Thursday, December 27, 2012


Too many days spent with hands in wet clay leads to this....I think I need some hand lotion!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Large teapot continued

A while ago I posted a out a customer that is looki g for a large tea pot that would hold approximately 12 cups. After many back and forths on size shape and colour, this is what I came up with. It hold 11.5 cups or so and requires some muscle to pick it up when full, hence the extra lifting lug on the front. I have yet to hear back from her if is acceptable or not, we shall see. In the back groundw are the last batch of mugs with the black and white scraffito decoration.

A Christmas Orphan

Last year I was a Christmas orphan for the first time. My parents decided that humid Hawaii would be a better place to be than cold Calgary and they did not get back until after the new year. We had a pre Christmas dinner before they left, but it was not the same. My Cousin took pity on me and invited me over for their Christmas day dinner, but still, not the same.

This year, they decided to go on a Caribbean cruise and will not be back until late on Christmas Day evening. I had no plans, and wasn't really looking for anything to do. I don't mind being alone, I can do whatever I want, like go to the studio, contemplate the universe, eat cookies, watch movies etc...But last night one of my students asked what I was doing for the holidays. I made an offhand comment that I was not doing anything as my family was mostly out of town (not sure what my sister is doing). Later that evening, one of my other students, who joined up with his daughter, invited me to his family's house for dinner. I couldn't say no, being the charitable time of year, so I accepted and now I will have turkey.
When I got home, I got a message from my Cousin asking if I wanted to come over Christmas eve, and so now my calendar is full and I am no longer a Christmas Orphan. Now I just have to think of what to give these people as a thank you for including me in their holiday goings on. Good thing I make pottery.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Weight has Been Lifted....Hallelujah

...Wait a second, nope, that was the stove shaped albatross. I had the junk removal dudes come by on Saturday to take my extra stove away as well as all the detritus on my patio. If you have ever wondered (although probably not) how long a person could live with a stove in their living room, then I can honestly say that 1.5 years is about as long as any person can stand it. I know, 1.5 years. It just flew by though. One minute in August I had 1 stove, the next I had 2, throw in a generous helping of procrastination, and you have 1.5 years of living with two stoves. It was pushed out of the way and was partially hidden under assorted pieces of pottery. It was as if I had an installation art piece in my condo that “...explores the human condition through it's dependency on electricity and lays bare the divide in western culture between function and art by juxtaposing the sad stove and hand made functional art....” or something. But really, it was just that I am hardly ever home during the day, and am often not home before 9:30 pm during the week and I am lazy (Sorry Mum, it's true, but I think you knew that already)

So Saturday was a write off, I worked until 3, went to let the junk guys in at 3:30 and that was pretty much it. Sunday I loaded a glaze with all those cups in my last post as well as a few other pieces and lots of other student work. I threw half a dozen mugs, slipped and scratched a bowl with a geometric pattern on the outside and my new Dr. Seuss inspired Who House motif on the inside, worked on a commission for another ceremonial firebowl, put a tea pot together and finished trimming a low wide bowl/plate. It too will be destined to have the Who Houses on the inside.

On Saturday I also took possession of my new tungsten carbide trimming tool and a 20kg bag of New Zealand Kaolin. The trimming tool is fantastic, but it will take me a bit to get used to it. I think it requires the pot to be a little drier than what I am used to trimming. The Kaolin will be something for me to play with over the holidays. I am going to try combining it with frit to make a low fire, highly translucent porcelain body. I am not 100% sure what I am going to do with it yet, but once I get my hands in it, the ideas will come (I hope).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mugs, mugs and more mugs

These mugs and an assortment of bowls, plates and vases that were done in the same black and white sgraffito decoration were bisque fired on Sunday. I will be glazing them tonight. There are a couple in there that were done with a deep red terra sig slip and I have no idea how it will come out, so I will have my fingers crossed for those. I tried layering the red and black on one mug as well. I am really liking some of my designs, some not so much. One in particular is sort of an accidental homage to Dr. Seuss. It ended up looking like the houses the Who's live in. You can see the "Who" mug in the last picture front and centre.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hoarding – a Confessional

Ok, so I am not as bad an actual hoarder, but I can see that I have certain tendencies in that direction. I also work best when faced with a looming deadline. So, with those 2 things in mind, I booked an appointment for the junk collector dudes to come around to my condo next saturday after I get off work. They are going to take all the detritus off of my patio and a stove. A stove you say? Yes, a stove. My mother, in all her best meaning motherness, foisted, I mean gifted the stove that she did not need anymore after my parent's renovated their kitchen a while ago. I'll grant you that it is a much better stove. It is a ceramic top, it self cleans etc, but I knew that the old stove would become an albatross around my neck. My mum seems to recall offering to take the old stove away but that I refused the offer. I however recall that they dropped the stove off and left like jack rabbits. I tried to get rid of it the cheap way by calling scrap metal guys but no one seemed to want it, or if they did, it had to be outside.

