Monday, June 30

Still in La-la Land

Well, yesterday was not the best day of my life. I was trying pretty hard not to take any pain meds for my headache but lost it yesterday and went to the emergency room it was so bad. They put me on an IV of something that actually worked for about 2 wonderful hours. There is such a feeling of peace that comes over you when you are not in pain anymore (probably the high from the drug didn't hurt either). Cat scan was normal. Good I don't have a brain tumor, bad that I still don't know what's going on.

Saturday, June 28

As the Borg say, resistence is futile

Okay, I am breaking my own rule about not posting photos of cute kids and sunsets and I have been resisting for some time but have lost the battle within. Above is a photo of my daughter. Normally she does not have purple hair and cat-ears but I am sure there was a holiday she was celebrating. Below is my grandson from last fourth of July. His mother, the purple-haired girl, enjoys festooning him according to the holiday, superbowl, season (she puts shorts on him in summer and sweaters in winter-crazy). You should have seen him last Superbowl, for that matter you should have seen her. I didn't even know they made Patriots earrings but she managed to find some. If I didn't give birth to her myself I would be convinced she were not from my loins, we are so different.
So as an early July 4th posting here is Star-Spangled Baby.

I guess I should think of renaming my blog The Mindpot or something. Still battling the headache. I have taken myself off of the meds they had me on because they are not working and I can't even think too clearly anymore. Here is a list of every chemical I have put in my precious body in the last five weeks (post surgery to current headache): Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Ambien, Clonazepram, Immitrex, Keterolac, Oxycodone, Prednisone, Propranolol, Col-Rite, and Aleve. Yesterday I began taking Arnica Montana 30x but it is homeopathic so I'm not too stressed about that one. What a cocktail huh? That's just insanity. I am supposed to go back o the doctor again on Monday and he thinks I should have a Cat-Scan. However, during my last visit he said a Cat-Scan could be done but was more often than not useless so I question the need for one now. I fell asleep last night around 10:00 and it could have been a good solid nights sleep, except that I woke up at 2:00 and couldn't get back to sleep. I am incredibly tempted to take one of my Ambiens and sleep but am trying really hard to de-tox and drinking some cleansing herbal tea instead. I will endure the day like a zombie, do some more yoga and hope for sleep tonight. Oh yeah, I cold turkeyed caffeine today as well. This has it's benefits perhaps and liabilities. I never used to drink caffeine but a couple of months ago started drinking two cups of black tea every morning. Caffeine can trigger headaches. But, going off caffeine can also trigger headaches. Ay yi yi.

Thursday, June 26

Tea for ten

It's kinda late. Just got home from an open mic. Kind of chill tonight but nice. I still have my headache and it's pretty fierce. I do have some new hope at the end of my tiny rainbow though. I ran into an old friend, or rather someone I knew in the past and have run into a couple of times since but now feels like a friend, and he suggested I try internal Arnica. I have used Arnica gel on my knees while hiking and was blown away by how it took the pain away so I got home and did a little Googling about the oral Arnica and I'm going to the health food store first thing in the morning. I can't live like this, I can function, but barely. It's like existing and participating in life when there is always something else on your mind (quite literally in this case). This shit they have me on is not working. I am so pumped up on drugs it's crazy. Except painkillers if you remember which I quit. Yah, that's fun having a migraine and not taking anything for the pain. Yah I'm all over that. I'm going to try meditating tomorrow. See what happens. And getting more involved with my yoga can't hurt. Or I could just try some more expensive, ineffective drugs. Sorry, I'm feeling a little cynical. It really hurts.

Tuesday, June 24

Chehalis-a woman beyond

Witness Place - Octopus

This is a wonderful self-portrait of a beautiful photographer named Chehalis Hegner. I highly recommend looking at her website and if possible attending one of her shows. Her work is always compelling and very human. This is reprinted without her permission, but I hope she doen't mind since I am printing with the highest admiration for her work.

Monday, June 23

The Melon Head

Well, so far I don't look like a melon, and really in the grand scheme of possible facial disfigurements my possible temporary facial enlargement is really nothing to worry too much about.

We usually don't have cable. I have lived without it for probably 10 years, but Adam wanted to try it and thought it would be good for my recuperation after my surgery, and I have to admit it was. I spent many hours watching things I never would have watched (like America's Top Model and What not to Wear [Thanks Stacy and Clinton for setting me straight])) and other such programs, but I quite literally did not have the physical or mental energy to expend on anything else for a couple of weeks and it probably kept me from going a little koo-koo. But now we are talking about it being time to say good-bye to cable again. I will miss the Dailey show, the Cobert Report, Next Gen., Cash Cab and a few others, but I can easily, without any residual pain, live without them. There is simply way too much to do in life.

You may be wondering why the picture of the cake. I am not too good at justifying or lying so the reason is because I havn't been making enough new pottery to photograph any. That is the sad truth. Between my operation and the headache which has taken permanent residence in my brain, not much is going on. So here is a cake to celebrate my inactivity. It is actually a birthday cake I once made for Adam, Black Forrest. But in the interest of recycling we'll use it for a second occasion. Happy not doing anything to me, happy not doing . . .

Check this out for fun

This is a link I just scoffed from another potters blog. His name is Ron Philbeck and I think his blog is my favorite. Check it out sometime. The link to the link I stole from him is
Move your cursor around and click your mouse to change colors.

I went to the doctor again today. Still have the headache. I'm on another round of steroids and so I think it is likely that my face will begin to resemble a melon of some variety within a few days. I can't take much more. It is really affecting my state of mind-not to mention all the other drugs ie. painkillers I've been taking, which the doctor recommends I cease and desist with because I guess they can lead to re-bound headaches or whatever which may not be helping me to kick this one. So no painkillers, but I can take anti-anxiety pills to help with the mental and physical stress of the headache because they are not an analgesic. I have about seven prescriptions in my medicine chest which I find disturbing. I can't wait to be back to as close to normal as possible. I prefer a healthy, clean mind and body. Not one with chemicals ricocheting around my mind and within my skin. Disturbing.

Sunday, June 22

Lesson learned

Something's wrong with the glaze on these test pots above

The orange on these pots is how it should be.

I just learned a really valuable lesson. The orangy glaze above is a glaze I have been using. It's orangy when thinner, and creamier as it is thicker. Great versatile glaze. I made up a new batch and as an afterthought decided to test it in my last test firing on the three vertical test tiles above because I had used a new batch of yellow ochre. (I hadn't glazed my little test pots with it thank God). As you can see there is a radical difference here, and not a happy one. Something is very wrong with the glaze which is a drag because I just made about 4 gallons of it.

There is a belief floating around that you should always test a new batch of glaze (even if it is a glaze you have been using for a while) before committing a lot of pots to it and I never do. Once I have done my preliminary tests I trust my measuring and mixing and just remake the batch when it is low and continue on. Due to my own stupidity I screwed up the calibration on my larger scale and I think this test is the end result. I use digital scales-which I love-and am very meticulous. But I think this event has changed my plans. If I had committed an entire large glaze firing using this glaze I would be in some serious emotional pain right now.

So I have ordered a new scale. What I really need to do is just re-calibrate the one I have but the 5 kilogram weight to recalibrate is 42$ plus shipping on a 12 lb. item. I can buy exactly the same scale I have for 35$ with shipping included. The power button on my scale was difficult to turn on sometimes so I just decided to go with a new scale. I am going to do a small test with the old batch of yellow ochre and the new batch of yellow ochre just to be sure it is not that, but I really believe it is the scale.

Take note: randomly pressing buttons together to see if you can figure something out is not as wise as taking the time to read the manual. So huge lesson learned. I will always test new batches of glaze from now on even if I have been using them for years.

Wednesday, June 18

Five Day Headache and a Bad-Ass Dog

I went to the doctors today. I thought I had a five day headache, but realized it's only a four day headache. But that's still about 3 1/2 days too long. Any time my doctor has suggested I am getting migranes I always poo poo the idea, but decided today they may be correct. So I took some Aleve, some kind of prescription, and another prescription of steroids of all things about an hour and a half ago and the result is that I still have a headache. My teeth are starting to throb. It's very unpleasant. This is really getting in the way of working in my studio. I just don't have it in me. I did get some good news though. I got the results from my cholesterol test back. Hold on to your hammock. My HDL is 51 and my LDL is 77. Not bad.

Monday, June 16

Electric and lovin' it

Here are a few test pots from my most recent tests. I am pretty excited about the results. I was looking for a matt black to use, especially on the outside of pots. Also playing around with my glazes and the black oxide washes I tested last firing. Keep in mind all these pots came from my electric kiln so I think it was pretty successful. To me the pots remind me of wood and or soda fired pieces.

Thursday, June 12

Testing or procrastinating?

These are all test I have done over the last few weeks. There are three cycles here. One was testing for a black stain for brushwork. The second was testing a few glazes to substitute for one I use now, and the third, mostly done today is to find a new black. I have a decent black now, but it's not quite what I am looking for. I want something more like skin rather than a piece of heavy clothing. Something that allows the form to shine. I would like a matte to satin-matte but that is not easy. Since I will use this on the inside of pots as well as the outside it needs to be food-safe.

Unfortunately many mattes are actually under-fired or improperly formulated gloss glazes. Often they don't have enough Silica in them (the glass-former) and so if an acidic food is in the pot it is possible for chemicals to leach from the glaze into the food. Most of the ingredients I and most other potters use are fine but there are a few nasties which is fine but they need to be in a properly formulated glaze at a safe level. There are some like lead, barium, cadmium and some others which are just plain dangerous and aren't used much in functional (for food use) pottery any more. Cobalt, manganese and chrome are commonly used but you don't want them leaching into your food (or breathing the dust while using or fumes while firing). There were a few recipes I opted not to test because at 5% of the recipe the silica was just too low. It depends on the recipe what the proper % would be, but generally you will see it at 20-25% so you can see why 5% is just not going to cut it.

To reduce any paranoia that might be building in anyone, in an almost properly formulated glaze it would take a lot of leaching from an average cup or bowl to be dangerous. I have a bowl with a barium glaze as the liner that I don't hesitate to use sometimes. Would I want all of my dishware to be lined with this glaze? Ummm no. That would be dumb. I would also be dumb after a while. (I have a couple of recipes that I tested today that called for barium and I chose to substitute strontium carbonate instead which is commonly done, but it will affect the glaze so we'll see how they come out). There are also safe-ish levels of dangerous oxides. Properly formulated 3% copper carbonate should be fine. However I probably would not test a recipe for food pottery that called for 15% copper. That's really high and will almost definetely leach. But I'm not a scientist, I just play one in my studio. Some of this is just conjecture.

Unfortunately the end result of all this testing is a lot of unused glaze samples and that is mostly what is filling 1/2 of this 30 gallon bucket.

Some people write in to pottery forums asking questions. A free exchange of ideas. Free for them, costly for others. One I have seen more than once goes something like this:

"Hi, I am a newbie and I'm looking for a reliable yellow (blue, black, green, whatever . . .) glaze but materials are so expensive that I hate to waste them testing unless I know it's a good glaze so does anyone have a recipe they could share? Thanks a lot! I just love clay and you guys are great!"

These are not my favorite people.

Tuesday, June 3

Pathelogical Painting Pride

This is a painting from about six years ago when I was going through a difficult time-I guess I was angst-ridden. It was helpful to put my feelings onto this canvas and probably helped me from imploding all the way. I hung it on my wall in my kitchen for a while and given the content of the work I think I was being brave. A boyfriend asked me if I thought I should really have it on my wall being that it was so personal. His comment of course had the effect of making me feel very insecure about the work (but then by the end of the relationship I felt insecure about many things-not the sign of a healthy relationship) but I left it there anyway. Some time later I came to the belief that if he was uncomfortable with the nature of my work then that said more about him really then it did about me. When I was ready (ready being when I moved in with my now-husband and decided that it might not be considerate to have this painting on the wall any longer) it came down from the wall and moved to my shed. It's now at the home of one of my son's friends who fell in love with it in while in the shed.

Sunday, June 1

My Adam

Well another week has passed and I have tried to work a little. I made six covered pots but not sure I should be working so hard yet. It's kind of hard to give myself permission to slow down. I guess in the long-term grand scheme of things this down time will pass quickly and probably not affect my life as drastically as I imagine. It's frustrating though. I just got accepted into the League, this goal I've had for years and then I have to stop working when what I really want to do is throw myself into my work. I tend to be a little like a freight train as well. Once I stop it takes some momentum and effort to get up to speed again. So it's scary stopping for that reason as well.

So this picture is a picture of my husband Adam. Adam is wonderful and I am really lucky to have someone in my life who is so supportive of my work and really just everything. Everyone should be so lucky.