Thursday, April 24, 2008

Child Labour

Elsie,the daughter of local friends,helping out this morning.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Back on Target

After a year or so without archery,I have discovered the BetLechem HaGlilit club [not that they were lost] about an hour's drive away,where I shot a few dozen arrows yesterday.Great place,good friendly people [many of whom,strangely,seem to share my predilection for Marksman bows] and the prospect [see photo] of shooting at 30,50,or even 70 metres [if my bow gets that far]. They have a Russian coach called Igor,who reputedly shot for the KGB. I haven't met him yet,but shall try not to annoy him.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Palely Loitering

Anyone read Keats? I don't,but my mother used to use the expression,and it popped into my mind when I took these celadon pieces out of the kiln, suitable for those of a nervous disposition,maybe,who need a lot of calm. We're just before Shabbat,which will segue into Pesach tomorrow evening,so there is much tidying,burning,cooking,taking out of Pesach dishes and general mayhem. Meanwhile,I finished off some lustred mugs this morning,and am approaching 500 degrees with a small lustre firing in the gas kiln- at 500 I can turn it up and hustle to top temp of 720-750. Next job is to grate the horseradish for the Seder; let's hope it's a strong one this year,to clear the nasal passages of all the dust we've been breathing.
The kiln is behaving strangely these days,requiring much heavier reduction to produce apparently less-reduced effects- apparently,because the celadon glaze might just have been a bit too thin; I've gone back to my first celadon glaze,because the second,though giving a good intense colour,crazed too much for my liking. The 2 glaze firings I've just finished came out well,after a struggle [which is half the fun,of course]- the new batch of French clay looks good,as does the new slip [my old porcelain slip had a tendency to peel in the glaze firing,aggravated since I started adding the more refractory Spanish clay to get a better body colour] and the recently-troublesome cream glaze seems to have settled down and is giving good results [and consistent- a novelty]. a bunch of copper-glazed cups didn't go red [and ran a bit],otherwise everything was fine,and the studio is now washed down,surfaces waxed,display shelves sorted and ready for visitors.
Shabbat Shalom! Happy and Kosher Pesach!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Two pots from Meir's kiln that I'm refiring to try to melt the rather crusty ash deposits. I'll probably lose the nice orange flashing [Meir's clay] in the process,so this picture is to remind me what they looked like.

Handful of Beakers

That's six- count them. A busy day in the studio- unloading the bisc [I put cones in for a change,and actually managed to fire the bottom of the kiln hotter than the top,no mean feat in the Laser],mixing up glazes,waxing,glazing and loading the first of the glaze kilns,ready to fire on Sunday,as well as dealing with a few visitors to the studio,and two Russian workers who are hacking out a trench to lay a new gas line to the kiln.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Unstrung Hero

Drove to Tel Aviv yesterday to deliver some pots and check out David Glick's wonderful collection of teabowls on show at the Ramat Gan Museum of Far Eastern Art. While in the area,I visited Weapon World on Ibn Gvirol where I used to buy archery equipment,only to discover a svelte new investment company occupying the premises,the previous owner having retired and closed the business. I was hoping to buy a straw target boss,my old one having been liberated from Amirei HaGalil by persons unknown- which explains the year-long absence of archery reports,in case you wondered. I'm trying to get in touch with the Israel Archery Federation to see if they can help- if not,it's back to the straw bales,I think,before my stringfingers lose any more hard skin.
These teabowls are,unmistakably,by Shoji Hamada z"l,part of the exhibition together with pieces by just about every potter you ever heard of- even including a rare teabowl by Robin Welch,my teacher.

Diminutive Barcode

This is the smallest barcode I've ever seen [not that I've looked that hard]. It's on my latest gross [144 -good to know that some things are still sold by the gross]] of masking tape,one of the staple raw materials of the studio [for securing the recycled newspaper I use to wrap pots]. I buy the thinnest tape-12mm wide- and the barcode is a scant 3mm high. Can anything or anyone actually read it? So why is it there? [Don't lose too much sleep over this- it just struck me as strange].
Meanwhile,I am firing the 3rd of the pre-Pesach biscs,which should yield 4-5 glaze kilns over the next week or so,and awaiting the second of 3 groups visiting the studio today.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Firing Tiles

We just unloaded the bisc,with another batch of porcelain tiles: they were stacked like this in the kiln- layers four or five high- [last time I fired them standing up,and rather a lot cracked along their edges] and only one cracked [and that a small one],so I guess this is the way to do it. I have been known to forget the outcome of successful experiments [and senselessly repeat mistakes],so I took this picture to remind myself for next time.


Tel Hayot

Last Friday at Yasmin's studio in Mei Ami [the sign says "Miami"] was the 2nd meeting of graduates of Tel Hai Pottery School for the purposes of rigorous self-criticism and mutual support [and sampling each other's cakes].

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More Students' Work

It was interesting to have similar pots in the two anagamas; the Tel Hai firing was hotter but shorter [2+ days],so the lumps of Shigaraki feldspar in the clay melted the way they're meant to,leaving small white blobs,but running ash effects were more restrained,as in a regular wood firing: Meir's firing - cooler but longer [5 1/2 days] - gave more dramatic pots with drier textures.Both were good firings,both left [to my mind] room for improvement. I think that Meir's firing suffered from green unsplit wood,which took too much heat from the kiln,and clogged the ash pits - the wood at Tel Hai was excellent,just the right length,expertly split by Netzer &co,and dry,but I'd like to see the firing there carry on a day longer. I'm only a guest at these two kilns,and have no intention of building one in the near future,so these are merely musings after the short but intensive Israeli anagama season; I'm very happy with all my pots from both firings,and the fresh shipment of stoneware arrived today,so I'm raring to get down to some production throwing so I can crank out a few kilns in honour of the forthcoming Passover holidays.

Students' Work

As we welcome the 12000th visitor to the blog [yes,you in Ramat Gan!],let's take a quick look at students' work from the Tel Hai anagama: