Saturday, July 28, 2007

State of the Art

Shavua Tov! It seems like an appropriate time to remind myself what's happening in the studio.
I'm still awaiting my elements and thermocouples to get the electric kiln going and plunge back into the murky depths [or heights] of crystal glazing. I have 40-50 pieces ready to glaze,which,at only 5-6 pots per load,means a bunch of firings.
I've been working in porcelain- dinner and side-plates and some facetted cups.Yahel and Goldie [I am temporarily blessed with two apprentices,both Tel Hai students] have been preparing batches of stoneware with rather less Spanish clay than last time,in an attempt to reduce iron-spotting under the cream glaze and eliminate a troubling outbreak of peeling blue slip. My plan is for them to make the stoneware line of pottery,giving me more time for crystals and salt:they have started making mugs and bowls. Gunmarit wants to fire the Tel Hai salt kiln before summering in Norway,so I made some bowls and cups in the salt blend clay [French,Spanish and porcelain in equal quantities,with some molochite wedged in to see if the increased china clay will give some flashing].Current projects include a design for a sink-top draining tile,a set of mugs to be lustred by good neighbour Avraham Lowental [he's in the links,I think],the Kabbalah decals to be redesigned and reprinted [maybe,this time,in colour] and some thought to be given to a possible line of Judaica for the gallery where Eliav is currently employed Next reduction glaze firing should be in about a month,before the eagerly-anticipated Eilat Jazz Festival.Onwards!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tsfat Sunset

Son at Work

#2 son Gilad put in a rare but welcome appearance in the studio to make some tiles. This reminds me of the rather harsh but thought-provoking saying of the sages of the Gemara [oral tradition] that one who does not teach his son a profession teaches him to steal.

Back to the Bow

After a long break,last Thursday,only to find that my already collapsing target boss had meanwhile totally disintegrated.The field was,however,strewn with large straw bales,about which conventional wisdom has it that they contain stones,and should not be shot at.As you can see,the temptation proved too great; I loosed off a few dozen arrows in the spirit of inquiry at a suitable bale,without mishap.This doesn't prove anything,I realise,but it felt good to be shooting again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Or decals. Invariably,a batch of firings ends with one decal and lustre firing. These "alef bet" mugs and the Kabbalah mugs [both decals] are among my best sellers,despite [or because of?] their relatively high price: my regular mugs are now 38 shekels,in line with the Leach tradition of having a basic cup and bowl at affordable prices- the kabbalah mugs are 65,the alef bet mugs [with some gold and lustre decoration] are 85- the result of a remark by Phil Rogers,fine English potter,a guest at a past Symposium,that we shouldn't be selling mugs for less than 10 pounds [around 82 shekels,I think]. I took it as a challenge to see if I could make a mug that people would be prepared to fork out more money for- and it worked! Is there a lesson here?
The yellow coat burns off [if you're lucky].Photographs by son Eliav. Tomorrow I shall sponge gingerly around the decals with warm water to clean off any smeared gum,and get to work with the gold lustre pen.


Crystal Glaze- What Is It?

A customer asked for a copy of the explanation of crystal glazes that I have pinned up in the studio [not that anyone reads it],so I'll take the opportunity to pass it on to you,too.

Elementary,my Dear...

My eargerly-awaited new elements have been sent to a potter in Peru by mistake [I hope he enjoys them]. This reminds me of the old Jewish/Bhuddist teaching:
"Wherever you travel- there you are! [Your luggage is another matter]."
Meanwhile,having loaded the kiln for a crystal firing with the old elements,I found that the thermocouple is broken. Again. So I ordered another one [two,actually- a Yekke always has a spare].So the delay with the elements is no longer relevant. The universe works in wond'rous ways,don't you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just What I Needed

A new blue glaze. I'm supposed to be easing off on the glazes and doing more salt and crystals,if you've been following.This one came [like so many interesting things] from Sydney [currently in Canada- maybe reading my blog- Hi,Sydney!] from '"Chinese Stoneware Glazes",I think,and was just too good to pass up.Early tests were too thin [it really needs a good thick layer] and on inappropriate clays,but the signs were there,and,on the reddish iron-flecked Spanish clay it stands out a treat. Either there is just no end to the world of glazes,or the time is not yet right to start simplifying. What do you think?

Attachment is Suffering

An adventure from the back of kiln 4. The round blue vase collapsed slightly,coming to rest on the two attached pots: the red cup was,inevitably,part of an order. This is by no means the first,nor even the most dramatic collapsed pot I have fired in a long and illustrious career: I recall one huge porcelain bowl that took a whole tea-set [including tea-pot] with it. These things happen.

Kiln #4

As you can see,about a cone-and-a-half difference [like #2- the other 3 firings were spot on],and that after a struggle to even up the kiln. Results were pretty good nonetheless; that large balloon-shaped vase at the front came out especially well,the new blue glaze coming out nice and waxy. Kiln #5 [the last in the current run] is currently cooling down.Results in the morning.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reb. Meir Builds a Kiln

Here's a sight to stir the heart of any potter- the foundations of a new anagama kiln: Meir Moheban is building his new kiln next to his house and studio,in the approved fashion. i can hardly wait for the first firing...

Link to Onsen-Japanese Rooms on the Golan

Worth a visit-Tell them you found out about them from my site,please. They seem pretty busy,having only two rooms at the moment.


Helen whisked me off for a birthday-related break in this rather nice place in Ramot,on the Golan;sufficiently Japanese to remind me of my trip a year ago,and with a wonderful Japanese-style hot bath.

Sunset on the Kinneret

Helen,sunset,the Sea of Galilee and a Syrian pillbox-who could ask for anything more. I rather like the design of this pillbox,somewhere between a squeegee and an old Citroen,and it does fulfil those three most important criteria of pillbox building- location,location,location.

Caulder's Circus

From the father of the mobile,via Lisa,for the expansion of your artistic vistae.
There is no admission fee,but you are required to click [artistically] on the Title above.

For your Viewing Pleasure

The title of this blog is a link- follow and enjoy.It comes care of friend/customer/immensley talented sculptperson Lisa Gross,who probably deserves a link all of her own.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Rarely have I looked forward to Shabbat and a good rest quite so much- it's been an exhausting week,with two glaze kilns and three days at Tel Hai. Today I finished unloading #2,which came out O.K. in the end,and glazed and loaded #3 ready [with 2 full gas tanks] for firing Sunday. The shelves of unfired ware are starting to thin out as pots get fired- it looks like there are enough pieces for two more kilns,three at a pinch,and then a respectable quantity for the crystal kiln,new elements for which are,I trust,winging their way to me from the nice Evenheat people in Michigan.
Shabbat Shalom,and a Big Up to all the wonderful Tel Hai students who put on such a great show.

And Lastly..Third Year Students

The second picture is of two chocolate pastry cups on clay sheets;the third is a clay cup on pastry plate. Tricky,eh?



Day Two

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Not Forgetting...

More to come tomorrow. I'm off to sleep.