Tuesday, September 30

My "new" wedging table

So I have this sorry looking little wedging table. It's not very big, but it's main problem is it's ugliness. I've been wanting to revamp it for a while and since while I had been feeling sick I was not feeling creative in the pot making area, I thought I would give it a go. It originally had a canvas covered, plywood top. This annoyed me because once the canvas stretched out over time, it would bunch up while I was wedging. I've taken the top off and restretched more than once. Enough is enough!

So I decided to turn it into a plaster topped table since I already had the plaster on hand. I took the top off, cut it to fit into the frame, lowered the legs and dropped the top in. I had intended on making the depth about 1 1/2" so the table wasn't too heavy to move around, but forgot to take into account the depth of the plywood, so it's really only about 1" deep. I figure as long as I don't clog dance on it, it should be fine.

I had some paint kicking around and so I didn't even need to spend any money there. The dark paint is left over from my son's room when he was still living at home. It was so bright and cheery in there. I couldn't resist the next little touch.

I hand lettered the logo, with paint leftover from the trim in our house, and I have to say it looks really awesome. I keep laughing when I look at it. We had a Brent slabroller in college, and it was a great piece of equipment. Now I have my own little piece of Brent!

Here's some mugs in the front and some bird feeders towards the back. Tomorrow my pugmill should arrive! I am so excited! I probably won't be able to get it into the house until Adam gets home, so I will spend the following day learning how to use it and recycling my clay! Peter and Brent will be so happy together.

Monday, September 29

Apple picking

I just thought I'd put up a quick little note. I'm not really sick anymore-still feeling a little light-headed though. We spent the day at the fair yesterday with my grandson eating french fries, gyros and ice cream. Petting the sheep and such. It was drizzling out most of the day but really didn't start raining until we were leaving. I was hoping to get into my studio today, but we won't be dropping the little guy off until 2:30, so probably not much will be done in there. We're going to stop on the way and do a little apple picking. Hopefully I will have some photos of a new batch of work soon. I'm still waiting to hear about approval of my second shipment of work to the league. Well, I'm just sitting here trying to think of things to say, so I guess there's not much worth writing about today so I will end for now.

Thursday, September 25

Monkeys would use math if they could

Ben Stark asked me the other day about making the bat pin holes in the bats I made, so I thought I would show you super fast what I did. I think the entire process is easier if you start out with plywood that you have ripped into squares. Using a long straight edge, mark the center of the board.

Then, and this is important, measure out from the center the distance of your batpin holes. Measure the distance of your batpins on center. Not to point out the obvious to those who know what that means, but to those who don't, on center means from the center of the spot (in this case the bat pin) to the center of the other spot (the other bat pin). Now transfer that measurement to the wood. In my case, my bat pin holes are 10" apart on center, so I just lined the ruler up with the five inch point, and measured out five inches from there. You can see where I put my little x's.

I took a lot more photos, but then decided to skip the demos of obvious things. One photo I should have kept maybe was that I then took a compass and holding the pointy edge in the middle of my large center X, drew a nice circle inside of the square.One little tip. I found that occasionally the drill liked to drift a little when drilling the hole, so once I had one hole drilled I fitted it onto the bat head and with a hammer tapped down to mark where the other one would end up, just to make sure I hadn't drifted too much and so I could adjust the drill point if neccessary. You might ask: why not just take the circle and put it on bat head and mark the holes that way to begin with? I would answer because we are not monkeys, that's why. We can use tools and math and resort to monkey-like behavior as a last resort.

So, it's about 2:00 now. I now realize that I am not just over-tired from not sleeping, I am sick. So, I spent the morning cutting the bats and cleaning up a considerable mess (should have done it outside). My last goal of the day is to attach the bottoms to my new batch of square casseroles, put them under plastic and call it a day. I will attach the handles tomorrow. I am like a walking zombie right now. You might ask if it was safe for me to be using power tools given , my mental lethargy, and I would answer that if I can manage to seriously hurt myself with a jigsaw, then that is natural selection at it's finest.

Square casseroles

I've been playing around with making square casseroles. I made them without bottoms and attached slab bottoms. The handles were intensely time consuming until I got the hang of it, and by the seventh one I had a good feel for what I wanted and how to get it.

I threw some more to work on today, but I threw them with the bottoms in. I have seen others make squares from pots with bottoms, but when I pushed the sides in the bottom bunched and puckered up inside. Maybe there's something I don't know. So I ended up cutting the bottoms out and will finish them today, probably with a different style handle.

