Friday, March 31, 2006

More String Tips

 Here's how you put the bowl down after glazing.There's wax around the inner rim on top of the white glaze to stop the red seeping down inside the bowl.Everything clear now? Posted by Picasa


Merry Glazier's String

 These porcelain bowls have no foot-ring,so glazing the outside red [inside is white] presented a slight challenge,overcome with a piece of string,as shown.I am reminded of a poem by the immortal Spike Milligan called,appropriately,"String":

Is a very useful thing:
Rope is thicker
But string is quicker

Thank you,thank you Posted by Picasa


Thursday, March 30, 2006


Hi Yonah!Here are pieces from the kiln we glazed on Monday.The blue pots have the tried-and-tested version,the brown one has the rutile-instead-of-titanium glaze [which grew crystals] and the green one is copper carbonate with no titanium [which didn't].This morning I collected some titanium dioxide from Sydney's Endless Ceramic Supplies,and am currently at 500 degrees with the next crystal firing,while simultaneously at 1200 in the gas kiln. Posted by Picasa

Our Students

At this rate,they will soon surpass us (which is their job,after all and,I might add,not a particularly formidable task).Netzer,who studied at Tel Hai and is now working with Sydney,had just unloaded a kiln of his work to take to the sale he has organised tomorrow in Sollelim,where his parents live.The small three-legged pots at the front are Shelly's- she's finishing her 3rd year at T.H. Posted by Picasa

Windows,Yesod Hamaala

Where I was this morning to console Sydney on the passing of our friend Vladik in Denmark.We once had 5 tortoises called Vladik (in his honour). Posted by Picasa


I've always had a soft spot for bikes with sidecars: I once rode a BSA Thunderbolt 650 twin with a Watsonian sports sidecar,on which I drove vast distances around England and Scotland in considerable bliss,sharing the cameraderie of the sidecar fraternity,always amazed that insurance companies rated it as safer than a solo bike,as the car had a tendency to rear up on left-hand bends if you touched the brake,the only way to get it back down being to open the throttle,this being the last thing your brain wanted to do.This scooter lives in Safed,and does duty as clothesline and planter.Versatile. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Afternoon sunshine

On celadon-glazed porcelain bowls heading for the kiln Posted by Picasa

Scenes from a studio

Bisced bowls awaiting glazing Posted by Picasa


I told Yonah (current apprentice) that I'd post pictures of the rather experimental crystal kiln she helped me glaze on Monday,but have been too busy firing the gas kiln,voting,checking out solar activity &c- I'll try to get to it soon...


While we're doing pictures-here's us looking silly for Purim last week Posted by Picasa

Last one

  Posted by Picasa

Eclipse Version

  Posted by Picasa

More eclipse

  Posted by Picasa

Today's solar eclipse

Taken through welder's glass outside the studio. Posted by Picasa


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Probably the sixth salt firing...

We can't remember exactly,but we're calling the next one the seventh.Loaded and fired it yesterday,starting the fire at three thirty,finished by midnight,cone 10's down all over the place,twelve kilos of salt,and a pyrometer that functioned throughout.It wasn't at all accurate,reading 1136 at the peak instead of 1280-ish,but one cannot have everything.Rings were a bit dismal,apart from the last one-but I suppose that's the way it's meant to be.We both used SM white stoneware,on a whim,which didn't turn out as great as we had hoped- but the firing was good,and we both got reasonable pots from it.By making smaller pots [and more cylindrical] we managed to get 70 pieces in this firing,as opposed to 26 in the first couple.We want to test some new kiln-casting mixtures with only-recently-available alumina-calcium high-temp cement,supposed to resist salt better than Portland [regular] cement.Sydney,who is a terror for these things,also came back from Haifa today with a sack of alumina bubbles for added exotic insulation.
I was in Tel Hai in the morning together with Gunmarit and Mirvat,who is starting a project on Memory- we watched videos of the Hebron potters and of Isaac Button,the last of the country potters in Yorkshire,performing feats of ceramic skill with great noncholance while smoking a pipe.Sliced up some logs for the anagama with the new[ish] [and supposedly very butch] sabre-saw,until it spat out various metal parts and ceased functioning.Meanwhile,a new small electric kiln has appeared in the studio,complete with programable controller,and I have already done two quite promising firings of crystal-glaze pieces in it,of which pictures may appear shortly.
A friend informs me that we shall be able to see the eclipse of the sun on March 29th from Israel.Be prepared!

Sunday, March 12, 2006


They came out rather insectoid,but sweet.Now I have to work out how to stand them up in the kiln. Posted by Picasa

Trimming in a Chuck

 Hastily improvised,as they were too narrow for the bisced chucks I have lying around the studio.Not to be confused with a chum,which is a mold [usu. bisced clay or plaster] shaped to the inside of a pot [a bowl or mug,for instance] to support a stamp pressed into the outside surface.Just thought you'd like to know.We used them in Robin Welch's pottery to roll Silver Jubilee mugs over a print-bed [in 1977,obviously,when I was apprenticed to Robin].We sold a huge number of those mugs,and I think I made most of them. Posted by Picasa


Friday, March 10, 2006

Here's the Deal

For those of you clamouring to know what's happening in the studio- the gallery shelves are starting to look rather empty... Posted by Picasa

The bisc shelves are full...

Lots of porcelain this time. Posted by Picasa

Bisc kiln


Nearly full,with one more to go.Note sagging roof. Posted by Picasa

Twisted vases and amphorae


In coarse red Spanish stoneware,mixed 50/50 with some American stoneware I was trying out a couple of years ago.Used by itself,even at 1270 degrees,the red stuff was a bit porous,hence the addition.The amphorae are an order for a bloke who makes wine.I suspect the originals were made in 2 pieces and joined,but these were small enough to make whole;later I'll trim their bottoms to a wee point. Posted by Picasa



My regular stoneware,sliced,wetted,wedged with fine grog,waiting a final knead,then I think a few soup-bowls before Shabbat.I'm writing this upside-down,since you probably read it top to bottom,if you see what I mean.Is it just my imagination,or do they look like Hokusai wood-cut waves? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Man and his Kiln

Back to Tel Hai for second semester:first-year students in a flap,experiencing for the first time the results of abandoning the wheel for a couple of weeks [they'll get back into it].Alon's salt-kiln is nearly ready for casting;none of the castable mixtures we tested look ideal-I wonder whether the Negev clay he used as a base is really a fireclay,but then I've never been entirely sure exactly what fireclay is.I suggested that he spread a thinnish layer of bought castable in the inside of the mold as he fills it up,using a home-made mixture as back-fill.I did some origami with the students in the morning for a change-it was interesting to see how difficult it is to communicate instructions for folding a piece of paper,and how quickly the students' frustration reminded them of their years in school.In the background you can see the anagama kiln,with its collapsed tin-drum chimney;this year's firing is in about a month's time,and I've already made three vases for it. Posted by Picasa

End of the Line

I am sad to report the demise of my last functioning thermocouple.I knew perfectly well that they are extremely delicate instruments,and that it is asking for trouble to move them from kiln to kiln.The last trip to the salt kiln proved one too many:the wires got fried,and the rhodium/platinum elements snapped.I spent a futile hour or so trying to extricate and rethread things,then gave up.I fired Monday's bisc by the seat of my pants and a cone,and everything came out fine.There's a new thermocouple waiting for me in Yaffo,but whether it will get along with my pyrometer remains to be seen.Why does it take me so long to learn things I already know? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

World of Illusions

They're still filming round the corner from the studio.Spring seems to have arrived- all the almond trees are in furious bloom,the anemones are putting in their brief appearance,and three friends report the onset of Safed's virulent form of hayfever [supposedly from olive blossom].I haven't started sneezing yet- but why should this year be different from the previous 25?
Lack of recent blogging is the result of a couple of weeks of concerted work- I'm having a great time with the porcelain,soon moving on to some SM Weiss [white stoneware] for our next salt-kiln and the Tel Hai anagama,then some of my red stoneware mix for some unglazed pieces,finishing with a good go at my newly-delivered buff French stoneware.This should bring us to the end of March,just in time to start firing pots for Pesach.Where to put all this biscware is something of a mystery,since the shelves are already starting to look full. Posted by Picasa