Friday, March 29, 2013

Sagar Firing

One bare clay process that I have not done previous to this workshop is sagar firing.  This week I got my chance and I really like the results.  It is a little bit of work because it's essentially firing your pots inside a couple of other pots.  This means you have to throw two pieces that are large enough to encase your primary piece.  That seems like sacrificing two perfectly good bowls to me.  Especially since the sagar firing does eventually cause cracks in the sagar.

The thing is, the pots are beautiful.

We filled the bottom of the sagar with wood chips, added some copper carbonate mixed with salt around the edge (it should not touch the pot) then topped the pots with a little bit of course steal wool.

Sagar Firing, Notice the Crack

The pots were fired according to a firing schedule that brings them up to 1600 degrees in about 24 minutes then we held the kiln between 1600 and 1700 for 20 minutes.  The hard part is staying away from the kiln long enough for the sagars to cool down enough to touch safely.

The results are colors of shiny black to grey to white with beautiful oranges.  I imagine you could play with stuff and get different colors but these look gorgeous together.

After Sagar Firing

It was after dark when I took my pot out of the sagar so I was unable to get a good picture. I'll post something soon.

Have you been to Mudcolony today?

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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's been cold and rather snowy here at Penland. It's supposed to be the first full week of spring, not the first full week of snow. But it's okay, most people here don't have to drive in it and the roads are actually pretty clear for those that do.
It's really quite pretty. People are always stopping to take pictures of something beautiful covered in snow.
Art Wall in snow at Penland School of Crafts
Penland Wall

Others are playing in the snow

artful snow man at Penland
Penland Snowman

We're keeping warm in the snow.

Firing Raku Kilns
Raku Kilns Firing

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fire and Ice

It's snowing here at Penland, which is preferable to the rain that's been falling since before I even got here on Saturday but it does make doing raku interesting.

We were not deterred by the weather, we just started with a ferric fuming firing (isn't that fun to say).  Each student in the class put a couple of piece into the firing so we ened up firing both kilns twice.  That's not a big deal because this type of firing goes pretty quickly.  It really only depends on how long it takes the kiln to reach 500 degrees, a short soak then crank it up until it hits around 1400.  Unload and wait for the cooling to happen.

All the pots looked great.  One person's was really thin and we suspect it got a little too hot because of that, but it's still a pretty piece.  We'll make adjustments in kiln placement and such for the next firing with her pieces in it.

Copper Etchant Raku
Ferric Fumed Pot
This is one of mine.  I'm pretty pleased with it.

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meatless Monday - Mexican Hot Chocolate Short Bread Cookies

Part of the Penland experience is some really fantastic food.  It's really good, healthy and you get ample variety.  The first time I came here I was worried that I'd starve to death (it's a phobia of mine) since I'm a vegetarian who does not like beans or tofu and this is very limiting.  So when I packed for a two and a half week stay I brought a large container of homemade granola bars and a bag of chips to help keep me going.  I didn't have to touch them.

When I thought about what to write for today I thought it should be a Penland recipe but I didn't feel I had time to bother Day, the chef for a recipe so I searched on line and found this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Short Bread cookies.  I have not tried these yet, you won't get dessert at every meal but you will see them fairly regularly.  However, they do sound really good so I will try them at home.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Short Bread Cookies

While you're looking up the recipe you should check out the rest of the blog, it's pretty cool.  She makes some really great clothes.

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder or finely ground coffee
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
About 1/4 cup granulated sugar for dusting
Your favorite cookie stamp

Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
Whisk the flours together in a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter, vanilla, and almond extract until the mixture is pale in color, 1 to 2 minutes.  Turn the speed down to low, add the brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, espresso, salt and cayenne pepper, and continue to mix until mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the flour mixture in thirds until just combined. With the mixer running, sprinkle in the chocolate chips, mixing until just combined.
Transfer the dough to another bowl and finish mixing by hand to make sure no bits of flour or butter are hiding on the bottom of the bowl and the dough is thoroughly mixed.
Use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies, about 1 rounded tablespoon each, and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch between the cookies to allow for spreading.
Flatten each cookie with a cookie stamp dusted with granulated sugar, or gently flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand and then dust the tops with sugar.  They will have little cracks in the top. Refrigerate the cookies for at least 1 hour, or up to 5 hours.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time for even doneness.  Cool the cookies completely on wire racks. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up the 3 days at room temperature.

If you make them let me know what you think of them.

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

Friday, March 22, 2013

Packing For Penland

It's going to be cold in the mountains of western North Carolina, not very spring like at all compared to Atlanta's weather.  That's okay, I'm still looking forward to it.  I do not handle cold weather very well so I pack on the layers.  Some times I've really felt like that kid on "A Christmas Story" who bundles up so much he can't move.  Yup, that's me, let's hope I don't fall over.

I don't care about the cold, it would even be really pretty if it snows.  It's Penland, I'm going to be working with Linda and Charlie Riggs and it's going to be a lot of fun.

The only thing is that I have to pack all those extra clothes which means an extra suitcase for me.  The nice part about the extra suitcase is it makes you feel like you can bring extra stuff.

Dori Ready For Travel

Well Dori thinks that anyway.  Do you think she wants to come with me?

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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Throwing a Tea Pot - Adding Attachments

For the past few weeks I've posted some video's showing how I make a tea pot on the potter's wheel.  This last video is about adding the spout and the handle.  If you want to see the entire series plus some other pottery videos you can find them at my YouTube Channel.

Have you been to Mudcolony yet?

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

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meatless Monday - Lemon Pasta

Making dishes that seem gourmet but are really easy is the best. If you are entertaining an easy meal that doesn't taste easy to make is impressive and relaxing and a very nice meal after a hard day at work is a great reward. This is one of those dishes. Don't tell anyone how easy it is.

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (Kosher salt)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 sprigs thyme
Start the water boiling for the pasta, follow the package instructions for cooking.

While the water is boiling mix the olive oil, lemon juice, mushrooms, salt, and garlic in a large serving bowl (preferably hand made).  When the pasta is done cooking place it in the bowl, top with cheese, lemon zest and about 2/3 of the herbs.  Toss well, top with the remainder of the herbs.  Serve.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meatless Monday - Irish Brown Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Yes, this post is early, it's not Monday yet but I couldn't resists sharing this easy Irish Brown Bread recipe.

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 TBS cold unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups yogurt
Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour, set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, throughly mix the flours, oats, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.

Cut the butter into small bits, then rub it into the flour mixture with your hands until it's evenly incorporated.

Stir in the yogurt, then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute.  Sprinkle on a little more flour if needed to prevent sticking but let the dough remain soft.

Roll the dough into a ball, flatten into a circle.  Sprinkle a little unbleached flour on top then gently spread it around with your fingers.  Using a sharp knife cut an X in the top.

Bake 30 minutes, cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.  Enjoy.

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

Friday, March 15, 2013


One of the advantages of being a part of Mudfire is getting to see a lot of fantastic pottery by a wide variety of artists.  This also has some disadvantages.  Yesterday I was checking in some works by Doreen Baskin for a show that's coming up in a few weeks.  Her work floored me.  Another member who makes fantastic and amazing sculptures saw Doreen's work and said "I should just quit now."  Of course she went back to her pieces and continued to play with them and make them gorgeous.

Doreen Baskin Sculptural Cup

We are taught to compare ourselves with others.  In school teachers would compare me with my older brothers, the same thing happened to my mother when she was in school.  We are expected to "keep up with the Joneses" where we live.  How many times does one lawn mower start a symphony of lawn mowers in the neighborhood?  In the corporate world we are paid based on industry standards.

Art is different.  Art comes from within us, it's our heart, laid bare for public display.  You can't compare my heart and soul to someone else's, it's too personal.  It seems like it's far healthier to be inspired by the art of others.

Who inspires you?

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tea Pot Demo Part 3 - Spout and Handles

Here's another video in the tea pot making series.  If you haven't been following this series and would like to do so just go to the Future Relics You Tube Channel.  If you subscribe to the channel you'll get an email whenever I post a new video there.

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New and Improved Juicers

You may have seen the post about the juicer I made a few weeks ago.  Since it was the first one I made I needed to test it.  Have you ever bought a product that you thought would be good but then figured out that it wasn't so great and could use some improvement?  I don't want my customers going through that so I like to test my functional work in my own kitchen.

pottery juicer
New Juicers

The juicer worked great for juicing but I had to pull the fruit seeds out by hand or pour the juice through a strainer.  Neither was fun for me, so I built a strainer into the juicer.

The Strainer
I like the way these work better. I think they are ready for sale.

Have you been over to Mud Colony yet?

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

Meatless Monday - Avocado Soup

They've been called "poor man's butter" because they can be picked from trees and used as a butter substitute essentially for free, if you live in a place where avocado trees grow. The thing is, they are so much better for you than butter. They are packed with monounsaturated fat that are supposed actually help lower cholesterol.  They also have more potassium than bananas and some other good vitamins and protien.  I just know they are delicious.

This delicious, creamy soup can be served warm or cold and is simple to make.

  • 3 avocados
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs lime or lemon juice (juice from 1 fruit)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (you can use water for a thiner soup) or vegan milk substitute

Slice the avocados in half lengthwise, remove the pit, scoop the pulp into a bowl and mash with a fork.

Add most of the chopped scallions reserving some for a garnish and the lime or lemon juice. Mix well.

Pour in the milk a little at a time then combine in a blender. If serving this soup warm do not boil it.

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Desert Botanical Gardens

You may have noticed a lack of posts on this blog this week. That's because I was in Arizona visiting my family. It was a fun trip, with time spent with my parents, Aunt, Uncle, cousins and their children (my second cousins I think).

One of the things we did for fun was a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.  Which is a very cool place.  Well, it's the desert south west so it's actually hot, but you get the ideal.

The gardens not only had interesting cacti and succulents but desert wild flowers, a butterfly house and sculptures.
Winter by Philip Haas

One exhibit is by artist and film maker Philip Haas. It's based on the paintings of the renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo.  These giant heads represent the four seasons in vegetation and are really kind of fun.

Sculpture by Carolina Escobar
This piece is from the Whispers of a New World: Sculptures by Carolina Escobar exhibit. Escobar is a local artist who builds large scale, brightly colored sculptures that are inspired by nature.

They are also displaying some Chihuly glass sculptures which are awesome.  If you ever get a chance to go to these gardens you really should.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meatless Monday - Spiced Up Roasted Vegetables

This is one of those meals you could make just to smell it.  If you want your guests to feel hungry the minute they walk in your door you should make these veggies.  They are also simple to make and are perfect as a main course or a side.

Spiced Roasted Vegetables

  • 3 zucchini cut in half lengthwize
  • 1 leek trimmed and cut into quarters
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 bulb garlic, cloves seperated
  • 3 small red peppers quartered
  • 3 small yellow peppers quartered
  • 1 sweet potato cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 6 small yukon gold potatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tbs ground coriander
  • 2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbs balsamic vinegar
Place all the vegetables, except the tomatoes into a large baking dish.  Combine the spices, with the olive oil and drizzle over the vegetables.  Stir gently to coat then bake for 30 minutes at 350F turning occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and roast for 15 more minutes.  Place the veggies on a warmed serving plate reserving any liquid.

Combine the vinegar with the reserved vegetable liquid in a small pan.  Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half.  Pour the warm dressing over the vegetables and serve immediately.

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

Friday, March 1, 2013

Horse Hair Lamps

A few weeks ago I wrote about these horse hair lamps I had started, well they have finally been fired. I think they came out pretty nice. Now I'll order the hardware and some lamp shades and set them up.

Horse Hair Lamps (sans shades)
I'm really excited about them.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff