Friday, February 26, 2010

Farewell my Lovelies

The bisc unloaded, ready to be packed up and taken to Meir's anagama next week. Who knows when we shall meet again.

Zadok Ben David @ T.A. Museum


The indispensible Cobi from Tel Hai arranged a packed day-trip for all the painters/potters/sculptors/jewellers to Tel Aviv,checking out Bet Hatfutsot [ exhibitions of "Judaica with a Twist" and "Brides",among others],the Diamond Centre,where we had to keep our hands in our pockets,the Rubinstein Gallery [semi-incomprehensible,intermittently interesting] and the Tel Aviv Museum,where Ben David's show "Human Nature" is an unexpected huge hit,with long [patient,orderly] queues to see his installation "Black Field".
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Always Something New

On my last visit to Minerals & Refractories in Magshimim I couldn't resist a 1.50m. length of kiln-prop [part of the challenge was to see if I could get it home in one piece]. I've been contemplating how to slice it up into useable sections ever since- today I took the plunge and started to cut it using a couple of large hacksaw blades I bought a while ago [because they looked like they might come in useful one fine day],running a dribble of water over the pipe as I cut it to lubricate and keep down the dust....The ends didn't come out as square as when Moshe cuts them with his chop-saw at the factory,but then again - my kiln shelves aren't that flat either.With a few more pieces still to cut,the teeth on the finer saw-blade are almost worn flat. I've acquired several families of kiln-props over the years,but this is the first time I've cut my own.Meanwhile I'm bisc-firing pots for anagamas - Meir starts loading next week.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Slow Cooking Turkish Style

Here's the suggested heating/firing rate for the newly-cast Tel Hai salt kiln door,from the Turkish refractory manufacturers. Over a hundred hours? That's like an anagama firing...My instincts say they're just playing safe,but on second thoughts maybe they know what they're talking about and we should follow instructions.Now I'm waiting for third thoughts...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That Japanese Site

Click on title to view. Lots of pots, lots of ideas.


These rather strange-looking bowl-like objects emerged while putting the teapots together. I had the idea of trying marbled clays for the anagama,something I've never done before [nor seen done],and copied the shape from a site of Japanese pots [I'll try to post the link]. The bowls were thrown as spheres,then sliced when leather-hard.Then,having finished the teapots,and having some spare spouts left over,I thought that the strange bowls might look interesting with spouts as handles.I'll let them dry and then think again.

Tea for Three

Here are the finished teapots,which I hope will hang nicely from those cane handles I prepared the other day.

How It's Done

How I do it,anyway. A short and,I hope,entertaining/instructive video. Click to view.

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A rare view [three,even] of an inverted strainer before the teapot spout is attached. You can only do this [push in the strainer] if you catch your teapot at exactly the right degree of softness - but then assembling teapots is all about catching degrees of softness,which is why they're hard to do in the Summer.Robin Welch used to do this - the idea is that the leaves don't get a chance to bunch up in the otherwise cup-shaped strainer area,thus impeding the flow of tea...but I think it's more a little craftsman-like thing we do while having fun putting teapots together.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GunnMarit Throws a Saucer

Gunn is the Head of the Pottery School at Tel Hai,where she's been teaching for well over twenty years. If you click on the title,you'll be whisked off to Youtube-land,where you can see her in action.
By the way- if you hear strange reggae-like music playing in the background,drop down the blog until you get to the entry with the Jango Jukebox and turn it off [unless you're enjoying the music].


Tel Hai Students' Blog

Our generally-technophobic students have started a blog,encouraged by GunnMarit and managed by Liora. Those of you who struggle with my English will be relieved to learn that it's in Hebrew. Click on the title above to see it.

Casting a Door

For the Tel Hai salt kiln. Cobi and Oded doing the work while I stand around making helpful comments. With the basic mould ready [as you can see,it's nothing fancy,put together from scrap wood] it took about an hour and a half to mix,pour and finish,sticking in appropriate bricks and plugs for the various openings required [burner,salt,cones/rings] and strips of tin to divide the door into manageable blocks. It needs a few days to set and dry,then a slow bisc and it's ready to go into service. We used two 25kg sacks of refractory castable mix,which cost around 350 shekels/$100.

Sixteen Handles

...make a lovely sight,to paraphrase the song [ a doo-wop classic,which you probably don't remember]. With anagamas looming,and Reb. Meir's advice ["Make teapots!"] ringing in my ears,I sliced up a hank of cane that's been draped in a corner of the studio for the last twenty years or so [no idea where it came from] into teapot-handle-length bundles,and will now sit and attempt to throw some teapots,bearing in mind that not every shape is suitable for overhead cane handles.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Second Round

The cream of the crop from Day 2. The students have made a new mould for the salt-kiln door,so,although we're technically on a break,I'm hoping to go in next week to help them cast it with the castable refractory mix I bought from M&R last week.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Critique/Tel Hai/First Semester/First and [Some] Second Year Students

Shelley from Jerusalem reminds me now and then when I haven't posted for a while - just in time to take a look at some of the work that caught my eye on the first day of bikoret avoda,a fraught [emotionally] but very enjoyable occasion,with a gratifying amount of good stuff on display.
In the studio I've been hard at work firing three kilns' worth of pots [and some lustres] - good firings,even and well-reduced for a change. I feel I've found the rhythm of the new kiln - it's a good and straightforward kiln,but it still took me 10 firings to get into the swing. Next up is a batch of pots for forthcoming anagamas - both Tel Hi and Meir are firing towards the end of February,which will entail some juggling on my part to show up at both. I currently have five clays in the studio,and hope to make a couple of pieces in each of a number of 50/50 blends for the anagamas - French stoneware,English buff and salt clays,Meir's mix and Coleman porcelain. I have no idea how the blends will come out,but each clay by itself should do something [though,from experience, nothing too spectacular],and I'm hoping that one or two of the mixes will point in a direction for future experiments.