Tag Archives: Pottery

Where the Time Goes – of Raku and Coffee

I am not going to write one of those posts about all the stuff I should be doing next year, beginning right this minute. There isn’t much of a point for me. I have really adopted a life of living every second how I want to, need to. I don’t ever feel much like ‘oh, where does the time go?’ these days. It’s been a very big year filled with a lot of new things – completing an immigration sponsorship, learning to be married, raising a new dog, a brand new job, and a lot of new responsibilities and life changes.  I have about a million plans for next year but the biggest one being about me and my incessant worry about getting things done. Hence the reason I don’t need to write about it. I will do it. That’s just what I do.

Something I am starting to find a lot more important is letting myself be an artist, not a crafter or a maker. I will do more art for art’s sake, not for sale.  I will still be spinning yarn, dyeing, doing ceramics and all the other fun stuff I do, but the items I sell will likely be ever so slightly more limited, or at least created when the mood hits and not ‘oh my gosh, show time’ mode.

The holidays were a lot of fun and I was spoiled to bits – I received a little getaway for February to a hotel I quite like, a yearly membership to Toronto zoo where I like to take pictures and make high-pitched cooing sounds at animals, and many other things…including a Raku kiln built by my husband and father. I am too excited to start making pieces to prepare for a firing.

I went to a Raku workshop in November with the members of my pottery guild and my heart was stolen. What a process! It’s amazing to take something dull and white, get to handpaint it (my favourite way to glaze), and then set it on fire, watch it burn and smoke and then wait only a few minutes until you are left with a shiny, blackened, cooked, smoky, amazing piece of work transformed from chalky, gritty clay. My favourite piece of the day was one I will never give up likely- this bowl.

It was a risky piece as my lack of knowledge of Raku at the time didn’t account for someone having to handle it with tongs, so the lacy bit at the top was worrisome for the instructor, and me. However, what a worthwhile risk! The colour is hard to capture – it’s like an oil spill on cement…with a auburn’ish overtone.

Needless to say, I will be chasing more knowledge about this in the coming year and really taking my time to expand my horizons in sculpture/decorative work.

From the same day, this is one of my favourite shots – my husband unveiling his work with our instructor, Denise.  She is the most amazingly kind, and skilled potter.

Mike is relatively new to ceramics. He has been working with clay for about a year and a half. I decided on a holiday once to send him to pottery classes at my guild and his interest was sparked in a lot of different ways. I have always felt like my husband is drawn to being more of a patron of the arts, willing to support anyone who is doing anything, helping them finance equipment, giving of his time, etc. But, what he may not always realize is that he has a really amazing way of putting a unique touch on anything that he makes. A lot of math and planning flow from him….and interesting fingerprints follow in everything he makes. In this photo, Denise was really interested by the geometric forms, staircase and construction technique in this sculptural vase. It turned out so amazingly and luckily it hangs out in my house.

With one of my families, we do a ‘handmade xmas’ each year and with each year, the spectrum of what to makes feels a little tighter but I take it as a challenge. This year, I was watching a documentary called ‘Bitter Coffee’ about the issues surrounding fair trade and coffee and thought to myself …’hmm…I wonder if people roast coffee, in their own homes? I wonder if that is something people do?’ so I started doing research and found indeed that people do it. It led me to a website called Sweet Maria’s where there is information, tutorials, advice on tips on literally everything relating to coffee. What appeared to be the quickest, and cheapest way to roast our own coffee was the purchase of a popcorn popper – you can actually roast your own beans in an air popper. Although it was intriguing, I started to feel like it was a bit more dangerous and tedious than I desired. Over time, the lid of the popper will melt, and it’s plastic. So, I was sort of steered toward a higher end option. Then I found a Behmor coffee roaster and found it was the mid-range model that would work best for this.  I went to Green Beanery in Toronto. The staff there were really nice and spent time answering our questions and showing us different kinds of coffee and flavour profiles. So, we got started with the suggested Guatemalan Antigua – a good medium roast. I also picked up a package of different coffees from around the globe and some Choco espresso.

We brought the machine home, and did some more reading, and prepared that very night to roast some coffee. It was exciting to have cut out that whole ugly coffee seller market from this process and just do it ourselves from beans acquired in a friendly, fair way. We roasted the Guatemalan first – some for everyone, and then some Decaf for the dad-folk, and some Mexican for the spicy wee sister-kid. Each roast was a new experience, new smells from grassy to nutty, to chocolately…..to that deep roasted coffee smell after the beans settled for 24 hours.

The brains and braun behind the operation was totally the husband. He did most of the roasting, watching and waiting. Coffee roasting is sort of based on a few things..

Pick your roasting profile – the length of time you roast, and how hot. There are a lot of suggestions online and in the documentation you get with the roaster.

First crack – this is when the coffee bean first splits and starts to shed it’s ‘chaff’ – which is sort of like the outer kernel of popcorn. This stuff is what makes roasting coffee slightly dangerous as it can catch fire in the high heat environment of the roaster. It is louder, popcorn like pops.

Second crack – this happens within 30 – 90 seconds after first crack usually and sounds like ‘Rice Krispies’ …little crackles…when the rest of the chaff starts to blow off of the beans. This is the fine line between well roasted coffee and burnt! So, you need to be mindful at this point.

Cooling – the roaster has a COOL button that will blow cold air on the beans. They still roast for a few seconds after this so you have to consider this in the time you are roasting.

Let em sit – for about 24 hours.

Smellllllll…..them….mmmmmm! They smell so amazing after they sit. I even ate a few…and they tasted so fresh and popped in my mouth. But I’m kinda weird.

We are keeping a roaster’s journal of our times, experiences and the smells and tastes of each roast…in an effort to better our roasting. The morning after the roast I setup a tasting. The tasting consisted of 3 small bowls of coffee. The first was just black, the second with milk froth/crema on top. And, the final was good ole milk n’ sugar like a lot of people drink their coffee. We were overall really happy with the first roast and felt like pros to begin with. It was a nice no-curve way to learn something new and cool. Although we aren’t actually pros, we have not burned anything or tasted anything we didn’t like – so I would say overall this is a pretty tame hobby to get in to.

24 hours after roasting…

Time to make some New Year’s eve lasagna with the boy.  More blogging soonish…

Bread and Paper

So, poor week went really well actually and made me think a lot about what I am eating and how I want to change that more than before. I recently made a bunch of decisions about food. I am now eating almost entirely organic, farm raised and naturally fed things. I am not eating at any more big box fast food restaurants.  This week brought me to the salad a day idea – I am replacing one meal a day with salad. The funny thing is that naturally you would want to believe that this will be the dreaded meal of the day – but really it isnt! I mean, on day 1 I got to eat this!

I made my own vinigarette with olive oil, pineapple vinegar, homemade raspberry/strawberry jam, elderberries, and flax seeds – put them in a jar and shake and voila! Then I tossed baby spinach, salad greens, and fresh tomatoes in the bowl with some blueberries. On the side some awesome Edwardsburg cheese from Black River and some rainforest crackers – a real addiction of mine.

I have been reading ‘Made from Scratch’ by Jenna Woginrich and rather enjoying it so I thought I would try out her bread recipe – the standard country white loaf bread. I wanted something decadent during poor week, but also something that was very handmade from scratchy ingredients. So, I muscled my way through the 25 minutes or so of kneading to get to that baker’s window with bread where it is just perfect. And here they are – my loaves of love.

Last weekend I was also treated to a really amazing workshop on handbuilding with paper clay, taught by Lesley McInally.  I really loved the medium and I am finding myself really inspired to work with different shapes and textures in clay. It was a great, informative and fun time. Lesley is a great instructor – very giving of her knowledge and experience.

 

I make my return to the Farmer’s market/Art in the Open tomorrow.  I am looking forward to spinning outside and hanging out in the relaxing market environment. The next month promises to be really busy preparing for Kitchener/Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, finishing up 2012’s canning and preserving of food, and trying to meet a few goals before summer passes by.

Now to share a little sweetness before I need to get down to work on stuff…this is what I deal with every time I have a bubble bath – Toasty is a born water dog and always pleads to jump in. Usually he walks along the side of the tub giving me the cutie eyes.

 

4th Annual Mad Potter’s Tea Party

The Mississauga Potters’ Guild, a guild that I belong to, is in it’s 4th year of this amazing tea party and fundraiser that keeps our guild running and inspiring potters in this area. I wanted to send out the invite to everyone because it is a really nice event. It is nice to see the spirit of all of the artisans in our guild come together, making mugs and tea cups, lovely pottery pieces such as tea pots and platters to raffle, and getting their work ready for show, sale and charity.

The event itself will be really nice. Our Tea Party planners did a really nice job finding a lovely new venue this year, quaint and sweet. When you buy a ticket, you are entitled to take home a handmade mug, made by one of our guild members, which you get to choose from a beautiful table of mugs and teacups. Then you can relax, have tea and refreshments and socialize with potters and friends. There will be door prizes and raffles of all sorts of amazing ceramic work.

So, if you are interested – let me know and I can get you tickets!

Great Fall Weekend!

It is the nicest weekend! The weather is beautiful and the leaves are starting to change. On Friday I bought some beautiful Indian corn from the farmer’s market and hung it on the front door. The colours are so exquisite.

Funny enough, I cast on the Aestlight shawl in a really similar colourway of Creatively Dyed Calypso.

I replanted a bunch of small succulent cuttings and they are growing up nicely.

On Friday night I went to the ballgame and saw the Jays beat the Orioles again. It was a fun game and a nice night – not too hot and the seats were 100 level so it wasn’t so cramped. I think going forward I am going to always sit in that level. It’s overall nicer – the food is even more decent, not as many vendors interrupting the game and just better in general.

The other thing I am working on this weekend is getting all of my bisqued pottery waxed because I have to glaze this week for next weekend’s firing. Here are the backs of my waxed buttons:

Yesterday I went downtown to the fashion district on Queen and bought a bunch of nice beads from Arton beads, some yarn from Americo Original and had an awesome lunch at Rivoli. It was my first time there but won’t be my last. I had the Laotian Spring Rolls – they were really yummy. My company had the macaroni and cheese (with peas…yum) and the Siam Wookie Balls – not just a hilarious Star Wars reference but these awesome little sticky rice balls coated in toasted sesame seeds. They were chewy, crunchy and had a nice toasted taste. Really yummy!

Then we wandered through Chinatown and Kensington market and I stopped into Lettuce Knit’s new digs.  The new space is nice and I picked up a beautiful skein of Madelinetosh Prarie and some cute bumblebee buttons.

A Car Chase to Great Thrifting and Fun Hunting!

This was a completely good and awesome weekend. I got lots done and it was relaxing and full of good things. Friday night I went out for dinner and knitting with some friends to a great local raw food place, Raw Aura. They serve amazing raw food – lactose, sugar, gluten free – yum! I had a really amazing falafel wrapped inside a big green leaf of…oops I forget! And…taboulleh. Dessert was an awesome chocolate ganache – with hemp ricotta and I had an awesome creamsicle smoothie of hemp milk, bananas and vanilla – it was all divine.

Yesterday I spent from early morning to early afternoon at the pottery studio and had great success throwing some nice big bowls, smaller bowls, and some mugs. They are drying up and I will likely begin trimming them Thursday to work on their embellishment next weekend.

Today was a trip to Port Hope to check out Primitive Designs after a friend recommended it and I totally fell in love with a 1-string guitar she had at her apartment, and I found myself wanting to pick one up.  This shop is the warehouse of an importer and there are amazing things there. I kinda spent more money than intended, but nothing too dangerous. I did however get some amazing things…

A Pinocchio marionette!

This teak chest! It was my biggest purchase but I could not resist and it was a steal at the price I paid. This is because I bought directly from an importer and not from some antique store trying to pedal imports as antiques..which is altogether too common.  It has 18 deep drawers which I will soon fill with my button collection – organized by colour. I cannot wait. I have totally haunted the presence of every multi-drawered chest I have ever seen. I plan to get larger ones when I am a super rich superstar later in life but for now, this makes me happy.

This piece of bark …darnit I forget the name of the tree it came from – but it’s rainforest reclaim and basically can be used as a non-water vase – so for dried flowers or interesting branches. I love the pattern.

And, the musical instruments – that 1-string guitar, an interesting thing…with tongs that make sounds – again..loss of real name for the instrument strikes me ..sorry, and a SLIDE WHISTLE!! Oh yes, I am going to be the most annoying person around with that slide whistle, lemme tell ya! I picture myself using it when people are doing things like sitting down, standing up, picking things up, etc. etc. etc. – endless possibilities right?

I also have to mention how truly in awe I am at the amazing finds I have had recently while thrift shopping. I swear for a few months now it has been nothing with a capital NO! But, lately has been great! I found these today..check it out!

This awesome wooden bowl:

This vintage mushroom casserole:

This awesome book on Textile Science!

But, today was not all shopping. On the long drive back from Port Hope, we decided to take the long scenic route home and we saw these old cars…

They were cool but when the followed us for a really long time, through a couple of small towns and cities, I started to giggle and Mat started to say things like ‘You’ll neva catch me alive coppa!’ and ‘We’ll Loose them at the Pass, ya See!!’ and other crazy phrases as only likely muttered by the most animated of fifties’ era gangster. It was a laugh. I kept my eye on them while Mat sped…well, around 40km/h anyhow..

The complete normalcy of our Toyota eventually saved our lives..allowing us to blend in with traffic and for the gangsters to move on..

Then, after avoiding certain death, we arrived at a sheepy farm with a donka-donk! Look…they are so cute..then suddenly either the donkey or a weird black faced sheep make a weird honking sound and they all ran away. I laughed at their bums!

Also, after hearing about the awesome, button-organizing teak chest that I got, Laurie from The Black Lamb gave me an awesome assortment of vintage buttons, because she is sweetness personified!

And, I haven’t devoted my time entirely to lollygagging – I managed to spin a couple of yarns!

Well, as I write this I feel my eyes getting heavy so I should go brush my pearly whites and get to bed..it’s going to be a bit of a long week. So, night night.

PS..Hippo says hi!

Wednesdays of Worry, Thursdays of Thousands of Things

Leading up to the semi-long weekend of Canada day proved to be rather busy and crazy. On Wednesday at some point, I noticed a little trail of blood on the cushion of the couch and immediately jumped into action to figure out who, what and why….

So then as I suspected, it was dog related, specifically, Poppy’s toe. I had this bad feeling that something more than a bandaid was going to be needed..just an inkling. I told Mat to bring Poppy upstairs and I got out all the first aid things, toenail clippers, etc. and then said a little audible plead while looking at this weirdly crooked toenail ‘Please…please be attached!’ and I looked to the sky. Then, I went for it…a little wiggle of the toenail revealed that yes, it wasn’t really attached…it had broken right at the root of the toe, sort of. So, I inhaled deeply and was somewhat panicked. I then thought I would turn to the internet for advice (why…oh why?) so I googled ‘dog broken toenail’ hoping, wishing…for an answer. Some part of me always hopes in these situations that there will be some tried and true granny’s cure for this.  I was kind of hoping for ‘soak the foot in vinegar and it will magically reattach the nail to the foot’ but who was I kidding? The creepy advice I did find was to ‘use a pair of clean plyers to pull …..’ and then I stopped reading, almost fainted and called the emergency veterinary hospital. So, one hour and $200 later….my dog is freakin’ adorable, but also, fixed, and well…stoned.

Yes, his little rubber cast said ‘OUCH’.

Now it is like nothing happened and he is back to the same fun, playful, crazy dog he always is. The nail has started to grow back again. What have I learned? Be ridiculously better at keeping his nails trimmed. They were a bit too long and this could have been prevented. I will make sure of it going forward. This is the reason he had prime rib for dinner. Oh yes…

So, Canada Day this year fell on a Thursday, yesterday, which I was kind of thinking was crappy because it isn’t a true long weekend. However, I have to say that with the exception of not getting to go to pottery class, I had an amazingly fulfilling day.

It started with fresh strawberry rhubarb crisp from this recipe. All of the ingredients were from my local farmer’s market haul for the week. I love summer…and this week has been so perfect weather wise. My local farmer’s market, despite not having any crafty element, is great for food, as one would expect.

Yesterday morning started with a clean kitchen and very little prep work:

Flour, butter, oats – oh my!

Clean and sliced rhub and strub!

Eggy, before the beating of a lifetime

Cooling a crisp on the window sill, a la June Cleaver

Alas, breakfast!

Then, with the weather being the blissfulness of sunshine and cool breezes, I decided a dog adventure was to be underway. So, I leashed up the pups and away we went to one of my favourite hiking trails with this little waterfall and river.  So, we walked and walked.

And then there we were at the river. The dogs played around in the water and it was really nice just getting my feet wet and splashing the pups.

After a good splash, lunch time was approaching so we started the trek back and stopped in a field of buttercups and wild flowers.

After tiring out the dogs I decided I needed to get back to the home stuff I was working on over the last couple of days. I have been loading myself up with all sorts of extra work lately but it has been worth it. I have not felt a lot like spinning because I don’t want to be stationary and I want to be outside. So, I figure I will do what I want as the feeling hits. For some time now I have felt like my bedroom is too…utilitarian. It was one of the rooms that I didn’t really get to do much with when I moved into this house because we had run out of time and energy having painted and decorated my studio and the entire middle floor of the house. So, it was a boring baby puke oatmeal kind of colour that I really disliked. There is, I have learned, nothing like a trip to Ikea to get the brain working way more than you ever need it to. So, with the purchase of a couple of plants…everything went awry. Next thing I knew I was going to the hardware store for some washers to affix my new shoe cabinet to the wall in the hallway. The colour cards for paint always draw my attention so I decided I wanted to paint my room an ocean blue colour, and next thing I knew I was walking out of the hardware store with paint and brushes and rollers. Then I remembered that I have been trying to clean and organize to entertain houseguests and sort of kicked myself for starting this whole shenanigan to begin with. But, oh well, it needed doing. All of the hidden things, like the carpeting under my bed, needed a good dusting/vacuuming and so on. So, now my room is done and it is all fresh and clean…but I am left needing a new solution for my necklaces. I had thought of one that I found brilliant over the last couple of years – hanging them on these wire towel racks. I could see them all, reach them and freely accessorize. However, DUST! ew….so, they need to be inside something. I hate dust. A lot! But I have an idea that yes, will require another trip tonight to Ikea, in which I also plan to buy a new blanket. Goodness help me if I leave with anything else. I don’t have anymore home reno time right now.

Anyhow, here is a bitsy of the bedroom, in bad light. Sorry..

The bed is not made as it was just put in that place. Also, I have never been much of a bedmaker. Sorry Mom.

It is a nice blue, and I sleep beside the window so it is really airy. It is accessorized with only what it needs and not a lot of extra crap to make my brain work too hard. The blank spot on the back wall will soon hold my new jewellery solution. There are lilac branches around the light fixture and yarn hanging behind the bed. It is an overall nice thing to look up at.

The new plants that started it all, a mystery succulent and an elephant’s foot palm, sit on my windowsill.

And, a simple little arrangement on my dresser.

This weekend promises to involve more cleaning, arranging and organizing. It’s the right time to do it – so fresh outside. I want to bring the outside in.

G-Whiz and the Day to Day

Because the dumb G20 and G8 are in town, Toronto is a crazy town of traffic and people in the streets. Overall it is a giant waste of time and money that is impacting Ontario’s economy in ways that no one sees or cares about. But I guess…myself included. I hate politics but moreso, politicians. They are the reason I hate politics really. Don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of the manmade lake that they constructed….um, hello, Lake ONTARIO wasn’t good enough for your ‘cottage in the city’ experience? Argh…

The good news is I get to work at home and look at this for most of the day:

Tonight, I podcast – no matter what. The agenda is written, music chosen and essays recorded. So, soon Episode 10 of Muststashyo will be up.

Today I need to find my camera battery. It is missing and making me sad.

Last night was my pottery guild meeting and that was really fun. I have been really lucky in finding a great, embracing place to learn pottery and also make a lot of new friends. The guild is full of really nice people, of all skill levels, with a lot of hobbyist potters. There are some really creative folks to be inspired by and the president is an absolute sweetheart who is really great at celebrating people’s creativity and strengths. It is one of the most pleasurable cooperatives I have been a part of in a really long time. It makes up for a few that have been not so fun. I have redesigned the website for my guild and taken on the role of updating the blog, which I am totally excited about. So, if you are interested in what is happening in pottery and stuff relating to the Mississauga Potters Guild you can check out our website here: http://mississaugapotters.com/ and just click the blog link to see my blogging. I am only 2 entries in thus far but already doing the research on ceramics relating to this task has me learning so much.

Today I am hoping to have some time to read up on a Ceramic Arts Daily article about converting cone 10 (high heat fire) glazes down to cone 6 (medium heat fire) which is great because our guild is a cone 6 guild. When I was in North Carolina a couple of months ago I came across a potter, Bill something…., who did these incredible crystalline pieces where crystals are grown in the glaze on the surface of the pot. THAT is one of the techniques. So, I am going to read up on it, see what formula and chemicals are involved and see if the studio coordinator could work with me on it. I think it would be fun to test out and then later a great workshop.

Here’s a look at a crystalline surface – amazing right?

