Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Why some crystals grow only three,two or even one ring,when there are four periods of growth,beats me.I assume that the smaller numbers developed later [at lower temperatures],but I could be [and frequently am] horribly wrong. Posted by Picasa

Other Side

It's about 22cms tall;most of the bud-vases are about 20. Posted by Picasa

Slab-built Vase

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Two Blues

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Blue Trio

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Post Bellum,Ante Thermocouple

"After war all animals are sad" - to re-phrase the Latin.It's taken me a couple of weeks to shake off my wartime reduced-emotion survival mode,but it seems to have faded significantly since last Shabbat.Here are some of the pieces I've fired over the post-war period.Or should that be 'entre les guerres'? Posted by Picasa

Broken Thermocouple

I believe I have written on the painful subject before in this blog- I don't know about you,but I reckon I must have got through at least ten thermocouples in my 30 years of potting,and here's the latest.I guess you can just make out the two holes at the tip through which the weeny platinum wires run,and I suppose that when I unload the kiln I shall find the broken tip somewhere on the kiln floor.I sent an email to Evenheat this morning and will keep you informed on progress,if any. Posted by Picasa

The Party's Over

I turned the kiln on this morning for the daily crystal firing only to find a 'faulty thermocouple' message on the program screen [that's the small black pin projecting from the kiln wall on the right... Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 25, 2006


Posted by Picasa The grapes on my vine are approaching peak sugar levels,to judge by fairly regular sampling,so today was a good time to drag out two big containers of as-yet unbottled wine- one an attempted kiddush wine from 2004,the other a slightly-suspect brew from last year that I decided to let sit until it decided which way it was going.Using my new and delightful pipette from a chemical supplier in Haifa,I sampled both batches;they seem fine,so I filled 22 bottles of kiddush wine,and will try to get to the other batch on Sunday.
It has been a tremendously hot week,even without the odd crystal kiln,but blessedly peaceful.This will be our second Shabbat since the ceasefire,and it has taken/is taking me a long time to recover;I guess I must be more attached to my suffering than I thought...
People have returned to Safed- both locals and even some tourists; I found myself blowing the dust off my credit-card machine on Wednesday for an intrepid American- but I think it will take a while before we're back to the heady days of early July,when even the Safed gallery-owners had a smile on their faces.
Youngest son Eliav is currently in New York,seeking fame and fortune; among other things,he is helping at forthcoming Art Fairs featuring [and supporting]Safed artists,due to take place in Manhatten mid-September and later in N.Y. area.If any of you live in New York,check local press for details,or contact me by email [flatauer@yahoo.co.uk].I'm not sending work to these events [I want people to come to Safed] but there will be some interesting work on show.Shabbat Shalom....

Monday, August 14, 2006

Curtain Call

...And here they are all together ; 13 firings,60 presentable pieces,two broken [ haste],two 'leakers' with slight base cracks [clumsiness],minimal damage to kiln [inevitably,the odd glaze drip,even though I mostly used a shelf on the kiln-floor]- a totally engaging and challenging project,with a much higher rate of success than I have been used to for the last twenty-something years working with these amazing crystal glazes. Posted by Picasa

A Couple of Close-ups

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Cease Firing!

With astonishing appropriateness,my last firing in this current bout finished at about 5 o'clock this morning [the first time I have trusted the kiln program to turn off unsupervised],a couple of hours before our cease-fire started.It has been blessedly quiet ever since [may it continue so],and the pots came out nicely,no? I took the pictures in direct sunlight,so the lighting is a bit fierce.
Yesterday I put a fresh pad of clay on the wheel-head and cast a reflective glance at my clay store.The studio is in need of a good sorting out,and I still have enough bisc for another gas firing,but the urge to throw is building up...

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Life in the North

This is a link [click on title] to a short video clip of a katyusha falling on Safed - one of many- just to give you some idea of what it's like living here.It was filmed about a kilometer from our house.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Two Blues

Illustrating what I said before-you can see the difference [same glaze base,from the same kiln] between the shapes of the cobalt carbonate/manganese crystals and the cobalt oxide.
The big learning for me in this round of firings has been how to attach and separate catchers from pots- thanks to the crystal glaze forum [links,left];the bottoms of the pots are looking much cleaner,and with less work on my part. Posted by Picasa

Bizen Style

Here's an example [from Bizen] of the use of shells in anagama firing [see below] Posted by Picasa

Mikhmoret Beach

In our continuing exploration of the beaches north of Tel Aviv,we stopped off at Mikhmoret on our way back to Safed to calm ourselves with the sound of waves,and collect seashells for Bizen-style effects on pots in Meir's next anagama firing... Posted by Picasa

Mazel Tov Goldie and Reuven!

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Firing #10

Predictability! Who would have thought! It really does amaze me,after all these years of firing these glazes in the gas kiln- and never having the slightest idea what was going to come out- to see some sort of consistency.Over the last few firings I have been playing with the program slightly- a few degrees more or less,a few minutes more or less- to see if I can spot the changes in results- which is not always the case.There are still quite a few parameters affecting even identical firing schedules- glaze thickness,number of pots per firing [affects speed of firing] and,according to the literature,age of kiln-elements.It's also clear to me that the different amounts of [different] oxides in the glazes also influence glaze melt and thus crystal growth.I think that I have learnt,also,that 'crowding' is caused,at least in part,not just by too many crystals growing in the glaze,but by allowing the crystals to grow too large.
We are just back,with son Eliav,from the wedding of Goldie [my former apprentice] and Reuven,which took place near Jerusalem...a rocket screamed overhead a few minutes ago,landing somewhere not too far away... Posted by Picasa

Oval Teapot

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For a change,a non-crystal piece,from the gas kiln firing a few days ago. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Different Blue

The previous blue is a straight cobalt oxide- this one is cobalt carbonate with manganese dioxide. Posted by Picasa


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Case in Point

This is a rather successful refire of a pot with too many crowded crystals and no background.The original has a tan/beige background with silver/grey crystals,both rather neutral colours,and therefore difficult to capture with my limited photographic setup. Posted by Picasa

Doctored like Reuters

Yes,dear readers,these pictures of the last few crystal firings [#11 is underway] have been shamelessly edited,just like Reuters pictures from Lebanon,with a view to making them more dramatic.Actually,all I do is to crop,sharped and adjust lighting,trying to get the picture to resemble the original.No clouds of black smoke,you will note. Posted by Picasa