Monday, September 28, 2009

Fired the kiln (again)!!!

John and I have been so busy preparing for the upcoming shows that we are in.  We were able to fire two glaze loads and one bisque load over the past week.  Last night I started a third glaze load and this morning I started another bisque load.  With our new kiln we are having to learn a little as we go.  There were some great pieces that came out and some not so great pieces.  Hopefully, they will get better every time.

One piece that didn't make it was one of my people pots.  I small crack opened up around the lady's neck.  I was really disappointed because this is a double people pot (very time consuming) and it was glazed with the Saturated Metallic, which I never use on my people pots.  But, they now have a happy home in my flower bed at the studio!

I know these aren't for everyone, but they are all very personal to me.  It is weird how one can become emotionally attached to the work they are doing.  But, I have been asked to have five pieces in a show at the Royal Bean in Raleigh for the month of October.  They are doing a "Dark Art" theme and I guess some would view my work as dark art, especially my funeral urns (not sure why...).

There is a positive side to these kiln firings and that is that John and I have finally mastered our favorite glaze: Pennell Strontium Matt Glaze.  I mix the glaze from the raw materials, which is kinda like baking a cake.  But it is very finicky and has to be fired to an exact temperature so that we get the effects we want, but it is not running off the pots onto the shelves.

I have also made a ton of jewelry pieces and will be posting these to my website : a little at a time. 

The first show is this coming Sunday, October 4th, in Chapel Hill from 1-6pm.  I am just hoping for some weather like today - perfect!

And since my blog wouldn't be complete without a picture of "nature" - here is a picture from Sunday morning by the front deck. Thought it would put us in the October mood.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday at the Studio

Today was actually a work day for John and I.  We spent the day glazing pots and loading the kiln.  We won't know the results until Thursday.  I hate having to wait so long, but is always worth it. 

While at the studio I almost stepped on Mr. Toad.  He is only about an 1" long and he blends in with the grass. I wish he didn't look so sad.

I also saw a pretty little ring neck snake out in the yard.  It was about nine inches long and had the brightest yellow band around its neck.  Unfortunately, I was in the middle of cleaning up some glaze stuff and I couldn't get to the camera.  Now that is the kind of snake I like- one that you can put in your pocket and won't bite.  Oh - a side note- the snake eggs that we had found last weekend were not Copper Heads.  Copper Heads are live bearers, not egg layers, so it was probably from a black snake, thank goodness.

John takes such good care of the flowers around the studio (and the ones at home).  This Nashstersium was soaking up some sun today.

And on the back porch there are these Marigolds that have gone crazy!  These were some from a pack of "miniature"  flowers.  John does not put any chemicals or anything on them, but it looks like they should be in a jungle.  It is hard to see, but the yellow ones on the bottom stretch out over a foot and the stalk is more than 1/2" thick!  I think next year we need a bigger pot.

Last weekend we went to the flea-market at the state fair grounds.  I came across these telephone pole insulators.  The man gave me eight of them for $3!!!  I put several outside on the railings at the studio.  During the day the light shines so pretty.  At night I put them over some lights that we have and they give off a nice glow.

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting Ready

What a long week...

We are very busy getting ready for the show in Chapel Hill on October 4th.  We have fired a number of bisque loads and today was spent making glazes.  Tomorrow we hope to glaze some pots and start a glaze fire.  I am always excited when I mix up new batches of glaze.  I can't wait for a piece to come out of the kiln so I can see what it looks like.  I always create a little test tile, but sometimes it is hard to see how the glaze preforms because it is so small.  So, in addition to the test tile, I always pick a piece that isn't show quality and use it for a test.  These sometimes end up in the bone yard (a place were the rejects go) and sometimes they turn out great and are given as gifts or we keep to use at home. 

I have also been working on a mask for the Clayfire guild on Artfire.  We are having a little contest and will be selling our masks.  (  I hope that it makes it to the final product.  And that I get it finished in time!

I have attached a link to the show information.  Please take a look.  There are so many great artists that will be there.  There is also a Peoples Choice Award, so if you see my work at the show and you like what you see, please vote for me!   Festifall

and I have to add that our contest is still going on until Oct 20th!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Copper Head Visitor

It always is a true learning experience around our place.  Nature always seems to be reminding us that we are the intruders.  Over the weekend, John was working outside installing the vent for the kiln when he came across a visitor.  It was a Copper Head. 

Luckily, both John and Clint are not afraid of snakes at all .  Clint actually wanted to keep him as a pet, but I would be the one that would end up taking care of it and I do not like anything that is posionious!  I respect them, and feel that have a right to be in their natural habitat, but I do not want them in my house or even up next to my house where I may step on them.

John was able to pick it up and put into a trash can.
I can't believe how red his tounge was. The snake seemed very scared and always looked like he was ready to strike, but I think he knew that it was a losing battle. 

Since I wouldn't let Clint keep it, they decided to take him back out into the woods and let him go.  I know most probably think that we should have killed it, but as I said - it has a right to be in it's natural habitat, we are the intruders.

Many people in North Carolina have never seen a Copper Head, but they are everywhere.  They are very good at blending in with the environment.  This snake was probably as long as he was going to get.  However, they do get fatter as they continue to grow.  Copper Heads are very slow movers.  Most people end up stepping on one, because the snake just didn't get out of the way in time and that is when they strike.  They are not aggressive, unless they are fighting for their life, unlike a Cotton Mouth which is very aggressive.  Be careful this time of the year.  Copper Heads are in their mating season now and around dusk is when they are out looking.

Of course, Clint is never satisfied with just finding one snake, so he went on a hunt for more.  He didn't see any, but he did uncover a nest of eggs under the ledge of our stone wall.  All had hatched, and John thought because of the shells they were from about two years ago.  We are not sure if they were copper heads or not.  I just am hoping that they were black snakes instead!

Monday, September 7, 2009

It is about time!

I ordered a new ceramic kiln in June. The lady said two weeks - ok, two months later it finally arrived. At the time we also ordered 4000 pounds (2 tons) of clay! Our studio is down a long, steep, gravel drive and there is no turn-around, so we had the kiln and clay delivered to our house instead. The 18-wheeler arrived and unloaded three pallets, two for clay and one for the kiln. Luckily, he had a lift-gate and a pallet dolly and was able to move them very easily into our garage.

The next problem was how to get it all to the studio. Well, we knew that the best thing to do with the clay was just to take it a little at a time as we need it. There really isn't any place to store it at the studio anyway. But the kiln weighed close to 1500 pounds. Again, we were a bit lucky that most kilns are built in sections and come apart. We spent most of the first day just breaking down the kiln into pieces that we could handle. We were able to get it in our van and it only took two loads out to the studio, and then of course, we had to put it all back together!

The next obstical was that it needed a 90 amp breaker and our panel box was already full. So that ment we had to upgrade our entire service. I will have to say that our electrician worked very fast and was able to get the panel switched and completely re-wired, a new disconnect inside for the kiln and a new breaker box with main disconnect outside in about five hours. That may seem long, but if you saw the mess it was in to begin with you would understand.

Last night we were able to load it. It was amazing how much we could fit into it.

This morning John, Clint and I woke up at 5 am and went down to start the kiln for the first time. It was very exciting. It felt like the first time you take a new car out for a ride.

We have a couple of shows coming up and we are all busy getting ready. Clint actually let me take a picture of him working on the wheel (although he said I have to pay him $5 for the picture.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

new book finished

For my birthday, John gave me the book The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, a novel by Reif Larsen. He had heard a story about it on NPR and thought that it would be worth reading. I finished it last night and I wanted to quote the praise from Stephen King.

"Two predictions about The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet: Readers are going to love it as much as I did, and few if any will experienced anything like it. I'm flabbergasted by Reif Larsen's talent, and I was warmed by his generosity. Here is a book that does the impossible: It combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine. Good novels entertain; great ones come as a gift to the readers who are lucky enough to find them. This book is a treasure."

Since I am here, I will share the other books that I have read so far this year. My daughter is an avid reader and she gave me a reading list. I try to pick one off the list and work them into the ones on my list. The ones she recommended are in red.

1. Where are You Now? - by Mary Higgins Clark

2. The Guardian - by Nicholas Sparks

3. Gap Creek - by Robert Morgan

4. Fight Club - by Chuck Palahniuk

5. Angels and Demons - by Dan Brown

6. Vermeers Hat - by Timothy Brook

7. In the Time of the Butterflies - by Julia Alvarey

8. Running in Heels - by Anna Maxted

9. Artemis Fowl - by Eoin Colfer

10. Artemis Fowl the Artic Incedent - by Eoin Colfer

11. Choke - by Chuck Palahniuk

12. The Last Lecture - by Randy Pausch

13. When You are Engulfed in Flames - by David Sedaris

If any of you are fimiliar with some of these books, you will know what I mixture it is! Now on to find my next book!

Photo Shoot at the Railroad

One of John's and my great friends, Scott, took us out to the old railroad station so we could shoot some photos.  As you probably know,...