Monday, January 27, 2014

Early southern pottery collection

These pots were auctioned off two days ago. There are some nice examples of early southern pottery.

Jim seems to have gotten this flu bug so we're giving each other a lot of "poor baby" hugs. Chicken soup was on the menu again last night. Good thing I made a big pot and froze some.

Tonight it will be a simple, comforting pasta dish  - maybe just mac and cheese and steamed broccoli. I'm not up to spending hours cooking at the moment and my aching stomach is not up for anything overly spicy.

I'm grateful that we're retired and can just sleep and rest till these bugs run their course. That's the pony in this manure pile right right.

Hope everyone else is feeling OK and making lots of pots and enjoying some good weather. Looks like we may be getting a bit of much needed rain in the next couple of days. We've already had a couple of fires this week. The whole valley is like a tinderbox right now.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Interesting video on making a tray for a non round form

Here's another nice little video from from Ceramic arts. After a day of feeling like I was over this bug, yesterday I got hit with a whole host of new symptoms and Jim isn't feeling too great either. I don't know if this bug morphed into this new thing or I picked up something new. So I'm just going to continue resting, eating bland foods, drinking ginger tea for the waves of nausea and taking tylenol for the aches and pains.

It's certainly been a few interesting, not fun, weeks.

Friday, January 24, 2014

All baking no clay

This was my day yesterday. Never did make it into the studio. My energy ran out after lunch and my glands starting swelling again, so it was time to just sit down and work on computer clean up and watch some TV. As a friend said about this virus yesterday "this bugger has tenacity"!

I'm really happy with my new pizza dough. I think I'll just add a hair more salt to it next time but the texture is great and it's got a crispy, yet foldable bottom much like the typical New York style pizza I grew up eating. I used a little free program called pizza calculator to come up with a recipe that fit my requirements. Other than a bit of tweaking here and there, I will keep the basic recipe. It would have more flavor if I did a cold rise method, letting the dough sit in the fridge for two or 3 days where it can create a bit of a sourdough flavor. Come to think of it, maybe I can just try using my sourdough starter and see if I can get that flavor in one day. HMMM - always something new to try. The other option is do what my friend Ron does and add a bit of rye flour to the mix. Oh yeah, there's a couple little tweaks to try next time.

I'll do early dinner prep after breakfast.  I'm making potato pancakes tonight. All that frying messes up the kitchen but it's such a comforting, vegetarian meal, that it's worth the greasy cleanup a couple of times a year. Not sure about getting into the studio; but my body will let me know later; but I'll heat the studio just in case.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Korean pottery video

This is a sweet little video on the traditional onggi storage jars of Korea. I saw these forms being made in Southern Japan where the ancestors of the many captured Korean potters after a war between these two nations had been re-located. 

Finally coming out of this upper respiratory virus that just didn't seem to want to leave. Yesterday I felt good enough to make a lovely dinner and I'm feeling pretty good this morning. So after breakfast I'll get my pizza dough made and get the toppings prepped and  get to the studio for an hour or two after lunch.

I'm afraid those covered pots may have dried too much to slip; or maybe the clay gods will have smiled down on me and  they'll be fine. Optimism is still a freebie.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Revisiting a historic Hamada Leach video

Still bored silly with this bronchial crud virus. Thank goodness for the Sunday papers, TV and you tube videos to re-visit.

Time to dig out the old Hulda Clark zapper and put it to work. It can't hurt.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pete Pinnell on cups

Lately I've seen bloggers posting photos of their mug collections and it made me think this might be a good time to re-post this wonderful Pete Pinnell video on cups.

It's been a few years since I first posted this and it seemed like a good time for a replay, while I sip my morning tea in my current favorite mug - the one I always reach for first.

We potters seem to collect a lot of mugs and I wonder how often any of us use all of them. In our house, the mug rack holds the ones we're most prone to use ourselves or have ready when we have house guests; but there are many other worthy ones scattered in cupboards and display shelves. All of them have something appealing, to warrant them taking up space, so why don't I rotate them? I guess it has a lot to do with size preference (some are smaller than I like). Others have very interesting different shapes and decor, but either fit in the not large enough category, or may be a bit heavier than I like.

Years ago when I owned a gallery and later just selling my own work at my studio, I always had a varied selection of mug/cup sizes, shapes and handles. Not everyone holds mugs the same way and not every ones fingers feel comfortable with all handles. What fits one hand might be uncomfortable or awkward for another. Some people love the  thumb rests I put on many of my mugs, but a man with a large hand might not find that a comfortable fit. So I always made sure there were some without those thumb rests. Some people put two or four fingers through the handle, so they like me, like a generous handle.

So I'm going to get out of this rut, and put a couple of those orphan mugs on the mug rack and temporarily retire a couple of those currently taking up residence. I might even try using one or two of them, but not with my morning tea. I'm not ready to go that far right now. :-)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A lovely gift

A new friend who is a specialist in Eastern Ceramics and V.P. at Sotheby's sent me a copy of this amazing Nigel Wood book on  Chinese Glazes. At a party a couple of months ago we got into a conversation about Ru ware and the fact that no one has ever been able to duplicate it. When I got home I did some research in some of my old books and on line and since they know the body makeup and glaze makeup the only thing left to the mystery, was the firing temperature, kiln and wood used. I made some notes on this and now have to figure out where I put them.

