Saturday, June 15, 2013

Some work in progress

            I purchased my kickwheel used from a ceramics studio in Massachusetts, and it was a great deal. They didn't need it, since everyone there preferred the electric wheels, and I needed a wheel and preferred a kickwheel. So I took it apart and packed it in my car along with my other belongings when Mr. Riverdragon and I moved to Maine.
            The wheel is a Thomas Stuart, and it's a fine piece of equipment in my opinion. The flywheel is nice and heavy, making it a pain to move but a delight to use. The frame can be taken apart to fit the whole thing into a car or through a doorway. For the most part, this wheel will last forever. It didn't mind being ignored for several years before I purchased it - it's practically as good as new. The one thing that's been bugging me about it is the surface of the table part.
            The table was originally varnished to protect the wood from wet clay. This is a good idea! But over the years, enough wet things have been set upon the table to damage that surface. I found it annoying because the varnish was starting to flake off into my clay. That's just troublesome.
            So Mr. Riverdragon volunteered to fix it up for me this spring. He took off the table part, sanded off all the old varnish, and put on new varnish. That put my wheel out of commission for a couple of days. But now it's as good as new! It turns out that the wood underneath has a nice looking grain. While we just used clear varnish and didn't bother doing anything fancy to make it look special, it looks even better than I thought it would. And it works so much better!
            So I celebrated by throwing some bowls and getting Mr. Riverdragon to take pictures of me happily working on my good-as-new wheel. He focused on me rather than on the table, though. I'm probably more interesting.

            So there I am, throwing bowls off the hump. (That's what it's called when you put a big lump of clay on the wheel, but throw many small objects off the top of it rather than using individual tiny lumps, which are hard to center.) You can see these pictures were taken in the house rather than in the barn. We've been slowly moving my clay things back into the barn studio, and it just so happens that the wheel is one of the few things still in the house. But I can use it just fine there, so that's ok for now.
            This is my nice translucent porcelain, although these bowls are not going to be translucent. They will be black and red, and the light will not be able to pass through the glaze and slip I'm going to use. But they will be lovely and smooth!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

While Sleeping Dragons Lie, technical considerations

            June has brought lovely warm weather to us in coastal Maine. The tulips have bloomed and faded. The lilacs are out in full force, and the peonies are covered in buds.
            In the process of moving my kickwheel back to the barn studio, we saw that its table is not doing so well. The varnish has suffered from years of contact with wet clay. So Mr. Riverdragon sanded off the old, and soon will be painting on new. My wheel will look so lovely when he is done, and be pleasanter to use as well! It turns out that the wood is fairly nice looking under the cracking varnish.
            I'm also in the process of setting up my thesis, While Sleeping Dragons Lie, in the barn studio. This will be its permanent home now. After sitting about in pieces for months, it needs some cleaning, repainting, and repairs.
            The pools themselves are actually fairly mundane objects: two sleds and a kiddie pool that I spray painted black. Here's a picture from last summer when I was setting up at the Meeting House Gallery:

            The difficulty with painting these objects is that they are plastic, and the paint doesn't adhere to them incredibly well. Oh, it sticks - but don't scrape it with anything, or it comes right off. This is even with paint intended for plastic items! No matter how careful I was during the traveling required to move the display from place to place, I always carried a roll of black electrical tape along to fix these little scrapes that appeared, almost inexplicably, in the most visible possible places as I was setting up or checking things over just before a reception. Today I peeled off all the little tape fixes and repainted the pools. Now that they'll be staying in one spot for the foreseeable future, hopefully I won't have to make so many cover-ups.
            My original intent when I planned my thesis was for the water to circulate all the way through from the top pool to the bottom one. I wanted to imply a stream through the forest. It turned out that the clay portions of my clever idea took so long to make that I had no time left over for great feats of engineering!
            So now I'm taking this opportunity to go ahead and do the necessary plumbing to create the stream. I made spouts out of stray bits of gutter by cutting the gutter to appropriate lengths. (A saw worked well; a box cutter did not, FYI.) I cut out places for the spouts to go on each sled, tracing the spout shape on the sled with a sharpie. (Box cutters work great for sleds!) Then I used aquarium silicone to attach the spouts to their pools.
            Why aquarium silicone, specifically? Well, I'm a big fan of aquarium silicone for a number of reasons. 1. It sticks to a lot of things, including plastic and ceramic. 2. It's waterproof! 3. It's fish safe. I want to have fish living in the bottom pool, so I better use fish safe materials. 4. It's flexible, so changes in temperature (like when the sun comes in the window and heats up the inside of the barn) won't just pop the join apart. I hope.
            I've also cut a hole just the right size for half-inch tubing to fit through in the top pool. The tube will run from the pump - submersed in the bottom pool - to the top of the tube in the highest pool. The tube comes up about in the middle underneath the stump, so it will be hidden. The stump itself is also a fountain, with a separate, smaller pump.
            The stump isn't designed to have as much water flow as is needed for the whole piece. That pump pushes 75 gallons per hour, and I'm looking for about 300 gallons per hour for the whole stream. 300 gph won't be a lot of current, but it will be enough for a gentle stream and should suffice for the fish. Thus, two separate pumps for two separate purposes. It will appear as though the water flow is all originating from the stump, as that will be the obvious source. But this way I won't have to sacrifice the amount of flow further down the stream or the peaceful trickling of the stump fountain.
            As for the fish in the bottom pool, I'm still mulling over different possibilities. I don't think I will use zebrafish - the fish I used last time - because of how tiny and hard to see they were. I'm certainly not going to try something giant like goldfish, but I think a small school of some kind of barbs would be super. (And some algae eating something-or-other. I love critters that eat algae! They make my plants happy.) With about thirty gallons in the bottom pool and so much surface area, plus the extra five-ish gallons in the upper pools, I have room for a fair number of fish.
            I've also been growing out some aquatic plants this winter, so ideally the display will be quite verdant. I still need to get some lights to put up in the display area. It's rather dark there most of the day, as the barn was not built to let in light particularly well. Even though I'm choosing plants that don't need loads of light, both in and out of the water, they do need more than what is there.
            I think this time around will be the best yet for While Sleeping Dragons Lie. I'm very much looking forward to having my original idea fully developed, including plants, fish, and running water from top to bottom. The dragons will be very happy in their habitat!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kickwheel, rain, and furbeasts

            The sun has finally returned after a week of rain here. The rain came at just the wrong time, as I had just finished cleaning and reorganizing the barn studio for the spring/summer season. I was all set to get Mr. Riverdragon to help me move my kickwheel across to the barn... and then the rain came. No way are we rolling that 140 lb flywheel across a muddy lawn. Nuh-uh. So we waited. And finally, the sun is back! But the lawn is still muddy, so hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to go ahead without fear of getting stuck.
            In other news, I have a new cat! This is the internet, so cats are always relevant, right? You may remember that when Mr. Riverdragon and I first moved to Maine, we brought my wonderful, ancient dog. Dandy is now sixteen and a half years old, and still kicking. Here's a picture of her asking why I'm taking a picture instead of handing over the treats:

            Then, in early January, Mr. Riverdragon was given an opportunity to adopt a kitten from our local SPCA. So, off we went to the shelter, where we met wonderful people and wonderful kittens. We brought home Warbear, a short haired silver tabby. Isn't she a lovely lady? She is now an intrepid explorer in her Kitty Holster, a super harness that we recommend for all kitty explorers who wish to take their humans along.

