Saturday, July 28, 2012


There's something about the ghostly look that my animal whistles have after I've glazed them but before  I have started the decorating.  They have a blank look with only the large gesture being apparent.  I find that this frees me to design as I wish without becoming a slave to the original image.

They change so much after I have done with decorating sometimes it's hard to realize that they are the same work.  This challenge is another part of what I love about majolica.

Yesterday was so humid that I spent the whole day waiting for the glaze to dry.  For me it is better to let the glaze dry slowly.  If I put object under a heat lamp I often get uneven drying.  It's most disconcerting to be working on a hard surface and then suddenly find it's not.

Everything has dried very nicely, so I get to spend studio time today.  I don't think it's going to rain until much later so I will also put some reprocessed clay out to dry a bit.  It's such a sloppy process that I like to do it outside.  I'm going to prepare for the winter winds this year and get ahead in my clay.

In spite of everything, I managed to stay busy.  Proge and I spent the morning readjusting the pond filter and pump.  He was the one wading around in thigh deep water, but I still managed to get soaked.  If you are going to have water features in your garden you have got to enjoy messing about in water.

I made buns so we could have hamburgers.  The bread is from the other half of the recipe.  It's just my plain old Cuban bread, but the loaf is so handsome that I have to show it off a little.  The recipe is quick and easy so I have been trying herb additions.  Rosemary & Dill is especially tasty.

I am a fool for love (of plants).  Our pond guy is selling most of his plants at 25% off.  I bought three day lilies.  This peachy pink is my favorite today.  I also got a small rosy pink and a deep purple and gold.

Of course I need more plants!  I like to keep adding them until winter (the season) stops me.

And lastly here is Winter, totally mystified by how she got herself into this tangle.  Most of the time she gets herself out of twists and turns, but she needed some help with this one.

After a day of hot-stickies we had a heavy thunder storm yesterday evening which dumped almost an inch of rain in about half an hour.  No complaints here!  It dropped the humidity and added water to pool, pond, and well.

This post can be seen at  Mud Colony and Artists In Blogland.  Everyone should drop by and see what is going on; there are lots of new people to discover, plus old friends.

Did anyone watch the opening of the Olympics?  I was absolutely thrilled when Sir Paul led Hey Jude ...and opened with...."And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." 

Have a bountiful, happy weekend, and, as always, thanks for stopping by..........*s*

Monday, July 23, 2012

Orchid Cactus And.....

I have done a good amount of research on these and why they are called orchid cactus continues to elude me.  They have been listed as  epiphyllums, but the consensus is that they are misnames because the flower looks like it a separate plant from the leaves.  Some say it's really a schlumbergera.  Whatever!  The flowers are big (about 3-4 inches long) and beautiful.

I took the photos below over a period of three days.  This particular bloom was hidden at the back of the plant so I didn't get the first three or four days.  The blooms open slowly, over six or seven days.  The buds start as a funny little lump in notch of a leaf.

The leaves below the flower in the first photo are those of a Christmas Cactus.

I may post more later, but for now  I'm off to change the D.E. in the pool filter and do some glazing.

Enjoy your day, and as always, thanks for stopping by............*s*

Friday, July 20, 2012


Don't try to post when you are half asleep.  I decided I would get ahead of the game last night and write this post before going to bed.  Bad idea!  I managed to erase stuff, move things around; you name it.  I finally gave up and went to bed.

A year and a half ago I felt like I was never going to have a creative idea in my life.  This was something new for me, so I decided on a new approach.  I was looking at the fish below, which I made as a prototype for a class of developmentally delayed adults I used to teach.  I have been making whistles off and on over the last twenty years.  It's always been an enjoyable process for me.

SO! I decided to do a whistle a week for a year.  Size could be variable.  I could make one or a bunch, as I wished.  The idea was not necessarily to finish the year but to get me making stuff again.  

Ideas ended up occurring in series.  One week would provide the impetus for the following week. The series below was done over five weeks.  Making a whistle for me becomes a meditative process, freeing my mind to new ideas.

I made three of these bigger fish, five to nine inches long.  This was when I discovered that the bigger the whistle the more careful I had to be about making the actual whistle.

My version of a Seahorse.  I'm still not happy with these little guys.  They're about six inches tall.  I think they need to sit among some seaweed to get a better curve to his tail.

 I call these little critters  Thimble Fish.  I make them from a small wad of clay that starts out the size and shape of a thimble.

A not very good picture of a Puffer Fish.  They are so silly looking that I am quite fond of them.  I think I'll use a thick slip to make spines on the next ones.

Starfish.  I looked at so many pictures of so many varieties of starfish that I was almost overwhelmed.

And finally,  Morning Glories!  I planted these from purchased seedlings about two weeks ago.  Cut worms ate my original plants so I planted these in pots.  These particular plants are on a ladder leaning against the end of the shed.  I'm thrilled that they are doing so well.  Summer isn't summer to me if there are no heavenly blue morning glories.

The temp has dropped and it's raining;  it looks like it will continue for most of the day.  We aren't in drought conditions yet here in Southern New England, but rain is always welcome.  Rain is so much better for plants than watering, and it adds to the pool and pond.

BTW I did not finish the year of whistles, but it sure got me working again.  It also shares responsibility for my starting this blog.

This post can also be found at Mud Colony.  Go take a look; there are interesting people there!

Enjoy the week end.

Thanks for stopping by...........*s*

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another Frog

WOW!  An entire week plus, without posting.  I've been busily recycling clay....trying to get ahead so I can get some more done on the tiles for the stove surround.  I'm using terra cotta, but I want it to all be of the same consistency.  Much easier to do a project when I reduce as many variables as possible.

I was looking at more of the little tree frogs.  The more I looked the more I want to make them.  This little guy is purely experimental.  I need to work on the feet.  I love the little ball tips of the toes.  Also I have made my colors too light.  It doesn't show in the photo but my guy is mottled in shades of gray and gray-green.

When I start a project I like to look at the real thing and photos, and perhaps, do a few sketches.  Then I put everything away and work from my rather faulty memory.  I find I get a lot more personality and gesture if I don't continually reference the actual creature.  Next I'll put the photos away again and go for another round.
Just what I need.  More frogs!

I like this little guy splayed out in the spring sun.  He looks so content.

Meanwhile, what I think is an orchid cactus has put out a bloom.  Wish I had seen it earlier.  It was at the very back of the plant.  I'll try to photograph it each day as the flower gets bigger.  More on that later.

We had about an inch of rain last night.  The plants are happy, but more mowing is in order.

It's going to be up in the high nineties, low hundreds tomorrow in southern New England.

Stay cool....thanks for stopping by...........*s*

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Frogs or......OOOPS!

I thought I still had 100 lbs of clay ready to use.  Alas, I have about twenty-five pounds of the clay I use for making hand building forms and test stuff.  I also have 25 lbs. of my white clay that I use when I make when I want to underglaze.  I now have 200 lbs. both slaking and drying.  I could buy some more that is ready to go I suppose. But by the time it got here my own will be ready to go. I really like this clay I use (Laguna Miller 20) and I am too much of a nudge to spend money when with a little work, I have the body I like.

Ah well, I have plenty of work to do in glazing and decorating.

Here are frogs of various I glazed....the others are all guys who have been around the pond this spring and summer. 

This little tree frog was perched on a yellow flag.  They blend in with rocks and other flora.  They are probably the noisiest little critters around.  They puff up and sound like New Year's Eve rattles and horns.  They are recognizable by the difference in their color patterns.

And finally the day lilies have started blooming.  I've been sprinkling them with chili powder in an effort to keep the deer from having them for dessert.

It was 65F when I took Winter out at 5:30 AM....I put on a sweatshirt!  It's about 82F now with low humidity.....a good afternoon for sitting by the pool under the umbrella with a chai latte.

 I have bread rising which I will bake in my counter top convection oven.  This is probably the best kitchen appliance I have ever purchased.  With cooking for just the two of us, turning on the big oven always feels so wasteful.  And in summer it makes for more heat in the house.  It's big enough to roast a good sized chicken, cookies, bread etc. And it draws a lot less power than the stove oven.

Enjoy the day.  Thanks for stopping by..............*s*

Friday, July 6, 2012



I looked at various recipes for Key Lime Pie and came up with my own version.  I'm sure others have made this, but I could not find a recipe I like.  I made my own crust out of plain Marias.  I prebaked the crust a little too long.  It's not quite as dark as it shows in the photos, just a little darker than I like.

