Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas came early

Oh, my gosh! Santa (in the form of 2 very dear friends) really did it up BIG this year.
One of my favorite blogging friends had me on her 'generosity' list--and she went overboard in the generosity department:
Isn't it the most wonderful piece? It sits on the window sill in our kitchen so that each time I'm washing dishes I see it, smile, think of Tracey and find myself in a quiet, peaceful place. What a gift! It takes me back to my mother's hometown in East Texas--the place I love most in the world. Don't know that I ever saw a house like this there but it comes from there. Thanks, Tracey.

Today I got an email from another friend telling me that he had made the ceramic easel I was describing (and wishing for) at his house last Saturday. I wanted something that would hold a pot--greenware or bisqued--at an angle so I could paint a design on it comfortably--without having to stand on my head to get to it or destroy it by mishandling. A few years ago I had seen a photo, with measurements, of a ceramic easel made by Scott Creek once long ago but no longer available. I had printed out the information because I thought I might want one someday. So my dear friend Herb looked at the photos and made a version of it for me. What a friend! My husband had said he'd make it for me--but that was not going to really happen! So here is the easel holding a cylindrical pot covered with a celadon slip that I plan to paint on.

The height of the pot holder can be adjusted, as can the angle that the pot is held. How cool is that? I really have not been that good of a girl this year! But Santa sure has been nice to me.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

finally, out of the kiln

For taking such a long time to produce anything, I have very little to show. It was a very light load because after waiting so long to get this far I did not want to wait longer to get a full load. I was trying to move into a new direction with the earthenware clay. I got started with it to make some bake ware--some glazed or partially glazed, some with no glaze at all. I've liked using these pots and like the earthenware clay for its ease of throwing and the shorter firing time. But now I want to do some glazed work and some work that I can decorate with some painting. And that is the scary part. I'm not an artist, have never painted anything but want to! So here I am going in too many new directions--testing new glazes, learning to paint what and how I dream of doing it. Too much. So I've been frozen mid-stream.

So here are the first tests. As I told Jim, "Well, its not a disaster, but there are lots of lessons."
On several pieces I had applied slip before the bisque and then painted a design--some with Mason stain mixed with frit and gerstley borate after the bisque, others with colored slip before the bisque. I was also testing clear glazes.

These were slipped, bisqued and then painted with the Mason stain mixture.
On the left the clear glaze had a dulling effect, not so glossy and a bit buff tinted. On the right the glaze is clearer and more glossy. Slip was very coarse after the bisque. My friend said it was the brush I applied the slip with. It did not smooth out under the glaze though the one on the right is a bit smoother. I was using Pete Pennell's slip--I think I need to try to smooth it out somehow before applying it. Both are shallow bowls about 8" across the rim (they are the same size though the photos do not show that).

I was also testing 2 Majolica glazes and working on those. The biggest surprise was this plate:

I would not have been surprised if the RED pointsettia's had come out pink...but GREY?

The yellow chrysthanthemums came out as expected.

I painted the Majolica on the underside and sprayed it on the topside. The undersides are streaked, pinholed and have runs. The sprayed surface did well. (The pointsettia plate is 10" across, the chrysthanthemum plate is 11" across.)

But the biggest surprise was the second (white) Majolica glaze--though it is no reflection on the glaze. There are two of these little plates (8" across) and both reacted the same to the Majolica glaze.
The cause of this freakish reaction to the Majolica glaze was that I had covered these little plates with terra sig before the bisque firing--but did not see that when I was glazing. I guess the terra sig just ate up the Majolica glaze! There is a faint cloud left behind--and it did craze. Wish I had a photo of the expression on my face with I first picked these up out of the kiln! So I have to do another test of the second Majolica glaze.

The test tiles all have the Pete Pinnell slip. Two had been painted before the bisque firing (top). Two were painted after the bisque (bottom). One was painted with colored slips (Rhodes on right) and the others with the Mason stain mixtures. Because I was trying for a very thin coat of clear glaze the rough texture of the slip is very evident.

So lots of lessons--learned and to be learned.

PS Apologies for the photos--all taken with my cell phone because I would not take the time to set up for photos and get out a 'real' camera this morning! Nothing worth a great photo anyway!

Thursday, November 04, 2010


"Inspiration is for amateurs.
The rest of us go to the studio and just get on with it."
Chuck Close
(Thanks, Chris!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

wow, two months

I can't believe (don't want it to be true) that it has been two months since I last posted to my blog. I've anguished over that a lot. But the anguish has not stimulated me to correct that extended absence. I'm really having to push myself to try to make amends now. I have taken a little comfort from how many of my favorite blogging friends seem to be in a similar muddle.

So, what's been going on? It's so hard to figure that out. Part of the problem is that I have put myself out on a limb and don't know how to get back to solid ground. I got into working with earthenware very innocently. I did not intend to CHANGE to earthenware. I just wanted to make some pots for me to use in my explorations of "slow cooking". So I picked up a box of earthenware clay and made a few pots. I loved working with that clay. And I loved all the pots I had to cook in and how great they worked for me in the kitchen. Then I mixed up a batch of terra siglata and that was a challenge because of my insecurity delving into a new area but it came out great. I had taken a class in Majolica a while ago so I got back into that. Meanwhile I was buying more boxes of earthenware clay. Last January I signed up for a class in "Asian Art" something I've long be interested in and wished to be able to apply to ceramic work. So, now while delving into so many unknowns, I want to put some of my Asian art on my pots...but how? So when I go out to the studio I am faced with more unknowns than confidence. And that is NOT something I want to write to the world about! Once, long ago, Emily Murphy wrote about my blog that I wrote about 'the problems as well as the successes'. But I'm embarrassed to write over and over again about the problems and insecurities. So, it's been two months since my last post.

I am about to load the kiln with a bunch of experiments. Using slips for the first time, variations with terra sig, trying my hand with my "Asian Art" work, testing clear glazes on the earthenware clay and testing some ideas on a couple majolica glazes. Surely SOMETHING with be successful!

This bowl is waiting for application of a clear glaze (yet untested).

Thursday, September 02, 2010

big day with books

Today I got my copy of this book I ordered a while back and have been looking forward to receiving. I am wanting to get into doing some slip work on my earthenware pottery and thought this might offer the help I was wanting. But the BIG SURPRISE and SPECIAL TREAT was finding two of my blogging friends featured in the book: RON PHILBECK and DOUG FITCH! How much fun is that! I have enjoyed exchanging notes with Ron and Doug for several years in and outside our blogs. I am so thrilled for each of them.

Another book that I am enjoying and which Jim (my husband) is also excited about is "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" which was suggested to me by Ron sometime back. It is not an easy read but a very stimulating one.

Monday, August 23, 2010

birthing a pot

On Clayart I read a quote of Hamada (from Susan Peterson's book "Hamada") that really spoke to me. "Great pots are not made, they are born." Wow. I'm going out to the studio now to recycle the pots made by me and see if I can assist in the birth of a great pot! That does sound like I'm setting myself up for a sure-fire disappointment! But that's what I'm gonna do!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Travel/family pictures

On the right, under special links, I've added a link to my mobile me gallery where I have posted pictures from my trip to Spain and now from my neice's wedding in Oaxaca.

Friday, August 20, 2010

finally in the studio, then what

Seems that when I've been out of the studio for a while it is hard to get back in the groove. Usually I can't even come up with a project/plan. So just start throwing to warm up. I prepared 4 balls of clay and threw 4 small bowls--good warm up. But then what? Three of them were the same size/shape, really! The fourth a tiny bit larger. So, having just seen a video of this, I pinched the three together and added a handle--another version of condiment server.

The fourth just got a handle to match.
They are small, that is a 7 inch ruler.
I am reminded of something I read in the comments section of Michael Kline's blog today:
Norm Schulman changed my life in one sentence, "So much pottery, so little poetry."
Sometimes I make a piece that speaks to me like poetry--but that is few and far between! Thinking about poetry in pottery, I feel that way about my pagoda and Tracey's barns. Yet what I make is functional table ware. Can't think of a piece of my functional work that said poetry to me--well maybe a piece or two. : )

Saturday, August 14, 2010

the Mexican connection

We've just returned from a most fantastic experience in Mexico. My niece, who grew up in Maine, just married a young man from Mexico. Currently they are living in Madrid--she was our divine hostess in Madrid last March. Joel was born and grew up in Mexico City but his parents and extended family are from a village outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. Emily and Joel chose to have a traditional Oaxacan wedding in the family's home village of San Antonino, about an hours drive outside of Oaxaca. It was such a treat to be part of their very traditional peasant-style wedding. The wedding was in the courtyard of the home of Joel's aunt. We left the hotel in Oaxaca at 6:30 am and most of the group did not return to the hotel until around 11:00 pm (a few of us fell by the wayside mid-afternoon.) Every minute of the day was orchestrated to follow the traditional wedding-ceremony format.
Emily wore the traditional Oaxacan wedding dress that many of us have bought over the years to bring home because of the beauty of the embroidered dresses--though ours were embroidered in bright colors whereas Emily's was all white. My son, Justin, took wonderful pictures but I don't have them yet--this I took with my iPhone! Two of my four sons went to the wedding also. Besides being part of such a unique (to us) experience it was so much fun being there with my sister and her family who live in Maine and my sister who lives here. An unusual get together of us all.

I may write more about this lovely event when I get Justin's pictures--or not. Probably depending on how soon I get back into the studio and have some pots to write about!

Monday, July 26, 2010

out of the kiln

The firing went well. I was disappointed in the glaze cover--as I expected to be. It was just too thin a coat which has become standard operating procedure for me. I gotta figure it out. I might refire--it worked last time. In the meantime, they don't look bad--just not what I wanted.

The inside, which I poured and used the white majolica glaze, is fine. I sprayed the outside. I could see that the coat was too thin, yet it had begun running down the sides (which you can see on the little bowl on the tray) and I did not want that. I am missing something!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a very tardy post

My work is so sporadic I don't have much to write about. But here I am, rather horrified to see that I have not posted in over a month and a half. Mea Copa.

I have done a little potting. And was pleased that I would have something to share with my friends who share accomplishments on an occasional basis. But that was jumping the gun. My bisque firing ended before completing the schedule. The breaker tripped. I have not yet determined the cause--am going to try re-firing before calling in the professionals to sniff out the problem. (I have relatively new elements, relays, and breaker!) Here are some of the things I was hoping to get bisqued and then glaze fired this week.

The idea was to make a 'set of things'. I was thinking of a Condiments Tray.

Then I thought well, not all the condiments need a covered pot, some want an open bowl.

Some may even want a pitcher for pouring...

So the 'set' is 9 pieces in all. I am enjoying them now--fearing that I will be disappointed once they are glazed.
These are all low-fire earthenware clay. I put terra sig on the bottoms and inside the lids and on the galleries. I want to glaze the rest of the pots. And that is another bump in the road. I have not developed glazes for low-fire but now I need some tested glazes to use. Oh, heck, if it is not one thing, it is another.

I have been really enjoying cooking in the earthen-ware pieces I made earlier in the spring. I have searched out recipes that require long, slow cooking in the oven. I love pulling my lovely pots out of the oven and putting them on the table after the long, slow bake. Joy! One of the first things I 'learned' when I got into my first pottery classes was that the women there did not cook dinner daily. Took me a while but over the years I had pretty much incorporated that philosophy into my daily practice. This spring i began trying to break out of that 'entitlement'. Have not worked my way back to daily hot dinners--but I'm doing better. And Jim has taken up the slack so we share in the food-responsibility department. Nice! Our fig tree is producing LOTS of figs! When we bought the house 2 years ago I was thrilled that there was a big fig tree in the back. Imagine how disappointed I was last year when there was ONE fig on the tree--for the whole season. This year, after record rains here, we have a bumper crop--we bring in a dozen or more figs each day--discounting the ones that the critters beat us to! So, I've been making fig preserves, just like my mom did! Yum!

And I've been reading a lot. Got back into the habit of ending the day with a book in my hand before falling off to sleep during my trip to Spain. I have read some wonderful books lately. One of the most inspiring, ceramics wise, is "Following the The Rhythms of Life: The Ceramic Art of David Shaner". A book I ordered on line after reading a mention of it in Clayart. I feel like I just met a wonderful person whom I'd love to know better.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

happy face!

It worked! Looks great--no problems detected.

Monday, May 31, 2010

risking it all

I fired the little cazuelas, covered baking dish and deep pie plate. These are pieces that I had applied terra sig to the outside but left the inside surface plain because I wanted glaze there. Since I have not been working in low-fire except for the Majolica class I took a couple years ago, I don't have known/tested glazes. I wanted yellow--or really old gold--inside the pots. So I whipped up a glaze that called for yellow stain and went for it!
However the yellow glaze was not at all yellow after I mixed it up--more like flesh colored. I know about how the colors are not true--wet to fired--but I thought that using 10% yellow stain it would look yellow. I don't have a small test kiln and I'm not intending to stick with earthenware clay so I was not wanting to wait for a test run.
Here is the glaze after it was mixed and had sat around for a couple days:

That was risk #1.

I was delighted with the color I got. But very disappointed in the (my) glaze application. I had sprayed the glaze inside the pots but it was too thin. The rough texture (gritty) of the clay came through the thin coat of glaze and in some places it was so uneven that a thin area was next to a thick area. Very unsatisfactory.

So risk #2.
Today I reglazed all the pots--with the same glaze--and they are now firing for the 3rd time--counting the bisque firing as the first. Some good clayarter (forgot his name) suggested a way to get the glaze to stick to the slick surface of an already glazed pot was to heat the pots to about 400° before spraying a second layer of glaze onto the pots. So that is what I did. I heated the pots in the turkey roaster (that is stored in the studio) to 400° and took them out one by one, put into the spray booth and sprayed on a second coat. Hmmmm...we'll see what tomorrow brings!

Monday, May 17, 2010

earthenware clay

I had just wanted to make a couple baking pieces out of earthenware clay to try out in my kitchen (I've been bit by the "Slow Cooking" bug.) Just a couple pieces. But then there was another something I wanted. And then when I was in Spain I fell in love with all the wonderful terracotta cooking ware there. Of course I could not bring all that I wanted home--did bring a couple pieces!! But came home wanting to make some of the things I had seen in Spain. So another bag of earthen red clay, and then another. And of course that got me into terra siglata.
Over the weekend I divided up the last of my red clay into 10 pieces and made 10 small cazuelas.

They are currently (not yet dry) about 6 3/8" across and 1 78" deep. Sorry I did not have enough clay to make a dozen as my sister also wanted some of these little cazuelas--she'll get some of these but not as many as she was wishing for. So I may not have come to the end of my earthen-ware-clay days yet!
Some of the pieces I made earlier: A casserole--still drying.
And these that have been bisqued:
French butter keeper.

A small tagine with terra sig.

A baking dish with terra sig.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

friends and mentors...via web

I've been thinking I should close my blog since I have been so unfaithful to posting...but it is my passport to such a great country! I don't know exactly why I began this blog. I was keeping a journal of my work in the studio and it seemed more interesting to put it into a blog. Through it I've met some of the grandest people--potters, all. I'd never have known them except through my blog and theirs. That has made it--blogging--a real treasure for me. Beside the pleasure of these friendships, the help and stimulus they've given so freely has been tremendously valuable.

Today a blogging friend, Linda Starr, wrote about receiving the "Silver Lining Award" which she was passing on to some of her blogging friends and asked us to pass it on to our silver liners. So that is the impulse behind this post. [When I opened this post and put in the title--which would be 'friends'--from somewhere else, "and mentors...via web" was added without my participation. At first I erased the extra words but then I realized that was exactly what I was intending to post about. Still don't know where the extra came from. PS I just discovered that I had used that title in August '09--so it was remembering what I did not remember! Not so unusual around here at home!]

I met Linda first through some comments she added to my blog and stimulated me to look at her blog which led to following her and her husband's motor-home trip across the southern US looking for a new home--which they found in Florida. What brave souls they must be! I loved reading about her potting experiences during that journey! Had even hoped to meet them as they drove through San Antonio but weather and circumstances denied us that encounter.

I think my first blogging friend was Ron Philbeck. His was the first blog I found and followed when I discovered there were blogging potters. I suppose we made contact through comments on his posts. I loved his work and how he wrote about what he was doing. I remember seeing pictures of him pouring glaze over plates and platters ala Japanese pottery style and then reading about his drawing explorations in his journal--long before they appeared on his pottery. Ron has always been so supportive and generous of my struggles. He is a real friend that I'd love to meet for real!

Through Ron I met three English friends that I'd love to meet someday outside of my daily readings in their blogs: Doug Fitch, an incredibly hard working potter who, like Ron, takes the time to maintain a steady flow of blogging in spite of a very busy schedule. Another Englishman I followed regularly, Andrew Douglas, seems to have given up on his blogging--though I keep checking to see if it might just be a snag in the system. And through Ron I encountered Hannah McAndrew who might be the brightest blogger around--bright in the sense of sunny, cheerful. Ron, Doug and Hannah are all 'slipware' potters from whom I've learned about that long and rich tradition.

Two other bloggers that I consider real friends and mentors are Tracey Broome and Judy Shreve. I've not met either but feel as if they are real friends--like next door neighbors that you can run to for an extra cup of flour when needed! And each has always generously responded when I've asked for a bit of help.

I have a long list of blogs that I read most every day and am enriched by so doing. But these few mentioned I consider very special friends. You know the old saw, "If you could have dinner with anyone from any place or any time, who would you choose?" Well, these folk are ones I'd want to be sitting with if only I could!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

in Madrid

We had a fabulous location for our home base. Emily had found a "studio" apartment for us to rent for the 2 weeks of our visit. Besides being right next to her office--so she could drop in with croissants each morning, we could meet her for lunch and take off from there after her work was ended--it was in the most incredible location for our tourist wanderings. We were in walking distance (did I tell you we walked 1000s of miles?) of 3 great museums: the Prado, Museo Reina Sofia, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, the train station, a hard working everyday market, the fabulous new Mercado San Miguel, and Plaza Mayor (below).

There is no way to describe the collection at the Prado--everything for everyone. We spent one day there mostly focused on Goya--seemed a good idea to have a focus because there was no way to take it all in. The Reina Sofia had a wonderful collection of the great Spanish painters--Picasso, Miro, Salvador Dali, Jean DuBuffet, and, new to me, Lucio Fontana. I was very surprised to see some art work by the poet Fernando Garcia Lorca. The work of Dubuffet and, to a greater extent, that of Fontana (see a piece of his work below) were stimulating to me in relation to my ceramic work--I look forward to seeing how that might find expressing in my work (when I get back into the studio!)

The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza had a wonderful special exhibition, "Monet and Abstraction". In the show Monet's work was displayed in chronological order accompanied by the work of artists who were influenced by Monet's work--leading to Abstract Expressionism. Very interesting and thought provoking.

We loved walking through the "old" section of Madrid--narrow streets, tapas bars, many small plazas with welcoming places to rest and have a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and those incredible, beautiful old-world buildings. The architecture of those buildings is so majestic--why don't we build like that any more? Maybe because there is no longer royalty who can order the work and pay for it by taxation!

In the old working mercado we found wonderful cheese and ham for our first evening nibble with wine in our apartment--after a late lunch of Spanish tortilla made for us by Emily's partner, Joel. At the new market, Mercado San Miguel, we saw the most beautifully arranged stalls with elegant foods--foie gras, caviar and champagne, wonderful cheeses, shellfish, wines, and beautiful desserts. All this elegant (and expensive) food is eaten in the market, out of hand, standing around the stalls. There are tall tables with bar stools--but not nearly enough for the crowd. Very surprising situation--it would not succeed here in San Antonio--perhaps in the capitol cities, but i wonder if it would make it anywhere here.

This gentleman is eating his cavier, with his champagne, at the cavier stall (above.)

An arrangement of dried fruits and nuts.

We loved shopping in the little speciality shops and at the huge Sunday Market--where my sister's new iPhone was picked from her pocket while we browsed the treasures there for sale! Very sad experience.

The last Sunday, just before our departure on Tuesday, we had raosted-suckling-pig dinner at a lovely old restaurant (in operation since 1725). That evening we attended a most wonderful performance of flamingo dance built around Lorka's popular poem, "Llanto Por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias." Most impresive and memorable experience--a perfect 'tapa' for our trip!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

cooking as in Spain

As you may remember from earlier posts I have become very interested in making some bakeware for our use here at home. So, of course, I searched for some traditional cazuelas in Spain and also for tagines. I had made a couple tagines a few months ago--still not fired--and I wanted to compare mine to the "real" ones! The cazuelas were every where and pretty consistent in form and finish though I found one that I thought especially interesting--which I bought and then had to struggle with getting it home safely.

My cazuela measures 9"X2.5" inside. The cazuela weights 3 lb 7 oz. It is finished in traditional style inside but the bottom and sides had been covered with a dark slip that contrasts with the clear glaze on the red clay. I like that a lot.

It might not have been so hard to get the cazuela home safely if I had not also found a tagine that I wanted to bring back! We looked high and low for tagines and found nothing until we asked in a restaurant where we could by a tagine (pot) and were directed to the Arab quarter. There we found a few in each of several small shops.

It was amazing how heavy both these are. The walls are very thick--5/16", fired and glazed! I was making my bakeware thick--I thought--but they are not that thick at all and are not yet fired!.
I looked for and chose a non-traditional style I had seen in an article somewhere, my sister bought the traditional one.

My tagine measures about the same inside only it is not so deep, it is pie plate shaped inside. It weighs 6 pounds--top and bottom.

I bought some saffron, too. I like it in a favorite tomato/rice dish and of course in paella. Since getting home I have made only one tagine dish (vegetable) which I cooked in the cazuela--the tagine was not large enough for what I wanted to cook. Before I went on my trip I had made a lamb tagine that we really liked so I'll be doing more of that now.

End of cooking talk!

PS I also bougt and brought home a paella pan....

Monday, March 22, 2010

home again, home again

Always great to be home again--but that does not diminish what a treasure the trip was. As I look through my photos I get to be in touch again what a wonderful experience it all was. And it brings me to realize how impossible it will be to describe the experience.

The trip was initiated by my sister (right) and hosted by her daughter, Emily (left). It would not have happened or been the incredible experience it was without their generosity. Each morning Emily came to our room with croissants and delicious coffee! Not so indulgent but most significant to the success of our brief stay was her role as guide and itinerary planner!
Each of our 14 day trip offered some very special treat. Our very first day, still in Boston, we visited the Pucker Gallery. Bernie Pucker, owner of the gallery, is a major promoter of ceramic art. He first promoted the work of Brother Thomas and has expanded to display and offer for sale work by many of my favorite potters: Phil Rogers, Randy Johnston, the Hamada potters, Ken Matsuzaki, Tatsuzo Shimaoka, among many others. The current show is The Ceramics of Onda--Japanese folk pottery. The exciting thing about the Pucker Gallery is their four floors of works by the artists they represent which they graciously and generously take their visitors through. We were ushered through all 4 floors and allowed to handle any of the work and take photos of any of the work. It was a fantastic experience that I have long wished for.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

on my way

to Madrid! I will be out of touch for a couple of weeks. I am looking forward to my visit there with my sister and her daughter--one of my lovely and beloved nieces!

Expect to come home eager to be in the studio and on the blog.

Till then, adios!

Monday, February 08, 2010

not getting there

I am having trouble getting into the studio these days. Good thing I'm not trying to support myself off my pottery production. I have just a few pieces of earthenware that I am eager to fire--but not enough for a kiln load. I am distracted by the upcoming big events here: Kenny is having surgery--to implant a little baclofen pump which we hope help calm the tremors he is having in his legs and arms that really interferes with his functioning; and 3 days later I leave for a 2 week trip to Madrid, Spain with my sister to visit her daughter who lives there. Kenny will be in the rehab hospital while I'm gone--good planning, I hope!
A blogging friend, Linda Starr, is passing through San Antonio soon and we may load the kiln with her work and mine for the bisque firing. Her mobile studio adventure is quite impressive--and a bit scary, too.
If you have suggestions for my Madrid (and perhaps Lisbon) visit do let me know!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

new year, new projects

Finally back in the studio this week. It has warmed up here--not just in the studio--it is in the 70's all week with mostly sunny sky and some rain. We must never turn our noses up at rain!
After spending so much of the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Years) in the kitchen I am thinking terms of ovenware--for slow cooking, a new enthusiasm! I made a butternut squash last week that had you roast the squash, onions and apples for an hour in the oven. The soup was fabulous and I think it was the roasting in the oven that brought out the flavors so well.
I had a nice chat with Tracey Broome over the holidays and she got me fired up about jumping in and trying out some ovenware. I am going to experiment with earthenware--that seems to be the classic body--and glaze a few pieces but leave some unglazed and see what fits best (me esthetically and the pots functionally).
Here are the first of the experiments--still drying under wraps:
An oval baker--perhaps a bit too big. I always have trouble judging shrinkage. It is 15.5 inches long and 11 inches wide at the widest point and 3 1/2 inches tall. I threw a bottomless pot and then moved the ring onto a slab. Probably i should have added handles. I guess I'll know more once I've fired the piece and tried cooking in it.

Then a baking bowl that I squared a bit and added handles to. It measures about 8 1/2 inches across the rim and is 3 1/4 inches tall. The base has a 7" diameter. The picture makes the bowl seem a little out of kilter but I think the piece is squared well.

Then I have 2 round baking dishes--like pie plates, I guess. One is 10 1/2 " across rim and 1 1/2 " high. The other is 9 1/2 " across and 2 1/4" high. Maybe one is for pies and one for quiches!

I'd love suggestions from my readers' experiences in this area. I am very uncertain about the glaze--to glaze or not to glaze. In looking through the web I see many pieces that are glazed with a clear glaze only on the inside (for ease of cleaning perhaps) but I worry about the stress of having only one side glazed. Any thoughts out there?

Monday, January 11, 2010

what to do

when it is too cold to work in the studio? (Disclaimer: I know that other potters, more ambitious than I, would be out there cold or not, sick or not. But not I!)
I've gone through my collection of test tiles--tossing a bunch out and organizing others so they are more workable as a tool for me. But that is about all I could figure out to bring inside to do.
So I've decided to try to develop a sourdough starter. I've read tens of recipes/directions from the web. Amazing how many variations there can be to one project! I think I've finally gotten it started--not ready for making a loaf yet but it is bubbling up and expanding--not quite doubling itself yet. Jim asks eagerly each morning if it is ready to make bread! It does seem like an endless but that is nice now since it seems like the cold weather is hanging on endlessly! And the great thing about this endless project is that it only requires about 5 minutes of involvement each day!
Being in the kitchen more these days I've become interested in making pots for slow cooking in the oven. I know that we say our stoneware pots are oven safe provided proper care. But I think I want to have earthenware, unglazed pots for my slow cooking. If anyone out there has suggestions, guidance, experience to offer I'd love to hear from you.
Warm days are ahead, I believe, to be followed by another round of this atypical weather here. But spring will follow eventually!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

too much celebration

The holidays, Thanksgiving to January 2, wore me out. My niece married January 2 and is moving to Georgia. So all the holidays were 'big deals' since they would be her last here....too much! But the wedding was lovely and everything is settling down. I've slept in late the last couple mornings and am beginning to get myself back together.

I had the strangest thing happen in my last firing--before the celebrations began! I mentioned making some dinner plates as a test to see if I could make a set that was at least similar. Well, they looked similar when I put them into the kiln--but not when they came out! There were 3 that were very much alike and one that was more bowl-like. I glazed all 4 with the same glaze and in the same manner. But, of course, they were in different spots in the kiln: one on the very bottom shelf, two on the shelf above that and one on the next to the top shelf. Each shelf produced a different product. The photos don't show the differences as well as the eye--but you can see what I got, this is the piece that was the lowest in the kiln.

I don't have a good photo of the two what were in the middle of the kiln but they were the darkest--and were almost identical.

This plate was the highest in the kiln (though not on the top shelf).

The cone packs show the variation in the heat-work. The top shelf is on the left and the bottom pack is on the right. I've been using this glaze for a long time. I never realized how heat-work sensitive it is. I had seen variations in the fired pieces but attributed it to glaze application (or thickness) but that is not the explanation this time!

I am not so confident about making 'sets' now!