After doing that bit of research, it made me wish I were twenty years younger and still had my wood kiln. This puzzle will have to be solved by someone younger, but it was nice to dream.

Now I'll slink back into healing mode and watch some of the Australian Open tennis that I taped overnight. There's plenty of leftover chicken soup for tonight - good food medicine. It's taking me longer to get over this bug but so far, I'm doing it without antibiotics and that's a good thing.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wonderful post on converting an old electric kiln to gas

Thought some might find this step by step electric to gas kiln conversion useful. It's very detailed and anyone would be able to do this. You can always look at your local Craigs list for freebies or even put your own request out for a non working electric kiln.

I cancelled my blood work appointment - still coughing and wheezing and sneezing too much to risk giving this to anyone else or picking up some other bug at the hospital.

Have lots of tape Australian open matches to watch in between the wheezing, sneezing and coughing.

Jim is off to the hospital for his blood work and he has a small shopping list from me. Tonight is going to be a good night for a pot of home made chicken soup.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An amusing statement on artist statements

Took all my cold/flu/decongestants/fever reducer meds and then read some emails and found this cartoon to share. An earlier, similar cartoon about crafts shows that I posted a while back, was hilarious and more so because of the inherent truth in much of the humor. This one hits the mark as well.

I'm grateful that while spending a lot of time the past four days dealing with this flu bug, which looks like it's slowly on it's way out, that there have been some entertaining things to watch on TV. My mind is still too foggy to do any serious reading, so the books I have by my bedside will remain unopened a bit longer.

Watching the U.S. Figure skating championships last night and this afternoon, followed by the Australian open at 4 o'clock, and tonight the Golden Globe awards will fill in my day nicely.

Yesterday I perked up enough to make tacos for dinner and we'll be having them again tonight. Thank goodness Jim doesn't mind leftovers. Usually I skip a day between but he enjoyed them so much he requested them again tonight. To make it more interesting I think I'll  make margaritas to go with them tonight. This body could use the extra vitamin C right now.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Video of Australian potter Greg Crowe

Since I'm not feeling up to doing anything, other than staying in bed and dealing  with this flu bug, I checked out some you tube videos. This is a nice one from Australia - interesting patterns and textures using a combination of faceting, re-application of some faceted pieces, impressing, etc.

It's been a few days of dealing with some bad news about an old friend and some family members and then getting hit with some flu bug right after I left the doctors office yesterday. So now I'm in bed taking a host of vitamins, oscillococcinum (never know how to spell that one),and trying to deal with periods of chills, heat and all the other symptoms, ache and pains from whatever current bug has decided that my body would make a good, temporary host for itself.

I'm grateful that I already have leftover mushroom bisque for dinner and won't have to send Jim out for take out. There is always something to be grateful for.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunday morning scones and studio time

Can't believe I actually got a couple of days in a row of some studio time and it felt good! Yesterday I threw a few things and did some clean up and other chores. The clay was way too soft, so I need to get some firmer clay in the next few days as well as some grog to have on hand. Mean time I'll just throw mugs, cups, small bowls and low, wide serving bowls.

My next clay purchase will be a grogged version of this current body since this grog free version warped on the small, slabbed pieces I made as pattern stamps, even with being covered for a couple of weeks for slow drying. Glad I found that out before I made a bunch of a larger slabbed trays and other things.

Part of studio time yesterday was tidying and organizing. The heat gun is now cleaned, and off the floor and hanging on a hook, within easy reach. The drill is also off the floor and close by( on a one of the shelves of my roll out bat cart). I also had to clean the two plastic boxes with all my under glazes. Having them open, and on the floor, next to the wheel, while throwing and trimming, turned out not to be a good idea. The jars and boxes are now cleaned, covered and safely away from clay splatters and wheel trimmings.

I finished decorating a couple of pots and got them in the kiln and got another couple of shelves loaded and ready for these latest pots . It was a good reminder that I need to do some research on lighter weight kiln shelves for this electric kiln. On second thought, maybe I can find a way to cut down the few advancers I kept when we moved, since there isn't even the most remote possibility of my building another large soda kiln, or better yet, maybe, I can take them to one of these granite suppliers and see if they'd cut them for me.

 I once cut a couple of my silicon carbide shelves; but I sold that larger diamond lapidary saw and don't think I can use the smaller one for this job, because the case is too small to fit the shelf.  I'll have to see if I can find a local stone cutting place willing to cut them. That will save the cost of new shelves and also make space in the shelf cart for other things.

I turned the studio  heat on at 5:30 this morning, and at 7am I braved the still, very cold studio and cut the pots off the bats, and got them inverted, and covered. They should be just right for trimming and slipping after breakfast. I was very surprised that they dried that much in the unheated, cold, drafty, damp, garage/studio overnight. Good thing I checked them very early this morning. There must have been enough residual heat in there when I turned off both heaters around 8:30 last night, to get them to this stage.

