Sunday, May 29, 2011

Butterfly Beer

To celebrate our wood-sourcing success,Sydney and I took a tour of the recently-opened and adjacent Dalton Brewery,sampled the local brew,and left with an assortment of 6-packs. The brewery has taken Belgian beer as its model,and good luck to them- it's good to drink something other than the lagers with which we are surrounded here,but my years of drinking Adnams in various Suffolk pubs has left me with an unapologetic beer bias.
Synchronously,the glass bottles of Butterfly that we hope to consume during the forthcoming first firing of our kiln are made by Phoenicia,the same Israeli/American firm whose stripped kiln provided us with the bricks we used to build our kiln.

Make me a Pallet...

Sydney and I drove to nearby Dalton this morning following up a lead from Yigal,my Tsfat barber [always a valuable source of local information] that a pallet factory there might be the answer to our wood needs for the new kiln. The boss,Ami [nice haircut,Ami] told us we can come and take a few stacks of what looks to us like ideal wood for a reasonable price. it's all what's called white wood,which seems to be a vague synonym for spruce,or SPF[spruce/pine/fir]. The name spruce,by the way,comes from a time when people thought that the wood came from Prussia [they were wrong,as people often are].
If you don't know the song to which the title alludes,you may click on it to hear a rendition by the legendary Mississippi John Hurt [so called to distinguish him from the English actor of the same name who played Caligula in I Claudius].

Pots from Meir's Anagama

Monday, May 23, 2011

Glove Offering

A rare video [click title] of the end of a firing at Meir's anagama. Meir,Noam,Avigail and I side-stoked valiantly through the night,an activity requiring constant vigilance,perpetual motion,frequent bending and a surgeon's delicate touch while slowly being roasted and experiencing dismay at diminishing wood supplies and strength as the back part of the kiln slowly and fitfully crawls up to its full temperature. Over the years I have only occasionally been present for this part of the firing; now I remember why. At some point [after a 10 hour shift] I lurched off to sleep for a couple of hours,returning to find Tamar and Ron providing the final push to help Meir reach cone 10 at the back [maybe more]. With coals piled high in the side-stoking channels and the end of a vast pile of excellent eucalyptus slats Meir called time on the firing [some 5 hours longer than predicted],ports were clemmed with an exotic mixture of clay,sand,straw and ash,and I drove carefully home,where,sleep-deprived but happy,I'm mustering my remaining forces for tomorrow at Tel Hai.

Friday, May 20, 2011

You Are Here

readership of this blog [thank you,Sitemeter]:
Hi to my devoted and unexpected followers in the Dominican Republic. To those of you residing in "unknown" [which is apparently most of you]- is that some kind of tax haven,or is it a more existential state of being?

The Morning After

Working the night shift at Meir's with Shir,Liron and Goldie [in one way or another,all former students of mine] was a great pleasure- we all worked hard hauling and stoking wood, we got into the rhythm of the kiln and kept it moving upwards,and we were constantly amazed by the power and beauty of the fire. Also,I think we were earlier than most with our Lag Ba'Omer blaze...
Click on title for a brief Youtube sample.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I'll remove this once/if the feed starts working

Facebook [Finally]

Plunging fearlessly into the unknown, I have signed up for fb [as it seems to be called]; I'm trying to set it up so I can continue blogging here and have entries appear as if by magic over there,so bear with me while I get it worked out...
You might be able to travel to my fb page by clicking the title above,but frankly I don't see why you would bother...
still trying [with something called twitterfeed]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mind the Gap

Happened to be driving by as this hole was happening this evening on my way back from Tel Hai- but do you know where in Tsfat it is? [This is for ex- or once-Tsfat folk,specifically my children in California].

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Interesting Yet Silly- one of my early attempts to complicate an already complicated undertaking. In case it's not obvious- the inner three "cups" form the lid,the outer three arms are joined and hollow. It worked surprisingly well.


Simple Yet Perfect- originally a Wedgewood design,I think,but copied by others.The tea is brewed with the teapot reclining on its back legs and the tea-leaves on a perforated shelf in the lid:when you stand it upright,the leaves remain in the lid. I came across it years ago and,obviously,wanted to have a go at making a few,but never got around to it,making various other complicated teapot forms instead. Maybe the time has come...


On Friday we were blessed with a torrential downpour, quite unusual for so late in Spring, which led to a stream of soaked,screaming Alsheich schoolgirls rushing down my alley...


Back to Meir's last Thursday to help finish loading the kiln (the greenish vase in the bottom picture is one of mine- left over from last year's firing,it spent the winter in the undergrowth]. It takes considerable wrestling to get Meir's huge,unbisced pots up onto those top shelves,the curve of the anagama's roof adding to the challenge. In the top picture you can see the last step loaded, with cones and rings in place [that's another of mine on the top shelf with lugs- I invariably bisc my pots to make it easier to transport them from Tsfat]. There are two fired pots sitting on the firebox floor either side of the grate where they will have large lumps of wood thrown in their direction for 4-5 days in an attempt either to break or improve them. Firing starts Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Year's Grapes


They've grown considerably in the last week or so.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pots from the Tel Hai Anagama

The big pot at the top is a refusenik from 2008- it's been sitting on a shelf in Tel Hai waiting patiently for a space in an anagama since then.

Wood-Fire Season in the Galilee

We're back in Pardes Hanna for Meir's annual anagama firing: On Thursday we started loading pots into the kiln,will continue next week and fire the week after. Meanwhile Sydney and I have been fine-tuning our new kiln,which needs a couple of days' work before we can load. At Tel Hai the students opened and unloaded the successful anagama kiln fired last week,and,using classic combina techniques [an Israeli version of "action at a distance"] I already have my 3 pots from the firing,which I shall proceed to photograph..

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tsfat Wall with Nastertiums

Spring on the Golan

Late rains and mild weather mean that the Golan is green and in full bloom,so Helen and I drove out to Massade,walked in the apple orchards and generally enjoyed the show. The picture is especially dedicated to Gilad [a noted Golan fan] on his birthday.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The New Kiln- Another Movie

This one has a voice-over sound-track,so get ready to turn down the volume.
By the way: K-43 bricks [mentioned in the video] are rated at 1760 degC,which is apparently equivalent to Orton cone 34,which I didn't know existed- thank you Yutong Refractory Company for the information.


Tel Hai Anagama Firing Movie

Click title to watch.