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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Last Soda Kiln Load

Where did the summer go? It seems to have melted away like ice cream in July. Now we have loaded the last soda kiln for the summer quarter at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center which means the season feels like it’s coming to a close. The good news is that we do have something to look forward to since unloading a kiln is like Christmas in July.

Callanwolde soda kiln by Future Relics Gallery
Last Soda Kiln Load

I’m especially excited about this load because I have a couple of pieces in there that are experiments. It seems that so often I’m experimenting but hey, that keeps it exciting. Right?

The kiln is split up between two classes, the morning class gets the front so they will get the first peek at their pots. My class is an evening class so we get to load first. It all works out.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to take a class there this fall. I’ve really enjoyed being there but I am worried that I’ll be spreading my time too thin. It’s okay, I can always sign up for the winter quarter if I realize that I do have the ability to dedicate myself to a class. IN the meantime, I’ve signed up for August Access so I’ll still be able to use the studio and kilns.  It’ll be fun.

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Meatless Monday - Zucchini Fritters

You might have noticed that I posted another recipe for Zucchini Fritters a few months ago. Some people didn’t like the idea of frying the fritters. Even when considering using healthy oils fried foods are not for everyone. It’s okay, many foods that are normally fried can also be baked and taste just as good.

I’ve made suggestions in the ingredients list for gluten free flour and bread crumbs. If you are not restricting your gluten you can use whole wheat or any other flour and bread crumbs you have on hand.

If you prefer a vegan diet you can use egg substitute and nutritional yeast for the egg and the cheese.

You can serve these with various dipping sauces depending on your taste. Some people will be happy with Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing or mayo with a clove of crushed garlic would be delicious. I made a little hot sauce by mixing some very hot bar-b-que sauce with some plain yogurt.

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini, grated
1 small onion, grated
1/4 cup rice flour (or any other type of flour)
1/4 cup panic style bread crumbs (GF or not)
1 pinch of salt
1/2 jalapino pepper, seeded and finely chopped
a splash of milk
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Grate zucchini and onion in a food processor or a grater. Place grated zucchini and onion in a mesh strainer or kitchen towel and squeeze out liquid. Add to a bowl and combine flour, salt, pepper, milk and egg, mix well.

Drop small to medium-sized rounds on a lightly greased baking sheet or lined with Silpat I used an ice cream scoop to make the rounds. Bake for 16-20 minutes, depending on the size of your fritters. Then flip and bake for another 12 minutes until golden brown on each side. Serve with garlic mayonnaise or your preferred sauce.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Enjoying Imperfection

Would you buy a less then perfect piece of hand crafted pottery? If you’re a potter, would you sell a less than perfect pot?

As people who appreciate pottery we like, even thrill over the mark of the potter. I remember listening to one potter talk about his favorite pot. It is in a museum and he knew exactly where it was because he had spent so much time enjoying the piece. What is so special about this piece? You can see a fingerprint from the potter on it. It says so much about being hand crafted.

But what about when it’s not something so obvious as a finger mark that reminds us that a pot is hand crafted? What if it’s something like a glaze drip? I think anyone who has been making pottery for a while has run into a runny glaze that flows down the pot and onto the kiln shelf. It tends to mean we have to do some grinding on the kiln shelf as well as the pot. When you turn the pot upside down, as many people do with hand crafted pots, you’ll see where the glaze was sanded smooth. Some people would consider this a flaw but not everyone.

Here’s a really pretty batter bowl made by Georgia’s own William J. “Bill" Gordy who was a very talented potter. People are always talking about his demonstrations at the Atlanta Arts Festival where he would throw a plate then turn that plate into a bowl then turn that bowl into a pitcher then throw that pitcher into a vase. That takes a lot of skill. He usually did all this while waring a shirt and tie.

Bill Gordy mixing bowl by Future Relics Gallery
Bill Gordy Batter Bowl
 Mr. Gordy was a great potter and his pieces are collectors items. Even when the foot looks like this.

Bill Gordy ceramic batter bowl by Lori Buff
Foot of Bill Gordy Bowl
I’m learning that if it’s a great pot it’s okay if it’s not perfect. It is hand crafted after all. What do you think? Would you buy this pot?

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

Meatless Monday - Gluten Free Broccoli and Parmesan Not Meatballs

People who don’t read this section of my blog posts often say things like “I don’t know what to cook for my friends who are vegetarians.” I often suggest something simple like spaghetti but sometimes I hear “you can’t have spaghetti without meatballs.” Well, okay, they have a point. So here is a recipe for some meatless meatballs. They are made with broccoli and parmesan cheese so they go great in spaghetti but I think they are so delicious you can eat them on their own. The picture here shows them with a simple side salad. They would also be great on a long crusty roll or any other way people enjoy meatballs.

These non-meatballs are made with almond flour so they are gluten free. You can make them with egg substitute and nutritional yeast if you are vegan.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. raw almonds
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed (about 2 cups)
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil mister or cooking spray

Directions:

Process the almonds in a food processor until they’re coarsely ground. Then transfer ground almonds to a medium bowl. Place the broccoli florets in the food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the chopped broccoli, cheese, and garlic to the almonds and season with a little salt and pepper. Stir in the egg. Spray a mini-muffin tin with olive oil or cooking spray. Form the broccoli mixture into 12 balls, squeezing them a little to make sure they hold their shape, and place each one in its own cup in the muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees until meatballs are golden on the outside and heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove tin from oven and run a butter knife along the edges of each muffin cup to loosen meatballs before gently removing them.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stretching Your Hands

No matter what you do for a living or a hobby your hands can be your most valuable tool.  For those of us who use our hands all day, everyday for work it becomes stressful on them. We potters push and pull clay while we are throwing. We push, carve, cut and paint our clay to decorate it. It’s a lot of stress. Then in our spare time we play musical instruments, dig and pull weeds in the garden, and grab onto the dog leash for a healthy walk. Even if you’re not a potter you may participate in many activities that use your hands all day, like typing on a computer key board.

It’s important to take care of our hands. Most people would not perform exercises like running or biking without doing some stretches also, but for some reason stretching our hands isn’t emphasized as much as leg stretches. The thing is, if you’ve ever felt the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome you know how important it is to take care of your hands.

The first time I felt with carpal tunnel pain was after driving through the Pocono Mountains with a poorly loaded trailer when I was in my twenties. Whenever I went down hill the trailer would start to sway behind me, it even pulled the truck a bit so naturally I held on for dear life. I didn’t realize the problem was too much weight in the back of the trailer so I was unable to fix it, I just gripped the steering wheel until I got to flatter land. Two days later I couldn’t move my fingers and it felt like someone had driven a spike through my palm.

My hand got better by applying ice and taking aspirin but that experience left an impression on me so I started researching thing I could do to keep my hands healthy (and my trailer properly loaded).  I talked to Yoga instructors, chiropractors, and musicians and they all pretty much recommend the stretches that I demonstrate in this video. However, it would be a really good idea if you talked to your healthcare professional about doing these stretches before you start doing them. Your health situation may be unique so it’s a good idea to check with someone who has studied medicine first and, of course, if you experience any pain or discomfort.



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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Meatless Monday - Gluten Free Orange Cauliflower

So many of our favorite dishes can be made vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten free fairly easily, it just takes a little tweaking of the old recipes. Sure, sometimes it takes a lot of tweaking but sometimes the results are really worth the effort. The following recipe is a great example of that. It’s very similar to an orange chicken dish that you can order at many Chinese restaurants only it’s healthier because it’s made with cauliflower.  This recipe shows you where to use gluten free products is you’re trying to keep gluten out of your diet. If it doesn’t bother you than just use the same amounts of the standard product.

The recipe takes about 20 minutes to prep and about 25 minutes of cooking time so you’ll want to start your rice first if you are serving this on a bed of rice (which I highly recommend).

Orange Cauliflower

INGREDIENTS:
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (or a package of pre-cut cauliflower)
For Flour Mixture:
1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal + 2 Tb water, allow to sit until thickens
⅓ c. water
⅓ c. corn starch
¼ c. gluten-free flour
1 tsp. oil
For the Base:
2 Tbsp. oil
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6 green onions, thinly sliced
For the Orange sauce:
1 tsp. oil
zest of 1 orange + juice of orange
2 Tbsp. gluten-free soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. orange juice
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. brown sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 Whisk together the flour mixture to form a medium batter (about the same consistency as waffle or pancake batter)
2 Heat up a skillet than 2 Tbsp of oil
3 Dip each small floret into the batter until covered. Fry in oil until completely browned and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
4 In a clean skillet, heat the remaining oil and garlic for 1 minute. Add green onions, orange zest and juice. Cook another 1 minute. Add soy sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. Toss crispy cauliflower into the skillet and coat thoroughly.
5 Plate on a bed of rice.
6 In that same skillet, throw in the remainder ingredients for the Orange Sauce and bring to a boil for just 1 minute, stirring constantly. Drizzle over orange cauliflower and rice.

Makes 2 servings.

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

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Better Kiln Wash and Wadding Recipe

After last weeks article about loading the soda kiln I received a few questions about kiln wash and wadding. Instead of answering each one individually I thought I’d just answer them all here. Feel free to add any other questions or information in the comments.

Pots in a Salt Kiln (wadding is circled)
Kiln Wash is basically a combination of Alumina Hydrate, EPK, and water. Potters paint this on the kiln shelves to help prevent pots from sticking too the shelves. If glaze runs while the kiln is firing it can bond to the kiln shelf just like it bonds to the pots. Alumina Hydrate is highly refractory which, in simple terms, means it helps to prevent the bonding from happening. For a more scientific explanation of a refractory see the “Other Stuff” section below.

Wadding is made of the exact same ingredients as kiln wash but with much less water so it’s more of the consistency of clay. It’s got the same refractory properties as the kiln wash but it is usually only used in atmospheric firings where something is added to the atmosphere of the kiln that will create a glaze (wood, salt, and/or soda). Since the glaze is created by introducing something to the atmosphere it tends to glaze everything in its path so we put small pieces of wadding under the pots to prevent them from sticking to the kiln shelves. This allows the glaze to flow under the pot also so you can get an almost fully glazed piece.  Since the glaze doesn’t land on the pot wherever the wadding is some potters use it to help create beautiful design effects. Some potters will add combustibles like sawdust or coffee to wadding often for esthetic reasons.

When I was at Penland School of Crafts we used Cynthia Bringle’s recipe for wadding and kiln wash. The recipe uses less Alumina Hydrate, the more expensive ingredient, therefore it costs a little less to make. We fired about 2000 glazed pots in many salt and soda kilns. I promise it works just as well as the 50/50 mixture I’ve always used.

Kiln Wash and Wadding Recipe:

70% EPK
30% Alumina Hydrate
Enough water to make it the consistency of the application you desire. If you use too much water it can be dried out via evaporation or on plaster.

Other Stuff:

Definition of Refractory - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refractory
Alumina Hydrate - http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/aluminum+hydrate
Edgar Plastic Kaolin and other raw materials - http://lakesidepottery.com/HTML%20Text/Tips/Glossary%20of%20Ceramic%20Raw%20Materials.htm

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Happy Pots From The Soda Kiln

For most potters opening the kiln is like Christmas. Everyone who celebrated the holiday as a kid remembers the excitement of the wrapped package, the anticipation of the great new gift inside of it. Maybe you had hopes of what it would be, maybe it would be a complete surprise. Maybe it would be the best gift ever, maybe it would be a fuzzy pink bunny costume like the poor kid in A Christmas Story received.

You may remember me writing about loading the first soda kiln with the class I’m taking at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. We opened that like last night and it looked great but I did have a couple pots that didn’t work out as planed. One was a lidded jar that now has a stuck on lid. The other was an oval casserole that caught a drip of some shmutz from the kiln. I may be able to repair those pots so I’ll leave them out of this blog post. I’ll show them to you, and discuss the fixes once they are complete. Cross your fingers for success for those pots.

I did have two steins turn out great. I had painted some color on them with underglaze but the soda bleached out most of the color. This was a bit of a learning experience for me. I think they look great without the color. This is something I need to explore. I may just limit the underglaze to accent colors on some imagery. Of course who knows ever where these experiments will take us.

Handmade Ceramic Green Dragon Mug by Lori Buff
Dragon Green Mug
 I really like the way the glaze reacted on this mug. It’s a spearmint glaze which is one of my favorites because it does all sorts of great things in atmospheric firing and in electric. This time it really seems to work perfectly with the dragon since it’s gone from a medium spearmint color all the way to a dark green that looks almost black.

Hand Crafted Pottery Sugar Skull Mug by Future Relics Gallery
Sugar Skull Stein
I choose the water blue glaze for this sugar skull mug because I thought the bright color would work well with the bright colors I used to decorate the skull. Most of the underglaze color is gone but the brightness of the water blue glaze has still kept the look and feel that I wanted so I’m really happy with this one.

I’ll sand the bottoms, take some good pictures and put these up in my sadly neglected Etsy shop. It could use a few more pots in it.


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

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday - Cauliflower Blueberry and Avocado Salad

Have you ever tried watercress? It’s a green, leafy vegetable that packs a lot of nutrition and has a slightly peppery taste. It’s not hot, just a little bit of spice.  To prepare it you want to wash and rinse like any other leafy green then simply cut off the largest stems. Toss it into your salad bowl. It’s that easy.

You can cook the cauliflower ahead of time or, if you like raw cauliflower you can skip the roasting altogether.

I added the blueberries to the salad because we have some ripening in the garden and are trying to find every excuse possible to enjoy them.

As you can see, this salad is vegan and gluten free. The protein comes from the almonds.

Cauliflower Blueberry and Avocado Salad by Future Relics Gallery
Cauliflower Blueberry and Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup blueberries
1 avocado
1/4 cup almonds
1 big handful of fresh watercress
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. flake salt (sea salt)
Pepper to taste
Bunch of fresh mint

Instructions:

Cut the cauliflower into small bouquets and place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or baking dish. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes, stir once in the middle of the roasting time. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cube the avocado and chop the almonds and watercress coarsely.

Mix cauliflower, blueberries, avocado cubes, almonds, watercress and olive oil in a big bowl.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Teamwork Making the Dream Work

We loaded the first soda kiln firing for this class at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. It was done largely as a team with each class member taking part in the decisions of where pots would be placed. Besides that, someone brought some snacks to share, people took tuns making balls of wadding for everyone, shelves where coated with kiln wash and lifted into place in the kiln and more, all as a group effort. We even finished with time to spare for a quick lesson. It was lots of fun.

Pottery ready for soda firing by Lori Buff
Pots Ready to Be Fired in Soda Kiln

You can see my covered jar with an owl on it here with other student’s work. It should get a decent amount of soda there without loosing the imagery (I painted on all 4 sides). Let’s all cross our fingers for beautiful pots.

The kiln is shared with another class. After they load the front, it gets bricked up and fired. We should be able to unload it on Monday night. I’ll post the results next week.

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