Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Boar's Head

The Boar's Head

The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bay and rosemary
And I pray you my masters be merry,
Quod estes in convivio.

This boar's head is a prototype for a whistle and needs a lot of work.  The herb wreath overpowers the head.  His expression also needs work.  In spite of the tusks he looks too happy.  Back to the studio!

Another pecan pie.  I finally got the recipe working the way I want it to.....got rid of the Karo.  And I am happy with my crust.  Cold, cold, cold makes for good crust!

Thanks for stopping by..............-s-

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Dragon

May the Christmas Dragon bring you all that you have wished for.

Peace and Joy on this Merriest of Days.

thank you for stopping by...........smartcat and friends and relations.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Catfish Love

I bought this little guy when the ACC show was still at the Big E in Springfield, Ma.  Unfortunately I've managed to lose all the info on the artist who made it.  (Anybody?)

He gets decorated with the seasons and has brought much pleasure over the years.

Merriment and Joy to All!

Thanks for stopping by........-s-

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Shortest Day

The Shortest Day

And so the shortest day came and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the trees;
They hung their homes with evergreens;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling,
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year,
Welcome Yule!

      Susan Cooper
copyright October, 2004

Bring torches and horns and drums...sound the sun awake......a joyful and happy Season Of Peace to all.

Thank you for following, reading, commenting, and stopping by....-s-

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bringing Home the Tree

We had to buy a new tree this year.  Our old rooted tree suffered a lot of winter kill last year after we put it out on the deck.  It will survive nicely and recover its shape with a few years of being in the ground.  Meanwhile, this year we have a rooted spruce.  We really brought it home in the back of the 4-runner Red Rabbit), but, really, I think it looks more festive to have a tree on top of the vehicle. 

 The car is a little whistle.  I think if I do them in paper clay I might be able to make them light enough to hang as an ornament.  This is planning in terms of next year.  This year the joy has been to be able to return to working with clay and all it entails.

Red Rabbit Hauling a Tree.
Joys of the season.  Thanks for stopping by...........-s-

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Pottery Cat?

Aloysius loves climbing into buckets, trash cans, paper baskets....you name it.  Yesterday I was mixing glaze in a deep trash pail, much like the one below.  He has gotten into the habit of jumping onto my shoulders and peering down into whatever I am doing.  If It looks particularly interesting he will try to help.
Needless to say he is not allowed in the studio.  Yesterday he jumped up looked and decided to jump in......who knows what goes on in the 'brain' of a cat?  I caught him by his tail....he was pretty pissed off, but not like he would have been if he had gone in.  The imagined sight of a cat in glaze does have it moments.  The mess that would result has nothing going for it.

Kitty in a Trash Can

I'm trying to keep a step by step record of glazing and decorating a bowl.  This has a Mazerine Blue wash as a start.  The rim will probably end up darker.  My rule is to work from light to dark.  Blues are impossible to get off a glaze, but are easily covered by a darker blue.  The drips will be rubbed a bit to blend and will be incorporated into the design.

The test bowl is just that.  It has a cracked rim so it isn't good for anything.  When I am working with washes I like to try them out on tests.  It's too easy to get a wash too dark.  I'll use this for color density and brush strokes. 

15 1/2" platter with blue wash

8" test bowl with blue wash
I am only showing this example but I generally work on several pieces at once.  Everything needs time to dry between steps.  The further along I get in decoration the more I concentrate on one pot at a time.

I need to go outside and do some more Christmas greenery, if I go back into my studio I will encourage disaster.

Thanks for stopping by...........-s-

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I'm feeling slightly more disorganized than usual this morning.  Early morning is usually studio time for me; instead I took my car in to have the muffler replaced.  Hopefully that's all it is.  I wanted to wait until January to take it in, but it had gotten so loud that I was embarrassed to drive it.  And, believe me when I say it, that is LOUD!

