Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Glaze Tests

I've been mixing some new glazes and running tests on them and this Speckled Glaze looks promising. The test tile looks amazing! I also tested a thick coating on a coffee mug and it ran like hell and glued itself to a kiln shelf, so more work needs to be done. Still, this one is luscious!

Speckled Glaze ^6 Oxidation
Gerstley Borate 59
Talc 41
add Rutile 18

I am also curious to see what would happen with iron oxide or cobalt carbonate as a colorant. There may be more to see from this glaze. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Easy Favorite Winter Dinner

Cool weather has finally come to the Appalachians. To celebrate turning the heat on, I made a pot of my favorite soup, Pasta e Fagioli. This soup is hearty and filling plus it is done in under 30 minutes, but it tastes and smells like you slaved all day on it.

I don't do a lot of measuring, so if this makes you uncomfortable, I'm sorry, but this soup is pretty forgiving. Don't worry and just go with the flow. If you get a little more of this or less of that don't worry. It will work out. The secret to this recipe is olive oil and lots of it!

Pasta e Fagioli
Olive oil
½ - 1 pound of cubed ham
2 cans of Great Northern White Beans or Cannelini
1 can of Italian diced tomatoes, drained
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
I small onion diced
1 quart of chicken stock
1-2 cups small pasta (small shells, etc)

Heat a large soup pot to medium. Add a liberal coating of olive oil. Lightly brown your ham. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Add in one quart of chicken stock. Add in one can of beans, drained, and one can with the juice. Add drained tomatoes. Stir and bring to a boil. When the soup is at a rapid boil, add in your pasta and cook until al dente.

Serve in bowls, drizzled with olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese. With a chunk of crusty bread to mop of the liquid, it is a great meal.

While the onions are cooking, you can add in diced carrots and celery, but we don't always have it on hand and it adds to the cooking time.

If you wanted to do a vegetarian version, you could sub vegetable stock for chicken stock and take out the ham, but you would have to add salt to make up for the ham. I would definitely add in the carrots and celery to round out the soup in a vegetarian version.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where's the time?

I have been trying my hardest to figure out how to get more hours into a day, but so far, nothing is working. I have custom orders lined up. I tape the invoices to the wall behind my wheel, and I am running out of space! I have tea sets, sets of bowls communion, sets, and huge fruit bowls to get done. On top of that I have monogrammed ornaments to paint, baby plates, and Christmas platters to paint. And I still need to keep finished pottery on my shelves for shoppers.

It isn't even November yet! Next month will be even crazier! I am so grateful that many of my customers are beating the rush this year. It will help me not feel so frazzled over the next 2 months. Don't tell anyone, but I already find myself looking forward to January!

I chose the Raven Magnet for this post because of Poe's penchant for pointing out that there is nothing more threatening then one's own mind. The most terrifying of ghosts is our own conscience. Or in my case, my own "To Do" lists.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Alex and I own a paint-your-own ceramics shop - the kind that families visit at the holidays to make hand print plates and ornaments. Most of our clients are families with young children. They come and go and we see but a snapshot of their lives. But some families return again and again, year after year. While the children paint, we catch up with the parents. If older children are still working we entertain the younger ones. We look forward to their visits and they work their way into our hearts.

One such family has been coming into our shop on a regular basis for at least 5 years. Nik, the youngest child, was a toddler when we first met him. He was full of energy, engaging, and sweet. His older sisters, Katarina and Rebekka, have always been full of questions, very frank and sure of themselves. This family is something special. We always have been excited to see them come through the door, looked forward to hearing about the next year in school, the family trips, and all their adventures.

Last night, I learned that Nik had been killed in a horrible freak accident. He was seven years old. Their last visit to the shop was only 2 weeks ago. I cannot imagine the grief of this family. I pray that the light that I have always seen in the girls' eyes does not disappear. The family may have no idea that they have been such a joy in my life. They would probably be shocked to learn that I burst into tears at the news of their loss. Today I am praying that they will find peace following their grief.

I know firsthand that life can be drastically changed in an instant. I know that life is a fragile thing and our time here is short. I want to believe that everything thing in my life will remain as it is, yet, when a child dies, it is made so clear that the only moment we have is the one that we are in.

Nik, we will miss you. You and your memory are fixed in our hearts. Be at peace.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

EMT Autumn Challenge

The Etsy Mud Team's Autumn Challenge is under way! The Autumn Challenge invited Etsy Mud Team member's to create ceramic pieces inspired by autumn. Some artists relied solely on autumnal colors, while others featured leaves or gourds in their work.

There is an amazing group of artists participating. All voters are entered into a drawing for ceramic magnets made by EMT members. The artist receiving the highest number of votes will receive a pendant made by Ginny of GinPins. Please vote at the EMT web site.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just Silly

If you feel the need to claim your territory, these magnets will get the message across! Coffee mug sets available with the same message!

Friday, October 12, 2007

French Butter Keeper

Have you heard of a butter keeper? This special pot is made to safely keep butter unrefrigerated on your counter. The cup or "bell" under the lid is filled with softened butter. You then place an inch or so of water in the pot. When the lid is put on, the water creates an airtight seal, keeping your butter fresh for up to a month.
This butter keeper is my entry in the Etsy Mud Team's Autumn Challenge. It was thrown from a rich black stoneware clay, and then glazed in my pumpkin spice glaze. The leaf on the lid was painted with wax, which resisted the glaze when the pot was dipped.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The No Ugly Magnets Brigade

I always keep a bunch of magnets on hand and somewhere along the queue. The reason? I hate ugly advertising magnets. Your fridge is something you look at over and over each day - make it a gallery of things you love!

So, I make lots of pretty magnets and when people order mugs and other things from me, I throw in a magnet or two. I do sell some of my magnets, but for the most part, they are freebies I send along with larger orders. Hopefully, I can convert more people to join the No Ugly Magnets Brigade. Can I count on you?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Feeling Tender

I spent a good part of my weekend at the International Storytelling Festival. The tellers had me doubled over laughing and sobbing into my hankie. Some managed to do both in the span of a half hour.

I came home feeling both recharged and raw. I am ready to take on the world... after I have a good cry.

Today, I am remembering my stepmother, Linda, who we lost two years ago to pancreatic cancer. She was a force of a woman who was blunt and honest, but secretly tender. She gave love easily to animals, as none had ever hurt her, but was sometimes cautious sharing her soul with people. She had been let down and hurt too often as a child.

Linda would have never considered herself an artist, or even crafty, but she created constantly. One of her creations was a giant lighted Christmas ornament, made from plastic cups and Christmas lights. I thought they were redneck and tacky, a little goofy and the kind of thing your neighbors would snicker at. She would hang dozens along the front of their house and people would stop and buy them from her. She made about 50 each year and sold them for up to $50 each!

When she became ill, it was important to my dad that I learn to make them. Suddenly, instead of being a joke, the giant ornaments became a tribute to Linda. I made one after another and hung them from the front of my house. People's reactions vary from "What the heck?" to "Man those are cool!"

For me, they are a tribute to Linda. She helped to make me the wife and mother that I am. She loved my dad with all her heart and sought to protect his. She cared for the rights of animals long before it was cool. She called me her daughter. And I am.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

EMT Teapot Contest Winner!

The results are in and the official winner of the Etsy Mud Team's September teapot Challenge is Ginny, of GinPins! Her imaginative teapot mimics a cup of cocoa!The marshmallow is the lid of the teapot and the handle of the spoon makes up the spout! Congratulations, Ginny! Your teapot is amazing!