Friday, October 14, 2022

Making Chris some new pants

Chris asked me to sew him some pants. I found a nice pattern "Men's Summer Pants" from WBM (Wardrobe by Me) and made up a muslin from some old flannel sheets. 

The muslin fit great so the next step was to pick a "real" fabric. The Fabrics-Store had some wonderful linen/cotton blend in their doggybag shop so I was able to buy a couple yards for a reasonable sum. The only downside being that it was bleached for dyeing. Which meant I had to get out the dye pot - not too much of a hardship I admit.

I mucked it up a bit. It was supposed to be a solid color (Timberwolf) but despite extensive stirring the fabric bunched up and created some organic shaped resists.

This looks way more purple than it really is

Fortunately Chris thought it looked cool so then it was just a matter of figuring out pattern placement so that I didn't end up with splotch marks in the crotch or ass.

Cooper helped, of course

The color is more accurate in that last photo - more of a deep gray/blue. I think I got the layout right. Won't really know for sure until they're sewn up and tried on. The good news is that I can always dye them again if needed.

Cooking up a Hubbard

I found a new farmer! Well, new to me anyway. I have been looking for jalapeños all summer so that I could put some up for the winter. My friend told me about a farm she liked and off we went. Well, not only did he have jalapeño, he had Hubbard squash. Woot!

17 lb 5oz Hubbard next to a Butternut for scale

I got out my trusty cleaver and rubber mallet and got started. I know many people say to put the squash in a bag and drop it on the concrete floor, but that doesn't seem right to me. 

I just use a good whack to set the cleaver then bang it with the mallet to force the squash open.


It splits and then I can pry or whack it into smaller pieces.

Clean out the seeds and strings (strings to the chickens, seeds to be roasted later), put them on sheet pans, and roast for nearly two hours (see this post for specific info). I got 8 15oz bags of puree. Pumpkin pie here we come!

As to the jalapeño? 
Look at those stress marks - hot!

Perfectly spicy. I sliced them up, made a vinegar brine, and got canning.

So colorful

Hopefully this will get us through to next year's pepper season. We use a lot of jalapeño!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Glazing the next batch

We realized we needed to make kiln cookies before we fired the next batch of glazeware. Kiln cookies protect your shelf in case of glaze drips and we had some pieces that were 100% covered in glaze - the scoops for example. So took a break to make some and then a few more pieces so we'd have enough to do a bisque fire. 

Perhaps we should have double fired the scoops instead? They're in the kiln so we'll find out soon.

A full kiln load - it's a small kiln!


Interior: Dark blue SM-21, poured

Exterior: Cobalt Celedon C-20 x 3

Exterior Bottom: Downpour C-25 x 2 plus some zigzags

Love this exterior color

Large Scoop

Interior: Dark blue SM-21 x 3

Exterior: Smoke C-3 x 3; Charcoal C-5 x 3; plus charcoal overlap

Medium Scoop

Interior and Exterior: Rainforest x 3

Small Scoop

Interior: Jade C-47 x 3

Exterior: Jade C-47 x 3

Handle & lip: Charcoal stripes x 3

Handle & exterior edge: Blue-green SM-29 x 3

Splotchy - likely the brush I used


Interior: Charcoal, poured

Rim: Charcoal x 1; Rainforest x 2 plus inside 1" x 1

Exterior: Rainforest x 3

Lid top Charcoal x 1, Rainforest x 2; Lid knob Charcoal x1, Rainforest x 2

Broke nicely on the texture

Large-mouth Funnel

Rim: waxed top 1/4"

Interior: Gloss White x 2 plus drip decorations of Cash Money Blue

Exterior: Cash Money Blue x 3

Bottom lip: Cash Money Blue x 3, Glass White x 1

Oh my. Failed with the bottle application. No run.


Interior: Smoke, poured then lightly brushed

Exterior: Smoke x 3, Textured Burgundy x 1 with drips encouraged

Lid top Smoke x 3; Lid handle Texture Burgundy x 1; Lid bottom Cash Money Blue x 2

This just came out bad
Think it needs more coats of the Texture Burgundy


Underglaze decorations on top with Clear x 2 over them

Oddly rough on the outside blue - not mixed enough?