The Friendly Kitty

This is The Friendly Kitty the third feline member of our gang.  Unlike the Dumpster Duo she found us.  She hung out around Proge's studio door for months.  He would feed her kibble and set up a shelter outside.  We weren't sure that she wasn't a stray.  We put up pictures and a note in the lost and found pets column of local papers.....nothing.  One cold sleety, snowy night Proge found her outside the door and decided that she was now our cat.  She had ice in her fur and a lump of ice the size of a lemon in the end of her tail.  Proge started calling her The Friendly Kitty because she was so affectionate.  Later, when she started coming upstairs we discovered that the friendliness was reserved for the humans and dog.....other cats, not so much.  She has become more tolerant over time and at times will curl up with Kiki.  We refer to her as QueenCat as she is  has a crown between her ears and has a real princess attitude! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kitty Creamers & Wildlife

Sunday morning, looking out on the deck, watching the squirrels gobble up the bird seed.  This is what happens when there is no dog around.  I have nothing against wildlife; there is a cuteness factor I'll admit to.  I would just like the squirrels in particular to stay away from the house.  They can be amazingly destructive.  I think I'm going to give in and buy some goat food to feed them away from the house.  It has worked before!.......we'll see. grasshopper.....we'll see.

Still and all it's a sunny, if cold, day and I am listening to Baroque in Boston.  I look out into the woods and see chipmunks n the stone wall.  Mama doe with her two babies are behind the wall.

Kitty Creamers
 I seem to tell stories even when I am not thinking about them.  I made these for my guys as an experiment to see if I could make a two tablespoon mark for their morning milk.  I put two tablespoons rice in them and marked it with a pencil. I can get the proportions right because I know this clay body.  It's easier to after a bisque because there is no shrinkage between bisque and glaze.  Then I painted the ring freehand with black stain. The kitty designs were an afterthought to see how the line would work as a framing device.  I once fired these using Spectrum Majolica White.  I have some luck with once firing with commercial glazes, as long as I am only glazing one surface.  Normally I use a glaze I got from Linda Arbuckle.  It has a richness that isn't found in even the best commercial glazes.   

The Dumpster Duo....Aloysius & Kiki LaSois
These are two of the three little culprits that live with us.  I call them the dumpster duo because, even though we got them six months apart they were both living in dumpsters when they were rescued.  Aloysius was the last one to come in.  He and Kiki bonded within a few weeks, something I have never seen in adult cats.  They have become a lot needier since BreezytheDog died.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bread and a Whistle

This is the filled bread after we cut it. 

It's quite easy to make.  You can use any flavorful yeast dough, but I use my own variation on Italian Feather Bread from Beard on Bread.

Mix: 1 pack yeast with 1/2 C. warm water & 1 Tblsp. honey.   Let Proof

Add: 1 & 1/4 C. warm water, 1/3 C. olive oil, 1-2 tsp. salt.  Mix well

Add: 5 1/2 - 6 1/2 C. flour.  The dough will be soft and sticky.  Keep hands and board well floured.  Knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle.  Knead for a few more minutes.

Or put it all in a food processor and you are done.

Let the dough rest a few minutes.  Depending on how much filling you have cut it in half or use it all.  I usually err on the side of caution and use the whole thing, then trim when I have the filling in place.  Roll the dough out into an oblong.  It should be about as thin as pizza dough. 

I use just about anything for filling.  This one had 3/4 lb. sausage a bag of spinach an onion, 4 small potatoes and 2 eggs.  I precook everything and drain it well. Season as desired. You should have at least 6 Cups of filling.  (Save the drained juice to throw into soup.)  Beat the eggs and mix them into the filling. (Sometimes I save some egg to brush on top.) It makes a gloppy mess.  Mix it up and place it down the center of the length of the dough.  I trim the dough at this point if I have too much on the sides.

You can pull the sides up and fold them like a package.  Cut some steam vents.

I like to make five or six slashes on each side.  Pull the ends of the dough up and over the filling and tuck in.  Alternate folding the strips over to make a pretty braid.  

Let rise about thirty minutes.  It shouldn't be too risen. Brush on the egg, if desired, just before baking. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes.  I turn it half way through baking.  I generally check the internal temp with a quick read thermometer.  It should be about 200.  Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting.

I bake on my bread tile which I place on a rimmed cookie sheet.  There always seems to be leakage somewhere.

