Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dog Haus

Thank you, all, for all the comments on Barkitecture....and a warm welcome to new followers and posters.

In 1999 the Oakland Museum of California held the exhibition DOG HAUS architecture unleashed.  Of course the title Dog Haus was a play on Bauhaus.  The entire show was funny and informative.  

I know I took photos, but they seem to have been lost when I moved out of the back house to this one. There is an article with many photos, but I can't get the link to work.  If you are interested just google the information in the photo I took of my tee shirt below and it should come up. 

Late edit...I've managed to find a link that is working, Architecture Unleashed.  It's working for me, at could give it a try.

There were information sheets with some plans and comments  but no real catalog.  Thus Barkitecture!

Houses for dogs, cats and there's a subject worth exploring in all my free time!

The yellow flags have started their mad blooming.  The are fascinating to watch as the buds unfurl to a certain point and then pop open.  So far I haven't been able to catch one in the process when I've had my camera at hand.  What I really need to do if I want the shot is set up my camera on a tripod and wait patiently!  Not my strong point at the moment.

For some truly fabulous photos click over Robin Hopper in his garden.

If you look hard at the photo below you can see some of our thousands of tadpoles.  I know there is a way to tell frog tadpoles from toad tadpoles (we have both frogs and toads in abundance) but it's beyond me to tell the difference.

Perhaps the title of this post should have been CLEANING, as I feel like that is all I have been doing lately.  In the house, in my studio, in the garden.....nothing but fixing stuff up for the summer.....which will end up with some nice's just a case of Keep You Eye on the Prize!

Meanwhile, I have the whistles that I make and keep on hand, in part, for times like these.  When I am really going nuts I take a break and glaze a whistle or two.  They can be time consuming to do but give me a needed change.  The whistles are nothing but fun for me.  Who can be serious about a blue hippo with flowers?  Shades of the nile!

Speaking of  Summer, it has least for the next few days.  It's up in the high 80's low 90's until Monday.  This is what I wait all winter for.  I am definitely a warm weather person......'nuff said!

I hope everyone is enjoying the sun and that winter has not been too bad yet for those down below.

This is going to posted over on Mud Colony......early, for me!  Skip on over and take a look!

As always, thanks for all the comments and stopping by............*s*

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Who Do you Trust?

I wasn't going to post today, but I've been thinking about  a post I read on Jody Hedlund's blog titled "Is Our Culture become too Critical and Open?"  She is a writer, but raises many good points about criticism on the internet.

I have seen reviews from readers that are absolutely vitriolic and ignorant about the subject matter they purport to be critiquing.  (And can somebody tell me why so many reutable newspapers allow anonymous comments?)

If you are going to give a critique of any creative work I think you should have a strong basic knowledge of your subject.  Calling the creator names and worse does nothing to further the strength of the work.  On the other hand, "It's so nice;  I really like is a lot.", gives nothing either.

It is possible to be honest without being mean.  Many years ago a group of potters used to get together once a week.  We got into a mode of giving honest crits without being nasty about it. At the same time statements like, "It's so nice; I really like it a lot.", without any backup were not acceptable either.  That two or three years were invaluable in teaching me to be open to options and to thoughtfully defend what I was doing.  Alas the group gradually stopped meeting due to other things happening in our lives, but when I returned to university to finally finish my degree I had an invaluable tool because I had been through it all.

So, my question is "Where do you go, when you are working on an idea and need input?"  Friends, fellow potters, the internet?  I stay away from anything where people can post anonymously because I think there is too much of the ego driven fourteen year old boy out there, who thinks he knows what he is talking about, but doesn't.  Not all those fourteen year old boys are fourteen year old's my catch-all label after having worked with early teens.

I'm going to post this over on Mud Colony, but may return with more thoughts.  Click on the link to see  what is happening in the world of clay.

The rain has finally stopped; we've had over two inches in the last four days. It's still cloudy, but windy; supposedly we will have sun by tomorrow.  I need to dry out a bit.  I have pots that I threw on Tuesday that are still too wet to trim.

Remember those who have given so much for the USA on this Memorial Day and enjoy the rest of the week end.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I'm going way back to 1967 and the first dog I had after I moved out of my parents' house.  In 1967 I lived with a family that had a pair of Irish Wolfhounds.  They gave me Truce when he was born for taking care of the litter of fifteen pups.  Large litters are common with Wolfhounds and require a lot of supplimental feeding and care.

I called him Truce because the end of his tail was white.  Others wanted to attach more esoteric and deeper meanings to the name, but that was their take, not mine.

