Friday, August 26, 2011

Smooth Canoes?

What is this? Helen though it was advertising cake for the ultra-orthodox,which would be strange enough,but what exactly is a glatt kayak? The women sit in the back? Non-kosher fish are taken out of the river? The boats are carefully checked to make sure their sinews are removed? Maybe [and I hope] the business is just run by the Glatt family...


This is what happened to a red cabbage in our fridge. Helen thought you might like to see it.

Time to Make Wine

The vine looks healthier this year, growing in places where it hasn't grown for years,recovered from the red-spot leaf disease it's had recently,and with more bunches of good-looking grapes: I have no idea what caused this improvement- maybe a couple of years' good pruning,maybe the visit of the vine doctor earlier this year [he didn't do anything,but maybe his presence was sufficient]. These three bins of grapes trod down to the green bin full of crushed grapes and juice,now covered with a plastic sheet and bubbling away in the coolest room in the house for the next 3-4 days.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Here's my Naaman porcelain after a couple of days' drying on towels- just about ready to wedge.
Yesterday's salt firing went well- started glazing and loading at 9 a.m.,started firing at 12 and finished- including 30 mins. oxidising fire at the end and a quarter of an hour crash cooling- by 8:30,with 6 1/2 kilos of coarse salt,cone 10 curiously bent and cone 11 on its way. Opening this afternoon...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Sounds of Clay

You'll need a quiet space and loud speakers to hear this- a binful of dried-out Naaman porcelain lumps slaking away thirstily in water. It happened late at night in my studio in Tsfat, where the noise was quite dramatic. Click on title for Youtube video.


Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm preparing a batch of our Naaman porcelain; here's a bin-full of the raw dry stuff,ready to be wetted down...beautiful in its own right,I think.

Natlot for the Salt Kiln

Inspired by the last salt firing, I'm planning another one next week- some more slabbed mugs [using a slightly different technique],some slabbed bowls [first time I've tried them] and,at the last moment,some larger two-handled slabbed washing cups,shown here with freshly-attached handles,awaiting thumb-stops [not strictly necessary on washing cups,but they add that finishing touch] and slip. A whole lot of slabbing going on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Knew You'd Ask

Man Ray- Cadeau
Cribbage board


You're right- the timing is a bit strange: I don't know who arranges these matters- it is a little early in the year to be thinking of Chanukiot,but this is a shape/design I have had in my head for a good few years,and apparently it was time for it to emerge. The top plate is built like a box-lid,with the bottom part a container for olive oil [I haven't made Chanukiot specifically for burning olive oil before]. The skinny brass tubes are sold here with bundles of wicks,mainly used for lighting Shabbat lights [oil]. I can feel a number of influences at work without being able [yet] to enumerate them all [cribbage boards? Man Ray's Cadeau?]. They're made from rather thin slabs of porcelain,with lots of joins,so I'll have to see how they survive drying [let alone firing]- I think a nice thick celadon glaze is called for.
Meanwhile [as the Klezmer bands warm up outside for night #2 of our Tsfat Klezmer festival] I'm gearing up for another salt firing,inspired by the last one- both the relative smoothness of the loading/firing process,the successful outcome,and the fact that I've already sold quite a few mugs from that firing at the [for me] very respectable price of 100 shekels a pop.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slab-built Mugs for the Salt Kiln - Video!

Click on the title for a rather long [but explicit] Youtube video- these things take time!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Get Ready

Building the stage above our house for next week's annual Klezmer festival,an activity always done at night, amid great banging and clanking of pipes and much raucous shouting.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Grape Check

With about a month to go before wine-making time, I went up on the roof today to check progress [and do battle with a couple of persistent and aggressive caper bushes]. There seems to be a good quantity of grapes this year,with less of the red-speckled leaf problem than in past years. The grapes taste good,although as you can see they still have some ripening to do. Last year's yield was around 20 bottles [of which one is left]- this year looks like 30 or more.

Why is the U.N. hostile to Israel?

I rarely bother you with political stuff, but,if you're curious about why we in Israel get such a bad press, I recommend that you click on the title & watch this [thanks,Jackie].


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pots from the Salt Firing

This was one of the more successful salt firings that I've done: we arrived at Tel Hai at 9 o'clock Tuesday morning with 50-odd bisced but unglazed [inside] pots and had everything glazed,wadded and loaded into the kiln ready to fire by 12. Cone 8 [1250ยบ] was dropping by 6 in the afternoon and by around 9 we were done and on our way back to Tsfat,with 6 1/2 kilos of salt in the kiln,6 rings pulled,cone 10 almost flat,30 mins. oxidising, and crash cooling at the end of the firing. We returned to open the kiln yesterday at around 6 pm [it was at just the right temperature to unload]- everything looks good [with,of course,room for improvement] and now I have a nice batch of salt-glazed mugs and bowls for the studio. if I were to do another salt firing {say in mid-September] would anyone out there be interested in taking part?

More New Work

The last batch of Tsfat shot cups has recently sold out,so I put some more in the lustre kiln,decorated with gold lustre on the unglazed porcelain; the other picture is some small copper-red porcelain dishes- my red glaze had been causing me problems over the last few kilns,but seems to have sorted itself out now. I suspect that the firing is the main factor,but I'm not altogether sure what changed in this last series of kilns...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

3 Kilns

A sample from the Summer firings- three gas kilns,including some rather successful refirings from the wood kiln,and a small lustre firing,with maybe some more pots from yesterday's salt firing to come...