Underglaze flower and handle details with Gloss White x 2 over them

Like the antique effect of white over underglaze


Bottom: Cash Money Blue x 3

Top: Haven't fired yet

Great rich color

Obviously we had some issues with the kiln stilts. The wire we used was simply too thin to support the weight of even the small scoops. So they fell and stuck to the kiln shelves. Bummer. Chris sanded them and they'll be fine for my intended use but we're making new furniture with heavier gauge wire. 

We've also got some learning to do on the application. Some of the glazes covered great and I'm convinced it's because I used the hake brushes instead of the cheap artist brushes. They hold more glaze and it glides on more smoothly. I've since ordered more of those.

Kiln cost to fire $3.04

Sunday, August 28, 2022

The first firing

Our first time firing the kiln! So cool. Started it at 3pm Saturday, it reached Cone 6 temp at about midnight, and cooled to 130 degrees by 3pm Sunday.

Oooh. Love the chicken peeking out.

These are the four prep bowls. They came out quite nice and I like the colors. We learned some stuff with this firing. We're brushing on the glazes as we don't want big containers of glaze sitting around the house. We got quite a few brush strokes especially on the interior. I think I made two mistakes - 1) I didn't let it dry well enough between coats and 2) I didn't brush on enough coats. 

Large: Textured burgundy
Medium: Cobalt
Small left: Rainforest
Small right: Jade
All have Smoke inside

I got some interesting pooling in the left one but you can't see the swirl I added. The dots in the right one are just visible. I like the effect.

The travel mugs came out nice but we've got brush strokes again. 

Left: Blue green top, Cash money bottom
Center: Downpour top, Blue green bottom
Right: Downpour all over, stripe Charcoal

Aren't these adorable? I use bits of leftover clay to make pinch-pot animals. I've got quite a flock going (the pig suggests an expansion to full barnyard). The clear glaze slightly obscured texture. Sheep, pig, and ram are underglaze then coated in clear. The sheep at far right is Charcoal Celedon and White glaze.

Toast! Yup, plates for breakfast toast. Too cute. These are underglazes (mixed brown, white, black) covered by Clear glaze.

And this fine lady is a garden chicken. The bright colors are underglazes. They really pop!

Here she is in her natural habitat. 

Here are the firing statistics:
Start at 3pm
Cone 6
No warm up
No hold
Top temperature 2228
Firing time 9.04 hours
Firing cost $3.40 (based on our electric rate of $.14 per kWh)
Total time load-to-unload 24 hours.

We've got more pieces ready to glaze so we'll get to make some improvements in technique and do some more experimenting. I particularly want to see what happens if you do an underglaze and then a coat of White glaze. Will the colors still show well? Look too muted? We'll find out.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Figuring out the glazing process and documentation (which we suck at)

We decided that buying a kiln made more sense than continuing to use the community kiln. It mainly came down to convenience, cost, and ambiance. Ambiance??? Yup. Both of us admitted that we always felt rushed when using the glaze room. Part of it is the simple fact that we know very little about glazing. It's a trial and error kind of process at our skill level. So being able to stay home, take our time, and experiment with the glazes is really nice. We're both enjoying the process much more. 

The kiln we bought is really small. Which also works with our pottery style. We're not production potters - we dabble. 

We're now trying to figure out the best way to document our projects so that we can learn from success and failure.

Here goes - and obviously taking a photo of the notes is not going to work. I mean, who can read that???
Small scoop: Charcoal (stripes) plus handle and lip (x3)
Medium scoop: Rainforest (x3)
Large scoop: Dark Blue inside (x3), Smoke and Charcoal exterior (overlapping, x3)

Left: Inside Blue Green SM-29
Outside Top Blue Green SM-29, Bottom Cash Money Blue
Center: Inside Downpour C-25, Outside 2x Downpour, Bottom Blue Green SM-29
Right: Inside & Stripe Charcoal C-5, Outside & over stripe Downpour C-25

XL: Smoke x3 inside, Texture burgundy x3 outside & rim
L: Smoke x3 inside, Cobalt x3 outside & rim
M: Smoke x3 inside, Rainforest x3 outside & rim & interior swirl
S: Smoke x3 inside, Jade x3 outside & rim & dots inside

Toast (4 plates) Underglazed in shades of brown then coated in clear

First load in the kiln!

Not pictured (because that process broke down quite quickly) are a wee pig, a wee sheep, another sheep, a ram, and a chicken. All of them were underglaze in various colors and then coated in clear. 

The glazes are all Amoco brand and the underglaze is Speedball.