Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter Blues


Ok - I'm done with this weather.  It's way too cold to even begin to work in the studio.  I have had 2 flat tires in 2 weeks, and did I mention I want to work in the studio?  I'm going to be like my Pollyanna friend Heather and Look to the bright side.  My house is clean, I have all of my items done on my resolution list (except start and etsy page), I applied to all the shows I possibly can at this time, and I have had lots of time to think about what I want to work on when I finally get back to the studio.  Specifically some work with graphics and vintage illustrations.

Tomorrow morning I'm helping out with my daughter's Senior class breakfast, always fun to see such a great group of kids. Saturday is her one of her last swim meets.  The weatherman has agreed to be good to me next week and I am looking forward to finally being productive.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I had some friends stop by to make some things at the studio today.  Barb entertained us with her stories about her cruise to the Carribean.  The overrated nude beach story was the best.  It really is a boost to your attitude to laugh till you cry!

Plates seemed to be the theme of the day.  Both Barb and Heather had orders from the Christmas gifts they gave.  Gives you a good feeling to know that they want more.  I got a set of sushi dishes started for the Kings Athletic Boosters' Knight to Remember.  It's like prom for adults with alcohol.  Since my kids participate in so many sports, I donate several items for the silent auction each year including a girls' night out at the studio.  I'm also including a set of chalkboard mugs like the one here.

It was way too cold for me today.  The studio is heated with a wood stove which means I have to drag my butt down there, light a fire, come back to the house and warm up, and then see it the fire caught.  It didn't - They wood was wet and hard to do anything with.  We did get a magnificent sunset tonight.  The picture really didn't do it justice but it was close.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm Back!

It's been about a month since I've spent some time in my "happy place" and I'm finally back!  I grounded myself until I got some serious time in the basement de-hoarding.  I spent most of last week doing just that and after 8 cans of garbage and 2 trips to Goodwill, I'm ready to get back to the clay.  Of course I would have to clean the studio before any real fun would start.

One of the big things on my resolution list was to get a photo booth done.  It's such a pain to take a good picture of your work when you have to drag out your whole booth, set it up, take pictures and put it all away.  Way too easy to just get the stuff out of the kiln and put it on a shelf without documenting it.  I saw a couple good examples of a permanent set up on Pinterest and if I cleaned out my inventory room, I had the perfect spot.

While I was cleaning out the basement, I came across an old card table and a couple desk lamps that would work perfectly.  I still had some vellum from my drafting days to diffuse the light and I made some hoops to support it out of a piece of flexible wire casing from Lowes.  It's pretty rough, but it works for me.

A minute later and I have a picture

This is the inventory room before I started - YIKES!

And after - Much nicer

I was on a roll so I cleaned the kiln room as well.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The twelve days AFTER Christmas

I finally got around to finishing up and delivering my Christmas gifts to my friends.  I made bread bowls out of the dark clay and baked a loaf of olive oil, rosemary bread in each one.  It was fun to go around surprising everyone.

Bread bowls lined up ready to go

Dough after it has risen overnight

Ready for one last rise

This is when the kitchen smells wonderful!

All wrapped up and ready to go

This is the recipe I found on pinterest and adapted for the ceramic bowls.  I used half of the ingredients for each one and did not preheat the bowl or oven for fear of thermal shock.

Basic No-Knead Breadslightly adapted from Jim Lahey’s My Bread
6 cups bread flour (recommended) or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 t. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
2 2/3 c. cool water
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature. When surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.
  2. Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.
  3. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with enough flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran to prevent the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises; place dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with the edges or a second cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  4. After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  5. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is a deep chestnut brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired.
  6. Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New year resolutions

Happy New Year!

Starting a pottery blog has been a resolution that I have been breaking for the past two years.  After a full day of trying, calling my sister, cussing and then finally cracking open a beer, I got this far.  Pitiful!  Let's all hope I get better with practice and that you really can teach this old dog some new tricks.

I love reading other pottery blogs out there.  I'm pretty sure this one will not be as well written - I'm a math and science girl myself - but I do hope to show people a little bit of how much fun we have here in our "happy place" and share some ideas.

This year my resolutions are:

To write in my blog at least once a week
To set up an etsy shop (this should happen this week)
To set up a photo booth for my etsy shop
To reclaim the basement that hasn't been the same since my son, Logan, took it over two summers ago
To start a funky line of pottery using decals. 

Tomorrow I plan on figuring out how to post pictures from my phone, because that's the best part of a blog for me.

Here's an example of the decal work (from my camera -not my phone!)