Time to make some Sunday morning scones. If the studio heats up in the next couple of hours, I may actually be able get in there after breakfast. Right now if feels as cold as a meat packing locker. Remember the scene in Rocky with the brother-in-law wearing gloves while working in one of those lockers? That's what came to mind while I was cutting pots off the bats in my pj's at 7am! 

Friday, January 03, 2014

How to make your own cuttle boards for plaster molds

Some good instruction in making cuttle boards in this clip from Ceramic Arts Daily.

I've been spending the morning ordering long life incandescent light bulbs on line. I figure that 20,000 hour life span is a good investment, particularly since they're edging out these incandescent bulbs. Our daughter, who lives in Germany, which switched to the new bulbs last year says that those new bulbs which were supposed to last longer, are not even lasting half as long as the old incandescent bulbs, so I took her good advice and got us a good supply and even got free shipping.

Since we're in something of a drought situation here in Southern Oregon,  and our automatic drip system is turned off,  I spent some time hand watering some of my container plants - one bucket at a time.  Between these unusual below freezing temperatures we've had and the drought, I have a feeling that we may be losing some perennials. Everything is looking pretty stressed. Two of my roses look like they have gone to the garden in the sky; but spring will reveal all.

I'll get a full afternoon in the studio thanks to our Bayou chicken pot pie dinner leftovers. My plan is to weigh out a small bucket of amber glaze, and a small batch of a light green slip. I liked several of the light greens slips I tested, but am finally settling on one with 5% Mason celadon green stain, to play with for a while. Since I'm still not sure how long I'll stick with this earthenware, I'm not making five gallon batches of slip. Three gallons will be enough to dip small things and I can pour or brush it on other pieces.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Centering arm works

Had a productive, yet easy day yesterday. Made this tasty Bayou chicken pot pie for dinner and got some studio time to test out the centering arm after mixing and pugging some clay.

I centered this 5 1/2 lbs of very soft, grog free, clay pretty easily and opened it after I made a position adjustment on the opening tool. I used a combination of the centering plate and  my hand, which I used mainly to push down the top. That worked really well. I will need to lower the centering plate just a hair more. The other thing I found was that I needed to remove the back part of the the wheel tray if I throw anything wide, because there's no way to slide the arm with the centering plate out of the way as the bowl widens. I had to lift off the top opening arm and remove it so I could lift up the centering plate arm and get it moved back so I could open the bowl all the way.

This is a terrific tool! For some reason, I was able to use a lot less water and even with this very soft clay, was able to get a good sized thin walled bowl thrown without slumping. The  degenerative arthritis in my neck and upper spine are loving this tool! 

I got a couple of other studio tidying jobs done and in the midst of reaching up to put something away, I hit the plastic tray that holds my best and most expensive and fragile trim tools. The whole thing went flying and I was at least lucky that that only one shattered; and of course it had to be the one that I had custom made!

I finally found the solution to the Apple new IOS software bug of not being able to send email. Fortunately, someone on you tube posted a video with the fix, which was as easy as just deleting the password for the primary email in the settings smtp area and re-entering it. It's taken me days to find that solution. My next fix search will be to figure out why that updated software or the updated iTunes won't load all my loose photos (it loads the sub-folders and photos in those folders), but not the loose photos in that main My Photos folder. It is a puzzlement It's also not loading all my playlists which show up in iTunes, but won't sync to my iPod touch or Ipad. After these latest updates messes, I am not going to be prone to doing new updates until I see what other people are experiencing. Lesson learned.

Meantime, the kitchen is calling. After an egg salad on toast breakfast I'll  head to the studio if  it's warm enough, otherwise I'll set up the side lights in the new photo setup and see if I can take a few test shots. And somewhere in the day, we also want to make a Costco run.

When I look at how full my days are, I have no idea how other retired people can complain of boredom. The world is full of free books, how to and other videos at the library, great hiking and driving trips, free on line courses (I just signed on for a free course in Permaculture), all kinds of clubs and activities to join, and long lists of new skills to learn if one is more interested in passioning to live in the moment and not staying stuck in the past or worrying about the future.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Photo setup

Spent my studio time yesterday in the guest bedroom, installing my photo setup. I had to figure out how to support the background paper. So I clipped it to a 4 foot long, thin, flat, piece of wood, looped a string on each  end and then hung the string on a cup hook that screwed into the wall above the window. It was the only place in the house where I could set this up and leave it up for months at a time. When house guests arrive, it can be easily disassembled.

It looks like I'll have to push the table back a bit to make room for side lights unless I can move the Queen sized bed further away, which may not be doable since it's a small bedroom for a bed that size.

Either way, it's going to be a tight working space; and I'll probably have to do so adjustments later with the position of the light box, which at the moment, looks like it may be sitting too far back for the current table position.

I'll  know what tweaking needs to done after I set up the lights tomorrow and take a few test shots. Right now it's time to head to the studio for a few hours before I stop at 4 o'clock to start on tonight's dinner - Bayou chicken pot pie.