Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I should just work for dirt

Well, the tax man cameth and doth did taketh away. For various reasons, I owed a wee bit more in taxes this year. Let's just say that when I was laid off last January, I had to decide what I wanted done with my retirement savings that I had been accumulating with the company I was with. I could either take it in cash (less whatever tax they took off) or transfer it to an RSP account of my own. I mean, it was not a lot of money as I had only been on the plan for a year and a half. Well, I was a little short on funds and thought what the heck, I'll take the cash please. I invested some of it, I bought a new camera with a bit of it, and the rest has been sitting in my bank account (subconsciously I knew I would have to part with some of it, but was not sure how much). Also, I don't have taxes taken off my pay cheque from Ceramics Canada, so that had to be added on to the amount owed. Trudy, if you read this, you should just pay me in dirt, preferably with the sticks and rocks removed. Here's hoping that Saturday's sale is busy and profitable (aka breakevenable).

Monday, April 29, 2013

Digital Withdrawal - sort of

You know that feeling you get when you are leaving the house for the day? That feeling that you are forgetting something? Why do I never listen to that little voice until I am in the car and half way to wherever I am going (like work) and then like a bolt out of the blue I remember what it was that I forgot to bring with me. Today it was my phone. But it is not just my phone though, it is my watch, my camera, my photo album, my library, my alarm clock, my to do lists, my things to remember (ironic?), it is a whole lot more than just my phone. I am all for planned unplugging from the digital world, but when it is unplanned and accidental, it sucks.

In non digital news, I managed to price and pack most of my pots for the spring studio sale this Saturday. This is a rare occurrence. Not the sale, but the fact that I have priced and packed my pots a week in advance. I am usually doing it the night before the sale, which causes me to stay up late and then risk sleeping in. I have, in the past, actually slept in twice for the sale. I discovered that I can set up in 10 minutes, but am super crabby about it. If I am late, don't get in my way.

There is still a lot to do before Saturday, like getting the cash float for the sale, putting the sale accounting binders together, making sure there is enough paper and plastic for wrapping purchases, putting together a playlist for the music that will be playing in the background, pricing and wrapping the few odds and ends I have not gotten to yet, buying the coffee supplies and loading my car. The problem is that I will have to cram it all into Thursday and Friday night. I still have not done my taxes, so I have to do them tonight. I teach on Tuesday night and the taxes are due on Tuesday. I have a massage booked for Wednesday evening that will render me completely useless, so Thursday and Friday it is. I can probably get to the bank today, but all the other stuff will have to wait until Thursday and Friday. I am not the one heading up the sale, but these are the things I know that nobody is going to take care of or is even thinking of, so I'm it I guess. I could delegate, but it you want it done right, you gotta do it yourself.

I'm getting antsy without my phone...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's all relative I'm afraid (AKA - I wish I had a Tardis)

This year is speeding by quite quickly, more quickly than I would like in fact. I think that the perceived speed that time passes is inversely related to the speed you wish it was going. If you want it to go quickly, it drags by and then when you really want time to slow down a little, it whizzes past you. There should be a button you can push for that...but now that I think of it, if everyone was pushing the speed up/slow down time button, things would get very confusing.
Anyway, it is almost time for the Fairview Studios Spring Pottery Sale. As previously mentioned, it will be on Saturday, May 4th from 9am to Noon at the Canyon Meadows Community Centre (848 Cantabrian Dr. SW). I will have lots of salty pots as well as the regular cone 6 fare, including my new black and white sgrafitto work, among others.

Fairview Studios is also planning an OPEN HOUSE on June 8th. More details will follow, but if you have ever wanted to see how pottery is made on a potters wheel, or wondered just what exactly a glaze is, then mark this date in your calendar. We will have lots going on, and you might just be able to take a little something home with you. I will provide more info after the sale.

Monday, April 22, 2013

More low fire porcelain

Before I left for Medalta I mixed up a 5lb batch of the 04 porcelain. This is what I did with some of it. I am going to fire a test with some different stains to see if I can get some colour on these pots. Otherwise they will just be white. Aside from the teapot, I threw a couple low wide bowls and a half a dozen tea bowls. I have another 5lb batch on the go right now too. It takes a while to get all the excess moisture out, so I will be wedging it on plaster for a while until it is workable.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Always learning, sometimes the hard way.

I spent the past weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, firing the salt and soda kilns at Medalta. I have posted a few pictures of the fired results and there will be more to follow, but I am going to wait for my new light box to arrive before I do. Anyway, there were a few things that I learned this weekend. First, we needed to introduce more soda into the soda kiln. Second, we needed to pack the soda kiln a little more loosely. Third, the salt kiln seems to fire very evenly but slower than the soda kiln. Fourth, we don't think many people drink wine in Medicine Hat. We did however pick up a very nice malbec at the Co-op liquor store (the lady there doesn't drink wine, she only reads the labels, so no help there unless you can't read, then she's your gal. Fifthly, I personally discovered that if you lean in too close when looking into the peeps, your eyebrows, eyelashes and the hair surrounding your face, will singe completely off. I lost half the length of my lashes, trimmed my brows, and now have a fringe of hair no longer than a centimetre at my hair line.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A few pots from Medicine Hat

