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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Consumerism Conflict

’Tis the season to be sold something.  Everywhere you look you see some advertising that tells you that you should buy something.  They tell you your loved ones need more stuff and they will only love you if you buy it for them.  This has bothered some people so much that they refuse to participate in the holiday gifting ritual.  They choose to not give, or only give something intangible.

I get both of these practices.  I dislike consumerism and commercialism.  It seems to take the life out of everything.  Parents are made to feel like they can’t tell their children “sorry, you didn’t get (insert hot gift item here) this year because I refused to brawl with other parents for it.”  We’ve forgotten that it’s the thought that counts.  But the businesses that are involved with these products have to sell them so they can stay in business.  It becomes a fight for survival.

On the other hand when people say “I’m not buying/giving gifts this year” I cringe also.  This means they are not buying any pottery from me.  So where I understand and even admire this boycott of the consumerism madness I also have that fight for survival.  Holiday sales are the bulk of my income.  As much as I like to say I’m an artist I also realize that I’m a retailer and I have to sell my product.  It’s not romantic, but it is life.

Handcrafted Om Mugs by Future Relics Gallery
Om Mugs

So what is the balance to this conflict?  I feel like it’s a matter of what you give.  Anyone can pick up a stack of gift cards and hand them out to friends and family.  If they are really being mindful it should take them a couple of minutes to decide which gift card would be best for which person.  Good deal, 5 minutes, all your holiday shopping is finished, go celebrate the season, thanks for the thought.

When people come to pick out gifts from my pottery they usually take their time, they look at a piece from different angles, they touch, they hold, they imagine.  They often comment about how much they would like this same piece for themselves.  They may not realize at that time that they can go enjoy the piece while they are visiting with this friend or family member.  They are giving something of value, something of worth and something of themselves even if it was not made by their hands.  It is something that speaks to them.  It shows caring, it should be why we give gifts.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Starting an Art Stroll?

This past weekend I had the good fortune and pleasure to be invited to the home of collage artist Patty Young for an art show.  She also invited assemblage artist Elise Aronson so we had 3 days of conversation about art and how to solve all the problems of the world.  Naturally it was mostly about art and it was totally fun.

At Last by Patty Young

 I’m a very private person and my house is a very personal space of me so in my opinion opening up one’s house like that feels very vulnerable and generous.  It turns out that it was a lot of fun.  Most of the people that came and visited were not only very respectful of the home and the art but they were very happy to visit and get to know a little about us artists as well as sharing pieces of their lives.  It was very nice and very personal.  I really enjoyed the experience and I feel like the customers did also.  If nothing else it beat the heck out of being at a mall.

Assemblage Jewelry by Elise Aronson

We also got a chance to meet a few other people in the neighborhood who are artists.  Several expressed interest in doing the same thing and the idea of an art stroll through the neighborhood emerged.  I think that would be a lot fun for the artists and the visitors as well as a great way to give people a community building experience that they are less likely to find in the big box stores.  I’m pretty excited about being at the start of this opportunity.

Handcrafted soup mug and serving bowl by Lori Buff
Serving Bowl and Soup Mug by Lori Buff

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Parisienne Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sage

If you’ve ever tried to make pasta at home you may have discovered that it’s a little tricky.  Potters may have an advantage because we are used to rolling out slabs of clay but pasta wants to be much thiner and it wants to be kept cool, usually.  However, one of my friends kept telling me how easy it is to make gnocchi so I figured I’d give it a try.  He was right!  It’s easy and you can make them a day or two a head of time or while the veggies are roasting.

Speaking of veggies, I used sweet potatoes because I had some from my garden.  I’m sure this would also be good with any firm winter squash like butternut.  Feel free to experiment and let me know what you discover.
Parisienne Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sage by Future Relics Pottery
Parisienne Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sage

The casserole was amazingly delicious and actually looked much better than the picture shows.  I think the next time I make this I will double the recipe just to make certain we have plenty of leftovers.

Ingredients: 

For the Parisienne Gnocchi:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plain flour
3 eggs
½cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

For the Parisienne Gnocchi:


To make Parisienne gnocchi, place butter, salt and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Add flour then stir continuously with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and begins to come away from side of pan. Transfer mixture to bowl of an electric mixer. Set aside for 5–10 minutes to cool a little.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in Parmesan and mustard until smooth.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place gnocchi dough in a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe one-quarter of dough into boiling water, cutting at approximately 1 inch intervals with a small sharp knife to make gnocchi-sized pieces. Simmer for 1–2 minutes or until gnocchi rise to surface and are tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a bowl of iced water. Repeat, in batches, with remaining dough. Drain gnocchi and return to bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator until required. (Gnocchi will keep in refrigerator for 3–4 days.)

Ingredients:

For the Sweet Potatoes:

2-3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into bite size pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped small
shaved Parmesan, to serve

Directions:

For the Sweet Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 425°, if you are going to use a handcrafted casserole you should put it in the oven now so it heats up with the oven. Place pumpkin, in a single layer, in a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelised.

Place gnocchi and pumpkin in a casserole. Bake for 15 minutes or until gnocchi is puffy and golden. About 5 minutes before gnocchi is ready, place butter and 8 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over a low heat. Cook for 4–5 minutes or until butter begins to turn brown. Add sage and cook for 1 minute or until sage is crisp and butter is a nutty brown color.  Pour melted butter over gnocchi mixture. Top with Parmesan to serve.

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Home Art Show

It’s time for another art show.  This weekend I have the good fortune to be showing my work at the Home of collage artists Patty Young of Redstilts Design.  She has also invited another collage artist, Elise Aronson to the home show so it should be a weekend of lots of art and fun.  You all are invited.


Details:

4674 Westhampton Dr
Tucker, GA  30084

Click here for directions

Friday December 12, 2014 through Sunday December 14, 2014
12 pm - 5 pm each day

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It’s Good vs It’s What I Wanted

Potters have many options for firing our work.  Some, like electric firing leave little to chance.  Other types of firing, like wood firing depend on so many different factors that it’s always a bit unpredictable.  Yes, we can learn to do things that will help make better flame marks of the pots but we also are at the mercy of things like atmospheric pressure and moisture content of wood.  Each time I participate in a wood firing I learn a bit more but it’s kind of like learning about computers.  Each answer brings another question.  You have to be okay with that sometimes.

The most recent wood firing that I participated in produced some pots that made a few potters unhappy.  One man was very disappointed and posted a picture of a cup he disliked on Facebook.  Friends flocked to it to tell him how much they loved the cup.  Another friend said she thought all her pieces experienced too much reduction and came out too dark.  Again, I looked at pictures on line and thought they came out beautiful.  Of course a picture isn’t the same as seeing the piece in person but I’ll bet they were beautiful in reality.

I’ve seen this with students also.  I’ve seen a student be very disappointed with a beautiful pot because they expected something different.  My advice is to put the pot away until you have lost your expectations then look at it with fresh, eyes that are not opinionated.  That tends to work.

Woodfired Pottery Vase by Future Relics Gallery
Wood Fired Vase

Some people who work in other art mediums that have much more control argue that potters are not true artists because we often leave some of the elements of our art to the kiln (or kiln gods as the case may be).  Potters argue that letting go of that control is part of our art form.  I can’t imagine we will find an answer to that debate here, and that’s okay.

For me I’m happy to work with the materials in harmony.  I like having a little control but I also enjoy giving up some control.  I believe that it should feel like Christmas when we open a kiln.  Sometimes the gift is good, sometimes it’s not.   I understand that potters want our voice to be seen in the piece and I understand the disappointment when it is not.  Maybe the voice of the potter has a lot more to do with nature than we realize.  We do play with mud after all.  If you really watch the leaves on the trees they seem to change a little differently each year.  I suspect light, water, and temperature play roles in the process, but they always look beautiful.  I think it’s called harmony.

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wonderful, Whirlwind Weekend

The song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many it’s also the most hectic.  That was the case for me this weekend since I had two, overlapping shows.  Since cloning isn’t an option Janet stepped in for me at one of the shows.  That was a huge help and I’m very grateful that she was willing to do that.

The first show I had to do was the Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe.  For this show the PTA parents clear out the classrooms and help the artists get set up in each room.  It’s a lot of work and it has to happen very quickly.  We have an hour and a half to check in, unload, and set up.  It would be pretty impossible for me to do it without the help of the volunteers.  They are wonderful that way.

I love doing this show because so many people return to it year after year.  I get to visit with them and find out how they or their kids are doing in school (“he’s graduated from collage already!”) and in life.  And most of the people that are there are very supportive of the artists.  They know that they can get very unique gifts for friends and family plus they understand that if they support the artists the artists will come back and the PTA will get the money it needs to continue to help the students.  Everyone wins.
Owl Mug by Future Relics Gallery
Owl Mug

When this show was done on Saturday night I packed up quickly with the help of the amazing volunteers and rushed over to The Stacks Lofts in the neighborhood of Atlanta known as Cabbagetown.  This is an old cotton and bag mill that was built after the civil war and has been converted into loft apartments.  They are really very cool and it’s a fun show for the customers and residents.  I was invited to show in the loft of a person who I had never met but who was generous enough to open his doors to me, another artist and a lot of visitors.  People often amaze me with their kindness.

Although sales were good we had anticipated they would be better since the Milltown Grill was supposed to set up with samples from their menu.  Unfortunately they switched lofts two hours before the show for some reason.  Of course we weren’t prepared for this and had no wonderful food or drinks ready.  The loft owner ran out and got some snacks but we were rushing against the clock and it was impossible to be very creative.  As disappointing as this was we still had a pretty good turn out and sold some pots and had a lot of fun.  I am very grateful to everyone that made it possible.

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Stacks Lofts + Artists Tour

The old Cotton and Bag Mill is now known as The Stacks Lofts.  And man, are they cool.  If I were ever to live in a loft apartment I'd want it to be in one of these historical buildings that has been creatively repurposed.  You’ve got to come tour these buildings and what better way then when they are full of art?

I was really excited to be invited into this show so I accept the invitation but later realized that the show was the same weekend as the Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe.  Oh, no! I need to clone myself! Thankfully, Janet has sweetly offered to be there for me.  So she gets to hang out in a cool loft all day.  Isn't that nice of her?  I was able to go there early and set up the pottery so she doesn't have to do that.  The thing is, I won't be able to help her pack everything up and tote it down to her car.  Maybe you can do us a favor and pick up a piece of pottery for yourself or for a gift, that way she doesn't have to carry it home.  We'd appreciate it.  I'm sure she'd be really happy to see you even if you just came in to say hello.

Thanks, here are all the details:

The Stacks Lofts + Artists Tour
170 Boulevard SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Saturday Dec 6 1pm - 8pm
Future Relics Pottery will be in loft E 309


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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Claremont School Holiday Market and Cafe

This Friday and Saturday I'll be at the Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe at the Clairemont school on Erie Ave in Decatur.  This is a great show where almost every room is filled with great art and craft.  I tend to do some holiday shopping here.  You might want to also.  It's a great opportunity to get a unique gift or something special for your home.



You might also come hungry.  The cafe is full of delicious soups, home made pastries, and soft drinks.  The event is a fundraiser for the school so you know the money you spend is doing some good.  Everyone wins.

While you're there be sure to stop by and say "hi." I’ll be happy to visit with you.

Details:
Decatur Holiday Marketplace
155 Erie Avenue, Decatur, Georgia
Friday Dec 5, 5:30pm - 9:30pm
Saturday Dec 6, 10am - 5pm
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Learning New Words

They say you learn something new every day, or at least you should learn something new every day.  I find it’s pretty easy to do by simply paying attention to things around you, reading books, looking up words you don’t know or making up ones that need to exist.  This weekend when a customer paid with a credit card I swiped it on the card reader on my phone and asked for her “fignature.”  Yes, it’s a new word I just invented.  It means to sign with your finger.

Fignature in Action

Feel free to use it often.  Since I’ve got at least one show every weekend until Christmas I’m sure I’ll get a chance or two to use it.  I hope you all do too.

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

After The Open Pottery Studio and Sale

The annual Open Studio and Sale is normally scheduled for the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I’ve done this to co-ordinate it with what is known as a long weekend dedicated to shopping but what it ends up being is a long weekend dedicated to giving thanks.  It starts on Thursday when friends gather together over a bounty of delicious food to celebrate.  Our Thanksgiving dinner is vegetarian so even the turkey’s have something to be thankful for on that day.  The next day the sale starts and so do the thanks.

