Friday, July 29, 2005

The increasingly-common pre-shabbat update

This time [maybe] with a picture in the corner,probably of me centering a piece of clay-taken by a young guy called Yudi,a friend of Yasha's,I believe.The Gladiators are playing on my radio station [links],it's Summer-hot,and I've just turned off the kiln at 920 degrees,the end of a bisc firing.I probably should have prepared some glazes this afternoon,but the heat [and some tourists and concommitent sales] proved too much- I trimmed and shaved some pots in this new [for me] Spanish red stoneware,slopped some water around the studio floor to lay the dust,and did some clay management [spreading/turning/wedging recycled clay].After a few failed attempts,I have managed to recycle some of the T.C. porcelain,which demands spot-on timing to catch it at the correct consistency.Currently in use in the studio:my standard French stoneware,the Spanish Red,a ground-brick-grogged mixture of these two,a new white stoneware I was asked to test in the salt kiln,a mix of various whitish stonewares (with a bit of the French for character)which is my current salt clay,my old Naaman Porcelain,the Tom Coleman Porcelain,and [inevitably] a mixture of the two.This is far too many for a small studio,and I am waiting eagerly for some of them to disappear.Meanwhile,the plan is to prepare for a glaze firing next week -a couple of orders,some tests,and some salt-holders to put between pots in the salt-kiln,and which,from experience,need to be high-fired before use-otherwise [if only bisced] the handful of salt they contain fluxes the clay and leaves you with a dark brown puddle stuck to the shelf,the kind of blunder one tries not to make more than once.The next salt-firing is in the air- Sydney and I want to do some work on the kiln,the heat in Yesod is fierce,and we are both busy with guests and other Summery activities,but it'll probably happen in the next week or so.Current reading- Milan Kundera's long essay called "Testaments Betrayed",the most stimulating piece of writing I've read in many a long year.Grape Update:not an outstandingly huge number of grapes on the vine this year,but still a good and healthy-looking crop,most bunches well on their way to ripeness,but still with quite a few green guys still to change colour.With our long Spring and gentle early Summer,I'm expecting them to ripen a bit later than usual,some time after the Eilat Jazz Festival,with its enticing list of guest performers,which,as usual,is the last week in August.This might mean that the wine won't be ready for drinking,as tradition demands,by Succot,but one must be flexible in these matters,no?Shabbat shalom...

Studio window around sunset

Trying out a new Spanish clay

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dark picture of sitar concert [well,it was dark]

Harry's giving me a massage

...While I listen to Test Match commentary on BBC internet,half an hour to catch up on the blog.The Summer has heated up,hovering around 40degrees C,so Eliav has gone off with friends to the Kinneret,where it's even hotter.Gilad is home with various female friends,and we are graced with friends Rena and Harry [and Sarah,their daughter] from Naharia,guests for Shabbat.
Yesterday I drove to Tel Hai for an Open Day for prospective students:it was most gratifying to hear from a few people the esteem in which our Pottery School is held.Discussed plans with Oded,our wonderful boss,to keep it that way.I think I shall get the students next year to start a collective blog,a record of their year/semester in Tel Hai.We may also rebuild the Soda kiln,which has been neglected for the last couple of years.There was even talk of a plaster class.
Last night Goldie [the apprentice] organised a sitar/tabla concert in a nearby gallery- very atmospheric,and well-attended.Today,in the almost total absence of tourists,I made 50-odd napkin rings for a local caterer- tricky little things to get just right,which you have to do in about a minute.
Have a good,peaceful Shabbat!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Back to work

The studio is lurching back into action after Greek and Spanish breaks- a small batch of mugs to get the feel of the clay again,a couple of days of tidying up [selling quite a few pots at the same time and getting three orders packed and sent off to the States]and here we are with a new-ish shape- the Modified Stair Asymetrical Cut-and-Paste Baking Dish.Where will it all lead?Your guess is as good.The apprentice is showing signs of having learned enough to be kicked out,which is almost by definition the point at which she can be of most use in the studio.More dilemae.I think I have fathomed Mr. Coleman's porcelain,most recent revelation having come while plunging my hand into a large bowl of reluctantly recycling clay.I may share these thoughts at some vague later date.

Stair way to heaven- some asymetric dishes inspired by Julian Stair (Paros symposium)

Barcelona Graffitti (note tasteful use of metallic paint)

Friday, July 15, 2005


That's right,there should be an upside-down exclamation mark in front of the Ola!,but I don't know where to find it,nor why,in truth,it is needed:can one proclaim "Ola!" as anything other than an exclamation? I challenge you to try it,maybe in front of a mirror.Interesting to note that Catalunia,whence we have returned,refuses to see itself as part of Spain [any more than do the Basques,come to think of it],just as Crete [exemplified by Master Nicos,from the recent Paros bash] does not regard itself as Greek:perverse that our current problem,in Israel,is precisely the opposite.Other things learnt during our Spanish [excuse me-Catalunian] sojourn:
the Spanish cannot make coffee
they still have a huge sword habit
Miro sought a bridge between painting and poetry
Gaudi was run over by a tram
"vegetarian" often means "also contains vegetables"
astonishing numbers of Spaniards have crutches and/or plaster-casts
this may explain Dali's extensive use of the crutch in his paintings
Catalunians believe themselves to have invented creme brulee
it is unwise to attempt to disillusion them in this matter- see second point
the olive oil of the Galillee- specifically from the variety of tree called "Suri"- knocks spots off anything this blogger has tasted in Spain,Greece,Italy- or,for that matter,London.This after extensive sampling,with an ever-ready willingness to be proved wrong.
The Holy Sabbath approaches [at the reasonable hour of seven-ish this evening,unlike Spain,where it's uncomfortably late,although the locals think nothing of sitting down to dinner at eleven].It is intriguing to reflect that the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain [1492] led to the great flourishing of the Kabbalah in Safed:what wonderful new frontiers of learning will stem from the forthcoming return of Jews to Israel from the foreign lands of Gaza,one wonders?
Shabbat Shalom...

Off we go to Barcelona- note Gaudi's trick window opening...more next week!

One last watermelon...

Honourable mention...

Just back from Barcelona...but first...entrants in the Chinese Watermelon carving contest [thanks,Rosens]

Friday, July 01, 2005

Students,teachers,end-of-year crit,Kfar Giladi

Swings-anagama (!)

Swings (Shlomit,Tel Hai,3rd year)

The Usual Suspects (chillin' in the Butterfly Park,Paros)

The daughter of the house (starting ceramics at Camberwell)

Clay pan

Julian Stair (U.K.) and Meir getting a coil on J's pot

Paul Chayleff (U.S.A.)-Meir's teacher

Yanis (Sifnos) and Nicos


Nicos from Crete fixes on a coil