            But with only one cat, we couldn't keep up with Warbear's play needs. She's very sweet, and actually doesn't wake us in the night, but she does play. All the time. With our ankles, or hands, or anything really that she notices. We also found that one cat with two laps means that one lap will always be lonely. (Dandy isn't really a lap dog, with the condition of her joints.) So... off to the shelter again!
            I found a long haired tortoiseshell, who was a tad shy but quite curious. Meet Brenna, our latest addition: 

            Now our little family has just the right number of furbeasts. Brenna and Warbear are still working on  getting comfortable with each other, but we have hopes that they will become great buddies in time. Dandy has gotten used to the idea of lightning-fast cats scampering past her at random times, and has clearly opted to not worry about it. 
            So when you come to visit the studio this summer, you may encounter an explorer cat or two and an elderly pooch who's still a puppy at heart. They'll be happy to see you, and you can be sure that Warbear has inspected any pot or sculpture you purchase.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Translucent dragon cups, some more

            Here are some more pictures of the translucent dragon cups. I threw them on the wheel and trimmed them, then brushed black slip on around the outside. After letting the slip stiffen, I carved out the dragons. The reason they are so translucent is that they are made of porcelain. Not all porcelain and porcelain-like clays have this property, so when I chose my clays back in the fall I specifically selected one that was recommended for its translucence.
            Having never worked with translucent porcelain before, I'm amazed with the stuff. I love working with porcelainous clays, I knew that before. But after hearing all about how difficult it is to make translucent pots, I guess I never expected it to work this well. It really worked!

            I knew as soon as I took these out of the kiln that they were even better than I had hoped. The first thing I usually do when I pull something out of the kiln is to scoot into the sunshine to get a good look at it. These cups are translucent enough that you can see the effect in normal light. You can see it as a little creamy glow around the foot in these pictures:

             I'm pleased with nearly all the pots in this firing, but these are the best. The translucence is something I can only guess at when I'm making them, so I paid a lot of attention to the other aspects. I used my tiny rubber rib to make them smooth, and worked hard on the carvings to make them clean and crisp. I also sanded them gently after both firings, so the bottoms feel good in the hand. I love my abstract dragon design; it looks good in two colors like this and I can reliably make the dragons look related to each other. I also love making them, especially the carving part. I do get tired of doing the same thing after six cups, but that's what bowls and plates (and Kickstarter rewards...) are for.
            And fussy though my camera seems to be about bright sunlight, I have to give it credit for doing a good job in the dark. All I did was click the button and hold very, very still. (It helps to rest my hands on something sturdy. A tripod would work, too.) And when I hold still enough, I get pictures like these: 

            That's what they actually look like with candles in them. It's beautiful. I also found that the sides of the cup remained cool despite the hot candle inside, so I could pick them up and move them around without worrying about hot fingers. I think at this point I have to 1. make more of these cups; and 2. make some "cups" with shades/lids specifically for the purpose of holding candles. Because, wow. Ceramics = the real magic we have in the world. I can make mud that glows.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Translucent dragon cups

            I just took some photos of a set of dragon cups from this firing. I took the pictures at night so that I could try putting tea candles in the cups to photograph the translucence... and it worked very well! I'll put up some more pictures in the morning, but I couldn't wait to post this.
            The cups in normal light:

             The cups with candles inside them as the only light source:

            I think I'm a little less depressed now. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Glaze adventures!

            I recently mentioned my glazing experiments in the latest firing. Now I have some more pictures to share! I already showed the octopus cup and the blue and white dragon plates. This post is about the rest of the group of cups that the octopus cup is related to.
            These cups aren't really a set - they are all different shapes, all have different designs, and don't really "go together." But they are all the same size, made of the same red stoneware, and glazed using only two glazes (Mottled Spice and Deep Firebrick).
            The octopus cup is different from the others in that I left most of the cup unglazed, and painted the octopus design directly on the bare clay. That looks like this:

            The red octopus is shiny, while the clay is rough and matte, so the edges of the design are sharp and clear. On the other cups, I glazed the outside of each cup and brushed the design on top of that background glaze. This resulted in more smudgy, less defined edges. Like this tree:

            Since both the background and the tree design are shiny, the tree doesn't stand out as much as the octopus on the previous cup. Another difference is that the brown glaze of the tree melted flat into the red glaze, so the tree isn't raised - you won't feel a bump under your fingers when you hold the cup. It's more like a drawing on a piece of paper.
            The Mottled Spice (brown) doesn't contrast in color as much as I expected from the red. The tree is actually much subtler than I thought it would be. It was difficult to photograph because of this, but I like how the cup looks. It encourages you to really look at the cup as you are holding it, because the tree doesn't pop out at you. I'm all for people taking a closer look!
            I used this glaze combination for a dragon cup, as well. The effect is similar:

            I'm calling this a shadow dragon. You can see the design, but it's understated. You see the dragon as you turn the cup, but never all of the dragon at once.  Again, this is difficult to capture in photos, but I found that in the sunshine there was enough light to allow the dragon to show. Although the dragon is visible in indoor light, I wasn't very good at capturing it in a picture.
            Then I have cups with the opposite glazing: red against brown. This cup has mushrooms on it:

            As you can see, the red glaze slid down a bit as it melted. The lines of the design are thus less sharp, particularly on the undersides of the mushroom caps. This makes a neat-o looking texture on the mushrooms. I think they look like lava mushrooms. I don't think this combination would work well with an octopus, because it would muddy up the tentacles, but I think it's just fine for these mushrooms. They don't have such fine details.
            I also used this combination for a design that included finer details:

            Am I upset that some of those details vanished in a wash of red? Nope. I was hoping that the red would help this bird look like a phoenix. The selective loss of detail doesn't strike me as out of place because of the coloring - it's a flaming phoenix, so parts of the bird are obscured by fire. I am pleased, however, that the upper wing retained the feathers that I carefully brushed there.
            Overall I'm happy with these cups. Sometimes glaze experiments go well, and sometimes they don't. Often they don't quite look how one imagined they would! I am glad I was able to make hypotheses about how these glazes would act that came out so well. I think the earthy colors are handsome and warm. I like these glazes with red clay. I ended up with five great cups. I count this glaze experiment as a success!
            If you think these cups are super and want to have one (or two, or five) for your very own, here are the links to them on my Etsy shop:

            Octopus cup:

            Autumn tree cup:

            Shadow dragon cup:

            Lava mushrooms cup:

            Phoenix cup:

            There are other lovely things on my Etsy shop, some of which have appeared here on my blog and some of which have not. You can always get from here to there by clicking on my Etsy link, found on the upper right hand side of each page of this blog. I post new items periodically, with the highest concentration appearing in the two weeks after a glaze firing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Unicorn vase

            This is a tiny vase with a flaming unicorn. I carved the unicorn, then used orange and red washes for the color, then a clear glaze on top.

            This vase is really quite small: 3.25 inches tall. Just the right size for several grape hyacinths!

             The grape hyacinths are from the garden here. They are blooming along with the daffodils currently. I'm doing a lot of work in the garden this spring, and it's great to be able to take pictures of my work outside again. 
            I leave you with a close up of the unicorn: 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blue and white dragons

            Another glaze adventure: blue and white dragon plates. These are porcelain plates that I painted dragons on with blue glaze, then poured an even layer of clear glaze over the dragons. I'm using a Mason stain for my blue, so it's not the deep color of pure cobalt, but a softer, brighter blue.

           The plate above is my favorite of the two. The dragon is more complex, and curled in a way that fills up the space on the plate with its presence. I also like its face and wing a lot.

            On the other hand, the dragon on the second plate has a pretty cute face, and I like the frill and wing on this one, too. This dragon is a little simpler and a little coarser.
            Another difference between these two plates is the way I glazed the underside of each. On the first plate, I allowed the clear glaze to spill over when I was glazing the top of the plate and left the drips rather than removing them. On the second plate, I painstakingly removed all the dripped glaze (except for one tiny bit I missed. White glaze on white pot - hard to see!). The clear glaze is glossy, but the bare porcelain is matte. So the drips are a bit subtle on the first plate, appearing mostly through the way they reflect light.

