Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Teamwork Making the Dream Work

We loaded the first soda kiln firing for this class at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. It was done largely as a team with each class member taking part in the decisions of where pots would be placed. Besides that, someone brought some snacks to share, people took tuns making balls of wadding for everyone, shelves where coated with kiln wash and lifted into place in the kiln and more, all as a group effort. We even finished with time to spare for a quick lesson. It was lots of fun.

Pottery ready for soda firing by Lori Buff
Pots Ready to Be Fired in Soda Kiln

You can see my covered jar with an owl on it here with other student’s work. It should get a decent amount of soda there without loosing the imagery (I painted on all 4 sides). Let’s all cross our fingers for beautiful pots.

The kiln is shared with another class. After they load the front, it gets bricked up and fired. We should be able to unload it on Monday night. I’ll post the results next week.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Truth in Advertising?

The past couple of weeks has been really emotional for many people in this nation. The senseless killings in a South Carolina church, followed by the removal of some Confederate symbols of hate and the discussion about them. Then the ruling by the Supreme Court making gay marriage legal and the ensuing celebrations and discussions. I was taken back to September 11 after the church murders. I remembered how we came together as a nation to show solidarity and pride. We all hung out American flags, we stood in line to give blood, we showed our love and support for complete strangers who lost family and friends and we showed the enemy that we were united. As the confederate flags started coming down in the Southern states I was hoping that this would happen again, that we'd come together as a nation and show defiance to the hate. Sadly, that has not happened. Some people believe that these symbols of a lost war and slavery are so important that they need to remain in place no matter how much it hurts the African-American community.

Then came the ruling from the SCOTUS. Love wins, everyone can now get married. Facebook turned into a rainbow, people danced in the streets. Straight people, even complete strangers congratulated me and have shown support in so many ways. Yet it's not hard to find the people that are against the ruling. It doesn't effect them in any way, yet they are ready to fight it. They are willing to spend our tax dollars fighting gay marriage because they hate it more than they hate other things that they can spend tax dollars on like fighting poverty or something more meaningful to everyone.

Wheel Thrown, Hand Carved, Ceramic Mug of City of Atlanta Skyline and Rainbow by Lori Buff
Rainbow City Mug

All my life I have heard America called “the land of the free and the home of the brave” but I have never truly felt it. This country has a long history of enslavement, discrimination and hate for no reason. We stole this country from the indigenous people by murdering, raping, enslaving, death marches, lies, and starvation. We stated that “all men are created equal” while we owned people who we kidnaped from other countries and we refused to allow women many rights like voting.

We have made great and important changes to bring freedom to more Americans but we really will never be free while some people are enslaved by their own hate. In holding fast to that hate they insult every person who has fought for freedom and love.


I'm sure I've pissed off someone with my feelings. I may even be called unAmerican by people that don't realize that I do love my country. It's like loving your home but realizing that it needs repairs. You don't pretend it doesn't need those repairs, you fix things because you love your home. My home still needs some fixing. Maybe this is one small step towards that happening. What will you do to help make this world a better place.



Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, June 29, 2015

Meatless Monday - Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

It’s the fourth of July and time for cook outs with friends.  Many people are going to be decorating with red, white and blue to celebrate the holiday. Most of the time we see this in primary colors or food coloring. Not this salad, this is much more subtle than that. Actually, it’s red, gold and purple but someone who sees this salad on this holiday might make the connection.

This salad is quick and easy, but the potatoes do take some time. The good news is that they can be made a day ahead and chilled overnight in the refrigerator.

I made a dinner out of this salad, you can do the same, you’ll get 4 - 6 servings that way, more as a side salad. It’s really pretty and delicious, you will most likely want to serve it more often than just Independence Day.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad by Future Relics Pottery
Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Ingredients: 

5 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 large Greek green olives, pitted and chopped
6 to 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
3 large green onions, including green parts, chopped
12 small multicolored potatoes (about 2 1/2 lb.)
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts in water, quartered
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Directions: 

To make the olive relish, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Stir in the olives, fennel and two-thirds of the green onions.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 25 minutes. Drain and let stand for about 20 minutes or until cool to the touch. Cut the potatoes in half, then transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add the artichokes and olive relish. Toss to blend. Stir in most of the cheese, reserving some for sprinkling on top.

Sprinkle the remaining green onions and the remaining cheese over the salad and serve.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Friday, June 26, 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice

A man with a violin case in his hand walks up to a gentleman at a bus stop in New York City and asks “How do you get to Carnagie Hall?”
The gentleman replies “Practice.”

It’s an old joke that has a lot of truth to it. We all must practice to get better at certain things. We’ve all heard the clich├ęs, practice makes perfect or perfect practice makes perfect. It seems that mindful practice helps us to improve.

When I was in the fourth grade my mom took me to the local music shop and bought me a guitar. I learned to read music and tried to play songs but I never got very good. I tried to play for years, I didn’t give up until I was in my thirties because I was playing less and less as the years went by.  I loved it but I couldn’t play it. Recently a friend gave me a guitar that he no longer played. It’s an old Epiphone acoustic 12 string that he restrung to be a 6 string (coincidently just like one I had when I was younger).  It’s been so many years since I played that I forgot almost everything I knew as a kid yet after only playing for about 6 weeks I’m much better than I ever was because of the way I’m practicing.

When I was a kid I just sat down with the songbook and tried to play the songs I liked. They were slow and awkward. It took me about one full second or more to change cords. Try singing along with that.

Now, I found instructors on line that show what to do and a great app that is a fun way of practicing cord changes. I also learned a great way to practice strumming. Now I take a few minutes every day and practice technique. If I’m really busy I only practice the techniques because it only takes ten to fifteen minutes. Now the songs are getting much better.

In pottery we often focus so much on making pots that we don’t practice the techniques that get us there. We want to make pretty pots without practice.

I wanted to play like Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi practiced his guitar playing. I practice my pottery throwing.

When I was at Penland last spring Cynthia showed me a way to improve my juicers. Not the form, that was okay, she thought the reamer could be improved. So I sat down and threw a bunch of domes that looked like the reamer without the bottom. When they were leather hard I practiced carving them so they would juice better. When I was done I recycled the clay.  I now make better juicers. It was worth the time.

Ceramic Pitcher and Juicer by Lori Buff of Future Relics Gallery
Mojito Pitcher with Juicer

My readers who are potters might want to try an exercise. Everyday before you start throwing wedge up a few two pound balls of clay and a few three pound balls of clay. Throw the 2 pounder in only 3 pulls, measure the height, cut it in half and check the consistency of thickness. Then do the same with the three pounder. Now throw another 2 pounds followed by the 3 pound ball. Repeat until you’re out of clay. Keep a log of how tall you’ve gotten the clay each day. You’ll be able to track your progress. Pay careful attention to what you’re doing and try to improve the consistency, height and thickness.

When you’re done practicing you can wedge up the practice clay and throw some pots.

What are some practice techniques that you use?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Family Reunion, Sundogs, and Texture Trees

Every two years Janet’s family gathers together to celebrate and visit.  Since it’s a fairly large family the reunions are usually held in state parks so people can camp, kids can play, and groups can gather and visit with each other.  This year it was held in the Boise National Forest in an area with the unfortunate name of Rattlesnake Campground. Fortunately, we did not see any snakes with or without rattlers.

The trip started off with a flight from Atlanta to Boise on Southwest Airlines.  Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances we got to the gate just as the plane was pulling away. That is something nobody wants to see but I was a little surprised at how badly some of the travelers acted about it. It’s 2015, we all know that you’re supposed to be at the gate way early. We messed up, not Southwest. To be honest, they did a great job of switching things around and getting us on different flights so we made it there and only one hour behind schedule. They gave us great customer service.

The mountains were beautiful, tall and majestic covered in Douglas Fir and Lodgepole pine trees. The elevation of these mountains is about 5,000 feet and they are quite steep leading down to the Middle Fork Payette River.  They are something to be experienced since capturing them on a camera never seems to do a mountain justice.

View from the Campground
 While relaxing along the river bank I looked up to see a huge sundog. Sundogs are created by the sun reflecting on ice in the clouds and they produce a halo that can appear to have all the colors of the rainbow. Now that’s a beautiful treat.

Sundog
 We took a hike up the mountain side on a trail that quickly became nothing more than a deer path. I love hiking these types of trails. They make me feel more connected with nature. As we hiked we heard water and headed towards it. We found a few places where the river cascaded down the rocks and deadfall making some beautiful waterfalls.


Waterfall
One thing I love about nature is all the textures. Some of the hardest looking surfaces can be very soft while some softer looking textures are hard as rocks, sometimes they actually are rocks.  I really like the texture on this tree. I imagine it will influence the texture on a pot very soon.

Pine Tree Bark Texture
 I love finding flowers in the woods. I can identify some but most are just a mystery although they may resemble a more cultured flower that we know from our home gardens. This wild rose was an exceptional treat.
Wild Rose
For fun on Saturday night a group of us went down to the Starlight Mountain Theatre in Crouch, ID to see the play Cinderella.  This is an outdoor theater with some very talented and hard working young actors.

The trip was too short and the flight too long but it was made better by the good humor of the flight attendants including one who sang to us. That was really fun.


Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff