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Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Bounty Shared. The Gifting Plate.

The Gifting Plate

It comes with the words "Our Bounty Shared" stamped in the rim and it is designed to be payed forward like a good deed. I envision it filled with freshly made food-gifts and a healthy dollop of love from the heart. It should be passed from person to person, special occasion to special occasion never staying for more than a month with any person.


We are environmentally and economically concerned. We are spiritually minded. We are artists. We're big believers in shopping locally or from small businesses. We love to buy local foods and produce. We love to feed people and we love to gift people with foods that we have made.We know how much a well thought out practical gift can mean to people.

This plate is a piece that brings together most of our ideals and concerns and makes an active difference in our community and then as it gets payed forward, the world. By person to person and 6 degrees of separation, we can make the world a better place. One gift of food and love at a time, all from the same plate. It kind of makes me want to do a plate registry to see where they will end up in a year.

A small number of these plates will be available at our Holiday Sale. Each one will come with a card explaining the concept of a gifting plate.

Hughes Pottery Holiday Sale

Dec 12 and 13 9 AM-5 PM

5151 W Buffalo Run Road
Port Matilda, PA 16870

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A good day in the Studio

It was a really productive day in the studio,
First was the finishing of 6 mugs from the night before, then I got busy and threw a board full of round mug bodies, sorry, somehow I forgot that picture. Then I took a bit of a break and went bowling..tore my thumb up a bit, but scored reasonably well. 152, 200, and 153. Then came home and made deeeelicious chili, one batch con carne for Ro and Cath and one batch veg for me and possibly Morgan, though he hasn't been around for dinner much. Then back to the studio, 10 apple bakers, and 9 plates and 4 bowls. The 4 bowls and plates will get Oak and Acorn decoration and the rest of the plates will be for a special purpose which I will explain in a blog devoted to the idea.

Sunday's are for snoozing

Isn't it amazing how the first picture can lead to the second? I think the NJ trip has Ro all tuckered out :) For those who don't know our furry snuggle blankets, the tiger is Tuna Fish, the black cat is Sammy and of course Pepper the dog.

On the other hand, I am finally feeling a little more like attacking the massive numbers of mugs I need to produce over the next 2 months. All those handles are intimidating. I'll start with a board or two today :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sadness and Destruction

Picture number 2 is a pile of shards that used to be this 23" long by 16 inch greenware platter. It was a project I have been working on and failed several times since September.

It was perfect. except as it was candling at 200 degrees in the kiln the rim cracked and that was enough to ruin it. Insult was added to injury as I removed it from the kiln (hoping to salvage the clay) the thing disintegrated in my hands.

The platter also had a name carefully inscribed in the rim, but I covered it over in MS Paint as this was a special ordered gift and I don't want the recipient to stumble upon this by accident...I don't know if I'll be attempting it again. I need to get on with mugs and tankards.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Thanksgiving Day Blog

4:30 in the afternoon and I have spent most of the day alone save for a few minutes with Morgan and a little snuggle time with the animals. Pepper pretending he is a lap dog, Tuna Fish the cat acting as a neck scarf, Pitty sleeping on my hand and Soupy and Sammy ignoring me. I've played computer games, chatted and commented and simply relaxed.

Ro is having Thanksgiving in NJ with her family. I stayed back because the trip was going to cut a lot of production time out for me. As family visits tend to be it has been both good and bad. I wish I was there for her and then again I am glad I am here. I need some solitude sometimes and I've had 1/2 a day of it. Tonight I will be social..bowling with Morgan then a trip to Zeno's Bar to meet up with long lost friends. I'm glad for the time to do these things since friends are important too and I rarely venture out to any social setting.