I didn't sleep well last night, so I'm way too tired to try to write anything interesting, so that's all for now.

Tuesday, September 23

Super-size me bats

Since I obviously don't know how to stay within the parameters of my immediate equipment, the last platter I threw was about 21" across, and even without a Masters degree (sniffle-sniffle) I knew it would not fit well for trimming onto my 21" bat-never mind the drama of trying to flip the beast over on such a small confinement. And so yesterday I drove to my neighborhood lumber yard and bought a piece of plywood. For any of you interested in such a trip, be sure to realize firsthand that just because the inside of your vehicle measures more than 48", doesn't mean that the point of entry does. Fortunately, after attempting to help load the piece into my car with my friendly lumber guy without success (when he asked me what kind of plywood I wanted, I responded "the long flat kind" to which he was amused and not annoyed) he had no problem cutting down to 24" pieces, which is the size bat I wanted to make anyway.

So I made two of them with help from Adam's manly strong hands holding the wood for me as I jigsawed, and he ran the table saw, which I am quite afraid of, to rip the remaining wood down to made smaller bats. Another pearl of wisdom: the diameter is not the same as the diagonal. I know the old adage is to measure twice and cut once. I apparently prefer to measure five or six times, and then cut twice. There's a disconnect in my brain somewhere. At least my error was on the large side, so can be fixed.

This platter isn't actually finished yet. When I took it off and flipped it over there was still way too much clay on the sides so it went back on. But there it is, 21" platter on one of my 24" bats. It took every ounce of strength and commitment to flip this over onto the bat for trimming. Factor in 25 lbs. of clay, a 16" plaster bat, and a 24", 1/2" thick bat all sandwiched together, and being held up with the strength of my left arm. It's a scary moment.

Saturday, September 20

Sweet ride

So I'm pretty grateful to Jeff Martin for his inspiration to me. Not only do I love his work but he's into bike riding which has really inspired me to get back out and do a little riding before the snow flys. I usually ride quite a bit, but this year almost nada. So I went out for about 45 minutes this morning and feel really good. I got that riders high. I was gonna take a picture with me in my silly gear with my bike, but my battery was dead so I'm all cleaned up and showered with my sweet ride. I had to turn around this morning cause I was a little cold. I had to put leggings under my bike shorts and put a thin hat on. Brrrr. Thank you Jeff!

I did a little texturing on the sides of my square plates. In my mind they look really sweet when they are done. The edges will be unglazed with oxide rubbed in, with the center glazed. Can you see it?

Thursday, September 18

Little Miss Stripey

Well, the in-laws are here for the weekend, and, my father Dennis has had to come to Boston for the weekend, and so there is a bit of a family theme for the next few days. I would like to post some photos of some slab plates I made, but I just don't feel like the whole photo download thing, so here is another pot from my last firing. A vase. To put flowers in. Be back Monday or Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 17

My big baby

This little beauty is about 21" across. It's quite flat, the largest flattest thing I have thrown so far. I have thrown a 24" bowl, which is a little easier I think.

These are some wood molds I made today for shaping slabs over to make square plates.

My heat gun I bought the other day, which greatly improves my ability to throw something like a 21" platter.

One of my pots from my last firing.

I had a few responses to my last post, and I found my response becoming quite long (what a surprise) and so decided that I would reply as a post. I promise not to post anything else so serious for at least one day after this. I'm not trying to contradict anything anyone said, just to write down what it got me thinking of. I am particularly interested in the idea of living for the moment, or rather treating each moment like it could be your last. I think it's a nice concept, but in the long run difficult, not to mention depressing thinking that every moment could be your last! It's a lot of pressure to put on yourself in life, because there is so much that has to be done that we really don't want to do but has to be done. Maybe some people manage to pull that off but it would be pretty hard for me. I know if I treated each moment as if it were my last, I'd never work, never clean the toilet, etc. I certainly wouldn't be sitting here typing on this computer.

I think the more do-able and equally important thing to do is to be present in every moment. It's like that bumper sticker that says: I'd rather be here now. It's something to really think about. Most of us probably perform a lot of tasks all the while wishing we could be doing something else. when I find myself rushing through something, like dishes or whatever and my mind is scattered and I'm starting to feel anxious because I'm already thinking of what I need or want to do next, I try to mentally stop, and while not exactly enjoy doing dishes, at least experience doing dishes. You can find a little Zen that way. I should say as a disclaimer here, that I desperately need to take my own advice. I'm not exactly settled most of the time. But it's something to think about-what you would do differently if you knew for sure this was it. If you told me, and I knew it to be true, that I had three days left to live I would embrace my hearts desire. I would do what I needed to do to spend those three days at peace inside. But I have to live believing I have maybe 30 years left, and that's a whole different ballgame.

Thoughts on Alan

I don't know if it is appropriate for me to spend time addressing Alan's death and death in general and how I feel about it. I don't want to offend or hurt anyone who knew him well, yet lately, when things are on my mind, this is where I put them.

I didn't find out about Alan until late last night. It had been a good day for me and I had spent the day with pretty high spirits. When I finally sat down to catch up on my blog reading and starting reeling all this information in I was just in disbelief and unexplicably sad. It's always been a strange circumstance to me, to realize that while you were baking a cake, or dancing or making love or laughing, that someone somewhere that had a presence in your life was dying. I have not really had to absorb the deaths of many in my life at all, and most who have gone, it was their time more or less. I miss my grandparents, and wish I had spent more time with them while they were here, but I understand death is part of life, and it was time for them, and I am not afraid of death when it comes for me.

My uncle Ronnie died too young. He wasn't terribly older than I am now and I wasn't particularly close with him. I found him entertaining as an uncle the once or twice a year I might see him. He was a fabulous pianist, irreverant, and I just liked him. When he died my reaction completely caught me by surprise. I was devastated. I cried for days, never knowing when it would hit me, and still imagine to this day that he is watching over me when I am trying hard in my car to learn to sing (against natures desire) He once asked me if I "had the music in me" and I try to think that maybe I do a little, and not waste it entirely as I imagine that he is looking on, even though I will never express it even close to as well as he did.

I had a relationship of mutual dislike with my ex-husbands father. He just wasn't very nice to me and I guess I never took the time to sit down with him and ask him why and tell him I wish it could be better. When he died I sobbed. I sobbed for a man I almost despised and left a letter in his coffin telling him how I wish things could have been better.

My reaction to Alan's death also caught me by surprise. I cried for the death of someone I did not know. I have no idea who Alan was except what I saw about him on his blog. What I saw was someone who seemed to have a great sense of humor ("Paul if this looks right to you stand up!") and was very generous sharing his techniques with us. I asked him a question once about how he made cut handled bowls and a couple of days later there was an extensive demo on his site showing how. And lastly I am regretful because of something simple I wanted to say to him, and now I never can.

He once posted a photo of a white vase that I fell in love with and asked him about. He explained that the other side had some brushwork on it and so might not be what I was looking for, and posted a photo to show me. It was lovely, but he was right, not exactly what I had in my mind. I politely wrote back thank you but, etc. . . Perhaps it is just my over analysing things as I am prone to do, but I have always worried that I might have offended or hurt his feelings by rejecting that vase, and I kept meaning to send him a note saying something about it. I'm sure that many reading this are going to rightly believe that he was completely fine about it and not offended at all, and you are probably right. It's just that now that opportunity is gone. Something I kept meaning to do, can never be done now. Just another of those moments when you realize all you might have is today and that's it.

So last night I wrote a note to someone about something that has been on my mind and in my heart for years. I felt compelled to write it, and decided I was not going to let the moment go by. I don't know what the result will be, but I think the results of not sharing my thoughts and hopes with him is worse than any anger he might feel by my doing so. I want to believe that I might somehow change his heart a little, and as a result, someone else's life with that letter. Maybe it's presumptuous of me to think I have that power, but if people I really don't know can affect my life, than hopefully I can affect his.

Tuesday, September 16

very sad

I suppose like everyone else right now, I am in shock at learning about Alan's death. It strange how the death of someone you have never met can so impact you. I can't say much, because I don't know him enough to be so presumptuous, but it's very,very sad. I can't believe I will never read another post from him again, or view another of his beautiful photos that made me long to visit his homeland. I am so, so sorry for those who knew him well, and his family and close friends.

Oh special day

So after my pity party yesterday I decided to throw big for a while. I worked on a few platter/bowls. The sides of the first two collapsed resulting in them being much smaller than intended, and also inspiring a trip to the hardware store this morning to look for a heat gun or larger torch. I managed to save the third full size, which is still on my wheel. They range in diameter from 14", 16", and 19".

When I throw large I use these plaster bats which elevate the surface above my splashpan and slop goes flying everywhere. Daisy was standing nearby watching me work and I look over and this is what she looked like. She was obviously in the line of fire, but I didn't hear her protesting. She had it all over the back of her neck as well. She looked pretty funny.

Well, I have some fantastic news I think I will share. This morning, after rubbing the sleepies from my eyes (better than yesterdays tears) I received an mail from my father Dennis. He thought that maybe I could use a Peter Pugger? Can I ever! I've been eyeballing this baby for years! I am beyond excited about this for reasons I don't have to explain to any potters out there. These large bowls were all made from reclaim clay and it was torturous wedging it as it was too hard, and I spent a great deal of time spraying water on it, and wedging forever trying to get all the air out. My reclaim is almost porous it is so full of air, and I am going to get a vacuuming mixer/pugger, so now, my reclaim will be de-aired and those two huge buckets of dry clay, and the third I've started, will finally get recycled as I have no reason to put it off now. And when I start making my own clay this will just be fantastic to have. So a good start to my day. If all goes well, assuming they are in stock he might ship it to me on Friday. Thank you so much Dad!

Monday, September 15

Debbie And The Horrible, Not So Good, Very Bad State Of Mind

You would think that something awful has happened today but it has not. I am feeling sooo defunct in the optimism department about making a living doing this thing. I can not tell you what a bummer (I suppose some of you know) it is to feel like you have spent so much money, and invested so much time for nothing. I got this check in the mail today for 59.00. Whoopee. Man does that make it all worth it. I just went and switched my old work out for my new at two places local I have it. I picked up sooo much old work. It was really depressing. There was a time I dropped that stuff off and felt really good about it. What does that say about the stuff I left today? Am I gonna be picking that up in six months as well and thinking maybe it sucks after all? So now I gotta head down to my studio and work with a very bad attitude, feeling very uninspired, and wondering how long it will be before I head back to the restaurants. At least I had a steady paycheck.

Sunday, September 14

Who's making this girly-looking pottery anyway?

I have mixed feelings about this firing. There are some things I really like, like these two pieces here, and some that just doesn't do it for me. It's so frustrating. I have to start thinking of all my work as test pieces so I don't become too disappointed when they don't work out. I know eventually I will have more success than disappointment-I've already seen a shift in that direction-but I am really looking forward to the ratio of great to icky to increase. I think I'm at about 50% now. Is it too much to ask for 90? So I am really still loving this blue/creamish yellow combo above. Kind of a fluke test I did a while back, and I consistently love it. I just hope the buying public agrees.

This is kind of fun I think. I really like the blue and black. I am skeptical that it will sell well, so I don't think I will invest too much inventory in the "line" until I see some movement from shelves. Not much interesting to report in my life. Adam is back from Chicago, which means I don't have to bring Daisy out at night now-oh yeah-it also means I get the pleasure of his fabulous company (he reads this so I gotta throw that in). Another rainy day in New Hampshire. I only wish I were camping and could hear the raindrops on my tent. That would be perfect.

Friday, September 12

Spotty McGee

Just a little mug. One of the ones that had the handles I was working on. It's also made with that clay I was testing. I really like the clay a lot. The only thing that is making me hesitate about making it is that my main glaze, the yellowy one on this cup, comes out kind of yellowy instead of orangy. It's not bad, but different. I have four bowls with this clay, that I think I will test the glaze with different thicknesses and see what happens, and then go from there.

My kiln is cooling now. Tomorrow I will weep tears of sorrow, or joy. Not feeling so good today. Can't stop sneezing and just feel achy. I'm watching my grandson so I'm just hoping to have a chill night with him. Got a little Ghostbusters action on the tube which he likes. Adam's in Chicago until tomorrow so I've been a single gal for a couple of days. I'll be sure to post some photos of today's firing over the weekend. See ya later.

Wednesday, September 10

Tom Cruise and tumblers

I had the same issue with the washed out black on these tumblers. But I hope to have better luck next time with what I'm learning from the book.

Three more tumblers. I love making tumblers for some reason.

So I've decided to forgive Tom Cruise. I've had a bit of a grudge against him now for a while. Maybe two years. It all started because of a little conflict on South Park. I've watched the show enough to have an idea of the humor, much of it juvenile, tasteless and not funny. Much of it juvenile, tasteless and really hilarious.

The thing I like about South Park is that they make fun of everything and everyone, and like it or not, sometimes they are dead-on with the views they present. They spent an entire episode mocking what can easily be seen as the ridiculousness of blindly believing in the story of the beginning of Mormonism without questioning. However, they also end the episode kind of saying, but hey, we should all tolerate each others beliefs. I'm probably telling you what you already know, but they make fun of every religion, every race, every idea of sex and what ever else might be out there.

So when the episode "Trapped in the Closet" satirizing Scientology came around, no one should have been surprised, or any less, or more offended, than by any other episode. Certainly not Isaac Hayes, who for nine years had no problem participating in a show while they mocked every other religious belief. A few months after the episode aired, he asked to be released from his contract with the show because he felt that making fun of someone's (his) religion was intolerant and bigoted. I personally think he was being a hypocrite (no offense to his memory or him personally) , but it was his choice.

Enter Tom Cruise (also a Scientologist) who was portrayed in the episode. Now this next detail is why I lost a lot of respect for him and began a two year boycott of his movies (I still haven't seen MI 3, although I love Philip Seymore Hoffman and wanted to see it for his performance alone). Cruise took his outrage to another level. He threatened Paramount saying that unless they agreed they would not rebroadcast the episode that he would not promote the MI3 movie. This just really bothered me, because anytime I see someone trying to promote censorship it just outrages me-a good topic in itself for another day.

So the other day we went to see Tropic Thunder, a movie that has had it's own share of criticism stemming from jokes at the expense of people with mental disabilities. I kind of cringed at some of the things said, so I can see why some might be offended-some people were also outraged because Robert Downey Jr. was playing a black man (which by the way he was great in-as usual). But I'm digressing. The surprise performance in the movie was by none other than Mr. Tom Cruise himself. If you don't know he's in this movie going in, it might actually take you a minute to realize who he is. He does a really great job with his character and I found myself enjoying the performance, and thinking it was time to let go of a grudge. We are all, after all, human, imperfect little people, and even the super-humans like Cruise sometimes do and say regrettable things (regrettable in my opinion anyway).

So I think I will finally rent MI3, and get on with my next boycott. If I could only stop eating meat and cheese again . . . talk about a hypocrite!

Tuesday, September 9

Maybe I'm so cold today because my reflections are POLARized-get it?

I don't think I've put these up yet-if I have, then you get to see them twice. This handled pot is one of the only ones that came out okay.

I am reading a book my father Dennis sent me. It is called Light, Science and Magic and is by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua. It's a great book, and if you are interested in learning to photograph your own pots, then this book will likely improve your photos and the ease with which you can make them happen; I know it has already helped me a lot and I have much more still to read.

I learned an interesting thing this morning. I have been having a really difficult time photographing my black pots, like the one above. They look washed out and really difficult to control the reflections on them. Well, I think I now know why, and what I can do about it. I can't possibly explain what I have read thus far, but enough to say that there are several different kinds of light, and, interestingly enough, different types of reflections, and different ways to control them. I think the reflection I am getting off my black glaze is a polarized reflection-which is why I can't make it go away. Now, a far better photographer than myself might be able to deal with this differently-or they might do the same. What I might have to do is to put a polarizing filter over my lens and if it is indeed the type of reflection I am getting, it should solve the problem. It won't help if I am wrong-it will only solve polarized reflection issues . . . but . . . this next thing is fascinating.

You can create polarized reflections by polarizing your lightsource. For example, if I have a direct reflection on a pot, a polarized filter will not change it. However, if I were to put a polarized film over my light, the reflections the light created would then be polarized, and would then be able to be controlled by a polarized filter over my camera lens. I don't know why I would ever do that, but it is cool to know and understand. Knowledge is power!

Sunday, September 7

It ain't no five-dollar t.v.

Yesterday I had a last minute porch sale to try and unload my seconds and older work. There was a town-wide yard sale going on and I thought I'd take advantage of the traffic. I was selling my stuff CHEAP. So cheap that I sometimes did not fully understand why someone would by one mug and be done. Okay, I am kind of embarrassed to say how cheap, but I was selling almost all my mugs, cups and bowls for 1$. Yes, 1. I just want to get rid of it. So I set up at noon, and sold till 3:30 and made 158$. I wish I had set up in the morning because I think I would have unloaded a lot more. I was kind of depressed about the whole thing though. One, I hate devaluing my work like that. It was de-moralizing for me, and as I thought about it through the sale, I worried that I was de-valuing my work, or pottery in general in the publics eye as well. I really want to get rid of this stuff though as it mentally keeps me down. I want to move forward, and when the past is staring you in the face . . .

