Wednesday, June 30, 2010

After It's All Over

A moment to relax,as we picnic by [I think] the Dan on Kibbutz Dafna. The third years' show opens in Tel Hai New Campus next Thursday; as of today,they were still firing work...

Tears and Fears

Thrills and spills - that's how it is with the 2nd years' critique,and today was no exception. A lot of good work,emotionally draining for all concerned [especially,somehow,me]. Thank goodness for Picasa collage,or I'd be all night posting pictures,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Work from Critique

The top picture is a sneak preview of Yaara's 2nd-year work,photographed [for a change] against a proper [if scratched] background drop; the 2nd piece stands about a metre tall,made from unfired adobe, and is for storing grain. More [probably] tomorrow.

Bikoret Time Again

At Tel Hai. Today we saw work by the first year students,of which this is a selection,with a few more in the next post. As usual,the 4 hour critique left me completely drained; I have just arisen from a couple of hours' sleep and am off to rewire my electric kiln.

It's Not Just Us...

...who wreck salt kilns; this is what the Tel Hai salt kiln looked like after the last firing - the back wall has been eaten by the salt,resulting in a nicely salted chimney but not too much on the pots. It's fixable,but I suspect this kiln is also on it's way out. It was cast using a home-made refractory castable recipe,so didn't cost too much to build: I wonder how much longer it would have lasted if it had been built from hard brick and/or given a coat of salt-resisting slip inside.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Enjoying the Summer

A cactus in our courtyard has burst into exuberant flower.Glaze kiln #5 is approaching cone 7; I've spent the morning tidying up my glaze-bespattered studio,pricing pots from the 4 previous kilns [and selling some,which is the whole point] and getting ready for a brief bout of transfers and lustres [applied to white clear-glazed porcelain mugs] to round out the session.

Friday, June 18, 2010

2 Down

I've fired two out of the 5-6 glaze kilns - not without incident,neither of them straightforward,but both coming out well in the end; I'm finding the process totally engrossing,and don't want to get distracted [at the moment] by just about anything [except the currently boring World Cup],even blogging,so bear with me for a while....meanwhile,here's that box I showed you about a month ago...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rocks Off

Bisc # 4 is cooling,though you wouldn't know it because the studio seems to be getting hotter. A student went strolling around the Ramon Crater in the south and brought me back an interesting bag of rocks; I always think of rock as a very hard material,but it's amazing how quickly a small piece of rock can be pulverised with a large hammer. I sliced some quick slabs and impressed them to contain possible rock melts,picked and crushed 6 likely suspects [I painted identifying numbers on the rocks to help identification after firing the samples] and filled up a slab to go in the first glaze firing,early [I hope] next week. Knowing nothing,#4 looks quartzy,#6 chalky,2&5 look to have lots of iron,#3 might be a bit coppery. No guesses about #1- surprise me!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

That's The Way I Like It

The last pot in the last spot in the last kiln [bisc #4]. I don't know how that happens- it's impossible to know exactly how many pieces will fit in the kiln- but it does seem to happen quite often,and is always gratifying. I'll warm up the kiln for a few hours now,and fire the bisc tomorrow.The cone is 09,920 degrees,in case you're interested. Next week the glaze firing marathon starts...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Et Voila!

The final result - before tidying up when they've dried a bit. Thank you for your patience - I had a huge amount of fun putting these guys together. Let's see if I can dry,glaze and fire them..I think that they involve too much work to become a part of my standard production,but are just the sort of work I like to do in that creative space when stock and orders have been taken care of,and there are a couple of days and a couple of kiln shelves left to fill [as there are now,with bisc #4 loaded and nearly full,and the studio full to bursting...]

Bowl 6

Just to keep things interesting,I cut the rim of bowl #2 with curves. I spent much of yesterday at Tel Hai explaining to students how many ideas come not through sketches or plans,but from the work itself - this being a fine example

Bowl 5

I sliced and stuck the rims in the same way,attached rim to bowl,then stuck base to bowl assembly

Bowl 4

Same procedure for bowls

Bowl 3

2 bases stuck,tops sliced [at slight angle] to receive bowl tops

Strange Bowl 2

Base lightly trimmed,a slice removed from centre,remaining
[less than] halves stuck together

Deconstructed Bowl

A new shape [for me] that popped into my head a few days ago,influenced by the cut-&-stuck teapots and 3-sided cups I made recently,not to mention numerous stray associations and inspirations floating around the creative Tsfat ether.
Here are the basic parts-2 bowls,2 feet,2 rims.

Another One Bites the Dust

And then there were 16...
I don't know quite why this one cracked while drying - maybe I left the base too thick...

Monday, June 07, 2010


Those plates generated a fine pile of trimmings,which I mixed with some rainwater,stirred with a drill,and spread on a towel to dry,as bisc # 3 slowly reaches 500 degrees. One of the secret pleasures of the craft is ladling out a big bucket of soft recycled clay like this...nothing quite like it for cooling the blood...

Sunday, June 06, 2010


A video of one of Friday's porcelain dinner-plates being trimmed.Click title to view...


Friday, June 04, 2010

Plate Up

Last on my "orders" list is a set of 12 porcelain plates,which means I need to make at least 16 to allow for trimming and firing mishaps,which means that the already-jammed studio is going to have plates on every available horizontal surface; once thrown,they're best left for a couple of days [covered] before trying to take them off their bats,which is why I'm throwing them on Friday [so they can rest over Shabbat].
In fact there isn't enough room for them in the studio,so yesterday I cleared out some space in the adjoining store-room,reminding myself that making some empty space is invariably a first step in making something new; you see this graphically when working on the wheel- the centred lump of clay is pretty useless [door-stop,paper-weight] until you make a hollow empty space in the middle of it; as the Tao Te Ching puts it,
"Profit comes from what is there
Usefulness from what is not there."
If you care to click on the title,you can watch me making plate #11; I'll try to film some plate-trimming next week,if you like. I haven't forgotten about that strange spout piece,nor the recipe for Slippo. Stay tuned...Shabbat Shalom...


Wednesday, June 02, 2010


A student brought me some interesting rocks from near Eilat: I need to break them up into small pieces in order to fire them and see if there's anything interesting,so I'm going to use my big Turkish humanitarian aid-workers' hammer to peacefully resist them 'til they go through an 80-mesh sieve.


There's something very basic and comforting about throwing earthenware flower-pots,especially after a session with the stricter,less forgiving porcelain.


Sydney came over yesterday with a bucket of Lego bricks,and we knocked up a rough model of the wood-fired kiln we hope to build. The front section is the Bourry firebox,with a side port for loading wood,the middle is the firing chamber [it will have some sort of arch,or maybe a dome] with its loading door and the back is the chimney. Obviously a very rough model,but it helped us to see how the various levels and transitions work. it made me wonder if I could build a model like this from clay and actually fire it...maybe with a tiny pot inside...using matchsticks for fuel...?
Meanwhile,with bisc kiln #3 nearly full,and some but not enough pots planned to fill #4,and in honour of this week's reading from Joshua,where the spies he sends are called "heresh",which the midrash understands as meaning "disguised as potters or sellers of earthenware" ["heres"],I'm going to throw a few flower-pots with a mix of some earthenware someone gave me and some Tsfat-dug clay.