Thursday, February 27, 2014

Enlightenment or....


I was drinking tea out of one of my prototype mugs this morning and again started wondering why the mug does so poorly in the microwave.  Nothing has cracked, but the clay and handle get too hot to be held without a pot holder.  This is not a good sign!

Then I began thinking about the problems I have been having with platters cracking.

The top photo is of a platter I did about twenty years ago.  It's still in great shape.  I use it as a bird bath every summer

The second photo is of a platter I did about a year and a half ago.  It stress cracked about a week after I took it out of the kiln.  At first I blamed the rim, which is hollow.  But looking at other platters with simple rims I realized they were cracking too.

Enlightenment!  I had to switch clay bodies about two years ago!  I always used Miller #25 which was a terra cotta with frit in it.  I am sure that is what made to body so tough both when throwing and when finished!  It goes into the microwave and oven without feeling like it's going to blow up.  I have been using Miller #20 which is okay but does not withstand the abuse I could and did give #25. 

 The #20 I can use for non-functional work, so there will be no loss.  There is, however, a large nuisance factor.

The question is now, what to do?  If I had a pug mill, clay mixer I would start mixing my own body.  I don't, so my other option would be to special order it.  I'm not sure where I would store that much clay. Golly, gee whiz....I might have to clean out my storage area!

It's sunny, but cold.  Joy!  We may be getting more snow later in the week.  Meanwhile, my dvd of Game of Thrones is waiting for pick up at the Post Office.....time to lest my essential nerdiness out!

Enjoy the day.  As always, thanks for stopping by.....*s*

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Mugs #1

I'm starting Monday Mugs  even though family matters have prevented getting the group set up on Facebook.  Hopefully I will be able to do that this week.

I am leaning toward a closed circle a la Mud Colony.  Does anyone have any feelings about this?  You can respond here or on my Facebook page, where I am known as Suzi Caswell.

For now we can post mugs and link to each other.  

My mug for today is by Naomi Lindenfeld.  She has taught a few workshops at my old co-op, but I bought this one at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen show at Mt. Sunnapee last summer.

She works with colored clays in intricate patterns.  She does a short demo at her site.....go take a look.

Obviously the interior of this mug is white. It's the only part of the mug that is glazed.  The clay is so fine that the surface is very comfortable to hold.  I think the interior works well as a contrast to the patterned exterior.

I'm going to post a link with this over on Facebook.  Perhaps a few other will join in over the week.  Remember you don't have to post today.

Enjoy what at least here in southern RI promises to be a sunny, breezy day.

As always, thanks for stopping by.............*s*

Sunday, February 23, 2014


What color do you line the interiors of your mugs with?  I have always defaulted to my white base glaze, but I think I have been taking the lazy way out!  The mugs I use all have a colored glaze lining them.  Below is Michele's mug.  Isn't her ginko design terrific?  I always look at  the way my morning tea with milk looks against the color of the glaze. This is a happy combination.  Something more to think about......and I originally made mugs thinking they were an easy proposition!

I've been thinking about starting a group on FaceBook called Monday Mugs.  Thank-you Sandy for the suggesting the name and idea.  So many of us have collections of wonderful mugs which others rarely see.  My thought is that I would put a new mug up every Monday with a few words about it.  Others could join in over the week with a comment or not.   Would anyone be interested in joining in?  The only criteria would be to have mugs or cups to show off.   Or is it just one more thing?!

(Something odd is going on with the link.  It keeps coming up that blogs don't exist!  I'll give it a rest and try to correct later!  Working now!)

Spring is in the air!  I hear birds singing in the morning and the petunias I brought in last fall have begun blooming.   I posted a deep purple one last week or so; now the pinks are joining in.  Soon there will be lots of blooms.  I love having spring and summer flowers doing there thing indoors in late winter!

 Look what I found when I was cleaning some dead wood out of the key lime tree.  It's been hidden away ripening for who knows how long. I always feel like I have accomplished something when I get this tree through another winter.  My sister gave me the tree when she moved to Florida many years ago.  Many of plants are memory evokers as they were given to me by friends and relatives who have died.

We go on Daylight Saving Time two weeks from today!  I hate losing the early morning light we are just beginning to experience.  Without sounding too paranoid I think it may be some strange merchanting ploy in the hopes that people will come out and buy because it's light in the evening.  Yeah!  I know!  It is weird, but those of you who have never been involved in the wonderful world of retailing cannot begin to imagine the lengths merchants will go to to get people into their stores.

There's still snow on the ground, but it is beginning to melt.  The roof is clear and I can see the edges of the shed roof.  Supposedly we are in for a week of sunny, but coldish weather.  It was warm enough yesterday that we got all the snow off the deck!  Huzzah!

I am going to post this over on Kim's Sunday Ceramics.  I'll also put some links up on FaceBook!

Enjoy the week ahead and, as always, thanks for stopping by.........*s*

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I haven't been able to get into my studio much in the last few weeks.  However, I have been  spending time looking at various mugs.  Below are four mugs that I use all the time.  By the choice of the hand critic these appear to be functional favorites.  The criteria seems to be the way they feel in my hand and the way the rim feels when I drink.  A handle has to be large enough to hold, but it also has to work when I cradle a mug in the palm of my hand and loop my thumb through the handle.  

I love the looks of the mug below, but I have never enjoyed drinking from it.  I find the base of the handle feels weak and the lip feels fat.  I don't regret buying it, but I don't think I have ever regretted buying a mug.  It's funny how small differences can make such a huge difference!

I made a spinach and shrimp quiche a few days ago.  I made it from leftovers from a few days before, just added a bit more cheese, milk and eggs.  It disappeared quickly!

I have been trying to take selfies!  I'm not sure about this; I need longer arms!  I need to consult my manual but I think I can do a delayed action on this camera.  Now that I've had it for several years I should begin to explore what it can do!

SURPRISE!!  It's snowing again.  It's supposed to turn to rain later on then back to snow which will make for some interesting driving during rush hour.  I am soooooo glad that I don't have to drive to get to my work!

There is one good thing about all this snow.  The ground will be absorbing a lot of water which hopefully will lessen the chances of drought this summer.  I'll grasp any straw to feel a bit positive this winter!

This is late, but since Kim says it's okay I'm going to link this Sunday Ceramics.  Go over and take a look.

Stay warm and dry or cool and dry....whichever is best.

 As always, thanks for stopping by......*s*

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordless? Wednesday

A Dog's Life

I could not get Aloysius doing his vulture pose on top of the speaker into the shot!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wordless? Wednesday

Oh, the weather outside is frightful'
But inside it's so delightful....

Can you find the junco in the tree?

Here he is!

Okay....not quite wordless today!

As always, thanks for stopping by.......*s*

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Ceramics

Half your wood and half your hay
You should have left on Candlemas Day.

Phil saw his shadow this morning so we have to dig in for another six weeks of winter.  I personally will be dancing and singing if it only lasts that long.  There have been many St. Patrick's Days (The day I usually plant my peas) when the ground has been covered in snow and/or ice.  This winter has been so strange that I am counting on nothing!

Due to all my family goings on I have fallen behind in my teapot project.  I'll get back to it this week.  Meanwhile I have enjoyed giving the bird pot his feathers and generally cleaning him up.

I have been having some fun with my new underglaze pens.  I found these two whistles in white earth which are seconds.  The first one is painted with Speedball low fire glazes and outlined with the next to finest tip.

The second one has the underglaze directly on the bisqued clay.  When they are dry I'll test with various clears to see what I like.

There is a big difference between working on paper and working on glaze or bisque.  Paper is smooth whereas clay has more tooth.  Part of it also may due to the difference between working flat and upright.  A little glycerine added to the underglaze may make it easier to work.  I often do this with my mason stains to get an ink-like brush stroke.

This post will be on Sunday Ceramics.  Here's wishing you happiness for the coming year, Kim.  Sounds like the birthday was a good one.

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