Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy Wednesday!

I am getting into a creative groove and was excited to have a customer/student ask if they could make a dimensional porcelain (or other ceramic clay) heart wall hanging.  She showed me photos of what she had seen another artist do.

Well, not wanting to copy, and not having the photo in front of me (just my memory of what was in it), I proceeded to try to fabricate a hump mold to create them on top of... that failed me... so, instead I just used a curved piece of lightweight chip board, like gift boxes are made from.  In fact, I used some shirt boxes I purchased at the dollar store.







This was my prototype.  It is still un-fired in this photo.  It is difficult to see that it is a convex curve.  The ones in class are much more pronounced.

The glazes I ordered on the 4th didn't arrive until the Monday after the Saturday class... frustrating!  But, they couldn't have used them that day anyway.

I have made multiple test tiles to sample a variety of glazes and their compatibility with one another.  When those are done, the ladies can glaze!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Out with the old and in with the new

It has been a busy year.  I have been working at our store, which consumes 6 days a week, and I have been busy with house/pet-sitting as well.  My one regret is that I have not had as much time to put into my clay creating as I had wanted to, for a number of reasons, including not being home in the evenings while house sitting.  I also was just not in that frame of mind for a bit and it took a lot to get myself back into the groove.  I hope to not have that happen this coming year.  (I think I say that EVERY year!)

One thing I did do was make a family favorite treat at Christmas time: Strufoli.  It is an Italian treat, from what we can tell, it probably is Sicilian.  I had not made it since the 1980's!  My intention was to make it last year, but the very night I was planning to make it was when I got so sick.

It started with Mom's recipe:

This is not the copy we used to use in her cookbook, but it is in her handwriting.  The "original" was long ago stained with oils and probably honey as well.

Then, after mixing the dough, I rolled it into small balls:


Once I was about 2/3 of the way through rolling them, I started heating the oil in a shallow pan on the stove.  I also started to heat the honey mixed with the orange rind.  I added the surplus lemon rind I had grated for the dough.:


Once the dough had been fried to a light golden brown, I drained it on paper towels, along with some slivered almonds I also had lightly toasted in the oil:




Into the infused honey they went, and then they drained a bit before placing them in the serving dish:

Once in the dish, they were joined by the almonds (which had also gone into the honey bath) and sprinkled with colorful non-pariels:

It was sooooo good!  Memories of Mom & Nana came flooding into my head as I taste tested the first piece.  Brother Rick and his wife Alice were visiting over Christmas and he approved of the taste.  We also brought it down to our niece Karen's house the day after Christmas and our Sister Sue approved.  Karen and her brother Bobby and his wife Shelly also approved, although they don't recall ever having it before.  I was sure to leave some with all of them.  I then brought a bit into the store yesterday to share with our friend Marissa (who had made it before) and she liked it.  (Her 2 year old son loved it so much he stole all of the leftovers from her!)   I just wish I had known her mom Rose was going to be in the store on Christmas Eve, I would have brought some for her to try, it is one of her favorites.

If you have never had it before, it is not an overly sweet treat, the sweetness comes from the honey, but it is delectable!

My next project is to get a sample puffed heart wall hanging done out of porcelain for a class I am teaching in January.  And also pull out the Teapot mold so I can make an Ebonyware teapot for a customer who received one in the 1990's and had broken it.  It was such a surprise to open that email and read that she had looked to see if I was still out here and still making pottery.

May 2017 be a year of healing and of joys.  I was horrified at how nasty all sides got during the US presidential election.  I can only say I did not like any of the candidates from the time the first one threw their hat into the ring.  But we must persevere and try again next time to find a cast of candidates better suited to the job at hand.  I know some of you may disagree with me, that is fine.  If we all had the same tastes and same opinions, the world would be a very boring place.  It takes all to make things work.  And a lot of the politicians on both sides need to learn how to work together and compromise.  This all or nothing attitude has made the work of our presidents difficult for many years, through several presidencies.

Ok, my semi-rant is over.


Peace to you and yours.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful

I have not had the time to post this last month as I was feverishly producing for the Mistletoe Market.  I can report that the show was a great success again this year with a lot of Angel & Santa Hat ornaments finding new homes.

The ornament display when I had forgotten to bring the Christmas tree...

The rest of the booth.

I brought the tree the second day and placed it on the other table.


I had some great feedback about the ornaments.  Some thought the angels should have bells inside to go with the famous quote from It's A Wonderful Life.  Some thought the Santa Hats should also have bells, jingle bells.  I am not sure if I will do either, but they are not bad ideas.

Here is a close-up of the Santa Hats.

Santa Hat ornaments, introduced 11/18/2016




Thanksgiving was a fabulous day filled with my family and delicious foods.  This evening I am house-sitting & cat-sitting for a friend.  Tomorrow is a long day at work.  Black Friday and we will also be staying open late during the Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Village Green just out in front of our store. 

With all of that going on, the return of kidney stones is not a good thing.  Hopefully they will sit in one spot and not move. 

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving (what is left of it) and a Merry Christmas.  May the New Year bring you peace and happiness.  (I do hope to check in with you before then.)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Here are the finished pumpkins!  Only 4 of them are ones I made, the rest were made by my students!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Progress!

I have been busy with a lot of house & pet-sitting jobs lately, but I am trying to squeeze in some creative time in between to build stock for the Mistletoe Market.

I have a kiln load of angels bisque firing at the moment, and included in that firing are some pumpkins!

The pumpkins second from the left in both rows are mine, the others were made by 3 of my students.  I have since made more and will have some available at Mistletoe Market.

A customer came in The Mercantile yesterday and asked if I had a new design for ornaments this year (in addition to the angels), so I am working on a couple of ideas there.  I am also working on some leaf ornament samples for a class I will be offering in a couple of weeks.

I had a scare today while Dad was out, I looked out the front window as a Pendleton Police car pulled into our driveway.  P A N I C!!  It turns out that some kids called 9-1-1 and would not let the operator speak to an adult.  And it was from a cell phone that showed it was about where our house is.  I sent him to a house a couple of doors down where I know they have children.  There aren't many on our street.

So, that is about all I can report on today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The latest to be completed...

I have been working on creating for stock and for Mistletoe Market again.  Most of what I have at the moment are my angels.

First, what they look like after the first firing but before glazing and assembly (no, the pumpkin and the bowl will not change into angels...):


Once they are glazed and fired again, I add gold highlights and the heads and halos.  There is a hook at the top to hang on a tree if desired, but I have a lot of people say they leave theirs out on a shelf all year round.

9/29/16 update - B3, R1 and P2 have sold.

I do have more I am creating, after-all, I did sell over 200 of them last year (YAY!).

The angels are one-of-a-kind, no two exactly alike.  I create whatever the clay tells me to when I pick it up.  If anyone requests anything the guidelines are: size (larger/smaller - none are over 3" to the top of the ceramic robes), arms or not, and color (from the four colors I routinely offer - Blue, Purple, Red or Green - as shown in photo).  I can also personalize with a name in gold at no extra cost.  Other than that, it is whatever my hands create, I cannot even have people choose wing style, because they are what they are at that moment.

The cost is $20/angel with shipping additional, if needed.

I wanted to update everyone and let you see some of the results.

Off to a new pet-sitting job this evening... an adorable Westie!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Christmas in July Iris Folding

I said that I would show the completed samples of the Iris Folding cards I designed for the Christmas in July class.  Well, here they are!







Well, after seeing the patterns I drew, did you think the cards would look anything like this?  It was so much fun creating these for my students.  I love how they all turned out but, I do have my favorites, which one(s) are yours?