Thursday, February 28, 2013

EnergyXchange Residency

One of the coolest places I've visited is offering two clay residencies and one glass residency. You have no idea how much I wish I could do this. I visited there when I was at Penland for a workshop a couple of years ago and I've been fascinated with it ever since. They are doing some pretty cool stuff there.

EnergyXchange Gallery
Besides studios they also have a gallery so residents have the opportunity to sell their work. They also need to do some work in the gallery which is really valuable experience. There are also green houses, a palet kiln and all sorts of other interesting things to make life fascinating.

The EnergyXchange is built above an old landfill that has since been covered over and looks more like a scenic pasture in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. With landfills comes methan gas which isn't great for the environment. So they harness this methan gas to make art. It's what powers the glass shop and the gas kilns. They also have an impressive array of solar panels to provide electricity. The palets for the wood kiln are from nearby industrys that can only use the palets a limited number of times and then they must be destroyed. Throwing them in the kiln is better than putting them in a landfill.
If you're looking for a place to do a residency apply here. If you're ever in the area go visit. It's awesome.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Native American Basket Pot

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Throwing a Teapot Lid Part 2 - The Knob

If you've been following the blog for the past few weeks you've seen some videos about throwing a teapot and lid.  Today I'm posting the video about throwing a knob on the lid.  Since I throw the lid, let it dry overnight then throw the knob on the lid I decided to do this in two videos.  The video's are shorter and seem to play better that way also.  Anyway, so this is part 2 of part 2 and has me very confused.  I hope I haven't confused any of you.

If you missed the earlier videos or want to review them, you can find them on my blog posts here and here.  Or you can go to my youtube channel by clicking this link or the "Demo Videos" link at the top of the page.

Other Stuff:

Visit other potter's blogs at Mudcolony

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meatless Monday - Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach

One of my favorite dishes is Fettuccine Alfredo.  It's really, really easy to make so I'm not sure why I haven't included it here yet.  Sorry about that.

This recipe can be made a little lighter by omitting the cream or using milk as a substitute but be sure you use a really good cheese because that's what give it most of it's flavor

8 to 9 ounce fettuccine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some reserved for topping
Handfull of fresh spinach
Dash of ground nutmeg (optional)

Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.
Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add salt and pepper to taste.

Add fettuccine, spinach  1/4 cup reserved water, and cheese to sauce and toss. Add more cooking water if necessary.  Top with grated cheese and a dash of ground nutmeg.

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Liking Mistakes

I saw this video on Michael Kline's terrific pottery blog, Sawdust and Dirt. I really think it's worth sharing because we should all think about this, not just in relation to pottery.

Please share.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Throwing a Tea Pot Lid Demo Video

A little while ago I wrote about making a tea pot and posted a video, you can see that article here if you missed it.  Of course throwing a tea pot is a bit complicated and contains quite a few steps so I had to make a few videos.  I didn't want to post them all at once because that can make the blog post load painfully slowly and I don't want to burden anyone with a sloooowwww web post.  Besides, who doesn't like a little suspense?

So without further ado, here's the video for throwing the lid.  Stay tuned for further video's on this tea pot's creation.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Changing The Elements

Every potter that fires their own work will some day have to do some sort of kiln repair. For some it's rebuilding or building an atmospheric kiln, for some it's playing with electricity.  That's what I did yesterday.  One of the skutt kilns needed to have the elements replaced.  This is something that happens periodically and should be considered normal maintenance   It's also really easy to do but it does need to be done correctly or  you could have a fire.

Behind the Control Panel

After turning off the power to the kiln and unscrewing the control panel you'll find some wires but not too many as to be intimidating or confusing. They will have to be disconnected so it's a good idea to label them. You can write on the wire with a marker or use tape, just remember to remove the tape before firing the kiln as it can burn when the kiln is fired. I prefer the marker method. Taking a picture can help also, it's a nice reference diagram.

The white wires power the kiln elements, the yellow are for the thermo coupler.  I changed that for good measure while I was in there, it's only 2 color coded wires so it's really easy.  If you connect the wires backwards the temperature will appear to drop as the kiln is heating up.  Fun, huh?

The elements get carefully disconnected from this side using a couple of wrenches.  You can tell which bolts hold the elements in this picture by the ceramic insulators.

Next you have to pull the pins and coils out of the kiln.  The pins hold the coils in place at each corner of the kiln so they are easy to find but they are many.  The coils have to be gently twisted out, some soft brick will be lost because of this so being gentle is important.  Vacuuming after they are removed is also a great idea.

Top or Bottom Element Package

Now it's time to install the elements.  You'll want to check the package to make certain you've got the correct element for the location.  A full set will consist of top & bottom, intermediate and center.  Skutt gives you a nice diagram showing where each of these elements are installed in the kiln.  Easy!  They also pre-bend the elements for each of the corners.  This helps the elements to lay in nicely and not start creeping out of the channel.  It takes a little gentle twisting to get them to lay in right but if you feel like you're forcing it you're most likely doing it wrong.  Let the bends and coils be your guide.

Once you've got all the element coils in place use the pins to pin them in place at each of the corners. Simply push the pin into the soft brick, you should already have a hole but it's okay if you need to make a new one to secure the element. Skutt sends extra pins since they are easy to lose, they are just a straight piece of wire.  Double check that you've gotten all of the corners pinned.

Once the elements are installed just slide the ceramic insulators on the ends and bolt them back the way you found them, then snip off any extra wire.  Screw the control panel back on and fire the kiln empty one time.  I fired to cone 04, that should be all they need to get conditioned.

It did take about an hour so allot yourself enough time, you don't want to be distracted and miss a step or two.

Skutt has really great customer service if you run into any difficulties.    

Monday, February 18, 2013

Meatless Monday - Chard Saag Paneer with Spiced Rice

White rice takes on the flavors of spices and fruits so nicely, no wonder it's enjoyed with many meals in places all over the world.  This spiced rice would be really tasty with lots of different dishes, even meats if you're so inclined.

I served it with this Saag Paneer because I was craving Indian food.  Paneer is a semi-soft, very mild Indian Cheese that you can make at home really simply if your local grocery store doesn't carry it.  Chard should be in season in the cooler months, that's when it'll have the best flavor and color.  I used red chard that colored the paneer a pale pink, I wonder what color it would be if I used rainbow chard.

Red Chard Saag Paneer

Spiced Rice

1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
5 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
2 1/2 cups water 
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water for 30 seconds, shaking the strainer to wash the starches off of the grains. Drain well. 

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium flame until it shimmers. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns and cardamom, then the rice, and cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat the rice and toast it evenly. Add the ginger, water and salt, stir once or twice, then bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot, and let the rice steam, without stirring, until all the water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, 10-20 minutes, then gently fluff with a fork and serve. You can remove the peppercorns and cinnamon stick.

Saag Paneer

7 ounces paneer, in half-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large bunch chard
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
3/4 cup greek yogurt 
1/4 cup (whole) milk
juice of half a lemon

For serving:
spiced rice
a handful cilantro leaves 
lemon wedges

Melt the oil in a wide skillet over a medium flame until it shimmers. Add the cheese cubes in a single layer, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the cheese brown on the each side, 3-5 minutes. It will spit and hiss, so be careful. You can use a thin, metal spatula, to loosen and flip each cube onto an other side. Brown on all second sides, then sprinkle with a bit of salt and remove the cheese to drain on a double layer of paper towels. 

Feel free to reuse the oil in the pan for the next steps unless it has burned or smoked. 

Use a sharp paring knife to slice the chard leaves off of the stems. Give the chard leaves a rough chop, then soak them in a large bowl of cool water, swishing occasionally to loosen any dirt or sand clinging to them.

Heat the oil over a medium flame until it shimmers, then add the onion, ginger, cumin, garlic, chile flakes and turmeric. Saute, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then add 1/4 cup water and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover the pan and let the mixture sweat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, remove the chard leaves from the soaking water and place them in a large saucepan or soup pot with water still clinging to them. Cover the pot and place it over a medium flame. Steam the chard for a few minutes until the leaves are just wilted and bright green. Strain, rinse with cool water, and squeeze out most of their liquid. 

Chop the leaves fairly finely, then stir them into the onion mixture. Stir in the yogurt, milk, and cheese cubes, gently heat over a low flame, then remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt or lemon juice if needed to bring up the flavors.

Serve the saag paneer over rice, garnished with cilantro and lemon wedges to squeeze over the top.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

I know lots of people think of this day as a "greeting card holiday" but my father sold greeting cards so people professing their love on February 14th meant we could live in our house and have food on the table.  Which to me is another reason why it's really good to show your love for the people in your lives.

Valentine's Heart mug by Lori Buff
Heart Mug

I made these mugs for Valentine's Day a few years ago.  They sold several months after the holiday had passed but they sold.  The next year I made another set, guess what?  Yup, they sold in the summer.

I can only hope that is because for some of us everyday is Valentine's Day.  I hope it is for you as it is for me.

Don't forget to check out Mudcolony today.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Erin Furimsky Workshop and Think Texture

This weekend Erin Furimsky came to Mudfire to give a workshop focusing on different methods for achieving layered surfaces.  She was wonderful.  Although she really knows her subject matter she was also very quick to play with new ideas that popped into her head or those of the students.  So not only did she teach how to create these surfaces but also how to think about the process and how to best go about testing different methods.  I suspect everyone had a great time.  You should check out her DVD.

Erin Furimsky creates surface texture
Erin Furimsky Demonstrating Surface Technique
Erin has influenced me to think more about the platters that I made a few weeks ago.  As much as I like the Ginko leaves I don't think they are really honoring the surface that is created on the back of the platter.  Since that surface is what drew me to creating the piece I think a cohesive tie should exists   Now I just have to see it in my mind since I now have the tools I need to create it.
Surface of Platter Back

Monday, February 11, 2013

Meatless Monday - Curried Farro Salad

What in the world is farro?  It's a wheat grain that's similar to Spelt.  I'm told it's good for you but, whatever, it tastes good. If being a good source of protein, fiber and B vitamins makes you happy than this grain should do the trick.

This salad makes a great winter dish as the farro is served warm and the curry is warming.  It's also great for leftovers because you don't have to reheat it.

curried wheat berry salad
Curried Farro Salad

2 cups semi-pearled farro, (spelt or whole wheat berries can be substituted) rinsed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
6 small carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4" dice
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 lemon cut lengthwise, ends removed, finely chopped with peel (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups arugula
1 or 2 leaves of mustard greens
2 cups (packed) cilantro sprigs with tender stems plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place spelt and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a medium pot. Add water to cover by 1 1/2". Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until farro is tender and water is mostly absorbed, about 1 hour (or 12-15 minutes if using semi-pearled farro). Drain; place in a large bowl.

While the farro is cooking, heat vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add curry, mustard seeds, cardamom, and coriander; cook, stirring often, until spices are fragrant and mustard seeds begin to pop, 2-3 minutes. Stir in carrots and season with pepper. Cook, stirring often, until carrots are crisp-tender, 5-6 minutes.

Add vinegar and stir until evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Stir in onion and lemon. Remove pan from heat and stir until onion is wilted, 1-2 minutes. Add vegetable mixture to bowl with spelt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add arugula, mustard leaves, 2 cups cilantro, and olive oil to spelt mixture; toss to combine. Transfer salad to a large platter. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

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

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paper Resist Maple Leaf Vase

Do you love the look of raw clay?  It seems to give us a connection to the Earth.  When a pot is fired the unglazed parts are often as interesting as the glazed parts and the combination is what can really make a piece work or not.

Maple Leaves in paper resist by Lori Buff
Maple Leaf Vase

This vase is part of something I'm working on to show off the clay.  The clay body I've chosen is Highwater's Orangestone because I love the way this clay looks in reduction, okay, truth be told, I love it in all types of firing and I have tried it in many.