Yes, I am grateful to everyone that comes by and visits, I try to express my thanks whether they buy something or not.  I am happy to see them and very glad they stopped by.  Maybe they didn’t see anything they wanted or maybe they can’t afford to get something.  It’s okay, it was still nice to visit.
Visiting with customers by Lori Buff
Visiting The Studio Sale

Janet makes the worlds best chocolate chip cookies and she made certain the plate was always full.  That was no easy task considering the amount of cookies I customers ate.  I appreciated her and them very much.
Cookies and clay by Lori Buff
Worlds Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday was amazingly warm and beautiful.  I pulled the wheel outside so I could throw some pots in the sunshine.  I am thankful that the weather was beautiful all weekend but Sunday knocked it out of the park!
Pottery Throwing Demo by Future Relics Gallery
Throwing Pots in the Sunshine

I am also thankful for everyone that brought friends with them and the friends that were willing to come along.  It made the weekend even more fun.

Now, on to the next shows and more thankfulness.

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Meatless Monday - Zucchini Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk

Just thinking about curries tends to make people think about hot, spicy, flavorful dishes.  Of course some people like the flavor but are put off by the heat.  The thing is, curries don’t need to be hot.  This curry dish is made smooth and mild by the coconut milk but still has wonderful flavors you expect from a curry.

I served it over riced cauliflower which is just raw cauliflower put through a ricing blade in a food processor.  It would be equally delicious served over white or light brown rice.

Zucchini Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk
Ingredients: 

3 large red chillies, deseeded and stalks removed, chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2-3 zucchinis, quartered lengthways, then halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
6 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped, to garnish

Directions:

Using a food processor, pulse the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass to a coarse paste. Set aside. Mix the turmeric and chilli powder together and rub it all over the zucchini wedges.

Heat the olive oil in frying pan, then brown the zucchini, remove from the pan and set aside. Cook the paste, sugar and shallots for a few mins, then return the zucchini to the pan. Add the fish sauce, coconut milk and stock or water, mix well, and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook gently until the zucchini is tender, but not mushy, about 15 mins. Season to taste and sprinkle the coriander over the top. Serve hot with steamed rice or riced cauliflower and bread to mop up all the juices.

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Art Visions at Paideia School

While I’m at the NMP Gift Show some of my pottery will be at the Paideia School’s annual Art Visions show.  This is a great fundraiser for a great school.  You’ll find lots of fantastic art pieces and lot of great craft pieces for your home or to give as gifts.  We always do a little holiday shopping here, it’s a way to find something very unique and the prices are quite affordable.

I’ve had pieces in this show for a few years now and I always feel like they are appreciated.  I appreciate how much work goes into putting on the show.  For me it’s easy, make pots, fill out an inventory sheet, deliver pots, pick up remaining pottery (if any) at the end of the show, wait for a check.  But the volunteers who organize this are running around like crazy trying to make sure it all goes smoothly.  They do a beautiful job of it too.  It’s always a joy to be a part of this show.

If you’re in the area, you might want to consider checking it out, I’ll bet you find something you like.

Hours and directions are below.



  • Saturday, November 15
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 16
    12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Art Lobby & Practice Gym (Near the corner of Oakdale and South Ponce de Leon)

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Northside Methodist Preschool Gift Show

The Northside Methodist Preschool Gift Show starts today.  I’ve loaded up the truck and I am ready to go do the set up thing.  I’m really excited about this show for several reasons.

First, the people who are organizing this even have been very professional.  I’ve worked with a good many event organizers, I’ve even organized events myself, and it’s so nice to deal with a group that is well organized and professional.  I really feel like they are trying to make this show a success for the artists and artisans.

Second, it’s a new location for me so I get to meet a lot of new people.  Hopefully those people will be happy and fun and even want to buy some pottery.

Third, the show is inside.  As much as I love to be out of doors it’s often challenging because of the weather.  As much as we all want sunny, warm autumn days for these shows it’s not always possible. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate and we get cold, snow, wind, you know, winter weather.  I’m glad my pottery, my customers, and I will be safe from that.

Check out this great video for the show and be sure to stop in if you’re in the area.  The show hours are posted below:

Thursday, November 13th 5:30 – 8 pm (Ladies Night)
Friday, November 14th 9 am – 4 pm
Saturday, November 15th 9 am – 4 pm

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shaving Bowl

A few years ago a man contacted me to order a shaving scuttle.  This is a type of bowl that one can use to mix up shaving cream and shaving soap and warm it at the same time.  I made one for him which he liked so I made more and have sold a few.  They do attract attention because people who are not into the wet shaving culture (yes, there is a wet shave culture) always want to know how it’s used.

About a year later he contacted me again and we designed a holder for his razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.  It’s a sweet little design but I haven’t made very many of them.  I’m not at all sure why, maybe it’s something I have to re-think, it might be something lots of other people would like.

Recently, he ordered a shaving bowl.  We discussed the functionality of the piece, how it had to be able to fit into the palm and be gripped while the shaving soap and shaving cream are being mixed with the brush.  This is what I created.  I’m really happy with it, I just love the profile.

Shaving Bowl by Lori Buff
Shaving Bowl
I tend to think of handcrafted pottery being used in the kitchen, dinning room, and living room but I’m really starting to think about making more pottery for the bathroom.  It’s where we often start our day, it should be filled with special things too.

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meatless Monday - Green Rice with Leeks and Roasted Chiles

One thing that’s awesome about living in Georgia is that we can eat out of our garden all year long.  A few cold days will slow down the yield of tomatoes and other summer veggies but they aren’t completely gone.  The cool weather vegetables are producing too so it is possible to make dishes with combinations of both.  Of course it’s also pretty easy to find decent quality vegetables in some grocery stores.

This dish uses some mixed season vegetables, I paired it with one of the last tomatoes from the garden but it will pair nicely with lots of other foods.  The rice is hardy enough to be a main dish but it would make a great side dish too.  I love these types of recipes for pot luck dinners, don’t you?

Green Rice with Leeks and Roasted Chiles by Future Relics Pottery
Green Rice with Leeks and Roasted Chiles 
Ingredients: 

3 cups vegetable broth or stock
3 poblano chilies (or chilies of your choice)
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 cups white rice, uncooked
3 - 4 medium sized leeks, white parts and paler greens, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 cup cilantro
4 ounces queso fresco, cubed
1/2 cup sour cream
kosher salt

Directions: 

Char the chilies over an open flame, drop them in a plastic bag and let them steam for 15 minutes.  Then pull off the skin (whatever comes off the easiest, it doesn’t have to be perfect), remove the seeds and roughly chop.

Heat your dutch oven, pour in the oil, add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes while stirring occationally.  Add the leeks, chilies, a pinch of salt, the bay leaf, and the broth. Stir and cook for a few minutes then lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

While that is cooking, puree the cilantro and parsely in a small food processor or blender.  Add a little water but no more than one cup, just enough to make it saucy.  Stir this sauce into the rice when it’s done cooking.  Add the chopped cheese while the rice is still warm.  Serve with sour cream.

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy 40th Birthday to Charis Books and More

Every community needs some kind of voice, we need to gather, to see, and to hear.  Sometimes we even learn in these communities.  I can’t imagine it’s ever been easy to run an independent book store, it seems like it’s harder to do that in the past few years.  Make that book store a specialty, niche book store and it must be harder still.  But Atlanta has been blessed for the past 40 years with just that.  We are the fortunate home of Charis Books and More who will be celebrating 40 years of being in business this week.  Charis is one of the oldest Feminist book stores in North America (including Canada) and one of only 13 according to Paste Magazine.

They are celebrating with in store events at the bookstore on Euclid Av in Little 5 Points and ending with a big bash at The Wrecking Bar which is a very cool brew pub a few blocks away on Moreland Ave.
Goddess Mug by Lori Buff
Goddess Mug
This is a great time to go visit them and show your support, buy a book or a craft from a local artisan (hint: try the pottery, I hear it’s great).  When you go to the store you might find one of the owners reading to the children of the customers.  That’s the type of service that has helped keep them alive for so long.  If you can’t make it to the store or the party you can always order a book on line at the website  http://www.charisbooksandmore.com.  We should keep this going for another 40 years at least.

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meatless Monday - Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

The winter squashes are off the vine and ready to be enjoyed. One of my favorites is spaghetti squash because it is supper easy to cook and it tastes delicious. You can prepare it as you do most spaghetti dishes but it has a lot less calories and carbohydrates which makes it better for some diets.  It’s also gluten free.


