Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter.....Weather Not The Pup!

As most of your probably know we are going through a cold wave here in the north east.  Today has been a little warmer...... 10F at 6:00 AM rather than yesterday's 2.  There are places a lot colder than here, but the people I really feel for are the Sandy survivors who still have no heat and are spending nights in heated tents. I find it irresponsible and reprehensible that people who live in one of our largest cities are still without heat and other utilities.  I have always thought that it is the duty of an advanced society to take care of those who suffer disasters and other deprivations.

Climbing down off my very large hobby horse!

Now that we have the Jotul installed it provides  (even without fans) enough heat along with the southern windows and my little heater  to make it possible to work in my downstairs studio for about  four hours every day.  The exception is when it stays below 15F all day.  I have a small area upstairs where I can decorate  and paint.  But I haven't needed to make it a permanent space which I use until March the way I have n previous years.

I rolled out several slabs of clay and cut them into various sizes.  As I may have said before I feel no particular attachment to them and throw most of them in the slop bucket.  The roosters below are the first ones I have even thought about saving.  I was messing around with color, then realized I really want to work in a true ink and wash style.  I'm using a black mason stain with frit 3124 thinned to various densities.  A little glycerin in the mix makes for smoother brushing.

After all these years you would think that I would be prepared for the way brushes and inks feel and respond to different surfaces!  Alas, such is not the case.

I baked a nice yeast corn bread yesterday.  I soaked the corn meal by pouring boiling water over it and letting it cool before I began the making.  It gave the loaf a nice corn flavor with out the grittiness I sometimes find in corn bread.  The only thing wrong was that the crust on the bottom was too light.  I know it's because I didn't heat the cast iron pan first.  Maybe next time I'll get a photo of it before it's mostly gone.

And a correction on                                  Helper Cat Haiku

Pristine blank surface
Curious cat explorer
Black paw prints remain

Stay warm, cool and happy and enjoy your week end.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

Once Fired

These are some of the bag pots that I made for my own use.  I once fired these using Spectrum commercial white glazes and my own mixed mason stains.  I've decided I don't really like doing once firing.  The glazes are fine......they could be a little thicker, but I can live with that.  I'm not happy with my clay bodies when they don't go through two firings.  Even though i bisque and glaze at pretty much to same temperatures there is something about the second glaze firing that gives the clay an added feel.  It's difficult to verbalize, but it's something I can feel when I pick the pots up.

Once firing is not something I do a lot.  Every once in a while I give it a try.  I do have some success with a white earth body (I have no idea what it is, just that it's low fire.) using underglazes and a Spectrum Clear glaze.  I only do it on some of my small whistles though.

Majolica, for me, is a lot about the feel of brush on surface.  Bisqued clay is a far more pleasant experience for me.

Corinne at Sparkle Days Studio has a terrific quote today.  Do small things with great love.  I like the idea of small things adding up to big things.  The small thing I do (not necessarily with great love) is try always to be polite and cheerful in shops, even the ones I don't particularly enjoy going into....Walmart comes to mind.......we all need to make a living after all!

Bright sun today and 24 F; it's hard to remember that on Monday, Jan. 14, it was 60 + in the sun.  It's supposed to be down in the teens tonight!

Right now I feel like, "Okay!  Christmas is over and winter should be done too!"  NOT a fan!

Have a productive and/or lazy week end.

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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Of Roosters And Flamingos And......

 I've been doing a lot of drawing lately.  I start in pencil and switch to ink and wash.  I'm trying out a few newish designs for some plates and platters.  I've done all of these in the past, but have not been comfortable in my execution.  When that happens I've found that the best thing is to go back to the beginning and start with pencil sketches.  I switch to ink and wash because it is the closest thing to the unfired majolica glaze surface I work on.  Later I will roll out some thin white earth slabs and work on them.  The drag when doing brush work on raw clay is much the same as raw glaze.  I may fire a few but most will end up in my slop bucket.

Thank the heavens for the internet.  I can remember a time in the not too distant past when I had to rely on pictures I could find in books.  I still use the printed material, but it's great being able to look a critter in motion.  It's not as good as being there but it does give the feeling for how skeletons work in different species.

The top three drawings are a few of the many I have done in the last few days.  I use paper that is one or two steps above newsprint so I have the freedom to use as much as I need. 

Next are a few of the ink and wash sketches.  This may be my favorite drawing medium.  I don't do many drawings for the sake of drawing these days but when I do it's often ink and wash.  I think I am drawn to the immediacy of it and the fact that I have to work with what I lay down on paper so the medium drives a lot of the drawing.