The rest of the dough can be formed into a loaf or buns.  Let rise until doubled in size.  Bake until interior temp reaches 200.


Beach Lady Whistle
I found this little lady when I was searching for some Santas a few days ago.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Birds of a Feather

 Birds of a feather
Flock together,
As do pigs and swine.
Rats and mice
Will have their choice,
So shall I have mine.

Multi tasking is not a good idea in my case.  I just managed to erase the best part of this posting.  Live and learn!

I'm posting this little bird whistle as near life size to give an idea of detail.  The color is good.  I'm still working on taking decent photos.  I have to find a new photographer for portfolio work.  (My old guy died.)  The hardest part is reflection......practice will make perfect.....I hope.

Small Bird Whistle  about 4"x2 1/2"

I'm really pleased with how the glazed stuff came through this firing.  I have finally managed to find a wax resist I like...batik wax thinned to brushing consistency with odorless turpentine.  By the time I finish most of the object is waxed....colors smearing is always a problem.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Start as usual with the helper cat, Who never gives up in his efforts to assist.  Curiosity does not have any bad affect on this guy.....just makes him more curious.

Aloysius, the helper cat

Even good helper cats get tired

It's difficult to see from the top shelf that the reindeer and birds are all stilted.  I use wire stilts with sharp points that break off easily.  They leave small points that are ground down with a touch of a diamond tip Dremel.  I couldn't fit the reindeer in the rest of the kiln so I tucked it in on top.  If this were anything but a prototype I would have fired it upright, but then I would have had enough of the same animals to load at least half a shelf.

Fired kiln, top shelf

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Mama

The top shelf of Big Mama is loaded with glazed odds and ends....and a few mugs I am refiring because the interiors weren't terrific.  An added benefit to working at ^04 is that it's possible to refire work successfully.  The only things I don't refire are plates, clocks....items that have a wide base sitting on the shelf.  The risk of cracking isn't worth it.

Toes crossed that all goes well.

Top shelf, loaded and ready to go.

One face of the wood pile....it goes back

Two cords of wood were delivered on Sunday....I always forget just how big the pile is.  Now the fun of stacking begins.  It's worth it because we stack close to the door....much more accessible and easy when the snow falls.  Although with El Nino we could end up with mostly rain.

I think today will be Clean the Studio Day!  When I start a new cycle I like to make a fresh start and it gives me thinking time......about clay.....and keeping the #*!! squirrels out of the feeders!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pies and Platters and..........

Sunday morning in the sun room with plants, tea and Bach on the computer.  Definitely the best way to start the day.

 It's the time of year for pies, although I must say it feels more like September than late November.  This is the tart I made for Thanksgiving.  It was delicious and easy to make.  Proge (son) did his turkey grill magic.  We cooked enough for many, but we freeze a lot for future easy meals.  One of my mottos appears to be,  'Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess!'

apple tart
The kiln is almost loaded just have to load the top shelf.  I have a blank ring at the top, which adds needed height when I do sculpture.  As long as I have at least one ring of elements in the top and put a shelf over the very top just below the rim it goes up to temperature very well.

another platter
 This platter may be a disaster in waiting.  I had to do some repairs on the rim.  It should be okay, but who knows what whim the kiln gods will indulge in?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happiness Is...........

Happiness is a new battery in my MacBook.  I was completely crazed by my track pad going berserk.  I had visions of cat hair in the pad and having to take the thing apart....major overhaul.  Such was not the case; the battery was gone.  I got three and a half years out of it so I'm not complaining.  Not a cheap fix but a lot better than what I was envisioning!

16 1/2 " platter/pasta bowl
Sometimes what appears to be disaster turns out to be serendipity.  I've been remaking the bowls/platters/birdbaths the cats broke.  I have never been happy with my rims, they were okay but sort of blah.  Somewhere I got the idea of trying to do more of a tube for the rim.  It may have come from looking at medieval head dresses or from watching Lord of the Rings again ( and yes, I admit it I am a complete Tolkien nerd......getting older means you care very little about who thinks you are a geek, nerd, weirdo.)  I use a bird bath for my form which gives me a sturdy support when I do the rim.  The knots are where I joined the clay.  I probably would have put them in anyway to break up the rim a little.  My hand built things never have the symmetry of thrown pieces, instead I push it a little further so it becomes intentional.

I started out calling these pasta or calamari bowls but they are a nice size for carving a smallish bird.  We put a twelve lb. turkey in one last year.

I may throw a few of one of my basic forms tomorrow.  I have one that I use for a honey pot, garlic holder, string holder what have you.  I like it when I can make one shape work in different ways.  I usually throw in groups of three, five something prime.  I find the odd numbers keep me a little on edge and more aware of what I am doing.

The yard clean up continues; we have wood coming this week end.  We are reasonably well organized for a change.

Raining again today.  It's supposed to get cold tonight, possible snow.  It starts getting dark too early.  I came in around 2:30, thought it was 4:00!

Supper tonight is going to be something involving pork short ribs, onions and apples.......we'll see, grasshopper, we'll see.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Morning Light

Most of the trees have dropped their leaves.  Some oaks will not drop until the end of winter; I wonder the why of that.  The beech trees are the last to drop their leaves.  I love the way the sun shines through and turns the light gold. Light in the woods changes from hour to hour.

It's hard to believe that we are going into mid November.  Since our bit of ice and snow and frost, we have had days ranging from low 50's to low 70's.  I want to take advantage of these late fall days; winter could start any day now.

Kiln loading is continuing slowly but surely.  I had a small accident concerning cats sleeping in green platters.  Gee, if they're going to destroy my pots at least they could hang around log enough for me to take a few pictures.

I'll make two new ones and finish decorating some stuff I was going let go this firing.  One of the advantages of working at ^04 is that I can fire clay and bisque together.

Off to decorate and make goats, deer, and Lil' Sebastian.

Remembrance and thanks to all the veterans who have served the USA.

Happy week end to all.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mugs and Cups

I forgot to mention on yesterday's post:  There's a wonderful cup/mug show up at  http://claylink.com/zen/. There's lots of interesting stuff there....take a look.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Visitors and Found Stuff

Looked out the window around 4:30 P.M. yesterday afternoon and found mother and babies having dinner.  One of the babies is behind his mother the other is out of frame eating the artemisia.  This is what happens when there is no dog at home.  It doesn't take them long to figure things out.

These guys are not in the least shy.  I took the photo at a distance of 25-35 ft. through the window.  Mom saw me, looked up could almost hear "Oh....it's you." and returned to grazing.  They wandered off a few minutes later.

Afternoon visitors

So of course, I had to find a deer I had ready to glaze and do my own riff on a ruminant.

I have been doing a lot of clean-up in the yard.  I found this old bird feeder under a pile of junk.  It must be from the early 80's when I became pretty serious about clay, but before I began working exclusively in low fire. That is a ^6 clay and glaze and it has my old style of signing my name.  I did not use my usual design style until I pots I was able to look in the eye.

I think I may try a few of these.  As I recall they were pretty simple to build.  Originally there was a clay loop for hanging; that needs changing.  It will sit quite nicely on the deck rail this winter.

Monday, October 31, 2011


                                                           HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

NOT What I Had Planned On!

 Rain all day yesterday, sleet at night, then snow!  It's not much compared to what has fallen up north; just enough to be a nuisance!

The light is strange.  We are getting a winter morning reflection of snow and ice with leaves on the trees.  Until the last two nights we have had nothing approaching a frost; many leaves have not changed yet.  Suppose to be down in the twenties tonight.....oh joy!

We had to break down and start the old wood stove.  I am so glad  that we decided to wait to replace it until we have finished with 'Dumpster Days'.

I had planned to start with some thoughts on flying pigs.  I know his wing/body ratio looks as though he won't achieve lift off.  My justification is The Bumblebee!

I've been seeing pigs everywhere lately.  Is it the promise of bacon, the silly season, or both?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pigs and Whistles

Many years ago I made lots of piggy banks, then stopped for some reason lost in the mists of time.  I think I  grew tired of fussing with them.  These two little guys will have stoppers on the bottom.  I loved the funny little noses, but it took me a while to figure out how to get a coin opening into them.

