Sunday, April 25, 2010

Belated Birthday Greetings

Apparently it was Robin Hopper's birthday this past Friday. So, in celebration of his birthday, I am sharing these pictures of my visit (July 2008) to his pottery. Robin and his wife Judi Dyelle have their pottery just outside Victoria , on Vancouver Island, Canada. It is very easy to find if you are in the area. They have quite a good website here :

This is where I found him, busy loading hundreds of test tiles into the kiln. He was in the midst of teaching a glaze development class.  Students were everywhere asking him questions while he was loading the kiln and visitors ( Jack and myself) were snooping around. Yet, he was still able to pause and muster up a smile . 

 Jack peering into the kiln which is located at the rear of the studio.

Robin and Judi have a magnificent garden which visitors are welcome to walk around and explore. These pictures don't do it justice. I think there are some much better ones on their website.

As you walk along the garden pathways there are wonderful treasures to discover !

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Gadget

This was in my latest haul from Dollarama. I can’t believe how much stuff I bring home from that place, I’m gonna have to go in a twelve step program. I bought a couple of these for the studio… and then went back for more for the garden for which they were intended. Maybe they'll be used in the garden, maybe not, depends how well they will spray glaze. They're great for a water gun - pump them up once and they stay pressurized for hours.

Studio Pal

Here's a picture of my longest surviving studio buddy. The spec plate on her says she was made in 1975 but I got her when the University of Alberta was selling off some of their equipment in about 1982. This old wheel has served me well and never given me a moments trouble The splash pan was one of Shimpo's better designs. The bottom pulls back and off completely for cleaning out trimmings or hosing down and the top tray has enough room for my water bowl and more than enough tools.

Not identical twins

... but in the same family, these mugs are.
No one would ever call me a production potter - I'm too easily distracted and waaaay too slow.
Here's the mugs I threw thursday afternoon and handled yesterday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A good day to be inside

Yes, it was a good day to be inside and finish fitting lids, adding handles and trimming casseroles, bowls and bakers. Another potter blogger wrote that she never makes the same thing twice - me too !

Here's the first robin I've seen this year... probably wishing she had taken a later flight !
A view across the lane from my studio. Love those huge fluffy flakes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Soup, Bread and Claybakers

Since telling Hollis that I would trade him soup recipes I thought I would publish the recipe here for all with a picture. Friday was a great day for soup. This is a family favorite, it uses many ingredients that are part of our western lifestyle: high quality lean beef, any root vegetable you care to throw in the pot and, of course barley. We grow lots and lots of the best barley in the world !
I hope you give this a try - feel free to experiment with your local ingredients... maybe not clams though. Check out Hollis's chowder recipe for those.

Hearty Hamburger Soup ( makes 10 servings )

1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium chopped onion
1 - 28oz. can diced tomatoes
2 c. water
3- 10 oz. cans consomme
1 - 10 oz. can tomato soup
6 carrots chopped
1 bay leaf ( I'm not a fan, so leave this out)
3 stalks of celery chopped
1/2 tsp. thyme
1T. of dried parsley or fresh if you have it
8 heaping T. pot barley
pepper to taste.
Brown onion and beef in a large heavy pot, drain if needed.
Add all the other ingredients, cover and simmer for at least 2 hours or all afternoon while you are out in the studio !

Some homemade bread goes great.

BTW, the bread is baked in an unglazed baker that I made. This works so well that I will never go back to a metal loaf pan. The baker is sitting on tiles that I made as a first year student at Sheridan College (Oakville campus ) and later set into a large coffee table made by a friend, specifically for the tiles.

Spring Time in Saskatchewan

One of the great things about Saskatchewan is the variety of weather we experience here. Take Friday for example, here's a picture of my husband, Jack (on the left ) and a friend visiting from eastern europe out for a stroll. That evening he commented that he now knows why so many people here on the prairies drive half tons and SUV's.

Superstitious, Who ? Me ?

It was the ancient Japanese potters that fired with wood who believed that sacrifices and offerings must be made to the kiln god, Kama No Kami. Even the great masters could not control the kiln to perfection -- there are just too many variables -- how much air, how much wood, what fuels to use, when to use them, how to control temperatures, how much stoking, how to stack the pieces, where to place the pieces. The potter controls about 85% of the process but other factors are beyond control, like weather, wood-condition, and kiln atmosphere, which are left to the kiln god.
Years ago, even though I fire with electricity, I began collecting masks and hung them around the door frame of my kiln room to discourage evil spirits from messing with my kiln.
These fierce masks were mostly bought on travels to South America, Cuba,Florida and Mexico. The African masks were a gift from a friend. My youngest daughter, who has been known to send the evil spirits running, contributed a plaster cast of her face that was done several years ago as a school project. The round, three headed one I made as an example for a summer camp kids class I was leading.