Here’s my progress of my second pair of the Totem Pole Socks from my recently published FREE pattern:

My girlfriend Vicki has recently started a pair as well – so check out her project – she had amazing colour choices:

Anyhow, I am slowly knocking out a little piece of the list and realizing that my items are very big and general so I am hoping not to have 101 of them. I need to break it out more but that might feel like work.

1. Business Plan
2. Find good accountant
3. Talk to a bank
4. Discuss much with L and S relating to TBL.
5. Renovate basement
6. Get M here
7. Update resume
8. Finish Doll Feet dyework
9. Podcast Episode 10
10. Prepare fiber palettes
11. Muststashyo page on Studioloo website
12. Update non-fibery pages of Studioloo
13. Make plush and birds
14. Whale painting
15. Take sewing classes
16. Guitar lesssons
17. Find a voice coach
18. Raw food diet planning
19. Dog training
20. Set weight loss goals and achieve with a plan
21. Research urban farming and what is allowed in PH
22. Organize Spin in Public Day in PH
23. Raise money for Sea Shepherd
24. Work on book
25. Design workshops
26. Wake up Yarn a Day
27. Set spinning goals
28. Etsy destash
29. Gnome
30. Altered art
31. Clean house
32. More hooks added to window in kitchen
33. Finish enough pottery for another bisque
24. CofC application
25. Foot therapy
26. Publish Muststashyo pattern
27. Yarn club
28. Fiber club
20. Tea order
21. Cashmere and Bamboo order
22. Contests
23. Clean out garage
24. Garage sale
25. Recipe database
26. Master Spinning Course
27. Find local fleece
28. Monthly Projects for Artists Project
29. Curriculum design
30. K for M
31. M Painting
32. Type up kiln instructions and save
33. Keep food blogging
34. Organize beads
35. Finish knitting WIPs
36. Finish blue skirt appliques
37. Finish mending things that need mending
38. Find blue paint, mix and paint bedroom

Fresh Air and Sunshine

Yesterday was a great day. I got up early, opened all the windows in the house,  had breakfast and got started working away on a bunch of work stuff. Working at home can be so much more pleasant than sitting in a dull, flourescently lit office.  I got a lot of work done thankfully, but also embarked upon a recipe for Cherries Jubillle with Butter Crunch Icecream. I will post photos of the entire 2 day process a little later. Note to self – next time read the recipe to fully understand the prep time – holy cow!

Anyhow, other than working on that I also finished up a handspun yarn, my ode to the Golden Girls:

And, I finished up a bit of pottery, watched ‘Up’ and thoroughly enjoyed it and knit a bit of my sock.

I also emptied my camera of it’s pictures so here’s a bit of what I have been up to:

Worldwide Knit in Public day brought me to Hiawatha Park where I worked on my Totem Pole sock.

The tide had been high the day before so there was still a lot of fresh seaweed on the rock ledge just below where I sat. This is one of the most peaceful places in this city. I come here often just to look at the water, reflect and watch different birds swimming, fishing and flying. There were a lot of cormorants that day. I am starting to wonder if the introduction of their species to this area might be one of those ‘oops’ situations and now they are massively overpopulated. It sort of seems that way.

I am really enjoying the warm summer with cool breezes we seem to be having in springtime. It’s nice and I have even been making time to run, go for long walks and hikes and such. I am starting to find my balance among artistic endeavors, exercise activities and work.

I also love working at home because I can hang out with my dogs. I spent a good hour working away on a project plan and throwing this lamb rattle toy for Poppy. This is after he was sort of tired out, but still springing inward with energy. He’s a happy guy.

I have been cleaning the house like crazy too. Part of me could really love being a domestic goddess I think. The perfect life might be held in being your own boss, being artsy and just having time to look after a family and a house. I think my path is getting a bit closer to that. I am trying to take more pictures of the various houses and such I have lived in. I always think back to the different apartments and condos in which I have lived and wish I had more pictures of the decor.

I am the last of the holdouts in not buying one of those flashy flat screen televisions. We don’t watch a lot of TV in this house so it hasn’t been a priority much.

Here’s a bit of the yarn dyeing adventure from yesterday. These are still drying on the rack in the sunshine of my kitchen.

And I am engrossed in reading ‘Sweater Quest’ right now, and managed to finish up another octopus yarn bowl. I have 3 done and they will go into my next bisque. I went to the pottery guild lastnight and finished up a couple other pieces and threw more. I think I need another bisque before I will have enough to fill up a good portion of our large kiln for glazing.

