Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Back from Pithoi symposium on Paros with Meir this morning,straight up to Tel Hai for Critique (1st & 2nd years,tomorrow 3rd year),both events hugely enjoyable,little/no sleep in last 40 hrs,will fix pix (below) that need fixing,put up some more...soon...

Dynamite mugs,no? (Shelly)

Tea-pot and mug,anagama (Shelly)

More tea-sets (Shelly)

Exemplary tea-set- (Yahel)

To make a tea-pot:first take a handle...(Yahel)

The soul of Lucie Rie lives on in a student's work,end-of-work crit (Yahel)

Julian Stair at work

Rim of a big pot

An exuberant chimney-pot,three of my (quieter) bud-vases,thrown with real Sifnos clay-a rare treat!

A Basket-maker happened by to join in the fun...

A sizeable olive tree

Yanis,from Sifnos,demonstrating his side-saddle centring technique

Master Nicolas from Crete matching bellies with another Big Pot (he made three a day)

That typical door/vine/window/steps scene (Paros)

Studio Yria,near Paros,Greece- hosts to the Pithoi symposium

Evenly-fired glaze kiln (note bag wall on right)

Refiring Meir's pots....before...

...and after...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

After Shabbat

I think next Shabbat is the latest in the calendar- it's around 9:15 in the evening,not too much time between havdalah,the end of Shabbat,and bed-time.There's Friday's bisc to unload,some pots glazed and more to be glazed,and a bunch of Meir's pots that I picked up from his studio after last Friday's workshop in Pardes Hanna to be refired in the gas kiln.But I guess that can all wait 'til tomorrow- I'm not planning to fire the glaze kiln until Monday.Helen has just brought Eliav (#3 son) back from Rosh Pina:he has some bagrut exams coming up this week,and might be in need of Parental Encouragement,which I shall now administer.Uniqueley,I fancy,in the annals of ceramics,I currently have two assistants in the studio,both called Goldie.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Ettie's cherries

Flame from the flue...

Flame from the burner-ports...

Flame from spy-hole...


It's a hot day.The kiln is hot (not so hot on the bottom,but still).I'm hot- but by no means bothered,unlike my blogsister Hana over there in Darkest Alabama,who has been getting a little hot under the collar of late,even for a self-confessed Food Fascist.
My good friendSydney has started his own blog,which should prove entertaining when he hits his stride.
The Tel Hai anagama came out reasonably well: the students were delighted with their results,I was less than thrilled.The firing needed another day to get the effects of the ash more evenly distributed.
Today we are firing a glaze kiln-quite a few pots by apprentice Goldie and her students (she runs a small pottery group in my studio while I'm off teaching),some mugs for fast-disappearing stock,and some thin,tall porcelain test vases,which I glazed in blue celadon,shino and manganese/crystal.Their tallness has probably unbalanced the firing (I thought it might),causing the top to get 20-30 degrees too hot.For the last two hours,we piled on the reduction- closing the chimney drastically,causing the kiln to send jets of flame out of the burner ports (but still no smoke- I just can't get this kiln to smoke!)and gouts of turbulent orange-yellow flame from the spy-holes,which I shall attempt to photograph without melting the camera:the upshot- there's still more than a cone difference,and,meanwhile,the temperature has drifted down to 1180.Enough,already:open the flue a bit to get it to rise again,take it up to a good cone 9 at the top,and hope that the bottom managed to get enough to melt the fairly-forgiving clear glaze that I put on the bottom of the kiln for this very reason.At least I can be sure the top was 1) good and hot,and 2)well reduced.While the kiln was firing,I threw some pots to take down to Ein I'ron tomorrow for the handle workshop I am giving Hadas's students.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A Modified Ruthanne Tudball Triple Footer (for making trifurcate feet)


A Batch of Tea-bowls

Thoughts on trimming porcelain bowls

A sunny,hazy afternoon.The bisc is at 900 degrees- I try to fire to 920 (sometimes I miss),finding from experience that higher means harder (to glaze)-although,of course,these are just numbers on a pyrometer display,any resemblance to reality being co-incidental and unlikely.As I write,920 comes up,and this time I'm going to soak,or maintain steady temperature,for half-an-hour or so,after talking to a potter at Raanana last week who uses the same porcelain and says that she has to fire bisc high (1000-1020) to avoid scummy rims in the glaze firing- a potential snippet of information in the continuing quest to delve into the nature of this clay,tending to support my idea that we have some organic binder or resin here,maybe not-quite- burning-out in low-fired bisc,and causing the aforementioned scumming.Or,of course,not.Glancing through the two peep-holes of the soaking kiln,I see that the top is quite a bit hotter (and the bottom cooler- by its more dull orange tint)so I guess I'll have chance to check out all possibilities.I'm not shocked at the unevenness- most of the kiln is those big pots,not many shelves,harder to estimate heat distribution.
On my pet radio station (see links) Khaled is wailing "Ouelli el Darek",and I'm trimming some almost-gone-hard porcelain bowls,fairly-aggressively-facetted-and-then- thrown-further to try to get some movement into my clay work,which tends to the stiff with porcelain.Three survived the throwing- the interface between flowing movement and collapse being delicate.The rims being quite wavy as a result,I trimmed them on a chuck,leaving the most successful til last in approved fashion- of course,that was the one that broke.So much for fashion.But it did serve to remind me how little dry strength porcelains have,gummy or not.The trimming itself was classic porcelain- a pleasure,translucent compact curls of clay with that sweetness and smoothness that only porcelain trimmings possess.I think it's time to wedge up another lump and try some teabowls:traditionally,this requires a calm mind- thank you,Mark and Jamie!
The half hour is up- I'm off to turn off the kiln.


Thursday, June 02, 2005


Unseasonably cool-where's this global warming we've been promised?We even had a dramatic downpour a few days ago.Usually by now I've forgotten what it feels like to be cold.I've been having more fun with the new porcelain,as you can see-there's a bisc kiln packed with (for me) huge pots-goodness knows how I shall glaze them,as most are bigger than my glaze buckets.On Tuesday the students at Tel Hai finished loading the anagama,firing started Wednesday,and I showed up Thursday night for my firing shift;as predicted,the Chiefs/Indians ratio meant that there wasn't a lot to do.After I left,the kiln got into a typical anagama loop where it refused to get hotter (this traditionally happens around 1220 degrees,when the cones are tantalisingly starting to bend,but refuse to drop).After a few hours of trying various strategies to no avail,the female students sent the despondent males off to rest and took over:after some hard stoking,they got the kiln up to temperature,finishing Friday midday,with suspicions that the back of the kiln was too cold - suspicions that,when the kiln was unloaded yesterday,apparently proved groundless.I hope to see results next Tuesday,and shall report.
Yesterday I drove down to Raanana for the yearly Potters' Fair in the park: every few years I exhibit pots there,but it is much more enjoyable,as this year,to go as a spectator.The pottery community in Israel is gratifyingly warm,friendly,supportive and helpful- it's a great priviledge to be part of it.The standard of work seems to improve from year to year;this year,especially,it was good to see new faces (some,I am pleased to say,students of ours who are beginning their professional careers).As always,it was wonderful to greet friends and colleagues-it took me four hours just to make the rounds and see what everyone's up to.This year's highlight was seeing the new work of Keren and Dotan,two excellent students who graduated a year ago and set up a studio together among the abandonned chicken-sheds of kibbutz Shfayim with a large scrounged gas kiln.

Sydney and Netzer take a shesh-besh break

Tel Hai students working with children - non-stop action

Danny Davis-may he have a speedy recovery!

White is right-Marcel Klein

Mr.Meir,pots from Purim's anagama

Gil and Michal-wood-fire

The phenomenal Mark Yudell (raku)

Keren and Dotan (Shfayim)-naches from ex-students

Ricardo (Even Sapir)-from 2nd firing of his wood/salt kiln

Eileen from Yotfat

Raanana Potters'Fair-on the conceptual side

Here they are