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!

©Cindy Gilliland

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.

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!


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. 


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.  
* 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 :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kyusu Teapot

Teapot Tuesday - Kyusu   4-15-14

Kyusu Teapot and Tea Bowls
by DirtKicker Pottery

I'm sure I wrote about it before, but I am jinxed when it comes to making teapots.  Goofy things happen every time I make a teapot.  Most of them end up on my seconds shelf.    

It's been a while, so I'm kind of rusty.  The spout is a little long and low for a kyusu, but it's still a cutie.

Right after I finished the inlay illustration, I dropped the lid.  Ughhh!  Jinx!  It only dropped a few inches, but that was enough to make it completely out of balance.    So I made another lid and now I'm moving on to making a couple more teapots. 

Happy clay day :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mothers and Daughters

I received an email a couple months ago asking for 3 heart mugs. When I make my heart mugs I usually don't know the story the mug will be a part of.  I only know that it's about love. 

When I made these 3 mugs it was different.  I knew the love story and it followed me through the entire process.  Thoughts of Mothers and Daughters.  Thoughts of three daughters and a mother who signed her cards to them with hearts.   Three daughters that recently lost their Mom to cancer.  
Rustic Heart Mug

Cara wrote:
"  It was a difficult year for my sisters and I, and although surrounding ourselves with family and friends has helped so much…I have been looking for a daily reminder to focus on life’s happinesses. And there are a lot of them! She may not be able to write me letters signed with her heart anymore, but I know that seeing that heart on my mug every morning will bring a smile to my face, and hopefully my sister’s faces too".

Thank you Cara.  I am honored to make something that will be a remembrance of this Love story.

Truly a reminder for me not to take one day together for granted.

Any conversation is safe with me, I'm here for you any time of day or night. Angry words forgiven and forgot, lessons learned, lessons taught.  Tears shared and understood, triumphs praised and cheered.  A closeness only death can part, Forever sweet memories carried in my heart.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Throwing Bowls

Last week I starting throwing bowls. Mostly Large bowls and noodle bowls.

Happy Clay Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Pottery Studio Table

Any potter who decorates pieces or incorporates hand-building will understand why this table is such a big deal for me.  It's level, big and heavy duty.  Perfect!

When John was designing this table, the height was something I had trouble deciding on.  Many clay artists have tall tables so they can stand while working.  After much consideration I decided to go with a standard table height.

I stand while throwing, I stand while pugging, I stand while slab rolling and I stand while glazing.  I wanted the table to be a place I could be off my feet and sit ergonomically  healthy.   I also wanted the table low enough to set my glaze buckets for dipping.  It's the perfect height for my grandkids to work at too.

A little about building the table:

John welded the frame using 2x2" steel tube
The material for the table top was 12' long, 2' wide maple butcher block purchased from Lumber Liquidators

John cut the length in half.  He attached the sections with biscuits and wood glue.  Then he used clamps to squish it together until the glue was fully dry.
He routed a round-over edge around the table.   I think he looks like a Teddy Bear in this photo :)

John attached the table top to the frame with lag bolts.  He installed heavy duty adjustable feet, which were actually designed to level pinball machines.

We used a stain and 5 coats of polyurethane, with light sanding between each coat. 

Yesterday I worked at the table for the first time.  I'm still kind of babying it until I'm sure the poly is completely hardened.

John has built so many things for my studio.  Everything from shelves to a throwing gauge.  John, my love, I appreciate all the work and free time you have dedicated to making my pottery studio a dream come true.