I've thought about this holiday and its reminder to be thankful and be with family and friends and simply celebrate the bounty in our lives. I have a lot to be thankful for. Truly, my life has an unbelievable richness. I am blessed. To everyone who is a part of my life, friend, acquaintance, often seen or unseen, I am grateful. Thank You!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back to Pottery

It was a pretty productive day, I loaded a kiln, cleaned up some reclaim and trimmings, made another 18" platter, made a trivet..why? I don't know. Then I made 8 Pie Bakers with more to come tomorrow. Yes I will be working a little tomorrow, but I also have some kid time planned with Morgan..maybe some bar time with some old HS buds too. MAYBE a movie if I can find someone to go with.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WOT- The Gathering Storm :) NOT a pottery blog!

I've been torturing my wife with these books in audioformat for the last two years. She has walked in on a very serious reader talking about the Aes Sedai or Rand Al'Thor more times than she cares to recount. 11 enormous books in an epic tale by Robert Jordan. Sword and sorcery, political intrigue, coming of age, heroes and villains, the slow crumbling of an entire world around a small cadre of reluctant heroes all coming of age and fighting it as hard as they can. Sadly Mr.Jordan passed away before the final installment of the story. Luckily his wife and editor passed his notes on to Brandon Sanderson, a passionate young author who adored the books as a reader and has done a phenomenal job of writing the last story of the wheel of time from Mr Jordan's notes. The final story was supposed to be 1 volume but in true Robert Jordan style, the information simply would not fit, so Mr. Sanderson has broken it into 3 books, the first is The Gathering Storm, which I have just finished. I am not certain when the rest will be released but I can't wait to get them.

Longtime readers, you will not be disappointed. I am absolutely thrilled at what Mr.Sanderson has written. It is a page turner, your heart will race and you will finally get the answers to so many questions and yet there is still more to be written. Go back, reread the series and then buy the new book. There is a price war on between the major retailers so you can pick up an hardcover for about $12 through , though it is well worth the original price.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Evening's Work

Fiber, Fabric, and Fighting 2009

We are all packed up and back at home. I was a little disappointed in the turnout,and as a result the sales, but as usual it was a fun event to do. I'm going to throw out a guess and say attendance was down 1/3 to 1/2 of last year which I felt was down from the previous year. It's slowing down, but it really is our only local event so I hope it picks up again, or they envision a new event. One thing I find fascinating is the location. It's at the a small conference center in Mill Hall PA owned by Lock Haven University. It's more like a hunting lodge. It has a nice kitchen a big auditorium/dining room and a lounge kind of area as well as 2 small dormitory rooms. I did a little exploring while I was there and went on a taxidermy safari and spotted all these creatures in the lodge. Almost none of them are prominently displayed. In fact I just noticed the giant Moose head over the main entrance because it is hidden above the rafters. Rowan also discovered a Pheasant we had never seen before. It's a little creepy. During one of our frequent breaks, she also discovered this old house behind the center. It's really about to fall down, but it was cool to see. One of the things I found fascinating was that the outside of the house was shingled and tiled with old salt fired tiles. VERY interesting. I wanted to take more pictures but sadly the batteries in my camera died.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Looking ahead

I've had a hard time getting back into the daily production routine. There are several factors and essentially I just have to suck it up and get on with life. Meaning I have to make my motivation since it doesn't appear to be ready and waiting.

Here's the good stuff :)

The Annual Fall Home Studio Sale went better than ever.
I have sold nearly every one of my pie bakers.
I have sold every one of my Apple Bakers.
I brought back the oil candles and they seem to be going quickly too.
I think I have solved my glaze problems
I have a ton and a half of clay ready for production.

Here's the bad stuff :(

I am out of clay for the Pie Bakers and Oil Candles, Eathenware and Porcelain.
I am having trouble going to work, I am blaming it on my annual bout of SAD, I am waking up with the light at 8 and just don't have the drive, by evening I'm ready to lay in front of the fire and watch movies.. I'll kick it in soon, never fear.
I still have some special orders to fill. I have plates, many plates to make..some regular, some pasta.

But I seem to have run out of time.

I need to go get some clay for my best sellers. 6 hours out of a day gone, we have Friday night set up at the event this weekend, Sales on Saturday till 8ish.Sunday AM tear down and then We are supposed to go to NJ for Ro's father's Birthday and Thanksgiving on Tuesday through Friday. I feel like...should I bother to work for the next couple days? Should I go tomorrow to get the clay I need, then throw the pie bakers so they are done ASAP?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hughes Pottery Fall Home Studio Sale 2009

It's a beautiful fall day here in State College, PA. I am having a moment of peace at Webster's on Aaron. Shortly I have to go home and with the diligent help of my lovely wife force order on the chaos. Our Fall Home Studio Sale is this weekend and while I feel more or less prepared for it, it's the last minute stuff that always gets to you. Tidy Tidy Clean Clean.

The event is in our backyard under a big tent. We have mugs, travel style mugs (sorry no lids), tankards, serving bowls, butter keepers, earthenware pie plates, oil candles, sugar and creamer sets or individuals, plates, decorative plates, pitchers. Rice Bowls with chopstick rests, Soup Mugs, Cereal and Soup bowls, tumblers, vases and more!

I'll be doing Raku firings on Saturday, there will be biscware available for people to buy and glaze themselves for the firing. Other potters will be bringing their own wares to fire too.

I hope some of you can make it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A nice relaxing day..sort of.

I had arranged for some help today, but Mike is feeling down and out, so I decided I was going to not do much of anything either. The kilns were cooling, Ro was at The Creative Oasis and I fought with myself over not doing anything. It was tough to relax and ultimately I failed and felt slightly cranky all day. Ro came home and we decided to go to the Tavern tonight for her Birthday Dinner. The Tavern is an old, well established restaurant in the heart of downtown State College. I always love to go there, the food is always very good and today was no exception. It was a strange dining experience. The server was training someone and it seemed to slow her down. I felt like everything we needed took just a few minutes too long. Like when you realize that under normal circumstances the food would be there, the drink would be filled, the check would be there, etc.

We had a very chatty father/daughter beside us on one side. She was celebrating her 23rd birthday and Dad had driven many miles to take her out. Their conversation seemed louder and more persistent than our own, so we did a lot of listening, which made the slower service much more tolerable.Things were just not right. and the wait between dessert and the check and the check arriving and the check leaving convinced me that for the first time in a long time my tip scale had slid down to 15% from 20%+ Food was good, but the service was so slow. Very unusual for The Tavern.

When we returned home we both passed out in the living room. When I awoke I felt refreshed enough to go down to the studio and make a few more pieces for the Raku firing this weekend. I also made a big widemouthed covered jar just for fun and it was :) It was nice. I really enjoyed making the big bottle and the plate on the far left is going to get a handle in the middle so I can fire the medallions we put on the pots in the Raku kiln. The colors will be fun and they will work out well as magnets or pins.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Glazing Madness

Rarely have I been so glad to put a day behind me. It was Ro's Birthday, a happy day to celebrate, but life handed us other duties. It was productive. We glazed pots to load 2 kilns, before loading Morgan and Shyanne carried the kiln shelves upstairs to the patio so I could resurface them, then carried them back downstairs so Ro could recoat them with kilnwash. Morgan and Shyanne also put up the sale tent for us and set up the tables. We finished the glazing and loading about 11PM, but then had to trim and burnish most of the pie bakers. 6 more await me in the morning. It's now 12:30, Ro has gone to bed and I am following her just as soon as I can get these pictures uploaded. Tomorrow is another busy day. Tomorrow Ro has some Creative Oasis duties to attend to and I will spend the morning trimming those pie bakers and perhaps throwing a few more vases for the Raku firings on Saturday. When Mike comes to help I think we'll price the finished pieces and start to set up the tables for this weekend and maybe get started on the pieces we need for the next event.

For was a good days work and I'll worry about it all tomorrow.

I AM excited..I think this could be a beautiful couple of firings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A slower pace

Today was slower paced for me. With all the pots in the bisc kiln I didn't have a whole lot on my agenda. I took the time today to deliver the latest order of Webster's mugs, then got busy cleaning up from my work frenzy over the weekend. When that was done I made a bunch of pie plates, then took an ice cream break with Ro and then came back to make some vases for the Raku firing this weekend. Tomorrow will be trimming and burnishing the pie plates, trimming the vases and then glazing all the stuff in the bisc kilns. much going on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everything is trimmed, loading tonight

I have had my pottery ass kicked. The studio is trashed. Greenware is piled everywhere. But the work for the home studio sale is done..all but the pie plates. Throwing those tomorrow.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Working Hard for the Money

Or just working stupid..either way the deadline of our home studio sale is breathing down my neck. I have to have the bisc kiln loaded by Sunday night. I'll be pulling glaze stuff out Friday morning. I worked my ass off today. I stupidly decided I didn't need any extra help today even though Mike offered to come out before his other obligations for a couple hours. A lot of today just didn't go according to plan.

I had planned on waking up, having coffee and going to the studio to throw Tankards. When I got to the studio I found all the stuff I had thrown yesterday was already starting to dry out. You can't put handles on dry mug bodies, so I quickly trimmed and pulled the most necessary of handles and covered the rest with plastic. Then I trimmed the butter keepers and the oil candles. I decided to put the butter keepers on top of the cooling glaze kiln to help speed dry them. When I came back to check on them almost all the lids had cracked.


I forgot they were Porcelain. Porcelain cracks for no apparent reason sometimes. It is the gorgeous ice queen of clay. The stunningly beautiful bitch goddess of mud. Porcelain is a harsh mistress. I didn't need the aggravation. I'm on a deadline. UGH.

So. I trashed the cracked lids and got on with my day. I wedged 50 lbs of clay and made 25 2lb tankards.

Then I took a break to do some glaze research because of course, right before a major sale, one of my glazes misbehaves. The maturing temperature has dropped with the new batch and I am getting a lot of pitting and bubbles and blisters where I wasn't before. Apparently I need to adjust the recipe to raise the maturing temperature. I think I came up with the answer..or at least two possible answers. The glaze is 61% cornwall stone and 5.5 % Silica..everything else is a flux to melt it down. There is no clay content in this glaze at all. My choices are add a few percentage points of kaolin to stabilize it a bit and raise the maturing temperature a bit. But I am reluctant to do that because this glaze contains no clay and I worry that I could change the overall character of the glaze. The other thing I could do is increase the silica content a little or the Cornwall Stone which should keep the character of the glaze the same but creep the melting point up. I think this is the way to go. If it gets worse I know adding clay will do the trick, but who knows what else it will do.

After that it was making some rice bowls and then a short break for dinner when Ro came home from The Creative Oasis. She was a hell of a trooper tonight. She was dead tired but she still came down and wedged clay for me before heading back upstairs to pass out. While she wedged I pulled the rest of the handles for the travel mugs and the round mugs. THEN I made good use of her hard labor and made creamers, apple bakers and some replacement butter keepers then a couple of Tea Pot bodies and 3 full size pitchers. The only reason I am awake right now is because I am wired as well as dead tired. Here are the pictures. G'night!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A good day

Today was a good day in the studio. A few days ago I posted on Facebook saying how I would like to hire help for cash or trade for about 6 hours a week, mostly mid-day during the week. I had a lot of responses, most were only good for weekends, but a few people were available during the day. I called the first respondent and he agreed to come help me out today. His name is Mike and he was enormously helpful. I gave him a brief rundown of the process I go through and 1.5 hours later he had bagged up reclaim, packed all the Webster's mugs and wedged up some clay which I used to make the round mugs in these pictures.

So I made Oil Candles with some interesting spiral wick holders, a few tumblers, butter keepers, some travel style mugs and some round mugs. I need to do some Tankards first thing in the morning and a few other pieces, but I am mostly caught up for the home sale. The last kiln I fire before the sale will be a bisc kiln full of vases and pie plates. The pie plates only require one firing.

Of course I also unloaded a glaze kiln today with a lot of nice pots in it. I sure hope everyone else likes them too!