Saturday, January 30, 2010

as the wheel turns.......

Finally got back in the studio!! Our household projects aren't done, but they weren't getting done with me not going out to the studio, so I figure at least this way I'm being somewhat productive and can use it as an excuse as to why the household projects aren't getting done. (Does that make sense?)

I noticed that on the first day back, when I came in the house I felt soooooo relaxed!! I don't understand why it seems like after a firing, it's hard to get out there and start producing again. It doesn't make any sense because once I do get out there, it's such a release! I'm sure there's some deep explanation. Or maybe it's just that I'm not sure what to start out with and need to take some time to develop the direction I want to go in my mind.

So, what direction am I going in? Not completely sure, but I'm pretty s
ure that I'm going to try to make my next firing soda instead of salt. After seeing the results Scott was getting out of the little soda box kiln he built, I decided I want to see what my kiln will do. I've done a little reading about using soda instead of salt in the same kiln and I don't think it will be a problem. The kiln we fired at the Odyssey Center was utilized for both types of firings. The only problem I could foresee is that I don't have a lot of spraying ports. Only the 2 salt ports in the back. But my kiln's fairly small, so I don't think that will be an issue. I suppose I could spray into some of the spy holes, but I don't think I'll want to spray directly onto my witness cones. So, probably won't be doing that. I guess we'll see how the first firing comes out. I think Julie's going to put some of her work in to. It will be nice to fire with someone else so we can bounce ideas off of each other.

I need to come up with some more glazes too. And I should probably use some flashing slips. I'm not sure bare phoenix will be very interesting. I'm not going to do a lot of brushwork on these pots. I am trying to have some textures that I'm hoping will catch some flames and get some juiciness.

I've made a lot of cups and mugs and some wavy plates. Julie wants to have an exhibit at Bear's Mill that focuses on table wear this summer. So I've been trying to think along those lines. I made the plates so that the rim is actually a hand-hold on one side. Then I thought they could be used almost as a tray. You can put a cup or mug on one side and toast or a sandwich or some salad on the other side. I might call them "Soup and Sandwich" or "Tea and Toast." I think that nowadays people eat so many meals in the living room in front of the TV (I know that we usually do) and these are designed with that in mind.

The biggest problem will be figuring out the most efficient way to fire the plates. I was thinking of wadding a cup on each one, so it would be an obvious set, 'cos the wadding marks would match. But then I thought that people might like to mix and match them ('cos people LOVE to do that) and also, if I don't glaze
the plate surface, it's really not going to be food-friendly. BUT if I DO glaze them, then I'm going to have to fire them all spread out on low shelves which hogs a lot of kiln space. We shall see.

I really need to find some good glaze recipes for soda firing AND find out what the specific gravity of the glaze needs to be so I don't bet some retina-burning bright blue (like I've been getting!)

The other thing that's been keeping me busy is exercising! (Wow, I had a heckuva time spelling that!) I have been feeling so out of shape and unhealthy! I kept looking for aerobics classes that were nearby and told Steve we needed to get the stationary bike from the kids' house. But I knew I wouldn't use it. So, finally we just joined the Y and we've been going 3 times a week for almost a month! And last week, we worked out 5 days! And I've been eating healthier and feeling so much better!

The really amazing part is that Steve is taking the Step Aerobics class with me!!! I would've never believed that if you told me it would happen!! I chided him into trying it with me a couple weeks ago but I thought he'd last about 10 minutes and then go work out in the weight room. But he actually is enjoying it and has gone every time!

I kept putting off joining the Y because it's on the other side of New Castle and I thought it would eat into my studio time. Well, it's really only about a 10 minute drive and even though it takes up most of
the's not like I was getting my lard butt out there first thing in the morning anyways. And now when I do go out, I have more energy and stamina and am pretty productive. So I think it's going to pay off in lots of ways!!

So, here are some pictures of what I've been working on.......


Feet trimmed.....

Wavy plates.....

Tea and Toast....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Makin' some modifications

I still haven't gotten back in the studio. I am starting to think about pots and potting, but there are still a few projects I'd like to get done before I turn my attention to clay again. The weather will be too cold to fire the salt kiln for a few more months, and when I do get myself back in the studio, I want to be able to focus on it.

Anyways, it's not like the stuff I have made has been flying off the shelves and I need to replace anything!

I have gotten back into a hobby I haven't done for years and years......pain
ting! When I was in high school, I thought THAT was going to be the direction my art passion took me. I even went to commercial art school for a month. But it turned out that it wasn't for me. Still, I've always wanted to do some painting again. So, the other day, I decided to try and paint a picture of Jaedon, my grandson. I had started it a few months ago one day when I went over to Megan's and she and a couple friends decided to have an "art day" and we all sat outside and painted. I wasn't happy with the results to I put my attempt away and hadn't thought about it anymore 'til a few weeks ago when I started getting the urge to be creative. So I pulled it out and bought some new paint, and gave it another go. It came out fairly decent. I used acrylic paints because I'm more familiar with them than oils. Here's the finished product.......

.....of course, I had the perfect subject matter!!!

Then Steve and I took a painting class in Hagerstown. We ate there for my birthday a couple Sundays ago and were walking around some of the shops. We got to talking to a gentleman in the local art gallery and he told us he was teaching a painting workshop and they provided all the materials and best of's free!!

So, last Saturday we went in and did a little painting. He had us pick a subject out of a magazine. I'm doing a landscape and Steve's doing a lighthouse scene. It was fun to get back into in, and fun to do it with Steve. And he did pretty good for his first time ever painting!!

As a matter of fact, he's been surprising me trying some other new things too!! I have been feeling like I need to get myself into shape. I've been trying to walk, but the weather's been so crappy and kept talking about getting my stationary bike which is at the kids' house. But I kept thinking about how much I used to enjoy doing aerobics aI nd I felt like it would be a form of exercise I'd be more likely to stick with since I'd always enjoyed it before. So I kept checking around to see what was offered in the area. Not much.

I don't know why I kept avoiding the "Y," I guess 'cos it's on the other side of town and I was hoping to find something closer. But it's not like we have a terribly tight schedule!! I finally told Steve what I'd been thinking so we checked it out and decided to join. So I'm going to do the step aerobics class which is 3 days a week. Steve walked on the track the first day I did the class. The second time we went in I told him that there was an old guy taking the step class and maybe he should give it a try. I really didn't think he would, but he DID!! And he actually did pretty well! I should've remembered he has a good sense of rhythm from our old rollerskating days!!

But having never, ever taken an aerobics class, I thought he might be intimidated by not knowing the moves and I thought he'd get worn out too quickly. But he stuck with it and even seemed to enjoy it.

We both were so sore yesterday though, we could barely move!!

And now I feel like I'm coming down with a cold!! I hope not, 'cos I don't want to miss tomorrow's class. I just got started!! And I've been trying to eat healthier too. I already have less heartburn at night. Trying to cut down on my beer consumption too. I really do enjoy having a couple with dinner, but I'm pretty sure I was starting to develop a beer gut! Even drinking Sam Adams Light. So I'm going to try to limit by beer drinkin' to a couple nights a week!

I hate to think of any of this stuff as New Year's Resolutions, but I guess the beginning of the year is a good time to "turn over a new leaf." The hardest part is sticking to it all!! I'm hoping that since Steve is doing it to, we'll keep each other "on task." We are pretty competitive!! Normally that causes problems between us, but there are times when we can take advantage of that trait!!

We shall see what transpires!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

First blog posting for 2010!

The second firing of the salt kiln happened on Dec. 05. It went pretty similarly to the first firing. We had trouble getting the back to stay even with the front, only it was the opposite side we had trouble with for the first firing. I moved the targe bricks back, but noticed during unloading that I had moved one side back a little further than the other. We also think I may have gradually stacked the shelved closer together as we went up. It was only a cone or so behind, nothing major. I thought I had gotten a lot more reduction (hence darker colors) in my attempts to even out the heat. I moved the damper in and tried to hold the front of the kiln at temp, hoping the back would catch up. While the results were a bit darker, I think most of the dark pieces were actually the result of using a different (darker) clay body.

It will be fun to fire it again and see what happens, altho, after seeing the results Scott has been getting out of the little soda box kiln he cobbled together, I'm thinking about
trying a soda firing next time! Julie's interested in trying that with me, it's always more fun to experiment when you have a comrade!!

Here are a few pics of my results......

...donning my newly purchased Wall insulated overalls - thumbs up!!!

Christmas sales at Bear's Mill were quite unimpressive. I'm not sure if people weren't liking my pots in particular, or not liking the "salt-fired" finish, or if pottery sales in general were down. They were quite brisk a couple years ago but I haven't had much inventory there for the holidays the last 2 years.

The standard 152 Clay came out a little darker than I like. The 182 was a nice color, but the throwing consistency was too "buttery" (like porcelain!)

Here's a small display of my work that I put in the studio. I did manage to sell about $300 worth to some local friends who stopped out before Christmas!! Still need to get the oribe to a thicker consistency!

I'm taking a bit of a hiatus from potting right now (as many potters do) because for one thing, the weather in easter Indiana is not extremely conducive for firing in a kiln located outside. It was in the 20s with a brisk breeze during my last firing and thankfully my "carharts' kept me warm enough. But right now the outside temp is 6 degress (F) and I can't really imagining firing that kiln right now!!!

Anyways, we decided to start a couple home remodeling projects that we've (I've) been thinking about trying to get done before one (or both) of us has to get a "real" job!! It always seems like when you have time for these projects you don't have the money and when you have the money, you don't have the time!!! I finally convinced Steve we should take advantage of having the time (and enough money to tackle a re-do on the laundry room.)

They say it has to get worse before it gets definitely got worse!! WHAT A MESS!!!!
It has proven to be only mildly stressful. The worse part was when, after we were about half-way done with demolition of the plaster and lathe, Steve happened to mention the possibility of asbestos in the plaster. YIKES!! I hadn't even considered that! I assumed that since the house was built pre-1900, asbestos wasn't even in exitance, was it?? I checked online that night and found an article from a man who was tearing into a home built in the 30s or 40s that he claimed tested positive for asbestos in the drywalll. Now I felt like I was going to be ill!! I couldn't figure out why Steve wouldn't have said something BEFORE we tore into it. He claims he figured I would just accuse him of trying ot get out of the question.....SO????? You'd rather jeopardize our health and well-being???

It made for a tense work day on the second day of renovation. I did some more online research and couldn't find anything on the EPA's website section on asbestos that mentioned plaster and lathe as a possible contaminated area. Also, I read some old home discussions about horse hair plaster. We did notice what looked to me like horse hairs in the plaster. Steve thought it might be some kind of "fiber." I think, again, the house is too old for it to be anything but horse hair. And the articles I read mentioned the fact that that the old plaster and lathe was extremely durable and even somewhat fireproof. (And I had bee extremely worried when I started a burnpile with the lathe and a couple pieces of plaster ended up in the burn pile but didn't seem to actually be doing much burning. I can't even begin ot explain the sick feeling I had about all this.

But it seemed like it was too late to do anything about it at this point. I do know that before we tear into any more plaster in this house, I will make sure we have it tested. I feel rather confident that it won't test positive for asbestos, but I would rather know before placing myself in a roomful of questionable
dust particles!!

But now the messiest part is behind us, we just need to get the debris taken to the dump. Today's attempt fell short, apparently they took an extra day off for the New Year's holiday.

At lunch time we had volunteered to help residents at one of the local retirement centers with their lunch trays. Apparently they run short of help on week-ends. It was enjoyable talking to some of the residents there. Some of them really seem to enjoy life!! The only bad part was that it brought back some unpleasant memories from my days of waiting table at Perkins and Bob Evans (and I didn't even get any tip$!!!)

So that pretty much sums up life since my last blog post.