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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The trip to Penn Mo

I love taking the short drive to Penn Mo Firebrick in Harrisburg. It's a pretty drive along Rt 322 and now that the construction is done it's a pleasant drive as well. Since the road goes along the Susquehanna River there's a lot of pleasant river views. This time the river was a little frightening. We pulled into a river access point and took these pictures.

It's also interesting to see the little Statue of Liberty, I didn't take that picture, I googled it :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lazy Day II

Yep, went back to work after dinner, Ro joined me and while I didn't get started on the new mugs, I did get the soup mugs finished and a board full of little sugar/honey jars and Ro got a board full of wee bowls done. Then we were summoned by the brownies she made earlier..they said to bring milk, so we did. YUM.

Lazy Day

No, just kidding! We don't have those. Morgan and I headed out to local clay artist Monika Modest's house this morning to pick up a load of clay she is donating to The Creative Oasis. She's packing up and heading to California so we get all her leftover clay samples. It was a pretty big load, around 1000 lbs, so that should help keep the students happy this semester.

After taking care of that we came home and Ro and I went to work in our studio glazing and loading another kiln. About the time we were finishing with that, the kiln that gave us so much trouble finished firing off without any problems. YAY!

I'm taking a facebook break and waiting for pizza cook Morgan to tell us dinner is ready. It''s really nice having a pizza cook in the house, we're getting the good stuff these days! After dinner I plan on heading back downstairs and trimming and handling a few soup mugs I threw yesterday, then start throwing again, some sugar and honey jars and then some travel mugs. No rest yet, there are pots to make!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Very Frustrating

Last week we had a kiln go down it needed a new thermocouple. We acquired a thermocouple and installed it, but backwards and it didn't work. So we shut off the power to the kiln again to reinstall it the right way, we succeed, NOW the circuit breaker won't go back on! SO we read up on circuit breakers, decide the breaker is blown, watch a video on replacing them and head off to Lowe's to get a new one. BAM simple fix, right? NO. They don't carry the one we need. We need a 70Amp, they stop at 60. So we try Home Depot, they have 70's in the wrong brand, they won't fit.

So since all the independent electrical suppliers are closed today, we have to wait till Monday to check with them and we are on deadline to get things fired for next weekend.Damn Damn Damn.

So..we still have one functional kiln. Sunday we load what we have. Start it by Sunday 4PM, candle for 12 hours, brings us to 4AM fire off in another 12..4 PM cool overnight. and glaze and reload Tuesday,out Wednesday. I may not be able to get everything through, but we'll get enough through. In the meantime we'll have to relax and go with the flow and try to hurry along the process.

This is so frustrating.

Friday, January 22, 2010

For the Love of Art and Chocolate

Ro and I just came back from our annual date. This was one of the events I used to lure her to State College during our courtship.It worked very well. It has grown over the past 4 years, graduating from a smaller venue to a larger. I learned tonight that it has been happening for the last 11. It's a great benefit and I am pleased to be able to contribute. Really what keeps us coming back is the amazing chocolate buffet. They also have a cash bar and a chocolate fountain. It's an insane amount of chocolate. You have to remembver to eat a little something before you go just so you don't become overwhelmed.This year both Ro and I donated pieces for the art auction, when we left both pieces had met the minimum bids and were on the rise. You can see Rowan's piece in the auction shot. She wasn't pleased with the way it was displayed, but she decided next year her donation will come with display instructions and perhaps even display hardware.

Here are a few pictures from the event. The link for their website is here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another good day

I forgot to take pictures of the work my homeschool group did today but it was good. Before Ro and I went in to teach I actually got a jump on my own work and trimmed these bowls, jars and pitchers and added the handles. I'm very pleased.

This evening my friend Josh came over and in about an hour had my laptop up and running again. I feel so much better having it back. It is also so much easier to post pictures of what I am doing with the laptop than on the desktop. After he left I went back to the studio and trimmed the plates that had been out drying all day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Very productive weekend

As usual the weekend didn't turn out like I planned. It turned out better. A lot of really cool things happened this weekend. It was a good weekend for counting blessings because they were obvious. I guess you get the point. Right now I am tired but satisfied.

Friday I got a call from Simon Leach, a potter I started speaking to because the real estate agent who sold me my house agent wanted to know if I wanted to sell him my house. I didn't, but I was intrigued because Simon has a famous last name in the world of pottery and when I looked him up, I found he was who I thought he was. So I contacted him to see if he was really moving to this area. He had thought about it, but decided on NY instead, but apparently there are relatives in the area, so he's likely to visit.So in anycase Simon was coming to town and had a few hours to spare, so he called to see if I wanted a visitor and offered to help out with whatever I was working on. So of course I said yes and when I told Rowan he was coming my plans to work in the studio were offset by some cleaning and tidying. Eventually on Saturday he made it here, had some tea, we looked at my Raku kiln since he is in the process of building one for himself, then we got to the studio and he wanted to get to work so I wedged up some clay for tankards and we got to work. In addition to the regular work he showed us a fun double bowl which we'll make a few of to see if our beloved customers like them. All in all it was fun, though I'm never sure how I came off because overall I am shy and uncomfortable with strangers.

After our guest left Ro baked up some amazing cinnamon bread which I have pictures of on Facebook. It was good bread and it apparently looked good because it generated an unbelievable number of comments spread out over 3 different posts. Then after our bread-feast and before sleep Ro and I had an amazing talk that gave a lot of clarity to us about our life together. I am so in love.

This morning I got to work throwing more tankards and round mugs, while I was doing that Ro came down and wedged for me. A little later in the day I had both Morgan and Ro down wedging and they got an amazing amount done for me..all those buckets in the picture are full of future mugs, tankards and rice bowls. At some point I stopped throwing and started trimming, handling and adding pirate medallions to the ones from the night before and then Ro came back and unloaded the biscware. To top off the night Ro made pizza dough and Morgan tossed us a couple of pizzas. I think they were the best we've had yet!

Now my work is cut out for me for the next couple days, throw, trim handle, rinse, repeat.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Night

And can you guess what we're doing?

Getting ready to go back downstairs to the studio and get a little more done. There's a little more room left in the kiln :)

It was a pretty good day overall, the glaze kiln turned out beautifully, I had 2 orders of plates in the kiln one of which was picked up almost immediately. (Thanks Aviva, glad you love them so much!) The other will go out soon.

I trimmed up all the wee bowls and oil candles today, but I still have wick holders to do and I have some porcelain wedged up to do more soup/cereal bowls. Then I need to get back to mug making. I can just never make enough mugs. I need to do another 20 tankards and another 20 round mugs.This weekend, then some rice bowls and pitchers before doing even more mugs next week. At least that's the plan. I think Ro is going to make even more wee bowls... she's a wild woman!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A long, but fine day in the studio

Trimmed tumblers, trimmed round mugs, handled round mugs. glazed many plates that are long overdue, finished up a few remaining Webster's mugs. Mixed a black glaze. Watched movies while doing it all. Tired now. but look! I have a full shelf of pieces ready for the bisc kiln:)

Teaching a group of homeschoolers tomorrow at The Creative Oasis. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A better day

Today went better than yesterday, no major crashes for me and I got a lot done. I've been watching Netflix streaming while making pottery, which often means I hear more than I see, but for the most part it works out pretty well. I just finished Season 1 of Farscape, which I missed somehow when it was being produced. As a dedicated scifi geek I should have been on top of it, but I am very glad to have found it now, it's been very entertaining. I wonder how they got away with 22 episodes in season 1. Most seasons now consist of 13 or 14 episodes.

So on to the important part of my daily life :) The pottery! Today Ro trimmed her remaining 50 wee bowls and while she was doing that (and long after) I trimmed the tankards and soup mugs from yesterday and threw 20 round mugs and 11 tumblers. After a dinner break she started totaling inventory and cleaning up the living room from our mad packing of pottery and I went back to the studio and pulled handles on the soup mugs and tankards. I feel pretty good about what got done today. I have the round mugs under plastic to trim in the morning, the tumblers are uncovered and drying.

Tomorrow will start with trimming and then I think I'll break out the porcelain and make some oil candles. I am pleased to be 1/2 way to fully stocked for our next event at the end of the month.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ups and Downs

As some of you know from reading this blog long term I often get a case of the winter blues. The past couple of weeks has been a fight for me. I've gone from feeling unstoppable to hopeless and back several times. One of the things I like to do at this time of year is count my blessings and I've had to do it several times. Today I was chanting my blessings like a mantra because I had a really rough day.

First item on my list is the dryer. The door won't stay closed. we close it, it spins for a couple minutes then the door pops open. WTF? I duct taped it closed so we could dry the last load. Ro said she would check on the warranty. I THINK it's covered for 5 years. I hope so. January is a bad month for potters to have to repair appliances. August is much better.

Second item is the kiln. I was already cranky about losing two mugs to handle cracking, but was somewhat mollified by the fact that I was about to fire some plates a woman has been waiting for for 2 years. I trimmed them, loaded them and started the kiln. An hour later I come out to find the kiln is too hot by 50 degrees and the display is flashing FAIL. I open it up and see that one of the plates has blown. I grouse and growl a bit but decide it's a damn good thing I made extra plates and that we have 2 kilns. BUT it did kill my mood so I came upstairs and made pizza dough and eventually a pizza and despite feeling crappy I managed to only have 2 slices (another blessing!) When Ro came home we watch some silly Futurama episode and eventually I went back downstairs feeling refreshed again and made these tankards and soup mugs. Slow and steady wins the race right? Tomorrow trimming and handling and making a few more of something, not sure what yet, I'm kind of feeling like bowls might be a good thing and a board full of the round mugs. If there is one thing I always need to make it's round mugs.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Getting it together

This has been a very busy week for us. There has been a lot on our minds and even more to keep our hands busy. I've been working steadily on two different processes. I started out the week throwing butter keepers, goblets and mugs and in between the trimming, assembling and handling I managed to glaze and fire the last two kilnloads of work to send off to Florida. Yesterday and today Rowan joined me in the studio and she made 125 wee bowls over the two days. I am amazed at how productive she is. I keep joking I'm going to chain her to the wheel and we'll make our whole living off of her wee bowl production. I'm only kidding a little bit. She IS that good.

On the finished work front I unloaded the glaze kilns, everything is looking good. I started pricing then got some extra help from Cheyenne, a delightful and helpful young lady who seems to be fond of Morgan, for what reason I'm not sure.

Rowan did an amazing job getting everything organized and inventoried while I did some last minute Raku firing of some medallions for magnets and pendants which had mixed results..batch 1 was underfired, batch 2 was close to overfired and batch 3 was perfect. Fortunately I only lost 3/15 for the second batch. Some of these medallions are really nice! I'm pleased.The bonus is I know I can refire batch 1 and get perfect results.

So the plan now is finish packing in the morning, perhaps do my refire if time allows, load the rest of the greenware into the kiln and start a bisc, then drive all the pottery to Lancaster, load it into the bus so Elliot can drive it all to Florida and get our season started with the Fort Meyer Renaissance Fair.