Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Passover!

Busy preparing for Shabbat and Passover,which this year come one after the other with bewildering and halachically-challengingly rapidity.Yesterday's archery - broke 600 [602]for first time in a while:arrows seem mysteriously to have straightened out!Must be the heat.
A happy and,where applicable,Kosher Pesach to one and all-may we all achieve full and speedy redemption from our harmful,ego-based attachments,while hanging on to the useful ones,like computers.


Burning Chametz with last year's lulav potters-style - in the kiln,650degrees,strong reducing atmosphere!

Safed's Crusader fortress [under excavation] by night

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I'll show you mine...

My Fetishes

O.K.,I think I've been keeping this blog long enough to get personal and reveal my fetishes.Well,some of them.I have a mild cutting-wire fetish - a sizeable box in the studio full of various nylon and metal wires - fishing lines of various dimensions [my favourite is a sleek black number supposedly for pike],some Japanese stainless-steel twisted wire,stretched springs that leave curvacious ridges in the clay,and soft,pliable brass jewellers wire which,doubled and spun in a drill,gives a gentle ripple to the bottoms of pots that don't need trimming-cups,jugs,vases etc.,and allows the pots to pop off their bats in a gratifying fashion.The best wire I ever used was the legendary but elusive Laystrate model-airplane control wire,which seems to have fallen victim to radio-controlled flying,lapsing from elusiveness to downright unobtainability.One of our guests at last Chanukah's Tel Hai Pottery Symposium hinted that he had tracked down a source - I must get in touch with him.
Another [and much more expensive] fixation I have is tools:doubtless inherited,together with his classic wooden tool-chest,from my late father.As a child,I can remember what was in each drawer of the chest on its shelf in his workshop next to the garage - files,drill-bits,little clamps he made as a youth,micrometers,set-squares,punches,scribes -many from long-gone Sheffield engineering firms with earnest names-Moore&Wright,Glashart,Eclipse -engraved with his initials -HF.When Helen took me to New York last October to show me her hometown [and help me get over my lingering and shameful anti-Americanism] I was unable to resist the blandishments of a svelte,expensive but perfectly-balanced 18volt cordless Hilti drill,and,reassured by the brisk red-coated Hilti person that there would be no problems using a 220volt transformer in Israel,shlepped it home.Of course,it refused to work here:emails to Hilti USA and Head Office in Lichtenstein [?]produced not even an acknowledgement,so I phoned Hilti U.K.,who revealed,to my surprise,that the firm exists in Israel [because of the Arab boycott they don't publicize it].To my mounting amazement,the office in Petach Tikva gave me the number of the rep. in the North,who stunned me by revealing that he lives 10 mins.away in Elifelet,and would pop over next morning-i.e.this morning,which he did,exchanging my defunct charger for a more advanced model - taken from a new box of drill and charger,noch-and went on his merry way.Conclusions:1)WHAT a small world;2)great service deserves honourable mention.
If you want to know about my other fetishes,you will have to contact me privately.Knock three times and whistle the Marseillaise.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Venerable Tactical Baton of Mindful Compassion. What's yours?


One of Meir's crustier pots from the bottom of the anagama:I refired the lid [propping it carefully to avoid sticking to the kiln-shelf].You can see the contrast clearly - the accumulated ash on the lid has melted at cone 9,rendering it slightly more finger-friendly.The base will go in the next kiln,probably in a couple of weeks.

For the Benefit of Mr.Meir

Cone-bending tricks

Do you know this one,fellow-potters?A cone starts to bend normally,then appears to pause in its descent:if you miss it,you continue firing and,if it's the guard cone,overfire.I had one of these jokers in yesterday's kiln - the tip of cone 9 perched on the rim of a bowl on its way down:luckily/for a change I was paying attention,made allowances,and the firing was fine.Motti's sink and tiles looked great [he's moving into the new house today,came round an hour ago to pick up his order].An overcast,hamsin-y day - time to get out the whitewash and disguise last year's squashed-mosquito marks and the odd winter-damp-blackened area.The studio is stuffed to the gills with pots and sparkling clean [well...]- bring on the holidaying hordes!


Motti's Red Sink [from yesterday's kiln]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Cone 8 going down [bottom right-if you can't see it,try blowing on image][ potters' joke...]

Pre-Pesach Pressure

What would Pesach be without a little anxiety?So I unloaded Friday's bisc last night [one of the 2 sinks cracked-too near the flame,I think-confirming,if confirmation were needed,the old saw,"if you want one,make two"],glazed 3/4 of a kiln,finished it off this morning,started firing at 10,and now,with a scant hour to go before I need to set off for Monday meditation group [sanga] in Rosh Pina,the pyrometer is showing 1233 degrees,and I'm waiting for cones 8 to show signs of movement-hang on,I'll check again...well,what do you know,both cone 8's [top and bottom of the kiln] are bending their little heads in admirable synchrony-something of a surprise,since the kiln was very uneven all the way up.Thanks to my new enlarged gas-pipes,I was able to blast away with heavy reduction and still get 50-60 degrees temp. rise for the last 4-5 hours,to which I attribute the current happy state of affairs.Most of the day was spent giving the studio a thorough clean,reaching areas of floor that,judging by accumulated filth,have remained undisturbed for a while.Sydney appeared at some stage with friend Assi the bee-keeper and his pick-up,and we man-handled the neatly-broken slabs of salt-kiln into the truck,for re-assembly in Yesod Hamaala sometime soon.We are definitely in that joyous period before a festival when any job can legitimately be put off 'til "after the Holiday".We're now at 1250,and,just like in the books [meaning that it rarely happens in practise] cone 8 is down,top and bottom.The operation seems successful-tomorrow we shall see if the patient survived.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Robert Johnson sang "All my love's in vain":shown here - all my vine's in leaf!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Gloria Thursdi,sic transit

Which means:this afternoon's shooting started well - concentration strong,muscles relaxed,the target seeming slightly larger and the gold mysteriously drawing arrows to itself,the way it does on these [rare] occasions.Then I stopped for a short break after 4 dozen arrows,as usual,and when I resumed,it/I went all to pieces,and a possible 600 score faded to a barely satisfactory 584.Try again next week.I think my arrows are bent.
A bisc kiln is gently warming at 60 degrees,hoping to dry out two porcelain sinks,a last-minute order from Motti the Pazgas technician,who came Monday to re-lay my gas line to conform to new standards [guess who pays];I'll leave it on a "candle" flame overnight,and fire it tomorrow.Finding myself in the unusual position of having finished work for Pesach somewhat early,I decided to make another kilnsworth [probably two glaze kilns,with unfired pots left from the last round]to glaze and fire at the beginning of next week [Pesach starts next Saturday,for the uninitiated,and runs for a hopefully-tourist-laden week].I have already sold two vases from Meir's kiln [admittedly the two best ones,but gratifying nonetheless],plus the tea-pot,which I delivered to its new owners in Pardes Hanna Monday evening,while visiting Meir for another look at his work from the kiln,and a summing-up of the firing.Conclusions:1)We know nothing.2)the right wood seems to be the key to a good firing.

some more archery

Monday, April 04, 2005


Sometimes I don't know if I listen to music while making pots,or make pots while listening to music.[The kiln,in case you are interested,is creeping back up to 1090,when I shall attempt to soak it again,and grow the third row of crystals.]As the more astute of you will have noticed,I have added my Yahoo radio station to the links section,taking the opportunity to beef it up with a slew of listenable tracks.Before you praise my altruism,I must point out that the studio CD player is on the blink,so there was an element of self-interest.
By the way,there are some 14 pages of "over-vinegared" on Google [see below]-I had forgotten about sushi ["fish over vinegared rice"]-which just goes to show.

Amaze your Friends [if you have any]

Inspired,as ever,by 'Alabama'Hana Loftus;if you Google "dethixotropize" - the art,or it might be the craft,of reducing the thixotropy,or tendency to go runny when agitated [cornflour being the classic example,but also some earth or mud banks,near to which you wouldn't want to be standing in the event of an earth-tremor or quake]of finely-divided solids [in this case,Meir's clay,which he suspects was over-vinegared when prepared for him by a certain Nameless clay supplier],you will come up with but one instance in all the livelong worldwide neverending universal Web:and it is here,dear reader,right in this little blog.I find that humbling,and at the same time impressive.
STOP PRESS-There are now TWO instances of "dethixotropize" on the Web!Both here!
Now I'm going to check out "over-vinegared".
"Has he nothing better to do?Why isn't he working?"I hear you ponder.
1] I could ask you the same question,non?
2]The crystal kiln is at 1119 and soaking,so I am officially kilnsitting,and can do stuff like this.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Another bottle- Neph.Sy./ballclay slip over Meir's clay [slightly dethixotropized,with bicarb.of soda,before you ask]

These were made for Guy's film [q.v.] but sneaked into the anagama

Small vase made from Meir's thixotropic clay

Remember this one from unfired picture a while ago?

Evidence of last year's salt

more purples

Bottle back

Another bottle-21cms high

Two vases

Elusive purple colouring [next to charcoal at bottom of kiln]

Two Vases-34cms high

Twisted/planed cylinder vases

Every one a winner - bud vases

Glazed rings,flattened cones,coated pots

Gilad,Ohad at the firing [for Benjamin]

Another of those collage jobs

Various emotional states

Our thoughts and commiserations to all on the passing of the Pope,and to Hana on the tragic loss of her duckling:"whom the gods love die young".
The Pope was 84.
On a brighter [and less offensive] note,I have worked out,as you doubtless spotted,how to get my links to stay up at the top of the blog,instead of disappearing slowly into the archive.If you desire to join this illustrious company,let me know.
On an even brighter note,I am back from the Anagama opening - backstrained,swollenkneed,thumbcut,necktight,headwacked,hipstiff,asheyed -
ah,but so happy,with my haul of treasures,which,despite overcast skies and rain,I shall attempt to photograph anon.A great firing - some present murmured the best yet,tho' I fancy hearing this almost every year -even the total,dramatic and mysterious collapse of an entire stack of shelves towards the back of the kiln [see picture below,somewhere] that we heard as an ominous crump on the third evening didn't detract from the general rejoicing,coming after so many beautiful pots,and with subsequent stacks visible and well-fired.Meir seemed slightly stunned by the success of the kiln,and all of us involved in the event felt emotionally drained as we packed the last boxes into Meir's car Saturday night.Today I resisted the temptation to fire crystal kiln#2,one hopes less of a disaster than #1,and am allowing my emotions to drain back in again.Hang about a bit,and I'll show you some pictures.