Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Odds and Sods...

Last week I finally took my very first batch of real clay (you know, the actual mud stuff) items to the pottery store (Baked Goods) to be bisque fired. I was rather nervous, not knowing if I had made things the "right" way so that they wouldn't get ruined in the firing process. (I'm so uninformed about clay, really, that I don't even know what that would mean!) Apparently, I mostly did it right as everything except for one teeny bowl came back unscathed; and I assume the little bowl just got dropped or something. I was giddy looking over my two little containers of stuff. It was no longer just shaped mud - it was ceramic! The pieces were bright white and they tinkled like china when clinked together.
I only managed to get a photo of the egg carton full of mostly plain beads prior to adding glaze. I was so eager to start glazing the pendants and larger pieces, I totally forgot to photograph them. Here they are with the requisite layers of glaze.
Unlike paints and some other glazes, the pottery glazes I want to use look completely, well, boring and awful before firing. The muddy grey pieces will hopefully look like this; the pale green stuff in the upper left corner will look like this; and the red will be completely different and be blue like this. At least, that's the plan. Apparently with ceramics and pottery, you can never be 100% sure what you are going to get post-firing. It's exciting and a little nerve-wracking at the same time. Hopefully the layers of glaze have not obscured the texture in all of these pieces, most of which are faux-bois.

Regardless of how they turn out, I have Karen Lynn Miller, friend and fellow artist (and proprietor of Binx Ceramics), to thank for giving me a huge chunk of clay to try out and for being patient with my many many questions about the process. I have looked longingly at finished pottery pieces for years, wanting to work within the medium but being a bit afraid to try it out. Karen pushed me right in and I'm very grateful to her. It just feels right working with the stuff. I can't wait to do more.

While I was out on Gravois picking up my bisque, I saw that the Eckert's store was open and ran in to get some peaches and other produce. Since it has been hot as hell, I intended to do something with the peaches rather than save them for eating (and thus, letting them rot). I decided on a sweet/savory peach and jalapeno jam which I think will be lovely on grilled pork and chicken, particularly in the colder months when a blast of sweet spicy peaches will be so welcome and fresh tasting. I'm a little afraid my jalapenos weren't hot enough, though. I suppose I will eventually find out. I canned these the "right" way so the seven jars I got are good for the next decade or so.
I was very much dreading work today as the temperature was predicted to reach nearly 100F again. I survived it, and it was sweaty and very hot, but it wasn't completely miserable. What amused me is that the tropical hibiscus plants seem to be having a jolly old time in the heat and humidity. Last week I nearly lost a bunch due to [someone else's] negligent watering, but they've all sprung back and are producing flowers like crazy. I couldn't resist pulling out my mobile cam and recording some of them, even though it meant standing still in the sun a bit longer.

This is possibly the most beautiful hibiscus flower I've ever seen. Triple-petaled in a lovely soft pink.

The triple peach is a close runner up.

 The yellow ones are so pretty they seem to be ascending to heaven on sunbeams!

Another gorgeous peach version.

And finally, this is the prettiest echinacea variety I've ever seen.


Allison said...

Let me know when those hibiscus and echinacea are "stressed" ;)
And I am expecting a taste of that jam, missy.

Cat Pick said...

I won't be able to help out with the hibiscus (we don't own it), but perhaps the coneflowers. Though, actually, that variety might already be sold out. :(