Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Potluck tonight

It's the season of the Potluck and I have one tonight.

I'm attending the Xmas Potluck and Not-So-Silent Auction of the Richmond Hill Potters and Weavers Guilds. I am bringing Cucumbers with Hummus and Yogurt,
a recipe from Fine Cooking's 200 Appetizers.

Basically it's a slice of seedless cucumber, a tsp of hummus and a dollop of natural yogurt.

The recipe calls for toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top, which in the picture of the recipe look adorable, but I didn't find them and, honestly, my appetizers look more rustic than the evenly shaped mounds in the book's photo.

The hummus is really good. I have wanted to make it for years. To me, this is the benefit of a potluck; I get to make (and try) things I don't normally do.

I know others rely and the tried and true but I look at it like this: my contribution will be one of *many* items on that food table. If it's not very good, well, I tried and people can choose something else. To me, this is a great environment for experimentation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Xmas 2011: Gifts I Don't Want to Give or Receive, mostly.

Jungle Animals in a Dew Drop puzzle

that's a big drop of water or those are teeny tiny animals... and are they trapped? are they sad?


Girls Pink Spy Kit

it's pink so... not as serious? Doesn't she look smug?
I've got a secret...lalalalala


Alpha Pig

Try Me = the hammer moves a-little-bit


Rolling Stones Monopoly $29.99
Metallica Monopoly $39.99

what's with the price discrepancy? And why are the Metallica guys cartoon figures?
I *almost* want this though. I admit it.

Metallica Monopoly tokens

Rolling Stones Monopoly tokens - I like these


Garden Gnome to paint


Senior Moments game

okay. I don't want to play a game where no one remembers anything or who went last or where you left the scorecard or your glasses or when you last played a game like this... maybe if you're in the market for a game like this then you may be old enough to enjoy


Elvis Bingo

but I won't cast stones as the bands of My Youth are also bingoing
Gen X we now have

Kiss Bingo

as it says "two classics rolled into one"
"is there nothing Gene won't put his name on," my shopping companion remarked


another songster was discovered an aisle over
this was the only action figure in the Super Stars series we could find
this was series 3 btw--more research needed on this I think

A Cool Dozen Ice T's $2.99

we mused how 12 Ice T's would make an awesome army
lined up on an office desk
but spending almost $40 on Ice T figures just seemed a little decadent

Ice T action figure explained


Scary My Little Pony Set

not-very-ponylike #1

not-very-ponylike #2


Wooden Doughnuts

very Canadian

Wooden Doughnuts: used for math, not for the microwave (says so in the small print)


Family Guy Operation

a lot of people like Family Guy
I can't say I am a fan but it has a few moments


Nightmare Before Christmas Oogie Boogie Operation

this *almost* came home with me.
Nightmare Before Christmas is in my top 5 films
ultimately I thought, I am not 8 so I left it behind

Doorprize and Best of Show at 2011 Richmond Hill Potters' Guild Sale

The Doorprize: Red-Nosed Reindeer
stoneware, cone 6 Tucker's Oilspot glaze, metal rod legs, stained glass base


Best in Show: Shark Platter
stoneware, cone 6, studio glazes

Friday, November 25, 2011

Better to Apologize than Ask Permission - Kinmount Shoe Trees

Blogging is a strange communicative form. Most of my posts get a handful of views but some like the one I wrote about the Shoetrees of Kinmount have steadily drawn eyes to this blog week after week.

Kinmount Shoetrees circa 2008

I got an email from a reader advising me the shoetrees were destroyed. On the orders of one local town councilman the trees were cut down. There was no public consultation just a man and his opinion and his ability to get the job done. The trees now only exist in photographs and memories. Here is a recent picture of the shoetree site:

Kinmount, where the Shoetrees were, 2011

There, that's better right? Right??

Shoetrees, like authentic farmers' markets, spring from the zeitgeist of the community. They just start and someone else comes along and says whoa and they add their two cents and then the thing becomes a Thing and people love it because it is Real, not commercial, not "planned" but a space people feel is theirs to add to and to participate in. I was one of the tourists who parked on the side of the road to see the shoes. I guess I contributed to the worsening of the asphalt, one of the reasons given for getting rid of the messy eyesore. I never did get to add my fuzzy slippers or my flip flops to the tree.

It seems to me this is a missed opportunity for the local town. They should have sold postcards and t-shirts and had some local artisan create "make your own shoetree" kits instead of just destroying them. When I drove to Florida this spring we came across a site that reminded me of
Kinmount. In South Carolina they celebrate their local version of the shoetree called The Mystery Tree on Edisto Island. The site made it into Roadside America which directs people to areas to see interesting things when they are on a drive aka tourists, tourism, a local economic boost in these difficult economic times.

Edisto Island Mystery Tree
Image found on the

More background info here:

But I suppose the Kinmount trees were an eyesore to those who had to see it all the time. Many people don't like anything messy or disorderly or spontaneous. That's all risky business that. In fact is it downright Troublesome. Better to have peace, calm, flat, empty, open space...nothing to see here folks...move along...

More about the Kinmount shoetrees and their demolition here

My Life imitates My Art

One Bird in the presence of Another Bird

Indoor Kitty sees Outdoor Kitty

One Bird Noticing Other Bird

Indoor Kitty and Outdoor Kitty about to meet eyes

Richmond Hill Potters' Guild - Fall Sale Today thru Sunday

Today is the start of the three day Fall Sale of the work by the members of the Richmond Hill Potters' Guild. I was helping out with the set up of the members' work and there's some really good stuff. Honest.

Guild Hall: pre sale set-up day
Note the unique environs with all our wares perched atop looms!!
So many looms in one room!!

I made a bunch of things based on the idea of the Messenger. Since this is a public sale it's only happy messages this time round... the theme may carry on in other art media in other venues, but for now here are some of the things I made:

You Are My Island
close up of center of large bowl

You Are My Island large handbuilt bowl approx 24" diameter
stoneware, cone 6, underglaze and glaze

Messenger birds en masse

Two messengers of mine

Red Bird, handbuilt, wonky, cup and saucer set, made by me
cone 6, stoneware, glaze, underglaze

Fellow guild member Diane Thompson also made birds

As did Bev Turnbull

Garden Guardians by guild member Jeff Shortt
I am in LOVE with these characters.
For me they are the best in show.

Happy Happy Joy Joy.

Hope to see you at the sale this weekend.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

No trick or treaters yet.

UPDATE: the 1st bunch of 12, yes 2 groups of 6, arrived at 7:16, then we had a smattering of trick or treaters until 8:49 when we turned out the pumpkin.
OF NOTE: many tricker or treaters said trick or treat, smell my feet here, more than anywhere else I've lived.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin 2011

I'm hoping to carve another pumpkin today, but if not, I did do this one.
I brought it over to the Hill Potters' Guild for the Burr House Tea Room.
If I could make a living carving pumpkins I would like that.

Scenic Shot with Pumpkin #1
Burr House Craft Gallery and Tea Room to the left

Scenic Shot with Pumpkin #2
Guild Hall, home of the Weavers' and Potters' Guilds, to the right

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Raku and Smoke Firing - Hill Potters' Guild Backyard

I did my first raku firing ever yesterday in the back parking lot of the Hill Potters' Guild.It was a cool, damp fall day, not so great for hanging out but fantastic for firing up a kiln.

raku supplies: sawdust, shredded paper, heat resistant gloves, masks, pots, snacks

We needed sawdust, shredded paper, propane, pyrometer, the thing that channels the flame to the kiln (completely forget what this is called right now), a kiln sitter (cone 06), gloves, masks, metal containers to act as fire pits to receive the heated clay objects.

setting up the kiln

raku kiln BEFORE

I chose to raku 4 objects: three small bird figures and a large human figure. I made sure the pits I placed my work hot from the kiln had the same material in them--(a base of sawdust and then shredded paper around it) so I could assess my choice of glazes better. I chose not to use the pits in the ground but metal contaimers as my pieces were tall and small.
Two other guild members, Kathy and Bev, were also rakuing and leading me through it.

There were some surprises.

raku kiln AFTER

empty raku pits - sawdust bottom then shredded paper

I had to suit up before I could get close to the kiln to take the door off and get my work out and in to the pits.

My mask was poor. I really need a better one.
It was so smoky. I wasn't ready for all the smoke.

smoky pits with hot ceramic pieces from the kiln in them

smoke from the pits

While we waited for our pieces to cool off I experimented with smoke firing.
This is the easiest surface effect I have tried yet. Get a metal garbage can, put your piece in the can, crumple newspaer around it and set it on fire. Add more paper as needed depending on how your piece looks. Sometimes we put a lid on the can to create even more smoke in it.

adding fuel to the fire

burning paper all around my sculpture

dying embers


smoke firing with lid on to make it more smoky

final results