Cracker Crust                                                oven @ 350

1 3/4 - 2 Cups crackers (graham or any cookie that has a cracker-like consistency)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Cup melted butter

Crush the crackers in a a food processor.  Push the crackers down after a few pulses to make sure  all are crushed.  Combine brown sugar with melted butter.  Pour slowly into running processor.  Turn off as soon as crumbs begin to clump.
Place crumbs in pie plate and distribute evenly and press down firmly.  Make a nice rim for the top of the crust.
Bake for about 5 -7 minutes.

Let crust cool.  It will firm up as it cools.

Key Lime Cheese Pie                                    oven @ 350

8 oz. soft cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 Cup lime juice
1 tsp. grated lime zest

Beat cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add condensed milk, beat until well blended and foamy.  Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating each until well blended.  Add lime juice and zest, beat until blended and slightly foamy.
Pour into prepared pie shell.  Bake 20 minutes.  I turn it after 10 minutes, but that depends on your oven.
Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes or more, then place in refrigerator until cold and set, at least 4 hours.

This can be made with prepared lime juice but it will not have as much lime zing.

For serving you can gussie it up with lime curls and whipped cream, but we eat it plain and drink a mimosa with it.

Happy eating!

Thanks for stopping by............*s*

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Glaze Decoration

I've been doing a lot of glaze decoration this week.  These are tests of a new batch of glaze that I used to use a lot.  Kona-F4 is no longer being mined; Minspar 200 seems to be an acceptable and successful substitutions.  We'll see, grasshopper.....we'll see.  Oh, the glaze is named Andrea Gill's WOM; I got it from Walter Ostrom when I did a workshop with him many years ago.  I size the glaze with super strength hair spray.  It makes the glaze hard enough to work on but I can get the glaze itself to move if I want it to.  The designs are some of the standard ones I use.  When I'm testing a glaze I like to keep the stuff I know as consistent as possible.  

It will be interesting to see how these turn out.  I plan on keeping them for our own use.  They're an oval sandwich size which I find useful for more than sandwiches.

Next I start testing Linda Arbuckles's Majolica.

A first for me:  I am posting this at Mud Colony and Artists in Blogland.  Thanks to Linda for her links which led me there.

It's a sunny low humidity day.....hope everyone else can find a way to enjoy the day .

Thanks for stopping by..............*s*

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday U.S.A.

I hope everyone enjoys this  Independence Day!

Thanks for stopping by................*s*

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Where Do You Get.......

......Your Crazy Ideas?

Roger Zelazny always said he left milk and cookies on the door step at night and in the morning the tomte would have left a nice pile of story ideas.

This, in addition to being a kitchen string holder, is a CHERRY PITTER!  Saw this on Food 52's blog and thought...why a beer bottle?  If I make the string hole a little bigger it should do the trick.  Et voila! A dual purpose item.

I threw these yesterday.  It has been so humid that they are nowhere near ready to have their tops cut.  This is the same basic form I use for honey jars and garlic keepers...yes I do close in the tops for them.

I would love to see what others do with this.  I don't have a corner on the idea after all.


Yesterday the pool ladder bit the dust.  It was over thirty years old, so I have no reason to complain.  It's just the nuisance of having one more thing to do.  Right now I get out of the pool by bouncing up and down in the water and flopping on the deck....sort of like a beached whale.  Not a pretty sight....oh so glad I live out of sight of neighbors and street.  There is no desire to be Another Roadside Attraction!

Winter started doing her job yesterday and went out on the deck to bark at the deer in the woods.  They have learned that they won't be chased but did retreat to the other side of the stone wall, which is where we want them.  They are so beautiful, but so destructive.

Speaking of deer, the hostas are recovering quite nicely from their devastation.  At least they are blooming and putting out new leaves.  Winter and chili peppers are doing the trick!

Has anyone ever heard of red beetle?  From what I read on Google they are native to China, Asia....and have recently been found in New England.  They have done a number on my lilies...hemerocallis... seem to be immune.   I think what I am going to do is start a new bed in a different area and do what I can to kill them.

I got a sale on morning glories.....they were badly tangled....I took them apart and have been potting them up.  By August the shed should be overrun with them.  My moonflowers are struggling though.....we'll see, grasshopper...we'll see!

More hot weather today.  I'm writing this on the deck and listening to Bach.  The only sound are some chirping birds.

Stay cool and remember to drink lots of liquids.  Did you know that in the tropics beer,but not wine, counts as liquid intake?  Just saying....I'm sticking to chai lattes.

Hare and Rabbits!

Enjoy the day......thanks for stopping by.............*s*