            The second plate looks like this:

            Bare porcelain is still very white without glaze, and I gently sanded the unglazed areas with fine sandpaper after the plates came out of the kiln. Sanded porcelain feels very nice under the fingers, and I usually do this to the foot of every pot I make. It makes the pot feel more refined. I think often about how pots will feel when touched as I am making them. Where will it be rough? Smooth? Slick? Grippy? Glossy glaze feels different than matte glaze, and porcelain feels different than stoneware.
            I often use the roughness of my red stoneware on purpose as a contrasting sensation to shiny glazes. I often smooth porcelain as much as I can in the raw state, then sand it after bisque firing and after glaze firing. The last sanding of the porcelain usually doesn't require much time at all. I also do my best to make the bottoms of pots and sculptures tabletop friendly. I once gave someone a handsome vase I had made, and she set it on a wooden table. This was just fine until someone decided to turn it around to look at the other side without lifting it from the table, and the rough clay left scratch marks. Yikes! Since then I think about the bottoms a lot more. Every pot gets set down somewhere, and it needn't leave damage behind.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Flowerpots and an octopus

            I unloaded the kiln this morning. As always, I'm too excited to pull out the pots to get pictures of the whole kiln full of work. But I've been taking pictures of individual pots, so I do have something to share!
            A flower pot with two sea monsters chasing each other around the rim:

            A flower pot with walnut texture around the rim:

            The two flowerpots above are 8 inches wide and about 6.5 inches tall. I enjoyed making them. The clay is very rough, and that seems to fit well with flowerpots.
            I mentioned yesterday some of my glaze experiments with this firing. A particularly successful experiment is this octopus cup:


            I'm very happy with that octopus. The thing that makes the octopus work so well is that I painted him/her directly on the bare clay, rather than over another glaze. So the edges are sharp and clean, which I think is good for the tentacles. If the tentacles were smudgy, it wouldn't look as good. 
            My light box setup leaves something to be desired, I think. It's hard to get the colors right, and that bothers me a lot. I don't like my white background, but I'm having some success with a pale blue background and a black background. Also my camera is old, and often doesn't respond correctly to lighting conditions. Perhaps when I sell enough pots, I'll get a new camera.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kiln is firing today!

            Today is a firing day. I started the kiln last night, and this morning I'm watching for the end of the firing. I'm looking forward to seeing the pieces from this firing. I am practicing some different glazing techniques than I usually use.
            I originally learned to glaze by dipping pieces in the glaze bucket. This method is pretty great for a lot of glazes, as you can get a very even coat of glaze that way. Throughout my ceramics classes, I worked on dipping techniques. It's not the only way to get glaze on a pot, though. (You can also apply glaze with a sponge, or brush, or by pouring it over the pot/sculpture. You can also spray glaze with an appropriate sprayer. You can use a slip trailing bottle with thick-ish glaze in it. So many choices, so many effects! And each glaze will respond differently to each technique. I love how endless the ceramic palette is.)
            The glazes at Simon's Rock, where I learned to glaze, were not especially formulated for use with a brush. I did make several attempts to brush them on anyway, but I was never pleased with the results. Most of the glazes I'm using now are more cooperative. I've never really learned to use a paintbrush properly (I've always preferred pencils, pens, markers, etc.), so brushing my glazes on has been an adventure from a couple of different angles. It's actually not too difficult to simply cover a smooth pot with glaze - I can put the pot on my wheel or turn table and just spin it slowly while I brush. It's not perfectly even, of course, since the brush leaves behind marks where the glaze will be a tad thicker or thinner. That has an effect on how the glaze looks.
            For example:

            In this case, I used a brush to apply the brown glaze (Mottled Spice, cone 6) while the plate was turning slowly on the wheel. I applied it pretty unevenly, because I know this glaze looks more interesting where it varies in thickness. The thinner areas are more chocolate, and the thicker areas more caramel. Had I dipped the plate instead, it would be all the same shade of brown, since there is no texture to capture the glaze as it melts and create differing thickness that way.
            That red glaze (Deep Firebrick, also cone 6) in the swirl, on the other hand, doesn't look particularly interesting when it is unevenly applied by itself. The pot below was also glazed by brushing glaze onto a pot while it turns on the wheel:

            You can see that on the dragon egg I rely upon the carved texture to add interest to the surface. I've been a little more ambitious with the pots that are currently in the kiln. I like how these two glazes look together, so I decided to see if I could brush one atop the other to actually create some imagery rather than abstract swirly marks.
            I'm hoping for success with an octopus, a bird in the wind, a tree, a dragon, and some mushrooms.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


            Riverdragon Ceramics is now on Pinterest! If you go to the right side of any page of this blog, you'll see a red and grey button saying, "Follow me on Pinterest," right above my Etsy link. If you click that button, you can look at my Pinterest page. It doesn't automatically sign you up for anything, but you can choose to follow me from there if you'd like.
            Please go have a look, even if you don't have/want a Pinterest account. You'll find images from my blog there, as well as images from my Etsy shop. Perhaps even more exciting (since you're already looking at my blog and Etsy shop, right?) are my other pin boards, which are collections of images that I think are exciting or inspiring. You can see what engages my interest as an artist. (You can also see what I'd like to grow in my garden.)
            I like Pinterest a lot. I wasn't sure I would when I signed up for it. But pinning things is so easy! You just look at pretty pictures and click on whatever you want. As a visual artist, I find it easy and satisfying to collect images this way. It's a good way for me to organize pictures that make my gears turn, and a good way to share them with others, artists or not, who may be curious where I get my inspiration.
            So go look at the pretty pictures! I do recommend a high speed internet connection, though.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Come and visit Riverdragon Ceramics this summer!

            I mentioned in a previous post my intent to open the barn-studio to visitors in the summer. I've sort of wanted to do that all along. The current plan, which is still rather vague and general, is to have my Open sign out in the afternoon three or four days a week. I'll have a table or tables set out, either in the barn or just outside, with finished work for sale. During the open hours, I'll be working in the barn as usual, but plan to be available to talk/make sales/etc. 
            I'll be happy to have visitors who just want to look around and not buy anything, as well as those who want to make a purchase. You can get me to give you a tour of the studio, or pull up a chair and watch me work if you want. Why do I want you to come and interrupt my work? Wouldn't it be annoying to have people traipsing in and out of my studio? I love watching other artists work, and talking to them about their craft. I want to be available for that kind of interaction, too. So please come over and see my studio!
            There are a few things I'm doing to prepare for your visit this year. You may have noticed that I write about plants and bumble bees sometimes. I love to grow things, and I have a garden to play in, so I'm sprouting some flower seeds to put out by the barn doors where you will see them when you come over. Do watch for our orange belted bumble bees. We have lots of them, and they're adorable. But they do sting if you poke them, so be respectful.
            I'm going to set up my large fountain display, While Sleeping Dragons Lie, in the barn. This will be its permanent home, so you will see it each time you come to visit. I've exhibited this body of work twice now; once at Simon's Rock, and once at the Meeting House Gallery in New Marlborough, Massachusetts. I found that the longer the fountain was set up, the better it looked. And then I had to take it down again and move it, twice. So I think it will be a great display piece for my studio, where it can remain in perpetuity. (And I can keep fish in it this time, fish that will have a chance to settle in and be happy!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesday Traveling Dragons

            This week, I have pictures of a dragon who is a traveling musician! This dragon plays the viola da gamba, my own favorite instrument to play. You may not be familiar with the viola da gamba. In short, it's a six stringed, fretted instrument that you play with a bow. They come in various sizes. They were popular a long time ago, before the raucous orchestral strings we are accustomed to today took over the scene. 
            This dragon traveled on a train! It looks like they had a little help from their human chaperone, though. It must be hard to read the signs when you're so tiny.

             This is what a treble viola da gamba looks like. Note the dragon, who is sitting in approximately the correct position to play:

             Little did I know what a prodigy this dragon would be when I first carved and fired him/her. In the first few months of life, this dragon has already gone to the Young Players Weekend to meet other promising viola da gamba players. (Incidentally, at that link you can see me in the picture. I'm over on the right side in a blue hoodie with a tenor viol. The picture there is from 2010; I wasn't able to attend this year.)

            It looks like everyone had a good time this year. These pictures were taken by, and belong to, Ben from Connecticut. The featured dragon is his viol buddy. Happy violing, and thanks for the pictures! I love to see how my creations are getting along in their homes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Barn-Studio cleaning

            As the weather warms up, I'm pursuing a number of projects that are best done when it's not freezing outside. First, I'm doing a spring cleaning of the barn-studio to prepare for summer. The studio isn't heated (or remotely heat-able), so I abandon it for the house in the winter. This winter, that meant a bunch of stuff got piled up out there while I wasn't looking! Thus, some cleaning needs to happen before I move my wheel back out.
            Part of the issue is that the barn is actually our household garden shed/trash shed/giant closet/random furniture storage/tool shed. In addition to being my ceramics studio. Before last summer when I barged in and added my things to the mix, it was a perfectly fine place for all those other things to be.
            But this time around as I'm cleaning the barn, I'm trying to actually find new places to put those other things. It's a pretty big space, really, and it does have a loft. I'm hoping to get things shifted around so that I don't have to work around saws and weed whackers and wheelbarrows. My solution last summer was more along the lines of pushing those things to the wall and taking up whatever space I could squeeze in to.
            This year I expect to be a bit different from last year. I'm planning to open the barn-studio to visitors in the summer. It wasn't exactly not open last year; if you had appeared at the door I'd have shown you around. But I wasn't ready to be publicly available at set times during the week, and the studio was, err, a bit crowded with all those things I mentioned above. I don't intend to hide the fact that I'm working in an old barn (I think it's kinda cool!), and I'm not fussed about things like the uneven floor, the "rustic" decor, the lack of any level surface anywhere. That's all fine. In fact, I don't mind having some tools hanging about, especially if we plan to use them for something. This year I draw the line at storing my clay in the wheelbarrow, is all!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kitten, hyacinths, other stuff totally unrelated to ceramics

             I'm still here, honest! Maybe I need to institute a yearly blog hiatus every spring to take a break, since it seems to happen naturally anyway. I'm sure I'll post some more about ceramic-y things later this week, but for now, here is some fluff for your enjoyment.

             Warbear is about six months old now. Here she is pictured with some of her favorite toys - my boots. The laces are of particular interest: 

            She is a master at untying them now. When I purchased these boots and put them on for the first time in 2007, I tied those laces up with double-knotted bows. They remained tied for the next six years, despite slogging through snow and slush and mud every day. But Warbear would not take no for an answer, and one day recently I discovered that I had to re-tie my boots for the first time since I bought them. 
            She also has a strange affinity for grocery bags, which are apparently great to jump up and down on (with supervision). In fact, the list of Things Which Don't Appear to be Toys But Actually Are According to Warbear has gotten quite long. Some, but not all, of the things included are: walnuts (still in the shell so she can roll them across the floor), gloves, sponges of any kind (which are mercilessly shredded to bits), socks, paintbrushes, clay tools that are shiny (i.e. the metal ones), and porcelain. Yes, she tries to help me make pots. She's still working out what wedging is for, but it sure looks like fun! The result is usually that she gets clay on her nose and paws. So far, no pots have been harmed. Yet. 
            I've been having a new gardening adventure this year as well as a new kitten adventure. I am forcing hyacinth bulbs! Aren't they cute?

            One of the bulbs is in a vase - rather bulbous itself - that I made at Simon's Rock and fired in the wood kiln there.

            (Note: kittens/cats should not be allowed to hang out around bulbs unsupervised; they are very poisonous.)
            In late January or early February I took this picture... from inside the house. This is just the window of a stormdoor, though. Don't worry too much, the inside door keeps the frost out just fine. 

            You can see why the bulbs with their little green points make me happy! And, of course, the kitten. It's hard to beat having a fuzzy cuddlebeast around.