Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lest I Forget

That hot [sic] tip about glueing your Brent I passed on the other day is from the Great Mind of Sydney Himself and no other,he assures me, justifiably proud of his contribution to Potters' Lore. Here captured by the camera in a Kyoto Ryokan; currently sitting across the kitchen table from me,patiently awaiting a cup of coffee.


Some more bowls- a prospective return order for a Rosh Pina restaurant,but they want some a bit smaller and some a bit larger than the sample they brought me,and a different glaze [which I don't have as yet...] so I thought I'd better do some tests. It took me years to work out how to attach a simple,clean lug ,so I rather enjoy doing them,although they do add a lot of work to a bowl.Not that it's particularly difficult- I just catch on slowly.

Well, Meir should be an hour into the firing by now. I hope to be there tomorrow,and as much as possible over the 6 days of the firing.Maybe I'll see you there- if you've never been [and I can't recommend it highly enough,even if you're not ceramically inclined]- the kiln is a couple of streets behind Egged/Pardes Hanna,behind Hans and Illana's wonderful shop, "Plastic Plus".A happy and successful firing to all concerned,and God save our pots!


On reflection,the shape of those earthenware bowls seems to come from this Tibetan bowl/bell; also from this fine piece from Tokoname Ceramics Museum- not the first time shapes from our Japanese jaunt [nearly a year ago] have emerged in my work.

Terra Sigillata- Round Two

Off we go with a new batch of earthenware bowls.This time I managed to trim them without losing any,and burnished them leatherhard with the best burnishing tool- a thin plastic bag over the finger.Free too. This time I'm going to let them dry completely before applying terra [which,meanwhile,I ball-milled,just for fun].

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mazal Tov!

Tel Hai graduate Revital about to get married to Avital on Tuesday evening.Much health and happiness to both of you! Posted by Picasa

More from Tel Hai

Day Two Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 19, 2007

And Again

Tomorrow we get to see the rest of the second year and the third year.

More Students' Work

Tel Hai Bikoret Avoda/Critique

A good day at Tel Hai going over first and second year work with teachers and students.Somewhat traumatic for the students,not that anyone got [or deserved] too much criticism.As usual,handles and decoration prove the hardest to master for most people,but,as you can see,there are some promising beginnings.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

From the Top

Here are some pots from Ricardo's last wood/salt firing;he ran out of wood and time,so they all lack 20-30 degrees of heat.Ricardo brought me a couple of boxes of under-fired cups and bowls to refire in my gas kiln- a procedure I have done with great success with pots from Meir's kiln [see posts from March 2005].The pots have enough ash deposited on them,but did not get not enough heat to melt the ash.First pic shows rough ash deposit in bottom of tea-bowl.Next up is quite a nice teabowl in Shigaraki-style clay,followed by a small porcelain bottle with lots of Shigaraki quartz and feldspar wedged in,and finally a large flat bowl of Ricardo's.

More from the Salt

Upside Down

Everything clear?

Seder Plate

This year's incarnation of the Seder plate.I fired it in the salt firing partly because I don't think there have been that many salt-fired Seder plates in the history of the Jewish people [or,if you prefer a less controversial frame of reference,in the history of salt-firing].It has long been a principle of mine that if you are the first to do something,you cannot be expected to be good at it as well;this is the job of the guy who comes after you.I am finally coming to grips with the problem of creating six hollows in the Seder plate [after years of avoiding the issue] as you can see.The challenge led to this new design,which I shall photograph upside-down so that you can work out how it was made.

Top Tip

Owners of Brent wheels spend on average two weeks of their lives scooping clay out of two badly-designed and useless hollows in their plastic trays:brilliant solution [c/o Sydney the Wise,who got it from someone else]- fill the hollows up with hot glue [yes of course you've got a glue gun!] I performed the operation this morning- works a treat!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Naches from the Kinder

#1 son Benjamin has started studies at Cabrio College,Santa Cruz,California,and is taking a pottery course- not,to my knowledge,having sat at the wheel since he was a lad and,with his brothers,made pots to sell at the annual Tsfat Klezmer festival.He sent me a picture of his first pots from the course- I'm impressed [and chuffed].Shabbat Shalom.

A Good Day's Work

After a second day's work with Meir,we finished [just about] another stack of shelves the width of the kiln- in the broadest part,where it's 2 metres wide, a wonderful expanse of shelf that eats huge quantities of pots,one row consuming the contents of my entire kiln. I managed to break the spout of one of Meir's teapots while loading it,but apart from that it was a day of indiluted pleasure.You can see a porcelain bottle of mine on the top shelf,and a few [pinkish,bisced] tea-bowls dotted around,all bracing themselves for their ordeal by fire.Loading continues today and next week,firing,God willing,the Wednesday after that and continuing for,we hope,six days.

Viper in the Brickpile

There's always one,right? One of the guys helping load the kiln found this specimen lurking among Meir's bricks and dealt with it,as they say,with prejudice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Heart of the Kiln

Here's where we finished for the day;the kiln extends back from these shelves another 3 metres [already loaded with pots] and we're just getting to the wide centre.More fun tomorrow! Posted by Picasa

Part of the Scenery

One of many large,beautiful pots lying around Meir's place.Hard though it is to fire these things,it's even harder to sell them... Posted by Picasa

Big Pots

Meir himself,toting a large [100cms high] pot from his studio to the front seat of his car to the kiln.The pot,of course,is unfired,making the process more hair-raising.You can't see his back-support belt,but be sure he's wearing it. Posted by Picasa

Three Cones and a Ring

From our most recent and not unsuccessful salt firing [cones 8,9,10].The new chimney,together with a more powerful burner and a few other minor but perhaps critical changes,resulted in a much quicker and more responsive kiln [also much cleaner- we couldn't get the old setup to fire in oxidation above 600 degrees.Also salt consumption dropped [at last!] from an inexplicably steady 10-12 kilos to a much more reasonable 7 1/2 kilos.The salt was animal-feed grade - larger granules,which may also have affected the firing.Results were pretty good,given that we were trying a new batch of slips,which we [both,independently] put on a bit thin.Pictures to follow - I'm just catching up on recent events after a good day's loading the anagama at Rebbi Meir's in Pardes Hanna. Posted by Picasa

Fruit Trees in Blossom- Yesod Hamaala

  Posted by Picasa

Warming his Balls by the Fire

An ancient practice- older than the craft itself.The balls on the stove are from Sydney's ball mill. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brother Thomas

A busy week ahead:I'm firing a bisc kiln today [with the dregs of the gas tank:I've been using the kiln to heat the studio for the last couple of weeks,so was not too surprised to see the meter down in the red zone].Tomorrow - with,I hope,bisced pots from this kiln - I'm off to Sydney's for a salt firing in the refurbished kiln.We have a new batch of slips to test,so I am eager to see results.Tuesday is my bi-weekly Tel Hai day,unloading the salt kiln on my way home in the evening,Wednesday and Thursday are loading days at Meir's kiln - he's already done a good few days loading,and has finished the long narrow neck at the back of the kiln [thank goodness,my knees can't take the cramped conditions back there].We should be working to fill the swell from the neck to the waist of the kiln.So I'm not sure when I'll have time to blog,but will try to get some relevant pictures up now and then.
The beautiful pots above are by Brother Thomas,kindly sent to me by Michael Minkoff,potter of renown.I thought you might like to see some properly photographed pieces for a change.Want to see more? Click on the Title at the top [it's a link].