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!