When I talked to Adam about it later he said that I shouldn't take it personnally, that yard-salers are bottom feeders. As someone who is not above stopping at a yard sale occasionally, I don't subscribe to that theory, but I do think he was correct when he said that when people go out yard-saling they have a certain mindset about them. They are scrounging for a deal. The five dollar T.V. that they think is worth 300 as he said. Unfortunately they might not appreciate that they are holding a 1 dollar pot worth twent-five. So if I market my work in an evironment of cheapness, and sell it cheaply, I shouldn't be too surprised when I feel like shit about it. Oh well.

Saturday, September 6

Diggin' it

Here's a little jar. This is the same glaze combo as the small plate I put up a few days ago. I really like this combo together, which is good because I have a five gallon bucket full of the lighter glaze because I was trying to make half that much, but made it way to thin, and so to fix it I made another batch of dry and mixed together.

I hope I didn't already post this plate. I guess I'll find out in a minute. A little ring action going on. Diggin' it.

I just don't really have anything else much to say. I'll be spending the next three work days glazing again, firing on Thursday. I have enough bisque that I think I can get two more firings, and then it's back to making pots again.

Friday, September 5

Boozin' it

I dropped off my first review shipment today. I left twelve pieces, the photos here are three of them, snapped in this mornings manic photo frenzy. I'm actually pretty happy with the photo above of the oval.

This photo has a little too much reflection on it. It washes the color out a little.

This one came out really sweet too. I stopped at the camera shop in Concord and the bulbs I need are 20$ a piece and I just can't swing it, especially with my new mop purchase. So I stopped at Lowes and got some full spectrum compact florescents to try. If they don't cut it then I will have to spring for the other bulbs.

So after a pretty crazy day of unloading, analyzing, pricing, packing and driving and a aftermath of carnage at my house as a result, I am eating some dinner and drinking a very large martini with some fresh mango in it. I call it a martini, but it's just vodka in a glass with mango. My friend, locally famous Bob King is playing tonight at the Common Man. So I will try to have only this one martini so I can go listen later. Good night and good luck.

Flowers and a dirty floor

Still another couple of pieces from last firing. These are some better photos I tried to take. I still need to work on my lighting a little. I'd like to find three of those cool-burning photos lights. I just need to get off my butt and do it. The tumbler below is pretty big actually. It could be used as a vase.

My firing this time was eh-eh. I did not get my main browny-orange glaze on thick enough on many pots. Sometimes they look okay like that, sometimes not. I had maybe a 60% success rate. So that's better than many firings in the past. However, I did have great success refiring two pieces from last firing where the glaze was too thin, so I will try to refire a few of the pots that I really like but didn't quite come out.

I bought something really special yesterday. You have to wonder about my sad little life when something like this pleases me. I bought a commercial style mop bucket and mop. You know the kind where you dunk the mop into a yellow bucket on wheels and and squeeze out the water in the presser thing. It's by Rubbermaid and is really quality. Nice to occasionally buy something nowadays that hasn't been manufactured like crap. So my little setup does a great job of mopping the floor, which was sorely in need.

Thursday, September 4

New and old/new

These pots are still from my last firing. The pot above is the direction I feel pulled in now.

This pot with the leaves is a direction I was working on before I changed course (again). I really like it, and I like the sprigging. Maybe I can figure a way to incorporate both into the same pot.

These tumblers above are part of that same last direction. I had already had all these pots sprigged, and so glazed the the way I was working before, but now I wish had tried some with the new style I am working on. Oh well.

My kiln is almost to temp. I won't be glazing or making any pots today. I want to see how this batch comes through the fire before I glaze the next one. I'm still learning something from each successive firing that I try and pass on to the next. I have to find out today, but I think I might need to put some serious thought and work into designing a booth. I might need a photo of it to apply to the fair Nov.1. I've studied a lot of other potters' booths trying to get a feel for what to do, and what I've learned is that everyone does it differently. I have definitely formed some opinions of what NOT to do. I'm a little overwhelmed at the prospect.

I just figured out something pretty cool I thought I'd share. I regularly have trouble with the top shelf of my kiln being cooler than the middle. Often close to a cone. The bottom is a little behind as well. I believe the main reason the top is so far behind is because of my vent. I have three tiny holes drilled into my kiln lid where the air draws in, and then exits at the bottom of the kiln. I believe that air draw is enough to keep the top shelf cooler. I could solve this by putting a blank shelf over my top layer, but stacking doesn't always work out so conveniently.

I had the idea last firing, that if I removed a peep plug from the center of the kiln, that the air would then draw through that peep hole instead of the top holes. I tested this with a match and my assumption was correct. I decided that when I reached cone 5 this firing I would pull a center peep and test this. I am blown away as I went to check and ALL THREE cone packs are cone 6 down and cone 7 up. I then became concerned about the kiln making it through the soak without overfiring, and so I skipped the last five minutes (I had only programmed 8), re-programmed the ramp/cool again (quickly before I lost too much heat) and was off and running again. I wasn't expecting this level of success with this approach. See woodfirers! There's a lot of excitement and drama in electric too!

Wednesday, September 3

Plates and jars and pizza

Here are a couple more pieces from my last firing. The plate above is actually kind of small-like a lunch plate. I really like this combination, so I'd like to do more with it. However, the lighter glaze is very difficult to apply with a brush, so it's a pain. I have to check into gum or whatever it is you use to make a glaze more brushable.

Here are a couple of jars.

I have the kiln loaded and ready to fire. It will start again at 12:30 am. I think it reached peak around 10 am last time, so that works out well. I'm still trying to get a feel for what to do with the black brushwork. Like what is too much, and what is not enough. Plus just what feels right as far as design goes. Well that will do it for me. I am making a tasty pizza tonight. It is a cheese-less pizza, but that is partially because I have eaten so much cheese lately I need a break, and because the fresh mozzarella was 8 dollars for a pound which was out of my budget. The crust is made with sourdough-rosemary-olive oil dough that I made this morning, and is topped with sliced ugly tomato-which by the way, is the BEST tomato I have had in years, salt, pepper and olive oil. It promises to be tasty.

Tuesday, September 2

Vase with ears

Blahhh. Too tired to write. Glazing kicks my butt. Just wanted to put up a little picture of a little pot that I like a little-lot. Chow for now.

A dinner plate

Well here is one of the plates from my last firing. I probably should have taken a detail of the blue area. It has this cool grey-ish -webby thing going on. I am wondering if some free alumina affected it somehow as I've never really seen this before and likely never will again. The plate is pretty simple, but I like it.

Well I've reached another difficult situation. The white glaze I used for the last firing, while it dooesn't pinhole and works well with the other glazes, I have discovered is not very resistant to metal marking. So the search is on. I have tried so many it is not even funny. I have another idea I will test today. I have this old glaze I used to use, a cream color, which is very hard, shiny, and metal-mark resistant. I gave almost a full bucket away when I did my glaze elimination thing a few months ago, so I could kick myself now. But I am going to make up a test and see how that works as a liner? It could be interesting.

Monday, September 1

a good day

I had a pretty good firing. Quite a few rejects-many do to a glazing incident that I didn't share. I have this container of wax that has alumina mixed in that I use to glaze my galleries and lid rims which helps keep them from sticking together. Well for many of my pieces, after I glaze the inside, I wax the rim and clean the excess off the outside up to the rim. I get a nice clean edge that way. Well, guess what wax I grabbed that morning to wax the rims? Fortunately I had only done about 10 pieces, and the next morning I held them on the wheel with my Giffin Grip (a nice new use I discovered) and trimmed the waxed rims off and reglazed them. I think there was still this residue of alumina and I got a lot of pitting on those rims. Oh well.

I'll put up some photos of the successful pieces over the next few days-maybe some nice photos as well, as I believe some of the pieces warrant a psuedo-professional photo op before I send them off to my review never to be seen again (they go from the review to one of the gallery shops). This piece is a honey pot that thank god came out nice. I owe this honey pot in trade for a massage that a massues friend (spell) gave me a while back.

I hope I didn't offend too many people with my tool review. It is just my opinion, and I know that doesn't mean it is the correct one, and that there are many ways to approach a situation. It is not my intent to be judgmental of anyone who would use such a tool. It is just my desire to scream loudly from my soapbox on occasion.