Meanwhile the amaryllis are blooming like crazy.  I put two bulbs in one pot.  So far I have four blooms, two in progress and one stalk that is just beginning to break its bud.

I don't know what the difference is, but the indoor flowers are giving us quite a show this year!

We're off to the market in a little bit......not my favorite thing...but they have really good sushi, so that will be a reward!

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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Behind The Love

Here's a series of photos of what lead up to the hug in Wordless Wednesday.  It's more of a wrestling match involving teeth, paws, and claws. 

The one photo I missed is when Aloysius makes his reverse wiggle and ends up on top of Winter.

They started doing this when Winter was much closer to Aloysius in size and weight.  At first I was concerned that Aloysius would hurt Winter.  Then as Winter grew I worried about the reverse.  However, they both instigate and seem to enjoy their rough and tumble play.

I've been drawing manatees lately, and other critters that I might add to my design vocabulary.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Everybody Needs......

A helper cat!

I was photographing a dragon and a fish when Aloysius decided that he would be my assistant.  I have just about finished glazing the dragon some may remember from last summer.  I've started painting the fish.  I'm trying to keep a better record of what my process is.  However, when I get caught in the moment I forget to stop and take pictures.
I sort of think of glazing as the necessary evil of majolica.  The glaze has to be applied evenly without drips and/or brush marks.  I usually scrape any imperfections off with a matte knife or a flexible metal rib.  I then spray the whole thing with hair spray.  Low fire glazes tend to powder and cause brush drag when decorating.  If it's a particularly powdery glaze I will even go so far as to mix a little acrylic medium in the glaze..  I try to be very logical about this but most of the time I just wing it.

There are two important thing to remember:
1. That the bisque has to be absolutely free of dust and grease before glazing.  If stuff has been sitting uncovered I spray it hard with a vinegar and water mix.
2.  Any imperfections that are in the glaze and decoration before firing will be there after firing.  I have had brush hairs show up as thin lines after firing.  

My amaryllis have started blooming.  They are a richer red in the pot.   My camera tend to make reds go a little orange or a little violet.  Most likely it's because I am not terribly camera savvy.

They were supposed to be apple blossom which is a white with pink highlights.  I bought these at Job Lot.  I have a feeling they were there because the boxes were mislabeled.  I can't complain about the price and bulbs were in great shape.  Someday I'll get some other colors.

The weather has warmed up considerably with lots of sun expected over the next week.  Predictions are for mid forties to low fifties, going dow into the mid twenties at night.  The snow is melting and it's quite pleasant when the wind isn't blowing.  I love being in my studio when it's like this.

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

Saturday, January 5, 2013

On The Twelfth Day

Of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve terrific mugs'

Eleanora Eden, Naomi Lindenfield, Lee Rexrode, Iris Minc
Barbara Knutson, Jason Fong, ?, Laconia Pottery?

Uriarte Talavera, ?

Jeff Brown, Kristen Kieffer

I have many more mugs down in my studio.  These happen to be among the ones I have in the kitchen.  I'm trying to change them out a little more often.

It's Twelfth Night tonight.

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

Friday, January 4, 2013

On The Eleventh Day

Of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eleven twelfth night candles

Ten favorite brushes

I managed to get a migraine yesterday so I wasn't much good for anything.

The candles are floaters which we will burn on twelfth night....which is really tonight but, oh well.....We will also have candles outside in snow lanterns.  Hopefully it will be relatively calm, although snow lanterns are a safe way to burn candles.

Yes, I am a sucker for brushes, I admit it.  These are a very few of my favorites.  When I am doing large surfaces the big ones can't be beat.  If anyone is thinking the large wash brush looks a little chewed....Winter got hold of it and trimmed it a bit.  It now makes some interesting marks.  Second from the left is one I made myself.  I save old handles for that purpose.

It's supposed to be a little warmer today.  There's some stuff I want to do in my studio.  With the sun warming the area it should be good to go by noon.

The jasmine is starting to bloom.  It always amazes me that a few small flowers can fill the upstairs with their scent.

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On The Ninth Day Of

Of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Nine pink flowers

Yes, there really are nine primrose flowers there......not easily visible, but there.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hares and Rabbits

Never a Christmas morning,
Never an Old Year ends,
But someone thinks of someone;
Old days, old times, old friends.

Heartfelt thanks to all my fellow bloggers.

Peace and Joy to all as we step forward into the coming year.


This was supposed to be today's post with the flamingoes coming later least it's all here!

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

On The Eighth Day

Of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eight elegant flamingos 

Well, they may have started out as elegant but they look like they've been doing a little too much partying if you ask me!

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