Thursday, November 27, 2014

Stopperless Salt Shakers

Stopperless Salt Shakers 11-27-14

It's always fun to make something new.  This time it's stopperless salt shakers.  Mine turned out petite and if I do say so myself... they're adorable.
Rose Salt Shaker in Vintage Turquoise



Stopperless Salt Shaker

just give it a little shake and out falls a serving of salt.

A great conversation piece and super fun to use.  
Stopperless Salt Shaker 
in Turquiose and Lime

I'll be listing these shakers and more in my DirtKicker Pottery Etsy Shop 

Stopperless Salt Shaker 
in Frozen Blue with Daisy



Stopperless Salt Shaker
in Vintage Pink

Monday, November 24, 2014

fun little surprize





Yesterday I was looking through my new December 2014 issue of Sunset Magazine.  There was an article on a beautiful Washington home.  The photo of the kitchen caught my eye because there was lovely open shelves for the dishes instead of cupboards,   I looked a little closer and noticed two pieces of my pottery sitting on the kitchen counter.   


Made me smile :-)

DirtKicker Pottery Sunflower Honey Pot
 and French Butter Keeper

Happy Clay Days!

All designs, photos and content herein are owned by and ©copyright Cindy Gilliland 2014.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas Kiln is Cooling

Christmas making and glazing are finished.  Kiln is cooling. 



Even though it's time to get into selling mode, my thoughts are still filled with making pottery.  I'm getting excited for 2015.  What new designs will God inspire?  I plan to utilizing my spray booth a lot more.   It's fast and kind of exciting to spray glaze.  

Aurora Borealis Mugs

If you missed out on my Aurora Borealis Mugs, I'll begin listing more in my DirtKicker Pottery Etsy Shop this week, along with lots of other great pieces!


Bisque load from a 10 cubic foot kiln.

Stay warm and happy clay days!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kiln Vent Motor Replacement and Baking Oatmeal Cookies


L&L Kiln Sure-vent

4 years ago John installed a Sure-vent on my 10 cubic foot L&L Easy Fire Kiln.  It made a HUGE difference in my glaze results.  Less pinholing, brighter colors plus my elements have a longer life.    

Over the past year the vent motor had become very noise.  Last firing it sounded like I had a subwoofer hooked up to my kiln.   I also noticed that the last couple glaze kilns had several pieces with pin holes.    It turned out that the fan had zero air movement.   I ordered a new motor and John installed it.   I took a photo to show what 4 years of firing did to the motor.  

The kiln is firing bisque today with the new vent motor.  Its so quiet!!!!   I have no doubt that my glaze firing will be pinhole free.

While the kiln is firing, I'm making Everything Oatmeal cookies.    I had to show off my pretty new cookie sheet.  I love to bake this time of year.  It makes the house smell so good.
Everything Oatmeal Cookies 
ready to go in the oven

1.5 sticks of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
-
1.5 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
3 cups old fashioned oats
-
3/4 cup Craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi sweet choc chips

bake 350° 8-10 minutes

Excellent with Tea!  
BTW, this dough freezes well.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Using Produce Bags to Help Pottery Dry Evenly - Pottery Making Tip

Usually I throw pots the first half of the day, then afternoons I trim and decorate the pots I threw the day prior.    I stand while throwing, so breaking up the day is a healthy balance for me.      

The dry climate in Northern Nevada gives me a lot of control over how quickly I would like my pots to dry.    After throwing my pots I let them sit out until the rims firm up, then I put them in my DIY drying cabinet over night.



Aurora Mugs in process.
This will be my 4th Christmas making them.

The next morning I remove the pots from the bats.   I place them in produce bags rim side down with the bottoms up and open to the air.   The produce bags protect the rims from over drying while allowing the bottoms to quickly dry to leather hard for trimming.


When making mugs,  I trim, handle and decorate,  then place them all together under plastic.  I leave them under plastic over night and it helps equal out the moisture level of the body and handles.   An even moisture level helps prevent attachment cracks.


The following morning I place them upside down on a wire rack and loosely drape a sheet of plastic over the top.    By afternoon I remove the plastic and allow them to finish drying in the open air.


It may sound like a lot of steps, but it's well worth  it.


Happy clay days everyone!



Aurora Borealis Mug
by DirtKicker Pottery

2014 Aurora Mugs will be available for purchase Early December in my 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Loving Fall

I love most everything about Fall.  The colors, the crisp cool mornings and warm afternoons, the beautiful squash and veggies.

I bought a couple organic squash.  A butternut squash and a spaghetti squash.   
I roasted the butternut this morning and it turned out so good.   Here's how simple I make it.
Preheat oven to 400° F.  Wash, carefully slice the squash in half and remove seeds.


On each half, top with 1/2 table spoon of butter, 1 table spoon of Kahlua,  1 teaspoon brown sugar, pinch of salt and lots of black pepper.

Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender

Butternut squash is naturally sweet, so you really don't even need to add the brown sugar if you don't want to.   It can be blended into a lovely soup or cubed as a side dish.   For me, just give me a plate and a spoon and I'm in squash heaven.

Since this is a pottery blog, I must add some pottery.  Here are my latest Fall lovelies fresh from the kiln.


Side Handle Soup Bowls
by DirtKicker Pottery

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Fall weekend!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

pie.. another reason to love Fall

When I'm making pie dishes my mind can't help but wonder about the delicious desserts that will be baked and served to family and friends. 
Heart Pie Dish
by DirtKicker Pottery

 Pie Dish with Poppies


  Pie Dish with Echinacea Flower

I like to make my pie dishes with deep ruffled rims.  I love the over the top exaggerated pie form.     
Wheel Thrown Pie Dishes
by DirtKicker Pottery

During the Fall months I usually have a pie dish or two for sale in my DirtKicker Pottery Etsy Shop!

"Cindy's Tasty Apple Pie"

- 4 big Granny Smith Apples (peeled and sliced however thick you like)
- The juice of 1 large (or 2 small) lemons
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp of Wondra
1 Pillsbury Pie Crusts Pack (No, I don't make my own pie crust!)



* Do not pre-heat the oven.  Since pottery doesn't like drastic temperature changes, it's best put the pie in a room temp oven and allow the dish and the oven to heat up together.
In a deep skillet pan, at medium heat, I mix together the above ingredients (excluding the crust)in the order they are listed.  Stir a little between.  
Then pour the gooey mixture into a 9-ish" crusted pie dish.  Top with crust strips to create a lattice.  Crimp the edges and sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top.
Cover the crust edges with foil to prevent over browning.  Place the pie in the oven on a foil lined cookie sheet to prevent spill over mess. 

Place a sheet of foil over the top of the pie and turn the oven on 425° and cook for 15 minutes. *Remember to remove the sheet of foil after the oven comes to temperature.  (I use tongs, because it's hot in there!)  
Reduce heat to 350° bake for and additional 45 minutes or until apples are tender.  *Remove foil from crust edges for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Allow pie to cool on a cooling rack for an hour.   *Do not place a hot pie dish on a cold counter top.

Happy pie making!

All photos, content and designs are ©copyright Cindy Gilliland 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stormtrooper Mug and Glaze Testing

Stormtrooper Mug and Glaze Testing  9-7-14

My grandson pulled his first mug (Stormtrooper mug) from the kiln today.   He made it all by himself, loaded it in the kiln to bisque,  picked out his own glaze, glazed it and loaded it in the glaze kiln.   He did a fantastic job!  He was pretty darn excited when he pulled it out of the kiln.




Most of my test tile results were bad.  The tiles are not worth the time to photograph and write about. Bummed.

Glaze chemistry and glaze testing is going on the back burner for a while. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

37 Test Tiles in the Kiln


Gorgeous Iron Oxides

Just look at those colors!  The Crocus Martis is an iron oxide.  In the chemical state it has a rich raspberry hue.   The Spanish RIO is more orange and reminds me of terracotta.  I mixed up a few cone 6 iron recipes, plus a few with revisions. To get the nice rusty orange/red results in oxidation, a slow cool is suggested.   I decided not to program a custom cool down because my kiln is pretty big and it cools slow naturally.   Also I didn't want to chance messing up my other glazes.    If the reds don't happen in my current firing schedule, I might try a programmed slow cool at a later time.   I would really love to have a small programmable kiln for testing and small loads.  I checked out a new little L&L and about fell off my chair when I saw the price.  I'll just keep watching craigslist. 

Labeled and ready to dip.  I only have one Mason Stain in this test run.  I'm more curious about arriving at colors with oxides and other chemicals.   I love being surprised.

There is just something really beautiful about test tiles.



Firing today.  Hope these tiles will result in some glazes worth keeping. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Glaze Test Tiles are Fired


mish-mash of test tiles

I decided on three base glazes for further testing.

Below are photos of the random recipes that I mixed.  The recipes with % are Mason Stains mixed with clear base.  The others are well known recipes available online.     







Interesting.. the tile for "Blue Hare" looks very similar to Potter's Choice "Blue Rutile"
  
More adventures in glazing to come.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Glaze Recipe Test Tiles


I love the colors on these tiles and they aren't even fired yet.  

When ever I see a cone 6 glaze recipe that interests me, I pin it with intentions of one day testing it.   Months go by and the collection grows.  Finally I get around to testing and while sorting through these glaze recipes I ask myself.. How do I know if these are food safe?  This question is the main reason I'm committed to learning more about glaze chemistry.  I hope to one day be able to read a glaze recipe and based on the ingredients have a good idea if the recipe is food safe or not.   



I'm learning that glaze testing is much more than finding a pretty color and beautiful surface. Making glaze for functional ware comes with a huge responsibility.  Many things to be considered. 

I need to be sure that my pots are 100% safe for food use. I'm learning all I can about leach testing, freezing and boiling testing and dishwasher testing. 
  
Have a great glaze day!     

Monday, April 28, 2014

Studying Glaze Chemistry


Understanding glaze chemistry has never come easy to me.   I have to work very hard for it to sink in and make sense.   In the past I avoided putting in the time to learn the science behind making glazes, even though I really had an interest.   There are so many varibles, it's easy to over-think the process and make it more complex than it needs to be.

Yesterday I woke up with thoughts of glaze testing consuming my mind.  I got out the Glaze Master Guide and with much determination I worked my way through the program.  To help me better understand some of the chemistry concepts I referred to the books "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes" and "The Complete Guide to High-Fire Glazes". 


Learning about the "Seger Unity Formula" is a hurdle that I'm still struggling to fully understand.  I'm not good at just accepting a concept, I always think deeper and want to know why.   I'm learning that sometimes I just have to accept the concept and trust that the why will reveal itself as I continue to study glaze.

I cracked open John Britt's "Understanding Glazes" DVD. The DVD is a great intro to glaze chemistry.  
John gives a quick run through of different ways to test. He simplifies what glaze is chemically.  He talks about many individual chemicals, explaining what category they belong and a brief about what they do.  
GLAZE
* Glass former =  RO2 
*Melter / Flux = RO, R2O
*Stabiliser / Refractory = R2, O3


10 hours later I had a much better understanding of all the things I still need to learn. Ha! 

My glaze journey has just begun.

Happy Glaze Day!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Glaze testing and listening to Podcasts


 While mixing test glazes I listened to "Tales of a Red Clay Rambler" podcast for the first time.   It was episode 61 which featured Kristen Kieffer, Julia Galloway, and Michael Kline.  It was so good!   I also listened to the Steven Hill episode.  I really enjoyed it.   

Ben Carter does an excellent job hosting.  BTW.. He will be teaching a workshop this summer at Sierra Nevada College.   I might just have to figure out a way to fit the workshop into my budget.  Anyway,  if you haven't already listened to "Tales of a Red Clay Rambler" podcast, you should.  It's a treat.
 
One of my 2014 goals is to make more of my glazes and do more experimenting.  Buying commercial glaze is crazy expensive and very unfulfilling. 
I'm testing 10 new glazes.  All different base recipes.  
I'm hoping to find some new base glazes that I like, which also work well with my clay body.   Then I can try some blend experiments ala John Britt and see what kind of trouble I get into.
John Britt gave a glaze chemistry workshop at Sierra Nevada College several years ago.  That class was the first time I ever made glaze.   I was fairly new to making pottery and I had no idea how over my head I was.
Everyone else in the class were total glaze freaks and there I was pretending like I had half a clue. 
So John helped me a lot.  He taught me how to convert a recipe and run blend testing.   When the week was over, John told me to take his class again in a few years.   LOL.  
Slow but sure, I'm still working on it and still trying to figure it all out.

Happy glaze day :)