It's funny to think that at eight weeks he outweighed our little Winterpup.  At eight months he weighed 90 lbs.  By the time he reached his full growth at two years he was thirty-five inches high at the shoulders and weighed one hundred and seventy to one hundred and eighty pounds.  He was a sweet, gentle dog who had no idea of his own size.

I learned early on how to control him which stood me in good stead when it came time to trim goat hooves as I was much better at holding them, while Proge's father trimmed.

Is it any wonder that I have thought of the eighty and ninety pound pups we have had since as medium dogs and Winter as a mini-dog?

Somewhere there are photos of Truce with people that give a better idea of his size.

The early morning mist is burning off.  It's time to plant marigolds and get out more of my big pots.

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

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Busy Days

It's been a busy, but here and there sort of week.  The sun has been out so we have been trying to get yard and garden into shape.  Finally it has been warm enough to start putting plants outside.

The last of my daffodils are blooming.  They are minis and are always the last to bloom.  I think I need to move them as a lot of the buds dry our before they open.  

We are in the middle of pollen season.  Everything has a green film over it.  I am so glad for modern allergy medications!

 We recycle everything in this house.  Aloysius was bound and determined to fit into the box Linda sent with goodies in it.  He's still sleeping in it.  Who knows the mind of a cat?  I know I sure don't!

My big thing has been experimenting with monoprinting on a gelli plate.  Linda Germain is a printmaker who has great information on the method, both making and using.  Of course I have to complicate things by trying to do it with clay.  I spent a good part of yesterday figuring out that the process does not work on dry tiles.  I think freshly rolled slabs may be more successful.

I am also exploring my printing mediums.  I am trying a mix of frit, gerstly borate and mason stain in a paste form.  I am also trying various underglazes.  I think the trick will be to keep them fairly thick like regular printing inks.

I could just print on paper and use it as a transfer, but that means thinking in reverse and has a different effect that printing directly.

Iam doing this strictly for my own enjoyment.  I am in the process of cleaning and reconfinguring my studio.  I can work on exploring an idea for an hour or two without much mess.

This is the 11x11 gelli plate I made.  It's a little thicker than it needs to be, but I tend to overbuild when I am starting a new project.

If anyone has any ideas or knows of anything out in the ether I would love to hear them.

Adriana asked on her latest post, "What is the pot you would not part with?" After thinking a bit I realized that this guy, which is the first pot I ever made and kept back in 1966 must be the one.  It has stayed with me over many moves and has always been where I can see it.  It has always been special for me, even when I did not think of it as such!

Little did I know, when I potted for about five months back then, what I would get into twenty years later.  I thought of pottery as something I had explored for a few months and left behind, mostly due to life's little complications rather than a dislike of clay.  Sometimes life does have foreshadowing!

I hope everyone has a sunny, good day....or rain if you are in a drought.

This post will also be over on Mud Colony.  Everyone should click on over and explore clay around the world.

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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fantastic Mr. Fox

On Tuesday I went to the post office and there I found a box of goodies waiting for me from Linda Starr.  Inside a cool bread book Our Daily Bread first published in 1970.  This is an oldie but goodie, that I once owned but lost in one of my many moves.  There are sponges.  Look at the big one; it looks like an underwater fern.  Aaaand I was going to buy a new sponge and chamois next time I went to the art store.  I think Linda can count mind reading among her many talents.

The piece de resistance is Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Has anyone seen the animated version of Roald Dahl's book?   George Clooney is Mr. Fox and this is a perfect portrait.  Right now he is hanging here in my plant sun room, but I think he is going to be down in my studio.  I find something comforting having other potters' work around me when I work.


Spring is here again after several days of too cool weather.  It's supposed to be in the seventies.

We're going to the pond supply store to get plants for the pond.  Hopefully once we get some plant cover on the water the fish will have places to hide from Mr. and Mrs. Red Tail, andwe'll be able to
remove the net.

I'm also biting the bullet and going to Walmart to look for some sort of containers for the gelli plates I have been making.  Yes, yesterday's Wordless Wednesday was a gelli plate.  It was so amorphous that I couldn't resist posting it.

Have a great day and, as always........thanks for stopping by...........*s*

Monday, May 13, 2013


No, I have not gone completely around the bend and taken to posting pictures of pans of water.

 I have been reading a lot lately about commercially available gelli plates.  That got me to thinking about making my own plates.  After poking around on Google (so much easier than having to go to a library and pour through card catalogs) I found a terrific blog Linda Germain has.  It's filled with all sort of information, including instructions on making your own plates.  I made mine in a silicon baking pan that I have hesitated to use for baking as I often bake at fairly high temps.

I'm not sure how I will use this, but I'm thinking of it as another way to make images to go on clay.  I used to do a lot of silk screening, both for printmaking and for transfer to clay.  This seems to be a good time to experiment as I have been doing some work in white earthenware with an eye to underglazing.

