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