You can often find me here

You can often find me here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cake Plates, Sponges, and Glaze Messes, OH MY!

What's wrong with this picture?  

That birthday cake is on one of my dinner plates instead of the pottery cake plate that I normally use.  That plate cracked last time I used it, so it was time to toss it out.  Because I know you are wondering, it was a pecan praline buttermilk pound cake and it was delicious even though I used twice as much butter as the recipe called for.  Oops!

So it is time that I made some more cake plates.
I am hopeful that these will work out.  I struggle with getting the size right.  They need to be mostly flat with just a little bit of lift on the outer edge (to catch stray icing).  I put some rings on them to help center the cake (I'm thoughtful that way).  They have to fit inside a cake carrier, so they have to be big enough for a 9 or 10 inch cake but small enough that the lid will fit on the carrier.

In other random things, I wore out my favorite sponge recently.
The one on the bottom I've been using for years and it has gotten really ratty.  You guys know how sentimental I am about some of the pottery stuff, so you won't be too surprised when I tell you that I am sad about my sponge and can't quite throw it out yet.  Allen gave me that sponge.  I think they must have thrown it in on one of his orders at Carolina Clay Connection and he didn't like it.  I happened to be in the studio that day, so he gave it to me.  I've used it ever since.

I want to share a not so good thing that happened in the last glaze fire.
The glaze on these mugs ran and stuck to the shelf.  I HATE it when that happens.  I should have checked the glaze, because the green was WAY too thick.  I made a great big mess.  I was in a hurry and didn't take the time to do it right.  You would think I would learn!  Notice the white on the bottom.  That is the kiln wash that I put on the shelves.  It served its purpose.  The kiln wash protects the shelf by keeping the piece from sticking when there are glaze accidents like this one.

This is how you fix that kind of mess.
You have to grind the extra glaze off the bottom.  I'll also have a little shelf repair to do, but that's a chore for another day.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Whirl Wind

The past several weeks have been a whirl wind of busy-ness.  I went back to work on July 9.  I've been helping my Mom and Dad get ready to move for what feels like an eternity but has really only been since late June.  (Please don't ask me to move any more furniture.)  Classes started on Aug 16. That was also the first day of games for the American Legion World Series.  I was pretty busy with the World Series beginning on Aug 13 and going through our team's last game on Aug 20.  In between, there's not been a lot of time for pottery or energy for writing blogs. 

Jeff and I volunteer with the World Series every year as part of a group that hosts one of the teams.  We always host the winner of the Great Lakes Region.  As a result, we now have friends from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana.  I'm frustrated each year that I can't be more involved, but the series coincides with the beginning of our semester.  Sometimes I'm doing well just to be able to get to the games when our guys play.  This year I thought I would be completely out of it since Mom and Dad were supposed to move during that week too.  Due to an untimely injury (Mom broke her ankle), the move had to be postponed for a few weeks.  As a result, I was able to do more with the Series than I thought I would.

Over the past eight years or so, the team from Midland, Michigan has earned the right to play in the World Series five or six times.  As a result, we have built relationships with those coaches over the years, and by extension also their families.  It is SO COOL!

How does this relate to pottery?  Hang on!  I'm getting there.

I invited Coach Ben Wright's family (Cindy, his mom; Jolee, his sister; and Addysen and Kipten, his niece and nephew) to come over to the pottery studio one of the days that the team didn't play until later in the afternoon. In addition to showing them all around, I made a few pieces so the kids could see how pottery is made.  The pictures that follow are all courtesy of Cindy Wright and Jolee Throop. 

I always start a demonstration with something cylindrical.  It was going well, so I added some texture and gave it a little belly out and a flair at the top to make a nice little vase.

I asked the kids what they wanted me to try next.  A bunny was the first idea. After I explained that I couldn't do a bunny, they settled on a plate. 

I had grabbed a few leaves from the yard before I left the house that morning.  I let Kipten pick the one we would use to decorate the plate.

I explained how I can tell when a piece is completely bone dry and demonstrated the "tongue test". 
Kipten tried it.

And then Addysen.

All in all, I had a wonderful time that morning and I think they did too.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pushing Hard

I talked to my friend Vicki on the phone today and she encouraged me to use this last week of my summer vacation to relax.  She went on to describe what relaxing is since she observed that I am not particularly good at it.  Sleeping in, sitting in my recliner, snacking on nachos, reading books, watching some TV shows, etc. all sound like good ideas.  I'll probably do some of those things too. 

But there is a lot that I planned for myself for this two weeks that I've had free.  Last week, I was in the studio every day.  Every. Day.  It was great! 

I started with these smallish pitchers. Each is about 2 pounds of clay.

Over the next couple of days, I finally got around to making some bacon cookers. I still need to have more of these on hand, but this is a start at least.

I only took a picture of one leaf platter.  I made a couple of other rectangular trays with leaves as well.

Four more pitchers.  These range from 3 to 4 pounds of clay each.

I think there were some mugs that didn't get photographed.

I glazed some.

There were also a few other relatively odious tasks that I had been putting off doing that I forced myself to get done.  I have a new batch of reclaimed clay now and all my kiln shelves are scraped and have a fresh layer of kiln wash.  I. Loathe. Those. Chores. But they are done now!  For the time being, I am going to continue to ignore that other bucket of clay that needs reclaiming.  

This week will be some different.  I'm going to pick up an order of clay and dry glazes in Charlotte in the morning.  Then I'll have to unload all that when I get back.  At some point, I'll need to process the new glazes.  I spent all of today working on some stuff for Buffalo Creek Gallery and I'll need to devote a good chunk of another day to get all that finished up.  Wednesday is July 4, so I should act like it is a holiday.  Then there's some family stuff going on Friday that will probably keep me out of the studio most of that day.  I guess it is a good thing that I got some pots made last week, because it isn't looking all that great for this week.  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer Time, Summer Time

In June, peaches and blueberries in North Carolina are ripe.  I love peaches and blueberries! I eat them every morning with my yogurt and granola.  For a special treat, I made a cobbler earlier this week.  The recipe is EASY.  Start with fruit.  This works with this combination or just peaches.  In the fall, I make it with apples. 

The topping is equal parts Bisquick and sugar.  I don't measure it.  Just dump it in a bowl.  Add some cinnamon.  Again, no measuring.  Mix all that up and sprinkle on the fruit.  Top that with pats of butter.  No skimping on the butter here.  

Bake at 350 for about an hour.  Let it cool just a little bit and serve with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

The baking dish that I use is one of my favorites.  It is a soda fired piece with a cobalt blue liner. I made this one a few years ago.  It was fired it at Ron Philbeck's.  It's not often that I bring things home to use unless they are flawed in some way. This one I just loved, so I decided to keep it.  It makes me happy every time that I use it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Playing Hurt

I finally had a chance to make some pots again this morning.  I'll go back and put handles on the mugs and trim the bowls tomorrow.  

I made all that stuff after I cut my self on a piece of broken pottery.  I know that this doesn't look like much, but it hurt.  It still does.  It also bled quite a bit.  I'll spare you the picture of my handful of blood.
A Band-aid will not stay on a muddy hand.  

In other news, I did some minor kiln repair today. 

I successfully switched out all 3 of the relay switches with only minimal amounts of swearing.

All fixed up and ready to go again.

I also spayed weed killer on all the little plants sprouting up in the cracks in the parking lot. I decided today that there is more cracked concrete than not cracked concrete in my parking lot.  The cracks add character, right?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Not Enough Hours In The Day

Y'all, it is a real struggle.  I haven't posted here since two weeks before Mother's Day.  I also don't think I've spent more than a few hours total in the studio since that time either.  There has just been too much going on! 

Here are some pictures of things.

This is a casserole that I showed pictures of while I was working on it.  This is at Buffalo Creek Gallery now.  

A vase that is kind of interesting.
I kind of like vases in neutral colors.  That way the flowers that you put in it are what you focus on.  This could also be a utensil holder.  This is not at either gallery right now.  If you are interested in seeing this in person, let me know.  I will make that happen.

I made this platter several months ago, but just found this picture.  I think it turned out pretty nice.  This is also available at Buffalo Creek Gallery.

Yesterday I realized that I am almost out of mugs again!  There are still several at Buffalo Creek Gallery, but I think there is only one at A Griffin Pottery right now that has a handle.  (There are lots of cups without handles though!)  
I have these 8 plus 8 more that are ready to be glazed, so I will be able to restock mugs soon.

I made these bowls a few weeks ago.  It was probably the only Saturday that I've been working in the studio since early May.

It was really hot that day, so I got them dry enough to trim the same day!  These are also ready to glaze.

Today is the last day of May.  I am off in the morning to go grade AP Calculus Exams for a week.  I always feel like summer doesn't really start until I get back from grading exams.  This year, I'll have a week at home and then we head out for our family vacation.  I guess the reason I'm telling you all this is to let you know that I'm still not going to be around to do pottery much for the next few weeks. 

It would make things so much easier for me if I could figure out how to be in two places at once. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Did You Realize?

Mother's Day is about two weeks away!  Handmade pottery makes a very nice Mother's Day gift.

Stop by A Griffin Pottery or Buffalo Creek Gallery and check out all the nice things that are available.

Here are some of my favorites:

Wine Mugs
I have a large selection of wine cups available both at Buffalo Creek Gallery and at A Griffin Pottery.  

Egg Separators
I keep these little guys in both galleries, so you should be able to find one no matter which place you are able to visit.

Soup Tureen
This large soup tureen is at Buffalo Creek Gallery.  There are also soup bowls available that will coordinate.

Vase (or Utensil Holder) and Cookie Jar
These two items are at Buffalo Creek Gallery.  This has become one of my favorite glaze combinations.  There are several more pieces at the gallery in these same colors.

Small Tray
Like the turtle on this tray?  He is available at A Griffin Pottery.

Vase or Utensil Holder
This large vase is one of the latest items out of the kiln at A Griffin Pottery.

Small Casserole
This casserole is perfect for two and is available at A Griffin Pottery.

Small Casserole
This one is approximately the same size as the tan dish pictured above and is also available at A Griffin Pottery.