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.