We'll see, Grasshopper......we'll see..............

Speaking of grasshoppers, does anyone else miss Robin Hopper's wonderfully informative blog posts?  I notice lately that a lot of his books are being reprinted.

Sunny with a cool breeze .....just enough to make it uncomfortable to be outside.  I go out for about twenty minutes and then come in.  I am always surprised at how much can be accomplished in twenty minutes if one concentrates on the task at hand.

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

Friday, May 10, 2013


After staring at various blank forms for the last month or more I have begun playing a bit.  What I have mentioned before and am now sure of is that I am many times more gestural when working with handbuilt forms.  For one thing I don't have to wait until the clay is set up enough to handle, and then there is the fact that I don't have to trim.

I'm experimenting a bit with lid attachments.  Hayne Bayless makes wonderful clay hinges for his very elegant teapots.  Me?  I'm not so elegant, so I'm trying to find an earthier(?), solution.  

I want them to interact;I like the way these little guys have something going on.  Arguing? Asking for directions?  Hero Worship?  I suppose to always have them in the position I want them in I'll have to make trays for them.  Oh the complications of life! (We all should have these be our only complications.

The pots below look sort of like teapots but they're meant to be cruets as they will only hold about eight ounces when they are finished.


AND here is the reason why I do not take cups or mugs I have collected into my studio.  Aloysius decided that this was a good morning for knocking thing onto the cement floor.  The mug was a second, but it was pleasant to drink from and by using it I solved the drawbacks, including the futzy way I constructed it.

The beech tree, now partially blocked by the white oak branch is getting greener.  Not so much other trees.

We're having a gorgeous sunny day between rainy days.  I'm alternating between time outside and time in the studio.  At last I feel fully thawed from winter.   (My brothers tell me there was snow on my birthday....April 12...around Lake Winnapasaukeh ....and they wonder why I don't want to move North!)

This post also can be found on Mud Colony.  There's all sorts of interesting stuff there.....especially Gulgong!

Enjoy the sun, moon and stars!  As always thanks for stopping by..........*s*

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Memory Lane

Here is a picture, ca. 1978 of our dear Nubian goats, Felicity (on the left) and Narcissus (on the right).  Felicity was a doe and Narcissus was a wether and her buddy.  They were so gentle that we could let them out of the pen and they would follow us around like dogs.  

I just realized that I forgot to photograph the teapot that I am glazing. I'll do an update or another post later.

Meanwhile it's a bright sunny day......but.....the blackflies are out,  Time to dig out my hat and insect repellent.  Blackfly bites can be extremely nast.

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

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

Wishing a joyous Cinco de Mayo to all those who celebrate the day!  And to those who don't, it's a really good excuse to eat yummy Mexican food.  There are too many sites to mention here with excellent recipes and tips.  Google is called for!

I have been experimenting with a new (to me) decorating method.  I am outlining the design in wax resist, then painting in the colors.  The bottom photo show a cup with the resist design; the top right mug has the design painted in; the top left is a finished mug with the background color added.

I used my regular green wax resist, which by it's nature is runny.  I may switch to batik wax which I can mix to a consistency I like.  

I initially thought it might be a faster way to decorate, but hah! I say, HAH!  There is no such thing when it comes to majolica, at least the way I do it.

It's time to relearn patience and enjoy the process.  If you don't enjoy the process why on earth do it?

Below is a shot of the cut Cuban beer bread.  I used my regular Cuban Bread recipe substituting one and a half cups beer for the same amount of water and honey instead of sugar.  I wanted the honey to balance the bitterness that sometimes occurs when cooking with beer.  The amount of honey may have to be adjusted depending on the beer that is used.  This loaf had a mellow flavor with only a hint of sweetness.

I am not a real beer drinker so I let Proge choose the beer.  He came up with Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale which is very flavorful.  Next time I may try a wheat beer.

Finally it's feeling like real spring.  The early morning light has changed with the tilt of the earth.  And my favorite beech tree is leafing out.  It's one of the earliest trees to leaf.....yes, there will be a spring this year!

Beech trees have their own timetable for leafing.  We have one out in the woods that doesn't begin to leaf until most of the woods is in full leaf.

Someday I hope to put in a copper beech in the woods behind the house.  Game of Thrones people will understand why.

There's no Mud Colony this week, but everyone should take a look at what Adriana has been doing at Gulgong 2013.  Now I want to visit down under more that ever!

We're in a streak on sunny, warm weather. with no rain expected until the beginning of the week.  I hope it's a spring rain and not one of our New England bone chillers.  Rain is good but....

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