Sunday, July 28, 2019

Hi Google, Fix Please!

A few folks have contacted me to let me know that some older posts here redirect to some widget-server thingy. I just noticed it myself, yesterday, and I have no idea why it's happening or how to undo it. I'm told it's something to do with the html, a long-forgotten widget I installed maybe, but since I can't get to the post, I can't edit out the widget, or even verify that there is one. 😕

I have contacted Google to see if they can help, but in the meantime, I have to beg your forbearance. Older posts will (probably!) eventually be available again, but it might be a slow process of finding the individual dead links, tracing another path to the post, and editing the html of individual posts to remove the offending code.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Few Stems

My perennial garden is a source of recurring joy for me. Crocuses popping in March remind me that the drear Maine winter will, eventually, end; watching for the late-spring splashes of color gets me through April & May. June is a riotous festival of blooms, as peonies with their big showy heads blossom in tandem with irises, lady's mantle, yarrow, and wild asters.

It's true that whichever one is happening at the time is my favorite, but I do take a particular joy in the blooms of July, the month of radial symmetry" daisies, brown-eyed susans, echinachea. Just a few cheery stems brighten a room.

I made some little vases with this bloom-season in mind:

Click here to purchase!

Click here to purchase!

Click here to purchase!

Click here to purchase!

Click here to purchase!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

An Urn for Traveller

I never take custom orders. I find them very stressful, and as a result put off starting the project until it looms over my head longer than it would have taken to make it. I usually make 3 or 4 or whatever it is, to increase the chances of success, so it takes 3 or 4 times the resources - materials, time, fuel - that it would take to make a similar piece spontaneously. I am left with a couple of oddball pieces that don't fit my usual body of work, and nothing to do with them except maybe sell them as seconds.

Also, they aren't fun.

I did make an exception to this rule, though, for a friend who wanted an urn for a dog who had passed. He wasn't her dog; he belonged to a friend of hers. I had met Traveler, though, and it is no secret that I have a soft spot for animals.

I agreed to this custom order for a couple of reasons. Barbara is a friend - I 100% would not do this for a stranger or a slight acquaintance. She used to own The Artisan's Barn, a craft gallery in Readfield, and carried my work for several years before she retired, so she is well familiar with the concept of handmade variation; and she was willing to let me make ALL the design decisions - color, shape, handle, all the details. My mission was just "make a nice urn" that would fit the cremains of a 110 pound dog.

I did a bit of math to determine the size: with pet cremains, figure one cubic inch per pound of living weight. The volume of a cylinder is
π
r
2 x h
[Pi (3.14 etc)] x [the measurement of the radius, squared (multiplied by itself)] x the height
For ceramics we need to figure in shrinkage; I usually multiply by 1.15 to accommodate 15% shrinkage. 

Even so, I made three. One was too small; one was, idk, it was fine but I didn't love it. One was, to quote Goldilocks, just right.

I think of Traveler, sweet boy, and feel glad that I can honor his life in this small way.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Morning in Belfast

I don't know if I've ever done an art fair in a more beautiful location that Belfast, Maine. It was insufferably hot yesterday, so we didn't get a lot of visitors, but today promises to be sunny and 70s - the perfect Maine summer day.

As often happens after an extremely hot day, we got some thunderstorms last night. I didn't take my tent down but I did remove all the pots from the shelves & put them in crates on the ground. That turned out to be an unnecessary precaution, as winds did not get about 10 mph in Belfast last night! Still, better no to take the chance.
As always, I worried about the display; in particular if I would have enough pots to fill it. I do! Hopefully at the end of the day I will have none. 😉



Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Murphy's Law is Not So Bad!

If I didn't clarify before, my last firing was only a Murphy's Law firing if Murphy's Law was about screw-ups. Everything that went wrong in this firing was something I did wrong or failed to do! It's something of a pattern: I have a few super-smooth firings in a row, then I get over-confident - or maybe lazy is the word I want here - and make things harder for myself. For example:
  • The cone pack exploded because 
    1. I made the packs just a few hours before lighting the burners
    2. I didn't poke vents in the clay of the pack with a needle tool, to allow the water vapor to escape more easily; and
    3. I turned up the burners too quickly
  • The burner fluffed out repeatedly because the thermocouple was failing. That's nobody's fault - thermocouples don't last forever - but usually I have extras around. 
  • I forgot to buy wood shavings and soda ash ahead of time
  • And, as I was reminded when I unloaded, I forgot to do my basic kiln hygiene and knock the stalactites off the underside of the arch! These turn into ugly, lumpy grey-green drips in the firing, and I lost some pots on the top shelf to them. 
All in all, though, I have to say I was incredibly lucky. The soda glass is evenly distributed, the colors are rich and clear, even the exploded cone pack didn't damage anything! Most importantly, the steins that I need for Watershed's Salad Days event came through beautifully. (Enough of them, anyway! One was lost in the bisque to a separating handle, and two got the aforementioned ugly soda drips on them. that still leaves more than I need!)
It's 87° today, so I am going to take a bit of a break from the heat. I still need to grind a few bottoms, then sort, price, and pack the pots for Belfast Arts in the Park.

Some of these pots should be available online after the 13th. 

I'm gonna make some notes here about the firing schedule that worked out so well so I can refer to it for future firings:
  • Lit one burner on 1# pressure at 9 pm
  • Lit all burners on 1# pressure at 10 pm (TOO FAST - Cone pack exploded)
  • Tapped burners up just a bit at midnight
  • Went to bed!
  • 4 am - red heat, turned up burners
  • ^012 falling at 7 am, turned up burners & pushed in damper
  • G-D f*ckin burner went out about 4 times between ^012 & ^3
  • ^6 falling at noonish - started adding soda mix
  • Kiln stalled for over two hours at ^6. Stopped adding soda & put kiln in lightest possible reduction
  • ^8 falling, resumed soda. Finished soda maybe an hour before the kiln went off
  • Had only one cone pack, in the typical hot spot, so I laid ^11 down to make sure the cool spot got to ^10

Monday, July 1, 2019

Belfast Arts in the Park

Wow, it's July already, and only a few days away from Belfast Arts in the Park. I'll be in Booth 111, with the hopefully-wonderful pots from the Murphy's Law firing! Come see me.