The firing at Medalta was far from perfect but there were some pots that came pretty darned close. I managed to shoot a few good quality pictures before I came home and here they are. Overall I would say 1/3 crap, 1/3 good and 1/3 excellent.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Susan and I arrived in Medicine Hat yesterday at 11 ish and were glazing by noon. It took us until 11:30 that night to get the kilns loaded. We turned the flames on low and went to the hotel. I took two robaxicets and fell into a coma. Just before I woke up this morning I was dreaming about glaze. I couldn't get it off my hands. Out out damn spot.....
We will be turning up the kilns soon, but first I need some nourishment.
Pictures will be forthcoming, but not till later.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Glorious or Gloriously Hideous

I leave tomorrow morning at 6:30am for the Hat. I have not packed a single thing yet (not counting pots and slips of course). I also have a massage booked for this evening, so I wont be home until 7:30 or so. I know, kinda dumb to book a massage the day before I embark on a marathon glazing/firing event, but at least I will be limber. I may need to book another for when I get back. I am taking almost every pot I have thrown since January as well as a couple flashing slips, some coloured terra sig based slips (green, blue/green, rutile & black) and a shino. There will be glazes at the studio that I will be able to use, but I have these on hand and can not really use them at cone 6 in electric kilns, so I am using them where I can. I am eager to leave and get started, but I am also thinking about all the work that this is going to be. I have approximately 100 pots to decorate, wad and load. Then there are the kiln shelves that will need to be scraped and cleaned when we are done. I am bringing a jumbo bottle of ibuprofen as well as a box of muscle relaxants. Perhaps a bottle of wine would be in order too.... It feels a bit strange to me to have not fired much in the way of pots over the last 3.5 months. All of my output has been geared towards the salt and soda firing this weekend. This means that I am risking most, if not all, of my near future sales on this one weekend. If something goes awry, I could have a load of crap. If all goes well, then nothing to worry about, but I come from a long line of worriers. I have almost nothing ready for the studio sale coming up on May 4th and if this does not go to plan, then I really will not have much to offer. I will have a quick refresher on how their kilns work (ie where the air is, where the gas is, etc, but then it is up to me to remember how we fired it last time (thank goodness for kiln logs and kiln gods) and what we might want to change based on the results from last time. To be honest, there are only one or two things I would change. I think we packed the soda a bit tight and I would cut back on how much soda we sprayed and increase the burritos. The spraying tends to cause the glaze to become a bit grey if too much water is introduced. It seems to trap the carbon in a not very pretty way. If we decide to stay with the same amount of spraying, I would increase the damper wafting and keep it open a bit longer in between applications of soda to clean up the atmosphere and brighten the colours and hopefully mitigate any greying of the glaze. The salt kiln (for me) gave results that I appreciated a bit more. I love toasty orange and brown orange peel. I love flashing too, and that will be more evident in the soda I think, but there were a lot of dry pots in the soda compared to the salt (from the over packing I am sure). I hate this, I keep thinking about what could be and then in 3 days I will be confronted with what is, be it glorious or gloriously hideous. I will take lots of pictures and maybe some video as we go and I will try to blog a bit as well (back pain permitting). We also have a visit planned at Plainsman too, so perhaps we can fit that in at some point on Friday (?)
Here are some pics from that first salt firing a couple of years ago during the coldest weekend that year in Medicine Hat, so cold it froze my power steering. This weekend should be tropical in comparison.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go....

Well, my pots are packed at least. There are only 6 sleeps left until I leave for Medalta and it will be a weekend of extremes. Susan and I will be arriving in Medicine Hat around 10am on Thursday next week and right away we will be madly decorating our pots and loading the 2 kilns at the end of which we will probably fall down in exhausted heaps. We will fire them on Friday, so there will be periods of inactivity and then frantic salting etc. Saturday will be our down day while the kilns cool. Not sure what we will get up to, but we will find something to occupy us I am sure. Sunday will undoubtedly include both the excitement and anxiety of the unknown (think of Schrödinger's cat) and then when the kilns are opened and all possible unknown results are fixed with our observations, we will probably shed a tear or two over the pots that did not make it. I am sure however that there will be lovely results and hopefully the keepers outweigh the crap. Here are a few pics of what I am taking. These are by no means all of my pots, but they do represent a fair chunk.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Catching up

I have been a little distant lately. My apologies. Here are a few of the things I have been up to or that are going on. These are not in any chronological order, just the order in which I sent the pictures to blogger. First, we have some tea bowls. I threw these for the studio Open House coming up in June. We want to have a raku demo during the day so I decided to get these out of the way week or 2 ago. I had a bag of raku clay kicking around. I am not even sure where it came from. It has been sitting on my shelf since the studio moved locations 4 years ago. Needless to say, it was hard as a rock. I soaked it in a bag of water that I submerged in a bucket of water and then dried it out on plaster once it was all gooey. I did not relish wedging up a zillion little balls of clay, so i just threw the whole lump on the wheel and started throwing off the hump. I got about 25 tea bowls from the one bag. They have all been bisqued.
Next we have some really good ribs that I made. These were pork side ribs that I marinated for 24 hours. Here is the marinade recipe as far as I can remember. juice of 3 limes, a little balsamic vinegar, some olive oil, worstershire sauce, 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped, ground pepper, cayenne pepper, onion flakes, ketchup, fresh thyme (rough chop, brown sugar. Then I steamed them in a tinfoil lined pan for 2 hours in the oven and finished them under the broiler for 5 minutes.

Finally I have a shot of my crazy amaryllis plants that I started from seeds that I got from pollinating a store bought amaryllis about 6 years ago. If you ignore them for about a month in the winter and don't water them, they will flower (seemingly overnight)