Thursday, August 23, 2007

Give me a Break

As I suspected,those draining tiles did not enjoy their brush with the flame; not only the porcelain but even the stoneware tiles cracked,only one smaller porcelain piece surviving. Back to the rolling board for some more R&D.


Porcelain hand-washing cups [a Jewish thing] and a return of the fish mugs. Why fish? Because they're easy to draw.

Two Teapots

The second being the one glazed in the oval container. Both of these teapots are drip-free pourers- the first thing I do when a teapot is cool enough is to fill it with water and see how it pours.

From Yesterday's Kiln

An oval stoneware vase,22cms height,in the new Jun glaze.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Glazing a Teapot

Unless you have vast vats of glaze [or at least a full bucket],glazing side-handle teapots can present problems. I was contemplating mixing up a fresh batch of glaze to do this one teapot,since I only had a scant quarter-bucket of glaze,when my eye fell on this oval [and empty] paint container [I have a small collection of oval things]. The teapot just fitted in nicely,so,allowing for displacement of glaze [which explains the bowl in which the container is sitting] I got a nice even coat of glaze on the pot,and didn't even need the whole quarter-bucket.
Yesterday's glaze kiln turned out quite well after a struggle. I noticed that the bottom of the kiln was way too cool at 950 degrees,so decided to perform the delicate and dangerous operation of opening the kiln door a small amount and fishing out part of the bag wall that prevented heat reaching the bottom of the kiln using tongs [and gloves]. A bit hairy,and not for the faint of heart, but it worked,and the kiln fired evenly.


Mazal Tov to Reuven and Goldie!

As I wait for the glaze kiln to crash cool,an email informs me that Goldie has given birth to a fine daughter. I shall refrain from posting a picture until given permission,but everyone looks wonderful. Goldie was my apprentice a couple of years ago,surviving for a record full year in the studio until swept away by Reuven. She should not be confused with my current apprentice,also,confusingly, called Goldie.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is It Art?

Or even Sculpture? A spontaneous installation of bricks,blocks and cones sitting on top of my kiln [until I chuck it away]: no big deal,just one of the small visual pleasures of a workshop,sitting around waiting to be appreciated.

Jammed Biscuit

Here's the 2nd bisc kiln of the current pre-Rosh HaShana cycle,loaded to the gills and ready to fire on Sunday,by when I hope that napkin-holder bottom left [and a few of its damp friends] will have dried out. When I loaded the bisc on Wednesday,there was a tantalising small amount of space left- not enough for something serious,but too much to waste. I made a new bunch of napkin-holders and a slew of shot glasses [shotpots?],both new items from the last round which have proved steady sellers in the studio. Inevitably,I made rather too many of these kiln-fillers,but,with the stubbornness so typical of potters,determined to get them all into the firing,and ended up unloading,rearranging and generally messing about until every last one was in. This is a phenomenon that I'm sure is familiar to many potters [I can't be the only one...] and probably totally without meaning to the rest of the world.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Geoffrey Whiting z"l

One of the Old School/Leach potters,known for his teapots. I've been trying to copy his flush-lying lids for years,without getting very close,as you can see from the first picture.Small pic of his work from the web,teaset from an old slide I have [photographed hand-held,cropped]


The teapots we made at Robin's workshop were made on the jigger-and-jolley- cylinders,like the rest of his range. Spouts were thrown [off the hump]- first picture is the basic shape [note concave base],2nd shows the cut [wire],3rd shows the top edge eased out to give greater sticking surface.
I often see students at Tel Hai throwing spouts with convex bases,which inevitably leads to a pronounced scrotal look when stuck on the teapot,and is better avoided,if you ask me.
There is much to be said about angles,curves and finishes of spouts,not forgetting the many unreliable theories about how to make a non-dripping spout,but these will have to wait- I have work to do this afternoon.



Putting together some teapots this morning; here's a wrinkle I learned from Robin Welch- he used to indent the strainer part behind the spout,claiming it was less prone to clogging with tea-leaves. I pass this on in the category of abstruse teapot-lore for you to try at home.
The 2nd picture reminds me of Mick Casson z"l, who said, "There are all sorts of theories about how many holes to put in the strainer- I just get in as many as I can".


Friday, August 03, 2007

Grape Update

It's time to check the vine. Not a bumper crop this year, I think,but ripening nicely- some are already sweet enough to eat,but not enough sugar for wine-making yet. Tradition links grape-picking to the Eilat jazz festival- end of August/beginning of September. Next year is a Shmita [fallow] year [they come in seven-year cycles- this being the 4th since I arrived here in 1977],which makes wine-making more complex,and pruning impossible.

Rough Design

A designer friend asked me to produce some sink-side draining tiles: after much deep consideration and some unsuccessful prototypes,I cobbled together a crude mould from broom-handles and scrap wood [our brooms now have no handles]- crude but effective.Now I just have to dry it flat and fire it without it's cracking -in other words,there's a way to go yet.

The Venerable Leaf

Resident old geezer Mike Leaf had a sudden urge to work on the wheel today. He seemed to be enjoying himself,and has made an artistically heavy bowl.

Classic Zoola

Moshe lives in a series of tent-like structures near Amirim.He wasn't at home,but I took this picture for all you would-be zoola constructors: this is how it is done...

Back on Target

The vaguely intestinal pile on the right is the remains of the two old target bosses.As you can see,I brought my small practice target this week,and so had something solid to shoot at. I shot 4 dozen arrows,feeling the year-or-so break in practice [but also the joy of the occasional good release]- then fatigue started to set in,which is the stage when one starts using muscle instead of technique,so I called it a day,packed up the kit,and strolled over to visit Moshe,in whose field I shoot: