Saturday, September 30, 2017

Innovative Raku Kiln Design

Our good friend Andy Hampton has built a raku kiln using an old electric kiln. I am sure most of us potters have seen that done many times before. The raku kilns that we fire in are also made from recycled electric kilns. The difference is, Andy has taken it to an all new level. His process is broken into two short videos. 

Don't you just love that swinging door! Andy Hampton primarily reduction fires in both gas and wood. You can see more of his work here.

Next month Andy will host the NH Potters Guild Meeting and members will have the opportunity to fire a pot in his new raku kiln. If you are a New Hampshire potter or are located close to New Hampshire, you may want to check out an NHPG membership. The guild's website appears to be down but you can find them on facebook by searching NH Potters Guild.

Friday, September 29, 2017

One Hit Wonder

I love butter dishes. Maybe because I love butter?
I just wish I could be successful at making them. A few years ago a made quite a few and I only had one the I could sell. The others warped or cracked.

The rejects all got the hammer, except for this one that I kept for myself. You can see in the photo below that there is a crack along the join. It's been in constant use for years. I hardly notice the crack anymore.

This summer I started another round of butter dishes, but wasn't happy with any of them. They all ended up in the reclaim bucket.

Each year, when we are at the League of NH Craftsmen's show, I spend some time in Tom White's booth drooling over his butter dishes. He makes some simple dishes, but he also makes some that look like buildings and barns. Many years back he had butter dishes that were churches with steeples. To this day I regret not buying one. This year Tom mentioned that someone should put on a butter dish exhibition. I agreed that it would be a great show. I better get busy perfecting a butter dish... because I want to be ready for that!

You can check out Tom White's pottery here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ginkgo Leaves, Snakes, and Pizza...

Last week I threw some bowls and spent a couple of afternoons carving leaves. I knew I had a short window of opportunity to get these done before it was back to assembling piggy banks.

Jeff pugged some clay on Monday and when he was done we attached the die to extrude the piggy bank parts. While we were at it we extruded a couple of different size tubes because I have been itching to make some snakes again. Last night Jeff and talked about snake decorating methods and we came up with some new ideas for a collaboration. I will post some photos once we execute the plan.

I am still experimenting with a cold ferment pizza dough. When I made this batch at the end of last week, it was a little more humid and the dough could have used a bit more flour. The downside was that I make this recipe in the food processor and the bowl just barely accommodates the dough. My food processor is also a very inexpensive one and I could tell it was beginning to strain. I had to scrape out the sticky dough and add the rest of the flour on the board, as I kneaded it. The food processor was a sticky mess to wash. I really would like to invest in a good processor but until then I will mix this dough by hand.

Last night's pie was Jeff's request. Grilled chicken, artichokes, onions, black olives, and lots of tomatoes and herbs from our garden. It was quite tasty, but I have to admit... I LOVE pepperoni!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Glaze Tricks

 I had an order for a salt pig that was to be un-glazed on the interior and sprayed ash glaze over shino on the outside. I was in a quandary as to how to not get the ash on the inside, without have to meticulously sponge it off.

Of course Jeff came up with a solution!

A piece of sponge cut to fit, and wired with a handle to be able to pull it out after spraying the glaze. It sort of looks like we were torturing the poor piggy. Jeff's idea worked like a charm.

Creativity comes in many forms when you are a potter.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Late Summer Firing

The rain stopped and the skies cleared, just in time to take the door to the gas kiln down.

Overall we are happy with the results. Jeff is starting to produce tiles again. A wood fired version of these are in the 500 Tiles book. This one was made with our 505 Main clay, glaze is Jeff's ash glaze, applied with a sprayer.

One of my carved bowls. White slip over STARworks, East Fork clay. The exterior was dipped in tenmokku, interior is the sprayed, ash glaze.

As always, there were piggy banks and vessel sinks in this firing. Most were orders, but I also have a few "ready to ship" pigs that you can find in my Etsy shop.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Chair

If my mother were still with us, her and Dad would be celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary today. My paternal grandmother gave them a boudoir chair as a wedding gift. I have always loved that chair. Over the years my parents reupholstered it themselves and repaired the spring system in the seat cushion. Last winter the springs gave out again my Dad decided he wanted a new chair. He was going to throw away the old one. I couldn't bear to see it thrown out and asked if I could have it. We made sure there was room in the trailer to bring it back to North Carolina after the show in August.

So now I have a 63 year old chair that I am going to attempt to reupholster! I clearly remember the three different fabrics that have adorned this chair. I also remember a photo my mother took of me sitting in it when I was a toddler. Now I have to decide if I want to update it with a modern print or find a fabric that is fitting to 1954. I think I better watch some youtube video about upholstery projects before I tackle the job!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lost My Groove

It's been a weird time for me since returning from our August trip to New Hampshire. I feel like I have lost my rhythm in work and everything else in life. I am trying hard to kick my ass back into shape and be more productive. I can find lots of excuses for this state of disarray... weather, politics, aches and pains, the list could get quite long!

Last week I lost probably two days of work because of a stubbed toe! It wasn't an ordinary stubbed toe, it was a twisted around stubbed toe that when looking at it, made me break out into a sweat and nearly pass out.  Eventually I was able to massage it back into the right place. It wasn't dislocated and I doubt it is broken... just a bad sprain. Needless to say my toe has looked like a fat little purple sausage and the top and bottom of my foot is swollen and bruised. A week later and I am still limping around.

I spent another afternoon watching the weather on television and making preparations for a tornado. We were under a tornado warning for much of the afternoon. Nothing materialized, but I was ready if it did. Next we have to worry about hurricane Irma. At least I have a plan already in place.

I have managed some accomplishments... piggy banks are made and glazing has commenced. I carved some new mug designs but glazed them before I could take photos. Today I will finish up a couple of pigs and help Jeff glaze sink orders.

How have I spent the rest of my days? Reading, watching the hummingbirds, experimenting with a cold ferment pizza dough, and enjoying our moon flowers. The vacuuming will have to wait.