Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nightmares from the past - what makes for a really bad day!

I spent an enjoyable hour today looking through some old albums for one particular photo of my husband trying a very unorthodox kiln firing technique, which I never did find. However, this group of photos surfaced, and it's a memory that I'm glad I don't think about every day - a major kiln fail that leaves one with a major sinking feeling in the heart, soul, and pocket book.

Pictured is our elevator kiln with what was 4+ levels of glazed field tiles, round and square caps, and mudbases. The kiln envelope is lowered onto the base for firing, and apparently the temperature probe got bent and pressed up against one of the shelves. This skewed the readings that were being fed to the computer causing the kiln to over-fire by quite a bit....

This photo shows a collapsed tile rack holding square caps and blue field tile that have fallen on top of them.

Here's the back side showing another rack with yellow square and round caps. The rack sits on a lovely misshapen set of large round shelves. They were rated to cone 10, so that's an idea of how hot it got in there. Under that warped mess are 3 more shelf levels that have square caps.

Here's a view of that large 1/2 shelf in an interesting shape. The clay body is a cone 6 porcelain, but glazed with a cone 01 glaze that melted right off the clay onto the shelves.

And this spongy mess.....well, this was a tile setter that was rated to cone 10, but since our porcelain field tile seemed to hold their shape better than this piece of tile furniture, I'm guessing it wouldn't have really passed the cone 10 test firing. However, we're quite sure the interior of this kiln easily made it to a teenager cone temperature.

The photo I was looking for was of my husband rigging up 2 Skutt kilns on their sides to try to fire a very large sample tile for Bill Gates......well, that's another story.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Song of the Day - John Prine "Aint Hurtin Nobody"

John Prine was on the stereo today as I did some house cleaning and pulled the last of the summer weeds just outside the back door. I have many fond memories of seeing him in concert over the years, starting in the 70's when I was in college, and most recently a few months ago at The Egg in Albany, NY. Some of my best memories are of singing along to his songs on all day road trips in the fall, leaf peeping, car windows down, just enjoying it all.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Carving Project - Part 2

My last post got me part way through the biggest carving challenge yet - a three tile panel. Well, the carving of the panel is now done, so I'll bring you up to date.

The hardest part of the carving was the left tile, with only a grainy photo enlargement of a black and white catalog page, with very little detail.

I put my son to work, modeling the hand detail where the soldier is holding a spear.

I carved the details more pronounced, thinking that they would tend to disappear when the mosaic lines were added. After finally finishing the panel, I decided that I should cast plaster moulds before the mosaic lines went in.

Since this is a 3 tile set, it needed to be poured in 3 sections for pressing into wet clay. I started with the left side - the last part to be carved.

Success with the first mould - and with all the other sections too!

Then onto carving the mosaic lines.

It took me longer than I had thought it would to carve the mosaic lines in....about 3 - 4 hours, over 2 days time. Then on to pouring another 3 section mould set. The moulds are now drying and will get pressed next week, with another few weeks before they'll be ready for glazing. I'll open the glaze kiln with much anticipation, because that's the only time I can really tell if I've got it right!

You can find more photos of the process on my flickr page.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My latest carving project - The Roman Soldier

This one has given me quite the reproduce one section of a three tile set depicting a reclining Roman soldier. It comes from a private home in California, and was missing the left 6" tile, which is the head, chest, arm, and hand. Luckily the company that originally created the panel, The American Encaustic Tile Company, preserved the full image in a catalog that was issued in 1902. Joe Taylor, from the Tile Heritage Foundation, sent me a high resolution copy of the catalog page, and I re-sized it in photoshop.

The project manager in charge of the restoration of the house sent me the two original tiles to help me with the depth and details of recreating the missing piece. Since the original carving needs to be created larger than the finished tile to allow for the shrinkage of the clay (our clay shrinks 11%), it didn't take me long to realize that I wouldn't be able to carve just the missing piece and expect it to match up exactly with the existing tile next to I decided that I needed to carve the full panel.

I scanned the original tiles and enlarged them 11% to match the catalog image, and I was ready to start carving.....almost. My carving material of choice is wax, and I had to pour a very large blank wax slab to accommodate a 6 3/4" x 20 1/4" piece. I layout the dimensions and carve down around them as a starting point. Then take the enlarged photoshopped images, lay them on the wax, and trace the main features of the image. The lines are transferred onto the wax, and I use them as the starting point of my carving.

Carving the details in the foot. More to show and tell in tomorrow's post!!

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Song of the Day - Van the Man

Van Morrison songs have been swirling in my head a lot these days. Here's a live version of Tupelo Honey, enjoy!

I've been a fan of Van Morrison since my college days, when Moondance was the album of choice during the all-nighters we frequently had near the end of the semester. Nothing compares to his sweet, jazzy music at 4 a.m. to mellow out the effects of caffeine overdose and smokey highs. Yeah, good memories.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Etsy Treasury Features

This lovely treasury made it to the Front Page of Etsy last Saturday, September 11. It's my current favorite...Thanks willowdawn!

'Golden Glow' by willowdawn

Inspired by the fall 2010 Pantone colour palette.

Olive and Amber 20 x 24...

Honey Drops . Long Earr...

Cotton and Merino Wool ...

Tall Oval Daisy Table L...

Bird Flying Tile - 4x4

Beauty of Saffron

Saffron... 1 pom

saffron modern wall clo...

Beauty Luxe sash or bro...

Golden Saffron Glycerin...

Saffron Ring

Hand Painted 2-Ply Supe...

Handwoven Saffron Scarf

SALE -- DAY Cravat Vict...

Lentil Bowl Handbag

Sail, at sunset - fine ...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Museum Meanderings - The Boston Museum of Fine Arts

I missed some postings this week, so I'll check in now with a few of my favorite pieces of Chinese ceramic art from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Captions are from the museum. Enjoy!!

Tea Bowl with impression of a leaf
Southern Song dynasty, 12th-13th centuries
Jizhou ware; stoneware
From early times Chinese potters understood that the ashes of plant materials could melt directly into glazes. Nevertheless, it was an unexpected flight of imagination to imbed a leaf under the dark glazes of this bowl, which was fired to a glassy pool of rich colors that retains the shadow of the leaf.

Covered Bowl
Northern Song dynasty, late 11th - early 12th centuries. Marbleized stoneware, with clear glaze.

Northern Song dynasty, late 11th century. Marbleized stoneware, with clear glaze.

Jar with striated decoration
Tang dynasty, about A.D. 700-750
Sancai polychrome ware; earthenware with cobalt and copper-green glaze.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Not much of a Kubrick fan, are you?"

Not being connected to my e-mail has shown just how dependent on this technology I am...and I'm not that happy about it. But, I do believe it's best to keep it all in perspective...and a sense of humor helps. And that is exactly where the computer generated response is lacking - in humor. Case in for your viewing pleasure is the copied manuscript from my "live-chat" with "Dave" from Time Warner Cable who is my e-mail provider. Enjoy.

Subject: Time Warner Cable Chat Transcript
Date: September 12, 2010 7:24:43 PM EDT (CA)

Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable Chat
We hope that your session with Technical Support was helpful
Below you will find the chat transcript that you requested. We recommend you keep this for future reference. Our Customer Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! - if you need to contact us again, please visit for any questions relating to your Time Warner Cable service, or for Road Runner specific assistance please visit

Dave: Hello! Thank you for choosing Road Runner Internet Technical Chat Support. My name is Dave. How may I assist you?
Linda_: Hi guys, just need to know how to get my e-mail back on line
Dave: I will certainly provide you with all the necessary information. To get us started, I would need to verify some security information and then we can move on to understanding your setup. Feel free to ask questions along the way.
Linda_: Dave - could you open the pod bay door, I mean tell me how to get my email to accept it's password?
Dave: Before we begin, please provide the following three pieces of information to verify your account and to document this interaction for future reference: 1. The account holder's 10 digit telephone number. (xxx-xxx-xxxx) 2. The account holder's Full Name (First and Last) 3. Please tell us your name.
Linda_: OK - my phone # is 518-884-2814

Linda_: my name is Linda Ellett
Dave: Thank you for the information.

Dave: Linda,I understand that you are unable to access your RoadRuner email., am I correct?

Linda_: That's right, Dave, it tells me that my password is invalid
Dave: I regret the inconvenience. We are currently experiencing an issue with our email service wherein our email servers are down. Due to this sending and receiving of emails will be affected.
Linda_: Dave, please open the pod bay door
Linda_: I mean, when can I expect my email to back on?
Dave: I regret currently no expected time of repair is given. We are working on it and some of the servers have been restored back. I request you to try accessing your email account after 5 to 6 hours. I deeply regret the continuing inconvenience caused in this regard since yesterday.
Linda_: But Dave, I really need to check my e-mails. They won't get sucked out into space if the pod bay door opens by accident, will they?
Dave: Please be assured that no e-mails will be lost. Your e-mails are presently being queued and will be delivered to you once normalcy is restored.
Linda_: Dave, normalcy would mean that the oxygen level stays consistent. You'll make sure that it does, right?
Dave: Yes.
Linda_: hmmmmmm - you don't read lips do you?
Dave: No Linda.
Linda_: Ok Dave, but I might have to shut you down, and you'll be singing Daisy dasiy soon.....
Dave: Bye.
Dave: You can always visit for online FAQs to get more help and knowledge about the products and services offered by Road Runner.
Dave: Thank you for contacting Road Runner technical support, again my name is Dave, we value you as a customer.
Linda_: Not a Kubrick fan, I take it.....
Dave: Thank you for understanding the situation,Linda.
Linda_: Listen, I would understand if I was trying to reference an obscure French film, but come on, this is Stanley Kubrick's 2001...who wouldn't like to banter about that?
Dave: Analyst has closed chat and left the room
Linda_: Dave....Dave.....Dave!!!!!

This E-mail and any of its attachments may contain Time Warner Cable proprietary information, which is privileged, confidential, or subject to copyright belonging to Time Warner Cable. This E-mail is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient of this E-mail, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying, or action taken in relation to the contents of and attachments to this E-mail is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this E-mail in error, please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete the original and any copy of this E-mail and any printout.

Not a fully gratifying conversation.....but at least I amused myself.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Song of the Day - The Mountain Goats - No Children (live at Cornell)

Today's "Song of the Day" was picked by our son Harry, who is home from college for the weekend. My current musical inclinations are so influenced by his music library that it's only fitting that he gets today's pick, also, since he brought along two recently purchased CD's by the group The Mountain Goats, how could they not be the choice. AND...when I searched youtube for a music video of them - up popped this live version of them singing "No Children" at....yes, bring it on....Cornell University, where Harry is currently a junior. AHHH - the universe is singing along.

Sorry for the poor quality, but, hey - find a better version on youtube for yourself!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Etsy Mud Team Tile Challenge

The Etsy Mud Team is having a Tile Challenge, and I've entered a hand-carved tile that I've titled "Homage to a spider that I squashed".

This hand-carved tile measures approximately 7 1/2" wide X 9 1/2" high, and about 3/4" thick. It was carved in a tan stoneware clay as homage to a spider that I squashed. In all fairness to myself, it clearly crossed the personal space boundaries posted in my studio policies. AND, it came upon me without notice, and JUMPING at that, so it wasn't pre-meditated squashing, but it was well deserved. I don't make it a habit of squashing spiders, and when they appear near or on me when I'm outside, I usually just brush them away. I admit this one gave me quit a start. Hey, even Miss Muffett, who I hear was known for her calm, collected manner, reacted in a poor fashion when surprised by an arachnid. The tile is glazed in a gloss black on the spider body, green shino on the "web" border, and glossy clear in the background and spider markings.

You can vote for my spider tile HERE and find out more about who the Etsy Mud Team is right HERE.

Vote for your favorite tile created by the talented artists of the Etsy Mud Team. After you vote, go to any of the shops listed on the main page and receive 20% off your purchase -- you'll need to type TILE20 into the notes to seller and they will refund your discount.


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Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Natural World - Spiderwebs and Sunflowers

I might not have seen these beautiful webs that were catching the morning sunlight, if my husband, Don, hadn't called me outside. Dew clung everywhere and the mist was still close to the ground.

Don wondered where the owner of this web was.

This spider sits right in the center- it's a lot smaller than I would have thought.

Abbey sits and watches us. This fence post gives her a great view of the small creatures of the field, and offers her the best vantage point for surprise attacks. She's an undeterred hunter. I've tried, but she represents a certain link in the food chain that disadvantages the poor little furry things. Alas to those that don't run faster, or move more stealthily. On to the sunflowers...
I love sunflowers and plant as many as I can every spring. This garden is in full bloom and it is buzzing with activity. Quite literally. My second garden of sunflowers decided to turn away from me this year and face only the rising sun, instead of it's full afternoon blaze. I'm not sure why this is - in past years the friendly smiles of the blooms looked my way all day long.
Yellow Lite
Autumn Mix
Felis Sylvestris Catus

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday Blog - Museum Meanderings - Metropolitan Museum of Art

As many times as I've been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is many, I always seem to find my way to the Byzantine Art. I stood in front of this piece for a very long time, as if by staring at it I might own the same skills that the artists who rendered this had.

It's a "Khatchkar" (Stone Cross) and was carved out of basalt around 1100 - 1200 in the Republic of Armenia.

I'll be back to look at this another time.

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