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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finishing a round of work-the mess...

While I am finishing up a round of work I make a mess..a huge mess and I just spent some unpleasant time cleaning up after myself. But it's all part of the process..and there is very little waste.

My clay comes in 50lb boxes..(2) 25lb bags in each box. Typically when I throw I open up a couple bags, toss them into the corner, weigh and wedge my clay into buckets and make the work.

After it's made, I have to trim a foot onto the bottom which makes about a huge pile of trimmings, not unlike a pile of clay vegetable peelings..fortunately they don't rot...

I also have my throwing bucket full of slip clay and dirty water. As well as everything in my splash pan and on the wheel table.

so to clean up I break down the boxes the clay came in and stack the broken down boxes inside one that isn't. Those get recycled or used for shipping.

Then I gather up all the trimmings and put them into the bags the clay initially came in.

Take all the dirty water and slip and dump it into the bags of trimmings, then tie it off with some masking tape. Then the bags of slip and trimming reconstitute into very wet clay.

I then take the clay into The Creative Oasis where it gets dumped out to dry into a usable consistency, is then pugged and used for the classes. This makes the clay for classes free and unlimited. I'm not the only potter in the area that handles their reclaim like this, a few others add to the bounty. I am ready to wedge again..and you can see the bounty of the last round of work.

And the cat..that's Tuna Fish. She's not allowed to come into the studio she sits in the doorway and supervises.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Live from my basement studio....

Watch live video from hughespottery's channel on

What an interesting and productive day. I don't know why I am awake to be writing this blog at 2AM but here I am. Can't sleep. So here's the rundown on the day. I am exhausted, yet wired. I made a lot of pieces today. 8 plates, 8 utensil crocks, the bases for 20 butter keepers and a few of the lids. The interesting part of the day was that I plugged in my new quickcam and began broadcasting while I throw. It was fun. Not a lot of people came by and chatted, but I saw we had a total of 97 views, that's pretty cool. I guess anyone can look, but if you want to take part in the chatroom part of the broadcast you must sign up as a user with

I saved a couple of clips while broadcasting. I am hoping to build up a good library of clips and eventually use them to augment the teaching I do at The Creative Oasis, or perhaps use them as demonstration videos while we are having sales.

Technology is so amazing.

Live pottery making

I'll be more or less live throughout the afternoon...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Enough of Thanksgiving, how about giving thanks!

Right..lets get down to business!

I am thankful. My life is good and I'm not just thankful for a lack of horrible things in my life, like war and cancer and heart disease, but I am thankful for an excess of good things in my life.

Immediately around me is my family. MY family. I have a lovely, supportive wife who is my true partner in every sense of the word. I have a boy-child I have watched grow into a man. I am very proud of him. I think he will make a fine adult. I have a new stepdaughter who is pushing forward into life and striving for independence. I think she's going to face life head on, stare it down and get into an ass kicking match with it. I'm going to bet she'll come out on top. It's better to be sassy than a wallflower and she's no wallflower.

I have a home that my sister PAtti helped put over my head and I am very thankful for that. I'm doing my part and making the mortgage, but she made it happen. This led to some other interesting blessings that I am thankful giving me enough independence that I could fall in love and get married. It provided me with a perfect place to put a home studio, which has made my life and business and work better. It's been an upward spiral.

I'm thankful for all the wonderful people who came and witnessed our wedding, joined the celebration and then gave us the means to go to Ireland on our Honeymoon. Ireland was an amazing, life changing trip for both of us. We are grateful.

I'm thankful for Jessa and Elliot and Shannon and others who have made the Ren Faire business run smoothly throughout the year and far exceeding the sales from previous years.

I'm thankful for my customers, many of whom become friends and my friends who have become customers. I'm honored that something I make, touches you enough to spend your hard earned money on it.

I'm thankful for Rowan's friends who have also become my friends. They have been true to her and been accepting, even loving of me :)

It's said a true friend will help you move a body, but it's wrong... only a true friend will help you move.

Brian, Julie, Kenny, Vikki, Cheyenne, John as well as Jessa and Elliot's Bus..all helped us move Ro down here, but truly Brian and Julie each helped us over and over again. Going to lengths we ourselves might have been hard pressed to do if it was asked of us.

And a special friend award goes to Brian again for doing repairs, care taking the property and being there every time we did a major project.

yep..and lets at home we have Chel, Nikki, Anna and Matt who helped us out by doing pet sitting, being available as resources for the kids while we were out of town on business, and for helping us out in the studio.

And speaking of studios, I am thankful that Stan has been taking much of the duties of running The Creative Oasis.

Another big one..I am so glad, yes even thankful that the road crew has finished this final leg of I-99. No more trucks up and down the hill by our beloved little house.

Yeah..a lot of people make our lives run smoothly. I am sure there are more and I don't want anyone to feel left out.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cyborg Name

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Some days-bleh

Yesterday was one of those days that started out with all kinds of good intentions to get work done and somehow, tired and exhausted I crawled into bed with the feeling that I just didn't succeed. I don't know why. It was busy...