I cut out maple leaf shapes from newspaper, it's fun and reminds me of cutting out paper dolls as a kid.  The paper leaves are coated with wax which not only resists the glaze but also glues them to the pot.  The glaze is a layer of Acid Green over Ochre.  I pull off as much newspaper as I can as the glaze will sometimes cling to it in places even though it's been waxed.  The paper and the wax would burn off in the kiln but the glaze would remain and adhere to the pot.  A little of this is nice, too much just looks sloppy to me.

The vase was fired in cone 6 reduction.

Have you been to Mud Colony yet?

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Teapot Making Video

Winter is hot tea season.  It's not even really cold in Georgia where I live (compared to where I grew up anyway) but I still like to drink hot tea in the winter.  It's a good way to get plenty of fluids in a season where we don't tend to be as thirsty as summer.

While I was making teapots I turned on the video camera and talked about what I was doing.  It's been a while since I made a video.  It's kind of weird to be alone in my studio talking to people who aren't there yet but I figure I'm a crazy artist, I'll just go with it.

Since their are quite a few steps to making a tea pot this video turned into a series of videos.  Yes, I'm alone in my studio talking to myself quite a lot lately.  I'll post the others after I get them edited and posted to youtube. com.

I hope you enjoy it and learn something from it.  I appreciate your feedback.

You might want to head over to Mud Colony to see what the other bloggers are doing.

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Finished Condiment Bowls

You may remember the condiment bowls I made and posted a few days ago.  The first set came out of the kiln and I'm pretty happy with them.  The glaze is a very pale yellow that washed out in the flash but looks inviting on the piece.  I did a little coloring on the rim, I wanted it to be subtle so the pot doesn't out shine the food.

Double Relish Dish by Lori Buff
Condiment Bowls
When I was growing up we'd often go to my Grandmother's house for Sunday dinner.  She always had a dish like this full of pickles and olives which I love to this day.  When we entertain we usually have a condiment bowl filled with nuts or various dips like guacamole and hummus.  They are something that should be in everyone's cupboard.  What would you serve in one?

Head over to Mudcolony to see other potters work.

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

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ginko Platter Glazed

Do you remember the oval platters I wrote about a while back?  Here's the results of the Ginko Leaf Platter.  Since the leaves where impressed into the clay and then white slip was inlaid into the impression I thought I'd do a simple glaze and let the leaves be subtle.

I poured Acid Green glaze over the face of the platter to give a sense of movement.  It reminds me of the current in stream or a spring breeze.

Ginko Leaf serving platter by Lori Buff
Ginko Leaf Platter

The bottom of the platter has a flower texture which I wanted to show off so I painted the entire bottom with a diluted black underglaze.  I let the underglaze dry then wiped it off with a damp sponge.  This leaves a look of patina.
Ginko Leaf Platter, patina, by Lori Buff
Patina Effect

I'm really happy with the way this platter turned out but I did something a little different to the oak leaf platter.  I'll show you that when it comes out of the kiln.

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

Friday, February 1, 2013

Goddesses, Books, and More

Yesterday I dropped off some more Goddess Mugs and their friends at Charis Books and More.  I'm not sure that most of the people that shop in a feminist book store are expecting to find hand made pottery but the mugs sell pretty well there and I love going in to shop and to visit with the women who run the store.

Future Relics Goddess Mug
Goddess Mug

Later when I was at Mudfire glazing pots we struck up a conversation about books, some people like to find their own books to read but I always want a recommendation.  Understand that I'm a slow reader, I want to really enjoy the book, I want to know the characters, I want to miss them when I'm finished.  I don't want to waist any time reading a bad book.  That's one of the reasons I can't even walk into one of the big box book stores, they overwhelm me with too many choices.  Even when they try to make customers comfortable it fails for me.  They just feel big, cold, and corporate.

I'm thankful for our small, local bookstores (who can order anything I want, even ebooks) and the small public library in the village.  They support me in so many ways.

What are you reading?

Speaking of reading, you should head over to Mudcolony and read some blogs there.

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