  When I was little I had a bank that didn't have any coin opening.  I used to lie on the bed with a dinner knife and tip coins out of the slot.  It made the savings that much sweeter!

two piggy banks

Last spring when I felt like I had no new ideas left in me I came up with a year long project to get me going again.  The idea is to make a different animal whistle each week.  By the end of the year I will, hopefully, have fifty-two different animals in various sizes and shapes.

It has not always worked out as I had wanted it to, but I have kept going.  At last count I was about six weeks behind.  I'll probably keep going until I am at the magic fifty-two.  There have been a few deviations from the original plan.  I made strawberries at the height of strawberry season and little peppers when I was putting up pepper lights on the deck.  I am easily influenced after all!  

All these little guys are, or will be decorated on their bottoms.  I have good luck firing on stilts.

unfired bird whistles

unfired bunny whistles

seahorse whistles

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vinca, Violets...........and a Pig!

The seasons have gone a little crazy this fall.  Vinca and violets are early spring flowers.  It's strange to walk around the yard and see them blooming at this time of year.  The little marigold grew from seed in a dead flower head.  I'll probably take it up and winter it inside, along with some petunias....summer does not have to end with summer.

We had a young buck in the woods on the north side of the house yesterday.  His antlers are his first.  He's not terribly shy, rather cautious.  He probably grew up in the woods behind the house. I almost managed a picture of him, but he spooked when the sun reflected off my glasses.

Mamas leave their babies in our woods because they seemed to have figured out that the dog would protect them.  Breezy had an overhead run of about 200 ft. The babies knew how close they could get without being in any danger.  Imagine a fawn nibbling tree shoots and Breezy woofing and completely puzzled.



sport marigold

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Summer's End

 Halfway through October and we are having Indian Summer.  The garden is thriving in a late summer bloom, which is much appreciated as May and June were so wet that everything rotted as it was planted. We covered the fish pond with the leaf net because the leaves are starting to fall, sassafras in particular, a tree for which I can find little or no use.  At first we worried about the frogs getting caught on top of the net, but they seem to come out for the sun and go back under in the late afternoon.

I am getting the sun room ready for bringing plants inside.  Wintering over so-called 'summer' plants helps me get through the winter.......not my favorite time of year.

I got a new shipment of tea last week.  I love opening the new bags, touching, smelling and tasting the new varieties and old friends I've ordered.  If you drink a lot of it, I totally recommend buying loose tea from a good company.  I would become totally poverty stricken if I were to on quality tea bags from the market!

Two new teapots.

I love to alter forms.  Remember the Gilbert and Sullivan song?  "Things are seldom what they seem.  Skim milk masquerades as cream." These two started life as thrown forms which I start altering as soon as they are set up a little.  Trimming, spouts, lids, handles are all added at a soft leather stage. (Without

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Memory.......and transformations

Breezy January 1998-September 2011
Our wonderful doggie died quietly at home on Friday evening.  She will be missed.

pufferfish and cat
frog and turtle                                                                   
mouse, pig and penguin

duck and swan
 These are some of the whistles I make from the closed forms I throw.  N., the friend who taught me how to make whistles, always hand built hers.  I threw basic shapes as a way of informing my work without copying hers.  N. told me quite bluntly I was nuts, but I think there is something to be said for my approach.  It has given me a way of approaching my work from a different perspective.  Whistles are also a little homage to N. as she died several years ago.  She always encouraged me to keep going.
teapot survivor
Not for nothing have I labeled this 'teapot survivor'.  I managed to knock the knob off the lid, screw up the spout so it resembled a corkscrew and, to top things off Aloysius (kitty) knocked it off the shelf when I was trying to photograph it.  Fortunately it landed in a pile of plastic and it was leather hard so it was possible to pound it back into shape.  The lid is still a little off, and the other side has echoes of a dent.  After those misadventures I think the poor thing deserves to be fired.
tufted titmouse
This little guy has been hanging our by the fishpond.  I think he is enjoying the benefits of all the plants that are going to seed.

I need to start paying more attention to my photographs.  I have used them only for my own reference up until now, but that is changing.

The sun has come out after another rainy night.  I am going to walk around the garden before going into my studio.  Happy day!