Monday, February 28, 2005

Tour de Safed

Helen has retreated to the desert with her friend Rena to continue her 6-week-long birthday celebration [it's to do with the Jewish leap year,she tells me.]Unloaded the last bisc in the current round,sorted the studio out in readiness for the film crew,who arrived precisely at 12 and were gone by 2,as promised,after a packed two hours throwing,loading,firing and unloading raku-style from a red-hot kiln.Everything went smoothly,although throwing on camera is slightly unnerving,even after all these years...After a brief recuperation,walked Jerry and Adi around our holy town-I worked in Adi's studio for a year or so after deciding to stay in Israel in 1977 and not continue my travels to Japan:Jerry,Adi's husband,is writing a piece on Safed for travel organisers.Our tour included Avraham Lowental,Yaacov Kasczemacher,David Eli's healthfood store,David Friedman,the candle factory,Kadosh cheese,the row of galleries opposite the General Exhibition,Ronni Yeshurun's zimmer and my studio.C'naan weavers were closed,as was HaMeiri [more cheese].Did we miss anyone?It makes an interesting hour's walk.Eliav is in Kiryat Shmona getting an i.d.card and driving-test forms.Gilad is back in the army Benjamin is in Santa Cruz,starting selling Dead Sea products in a mall.Helen-see above.The house is unusually quiet for an evening,and I'm off soon for this week's gripping instalment of Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer with Israel Smith,a shiur that we have kept going for over ten years.Had a long talk with Meir this morning about the forthcoming anagama firing.He has been unexpectedly rebuilding the roof of his kiln,and is still contemplating doing the same to the chimney,some 10m. tall.12 potters are taking part in the extravaganza-I hope they are looking forward to it as much as I am.The teapots [above,bisced]were the last pieces I made,at Meir's suggestion ("you only ever make vases for the anagama" he complained)-part mid-eastern tea/coffee pot,part taken from my new lever espresso machine,part hommage to Wally Keeler,part hommage to Meir Mohiban [and his kiln].

last two teapots Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 27, 2005

New Flute on the Blog

A scoop for potsblog-the first sighting of The Ostroff Flute,shown here held proudly by The Ostroff,known to the fortunate as Solly.Piles of pristine steel,glistening mounds of raw silver transformed by Master Mould Maker and Flutier Extraordinaire,Solly Ostroff,into intricate and elegant tools to fashion this beast.A flute entirely made by one man,from the ground up,the realisation of a dream.You probably [and rightly] want one.But you can't have one,yet.First,go and clean up your act,to be worthy of this instrument.Then,in a couple of months,come back with lots of folding cash,ask nicely,and stand in line.Maybe you'll be lucky.

The Ostroff Flute Posted by Hello

Surprise visitor

Out to the garden this morning to check gas level before forthcoming string of firings [six or seven,including lustres/decals and,if I can summon up the nerve,a crystal firing or two] and stumbled upon this unexpected but most welcome guest.We used to have five tortoises in the courtyard,all called Vladik [it's a long story],but one by one they left us.The new arrival in the garden [let's call him Vladik] can easily get out,but,meanwhile,we are honoured by his presence.By the way,we never succeeded in determining the gender of our tortoises,despite a graphic reference manual ["Tortoise Sexing for Fun and Profit"]-anyone out there possess expertise in this arcane field?
Firing the last bisc [#5 I think]today,tidying up the studio for tomorrow's cinematic activity,dragging out the glaze buckets,starting to mix up glazes,waxing lids and feet where indicated.Warm and sunny-is Winter past,with slightly less than a metre required to fill up the Kinneret,or does it still have a trick up its sleeve?The vine is starting to eye me reproachfully,requesting its Spring prune.Drank two excellent bottles of last year's wine over Shabbat,to my relief,some bottles having turned out a bit fizzy.I still have two 20 litre bottles of experimental kiddush wine,which I have not dared investigate for a while.

Harbinger of Spring Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The choice is yours

If you want to check out the Hammurabi Code...
Or if you just want to listen to reggae music
Of course,thanks to the wonders of the internet,you can check out the Hammurabi Code while listening to reggae music on your computer.Learn and enjoy.


After last weeks spiffy 599/720,this afternoon's archery was a more modest 575-hence pictures of flowers instead of tight groups of arrows.A different variety of red and gold.In the studio,3 groups requiring demonstrations/explanations shortened an already short day,as did packing up an order to ship to the States.I discovered that the coarse raku clay I intended to use for Guy's film is unsuitable,so mixed it with a convenient smooth white clay to get desired results-like the pot not collapsing on camera.Also threw some slim bottles for Meir's kiln [there's always room for shapes like these to fill in gaps] and,at Meir's prompting,a couple of small teapots.Tomorrow I need to finish all throwing,assemble pots and warm them up in the kiln,ready for a swift bisc on Sunday.Sydney kindly brought me a selection of tongs,like medieval instruments of torture,for use during filming [Monday],after which we took our wives for a birthday meal at Deck's,on the lake in Tiveria.Food good,not great,ambiance of a warehouse,but Tuborg on tap,this being the most drinkable beer gets in this Adnams-less country.Amnon Dankner graced us with his considerable presence.

Spring flowers-Amirei hagalil Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Almond blossom,Safed Posted by Hello

Another First

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Heart of Hotness-inside a bisc kiln at 950 deg.C Posted by Hello

Comments for all

A brief pause in bowl-throwing to announce that,having recently discovered which options to choose in some arcane menu,ABSOLUTELY ANYONE [who can type,that is]can now leave comments.This means you.If you still insist,my email address appears in the "profile" section.Next up is audio files,if I thought for a moment that you could take the excitement.Even Hana doesn't have audio files.Back to the clay-another 16 bowls before sundown,bisc kiln at 863 deg.C,warming the studio nicely.

See anything you fancy? Posted by Hello

No two the same Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 20, 2005

As is often the case...

Just when I think I've reached the end of a throwing cycle, shelves loaded with bisced pots waiting to be glazed,people stroll in with a few last-minute orders:since Friday-some cake-plates [porcelain],vases [porcelain and crystal glaze],30-odd perfume lanterns for the Healthfood Shop in the Old City,and,today,sixty bowls for a restaurant in Rosh Pina down the road.They've finally smashed the last set I made them a couple of years ago,and,gratifyingly,came back for more.Tomorrow morning the car goes in for a service,Sydney is coming to discuss ways of dismantling my salt kiln with a view to re-assembling it outside his studio;Helen's birthday is on Wednesday,a group of 50 has booked a demonstration on Thursday,and Guy and his film crew will be here next Monday,by when I shall have to have fired the current bisc [not to be confused with a currant biscuit]and one more [prob.half-full]so that there's a bisced piece to fire and remove red-hot from the kiln for the film.The studio floor is starting to get that gritty feeling underfoot that betokens a good wash,and dust is mounting up on the gallery shelves.I have a perfectly good apprentice,but she is off swanning about at the Jerusalem Book Fair,her reappearance shrouded in mystery.It looks as though I shall have to cast off my customary lethargic and leisurely pace and crank out some pots.I do hope that this doesn't indicate the end of Winter,and the beginning of a hectic Spring.

lunch Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

soupbowls drying Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

the more respectable rounds of this afternoon's archery Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

fettling fun

Here are the aforementioned teapots,freshly fettled and patiently awaiting decoration.I forgot how much longer lugs take than pulled handles-lots of edges and corners to tidy up:Iwouldn't be shocked to find a crack or two as they dry...the usual list of choices putting them together-angle,shape,length and finish of spout,position of lugs,pattern of strainer...I feel like doing a batch of soup-bowls next,which should just about fill this bisc.There's another anagama firing in the offing at Tel Hai in a month or so involving Guy Lieberman and his merry bunch of film-makers,so I am softening some white stoneware in anticipation.Bright,mainly overcast,not too cold.Hey,I just managed to stick a link in that text-and it works!

8 teapots drying Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Back from tel Hai

...after a sunny,cold day giving students critique on their work,with Sydney,Gunn Marit and Margaret-the Crew.Easy to spot who's cooking this semester and who's gone off the boil.Some very desireable pots on show,and enthusiasm by the bag.Off for some Shabbat-leftover lasagne,and a sit by the wood-stove - exhausted.

Ditto Posted by Hello

More of Posted by Hello

End-of-semester critique-Tel Hai-3rd year Posted by Hello

The Hermon on the way to Tel Hai this morning Posted by Hello

Monday's meal Posted by Hello

Sydney's kiln-arch support in place Posted by Hello

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blood Oranges

After a few years of drought,Sydney has got some blood oranges for me from a kind lady in Yesod Hamaala.Blood orange juice and a good cup of coffee [in a good cup,of course] is one of the few proper ways to start one's day,no?
Not a great deal happened in the studio,partly due to a lengthy but rewarding sale.I finished trimming and slipping another batch of vases for Meir's kiln and put them to dry in a warm kiln [60-90 degrees C.],then dug out a bag of cane and bamboo handles from last year's trip to N.Y. and threw eight smallish teapots and their spouts and lids for the smaller handles.Winter is a good time to make teapots in these parts,as everything dries out slowly.In the Summer,it's much harder to catch all the bits at the right stage,unless you're Ruthanne Tudball,who assembles her teapots as she makes them on the wheel.This evening I flipped the pots to dry on their rims and moved the lids-the pots seem about the right weight for their size,so not too much trimming required,and most of the lids promise to fit most of their teapots,which is still a relief after all these years.Speaking of which,2005 marks my 30th year as a potter,since starting as an apprentice with Robin Welch in Stradbroke,East Anglia.30 years and still learning every day-what more can you ask from a profession?As usual,tonights learning from "Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer" was appropriate-dealing with the bricks used to build the Tower of Babel.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

a new week

Sunny again-helped Sydney build his kiln-having a little trouble with "hello"[programme for importing pictures]-so nothing to see yet...new/cheap mitre saw great for slicing half-bricks-thought of various ideas/changes to incorporate in my new kiln-mainly to do with the way the metal case is constructed.Got as far as setting up the arch former,then headed home.Eliav's first driving lesson tomorrow...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Artistic and talented friends

David Friedman
Joshua Baum
Alan Hussey and Corrie

Listen to the music:

African music
morning listening in the studio

Hana's blog

Hana's blog

Before the Holy Sabbath

One of the most gripping readings this Shabbat [for craftsmen-everyone else finds it tedious]-all about the menora [candlestick]and other appliances made for the mishkan [tabernacle] and construction nof the mishkan itself.The menora was made from a single piece of gold-but did the idea come from the potter's wheel-three concentric hollow tubes? I think so...that's the way I make them,anyhow.
Fired the bisc today after all-freezing in the studio-we're at 834 degrees C so far.Not much work today [see pic]-talked to Benjamin (in Calif.) using 1)Skype,2)yahoo messenger,3)msn messenger.Ah,technology,technology.

another work of art in the making

Thursday, February 10, 2005


crystalline glazes

some bowls

A Catablog is Born

Well,this is certainly fun.And doesn't involve shelling out a few thousand bucks to some indigent so-called web designer for a site that's out of date by the time it's up and running.It's freezing in the studio,snow is promised,and son Gilad is back from the army.He seems unimpressed at his father's computeral abilities-such is youth!

mainly seder plates



just a quick one...

So here we are,a bright new day,and I even worked out how to post pictures this morning.Off now to dismantle Sydney's kiln,after which I've booked a massage (you get smarter as the years go by),back in time for tonight's kabbalah class with David Friedman .When I find out how to do hyperlinks,you can check out his site.The Flower Man has been,as usual for Thursday-we have a symbiotic relationship-he takes vases,I get flowers.At the moment he has killer applejuice from orchards on the Golan-pure,cloudy,irresistable.He swapped some for a pitcher.

one of last year's chanukiot (unfired)

The family (me on left)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Blog the first

A smattering of snow on roof/garden/car this morning,so kiln lit to warm studio.Finished handles on facetted teacups,filled kiln for bisc firing Sunday.Threw more twisted cylinders for forthcoming anagama firing ,assembled bottles for same,played with Meir's desperately thixotropic clay,trying to dethixotropize it (with some success).Handles on yesterday's tall jugs,also thumbstops-not quite enough room/need for fingerstops.Eliav (son #3,11th grade) back from school,demanding modem.Inspiration for blog-young Hana Loftus of Southwold,London(East End) and Alabama,step up and take a bow.Can I work out how to post a picture?Wifely bean soup beckons,then a bit of a sit with the Rosh Pina Sanga.Happy Adar!