Thursday, April 25, 2013

Repairing Crack Pots - Magic Water

Earlier this month I wrote an article discussing steps a potter can take while creating a pot to avoid cracking.  The suggestions from other potters were great and should be helpful, thanks.  The thing is, while making pots you can have many opportunities for cracks to appear.  Every time we attach something to a pot we risk a place for a crack to develop.  This means every handle, tea pot spout, knob, every seam on a hand built piece is likely to crack.  It's enough to make you want to give up pottery and take up weaving (sound familier Tracey)!

Many potters will use Lana Wilson's Magic Water to help two pieces of clay stick together better.  Here's the recipe:

1 gallon water
3 tablespoons liquid sodium silicate
1 1/2 teaspoons soda ash 

It works really well and many potters swear by it.  But what do you do if the crack has formed after the attachment is made or on someplace that isn't an attachment, like the bottom of a platter.  Sometimes if you've put a lot of work into a piece you don't want to throw it back in the recycle bucket just because it dried unevenly and developed a little crack.

Horse Hair Decorated Pottery by Lori Buff
It's Horse Hair, It's Not Really Cracked

You can go buy mending fluids that do work pretty well, or you can make something right now.  I take a little bit of slip from the clay I've used to make the piece, add a drop of vinegar (it's a deflocculant) and a little bit of very shredded paper.  While at Mudfire I can find plenty of paper dust hiding in the corners of the paper towel dispensers, at home I shred a square of toilet paper.  I mix these together really well then brush into the crack.  The mend may need to be lightly sanded (outside wearing a mask) and reworked a time or two.

This mixture has worked on greenware and bisqued pieces.  A word of warning, it does not work every time on every crack but it doesn't hurt to try.

Do you have a favoriate mending technique?

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Naked Pottery

Naked Pots Pre-Naked Firing

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Many Thanks

April has been a really busy month.  It usually is because the nice weather means pottery shows and festivals.  For me it was Fired Works in Macon, GA and the Atlanta Dogwood Festival running concurrently.  It may feel stressful to me to participate in these events but the real stressful job and hard work was done by the people that do such a great job to make these types of events happen and run smoothly.

It's not easy to put on an event of any size but these two are pretty huge.  Fired Works is the largest exhibit of functional and sculptural pottery in the state of Georgia.  The Macon Arts Alliance has created this event by getting 70 potters to bring about 6000 pieces of art to the city for a 10 day show.  They handle the setup of the building, check-out, advertising, correspondence with the artists and all the other details that goes in to putting on an event of this caliber.  They are like ducks, they seem to be simply gliding along gracefully and effortlessly but you know they are paddling like crazy just beneath the surface.  I cannot imagine the work that goes into this show but they make it look easy.  I'm sure they are all going to be exhausted for quite some time.

Meanwhile, in downtown Macon at the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery is the Off the Wall Show and at Mudfire Gallery is the Fur and Feathers Show.  Both of which are displaying a few pieces of mine.

Lori Doing Demos in the Rain

While Fired Works was wrapping up I was setting up at the Atlanta Dogwood Festival.  This festival has been going on for 77 years so they have a long history of doing this but that doesn't make dealing with a long list of fine artists, performing artists, food venders and sponsors easy.  I imagine it might be harder than herding cats yet they did a great job of making everything flow very well.  The only thing I was unhappy with was the rain on Friday but that wasn't anyone's fault.

Since the booth at the dogwood Festival was for Mudfire several of the rangers (instructors) brought pottery to sell, did demos, helped set up and break down the booth and add joy and smiles to little kids and adults.  They were awesome.

So many people to thank, I am very grateful for you all and for all you do.

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Monday - Cauliflower Fried Rice

Some people can't eat rice, or don't want to for dietary reasons.  That does not have to mean they can't still enjoy the taste of fried rice.  They just need to use cauliflower instead of rice.  It's delicious.  Here's the way I made it but you don't have to stick to this recipe, feel free to add or subtract any veggies that you like.

Chopped Carrots and Green Beans

Don't the carrots look great in this green berry bowl, I guess they aren't just for berries.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped fairly small
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 3 cups of raw cauliflower, chopped finely or grated
  • 4 eggs, scrambled
  • 3 TBSP soy sauce
  • Chili Sauce (such as Srirach) to taste
In a wok or other large pan heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the onion and garlic, saute for about 2-3 minutes until the onions become soft and transparent.

Add the carrots and green beans and cook until the carrots start to soften, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the scrambled eggs, cauliflower and soy sauce stirring frequently for 5 -7 minutes.

Serve with a little chili sauce if you like to spice things up a bit.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Off The Wall

While Fired Works is running this week so is a show at the Macon Art's Alliance Gallery.  The show is titled "Off The Wall."  Yup, I couldn't resist being in a show with that name.

Woman of the Woods

Four Seasons

So here I am with my figurative pots.  The Women of the Woods were fired in the wood kiln at Shorter University while the Four Season (three of which are shown here) are kohiki finished and fired in gas reduction.

Heatherly and and all the wonderful people at the Macon Arts Alliance have done an outstanding job this year with both of these shows.  You should go there while you can.  Fired Works runs until Sunday April 21, 2013 and Off The Wall runs until the 27th.

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Helpers

After yesterday's tragic events in Boston many people are talking about, thanking, and praising the helpers.  Not just the law enforcement officers and medical people who rushed toward the violence to help but also to the people that opened up their homes to the stranded runners and other visitors to the city.  People outside of Boston are making appointments to donate blood which may never get to Boston but will help someone.  After I had a pretty major surgery several years ago I needed a transfusion and I am forever grateful to the good people who donate blood.

The thing is, we don't need to be attacked, we don't need to be placed in horrible situations in order to do good for others.  If you feel like you want to do something to be a helper today, then by all means do it and try to hang on to that feeling.  Hold it and act on it for as long as you can.  If it goes away, let it come back and act on it again.  Sometimes simple, random acts of kindness can benefit you and the recipient.  For example, I sometimes shop at a large farmer's market that is so busy they can't keep the shopping carts near the entrance, they are always out in the parking lot.  I usually walk past a cart corral and grab one which I leave by the front door because I only need a basket.  But someone else coming into the building who has forgotten to grab a card in the parking lot now has one to use.  One day as I was leaving this same market I over heard a woman telling her daughter that they would leave the cart near the entrance and it would "make someone's day."  Witnessing this mother teaching her daughter about random acts of kindness sure made my day.

What can you do to help someone today?  

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fired Works - Macon GA

I'm on my way to Fired Works with a whole lot of pots.  You really should check out this show,  some really terrific potters are here.  Last year I left with a bunch of new pots from some of my favorite artists.

The 8th Annual Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale will be held April 13-21, 2013 in the Historic Round Building in Central City Park. The 2013 exhibit will feature 70 artists from Georgia and the Southeast. Fired Works began as a local pottery show and has grown to become the largest exhibit of functional and sculptural pottery in the state of Georgia.

This year’s nine-day exhibit and sale includes special events such as Clay Workshops for Children & Teens, Clay in the Classroom workshops, Cocktails and Clay, Pickin’ & Pottery, artist talks and more. A Special Preview Party will be held Friday, April 12 with live music, food, and an exclusive chance to purchase work before the exhibit opens to the general public.

Carved Lidded Pottery Jar by Lori Buff
Carved Lidded Jar

The mission of Fired Works is to provide a platform for artists and to promote the rich history of pottery in Central Georgia. People have made pottery along the banks of the Ocmulgee River for thousands of year and artists continue this tradition even today. In fact, the oldest piece of stamped pottery ever found in North America was found at the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon.

Fired Works is a program of Macon Arts Alliance and is supported by numerous sponsors and community partners.

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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Using What We Learned

A little over a year ago Molly Hatch was at Mudfire giving a workshop. She was wonderful.  It was in this workshop that I met Melinda Crider among many other talented artists.  Last weekend I got to visit with Melinda again at Mudfire, this time for the opening of the Fur and Feather's Show.  Besides being fun to visit with her again I particularly enjoyed how we had both used what we learned at the workshop to be juried into this show.

Ceramic wall hanging by Melinda Crider
Melinda Crider Wall Hanging

Melinda typically creates figurative sculptures but for Fur and Feather's she used the Mishima techniques that we were taught in the workshop.  I wonder if she's going to work this technique into her sculptures as I have worked it into my horse hair raku pieces and for creating functional pots with dragons, birds, wolves, and other imagery.

Teapot with mishima dogwood and bird by Lori Buff
Dogwood and Bird Tea Pot by Lori Buff

Soon I'll be posting a video about how I do this technique, it's a little different than what I learned in the workshop but isn't that how it's suposed to happen?  Workshops are the seed, we determine how it's going to grow.

The Fur and Feather's show has some really great art, you can see it at the gallery or on line here: Fur and Feathers at Mudfire.

You might also want to see what other potters are up to on Mudcolony.

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crack Pot

Everyone who has done any kind of work with clay has eventually had a pot crack.  Often times this happens sooner rather than later in the potter's learning time.  Many different factors contribute to the problem of pots cracking.  Often it has to do with not enough compression or uneven drying.

Compression happens on the wheel when throwing.  It's a good idea to use a rib on the bottom of the pot, before raising the sides, to give the bottom some solid compression.  I hold the rib at a low angle to the floor of the pot and give it a firm but gentle push down.  Later, when the pot has walls I try to remove any water in the bottom of the pot right away and I compress with the sponge while I'm soaking up the swamp.  Water sitting in the bottom of the pot for long will weaken even the best compressed pot.

Pots Drying Upside Down
After the pot is thrown you have to deal with uneven drying issues.  I often put my pots on a wire rack to dry, this way the top and the bottom both get plenty of air.  However, the pots will still dry out unevenly on the rack so as soon as the rim is dry enough to support the pot I flip it over so the bottoms get maximum air and the top gets less.  Sometimes I will even place some plastic around the rims while they are on the ware board to slow drying.  Of course trimming a good foot also takes off some of the excess clay from the bottom of the pot and helps it to dry evenly, a little compression while trimming can also help minimize cracking.

If none of these steps work before the pot is bisque fired and I discover a crack I simply toss it into the recycle bin.  It's more time consuming to try to fix a cracked pot (and success is not guaranteed)  than to recreate the piece.

What do you to to prevent cracking?

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

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meatless Monday - Spanish Garlic Soup

With the change of the seasons come the head and chest colds.  Poor Janet, who never gets sick, has fallen victim to a bad one.  Of course the universal home remedy for a cold is chicken soup but we don't eat meat.  However, we know that it's the vitamins in the vegetables, the warmth of the soup and the extra fluids that eating soup give us that really help relieve the cold symptoms.  I know that garlic is supposed to have some really good anti-viral properties and that something with some hot spices would help make her feel better so I fixed some Spanish Garlic Soup.  This is different than the Garlic Soup with Poached Egg recipe that I published previously because it's spicier.

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbs Spanish Paprika
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 eggs (substitute tofu if you prefer)
  • a few leaves of mustard greens
  • chopped parsley garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a stock pot, add the cloves of garlic and cook until golden then remove and set aside. Add the paprika to the oil and fry for a few seconds. Stir in the vegetable broth and cumin then add the garlic crushing the cloves with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes while the oven is preheating to 450 degrees.

Shred the mustard greens and add them to the soup.  Ladle the soup into 4 ovenproof bowls.  Break 1 egg into each bowl then place into the oven.  Bake for 4 - 5 minutes until the eggs are cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with parsley.

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

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fur and Feathers 2013 at Mudfire

From the whimsical to the fantastic to the macabre, Fur and Feathers brings forth an invigorating span of imaginative works. Going well beyond “putting a bird on it”, these artists deliver with a diverse expression of creatures.
This collection, featuring work from nearly 20 artists, of nature- and un-natural-inspired sculptural and functional pottery goes on exhibit April 5th and highlights work from ceramicists throughout East including MudFire favorites Charlie Tefft, Kelly Thiel, Helen Rogers, Ginger Birdsey, Doreen Baskin, Julie Wiggins, Lori Buff, Ronan Peterson and more. Also exhibiting will be a number of clay workers new to the gallery: Blue Fire MacMahon, Rebecca Soike, Melinda Crider, Christine Kosiba, Courtney Hamill and Scot Cameron-Bell.
Add to your own fairytale (or fairytail!) memories by browsing this unique anthology of story-telling pieces. The show opens April 5, 2013 and runs through May 4, 2013.
About the exhibit
The exhibit and sale will be available online and at MudFire Gallery at 175 Laredo Drive in Decatur at 12:00 Noon on Friday, April 5, 2013. An opening night celebration will take place on Friday, April 5, 2013, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm.

Side Handled teapot by Lori Buff
Bird and Dogwood Teapot
Full artist information and representative imagery are available immediately at the show page, http://www.mudfire.com/fur-and-feathers-2013.htm
About MudFire Gallery
MudFire Gallery is a showcase for functional and sculptural pottery and boasts a decade-long reputation of prominence in the ceramic arts world. Representing nationally acclaimed potters as well as emerging artists from the Southeast, MudFire Gallery serves as a font of inspiration for members and collectors. Recently under new ownership, the new management team aspires to continue the legacy entrusted to them.
Join our MudFire email list and stay tuned on our MudFire Facebook page for details on upcoming shows as well as the MudFire 3.0 open house and grand celebration this summer. You don’t want to miss this party!
For more on MudFire, please visit www.MudFire.com.

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pottery Notes App

Keeping track of inventory isn't always fun but it is rather important.  It's a good way to track what we've made, what size it is, what glazes we used, even how much we sold it for if it was sold.  This is important in keeping prices consistant and doing taxes (are yours done yet?).  Each pot can have a long list of things to remember about it but after a few months or years it's hard to remember.  I recently had a customer contact me and ask me to make a razor holder for him using the same glaze as I used on the shaving scuttle he purchased about a year ago.  I used a special glaze combination, I would never remember it if I hadn't made some notes.

Presenting, the Pottery Notes app, it's free for iPhone and iPad and helps you to easily fill in the form that reminds you of your pots.  What could be better?

It was made by Keith Jones, a programer who also does pottery.  You should check it out, it's really cool.

While you're checking stuff out, head on over to Mudcolony and check out the blogs there.

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thoughts About Bowls

Have you read this article in the New York Times about a simple pottery bowl that sold at auction for over 2 million dollars.  It's really great to see a piece of pottery being show that respect.  Of course I wonder how the potter lived in his/her time.  We tend to pay much more for art once the artist is dead and can't use the money.  I seem to remember a movie about an artist that faked his own death in order to be able to sell his paintings at a high price.  Yes, it was meant to be funny.

Pottery Serving bowl by Lori Buff
Serving Bowl
All kidding aside, I think it's great that one of the most functional, most used pottery forms is being recognized by the art community.  I think many beautiful bowls have been created by potters and wood turners and basket weavers, (just to name a few) and they should be viewed as art.  Creating something with use and beauty is not easy and should be honored. 

What do you think?

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

Monday, April 1, 2013

Meatless Monday - Coffee

A mug of coffee, it's how many of us start our day.  If it's not right it can effect your whole morning, maybe the entire day.  When it is right it's a good start.  I love summer weekends when I can linger over a good cup of coffee while sitting on the deck reading, visiting with Janet or playing with the pups.

While their are many expert and differing opinions on how to make a good cup of coffee I can only tell you what I do and that it works for me.  Your milage may vary.

I start with whole bean coffee that is stored in a pottery jar on the counter with a tight fitting lid.  So people say to freeze the beans, some say don't. I don't and it works, but we do go through a pound in about a week or so.  I also use filtered water even though the coffee maker has a filter.  I just want to be certain the water doesn't flavor the coffee.

After the coffee is done brewing I warm a little half and half in the microwave.  It should be warm but not boiled.  The cream is then frothed and poured on top of the coffee.  Some mornings I enhance it with a little sprinkle of cinnamon or powdered coco or both.

Mug by Cynthia Bringle, Cream Pitcher by Lori Buff
Bringle Mug, Buff Cream Pitcher

The most important part is choosing the mug.  Yes, I stand in front of the cupboard and think about which mug I want to use this day.  Sometimes I want a larger mug, sometimes smaller.  Some mornings a particular handle will appeal to me, some days it's the glaze.  Some days I just think about what friend I want to share my coffee with.

How do you take your coffee?

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