Long story short, I have been living with this stove pushed up against my wall between my kitchen and my living room for more than is mentally healthy. I broke down the other day and booked a pick up time with the 1-800GJ? guys for next Saturday. I will now have to pay to have it removed, but in the long run, who cares, I will get it out of my house and I can begin thinking of new furniture. I really really want to change my living room, and this will let me do that. The sitting furniture is staying, but the shelving is changing (I hope). The only snag in that plan will be to see if I can hang the wall units that will be affixed to to the wall above and behind my new sitting area by myself and if my skills are up to the job so that they do not come loose and concuss or kill me while I am sitting in the “new” sitting area.

So, there is a lot going on, and hopefully these new improvements will help me achieve a new level of unhorderliness. So let the purge begin. I hope the dumpster out back is empty, because I am going to fill it up.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I have come to the conclusion that there is a massive cosmic imbalance. At least in terms of the number of flat tires I have had and had to change when compared to the rest of humanity. I could understand it if I drove through fields of rusty nails and broken glass, or was a maniac with a blatant disregard for curbs and speed bumps etc. However, I am a normal person, I drive on paved roads, I do the speed limit (mostly) and I don't go off-roading and 4x4ing across curbs and cement barriers. Friday was, I'm just guessing, but at the very least, it was probably the 8th flat tire I have had over a period of 4 cars. I have driven 5 in total, but strangely enough, the little '82 Dodge Colt did not get a flat, at least while I drove it. Everything else was wrong with it, but never a flat. Anyway, in an attempt to be somewhat proactive, I got a couple of “new” all seasons put on the front of my car last Tuesday. On Friday I drove into a parking lot not 500m from where I work and got a flat tire. To top it off, it was really cold last week. My fingers were like chunks of ice by the time I was done changing it. Oh yeah, I was in boots with skinny little heels on them, so it was as if I was standing on my toes the whole time. Not so good for the calf muscles. I almost had a charlie horse in both legs. A lot, if not all, of the other people I know have never had to change a flat, or even had a flat tire for that matter. It can't be some kind of Karmic retribution thing. I mean, I think I'm generally a nice person, I'm polite, I don't get angry etc etc, so that can not be it.

Anyway, while pondering the injustice of it all, I left work early to get my flat fixed/replaced. Turns out that I had picked up a screw. I thought there was a strange vibration that morning, so it was probably slowly losing pressure, and the balance was thrown off . They replaced it for free, so that was great, but not how I wanted my Friday to go. I guess the upside to this story is that if you are ever with me in a vehicle, you know I know how to change a tire. I can do it fast too. Unless it is -15 and snowy and wet, and then I'm a bit slower. With all these flats, I have learned a few things. I have learned that there is no cell phone coverage on the Trans Canada Highway in between Lake Louise and Banff; long haul truck drivers don't stop for nothin', at least not a single woman on the side of the road trying to change a tire; old farmers eating ice cream will give you a hand even though they look frail enough to blow over in a light breeze; and the police officers in Calgary will give you a hand when it's -24 and the cheap !!@#ss tire iron your car manufacturer provides wont cut the mustard.

So there you go, if you have never had to change a tire, then you should thank me, I probably picked up your slack.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Pleasant Evening out with Friends

This past summer I made 12 crocks in the “Medalta” style for a friend who was getting married in the new events facility at Medalta. I did not charge for my time, just the materials, so as a thank you, she bought me 2 tickets to see Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert at the Jubilee Auditorium. Last night was the show, and we had really good seats. There were 8 of us in our group and we were in the 1st row of the first balcony. They were pretty good seats if you ask me. If you don't know the Vinyl Cafe, you should check it out. It began as a radio show on the CBC and it still is, but now they take it on the road as well and do live audience broadcasts in various cities and towns across Canada and some in the US as well. At Christmas they do a special tour for their Christmas Concert. The show has been running for 19 years now and to me it has been a staple when I'm in the studio on Sunday mornings. I got home around 10:45pm, but only because the parking at the Jubilee is stupid. It took about 20 minutes for me to park, and 15 minutes just to get out afterwards. My night took a turn for the weird after that. I went to bed at around 11:45 and woke up at about 4am having just had a dream about tazering somebody. I will have to review my sleep talking recordings when I get home tonight, because I know I was very vocal. I woke myself up sleep yelling at someone to “just get out of here”. Very strange indeed.

I will be all alone at the studio tonight. But that is OK, I have about a dozen or so large mugs to finish decorating which is quite tedious and I tend to tune everyone out and ignore them anyway. I will just turn the radio up and be antisocial tonight. I may even see if I have enough greenware to load a bisque, but that is not urgent, so maybe not, we'll see. I have been shooting more youtube videos as well, so perhaps I will work on a few more this weekend and see if I can't get at least one edited and uploaded this weekend. They just take so much time to finalize and upload these days with the HD quality videos, but they are nicer to watch than the grainy low res ones. I'm still searching for the perfect angle to shoot from too. I may try using 2 cameras to get a couple different angles. It is hard to see what is going on inside a pot when throwing and that is just as crucial as what is going on on the outside. Something else to work on I guess.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post Sale Blues

Another sale is in the books, but not the record books. We began arriving to set up the hall at 6:45 on Saturday morning. I managed to forget to bring coffee cups, so I had to run off and buy some at Safeway. I have never been the first person in a grocery store before, but now I have. Gotta say, the employees are mildly crabby at 8am. The set up went well, not rushed. I only broke one thing :(. I tipped a plate over onto a teapot and cracked the lid. The doors opened at 9am on the dot, and although the crowds were nothing compared to the black friday freakyness in the US, I took my life in my hands opening the doors up. I'm pretty sure that if I had not gotten out of the way quickly enough I would have been knocked down and run over by crazed pottery buyers and their rolling suitcases and I would have been just a stain on the linoleum. As per usual, the crowds rushed around grabbing everything they saw, shoving it into their boxes and bags to be picked over in a corner of the hall when the frenzy subsided. I must say I still don't understand the buying public's thought processes. The things that attract me and make me oooh and aaah are obviously not the same as what attracts their attention. It apparently doesn't matter if a piece is perfectly thrown and glazed just right. They like the bling. If it has super busy glazes, then that is what they love. If you spent hours carving a piece, no matter, they don't care. They just want cheap. So, if it is lumpy, bumpy and much less than perfect, but only costs $10, then they will take it, doesn't matter. Perhaps it matches their drapes. One shopper came with a friend and was heard saying “this isn't a seconds sale, I thought it was a seconds sale”. We have never advertised it as a seconds sale. I don't know who told her it was, but we gotta nip that in the bud. She was pleased that the quality was much better than a seconds sale, but would she have come on her own if she did not know? Probably not. I think the sale was above average in sales, but mine were down a bit from previous years, so I guess that is what has me bummed a little. What I thought would fly off the table did not, so I guess I will need to rethink my new work, or just bombard them with it at the next sale and not give them a choice.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New glaze combo

Just testing my blogger app. I did not even realize there was such a beastie.

I swear I'm not on drugs officer

Check out that pupil, it's huge.
I had just had my eyes dilated at the optometrist. Driving home was weird. I could see clearly to drive, but up close everything was fuzzy. Just glad I didn't go through a check stop. They might have thought I was under the influence of some illegal substance.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Trip to Medalta

It looks like I might possibly make another trip down to Medalta in the spring. My friend Susan and I are thinking of going down the weekend of April 27th to fire in their Salt and Soda kilns. Medalta is located in Medicine Hat, Alberta and is in the historic clay district. Back in the day, there was the Medalta pottery, the Hycroft pottery, and at least 1 brick factory that I know of. It is also where Plainsman Clays is located.

When I went down in Feb 2010, we had a very good tour of the Hycroft factory as well as the Medalta museum and the areas of Medalta that were off limits to the regular visitor. At that time, the new Events facility was still under construction. The facility was being constructed on top of some excavated Bee Hive kilns that you would then be able to view through the floor.

If we are able to book our trip for that weekend, it will coincide with a community clay event that Medalta is having. Their long term resident artists will be holding workshops for the public and it would be fun to be involved with that while we are firing.

I am hoping April will be much warmer than when we were there last. It was so cold that weekend that my power steering froze during the time we were glazing and loading the kilns that first evening (note to self: don't leave your car facing into the wind when it's -30 celcius). The temperature difference while we were firing in the kiln area was such that we created our own weather system. The skies were clear and blue, but it was snowing in the kiln compound..

So I am looking forward to that. Right now however, I am still not ready for the studio sale next weekend. I still need to clean out the car and empty out my boxes of pots and decide what is going and what is going into the trash to make room for the new stuff. Then I need to price which is not a science. I usually go on gut instinct for pricing. I ask myself “would I pay $xx for this?” then, do I really want to sell it (still precious to me)? If it is still precious, I jack the price up so as to alleviate the pain of letting it go. Otherwise, I try to price it fairly so that it doesn't make it impossible for the average person to buy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The pictures suck, but they were taken with the old iphone under fluorescent lighting on my desk at work.
This is an example of what I was up to on the weekend. The previous weekend I had thrown a few "Christmas" bells as well with the idea that I would carve holly leaves into them. So I did. There were many many bells, and they took me 3 days to finish, including the mugs. I also managed to wear my pin tool and a small kemper triangle ribbon tool down to wee little nubs. They came out of the kiln on Tuesday and I wrapped them up to take home. I did manage to "ring" one bell before I got out the door. I tested it against the concrete floor. Not recommended.
After sgraffitoing 4 mugs and 16 bells I was beginning to get a weird tingling shooting pain running up my forearm. I might have found a way to speed up the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome. I was also doing a pretty good impression of Quasimodo by the end of the day.
On another note, I am going to be learing the art of wood turning. Maybe tonight even. I am leaving it at that though, I don't want to give away my Christmas gift ideas to the possible recipients of said gifts.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another way to make me crazy

In an attempt to apply what I learned at the Potters Council Workshops last weekend, I went to the studio on Saturday after work to see what I could do. I had thrown and trimmed a vase before I left and it was bone dry, just waiting for me to do something with it. I thickened up my terra sig, it was just too thin. After decanting off the excess water, it went on really well, and really black. Then I began marking out my design for a little sgrafitto action. When in Karen's class, she did a lot of this. She completed one large pasta bowl with a relatively intricate design in a fairly short time. The workshop was 3 hours and she managed to fit a lot of stuff into it. I would say the bowl probably took her 1.5 hours to complete from start to finish, probably less, even with all the talking and answering of questions. So I figured it shouldn't take me very long to get the vase done. Wrong. I probably spent 2 hours on Saturday and then another 2 hours on Sunday finishing it off. It looks pretty good, and is in the bisque kiln right now. But afterwards, my neck was throbbing, my hand was a little cramped and I could feel the start of a headache by the time I left for the day. I don't think I will be making my fortune this way. After finishing my OCD sgrafitto pot I did a little trimming and throwing. I was quite happy with my output. I got 1 large bowl done. This one was thrown without a bottom and then a slab bottom applied after it stiffened up a bit (with the help of a fan). I am also attempting a casserole thrown in the same manner as the bowl, but with a slab lid. I have attempted this before, but with limited success as my square bowls always comes out slightly rhomboid, so the lid never really works out as the edge of the lid is a mirror image of the rim of the pot. But I am ever the masochist and will see if I can get it to work this time around (or square in this case). Finally, I threw a more standard casserole to work on in tuesday night's class for lug demonstrations if they are interested. I picked up a nifty paddle while in Lexington. It has a grid texture on one side and a linear texture on the other. I found that if I roll the lug blanks on the linear side, I can make some pretty nice handles. Of course I did not take any pictures of my weekend accomplishments, but will endeavour to do so tomorrow. I may even swing by after work and take some pictures if the kiln has cooled enough to unload.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinner in Kentucky

Being from Alberta, I know good beef. This was pretty darned tasty. Just look at all that asparagus too! I ordered a Sirloin Oscar. Now I am used to the oscar style the way we do it up here, and probably everywhere else, but not this. To me, andoscar uses a béarnaise sauce (think hollandaise with tarragon), and seafood. This had some sort of creamy cheesy sauce and seafood (crab in this case). Other than that, it was pretty tasty. It should have been too, it took upwards of 70 minutes to be seated. We went to several restaurants that evening looking for food, any food, and they were all packed to the rafters. I guess there was some 2 week long event in town that was culminating that weekend and everyone in Lexington had gone out for dinner on Saturday night.

Fairview Studios 2012 Christmas Sale

Now that I am back from my quick trip to Kentucky, I should let you all know that Fairview Studios will once again have their annual Christmas Sale on Saturday November 24th from 9am to Noon. There will be early bird draws to get you in earlier than the rest and door prizes as usual. I highly recommend this sale. It has been running non stop since before the dawn of time, well, probably the late 70's, but you would need to ask Dave about that. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Back!

I have not had a chance to really process what I saw/learned over the weekend at the “Ceramic Voice” conference in Lexington. Nor have I even downloaded the last batch of photos that I took on the trip back. But these are the presenters whose workshops I chose to attend and in the order in which I saw them.

First there was Kevin Snipes

After lunch there was Karen Newgard

Sunday morning was Ron Meyers (fantastic!)

And lastly, Kurt Weiser. I was not sure about this one, as china painting, let alone painting, is not something in my vocabulary, but his talk was very informative and gave me some places I may travel to in my ceramic explorations.

All in all, a very cool trip, and I will post a few more pictures as I begin to process all of the “data”

Friday, October 19, 2012

We're here and registered, and I spent a mitt full...

We got in at 4:30, checked into the hotel, went for dinner and then went off to the reception to sign up for our classes. This is where they get you. They have all of their supplies on sale for 20% off as well as good deals on all their books, so of course I had to spend some money :)

Off to sleep now and up early for day one tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flying away today

My plane is supposed to be leaving at 12:50, but it just rolled up to the gate, so we might be a bit late. Taking off.
Not sure what my wifi connections will be like, but will attempt to post as I find time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I wish...

That there was a way to make money from procrastination. If there was, I would be soooo rich.
I have put off the inevitable, and now I am down to 1 night (the night before I go away) to clean my house (do all my dishes, throw out all the crud that has accumulated over the last little while, do laundry etc and pack for my trip. I can't do it tonight as I am tomorrow it is. At least my flight does not leave until Noon, that should give my laundry time to fully dry before I pack it. Did I mention that my dryer is still toast? Yes, It died a while ago and as the subject of this post may suggest, I have put off getting it fixed. I seem to be doing ok without it though, less energy waste anyway.

I got around to updating my musical selections for the trip, but in the process, I managed to delete almost my entire iTunes library and had to redo it all. So while doing that, I got rid of all my duplicate songs and there seemed to be a lot of them for some reason. While I was at it, I updated my ipad software as well (that was long overdue, iOS6 has been out for a while). I was up a little bit past my bed time, that's for sure. I never really took a look at how much music I really have and was amazed, especially considering that I only listen to a fraction of it. Next, I need to update my phone and get that all sorted out. Other than that, I am ready to go (HA). I'm not sure where I got my procrastination genes from (probably my Dad, it sure wasn't from either set of Grandparents. The moss never grew under their feet, that's for sure.  My mum is one of those people that is ready to go at least a week or two before leaving, so I can't blame her either. I am an always on time and somewhat annoyingly early person (I don't do fashionably late), but I'm never really ready to go until the last minute.

Anyway, tonight I will be teaching, and at least I know what I am demonstrating well in advance of the class (not normal). I will make one of those altered serving dishes I posted about yesterday. I will scale it down so that it is not so overwhelming for the students. It can be tricky to manoeuvre the bottomless walls onto the slab bottom for both the marking and attaching phases, so we will start small (small for me that is).

Monday, October 15, 2012

My weekend results

Here are some of the things I was up to on the weekend. I made 3 of these altered serving dishes and a couple of these slipped spherical pots.

These altered forms are a pain in the butt to make, but I do like the finished result. I just hate hand building. I guess I just need to practice. I did notice that by the 3rd one I was getting more confident in my decisions and actions. Ooh I just had a thought. They would look good with a big pulled handle running from end to end. Maybe tomorrow....

I love the freshness of the wet slip on these round pots. If only I could keep the feel of that look right through to the fired piece. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

6 More Sleeps

That was how I was able to count down the time to an event when I was a child. Time seemed to drag on when I was a kid, especially when a holiday or some other exciting event was coming up. By counting down the number of sleeps required, it seemed to bring it just a little bit closer to reality.

So right now, I am counting down the number of sleeps until I fly away to attend a workshop in Lexington, Kentucky next weekend. It is not even the workshop that I am anxious for, just the time off and away from everything. I have not had a real holiday in a very long time, and although this is only a 6 day trip, with most of it travelling, I am still eager to get away. My friend Susan and I will be flying out to Ontario on Thursday to meet up with her friend Jan who will also be attending the workshop. We will spend the night at her house and then we will all pile in her car on Friday morning and drive the 8+ hours to Lexington. The workshop will be held over the Saturday and Sunday, and then we will drive back to Ontario on Monday and fly home on Tuesday. So I probably will be absolutely knackered when I get back, but a different/good kind of knackered. I am looking forward to some real fall colour, not just the yellow and brown we get here in Calgary, taking lots of pictures of the scenery on the drive, learning and absorbing a bunch of new techniques that hopefully I will be able to then impart to my students when I get back as well as totally geeking out with other clay minded people for 2 whole days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a couple pots from the kiln

Here is a before and after shot of the tall bottle with the tree motirf. I was playing around with different coloured terra sig slips on this one. I started with a mason black stain, graduated into a pale bluish green and finally into a golden rutile. I was not sure how it was going to look as I was just dumping a little of this, and a little of that into the sig.

Here is a really drippy jar. A really thick slip was slathered on all over and then "combed" through with a rippled vegetable cutter (gotta love the dollar stores). The glaze is one I have been testing, hoping for a satin matt surface with hints of pale grey/lavender and copper green, but alas, it just runs all over the darn place.

Monday, October 1, 2012

All the little plates

These are all the little square plates I have been making and experimenting with the shellac resist and terra sig. There were a few fuggly ones in there, but a few really nice ones too.
Here are 6 that I really like:

Has a Tim Burton vibe I think
Love it
Love it
The octopus plate was sold pretty much the second it came out of the kiln, so this is probably the only pic I will have of it. I will have to do more mollusks....
Here are a few other things that I have had on the go for a while and are now ready for the bisque:
I was going a bit dotty by the end of this one
same with this one...
I was working on this bowl while listening to a CBC show that was talking about Glen Gould. While I was shellacking the pattern, they were playing one of his quicker pieces and I think I was flying along with Gould at the same time. The person doing the show said he thought that Gould had "left the stratosphere".

Friday, September 28, 2012

LARGE Tea Pots

I have been in contact with a lady who is looking for a LARGE tea pot. I guess she used to be a student at Fairview, but has since moved out of the province. She had a very large 12 cup tea pot that Dave made, but he doesn't really make work to sell any more. So, he passed her info on to me and vice versa.

Here are 3 that I have made so far in the LARGE format. The first 2 are based off of a picture of a teapot that she liked. I try not to copy other people's work, but have taken cues from it to hopefully come up with something she will enjoy. The only issue i can see with scaling the style of pot she is looking for up to 12 cups is that the amount of clay used gets to be a bit heavy. The 2 teapots below were thrown from between 6 & 7 lbs of clay (including lid and spout). I think, after shrinkage, that they will only hold 8 cups, maybe 10. I then threw a more traditional tea pot (ie: round) from 6 lb's of clay, and it will deffinatley hold a much larger volume of tea. The rounder shapes are streached and shaped, volume is added by thinning the walls via shaping. The pots shown here can only attain more volume by adding more clay and therefore weight... I like their shape, but I don't think they will be easy to pick up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Delayed Blogification

So I have not really posted anything of substance in a while. I have been a wee bit busy. Last week was crazy. I taught last Monday evening, so right after work I was off to the studio and did not get home until about 9:45 ish. Tuesday was my regular night to teach and again, not home until about 10:00. Wednesday was weird. I took a sick day and slept almost the whole day. My back was hurting, I was very tired, and just generally not feeling up to snuff. However, I did have plans that evening. I went out to dinner with my parents and my friend Barb. My parents were thanking us for business that we drove their way. Thursday I had an appointment at the bank and my head was full of numbers and possibilities. Friday I was at the studio again. I worked at CC on Saturday, and then back to the studio all day on Sunday. This week is not so bad, but Dave is away until October 10th visiting friends and family in Kansas, so I will be teaching his classes on the Mondays on top of my Tusdays until then, as well as feeding his fish, checking his mail and just generally making sure his house does not flood or burn down. I will try to load a glaze tonight, and perhaps a bisque on Friday. I loaded the students work for bisque firing last night, so that will hopefully be cool by this evenings class, as there are a couple of people who want to do a raku firing tonight and their pieces were in the bisque.

I guess I am keeping out of trouble, just not getting much posted. I need to send a few pictures off to a potential customer to see if she likes any of the teapots I have been working on, as well as post more pots on Etsy. I have been really lazy with that. I also went out at lunch and bought a printer. I have managed to live my life without one for a while, but I find I really do need one now, what with the possibility of having to ship pottery, as well as my tentative foray into the wild world of the stock market (i need to keep track of charts and stuff). That's right, I am going to start “investing” for my “future”. Apparently I wont retire on my pottery/lottery “winnings”. If I make a ton of dough, I'll let you know what beach I am sitting on. If I lose it all, I may need to pawn my computer....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fancy Legs

The women in my immediate family (my mum, sister and myself) suffer from what my mum has always termed “antsy legs”. The pharmaceutical industry has now termed it “restless leg syndrome”. I guess to be able to charge money for a new drug. Anyway, for a while now, we have been calling this irritating problem “fancy legs”. My sister was talking about her antsy leg to a friend, who had no idea what she was talking about and misunderstood and thought she was saying that she had “fancy legs”. So there ya go.

Long story short, I was unable to get to sleep for a while last night due to this problem. I also love to self diagnose myself via the internet. I have had localized muscle pain in my left buttock, and I think it is Piniformis Syndrom. The piniformis muscle is rubbing against the sciatic nerve due to pelvic torsion caused by a car accident 10 years ago. I think this is also exacerbating the fancy leg problem. I went to the massage therapist a couple of weeks ago and she worked a miracle (albeit only temporary). However, that night, the fancy leg was quite extreme, so me thinks they are linked.   On the clay front, the kilns are now working again. The electrician was in to diagnose/fix them on Monday. They both had some relay issues. So tonight, I guess I will be loading what did not fire properly last week. I have some more plates to terra sig, and 2 very large bottles that I have already terra sig'd and now need shellacking. The new batch of sig is very good. I am getting a very high gloss on it after burnishing. The last batch seemed to haze up and never really got very shiny. It almost makes me want to pit fire them...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to work on Saturday

After having had 2 whole months off from working Saturdays, I will be going back to Ceramics Canada this weekend. My biceps have had 2 months off from shifting boxes of clay and I know they are not going to like this drastic change in activity level. It will however be nice to reconnect with the community of clay people. I have not seen the CC people at all over the summer and it will be nice to catch up with what has been going on there. To be quite honest, I am ready for this summer to be over anyway. Not that I had a bad summer, I just need a change of scenery and a few different faces (plus I get to go on a mini holiday in just over 6 weeks!). Having spent most Saturdays at the studio this summer, with not many people around has been a bit solitary and now it is time to pick the socialness up a little. I got a lot done this summer, not as much as I would have liked in terms of glaze testing, but I did fool around with some hand building, which just reaffirmed why it is best left to those that really know what they are doing. I don't have the patience for it. I tend to assemble too quickly, or not quickly enough and scale has always been an issue as well. My pieces always seem a bit unwieldy and wonky as I don't know when to stop (kinda like when I was a kid at a salad bar). For example, I made a flower brick/vase. Some of it was thrown, some slab, some pinched. By the time it was done, it had more of a “Noah's Ark” massiveness to it. The only good thing I can say about it is that it did not crack during the making process and it managed to survive the bisque.

On the crock front, I have completed the 12 8"x8"crocks for my friend's wedding. Here are 3 of them with the name stamped in cobalt blue slip. I have removed the smaller text, as it just read as blobs. I have a half a bag of the clay I used for them left over, so I will probably just make a few smaller crocks as well.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A very long day at the studio

I loaded the kiln with all the pots for the crystal glaze firing on Friday night. I loaded 3 shelves, and each shelf was pretty loose. Even still, I think it should have been looser. Perhaps only 2 shelves next time? I set the kiln to start firing at 8am Saturday morning and figured, at the least, I should be there by 11:30 am. When I walked in, the kiln was beeping at me. It didn't tell me why, it was just beeping. I think it was not heating fast enough. I had left the top peep out, so I plugged it up and it shut up and continued on it's way. I am not sure how long it sat at 1300 degrees F for, but I think the firing was delayed quite a bit. It then took until 6:30 to reach top temp, so perhaps too much stuff was in the kiln. I had set it for 2204 F. I don't know if that was hot enough though. Some glazes melted completely, but some others seemed to be a bit too satin, but then it could have been the application? Once it reached 2204, I pulled all the peeps and blew a large fan perpendicular to them to pull the heat out as fast as possible. The temp dropped very rapidly. It only took about 45 minutes to reach 1875 F. I then put all the peeps back in and held at that temp for 4 hours and then shut off. I left after putting all peeps in, I had been there for almost 9 hours at that point. I opened it up on Sunday to find that most of the pots were pretty hideous. There was some decent crystal formation on about half of them, but even then those pots seemed to be patchy. I had a nice little bowl come out OK, but of course, the bottom filled up with glaze and is a crusty ugly at the bottom. The results on some of them were encouraging enough to make me want to do it again, but on bigger pieces where the glaze has room to flow and form crystals. So I glazed 4 larger bowls with 2 of the more promising glazes. I waxed the bottoms on the inside then applied my first coat and proceeded to gradually wax up the sides after each application to get a really thick layer at the rim and then gradually get thinner and thinner towards the bottom. I may even attempt a large bottle. I will use a ring of wadding between the foot and the catch basin to hopefully make removal a little easier after firing.

This has some promise...

This one not so much...

Here are some of the results from the last firing

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wine, dinner, conversation & cleaning up slip cast cups

A friend of mine, who I met through the studio a couple of years ago, is getting married in just under 2 months. She is from Medicine Hat and is having the wedding at the Medalta Historic Clay District. They have a brand new museum and events space that they rent out for just such an occasion. She decided to make all of the cups for her guests that they can take home and she wanted to cast them all out of porcelain. She is braver than me, that's for sure. The learning curve was steep, as she had virtually no knowledge of how to make a plaster mold or how to properly cast etc. But, with many an hour spent watching YouTube videos on the process, and reading everything she could about it, she almost has the 170 cups she needs. The tricky bit was that she only has 2 plaster casts, she works during the day, and just doesn't have the extra time to clean the casts at the right time. So, a few of her friends and I met her at her house last night and started sanding the “almost dry” greenware that she had been making since March. Imagine a cup, left to drain out over a rack on top of a mixing bowl on a kitchen counter for probably longer than recommended. You get a cup with very uneven rims. It was tricky, but we did it. With a little 80 grit sand paper to remove the uneven rims and fine steel wool to sand down the surface to a very smooth finish, we did it. There were some losses, I'm not going to kid you. One wrong move and the cup would be in pieces. Some of them you just had to look at the wrong way and they would crack.

I volunteered to make her 8 small Medaltaesq crock pots for her as she is quickly running outta time. I won't have to fire them, just throw them, trim them and put her “logo” in blue underglaze on them. She will be taking all of her cups and crocks down to Medalta to fire at the Shaw Centre, where they have many many kilns. So she should be able to get them done quite quickly. The only tricky bit will be transporting 170 very fragile green ware cups for the 3 hour drive. There are train tracks and I am sure some speedbumps along the way, so my fingers are crossed for her. She will need to have them all done and down there by Thanks Giving if she wants to get them done in time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

getting stuff done

I managed to get a few things done this weekend, despite the heat. It managed to get up to at least 29 degrees with no breeze or a cloud in the sky. I started the day on Saturday at 9:30 by going to the mall (I know, I know, I hate the mall too). I needed to go see a man about a power cord for my macbook. Lately the cord has been kinda flaky and not charging properly. I took it in, saw a “genius” and got a new cord. Works like a charm. The mall is on the way to the studio, and after the apple visit, I toddled on over there, but splurged on a venti caramel latte before I left. My theory was to try to get to the studio as early as I could to beat the heat, but it was pretty toasty inside anyway, there was a kiln that had recently finished firing and was doing a good job at heating up the joint. When I pulled into the parking lot, there were hundreds of cars parked in every conceivable space in every lot, along the road (except ours thank goodness). There is a motor cross track at the end of the road and normally all you can hear is the annoying whine of dirt bikes flying around the track. Not so on Saturday. There was a Spartan race going on, and if you don't know what that is, and neither did I, it is an obstacle course that involves crawling under barbed wire in the mud, running up hill, running down hill, etc. I saw a lot of very muddy racers walking to their cars when they were done.

Anyway, I mixed 3 glaze tests, fingers crossed, glazed a billion pieces, and loaded a kiln. Ok, probably not a billion, but there was a lot of stuff to glaze, and not knowing exactly what will fit in the kiln, I try to make sure I have enough glazed to be able to pack it as efficiently as possible. I managed to get the custom “fire” bowl in, about 24 mugs, some tall stuff, a large platter and 4 smaller square plates, a couple of casseroles, and teapots, as well as all the test pieces. As I had mixed 3 tests, I had the 3 test cups in there, plus one where I poured all 3 in an overlapping manner around the outside, and then for giggles, I dumped all 3 tests together and tried that out on a couple of small cups. The base glaze was identical, but the oxides were different in all 3. One had just copper carb, another had copper carb and iron, and the 3rd had cobalt oxide and iron. I am hoping for a mottled green/brown, a pale mottled green, and a dark mottled greenish blue and all will hopefully have a lovely satin feel to them.

I am hoping to get the crystal firing loaded this coming friday night and then program it so that I can be there during the critical cooling and holding phase to ensure that the temp. drops as fast as possible by opening up all peeps and running a fan across them to draw as much heat out as fast as possible until the hold temp is reached.

When I was unloading the student glaze load yesterday, I became quite aware of how little people actually pay attention to anything. I sent out instructions about what to do when glazing with the crystal glazes and where to put them when finished to avoid confusion with regular ware etc. But in spite of that, I pulled out a spectacularly horrible pot yesterday that had a dry and ugly surface on it (glaze not thick enough), but where it was thick, little spiky, poorly formed crystals were evident. So, not only did they not read or follow the instructions, or ask for advice on how to glaze their work, they then put it with the standard cone 6 work. Thank goodness we limited it to the inside of bowls only or there could have been a huge mess.

Here's a pictoral rundown of my Saturday and sunday

This is some of the bisque I had to glaze

Here is a close up of a couple square plates

The ware cart starts to fill and then move into the kiln. This is the 1st shelf.

Then the second, third, and a half. My fingers are crossed right now. I'm hoping for some good tests.