Saturday, February 27, 2010

Life's Short, Buy the Shoes

This was the posted facebook status of a friend of mine. And guess what? I DID buy shoes this week. On sale. They are Earth shoes, but not like those Earth shoes from my adolescence. You remember the ones: brown suede with wavy soles. Then in middle school, we all wore GASS shoes from Kinney's, the Great American Shoe Store. Jay doesn't remember them. He says he wore Hush Puppies. I told him my grandfather wore Hush Puppies.

I usually work in the studio wearing flip flops or old bedroom slippers, but they tend to fly off when I use the kickwheel. I have found that as I creep toward my mid-forties, my back and feet hurt more after long days in the studio. These shoes feel great. I don't care if I look like a dork. At least I'm not wearing my grandpa's shoes.

As far as the slab roller goes, it actually goes. The switch wiring for the pusher bar has been disconnected, but I read on clayart where another potter, who had found using the pusher bar problematic, replaced it with a foot pedal. Even without it, I still have to have one hand on the switch for the motor to stay on. Not as safe as both hands, but my husband, Dr. Safety is satisfied.

Mother Nature is still not giving us a break. We got another 6" of snow Tuesday, which translated into two more snow days for the kids. That means another half day of school this Saturday to make a slight dent in the days they've missed this winter. They were in school last Saturday, too. Jay and I used the time wisely. We got the car washed, went out for coffee, did a little shopping for a lawn tractor (to which we can attach a snow plow), bought the fixings for fish tacos and finally got a pair of new tires for the Prius. While we didn't exactly do the 3/50, we did the 2/150. It all evens out in the end. I can't imagine what we'll do this week.

My friend Sarah across the road has crocuses popping up in her yard. Mine are buried under several inches of snow in the photo above, which was taken before yesterday's snow. Too bad we didn't find a tractor last weekend. I could have used it yesterday. It's supposed to reach the high 50's this weekend. Maybe even warm enough for Jay to take the KLR out for a spin.
Maybe I can wear my new stylin' shoes instead of snow boots.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another Episode of Working Harder Not Smarter

This has nothing to do with shovelling or pickaxing snow. This is another example of doing what you know, even though there is a much easier way to accomplish the same task. I'm talking slabs.

Nearly all my pieces are thrown and pieced with a slab bottom attached. A year or so before we moved here, when I was still working in my little 10x12 garden shed, I upgraded from an old kitchen rolling pin to a serious 28" one. I have a collection of dowel rods to keep thicknesses uniform. It's a reliable system.

I haven't mentioned (or maybe I have) that the house came with a Bailey electric slab roller. Some folks leave you draperies or kitchen appliances. We got a slab roller. It's huge and heavy and the renters before us just made it part of their room decor.
It's missing the instruction manual and the pusher bar. There is some black electrical tape on what Jay thinks might be a safety/kill switch, but who really knows. I am completely intimidated by this thing, so as you can see I just put crap on it.

After rolling a few slabs today, I have decided to, at the very least, plug the thing in this weekend and see what happens. I guess this means another call to Bailey for the instructions. I'm sure I'll be glad once I get it going.

Now where am I going to put all that junk?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, Monday

Rain Rain stay and play! Come and melt this snow away!

Today feels like a normal Monday. The kids have not attended school on time on a Monday since before Winter break. I even welcomed their grumbling and long faces in return for the opportunity for life to return to normal. I'm surprised they weren't more excited about going to school. I'm not a great cook nor have I been much of an entertainer on all these days off.
Into the studio for the first time in a long time. I threw a half dozen bowls and some cylinders for some angled wine bottle coasters. I still don't know if they will crack in the 56 degree basement, so I'm not going to make too many.I test fired the Oval kiln yesterday. Zero to ^08 in 7 hours. The timer works, as does the kiln sitter. Yippee! It stunk though. There is no way to know how long since it's been fired. There is a spot on the lid that smoked and smelled like wax at the end of the firing. I don't think it's wax though, because it looks like something stuck there, and when it was removed, it took parts of soft brick with it.
So Monday goes on. I have time for some yoga before volunteering at Ben's school library. I'm not even thinking about the snow forecast for Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Getting Crowded in Here

It seems like the kiln room is the dumping ground for everything. Jay moved his motorcycle in to make room in the garage for lumber, etc for the basement remodel. The trash and recycling is piling up, since we can't get the truck up the driveway to haul it away. And a couple of months ago, my college studio-mate Brenda brought her "coffin" kiln, an Evenheat her brother found for her which had been wired to basically bypass all the switches. A WTF kiln to go with my WTF house.
Jay properly rewired the kiln last weekend, and it's ready for testing. I'm guessing Jay wants his bike out of the kiln room as well as the big plastic tub of kids' toys before I fire it up. When I bought my first used electric kiln, I just plugged it in, filled it with greenware and fired a bisque load. This time, I have no bisqueware so I guess I'll load it with a few empty shelves and a couple of cone packs so I can keep an eye on its progress.

You see, Bren is moving to Michigan next week and is taking the Runt with her. Yup, that's it, next to the motorcycle, hiding behind those sleds. The kiln trade was her idea, and I am grateful to have her big kiln. I won't have to fire so many bisque loads in order to fill the Bailey. The smaller kiln suits her needs better also. Looks like a win-win, except for the moving to Michigan part. I have enjoyed working with Bren again after all these years. Alas, her life path is taking her elsewhere, and I'm happy for her. I'll miss her, but she's a great letter-writer, that lost art form.

Now if she'd only start blogging.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We Have a Plan

After a week, I finally have come to the realization that I must have sprained 2 fingers on my left hand sledding last week. They are slightly swollen and painful. It doesn't help that I keep going about my usual business around the house. I even crept into the studio and wedged some clay.
I was nearly euphoric to smell the clay on my hands. I am dying to get back to work, but I have to accept the fact that January and February are just not conducive to studio work. It didn't work out last year either. My kids are certainly old enough to take care of themselves but eventually will resort to arguing, yelling and tattling.

Tomorrow makes snow day #10 for us in Yancey County NC. I have lost count of the 2 hour delays and early dismissals. The kids are completely out of their routine. The knowledge is seeping out of their pores with every waking hour. And this last round of winter weather is miserably cold and windy, so they can't even spend any time outdoors.
Today, I pulled out the slides from when my Mom and Grandparents lived in Alaska in the 50's. We found the slides titled "Big Snow 12/29/55". I think my hometown of Washington DC has more snow now. But, man, my Papa could shovel an orderly path. Gotta love those military guys.

So tomorrow we will start the day with some mandatory Dance Dance Revolution. Then we're moving on to reading hour (more for Allison since we can't make her stop reading once she's started). Then Allison wants to sew, while Ben wants to cook something. Isn't this sort of like homeschooling?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black and Blue

As you can see, I have much too busy with other important work to be in the studio. We got about 8" of snow the last weekend of January and took full advantage. Friends from Asheville came up to get snowed in with us. After a day and a half of sledding here, we all headed to their house because ironically, Asheville received more snow than we did.

Three days and nights of sledding have left their mark on me inlcuding a palm-sized bruise on my left thigh (crashed into a tree) and a mildly sprained right ankle (crashed into a tree).

A tree I did not crash into

My driveway drama is over. I am crying "Uncle!" My fingers ache like they are arthritic from clearing the entire driveway by hand just in time for it to be covered first by 6" of snow by yesterday morning, and then an inch of ice throughout the day. I am officially throwing in the towel.