Ingredients:

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
1 Tablespoon butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese (for less fat)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 Tablespoons extra for topping 
kosher salt
Crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:


First, prep the squash. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise using a large sharp knife then scoop out the seeds.  Now you make the squash into a self steamer by filling the cavity where the seeds were of one half of the squash with water, put the two halves back together and place in the microwave.  Cook this for about 5 minutes.  Carefully (it will be very hot and steamy) check for doneness.  If the squash does not seem tender enough you can put it back together and cook for a few more minutes.

Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the “spaghetti” strands into the center.

For the sauce, melt butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour, and continue to whisk for another minute. Whisk in milk until smooth. Let this cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Add cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Spoon sauce equally into each spaghetti squash half. Gently pull up the spaghetti strands to coat as much as possible with the sauce. Top with extra Parmesan and place on a cookies sheet.  Heat under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Top each half with a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Serve hot.


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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sugar Skull Mug

This is the time of year where we see lots of skulls and skeletons on American, but in other cultures people celebrate their deceased ancestors at different times of the year.  Although we tend to think of sugar skulls as being from Mexico their history can be traced back to Palermo, Italy where my great-grandfather was born.  So you see the ancestor connection.

Day of the Dead Mug by Lori Buff
Sugar Skull Mug

This is one of my favorite mugs from a recent firing.  I love the color of the glaze and the way the sugar skull came out.  The painting has that watercolor quality that I’m continually trying to achieve.

I was going to take pictures of it to put on Etsy but I have so many shows coming up in November and December that I don’t feel like I can give my Etsy Store the attention it deserves right now.  That’s something I need to fix for next year.  In the meantime, I’ll be at the Chastian Park Arts Festival this weekend so I need to get back to the studio.  If your near the park on Nov 1st or 2nd stop by my booth and say “hi.”

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making Old Traditions New

Do you have any holiday traditions from childhood that you still carry on?  Have they changed at all over the years?  When I was a kid my brother and my mom and I used to make cookies around the holidays.  It was great fun to mix up the cookie dough and roll it out then cut out the different shapes and decorate them with sprinkles, frosting, and those little, red, cinnamon candies.  I loved the way they smelled when they were baking.  Of course my favorite part was eatting the first one while it was still warm from the oven.  I can still taste them when I remember those times.

My mom kept the cookie cutters and cake decorating tool (a hand held extruded) in an old box with pink and yellow starburst flowers on it.  Just looking at that box, knowing what was inside it, thinking about those times makes me smile.

Cooke Cutter Ornaments by Lori Buff
Cookie Cutter Clay

This past summer I was given that box and its contents because my mom doesn't think she's going to be baking holiday cookies any more.  I looked at it the other day and was filled with a sense of nostalgia, but I leave the baking to Janet, the expert.  Still, I thought I should show them some love.  So I took the box down to the studio and made ornaments.  I'll have fun decorating them but I doubt they will smell as good in the kiln as the cookies did in the oven.  It doesn't matter, I only hope that whoever buys them includes them in the family traditions for many years.

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meatless Monday - Vegetarian Posole

Several years ago I took a trip to New Mexico which is a fantastic state.  The landscape is amazing, the people were extremely friendly, and the pottery was beautiful.  I fell in love with the place and long to go back.  While I was there I was introduced to Posole which is a brothy soup that is full of flavors like cumin and cilantro.  It's delicious but it's usually made with pork or the vegetarian version is made with beans.  I don't do beans.  This recipe doesn't have beans in it but if you wanted to dump a can of pinto beans into the soup while it was cooking I'm sure it wouldn't hurt anything.

I used sweet potatoes for this recipe because I had some from my garden.  You could use white potatoes but remember that baking potatoes tend to break down in the soup and will make the broth thicker, russet potatoes will hold together better, it’s just a personal preference.

I garnished these with Limed Pumpkin Seeds which are really easy to make by mixing the juice of one line with half a tablespoon of salt in a small bowl or ramekin.  Then toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet.  Keep the skillet moving over the flame or stir continuously so the seeds don’t burn.  When the seeds are toasty brown pour the lime/salt over the seeds and stir until all the liquid is gone. Put the seeds in the ramekin and serve.

