Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bringing Smiles

We are in the midst of the active, crazy, and exhausting season.  It’s not that it’s autumn or winter, it’s the holiday season.  This time of year many people are trying to spend time with friends and family, go to everyone’s party, shop for gifts, clean and decorate the house for guests, and still go to work, eat, and sleep like normal.  Good luck.  For me it’s a show or two every weekend until Christmas.  Some of the shows are three days long.  That drains me like running a marathon because I’m such an introvert.  I’ve seen people be ugly to each other while driving to the mall or shopping for the perfect gift at the best price.  All in the name of joy.  It’s really silly.

Pottery Smiles by Lori Buff
Smiling Soap/Sponge Holders

Last week my friend Gary Rosenberg wrote a blog post titled En-Vision Art which discussed how our lives are our art.  How we see things, how we react to things and events is our art.  How we bring smiles is defiantly our art.  So I’m going to challenge myself to try to find ways of bringing a smile to someone everyday throughout this season.  Would you like to join me in this challenge?  Post your ideas for bringing smiles in the comments of this blog or on my Facebook Page or tweet them using #HolidaySmiles.  Let’s see what we can do together.

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Meatless Monday - Turkish Eggs

As the holiday’s approach people take time off from work.  This often means they are in the mood for a good breakfast and sometimes that mean eggs.  Many people think that eggs have to be served with a meat but really, they don’t.  If you’re concerned about the cholesterol in eggs skipping the meat will help.  This meatless egg meal has green leafy vegetables for vitamins, minerals and fiber plus yogurt for added protein and probiotics.  It also sports enough spice to help wake you up but it’s also really good for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

The eggs in this recipe are poached.  I used an egg poacher for many years but it broke or something and I had to learn how to poach them in a pan of water.  I discovered that this isn’t really difficult and can be less messy with a couple of tricks.  First, I use a frying pan (not cast iron), I fill it with water then add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.  This gets covered and set on a high heat until it boils.  As the water is boiling I break each egg into a small cup (like a measuring cup).  When the water is boiling gently pour the eggs out of the cups and into the water.  This helps keep them together and evenly cooked.  Bring the water back to a boil then cover the eggs and turn off the heat.  Let them cook for about 4-5 minutes depending on how runny you like the yokes.  Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.


Turkish Spiced Poached Eggs by Lori Buff
Turkish Eggs

Ingredients: 

1 TBS Butter
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Spinach leaves or other greens of choice.
Toast

Directions:

In a small sauce pan melt the butter and olive oil together.  Add the garlic and cool for about 30 seconds on medium low.  Add the other spices and salt.

In the meantime poach the eggs.

Create a bed of spinach, lay the eggs in the bed, spoon the sauce over the eggs and top with the yogurt.  Serve with toast.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good Karma At The Gift Show

Doing art shows can be fun and exciting as well as exhausting.  At some point in every show I think “I’m too old for this.”  But I keep doing them for several reasons like meeting new people.  Often the other artists and artisans are a lot of fun.  We share information about shows and stuff, we make friends because of the common bond.  Sometimes we create really good karma.

The NMP Gift Show was one of those shows with great karma.  I’ll give you an example.  I had been fairly active on social media in promoting the show, I wrote a blog article, posted on twitter and liked some other artists work on Instagram before the show.  It was no big deal and only took a little bit of time but I felt it paid off when one of the organizers came to my booth, thanked me for doing that and then bought a few pots from me.  Later someone else from the show posted a picture of one of my pieces and it sold within the hour.  It felt like good karma.

Wood Fired Pottery Vase with Horse design by Future Relics Gallery
Wood Fired Horse Vase

The next day I made friends with a woman that knit really funky scarves and hats and such.  She was a lot of fun and was promoting positive energy for a good show for all.  She’s one of those people with a great spirit.  She bought a smiling soap holder from me for her mom but as we were talking to another artists the bag slipped from her hand and the pot broke.  Sometimes the wrapping is just not enough to cushion against a hard floor.  I let her pick out a replacement but would not take her money, stuff breaks, it was nobodies fault.  Finally I had to say “if you have really great sales today I’ll let you pay for a new one, if not, don’t worry about it.”  At the end of the day she came to me with cash and a nice warm hat.  She said it was a good day.  I believe it was.

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Pots Break in the Kiln

So often potters talk about pots blowing up in the kiln because they have an air bubble in them but this is actually not completely true.  Yes, expanding air can make a pot crack or break but that usually happens in the drying process.  The clay gets smaller as it dries and squeezes the air which causes a crack or break. Sometimes the cracks are so small they aren't seen until the kiln is fired and expansion and contraction have done the damage.  So it is a good idea to avoid air pockets without some means of egress for the air.  But we usually make air pockets when we load the kiln. In a bisque kiln we often stack pieces which create an air pocket.  Any piece with a foot wil create an air pocket just by sitting on the kiln shelf.

Jar with Stuck Lid
When I made this lidded jar I forgot to put paper or cloth between the jar and the lid while the clay dried. The result is that the lid stuck to the rim of the jar.  Since I had not done anything to make it a strong connection- like slipping and scoring, I figured the lid might come free in the firing where a poor connection will usually separate.  Of course, it'll only come apart if you DON'T want it to.

If air pockets explode in the kiln this would have blown up, but it didn't.  Actually, I've been unable to get it to separate at all.  So sad.

So what makes pots blow up? Moisture.  As the water expands from the heat of the kiln it needs room and breaks apart the clay.  It's the worst enemy of a pot in the kiln.  If you make sure the clay is completely dry before you get the kiln over 212 degrees Fahrenheit you should not have any problems.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kiln Loading In The Cold

Potters who fire wood kilns, especially in warmer areas of the world, try to fire when the weather is cooler.  Fall and Spring are the favorite times of year for most of the wood firing potters I know.  It’s awfully nice to gather around a hot kiln on a cool evening tossing around wood and stories.  So often someone brings a guitar or ukulele, for even more entertainment.  It’s sort of like camping.  Of course this sometimes means that we are loading in cool or cold temperatures also.

Yesterday I went down to Roger Jamison’s to bring some pots and help finish loading the kiln. When I left Atlanta it was pouring rain but as I drove south it got lighter and finally stopped entirely.  That made me feel good.  Even though the kiln area is covered it would not be fun to be getting stormed on while loading.  As I was driving my phone sent me an alert that was long enough and strong enough to make me look at the phone.  I saw a tornado warning and advice that I seek shelter immediately!  I was in the middle of nowhere Georgia, it was going to take time to get to an exit to seek shelter.  So I kept my eye on the sky as well as the traffic and looked for a place to hunker down for a few minutes.

Thankfully, nothing seemed to develop and I made it to Roger’s with no issues.  We even commented on how “balmy” it felt out on the kiln pad.  Of course the tornato warning was because a cold front was hitting that balmy weather and we were putting our sweatshirts and wool hats on after a while.

Wood Kiln Loading by Lori Buff Pottery
Pots in the Wood Kiln

The good news is that we got the kiln loaded and will start firing it really soon.  The down side is that it will be unloaded on November 30th which is the last day of my Open Studio and Sale so I won’t be able to help or see the pots until after.  Luckily, I have several other shows after the studio sale so I can still get the good pots on display.

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