatoes on for tonight's potato salad, which I'll make after I shower.

I luckily found a couple of pieces of thin stainless steel at our local scrap metal place yesterday - one of our many stops during our all day shopping. Two sheets, which is all I need to make the wind guard for the little gas kiln, were only $4.80, and one cut on each will make them the perfect size. They're a bit rusty on the edges after living outside with rain sitting on them, so I'll be getting some sandpaper or steel wool out to clean them up a bit.

So, after the potato salad is made, I'll be heading to the studio to cut those with my tin snips and clean them up. Then I'll light the small Olympic gas kiln to make sure all is well after sitting out all winter. If it's OK, I'll load it and fire it tomorrow  and only if I'm up to it after today's firing. This bad hip is sore from all that walking and standing on hard floors yesterday, so I'm giving myself the option of a day of sit down chores tomorrow if it doesn't quiet down. Either way, life is good and all will get done in good time. It's taken me over 70 years to reach this level of patience and I'm actually enjoying the fact that I don't angst over timing of these things any more.