Veggie Posole  Soup by Future Relics
Vegetarian Posole

Ingredients:

1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
1 pasilla chile, dried, seeded, deveined and minced
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 lime juiced
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves separated, stems tied tightly
1 large can hominy, about 29 ounces,
1 small bag frozen corn, thawed if possible
2 zucchini squash, cut into bite size pieces
1 medium potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
salt and pepper to taste
Pimenton or ground chipotle chile, optional, to taste
cotija or feta cheese
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Lime (*see recipe above)
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions:

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, oregano, and pasilla chile and stir until onions and chile are soft and beginning to brown. Add one heaping teaspoon of ground cumin and stir, cooking for a few moments. Add vegetable stock to onion mixture, then lime juice, and cilantro stems. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for about ten minutes.

Add hominy, corn, zucchini and potato and simmer.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and cumin. To add smokiness without much heat, add sweet smoked Spanish pimenton. For smokiness with more heat, add a dash of dried chipotle chile.

Prepare garnishes: small communal bowls of crumbled cotija or feta cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds, shredded cabbage, and cilantro leaves. Serve soup in large bowls.


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

Friday, October 24, 2014

Two Things You Need To Know About Pottery

Teaching new potters is always a lot of fun.  When people don’t know all their is to know about pottery (if that’s even possible) they are more likely to experiment.  Sometimes they do things that I might consider a mistake but they end up with fantastic results.  Of course sometimes they end up with a mess and very often they end up with broken pots.  Sometimes that’s where the fun begins.

If you’ve spent a few minutes trying to throw a pot and it collapses or you dent it you can always dry and re-wedge the clay then start over.  It’s no big deal and hopefully a lesson was learned.  But as you get further into the process of making a piece it becomes harder and harder to let it go.  This is especially true for the new student.  It takes so long to make a piece, then you have to wait for it to dry, which could take days or even weeks depending on conditions.  Then they have to wait for the kiln to be loaded and fired, another day for cooling and then they see a piece that is ready to be decorated.  After it’s glazed more time is spent waiting for the pot to be fired and cooled.  It takes patience.  Meanwhile, all your friends are asking to see what you’ve made in pottery class.

Pile of Broken Pots

At any point in the process something can happen and the piece can break.  It may be a weak seam that cracks, it may be an “S” crack that forms on the bottom of a thrown pot, it may get dropped or bumped.  Sometimes uneven drying can cause cracks and breaks.  Some cracks don’t even show up until the piece comes out of the glaze kiln and not much can be done to save it.

Professional potters have to consider the time it takes to repair a piece and decide if it is worth it to spend that time and will the piece be perfect when it’s done or will it be compromised.  If it’s compromised or if it takes far too long to fix it then it’s best to let go of the pot.  But students have the time and are highly motivated to fix a broken pot.

So what are the two things you need to know?  How to make it, and how to fix it.  Information on both could take up volumes.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You’ve Got To Make Mugs

Do you find analogies between work and life?  Or maybe you find them between your work and someone else’s.  I seem to do that all the time and it’s not even intentional, it’s just how I think.  Like the other day when a friend was talking about a co-worker who spends lots of time and effort on every single project he does.  It’s great that he wants everything to be a masterpiece but it’s difficult when they have deadlines to meet.  My mind connected the dots to what she was talking about to making mugs.

Every potter should be able to make mugs, and good ones.  It’s so nice to hear a customer tell me that the mug I made is their favorite and that they use it every day.  Also, they are the gateway drug to more hand crafted items, especially pottery.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve sold a mug to someone who comes to me later and buys a casserole, a vase, or even more mugs.  Mugs introduce people to the potter’s craft.  They use and enjoy the mug and realize that they would like more handmade pottery in their lives or that a similar mug would make a great gift.

Om Yoga Mug by Future Relics Gallery
Om Mugs

Mugs are relatively inexpensive and thus accessible for the customer.  That also means that I can’t afford to spend a month working on one mug that will sell for $25.  I have to be able to make a well crafted and beautiful mug fairly quickly.  This isn’t about shortcuts or settling, it’s about competencies and practice.  It’s also about knowing when to throw a piece into the scrap bucket.  It’s about balance.

Sometimes we want to create a beautiful and elaborate work of museum quality art, sometimes we want to create a beautiful mug to bring pottery into people’s lives.

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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meatless Monday - French Onion Soup Mac and Cheese

Some times we just need comfort food.  Other times we want that same dish jazzed up a bit.  Two of my favorite meals are mac and cheese and French onion soup.  So what would happen if we combined the two.  Awesome deliciousness, that's what.  But what about the people who are trying to avoid pasta for various reasons?  How about using cauliflower as a substitute?  Cauliflower and cheese is delicious.

When I took this picture it was warm enough to eat outside but too dark to get a good shot. You’ll have to trust me that it looks as good as it tastes.
Cooking the Mac and Cheese

French Onion Soup Mac and Cheese


Ingredients
For the pasta:
  • 1 pound of macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

For the topping:
  • 4 medium yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (stems removed)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs 
Instructions
Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a dutch oven add butter, olive oil, onions and thyme over medium-low heat.  Sauté, stirring occasionally. After about 15 minutes stir in white wine to deglaze the pan.  Continue to caramelize the onions until they are golden brown in color (approximately 20-30 minutes).  Set onions aside.

Add butter and flour to a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk constantly until a paste forms. Slowly pour in milk while whisking constantly. Bring sauce to a boil. Mix in garlic and cheese while stirring. When all the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth remove from heat. Mix cooked pasta together with the cheese sauce in the dutch oven.

Pour macaroni into a large casserole dish. Top with caramelized onions. Crumble bread crumbs over the top of the onions. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes until the top has browned and the cheese is bubbling.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Substitute Teacher

Remember being in elementary school when the teacher was out and the substitute was there in his or her place?  Maybe you weren’t the kid that made life tough for the substitute teacher but that kid probably did exist in your class.  Some kids didn’t try to tease the sub but rather tried to get away with as much as possible.  You remember “But Mrs. Jones lets us do art all afternoon, not just for an hour.” Said the kid who would rather do art than math.  Oh, maybe that was me.

In any event, the tables have turned and I have now found myself being a substitute teacher in a local pottery class.  The regular teacher had to have some surgery and will be out for a few weeks so I was invited to take over her class.  Tuesday was the first day for me and it was a lot of fun.

Happy Pottery Soap Sponge Cup Holder by Lori Buff
Happy Soap/Sponge Holder

The students are great.  They are fun, smart, and interesting.  For example, one of the students is a sculptor but he’s stepped away from sculpting for this class.  He isn’t interested in making a great work of art or anything like that.  He calls this his “therapy time.”  He’s just playing.  As teachers we are just guiding him gently and answering questions as he needs them answered.  He doesn’t throw pots.  He puts the clay on the wheel and creates a pot by carving away the clay he doesn’t need and doing some pushing to get the shape he wants.  He was doing this while we discussed the beauty of asymmetry.  So his pots are technically thrown wrong but artistically they are right.  That’s alright with him.

I enjoy teaching because I get so much from my students as they get so much from me.  A pottery class normally has lots of giving and lots of smiles and laughter.  We could all use a few hours of that in a day.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When It Rains

Atlanta was hit with very strong storms today.  It looks like a tornado might have taken down some trees on the north side of the city.  Reports of flooding and power outages are all over the news.  It’s been a rough morning for lots of people.

I hid inside for the worst of it but I had a kiln to unload and pots to trim so I ventured out into the rain, unloaded the kiln and brought a piece into the studio.  I had not even put the bowl down when all hell broke loose.  Now, I love the sound of the rain on the tin roof but acorns and large twigs are another thing entirely.  They startle me at times but I’m growing used to it.  This was much, much worse than acorns.

Tree Branch Broke Door
A large tree branch had fallen from the ancient oak that shades my studio and much of my back yard and house.  It hit the glass door and shattered the outer layer of glass, but the second layer held.  That’s a good thing.

Roof Damage

Part of the Branch
I’m planing to cut this up and throw it into Roger’s wood kiln next month.  When life hands you firewood, make glaze.  When life hands you lemons, make whiskey sours.

Boken Skylight
I was standing under the skylight when the branch hit and shattered it.  Again, the first layer of glass broke but the second layer held fast.  I really like thermal pane.

The insurance agent says we are covered for this type of damage after we meet the $2100 deducible.  I’m not sure where that money will come from but I do have a lot of shows coming up in November, cross your fingers that they will be really good ones.

On the bright side, I’m okay and now I have something new to write about in this blog.

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