Yesterday morning Ro and I met with a new ad rep from the local paper "The Centre Daily Times" yes, Centre is spelled with an "re" around here,apparently due to the excess of German immigrants when this area was being settled. We decided on two weeks worth of advertising in the Weekender section as well an ad in the special Holiday Guide publication. Then we went to Websters to drop off Gretchen's share of our Ginger People order if you like ginger, this is a foodporn site Go there..

Then I had a short trip in to the Creative Oasis, just in case our volunteers didn't maker it in on time. There was an Inservice Day program running for kids. Fortunately for me, the volunteers DID make it in on time and I was free to head home to start working. At least I thought so.

I got home and sat and had some celery and hummus with Ro and eventually I went downstairs and trimmed the pie bakers from yesterday. Then I prepared to really get started...

First I cleaned my work area and straightened the tools, cool..felt good, a clean work space is always helpful to a lot of work.

Then I got a bucket of nice warm water and then balked at starting..why? It was too damn cold in the must have been in the 50's..I had a space heater working, but it wasn't enough. Now I'm a pretty good guy about being too cold or too warm, but dipping my hands in water and working for hours sounded to nasty to me that I decided to go get another sealed oil heater.

So I came up, told Rowan of my intentions, deciding that on my way I would stop in at the Valvoline and have my oil changed since it was time and I did have an $8 coupon.

So off I went..Valvoline, Wal-Mart..of course I picked a few other things up in Wal Mart. A new piece of coupling for the dryer vent, a new pair of shears for the kitchen..a suprise Rowan doesn't know about yet..SHHHHHHHHHHHH it's laying out in the open, but she hasn't found it :)

THEN all this done I finally head home and it's dark. DARK! Where the hell did the day go? I haven't worked yet!

OK home. Ro is cooking..YAY! a white bean soup and homemade breadsticks. It's not ready yet so I head downstairs and sign all the work waiting to go into the kiln.

Dinner is ready now, so I head back up and we have a rare dinner together. Ro, me, Catherine and Morgan all sit down and eat. It was yummy and I decide on a second serving..this time in a mug so I can head back down where the new heater is doing an admirable job and finally GET TO WORK. I had a bucket of clay wedged up and ready to go so I get started!

8 bases i. STOP. I require a bathroom break. UGH. clean up head back upstairs... do my thang and get distracted by the TV..a few minutes later I head back..pause to put on music on the computer and get distracted by Facebook. 1/2 hour later I start throwing. finally 20 bases done I head upstairs for water and a deserved break. Distracted by "million dollar baby" on the TV I take too long. OK BACK TO WORK..finally. I throw 2 cups for the tops and decide to call it a night. Tired. No heart. back upstairs, play Pirate game on myspace, talk to Ro and mess around on facebook. DONE. BED NOW.

I'll try again today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


OK..I've done it..I've gone and joined facebook. WOW. what an amazing system that is, I can see why it's replaced MySpace as THE social site. within minutes I was connected to people I haven't seen in years.. one of the best surprises for me was that they import blogs..called notes on I am having THEM import my blog from here as opposed to the normal system of having multiply crosspost....I'm pretty happy blogs are now based on Multiply, and crossposted to LiveJournal, Blogger, and imported to Facebook. Very cool. They even imported the videos I've posted which neither LJ or Blogger do. WOW.

The Designated Drivers Revenge-pictures

Chel's Birthday. A night probably never remembered...(hee hee)

We had fun! Chel and Sandy had a lot of fun. I enjoyed being there with them. I was the only guy in the bar with two dates! how fun is that? I had two dates and my wife was away! (Hi Mrs. Hughes)

While I don't want to publicize the whole are the highlights (truthfully I ran out of memory on the camera..silly me I left the card in the computer and could only take 4 shots).

I'll say that I had them both delivered safely to Chel's house and I am assuming Chel at least made it to bed. I hope Sandy did too... poor sleepy thing.

As for the other sleepy looking woman in the picture (supported by Chel's hand)..her husband tucked her onto the couch and she never came out with us.

And I am assuming at this point that the ladies have mostly recovered and gotten rides to recover their vehicles.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today: Double Birthdays!

Rowan left for Erie first thing this morning, driving into a blizzard of course. She called on every leg of the trip to assure me all was well. apparently the only bad part was where Route 80 and 79 intersect..a short period of white out, followed by beautiful clear skies and roads all the way to Erie, with some more snow as she got into the city. Overall not bad. Her weekend trip has left me to my own devices and I've done pretty well at filling it up with parental duties and a bit of friend visiting.

TODAY is my son Morgan's 17th birthday and as usual we decided to go for pizza at Facia Luna Pizzeria. They have a wood fired oven that produces some excellent pizzas. Our favorite is the Margherita style. Crushed tomatoes and basil topped with mozzarella..simple. yummy. A little later today we'll pick up his GF Julia and one of his other friends will be stopping by.

Do you see how hard I had to work to get a real smile out of him? It was pretty fun!

Later today I'll be heading out with Chel , today is her birthday too, and somehow over the years I've managed to be with her on her birthday fairly often. (She's on my friends list..stop by and say "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!"

Also somewhere in today's social agenda I managed to make some pots. a couple boards of bowls. I'm going to see if I can make another board full before Chel is ready for me.

Tomorrow there will be a lot more pottery making,

Always work to do.... but it's good to have fun too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Clay

It is BIG, it is HEAVY. I am thankful to have a young fit forklift available to carry the load for a fee :)

Some new work in progress

Here are the latest pots on their way to we're off to Harrisburg to pick up that last ton of clay for the year.

did anyone see that Isaac Button Video I posted? right in the middle of that there are words across the screen that say ("Isaac Button can throw a ton of clay in a day") what an awesome dream that is for me..I think if I had an assistant to take em away and provide me with wedged balls of clay I could too..especially if they were big pieces..*sigh* I like the throwing so much more than the trimming, handles and glazing...I do like the final product a lot, for about 3 days..then it's history and I need to make more and better pieces.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A cold Tuesday in November

There's a lot on my mind these days, probably based on a natural time of introspection as the days become shorter and we spend so much of our time creating warm spaces and attending and creating celebrations that help all of us get through the cold and dark winter months.

I'm one who is often fairly deeply affected by the winter blues, but so far this year, though I feel a bit of the tug of sadness, I've been lucky to be kept busy enough with responsibilities that it's not dragging me into a pit of despair. There's often so much going on that I don't have the time to sit and let the lethargy and darkness take me. So here's a short list of the stuff that is keeping me hopping.

First, the good stuff

1) We have 2 weekends of home sales coming up, I have to make a lot for those. We already have a good start on it but I want to really have an enormous amount of stock.

2) This is the time of year to celebrate birthdays in the house, Cath's was in October, Ro's was last week and Morgan's is on Friday.
-and BTW how cool is it that he wants me to buy him a HS correspondence course so he can get ahead in his classes. wow.

3) In retrospect this year has been really good for sales. When other retailers are complaining of significant drops in sales, our little pottery business is up. So far the economy hasn't hurt us. I hope it continues.

4) Ro and I started to look at our diets and agred to permanently change the way we eat. After compiling our research on obesity, dieting strategies, lifestyle changes and who is most likely to keep weight off long term, we are following these guidelines and really this is not something we sat down and wrote out, its more a compilation of our mutual ideas about food and eating.
  • We will eat anything and everything we want to, but control the portions to be smaller and be sure we don't treat ourselves too frequently. To aid this, when we go out to eat, we frequently split the entree if it is vegetarian, or package 1/2 of it to go home if we order different entrees. I just read a suggestion that
  • Being a little hungry isn't a bad thing. In particular I need to remember this because I like to feel absolutley full when I am done eating..and usually 1/2 hour later I find I am too full. We spent the first couple of weeks of our regimen adapting to the idea of being it's not so bad, but at that point it made me crazy.
  • We are trying to cook at home more often and use better ingredients. This means more fresh/frozen veggies as ingredients, organic when possible, as well as grass fed, organic local meats when possible. We had already opted for organic, cage free, local eggs whenever possible.Chickens are horribly mistreated and even cage free doesn't mean as much as it should.
  • Cutting back on nutritionally empty calories...not so much sugar and fat and we have been relying on apples and pears and other fruits as sweet and filling snacks. The pears are from our own tree, which had an AMAZING amount of fruit on it.

So far so good, I've dropped 13.5 lbs and Ro has lost several sizes and everyday we look at each other and notice a new feature that is emerging from under its camoflage of excessive flesh. Weve been at it about 5 or 6 weeks.

And then the troubling stuff...

The future of the economy...will people continue to buy my pots at a rate that can support us? (starving is an unhealthy way to lose weight)

Will we ever get out from beneath Ro's mortgage? Anyone want a beautiful house in Erie? Anyone?

Will The Creative Oasis survive another year? Not too many people signed up for classes this last session..we JUST paid the rent and the next month is practically here. *sigh* it's always tight in November and December, but wow is this one hard. We're hoping to turn it over to a new director this year, but so far we haven't found one, after all who wants to take a full time volunteer job? I think someone who is traned in arts administration could find the money to pay a directors salary, but as potters, not administrators we don't have the time nor knowledge to do it. HELP!

and now..I have to get to work...much to do in a short period of time!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

All set up

We're all set up at the local SCA event Fiber, Fabric and Fighting. A nice looking display and the pots look good in her hands too! Here are some pictures of our set up. I've included shots of some of these pots both before and after firing.. such a difference 2228 degrees can make :)