And, now it is time to get cracking on more work stuff and start packing for the weekend. I am going away for a little bitsy, visting the family and such. Pictures to come!

Hold on to Every Loose Thread you Can!

The morning started out quite nice with homemade broccoli and cheddar quiche.  I didn’t get to snap a photo of it until it was half nommed…I find these days I love the stems of broccoli much more than the actual little trees. That is a complete turnaround since I was a child. I hated the stems when I was a kid.

I am working at home today, going through the dozens of emails and such that I have to deal with today. One of the nice things about working at home however is that you can take little breaks, and you can choose your background noise. I watch a lot of documentaries and one of the nice things about being a cable subscriber is that you can get ‘on demand’ channels and catch up on all the stuff you never have time to watch. I don’t have much time for television so I partly watch but mostly listen to it while doing other things. Today I queued up ‘Schmatta:Rags to Riches to Rags‘ directed by Marc Levin. This was screened at TIFF but I never had the chance to see it.  The context of the film takes a look at the garment industry in New York which bustled in the twentieth century, acting as one of the largest employers in the United States. Now, it dwindles by a thread literally…with industrialism pushing all of the manufacturing overseas. I think that when most people think about the economy, the terrible affects of Wal-Mart and other big box corporations, they think about the white collars, the banks, and so on – job losses, stocks falling, and so on. But, it really goes much deeper.

It’s sad to see the offspring of the immigrants who came to North America with a dream, lived it and hoped to pass it on – only ..they didn’t really get to because of the ‘me me me’ culture that we seem to plummet deeper in to with every generation. Consumerism and the low price mentality was defined in the film as ‘the race to the bottom’ and it is so true. It won’t matter that a dress only costs 8 dollars when you don’t have a job, and therefore the 8 dollars to pay for it.

The other side of this is knowing where your clothes actually come from. This is the part where you can actually get involved and try to make sure that wherever you live people are getting what they need, not being forced into labour that pays them poorly or treats them without ethics. Sweatshops are not a thing of the past, and are still very prevalent. The clothing industry in the United States went from supplying 95 to just 5 percent of the garments in it’s country. That is a stunningly scary number.

Save the Garment Center is spreading the word to save New York’s garment industry. I suggest checking them and the film out – both very worthwhile reminders.  Whatever keeps you out of H&M, Wal-Mart, etc.  🙂

I have also been spending a bit of time working on more pods. I went to the pottery guild lastnight and trimmed up a few of my pieces. Today’s result – a large pod.

And a new art yarn is off the drying rack, hanging out with the pod:

And, this morning I finished up my Totem Pole socks! (And cast on a second pair..yay!)

Catching up on Another Week!

So, perhaps last week (where does the time go?) was the Mississauga Potter’s guild potluck! I decided to make a couple of pies from recipes that have been in my recipe box since the dawn of time.

Pumpkin Dutch Apple Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

I got to spend a lot of time at the pottery guild last weekend and finally got to crack open a bag of the black clay that I bought. I really love it even though it feels like it is much messier/dirtier because it is black. It feels nice in the hands and seems to handle well. The only strange thing about it is that I find it harder to trip the strip at the bottom of the pot before removing it from the wheel head. It might just be me having a weird/off day so I will try again when I throw more of it and see if I have the same result.

The lighting is a little yellow in the studio but here is a picture of some of the forms I threw from it – I really love the colour.

Here you can really see the contrast between this medium white clay and the black.

On my adventures of book acquisition, I received a lovely book called ‘Nature as Designer: A Botanical Art Study’ by Bertel Bager and it is proving to be really inspirational for pottery. I am really wanting to take some time to make different pod forms.

This is the starts of a pod I was working on. It is now just about finished and drying up to be bisqued.

I have also been playing with fiber quite a bit (when not deeply entrenched in business plan and financial analysis – yikes). This is a sneak peek of a yarn I finished spinning today beside a bunch of little yarn orbs from yarns of the past. I usually collect them up in bunches and sell them off as little freeforming kits. People have a lot of fun with yarn scraps.

Speaking of yarn scraps, I am almost done my Totem Pole socks. This photo is from last week but I have now moved along quite nicely and I am just about at the toe decreases.

There is also a bunch of yarn dyeing going on as I am working on the Summer 2010 colourways of Doll Feet! I will announce when they are all ready to go to the shop. Here’s a sneak of some that are dry:

And my drying rack in the sunshine of the window – it seems never to be empty these days: